Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

£2.6m boost for business in Ludgershall

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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.

Photo shoot for mums will boost charity funds

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Two Salisbury businesses have joined forces to celebrate mums – and raise vital funds for Wessex Cancer Trust.

Born out of an idea to celebrate Mothering Sunday Trinity Photography and No. Sixty Hair & Beauty decided to wait until after Easter to host this pampering day with a difference.

Ladies are encouraged to book a slot with No. Sixty to get their hair and makeup done before posing for Trinity Photography in their very own mini-shoot.

All donations will support the work of the Wessex Cancer Trust. The event takes place on Sunday, April 7 from 10am to 4pm at No. Sixty’s salon on Queen Alexandra Road, Salisbury.

To book a place, call Trinity Photography on 01722 422224.

Hills Group backs best kept villages competition

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Mike Hill chief executive Hills Group and John Blake secretary of CPRE Wiltshire shake on the dealMarlborough-based The Hills Group has announced its sponsorship of the Council for the Protection of Rural England´s Wiltshire Best Kept Village competition for 2013.
The competition is open to all 234 villages in Wiltshire.  It is judged in three categories – small villages with populations between 1 to 300 residents; medium villages with populations between 301 to 1,000 residents and large villages with populations between 1,001 to 3,500 residents.
There are prizes for the first, second and third village in each category and judging takes place in two rounds.  Last year’s winners were:  large village – Hilperton; medium village – Dinton and small village - Great Hinton.
Mike Hill, chief executive of The Hills Group, said:  “Ours is very much a Wiltshire business and through our support we are able to give back to the areas in which we operate.  The competition encourages villages to work together and it’s a good opportunity to build a stronger community.”   
John Blake, secretary of CPRE Wiltshire said:  “CPRE Wiltshire is delighted that Hills Group are sponsoring the Hills Group Wiltshire CPRE Best Kept Village Competition, now in its 55th year.

“All villages are invited to enter and in doing so they foster pride and caring for their village and its people. This they can demonstrate at the winners’ ceremony on 6th October when they collect their prizes awarded by Wiltshire’s Lord Lieutenant, President of CPRE Wiltshire.”
The closing date for entries into the competition is Friday, April 26 and more information can be obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   or www.cprewiltshire.org.uk

Swindon's steam trains may hold secret to Britain's economic future

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John Rubidge of UK Trade & IndustryExports expert John Rubidge stood in front of a steam engine – the Caerphilly Castle – this week and asked seminar delegates to imagine a time when Britain straddled the globe like an industrial behemoth.

“Wouldn´t it be fantastic,” he asked, “to have this kind of innovation resurging throughout Britain?”

Mr Rubidge, from UK Trade & Industry, was at the Business Show Swindon – held at STEAM, a venue built to celebrate the town´s industrial heritage – to talk about Why Your Business Needs to Go Global.

He chose examples from around the South West to demonstrate how local businesses can become global players.

He explained how Clark´s shoes became as coveted as Jimmy Choo in China, where they sell for three times their British ticket price, and reminded delegates how the West´s aerospace industry still rules the air.

But there was hope for small businesses too, he said. Cuddledry – a hooded towel for drying bathed babies - was conceived by two West mums, who are now trading in 40 countries, while Green Gourmet invented the mechanism that allows airlines to serve French fries on a plane.

Mr Rubidge said British industry was too hung up on exporting to the USA and Europe, both of whom are experiencing slow economic growth.

“We export more to Ireland, with a population of 4.5 million people, than we do to the BRIC countries – Brazil, China, India and Russia,” he said. “But it is those BRIC countries, with a combined population of three billion, that are experiencing the economic growth.

“China´s economy is set to grow by nine percent between 2010 and 2015. Half a billion people there have access to the internet. Its middle class will grow from 178 million to 314 million within the next five years.

“The world is very rapidly changing.”

Charlie Wade of VodafoneBut the world isn´t just changing thousands of miles away – it´s happening on our doorstep too, according to Charlie Wade of Vodafone, who talked about the way his company had restructured to embrace the very technology it was selling to consumers.

Much of the content was familiar to delegates who attended the recent Swindon Technology and Innovation Forum (read about it here).

But Mr Wade was also keen to talk about the way in which customer patience was declining – and how the company had embraced social media to help them cope with the demand for attention and answers.

“We asked 700 businesses with an average of 98 employees, if you put an enquiry in to a business, how long would you expect to wait for a response?

“Two years ago it was seven hours. Now it´s two hours. And for Generation Y – the tech savvy customers born after 1982 – its 30 minutes.

“We couldn´t hire enough people to deal with queries on that basis,” said Mr Wade, “so we´ve embraced social media. Now, every week, 400,000 queries are solved by our own customers through our social media channels.”

Luan WiseWith an answer like that, it´s a good job marketing consultant Luan Wise had asked the question What´s The Point of Social Media? earlier in the day.

Luan insisted “We don´t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.

“It´s about targeting the right person with the right message at the right time in the right way,” she said.

Luan showed her audience some social media #fails before jogging through the secrets to a successful social media campaign, from getting more followers to talking to them at the right time of day (before breakfast and after dinner on Twitter, during the late evening for Facebook).  

  • The event was organised by Business West and sponsored by Excalibur.

TBG Learning strengthens partnership with leading conference venue

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New Alexandra House team member Charlie Barnett with general manager Ray McKibben, Nikki Webb, recruitment resourcer at TBG Learning, and HR officer Emma CumminsA leading Wiltshire hotel and conference venue has strengthened its team, along with its links with a Swindon training provider.

Alexandra House, which is set in 20 acres of grounds on the outskirts of Swindon and is part of the Principal Hayley group, has welcomed Charlie Barnett to its reception team after turning to leading training and recruitment organisation TBG Learning for support.

The 23-year-old, from Liden, was referred to TBG Learning at Minton Place on Station Road by Job Centre Plus after a short period out of work and within days of being introduced, she was behind the check-in desk at the Wroughton venue.

TBG Learning is delivering the Government’s Work Programme on behalf of Rehab JobFit which helps the long-term unemployed into work through a tailored package of support and assistance.

Alexandra House Human Resources Officer Emma Cummins said TBG Learning has also helped the venue to recruit casual staff in the past.

“When we have new positions available I get in touch with Helen Saunders from TBG Learning as she knows us very well and how strongly we value customer service and she put us in touch with great candidates,” she said.

“Helen also made us aware of the Government’s Wage Incentive Scheme and how we could make a claim for recruiting Charlie, which was really helpful.
“Charlie has settled in extremely well and we’re delighted she’s now part of our fantastic team here.”

Charlie added: “Alexandra House is a really nice place to work and I’m really enjoying the job.

“After enrolling with TBG Learning they gave me a bit of advice and it wasn’t long after that when they put me in touch with Emma and I was back in work.”

Helen Saunders, from TBG Learning Swindon, said advisors work closely with employers to identify opportunities like the Wage Incentive Scheme which can benefit businesses.

“The Wage Incentive Scheme has been launched to incentivise the employment of 18 to 24-year-olds who are disadvantaged, disabled or live in designated unemployment hot spots,” she said.

“It is one of a number of support avenues which employers can take advantage of and we work closely with businesses to make them aware of opportunities that available.

“Alexandra House is a fantastic venue and we’re pleased to have built-up a good relationship with Emma and that Charlie has settled in well at the hotel.” 

Chamber discusses implications of Budget

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Devizes ChamberDevizes Chamber members will be discussing the implications of the today´s Budget for their businesses with Steve Little, a tax expert from Charlton Baker, on Tuesday, March 26.

The event will be held at The Bear Hotel from 7.30am to 9am. Attendance costs £13 for members and £16 for non-members, £1 of which will be donated to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust.

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

High Street to become virtual art gallery

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Marlborough High Street will be turned into a virtual art gallery this summer, as 40 artists display their work in shop windows as part of the Marlborough Open Studios.

The Windows on Art scheme runs concurrently with Open Studios, where local artists throw open their doors to meet art lovers and sell their work.

Open Studios will be held on Saturdays and Sundays June 29 and 30, July 67 and 7, 13 and 14, and 20 and 21. For more information log on to www.marlboroughopenstudios.com