Posted by British Chambers of Commerce

Mon 11th, Dec

From April 2018, all rates will increase as follows

  • NLW (raised by 4.4%)  to £7.83
  • 21-24             £7.38; 
  • 18-20             £5.90;
  • 16-17             £4.20;
  • Apprentices £3.70

The NLW remains on track to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020. 

Here is The Low Pay Commission’s  Report on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) / National Living Wage. Here is the rationale for the recommendations made and the Government’s response

In our written and oral evidence to the Low Pay Commission, BCC called for a 2.7% cost of living increase so as not to drive people out of jobs and warned that firms were close to reaching a tipping point.   The LPC felt businesses still had more scope to reduce profits or increase prices. 

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Mon 11th, Dec

Friday's announcement of a deal to commence trade negotiations with the EU is an important step for the UK but is, in effect, merely a trigger to begin talking about the actual important things.

With a Brexit date rapidly approaching, the coming six months are critical to ensuring that clarity is provided to businesses about the post-Brexit arrangements for trade, customs, migrant workers and funding.

The dominance of Brexit within both the government and media agendas has diminished the focus upon the critical domestic issues that are impacting our businesses.

Our continuing focus is to ensure attention remains upon improving transport and digital infrastructure, skills and employability access and support and rebalancing the economy for the betterment of the North.

So let’s be relieved that the Brexit deadlock has been broken a little but let us not lose any sense of purpose in pursuing what our city region needs: better rail and road links, further improvements in digital and mobile accessibility, greater opportunities and funding to raise skill levels and resource and support to boost export trade.

It’s a long road, but we look forward to the challenge of enabling our city region to be the best place to start, locate or operate a business in the UK.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 01st, Dec

This week started with a red-eye train journey to Manchester for a joint meeting with the Minister for Rail, Paul Maynard, MP.

Representatives of government, rail operators and private sector businesses joined our colleagues from Greater Manchester and West and North Yorkshire Chambers to discuss the North’s priorities for rail improvements and investment.

As you would expect, the general consensus was that the North needs increased connectivity if we are to make any significant impact on improving the movement of people and freight, with Liverpool particularly set to benefit from connectivity to HS2 and, in the future, to Northern Powerhouse Rail. Maximising the port’s connectivity through improved access and boosting rail capacity for freight is integral to achieving the potential for our city region.

I was particularly encouraged by both the Minister’s familiarity with the region (he is one of that rare species of Northern MPs to hold a Ministerial portfolio) and the way in which he spoke so positively about Liverpool and the city region. It was also clear that he recognised the contributions of the three Chambers to the debate. He certainly understood the need to tackle the ‘rail-speak’ that dominates much of government rhetoric to make this crucial agenda more relevant to business.

A further meeting with the Minister will take place with British Chambers of Commerce next week where the positioning of rail connectivity within the context of the industrial strategy will be discussed and debated. We will be there to further promote the needs of Liverpool and the North so don’t hesitate to get in touch if there are any issues you want us to raise.

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Introducing The Brand Equity Wheel

Posted by Vision One Research

Wed 29th, Nov

Brand Equity is a construct  designed to reflect the real value that a brand name holds for the products or services it provides. Measuring Brand Equity is the ultimate measure of brand health because it drives sales, market share and overall profitability.

Introducing The Brand Equity Wheel

Vision One’s Brand Equity Wheel is one of the most forward thinking brand equity evaluation tools available – designed to help brand owners optimise their brand and success. The Brand Equity Wheel helps brand owners by focusing on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are widely known to have a tangible effect on brand health. The wheel is made up of 4 key areas (and 8 key metrics)

Brand Pyramid (or sometimes known as the Brand Funnel) is a classical brand marketing took ideal for evaluating brands and their strengths and weakness. The Brand Pyramid incorporates key metrics, including; awareness, consideration, usage and loyalty.

Brand Stature – Standing out from the crowd is essential for any brand. Brand Stature reflects both the strength and leadership of the brand in the market and its uniqueness using vision ones proprietary brand questions.

Brand Value – In line with current thinking on brand equity, we place a good deal of emphasis on the value (£) people attribute onto a brand. We seek to measure the financial strength of the brand and peoples disposition to pay more for it. However, another important aspect of ‘Value’ is how well the brand meets consumer needs.  We also assess how well the brand meets 25 rational and emotional needs.

Brand Delivery – Happy customers is the route to success for many brands. We assess how well the brand delivers against expectations (Customer Satisfaction) along with a Net Recommendation Score (NPS)

These fundamental four components of brand health can be further broken down into 8  factors which can be measured.
These measurements lead to an overall brand health score.

The Brand Equity tool uses some ground breaking approaches to provide unique insights into your brand.

Read more here...

 

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PrivilegeHR share their tips on how to retain chefs beyond Christmas

Posted by PrivilegeHR

Mon 27th, Nov

Recent research has highlighted a growing issue within the hospitality industry when it comes to the recruitment of chefs, with a staggering 93% of agencies reporting that there are not enough trained chefs in the UK to meet current demands.

Experienced HR Director and Founder of PrivilegeHR, Mary Ball shares her advice on how hospitality companies can source and retain quality chefs in the current climate amidst the widening gap between supply and demand.

The Christmas period can be a particularly stressful time for hospitality recruiters with restaurants taking more covers in December than any month in the year. With this soaring consumer demand, recruitment drives are in full swing but can this enthusiasm last into the New Year? There are a number of things that employers can do to ensure that they hire and more importantly, retain chefs beyond the busy Yuletide spell.

A common issue that continually plagues the hospitality sector is the lack of adequate training available for staff, particularly with chefs, a job that is incredibly skilled and detailed in nature. The Christmas season is notoriously busy when it comes to recruitment and companies often welcome in a large number of new staff, meaning that training time and quality can be compromised. It is absolutely essential that every member of staff receives adequate training and if this is offered as part of the advertised job package it will make the position more desirable from the offset, attracting employees who are keen to develop and progress.

Training should not just be offered at the start of a new contract but should be continuous as part of staff development. Learning opportunities make staff feel valued, demonstrating that an employee is willing to invest time and money into them which in turn makes staff more company loyal and more skilled at their job; a win-win situation for both parties. Employers could consider taking on young and ambitious staff who may not have years of experience but have the drive to learn and commit to your business. As an employer, if you invest into someone’s career then they are more likely to repay you with dedication.

Staff gratification plays a huge role when it comes to retention with many employees leaving a job after feeling undervalued or unmotivated and with so many staff on the books One way to achieve this is by offering staff bonuses based on performance or by offering a desirable contract which is attractive and competitive. Investing in your employees could save money in the long run as it means less time and money put in to re-recruiting.

Encourage employees to have a voice within the workplace and you could see significant improvement in overall work ethic and atmosphere in the kitchen, particularly when to chefs who are the very heart of your business. Albeit reputation and customer service will attract diners in to an establishment, the chef’s menu plays a crucial role so encourage creativity. Their input could help to shape a business and it is always healthy to get a varied perspective on services. Businesses hire chefs based on their expertise and experience so allowing them to draw on this and not only could your business thrive, but the employee will feel valued. Trust your staff to input their ideas and be vocal about their issues and this makes for an effective work place.

Finally, take the time to develop your staff beyond the job remit to help them to achieve their maximum potential in the workplace. Many employees place focus on the core functions of the job and for chefs this is predominantly being able to produce quality dishes however, the importance of interpersonal skills is paramount. If a chef can communicate effectively with a wider team of waiting staff and fellow chefs then this makes for an all-round more efficient workplace. Training skills such as these and basic administration produce well-rounded employees that can really make a positive impact on business and are more likely to develop to take on the role of training new staff as more come through the door.

For more information visit www.privilegehr.co.uk

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 24th, Nov

Depending on whose opinion you listened to in advance of his speech, Wednesday’s Budget announcements were either the most important or irrelevant in living memory.

There was an underwhelming feel to proceedings throughout the build up and in the aftermath, although some of the announcements will be welcomed by businesses there is a prevailing sense of political reality impeding ambition to give the economy the shot in the arm the country needs to build, build and build.

First up, the positives. The business rates rise of 3.9% in April was partially mitigated by the bringing forward of the calculation of interest by CPI rather than RPI. A rise of 2.9% will still be incurred but the full rate rise has been avoided thanks in part to the joint lobbying by British Chambers of Commerce, the CBI and FSB.

There was a reaffirmation that digital infrastructure and 5G / fibre connectivity will be a key asset in the country’s competitiveness. How this will manifest itself remains to be seen but the prospect of even greater connectivity within our own conurbation is to be welcomed.

The maintenance of an £85k VAT threshold was also a wise move for the moment whilst there is no ‘soft-landing’ for self-employed and micro businesses who incur VAT for the first time. Also, there was no announced uplift of Insurance Premium Tax.

Much of what remained was fairly limited in scope and large on rhetoric. The stamp duty elimination for first time buyers is a minor solution to a much bigger problem. The Chancellor himself articulated in the preceding sentence to the announcement that it was cash shortfalls that stops young people getting on the ladder and if social mobility and home ownership aspiration is to be a realistic prospect, policy needs to reflect the difficult position that savings-deprived young people are in when it comes to mortgage applications.

Businesses were eager to see a budget that lifted the burden of input taxation but, with the exception of the business rates switch, such commitments were in limited supply. The political situation perhaps negated the prospect of ‘big and bold’ being the theme for the budget but there remains a lack of treasury confidence to commit to big infrastructure spend. Disappointingly, there is little suggestion that input taxes will be reduced as the government pursues its Corporation Tax roadmap. We hope a freeze to the roadmap and a commitment to limit the imposition of new input taxes will be forthcoming in the New Year.

On Brexit:

The commitment to a contingency Brexit fund was a political necessity but will do little to dispel genuine business concerns that the government is willing to accept a ‘hard Brexit’ without the necessary ‘implementation period.’ Movement on negotiations and the resultant clarity of direction is a critical to enable businesses to appropriately plan and to be reassured that the free and frictionless trade arrangements mooted by the Chancellor are realistic to achieve.

On Skills:

Failure to clarify or commit to the redistribution policy of apprenticeship levy spend across company supply chains are frustrating, given the six months experience already obtained within the new apprenticeship funding regime and the consequential impact on apprenticeship starts in the period. The reaffirmation of T-Levels was notable as, although further details will be forthcoming, there has been some scepticism related to their introduction, the available funding and capacity-building ability of providers.

On infrastructure:

Commitments to the delivery of mobile connectivity on the Transpennine railway and the £1.7bn ‘Transforming Cities Fund’ are welcome but sustained funding and a commitment to progressing electrification of railways in the North with the longer term aspiration to build Northern Powerhouse Rail are the necessary next steps to rebalance and grow the economy.

Perhaps it is telling that the big headline of the budget was not in the policy but in the Chancellor’s statement of OBR growth projections for the coming years. There is no doubt that forecasting looks bleak for economic growth but Chambers of Commerce and Bank of England data indicates a relatively positive outlook for business relating to productivity and wage growth. Brexit looms large on an ever diminishing horizon, and trade talks need to commence soon.

The Chambers of Commerce throughout the country will continue to lobby government on behalf of business with quantitative and qualitative information that reflects the prevailing voice of business. Do join us in the conversation.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 17th, Nov

Two events stood out for me this week as reflective and poignant in differing ways.

Last Sunday I had the honour of laying a wreath at the City’s outstanding Remembrance Service at St George’s Hall. The Chamber has undertaken this duty for many, many years and it was truly humbling to witness the dignity and respect conveyed to the brave men and women who served – and continue to serve – in our armed forces.

It was a tacit reminder that whilst we undertake our daily lives seeking to enrich ourselves and our businesses – with all the stress, anxieties and pressures it may incur – those who serve to protect and serve our country are undertaking a role which enables us to live and work in our great city with comparative freedom and safety.

The second event which caused genuine reflection also took place at St George’s Hall at a Waterstone’s event on Wednesday, where the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, spoke passionately and with a great deal of humour and humility about his time as Chancellor and the shifting political landscape of the past decade.

Listening to a relaxed, charismatic and genuinely statesmanlike Brown extol the virtues of ‘a national conversation’ about Brexit, Britain’s place in the world and the economic realities of austerity upon the inequality of the country, I was struck by how his persona differed from the perception of him as PM in the dying embers of the New Labour government.

There is no doubt that our country is a different place to that which Brown left in 2010, yet the chord struck with me was his reflections on the lack of consensus-building in politics and within society. We have seen in the build up to next week’s budget dominated by very public disagreements between figures within government on the way forward. Social media is dominated by extreme and entrenched positions on every subject – Brexit, transport strikes, northern inequality – and the prevailing environment appears increasingly bleak and negative.

Yet there remains much to be encouraged about and the opportunity for our city to be at the forefront of the UK’s economy – post-Brexit or otherwise – remains in our hands. Ten years on from Capital of Culture, the shift in politics and the economy can result in reflections of Mr Brown’s time in government being viewed through a misty-eyed haze. Now however, the opportunities reflected in both the Metro Mayor’s policy announcements on Wednesday and the government’s commitment to Transport for the North on Thursday are indicative that Liverpool need not be subject to the negative psychosis.

Issues remain and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs in the ensuring period as both the country and our city find our place in the world. There is no doubt that the Chancellor’s Budget will be one of the most intriguing and instructive for many years and we do not know at this stage the extent to which there will be good or bad news for our businesses. We hope that a commitment to limit additional up front taxes, to invest and commence imperative infrastructure projects in the North and to provide greater clarity and funding for our education and skills system will be prominent within the announcements. 

The poignancy of Remembrance Sunday should remind us all that a century on from the ‘war to end all wars’, our city has survived and emerged from difficult times in the past and remains capable of adapting to, and leading in, this new economic world.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 29th, Sep

This week the Chamber welcomed Thailand’s Ambassador to the UK and his entourage for a meeting with colleagues from Warrant Group, Santander and Colloids, along with representatives of the Department for International Trade and Liverpool Vision.

The meeting with the Ambassador enabled a fantastic exchange of ideas and opportunities for both inward and outbound trade opportunities and demonstrated once again that global opportunities exist for Liverpool city region companies in multiple professions and sectors.

Such opportunities discussed ranged from the expertise sought by Thailand in key infrastructure construction to the merits of a Thai mango (seriously!).

Thailand is the second largest member of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, established in Bangkok on 8 August 1967. It is highly connected with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and other countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei and Myanmar. Dialogue with the EU has already started to progress trade procedures and the Ambassador highlighted that the links between the UK and Thailand were so strong that Brexit shouldn’t impact these or any future relationship.

 We learnt about Thailand looking to accelerate economic growth and social progress and due to growing tourism and a developing hotel and catering sector there are opportunities for UK companies in:

  • innovative technology and products
  • organic and healthy food products
  • premium made in UK food and drink products
  • food packaging and processing equipment

Thailand plans to invest massively in the near future in strategic infrastructure projects, including:

  • upgrading national rail network with double tracking and expansion of the Bangkok mass-transit system
  • airport and port expansion projects
  • road and bridge upgrades
  • water management and flood prevention

Therefore there are opportunities for UK companies in the following areas:

  • project management
  • consulting engineering
  • design
  • operation of ports and major infrastructure projects
  • specialist innovative technology

Opportunities for exporting British expertise in education and management are also apparent based on the Ambassador’s observations.

It was heartening to hear the outstanding success stories from Russell Livesey of Colloids; whose growth in the past decade has seen turnover increase four-fold with 80% achieved directly from export sales. Similarly, Warrant Group’s success with plastic scrap recycling in Bangkok exemplifies the potential that fostering such trade links with the UK can achieve.

Discussing the International Business Festival (launched last night in London of course), it is apparent that Liverpool as a business destination has resonance with international traders. The prospect of an international marketplace providing genuine supply chain opportunities to UK businesses is the unique and valuable selling point in next year’s iteration of the festival and one that must be marketed to the hilt and made an unqualified success. Certainly, our Thai delegation were attracted by the proposition.

 After two good festivals, the attainment of tangible business between local and international buyers and suppliers is the next achievable step the festival should take to become great. After this week’s visit, we hope that Thailand representatives and businesses will play a full part in the opportunities presented by next year’s festival, to do business in and with the businesses of Liverpool.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 22nd, Sep

This week Heathrow launched a multi-point vision for the future and initiated a campaign to the government for the elimination of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on domestic flights.

It’s easy to become cynical about the case surrounding the UK’s recognised hub airport. It’s proposed third runway has had so many false dawns that any semblance of progress is greeted with a collective “yeah, right” rather than the anticipation one would expect.

APD is an impediment to domestic air travel. It is levied on the carriage of chargeable passengers from a UK airport on chargeable aircraft. It is calculated based upon distance from London and is split into bands – domestic connections incur a cost of £13 per person in standard class. Such costs are substantial when aggregated upwards and impair the competitiveness of aircraft operating domestic flights and particularly those at airports within close proximity to airports in devolved areas where APD has been waived.

Heathrow’s campaign is important in maintaining the focus of our region upon the support provided for Heathrow’s third runway, made on the contingent basis that regional airport landing slots are provided to the likes of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, providing a direct flight to and from the nation’s capital and times favourable to business.

The Chamber has frequently lobbied and expressed its support for a better transport deal for business, most recently concerning the freight access via road to the Port of Liverpool and rail connectivity across the North. This weeks announcement from the Department for Transport that the next stage of HS2 must contain a provision for Northern Powerhouse Rail was extremely positive.

Yet it is the multi-modal access to and from the City of Liverpool that must be pursued as the end goal. Heathrow expansion may be deemed a disproportionate benefit to the South East but, in our view, it enhances our capacity for transport connectivity to London and global destinations. The latest campaign to tackle the additional costs of APD is a step in the right direction in eliminating our barriers to transport growth and access.

See also: Chamber & LJLA welcome Heathrow Air Passenger Duty Proposal

 

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 15th, Sep

Last week it was announced that I'd been appointed as the Chief Executive of the Chamber and I want to use my blog this week to make a request. We need you to tell us what you want from us.

The Chamber of Commerce for Liverpool and Sefton has a key role to play with local, regional and national partners to create a city region where businesses want to invest, relocate, export and start up.

Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce will remain a private-sector led organisation which provides access to the largest, best and most diverse network of businesses and talent in the city region. In addition to helping to stimulate intra-member business, we will represent the collective interests of our members and ensure you receive the information and market intelligence to prosper in these complex times.

In particular, we will be working with members to ensure they are prepared for the outcome of Brexit negotiations, have a clear voice in the campaign for improving infrastructure in the North and are at the forefront of an insatiable desire to improve the delivery of skills to citizens in the City Region.

I have made a commitment to contact and arrange meetings with all of our member businesses before the turn of the year. It is essential that as a members-funded Chamber that we are providing the services, representation and information that your business needs.

Consider the following and let us know:

1.       How can the Chamber of Commerce tangibly support your business objectives?

2.       What are the biggest issues impacting upon your business either now or in the coming twelve months?

3.       As a member, what one thing could the Chamber of Commerce do to generate the maximum benefit from your company’s membership?

We've got some great things coming up - our Annual Dinner on 2nd November, the arrival of some new faces in the business, an exciting 'Marketing Power Hour' programme, the reforming of our Members Council and the introduction of a refreshed membership offer. 

I’m extremely grateful for the support organisations have provided to the Chamber through investment in membership and I hope that we are reciprocating that support with value. If we aren’t, you're in the best place to help us shape a Chamber of Commerce that works for business.

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