The Insider - Business Bulletins

Your Business Bulletin from Thanet & East Kent Chamber

Your Business Bulletin from Thanet & East Kent Chamber

 

Thanet & East Kent Insider

 

12th November 2011 Issue No.: 174

 

1. Queen and Duke of Edinburgh

Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited Thanet yesterday, putting a new focus on two development projects which can now claim royal patronage. The Turner Contemporary received the ultimate blessing when our sovereign unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit. Spirited  applause and smiles from the audience must have warmed the hearts of Cllr Mike Hill, Cllr Paul Carter, Turner Chairman John Kampfner and gallery Director Victoria Pomeroy who saw all their hard work crowned with success as the royal couple followed in the footsteps of over 300,000 others who have visited the gallery since its opening last April. Chamber member Hartsdown Technology College fell under the appreciative royal gaze in the Clore Learning studio. The royal party had landed at Kent International Airport proving again that Manston is at the centre of developments in East Kent.

 

2. Remembrance In Kent

It is calculated that at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th month of this year 2011, the royal party was flying over Dover, which is a fitting tribute to this country’s premier passenger port as the White Cliffs of Dover provided the final vista for many soldiers departing for the trenches in WW1 and was at the front line in WW2. A young Princess Elizabeth trained as a driver and mechanic in the ATS in the final year of the last war. Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy in 1939 and served throughout the conflict with great distinction before ending his career as a Commander in 1952.

 

3. Department For Transport

The Thanet & East Kent Chamber in liaison with our sister body in Dover accepted an invitation from the Department of Transport to brief the government on the local economy in the East Kent coastal business community. The Chamber Chief Executive spent just under two hours last Thursday at the DfT Headquarters at Great Minster House in London in discussions with the Director and Deputy Director of Maritime Commerce and Infrastructure. The views of Chamber members were communicated in detail together with an outline of proposed reforms to boost East Kent businesses.

 

4. Managing Our Ports

We are continuing to receive excellent reports of our Business Networking breakfast at the Fayreness Hotel which featured the genial Chief Executive of the New York-based Global Institute of Logistics, Kieran Ring. Delays at our ports add cost and reduce the competitiveness of British companies seeking to take advantage of currency advantages and buoyant niche markets overseas. The Chamber Chairman, Dr Bill Moses, advises that sometimes we overcomplicate the management strategies required to ensure that our ports are efficient and reflect best practice. He advises that there are three key factors in port operations which should remain central to all management decisions: Speed, Cost-effectiveness and Safety. Isn’t that the truth? Or as Aleksandr Orlov the Russian meerkat might say: “Simples”.

 

5. More On Margate

There is more to Margate than sand, sea and the Turner Contemporary. The Embroidered & Printed Clothing Company continues to lead the way as one of the country’s leading suppliers and manufacturers of promotional clothing and workwear. Over the last twelve years, the company has refined its production and upgraded its technology to the point where it can compete with domestic producers throughout the UK and Europe. If you are looking to give your employees an edge in the marketplace or are considering some seasonal gifts to reward your employees, follow the example of happy customers Vodafone, VW, Coca Cola and Jaguar and make that call to the The Embroidered & Printed Clothing Company sales team; tel: 0845 180 1008. A full range of products can be viewed on-line at www.embroidered-printed clothing.co.uk .

 

6. My Big Kent Weekend

My Big Kent Weekend is planned for 17th and 18th March 2012. Delphine Houlton of Chamber Member Maxim PR informs us that destinations and event organisers taking part in the weekend are asked to offer a number of free tickets for local people to visit their venue over the weekend. Visit Kent’s dynamic Managing Director, Sandra Matthews Marsh, notes that the programme has become an important element in the local tourism industry that contributes over £3.2 billion to the Kent economy. Sandra said “Six years ago we launched the Kent Big Day Out and it has exceeded all our expectations. This year we took the event over two days and received more than 51,000 applications for tickets during the month that the website was open. On average people spent nine minutes browsing 25 pages of the site, and there were more than 812,000 page views during the ticket application period. It is a tremendous showcase for all the attractions and experiences Kent has to offer going far beyond our iconic castles, cathedrals and historic houses to include many hidden gems such as art galleries, theatres, museums, sporting venues, creative experiences, hospitality venues and even the whole centre of a village. This year we were able to give away 18,000 free tickets to 120 different venues and I am optimistic that in 2012 more businesses will be able to take part and share in the fun and the long term marketing benefits that this event offers. Our research shows more than 85 per cent of attractions taking part in 2011 thought it was an excellent event for them and, in total, participating attractions received more than £150,000 in secondary spend.” Perhaps the biggest accolade the My Kent Big Weekend Out can claim is that 80% of local residents with free tickets said they would visit the attraction again and 98% said they would recommend it to their friends and family. For more details, telephone Kelly Sharp at Visit Kent, tel: 01227 812912 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

7. New Salon In Broadstairs

The Chamber Co-president, Laura Sandys MP, Broadstairs Mayor Cllr David Saunders, accompanied by his charming wife Cllr Mave Sanders, and the Chamber Chief Executive were all guests of the Indulgence Health & Beauty Salon last Friday evening to celebrate its grand opening at 135 High Street, Broadstairs. Salon Manager Stacy Shearer and her team have transformed these premises to a high standard for clients who wish to be “relaxed on the inside and radiant on the outside”. Responding to a growing market in and around Thanet, the salon is offering a “Pre-Christmas Pamper” where the cheaper of two treatments is offered free of charge. The Indulgence Health & Beauty Salon is open from Monday to Friday from 0900 hrs to 1900 hrs and on Saturdays from 0900 hrs to 1730 hrs. If a waxing, manicure or pedicure is your fancy or you want to know what is meant by “a Hollywood eyelash extension and a minx and trendy wrap”, give Stacy a call, tel: 01843 586236.  As a qualified beauty therapist for 13 years, she knows how to “relax, restore and revive” you.  So far as we know, Stacy has not been invited to the current discussions over the Euro. We suspect her skills could be very useful in reviving the spirits of the Greeks or in sharpening the nails of the Germans.

 

8. Supplier to Vattenfall

Chamber members seeking to access the £15 million pound budget of Vattenfall earmarked for local suppliers to the Kentish Flats Extension off the coast of Whitstable are advised to complete and return the attached Expression of Interest Form, if they have not already done so. Chamber member Vattenfall is serious about using local suppliers. Please ensure that you state your ‘Business Category’ with the exact wording of one of the categories listed below. Return the completed form to the email address indicated on the form using the subject line “EoI Form Kentish Flats TEKC”.

 

9. Vattenfall Supplier Categories

The following categories are recognised by Vattenfall for its supplier list: Accommodation Business and Personnel (Hotels and B&Bs); Building and onshore site maintenance; Car/bus hire; Cable installation companies. Cable joint suppliers; Cable Jointers; Caterers; Cleaners; Composite material suppliers; Condition monitoring systems; Couplings and fasteners; Courier services; Cranes; Divers; electric/fibre optic cables; Electrical equipment suppliers; Environmental response service and materials; Equipment /tool hire; Equipment hoists and lifting gear; fall arrest system services; Facilities management; Fire and ; security protection systems; Fork lift truck suppliers and maintainers; Handtool suppliers (For rigging etc); Hazardous waste collection; Health and Safety equipment – onshore, offshore; equipment and lifting equipment; Helicopter Services; HSE training providers; HV and LV electrical engineers; Hydraulic equipment suppliers; Industrial rope access suppliers; Jointing systems incl specialist adhesives; Lift servicing; maintenance and inspection; Lifting equipment suppliers; logistics/haulage; Lubricant suppliers; Marine Engine Workshops; Marine facilities - harbour; bunkering; general supplies; Marine logistics and consultants; Marine operations and management; Marketing/PR agencies; Materials and tool suppliers; Mooring and navigation system suppliers and installers; Noise monitoring specialists; Office supplies including communication; Paint and protection systems; Portside logistic support and haulage; Printers; Recruitment- office admin; general and offshore operatives; Recycling collection; Safety equipment suppliers and workwear; Scaffolding; Security Services; Shackles and lifting tackle; Sign makers; Slings; Standby generator suppliers; Steel suppliers; Tools (general); Training-  offshore; first aid and health and safety; Transport - airport transfers and local area; Vessels; workboats and barges; Waste management services; Welders; Workwear suppliers; Workwear Laundry services.

 

10. Changes at Pfizer

The latest developments at the Discovery Park, the former Pfizer site, were examined in some detail in the BBC Inside Out South East programme broadcast on 7th November 2011. It featured the Chairman of the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force, Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter, who promoted the opportunities available for inward investors. He was joined by a somewhat geeky academic, Dr Tim Leunig, who gave a rather brutal assessment stating that “jobs are basically ugly” and that Kent must choose between being “beautiful and bucolic” or sacrifice the countryside “in order to provide lots of industrial premises”. The academic rather ignores the extensive brownfield sites currently available in Kent. He is perhaps not as well researched as he might be. Paul Carter emphasised the hi-tech facilities in Sandwich and pointed to the success of the former ICI site at Runcorn where there are now more people employed than when ICI was in residence. Dr Leunig disagreed, but when asked the question: “Have you been to Runcorn, Tim?” had to admit “I have not been to Runcorn for many years”. This suggests that the academic is perhaps not as well researched as he might be. The programme continued in a similar vein covering Enterprise Zones, intellectual capital, Regional Growth Fund, Infrastructure and Manston Airport. When the discussion turned to education and skills, Dr Leunig informed the audience that he had attended Oxford University but many children in Kent schools from poor families underperform. On green technology and wind farms, he suggested that the case for job creation is weak, perhaps not realising, as Paul Carter pointed out, that Kent has “the longest coastline regions of any county in the country”. The academic is perhaps not as well researched as he might be. See for yourself at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b016yvj1/Inside_Out_South_East_07_11_2011///www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b016yvj1/Inside_Out_South_East_07_11_2011/

 

11. News From Dover

Plans for a National War Memorial on Dover’s Western Heights received a boost this month with the launch of a website at www.nationalwarmemorial.co.uk and a film posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiInhoAmFfE. Older Chamber members will have noticed increased respect in the last thirty years for those who died in the two largest conflicts of the twentieth century. The objective of the National War Memorial is to provide a permanent physical reminder of the names of the 1.7 million people who died in the service of our country in WW1 and WW2. The proposed white granite walls sitting on the White Cliffs opposite Dover Castle total 1.7 kms in length. Thus, each pace of one metre will represent 1,000 deaths. As visitors pass by seeking their own surnames, there will be an increasing realization of the losses sustained by Britain and the Commonwealth. If we are to demonstrate to young people the human cost of war, then a trip to the National War Memorial could provide a much needed reality check to a generation raised on computer simulations of war games and the hero-worshipping of X-factor contestants. As one Lieutenant-Colonel, a veteran of Northern Island and the Falklands, said last week when visiting the Chamber: “War is not glorious”.

 

12. Kent For Business

Last Wednesday, Locate in Kent organised a seminar at Darwin College Conference Centre at the University of Kent on the theme “Kent as Business Location”. Delegates were asked to consider what attracts investors to Kent and what might deter them. The general conclusion was that Kent is indeed attractive to companies. Being at once close to London and at the same time benefiting from its proximity to EU, which despite its currency problems, represents the largest market in the world, Kent has many advantages over its competitors elsewhere in the UK. Although Dr Tim Leunig might not agree, see item x above, Kent schools are generally perceived as providing a good education preparing students well for with a wide range of choices in Further and Higher Education. As so much of our exports and imports pass through Kent, this Chamber proposed a slogan “Kent Is Crucial”. We also suggested that unlike the crowded cities elsewhere in England, there are plenty of brownfield sites available where expansion can be accommodated much more easily than in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester or Glasgow. With wage costs at a reasonable level in the East Kent coastal business community, we also suggested “Fashion Your Future In Kent”.  Copywriters will know that the word ‘Kent’ is delightfully short and lends itself to alliteration in phrases such as “Kent Can Do”.

 

13. More On Manston

Whatever the linguistic niceties, ambitious companies looking at East Kent will take account of the infrastructure developments in our road, rail and air connectivity. The future of Manston Airport will play a large part in these considerations. The night-time flying policy proposed by Manston recommends a limited number of flights between 2300 hrs and 0700 hrs; fewer than two flights per night on average during the restricted period. This level of activity would represent less than 3% of the arrivals and departures during the year and must represent a reasonable offer that might safeguard the airport’s future and the 150 jobs currently directly dependant on its operations. Of the 110 staff employed at the airport, two-thirds live In Thanet and receive the majority of the £2.2 million annual salary bill. If the Airport is to reach its target of over 2 million passengers a year by 2018, it will need to attract an international airline. An enlightened response by Thanet District Council to the night-flying proposals could be of significant value in stimulating the economy and encouraging firms to locate in East Kent. The full text of the proposals can be seen at http://www.manstonairport.com/userfiles/files/Night-flight-policy/Night-time-Flying-Policy-Submission-271011.pdf

 

14. Energy

A mild October following a warm September has produced an equitable balance of supply and demand for energy. Lower prices for gas have contributed to lower electricity costs and a more encouraging outlook for companies heavily dependent on power. Uncertainties over European economies may drive down prices further, although prices for oil continue to rise in the short and long term. The year on year price increases for all the main power sources are having a negative effect on trading margins and must remain a key source of concern in efforts to reduce both the CPI and RPI indices of inflation. We are again grateful to Martyn Young of Atlantic Business Resources for supplying the latest Market Report from E.ON which is summarized below. Now that October is behind us, the new annualized prices are based on April 2012 start dates.

 

15. Commercial Energy Costs

 

Supply

Year

Oct 2010 – Oct 2011

Month

Oct 2011

Average front month power contract price

21% higher

9% lower

Average front month gas contract price

38% higher

7% lower

Average front month oil contract price

40% higher

7% higher

Average Annualised power price

10% higher

5% lower

Average Annualised gas price

22% higher

3% lower


16. Yet More About Manston

The Chamber is delighted that an international Airline is taking a close interest in establishing links with Kent International Airport at Manston. The success of the recent Open Golf Championships and the publicity surrounding the 2012 London Olympics have put a new focus on Manston's prime location near London. Easy access to the Channel ports and the  award of Enterprise Zone status to the Discovery Park at Sandwich have confirmed Manston’s status as a viable alternative to the overburdened points of entry at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The encouraging visitor figures at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate and the promise of additional attractions opening in the next few years should produce a sustained increase in incoming tourists. Business traffic will benefit from the turnover growth at Hornby, Cummins, Fujifilm Sericol and Silent Gliss. Better access to more international destinations will encourage companies to locate in this part of the UK where logistical advantages for exporters to the continent complement a currency advantage against the Euro which has grown by over 20% since 2007.

 

17. Care Home of the Year

We are grateful to Cllr Clive Hart for drawing our attention to the Key Retirement Solutions’ Your Caring Stars of the Year Awards. The winner of the Care Home of the Year for 2011 is Yoakley House in Margate. Michael Yoakley was a Quaker businessman from Margate who made his name and fortune trading with the newly discovered America. The charity in his name was established in 1709 with the proceeds from the kindly man’s will. Executive manager of Yoakley House and the 46 surrounding almshouses is Julie Wickenden who said: “We treat all the residents as if they were members of our own family.” Clive adds: “It really is a wonderful place, an oasis of peace and tranquillity right next to the QEQM that most people wouldn't even know was there. Lovely homes surround beautiful gardens where elderly residents can live securely and in peace and quiet. Good news for Margate!” Good news indeed and another feather in the cap of Margate which has been uncommonly blessed in the past few weeks.

 

18. Pensions

As stated in previous editions of the Thanet & East Kent Insider, legislation concerning compulsory pension arrangements will come into force in October 2012. Initially targeted at large companies, the full provisions will be introduced over the following few years. Penalties for non-compliance are severe ranging from up to £50 per day for companies with 1 – 4 employees to £10,000 per day for firms with 500 or more workers. The Chamber will be organising briefings on the new arrangements with a view to keeping members  fully informed of their obligations and the options available.

 

19. The Venerable Elvis & The Euro Crisis

In times of trouble, the Thanet community turns to the one person whose advice has guided successive generations throughout the isle. When the fate of Britain was in the balance through inadequate funding for Wellington’s forces during the Napoleonic Wars, it is reported that it was the Venerable Elvis who directed the government towards the Rothschild brothers whose loan financed the campaign that ultimately defeated the French and preserved our freedom to drink beer in pints and drive on the left. With the financial stability of Europe currently in question, we turn our attention again towards Thanet’s celebrated hermit who lives in a secret dwelling between the disused power station at Richborough and the abandoned limestone quarry at Manston; his whereabouts known only to the Thanet & East Kent Insider. Thus being careful to ensure he was not being followed, our staff member braved the early morning mists last week to make his way to the cave where the great man lives and ponders. The source of the Venerable Elvis’s remarkable knowledge of modern business and current affairs has always been a mystery, but his words continue to inspire leaders in every field. Mindful of Bloomberg’s comment this week that: “Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis stirred political turmoil across the region” and The Guardian’s headline: “Osborne describes situation in Europe as ‘dangerous’”, our reporter asked the Venerable Elvis for his thoughts on where a local businessman could find development capital in these troubled times. After stroking his long grey beard in silent contemplation, Thanet’s spiritual leader finally commented in his thin, aged voice: “Always borrow from a pessimist, he isn’t expecting to be repaid”. We are indeed blessed to have such a sage in our midst.

 

© David Foley, November 2011

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