The Annual 2019 - Punchline Gloucester Business Magazine



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How to order Puzzles can be purchased and collected by visiting us at The Old Fire Station, Barbican Road, Gloucester, GL1 2JF. Payments can be made in cash, via BACS or by cheque. All proceeds will go to the named charities. To submit a bulk order or reserve puzzles, call 01452 308781 or email

Designed and produced by Moose Marketing and PR, the jigsaw is being sold in support of three well-known Gloucestershire Charities.

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Ideal for home, your workplace or a gift for clients, our unique jigsaw puzzle is the perfect challenge - while championing and connecting the business community right here in Gloucestershire. piece Punchline Jigsaw Puzzle

Recognise some of the faces? Find 247 of them spread across its pieces. The completed puzzle measures 50cm by 38cm. Grab your copy for just £20

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Punchline’s next issue, gloucestershire's 100 biggest employers will be published in APRIL Want to be part of it? email or telephone 01452 308781

Life's a puzzle

I love my job. Not many people get the opportunity or time to drive around the county and Ross-on-Wye every two months, visiting all the companies on our high streets and business parks. It’s not even like being a sales rep, I’m not actually selling anything, but giving away something free. A product that could help their business grow, offer advice, highlight business opportunities and connect them with other successful businesses and people. And it’s the connections that we make that got me really thinking. My Grandad used to say: “Learn as much as you can from everyone you meet, because everyone has so much knowledge and there is so much to learn.” It might have been pre-internet but he was a wise old sage, well actually a baker, but a pretty wise baker. And that nicely brings me back around to connections. After all we are joined together, not just by working in

the county, but also that entrepreneurial spirit that drives us and our companies forward.

It’s the connections and the people that we meet that makes the job so enjoyable and I’m lucky to meet so many people! I don’t think I need to explain the punchline about the jigsaw. I would like to have included more of you, and I’m sorry I missed so many, but I would have ended up with a 100-page magazine just full of people. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. Finally, good luck for the rest of 2019. Hold on to your hat, it's going to be just as interesting and challenging as last year. Nothing new there then? l

Mark Owen

FIND MY DAD: Here is my Dad, if you can find him on the covers of this magazine somewhere, drop me an email, or tweet me a photo of him and you’ll be entered into a draw to WIN a meal out with the editor at Greek on the Docks plus bottle of wine (to share)*.

*normal rules and conditions apply.

Call us on 01452 308781

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Punchline Magazine is published by Moose Partnership Limited, based at The Old Fire Station, Barbican Road, Gloucester, GL1 2JF. Reproduction of any material, in the whole or part, is strictly forbidden without the prior written consent of the publishers.All material is sent at the owners risk and whilst every care is taken, Moose Partnership Limited will not accept liability for loss or damage. Dates, information and prices quoted are believed to be correct at the time of going to press but are subject to change and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. Moose Partnership Limited does not accept responsibility for any material submitted, whether photographic or otherwise.All rights reserved ©2019

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More resources for businesses

A human resources specialist is returning home to Gloucestershire to support small and medium-sized businesses. Jenny Willis has had a career which has taken her around the world, working for major organisations including the NHS and Dow Jones International. Now, after a taste of working with smaller organisations within the NHS following a restructure in 2013, she has set up her own business working with local SMEs. The HR Dept Gloucester will provide outsourced human resources advice and support to SMEs from the city centre to as far north as Newent and south as Stonehouse. “I'm really excited to get back into the Gloucester community and resurrect some of my old connections,” said MsWillis, who is married to Mark and has two sons aged five and three and currently lives in Minety near Cirencester. It is a patch she knows well. Born in Abbeydale, she went to city schools including Ribston Hall and Sir Thomas Rich's. “I enjoy working with SMES, there’s more breadth of work, the teams are smaller and you can really see the impact of the work you're doing, rather than being stuck in board meetings. “There's a real opportunity to put plans into action, so I'm excited to bring all my years of expertise for the benefit of local businesses.” She added: “Over the next 18 months, the government will deliver an ambitious package of workplace reforms improving workers' rights and, of course, we've got

Brexit to navigate. “Many organisations are already considering impacts this might have on their recruitment and retention practices. "My advice would be to get ahead of the curve. Especially for employers who have EU staff, it's vital to talk to your workforce and to try and plan for the implications of Brexit, particularly with no deal.” She added: “Increasingly, organisations that adopt truly flexible working practices are getting a competitive edge. “There are great opportunities to think differently about how people work and the implications that might have for recruitment and retention of top talent. “Small companies are more agile and able to adopt new practices, but they're more apprehensive about people working flexibly. It's not for everyone, but it will be interesting to have conversations." The HR Dept Gloucester is part of an international company, with a network of 75 franchisees, providing services in 112 territories in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Licensees provide high-level experience at an affordable rate for growing businesses who need the expertise on hand, but have neither the need nor the budget for an in-house HR team. The company also provides an option for HR practitioners looking for better work-life balance and a new challenge after working in corporate life l For more information visit , email or call 01452 405280

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Welcome to THE ANNUAL 2019

March: It comes in like a lion and out like a lamb – as the old proverb goes. Whoever coined that old cliché must have been British, as they were writing about the weather, about coming in from the harsh cold of the winter, to the gentler, sunnier, kinder spring. Depending on how you voted in June 2016, that old saying may take on a new,

and while things are on the up, the dreaded B-word has been looming over us for too long. Without stretching the analogies too far, the business train has been in a tunnel of indeterminate length and we need March 29th and whatever happens next to be the light at the end of it.

Business needs certainty, as so many influential people around our county have told us in this very magazine. It’s not that they are afraid of what comes next or being able to adapt to whatever is decided, it’s knowing what to do. Gloucestershire has a county packed full of entrepreneurs and business leaders driving the economy forward.We are where the jet engine was born, where the first

or very different, meaning this year. Whether you’re currently thinking we’re bathed in the warmth of the EU, or freezing in Brussels bureaucracy, we are all hoping for something to change at the end of the month.

March 29th will have us either roaring like lions or bleating like lambs, but at least it should be over, done with, finished, finally. And we can then all look forward. Because looking forward is what we want to do in our Annual, towards a brighter, lighter 2019.

vaccine was developed. We are among the world leaders in the aviation and cyber security sectors.


Gloucestershire College and Punchline Would like to invite you to attend

We have a special place in history, in what has happened. And we are all certain that our glorious Gloucestershire has what it takes to make a mark in a post-Brexit world. We have what it takes to adapt and continue to thrive. Here’s to 2019 l

It’s been a long 10 years for business. A decade-long slog, as we pull clear of the effects of the credit crunch and recession. That time has seen us all work harder and longer for less

Growing a business in 2019 and beyond Thursday 28 March 2019, 9-11am Gloucestershire College, Forest of Dean Campus, Northern United Way, Cinderford, GL14 3FF (for SatNav use GL14 2YT)

See page 75 for details

Book now:

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Gloucestershire College in association with Punchline Magazine

Make it your business to be healthy in 2019

Fourteen and a half thousand referrals from Gloucestershire and Herefordshire came the way of a specialist service supporting people with mental health issues last year alone. According to the 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, which provides the Let’s Talk service, one in six people of working age are affected by mental ill health. Recent figures released by Mynurva, which provides access to confidential counselling, found 32 per cent of working UK adults have suffered from mental health problems in the workplace. Thirty-seven per cent have never sought any professional help (42 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women), with 44 per cent never disclosing any issue to their line manager. The Federation of Small Business and the charity Mind calculated this all costs UK plc £26 billion annually. Rosemary Neale, of Let’s Talk, said: “Last year we received more than 14,500 referrals to our service. “That figure is ever growing, but we know that not everyone who needs our support is getting in touch, perhaps because they feel ashamed or embarrassed about speaking about how they are feeling. “Men can be particularly reluctant to speak up and might be self-medicating, perhaps through drinking too much, but that is changing. “We help with a range of problems – depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. The earlier you seek support, generally the quicker you can become well again. “The first step is often the hardest, but once you’ve taken it, the sense of relief can be immense. Help is out there.”

Dealing with the common missive fired at men first – that they don’t talk about such things. There can be good reason. We spoke to one businessman, whose successful career began because of his mental health issues. He felt his only route into work had been to start his own business, believing strongly no one would employ someone with mental health issues. “The stigma is still there. I have suffered from clinical depression for 35 years and am told I will never recover the life I had. I just have a recurring illness,” said the Gloucestershire entrepreneur.

“I suffer bouts of depression, which can take up to three months out of my life. I feel very strongly that it’s about time other so-called healthy people should be educated about what depression is all about. “I still have people telling me I have got to pull myself together. I didn't choose this condition, it was imposed on me by events not of my making. “This is not a cry-baby story but a genuine attempt to show that you can suffer depression and make a lot of your life. “If you choose to publish this please, do not identify me, as I have a major nationwide company which I daren’t sacrifice due to human ignorance of my condition.” Which is why we have kept his name out of it. Gloucestershire-based charity The Nelson Trust is a specialist in helping individuals deal with life without the substance they have become addicted too or abused. “Seventy-six per cent of men and women in our

The name trusted in commercial property OFF ICES | INDUSTRIAL | AGRICULTURAL | RETAI L | HOSP I TAL I TY

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Ben (not his real name), put himself through sixth- form and study and always held down a well-paid skilled job. But all was not what it seemed. “Two and a half years ago, I didn’t want to wake up. I knew there was a better life, but I didn’t know how to get it. “I was painfully shy as a child and had a lot of social anxiety. I’m also dyslexic and at school I was told I was stupid. “I started taking drugs and drinking at age 12 to cope. At 17 I started taking heroin, which seemed to help me at first but by the time you realise it’s not helping, you’re stuck. “I used heroin for 18 years – half my life. I’d tried to get clean in the past, using different drugs like methadone. I’d been to residential rehab before, but only lasted two weeks. “The last residential rehab never really addressed any of the issues behind my using. I was clean for four months, but mentally I was in a worse place than when I went in. “Before I came to The Nelson Trust, there were a couple of years where I was just using and working. “About two and a half years ago, I had just had enough and decided I had rather be dead than go on like this. I tried to end my life. I was (thankfully) unsuccessful, but I was then back in the same cycle of trying to get clean. “The problem is, when you work, you can’t get funding for treatment. I really worry about people who don’t have anyone to help them.” He added:“At NelsonTrust you know howmuch they care about how well you do.That makes a massive difference. At the same time, the staff weren’t hunting you down to participate. I found this better because it put a bit of emphasis on me being responsible for myself.”

residential rehabilitation service during 2017/18 (who answered the question) reported being diagnosed with mental illness,” said a spokeswoman for the service, headquartered in Stroud. People arrive at the door of the charity via referral or self-referral – after they have gone through a de-tox programme. Let’s Talk provides support in a range of ways, depending on the specific needs of the individual.This might be on the telephone, through an educational course, face-to-face or a new service, particularly helpful for people who have busy working lives – online through a system called Silver Cloud l To contact the 2Gether NHS Trust call 0800 073 2200 or complete a self-referral form at To contact the Nelson Trust visit or call 01453 732867 To reach the Samaritans call 116 123

0800 158 4147 8-12 Clarence Street, Gloucester GL1 1DZ

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Improve your knowledge in 2019

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue. A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors. Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite. Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated. "Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right. The average person's left hand does 56 per cent of the typing. The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket. The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet. There are more chickens than people in the world. There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious." Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur. Typewriter is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance. Women blink nearly twice as much as men. Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself l

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second. A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes. A snail can sleep for three years. Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer. Almonds are a member of the peach family. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age. Butterflies taste with their feet. Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10. "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt". February 1865 was the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon until February 2018. In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated. If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of six months waiting at red lights.

Business relaxation I heard a doctor in the Cotswolds say for 2019, to have inner peace, we should always finish things we start and we all could use more calm in our lives. I looked through my house to find things I'd started and hadn't finished, so I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiumun srciptuns, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how feckin fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to all who need inner pis. An telum u luvum. And two al hve a Hoppy Now Gear l

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We need certainty over Brexit

It’s the issue that’s dominating the news agenda. Brexit is looming. The clock is ticking down towards March 29 and Britain’s exit from the EU. Before Punchline went to press, we asked representatives of Gloucestershire business for their views on how Brexit is affecting their sector and what they are hoping to see next.There was a startling similarity to what they said.

“When confidence starts to go, so does ambition and our economy cannot risk that. “The sooner politicians can stop squabbling and start working together to find a realistic pro-business solution, the better for us all.”

Ian Sloan: Bankier Sloan Chartered Surveyors “Businesses are simply looking for a decision, the uncertainty of the situation is the problem.

Nigel Tilott: Director, Davies and Partners Solicitors. “I think people are being cautious. There are deals that are not happening because people are thinking ‘why not wait?’

“I am finding that one or two companies are importing non-perishable goods and are looking for short-term storage options. “It’s the indecision that is the problem. I spend my life doing negotiations, but the trouble is they are doing these in public. “I think it will all get done and everyone will then be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

“There is a lot of dam building, with water behind it. When we have some resolution, the water will burst through the dam, but there are people hesitating. “There is business building up, waiting to happen, but a lot aren’t pushing the button. “It doesn’t necessarily matter what the deal is, it’s having that certainty that matters most.”

Jonathan Viney: Director, Simplicity in Business

Sam Holliday: Development manager, Gloucestershire and theWest of England, Federation of Small Business

“What we are seeing in our sector is a lack of growth in the market, due to the lack of certainty.

“Our concern is that there appears to be no clear direction and, while we are not directly affected, a lot of our customers are part of a supply chain that are. “My opinion is that whatever is decided, the UK Limited, as it were, will rally around and make it work. “The overwhelming thing is that we need certainty, once we have that, it will be just a case of working how long it takes everyone to recover.”

“There are many people, understandably, who are completely turned off by Brexit – and it is easy to see why. “Sadly, however, many small businesses in Gloucestershire, simply don’t have the luxury of ignoring the whole thing because it has a direct impact on their business. “The lack of clarity and unity about Brexit nationally is already affecting confidence locally.

Is your head in the cloud or the sand?

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Ian Mean: Director, Gloucestershire Chamber BusinessWest

“Any politician who is continuing to say that is preferable to delaying our departure, has certainly not been listening to the vast majority of businesses and does not have their interests at heart.”

“The key issue we’re finding is that there is a total lack of clarity, which is forcing companies not to make investments or decisions. “We are already seeing companies who are taking warehouse space in places like the Netherlands to store products because of the uncertainty. “My feeling is that there will be a decision, but anyone guessing as to what that will be, will be onto a winner. “My personal point of view is we would not be that badly off with a no deal Brexit, but obviously people in the manufacturing sector will think differently.”

Robert Gillman: Group CEO, Gillmans

"A lot of consumers are nervous about Brexit and it's affecting confidence and spending in the high streets, as we all see and read. Despite all of this, we are encountering price increases from factories already in 2019. "We as a company buy from Germany and Italy, and already have had increases ranging between three and seven per cent. "The government has been too slow, they have dragged their heels for too long and that hasn’t helped. "We all just want them to make a decision and get on with it.We need consumer confidence and stability." a no deal Brexit, but relationships across the globe. “Exports to countries with EU free trade agreements are worth almost £2.4 billion to the SouthWest every year. “The risk to these deals is an overlooked danger to our economy and yet another reason why no deal is not an option for the UK and jeopardises jobs in our communities. “It is vital compromise is shown on both sides to come to a deal.” Punchline could have asked another 100 representatives of Gloucestershire business, but we would have only been writing the same thing over and over again. It’s clear that people and business just want the uncertainty to end and to get planning for the new normal, whatever that may be. l Deborah Fraser: Regional Director, CBI SouthWest “Many firms are unaware it is not just their relationships with EU customers at risk from

Mark Hartery: Director, Aitch and Aitch Bee Events

“What we are seeing is a slow-down in terms of people committing to events in the long term.

“People are not able to deal with the uncertainty and some of the scaremongering they are hearing in the media and they are believing it. “We would like to see them get on and do something. We can all plan for an eventuality when we know what is happening. “From the discussions we’ve had everyone is sick of it and even if what happens is unpalatable for them, at least we would all be able to get on with it.” “I seem to have been saying since the day that the referendum result was announced, that the most important thing for business was some certainty on what happened next. “The politicians have let businesses of all kinds down by failing to get clarity. The other over-riding message is that the one thing that must not be allowed to happen is a no deal Brexit. Kevan Blackadder: BID Director, Cheltenham BID

If you are confused about cloud accounting book a free advice clinic on 01242 776000 or email

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Connecting a Moose to superfast broadband

Superfast broadband for your business, with a linked phone system, would be great – but think you cannot afford the downtime while the old is turned off to be replaced by the new? Here at theOld Fire Station inGloucester – headquarters of Moose Marketing and PR and Punchline-Gloucester. com – that very idea was what made us jittery. How can a news gathering organisation like Punchline-, or a business which needs to receive and transfer big files like video, make the leap without a catastrophe? Over 7,000 subscribers a day expect the Punchline email newsletter and 85,000 unique visitors hit the website monthly for a start. We found the answer, as we often do, within the county boundary at a long-established family business which specialises in all-things to do with telecommunications - Lister Unified Communications. “We needed to upgrade – that was becoming increasingly apparent as the demands on us were growing - but we needed to have confidence we could put everything in their hands,” said Mark Owen, managing director of Moose Marketing and PR and editor of Punchline magazine and website. “Being able to hand over to someone else was what we were looking for, who could also give us the product we wanted. We found that at a company we already had a good relationship with – Lister Unified Communications.” Rob Lister,who heads up the Stonehouse-based business with his brother Tom, has heard all the reservations before and is familiar with the look on people’s faces as the realisation dawns on them that everything they want really is within their grasp. “When you are running a small business you have enough detail to worry about and want to focus on the clients first,” said Mr Lister, whose business has been built around serving small and medium-sized firms. The bottom line is simple, he said, the technology is there and can make a tremendous difference – especially as UK plc continues its unstoppable march towards a digital economy.

Tim Hutchinson of Lister Unified Communications

“The average business has not mentally kept up with the requirements or potential of broadband,” said Mr Lister, getting frank about the matter. “We consume so much data now, we are moving more and move services onto the cloud, everyone should be looking at it. “Our products are good for up to about 1,000 users and are highly applicable to smaller and medium-sized businesses.” Not wanting to make things easy, we also gave Lister Unified Communications the challenge of liaising with Openreach to install a new cable from the street to our offices and with a landlord who was keen to protect his investment in a historic Gloucester building. We also wanted to link our CRM system which logs telephone numbers both in-coming and out-going and allows us to build our database easily, with the potential to record callers to a digital quality.Which also involved getting to know our IT team.

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Mark Owen, managing director of Moose Marketing & PR with Rob Lister, managing director of Lister Unified Communications

The response was simple. “It is easy to upgrade.This is virtually no downtime,” said Mr Lister, somehow managing to look and sound like a man who had never said those words before in his life. “For businesses like Punchline and Moose, which is rapidly growing, it was time to go from baby broadband to grown-up, muscular broadband with service level agreements. Once you do that you can start really growing. “It also puts you ahead of when BT turn off the old analogue and digital (ISDN) lines and goes fully IP.”

And could his team also handle our stable of mobile phones? “You can have a number of different networks on your account, and you will get one bill. We can manage all that for you. You also get a friendly account manager who you can get to know and will look after you and understand what you want.” Worried about changing phones and upgrading broadband? Us? I don’t know where you go that idea l

To find out more contact Lister Unified Communications on 0800 652 4133 or visit

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(L2R)Callum Battrick, Don Riddell, Jason Stanley, Rob Lister, Phil Battrick, Nathan Carr, Derek Smith and Opeyemi Alabi

Connectivity and communications are the perfect mix for Lister IT Services

After the success of Lister Unified Communications and SitM joining forces two years ago, Lister is celebrating the anniversary by giving the section of the company a new name. Telecommunications specialists Lister, which supply 1,500 companies across the UK, acquired old friends SitM (Strategic IT Management) in 2017. Since the move Lister, has been able to offer a broader range of services to clients and increase the expertise with 12 staff from SitM now on the books. With the move a success, Lister has taken the step to market the sub-section of the company as Lister IT Services. Rob Lister, director of Lister Unified Communications said: “Joining forces with SitM has been a success, leading to a partnership that has made us stronger. “There is no doubt that working with SitM and amalgamating has meant we have a broader service and product offering for our clients. “We have been able to respond to the needs of our customers with the breadth of our staff expertise. “And we are continually looking to the future, offering

advice on the very best systems, apps and hardware for our clients.” With telecommunications and IT becoming ever more entwined, companies across the UK will be relying on organisations able to offer expertise on both sectors. Communications and connectivity are vital for every business, regardless of size, to operate effectively. The government has outlined plans for the UK to be a world leader in digital connectivity and with full fibre network programme and 5G Trials and Testbeds programmes. Thatmeans the boundaries between telecommunications and IT will become less and less defined, making Lister IT Services the perfect company to supply the market. “Lister Unified Communications has always been about offering a complete telecoms solution, with excellent customer service and technical support,” Lister added. “And for the past two years, we have incorporated access to expert IT support and a fantastic range of IT services” l For more information contact: or visit

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come to the experts! For all your telecoms & IT

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February 2019 | www. punchline-gloucester .com | 19

Effective debt recovery to support profitability

Have you ever wondered whether your cash flow is really flowing, or whether your profits are actually trickling away? In the current commercial environment, many businesses are seeing their profits, growth and cash flow under pressure from a variety of external factors. These could be increases in staff costs, market uncertainty or simply the increasing cost of production. With the current political climate, businesses should be especially aware of external factors that may impact their profits and cash flow. James Melvin-Bath, solicitor at Tayntons in Gloucester, said: “Whilst most businesses have little control over the external pressures placed upon them, they can ensure that the orders or clients that they have are most efficiently generating reliable revenue. The conversion rate of your sales leads to actual sales or orders is only one aspect of ensuring this. One aspect that businesses often overlook, or are cautious to utilise, is debt recovery. “Debt recovery can have an unpleasant image, but it doesn’t have to. When used correctly, effective debt recovery can not only ensure that you successfully manage your cash flow as profitably as possible, but it can resolve disputes with your clients without impacting your relationship negatively.” Relationship management A huge part of modern debt recovery is having an open dialogue with your debtors. As a third party to any dispute, solicitors can liaise with your debtors about any issues, in a way that feels more objective and remote than dealing with those grievances directly. Working on your behalf, solicitors will listen to your debtor’s concerns, relay them to you and work with you to attempt to repair the relationship, if you wish to retain that client. James continued: “Away from the images of bailiffs on television, this now forms a substantial part of what we do. By dealing with debt recovery in a modern and open manner, a business can ensure that they are correctly reimbursed by their clients, without losing out on future

business.They can even potentially improve future business relations by outlining clear boundaries. “This approach also gives you the potential to manage the reputation of your business, by giving you another chance to

James Melvin-Bath

deal with complaints at a distance, reducing the risk of reputational damage from dissatisfied customers.” Good debt, bad debtors Unfortunately, there will always be clients and customers who fail to make payment, whilst being able to do so, for a variety of commercial reasons. One of the most common examples is where a business has traditionally been very relaxed with their debt recovery. This can result in clients prioritising other debts, rather than paying you. This is especially common where smaller independent businesses are reliant upon a few large customers. James said: “These are not bad debts, just bad debtors. These clients or customers have the ability to settle the funds due to you and choose not to, as you represent the easiest form of free credit.” So how do you reduce the chances of this? The first step in getting a grip of your credit control and cash flow is ensuring your commercial agreements are set out clearly in a written contract. Any contract you agree should contain clear provisions for you to recover certain charges in relation to debts that are late being paid. These contractual provisions make it clear to both parties that credit control is important to you and that late payments will incur costs. James added: “Once your contract is correctly agreed, drafted and signed, focus on delivery of your product or service. This is an aspect of credit control that is often forgotten. A huge amount of late payments are due to very minor disputes over the execution of an agreed contract. By proactively engaging with your clients in relation to any issues or delays, you can avoid later complaints and ensure that the majority of your debts

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are settled without issue. “Whilst it seems obvious, another common pitfall is that invoices raised by you must be clear.You must include a clear outline of the items provided, any payment terms and the details of the parties. Once again, outline in your invoices that late payment interest will apply. “If you have done all of that correctly, the vast majority of clients will settle debts due to you on time. However, if they do not, you must act consistently. This advice is crucial. One of the most effective methods of debt recovery is merely that your clients know that you take it seriously and cannot be used as a free loan facility.” Maximise recovery So what should you do when things go wrong? Regardless of cause, be it a complaint or just a failure to pay, now is the time to get professional advice. James said: “As part of our debt recovery service, the first thing we do is discuss the potential options, costs, likely outcome and timescales involved in trying to recover the funds due to you. Part of this a commercial assessment of your chances of recovery. If we think that there is little merit in proceeding at this point, we will discuss it with you.” One of the most common mistakes made by

companies doing their own debt recovery is to issue claims with no chance of recovery. This wastes costs and valuable time, which could be better spent focusing on driving innovation, development and growth of your business. Additionally, if you know that your client has a legitimate complaint, issuing a claim without advice can result in wasted costs, time and even a court order against you. James said: “We advise you whether you have good recovery prospects and we manage the whole process from there. We undertake all correspondence with the debtor, respond to any complaints, draft any claim, attend any hearing and, while rarely required, instruct enforcement agents, whilst constantly engaging with you to ensure you are informed and in control.” This approach of actively engaging with clients, providing another chance to resolve complaints, maintaining clear boundaries and selectively enforcing applicable debts ensures that your business most effectively converts your sales leads into cash flow. It will help deliver improved profits with minimal effort from you l If you want to talk about your commercial contracts, debt recovery or disputes contact Tayntons on 0333 0145 451 or email

February 2019 | www. punchline-gloucester .com | 21

Plan ahead in 2019 – do you know what you are entitled to?

Tax is a complex area and nobody wants to be troubled by it, but it’s not all about HMRC having a share of your hard-earned cash, as there are many ethical and fair allowances which you are entitled to. As the 2017/18 personal tax return filing deadline passes, we help you to effectively plan for the forthcoming tax year end on 5 April 2019, enabling you to make sure your money is working the best it can.We point out the areas to explore tax savings and where you could be caught out.

Things to think about now: Use your ISA allowance The ISA limit for this tax year is a generous £20,000, but this will reset on 5 April 2019. The allowance is a ‘use it or lose it’ allowance and it cannot be carried over. Children under the age of 18 who do not have a trust fund are also entitled

Rob Case, partner at Randall & Payne

to an ISA allowance of £4,260. Use your Inheritance Tax annual allowance

Each year, every individual is entitled to gift £3,000 without being liable to Inheritance Tax. You can carry over this exemption to next tax year, but the maximum you can gift in a single year is £6,000, however, it will be lost after two years has passed. It is also worth noting that you can make individual gifts of up to £250 to anyone free from Inheritance Tax. Use your Capital Gains Tax annual exemption Are you, or your family, considering selling some assets? The annual exemption (or tax-free gains) that you can make in the 2018/19 year is £11,700. It may be worth considering delaying the sale of some assets if you have already used up this allowance, and make- use of next year’s allowance which increases to £12,000. However, if you haven’t already used this allowance you may want to think about bringing forward the sale of assets.

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The tax team from Randall & Payne, left to right: Chelsea Clapperton, James Geary, Emma Robinson, Rob Case, Gina Gardner,Adam Smith, Dani Longney

Pension allowance Saving into a pension is tax efficient. In this tax year, the annual contribution allowance for pensions is £40,000 (providing your income is less than £150,000). You can roll forward up to three years of contributions if they are unused. Have you got the potential to use more of your allowance? Dividends For the 2018/19 tax year, the tax-free dividend allowance has been reduced to £2,000. If you expect a dividend income in excess of this level, your tax bill will likely increase and you may need to consider registering for Self-Assessment to do a tax return, if you don’t already. Rental changes The continued phased implementation of the rules surrounding financial costs for residential properties caught some people unaware in 2017/18 tax year as only 75% of these costs were reclaimable in full. And with a further reduction to 50% in this tax year, a landlord’s tax liabilities could significantly increase. From 5 April 2019, the allowance reduces even further

– to only 25%. To find out what you can do to improve your tax position going forward speak to your adviser

sooner rather than later. And finally, don’t forget... Making Tax Digital

This April will see one of the most significant changes for VAT registered businesses, who will be required to keep digital records and submit VAT returns in a new way, known as Making Tax Digital. Many businesses still have to adapt to this change. This is the first step of significant changes, where ultimately all income and business-related taxes will require digital transmission of information to HMRC. For more information, download our free Making Tax Digital report at www.randall-payne. l The above briefly clarifies ways to make your money work better for you – so you don’t miss on out on opportunities to make it go further. If you wish to discuss making the most of your money or have concerns about Making Tax Digital, please come in for a chat over a coffee – book a free advice clinic on 01242 776000 or email

February 2019 | www. punchline-gloucester .com | 23

GLOUCESTERSHIRE: FUTURE-PROOFED A growing county will be powered by planes, trains and automobiles. So, we’re investing over £14 million into air, rail and road improvement projects, creating better connectivity throughout Gloucestershire, and the rest of the world, too.

All aboard! Next stop, a better Gloucestershire. Find out more at


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February 2019 | www. punchline-gloucester .com | 25

Hot ticket: 25 bespoke travel plans up for grabs Staff at 25 county businesses could be the lucky recipients of cheaper travel to work, thanks to StagecoachWest. To celebrate 25 years of Stagecoach serving the West, they are offering the first 25 businesses who contact their team the opportunity to enjoy complimentary benefits of a corporate travel plan. Firms including the NHS, University of Gloucestershire and Gloucester Services all benefit from bespoke travel schemes, offering staff travel assistance to and from work. “This year Stagecoach West celebrates 25 years in business and one of the ways we are marking that is by offering to visit the first 25 businesses which contact us to talk them through how they can benefit from our corporate travel scheme,” said Rupert Cox, the managing director of StagecoachWest. “The main benefit is that it has the potential to save businesses and their staff money with cheaper travel. Any organisation, regardless of size turnover can sign up and enable their staff to get their one-off amazing deal.” James O'Neill, commercial manager for StagecoachWest, said:“We will get in touch with the first 25 firms that contact us and discuss their needs with them. “We can tailor our service to fit their needs, as we know one scheme doesn’t fit all. We have a variety of different options available to ensure that we can meet your individual needs and save you money. “If they need a bus to go somewhere new, to

What are the benefits of free travel planning with StagecoachWest? • Reduce workplace parking demands and, where applicable, parking costs • Offer alternative, and often more environmentally friendly, methods of transport for your staff • Discounted employee bus travel - making travel more affordable • Act as an additional employee benefit to working for your organisation • Help you to work towards your sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and carbon footprint objectives • Make use of the increasing bus priority lanes • Make the most of travel time to catch up on emails using freeWiFi on Stagecoach Gold services What are the solutions StagecoachWest currently offer? • On-bus discount tickets - reduced fares on single daily and weekly tickets for employees. All they need to do is show a staff pass. This is more widely known as the popular Greener Travel Initiative (GTI) scheme. • Season tickets /app – Offer discounted Megarider tickets to employees. These are perfect for regular commuters. Tickets are loaded onto a Stagecoach Smartcard or app, meaning no more hunting for paper tickets and quicker boarding. Or tickets are available via the free Stagecoach Bus App. • Bespoke services - if you need a bus to go to somewhere new, Stagecoach can make that happen. They can alter routes or even add a new bus to serve your workplace. FACT: If just one of your employees switched from travelling by car to bus travel for just one week, they could save enough energy to power 7,430 minutes of TV*, that’s nearly 118 episodes of Game of Thrones. * Figures obtained from Stagecoach Group's Carbon Calculator. Based on the average commuter travelling 9 miles to their place of work.

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StagecoachWest provided a special bus service for the staff at Gloucester Services

accommodate their staff, we can explore how we can make that happen. We can adapt and alter routes to serve your workplace.” StagecoachWest hopes firms which have limited parking, employers that struggle to get to work because of limited travel options, those

due to their rural location. StagecoachWest introduced a new service running directly to the business – with a timetable built around the company. When the University of Gloucestershire needed a service for students who travelled between its two campuses, a new route was introduced, connecting both locations on a regular basis and with discounted tickets. Another business was offered discounted Megarider tickets, which were loaded onto a Stagecoach Smartcard and distributed to more than 100 staff. The cards automatically updated every four weeks, meaning continuous travel savings for employees and

James O’Neill

which have a corporate social responsibility policy, or want to limit the impact on the environment of workplace travel, will see the potential benefits. Staff could benefit from the scheme by enjoying reduced fares on single daily and weekly tickets – all they will need to do is show their special ‘staff pass’. A company that is based immediately adjacent to the M5 motorway had a problem getting their staff to work

completely hassle-free for the employer l To get on board contact: James O’Neill on 01452 418637 or email

February 2019 | www. punchline-gloucester .com | 27

Top tips for avoiding the emplo

The employment tribunal system is in a state of collapse, writes Nigel Tillott, Managing Director of Davies and Partners' Gloucester office. The last quarter for which statistics are available gives an idea of the problem. Compared with the previous quarter, receipts of new claims were up 165 per cent, disposals of claims were also up, but only 56 per cent and the increase in the numbers of outstanding cases was 130 per cent. In July 2013, the government introduced employment tribunal fees for the first time, such that for a typical case someone bringing a claim would have to pay total fees of over £1,000 to have the matter heard. Not surprisingly, the number of claims reduced dramatically to about a third of the previous levels. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, the unions managed to get the government’s decision overturned and fees were abolished in July 2017. Not surprisingly, claim levels have risen dramatically. In the meantime, the government had significantly cut tribunal resources. Consequently, it is no surprise that the system cannot cope with the influx of claims. To create a picture of the landscape: • Some tribunals have been closed, others have been merged with courts; • There are long delays in holding hearings and cases are postponed, frequently at the last minute; • Whilst hearings may be delayed for many months, tribunals often require the parties to fully prepare the cases early, thus meaning that significant costs are incurred at an early stage; • There are insufficient judges to hear the volume of cases. Case are postponed so often in the 24 hours before they are due to be heard, that we now tell clients to expect this. It would appear that tribunals list more cases for hearing than they have judges, on the statistical basis that a significant percentage of claims settle. I have a discrimination case running in London which has twice been postponed by the tribunal on the eve of a procedural hearing, such that the initial hearing, is not scheduled to take place until 18 months after the claim was issued and there will inevitably be a six-

month delay or more before the final hearing. I had a case running in Reading. The day before the hearing, I was contacted and told that there was no judge, but they may be able to hear the matter in Watford or Bury St Edmunds, if I could get all the witnesses there for the next day. We were later told there was no judge available in Watford or Bury St Edmunds either. The official time it takes to dispose of a straightforward case is six months. This though counts all the cases that have settled or withdrawn somewhere along the way. If we had a statistic on time it takes to get to a full hearing this would be far longer. In the meantime, costs continue to rise, especially as tribunals require us to do a lot of the preparatory work early on in the progression of the case. So, what can be done to avoid the meltdown? I have developed 10 top tips for avoiding it: 1. Plan. Better to plan carefully any action against an employee and take legal advice at the time, rather than take the action in haste and repent at leisure; 2. Ensure contracts and policy documents are in place and up-to-date. If contracts are in place, it reduces uncertainty and arguments about what the terms are. If an employer goes to a tribunal without employment contracts in place, this amounts to a big black mark and, in many instances, can lead to an award of up to four weeks’ pay against the employer. If key policies such as equal opportunities policies are not in place, it makes it far more difficult to persuade a tribunal that discrimination hasn’t taken place; 3. Educate your managers. Employers are nearly always responsible for the actions of their employees, whether or not they knew of them or endorsed them. An employer which has taken employment and, in particular discrimination, seriously by training managers might just have a defence if a manager goes rogue; 4. Confront the problem early. Often employers know that an employee is not performing or are unhappy with his or her conduct early on, but do nothing about it. Later, frustration boils over and then action is taken quickly, which is later regretted or the employer leaves it too late to undertake a potentially lengthy performance improvement process. If the issue is addressed early, by the time the frustration

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