Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

BNI chapter passes half a million pounds of business between members

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Read BNI members have passed 500,000 of business between each other in 2014There was an early Christmas present for members of Read BNI in Swindon this week. Members of the referrals organisation have passed £500,000 worth of business between each other this year – and awarded themselves a giant cheque to mark the occasion.

The chapter, which meets every Wednesday at Hotel Campanile on the Delta Business Park in West Swindon, has more than 30 members. It is the first time in the chapter’s 11 year history that the milestone has been reached.

Chapter director Stuart Holland said: “It has been an absolutely fantastic year for the chapter, which had set a target of £250,000 worth of business exchange for 2014.

“I feel honoured to have been able to close the year reporting in excess of twice the original target value of business exchanged between its members and this really does demonstrate the strength behind good local networking on the local economy.

“Whilst we all take a short few weeks break for the festive season, I cannot wait to start 2015 on January 7 with a strong team of local businesses that will see us pass even more business during the next 12 months.”

Local businesses looking for new connections and business in 2015 can find out how they can become a part of Wiltshire’s flagship BNI chapter by contacting Stuart Holland on 07889 161064 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Good Energy signs £45m debt facility to achieve solar energy growth

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Juliet Davenport of Good EnergyGood Energy, the Chippenham-based renewable electricity company, has secured a £45m finance facility which will allow it develop its solar generation capacity.

It has agreed the debt finance with GCP Infrastructure Investments, a London-listed infrastructure debt fund.

In a statement released today (Thursday) CEO Juliet Davenport said the funding “will significantly help the Group meet its objective of generating 50 percent of its customers’ electricity needs from its own renewable assets by 2016.”

She said the firm aims to build a further 18MW of solar sites, bringing its total capacity of wind and solar power to 42MW.

“The Facility will also be used to refinance the existing debt facility on the Hampole wind farm and its two existing operational solar sites,” said Ms Davenport.

She said the granting of the facility took place against a backdrop of tough trading conditions, caused in part by a mild year.

“(The) industry (has been) impacted by the warmest year since records began, and by lower wind speeds over the last few months of the second half,” she said.

“As a consequence, the company currently expects its profit before tax to be approximately £2.2 million for the year ended 31 December 2014, before an exceptional cost of £1 million relating to the refinancing of the existing debt facility on Hampole wind farm.”

The firm reported that electricity customer numbers were up 37 percent to around 50,5000, as gas customers were up 85 percent to 24,000. Feed-in tariff customer numbers rose 26 percent to 73,000 people.

“While recent customer demand for energy has been affected by the milder weather this year directly impacting on our revenues for 2014, I am very encouraged by the increasing numbers of customers choosing Good Energy and look forward to updating you at our full year results,” said Ms Davenport.

An open letter to Father Christmas from Banks BHG

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Santa image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.netDear Santa,

Looking at your records for 2013/14, it’s possible you can claim annual investment allowance (AIA) on a new sleigh, and it’s also possible – and we’ll need to look into this further – that the herd basis can be applied to your stock of reindeer.

You’re an employer, so we need to work out your staging date for auto enrolment; your extensive workforce of elves may mean your date is in 2015, and you need to prepare now to ensure you’re fully compliant and are enrolling them in a workplace pension.

Finally, Santa, don’t forget your tax return. There are just seven weeks left until these have to be filed, but since you always have an extended holiday from December 26, you’ll need to get it in sooner rather than later.

Penalties for not submitting the tax return will remain even if there is no tax liability due so now is the time to forward the outstanding details so that the forms can be completed, approved and filed before the 31 January and the tax situation confirmed.

Who knows, if you send the information quickly, Santa may be able to drop off the form on his rounds at Christmas!

For more words of tax wisdom, please contact Paul Gosling on 01793 839977 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Business confidence hits five year high as election year approaches

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Wiltshire businesses are heading into election year with confidence higher than ever, according to the yearly business confidence report from Regus, the global workplace provider.

Based on the views of 3,000 business owners and senior managers, the ninth edition of the Regus Business Confidence Index (BCI) - which is heavily based on actual performance over the last 12 months - reveals a seven point rise from 117 points to 124.

This is the highest total recorded since Regus launched its BCI report in 2009.

The results paint a picture of positivity and growth as the UK gears up for the 2015 general election. The report reveals that 63 percent of businesses saw a rise in revenues in the past year, and 59 percent saw profits grow.

For the UK’s small business community figures are similar, with revenues rising for 60 percent of such businesses and profits rising for 56 percent.

New ways of working are helping businesses to grow. Over a quarter of businesses (29 percent) increased their flexible working options for staff over the past twelve months.

Richard Morris, UK Managing Director at Regus, said: “UK businesses do not seem concerned with 2015 election uncertainty – far from it. These are some of the most robust business confidence figures we’ve ever announced.

“Clearly, flexible ways of working – particularly in relation to the physical workspace - are playing a significant role in this success story.

"Companies are managing growth carefully, with many recognising that full-time, permanent office space with its associated long-term leasing is no longer the only option.

"Remaining agile helps business secure and retain top talent, and keeping overheads low is vital to sustainable business growth.”

Positive news from the labour market, but challenges ahead say business leaders

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Phil Smith of Business WestBusiness leaders have welcomed the news that unemployment in the West has fallen by 1.6 percent over the past 12 months.

The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, represent 2,000 workers. Unemployment now stands at 4.8 percent, compared to a national average of six percent.

Commenting on the labour market statistics for August to October 2014, Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: “Today we see yet more positive news coming out of the labour market, with unemployment down both nationally and here in the South West.

“As we close out a year that saw the UK finally pull out of a damaging recession and unemployment nose dive, this is yet another reason to celebrate.

“However, this is no time for complacency. The year 2014 will be remembered as the year we pulled out of the downturn, but now we must secure it. Despite growth there are fundamental weaknesses to be addressed in both the labour market and the wider economic backdrop.

“For example, falling unemployment this year has masked stubbornly high youth unemployment and we constantly hear firms cry out about skills shortages caused by the current mismatch between education and employment.

“This year’s labour market statistics can be seen as an analogy of what we face on a wider scale. Throughout the year we have seen sparks of good news, such as increases in GDP and business confidence, but roadblocks still remain to securing long term growth.

“We now face a crucial time in the electoral cycle, and irrespective of which party forms the next government in May, change must happen which drives growth, aspiration and enterprise.

"In the New Year we will be releasing our business manifesto, which we will use to get the voice of local business in the room at this decisive political time.”

Marlborough developer wins What House? sustainable house builder of the year

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Paul Cooper of Linden Homes, Adrian Talbotfrom category sponsor Show House, Greg Locke and Tom Nicholson of Linden Homes, and guest speaker Rob Brydon. Photograph courtesy of Philippa Gedge PhotographyThe house builder behind the Ridgeway Manor development at Ogbourne St George, near Marlborough, has been named as Sustainable Developer of the Year at the What House? Awards.

Winning gold, Linden Homes was praised not only for its environmental efforts around the country but also its hard work to bring social benefits to the wider communities where it builds.

In fact, by refusing to award runner-up silver or bronze medals, the judges lifted up Linden Homes as the only entrant to “demonstrate a clear understanding of company-wide sustainability policies and goals or how they may be implemented”.

The judges commented this time: “Sustainability is about more than solar panels, airtightness and insulation – it is a way of thinking.

“Linden Homes understands this and, through a systematic approach, is doing everything it can to ensure sustainable thinking permeates every level of its business and every action it takes.

“Indeed, sustainability is seen as a vital part of the company’s strategy for growth and a way of making it a smarter business.”

The Farmhouse at Ridgeway ManorLinden Homes Thames Valley managing director, Peter Carpinelli, said: “We understand that people want to move into communities not just homes, so we put environmental and social sustainability at the heart of everything we do as a housebuilder.

“It’s very encouraging that our strong focus has been recognised by the industry and shown to be market leading. This result adds to other accolades we have won for sustainability and will give even greater confidence to our customers.”

Awarding Linden Homes gold for Sustainable Developer of the Year, the judges added: “Over the past year Linden Homes has recorded significant successes.

"The company has exceeded targets for carbon and waste reduction, introduced measures to shrink its environmental footprint, health and safety, helping young people into work, a strong commitment to community engagement and a determination to build sustainable communities, all contribute to making Linden Homes a worthy winner of this award.”

Linden Homes is building on its green credentials after also winning Developer of the Year title at the New Energy and Cleantech Awards 2014.

Webinars promise profits planning for business owners

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Nigel ScottWiltshire business owners can start the new year with a spot of personal development… without leaving the comfort of their own office.

Nigel Scott of ActionCOACH is running two free one-hour webinars: Find the Cash Hidden in Your Business – on Wednesday, January 7 from 5pm – will look at freeing up cash to pay bills, managing margins to release cash, and the importance of cashflow forecasting.

Marketing for Profit – at noon on Thursday January 15 – will tell business owners how to quickly find out if their marketing is working, suggest some quick wins to boost profits, and outline how to make a solid plan for profit.

Each webinar will be followed with a Q&A session hosted by Nigel. To book a place log on to www.businesscoach-wiltshire.co.uk/cashflow or www.businesscoach-wiltshire.co.uk/marketing-for-profit


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