Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Fri 28th, Sep

This month is the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehmann Brothers and reminds us all of the long term financial, social and political impact of the 2008 financial crisis.  The anniversary has also prompted commentators to make comparisons between the current economic climate and that leading up to 2008.

Notable was the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's warning that the impact of a no-deal Brexit could be just as catastrophic for the UK as the 2008 financial crisis, impacting on unemployment, house prices and transport links with the EU. His comments were of course welcomed by anti-Brexit campaigners, and greeted with scepticism by those on the other side.  Neither side however pointed out that this was not a prediction but a worst-case scenario.

Looking back over the last decade it hasn’t been without sizeable economic shocks.  Such shocks would include the Eurozone debt crisis, a Japanese earthquake, a US/China growth soft patch and, more recently, President Trump’s protectionist threats (some of which are turning into reality).

Despite these economic shocks meaningful and quick support from policymakers across the globe has meant that the world economy is in far better shape than it might otherwise have been.  Clearly a lesson learnt from the 2008 financial crisis when more timely and synchronised intervention, especially by the ECB, might have been more effective in kick-starting the upturn and moving on from the crisis.

A second key lesson has been the importance of fiscal stability.  Over the last decade there have been co-ordinated global efforts to ensure that banks and other financial institutions are sufficiently robust to withstand major economic shocks and to continue to support the real economy in a downturn.  The economy is only healthy if business and consumers have confidence in financial institutions, markets and infrastructure.  In the UK the 2017 stress test showed that the UK banking system is resilient to severe domestic, global and market shocks and highlighted that banks were three times stronger than they were before the financial crisis.  It was also judged that the UK banking system could support the real economy through a disorderly Brexit.

The third lesson is the need for fiscal responsibility: in short it pays to repair the roof when the sun is shining.  While growth has been patchy since 2008 and governments continue to labour under large deficits, the need to take an aggressive policy approach during the recovery period is crucial i.e. removing support to create a higher base from which to provide support again when the need rises

While lessons have been learned in the last ten years, the effects of the 2008 financial crisis will take significantly longer to overcome.  And, the impact of Brexit –- deal or no deal – adds another uncertainty for the UK and the rest of the EU. 

In my experience, however, UK businesses tend to be pretty resilient.  But, what most businesses need, to continue to thrive and support economic growth is certainty, clarity and above all, the confidence that their voice is not only being heard but also heeded.

And finally...

This year's Chamber Annual Dinner Awards will be celebrating excellence in business. Our keynote speaker is Liverpool born Mike Moran, Chief Executive of Proton Partners International whose inspirational vision to create a better future for cancer patients on an international stage, is exactly what makes our business community amongst the best in the world. We hope you will be able to join us on Thursday 1 November to hear more about Mike's fascinating story. For more information on the dinner please visit here.

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Mike Moran, CEO of Proton Partners International

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 28th, Sep

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

Mike Moran, CEO of Proton Partners International

Proton Partners International is at the vanguard of advancing cancer care, building a series of oncology centres known as the Rutherford Cancer Centres, and partnering with world-leading providers to equip each centre with the very latest cancer technology, including proton therapy.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

The healthcare sector in the UK is clearly dominated by the NHS which is an incredible institution and the envy of the world.  However, it is far removed from its origins 75 years ago, then it employed 144,000 staff and had a budget of £437m (equivalent to £15bn today).  In 2018 the NHS is one of the biggest businesses in the world, it employs over 1.5 million people across the UK, making it the World’s fourth largest employer along with China National Petroleum Corporation and McDonalds, it has an annual budget of £124bn and yet it doesn’t think like a business. 

In order to improve the healthcare sector in the UK I would like to see more engagement with the private sector.  Particularly in areas where the NHS is performing badly, like cancer and elderly care.  We need to set politics aside and focus on where the patient can be treated best.  I would also like to see more emphasis on patient choice, but more importantly, we need to hear the patient’s voice in the choice which is often drowned out by clinicians. 

What does a typical working day look like?

I work on a five-hour sleep pattern which I have maintained from my time in the Army.  Then it was about having time for fitness training, now its more about volume of work.  I tend to work away during the week where I can work much longer hours which allows me to keep my weekend free for family and football

The role of CEO is punctuated with meetings, travelling to meetings, endless emails and networking events.  It is difficult to have the space to think which is why I enjoy my weekends sat on the lawnmower, this provides a few hours of thinking time while concentrating on straight lines.  I do take time out of my working day to sit with patients and their families at the cancer centre in South Wales.  I like to listen to the patient’s stories and their experiences of cancer and their interaction with the Rutherford Cancer Centres.  It is important as a CEO to seek out ground truth and use it to shape improvement.  I also think that the patients and their families enjoy the interaction too, it sends out a strong message that the man at the top cares, listens and acts for them.  

What advice would you give your teenage self?

The same advice my father gave me as a teenager, live life without fear of failure.  It has served me well and will continue to do so.  Failure often shapes success and it’s so energising when you are able to pivot from something that fails to something that succeeds.

Where would we find you on your day off?

My preference would be to be on a ski slope which isn’t practical for a day off, however, it would make for a great day off.  At weekends, you would find me on the lawn mower at home or tending to the garden.  If Liverpool are playing at home I can be spotted in the Main Stand alongside my Son, James, me reliving my youth, him enduring stories of the glory days, and both of us lending our voices to the atmosphere at Anfield.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

The best advice I was ever given was to disrupt, disrupt and disrupt.  At school I was told that I was disruptive in class, who’d of thought that one day it would be an asset.  I have always believed that if you want to see change then make it change, don’t wait for somebody else to do it, you may die waiting.  There are great examples of disruptive companies such as Apple and Amazon who couldn’t accept that what was available was what was required so they challenged the norm and disrupted the market to drive change.  We have done the same at Proton Partners with the Rutherford Cancer Centres, what was available wasn’t good enough and it wasn’t what was required.  Therefore, my focus now is on ensuring that we continue to innovate so the disrupter doesn’t become the disrupted. 

Who is your role model in business?

I am not sure that I have a role model in business.  However, I certainly do like to look at the careers of successful business people and try to understand what made them so successful.  People like; Karen Brady, Alan Sugar, James Dyson, Jack Ma and Steve Jobs.  When you really get under the skin of what made them so successful it often boils down to two things; disrupting the norm and sheer determination to succeed.  Persistence overcomes resistance and there is no short cut, just hard work.  

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

I didn’t choose Liverpool, Liverpool chose me.  I was born, raised and schooled in Liverpool and have always been passionate about the City, but more importantly, the people within the City.  Liverpool has always been a City of influence around the World and the people of Liverpool are renowned for their resilience and determination to succeed.  Without Robert Morris (a Son of the City), the USA may not have been created.  Without the Liver Buildings, the skyscrapers of New York may not have been built.  Liverpool has a rich history of commerce and this is now resurgent across the Liverpool City Region.  This City is an incubator for success; whether that be in business, sport, music or the arts, if it’s created here it’s appeal will be global.     

 

Want to hear more? Mike will be our Keynote Speaker at our Annual Dinner and Awards on November 1st. Find out more about the event and book your tickets here.

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Posted by Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

Fri 28th, Sep

Right now, this minute, everyone in your business, from your CEO to your admin assistant, could be the victim of a successful phishing attack. We’re all just one click away from potential disaster.

Your business bank account could be compromised, confidential customer data stolen – or even worse, your entire IT estate paralysed by ransomware.

Make no mistake, phishing could kill your business.

For anyone who doesn’t know, phishing is a technique used by criminals in which bogus emails are sent to individuals to fraudulently obtain usernames, passwords, credit card details and sometimes even money usually by clicking on a link.  While some fraudulent emails are easy to spot, the majority look very convincing. 

It’s boomtime in the world of phishing because it works. And SMEs are as vulnerable as big businesses, possibly even more so, as many operate on tight budgets, without the resources for sophisticated defences.

But while every one of your employees is a potential target, by sharing the problem with your people, you can build a team of committed defenders, united in a common cause – preventing cybercriminals from damaging their livelihoods and your business.

Your best defences are education and motivation.

Helping your people to spot the dangers, providing some essential day-to-day dos and don’ts, instilling the need for caution and vigilance and sharing with them the consequences of taking risks, could be the most valuable investment you ever make.

At The PC Support Group we can help you build robust defences against cybercriminals, by combining best practice advice and guidance for you and your people, with the application of cost-effective technologies and solutions to help you keep your business safe and secure.

Whatever you do, don’t do nothing! If you are concerned about the risks your organisation is facing, then  email our sales team  on info@pcsupportgroup.com, click here and leave us a message or you can speak to our team on 03300 886116  for an informal and confidential chat about your current security arrangements, and how we can help you to protect your people and your business. Stay safe.

Phil Bird, Managing Director,

The PC Support Group

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MSIF Investment Director, Simon Thelwall-Jones, discusses one of the biggest issues facing local SMEs

Posted by Simon Thelwall-Jones

MSIF Investment Director

Tue 25th, Sep

We recently commissioned some research which showed that there are well over 20,000 SMEs in the North West and North Wales in which their Directors are aged 55 or over.

Whilst some of these businesses will be passed from one family generation to the next, there are a large number where succession planning (i.e. who to hand the business on to when the current owners wish to retire) is a significant issue.

Over the past 25 years, MSIF has provided finance to over 2,000 businesses, including a large number of Management Buy-Outs (MBOs) and Management Buy-Ins (MBIs). This was achieved by way of debt (loan) finance and equity investment, which can be the solution to the succession planning problem.

Often we find when talking to business owners, there is a misconception about whether their senior or middle-management can afford to buy the company from them, and/or whether those managers have the skills necessary to take over the running from the current owners.

In terms of tackling the first concern, the reality is that we provide most of the finance to fund the MBO or MBI deal, with the managers having to put in a small contribution from their own money (in some instances they have been promised bonuses for assisting with the sale of the company and these bonuses are used to fund their shareholdings).

MSIF has completed many multi-million pound deals where 90% plus of the funding has come from us.

As far as the calibre of the senior/middle management team is concerned, we work with a number of highly experienced business men and women, who often balance the skills of the existing management team. This enables the managers whom work for the business take it over whilst continuing to benefit from on-going guidance and wisdom, which can be lost during the transfer of ownership.

Funders can be wary about backing MBIs but we’ve had some great successes! Last year we backed the Management Buy-In of Delta Rock (North West) Limited, providing £750,000 of loan finance in support of the takeover of the company and, I’m very pleased to say that we’ve been repaid already, as the business has gone from strength to strength.

But that’s not the only way we play “The Generation Game”.

We’ve found in our experience that a lot of businesses are re-invigorated by the next generation once they take the reins.

Whether it’s a family business passing from Mum and Dad to their Son and Daughter, or non-family members slowly being given larger and larger stakes in the business they work for, we regularly see companies which have shown fairly modest or no growth over the past few years, suddenly start to grow by 20-30% year on year. Particularly where we’ve provided them with development capital (again by way of loan or equity) to assist with them with their expansion plans.

A great example of this would be Forshaw Group, in which we provided a £500,000 investment through a Management Buy-Out deal. Since the takeover by second-generation directors, they have doubled their turnover, employed 36 new staff (plus 150 subcontractors) and again, repaid MSIF early due to their success.

If you would like to find out more about what we can do to help you and your business, whether that’s assisting with your succession plans or growing your business post a change of ownership, please contact us 0151 236 4040 or via our website www.msif.co.uk.

We would love to help if we can.

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This week, the Migration Advisory Committee published its report and recommendations for the future of the UK’s immigration policy. Gordon Irving, Solicitor at Broudie Jackson Canter shares his thoughts on the report.

Posted by Gordon Irving

Fri 21st, Sep

Whilst some of the proposals from MAC are positive, there is the possibility that employers will be burdened with an unforeseen administrative burden which could have a massively negatively impact.

Employers currently benefit from free movement for EEA workers as they are not required by law to undertake checks on these employees to ensure that they have permission to work.

If the government implements the MAC’s recommendations that EEA workers do not receive ‘preferential treatment ‘ post Brexit ( as Theresa May herself has hinted), then employers will have to navigate the Home Offices sponsor licence system to employ EEA nationals and ensure that the EEA nationals that they employ are allowed to work in the UK. They will also be exposed to the risk of incurring a civil penalty if they employ EEA nationals who do not have permission to work.

In addition, if the sponsors licence system is expanded to ensure that employers must have a licence to employ EEA nationals, employers will be forced to comply with a myriad of ongoing checks to ensure that they are meeting the obligations under the terms of their licence.

My concern, having worked with employers previously to ensure compliance with their sponsors licence obligations and in avoiding civil penalties for employing illegal workers, is that the implementation of MAC’s recommendations will ultimately have a hugely negative impact on employers. If a company loses its licence to employ overseas workers then the consequences can be extremely damaging.

It is noted that the MAC itself recommends a review of how the current sponsor licensing system works for small and medium-sized businesses and consults more systematically with users of the visa system to ensure it works as smoothly as possible.

It is essential that the government work with the Home Office to ensure that any implementation of the proposals is firmly underpinned by rational and coherent strategies to avoid yet more business being exposed to the currently dysfunctional sponsorship licence system.

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Lisa Greenhalgh, Chief Executive Officer at MSIF

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 21st, Sep

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

My name is Lisa Greenhalgh and I am the Chief Executive Officer at MSIF. I oversee the running of MSIF’s entire operation including its investment and ongoing business strategy. We specialise in providing loan and equity investments to businesses within the Liverpool City Region, the North West and North Wales.

What changed would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

I would like to see (and help) bridge the gap in Angel Investment opportunities for businesses in the Liverpool City Region. Earlier this year, alongside Brabners and Grant Thornton, we founded the LCR Angel Network. After finding out that 69% of investors choose to invest within their own region, we knew it was important to create and, grow a network that brings SMEs and business investor’s in-front of each other.

What does a typical working day look like?

I get up at 5.30am to fit in a workout before the day starts. Every Monday morning we have a team meeting to highlight opportunities, work in progress and what networking we are attending throughout the week.  I also sit on the Investment Panel for MSIF so a review of investment papers happens most days. 

Outside of the day job, I am the Deputy Chair of Governors and Chair of Audit for Edge Hill University and Chair of Governors at Churchtown Primary School. Every day is pretty fast-paced and busy, with no two days alike. Most evenings I will get home about 8.30-9.30pm and unwind for the night ready for the next day ahead.

Where would we find you on your day off?

Most people would say that I am most likely to be on the golf course improving my handicap of 11! But in reality that’s not true even though I should go to the practice ground more… I have recently started singing lessons so I like to practice when I have the house to myself on a day off.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Best advice I have been given is trust your instincts.  Its likely to be spot on..

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

There is some amazing talent within the Liverpool City Region and many fantastic businesses that contribute a real buzz to the city!  I want to continue to support as many businesses as possible through loan or equity investment, the MSIF Finance Hub or the Angel Network.

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Posted by Chris Witterick

Mon 17th, Sep

7 months ago, I took the (some might say strange) decision to move from a pretty secure and enjoyable role with one of the region’s leading business networking organisations to oversee the rebrand and subsequent re-emergence of one of Liverpool’s original ‘Co-working’ spaces, Launch22.

I have long held thoughts about there being a distinct lack of quality business support and mentoring in the region, and after talking with Chief Executive of Capacity, Chris Catterall, about their intention of taking over operations of Launch22 and their plans to offer a unique business support hub for social enterprises and third sector organisations, this seemed like the challenge for me!

My first day at Launch22 in February was definitely an eye opener. I realised that for all my ambitions about changing the way we support businesses and mentor them to success, I was going to face some considerable challenges. Launch22 had an existing mentor programme, but it wasn’t actually delivering results to either mentor or mentee. There is definitely an appetite for business leaders to offer their services as a mentor, but there were several barriers to them doing so:

  • Lack of coordination in matching a mentor’s skills with a mentee’s needs
  • Lack of expectation management for both mentor and mentee
  • Lack of genuine experience and training to mentor
  • Lack of willingness to take advice from the mentor and implement it in practice.

With this in mind, we set about making some positive changes at Launch22.

1. Rebrand – In order to have maximum impact with our new business support/mentor programme, the space needed a new identity which would align it with the Capacity brand. After a number of awful suggestions (mainly by me) we decided on ‘LAB by Capacity.’

2. Refurb – While hosting events was a big part of the overall LAB offering, our events space wasn’t being used to its potential. Therefore we took the decision to transform the events space into three private offices now known as ‘LAB Base’, which will be suitable for 6 to 10 people. They are being built this month, and we are really excited by the progress so far…

This refurb will not only give us a sustainable revenue stream, but most importantly will mean we are putting our money where our mouth is; what’s the point in helping businesses grow if you don’t have anywhere for them to grow into?

1. Events – Fortunately, the refurb will not signal the end of the LAB event calendar. We will still host a series of smaller, more targeted events to benefit our members. For example, we have partnered with global accounting firm BDO, who will deliver a series of workshops including: business process, financial planning, forecasting, profit and loss, tax, and payroll. These are all issues which affect small businesses and start-ups, and all valuable skills which would normally cost significant amounts in training.

2. Mentor network – After identifying the issues in the existing mentor programme, I decided to try and do things a bit differently. My previous role allowed me to develop a great network of business leaders across the North West, who I’ve been able to call upon to develop this extended network. As a result, LAB by Capacity has access to over 100 mentors, all of whom bring a variety of experience, specialisms and skills as well as profile, influence and cash to invest in the right enterprise. All new and existing members can access the LAB mentor network; we just need to chat about what makes you tick, decide what your business might need, and identify who could potentially help it grow. We rolled this mentor network out in July and already, two of our member businesses have secured nearly £100,000 of investment and two others are expanding their businesses at a far quicker rate than expected thanks to our introductions. We really believe we’re onto something here.

So 6 months on, LAB is motoring along really well: membership is higher than it’s ever been, the new mentor network is already showing signs of success and we have three fully-serviced private offices being constructed to offer to new and existing LAB members. We’ve also hosted a number of high-profile events, which you can read about on our blog.

It has been a great effort from the team here, and we are really looking forward to what the next 6 months has in store for us…

If you would like to come in and see what we’re up to, we have free trial days available. Just sign up at labliverpool.co.uk/free-trial-day. Alternatively, pop down and see us at 12 Tithebarn Street or contact us directly at chris@labliverpool.co.uk.

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Claire Currie, Partner and Private Client Solicitor at Kirwans Solicitors

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 14th, Sep

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

I would like to see more data checking by the banks when dealing with the accounts of those who have passed away. I often feel they are rightly cautious during their customers’ lifetime to ensure no-one else is able to access their bank account, but once someone passes away, the security around whom the banks pay the closing balances to seems to fall away. There are many checks they could do that just don’t happen.

What does a typical working day look like?

After dropping the children off at pre-school and school, I usually head to the office. After responding to post and messages, I will typically see four clients during the day. Between appointments, I usually do desk work such as writing wills, speaking to clients and dealing with correspondence regarding estates. As an equity partner and head of our Family department, I also have numerous management responsibilities to squeeze in too. I couldn’t do this without the support I have in the office, and my secretary Nicola who makes sure that everything runs smoothly. I tend to finish at 3.30pm to do the school run and then fit in a couple more hours once the children have gone to bed.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

As I didn’t go back and study law until my later twenties, I would say that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to do as a career now. During life, you will find your path. Equally, don’t worry about being the person you think people want you to be; be yourself. As long as you are kind and always try your hardest, things will come together. Cherish your friends, as they will be the most important things in your life apart from your children. You don’t necessarily need lots of friends either; just a few close ones who you can always turn to.

Where would we find you on your day off?

Doing something with the children. We always try and get out somewhere active and outdoors.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Mistakes can happen and the character of a person is how they deal with those mistakes rather than the mistake itself. Always seek help.

Who is your role model in business?

Computer scientist, academic and social entrepreneur, Dr Sue Black. Although she is in a completely different sector, she seems to have taken what she has learnt in business and is willing to give it back while also championing the increasing role of women in technology.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

The region is such a vibrant one, ever-changing and developing, and the business sector is both innovative and supportive, making it an attractive prospect for businesses. It's also a great place to live; the real sense of community, coupled with the many family-orientated events on offer, means I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

 

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As ArrivaClick launches in Liverpool, we caught up with Asiya Jelani, Director, ArrivaClick, to find out more about the scheme and the wider social and economic benefits to the Liverpool city region.

Posted by Asiya Jelani

New Product & Business Development Director for Demand Responsive Transport at Arriva, Asiya Jelani is responsible for the creation and launch of ArrivaClick, a product that has been described as a “game changer” for the bus industry. Asiya has taken a new product to market and is now leading its expansion across the UK. Starting out as a PR and marketing graduate trainee in 2000, Asiya went on to spend a number of years in the emergency and non-emergency ambulance sectors and brings a mix of public and private sector transport knowledge and experience to her current role. In the last year she has led the team at Arriva to mobilise two complex mobilisations, winning two industry acclaimed awards for innovation. A proud Northerner, Asiya is passionate about pushing herself and others out of their comfort zone. A devoted mother to two teenage boys, in her spare time, Asiya enjoys losing herself in a book and trekking in the mountains to clear out the cobwebs.

Fri 31st, Aug

Why is Click important to Arriva as a business?

The Arriva group is one of the largest transportation businesses in Europe with bus and train operations in 14 countries. Arriva UK Bus operates 5,000 buses across the UK and since 2013, through Arriva Transport Solutions, we also operate a number of non-emergency patient transport services on behalf of the NHS. We also run a variety of other modes including buses, trains, trams, bike shares and many more.  Our goal is to be mobility partner of choice for customers and Click adds a new on-demand mode of transport to our offering as a business. 

Why does ArrivaClick add to the existing transport offer?

ArrivaClick was developed to address a number of challenges within the public transport market.  Consumer lifestyles have changed, populations are increasing in urban areas and decreasing in rural ones, working patterns are more flexible and people now access many more services online, meaning that the way the nation moves around has changed. 

Bus travel remains the most used form of public transport, making up around two thirds of all public transport journeys. In some areas, however, the level of bus passengers has reduced whilst the use of private cars and other single-occupancy vehicles, has increased.

Partnering with Via, we have developed an on-demand mini bus service, offering customers the ability to book and pay for rides through their mobile phones, selecting their desired pick-up and drop-off points.

Our first trial in Sittingbourne has been extremely successful with around 12% of the population using the service, allowing us to deliver around 1,500 rides per week using five eleven-seater minibuses, with users shifting from all modes of transport.

What are the wider benefits of ArrivaClick?

This service also provides an opportunity to blend service provision across commercial, local authority supported and social transport. Where users’ needs can be met by the provision of an accessible vehicle, seat and driver support, we have the capability through our systems and control services to allow booking, aggregation of demand and deliver a highly efficient unit cost for the journey.  We are very interested to see if there are opportunities to join up these strands with partners in the health and public transport sectors.

Why Liverpool?

Over the last couple of years, Arriva has undertaken extensive market analysis research to gain insight into which UK locations are best suited to the successful uptake of a DRT solution. We all agreed that Liverpool would be the ideal place to launch the most ambitious DRT project in the UK!

We are looking forward to growing a service that meets the diverse needs of Liverpool’s communities and businesses, providing customers with more choice and supporting the delivery of a public transport system that works for everyone. ArrivaClick complements Liverpool’s existing public transport network and has the potential to transform thousands of journeys, create up to 70 new jobs in the area as well as supporting access to employment, leisure, tourism and retail, boosting Liverpool’s already thriving economy. ArrivaClick also aligns with the metro mayor’s aspirations to make access to public transport more streamlined and customer friendly.

We have had great support from Merseytravel in rolling out the service as well as from partners like Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce who all recognise wider benefits for the city.

We are really excited about the arrival of ArrivaClick to Liverpool and look forward to welcoming you to the service!

 

To find out more about ArrivaClick, please visit www.arrivaclick.co.uk, or download the app

If you enter the code LIVERPOOL5, before booking your first ride, you will receive £5 free credit*.

 

If you are an employer and would like to know more about how ArrivaClick can help you and your employees, please contact Mike Kent on kentm@arrivanw.co.uk or call on 07879431998.

 

*Terms and conditions apply, please visit www.arrivabus.co.uk/arrivaclick/terms-and-conditions/ to see more.

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Our Chairman Neil Ashbridge takes a critical look at the latest government announcements impacting on future trade and exports.

Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Fri 31st, Aug

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have long been calling for clarity for business in a post Brexit world. The BCC has just published its latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook which indicated that despite a strong performance in many cases, economic and political factors remain the key concerns. The volatility around sterling as well as the escalating labour shortage are both highlighted by the survey of over 2,600 exporters. Addressing these issues must be a priority for the government.

The first tranche of technical notices aimed at giving businesses and consumers advice on the implications of a 'no deal' exit from the European Union, has also been published to mixed reviews. As supporters on both sides of the Brexit argument become increasingly entrenched and the Treasury is once again being accused of promoting “project fear”, away from the media, businesses are quietly trying to assess what this all means for them. A no-deal Brexit is likely to be disruptive to a large proportion of the 46,000 businesses in the Liverpool city region so any clarity is to be welcomed. However if the Government realistically expects business to be ready for all eventualities on Friday 29 March, then much more specific and practical advice is needed sooner rather than later.   

The BCC has particularly welcomed the plans for VAT, which businesses feared could cause a cash-flow 'time bomb' after the UK's exit from the EU, and on which they have been campaigning. However concerns remain around cross-border trade and customs, where changes are set to impact businesses from day one in the event of a 'no deal' outcome as well as banking and financial services, where changes could have a significant impact on non-financial firms trading across borders.

Export Strategy

The Government’s recently published Export Strategy strikes a much more positive note. It sets a new national challenge to raise UK exports as a share of GDP from 30% to 35% through encouraging, inspiring and supporting more businesses to export.

International trade is at the core of the mission of Chambers of Commerce all across the UK.

Every year, Chambers directly support more than 30,000 businesses exporting goods and services overseas, working with other private sector organisations, and with the agencies and departments of HM Government.  

We particularly welcome the increased focus on the practicalities of exporting, including the role of our existing exporters to enable them to inspire other businesses and facilitate peer-to-peer learning. The strategy highlights the importance of improved communication with businesses to provide information, advice and practical assistance on exporting as well as signposting for SMEs to support access to new markets and private sector support.

The Chamber’s recently established International Trade Club is an excellent example of how this can work in practice. This Trade Club is exclusively for exporters and importers of goods and services, companies seeking international partners, shipping and logistics companies who are looking to actively expand their network of contacts, share the views on international trade and exchange practical advice. The first event is on Friday 5 October and you can find out more details here.

Our aim is to provide companies with the right kind of knowledge to prepare for different trading outcomes, working with specialists to provide insight and advice. Future events include Preparing for trade in a post BREXIT world on 28 September (details here) and looking at business opportunities in the USA (10 October) and South America (10 September).

BCC Quarterly Economic Survey (Q3)

Finally, a reminder that the QES for Q3 is now open. As the largest and most representative independent business survey of its kind in the UK I would encourage you all to take a few minutes to complete the survey.

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