Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Entrepreneurs invited to join Tesco, Morrisons, M&S: with a market stall

Tesco, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer: all retail empires that started as market stalls.

Now, budding entrepreneurs are being offered the opportunity to sell their wares for up to five days on a free market stall in Wiltshire in May.

Wiltshire Council has teamed up with the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) on a scheme called First Pitch which encourages people who have a business idea to test it out at a market stall.

The council will be providing a free pitch at the Shambles market in Devizes and a free pitch at Warminster market as part of a wider national initiative to encourage local trade.

The free stalls will be available to two successful candidates for up to five days during the Love your Local Market fortnight (May 15 to 29).

There is also the opportunity to be part of a wider scheme which could allow those two traders to carry on at the stall at a discounted rate with support from a mentor for a year.

Their stalls will be judged, and if successful will be one of 100 stalls across the UK selling goods at a discounted rate for 12 months with personalised support from the NMTF.

Those wanting to take part need to apply with details of what they would sell on the market by Friday, April 19 to www.nmtf.co.uk

Dick Tonge, cabinet member for markets said: “Taking that first step on the business ladder can be daunting but a market stall is a great place to start.

“This initiative will provide a great opportunity for traders to have a head start at working on their own business.” 

First Pitch is open to UK residents over 16 with less than six months experience of market trading.

Record Store Day will be celebrated with film and, of course, music

Roger Mortimer, proprietor of Sound KnowledgeThe rise, fall and rebirth of the independent record shop will be charted during a screening of the film Last Shop Standing next week.

There were 2200 independent record shops in the 1980s, by 2009 there were only 269 left. Last Shop Standing features the likes of Johnny Marr, Paul Weller and Fatboy Slim as it attempts to find out why so many shops have closed – and how those last remaining stores are managing to survive in the age of the digital download.

The documentary – the official film of Record Store Day 2013 – will be shown at Marlborough Town Hall on Wednesday, April 17 as part of wider celebrations by record store Sound Knowledge to mark the occasion.

Graham Jones Last Shop StandingAnd meeting music fans to sign copies of the book and DVD, and to answer questions about the documentary, will be Graham Jones (pictured left), the Chippenham-based Liverpudlian music fan who wrote the 2009 book that inspired the film.

Doors open at 7pm and tickets cost £5 from Sound Knowledge, which is located in Hughenden Yard, Marlborough.

Sound Knowledge will be opening from 8am on Saturday, April 20 to sate the appetite of vinyl fans – a selection of limited edition records have been pressed to promote the day.

And on Sunday, April 21, from midday, a festival atmosphere will come to Hughenden Yard, with live performances from Nick Harper, Port Erin, Tallulah Rendall, The Suburbians, and Peter & the Mountain.

Entires invited for South Wilts Business Awards

The South Wilts Biz Awards 2013 judging panelBusinesses in and around Salisbury are being called on to enter the South Wilts Business of the Year Awards.

Now in its thirteenth year, the awards – which will be presented at City Hall, Salisbury on Thursday, June 27 – aim to celebrate the best in the region's business world.

Founder and chairman of the judging panel, Ceri Hurford-Jones, said: "The South Wilts Business Of The Awards were launched back in 2000, and since then have recognised literally hundreds of local companies for delivering business excellence across South Wiltshire.

“The judging panel is made up of the actual award sponsors all of whom are experts in their field, they bring a great deal of depth to the judging process and give freely of their time to visit every single entrant to these awards."

This year's categories include:

  • The Spire FM New Business Award (for businesses established on or after April 1, 2012)
  • The Moore Stephens Business Award (over £500k but under £5 million t/o)
  • The FSB small Business Award (under £500k t/o)
  • The Design Types Digital Media Award
  • The TABS Training Excellence in Training Award
  • The Trethowans Business Personality Award
  • The AN.X Agency Marketing Excellence Award
  • The Salisbury Journal Independent Retailer Award
  • The Sandy Balls Holiday Village Tourism Award
  • The Salisbury and District Value Cars Outstanding Customer Service Award
  • The Barclays Business of the Year (turnover above £5 million) Award
  • The Word Telecom Communications Award
  • St Thomas's Church Young Entrepreneur Award
  • Destination Salisbury Hospitality Award

To enter the competition, log on to www.swboyawards.co.uk www.swboyawards.co.uk

Picture of the 2013 judging panel by John Rose Photography


Dairy firm is cream of crop at Enterprising Wiltshire Awards

Coombe Castle International MD Darren LarvinDairy products exporter Coombe Castle International has been named as Business of the Year 2013 in the first Enterprising Wiltshire Awards.

It was double cream for the company at a packed event at Bowood Hotel as Coombe Castle International’s managing director Darren Larvin received both Business of the Year 2013 award and also took the title of Best Exporter – North Wiltshire.

Speaking after the presentation, Mr Larvin said: “This win is a phenomenal achievement for everyone in the business. It comes at the end of a fantastic few years for us.”

Asked why his business had been so successful in exporting dairy products to over 40 countries, Mr Larvin said: “It’s all about the relationships we have with our suppliers and customers – even in countries like the USA, Canada, Russia and Japan – and not forgetting the great team we have here in Wiltshire.  That’s what really counts.”

The company was the first from the UK to export cream to the growing South Korean market.

Founded in 1980 and based in Corsham and Calne, Coombe Castle International employs 30 people. It exports its own cream and also butter and cheese products from a range of farms, creameries and dairies.  Mr Larvin said the firm has just completed the purchase of a new site in Melksham.

Explaining why the judges had selected Coombe Castle International, Chris Simpson, senior business manager at the Wiltshire Business Support Service, said: “Although it was very difficult to pick the Business of the Year from such a diverse set of category winners, Coombe Castle International stood out in terms of the company’s recent achievements, its genuine growth in emerging markets and commitment to its place in Wiltshire.”

Over 140 firms entered the inaugural Enterprising Wiltshire Awards, run by the Wiltshire Business Support Service. Many attended Friday evening’s ceremony alongside representatives from Wiltshire’s chambers of commerce.

Chris said: “We’re been astounded by the response to the awards in terms of both quantity and quality. The judges had to consider some truly amazing businesses operating in very diverse areas such as security services, retail and training. If anything, it’s shown what an amazing diversity of businesses trade in Wiltshire.”

Winners of each category received a cash prize of £1,000, donated by Wiltshire Council. Coombe Castle International as Business of the Year received an additional £500, bringing its total prize to £1,500, but most importantly gains access to a comprehensive package of business support, advice and networking opportunities provided by the team at the Wiltshire Business Support Service.

The winners were:
The Enterprising Wiltshire Business of the Year 2013

Coombe Castle International

Best Exporter – North Wiltshire

Coombe Castle International

Best Exporter – Mid-Wiltshire

Eyedot Europe (Devizes-based electronics company)

Best Innovator – North Wiltshire

Alford Technologies (Chippenham-based Applied Energetic Materials Technologies firm)

Best Innovator – Mid-Wiltshire

Generative Parametrics (Devizes, engineering and design development)

Best Innovator – South Wiltshire

Urge Cycles (mobile cycle mechanics from Salisbury)

Best Start-Up – North Wiltshire

Ice Cool Box (online gifts business based in Biddestone)

Best Start–Up – Mid-Wiltshire

Made in Bradford on Avon (community retail shop)

Best Start-Up – South Wiltshire

The Training Wing (Ludgershall-based specialists in maritime security, close protection and medical training)

Judges for the awards were Rob Perks, CEO of the Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce; Alistair Cunningham, Wiltshire Council’s director – Economy and Regeneration; Paul Johnson, chairman of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership; George Trystman from the Salisbury branch of the Federation of Small Business, and successful Wiltshire IT entrepreneur James Phipps.

Businesses celebrated at glittering ceremony

Chamber president Eliot JonesSalisbury's best businesses have been celebrated during a glittering Business Excellence Awards.

The Salisbury & District Chamber of Commerce and Industry event, which was held at Salisbury Arts Centre recently, recognised the innovation, drive and dedication displayed by a host of local companies before a room of 180 guests.

As well as the awards to businesses, organisations and outstanding Individuals, Wessex Heartbeat was announced on the night as the President’s Charity for the year of 2013/2014.

Past President Paul Burrough of Salisbury Signs with Girls Love FitThe winners were:

The Spire FM Award for Excellence in Customer Service
ITology – The IT Shack

The Best Western Red Lion Hotel Centenary Award for Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality
Value Cars

The GreenThumb Marketing Excellence Award
Girls Love Fit

The Wiltshire Council Sustainable Business Award

The QinetiQ Apprentice/Trainee of the Year
Holly Sturgess – Memory Opticians

The Salisbury City Council Award for Outstanding Business Contribution to the Community
Inspired Community Salisbury Plain

The Salisbury Journal New Business of the Year (1-3 years)
Number Sixty Hair, Nails & Beauty

The Salisbury & District Chamber of Commerce and Industry Entrepreneur of the Year
Adrian Sainsbury – Value Cars

The Lloyds TSB Bank Outstanding Business of the Year Award
MG Cannon Ltd.

The Salisbury & District Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chamber Business of the Year
Bassets Property Services Ltd

Pictures courtesy of Trinity Photography

Amanda Foster, Rachel Finlay (CEO) and Jodie Gurd of Salisbury & District Chamber of Commerce and Industry

New award helps diners find best places to eat

Barry Cook from Cafe Licious, 11 Havelock Square, Swindon, collecting his membership pack for Eat With Confidence from Louise Doughty team leader Food and Safety.A new award to help Swindon diners find the best places to eat has been launched by the Swindon Borough Council.

The Eat With Confidence Award is presented to food outlets which score top marks in both the national Food Hygiene Rating scheme, and in customer service.

Katherine Walters, from the council’s environmental health team, said: “We want to reward the food businesses that take food hygiene and good customer service seriously, and are committed to operating to high standards.”

Fourteen restaurants and cafes were presented with their awards at a recent launch event, and diners will be able to identify each by the distinctive badge it is allowed to display.

The launch event was hosted by inductee Cafe Licious in Havelock Square.

The first businesses to obtain the award include: Wolf Catering hog roasts at Wanborough; Lalbagh Indian restaurant at Rodbourne Road; The Village Inn at Liddington; Booth Restaurants, which runs McDonalds franchises at Great Western Way, Canal Walk, Asda West Swindon, and Orbital Shopping Park; Coleshill Catering; Cafe Licious; Campanile Hotel; Redlands Tailwind Cafe at Wanborough; The Goldfinger Tavern at Highworth; Twelve Oak Golf Club, Highworth.

Barry Cook from Cafe Licious, 11 Havelock Square, Swindon, collecting his membership pack for Eat With Confidence from Louise Doughty team leader Food and Safety.

Customers grounded as Go Ballooning goes pop

Pewsey-based hot air balloon operator Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd has gone into administration, leaving hundreds of pre-paid customers grounded, and around 30 people out of a job.

The company traded from Woodborough under the name Go Ballooning. It has previously traded as Horizon Ballooning and High Adventure Balloons.

Its website was taken down last week, and was today today replaced by a message which reads: “The Company is deeply saddened to advise that after successfully trading for over 25 years and flying many tens of thousands of customers we have had to take the very difficult decision to cease trading.

“The company has been and will continue to work with the liquidator to attempt to formulate a solution for customers.” It advised customers to log back on from Tuesday, April 9.

In a statement, The British Association of Balloon Operators (BABO), the UK trade body for commercial hot air balloon operators, of which Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd was not a member, said: “For some considerable time, the BABO committee has been of the opinion that Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd’s business model was seriously flawed, and drew to the directors’ attention as far back as November 2010 the unacceptably high number of passenger complaints BABO was receiving with regard to their operation.

“Furthermore, since mid-July 2011 BABO have had several conversations and correspondence with Wiltshire Trading Standards regarding concerns over the level of customer complaints pertaining to Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd. However Wiltshire Trading Standards felt there was no further action required on their behalf.

“We deeply regret the distress and financial penalty suffered by customers, staff and suppliers who may have lost money with Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd, but can only emphasise that this company was not a member of our association and therefore operated outside of our trade body’s control.

“We would always urge members of the public to ensure that they only book a balloon flight with companies who are members of BABO.”

It is understood that the company had been cancelling booked flights for some time.

As early as June last year customers had set up a Facebook Page called I Didn't Go Ballooning (www.facebook.com/ididntgoballooning).

Customer Simon Walsh wrote: “We were bought tickets for a go ballooning flight at the end of 2011 for my wife 50th birthday present, it was cancelled 5 times last year due to 'the weather'", while Keith Balbi said: “I purchased two tickets from go ballooning two years ago and still have not flown yet coz everytime i try it gets cancelled. I paid 230 pounds and they will only offer me 25 percent refund. Not happy.”

And today angry customers took to Twitter to vent their frustration. Chris Brown write “Flight tomorrow (paid for) no update until the 9th? Hotel paid, what do we do? Been trying to go for 2 years!” while an anonymous balloon pilot wrote: “I was one of there crew until yesterday. There's no hope. Don't expect answers to calls/emails. Lots now out of work,” and “all us who did the flying in a big hole”.

  • Cameron Balloon Flights (Southern) have no connection with Bristol-based balloon manufacturers Cameron Balloons Ltd.