Welcome from Mark Ryder

Hello and welcome to the March edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

Skills and Business Support both feature hugely this month as we highlight just some of the schemes that are available for businesses and education-providers to access across the county.

We report the resounding success of the Local Communities and Enterprise Fund, delivered by Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust as part of the County Council's £64 million Warwickshire Investment Fund to boost the county’s post-pandemic economic recovery. In less than two years, the LCE has distributed nearly £2.5 million of funding to small businesses and social enterprises.

We also hear how a Small Capital Grant has “transformed” Gripper Differentials, in Exhall, and how Leamington-based Hilo is flourishing thanks to WCC’s Digital Creative Recovery Co-Investment Fund.

Our Special Feature focuses on Warwickshire Careers Hub and how it’s move into the Warwickshire Skills Hub, at Eliot Park, Nuneaton, has proved a huge success, delivering more and better careers connections between the business community and schools, colleges and young people. Other skills news includes the Skills Escalator, now up and running for SMEs in Nuneaton and Bedworth who are looking to retrain or upskill their employees.

Kenilworth is in the spotlight in our Talk Up Our Towns section. Businesses there are coming together to make the most of the town's distinctive offer. We also bring the inspiring story of LoudLocal, the small Kenilworth business which, with the support of Warwickshire Skills Hub, is building a big reputation largely on talent recruited from those who were Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET).  

All this in the March edition of WMB and lots more, including a new Visit Shipston website, the recent Supported Internships Fair, Warwickshire’s fantastic Food & Drink offer and exciting news from Ryton Pools Country Park.

Please do visit  https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/business-support to see how we and our partners across the region can help you.


Featured News

Gripper growing and recruiting after Small Capital Grant

“The grant has transformed the business...we can do everything on site which gives us massive savings in time and money."

An engineering business in Exhall has more than doubled its staff and is fully fulfilling its growth plans thanks to a Small Capital Grant from Warwickshire County Council.

Gripper Differentials, on Bayton Road Industrial Estate, is a small business with a big reputation. The company, bought by Adele Rogers and Scott Gilbody in 2022, is a real local success story. From its Warwickshire base on the edge of Bedworth, it supplies a highly specialist product – slip differentials for gearboxes – to individuals, businesses and motorsport teams across Europe.

The business needed to increase capacity, reducing the risk of delays with suppliers, and oversee quality control at their small factory to enable the necessary growth. The solution was a Small Capital Grant which helped purchase two new CNC machines which has allowed Gripper to bring all its manufacturing operations in house.

“The grant has transformed the business,” said Adele. “The new machines mean we can do everything on site which gives us massive savings in time and money. Without the grant we could have bought only one machine so would have had to move forward well below capacity, so this has been massive for us.

“The process of getting the grant was really quick and Louisa Smith from the County Council was brilliant in guiding us through the process.”

Gripper has taken on three machine operators and an office manager, and is looking to take on an apprentice, to satisfy an order book bulging with clients from across the UK, Ireland and Europe and stretching as far as China.

Many of Gripper’s customers have been attracted by reputation or word of mouth,

“Sometimes a customer from somewhere in Europe will come to us and we wonder how on earth they found us, a little company in Warwickshire!” said Adele. “But motorsport is quite an insular word so a lot of people talk to each other and it’s nice to know that word has got around about us.

“We do put a very high value on quality. When you supply parts with a lifetime warranty, as we do, you have to make sure that everything is spot on. The new machines, and the council grant, means that we can keep hitting those standards for many more customers.”

Gripper Differentials is one of more than 100 small businesses to have been supported by Small Capital Grants from WCC. The scheme is now temporarily closed but is expected to reopen later this year.

WCC Contract & Project Monitoring Officer, Louisa Smith, said: “It has been a real pleasure to work with Gripper and their fantastic growth shows what can be achieved by ambitious and knowledgeable people, such as Scott and Adele. They have shown that they have the skills, expertise and innovation that are admired far and wide.”

* Please find out what other support is available to your business by calling Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747 or visiting https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk

LCE Fund pumps £2.5million into businesses in two years

"The LCE demonstrates our commitment to supporting micro, small and medium businesses and social enterprises, particularly those who needed an extra helping hand following the pandemic."

A scheme launched by Warwickshire County Council to give a helping hand to start-up, micro, small and medium businesses has distributed nearly £2.5 million of funding in less than two years.

The Local Communities & Enterprise Fund (LCE) was started in June 2022 to provide loans to businesses who were struggling to access lending by the usual High Street banking routes. It has now distributed over £2,484,368 in loans between 44 businesses as well as social enterprises.

The funding is forecast to create 210 jobs in a variety of sectors, including retail, digital creative and digital technologies, culture, tourism and hospitality, advanced manufacturing and engineering, and low carbon technologies. This has also safeguarded 258 jobs and a further eight jobs have already been created.

The LCE Fund, which is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT), is part of the County Council's £64 million Warwickshire Investment Fund (WIF), to boost the county’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

Cllr Martin Watson, the portfolio holder for economy at Warwickshire County Council, said distributing nearly £2.5 million in loans emphasised the need for the funding scheme.

He said: “The LCE demonstrates our commitment to supporting micro, small and medium businesses and social enterprises, particularly those who needed an extra helping hand following the pandemic. To have allocated nearly £2.5 million to businesses throughout the county will make a vital difference to the owners and employees as well as boost our economy.

“To create and safeguard jobs not only benefits families but the communities in which they live and work. These businesses will, in turn, grow and the LCE is a great example of the support and help we are proud to deliver in Warwickshire.”

Sheridan Sulskis, CEO at CWRT, said the LCE has removed barriers which some businesses had faced in accessing finance.

“It is not always easy to know where to turn when your investment plans are turned down by mainstream lenders,” she said. “But the LCE has proved instrumental in negotiating that hurdle to enable those with sound plans to access affordable finance to start-up or to grow their business.

“The LCE has been willing and able to provide loans when mainstream lenders were hesitant because of the importance of supporting the economic recovery and future growth of Warwickshire.

“We’ve had the privilege of managing this fund for WCC and seen how it has helped a wide breadth of businesses in all corners of the county. We are looking forward to supporting even more businesses over the next few years.”

CWRT supports businesses that may have not accessed finance for their business before or maybe facing barriers in receiving support. To find out more about funding options, contact CWRT at www.cwrt.uk.com

Please find out what other support is available to your business by calling Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747 or visiting https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk

Nuneaton and Bedworth SMEs can access the Skills Escalator

Business in Nuneaton and Bedworth can upskill and retrain their employees with support from a new funding stream.

The Skills Escalator Fund, delivered by Warwickshire County Council in partnership with Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, is offering grants of £750 per person to enable employers to train, upskill and retrain staff members. Each employer can apply for grants for up to five employees from the scheme which is powered by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund,  

The programme is designed to help small and micro businesses invest time and effort in improving their employees’ skill-sets to the benefit of all. The employees continue to build career paths, encouraging career progression and maximise their earning potential, while the gaps created by their elevation offer opportunities to others coming through.   

Vicki Haslam, Senior Business Skills Advisor at Warwickshire Skills Hub, said: “The Skills Escalator Fund is a very welcome addition to the skills support available to SMEs in Nuneaton and Bedworth. It fills a gap which has existed for more than a year since the end of the ESF funding and I would urge all small businesses in the towns to consider whether they could benefit from it.”

For more information or to apply for the find, please contact skillshub@warwickshire.gov.uk

Strong pipeline of new commercial space across Warwickshire

A study has revealed a healthy pipeline of available commercial space in Coventry and Warwickshire, but also indicated that supply is tighter in some locations than others.

Across Coventry and Warwickshire there are 71 industrial units that have been speculatively built or are just about to be completed, representing 2,959,034sqft of available space, while a further 1,830,678sqft over 17 buildings over the same schemes have already been let. This does not include older, used buildings that are coming back on to the market.

The new stock is split 396,128sqft over 43 units for SMEs (units less than 100,000sqft) and 2,562,906sqft over 11 buildings for larger requirements over 100,000sqft.

The SME-focused sites include the WPDG Sucham Park in Southam, Exhall Park in Bedworth, Holbrook Park in Coventry, Precision Park and Spa Park in Leamington. The sites with larger units include SEGRO Park Coventry Gateway, Redditch Gateway, Ansty Technology Park and Tritax Symmetry Rugby. Beyond this there is further supply of design and build options, primarily in the larger big box space, which isn’t included in these figures.

The office market was less active, typical of recent trends outside of major cities. The exception to this was the Warwick sub-market, where the 60,000sqft office and mixed use redevelopment of House of Fraser came online. The Creative Quarter in Leamington had a major boost when the major refurbishment of the former URC church was completed and occupier Cogent moved in, with creative skills provider SAE moving in next door.

Over in Warwick the former IBM Campus in Warwick saw The Woods building fully occupied by a mix of bpfs (business professional, financial services), med-tech and software companies. The building next door, now known as The Point, is currently finishing a significant refurbishment with Telent as anchor tenant.

While there is good supply of new commercial space for SMEs in some locations like Exhall, Coventry and Southam, there is less space in locations like Leamington and Rugby.

The study was carried out in March 2024 by the inward investment service Invest Warwickshire. The service provides soft landing support to companies setting up in the local area. Available property in the Coventry & Warwickshire area can be searched using the Coventry & Warwickshire commercial property search portal https://coventrycommercialproperty.evolutive.co.uk/

More than 70 visitors attend Supported Internships Fair

"There was a real buzz and it was heartening to hear the enthusiasm and passion in the conversations that were taking place."

Opportunities for some of the county’s young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) were showcased at Warwickshire County Council’s Supported Internships Fair.

Over 70 people came along to the drop-in event, at the Eliot Park Innovation Centre in Nuneaton, including young people with SEND, their parents, caregivers, local businesses, educational institutions, and support services, who gathered to explore and share the exciting possibilities of Supported Internships in Warwickshire. 

Following a similar format to the inaugural event, held last November at the Compton Verney Art Gallery, the second fair provided another opportunity to showcase Supported Internships as a potential pathway for young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) who are looking at their next steps after education. 

Not only can a Supported Internship help a young person with SEND to learn vital employability skills, but it can also help them grow in confidence, giving them greater self-esteem and independence. Successful Supported Internship programmes, such as those delivered by George Eliot Hospital and the Heart of England Forest which have resulted in young people gaining paid employment on completion of their internship, offered inspiration to those who attended. 

Aaron, a young person who attended the fair to explore internships in the NHS, said he felt ‘reassured’ and ‘had confidence he will thrive in the future.' He found that people had been “very gentle and polite and they have been open to any questions.” 

Parents also felt like they were leaving much better informed on what was available post-education for their young person, with one commenting there was “lots more information than I realised – really helpful” and another who found the “support services very helpful in explaining how things work [and] what I need to do next for my son.” Others expressed praise for the event, welcoming the chance to network and remarked the event had given “an idea of different steps, [and I now have] more insight into Supported Internships." Another attendee noted, "Excellent new information, great opportunity to network." 

DFN ProjectSEARCH, a national organisation who work with businesses and colleges to deliver Supported Internship programmes, were on hand to share their advice and insight. Funto Awoyelu, Programme Specialist from DFN ProjectSEARCH, commented “It’s been great to meet employers who have probably never heard of Supported Internships but now they’ve come away thinking that it will be great for their business.”  

Clare Barlow, Talent for Care Facilitator at George Eliot Hospital, said “We’ve had loads of teachers and colleges who have been really interested in finding out more to educate their students about Supported Internships.” 

Reflecting on the event's success, Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “It was fantastic to see so many attend the Supported Internships Fair in Nuneaton. There was a real buzz and it was heartening to hear the enthusiasm and passion in the conversations that were taking place.  

“Our Supported Internships initiative has a crucial role to play in creating a more inclusive future for our young people with SEND, and I am encouraged by the optimism and reassurance shared by attendees like Aaron, who left feeling confident about his future prospects. Parents also left better informed, equipped with valuable knowledge about post-education opportunities for their children and crucial links were forged between education providers, businesses and support services. 

“The positive feedback received underlines the importance of events like these in fostering connections and providing invaluable resources and I commend the efforts of all involved in making it a success." 

Building on the momentum from the first national campaign in 2023, DFN Project Search is again aiming to put supported internships on the map with it's second National Supported Internships Day on 27 March 2024. The theme for this year is amplifying the voices of young people and it will include a planned programme of Parliamentary activity.

The campaign is also encouraging businesses to sign up for employer ambassador training. Whether you are already working with and supporting young people who are autistic or have a learning disability in the workplace, or you're passionate about encouraging others to do the same, this free online training is for you. 

You will discover:

  • What is a supported internship? (Linked to national guidance and Quality Framework)
  • Why are they so important to young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • How to talk about the subject with confidence
Dates are available throughout April, May and June. Find out more and book your place via Eventbrite here.

* To find out more about Supported Internship opportunities, whether you are a parent or carer, young person, business or education provider, then please visit the SEND Local Offer where you will find the new Supported Internship Guides, video testimonials and more information.

You can follow the Warwickshire SEND Local Offer Facebook page and sign up to receive the monthly Warwickshire SEND newsletter for the latest news and updates including future events.

County's Food & Drink offer to be showcased at major show

Warwickshire’s rich and diverse Food and Drink offer will be showcased at a prestigious show next month.

Warwickshire Food and Drink will host a ‘Taste of Warwickshire’ stand at the NEC Farm Shop and Deli Show at the National Exhibition Centre from April 29 to March 1.

The stand will provide a platform for Warwickshire producers to reach a national and international audience. Among producers from the county to be represented on the stand will be Blabers Hall Vineyard, Cureights Charcuterie, Warwickshire Gin, Windmill Brewery and Brubl Brewery. 

The stall will promote why Warwickshire is a great place for food and drink producers to locate and provide an opportunity for establishment buyers to source local food and drink produce. Meanwhile, anyone looking for new, well-established or niche products for their tables or shelves could find a visit to the show invaluable for ideas about sourcing quality produce while reducing food miles.

Warwickshire’s producers are renowned for their quality which makes a big contribution to the economy of the county and region:

In Warwickshire:

  • our cows produce more than 101 million pints of milk each year.
  • we grow enough wheat to make 524 million loaves of bread each year. 
  • our farms generate £190 million for the regional economy, not including the contribution made by those working in allied industries and the wider food and drink sectors in our county and market towns.
  • We have around 435 cereal farms, covering an area of 74,500 hectares, and 45 horticultural businesses covering over 1,700 hectares.

Warwickshire County Council’s Rural Policy & Commissioning Officer, Abi Culley, said: “The NEC Farm Shop and Deli Show attracts a national and international audience and Warwickshire Food and Drink is delighted to offer a platform for our producers to raise their profile and for the county’s great food and drink offer to reach such a large audience.”

For further details please visit here.

If you are a food or drink producer in Coventry or Warwickshire and would like to find out more about our food and drink producers network and keep update with opportunities to support the sector, please contact abiculley@warwickshire.gov.uk 

For more information about upcoming events please visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/homepage/222/food-and-drink-events

Leamington businesses invited to give their views on future of town centre

Leamington Spa businesses are invited to hear about more work to refresh the Vision for Leamington town centre and have their say on what should be included.

A drop-in session will be held at The Conservatory, Royal Pump Rooms, Parade, Leamington Spa, CV32 4AA, on Thursday 11th April from 12 noon-2pm. A short presentation will be held at 12:15pm.

Businesses are encouraged to pop along to meet the team and hear more about the work being undertaken to shape the future of the town centre.

Warwickshire County Council, Warwick District Council and Royal Leamington Spa Town Council continue to work together on the future of the town through the Leamington Spa Transformation Board. Following discussions by the board, LDA Design has been appointed to help review the Vision for the town centre and to explore options for the future of Parade. The firm has experience of delivering a wide range of projects to improve streets and public spaces across the country.

This lunchtime drop-in session, specifically targeted to the business community, is the latest in a series of events to engage communities in Leamington in the development of a new Vision for the town centre. Work commenced at the Leamington Annual Town Assembly Meeting on 12th March which was attended by over 150 people.

The team is keen to speak with businesses within Leamington town centre on 11th April to gain their early feedback on refreshing the Vison for the town centre and hope this will offer a further opportunity to hear from businesses who may not have been able to attend the Town Meeting.

Further events for communities to have their say on the future of the town centre will be announced soon.

For more information or to join the mailing list for updates, please see visit www.transformingleamington.co.uk

Centenary Business Centre integral to BHR's growth

“Centenary Business Centre has been perfect for us and supported our growth, and we have been very lucky to be part of the community here."

A growing pharmaceutical company which has moved to a new home believes the support of a Warwickshire County Council business centre is one of the key reasons for its success.

BHR Pharmaceuticals, which saw its turnover grow by 28 per cent in 2023, has been based at Centenary Business Centre in Hammond Close at the Attleborough Fields Industrial Estates in Nuneaton for the last 30 years.

The business specialises in providing technically advanced products to enable GPs and pharmacists to diagnose, treat and manage a wide number of conditions and diseases.

But after occupying three units at Centenary Business Centre for its warehouse and office staff, the business has swapped its 3,500 sq ft premises for a new 7,043 sq ft base at nearby Hemdale Business Park.

Managing Director Ramesh Patel said the 21-strong business was continuing to grow at a steady rate and that they needed bigger premises.

He said: “We moved to Nuneaton because it was half-way between where I lived in Nottingham and my business partner in Birmingham, and it is a decision that has served us well.

“Centenary Business Centre has been perfect for us and supported our growth, and we have been very lucky to be part of the community here and to see it grow.

“Our first big breakthrough was in 2003 when Boots launched cholesterol testing at 800 of its pharmacies so that they could provide statins to specific customers (taking into consideration other clinically relevant issues) over the counter to combat high cholesterol. Boots carried out over one million tests that year.

“The NHS Health Checks Programme was initiated in 2009, and our handheld cholesterol testing device was used and it was the most cost-effective and easy to use product on the market.

“Over the years, we have added more and more products including the first to not only help diagnose, but also to monitor levels of drugs used to treat inflammatory bowel disease. The ProciseDX system is now being used by many hospitals including George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton.

“We had just outgrown our space and needed to take the next step, but we will really miss it.”

Cllr Martin Watson, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy, visited the business to find out about its success.

He said: “BHR Pharmaceuticals is the perfect example of the kind of business that has benefited from being based at one of our business centres.

“They have taken on extra space as they have grown at a steady rate over the years and have also benefited from working with other firms at Centenary Business Centre such as a printing company and security firm.

“The first stage of our project to refurbish our eight business centres throughout Warwickshire is now complete and I hope businesses just like BHR Pharmaceuticals will benefit and continue to expand.”

Luke Pulford, Business Centres Manager for Warwickshire County Council, said BHR Pharmaceuticals is a real success story for Centenary Business Centre.

“To have stayed at Centenary Business Centre since 1992 underlines how much BHR Pharmaceuticals has enjoyed being part of our thriving site,” he said. “We take pride in providing high-quality facilities for a wide range of businesses to utilise and assist in their growth which also benefits the local economy.

“The reception area at the Centenary Business Centre was refurbished towards the end of 2023 and our improved facilities and location means we are continuing to attract businesses in a wide range of sectors.”

Unit 54 (1,807 sq ft) and unit 55 (2,436 sq ft) are now available following BHR Pharmaceuticals’ departure.

For more information about Warwickshire County Council's Business Centres, please email lukepulford@warwickshire.gov.uk

* Please find out what other support is available to your business by calling Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747 or visiting https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk

Café at Ryton Pools Country Park taken over by local business Farmers Fayre

"We hope this venture will tempt even more people to choose Ryton Pools for a day out"

The on-site cafe at Ryton Pools Country Park is due to be taken over by local business Farmers Fayre from Friday 29 March.

The cafe will initially serve customers from their well-established ‘pod’ while the building is thoroughly refurbished. It is then expected to open in full with its extended menu in mid to late April.

Farmers Fayre, which last year benefited from a Green Recovery Grant from Warwickshire County Council, is a popular family-run farm shop and restaurant currently located in Stoneleigh Park. They are renowned within the local community for their high-quality freshly cooked food, sourced from reputable farmers and suppliers across the region.

The café takeover comes following a successful open market competition that took place in advance of the previous café lease coming to an end.

Farmers Fayre In The Park will be open seven days a week with initial opening hours of 9am to 4.30pm. It will be a welcoming environment for all and a dog-friendly space, news well received by the many dog walkers and other visitors to the park.

Nicola Reece, Director and Founder of Farmers Fayre, said: “We are super excited to bring the Farmers Fayre experience to Ryton Pools. We cannot wait to unveil the refurbishment which will include some soft seating, larger tables for family and friends to gather as well as lots of new outside seating and new service area. Customers will be able to order inside or using our table app for quick and simple table service.

“We already have a huge dog-friendly customer base who will love walking round the pools and obviously we are pleased to say well-behaved dogs will be welcome inside the café when we open fully. We cannot wait to get stuck in, of course we are bringing our local suppliers with us and look forward to welcoming everyone.”

Councillor Martin Watson, Portfolio Holder for Economy at Warwickshire County Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome Farmers Fayre to Ryton Pools Country Park; they have proven to be a hugely successful business within the local community, and this is the ideal opportunity to expand on that success. The Council recognises the importance of small businesses like this and the value they bring to our communities and it’s fantastic to see Farmers Fayre thriving."

“Ryton Pools already has so much more to offer, from its scenic walks and rich variety of wildlife to its children’s play area, wood and pirate trail. We hope this venture will tempt even more people to choose Ryton Pools for a day out, and I wish Farmers Fayre the very best in their new endeavour.”

To plan a visit to Ryton Pools Country Park today and sign up to the Warwickshire Country Parks newsletter for the latest news, events and updates from the parks.

Ground broken on second phase at Symmetry Park, Rugby

“Development of new industrial space built to the highest environmental standards like this scheme is really important for the Warwickshire area."

Representatives from Rugby Borough Council, Invest in Warwickshire, Tritax Symmetry and Winvic Construction gathered on site at Symmetry Park Rugby to mark the official start of work on the next phase of development.

The second phase of development follows Tritax Symmetry’s successful pre-letting of one million sq. ft. of industrial space to Iron Mountain, which was named Industrial Agents Society (IAS) Deal of the Year (over 250,000 sq. ft.) 2023. The four buildings will form Iron Mountain’s first UK campus to offer its wide range of storage and information management services.

Tritax Symmetry is bringing forward three high quality logistics units ranging from 170,473 sq ft up to 390,694 sq ft. All three will be built to net-zero carbon in construction standards and will target BREEAM Excellent and EPC A+, providing state-of-the-art logistics space. They are set to complete in Autumn 2024. Colliers International and ILP Partners (ILP) are the marketing agents for Symmetry Park Rugby.

Joseph Skinner, Associate Development Director at Tritax Symmetry, commented: “The current market demand in this strategic industrial location remains extremely robust, supported by Iron Mountain launching its UK campus here. We look forward to launching the three new units to market and securing some exciting new occupiers to the area.”

Ian Flynn, Inward Investment Manager at Invest in Warwickshire, said “Development of new industrial space built to the highest environmental standards like this scheme is really important for the Warwickshire area to continue to perform well in attracting investment from UK and overseas businesses, and deliver the positive impacts that has on local supply chains and employment.”

Extending to 111 acres in total, Symmetry Park Rugby has an outline planning permission to deliver up to two million sq. ft. of logistics floor space. Situated on the M45/A45 strategic highway link, the site is located at the heart of the logistics ‘Golden Triangle’ network, an established distribution and manufacturing location. The site forms part of the wider South West Rugby Urban Extension, which is due to provide up to 5,000 new homes.

WCC Digital Creative Fund was springboard for Yellow Panther

"Warwickshire County Council has really helped us over the last few years by helping us find funding for office space and the possibility of grant funding as well as inviting us to networking events."

A digital studio and technology company has secured two six-figure contracts and is hiring more staff after receiving help from Warwickshire County Council.

Yellow Panther, which was formed in 2019, provides cutting-edge websites, mobile apps and e-commerce platforms to 47 clients including Nike, Universal Tennis, and Somerset County Cricket Club.

The business, jointly owned by Stuart Cope and Gunjan Parikh, is on track to triple its size within five years after winning new contracts with the International Skating Union and Premier Padel.

The business increased its staff from 22 in 2022 to 35 last year and will be recruiting another project manager, strategy manager and marketing manager to join its base at 11 Waterloo Place in Warwick Street, and another ten-to-15 website developers and designers at its office in Gujarat in India in 2024.

Yellow Panther received a grant of £30,000 in the first round of Warwickshire County Council’s Digital Creative Recovery Co-Investment Fund which will deliver over £450,000 in grants to small and micro-sized digital creative businesses in the county to help with product development and accelerate growth.

The business has been busy working on its own software projects to bring their own Intellectual Property to market. Its in-house content management system for mobile apps and websites is called Noir and a data dashboard for websites and mobile apps has been named Fang. The panther theme is continued with the development of an OTT platform called Luna, a Digital Asset Management System called Sabre and a push notification platform called Push and Pull which will be launched this year after the Digital Creative Recovery Co-Investment Fund helped to develop their own Intellectual Property for Push and Pull.

Stuart said Yellow Panther has grown from a start-up to a scale-up company after expanding really fast over the last two-and-a-half years.

He said: “We have recently secured two of our biggest ever contracts with the International Skating Union which will include website development, a data dashboard and maintaining their mobile app and with Premier Padel for similar services. This will lead to bringing in three employees to the UK business and another ten-to-15 in India this year.

“We’re a business that has ploughed any profit back into the company to build new technology and take on new hires.

“Around 95 per cent of technology start-ups in the UK fail within the first year and 80 per cent fail in the second year, so to be in the five or 20 cent which survive is quite an achievement.”

Stuart said their growth was initially helped by Warwickshire County Council when Yellow Panther moved into 1 Mill Street and then to 11 Waterloo Place in Leamington.

“Warwickshire County Council has really helped us over the last few years by helping us find funding for office space and the possibility of grant funding as well as inviting us to networking events,” he said. "Being at 1 Mill Street meant we secured five contracts in the first year with other businesses there which helped us get started and it has snowballed from there.”

Cllr Martin Watson, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, said Yellow Panther is a great example of how the Council provides support to businesses in a number of areas over time.

He said: “We have assisted Yellow Panther in various ways over the last couple of years with advice and guidance through different stages of their growth. This has included inviting Stuart to speak at events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, providing advice around access to finance and searching for a new property to grow into.

“Yellow Panther’s client roster is already impressive and the work involved in their latest two contract successes underlines their expertise in their sector.”

* Please find out what other support is available to your business by calling Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747 or visiting https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk

New website showcases Shipston's visitor appeal

"These websites offer both residents and visitors a way to find out what gems are hidden in our local market towns across Warwickshire whilst enabling our communities to buy and eat local to enable the local economy.”

A Warwickshire town which presents a traditional high street offer through an impressive range of independent retailers has strengthened its place on the tourist map with a new website.

Shipston-on-Stour, a market town on the northern edge of the Cotswolds, unveiled its new online presence – Love Shipston – during English Tourism Week to encourage day-trippers and families to spend more time in the town and explore its small businesses and restaurants.

The fascinating town has a history in both traditional craft industries and as a coaching town. It has become fertile ground for an array of vibrant independent businesses including quality hospitality and accommodation. Shops range from the traditional butchers, bakers and greengrocers to wine, homewares, gifts and fashion alongside cafés and restaurants to suit all occasions.

Several community-minded businesses teamed up to consider how best to present the visitor offer, culminating in the website which will be complemented by the hashtag #loveshipston to be adopted by the town businesses. The project has been supported by Warwickshire County Council and Shipston Town Council.

It comes as the town looks to increase visitor numbers and lengthen the duration of stay. The project has been led by retail expert Kim Hulse who has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry.

Kim said: “It’s been brilliant to see so many people pulling in the same direction to shout about Shipston as one of the UK’s leading independent shopping destinations. There is a strong community spirit between the owners and this support is helping to build on a recent influx of visitors who are realising what a great array of places to visit there are here.

“The fact that most businesses are run by local people, with products curated by them, means the shopping experience feels incredibly personalised – and this has strengthened Shipston’s resilience as a shopping destination at a time when consumers are wanting greater value for their money on the high street, and a good shopping experience.

“All this is on the doorstep of great cycling and walking routes, which means there is so much potential for a special day out and really helps to set Shipston apart and I think even more people from across the UK will certainly start to take more notice thanks to this new platform. We are especially interested in reaching the day visitor market as we are so close to Birmingham, Oxford and the Cotswolds, places that also offer a great visitor experience.”

Ian Cooper, from Shipston Town Council said “We are proud to support this new website which showcases everything Shipston has to offer to residents and visitors alike. Shipston offers a warm community spirit and thriving centre to those who live here and those that move here, and with the arrival of new businesses we look forward to seeing the town supported by residents and visitors."

Warwickshire County Council's Director of Economy and Place, Dave Ayton-Hill, said: “The new website celebrates the best of Shipston and is a direct result of WCC’s ‘Visit Local’ project which aims to help some of the county’s smaller towns to realise their untapped visitor potential. These websites offer both residents and visitors a way to find out what gems are hidden in our local market towns across Warwickshire whilst enabling our communities to buy and eat local to enable the local economy.”

Coach operator ready for growth in overseas visitors to Warwickshire

Accelerating demand for unusual excursions and luxury travel has driven one of the UK’s leading coach operators to a record year of sales.

Johnsons Coaches, headquartered in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, has achieved sales of over £17 million in 2023 – a 25 per cent increase from 2022.

More than 650 departures carrying over 23,000 passengers have contributed to this growth – which is a 22 per cent increase in passengers from 2022.

Visits organised by Johnsons Coaches to see the Flying Scotsman and a VIP hovercraft experience from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, along with facilitating a record-breaking 66 ski tours around France, Austria and Italy have contributed to the seismic annual growth via the business’s coach hire.

In 2023, their Luxury Traveller brand has grown from strength to strength with latest records indicating over 30 per cent of Johnsons clientele have travelled on Luxury Traveller tours, with more people choosing a home-from-home experience with Wi-Fi, large screen TVs and extra legroom.

For 2024, the business has invested in 10 brand-new low emission executive vehicles as part of the organisation’s fleet renewal programme – as it gears up for a record year of demand in 2024.

Lauren Davies, Head of Business, Sales and Marketing at Johnsons Coaches, said: “Keeping up with travel trends whilst retaining seasonal favourites has been fundamental to our consistent growth since the pandemic.

“While traditional tours are selling well, with the average spend now at £862 per person for brochure tours, new and quirky excursions are seeing significant growth – particularly amongst a younger demographic – which is a new market that we are tapping into.

“We are also seeing an increase in later bookings, as well as single bookers with more people keen to pursue an adventure and make new friends.

“We’re really proud to be celebrating our 115th anniversary in 2024 – much of which has been built upon our reputable customer service – and we are looking forward to continuing our journey and totting up the next 115 years.”

Cllr Martin Watson, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy, and Darren Tosh, Operations and Marketing Director from South Warwickshire’s tourism board Shakespeare’s England, recently found out more about Johnsons Coaches’ growth and investment.

Cllr Watson said: “Seeing a Warwickshire-based family business heading in the right direction, despite the difficult economic climate, is fantastic. Their longevity speaks for itself, and underlines that good customer service and reputation go hand in hand.

“Johnsons Coaches’ upward trajectory is also a reminder that Warwickshire is only a two-to-three-hour coach journey from many parts of the UK – which not only is a positive for the business to grow their day trip offering – but it also helps the region to attract inward investment from tourists, as well as for meetings and events.”

Darren Tosh, Operations and Marketing Director at Shakespeare’s England, commented: “We are anticipating further growth in overseas visitors to key locations such as Stratford and The Cotswolds in 2024, and Johnsons Coaches has a valuable role to play in ensuring that these visitors make the most of their time in the region – and in style – so it’s fantastic to see them going from strength-to-strength.” 

Care home benefits "hugely" from WFRS Protection Team business advice

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Protection team works constantly with businesses to keep their employees and premises safes. An example is Walsingham House, a Care Home in Nuneaton run by registered charity the PAKS Trust which provides residential care in the community setting. Joy Lewis is the manager of the care home, which worked with the WFRS Protection team to improve evacuation practices following the issuing of an enforcement notice. Joy takes up the story…

Walsingham House provided a placement in June 2016 for an individual with mobility needs. Following an inspection from the WFRS Protection team, it was deemed that the resident was not able to be evacuated due to lack of staff and property not suitable for them to be evacuated during day/night when in bedroom and in bed. The funding authority refused to pay for additional staff.

“We could not safely evacuate an individual in the event of a fire, due to not meeting environmental needs or staffing level.”

Joy explains what the Protection team did upon their inspection and the advice they gave:

“On the first visit Niky informed me that unless the individual’s environment met the criteria then the home would not be suitable. The requirements were a 60-minute protection room, one staff member to sit with them when the alarm was raised and a sprinkler system fitted – or evacuation from the property.

“I approached the funding authority, which in this case was Southwark’s, due to the individual living out of County. As advised that a staff member would need to be allocated to the individual in the event of a fire day/night. None of these were in place, so Niky revisited two weeks later to follow up the outcome with the funding Authority.”

The ramifications had the WFRS Protection team not visited and offered their guidance would have been stark:

“Ultimately, in the event of a fire, we would have breached fire regulations using the stay put. The team made us aware of the regulations that have changed and explained how the stipulations on the stay put policy would have therefore been breached, leading to putting the individual at risk in the event of a fire.”

Joy explains what happened next:

“The enforcement notice resulted in the funding authority moving the individual to another care home. After finally agreeing to pay for the additional staffing hours the individual concerned returned home in their safe and comfortable environment, giving them the choice of where they want to live.

“All four of the PAKS Trust homes have now been inspected, and the Charity has adopted several methods in other homes.”

The home has benefited hugely from the inspection and it has raised the standards of how things are done throughout, as Joy explains:

“We have sourced a competent risk assessor that has given amazing advice. They’ve carried out risk assessments where the previous company had failed to do so.

“We have also sourced a registered fire door service and repair company. Again, this has been sourced since inspections.

“We have had one admission since the enforcement notice. I was very clear on the staffing needed to meet Fire Regulations. This enabled me to price the care package accordingly. Something I will now use when we have any new admissions."

Joy was particularly impressed with the support that she was given by the WFRS Protection team before, during and after the work was carried out:

“Niky was at one of the care homes, along with the risk assessor, during an inspection. This was reassuring that the risk assessment was being completed in front of Niky, with her also seeing such documents once completed.

“Throughout it all; the enforcement notice, inspections of all four homes etc. I feel the knowledge from each visit has given us knowledge to source services to meet the regulations. We were using a private company to carry out the risk assessments, but this now highlights our assessments were not fit for purpose.

“I feel I can ring Niky up and ask for advice, which I have done so. She has supported us to keep those living in our homes safe and we now have a greater knowledge of what is required in care homes."

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Fire Andy Crump said: “We work extensively with care homes across Warwickshire to give them support and guidance on fire safety and we are delighted we were able to help Joy and Walsingham House.

“It’s a great outcome for her, the care home and the patient who can now continue living in the dwelling which most suited them. Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service has supported this resident to be living comfortably in the home of their choosing.”

To find out more information about Fire Safety for Businesses visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fire-safety-businesses-1

For more information on Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and the work it carries out across the County, please visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fireandrescue.

Website launched to report Levelling Up progress

Warwickshire County Council has launched a new website and review document, dedicated to showcasing the progress made in the County as part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up initiative. 

The Government has emphasised the importance of Levelling Up the country through its Levelling Up White Paper, detailing twelve national missions to address the causes of inequality and lack of social mobility with targets set for 2030. Eighteen months ago, Warwickshire County Council published the Countywide Approach to Levelling Up, translating the national policy into a local context.

Under the umbrella of ‘Creating Opportunities,’ this encompasses the work to date on both Levelling Up and Community Powered Warwickshire.  Since the publication of the countywide approach, there has been a wide range of exciting projects that have brought the national initiative to life across Warwickshire.

To celebrate the embedding of a new approach across the county and with partners, a review has been published which highlights current successes and demonstrates how Levelling Up and Community Powered Warwickshire will work together going forward. The review document showcases local community projects funded by Warwickshire County Council's Social Impact Fund and Green Shoots Community Fund and outlines live and future projects including three community powered place pilots. Alongside this Warwickshire County Council is launching a new website to act as a digital home for Creating Opportunities work across Warwickshire. This will provide updates on local projects and signpost to place-based work taking place in the county.  

Creating Opportunities is one of the ways in which Warwickshire County Council will be promoting inclusive economic growth, ensuring that everyone benefits from a vibrant, productive economy. The recently published Creating Opportunity place plans, developed with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and Stratford-on-Avon District Council for their respective areas, demonstrates how WCC will tailor support for businesses and the local workforce to best target local need. Through Creating Opportunities, local barriers to employment for priority groups will be tackled and businesses empowered to amplify their role as place makers within their communities.  

Warwickshire County Council's upcoming Economic Growth Strategy will be published in April.  

WCC support "instrumental" as Hilo EV turns plans into reality

"The grant has been instrumental because it allowed us to embark on a partnership that we wanted, and to carry out all the necessary tests to ensure there was an appetite for what we were doing.”

An innovative Warwickshire business which has developed a safety-focused e-Scooter is stepping up a gear after securing a grant to help make its plans a reality.

Hilo EV, which is based at 1 Mill Street in Leamington, successfully claimed £5,750 from Warwickshire County Council’s Digital Creative Recovery Co-Investment Fund.

Co-founders James Browne and Robin Harris used the funds for the Proof of Concept stage to develop a Native Android Auto Mobile App for the Hilo One e-Scooter which can be folded and put in the back of a car.

The smart-looking Hilo One e-Scooter was launched at Micromobility Europe 2023 and has a halo light to illuminate riders to increase visibility, and has a large front wheel for a smoother drive over bumps and holes in the riding surface.

Although e-Scooters are yet to become legal in the UK, the company is seeing increasing demand for their products across other parts of the globe. Pre-orders are now being taken and the first customers will take delivery of their e-Scooter towards the end of this year.

The business is currently working on the URB Accelerator Programme which aligns with the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 strategic plan which aims to make Dubai a cycle-centric city.

James said the grant from Warwickshire County Council had played a crucial role during the development stage of the Hilo One e-Scooter.

He said: “Since our team has a strong automotive background, we thought there was an interesting opportunity to develop an e-Scooter which could be folded and put into another vehicle to continue travelling in an environmentally-friendly way. The project was focused on how we could integrate an e-Scooter with an electric car to allow for seamless integration, and we knew we needed to work with a technology partner to move the navigation information from the car to the screen on the e-Scooter.

“EVware has been brilliant and we have developed an app on the front of the e-Scooter which we wouldn’t have been able to achieve within the timescales of launching this in June without the grant from Warwickshire County Council. The grant has been instrumental because it allowed us to embark on a partnership that we wanted, and to carry out all the necessary tests to ensure there was an appetite for what we were doing.”

Robin added: “We recognised that there are significant safety concerns throughout the industry not just for e-Scooters but also for e-cargo bikes and a new generation of electric delivery vehicles. Improving safety has been at the core of what we have been doing because we have come up with different ideas such as a bigger front wheel, illumination and AI technology, and the screen which we developed as part of the grant.

“It looks at information connected to the road such as directions, speed and range along with warning indications such as to keep your hands on the handlebars and the charging status.”

The Warwickshire Digital Creative Recovery Co-Investment Fund will deliver over £450,000 in grants to small and micro-sized digital creative businesses in the county, to help with product development and accelerate growth.

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “We started this fund to help digital creative businesses who had struggled through Covid because they had had to put their expansion plans on hold just to survive. The digital creative sector is thriving in Warwickshire and Hilo EV is a great example of the innovation which can be achieved with extra financial support.

“Often the biggest barrier to businesses achieving their dreams can sometimes be knowing about the support that is available, so I hope more entrepreneurs will get in touch with our team to find out how we can help.”

To find out what other support is available, please call CW Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747.

Fiona and Mark add their expertise to the Business Ready team

“The recruitment of Fiona and Mark is demand driven, and they will add to the superb level of expertise within Business Ready."

A support programme for Warwickshire SMEs has been bolstered by the addition of two new experts who will help participants take their businesses to the next level.

Business Ready, which has helped small businesses raise more than £19 million in investment and finance and to create 175 extra jobs through targeted mentoring and support, has hired Fiona Molloy and Mark Wisniewski as new advisers.

Business Ready forms part of the Business Growth Warwickshire programme. It is delivered by University of Warwick Science Park on behalf of Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire’s five District and Borough Councils.

Fiona and Mark, who have extensive backgrounds in marketing and tech respectively, join Business Ready as part-time employees, having previously worked alongside its internal team as externally-retained Growth Specialists.

Fiona has worked in marketing for her whole career, and has provided freelance advice to clients for the last seven years through her business FiMarketing.

She said: “Many businesses, especially newer, smaller companies, either don’t have the time or the knowledge to dedicate themselves to developing a comprehensive marketing strategy.

“Through FiMarketing, and later through being retained by Business Ready as a Growth Specialist, I’ve been able to support businesses across a range of sectors increase their visibility, sales and brand awareness through helping them create a dedicated marketing plan.

“It’s fantastic to be joining Business Ready so I can impart this advice to businesses using the programme to improve their marketing.

“Having been involved as an external consultant with Business Ready for more than a year, I know how useful it is to the businesses that use it, so I’m really pleased to be part of the team and cannot wait to get started.”

Mark joins Business Ready after a wide background in supporting businesses to adopt digital services and products, and has personal experience of starting a new business without the fundamental knowhow needed to make it a success.

He came through the Business Ready programme himself after creating his own social meet-up app in 2015.

Mark said: “I tried to develop an app without doing proper market research. While I thought the app was a good idea, I hadn’t properly assessed whether it was something people actually wanted to use, so it ultimately failed. That failure made me understand that there is so much more to business than simply having a good idea.

“Since that time, I’ve helped businesses properly test their ideas before committing to significant investment. Ultimately, it's about creating products or services which customers really value and, more importantly, are prepared to pay for.

“When the opportunity came to work with Business Ready team, I jumped at the chance. Having been through the programme myself, I know it is very practical and tailored to individual businesses. The fact that it’s free means that it is accessible to many more businesses who need help!”

Ian McFarlane-Toms, Business Ready Programme Manager, welcomed Fiona and Mark to the team.

“The recruitment of Fiona and Mark is demand driven, and they will add to the superb level of expertise within Business Ready,” he said. “When businesses are referred to us, we try to pair them with the most suitable business adviser to help them achieve their goals. Having Fiona and Mark in the team will enable us to support even more SMEs in Warwickshire access the advice they need to succeed, and we’re looking forward to seeing the businesses they work with blossom.”

  • Please find out what other support is available to your business by calling Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747 or visiting https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk

FSB Small Business Awards winners go forward to compete in national finals

A provider of holiday camps at schools, a community business supporting the West Midlands Ambulance Service and a B-Corp e-commerce business were among the most inspiring small businesses winner at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards West Midlands 2024.

Twelve winning businesses from Warwickshire and the West Midlands now go forward to the national UK FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2024 finals.

Leamington Spa-based Go Go Makers, established by Warwickshire Mum Emma Canning, provides holiday camps at primary schools to deliver a range of opportunities for children to allow them to grow, develop and gain confidence. Since launching in 2013 it has become a thriving local business, employing 54 members of staff and running holiday camps at five primary schools. It was just one of the businesses that saw off great competition to be crowned one of the West Midlands’ best small businesses. Go Go Makerswas named as the winner of the Expansion and Growth Award.

The full list of winners:

Innovation Award: Buildfifty5 Living, Priorslee

Expansion and Growth Award: GO GO Makers, Leamington Spa

Sustainability Award: OLPRO, Worcester

Family Business of the Year: Clarke Oil Ltd., Redditch

Microbusiness of the Year: SafeJawz, Walsall

Self-employed/Freelancer Award: Katie Stone, Katie Stone PA, Ludlow

Start-up Business of the Year: Solaas Limited, Coventry

Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Maddie Ashbrook, MOO and BOOM, Whitchurch

Franchise Business Award: Revive! Stoke, Yarnfield

Community Business Award: Arrive Alive, Birmingham

Diversity and Inclusion Award: Globility Coaching, Ludlow,

Service Excellence Award: Lavelle Bridal Couture, Warwick

Sue Tonks, FSB Chair for the West Midlands, said: “Congratulations to all this year’s West Midlands FSB Celebrating Small Business Award winners. They are reflective of the vibrancy, innovation and tenacity that makes up our small business community. It’s been thrilling to see so many businesses in the region enthusiastically take part in our awards and the sheer scale and diversity of those who entered is testimony to the vitality of the small business community in the region. The best of luck to all our winners for the UK national award finals in May.”

Special Feature

Warwickshire Careers Hub settles perfectly into Skills Hub home

Many of the business we work with have ambitions to engage more with schools to inspire young people into the various careers available. Now more of those connections are bring made all the time"

Warwickshire Careers Hub has hit the ground running at its new base within Warwickshire Skills Hub with the move having proved “absolutely fantastic.”

Careers Hub team Emma Carty (Operational Hub Lead) and Dave Lennox and Steph Parker (Enterprise Coordinators) moved into the Skills Hub at Eliot Park Innovation Centre, Nuneaton, late last year.

They needed a new base after the Local Enterprise Partnership dissolved, so the Coventry and Warwickshire Careers Hub split into two. Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and Coventry City Council both welcomed new Careers Hubs into their areas and WCC Lead Commissioner for Employability and Skills, Fay Winterburn, suggested the Skills Hub would be the perfect base with all its ongoing links with employers.

So it has proved, says Emma.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic from day one,” she said. “We were a little bit nervous to start with because we had been Coventry & Warwickshire Careers Hub for four and a half years and our team of six had been together from the beginning. But it’s like we have been here forever.

“The Skills Hub team is great with and swapping connections and like us to be involved in everything. Some things I thought they might not be interested in, they have been, like the Future Skills Questionnaire which careers leaders send out to students to ask about their career preferences. The questionnaires give us great feedback about what industries students are interested in and now the Skills Hub has an input too everything is so joined up.

“We have good relationships with the schools. It’s all about linking those schools with the employers and this is where the move into the Skills Hub has been brilliant. We work massively with employers, whether its arranging mock interviews, careers days or speed networking event, so this move looked the perfect fit and it has proved exactly that. Every time we hold an event with employers we invite a member of the Skills Hub team to talk and that means that employers know about all the options available to them. It is not just about what they can do for career-seekers, we can fully outline what benefits we can bring to the business.”

Warwickshire Careers Hub quickly established its first Cornerstone Employers - Rebellion Development, Lisi Aerospace and Sertec. They are the first three to pledge to inspire young people across the county and set them on the path to worthwhile and fulfilling careers. More Cornerstone Employers will follow across the county.

The Careers Hub also runs a diverse network of Enterprise Advisors – business volunteers who offer to bring their experience and expertise into schools and college. They offer agile support and advisors are currently matched up to 29 of 49 schools in Warwickshire.

Careers delivery in schools took a huge hit during and after Covid, but with the energy and skills of the Careers Hub team in their new home, the levels of advice and support needed by young people is returning to where it needs to be.

“Covid changed everything,” said Emma. “It took a long time to build up careers engagement and then the pandemic struck and coming out of that, behaviour and attendance in schools and grades and attainment dropped massively. Careers was knocked back on the priority list because headteachers had other priorities.

“But now we are getting back into schools, with the wonderful support of employers. If an employer goes into a Maths lesson and talks about how maths can lead to a lucrative and fulfilling career it makes it that much more relevant and really engages the students. A couple of years on from Covid we are getting back to where we were. There is less engagement with schools in some areas so we target them. Many schools are on the right track already, and we are always there for them, but we focus on the schools that need it with our Cornerstone Employers and Agile Advisors."

Three times a year Warwickshire Careers Hub hosts Careers Leaders Meetings, one of which was held this month at Warwick Racecourse. There was an excellent take up with 36 of 49 schools represented and subjects discussed included Continual Professional Development and parental engagement.

The Warwickshire Careers Hub team is as driven and productive as the Skills Hub team they have joined at Eliot Park and Vicki Haslam, Senior Business Skills Advisors at the Skills Hub, is delighted to have them ‘in house.’

“The introduction of the Careers Hub to the Skills Hub team has been brilliant,” said Vicki. “It has created a joined up way of thinking and enabled us to create direct links for employers to careers leaders and take industry into the classroom. Many of the business we work with have ambitions to engage more with schools to inspire young people into going into the various careers that are available. Now more of those connections are bring made all the time which is great for everybody involved.”


Upcoming events

Date Event Host Timings Venue Link
2024.03.28 Leamington Networking Breakfast (2nd and 4th Thursday)
 independent group, run by members. Everyone who attends our breakfast meetings has a chance to talk about what their business can offer
Leamington Business Network 0700-0900 Whittles at Binswood Weblink here
2024.04.02 Talk Property Warwickshire - Afternoon Tea - Studley Castle
Our Talk Property Brunch is back, and it's better than ever! Join us for an exclusive networking opportunity where you can meet, greet, and share insights with fellow Property Professionals. This is your chance to engage in one-on-one conversations, all centred around the exciting world of property in Warwickshire.
Talk Business UK 1530-1700 Studley Castle Weblink here
2024.04.03 Stratford-upon-Avon Business Networking Brunch (Wednesdays)
Meets every Wednesday morning and members benefit from new business, business advice and a support network for when times are challenging. Members hold one business category each, (one solicitor, one accountant, etc.) – if you book and the slot is already taken, we’ll try point you in the direction of a local group with the seat available!
 This group follows a hybrid model of 2 online and 2 face to face event every month.
Network B2B 0930-1030 In person once a month, then online for other Wednesdays Weblink here
2024.04.03 Warwick UNO - Talk Business networking
LIVE NETWORKING Twice a month - face 2 face.
Come along and help create the Talk Business Warwick UNO group!
A 'single seat' business networking group - WHAT SEAT WILL YOU WANT?
Everyone has the opportunity to introduce themselves and their business.
Meeting for breakfast at the Delta Marriott Hotel Warwick
This group will meet for breakfast on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday EVERY MONTH 7:30-9:00 am
Talk Business UK 0730-0900 Delta Marriott Warwick Weblink here
2024.04.05 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 Bar+Block Steakhouse Leamington Spa Weblink here
2024.04.08 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 1800-2000 Coton Sports and Social Club Weblink here
2024.04.08 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 1800-2000 Coton Sports and Social Club Weblink here
2024.04.09 Unlock the Value of Data for your Business
Investment in data and analytics continues to grow, and increasingly businesses are expressing the intention to become more data-driven. But research suggests that many businesses are struggling to see the returns on their investment.
Business Ready UWSP 1000-1100 Online Weblink here
2024.04.10 Chamber Networking at Citrus Hotel
Join us for our next Chamber Networking event, in partnership with Citrus Hotel.
Start your day with a burst of networking energy! Join us at bright and early for a productive morning of connections, collaboration and coffee.
Whether you're a seasoned professional or new to the business scene, this event offers a welcoming environment to expand your network.
CW Chamber 0800-1000 The Citrus Hotel, A45 London Road, Ryton on Dunsmore, Coventry. CV8 3DY Weblink here
2024.04.11 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 1000-1200 The Windmill Inn, Rugby Weblink here
2024.04.11 Leamington Networking Breakfast (2nd and 4th Thursday)
 independent group, run by members. Everyone who attends our breakfast meetings has a chance to talk about what their business can offer
Leamington Business Network 0700-0900 Whittles at Binswood Weblink here
2024.04.11 Leamington Town Centre Vision Refresh – Business drop-in session
Transforming Leamington is an exciting long-term initiative which aims to bring together all those involved in making Leamington Town Centre a vibrant and successful place now and into the future.
WCC, WDC & RLSTC 12pm-2pm Royal Pump Rooms Weblink here
2024.04.12 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 Bar+Block Steakhouse Leamington Spa Weblink here
2024.04.12 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 1000-1200 All Bar One, Bell Court Weblink here
2024.04.12 First Friday networking lunch at Envisage Group
Envisage Group is a design, engineering and bespoke manufacturing business who works with traditional skills and cutting-edge processes in which Coventry remains a UK centre.  This event will shine a light on the automotive, future mobility and industrial design sectors in Coventry and Warwickshire, and the inspiring work undertaken by the various specialist Envisage teams.
CW First Professionals 1230-1400 Envisage Group, Longford, Coventry Weblink here
2024.04.15 UK SUPPLY CHAIN
The Engineering Supply Chain show is the perfect place if you’re looking to find capacity and capability within the UK based supply chain. Whether it’s cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and solutions or looking to reshore your current supply chain you’ll be able to speak to exhibitor who can help.
The five-day event will feature a range of companies from the UK supply chain who can help with solutions and help with your business requirements.
MTA 3 Days NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2024.04.16 Supply Chain Resilience and Optimisation
Empowering manufacturers with the knowledge and strategies necessary to establish resilient and highly efficient supply chains. 
Warwickshire Manufacturing Growth Programme. 0930-1230 Technoset Ltd (Techno Group), 3 Roman Way Rugby CV21 1DB Weblink here
2024.04.17 Power & Energy Networking Event BCIMO 8am

Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC)

Zoological Drive Dudley DY1 4AW

Weblink here
2024.04.17 ‘Fast Track 4 Future Fuels’ Best Practice Workshop BCIMO 10am - 2pm

Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC)

Zoological Drive Dudley DY1 4AW

Weblink here
2024.04.18 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
2024.04.18 Coventry & Warwickshire's Local Labour Market Symposium
Join us for an exciting morning of insights and discussions at Coventry & Warwickshire's Local Labour Market Symposium! This in-person event will be held at Warwick Trident College (part of WCG), located at Poseidon Way, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick, UK. Discover the latest trends, opportunities, and challenges in our local labour market. Network with industry experts, employers, and fellow professionals. Gain valuable knowledge to help you navigate the ever-changing job landscape. 
CW Chamber, WCG 0930-1300 Trident College, Leamington Spa Weblink here
2024.04.23 Driving Growth with ERP: A Guide to Digital Transformation Strategies
In this workshop, attendees will embark on a transformative journey into the world of digital growth and efficiency through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. We will explore how businesses can leverage ERP solutions to drive innovation, streamline processes, and propel growth in today's digital landscape.
Business Ready UWSP 1100-1200 Online Weblink here
2024.04.23 Business After Hours at Sky Blue Tavern
Unwind and connect with fellow professionals at our Business After Hours event. Whether you're seeking new partnerships, exchanging ideas, or simply looking to expand your professional network, this event will provide the ideal opportunity to forge meaningful connections in a casual and relaxed environment.
CW Chamber 1600-1800 Sky Blue Tavern, Hertford Place, Coventry. CV1 3JZ Weblink here
2024.04.23 Commercial Vehicle Show
The Commercial Vehicle Show is the largest and most comprehensive road freight transport, distribution, and logistics event in Britain.
For operators it is the annual meeting place to network and for sector suppliers the ultimate event to showcase your brand and products to a huge audience of prospective customers.
With all the latest vehicles, trailers, equipment, and technology on display, the 2024 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.
The Commercial Vehicle Show LLP 23-25 April NEC Birmingham Weblink here

How to develop a sustainable and profitable business

Clean Futures Catalyst 11.00 Online Weblink here
2024.04.25 Leamington Networking Breakfast (2nd and 4th Thursday)
 independent group, run by members. Everyone who attends our breakfast meetings has a chance to talk about what their business can offer
Leamington Business Network 0700-0900 Whittles at Binswood Weblink here
2024.04.25 Battery Tech Expo
The Battery Tech Expo 2024 runs 25th April 2024 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.
104 Media 25-Apr Silverstone Weblink here
2024.04.25 Leamington Networking Breakfast (2nd and 4th Thursday)
 independent group, run by members. Everyone who attends our breakfast meetings has a chance to talk about what their business can offer
Leamington Business Network 0700-0900 Whittles at Binswood Weblink here
2024.04.26 BIG Breakfast - Let's Talk Business Networking at the Farm
Join us at Let's Talk Business BIG Breakfast, a monthly open networking event where local businesses come together to connect and collaborate. We believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful business, and this event is all about fostering those relationships.
Talk Business UK 0730-0900 The Farm, Snitterfield Weblink here
2024.04.29 Food & Drink Expo
Where the UK food and drink sector meets.
William Reed Ltd 3 day event NEC Birmingham Weblink here
2024.05.10 Interactive Futures 2024 - Gateway into Games
Careers and working in the video games industry.
WCC & WDC with local Games Industry 2 day event Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa Weblink here
2024.05.15 Battery Cells & Systems Expo (2 Day Event)
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.
Event Partners 2 Days, 15th and 16th May NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2024.05.21 UKREiiF
Major UK property and investment conference and exhibition, aimed at developers, agents, intermedaries and local authorities.
BEN 21-23 May - 3 Days Royal Armories, Leeds Weblink here
2024.06.04 Road Transport Expo
RTX is the tradeshow exclusively dedicated to the world of trucks and is ideal for anyone involved with the running of an HGV fleet or associated businesses.
It provides the opportunity to meet more than 200 suppliers, including all the major truck-makers, in one vast venue. You can check out the latest trucks, trailers, tippers, tankers, tyres, safety equipment, workshop kit manufacturers and much, much more. To make the most of your day browse our exhibitor list here.
Road Transport Expo 4-6 June NAEC Stoneleigh Weblink here
2024.06.19 Rail Live
The only rail exhibition in the UK that takes place in a real rail environment.
Immerse yourself in hundreds of live demonstrations and industry announcements across rail plant, machinery and the surrounding rail supply chain.
Bauer Media 19-20 June Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre Weblink here
2024.06.21 Coventry Motofest - 2 Days
Weekend event celebrating all things automotive - see cars at venues around the city, outside on display and running on the ring road. Family friendly event and anyone interested in the car. 
Coventry Motofest 1-2 June Coventry City Centre Weblink here
2024.07.14 BMC & Leyland Show supported by Peter James Insurance
Celebrate the best of the British motor industry and see hundreds of vehicles produced by BMC, British Leyland and Rover Group at the British Motor Museum.
BMM 1000-1600 BMM, Gaydon Weblink here
2024.09.04 CENEX Expo - 2 Days
Building on the legacy of Cenex-LCV & CAM, Cenex Expo will stimulate ideas and showcase technology, bringing together the people who will deliver the net zero and connected automated mobility future.
CENEX 4-5 September Millbrook Weblink here
2024.09.18 Micromobility UK 2024
Motorcycle 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. 
WMG All day WMG Campus Weblink here
2024.10.30 Advanced Engineering 2024 (30th-31st October)
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.
Easyfairs 30th and 31st October NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2024.10-09 Engineering Design Show
EDS has been showcasing the very best of mechanical, electronics and embedded design for over a decade. It is THE show for design engineers who are looking for direct access to the latest products, services and innovations available to the sector.
Mark Allen Group 9-10 October CBS Arena, Coventry Weblink here
2024.11.08 Classic Motor Show (3 Days)
The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, which brings together a great array of classic car and motorcycle clubs along with their iconic classic and vintage cars and motorbikes, is an event not to be missed. No matter what you’re looking for, this is the ultimate season finale for any classic car/bike owner, collector, enthusiast, club member, or simply anyone with a passion for classic vehicles! 
Clarion Events 3 Day Event NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2024.11.12 Euro Bus Expo
Euro Bus Expo is the single industry showcase, taking place every other year at the NEC, Birmingham.
Diversified Communications UK All day x2 days NEC, Birmingham Weblink here
2024.11.16 Motorcycle Live - November
Motorcycle 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. 
MCIA 16-24 November NEC, Birmingham Weblink here

Talk Up Our Towns

Kenilworth keen to make the most of its distinctive vibe

"If the success of a place can be measured by how well it embraces progress, Kenilworth is doing very well."

Kenilworth has always attracted people from far and wide. From Queen Elizabeth I to Laurel & Hardy and from Charles Dickens to Chris Woakes, visitors have long been lured by the town’s heritage and charm.

And a resounding testament to that appeal is that so many people visit Kenilworth, like the look of it and choose to stay and invest their livelihoods in the town.

That affection is shared by the native population. Kenilworth’s attractive array of independent small businesses contains plenty run by people who grew up there, but new investment is coming in all the time. Hospitality giants Loungers and Wetherspoons are set to open in the heart of town this year.

They have been attracted by the economic potential of joining a business community which is welcoming and forward-thinking.

“The town has a unique vibe,” said Kenilworth Town Clerk, Maggie Field. “It sits between Leamington and Coventry but is so different from them. Kenilworth residents are very loyal and proud, but also outward-looking and that makes the town really distinctive.

“We have a lot of longstanding businesses run by local people, but alongside them are newer businesses taking the town forward and giving it fresh energy. If the success of a place can be measured by how well it embraces progress, Kenilworth is doing very well.

“There is an amazing community spirit. Community events are incredibly well-supported and I think that is because residents and businesses, whether long-established or more recently arrived, really feel part of the town.”

Which, in a way, they absolutely are. Kenilworth Castle, which rises above the town on its north-western edge, is owned by the Town Council and, thereby, its residents. The castle, run by English Heritage, is a significant driver of the local economy, its evocative ruins and stream of events attracting a 15 per cent increase in visitors in 2022. And every resident of Kenilworth has a stake in it.

That spirit is evident from the business community which, as with all across the UK, has been challenged in recent years by Covid, Brexit and rising costs. More than ever, mutual support matters, an ethos which underpins current initiatives from the town’s Chamber of Trade and Town Council.

Kenilworth’s offer of small businesses is spread. Many are in the town centre while others occupy the elegant ‘old’ part of town off High Street, sit in clusters off Leyes Lane and Caesar Road, or are run from home. The challenge is to pull them all together and Kenilworth Chamber of Trade is on the case with new events designed to foster connections and raise the visibility of businesses.

To their regular informal After-Work Networking Events (every fourth Wednesday, 5.30-7pm) at the Almanack, the Chamber has now added KCT Morning Momentum, a dynamic networking event which will provide a formal avenue for professionals to connect and engage. The monthly sessions will feature speakers from various industries and offer information, interactive discussions and opportunities to create lasting relationships.

Then later this year (November 15) will come the second Kenilworth Chamber of Trade Business EXPO since the pandemic. This event, at the Holiday Inn Kenilworth, will showcase the town's vibrant business landscape and provide another platform for networking and collaboration.

“So much is going on in our business community,” said Nadine Hummert, chair of Kenilworth Chamber of Trade. “It includes many people who were in corporate business but now run their own businesses. There is lots of talent in our town, some of it hidden and needing to be highlighted, and that is why it is vital to create meaningful relationships. Our mission as a Chamber is to facilitate those business connections. Collaboration is key. These events underline our determination to create meaningful connections and drive collective success.”

Similar objectives lay behind the Town Council’s recent Business & Visitor Economy Forum which surveyed Kenilworth's businesses to find out how they feel they can best be supported. The results provided valuable insights, including a need for more guidance and signposting to business support, from the likes of Warwickshire County Council, Warwick District Council, Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust, Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub and Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

In light of the survey, the Council’s objective is to create the right infrastructure for the business community to thrive and create an ecosystem of local businesses to the benefit of all.

That lure for visitors, meanwhile, will always remain. The magnificent castle. The splendid greensward of Abbey Fields where Stan Laurel stretched his legs during his stay at the Abbey Hotel, at the top of Rosemary Hill, in 1947. A thriving sports scene (the town was the starting point for a world record tiddlywink from Kenilworth Castle to Warwick Castle in 1987) brings thousands of visitors all year round.

Tourism is an integral part of Warwickshire’s economy and Kenilworth’s offer spans rich threads of history, intriguing shops and a fabulous food and drink offer. The Visit Kenilworth website, including the town nature and heritage trails, provides a precious window into the town for local people and visitors from further afield - and the town’s businesses play their part, each one an ambassador for their town county. The welcome in Kenilworth is warm…helping to keep the economy strong.

* For information regarding Kenilworth Chamber of Trade events and membership, please contact chair@kenilworthchamber.co.uk. For more information about the EXPO, please contact Sarah Kershaw at expo@kenilworthchamber.co.uk

LoudLocal's growth built on NEET foundations

A Kenilworth business is harnessing the “fantastic” input of Warwickshire Skills Hub to continue its growth and also continue to offer support for the town’s business community.

LoudLocal, a digital marketing agency created by Priya Pandit and Leon Hidderley in 2020, has an expanding client-base thanks to the resounding reputation built by its eight-strong team.

What is unusual about that team is that the majority of its members are NEET. Priya and Leon have spotted that among people who are NEET is an array of skills just waiting to be tapped into and honed.

“Most of our staff are NEET,” said Leon. “They are so talented and are fantastic with digital marketing and really understand its concepts. There is so much potential in them.

“Sometimes they don’t come across well at interview but you have to see beyond that. One of our applicants was a bag of nerves at interview and looked like he didn’t care, so he didn’t get the job because, above all, we want people who care about our customers.

“But when we readvertised the job he came back and accepted what we said and explained that it had just been nerves. He was interviewed again and we appointed him and he has been brilliant. He now manages a colleague.

“People who are NEET often might lack confidence but the talent is there and if you give that talent an outlet, then the confidence comes. All of our team are really eager to learn and very quick to pick things up.

“We have worked closely with Warwickshire Skills Hub and they have been brilliant in telling us what support is available and specifically in terms of our plans to take on an apprentice. We are very passionate about apprenticeships because we want our staff to be looked after and get the right qualifications. That makes so much sense both for the business and our employees. We have worked very hard to get where we are so now want to train our staff as well as we can to take the business forward.”

LoudLocal, a Fair Chance Employer with Warwickshire Skills Hub and a Cornerstone Employer with Warwickshire Careers Hub, plans to move into larger premises soon, from their current base in The Brickyard, Kenilworth, to offices at Spencer Yard in Leamington’s redeveloped Creative Quarter.

But they will remain closely connected to Kenilworth where their business began and has fledged. Priya is currently working with the town’s Chamber of Trade towards delivering free advice sessions later this year on how the town’s restaurants can raise their profile and attract customers.

“Kenilworth is fantastic and we will be sorry to leave it, but we desperately need more space,” said Priya. “In the last two years, our client-base has grown significantly across the UK and beyond - we have clients in Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Dubai. But we will still live in Kenilworth and be very much involved and do all we can to help our fellow businesses.

“We want to give something back because we are very grateful for the support we have received. The County Council and Skills Hub have been great and we have spoken to Laura Delahunty at Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub when it became clear that we needed to scale up and move to the next level. Laura was brilliant and really took time to listen to what we are all about.”

Loud Local is on the rise…not bad for a business that started in Priya and Leon’s kitchen. And that expanding client list includes one member which means that an illustrious name drops into the Loud Local accounts book every month.

“One of our clients is Marnie Swindells, winner of the 2023 series of The Apprentice,” said Priya. “It was quite a week when she reached the final. It took us 36 hours to prepare for the volume of traffic.

“She is lovely to work with – but it is a little bit strange to see the name ‘Lord Alan Sugar’ appear on the bank statement every month!”

News in Brief

Latest news-in-brief from the county and region...

£30m to be invested in Coventry & Warwickshire hotels 

More than £30 million is set to be invested in hotels across Coventry & Warwickshire this year. Conference Coventry and Warwickshire, which works with the hotel industry across the region, says that the investment is a vote of confidence in the visitor economy. A new 145-room Hampton by Hilton Hotel is due to open in Nuneaton this summer and is the cornerstone of Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council’s Grayson Place development, as part of its Transforming Nuneaton project. Other hotels recently open and in development locally include the Hotel Indigo in Coventry and the The Barn At Berryfields in Meriden.  


Automotive manufacturer expands in Leamington 

A leading automotive manufacturing supplier in Warwickshire has doubled its operational footprint and created new jobs, following a significant uptick in demand for its products. The business has invested in a much larger facility next to its original site, doubling its workspace to 10,000sqft. The move has allowed Protec to establish a dedicated assembly line at the new site and introduce a new range of services, such as leather wrapping, whilst also helping to bolster its existing capabilities in electric vehicle manufacturing. 


Steel Manufacturer launches in new base in Exhall 

A manufacturing company specialising in steel products has launched in Exhall, near Coventry. Steel Gates Grill Fabrications has moved into a new home at Colliery Lane, having signed a five-year lease for the 15,700sqft site.  


Chinese EV battery maker linked to Giga Park Site 

A Chinese manufacturer of electric vehicle batteries is in talks to invest more than £1bn to build a giant new factory on the outskirts of Coventry in Warwick District. EVE Energy, is understood to be in talks to construct a 5.7m sq ft gigafactory, which will form one of the main parts of the planned UK Centre for Electrification, an investment zone in the West Midlands. The Chinese company is thought to be considering committing an initial £1.2bn to the project and subsequent phases of the works are expected to expand the site, which would make it almost twice the size of Nissan’s electric battery factory in Sunderland. 


Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark named new Aston Martin CEO 

Adrian Hallmark – whose departure from Bentley was announced earlier this morning – will become Aston Martin’s third CEO in four years, following Tobias Moers and current boss Amedeo Felisa, who will step down as he approaches his 78th birthday. Hallmark has left Bentley with immediate effect, and will start his new role in Gaydon "no later than 1 October 2024", said Aston in a statement.  


Spa Park welcomes international automotive supplier 

International automotive engineering and product supply company, Opus International Products, has signed a 10-year lease on a 39,875 sq ft unit at Spa Park, the multi million pound business park scheme in Leamington Spa developed by Stoford for Blackrock on the former AP Components site. Opus International Products is a leading supplier of high quality automotive interior, exterior and body sealing products to the premium automotive sector. It joins other manufacturing and engineering occupiers at Spa Park including 920E Liberty Vehicle Technologies, Berry Global, Bladon Micro Turbines and Martin Sprocket & Gear. 


Facility for EV manufacturing project advances 

A scheme proposing the creation of an industrial facility in North Warwickshire to support an electric car manufacturing project for Jaguar Land Rover has moved forward. Manufacturer WHS Plastics Ltd brought forward a cross-boundary application for land at Water Orton Lane. Lined up is an industrial unit of approximately 65,000 sq ft and would provide 64 to 80 million plastics parts for JLR.  


Autins Group names next chief executive 

Autins Group, the Rugby-headquartered supplier to the automotive industry, has named its next chief executive and reported a "stronger" performance for its latest financial year. Andy Bloomer brings extensive experience of the European automotive manufacturing industry, particularly with electric vehicles and specialist fibre applications, having most recently held the role of sales and marketing director EMEA - thermal ceramics at Morgan Advanced Materials plc. 


Future of flight discussed at Warwick’s first Electric Aviation Symposium 

The inaugural Electric Aviation Symposium was held in Warwick recently, bringing together regulators, end users and infrastructure providers from across the aviation ecosystem. Together they talked through the possibilities and challenges associated with electric aviation as the UK looks to become a world leader in the field. The event was organised by the team at Warwick-based Flux Aviation, who are in the late stages of developing FLUX-75 – a complete electric powertrain package intended to replace combustion engines in a range of popular training aircraft. 


Hunt begins for new Med-tech CEO to drive growth 

ValiRx plc, the Nuneaton-based life sciences company focusing on early-stage cancer therapeutics and women's health is on the hunt for a new CEO to lead the next stage of company growth. The current CEO, Dr Suzy Dilly, will remain in past until a new incumbent is found, which could take some months, the company said. 


New Office Location The Point Signs Telent for 25,000sqft Grade A Offices 

Leading technology company Telent, has secured 25,000 sq ft at Warwick Business Park, after a major refurbishment by owner Palm Capital. 


First phase completes at SEGRO Park Coventry 

The first three warehouses have been completed at SEGRO Park Coventry, providing 660,000 sq ft of space at the 215-acre logistics hub. The buildings include a 300,000 sq ft regional distribution hub for DHL eCommerce UK and two speculative units, comprising 140,000 sq ft and 220,000 sq ft respectively. They have been built to modern sustainability standards, achieving a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating and the highest EPC A+ standard. DP World Logistics signed a pre-let in 2023 for a fourth building at the development, which will involve the company occupying 598,050 sq ft of space. In total these pre-lets and speculative buildings account for 40 per cent of the consented development space at the site on the edge of Coventry Airport in Warwick District. 


Alstom reveals plans for new passenger rail service 

Alstom, a global leader in smart and sustainable mobility, plans to operate a new passenger rail service across England and Wales. Working in partnership with consultancy SLC Rail, the open access operation will be known as Wrexham, Shropshire and Midlands Railway (WSMR), and the route will include new rail links from Warwickshire locations including Nuneaton and Coleshill. 


West Midlands exhibiting at UKREiiF in May 

The West Midlands area will be exhibiting at the UK's Real Estate and Infrastructure Investment Forum (UKREiiF) in May, showcasing development opportunities and regenerative schemes worth more than £20bn. Investment opportunities from Birmingham, Coventry & Warwickshire, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton will be showcased at the event. 

The delegation includes senior public sector figures who will showcase a portfolio of development opportunities. These will include the recently announced West Midlands Investment Zone, comprising Coventry & Warwickshire Gigapark, Birmingham Knowledge Quarter and Wolverhampton's Green Innovation Corridor. 



People Profile

Rebecca's role is the perfect outlet for her passion to help her community

"Everyone has been so welcoming, not just within WCC but at the districts and boroughs and our partners. It’s been really refreshing.”

Rebecca Corr has a passion for the public sector and a desire to help her local community - so her role within Warwickshire County Council’s Business & Economy team is a perfect fit.

As Contracts and Projects Monitoring Officer, Rebecca’s mission is to help small and medium-sized businesses access the broad range of business support available from the County Council and its partners.

It is a role which requires diligence, knowledge and attention to detail – and it is one to which Rebecca is well-suited after more than a decade working as Business Manager for a primary school in Windsor.

“I really enjoyed working within a school,” she said. “I did anything and everything bar the curriculum and teaching the children-HR, Health & Safety, office management. I was heavily involved in finance and budget-setting and was quite successful at applying for small grants, so have plenty of experience of those processes.

“The school was a lovely environment, but I was ready for a new challenge. Schools are under so much pressure; I was spending a lot of time trying to save the school money at any opportunity. But I really enjoy working in the public sector so when we moved to Warwickshire I knew I wanted to stay there and felt I had a lot of transferable skills to bring across. I became a School Governance Professional for the County Council, and still do that part time, supporting the governors at Brookhurst Primary School Leamington, and Warwick Nursery.

“Then the job of Contracts and Projects Monitoring Officer came up and I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to support small and medium-sized businesses, within my local community. One of the things I love about Leamington is the friendliness and spirit of all the independent shops, cafes and restaurants and to be able to support those businesses, and similar ones all over the county, through our business support is a lovely thing to be part of.”

Rebecca’s move to Leamington brought her back closer to “home.” She grew up locally, before heading to the University of York from which she graduated with a degree in Chemistry with Industrial Management.

Now at the council she has a bulging in-tray as she helps navigate small businesses through six schemes: Warwickshire Business Start-up Programme; Warwickshire Business Resilience and Growth Programme; Business Ready; Warwickshire Business Energy Advice Service; Warwickshire Manufacturing Growth Programme and Project Warwickshire.

That’s a busy gig but she still finds time, alongside looking after two young children, to study for an AAT accountancy qualification. And get running!

“I’m learning to be a runner and have signed up for the Regency 10K in April,” she said. “And we are trying to renovate our house – so lots of DIY skills are being learnt."

“There’s plenty going on but that’s the way I like it and I am so pleased to be part of the Business & Economy team at WCC. Everyone has been so welcoming, not just within WCC but at the districts and boroughs and our partners. It’s been really refreshing.”

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