Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Trunki founder is keynote speaker at Swindon Business Show

Rob Law founder of TrunkiRob Law MBE, founder of Trunki, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Swindon Business Show.

Rob will be speaking about the setbacks and learnings of his start-up story, how leaders can get the best out of a team and the benefits of reshoring - bringing manufacturing back home.

He is the founder and director of Magmatic ltd, the brand behind the much-loved children’s brand Trunki The company is dedicated to the invention and distribution of iconic yet attainable products for tots on-the-go.

The company is a template of success for young British business, imagineering mould-breaking design-led products that compete on quality and value, not just price.

Almost eight years after officially launching to the retail community, Trunki is a market leader and has received 76 industry and consumer accolades, most recently winning the much coveted National Business Award – The Santander Small to Medium-Sized Business of the Year. Two million units have now been sold, with distribution secured in more than 97 countries.

The show - organised by Business West - takes place at STEAM on Thursday, May 15. For more information, or to book a place, log on to www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/business-show-swindon-2014-tickets-9890258028


Swindon Chamber throws free networking event

Marsh Farm Hotel Wootton BassettSwindon Chamber of Commerce is throwing open its doors for an evening of free networking on Monday, April 28.

An expected 120 businesses will meet at Marsh Farm Hotel, Royal Wootton Bassett from 6pm until 8pm to network. Attendance is free for both members and non-members of the chamber, who will be offered discounted joining offers on the night.

For more information, or to book a place, call 01753 870500 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Expert opinion: Good news for commercial tenants as ‘distress’ is abolished

Mike Hansom of Withy KingFrom this week, where a tenant of commercial property is behind in rent, the landlord can no longer enter and seize the tenant’s goods in payment, unless he first gives seven days' warning.

Landlords were previously entitled to do this without giving any advance warning at all, and the law had permitted this for hundreds of years.

The old rights have been replaced with the more regulated process of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR).

Although tenants are better off under the new regime, CRAR is still intended to result in tenants’ goods being seized and sold. The changes give them more time to pay, but critics claim the seven-day warning enables tenants to take advantage of their new rights by moving their goods somewhere else, to avoid seizure.

Would tenants really go to the trouble of moving their goods elsewhere? We expect some tenants would, though it depends on the type of business they operate. Either way, the risk reduces a landlord’s options for managing a non-paying tenant.

We predict in the future there will be a shift in the wording of new leases as landlords seek greater security from their tenants from the start. Landlords will press for guarantors and/or larger rent deposits to give them options if the tenant struggles with the rent, to redress the balance. With the economic recovery continuing, landlords’ negotiating position is improving.

The landlord’s right to enter and seize goods survives, but restrictions will apply, and landlords must now follow a set procedure. The main changes are as follows:

  • Landlords must give advance written notice of their intention to seize goods to their tenant – a minimum of seven clear days. Critics fear this advance warning means tenants will move their goods elsewhere to avoid seizure. Others say the changes achieve a fairer balance between the rights of landlords and their tenants.
  • The remedy applies only to ‘true’ rent arrears, that is, sums payable for use and occupation, including VAT and interest. It does not apply to service charges or insurance contributions even if these are called ‘rent’ under the lease.
  • There must be a minimum of seven days’ rent overdue.
  • CRAR can only be used for commercial premises. In a mixed use building CRAR will only be available if the commercial and residential areas are let on separate agreements.
  • The landlord’s bailiff (termed an ‘enforcement agent’) must be instructed in writing, and the agent must give certain information to the tenant.
  • The landlord’s right to forfeit the lease remains unchanged.

Mike Hansom is a property disputes lawyer at Withy King. Contact him at on 0800 923 2070 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New shopkeepers can benefit from fifty percent rates relief

Unit 11 in Hughenden Yard Marlborough - one of the properties to benefit from a rates reductionTraders looking to open up shop in Swindon, Marlborough and Calne could benefit from a fifty percent reduction in rates, according to commercial property consultant Andrew Kilpatrick.

The reduction - announced in last year’s Autumn Statement - came into force in last week, and Mr Kilpatrick says there are a number of properties on his books that qualify.

Last December, the Chancellor announced a raft of measures, including:

  • A reduction in the UBR increase due for 2014/15 from 3.2 percent to two percent.
  • Extension of Small Business Rate Relief for a further year to 31 March 2015 and 12 months of extended relief after taking on a new second property.
  • A £1,000 discount for shops, pubs and restaurants with a rateable value of less than £50,000, for two years from 1 April 2014.
  • Fifty percent rates relief for 18 months from 1 April 2014 for businesses that move into shops that have been empty for a year or more.
  • Payment of rates bills to be allowed in 12 monthly instalments instead of 10.
  • Ninety five percent of outstanding business rates appeals lodged by September 2013 to be cleared by July 2015.

Mr Kilpatrick said this week: “The rates relief on empty shop properties will make a big difference to retailers looking to take on a new shop from April.

“The new rates relief can be worth several thousands of pounds in cost savings to an incoming retailer, which will be significant in assisting new shop occupations.

“However, to get the maximum rates relief, a new tenant must be in occupation of an empty shop before October 2014, so retailers need to be looking at suitable shops now, and getting terms agreed before occupation can begin.”

The writing’s on the van for supporters of youth project

Bios VanThe writing’s on the van for businesses that support an innovative new youth project in Swindon - or it will be, once company logos have been sprayed on.

Local businesses are being given the opportunity to have their logos sprayed graffiti-style onto the side of a mobile youth centre.

Run by BIOS, the Swindon-based youth charity, the van former supermarket delivery van will have be kitted out with games consoles, internet access, DJ decks, sports equipment, a music system, refreshments station, craft activities and information for young people.

It will run 12 youth club sessions each week meeting over 350 young people in parks and open spaces where antisocial behaviour is causing a problem for the local community, encouraging them to make positive life choices, helping them to have a better future.

The van has been funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon and has been sponsored and supported by local businesses including Excalibur, TH White, ISIS coach works, SEQOL, Pebley Beach, TeeOne and Eyetrak.

A launch event will be held at Excalibur Communications’ offices at Stonehill Green, Westlea SN5 7HB, on Thursday, April 24 from noon until 2pm, for businesses to come and see what the van is all about and how working with the BIOS Van can be a mutually beneficial support partnership.

BIOS director Chris Priddy - who won the Leadership and Social Influence category at last Friday’s Wiltshire Business Awards, said: “We are offering businesses the opportunity to get their logo graffiti’d onto the van in exchange for a £20 donation. What better way to promote your brand in a funky way whilst supporting a good cause?

“We are still looking for more businesses to come alongside and lend their support. Any equipment, publicity, branding and activity sponsors are welcome, as are new and exciting ideas to get the young people involved in the project. Everyone is welcome, so please come along for a light lunch and a look round.”

To find out more about BIOS and the van project, or to have your logo in graffiti written on the van itself, visit www.settings4life.org.uk/biosvan


Excalibur crowned Wiltshire winner at HSBC’ Global Connections Awards

Adrian Wheeler of Excalibur with the HSBC awardExcalibur Communications has been crowned the Wiltshire area winner of HSBC’s Global Connections initiative.

The company picked up the award at a prestigious ceremony held at Steven Graver Kitchens in Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire.

Swindon-based Excalibur will now go on to compete in the South West and Wales regional final, with six winners from the regional final competing for the national titles.

Now in its fourth year, Global Connections recognises businesses which are achieving excellence in three categories – innovation, international trade and mid-market growth.

The competition is founded on the belief that expansion and success for UK businesses is likely to come to those that venture beyond their home territories and take their products and services into the growth markets of the future.

Those companies shortlisted can gain access to lending facilities up to £6m, linked to a financial reward of up to £120,000 (doubled for the national winners) and the opportunity to take part in an International Exchange – a series of seminars, visits and networking.

These exchanges take place in cities around the world selected as growth markets of the coming decades.

Previous destinations have included New York, Singapore, Shanghai and Dubai. Business owners leave with a fresh perspective of international markets and a revitalised vision for their business.

Excalibur provides businesses communications, including mobiles, landlines, broadband and IT support to over 5500 companies UK wide.

Run by CEO James Phipps, the company is a Vodafone Platinum and Microsoft Gold Partner amongst its other industry accreditations.

James commented “We’re extremely pleased to have won this award, it reflects the hard work Excalibur has put in to become the premier business communications provider in the South West.

“I would like to thank all the staff at Excalibur for supporting our growth plans and enabling us achieve this prestigious award. We’re very much looking forward to seeing what the regional finals bring.”

Edwin joins expanding team at Banks accountants

Edwin Samu of BanksSwindon chartered accountants Banks have strengthened their team by appointing Edwin Samu as a new accounts senior.

Edwin, 35, joins the 21-strong team helping to look after accounts production for SMEs and private clients, including management accounts, corporation tax, VAT and personal tax.

Edwin was born in West Africa but moved to the UK in his twenties to join his family in Leicester. He took his AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) professional level exams before joining a firm of accountants, and also holds a BSc (Hons) from Oxford Brookes University.

Edwin then moved to the Ministry of Defence in stock accounts and logistics supplies, based first in Chippenham and then in Abingdon.

In 2012, Edwin moved back into private accountancy, working in London Docklands and then Aylesbury, before joining Banks in April.

“I am delighted to be working with Banks,” said Edwin. “It is an exciting move and I am looking forward to relocating to Swindon because we have a lot of friends in the area.”

Banks director Richard Mathews said: “It’s great to have Edwin on board. He will be a great asset to the team, which we are building on all the time with the aim of improving and extending the range of services we offer to our clients.”

Edwin, from Wantage in Oxfordshire, is married with three children. In his spare time he reads in church and is a keen participant in football and athletics. Edwin will continue his professional training at Banks to become a Fellow ACCA chartered accountant.

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