Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Business leaders caught lying down on the job

Wessex Chambers members at AirsprungWiltshire bosses were caught lying down on the job recently – and who can blame them?

The Wessex Chamber members were on a site visit to Airsprung beds in Trowbridge - one of the largest bed manufacturers in the UK - where 2,500 mattresses are produced every day.

Chamber members were able to see all aspects of the business, from the bed manufacturing to the dispatch.

The next Wessex Chamber site visit will leave members puzzled – they´re off to Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, near Malmesbury, on Thursday, May 9.

For booking details log on to www.wessexchambers.org.uk/events

Free seminar on writing for the web

Writing for the Web is the subject of a free seminar from Salisbury-based Cravenplan, which will be held on Wednesday, April 17 at 11am.

The seminar is aimed at anyone involved in writing content for websites.

The topics covered include:

  • Planning
  • Writing styles
  • Grabbing attention
  • Calls to action
  • Updating an existing web site

For more information, or to book a place, log on to or call 01747 858000.

Popular shop manager leaves Marlborough for London job

Andy Davies of WaitroseGood Friday is going to be Farewell Friday tomorrow for Andy Davies, the ebullient manager of Marlborough’s Waitrose, who has announced his departure from the store that is the vital magnet of the High Street shopping centre.

After five-years in that role, Andy is heading for London to head a project management team of up to 20 John Lewis/Waitrose partners and consultants for the next 12 months.

“And I won’t be returning to Marlborough,” said 47-year-old Andy, who joined Waitrose as a weekend schoolboy helper. “It is a great opportunity for me and I am going to grab it. This is a really exciting chance for me to move into the corporate world.

“I fought really hard to get to Marlborough in the first place. I had a two-year plan and had to jump through many hoops to be given a brilliant branch like this and I’ve been only the fourth manager here in the store’s 36 years.”

His dramatic decision to leave has not come as a total surprise to his staff of 230 as he spent a six-month secondment to London last year. But he leaves in his considerable wake a dynamic record of success and community support.

Two years ago he was in control of a £3.5 million revamp of the supermarket that introduced a “green” refrigeration system and a new café. Since then, his activities have included creating an orchard of 20 rare-breed apple trees in the Waitrose car park and launching a Waitrose kitchen at St John’s Academy, providing initial jobs too for students and and mentoring them in writing job CVs.

“And we have been in the heart of the community for the last three years by giving £12,000 each year to 36 local charities,” he said. “That’s a big impact on the community and one I am proud of.

“It’s been a privilege to work here and I shall be sad in some ways to leave. I’ve got just a 20-minute drive to work every day with a fantastic team in one of the most wonderful parts of the country.

“You could say, ‘Just stay, that’s the easiest thing to do.’ But I’ve got this constant need to look for new horizons and to keep moving forward. That’s the way I’ve always been. So I can’t give up this great opportunity to learn new skills.

“I certainly shall come back to Marlborough to shop – and to drink the first glass of cider from our apple orchard. I love running branches. I love the whole buzz of our team, customers and working in the community.

“That’s why I’ve done it for so long. Now I have the opportunity to go out and do something different.”

Already in the pipeline for Marlborough are plans to revamp the High Street entrance to the branch and perhaps introduce a community notice board.

Interviews are now taking place over the next few weeks to find a successor, someone, possibly a woman, who already manages a Waitrose branch since Marlborough is considered one of company’s major rural stores.
“We expect to have someone in place by the end of April,” said Andy.

Meanwhile, it is likely that Marlborough Chamber of Commerce will be inviting Andy to return for an event to pay tribute to his work in the town.

“We are losing an ambassador to business in Marlborough with Andy’s decision to move on,” said Paul Shimell, president of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce.

“He will be a great loss to the town and to the Chamber of Commerce as a man who brought great ideas and resources to our committee, giving us essential information as to how he worked to keep his store in front.

“Waitrose is the main attraction in the town centre and the work that Andy has put in has kept it just so. He will be an asset to the next project he runs. We wish him well in the future.”

Big names lined up for Big Business Event

Karren Brady, who will be appearing at Salisbury Big Business EventApprentice star Karren Brady, Secret Millionaire Liz Jackson, and ´Beermat Entrepreneur´ Mike Southon are lined up to take part in next month's Salisbury Big Business Event.

Opening the event in style at a free networking event for the business community on Tuesday, April 23 will be Mike Southon, ´The Beermat Entrepreneur´.

Last year Mike impressed over 100 business representatives with his seminar and this year he is back with his new topic, Get Mentoring.

Mike who built and sold his own company in the 80s and worked with seventeen different start-ups in the 90s, is co-author of several best-selling business books, including The Beermat Entrepreneur and Sales on a Beermat.

Another free networking evening for the business community, with the star of Channel Four´s Secret Millionaire, Liz Jackson, will be held on the 23rd.

Liz started Great Guns Marketing in 1998 aged 25 with no money, no advanced education and rapidly failing eyesight. Liz, who was awarded the MBE in 2007, is now totally blind but continues to build her company into the UK´s leading business to business telemarketing force.

And entrepreneur Karren will host The Karren Brady networking event on Wednesday, April 24 from 6pm, where she will share her expertise and experience with 150 delegates. Tickets cost £15 + VAT.

The three-day Salisbury Big Business Event is organised by Salisbury City Council, Wiltshire Council, Trethowans, Blue Frontier IT, FSB, Salisbury City Centre Management and Salisbury Chamber of Commerce. It takes place at Salisbury´s Guildhall.

For more information, log on to www.salisburybigbusiness.co.uk

Ladies told how to Stay Ahead of Trend

How to Stay Ahead of the Trend is the topic of the next Wessex Business Women’s networking lunch.

The guest speaker will be Chris Simpson, senior business manager at Wiltshire Business Support Service, who will be sharing 10 ways to ‘feed your business mind’ and keep ahead of the latest insight and information.

The event will be held on Thursday, April 18 from 12.15pm at Guyers House Hotel, Pickwick, Corsham.

Attendance costs £18 for Wessex Chamber members, and £20 for non-members.

For booking details log on to www.wessexchambers.org.uk/events

Swindon Chamber of Commerce gears up for an active Spring

Swindon MPs Robert Buckland and Justin TomlinsonSwindon Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for an active Spring, with breakfast at a football stadium, a corporate dinner, and a visit by both of the town´s MPs on the cards.

Jane Bromley, the chief executive of Strategenic Ltd, will be the guest speaker at the monthly networking breakfast on Thursday, April 11.

She´ll be sharing Five Tips to Attracting Customers like Bees to a Honeypot – and Keep them Coming Back.

The event will be held at Swindon Town Football Club from 7.30am to 9.30am on Thursday, April 11. Attendance costs £16+VAT for members and £26+VAT for non-members.

On Wednesday, April 24 the Chamber will be hosting its Corporate Insight Dinner at The Pear Tree, Purton.

Mark Charlton, group communications director at Smiths News PLC, will be talking about the firm´s ´landmark year´, when it doubled its share price and was named South West Business of the Year 2012.

Mark will give an insight into how driving profitability through cost reduction and entering new markets – both here and abroad – helped Smiths News to a record year of profit growth.

The event starts at 6.30pm. Attendance costs £40+VAT for members and £50+VAT for non-members.

And on Thursday, May 17, Conservative MPs Justin Tomlinson (Swindon North) and Robert Buckland (Swindon South) will be giving an informal briefing to business leaders over breakfast.

The event, which starts at 7.30am at the Marriott Hotel, Pipers Way, Swindon, will give attendees the chance to discuss current economic and trading conditions and government priorities in a relaxed and professional environment.

Attendance costs £16+VAT for members and £26+VAT for non-members.

For more information about any of these events, or to book a place, log on to

£2.6m boost for business in Ludgershall

Castledown Business Centre - image courtesy of Wiltshire CouncilCastledown Business Centre has received a £2.6m boost in the form of a repayable grant from the Government´s Growing Places pot.

The funding has been awarded to Wiltshire Council for the second phase of the development at Castledown Business Park following phase one, Fitz Gilbert Court, and the recent creation of business incubation space at the Ludgershall development.

The £9.3 million Growing Places Infrastructure Fund was launched in March 2012. The fund is a revolving repayable grant that invests in infrastructure projects which may have been stalled by recent economic turbulence and/or need extra funding in order to “tip the balance” and accelerate delivery.

Paul Johnson, Chair of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to make this announcement regarding the Growing Places Infrastructure Fund. The project at Castledown Business Centre has demonstrated an ability to drive growth in Swindon and Wiltshire and we’re confident the funding will prove to be a valuable long term investment.”

Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said, “This is excellent news, not just for the business owners and entrepreneurs but for the local community and Wiltshire as a whole.”

“Castledown Business Centre focuses on supporting the local economy by helping people who wish to start up a new business, and companies which want to expand.

“Its links with Wellington Academy and the MoD means young people and former service personnel are helped to nurture and develop their skills and enthusiasm.

“Phase two will see this site expand, underlining our commitment to bringing more jobs to the area and boosting the local economy.”

And Tidworth MP Mark Connolly said: “This will mean a further 15 units from 710 to 6,100 sq ft. This is really good news for atracting businesses to the area or for those in Phase One that want larger premises. There has already been interest in the new units, which is encouraging.”

The 33 acre business park has planning consent for 420,000 square feet of office, distribution and industrial space.