Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Entires invited for South Wilts Business Awards

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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


New award helps diners find best places to eat

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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

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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.

Wiltshire Business Expo details confirmed

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This year's Wiltshire Business Expo will be held at Trowbridge Civic Centre on Thursday, June 20, organisers have confirmed.

The event, which is organised by Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Business Support Service and Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership promises attendees inspiriong workshops and seminars along with motivational keynote speakers.

There are also opportunities for companies to showcase their wares with an exhibition stand. Booking details are available from Matthew Croston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The event will run from 8.30am to 5.30pm, and will be free to attend.

Dairy firm is cream of crop at Enterprising Wiltshire Awards

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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.

Wiltshire solicitors tackle triathlon in memory of Jemima

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Tackling the triathlon: Jess Jeanes, Jenna Humphries, Michael Davies, Christopher Ware and Oliver PriceWiltshire solicitors are tackling a triathlon to raise money in memory of Jemima Prees, the daughter of a colleague who died in a skiing accident earlier this year.

Ten-year-old Jemima, an experienced skier, died after colliding with a tree while on a family skiing holiday in the Austrian Tyrol in February. 

Her parents Tim – a solicitor working from the Devizes office of Wansbroughs – and Karen launched an appeal, Jemima's Gift, to celebrate her life.

All money raised will go to provide opportunities for other children to reach their full potential in sports, the arts, and in learning activities.

Jemima PreesAnd on Friday, May 17 two teams from Wansbroughs will be taking part in the Jones Lang LaSalle Property Triathlon at Eton Dorney to raise money for the appeal.

The competitors must swim 750m, cycle 20km and run 5km in a relay.

Oliver price, a partner at the law firm, said: “With your support, Jemima’s Gift will be able to help others live life as Jemima did and every penny you give will go to helping children like Jemima.”

Anyone who wishes to support their fundraising effort can email Oliver at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01380 733 300.

Bank of England gets snapshot of Chippenham economy

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A snapshot of the state of the Chippenham economy was given by business leaders to the Bank of England earlier this month, when thirteen business owners and managers from the Chamber of Commerce met with Geoff Harding, the Bank of England´s Deputy Agent for South West England, at the new headquarters of MJ Church plant hire.

This was one of a regular series of meetings between the Bank and Wiltshire businesses: Wessex Chamber has organised eight in the county over the past 12 months.

Businesses were able to give their feedback on local economic decisions, and how bank policy is affecting trade. These views are then fed back to the Bank of England's economic policy unit.