Welcome from Cllr Izzi Seccombe

Hello everybody and welcome to the February edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

This month’s issue contains plenty to show that, for all the challenges we have faced in recent years, and continue to face, there remains so much to be positive about regarding the local economy and our business community. 

Reading through this edition just cemented the great pride that I feel in the business support supplied by Warwickshire County Council and our partners in the region. We are blessed with so many wonderful businesses, large and small and in so many sectors, and it remains our highest priority to offer support in every way we can. 

For the last six years, a huge plank of that support has been the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale programme which has now offered intensive support to more than 1,000 businesses – a fantastic achievement. Another is the Duplex Investment Fund which has invested almost £3million in small businesses over the last five years. 

While our Business & Economy team continues to power a multitude of excellent schemes, our Skills team is equally productive. This month marks the third anniversary of the creation of Warwickshire Skills Hub which hit the ground running in 2020 and has gathered momentum ever since. This month brought an exciting new dimension to their offer with the launch of Warwickshire Supported Employment Service – a unique and groundbreaking service to assist people with learning disabilities and/or autism into work. The Skills Hub's Fair Chance Employment programme, meanwhile, continues to go from strength to strength.

The lovely towns of Warwickshire each continue to deliver their own special business offer and this month we feature Alcester, a small town punching its weight on the global stage. At Warwickshire County Council, we strive to help all our towns make the absolute most of their assets and our Warwickshire Towns Network Conference in March is sure to be the usual melting pot of ideas and creativity. 

All this and much more is covered in the February edition of WMB. I hope you enjoy our latest update of all that’s happening around our vibrant business community. 


Featured News

WCC programme has supported more than 1,000 businesses

"I would like to pay the warmest tribute to all the staff at the County Council and our partners who have worked so hard and so well to ensure this support reached those who need it as swiftly as possible. During a tough period for the economy this programme is a resounding success story.”

A programme launched by Warwickshire County Council in 2016 to encourage growth in the local economy has proved an enormous success having now provided intensive support to more than 1,000 businesses.

The CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme, which will run until June 2023, has supplied 1,031 businesses across Warwickshire and Coventry with at least 12 hours of intensive support.

A total of 414 new jobs have been created under the programme while 425 individuals have been assisted to set up their own business. Of 1,031 businesses supported, 496 were within their first 12 months of trading when the support was received.

The collective benefit from the programme’s six strands to businesses and the communities of which they are part has been colossal, not least during difficult recent times with the pandemic, Brexit and rising costs. A recent independent evaluation found that 92% of businesses said they would, or had, recommended the programme while 87% said they had achieved their goals in completing the support.

The total cost of CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale to date is £5.1million, comprising £2.57million from the European Regional Development Fund, £1.47million from Warwickshire County Council, £800,000 from private investment and £300,000 from the five district and borough councils. It has proved a shrewd and successful investment in the region’s economy.

Warwickshire County Council Chief Executive, Monica Fogarty, said: “The CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme was launched in 2016 with high ambitions and has emphatically fulfilled those ambitions to provide critical support to small businesses in a range of ways. Small business are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities and all the people involved with those 1,031 businesses – employees, suppliers, customers – share the benefit of this support.

“Each strand of the programme is, or was, unique with tailored support delivered by experienced business advisors to help businesses learn new skills and enable them to grow. No two businesses have the same experience, so the support is completely bespoke and focused on what each business needs.

“As with all Government funded programmes, the six strands of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme have required considerable and, at times, complex administration. I would like to pay the warmest tribute to all the staff at the County Council and our partners, who have worked so hard and so well to ensure this support reached those who need it as swiftly as possible. During a tough period for the economy this programme is a resounding success story.”

An audit conducted by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale in 2020 deemed it “very good” with no issues found - an extremely rare outcome for an ERDF-funded programme.

The programme was part of the submission which last year earned Warwickshire County Council two FSB Local Government Awards (for Programme of Business Support and All-Round Business Support).

CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale consists of six delivery strands (four current and two historic) in addition to the Programme Management Team at WCC.

  • Start-up, a procured service delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, offering support to businesses within their first 24 months of trading and potential entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Warwickshire.
  • Business Ready, delivered in partnership with University of Warwick Science Park, offering support to High Tech, High Growth businesses from early stage to growth focussed businesses.
  • Business & Investment, delivered by Warwickshire County Council staff, offers access to finance support to businesses based in Coventry and Warwickshire.
  • Project Warwickshire, a procured service delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism, implemented by Warwickshire County Council as a response to Covid-19. The programme offers support to existing businesses in the Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality sectors.
  • Jumpstart was delivered by Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust and supported individuals to gain courage, confidence and skills needed to take the leap to the next stage of starting a business. This programme is still running as a non-ERDF programme.
  • Creative Springboard, delivered by Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust, offered support to Warwickshire businesses in the creative sector.

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Unique new Supported Employment service will change lives

“Our ambition is to inspire those we work with to gain and sustain employment, striving towards independence and developing essential skills along the way.”

Warwickshire County Council has launched a brand new and groundbreaking service to support young people and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism into employment.

The Warwickshire Supported Employment Service (WSES) is the latest evolution of the County Council’s longstanding commitment to Inclusive Employment. It aims to help over 400 people into paid and sustainable employment every year.

WSES is a comprehensive model that will take people through the whole journey into employment and give them the skills and confidence to be job-ready. The unique service offers bespoke support with each individual paired with a one-to-one journey guide for every step of their journey into work.

Together the individual and journey guide will shape a progressive support plan of engaging activities and workshops to meet specific needs. There will be access to Job Clubs and also a brand new Warwickshire Inclusive Jobs Portal which is completely bespoke and has been highly praised by the British Association of Supported Employment.

WSES will then continue to offer support when the individual starts work and will also work with employers to develop and train workplace mentors so they have their own trained staff, going forward.

The new service will work in close conjunction with WCC’s well-established Fair Chance Employer programme which works with education providers and employability groups to shape jobs and opportunities for those supported by the service.

Delivered by a new team within Warwickshire Skills Hub, WSES is open to external referrals from Jobcentre Plus, Education and Adult Social Care agencies and employment partners.

WCC Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “The launch of the Warwickshire Supported Employment Service is a very exciting and game-changing development for Inclusive Employment in our county.

“Warwickshire County Council has never been afraid to do things differently, if doing them differently means progress and improvement. That is what WSES is all about. It shapes our longstanding commitment to Supported Employment to further break down barriers and create inclusive opportunities for our communities in 2023 and years to come.

“Our ambition is to inspire those we work with to gain and sustain employment, striving towards independence and developing essential skills along the way.”

To make a referral to the service please visit here

To contact the Warwickshire Supported Employment Service, please email supportedemployment@warwickshire.gov.uk or call 02476 796462

Call to businesses to help shape supported internship future

The recently launched ‘Supported Internships’ project is hosting a one-hour webinar on Friday 24th March at 9.30am to talk through the processes involved. We would like to gain your views to help shape our future offer, get some practical insight and outline the benefits for your business of an inclusive workforce.
The project hopes to: 
    • increase the number of community-based supported internships for young people with an EHCP  
    • implement an infrastructure (through new guidance) of standardisation and consistency, to support sustainable supported internships 
    • undertake consultation and engagement with stakeholders to gain experiences and suggestions for future recommendations  
    • support the increase employed young people following a supported internship 
If you would like to attend the webinar, please complete the Eventbrite form available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/warwickshire-supported-internships-business-webinar-tickets-558710747887  

Original thinking will top the agenda at Towns Network Conference

“The Towns Conference is always an uplifting and highly valuable event and, with some fantastic guest speakers lined up, this one is sure to be no different."

New ideas and innovative thinking will be high on the agenda when placemakers assemble for the Warwickshire Towns Network Conference next month.

Delegates from Warwickshire and beyond will come together for the event on March 7th, organised by Warwickshire County Council to provide a supportive and informative environment to consider the opportunities and challenges facing town centres in 2023. Guest speakers will inject new ideas and flip thinking to energise placemaking and share best practice.

The post-lockdown months provided pots of money and a flurry of activity for local authorities and placemakers. all with a focus on getting people back into town centres and staving off the potential loss in footfall after people became accustomed to doing lots of everyday things online. That was the biggest challenge at that time, but new challenges have since arisen. The cost of living is a factor for all - businesses, consumers and residents – so the Towns Conference will consider how the effects of that can be mitigated by highlighting the positive impact of supporting the local economy.

Warwickshire’s towns all have community assets of all types and each has a unique place-based offer, whether green spaces, business, or community action. The conference will explore what makes a place vibrant and how that vibrancy can be economically fully exploited.

Julia Aratoon, Sustainable Communities and Places Officer for Warwickshire County Council said:

“The Towns Conference is always an uplifting and highly valuable event and, with some fantastic guest speakers lined up, this one is sure to be no different.

“We will weave in a positive story of place, flipping the current narrative and thinking about the role each of us plays in creating vibrant place. Warwickshire’s towns each have a great story to tell and to sell and, while there is a lot already going on around how to maximise their visitor appeal, there is always room for new ideas. That’s what this conference is all about.

“Anyone who is interested in taking a fresh approach to our town centres, please email us at towns@warwickshire.gov.uk to find out more. Also please follow the Talk Up Our Towns series in Warwickshire Means Business which each month takes us round the county, considering what makes our places special.”

Landmark Nuneaton project named after Larry Grayson

"How fitting that such a great entertainer should be linked in this way to a new entertainment destination in the town that had such a special place in his heart.”

An exciting new development in Abbey Street, in the heart of Nuneaton town centre, will be named Grayson Place in homage to Larry Grayson.

Grayson was a prominent entertainer and national TV personality from the 1970s and 1980s, who made his home in Nuneaton.

The name, chosen in consultation with the local community, marks a key moment for the development. Grayson Place is the first landmark project in the Transforming Nuneaton programme undertaken by Warwickshire County Council and Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, with Abbey Street’s strategic development partner, Queensberry.

The redevelopment will bring a unique blend of food and entertainment venues as part of the 2.3-hectare development. New leisure facilities, retail space, a food hall and cinema will be created alongside 30 new homes, office space, education facilities, a hotel and carpark to create a vibrant new destination in the busy town centre where people can eat, meet, drink, shop, live and work.

Mike Malyon, Larry’s great nephew, said: “I am so pleased that Larry is being recognised by his hometown. He loved living here and is still warmly remembered by so many people.

“Larry was a familiar face on British TVs for many years and hosted the BBC’s flagship TV show, The Generation Game, routinely watched by around 20 million people at its peak. How fitting that such a great entertainer should be linked in this way to a new entertainment destination in the town that had such a special place in his heart.”

Grayson Place is currently under construction with partners BAM Construct UK. Phase 1 will open early in 2024 with the launch of a new Hampton by Hilton branch - the first hotel ever to grace the town centre. Located on the corner with the Jubilee Way, the new opening will offer 145 rooms, including a bar, restaurant and fitness centre, as well as free parking for guests.

The next phase of the project, bringing new leisure and culture facilities, a public square and a new town centre campus for North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College will be completed in early 2025.

As part of the wider Transforming Nuneaton Programme, the development is set to boost economic growth and create a prosperous town centre. The programme lays out the Council’s 10-15-year regeneration vision for the town centre, which aims to also create a state-of-the art library and business centre, up to 50 new family homes on Justice Walk, as well as a residential-led development on Bridge Street. The scheme is also expected to create 400 jobs during construction and 1,500 jobs upon completion.

Grayson Place has received funding from the WMCA to bring forward the first phase of the project. Funding for the development also comes from the Government’s Future High Street Fund and Towns Fund and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cllr Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for finance and property, said: “We are looking forward to seeing how the Transforming Nuneaton Programme will provide our town centre with a much-needed economic boost. We are confident that the regeneration will create a strong hub for the community whilst ensuring that the town reduces its impact on climate change. The programme will unlock a wealth of business and education opportunities, as well as pave the way to additional housing development and infrastructure.”

 Meanwhile, to enable the Council and partners to forge ahead with their exciting Vicarage Street regeneration proposals, Wilko’s will be moving to the former Woolworths site on Queens Road. The move will be completed by the start of summer this year.

Part of the Transforming Nuneaton programme to regenerate Nuneaton town centre, this key site will see the delivery of a new library and business centre, up to 65 residential properties and a new landscaped public space leading to St Nicolas Church.

An outline planning application has already been submitted for the development which is being managed by Warwickshire County Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and their strategic development partner Warwickshire Property and Development Group.

SSG helps family-run bakery remain at the heart of its community

“We have never had a restaurant before which we have opened six days a week and business has been exceptional so far, particularly in this tough economic climate.”

A family-run bakery at the heart of its community in a Warwickshire village has expanded into bigger premises and recruited 20 new employees after receiving economic recovery support.

Bruno’s Bakery has been embedded in the Studley community since it was created by Brian and Joanne Knight in 1990 but had long-reached capacity at its premises in High Street.

During the height of the pandemic, following a referral from Jim Clark at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub, Bruno’s Bakery received support from Warwickshire County Council’s Survive, Sustain and Grow programme to adapt its offer by launching a new e-commerce platform which allowed the business to start trading online.

A few months later, following the success of the e-commerce platform funded by a £7,000 recovery grant from the County Council, the small business wanted to expand.

Brian and Joanne’s children Joe Knight, who looks after sales and marketing, his brother and head baker Barney Knight and their sister, Harriet, who leads on administration and HR, wanted to buy the empty Health Centre just two doors away, and a £18,590 Small Capital Grant from the County Council enabled the business to move in.

Jim also advised the family to successfully apply for £30,000 from Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s Additional Restrictions Grant towards buying six state-of-the-art ovens.

Joe said the family had invested nearly £500,000 to turn their expansion dreams into reality which has led to increasing their staff from 14 to 34.

Joe said: “When a building became empty only a few doors away in 2020 during Covid, we decided to go ahead with our expansion plans because we didn’t want to move away from Studley’s High Street because this is where we started and where we are known.

“The unit is eight times the size of our old premises and it has been a big renovation project to turn it into a state-of-the-art bakery and to keep the budget to an affordable level.

“We needed some extra support and that’s where Jim stepped in. The help we have received from Jim has been incredible and it wouldn’t have been possible without his mentoring and expert advice.

“The financial support from Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwickshire County Council has been invaluable and we couldn’t have opened this place to the level we have – and have added so many new employees – without it.

“We have never had a restaurant before which we have opened six days a week and business has been exceptional so far, particularly in this tough economic climate.”

Jim Clark, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the family had taken a very bold decision to go ahead with their plans.

“The new bakery and restaurant are awesome and it is testament to their vision and drive,” he said. “They have added an online shop to cater for corporate lunches, afternoon teas and party menus which is going really well.

“The second generation of this family business are continuing to push the business forward to meet their growing needs and there is capacity to grow into commercial baking should they wish to in the future. They have plenty of ideas for new ventures and Bruno’s Bakery is in very good hands.”

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place Cllr Martin Watson said: “Warwickshire is blessed with so many small businesses which are the lifeblood of the local economy and their community and Bruno’s Bakery is a fantastic example of that.

“Our Small Capital Grants programme is designed to support exactly that type of business and I am delighted that it has been so helpful to this wonderful family firm.”

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Fair Chance programme unlocking opportunities for employers and recruits

"I would definitely encourage all companies to look at the Fair Chance Programme and how it will benefit their business."

An employment programme created last year to support inclusive recruitment across Warwickshire continues to go from strength to strength.

In the first nine months of the Warwickshire Fair Chance Employment Programme, 30 employers registered their businesses. Already in 2023, six more employers have seen the benefits of the programme and signed up to work with the Warwickshire Skills Hub team to create inclusive roles that fit the needs of both their business and their employees.

The concept of the programme is to support businesses to become more inclusive and flexible in their recruitment. This may be something as simple as making the application process easier to access, or the interview more relaxed to accommodate those who may struggle with a more formal approach. Or it may be adjusting a job role to adapt to the employee's physical needs or family commitments.

During this year the programme will expand to also meet the needs of other jobseekers such as over 50s and new resettlement communities from Ukraine and Afghanistan, along with ex-armed forces personnel and their families looking for careers outside the Armed Forces. With access to many talent pools, the Fair Chance Programme gives both employers and jobseekers a unique opportunity to find a role that works for them.

Among Fair Chance Employers is TSOS Group, a Rugby-based online collective of businesses who deliver bespoke expertise to other like-minded businesses. At TSOS the emphasis is very much on collaboration, not just with their clients and partners but with their staff. It’s all about supporting others to thrive and co-founders Tracey Coetzee and Stefan Frater lead with a passion to help as many people as possible.

When they signed up to the Government's Kickstart Scheme, they saw it as a chance not to gain free labour, but an opportunity to help young people struggling to find a profession. With help from Rugby College, they began with one placement, then two... before long, TSOS were developing nine young adults through the scheme.

The venture was so successful they also signed up to Fair Chance to expand the support. This gave them access to funding for two apprenticeships and two traineeships for their young employees with additional needs including ADHD, autism and social challenges.

Tracey is delighted with how well the Fair Chance Programme has worked in their business and is very proud of all the staff who have grown and developed under the scheme. TSOS are keen to continue providing support and employment for people who may struggle to find paid work through the usual channels. With the help of Fair Chance, they are currently looking at recruiting two additional members of staff to employ and train.

Tracey said: "It is so important for employers to see the value of an individual rather than trying to fit them into a set role. We need to embrace their personal qualities and how that enhances the whole team. I would definitely encourage all companies to look at the Fair Chance Programme and how it will benefit their business."

Any Warwickshire employers who would like to know more about the Fair Chance Programme, please contact us at fairchance@warwickshire.gov.uk. Our specialist advisors will soon be in touch to arrange a meeting.

That’s a wrap for National Apprenticeship Week 2023!

"From making connections to training providers, working with our local schools and colleges, getting employers signed up to our Fair Chance Employment Programme or supporting someone with our newly launched Warwickshire Supported Employment Service, we are here for Warwickshire."

February brought National Apprenticeship Week 2023 and what a week it was in Warwickshire! From attending launch events, jobs fairs, engaging with businesses, liaising with schools and colleges, and celebrating everything apprenticeship-related on our social media, Warwickshire Skills Hub had it covered.

The week began with the team attending Balfour Beatty Vinci’s Apprenticeship Pledge Launch. Twenty contractors who are working on behalf of HS2’s construction partner Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), came together to sign a pledge promising to invest in upskilling 200 more local people. Each firm will ensure at least 5% of their total workforce are apprentices.

The team also attended Parker Meggitt’s apprenticeship careers open day where we had the opportunity to meet their team, discuss the apprenticeship programmes on offer in more detail and experience a tour of their exciting facility. Heather, one of our Business Skills Support Advisor’s, took along her Dad, who started his working career as an apprentice in 1952! He had a wonderful day.

Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones and DWP hosted an apprenticeship jobs fair which was a great success. We had lots of positive conversations with local people who are looking for work, about the support services we have on offer to help get them back into employment.

Across our social media streams, we posted daily, sharing useful hints and tips on how to recruit an apprentice, videos of businesses who have already benefited from our support and any current apprenticeship opportunities in our county. We looked at what it was like to employ an apprentice from a business’s perspective, what it was like to be an apprentice and guidance for parents.

We also had the latest news on T Levels and Industry Placements. Offering a T Level placement gives you early access to the brightest young people entering the market and the opportunity to develop your workforce of the future. The hashtag #NAW2023 was everywhere!

As a team, we engaged with 23 businesses with lots of conversations around recruiting apprentices. To top the week off, two Warwickshire SMEs were successfully awarded funds from our Levy Share Programme, to fully fund the cost of their apprentices training!

The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2023 was Skills for Life, and with the support available from Warwickshire Skills Hub, we can make this happen. From making connections to training providers, working with our local schools and colleges, getting employers signed up to our Fair Chance Employment Programme or supporting someone with our newly launched Warwickshire Supported Employment Service, we are here for Warwickshire.

If you would like to know more about how Warwickshire Skills Hub can support your business, please contact louisestolz@warwickshire.gov.uk or heatherdocksey@warwickshire.gov.uk


Multiply programme will help to demystify maths

Many people struggle with maths at school and take forward an unease with numeracy into adult life. In Warwickshire, support is at hand from the Multiply programme, as Warwickshire County Council’s Business Growth & Support Programme Manager, Claire Williams, explains…

 Three in ten people in the UK say they are not a ‘numbers person’ or are anxious about their numeracy skills and would like to improve for personal development or better opportunities at work, or to help with homework in a family setting.

A lot of people lack confidence and have poor experience of maths at school and struggle with maths in daily life. To address this issue, the Multiply programme has been launched by the Department of Education to help upskill and improve maths skills around the country and it is managed and administered locally by Warwickshire County Council. Here in Warwickshire we are proud to be working with three providers so far who are helping to do just that.

Pet Xi is currently running morning and afternoon sessions on building confidence with numbers and budgeting and homework support for parents in Bedworth, Leamington Spa and Nuneaton, with more to be available soon, so check them out on social media here

CWCDA have launched their Money, Money, Maths workshops, covering three subject areas: saving Energy and the Planet, Shop for Less and Balancing your Budget and these are taking place all over the county. For more information check out here 

WCC’s Adult & Community Learning team have some amazing opportunities to learn new practical skills which include maths for daily use, such as sewing and cooking and crafts, alongside intensive support to gain maths qualifications, courses for adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and family learning. Check out their amazing range on offer at https://www.facebook.com/warksacl/

All courses are available to anyone over 19 who doesn’t have already have a GSCE Grade C in maths and are free to access. Please find out more about the Multiply programme here and use the above sites for local links to courses and availability.

The programme will soon be looking for more partners to deliver this innovative opportunity with more ways to help Warwickshire residents brush up on maths skills, be more confident with numbers to manage bills, budget or improve potential at work…so watch this space!

To find out more about the Multiply programme, please click here.

Boating business is buoyant after CWRT loan

"Without the Duplex funding, the changeover would have occurred over three-to-five years...we would not have benefited from the reduced emissions and running costs as soon as we have.”

Loans from a specialist finance provider in Coventry and Warwickshire are helping businesses to go green and win new work.

Local finance provider Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) has lent nearly £300,000 to small businesses to help them invest in environmentally-friendly products and services.

CWRT delivers the innovative Duplex Investment Fund, which is a combination of a loan and grant, on behalf of Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Midlands Engine.

Avon Boating, a popular tourist attraction in Stratford-upon-Avon and one of the oldest businesses locally, used the fund as part of their plan to go greener, by purchasing several electric boats to move away from petrol.

Gerard Walmsley, of Avon Boating, said: “Without the Duplex funding, the changeover would have occurred over three-to-five years. This would have been a bit of an operational nightmare as we would have essentially had to have run two products at the same time for our customers, and we would not have benefited from the reduced emissions and running costs as soon as we have.”

The British Business Bank has also had an important role to play in the local green businesses’ growth. CWRT has been accredited by the organisation to deliver the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS).

RHI Energies Group Limited used the scheme delivery by CWRT to avoid the problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years almost entirely. The scheme supported the ground source heating and cooling systems specialists who faced difficulty during the pandemic and the Leamington firm has now secured its first new contract and has several others in the pipeline.

CWRT also manages the Local Communities & Enterprise Fund (LCE), funded by Warwickshire County Council, which aims to help small businesses start-up as well as existing firms to grow.

Solarvision Lighting Technologies, based in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, specialises in providing off-grid solar lighting, a positive move for the region becoming more sustainable. They received support from the LCE fund, which assisted with fulfilling new orders, whilst creating new jobs and raising their brand awareness.

Sheridan Sulskis, CEO at CWRT, said it was great the finance provided by CWRT from the different schemes had had such a positive effect on the green initiatives.

She said: “More and more businesses in all sectors are conscious of becoming environmentally friendly and it is fantastic that the loans provided to these three businesses have helped them to make a difference to our area’s Net Zero targets.

“Avon Boating is Stratford’s oldest business but its modernisation into electric boats shows it is constantly looking to the future while Solarvision Lighting Technologies is creating four jobs early in 2023 while providing their customers with clean, efficient and renewable energy.

“RHI Energies Group is a small company with great potential, they provide eco-economical heating and cooling solutions which is a great alternative in economically challenging times. It is wonderful to see work coming its way post Covid-19.

“But like so many other businesses, the pandemic had a drastic effect upon its trading and it is wonderful to see work coming its way again because climate change globally is having a significant impact on the construction industry.

“There is also a positive knock-on effect for these businesses because the loans have helped to secure new contracts which will boost Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy.”

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “I am delighted that support from the Duplex Investment Fund has enabled Avon Boating to not only expand but do so in an environmentally friendly manner. Their growth in this way is a great example of partners and businesses working together for the benefit of all, not least the many visitors to Stratford who enjoy the offer of Avon Boating.” 

CWRT continues to assist a number of businesses in their steps towards becoming more sustainable, including assessing their own carbon footprint, along with the businesses that they support. Funding is still available under the LCE fund, Duplex fund and the Recovery Loan Scheme. For further information about CWRT, visit www.cwrt.uk.com or call 02476 551777.

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747


Customs Cleared ready to help other businesses after LCE support

Customs brokerage company Customs Cleared has launched with the help of Warwickshire County Council’s Local Community and Enterprise Fund, delivered by Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust. Customs Cleared owner Amar Tiwana explains how much the business support helped…

"We would have never been able to set up the business without the LCE funding...we are immensely grateful to Warwickshire County Council for making this fund available.”

Meet the client…

Customs Cleared is a customs brokerage company aimed at SMEs. It assists small businesses with customs declarations for goods imported and exported worldwide. The company also offers guidance on quotas, specialist licences such as (animal, food etc.) and a specialist vehicle import scheme NOVA Imports.

How will your business help the local community?

Local businesses will be able to receive specialised support which is essential, especially with ongoing import and export documentation issues caused by UK leaving the EU. “Trading with the EU is more complex than before, as more extensive due diligence requirements are leaving small businesses struggling to match the expectations," said Amar. "The Customs Department is unable to support smaller businesses to this extent...that’s where we will come in and solve this issue.”

Why did you choose the Local Community and Enterprise Fund (LCE)?

“Becoming a customs brokerage requires various certificates and licenses which are costly. We have tried to access finances through a local bank, unfortunately, we have been declined and required alternative funding. That’s when I found out about CWRT and applied for the Local Community and Enterprise Fund which is provided by Warwickshire County Council. It presented a brilliant option and has covered a large part of start-up costs.”

How is your business doing since the launch?

"We have officially started trading and have taken instructions for NOVA imports, Manufacturing Imports (extrusion). We are also negotiating with Chinese housewares manufacturers who are looking to import to the UK. We have built a strong pipeline and the future is looking bright."


Helping businesses expand their market is essential for their success during these financially unpredictable times.

“We are very pleased to start supporting businesses with their journey," said Amar," and we would have never been able to set up the business without the LCE funding. We are immensely grateful to Warwickshire County Council for making this fund available.”

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “The Local Community & Enterprise Fund, a key strand of WCC’s Warwickshire Recovery Investment Fund, is designed to support small and micro-businesses with their growth plans and I am delighted that Customs Cleared have found that input so valuable. With this support they are now better-placed to in turn help other businesses in Warwickshire so the benefit is shared.”

To learn more about the LCE Fund, please visit: www.cwrt.uk.com/wrif-lce-fund

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Businesses urged to take advantage of free filming opportunity

"The Future Careers Films are a brilliant toolkit for businesses wanting to recruit and we’d encourage all Warwickshire businesses to take advantage of this offer."

The Warwickshire Skills Hub team is urging businesses to take advantage of a fully-funded recruitment toolkit available to help them recruit.

The Future Careers Filming Programme has supported over 40 businesses to create digital showreels of their careers and apprenticeship opportunities.

The programme was created to produce short films designed to tell the story of the businesses and the careers they offer. This fully-funded opportunity gives businesses a platform to really shout about the opportunities they have and then the Warwickshire Skills Hub team work to help maximise the exposure and visibility of the final pieces.

The films are shared across the Skills Hub's social media platforms while links are shared with schools to enable the films to be utilised in careers activity. Warwickshire employability programmes also incorporate the films in employability workshops and job clubs,

Coming very soon will be a dedicated “Fair Chance Jobs portal” which will provide additional exposure to the films. This will also support live job opportunities on a platform to be shared across, and made accessible to, Warwickshire Communities looking for work.

To view some films and examples of Warwickshire organisations to have benefited from the programme so far, please visit https://skillshub.warwickshire.gov.uk/homepage/14/future-job-opportunities Organisations include BMW, Shipston Lodge Nursing Home, Telent, Storm Geomatrics, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, OX Deliveries, Warwickshire Police, Fanuc, Nabcel, Coventry College, Heart of England Training, Intec, Manufacturing Technology Centre, MTI, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College and Warwickshire College Group

The Future Careers Films are a brilliant toolkit for businesses wanting to recruit and we’d encourage all Warwickshire businesses to take advantage of this offer. Here is how it all works...

· Step 1 – Business meets with the Future Careers Filming team to discuss content design.

· Step 2 – Business site visit booked to complete filming (2 hours)

· Step 3 – Final edit agreed.

· Step 4 – Film is published.

For further information or to book a Filming meeting with the team, please email skillshub@warwickshire.gov.uk to arrange a meeting with our programme team.

Project Warwickshire helps Experimental Escape build on number one status

“Project Warwickshire really helped us to develop our marketing strategies and focus on what we do best and the areas we need to improve on."

A groundbreaking Leamington Spa venue is aiming to expand in 2023 and build on its 'number one' status.

Hundreds of five-star Trip Advisor reviews have seen Experimental Escape become the Warwickshire town's top result for most fun things to do, while Google also has the Warwick Street attraction at the top of its rankings too.

Five years after two friends opened Leamington Spa’s first escape room experience, plans are now afoot to develop upon its puzzle-solving, logical thinking and teamwork-testing games after gaining crucial support from the Project Warwickshire business support scheme delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council.

"We're pleased and proud to be the number one most fun thing to do in Leamington Spa," said Experimental Escape general manager Charlie Little. "When we started out five years ago, we were the only escape rooms in the town, but two more opened two months later. Our award-winning escape games are designed and built by us, which means we learn to adapt to our customers’ needs to make the experience the best it can be."

Visitors to Experimental Escape are transported into a room with a mysterious scenario, where they have only 60 minutes to achieve the objective and escape.

After enjoying a strong Christmas period of trading as customers returned to normal festive period pursuits, following the disruptive impact of the global pandemic, the business is now pushing ahead with plans for the future.

At the forefront of this is Charlie’s participation in Project Warwickshire, which was set up by Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and has been delivered by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

He attended three one-on-one sessions with Chamber Business Advisor, Russell Grant.

“Project Warwickshire really helped us to develop our marketing strategies and focus on what we do best and the areas we need to improve on," said Charlie.

“They have given us access to workshops covering a wide range of topics, and also information of available funding for future projects.”

In the coming months, Experimental Escape has targeted the expansion and creation of more games as well developing more games to test the teams’ creative and technical abilities.

"I'd recommend the support to other businesses," Charlie added. "It’s like having an external person auditing your business and your approach to promotion. It’s good practice to assess what we’re doing right and wrong and having a mentor who has better knowledge than I do and isn’t biased and will tell you if something isn’t looking good or where you can improve.”

Russell added: “Charlie and the Experimental Escape team are doing a fantastic job building their business. After weathering the pandemic, they are now making great strides and took on board our advice, including a revamp of their website which gives an excellent representation of the experience customers get at their venue.

“They’ve got an excellent offer for full of creativity and innovation and it will continue to go from strength to strength. I’m really pleased that we could help.”

Councillor Martin Watson, Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place for Warwickshire County Council, said: "Experimental Escape is a great success story and a very welcome dimension to our incredibly vibrant and creative leisure sector in Warwickshire. I am delighted that the expert support from Project Warwickshire has enabled the business to think clearly about the big picture and put together a solid strategy for further growth."

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Make the most of uxplore offer before it ends in June

Small businesses have been urged to make the most of the uxplore offer, an ERDF-funded project led by Coventry University and delivered in partnership with CWLEP Growth Hub and the C&W Chamber of Commerce, at the Digital Hub at Coventry University Technology Park in the final two months of the scheme. 

Digital and creative businesses can use the space and facilities at the Hub, and tap to the expertise at hand, for free (fully-funded by ERDF) under the uxplore project.  

The newly built £1.2m Digital Hub includes state of the art communications infrastructure, co-working and collaboration spaces and a technical development area and demonstration space. It offers entrepreneurs access to conference and meeting rooms​ and the opportunity to use 5G and pursue their Digital Transformation. A Vodaphone technician is based there so is invariably on site to advise. 

This fantastic opportunity for small businesses will not be around forever though as the project will cease in June when the European Regional Development Fund backing expires.

Chloe Townley, Business Innovation Development Manager at Coventry University, said: “We just want all businesses to know that all this free support is there for them to take advantage of until June. 

“A lot of SMEs might think that what we offer here is not relevant to them. but it is absolutely part of the future. A lot of businesses have come here and then left the project with new, innovative ideas that they will take forward to help their businesses evolve and grow.” 

To find out more about booking space at the Digital Hub please visit HERE.  

The uxplore scheme will also continue to offer a range of workshops covering all aspects of digital connectivity for small businesses until June. 

The workshops are listed below, along with the two-hour guest topic delivery:

27th & 28th February – Digital marketing, delivered by Graham Todd, Director Spaghetti Agency

20th & 21st March – Digital marketing, delivered by Graham Todd, Director Spaghetti Agency

17th & 18th April - Electric Vehicles by Dr Kamyar Nikzadfar, Assistant Professor (Academic), School of Future Transport Engineering

15th & 16th May - Intellectual Property, Albi Lamaj, Coventry University Services IP Director

To find out more about the workshops and book, visit HERE.

For general enquiries, please email uxplore@cusltd.co.uk

Coventry & Warwickshire industrial market reaches new highs

The leasing of Industrial space in the Coventry Market enjoyed a record year in 2022 due to a number of landmark deal activity for units greater than 100,000 square feet, according to commercial property platform CoStar.

The Coventry market includes the city area as well as the five district and boroughs of Warwickshire: North Warwickshire, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Rugby, Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon. Take up rates exceeded 5m sqft and Coventry & Warwickshire posted its best year for the data set 2009-22, even out-pacing 2014, the last time take-up exceeded the 5m mark. In 2021 the same figure, though still strong, was less than 3.5m sqft.

According to the data presented by CoStar's Lisa Dean, vacancies at 3.1% have increased slightly since the start of 2023, but they remain below their long-run average of 4.9%.

The strong performance partly reflected key larger sites coming online that had been allocated in local plans, including SEGRO plc Coventry Gateway, Tritax Symmetry Rugby and Baytree Logistics Properties Faultlands Farm. These lettings to DHL, Rhenus Logistics and Maersk all represented FDI (foreign direct investment) from Germany and Denmark.

Sustainability was a focus of the Baytree developed Rhenus Campus on the edge of Nuneaton, where Rhenus Warehousing preleased a combined total of 981,000sqft in September 2022 at two units. This is across the road from where Hello Fresh took on the Goodman Nuneaton 230 newbuild unit to house its Beehive operation in 2020.

DHL expanded its presence significantly in the Coventry market last year. It took 480,000sqft at Coventry Cross Business Park in October. The company also took an additional 300,000 square feet at Ryton 302. Work has also started on its new £230 million hub at Segro Park Coventry, which will double its processing capacity.

Maersk took the Panattoni speculatively developed space Tamworth 345 on the CORE 42 development at Dordon, as Maersk enters the 3PL market. The 345,000sqft spec built unit has excellent access to J10 of the M42.

The rise in this leasing activity is being led by e-commerce and 3PL demand, rather than manufacturing. 3PL or third-party logistics is where a provider offers outsourced logistics services, and promises to improve efficiency and reduce costs for retailers and businesses.

Coventry and the north of the county sit in the so-called ‘logistics golden triangle’ and this strategic location gives 3PLs access to 90% of UK population within four hours, providing a strong rationale for locating here. This area accounted for a record 18% share of UK industrial leasing activity in 2022, up markedly on the 10-year average of 13%, according to CoStar. According to James Breeze of CBRE, quoted in The Economist reckons the transport of goods accounts for about half a typical company’s supply-chain expenses. Warehouse rental is a mere 6% so a prime location like the Coventry market will help reduce trucking costs.

The success of the Coventry market over last year was also recently underlined by agents Avison Young, who published data on their national industrial team transactions. The agency achieved lettings of over 9m sqft, with over half of those deals being made in the Coventry & Warwickshire and West Midlands market.

Invest Coventry & Warwickshire, the inward investment and place promotion agency, recently estimated a pipeline of 20m sqft of industrial space recently delivered or in development, including the space in the 2022 data included in the CoStar calculations.

While this development space is positive for the region, the majority of this space is for larger units in excess of 100,000sqft, and there remains a lack of new development of this smaller space. The Spa Park scheme at Leamington Spa from Blackrock/Stoford, which has four units remaining totalling 151,000sqft, the new 35,000sqft AC Lloyd Space Park development with 61 units of 200-500sqft, the Wigley Group development of nine units between 1500 and 5000sqft at Stonebridge Industrial Estate, and the Warwickshire Property Development Group (WPDG) Southam Park development with nine units of 42,000sqft in total, are among some local sites that will address some of this need for smaller spaces. But according to the commercial agent community, and referenced in the recent Bromwich Hardy Barometer report, there is still a lack of supply in some Coventry & Warwickshire locations.

Invest Coventry & Warwickshire tracks the local commercial property and can help businesses looking for office, industrial, retail and warehouse space in the local market. Property searches can also be carried out using our property search portal http://commercialproperty.coventry-warwickshire.co.uk/

Busy month of CUE workshops ahead...

A range of workshops and masterclasses will be delivered by Coventry University Enterprises in February.

Businesses with an eye on growth are encouraged to sign up to the following:

Google Business profile optimisation and management

February 28th, 9.30am

Google Business Profile (or Google My Business as it was known) can have a great impact on a business’ SEO local search values. We’ll help you to build a profile, optimise it and then use it like a social media platform to help support your SEO on the internet. It's socially valuable for gaining reviews and showcasing a physical business location. A must if you're targeting a local customer base.


Lean Model Canvas

March 2nd, 11am.

Here is expert help with trying to write a business plan. The best way to understand your business is to learn how to use a Lean Model Canvas. In just one page you will put together everything you need to know about your future business. And if there is something you do not like or is about to change, that can easily be amended!


Develop a content marketing strategy that converts - on a limited budget

March 3rd, 10am

Creating a well-oiled digital marketing strategy can take a lot of time and money, but, there are ways to make an impact with the limited time you have available.

In this webinar, Anna Morrish, Founder & MD of Quibble, a full-service digital marketing agency will explain how you can create an effective content marketing plan in minimal time that will still have an impact on your bottom line - no matter the size of your business or resources at your disposal.


Entrepreneurial Mindset

March 9th, 11am

Are entrepreneurs born or made? We are convinced that they are made and that we can teach you how to be one. Join us in this two-hour workshop and find out what type of skills or knowledge you should develop to become an entrepreneur. Alternatively, explore the skills you already have, in case you are a hidden talent! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/entrepreneurial-mindset-tickets-517803382857

Minimum Viable Product

March 16th, 11am

Did you know that the most successful entrepreneurs never launch the perfect product in the market? Instead, they present the world with what we call a Minimum Viable Product. Find out what this is and how you can create one with the minimum of resources and effort. It is a great opportunity to discover how to become an entrepreneur and create your own business without breaking the bank!


Help to Grow: Management course

March 16th, 1pm-3pm…sessions run for 12 weeks

In Person/Online - Hybrid

Coventry University are able to provide fully-funded places on the Help to Grow: Management course. The course involves 12 sessions as well as dedicated Peer to Peer sessions to network with businesses alongside 10 hours of 1-2-1 mentoring. Please follow the link below to find out more and register

Link https://smallbusinesscharter.org/h2gmcourse/coventry-wm-cohort-24/?_ga=2.80578452.2042761473.1673521270-538290910.1623661483

Social Media Strategy and time saving tips for Startups

March 17th, 9.30am

Creating social media strategies can help to save lots of time in your day - if your business is aware of the social media plan you're working to. We cover how to build a strategy, how to complete audience personas, competitor analysis, and working towards content pillars that make content development and management for your social media platforms more effective. We'll also work through some of the tools you can use to make this process much quicker when developing new content or curating the internet for content you can share and repurpose.


Funding for Tech Startups

March 23rd, 11am

If you are in the early stages of setting up your own website or app contact us and we will guide you in terms of funding. We’ll give you information about loans, grants, investment and other hidden funding sources that you can tap into. This two-hour workshop can be very revealing.


Customer Development

March 30th, 11am.

How do you know that there are customers out there who want to buy your product or services? There are ways to find out before you even launch! In this workshop, you will get the basic skills you need to conduct the necessary market research for your future business. No more uncertainty. Use facts to find out, if your product will be a success or failure!. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/customer-development-tickets-519636726437

Improving confidence in region's business community

"The latest QES results show the local economy remaining resolute and robust in the face of economic adversity."

Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire began 2023 with improving confidence, bucking the national trend in the face of a range of issues that are holding back growth.

Manufacturing in the region looks to be particularly resurgent according to the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) which was conducted with firms across the city and the county at the tail end of last year.

The results show an uptick in manufacturing orders both at home and overseas, and rising confidence in manufacturing and the service sector.

The survey, which is delivered in partnership with Prime Accountants Group, is analysed by the Economy & Skills Group at Warwickshire County Council. Its analysis uses a similar score to the national Markits Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) where 50 is neutral and anything above is positive and anything below means the reverse.

Confidence in the service sector grew from a score of 50.6 in the third quarter of 2022 to 55.5. In manufacturing it jumped from 52.3 to 65.0. There were improved numbers when it comes to employment in both manufacturing and services. Manufacturing saw growth in domestic orders and international sales too, while the service sector saw a slowdown in homegrown orders and a slight upturn internationally.

All of which added to an overall economic outlook of 52.9 – one point higher than the previous survey, which stood at 51.9.

Sunny Parekh, Senior Economist at Warwickshire County Council, said: “Quarter four at a national level experienced a modest weakening as household spending was squeezed and economic uncertainty weighed heavy on demand levels.

“However, the latest QES results show the local economy remaining resolute and robust in the face of economic adversity. 

 “The results show that the overall economic outlook index for Coventry and Warwickshire bucked the national trend by increasing further into positive territory, showing overall signs of optimism amongst both local services and manufacturing businesses.

“Business confidence experienced a boost, particularly within the manufacturing sector as profitability expectations increased despite ongoing price pressures. The upbeat nature of the local business landscape in the final quarter of 2022 bodes well, especially as forecasts point towards a long road to economic recovery.”

Steve Harcourt, director of Prime Accountants, said: “I am pleased to see businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire feeling more positive.

“The results around the labour market and employment are very interesting to see and, while they are positive in terms of businesses still looking to recruit that does, of course, exacerbate the issue we saw a great deal of in 2022 – firms not being able to bring in the skilled people they need.

Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The QES is an incredible insight into the way businesses across our patch are feeling and what their outlook is. In light of all of the domestic and global issues, it’s great to see firms feeling a little more confident at the turn of the year.”

Summary of 2022 Q4 Key Numbers

Economic Outlook

Overall, 52.9, up from 51.9

Service Sector 51.6, down from 52.2

Manufacturing Sector 57.7, up from 49.8

Domestic Sales

Service Sector 52.0, down from 59.0

Manufacturing Sector 58.8, up from 45.2

Overseas Sales

Service Sector 45.6, up from 42.3

Manufacturing Sector 54.9, up from 47.1


Service Sector 57.4, up from 57.1

Manufacturing Sector 59.8, up from 50.0

Investment & Cashflow

Service Sector 45.9, down from 59.2

Manufacturing Sector 49.4, down from 51.5

Business Confidence

Service Sector 55.5, up from 50.6

Manufacturing Sector 65.0, up from 52.3


Resources for a Sustainable Warwickshire

A new Sustainable Warwickshire podcast is now available on Spotify and Apple.

The podcast is aimed at anyone living or working in Warwickshire who cares about climate change. It features conversations with people across the County who are taking action to reduce carbon emissions and support biodiversity. 

The podcast will also cover subjects such as energy, waste and recycling, transport, infrastructure and the green economy, whilst also giving ideas on how to get involved.

Another useful resource is the Warwickshire Climate Emergency website, now with a section specifically for Warwickshire businesses which lists various funding opportunities for local businesses as well as news of other relevant projects. 

COBRA business resource available at libraries

“Warwickshire Libraries provide wonderfully vibrant and safe spaces across the county where individuals can learn all about the world of business, and our friendly and welcoming staff are always on hand if you need assistance.”

Warwickshire County Council’s library service is promoting use of their latest free online business resource COBRA, a complete business reference adviser tool available to support anyone looking to start a business, write a business or marketing plan or conduct research into a new market.

COBRA is a new addition to Warwickshire Libraries’ e-Resource offer and features more than 4,000 factsheets, market reports, contacts and sources of funding and support. It also provides hundreds of practical guides to help start up more than 350 different types of business.

Access to COBRA is available by visiting Warwickshire Libraries’ Business Resources webpage, and is free to use with a Warwickshire Libraries membership card. To sign-up as a library member, which is also free, you can speak to a member of staff at your local library or visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/jointhelibrary

Cllr Andy Jenns, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation, said: “COBRA is a great addition to Warwickshire Libraries online resources offer and will help current and prospective business owners to be equipped with the right knowledge in order to support Warwickshire’s economy as well as help individuals learn how to achieve and succeed in business.

“Warwickshire Libraries provide wonderfully vibrant and safe spaces across the county where individuals can learn all about the world of business, and our friendly and welcoming staff are always on hand if you need assistance.”

The Business Resources webpage also provides access to a great selection of research websites to help individuals who are looking to start or develop a business, who are considering self-employment or thinking about new career options, or who are preparing for job interviews. This includes access to the Oxford Dictionary of Business & Management, the Oxford Dictionary of Economics, the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Business and Management, and Access to Research.

Warwickshire Libraries offer free Wi-Fi, public computer access and workspaces, and printing and photocopying facilities, and you can find out what’s available at your local library on the County Council website. Nuneaton, Rugby, and Leamington libraries also offer Let’s Make spaces to get hands-on with the latest technologies from 3D printing and virtual reality to robotics. There are IT Help and support sessions available which take place regularly at libraries across the county, and Cyber Safe Warwickshire also deliver regular free sessions to raise awareness of how to protect yourself online.

Books on business related subjects are available to borrow for library members in person or through the online library catalogue, or by browsing the BorrowBox collection which includes a great range of eBooks and eAudiobooks. Relevant articles can be accessed through Access to Research and newspapers and magazines are also available through Pressreader & Libby.

Visit the new Business Resources webpage at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/librarybusinessresources

To find out more about the range of library services available, please ask a member of staff in your local library or visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/libraries.

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Special Feature

The Duplex Investment Fund - collaborative business support at its best

"The Duplex Investment Fund is a fantastic example of collaborative working between ourselves and partners, all committed to supporting small businesses and their communities."

A funding scheme created to boost the local economy by helping SMEs with access-to-finance has now invested nearly £3million in small businesses.

The Duplex Investment Fund, introduced in 2019, is a combined grant and loan initiative jointly managed by Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), the Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT), Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council and the Midlands Engine.

It has proved an emphatic success, supporting businesses in a wide range of sectors and locations across the region.

Warwickshire County Council’s input to the scheme saw it recently pass the £2m loans milestone. A total of £2,094,670 loan monies has been disbursed to 29 businesses by WCC which has also allocated £829,627 in grant monies.

The knock on effect of this investment by the council has been considerable with £805,901 investment from the private sector attracted. Employment has also been created and protected - in total, 167 new jobs are forecast, 61 have been created and 149 safeguarded with three apprentices to be taken on.

Among businesses to have benefited is Bear Cleaning, run by former Warwickshire police officer Ted Hunter and his wife, Kate, who was a social worker, in Kenilworth. Kate successfully applied for a £41,500 loan and £16,600 grant from the scheme to buy a 3.5 tonne truck to deliver the new service from Bear Cleaning in Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.

“I carried out a lot of detailed market research and realised we needed to buy a small truck, so I got in touch with the Growth Hub and then CWRT to apply for the Duplex Investment Fund,” said Kate. “We now have our new vehicle. There was a lot of information and due diligence required but it really helped to formalise our business plans and we are really grateful to have received this valuable funding.”

The project is funded by £3.9 million of grants from the Government’s Local Growth Fund and the Growing Places Fund, distributed and managed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council have both invested £2 million in the scheme managed by CWRT.

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “The Duplex Investment Fund is a fantastic example of collaborative working between ourselves and partners, all committed to supporting small businesses and their communities. The £2million in loans is a proud milestone to reach and the Fund continues to go from strength to strength to keep supporting the local economy.”

CWRT chief executive, Sheridan Sulskis, said: "While businesses continue to feel the aftermath of the pandemic, along with inflation rises, cost of living increases and supply chain issues, it is inspiring to see so many take this opportunity to pivot their business models, to invest in innovation and create new jobs. Duplex has been key in supporting these businesses to diversify their income streams, strengthen their business models and have a valuable economic and social impact in our local region."



Date Event Host Timings Venue Link
2023.02.27 An Evening With Lotus Cars
Join Russell Carr (Design Director) and Gavan Kershaw (Attributes Director) of Lotus Cars for the second instalment of our "Evening With" event series. They will be leading an interactive and informative talk about the Lotus Emira, taking a walk around the car, and sharing their exclusive insights into the design process and the thinking behind it.

The evening will be hosted by Steve Cropley, Editor in Chief for Autocar and Trustee of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. Steve will be in conversation with these engaging automotive experts in a relaxed environment, with audience participation and questions being encouraged.

With Lotus's 75th Anniversary year in full swing, there's no better opportunity to learn more about this iconic British marque's innovative past designs and exciting future plans straight from the
BMM 19.00-22.00 British Motor Museum Weblink here
2023.02.28 BAB Networking - Coleshill Breakfast
Face to Face Networking in Coleshill -Business at Breakfast. You will be welcomed, included and educated with like minded business entrepreneurs. By Networkers for Networkers. Including a 10 Minute Education slot 15 Min Spotlight and one to one Networking Opportunities.
BAB Networking 08.00-10.00 Coleshill Hotel Weblink here
2023.02.28 Google Business Profile Optimisation and Management
Google Business Profile (or Google My Business as it was known) can have a great impact on a business’ SEO local search values. For a free tool it‘s great find. We’ll help you to build a profile, optimise it and then use it like a social media platform to help support your SEO on the internet.
Various 09.30-11.30 Online Weblink here
2023.03.01 Raising Finance for SMEs
We will explain how to get your SME business ready for access to finance, and the documentation you’ll need to prepare to have best chance of securing finance.
The Venture Centre 09.30-12.30 The Venture Centre, Coventry Weblink here
2023.03.01 Venturefest
Being supported locally by business, universities, science parks and business support organisations Venturefest provides entrepreneurs, investors and innovators the chance to meet, engage and exchange ideas for co-operation and collaboration, particularly in the fields of science and emerging technologies.
Venturefest 08.00-17.00 Eastide Rooms Weblink here
2023.03.01 Future Propulsion Conference - FPC 2023 - 2 Days
Bringing together the UK’s biggest and best geotechnical suppliers, manufacturers, contractors and clients. A single focussed event, helping to promote the very best specialist services, products and innovations the industry has to offer.
FPC 09.00-17.00 National Motorcycle Museum Weblink here
2023.03.02 The Subcontractor Surgery - Leamington Spa
The Subcontractor Surgery is a FREE event for all Subcontractors to attend and get commercial advice from the SubPort team.
Subport Ltd 15.00-17.00 1 Mill Street Weblink here
2023.03.03 First Friday Networking at Kite Packaging, Coventry
Kite Packaging was founded in 2001 and is now one of the country’s largest packaging distributors, with multiple sites around the UK and the Coventry base stretching to 380,000 square ft.

The company’s growth has led to it being awarded ‘Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies in the Midlands’ and ‘The Sunday Times Track 100 Fastest Profit Growth in the UK’.  The Group has been carbon neutral since 2021 and the aim is to inspire similarly sized businesses to take action and reduce their impact on the planet.

Delegates will hear from Gavin Ashe, Managing Director and the visit will end with a site tour.
CW First Professionals 12.30-14.00 Kite Packaging, CV3 4GB Weblink here
2023.03.03 Business Buzz Leamington Spa
Business Buzz Leamington Spa is a fresh vibe in business networking. This Face to Face drop-in session is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire. First Friday of the month.
Buzz Networks 10:00-12:00 1 Mill Street Weblink here
2023.03.06 UN International Procurement Seminar Copenhagen 2023 - 2 Days
International Procurement Seminars, also known as Multi-Agency Business Seminars, are opportunities for UN Buyers and Vendors to meet in person. Selected UN Agencies participate and typically deliver a brief presentation of their Agency as well as take part in workshops and panel debates.
Dept for Intl Trade 2 Days Weblink here Weblink here
2023.03.07 Uno Leamington - Networking
UNO Networking in Leamington Single seat networking meetings, twice a month in Leamington Spa Talk Business UNO - Leamington.
Talk Business UK 07.30-09.00 Bar + Block Weblink here
2023.03.07 Protecting your Ideas – Beginner’s Guide to IP
International Procurement Seminars, also known as Multi-Agency Business Seminars, are opportunities for UN Buyers and Vendors to meet in person. Selected UN Agencies participate and typically deliver a brief presentation of their Agency as well as take part in workshops and panel debates.
Various 09.30-11.30 Online Weblink here
2023.03.07 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells – Fuelling the Future NOW
The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell conference is the largest and longest running hydrogen gathering in the UK. Entering its 19th year, the conference this year is being delivered in partnership with Hydrogen UK, the UK’s leading hydrogen industry association.
Climate Change Silutions 08.30-18.00 National Motorcycle Museum Weblink here
2023.03.09 Business Buzz Rugby
Business Buzz Rugby is a fresh vibe in business networking. This face-to-face drop-in session which takres places on the 2nd Thursday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire. 
Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 Gallachers of Rugby Weblink here
2023.03.10 Business Buzz Stratford-upon-Avon
Business Buzz Stratford-upon-Avon is a fresh vibe in business networking. This Face to Face drop-in session which takes place on the 2nd Friday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire.
Buzz Networks 10.00-12.00 Cork & Tile Portuguese Weblink here
2023.03.13 FindaBiz Networking Nuneaton
FaB Networking with FindaBiz is a local business networking and business support organisation. Serious about helping you grow your business, in a positive and friendly setting with no scary rules. Help for business owners to make connections, build business relationships and find opportunities to do business. 2nd Monday of the month.
FaB Networking 18.00-20.00 Coton Sports and Social Club Weblink here
2023.03.16 Business Buzz Warwick
Business Buzz Warwick is a fresh vibe in business networking. This face-to-face drop-in session which takes place on the 3rd Thursday of each month and is a great way to catch up with the local business community in Warwickshire.
Buzz Networks 10:00-12:00 The Globe Weblink here
2023.03.24 Leamington Coffee & Coworking
A coworking space for businesswomen to gain support and empowerment because no woman has to build a business alone.
Women's Business Club UK 09.00-12.00 Mallory Court Weblink here
2023.03.27 Business Bootcamp and Networking 2023
Free event to hear 101 top tips for business growth in 2023
Coombe Abbey Hotel 07.30-15.00 Online Weblink here
2023.03.27 Electric Revolution Skills Conference
The two-day conference will feature the ERS Hub platform launch. At the event, winners of the Innovate UK Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) "Building talent for the Future" competition will present updates and progress, alongside discussion of the new PEMD Body of Knowledge and workshops on topics such as greener futures, emerging technologies, and approaches to quantifying and mitigating the skills gap.
Electric Revolution Skills Hub 2 day event - 27 and 28th March International Convention Centre, Birmingham Weblink here
2023.03.29  National Manufacturing Summit 2023
The National Manufacturing Summit is an annual event run by the Manufacturing Technology Centre at its training and conference centre at the Ansty Business Park in Warwickshire.
MTC 2day event 29 - 30 March MTC Weblink Here
2023.04.18 Commercial Vehicle Show
Join us at the UK's BIGGEST display of vehicles, equipment, and technology for the road haulage industry. The Commercial Vehicle Show will be unmissable for thousands of fleet owners, directors, senior managers, engineers and to anyone operating commercial vehicles as part of their business.
NEC 18-20 April NEC Weblink Here
2023.04.20 The Battery Tech Expo
The Battery Tech Expo 2023 runs 20th April 2023 at The Wing, Silverstone and will bring together the latest technologies and services involved in the battery technology covering battery storage, battery management systems, fuel cell technology, lithium-ion batteries to name a few.
Made Smarter WM 09.00-16.30 THE WING, SILVERSTONE Weblink Here
2023.05.11 Micromobility UK Event 2023
Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from speakers discussing the latest data from industry and technology experts, listen to panel discussions, and have the chance to trial some of the latest micromobility solutions.
University of Warwick 09.00-16.30 Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire Weblink Here
2023.06.28 Battery Cells & Systems Expo
Battery Cells & Systems Expo will bring together automotive manufacturers, electric utilities, battery system integrators, cell manufacturers and the entire manufacturing supply chain. A truly unique showcase, companies from around the world will use the show to launch products and demonstrate their technology to an audience of over 4,500 professionals. 2 day event
Event Partners 28th-29th June
NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2023.07.05 Geotechnica
Bringing together the UK’s biggest and best geotechnical suppliers, manufacturers, contractors and clients. A single focussed event, helping to promote the very best specialist services, products and innovations the industry has to offer.
Equipe Group 09.00-17.00 Warwickshire Exhibition Centre Weblink here
2023.05.16 UKREiiF Annual Event 2023
UKREiiF connects people, places and businesses to accelerate the Levelling Up Agenda, whilst unlocking sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment across the UK.
UKREiiF 18 May to 20 May Royal Armouries Leeds Weblink here
2023.09.06 LCV CENEX
Cenex-LCV is the place to meet UK decision makers and industry experts; the perfect opportunity to showcase your business, your industry and your technology.
Cenex 06 to 07 September Cenex, Holywell Building, Holywell Park, Ashby Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire. LE11 3UZ Weblink here
2023.10.11 Engineering Design Show
The UK’s biggest event dedicated entirely to engineering, electronics and embedded design. Design engineers benefit from direct access to the latest products, services and innovations available to the sector.
Cenex 11 - 12 October  Coventry Building Society Arena Weblink here
2023.11.01 Advanced Engineering 2023
The 14th edition of Advanced Engineering will celebrate innovation, collaboration and sustainability within the engineering and manufacturing industries. Engineering professionals from all sectors come together to network, learn and discover innovative new solutions and suppliers from the engineering supply chain across two action-packed days.
NEC 1st and 2nd November NEC Weblink here
2023.11.18 Motorcycle Live - November
TMotorcycle Live in association with Bikesure Insurance welcomed thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the weekend as the doors swung open to the UK’s biggest motorcycle show. The nine-day show kicked off in style with a star-studded line-up of riders and celebrities including show regulars Steve Parrish and James Whitham, the fastest man around the Isle of Man TT Peter Hickman, round-the-world explorer Nick Sanders and Rory Skinner, fresh from his announced move to Moto 2 for 2023, to name just a few.
NEC 18-26 November NEC Weblink here

Talk Up Our Towns

Alcester quietly powering the world

“This a small town which stays under a lot of people’s radar but thinks big. Alcester does punch above its weight."

Visitors arriving in Alcester are greeted to the town by a handsome, sculpted globe – ‘Goodwill to All’ is its welcoming message.

Its origins lie in the Globe Hotel which stood for centuries nearby until 1956, but the globe is most appropriate to Alcester in another way, because every day the business expertise of this proud small town in south-west Warwickshire has a global impact.

The elegant steam train, full of passengers, puffing its way round Carillon Historical Park in Ohio, USA…Made in Alcester.

The mighty wood-chipping machine delivering environmental projects in Fiji…Made in Alcester.

The precision tools powering production at Skoda’s historic car plant in the Czech Republic...Made in Alcester.

The respective businesses - Severn Lamb, GreenMech and Seco Tools – are just three examples from a small town which truly punches above its weight.

They are players on the world stage but also, typically of Alcester, care about what happens locally. That welcoming globe has just been refurbished thanks to the donated efforts of two of them – Severn Lamb and GreenMech.

“Those businesses are a reflection of Alcester,” says town clerk Vanessa Lowe. “Local people have good ideas that grow into successful businesses which employ local people and care about the local community.

“This a small town which stays under a lot of people’s radar but thinks big. Alcester does punch above its weight. We have the Roman history and the lovely architecture and the High Street full of interesting little shops but, behind all of that, we are shaping the world!”

Alcester does think big but, not with a swagger, in an endearing way of quiet confidence and warmth. Last year, the town (population 7,000) lodged a tongue-in-cheek bid to become a city. Encouraged by the city status awarded to St Asaph (population 3,335), Alcester pitched to become one of the three new cities created for the late Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee. City status would, the application cited, “support us in realising our vision for 2031, attracting new business, people and inward investment as well as boosting out social development.”

It wasn’t to be - Colchester, Doncaster and Milton Keynes got the nod – but no worries. Alcester wished them well and got on with ticking over nicely as a busy town of vibrant visitor appeal and successful and diverse light industry.

The town centre, with its array of independent shops and cafes, is thriving. Just two of more than 100 units a vacant – a remarkably low percentage - and those two are under preparation to be filled. Further out of town, the Arden Forest Industrial Estate is home to a broad range of businesses the skills and products of which, as shown earlier, span the world.

Further businesses are based at the fascinating and beautiful Minerva Mill. A needle factory until 1912, the handsome Victorian building subsequently housed all sorts of manufacturing - springs, corsets, ironing boards, golf balls – before in 1998 it was acquired by Impetus Limited and turned into an innovation centre. The transformation was carried out with the respect due to a Grade Two-listed edifice. Minerva Mill has won awards for its outstanding innovation while preserving the character of the building.

Businesses there include engineering firm CalGavin, another Alcester firm with a global clientele but which is very happy at home. Created in 1980, CalGavin has gone from strength to strength and, still under founder Martin Gough, are currently undergoing further expansion but will remain in Alcester.

Minerva Mill is an example of how, in Alcester, opportunities are spotted and taken. Another is The Greig Hall. After 60 years hosting town events in Kinwarton Road, the property closed in 2011 and fell into disuse. The community didn’t like that, so got busy. They stoked up interest, raised funds and carried out repairs. The hall reopened last month. The town council has a 125-year lease on the building which, run by trustees, is back at the heart of the community.

That community is constantly active to enhance the tourist appeal of the town. Alcester is renowned as a festival town with two food festivals per year and lots of events always in the pipeline. It has free parking, good road access, green spaces, interesting architecture…and 16 hairdressers! What’s not to like?

Alcester businesses have grown and prospered due to their capacity for innovation. If you are a local business in Warwickshire which could benefit from innovation support, please visit https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/news/cw-innovation-programme

The tourist and visitor offer of Alcester and all the towns and attractions around Warwickshire can be explored at https://visit.warwickshire.gov.uk/ 


Coffee shop targeting hat-trick after Project Warwickshire support

"It has been great to get to be able to access the free support and it will help us with our plans to grow further.”

A popular coffee shop in Alcester is in the running to complete a hat-trick of awards, having already been named the best in England – twice. 

Louise Hanks launched The Lounge @ 26 with business partner Elizabeth French in November 2020, just as the second national Covid-19 lockdown began. 

The High Street coffee shop has gone from strength to strength since, with its reputation for great coffee and a friendly atmosphere helping it win two prestigious national awards. 

It was named Best Café in the country in England’s Business Awards 2021 and won the nation’s Best Eatery a year later, which has seen it automatically entered to compete in this year’s awards, with shortlisting in March and the winner announced later in the year. 

Louise and Elizabeth, who also own The Lounge in Astwood Bank, are also looking to expand their offering after receiving business growth support from Project Warwickshire – a free recovery and growth business support programme to help companies in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the county, in the wake of the pandemic. 

Project Warwickshire is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council, with support delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council. 

Working with Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce business advisor Marie Stephenson, Louise was given one-to-one support and training to raise the coffee shop’s profile, with Marie providing a source of support to help the company to continue its growth through difficult trading conditions as the pandemic receded. 

This included an in-depth target marketing exercise to understand the wants and needs of different customers groups, which fed into the development of a marketing strategy and content plan for the company’s social media pages, as well as advice on the launch of an upcoming website. A competitor analysis was also undertaken to compare themselves against similar businesses in different areas. 

The Lounge is now adding to its offering by launching bottomless brunch one Sunday every month – starting March 5 – providing customers with a range of different flavoured Bellinis and a choice of delicious fluffy pancakes, tasty Belgian waffles or smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels. 

Louise, who was formerly Head of Sixth Form at Arrow Vale School, said: “It was really surreal to have won the awards, especially in our first year of business, we still cannot quite believe it. We’ve got a chance to complete the hat-trick and hopefully win another award this year so we are keeping our fingers crossed! 

“It’s also a really exciting time for us at the moment as we are launching bottomless brunch which is something completely new for Alcester. We are always looking at trying new things. Last year we decided to open the coffee shop as a gin and cocktail bar on Friday and Saturday evenings and that has gone down really well. 

“Looking at the business from a different perspective has helped too and I’ve really appreciated the support and advice from Marie on how to grow the business further. It has been great to get to be able to access the free support and it will help us with our plans to grow further.” 

Marie added: “It’s been a privilege to help Louise and Elizabeth and provide a second set of eyes on their business plan and I enjoyed using my marketing background to help them prepare their marketing plans. 

“They’ve made a real success of the coffee shop through their sheer hard work in difficult times. They spend a lot of time making sure people receive the same quality and experience which is obviously working as they have so many new and repeat customers.” 

Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “I am delighted that the Project Warwickshire support has been of such high value to Louise and Elizabeth. Running a successful small business is such an all-consuming affair that sometimes it really helps to get some detached, expert guidance - that is exactly what Project Warwickshire is designed to deliver.” 

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

Funding "makes a great difference" to Alcester family firm

A family-run exhibitions and events business in Alcester has invested in new machinery and AV screens thanks to support from Warwickshire County Council.

Exhibition Equipment UK Ltd, which provides modular exhibition stands and shell scheme graphics, has been awarded over £16,000 from the council’s Small Capital Grants scheme which has supported over 100 Warwickshire businesses since 2015.

After losing much of his business and staff during the pandemic, Greg Bruner, a director at Exhibition Equipment UK, contacted his accountant, David Murphy from Stratford-based Grenfell James, to find out if any funding was available to help rebuild.

David pointed him towards Jim Clark at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub, who suggested the business should apply to Warwickshire County Council’s Small Capital Grants programme.

The result was a £16,400 grant and Exhibition Equipment UK has added a further £25,000 to buy a rollover application table and AV screens to hire for exhibition and events – which has already led to winning a new contract.

Greg said the grant was particularly timely and would help the business to diversify into new markets.

He said: “Many exhibition and event organisers are including the hiring of AV screens as part of their turnkey packages along with graphics and furniture. We work on a number of these small shows where we have been asked to provide all the infrastructure, and the goal is clearly to do more”

“In the past that has involved a third party for the screen hire but we will now be able to provide the televisions ourselves. It will give us access to other areas of the business such as corporate markets, weddings or funerals where people might want to hire a big screen for just a day or morning and locally we’re aware of opportunities for that.

“We have also used the funding to buy an illuminated table which will be a more efficient and economical way of applying graphics. Previously, applying the graphics by hand put a lot of strain on our bodies particularly with the bigger panels and often involved 2 people, something now we don’t have to worry about which makes a huge difference.

“The funding will make a great difference to our business. Jim from the Growth Hub has taken us under his wing and his support has been fantastic. We wouldn’t have got off the ground in applying for the grant without his input and guidance. The same goes for the grants team at the council.”

Jim Clark, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said it was great Exhibition Equipment UK was further improving its high-tech facilities thanks to the funding.

“I have had plenty of communication and meetings with Greg over the last few months and I will continue to support him because this is a terrific family-run business,” he said. Adding the illuminated table to their kit means this previously specialist job can be done by anyone in the team which makes their workforce more flexible and is a bonus when hiring new members of staff.”

Cllr Martin Watson, portfolio holder for economy at Warwickshire County Council said: “The Small Business Capital Grant is perfect for businesses with this kind of issue; where they need an injection of capital to enable them to make the next step and grow their business.

“It’s great to see Exhibition Equipment UK coming back after being hit so hard by the pandemic and winning new contracts again and , hopefully, offering job opportunities in the county. I’m really pleased we were able to help.”

The small capital grants are part of the County Council’s package of loan and grant programmes for businesses also including the Warwickshire Recovery & Investment Fund and the Green Recovery Grants.

* To find out what other support is available to your business, please call CWLEP Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747

News in Brief

Latest News in Brief from the region...

Warwickshire hits new highs for start-ups 

Figures just released show that more new businesses were established in Warwickshire during 2022 than in any previous year to date – making it one of the UK’s most successful counties. A total of 5,540 new formations were registered in Warwickshire during the last 12 months, an increase of 8.3% on 2021 when 5,117 were recorded. This brings the number of registered companies in the county to an all-time high of 42,564. 


Warwick EV company secures £100million financing 

Onto, a Warwick-based electric car subscription service, has raised a new credit funding line of £100 million. It follows the firm’s July 2022 equity raise of £45 million, and growth across last year of 300 per cent. 


Nuneaton’s Hello Fresh trials new fleet 

Recipe box company HelloFresh is trialling its own delivery fleet, initially covering the West Midlands. The six-month trial is operated out of the Beehive distribution centre in Nuneaton and will cover Birmingham and the West Midlands. 


Yellow Panther expands into new Leamington HQ 

Digital studio Yellow Panther, which has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands, has launched its new UK headquarters in Leamington on the back of rapid growth. Yellow Panther has become the fourth tenant to move into 11 Waterloo Place in the town centre since it opened last year following extensive refurbishment. 


Auto Design consultancy takes new office space in Warwick 

Fast-growing automotive design and engineering consultancy Contechs has unveiled plans to build new design offices and create more than 125 new jobs in Warwick as its global business booms. Contechs plans to build a new two-storey design office next to Grand Union House – the company’s global headquarters in Budbrooke Road. 


National Express £150m investment helps region to lead UK on zero emission buses 

National Express West Midlands is investing £150 million in 300 UK-made electric zero emission buses, for delivery by the end of December 2024. The buses will be deployed across the West Midlands. This includes the Coventry Electric Bus City project which is replacing all 275 buses, across all operators, on the city’s streets by 2025. A further 124 electric or hydrogen powered buses, including 24 articulated vehicles for the Sprint route on the A34 and A45, will be delivered next year through the Zero-Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) fund.  


German machine tool company moves to Stratford 

GROB Machine Tools UK, which currently employs 20 people, is set to move into the former Building Profiles unit on Timothy’s Bridge Road in Stratford and expand its team once a refurbishment of the site is complete. The company manufactures machines used to create components used in a wide variety of sectors, such as automotive, aerospace, medical, and energy. 


New site manager lands at Space Business Centre in Warwick 

An experienced property professional has been appointed the first site manager of a new £5.5 million business and industrial park in Warwickshire which is due to open this month. Katherine Skerry has become property manager of the purpose-built 35,000 sq ft Space Business Centre Warwick in Tachbrook Park which is being developed by AC Lloyd Commercial. The 61 units, ranging from 285 sq ft to 840 sq ft, are nearing completion and are aimed at start-ups wanting to move from their home or garden shed into professional premises as well as more established businesses who are growing. 


New Conference and Events space in Southam 

A former country house in Warwickshire has become an office, conference and events space following the completion of a £1.5m project. Works at Stockton House have created a two-storey extension, which features a conference and events facility for up to 120 people, meeting rooms, office space for up to 15 people, and The Stampings, a café for staff. 


CROPTEC show puts down new roots at Stoneleigh Park 

The CropTec Show has announced that it will relocate to the National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre Stoneleigh for its November show after its previous venue, the East of England Show Ground in Cambridgeshire, announced its closure. The CropTec Show brings together growers, agronomists, advisors and technical experts over two days for seminars, discussion and networking across busy exhibition halls. 


Ansty Hall joins Exclusive Collection 

Hospitality group Exclusive Collection has expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of a 62-bedroom hotel in North Warwickshire. Purchased from Macdonald Hotels, Ansty Hall becomes the seventh country-house hotel in Exclusive Collection's privately owned portfolio. Ansty Hall sits in eight acres of landscaped gardens and dates back to the 17th century. 


Economic outlook improves according to Chamber survey 

Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire began 2023 with improved confidence, according to new research. The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce's latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) record an overall an overall economic outlook of 52.9 in the fourth quarter, up a point from the previous survey. The survey, which is developed in partnership with Prime Accountants Group, is analysed by the Economy & Skills Group at Warwickshire County Council. 


Local commercial property agency launches latest property barometer 

Coventry & Warwickshire property agency Bromwich Hardy recently launched their annual Barometer report, full of a wealth of facts and figures in the commercial property market in the area. 


£15billion of investment opportunities to be showcased by West Midlands 

Representatives from across the West Midlands' public, private and academic sectors will be promoting more than £15bn of investment opportunities at MIPIM next month. The West Midlands' pavilion at the annual property conference will play host to a four-day programme of more than 30 events. It will showcase the region's investment opportunities to an audience of more than 20,000 property professionals and investors from around the world.  They will be joined by senior representatives from a number of the region’s real estate firms, including Arcadis, Arup, Hammerson, Lovell Homes, MEPC, Mott MacDonald Muse and Stoford, as well as academics and leaders from Aston University, University of Birmingham and University of Wolverhampton. 


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