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Important announcements from the Chamber, our members, local Councils and other relevant business news will be posted regularly here.

Don't forget, as a member one of your many benefits is being able to submit your press releases and news for inclusion here as well as on either the members or business enews and social media. Please submit to 

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  • 17 June 2021 2:59 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

     What I have learnt from 400 business leaders in lockdown.

    March 2020. I was due to host a Future Skills Summit, with guest speakers from across the UK holding plenaries on the circular economy, the Internet of  Things and the changing workplace. I  was also facilitating a two-day summit on big data and tourism in partnership with the University of Brighton.

     As Programme Director for Essex 2020, over 1000 events stretched ahead, bringing together big engineering firms,  artists, libraries, teenage hackers – you name it – to celebrate science and creativity in misunderstood towns.  

    But by the 23rd, I was suddenly very available. And quite frightened.

    Much of my professional life has revolved around creating spaces for people to scale new ideas or deepen connections with the communities they serve. It took a little while to recalibrate and to fully understand that the spaces we now needed to occupy were digital ones. The upside is that the always possible team could spend time working with construction to the arts, hospitality, retail, tech, and more.  

    If it’s possible to distil some of the  insights into five lessons, regardless of  sector or size, it is these: 

    1. Never underestimate your team 

    People tend to pull out the stops in a  crisis. And the past 12 months has pushed leaders to re-evaluate the value,  wellbeing and capacity to innovate of the people around them. Nearly always finding a previously untapped well of  ‘can-do and mend’. 
    We’ve been asked to help with restructures and shifts to home-working, but the genuine joy is seeing people fall back in love with their work when they can permit themselves to do things differently, to step back and be reminded of their core mission. “We just feel so useful to our customers again”,  one tech COO told me – and that energy is infectious. 

    2. Sounding-board  

    Ambition + fear x decision-making =  noise. And we’ve been hearing over and again that many small business owners are getting tinnitus from the shrill push and pull of what they’re told they should be doing. From making spaces Covid secure to launching new digital products, we’ve learnt there is not a single new process that doesn’t benefit from some critical friendship.  

    And it doesn’t need to cost the Earth.  Across Sussex, programmes such as the Business Hothouse, the BRITE  programme, and all local growth hubs have provided fully-funded support. In East Sussex, we’ve been running the >BRE AK THROUGH  programme for female and ethnic minority founders and giving access to over £1m of growth grants to a range of SMEs as part of the South  East Business Boost. 

    3. Get an external 

    Targeted mini-research projects are essential at getting teams back on track and putting their energy in the right places. And new resources like the  Brighton Business & IP Centre can help with that. 

    4. Create an evidence-based of opportunity 

    In the thick of Brexit and the pandemic,  ‘uncertainty’ has become the watchword. So the requests we have had for help rebuilding knowledge of the market, what customers actually need, and business and investor confidence. 

    5. Breakdown your priorities 

    INTO NOW, NEXT, AND LATER Through providing 1:1s, workshops and grants to over 400 businesses across the UK, the always possible team have perfected a way for businesses to navigate the next 12 months. Whether for a whole business or for a particular product or idea, the key is using engineering techniques that turn the mountain to climb, but a series of small mounds. 

    Fourteen months on, and I can be more reflective about the different and complex decisions over 400 teams and executives have been making in the sectors we have more people, giving advice and practical support – but mainly just listening. 
    ❛❛It took a little while to recalibrate and to fully understand that the spaces we now needed to occupy were digital ones. ❜❜ 
    always possible is looking for just 100 ambitious businesses to be part of a unique post-traumatic growth community, benefiting from a new style of mentoring, research and action planning that actually works.

    To register your interest in free or low-cost access to post-COVID planning support and a unique network of peers  – visit 

  • 04 June 2021 9:59 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Live events are back on the menu at St Barnabas - Hit the Downs MTB

    It's time kick those lockdown blues to the curb this summer. Let's get back to being together for that feeling of start line butterflies, live crowd cheers and home stretch highs we've all been craving.

    Hit the Downs MTB is back again with a brand new 80k route to challenge your inner trail blazer. 

    Join Team St Barnabas on Sunday 11 July and blow away the cobwebs of the last year!

    Register here: 

  • 04 June 2021 9:49 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Calling all small businesses to lead the charge to net zero

    The Together for Our Planet ‘Business Climate Leaders’ campaign encourages small and micro businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 or sooner through the new UK Business Climate Hub

    Small businesses can use the hub to find practical tools, resources and advice to understand their emissions and develop a plan to tackle them, as well as providing ideas for steps they can take. 

  • 04 June 2021 9:38 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Get the free expert business support you need to succeed - The Business Hot House

    With the economy predicted to bounce back strongly, this is a good time to get your business idea going or your existing business growing. With the help of cash from our Invest4 Grant Fund plus the free, expert advice and guidance from The Business Hothouse partnership, you can launch or expand your business knowing that on-going expert support is here to help you to succeed.

    Understanding money, accessing business finance and applying for business grant funding are key to the launch or growth of any business. Our delivery partner, Get Set For Growth is offering a series of free workshops that provide practical, hands-on support to help you:
  • 02 June 2021 12:36 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    WTM announce exhibition by global internet sensation Hercule Van Wolfwinkle: Pet Portraits 

    Worthing Theatres and Museum are excited to announce that the Museum and Gallery will be reopening with four fantastic new exhibitions, including Pet Portraits by Hercule Van Wolfwinkle in the Garden Gallery from Saturday 22 May until Sunday 8 August.

    Worthing resident Phil Heckels created an internet storm during lockdown under the alias Hercule Van Wolfwinkle with his self styled 'rubbish' Pet Portraits. What started as a thank you card to his parents, as an attempt to get his reluctant 6 year old away from computer games – turned into hundreds of pet portrait requests flying in from around the globe and raising over £78,000 for West Sussex charity Turning Tides. 

    Turning Tides is now the biggest provider of services for single homeless people in West Sussex. With over 5,000 supporters, 300 volunteers and 140 staff, they provide real pathways out of homelessness and are committed to supporting people at every stage of their journey. The breadth of their services empower people experiencing homelessness to become confident and find the strength and belief in themselves to create a brighter future.

    Lucy Knowles, Fundraising Manager, Turning Tides has said ‘Phil (aka Hercule Van Wolfwinkle), has not only achieved a phenomenal international fan base, he and his followers have raised a staggering amount in support of Turning Tides. It seems very fitting that his artwork will be celebrated locally at Worthing’s wonderful Art Gallery. We would like to send our heartfelt gratitude to Phil, and everyone who has supported Pet Portraits, because in turn you have also helped the hundreds of men and women in your community who have nowhere to call their home. The ongoing support Pet Portraits has garnered is truly inspiring. Phil has managed to captivate people’s precious pets but also importantly, shared his passion to support the growing number of people who are experiencing homelessness across the county.

    This is Phil's first ever exhibition which opens on Saturday 22 May a week before the release of his first book Rubbish Pet Portraits on Thursday 27 May 2021. 

    CEO Amanda O'reilly says ‘We are delighted to be reopening the museum offering the community access to a fantastic set of exhibitions, most with a local link, alongside an amazing programme of walks, talks and workshops. We have also been working hard behind the scenes and regular museum visitors should see some exciting improvements. We will continue to prioritise safety in all our venues, will be limiting the number of people inside the museum and continuing to implement additional safety procedures.

    Initially the museum will be open Saturdays (10am-5pm) and Thursdays (10am-8pm). The exhibitions and permanent collections are free to view, however as a charitable organisation WTM welcomes donations which support their work bringing arts and heritage to Worthing. Additional safety measures remain in place throughout the museum and visitors are asked to wear masks in line with government guidance. 

    For more information and to book event tickets visit or call the WTM Box Office on 01903 206206. 

  • 02 June 2021 12:31 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    South East Manufacturers Aim for Growth through Innovation

    Manufacturers in the South East are focused on future growth, despite the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit.

    Although around a quarter do not expect a return to pre-pandemic trading levels this year, some sectors, such as electronics, were seeing encouraging growth. This was discussed at the latest online event for the Sussex-based Manufacturing Engineering & Technology Alliance (METALL), organised by Carpenter Box, Coast to Capital and DMH Stallard.

    Chris Beck, editor of Manufacturing Management magazine, highlighted the uncertainty faced by manufacturers over the last year, with many business owners worried about the survival of their businesses.

    Chris commented: “Times remain hard for manufacturers, but the UK economy is beginning to open up and business confidence and manufacturing output is starting to grow. This was reflected in the March 2021 PMI hitting its highest level for more than 10 years.

    “However, Make UK recently reported that more than 25% of manufacturers do not expect to see their businesses returning to pre-pandemic levels for more than a year.”

    Many businesses have survived through collaboration, resilience and their problem-solving skills, as highlighted on the webinar by Kathy Caton, founder and MD of Brighton Gin.

    Kathy explained: “We’ll always find a way around challenges. Although Brexit has been spectacularly difficult for us and 90% of our customers in the hospitality industry remained closed during the pandemic, we were able to change production virtually overnight.

    “We had all the ingredients, so we decided to make not-for-profit hand sanitiser; for every one sold over our website, two were donated to frontline workers. We have also started to produce new products with a new gin size and ready-to-drink products in recyclable cans that can be drunk outside.”   

    Alan Edmonds, MD of Littlehampton-based SI Protech UK, described how post-Brexit arrangements covering delivery costs, tariffs and duties had significantly impacted the company’s exports, but that he remained confident for the longer term.

    Tony Summers, Partner and Head of Manufacturing at Carpenter Box, said that while the trading environment remained challenging, local manufacturers were showing remarkable resilience, agility and innovation in adapting to the new normal.

  • 02 June 2021 12:28 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Fargro set to bloom following management buy-out

    Horticultural solutions and products specialist, Fargro Limited is shrugging off the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and preparing for accelerated growth in 2021 and beyond following the successful completion of a management buy-out (MBO) with private equity partner, Ashridge Capital.

    Despite the closure of garden centres in 2020 due to Covid-19, Fargro has enjoyed a stellar operating year, capitalising on increased consumer demand as the UK population turned to its gardens and window-boxes to improve mental wellbeing during recent periods of pandemic-related restrictions.

    The MBO and investment from sponsor Ashridge Capital will enable the business to adopt a more agile approach to its growth strategy, ensuring it is able to occupy its rightful position in a competitive marketplace. This new structure will allow Fargro to invest in R&D, new product development, and business growth, more quickly and with more flexibility than the previous structure would support.

    Richard Hopkins, Managing Director at Fargro Limited said:

    “Fargro is a fabulous, well-respected business built over a period of 75 years. The combination of this investment, our vision, and the commitment of our passionate team ensures that we are now more strongly positioned than ever for a long and healthy future.

    We are in an exciting place, working in a technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable, and highly innovative sector. The business is perfectly placed to meet the increasing demand for our products as the UK continues to work through the impact of the pandemic, and as growers maximise the post-Brexit demand for home-grown food and flowering plants.

    Thanks to the support from both Ashridge Capital and Shawbrook Bank, we can now focus fully on preparing for growth and writing the next chapter of the Fargro story under our own management ream.

    My thanks go to Phil Green, our outgoing Chairman, for his assistance and advice in completing this deal. Thanks also to out departing non-exec Directors for their support and encouragement over the five years I’ve been in the business. Chris Moncrieff, Jonathan Zwinkels, Rosie Freshwater and Mike Norris have stepped down from the board and David Sherratt, our private equity partner, has joined as a non-exec director.

    Our business depends on the loyalty and support of our wonderful customers, suppliers, distributors and partners. I look forward to continuing to work with them and deliver the same high levels of support as we have always done.”

    David Sherratt, Founder and CEO of Ashridge Capital, said:

    “Fargro is a great business with a leading position in a dynamic and growing sector and led by a very impressive management team.  It has been a pioneer in developing products and solutions to minimise disease, pests and wastage for growers.  We are delighted to support the MBO and its future plans, which include organic and acquisition-led growth.” 

    Fargro was advised by Irwin Mitchell (Legal) and FRP Advisory (Corporate and Debt Advisory). Ashridge Capital was advised by Porter Dodson (Legal) and Jenson Solutions (Financial Due Diligence). Shawbrook Bank was advised by Shoosmiths (Legal).

  • 02 June 2021 12:25 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Tree planting exercise sees 30 youngsters making a difference to Shoreham's Buckingham Park 

    School children have played their part in helping the climate by taking part in a tree-planting exercise led by Adur & Worthing Councils’ Park Rangers.

    A group of 30 youngsters from Buckingham Park Primary School were invited to plant 18 sweet chestnut trees in the middle of Buckingham Park in Shoreham.

    The initiative provided the children with the chance to enjoy time out in the open green space, learn about what’s important for the climate and work as part of a team.

    Nathan Hollisey-McLean, the school’s Assistant Head Teacher, said: “A lot of the children live in a flat or a house where they haven't got a garden - so many of them haven't experienced planting anything - let alone a sapling or a tree.

    “Being just down the road, our students spend a lot of time here and have a strong connection to Buckingham Park, so it will be pretty cool for them to see something they’ve planted grow over their lifetimes.

    “A lot of children these days are aware of climate change and deforestation, so it’s great that they know how trees feed the planet and are aware that we need to keep planting.”

    Ricky Purnell, from Tree Action UK, attended the event - and has been working with local schools and the Councils to get children more involved with tree planting across the area.

    The not for profit community interest company organises tree-planting events in schools, colleges, public spaces and on private land, to improve the environment, tackle climate change and improve the mental wellbeing of young people through connecting them with nature.

    Ricky said: “Planting trees is a stress releasing exercise. It allows those who spend too much time on screens to have some quality time to connect with the environment. 

    “Not only is it a great team building activity, but it also encourages our future generations to do their part in helping with the world’s climate crisis.”

    The Councils are always looking for ways to improve sustainability across the area’s green spaces. 

    The project was organised by Liam Lord, who is the Arboricultural Inspector for the Councils. 

    He said: “The trees were grown from seed from the veteran sweet chestnuts trees, to preserve the history of the existing trees.”

  • 02 June 2021 12:18 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Shocking Shirts & Funky Frocks

    Date: Friday 25th June (come along to the Chamber Hub dressed up! Click here to book your place)

    Dress to impress and entertain your colleagues and make a donation to Safe in Sussex.

    Our annual event is held on the last Friday of June and businesses, schools and community groups take part by wearing some pretty outlandish and funky clothes to work or meetings and make a donation to Safe in Sussex.

  • 02 June 2021 12:15 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Boost for traders as Council invests in increasingly-popular parades

    Four parades outside the town centre are being given a makeover as Worthing Borough Council commits to investing in the local communities that have become more popular throughout the pandemic.

    With residents shopping in areas closer to home due to Government restrictions, suburban shopping areas have gained more support from their communities.

    The Council recognises the importance of these hubs and the need to ensure they remain attractive places for people to visit, shop and spend time in socially.

    The four key sites that will benefit from improvements are Goring Road East, Broadwater, Kings Parade in Findon Valley and The Strand in Durrington.

    Work - which includes jet washing, landscaping, repainting and new street furniture installed - has already begun and will continue over the next two to three months.

    It forms part of the wider programme of work to improve the public realm within Worthing. This includes the multi-million pound investment in Portland Road and Railway Approach, which is supported by West Sussex County Council.

    Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “With many residents working from home due to the pandemic and being unable to venture into town or farther afield, they have been experiencing retail much closer to home.

    “Our local parades have really held their own over the past year and we have witnessed local businesses in different areas gaining more support from their communities.

    “With this in mind, it’s important that we as a Council invest in these local parades, helping to ensure they remain bright, attractive and polished places that people want to continue to visit once lockdown is over.”

    Each of the four areas have been assessed by Council teams and local representatives, such as residents or businesses, with a bespoke improvement plan created for each.

    All sites will be jet washed and have weeds removed while disused signs and street furniture will be taken out to provide more accessible space.

    In Goring, much of the street furniture will be repainted and old benches will be replaced while Broadwater will gain new park benches and planting.

    In Findon Valley the older style planters and bollards will be removed, older street furniture will be replaced with smart, contemporary street furniture and planters will be added.

    At The Strand, old signage and railings will be removed and new bike racks and benches will be installed - as well as some masonry works carried out.

    Supporting communities and the promotion of high streets are both areas identified within Adur & Worthing Councils’ direction of travel Platforms for our Places: Going Further and the And Then…. Bouncing back in post-pandemic Adur and Worthing strategy.

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