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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 

  • 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.

  • 02 June 2021 12:11 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Kreston Reeves commits to hybrid working arrangements and a new London hub

    Accountants, business and financial advisers Kreston Reeves has made a commitment to hybrid working arrangements across the firm and announced a new London office hub in Shoreditch.

    Kreston Reeves employs over 500 people working across its eight offices in London, Kent and Sussex. The firm, which had moved towards flexible and agile working patterns a few years ago will, when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, allow employees to choose where and how to work to best meet their clients, team and personal needs.

    The firm is also moving to a new office in London to better suit this more agile, collaborative, and flexible way of working. It will be moving from Chiswell Street, EC1 to 168 Shoreditch High Street, E1, creating a hub for its people to work together, learn from each other and meet clients. It follows a similar move in Brighton in January 2021, when Kreston Reeves moved its Brighton office to the Plus X Innovation Hub.

    Nigel Fright, Managing Partner, Kreston Reeves said: “Over the past few years we have proudly led the way in adapting to modern agile working practices, supporting the needs of our clients and people. With the Coronavirus pandemic solidifying that shift in the way we work, our people can use that experience and skill to work seamlessly across our office footprint, from client sites and home.

    “We have asked for and listened to feedback from our people over the past few months and we anticipate working about two days a week in the office with other time spent with clients and working remotely.

    “We’re committed to our purpose in ‘guiding our clients, colleagues and communities to a brighter future’, and that requires flexibility and balance in where and how we work. Our people work hard to deliver the best possible client service so it’s important to create a working environment that meets their changing needs.”

    Laurence Parry, Partner and London office lead at Kreston Reeves said: “We’re really excited to be moving to our new base in London that embodies our purpose and values. The office will be a place for collaboration, to share ideas, to meet clients, and for all our colleagues to grow and learn.

    “Our people really do make Kreston Reeves and we trust them to decide where and how they can best serve their clients and work with their teams. We will see our colleagues across all our offices developing a working pattern that is a seamless blend of office and home working.”

  • 02 June 2021 12:03 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Protectfully Covid Testing

    Early in the pandemic we received many requests from our maritime clients asking if we could source reliable rapid COVID-19 antigen tests for crew whilst onboard superyachts. High priority was a qualitative yes/no answer within 15 minutes, with a high level of accuracy.

    Efficacy and due diligence was of the utmost importance. We set about researching a robust UK manufacturer and very quickly become an official supplier for Surescreen Diagnostics, who offer a suite of rapid COVID-19 tests.

    Within weeks many clients across varied sectors were requesting rapid COVID tests, the main request being a global airline. This airline was testing their staff using their own testing facilities and were looking for alternatives to the nasopharyngeal method, as some team members had suffered distress during routine testing.

    Luckily, we were able to offer Saliva-based tests, which have similar efficacy to the nasal method with minimal discomfort.  We are super proud be assisting one of the UK’s largest airlines with their impressive testing rollout. A very positive relationship that has developed in unusual circumstances and is essentially helping people back to work.

    We have since continued to support many other companies, proactively testing their teams and improve organisational resilience.  If you are looking for help to safeguard your business and would like to discuss Rapid Covid Testing or disinfection systems please do do get in touch.

    For more information on rapid COVID-19 saliva tests please contact worthing based Protectfully

  • 02 June 2021 11:48 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Adur District Council buys former police station site - investing almost £1.1m into the regeneration of Lancing Village

    A prominent building in the heart of Lancing is set to be regenerated with the community in mind after it was purchased by Adur District Council.

    The acquisition of the former police station in North Road was agreed last month, with the Council committing to investing almost £1.1m into helping to regenerate Lancing Village.

    The purchase price of the site was £850,000 and the authority has committed a further £200,000 in order to bring forward viable proposals.

    Due to the site’s prominence and importance, the Council has pledged to carry out wider community and stakeholder engagement so that residents have a say in the future of the area.

    It will form part of the authority’s wider programme to support the regeneration of its town and village centres.

    Options for the site could include retail, residential, medical or a community hub. Planning permission will be required before any works go ahead.

    Councillor Carson Albury, Adur’s Executive Member for Customer Services, approved the purchase of the site. 

    He said: “I’m very pleased to be able to say we have purchased this prominent site which has been empty for too long.

    “We will be undertaking a full and thorough consultation with the people of Lancing to find out what potential uses for the site would best serve the community and I believe this is a great move for the area.

    “The Council will bring together various stakeholders who are interested in investing in the village and further redevelopment such as this will help to breathe new life into Lancing Village Centre.”

  • 02 June 2021 11:05 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Bouncing Back from COVID-19 Summit

    Tim Loughton MP is hosting a summit, all businesses in Worthing and Adur are welcome to attend for free.

    The event will include presentations from Mims Davies MP - Employment Minister, Worthing DWP employment advisors and representatives from Adur & Worthing Councils.

    - What challenges are you facing coming out of lockdown?

    - What support does your business need with recruiting and training staff?

    - How can Central Government, Local Government and DWP help?

    To book email

  • 01 June 2021 1:18 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Alex Leads the Way on ICAEW Apprenticeship Scheme

    Investment in young talent continues to reap benefits at MHA Carpenter Box, with news that Alex Kent has become the first apprentice at the firm to gain Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) status. 

    Alex, who lives in East Grinstead, joined the Sussex-based accountancy firm’s Audit & Assurance team at Gatwick in July 2017 after graduating from Canterbury Christ Church University. He started out on a traditional trainee route at MHA Carpenter Box, but then moved onto the ICAEW apprenticeship to develop his skills and enhance his career opportunities.

    Alex commented: “I am very grateful for the support that MHA Carpenter Box has given me throughout my training and would highly recommend the apprenticeship scheme to any young person interested in becoming a fully qualified accountant.

    “The scheme provides structure, and the support of a ‘talent coach’ is also invaluable in building confidence and progressing through the programme.”

    MHA Carpenter Box Managing Partner, Alan Edwards, said: “We have always taken our role of training the next generation of accountants, tax and business advisers very seriously and continue to invest heavily in emerging talent.

    “We know that prospects for young people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, so as a firm we are determined to continue offering opportunities to school and college leavers. Alex is the first of our young recruits on the apprenticeship scheme to qualify as an ACA and we now offer this route to qualification to all our trainees joining the firm.”

    MHA Carpenter Box operates from offices in Worthing, Brighton, Gatwick and Chichester.

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