Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Most small firms are now home-based businesses - report

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Imge courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.netOver half of all UK small firms are run from the home of the business owner, according to new analysis from Direct Line for Business.

The findings - based on data from the Office for National Statistics - show that there are currently 2.5 million home-based business owners in the UK, representing just over half (52 percent) of the total number of UK SMEs.

These home-based business owners now account for eight percent of the UK's total workforce.

The analysis by DL4B shows some significant regional variations. The South West and South East have the highest concentration of home-based business owners, representing a tenth of the total workforce in both regions.

Men are more than twice as likely as women to run their own business from home, with 1.7 million male home business owners across the country, compared to around 818,000 female home business owners.

Jazz Gakhal, head of Direct Line for Business, said: "Self-employment has been on the rise for several years and our research shows that a great number of these people work for themselves from home."

The findings also show that 74 percent of home businesses keep all their stock at home, worth £4,388 on average.

With many people seeking a better work-life balance, a number of sectors have seen an increase in newly self-employed, including e-commerce, travel, marketing, recruitment and legal. Other key trades identified by DL4B are catering, photography, hairdressing and arts and crafts.

Ramsbury tea bags top awards

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Amanda Fearon of Ramsbury Tea

Ramsbury Tea has lifted two cups at 'the Oscars of the food world', where judges declared their blends ' virtually faultless'.  

At the 2013 Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, the company's Lemon and Ginger infusion was singled out as “a very gentle, refreshing infusion” with “a lovely bright, fresh aroma and balance of individual flavours.”

Meanwhile, their Granny's Garden herbal blend was praised for its “list of ingredients that reads like a nature book” with judges calling it “a lovely soothing drink where you can taste all the different elements”. 

The teas were judged in a blind-tasting competition.

Amanda, who founded the company two years ago after being mentored by one of London’s oldest family owned tea and coffee merchants, said commitment to using top quality, high grade tea leaf, expert blending and use of local suppliers is what makes Ramsbury Tea special.

“We wanted a really punchy lemon and ginger and we thought it would be as simple as mixing lemon and ginger but that just didn’t taste right,” said Amanda, a familiar face to shoppers at Marlborough's twice-monthly Communities Market.

“So we experimented with loads of other ingredients until we got something that really delivers the goods. There’s lemon myrtle from my native Australia, which gives it an extra lemony twist, lemon verbena, and lemongrass which also brings out the spicy tingle of the ginger.”

Granny's Garden, meanwhile, is described as “ a mouthwatering mix of six different herbs.”

“Our tisanes like camomile and peppermint are always really popular but we wondered what would happen if we got creative and mixed a few together. Granny's Garden is a wonderfully refreshing brew and each of the ingredients stands out, without overwhelming the others,” said Amanda.

“All our products are blended and packed right here in Ramsbury. A lot of love and hard work goes into Ramsbury Tea and it’s wonderful the Great Taste judges think so too.”

Ramsbury Tea can be found in quality cafés, restaurants, farm shops and delis in and around Wiltshire, or ordered online from www.ramsburytea.co.uk

Businesses spend an 'appy evening with their smartphones

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Marcus Lilley of FutrSocialTurning your smartphone into a mobile studio was the topic of the final Marlborough Social Media Session before the summer break.

Social media expert Marcus Lilley, of FutrSocial, showed businesses and organisations how to use mobile apps like Vine, Instagram, AudioBoo, Path and Foursquare to promote their activities.

And he demonstrated the practical use of the apps by recording still and moving images and sound, and using geolocation, to document the recent Marlborough Jazz Festival using a single smartphone.

And attendees discussed the practical implications of the apps, and how they could use some or all of them to promote their own business activities.

And the session has been turned into a presentation on Storify. To view it, head to http://storify.com/FutrSocial/masms-3-a-mobile-a-studio-in-your-hands

Marlborough Social Media Sessions were a collaboration between FutrSocial, Secret Agent Marketing and hosts The Food Gallery.  

Ethical fashion range moves into Marlborough premises

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B & CoFashion retailer B & Co, which specialises in the Adini clothing range, has moved into new premises at Hughenden Yard in Marlborough.

The firm, which specialises in the ethically- and environmentally-responsibile Adini clothing range, already has outlets in Stow-on-the-Wold and Lymington.

B & Co joins another new arrival to Hughenden Yard: Hearts Desire. The lettings were handled by Andrew Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick & Co, who said: “We are pleased to see B & Co in and trading from Hughenden Yard, and we hope they will do well in Marlborough. 

“We currently have just two shops left to let in Hughenden Yard, and one of these is under offer. And I'm pleased to say we have interest in the last shop of around 750 sq ft, which occupies a prominent position next to Azuza.”

More shops and more shoppers in July, says BRC

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Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.netRetail trade is up and the number of empty shops is declining, according to a new report from the British Retail Consortium.

The Consortium's Footfall and Vacancies Monitor for July shows shops were 0.8 percent busier compared to a year ago: the fourth month since the start of the year to report positive footfall growth.

High streets reported the greatest rise, up 2.3 percent , followed by out-of-town, 0.9 percent. Footfall in shopping centres fell 2.3 percent in July, an improvement on June's 3.0 percent decline. 

Elsewhere, the national town centre vacancy rate was 11.1 percent in July 2013, down from April's high of 11.9 percent.

The BRC said the warmer weather in July had a noticeable impact on shopping trends.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: "It's encouraging to see that the number of empty shops in the UK has fallen marginally since the record high of the previous quarter.”

Banks staff rise to the occasion

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Banks Bake Off winners Laura Thomas, Louise Rhoades and Claire Hunt, with Shelley Hacker second leftStaff at Swindon chartered accountants Banks have raised £500 for CALM, with a baking competition.

The Banks Bake Off began in March and ran over 15 weeks, with a different staff member baking cakes each week, and staff members making a donation to sit on the judging panel... by scoffing the wares.

The winner was Laura Thomas, pictured left. In second place was payroll manager Anne Bluh, whose prize was collected by Louise Rhoades, and in third place was Claire Hunt.

PA Shelley Hacker baked some Banks Cakes specially for the occasion. 

CALM is the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement, and Banks' nominated charity of the year.

Run by parents with experience of having a child diagnosed with cancer, CALM helps the families of children receiving treatment at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

CALM provides a support network and activities to ease the lives of the families it helps.

For more information visit www.calmcharity.org

Businesses urged to complete food and drink sector survey

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Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.netBusinesses involved in the food and drink supply chain - from farms and other producers, through to manufacturers and distribution – are being urged to take part in a Wiltshire Council survey.

The results of the survey will be used to help Enterprise Wiltshire and the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to support the growth and competitiveness of the sector.

The survey is online until Friday, August 9 at http://www.chord-uk.co.uk/surveys/WCfooddrink/wcfood_drink.htm

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