Colors: Purple Color

Anjum Khan, director of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), led a host of accolades for the Birmingham business community when she won national recognition in the English Asian Business Awards last night.

And Wow Zone, run by ABCC president Qasim Majid, won the Digital Business of the Year title along with several other Birmingham business people.

They included Paul Thandi, chief executive of the NEC Group, who won the Corporate Leader of the Year title, and Awan Marketing chief executive Nasir Awan picked up International Business of the Year.

Anjum (pictured) was named Woman of the Year at a ceremony at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel.

The awards were created to honour the determination, hard work and personal achievements of English Asian businessmen and businesswomen at the forefront of their industries.

Each year, the competition has become more intense as the event itself has grown into a highly respected occasion, where the best and brightest are honoured.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), of which the ABCC is part, said: “The two awards are a huge accolade for the whole of the ABCC and the Asian community in Birmingham.

“Anjum has been instrumental in making the ABCC the most meaningful Asian business organisation in the country and fully deserves this honour.

“The work of the ABCC is vital in a city as diverse as Birmingham and it brings together a myriad of cultures working together for the whole community.

“Congratulations also to Qasim, whose leading international digital marketing agency is based in Birmingham.”

Wow Zone undertakes a wide range of services from digital marketing, online branding, social media, and website design and Qasim and his colleagues have worked tirelessly to put them at the top of the tree.

Mr Faulkner added: “Paul and Nasir are highly deserved of their awards. Paul has led the NEC with great aplomb for several years and Nasir combines a busy business life with widespread charity work.”

Nasir started in the retail business in 1978, joining his late father.  In 1980 he set up a consumer electronics wholesale operation, becoming one of UK’s major distributors.

Awan Marketing is now one of the largest wholesalers in the UK.

The company is run by the third generation of the family operating from a 45,000 sq ft distribution centre in Hockley.  It carries over 30,000 lines, servicing a customer base of over 14,000 throughout the UK and exporting to Europe, Africa and Asia.

Nasir is a board member of Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce group, and his appointments include Chair of Trustees Inspire Education Academy at Yew Tree School, Aston.  He is also a Trustee of Euro Charity Trust; Birmingham Ethnic Education Services; and Sutton Coldfield Muslim Association.  He is also a Director of the National Asian Business Association.

He was appointed deputy lieutenant in the West Midlands in 2017 and was awarded the MBE in 2016 for services to business and international trade.

The Asian Business Chamber will celebrate diversity and inclusion at its annual dinner and awards in November.

The event - sponsored by Douglas Wright Restaurants (T/A McDonald's) and HSBC takes place at the ICC in Birmingham on Saturday 17 November.

Water companies should take decisive action to boost unimpressive levels of customer satisfaction with fairness and value for money, according to a report by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

The water watchdog’s latest annual Water Matters survey shows that while 9 out of 10 customers are satisfied with their water and sewerage services, only 6 in 10 agree that their charges are fair - a figure that has remained static for seven years.

Perceptions of fairness are strongly influenced by customer experience, according to Water Matters. Those customers who think charges are unfair are more likely to have made contact with their water company in the past 12 months, and are also less likely to recommend their water company or believe the company cares. Negative perceptions of fairness can also have an underlying effect on satisfaction in other areas such as value for money, so by addressing this, water companies can make positive progress towards improving wider customer perceptions.

By failing to address these long-term trends, water companies are risking increasing levels of customer discontent, says Mike Keil, CCWater’s Head of Policy and Research: “Customers’ perceptions of fairness and value for money have remained disappointingly static for seven years, and it’s no surprise that the water sector is now coming under increased scrutiny. Just this year, service interruptions caused by March’s ‘Beast from the East’ and the current spell of dry weather have led to frustration among customers. Unless water companies take action now, it’s unlikely that we will see a reversal of this trend anytime soon.”

Keeping customers informed year-round – and not just when problems occur – is a key way in which water companies can develop positive relationships with customers and improve their perceptions. Providing clear and accessible information about the issues customers care about – such as how their bills are funding resilient supply networks and reducing leakage – can help to increase customers’ trust in their supplier, and while improvement is needed across the industry, some water companies have proven that it can be done.

Over the past seven years, customers’ views on the fairness of charges have improved for three companies: Welsh Water, South West Water and Wessex Water. However, while these improvements show that customer perceptions of fairness can be changed for the better, the failure of the industry as a whole to address the long-term issue also shows that more work needs to be done.

The Consumer Council for Water is urging water companies to be more than ‘silent providers’, challenging mediocre performance and making every contact count positively with their customers.

Affordability is also a key factor influencing customers’ perceptions of fairness. Mike Keil adds: “While all companies now offer social tariffs to customers in financial difficulty, we think that there is an opportunity for companies to do a lot more in this area, for example by expanding these schemes and contributing more towards them.

“What’s clear is that every contact made is an opportunity for water companies to increase trust and change customer attitudes by providing a positive experience.”

A business hub for entrepreneurs, creative makers and small enterprises had its official launch last night in Wood Green.

Wood Green Works combines flexible and affordable workspaces, co-working, training rooms and creative spaces ideal for local entrepreneurs and start-up companies, as well as access to finance, business advice and masterclasses from Nwes – the country’s largest enterprise agency.

Last night Haringey Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Regeneration, Cllr Charles Adje, launched the hub, with Debbie Jackson, Assistant Director of Regeneration at the Greater London Authority. The event was attended by local businesses and community stakeholders.

Cllr Adje said:

There’s a wealth of talent here in Haringey, and Wood Green Works is an innovative way of offering entrepreneurs and small businesses valuable space and support. We are committed to driving employment up and providing people with opportunities that can help them thrive in our borough. I’m thrilled to be able to officially open Wood Green Works and send out a clear signal that Haringey is a place where individuals, start-ups and small enterprises can really develop and grow.

Earlier in the day there was an open day, with a ‘how to start your own business’ masterclass, Lego serious play drop in session (using Lego to explore the opportunities and challenges of starting and running a business in Wood Green), networking opportunities and presentations.

Wood Green Works is based on two floors of unused council offices at 40 Cumberland Road, with local resident Vivian Obiji as Centre Manager. Vivian worked with the council’s Haringey Employment and Skills Team, which helps residents develop the skills and confidence necessary to find the right job for them.

Funded by Haringey Council and the Mayor of London through the London Regeneration Fund, Wood Green Works is the latest meanwhile project in the area. It follows the successful launches of The Green Rooms arts hotel and creative hub Blue House Yard.

London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, Jules Pipe, said:

We’re proud to support Wood Green Works and it’s great to see it officially open for business. This project is an innovative use of a temporary site, which has transformed an existing building to provide much-needed affordable space for start-ups and small enterprises.”

Winchester showcased its wonderful range of independent shops, businesses and eateries from across the city at a special Independents Market.

The market lined the city's cobbled High Street in a celebration of the city's local independent business community.

Winchester has a unique shopping culture with 50% of its retail businesses being independently owned and managed. This helps to put Winchester on the map as a shopping and leisure destination for people throughout Hampshire and even further afield.

The Winchester BID (Business Improvement District) fully supports the city's independents and aims to create a thriving, clean and safe environment for residents, visitors and all the businesses which operate in the city.

Paul Spencer, Projects and Operations Manager for Winchester BID, said: "It was great to see so many people out and about in Winchester for the Independents Market. There are so many hidden gems in our city centre so it was the perfect opportunity to showcase them on the High Street and show what Winchester has to offer to residents and visitors alike. We hope that people will continue to love the local".

The Independents Market is part of a calendar of events which will be taking place in Winchester throughout July and August, including a children's 'Independent Street' and an 'Indie Trail' for people of all ages.

Chris Turner, Business Development Director for Winchester BID, said: "Here at Winchester BID, we exist to support our local businesses. Part of that in Winchester is about celebrating our fantastic array of independent shops and eateries. To see so many of them meeting and greeting new and old customers alike at the Independents Market was simply brilliant. It was a great way to demonstrate what makes Winchester's business community innovative and unique."

An accountancy trainee from Birmingham is celebrating after completing the qualifying expedition for her Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold Award.

Susanna Qureshi, an audit trainee at RSM in Birmingham, completed the gruelling 63km trek across the Lake District as part of a five-strong team.

The DofE Gold Award is the highest level of three progressive youth achievement awards that under-25s can take on. The expedition is the final part of the 18-month DofE business programme designed to help young employees develop personal skills, behaviours and confidence while supporting their career development.

RSM has been offering its trainees the opportunity to take on the DofE Gold Award since 2016 and its popularity has grown every year. This year, 26 trainees from the audit, tax and consulting firm have signed up to take part.

​Susanna said: 'The four days of the trip were really tough, particularly as we had some very challenging weather to contend with, but it was a great experience and a huge relief to cross the finish line.'

Mark Taylor, RSM's managing partner for RSM in Birmingham said:' RSM is proud to support the Duke of Edinburgh's Award which has a hugely positive impact on those young people that take part.

'Susanna deserves great credit for completing this expedition which requires teamwork, technical capability and resilience – all qualities that we look for in our staff.'

The full team from RSM who completed the expedition were Susanna Qureshi, Alex Narang, Megan Gibson, Jennifer Martin and Jamie Whiteford.

On completion of the programme, all participants will be invited to a ceremony at St James' Palace in London to receive their award from a member of the royal household.

TV presenter and beloved Brummie, Alison Hammond today made an appearance at the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham, to meet shoppers and show her support for local businesses in the area.

In a live Q&A, Alison discussed the many benefits of shopping local and talked about what residents can do to help support local trade, in addition to championing her own favourite independent businesses in the area.

The appearance was part of a pop-up event by, which is running at the Bullring until this evening and marks the sixth stop on a nation-wide tour to encourage the British public to discover and support the great local businesses in their area.

A television presenter and showbiz reporter, Alison Hammond is one of Birmingham’s many famous exports. Having risen to fame in the third series of Big Brother back in 2002, Alison is now one of daytime TV’s most recognisable faces, also appearing on the likes of Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity…Get me Out of Here!

Alison said: “One of the things I love the most about Birmingham is how you can discover something new around every corner. There’s such rich variety on offer from the businesses here, I love that we’re shining a spotlight on them with this event. I’m always excited to chat with my fellow Brummies, and loved speaking to them today. Hopefully I’ve helped them to find some of the hidden gems in the city, that they might be missing out on!”

The pop-up stand also features the ‘Just Yell’ booth, where shoppers are invited to take part in an exciting competition to see who can yell the loudest. With the chance to win an Amazon Echo worth £89.99. Shoppers can also get information on a prize draw for the chance to win a range of fun experiences designed to make you Yell, plus a grand prize of £10,000. also looked into the consumer behaviour of those who live in Birmingham. The findings revealed that residents of Birmingham are actually the most likely in the whole of the UK to search online for a window cleaner. Suggesting that Birmingham might have the cleanest windows in the whole of the UK, Brummies were found to be 3 times more likely than residents of any other area of the UK to search online for the service.

Companies wanting to explore export opportunities in Germany and Austria can learn how best to conduct business in these markets at a culture masterclass.

Germany is the strongest economy in Europe and one the UK’s main export and import markets, while neighbouring Austria is one of Europe’s wealthiest nations and has a stable economy based on industries including iron and steel, chemicals and transport equipment.

To help companies in the West Midlands region break into those markets, the ERDF SME International Growth Project has organised a half-day workshop on Tuesday, July 24, to enable businesses to learn how best to succeed business in the two countries.

The session will be delivered by specialist culture and communication adviser Gerti Willis.

She said: “Germans are demanding customers and like detailed product information, they are seldom impressed by clever slogans, so getting your export strategy right from the start is crucial.”

The masterclass aims to help businesses improve communications by advising on how to avoid potentially embarrassing miscommunications that could set back relationships, and giving an insight into similarities and differences of German and Austrian cultural attitudes and values.

It will also cover: business and economic environments; negotiation styles; market entry; and e-commerce.

The masterclass is open to any SME in the West Midlands region, which comprises the counties of West Midlands, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

ERA, the UK’s leading home security specialist, has implemented a new helpdesk team offering end-user support for its fast-growing smartware security product portfolio.

The four-strong team offers expert help and guidance for home owners, trade and local authorities from ERA’s head office at the i54 Business Park in Wolverhampton.

Tania Tams, Head of Marketing, said: “Our smartware security range is developing a pace and due to the nature of the products the time has come to provide an on-site, dedicated aftercare team for customers. The new team provides an extension to our existing ERA Expert Helpdesk team who offer support on our more traditional product range.

“In addition to supporting customers, we hope that this latest move will also provide peace of mind for tradesmen too, giving them a clear point of contact to refer their customers to for aftercare if they have any questions post-fitting.”

The Helpdesk team, who are all from the Wolverhampton area,  is lead by Customer Support Manager, Liam Moses, who has a strong background in digital sales and customer service.

Liam said: “We offer a personal service where all our customers are guaranteed a ‘solve’ or ‘resolve’ outcome for their query. If we can’t solve their query on the spot, they can rest assured that we will go away and resolve it, usually, within 24hrs. We are currently running at a 98% solve rate at point of contact with the customer, with the remaining queries requiring additional input from other areas of our business. We also offer live chat web-support and deal with queries regarding ebay and Amazon purchases too.”

The Smartware Helpdesk Team receives a wide range of queries from customers who might not feel as comfortable with technology including; whether a product is suitable for use in different areas of the home, selecting the best product to suit customer needs, how to get a replacement remote or key and how to return or exchange an item.

Supporting the Customer Support Manager are three Customer Support Advisors. Phil Robinson is a self-professed tech geek who has 10 years’ experience in electrical retail customer service roles. For Phil, the most rewarding part of the role is dealing with flustered customers who are trying to explain a problem with an alarm sounding in the background. He said: “Our job is to take the pressure off the customer, calm the situation and provide the solution.”

Figuring out how things work, taking them apart and rebuilding them has always been of interest to Customer Support Advisor, Matthew Bird. With a retail background in gaming, computers and electronics, Matthew is enjoying his new challenge at ERA. He said: “As well as homeowners and trade customers, we offer support to local authorities that provide alarm schemes for the elderly and more vulnerable. We receive regular calls from these residents with a range of queries from simple questions to more complex issues. I’m enjoying the diversity of the role and it’s great to be working with Phil again who I worked alongside in a previous role at an electronics retailer.”

The third Customer Service Advisor is Kaush Patel who has an IT background and extensive experience in call centres. Kaushik said: “I love technology and I’m enjoying learning more about advances in smartware security products. Having worked in large call centres for 15 years it’s great to be part of a much smaller team that can provide a more personal approach to customers queries. We build a rapport with our customers and we genuinely want to help them. We provide help for the life of the product, way after the guarantee has expired, and it’s great to get calls from customers who are still using an alarm they bought 20 years ago that’s still going strong and simply want buy another one for a relative!”

Infrastructure development and the upskilling of workers must become a top priority for the Government after the UK suffered another sluggish period of GDP growth, business leaders said today.

According to figures released today, UK gross domestic product increased by 0.2 per cent in quarter two (March to May) – a slight increase of 0.1 per cent on the first quarter.

The Office for National Statistics said performance picked up slightly in May following a slowdown in the three months to April, caused by disappointing output levels in construction.

The production and construction sectors both made negative contributions to GDP, while 0.4 per cent growth in the services industries signalled the biggest upward contribution.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner (pictured) said: “It seems to have become the new norm to accept modest economic growth as a given in the current political climate.

“Whilst the service sector received a welcome boost from a bout of sunny weather and the royal wedding, we can’t ignore the continued disappointing levels of output we are witnessing in the construction and manufacturing industries.

“The likelihood of a summer rate rise remains unclear, particularly if the feel good factor from the World Cup translates into higher spending which could tip the balance amongst the MPC – especially if this outweighs Brexit related trading concerns.

“Nevertheless, relying on the success of the England football team to maintain demand remains a risky proposition and surely today’s results once again demonstrate the need for policy makers to deliver an effective plan which puts infrastructure development and upskilling the workforce as the number one priority for the country.

“Locally, the data from our latest Quarterly Business Report revealed similar trends with service sector demand remaining strong and we saw a recovery for manufacturers in the region from the worryingly low output we saw at the start of the year.

“I would urge local businesses to come along to our upcoming launch event in which we will discuss these results and the wider economic trends which are affecting businesses in the region.”

The Quarterly Business Report launch event will take place at Birmingham City University’s Curzon Building on 18 July.

Business property is seen as an easy tax target and an increasingly easy source of government revenue at ever growing levels according to a new report from ICAEW.  It has called for business rates to be urgently reviewed. The existence of UK high streets is in question from a tax that fails to scale with ability to pay.

John Boulton, ICAEW Manager of Technical Strategy, comments: “British businesses face the highest property taxes in the OECD, resulting in the last ten years showing receipts rise from £21bn to £29bn. This outstrips the growth of both the Retail Price Index and the GDP. Secondly, no consideration is currently given to profitability when calculating business rates. A drop in sales is not directly reflected in a company’s rates, leaving it vulnerable to failure in a downturn.”

The report looks at four options available to government:

·         to maintain business rates with piecemeal changes;

·         demolish them altogether, raising lost tax revenues via alternative methods such as increased corporation tax;

·         rebuild a new property tax with simplified assessments spreading the burden more equitably, such as basing levies on land rather than rateable value;

·         refurbish the tax, reforming particularly problematic elements such as the innovation-deterring rate rise brought about by investments in improved machinery incorporated into a property, or more frequent revaluations of rateable costs.

Many problems exist with the current system due to its complexity. Rates are hard to calculate as valuations must factor in many variables that complicate the system. That is another incremental cost on business. Businesses must also shoulder the costs of challenging and appealing rates bills.

Some changes have taken place, such as the 2016 Budget reforms which aimed to bring relief for small businesses. None of these measures however address the complexity or inequality of the burden, in particular when relating it to the challenge of bricks and mortar retailers viably competing with their online counterparts.

John Boulton concludes: “The digital economy has, more than any other aspect, highlighted the need for change, with the growing disparity of tax treatment between digital businesses and those providing employment in our high street stores. Governments are pushing for new ‘online taxes’ to try and balance the tax system but this will introduce further complexity and not much help to retailers in the short-term.”

There is a 1 in 350 chance of having identical twins, so the chances of two pairs of identical like-minded twenty-something twins setting up similar businesses are next to nothing. Well Joyce and Raissa from Double Dutch and Ben and Dan from Cranes have done just that.

Double Dutch have produced a delectable range of premium tonic which can be paired with a selection of spirits or enjoyed on their own. From their humble beginnings three years ago to now being featured in over 22 countries globally, listed in key off trade & on trade markets plus they recently took home both first & fourth place in the 2018 CLASS Bartenders awards.

Also having a Dutch background, the Cranes Drinks twins have produced a range of alcoholic drinks made uniquely from Cranberries. Derived from an understanding that many university students want to enjoy a drink, however, that they also wanted to be health-conscious with their choices. Dan stumbled across cranberries whilst at University of Leeds and Ben enjoyed the abundance of cider in the west country while being at Exeter University. Inspired by their surroundings, they created the first cranberry cider. The Cranes Drinks range is all cranberry based, including their versatile cranberry and blood orange liqueur, ideal for making cocktails.

Both being innovators in their fields, the two twins have collaborated to create the 'Twinning It' cocktail, the perfect cocktail to enjoy across the summer months.

  • 25 ml Cranes Liqueur
  • 5 ml Lime juice
  • 25 ml Gin
  • 150ml Double Dutch Cranberry tonic water

Ten engineering and automotive supply chain businesses from across the West Midlands region are on track to win tens of thousands of pounds of new business after taking part in a trade mission to Le Mans, France.

The companies visited the region two weeks ago ahead of the famous 24-hour endurance race to meet prospective customers.

Organised and funded by the SME International Growth Project, a business internationalisation programme co-finance by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, the mission saw the business leaders spend two days in specially organised meetings.

They also met Matthew Lodge, the British Ambassador to UNESCO, regional and local authorities, and the Chamber of Commerce for the Pays de la Loire region.

Andy Smith, international relations manager for the project, said all the companies are now actively pursuing leads that were generated during the mission, with 70% hopeful of new business – two of which should be worth about £80,000.

“There are clear economic synergies between the West Midlands and Pays de la Loire,” he said.

“Both regions are strong in automotive, aerospace and transport technologies and the companies had the chance to meet some big players from the sector, such as the PSA Group and Renault as well as the local automotive innovation cluster lead.”

Steve Fox, business development manager of Premier Group – the Birmingham-based, world leader in bespoke, low volume manufacturing of assemblies, prototypes and panels, and the largest company on the mission – said he came away from the trade mission optimistic.

“By the end, we had gained very strong leads with several potential new customers, and a stronger understanding of manufacturing in the region,” he said.

Rollo Rigby, of the Severn Partnership, the Telford-based onsite digital survey company, added that he had made a number of good contacts and was to follow one very promising business opportunity.

All ten firms have already signalled their desire to meet Pays de la Loire firms and representatives when they make a return visit to the Midlands in November.

Businesses across Greater Birmingham have been “remarkably robust” to fight off the impact of global political and economic uncertainty, a new quarterly survey reveals.

The survey by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) for the second quarter of 2018 shows a welcome upturn across the board in the fortunes of businesses in the region.

This is coupled with a rise in recruitment levels for firms in both the manufacturing and service sectors and high profitability and turnover predictions marked confidence

at its highest level since the summer of 2016.

And despite businesses being under pressure to raise prices, optimism remains high especially for the next 12 months.

Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of the GBCC, said: “The Q2 Quarterly Business Report reveals an underlying confidence among firms across the region.

“Not only did we see a rise in domestic and international output, but we also saw an increase in hiring along with greater levels of investment in machinery and training.

“This level of remarkably robust optimism was perhaps best reflected in highly encouraging profitability and turnover projections for this quarter.

“Nevertheless, it was noticeable that concerns over business rates had become more apparent for local companies in the last three months along with difficulties in accessing low skilled workers.”

Mr Faulkner added that heading into the second half of the year, “it is clear that geo-political uncertainty continues to cloud the economic landscape across the globe”.

He added: “The deterioration of trade relations between the USA and China coupled with the American imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU is undoubtedly creating challenging trading conditions for businesses across the country. In particular with Brexit  now less than 12 months away.”

On the domestic front a balance of 45 per cent recorded an increase in their domestic bookings, slightly down from the 46 per cent in the previous quarter.

However, the percentage of firms reporting a decrease in their UK output fell from 14 per cent in Q1 to 12 per cent in Q2, which lead to a minor uplift of the overall balance score.

The manufacturing balance score went up by 10 points to 58, having been anchored in negative territory at 48 in Q1. The key driver behind the uplift was that 38 per cent of manufacturers reported an increase in their advanced UK orders.

Mr Faulkner added: “It is hard to downplay the fact that the UK suffered its weakest period of GDP growth in five years in Q1 and clearly the Government needs to be bold in stimulating growth – notably by investing in first-class infrastructure projects and upskilling our workforce in a bid to unlock future prosperity across the region.”

The export demand balance went up by one point – ending a six-month period of stability despite a greater number of firms in both sectors revealing a drop in their export output over the past three months.

Export forecasts remain steady, with combined projections for advanced international orders in the two sectors staying at 63 for the second consecutive quarter.

Thirty-four per cent of businesses in both sectors added to their workforce, the largest percentage registered since the end of 2016.

Business confidence was encouragingly high with 30 per cent of companies increasing their investment plans for capital expenditure over the last three months (up from 22 per cent in Q1),

Julian Beer, deputy vice-chancellor at Birmingham City University, who sponsor the report, commented: “The survey indicated increased demand from both domestic and foreign markets in Q2 of 2018, feeding into stronger cash flow, more positive future sentiments and increased investment plans.

“Encouragingly, employment demand also remained robust, and firms experienced fewer difficulties with recruitment. There was a more mixed picture with inflation expectations, however, with services seeing a fall in expectations, but inflationary pressures remaining more elevated for manufacturers, stemming from the increase in raw material costs.

“The largest external factor of concern was competition, whilst business rates were also increasingly raised as a point of issue for responding businesses.”

An expanding Birmingham accountancy firm is strengthening its service with a prestigious new city centre office.

Makes Sense Accountants is currently based in Perry Barr and has added to its premises to welcome clients for meetings as well as offering a range of new benefits.

Managing partner Tim Hammond said: “Makes Sense is a growing accounting practice and with more clients in Birmingham city centre, it made real sense to open an office there.”

The five-strong company has opened its new branch in Grosvenor House, St Paul’s Square.

Tim added: “Grosvenor House is a lovely place where I have already welcomed an opportunity to have meetings as well as having marketing photo shoots with my team.

“I am always looking to expand the services we offer to my clients through strategic partnerships. The partnership with Grosvenor House means we can now offer our clients city centre address, serviced offices, telephone answering service, meeting room hire to name a few.”

Hannah Campbell, director of the Grosvenor House Business Centre, said: “We are delighted to have Makes Sense on board and this is an excellent collaboration for us.

“We absolutely pride ourselves on the convenience of our location and excellence of our service for professional support companies so it’s wonderful when clients such as Makes Sense put their faith in us.

”It’s great to see more and more local businesses using all of our offerings here at Grosvenor House.  Makes Sense has found our prime location address, office space and conference suites, an integral part of their expansion, and it’s so convenient to have all of these services under one roof‘.

Makes Sense Accountants is holding a monthly drop in Clinic on the last Friday in the month 11am – 3pm.

This will be an opportunity to meet the team to ask any questions, tour Grosvenor House and enjoy refreshments.  There will also be a chance to donate to the Buddy Bag Foundation, a charity which helps children fleeing domestic violence, and supported by Makes Sense Accountants.

A week of webinars and online export advice sessions are taking place next month (July) to help businesses across the Midlands that want to start or expand overseas trading.

Delivered by the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Midlands Engine and the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce’s ERDF SME International Growth Project, Export Web Week (July 16-20) offers busy companies the chance to learn about exporting for the first time, build on existing export successes and discover new growth opportunities.

Businesses will be able to take part in Twitter chats and webinars, as well as gain access to export experts from DIT’s global network of British Embassies and overseas delivery partners, with whom they can identify and discuss opportunities from a wide range of countries, from the comfort of their own desk.

Ian Harrison, head of exports in the Midlands at Department for International Trade, said with 25 separate events – most of which are just one hour long – taking place across the five days, there are many chances for ambitious companies to get involved.

“As an organisation dedicated to helping businesses export, we organise dozens of events every year that provide valuable information and support. Our role is about actively engaging businesses, talking to them and introducing them to their likeminded counterparts, but we are aware that it can be difficult to commit to half a day or a day out of the office,” he said.

“For that reason, we’ve organised a series of online events that people can take part in, which will allow them to gain maximum benefit while taking less than an hour out of their working day. We think that this is an innovative approach that will be welcomed by businesses.

“There are webinars on myriad topics – from finance to finding new markets – as well as the chance to speak to trade advisers about the international support we can offer. There’s something for everyone.”

A new campaign has been launched to challenge businesses to reduce their paper usage, following recent research which found that a third of workers in the West Midlands admit to printing out unnecessary paper documents every single day.

In a survey of 1,000 employees, conducted by award-winning mobile data capture solution WorkMobile, 39% of businesses have not yet implemented a paper-less policy to try and reduce paper usage. And such a heavy reliance is having a detrimental effect not only on business costs but also on the environment.

Responding to the findings of The Death of The Paper Trail report, WorkMobile is launching a Paperless Challenge campaign to invite businesses in the worst performing sectors – construction, utilities and education – to do away with day-to-day printing, and instead, turn to digital solutions.

The challenge asks participants to undertake a one-month stint of being completely paper-free, with the aim of illustrating just how many efficiencies can be made through replacing paper in the workplace with digital versions.

To aid the process, WorkMobile is offering £500 worth of digital data capture products, along with £500 of expert consultancy to the businesses that agree to take part.

Colin Yates, chief support officer of WorkMobile, said: “It’s shocking to see just how much paper waste some businesses in the West Midlands are producing on a daily basis. Although some may see the transition to becoming paper-free as a giant task, our aim is to take the stress out of the process, providing a solution that helps companies save money, safeguard their assets and communicate effectively – all while reducing their ecological impact.

“We believe our Paperless Challenge will illustrate the many benefits of a paper-free office to those that will see the greatest impact.”