Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Wiltshire accountancy firm launches app to help business owners manage finances on the move

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Mark RickabyWiltshire company Sunflower Accounts Ltd has launched an app to make finances more user-friendly.

The Calne-based company has launched the app on iTunes and on GooglePlay with the aim of helping business owners, directors or employees to keep track of their revenue and expenditure remotely. The app is free of charge and can be downloaded by anyone.

Mark Rickaby, co-founder of Sunflower Accounts, said: “We’ve launched the app Sunflower Accounts to support SMEs throughout the UK. There is an income tracker and receipt manager for tracking sales revenue and for logging expenditure on the go.

“There is useful information about key dates in the financial year as well as tax rates and VAT rates. At the end of the year, details can easily be transferred on to a spreadsheet. For IPhone and IOS users, there’s also a mileage tracker available.”

For details visit www.sunfloweraccounts.co.uk


New strategy to help drive economic growth in Wiltshire is agreed

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Wiltshire Education Employment and Skills Strategy 2014-2020A new strategy to help drive growth in the county’s economy has been agreed by Wiltshire Council and its partners in the business world.

The Education, Employment and Skills Strategy will put employers at the heart of preparing people in Wiltshire for meeting current and future skills needs.

Following consultation with strategic partners, stakeholders and the general public the strategy will provide a structured and co-ordinated approach to sustained engagement in education, training or work, across all age and client groups.

The strategy will guide how Wiltshire Council and partners on the Education, Employment and Skills Board work together to create an environment to:

Support schools, the further education sector, higher education institutions and training providers to increase participation in education, training and employment
Support the development of a skilled and competitive workforce that meets the needs of employers both now and in the future
Drive business development and economic growth
Co-ordinate partnerships to achieve common goals
Maximise the impact of emerging education and skills policies

Consultation on the strategy concluded last month and the Education, Employment and Skills Board considered the responses when the strategy was finalised. Wiltshire Council's cabinet have now endorsed the strategy next as the Education, Employment & Skills Board prepares to adopt the final strategy.

The strategy supports all three priorities in the council's Business Plan; to protect those who are most vulnerable, boost the local economy and bring communities together to support them to do more for themselves.

Objectives of the strategy include raising aspiration, employability and attainment; reducing barriers and increasing social mobility; reducing NEET and workless episodes; supporting employers to develop their workforce, growing their business and fostering a culture of enterprise and innovation.

Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, cabinet member for economic development, said: "Education and training is key as we face the challenge of encouraging future prosperity.

"Our young people deserve every opportunity to develop successful careers.

"Wiltshire Council will do all it can to boost the prospects of the workforce and this strategy will help drive the business growth that will benefit all our communities."

The strategy can be found on the recently launched Wiltshire Works website: www.workwiltshire.co.uk/2014-2020-strategy/


Forty years and counting for leading Swindon recruiter

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The team at Field RecruitmentOne of the first recruitment companies to open its doors in Swindon is celebrating 40 years in business.

Originally called Field Staff Agency, and now known simply as Field Recruitment, it was set up in 1974 by HR specialist Maggie Heaven, and operated from premises in Commercial Road.

Forty years on, the business now has two Commercial Road offices and a different owner: Andrew Careswell joined the business in 1999 as a member of the team, was promoted to branch manager in 2003 and bought the company from Maggie when she retired in 2008.

“We’ve changed dramatically in those 40 years, along with the rest of the recruitment sector,” said Andrew. “The two offices originally had a fairly distinct split between industrial and commercial recruitment, but with the decline in manufacturing this has changed.

“The technical revolution has made a huge difference to our business. I have a technology background so have been keen to ensure we’re ahead of the curve. We’re now almost totally cloud-based, so our staff can work anywhere, at any time, and have access to all our systems.”

Field now has a team of around 20, placing permanent, temporary and contract staff to a range of clients throughout the South West and beyond. Some, such as Nationwide, have been Field clients from the very early days.

Field has also extended its services beyond recruitment, offering a skills testing services to business and organisations such as the NHS for both new recruits and existing staff; it also hosts a free jobs board, where any employer can post a vacancy.

“What makes us different is the way we establish great relationships with our clients - we are totally service driven,” said Andrew. “It’s a challenge as Swindon is a very competitive market in terms of the ratio between vacancies to workers to recruitment agencies, so we are proud that we have been able to maintain such a strong business for 40 years, and we have a very rosy future ahead.”

Connect Group PLC wins award for Health and Safety E-Learning

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Connect Group at the E-Learning AwardsSwindon-based Connect Group has won an award for its health and safety induction module at the annual E-Learning Awards.

The firm stopped a silver award at a glittering ceremony in London’s Mayfair last week, in the category that received the highest number of entries and shortlisted finalists.

This year’s awards saw entries from 150 organisations across 19 different countries. Connect Group’s joint entry with partner companies Make Sense Design and Belong Communications into the Best Use of E-Learning to ensure compliance with External Legislation of Internal Policies category saw the Group shortlisted as finalists in August.

Competition in the category included companies such as BT, Honda Motor Europe, Channel 4 and Tesco.

Alex Hodson, Connect Group PLC head of health & safety, said: “The e-learning course has set the ‘gold standard’ for compliance training at Connect Group, with a stimulating exploration of health and safety.

“The training makes artful use of simulation to surprise learners, and communicate powerful messages. As a result, it is helping to change day-to-day behaviour in the workplace.

“The new approach to learning has been a big success with our employees. Since its launch earlier in the year, over 1,000 people have completed the module and have rated it as an average of four out of five.”

How To Hire Winners is the title of sales performance workshop

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Roger PlahayHow To Hire Winners is the title of sales performance workshop being run by Wiltshire’s Sandler Training expert Roger Plahay in December.

Roger, who runs his business on the White Horse Business Park, Trowbridge, is hosting a day-long workshop in How To Hire Sales Winners alongside a two-day bootcamp on Sales Development.

He said: “The aim of the events is to equip many of the B2B businesses with the structure and resources to ensure 2015 is a significant growth year for them.

“All too often, I hear from frustrated management teams and business owners they had salespeople in the interview, but their new recruits are taking too long to get up to speed or just underperform – it can be an expensive mistake.

“My How To Hire Sales Winners workshop equips businesses with a structured proven process to identify and recruit salespeople who will perform well in their business.”

The two-day bootcamp is an intensive programme where delegates will be introduced to a systematic, structured approach to selling more effectively. It will help them be more productive and avoid scenarios where they:

Struggle to get decisions from prospects.
Invest too much time and energy with ‘time-wasters’
Give away unpaid consulting.

Roger said: “It’s not for everyone – but for those who want to be more effective without going for the hard sell.”

How To Hire Sales Winners takes place on Thursday December 11 from 9.30am to 4pm. The Two-Day Sales Bootcamp takes place over Wednesday December 17 and Thursday December 18 from 8.30am to 5pm.

For details visit www.westcountry.sandler.com or call Roger Plahay on 01225 690961.

Unemployment fall is great - but don’t get complacent, business leaders warn MPs

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Ian LarrardThis week’s fall in the unemployment figures should be no cause for complacency, business leaders have warned.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in the months from July to September, unemployment in the South West fell by 13,000 to 4.7 percent - down 0.5 percent on the quarter.

This is down 1.6 percent on the year and below the national average of six percent.

Commenting on the statistics, Ian Larrard, director of Business West Swindon, said: “Unemployment has nose-dived as the recovery has taken hold and the figures released this week reveal the eighteenth consecutive quarterly fall.

“However, this is not the only indicator we need to consider and road blocks still remain. Despite total unemployment falling rapidly, we are still seeing the same issues crop up with youth unemployment, which remains stubbornly high.

“This dark cloud, lurking over encouraging news, is a symbol of the wider picture as Business West’s latest survey indicates a slowdown in the growth of major indicators such as domestic and international sales, recruitment and business confidence despite a strong first half of 2014.

“Although today’s positive news coming out of the labour market is welcome, we must not be complacent as fundamental weaknesses in the economy still hamper our future prosperity.”

Mr Larrard said the voice of business needed to be “embedded into all party manifestos”.

“We are currently compiling our election manifesto, with the aim of putting across business needs to prospective candidates at this crucial point in the electoral cycle.

“Irrespective of which party forms the next government, change must happen to address issues and drive growth, aspiration and enterprise.”

To contribute your views to the manifesto, take the Business West quarterly survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VQNH2NJ

Front Room’s new appointment is out of this world

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Mark PenicudGraphic designer Mark Penicud has been appointed to the role of senior graphic designer at Malmesbury-based website and design agency The Front Room, following a career designing for Shepperton Studios and the official Doctor Who Exhibitions.

“I feel so lucky to have chosen graphic design as a career path and still enjoy every moment like it was the first, the beauty of design work is every day is different,” said Mark.

“I’ve been feeling the time was right to experience something new, as with design, it is all about change and with a wonderful team behind the scenes at this dynamic and exciting company, this is something I wanted to be part of.”

The Front Room Marketing & Design Company helps businesses of all sizes grow their sales with professional, confident mobile responsive websites, strong brand and corporate identities, focused marketing & sales activities and great design.

For more information log on to www.frontroommarketing.com


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