Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

World famous ‘croppie HQ’ The Barge Inn is back on the market

The Barge Inn at Honeystreet, near PewseyThe world-famous Barge Inn at Honeystreet - the canal side pub taken over by its local community before closing due to insolvency - is on the market again.

Property investment company Portella Estates this week began the process of marketing of what it describes as the “world-famous canal side pub, campsite and popular meeting place for crop circle enthusiasts,” with a leasehold of £60,000 and annual rent of £48,000 per annum, with a beer and cider tie.

The price doesn’t include the one-acre campsite, which is available by separate negotiation, but the new leaseholders will get a dining room with 30 covers and a new dining extension which seats 26, a main bar, and the famous ‘crop circle room’ with its distinctive mural-decorated ceiling.

Living accommodation includes six bedrooms and a bathroom, and the attic winch room - according to the particulars - has potential for development.

A 10-year lease or three-five year tenancy options are available. The annual turnover is listed at £450,000.

The 200-year-old pub was run for 17 years by Adrian and June Potts, and when they retired in 2010 locals took over the pub to run as a community venture on a 20-year lease, helped by a £340,000 grant from the National Lottery’s Village SOS fund.

But by 2012 The Barge Inn Community Project were forced to call in the administrators. Marlborough News Online reported in February 2013 that the company’s debts ran to almost half a million pounds.

More recently - in December 2012 - the tenancy was taken over by Derren Heath and Amanda Swindell, who signed a five-year tenancy agreement.

Meanwhile, the pub continues to trade as normal, with Portella Estates keen to stress that it is a viable business proposition.

Free workshops offer six steps to a better business

Nigel ScottA series of free workshops in Marlborough promise to give company owners new practical ideas, insights and tools to improve their business.

Led by award-winning business coach Nigel Scott, of ActionCoach, the free event will show business owners the steps to building a better business.

At the workshop, delegates will learn how to:
• Increase profits by 61 percent using a five-point plan
• Get more done in less time
• Build a winning team
• Get a better quality of life

The workshop will cover:
• Ways to attract more customers
• Getting customers coming back for more
• Generating more from each sale
• Simple yet powerful ways to improve profit margins
• Identifying opportunities across a business to drive profit

The workshops will be held at Marlborough Golf Club from 9.30am to 1pm on Fridays, February 21, March 21 and April 25.

For more information, or to book a place, call 01672 512001 or email Jane Scott at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chippenham's Business Improvement District appoints a new manager

Chippenham BID manager Carolyn BrownellCherish Chippenham, the not-for-profit company formed to mange the town’s Business Improvement District, has appointed a manager.

Carolyn Brownell will work from an office at Emery Gate, close to the town centre shopping area.

Originally from Warminster, Carolyn was assistant BID manager at Solihull prior to taking up her new role.

BIDs are an arrangement whereby businesses come together and decide which improvements they feel could be made in their town or city centre, and also how they will implement these improvements and what it will cost them.

They are funded through a levy on business rates, and it is thought that Chippenham’s BID could bring in £200,000 each year to be spent on town centre improvements.

Thrings strengthens South West team with appointment of two new partners

James Myatt and Malcolm Emery of ThringsLeading commercial law firm Thrings has further strengthened its offering to clients with the appointment of James Myatt and Malcolm Emery as partners.

An accredited family law specialist with more than 30 years’ experience of working with family-owned businesses, private companies and individuals, James joins Thrings from Lyons Davidson, where he was a partner and head of the private client division.

In addition to bolstering Thrings’ established team of partners, James will use his extensive knowledge and experience to expand the firm’s high quality client base while also bringing a substantial caseload of existing clients.

James is a well-known figure in the South West business community, and currently holds the position of Under Sheriff for the City and County of Bristol. He is also a former Master of the Guild of Guardians, the charitable organisation which aims to improve the quality of the Civic life of the City of Bristol.

James said: “Thrings has an enviable reputation for the provision of first-class family and private client services, especially to commercial clients who have potentially complex issues. I am delighted to have the opportunity to join and help develop such an excellent and established team."

Malcolm arrives at Thrings from WBW Solicitors, where he was partner and head of the private wealth team. He has extensive experience of advising individuals, private companies, corporations and trustees on a range of legal, tax and succession matters, including estate planning, residence and domicile issues, inheritance and capital gains tax, and wills and trusts.

As well as developing Thrings’ client base in the South West, Malcolm will work closely with the firm's commercial team to offer tax and planning advice to private clients. His vast experience of working with agricultural clients will also complement Thrings’ sizeable agriculture team which currently acts for a number of traditional landed estates and agribusinesses.

Malcolm, who is dual qualified as a chartered tax adviser and solicitor, is also rated in the current Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 legal directories, described by the former as a ‘leader in his field’.

Malcolm said: “Clients have become increasingly discerning about what they want from a legal adviser and to achieve their specific objectives, a holistic approach needs to be taken over their affairs.

“While Thrings has a history steeped in private client, it has a progressive approach and commitment to building a strong corporate and commercial practice. It is a vibrant and forward-thinking law firm, which clearly understands and appreciates the value a private client presence can add to its already burgeoning corporate and commercial client base.”

The recruitment of James and Malcolm follows the recent appointments of Victoria Smyth as partner and Lauren Preedy, an associate solicitor. The quartet’s extensive experience of working with commercial clients also marks a continuation of Thrings’ focus on offering clients a fully integrated legal service rather than one which separates commercial and private client affairs.

Simon Holdsworth, managing partner of Thrings, said: “Thrings prides itself on looking at the client as a whole, not just as a legal issue. And although we are renowned for our commercial and corporate work, we understand that every business person will also have personal issues that need advice.

“James and Malcolm are experienced legal professionals who will undoubtedly bolster Thrings’ fast-growing reputation for looking after clients in a holistic way.

"I am very much looking forward to seeing them support and develop our expanding private client portfolio, working closely with our commercial teams and delivering specialist legal advice to new and existing clients.”

Wiltshire business leaders to talk rubbish at site visit

Recycling at Northacre Resource Recovery CentreWiltshire business leaders will be talking rubbish during a site visit later this month.

Members of Wessex Chambers will be visiting Northacre Resource Recovery Centre at Westbury on Wednesday, February 26.

Wiltshire’s first mechanical biological treatment plant processes 60,000 tonnes of municipal waste each year, diverting it from landfill and turning it into valuable fuel and energy.

The £24 million facility, which was built and operated by Hills Waste Solutions, was opened in December last year, and will turn the county’s rubbish into waste for at least the next 25 years.

The visit takes place from 10.30am until noon and attendance is free. For more information, or to book a place, log on to www.wessexchambers.org.uk/events

Move into property for trainee lawyer Rachael

Rachael James of Hoffman MaleTrainee conveyancer Rachael James has made the move to specialist property law firm Hoffman Male.

Rachael, 22, has joined the Swindon-based firm’s Bristol team, working alongside partner Yvette Morcombe.

Rachael has a law degree from Swansea University, where she also took her legal practice course before starting with Hoffman Male.

“I was looking for a career in property, as that area of law really interests me. There is a lot of variety and challenge in the role,” said Rachael.

“I am delighted to be starting with Hoffman Male and already really enjoying working with the team.”

Bristol Partner, Yvette Morcombe, said: “I am delighted that Rachael has joined us and at such an exciting time in the progress and development of the Bristol office.”

Hoffman Male, which specialises in wills and probate as well as conveyancing, is also looking for a trainee for its West Swindon head office at Windmill Hill.

Both positions have arisen thanks to an upturn in the property market, coupled with the Government’s Help to Buy and NewBuy schemes, which are fuelling sales of new homes.

For more details contact Mary Hoffman on 01793 538198, Yvette Morcombe on 01454 202134 or visit www.hoffmanmale.co.uk

Business confidence at highest level for 22 years - report

Graham Randall of BDOBusiness optimism in the South West reached its highest level for 22 years in January, indicating that the economy will continue to grow rapidly over the coming six months, according to the latest Business Trends report by accountants and business advisers BDO LLP.
The BDO Optimism Index, which predicts business performance two quarters ahead, reached 103.8 in January, up from 103.4 in December.

This is the highest reading ever recorded since readings began 22 years ago, and sits well above the 100.0 mark, meaning the economy is expected to outperform its long-term historical growth trend.
                                                                                          In the manufacturing sector, the Optimism sub-index rose to a new all-time high of 117.1 in January, up from 115.5 in December.

And for services, which accounts for roughly three quarters of the economy, confidence rose to 101.2 in January, up from 100.7 in December.
In tandem with improved confidence, businesses’ hiring expectations increased markedly over January as the BDO Employment Index rose to 101.3, up from 99.4 the previous month.

The index now stands at its highest level since August 2008 and above the crucial 100.0 mark for the first time since March 2011, signalling that job creation is likely to exceed trend growth over the coming months.
In line with the overall positive outlook, low or negative business cost inflation is helping companies – especially manufacturers – control costs. 

The BDO Inflation Index read 97.9 in January, its lowest level since November 2009 and down from 98.7 at the end of last year. Falling input prices have helped manufacturers control costs over the past year and in the all-important services sector, annual wage growth of only 0.9 percent held down the cost of inflation for labour-intensive services firms.
Graham Randall, partner and head of BDO LLP in Bristol, commented: “Business confidence has hit record highs as we enter 2014 and we expect the economy to grow rapidly in the first half of the year.

“Companies are raising headcounts in response to rising client demand and the data suggests that the unemployment rate is likely to fall below the Bank of England’s 7.0% threshold for considering raising interest rates in the very near future. 
“An interesting feature of the recovery so far has been the way in which productivity remains at levels last seen in late 2005. 

“Looking at this optimistically, this means that the economy can continue to grow for some time by increasing productivity before wage-related inflationary pressures begin to kick in.”

An overview of all four indices, detailing figures for the last three months and the same month of the previous year, to allow for comparison. Click to enlarge.

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