Southend Business Hub
Welcome to our hub for Southend businesses. On these pages you will find Southend business news, investment opportunities, useful links, inspiration, events and special offers. If you would like to promote your business, take a look at our great value Business Booster package.
Small Business Saturday success
December 21, 2017
Southend businesses celebrated Small Business Saturday in style again this year with a range of promotions throughout the Borough.
Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.
Across the UK, Small Business Saturday, held on 2 December 2017, was the most successful campaign yet with an estimated £748 million spent on the day. The campaign was publically supported by the Prime Minister, the Mayor or London and a range of celebrities including fashion designer Alexa Chung and actress Billie Piper.
In total, 50 businesses from Southend-on-Sea registered with the national campaign which entered them into a local competition. Spa Renaissance, 615 – 617 Southchurch Road was the winner of the Southend Small Business for 2017, with manager Anna Freeman winning two tickets for afternoon tea at the Gleneagles Guest House.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said: “Small Business Saturday is a day that we put in our calendars at the start of the year, as we look to celebrate local businesses, and the hard-work and dedication they put in each day of the year.
“It is not easy to compete with the big name brands, especially with an increase in online shopping, so being able to shine a light on these local businesses is always a pleasure.
“Small Business Saturday is just the start, we urge residents and visitors alike to think local when planning a trip to the shops, and help build a local sustainable economy.
Business owners needed to help shape careers programme
December 1, 2017
Southend Council is calling for local business volunteers to become Enterprise Advisors as part of a national project to inspire and prepare young people for the world of employment.
The Careers and Enterprise Company created the Enterprise Advisor Network to connect schools and colleges with businesses and career providers to create employer engagement programmes for students. It has been tailored locally to meet the need of Southend’s young people, businesses and schools.
The network is based on evidence that a young person who meets with an employer four or more times is 86% less likely to be unemployed or not in education or training, and can earn up to 18% more during their career.
At the moment only 40% of schools offer young people this type of experience, and unemployment among young people is three times higher than overall unemployment.
Local businesses and employers are needed to help close this gap by bringing employers, schools and colleges together to prepare effective careers development programmes. This will give employers the opportunity to support the development of the future workforce and young people can take part in programmes and activities that will prepare them for the world of employment.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local employers and career providers to share their knowledge and skills with staff in schools and colleges.
“Creating career development programmes that are based on years of experience and focused to meet the needs of both students and employers will provide great benefits to both sides.
“I hope many of our local businesses and workforce will become Enterprise Advisors and share their expertise with local schools and colleges, to prepare our young people for the world of work.”
One Enterprise Advisor volunteer Vanissa Amliwana, Founder & Managing Director of Career SOS, working with Chase High School said: “I am a passionate careers champion, keen to raise aspiration and ensure that opportunities in education, learning and work are accessible to all. It is a privilege to be an Enterprise Adviser and be able to support the next generation to achieve their full potential, as well as give something back to my own local community."
To find out more about becoming part of the Enterprise Advisors Network please visit www.southend.gov.uk/Enterprise or email: email@example.com.
Details of the next Southend Business Briefing
November 7, 2017
The next Southend Business Briefing will take place at the Holiday Inn, Southend Airport from 8am - 10am on Thursday 16th November.
This will be the final briefing of the year, and features an extensive range of quality, private sector speakers:
Networking starts from 7:30am – 8:30am and a range of professionals will be available to talk to businesses, including: The Chamber of Commerce, Trading Standards, The Best Business Growth Hub, City Fibre, Southend Energy team, South Essex College to discuss Apprenticeships, NWES and The Hive.Please book your place at this event by clicking on the link:
New skills strategy for Southend
September 14, 2017
Southend Council, in conjunction with some of its key partners, is developing a new Skills and Labour Market Strategy for Southend.
The strategy is being produced as part of a wider plan to expand Southend as an excellent place to live, work and visit, and will be discussed by the council’s cabinet next week (agenda item 14, Tuesday 19 September).
As well as the skills strategy, there are also digital, economic growth and tourism plans being progressed, all dedicated to the continued development of the Borough over the next ten years.
The next step will be a consultation process, due to start in October, with a wider group of key partners and stakeholders. This will ensure that the final skills strategy is fully representative of everyone involved.
Work to inform the consultation and strategy has already started, with several early workshops and interviews having taken place involving a range of partners from the education and business sectors. The final strategy is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy said: “The new skills strategy recognises the huge number of changes that have happened to the economy during the last ten years.
“We need to ensure that, right across the Borough, we have a system in place that raises both ambition and skill levels so that our local businesses can access these skills to compete successfully in a global economy."
August issue of Southend Business Partnership newsletter
August 16, 2017
The August issue of the Southend Business Partnership can be viewed here.
Gigabit Southend ‘goes live’ with first connections to full-fibre network
July 28, 2017
Stakeholders and business representatives across Southend gathered to celebrate the much anticipated ‘lighting up’ of the town’s new full-fibre network.
Local businesses and public bodies waved a final goodbye to buffering this month after alternative infrastructure provider, CityFibre officially activated Southend-on-Sea’s Gigabit City network, just three months after announcing the town’s full-fibre transformation.
In this short time, the network has extended from 50km to 63km, bringing a further 100 businesses within reach of the next-generation infrastructure, which is capable of consistently delivering the fastest broadband speeds in the world, while driving efficiency and underpinning innovations such as smart city technology and e-learning.
Public sector sites in Southend will also see a step change in bandwidth delivery to help deliver high quality services as 100 sites join the network. These include a number of primary and secondary schools, leisure, community and social care buildings as well as sheltered housing sites. A further 40 traffic/CCT sites are to be added over the coming months.
Councillor Trevor Byford, Executive Councillor for Technology at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “Digitally connecting people and services together is at the heart of what any 21st Century Council should be doing. Implementing an ultrafast fibre-to-the-premise infrastructure across Southend-on-Sea is an important foundation for delivering our ambitious digital strategy and smart city aspirations.
“Becoming a Gigabit City will benefit the whole of Southend-on-Sea including public sector, private businesses and the education sector enabling transformational economic growth and innovation as well as enjoying next generation connectivity.”
The first businesses signed up for connections before the network went live to drive productivity and competitiveness as their operations move increasingly online. Amongst the first of Southend’s Gigabit Businesses are the Focal Point Gallery, Ventrica and Jota Aviation.
Speaking of their move to full-fibre connectivity, Joe Hill, director at the Focal Point Gallery, said: “As a major commissioner of digital artwork from international artists, it is essential that the gallery can promote the best technologies available in Southend. This is why we are delighted to be at the forefront of the technology revolution with Onecom’s ultrafast connection, enabled by CityFibre’s Gigabit City infrastructure.”
CityFibre and ISP Onecom celebrated ‘lighting up’ the town at a recent event hosted at the Hive Enterprise Centre, giving Southend businesses and community stakeholders the opportunity to learn about the Gigabit City movement and how it will benefit the area.
Speaking at the event, Nick Gray, City Development Manager at CityFibre said: “Now that the network is live we look forward to welcoming more business users to the network as they position themselves for future growth, while creating an attractive environment for new tech talent, start-ups and investment.
“We also look forward to connecting even more Borough Council sites to the network including libraries, leisure centers, museums, hospitals and other community facilities. This will not only support the smooth and efficient running of these services, it will lay the foundations for future developments such as HD CCTV, traffic management systems and public WiFi.
“The benefits of full-fibre technology are well documented and are now being enjoyed more widely as the Gigabit City movement spreads across the UK. As an early adopter, Southend is destined to thrive!”
James Bannister, Solution Director at Onecom added: “Southend has carved out a reputation as tourism hot spot and is renowned for its aviation and medical tech sector. We look forward to working with businesses across the town to provide them with affordable, ultrafast connections and unified communication solutions that will enable them to thrive and position themselves for continued success in the digital age.”
To find out more about Gigabit Southend visit: www.cityfibre.com/gigabit-cities/southend-on-sea/
Business briefing on the Pier
April 26, 2017
The second Southend Business Partnership briefing of the year will take place on Thursday 15th June.
The event will be held from 8.30-10am at The Royal Pavilion at the end of Southend Pier, giving a unique view of the town from the Thames Estuary.
The Business Briefing will begin at 8.30am, with registration taking place from 7.20am in the Visitor Information Centre and Pier trains departing every half hour from 7.30am. The event will finish at 10am with trains departing from the Royal Pavilion at quarter past and quarter to the hour. Alternatively, you could take in the scenery and enjoy a peaceful walk down Southend's most iconic landmark.
The event will be chaired and facilitated by Murray Foster, Chairman of Southend Business Partnership. It will consist of a presentation by Harry Bunbury from Henry Boot Developments, who will talk about the exciting new development at Southend Airport Business Park.
This will be followed by Scott Dolling, Director of Culture, Tourism and Property at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, who will be presenting on the new Thames Estuary Museum, giving updates on how the exciting new project has been developing.
There will also be the opportunity for you to pose your questions to a panel of council representatives and local business owners.
For more information about the Pier and Pier train, please go to the Visit Southend website. There is on-street pay and display parking available near the Visitor Information Centre on Western Esplanade (SS1 1EE).
A good turnout is expected for this event, with restricted places available, so make sure you book your place by firstname.lastname@example.org to avoid disappointment. If you book and are unable to attend, please contact the Economy and Tourism team as soon as possible.
Tourism competition at University of Essex
April 21, 2017
Essex Business School at the University of Essex is celebrating the launch of its BSc Tourism Management degree (at the Southend Campus) with an exciting competition for 16 to 25 year olds, offering a prize package of summer days out worth up to £500.
Budding photographers, and fans of the fantastic tourist attractions around the county, are invited to post a pic of their favourite Essex place to visit on Instagram using the hashtag #essexyouthtourism and tagging @essexebs. Entrants will need to include a caption naming the attraction, explaining why it’s their favourite Essex day out.
The most photographed attraction will be crowned Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction 2017. The best image will win the photographer a top selection of tickets for them and a friend, including two Adventure Island theme park annual passes and London Pass tickets.
Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), will be judging the competition. He said:
“I am looking forward to seeing the entries and to find out what inspires young people in Essex. There are more than 40 million visitors a year to the county, spending almost £3 billion and providing employment to about eight per cent of the population. It makes Essex a fantastic, and highly relevant, place to study for a degree in Tourism Management.”
Photographers have until 18 May to enter.
For more details on the competition and to find out more about the Tourism Management degree visit www.essex.ac.uk/see/tourism-terms
Southend company eyes £6.5m European expansion
March 24, 2017
A £6.5 million funding package from HSBC has allowed Batra Group to acquire brand licences for specialist sports footwear brands Hi-Tec and Magnum through a newly formed Southend-based company, Hi-Tec Europe.
Hi-Tec Europe Limited is a specialist footwear manufacturer that sells outdoor and sports footwear, including waterproof walking boots, trainers, court shoes, work wear shoes and safety boots with brands including Hi-Tec and Magnum.
Batra Group has also agreed to establish Global design and development centres in London and Southend on Sea for apparel and accessory categories as part of this agreement.
Rudy Rudran, Director of Hi-Tec Europe Limited, said: “We believe this deal will be strongly advantageous for our group. Not only are we now able to manufacture and sell an expanded range of footwear across Europe, we are also able to make the most of the Batra Group’s relations with key retail groups. HSBC’s support has been crucial in helping our business move forward and none of this would have been possible without the bank’s professional guidance.”
Batra Group has also recently signed a license for Sergio Tacchini brand that grants limited exclusive rights to manufacture and supply its products to key retail groups in the UK and Ireland, including JD Sports.
New issue of business partnership newsletter
March 14, 2017
The March issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be downloaded as a PDF here.
Get update on digital future at business briefing
February 17, 2017
Southend Council is inviting local businesses to the first Business Briefing of 2017, taking place at South Essex College on Wednesday 8th March from 7:30am – 10:00am.
The event will focus on the future use of digital technology in the Borough, including an update on the exciting dark fibre 50km highway currently being developed to provide ultra-fast network connectivity to Southend-on-Sea.
Speakers on the day include Rob Tinlin, Chief Executive of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, who will provide a comprehensive update on the latest developments in and around the Borough and private sector speakers from CityFibre and OneCom.
Following updates on the Digital Future of Southend-on-Sea all speakers will be hosting a Q&A panel giving attendees the opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy said: “This is a great opportunity to see how Southend-on-Sea is using new technology to maximise potential across the Borough. The development being led by City Fibre and One Com will help create new investment, increase opportunities for business and provide a real boost to the local economy by providing ultra-fast network connectivity. Attend this event to find out much more and how it can improve your business.”
This is a very popular event and with a limited number of places available booking is essential. To attend this free Business Briefing book your place now via the Economic Development Team.
Registration begins at 07.30am to provide attendees with an opportunity to visit the Digital Technology market place stalls and network before the Briefing starts at 8.30am.
Latest issue of Southend Business Partnership newsletter
December 20, 2016
The December issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be downloaded here.
Southend Airport is a big hit with business travellers
December 14, 2016
The newest competitor in London’s business aviation market has demonstrated it is already a major player by posting a 25% year on year increase in traffic.
New figures confirm that London Southend Airport is increasingly the airport of choice for business jet travellers.
London Southend Airport’s Head of Business Aviation, Hannah Lo Bao, said: “We offer private jet passengers a number of unique advantages that other London airports cannot compete with and that is why ever more people are choosing us.”
With just a 55-minute car journey from the City to the airport, London Southend is one of the most convenient business jet centres for the capital. On arrival vehicles are able to directly access the ramp, meaning an average time of car to airborne of just 5 minutes.
London Southend is open 24/7, with no slot restrictions. Its short aircraft taxi times and a position outside the congested London airspace mean valuable savings in time and money.
The airport also has some of the most competitive landing, parking and handling prices in the London area.
Hannah added “London Southend Airport is the smart and time efficient choice for business aviation and we have capacity available. So if you have not already experienced the best small airport in Britain, why not give us a try?”
Local business secures grant funding
December 9, 2016
A local business that specialises in the manufacturing and repair of high quality surgical instruments has received a grant from LoCASE (Low Carbon Across the South East), a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, set up to help businesses save costs through energy efficiency.
Surgical Holdings, based on the Temple Farm Industrial Estate, bid for a grant to help them develop a repairs workshop which has recently been completed.
A grant of £9,587.36 was offered after the company demonstrated how they could reach a new business market, reduce carbon emissions and also save approximately £70,000 a year in costs by sourcing repairs outside of the region.
Daniel Coole, Managing Director of Surgical Holdings says: “The new workshop enables our clients to not only save money, but also reduce their supply chain manufacturing carbon footprint when compared to existing wasteful practices.
“We approached LoCASE for funding towards the costs of adapting and fitting out a purpose built facility to realise these ambitions and were delighted to be successful in our bid.”
Ann Holland, Executive Cllr for Enterprise, Tourism and the Economy, says: “This is a great project that will initially create two new jobs and open up additional revenue streams that can be re-invested back into their business. I am very pleased that a local company has benefited from a LoCASE grant and hope this inspires other Southend-on-Sea businesses to see what is on offer.”
Surgical Holdings were formed in 1988 and are based in Southend-on-Sea. They work across both the private and public sectors and wanted to embark on a project which would enable them to develop their market presence, specifically in rigid endoscopy service and repairs.
The business was offered a grant of £9,587.36 which is 40% of the total project cost of an estimated £23,968.40 (excl VAT).
The Low Carbon Across the South East Programme (LoCase) is an EU funded project set up to help businesses tackle and adapt to climate change. For more information, please visit the LoCase website
LoCase has been funded by the ERDF 2014-2020 and is a partnership between Kent County Council, East Sussex County Council, Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Thurrock Borough Council and the University of Brighton.
Southend business students on a high
November 14, 2016
Enterprising Southend undergraduates have won £3,000 from the University of Essex for their imaginative business idea, which is already making a profit.
The team, called StiltsPro, took first prize in the University’s annual Big Pitch competition looking for the best business idea.
StiltsPro is a stilt-walking theatre company made up of a core team of eight students at the East 15 Acting School in Southend. Away from their studies, they can be hired to stage unusual promotional activities, educational and theatrical roles with the goal to have the funds to take theatre where it is needed most and have already performed at community venues around the borough.
Since attending a two-day Essex Startups Bootcamp in June the team, led by Piotr Pawarski, has developed their enterprising business plan even further, turning a profit and picking up this top prize in the process.
Piotr started stiltwalking at the age of 15 in Poland and came to East 15 last September to start his degree in World Performance. His took his business idea to the University’s Enterprise Officer Christine Michaelis who encouraged and supported his venture.
“StiltsPro offers several different services, “ explained Piotr. “Our most profitable is providing entertainment at events, from birthday parties to film previews. We also teach stiltwalking and plan to be the first company to come up with a well-rounded, certified system of teaching stilt-walking for the theatre. We can also be hired for productions where stilt-walking is required.
“We’ve had tremendous help from the University of Essex and plan to use this money to buy equipment, such as powerful battery operated lights, which can be used for our charitable performances, where there is no electricity, as well as for professional shows.”
The photograph shows Piotr and his wife Katarzyna, who is also a member of the team.
Press release - Secrets of the success of Britain's youngest estate agent
November 9, 2016
An Essex estate agent who believes he is the youngest in the industry has explained his success to magazine Estate Agent Today - and he has also revealed why he has chosen to create a hybrid/online agency and not a traditional one.
Fergus Harding founded Harding Estate Agents in Southend-On-Sea last year, when he was 21. In his first year he claims he has sold over £15.5m of property and won three awards including one voting his firm 'Best Estate Agent in Southend’. And within one year of trading, he is operating at a profit.
Fergus says his success started after he was turned down for a pilot training programme by EasyJet, where he worked at the time, because of a historic medical condition.
"Having gained some useful customer facing service and sales experience I decided to take my new found skills into the real estate industry. I joined a very successful local letting agency - Prime Property Management - to gain experience" he says.
Fergus then went through a recruitment agency to find a role as a sales and lettings negotiator in a small firm at Leigh-On-Sea: after 13 months he said he "increasingly believed the whole selling process could be streamlined and made much more affordable for customers. Seeing the traction of new online agents such as Purplebricks and eMoov I could see the market was shifting."
His belief was that he could offer accompanied viewings, drone photography, video tours and social media exposure in return for fees lower than those charged by traditional agencies.
"The first couple of months were tough. It took quite some time to grow a brand whilst I pounded the streets during the winter of 2015. Easter 2016 came and business started to boom" he says.
Now, 11 months into the first trading year "I have so far sold over £15.5m of both residential and commercial property across Essex and Greater London. By having a low-cost fixed fee model we have managed to successfully save over £190,000 in agency fees for our customers, each saving an average of £3,500" explains Fergus.
"Our biggest achievement is that we have done exactly what we set out to do - give our customers more for less. Our service is rated very highly and many of our new listings are through word of mouth. We were delighted when our service was mystery shopped and won two awards including Gold Winner 2016 and voted Best Estate Agent in Southend-On-Sea by The British Property Awards" he says.
"Initially the business was 100 per cent boot-strapped from my own savings but it's now self funding and has a profitable run rate. I intend on re-investing to grow the business further including potentially franchising my brand and expanding into lettings" he adds.
Broadband boost for local businesses
November 8, 2016
Over 60 local businesses in Southend have had a boost to their connectivity thanks to the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme.
Last year Southend was selected as one of 50 cities across the UK to join Phase 3 of the Super Connected Cities Programme with businesses in Southend urged to apply for grants of up to £3,000 to boost their broadband connection and reach quicker speeds.
The government made £40m available for the scheme, which aims to transform broadband, with speeds of at least 2Mbps and 95% of the UK receiving speeds of at least 24Mbps by 2017. In Southend-on-Sea, 67 local businesses have been awarded grants to help achieve new and improved broadband connection speeds.
Cllr Ann Holland Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy Said: “Southend-on-Sea has a dynamic business community and more than ever, fast and reliable broadband is a major consideration for businesses.”
“I’m thrilled at the success of the scheme and for those businesses that were able to secure funding.”
The scheme allowed businesses to apply for grants to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband. Overall local businesses have received over £45,000 worth of grants and have been able to benefit from download speeds of up to 20 times faster and upload speeds of up to 10 times faster.
Volunteers needed to make a difference to the lives of young people in Southend
November 1, 2016
Career Ready, the charity that links schools and colleges with employers to prepare young people for the world of work, needs volunteers to deliver masterclasses to young people in Southend.
Young people are leaving education unprepared for the very different world of work that awaits them, which is bad for business and society:
While evidence is clear that quality interactions with business significantly reduce a young person’s chances of being NEET (Not in Employment Education or Training) once they leave education, Southend has been identified as a ’Cold Spot’ for employer-led careers education and inspiration. Career Ready is now working in Southend and Thurrock, supporting businesses to engage with schools through a high quality, structured programme.
Maria Mehwish, a Career Ready student at Colchester Institute, said: “I’ve been to masterclasses which gave me the skills I was lacking. This whole programme had a great influence on me, on my personality and also my career. I saw myself grow into a much better person, in terms of confidence, self-esteem and communication skills.”
A masterclass typically lasts for one hour and Career Ready provides volunteers with all the materials, resources and training needed. Volunteers bring the pre-written workshop to life through their own real life experiences of work.
Want to give a little more?
Career Ready is also looking for business people to mentor students at the King Edmund School in Rochford and be their sounding board and critical friend.
Career Ready mentors meet their student once a month, after an initial briefing and group mentoring event. Mentors are offered guidance and support throughout the programme.
To find out more about delivering a masterclass or mentoring a student, contact Sarah Morton, Career Ready Southend Regional Manager on 07802 865 443, or email email@example.com
Doing good is good for business:
Small Business Saturday bus tour is coming to Leigh
October 6, 2016
Small Business Saturday UK – the annual campaign that puts small, independent businesses in communities across the country in the national spotlight – has announced that its national bus tour will stop off in Leigh-on-Sea.
The nationwide promotional bus tour aims to raise the profile of the campaign and the day itself which takes place on Saturday3rd December.
Using the theme “Small Business, Big Difference”, the A-B bus tour will begin on Monday 24th October in Aberdeen, visiting Leigh-on-Sea on Wednesday 16th November and finish up in Bournemouth on Friday 25th November.
The bus will be in Church Hill, next to St Clements Church and will play host to a numerous activities, workshops and small businesses exhibitions including Leigh-on-Sea business Chocolate Budda.
Ann Holland, Executive Cllr for the Economy, says: “We are delighted that our initiatives have been recognised nationally and that we will receive a visit from the tour bus. Leigh-on-Sea is an ideal location with the number of independent businesses in the area, with a unique opportunity for businesses there to benefit from the promotion the bus will provide.
“This will also be a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the number of independent businesses we have across the Borough and we look forward to the bus to come back in the future to other areas including Hamlet Court Road, Southchurch Road, Thorpe Bay and Shoeburyness.”
Commenting on the announcement of the bus tour, Small Business Saturday National Campaign Director, Michelle Ovens says:
“Small Business Saturday is not just a campaign to raise awareness of our diverse and innovative small business sector, but also a vehicle from which small businesses who embrace make use of the campaign can derive tangible benefit. The bus tour is a very visible way for us to meet small businesses around the UK and show them how they can become involved as well as drumming up consumer interest, support and enthusiasm. We are really looking forward to welcoming small business owners and consumers to the bus to get information and find out ways in which they can support small businesses and make the day work most effectively for companies in their own communities.”
Activities taking place in Southend-on-Sea for Small Business Saturday will be announced shortly.
Support for your business
September 23, 2016
The BEST Growth Hub provides a focal point for businesses across Essex to receive support ranging from starting a business to growth and expansion. They have Business Navigators based across the county who are able to meet and discuss the business needs and the best ways to work towards their ambitions. Business support can range from workshops, researching information, access to finance and tailored support.
Your local growth hub is BEST (Business Essex, Southend and Thurrock) and if you haven’t found out how they can support your business yet then now is a good time. Whether you have a fledgling or established business they will help you access the full range of funded services and opportunities. Working closely with national and local partners, this free and impartial service is working for businesses across the county.
The BEST website has a range of resources including event and networking information as well as an appointment booking form to meet with a navigator.
If you would like to speak with a business navigator call 01702 417765 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
FB – BEST Growth Hub
Local business leaders to meet
September 5, 2016
Business leaders will gather at London Southend Airport on Thursday 22nd September for the latest updates from the Southend Business Partnership.
Rob Tinlin, Chief Executive of the Council will be joined by Jon Horne, Managing Director of London Southend Airport and Neil Slaven, Commercial Manager for Easyjet.
Registration begins at 7.30am with the opportunity to network and find out more about funding opportunities as part of a ‘business funding marketplace’, before the briefing starts at 8.30am. There will also be a chance to question the panel, with the event ending at 10am.
To book a place, please email: email@example.com , visit: www.businessonsea.co.uk or call 01702 215022
Southend Business Partnership newsletter
August 16, 2016
The August issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter is out now. You can download a PDF here.
Leading estate agent opens new office in Southend
August 2, 2016
Stirling Ackroyd, an independent firm of chartered surveyors, commercial and residential estate agents, has opened a new office in Southend’s landmark Palace Hotel.
The London-based company becomes the first tenant to occupy one the hotel’s commercial units in Church Road.
Stirling Ackroyd’s local team will focus on both residential and commercial property within Southend and the surrounding areas.
A company spokesman said: “Due to our strong position in the London market, we have the ability to hone in on the London interests of businesses, buyers and tenants looking to move out towards Essex. As well as this, we have a vastly experienced team of staff with expert knowledge of the local and surrounding area. Many see the area as already improved but we see this as the beginning with so much more to offer and the next five years are going to be very exciting.”
Michael Naumann, Commercial Manager at Stirling Ackroyd Essex, added: “Following our recent launch in central Southend, Stirling Ackroyd Essex are excited by how much traction we have gained in such a short space of time.
“Having operated for many decades in the London residential, commercial and new homes markets, the company is delighted the new venture has been so well received with local developers, businesses and London buyers, which enables it to transfer the London approach to the vibrant market in Southend and the surrounding areas.
“The company aims to provide up to date economic market reports, which are highly valued with the current uncertainty being experienced in much of the property market.”
For more information visit http://www.stirlingackroyd.com/
Southend Business Partnership newsletter
July 19, 2016
The July issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter is out now. You can download a PDF here.
Calling all Southend creatives
June 1, 2016
Residents and businesses interested in culture and the creative industry are invited to a special networking event at the town’s business hub in June.
The Hive Business Hub, situated above the Beecroft Gallery on Victoria Avenue, will be hosting the event between 10am and 12pm on 7 June.
The networking session will include a key note speech from Ben Scarsbrook of local award-winning filming production company Blatella about how he started his business and his experience as a Southend creative. Other speakers will be announced closer to the date. Tea and cakes will be provided.
Cllr Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said: “Southend can proudly boast a rich cultural offer and a growing creative sector and as a council, we wish to nurture this sector as best we can.
“I’d encourage anyone with an interest in culture and the creative industries – whether professional or personal – to come along.”
To book up please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01702 215022.
Press release - Ventrica celebrates 'Best Contact Centre of the Year' award
May 25, 2016
One of Essex’s fastest growing businesses, outsourced contact centre Ventrica based in Southend is delighted to announce that it has won ‘Contact Centre of the Year’ (larger category) as part of the London & South East Contact Centre Awards presented at a glittering awards ceremony held at the Radisson Blu Heathrow Hotel on Friday 20th May.
Managing Director and founder of Ventrica, Dino Forte commented, “We are absolutely delighted and honoured to win this fantastic accolade. I would like to thank both our wonderful customers for giving us the chance to work with them and also our own incredible team of customer service professionals who have gone above and beyond in their passion and hard work to provide exceptional customer experiences.
Service is increasingly being seen as a huge differentiator for UK and global brands whether operating on the high street or on-line. At Ventrica we believe we are at the forefront of delivering exceptional omni-channel and multi-lingual customer experiences for some of the World’s most recognised brands whether on the phone, email or via social platforms.”
Ventrica is now one of the largest employers in Southend and one of the fastest growing businesses in Essex having experienced phenomenal growth over the last 12 months. By the end of this year it plans to extend its contact centre to 330 seats, with plans to double this to 600+ seats in 2017.
Ventrica’s contact centre was judged as having demonstrated outstanding achievement against some, or all, of these criteria:
• Consistently met or exceeded customer experience targets (i.e. Voice of Customer, customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Score etc.)
• Consistently met or exceeded performance targets (i.e. sales, service level, first time fix etc.)
• Worked alongside other back office teams to improve overall customer understanding and service performance
• Supported specific customer contact, community or industry-based programmes
• Championed the role of the contact centre within the broader organisation; and created an awareness of organisational strategies/goals within the contact centre
• Demonstrated enthusiasm, energy, inspiration and professionalism
• Helped team members grow skills, improve performance and achieve career goals
• Challenged processes and methods of working to improve contact centre performance and value
• Created a positive working environment that is pleasant to work in, supportive and high achieving
• Creatively used technology to improve efficiency and effectiveness
This is the third industry award that Ventrica has won in the space of 12 months, after receiving a Silver Award for ‘Best Outsourcing Partnership’ at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards and The Direct Commerce 2015 ‘Partnership of the Year Award for 3PL (Third Party logistics)’
For more information visit - www.ventrica.co.uk
Southend Business Partnership newsletter
April 18, 2016
The April issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be downloaded here.
Conference to support Southend's vital tourism sector
March 2, 2016
Leading voices in Southend’s tourism industry are preparing to showcase the borough's unrivalled visitor offer at a conference next week.
On 11 March, the Southend Tourism Partnership – which has members from hotels and B&Bs, attractions, events, transport, the Business Improvement District (BID) and cultural organisations – will be holding their first conference since the group launched last year.
The conference, to be held at The Forum, will coincide with English Tourism Week and celebrate the town’s Coastal Community Team’s plans for the future. It will also offer participants a unique opportunity to network with other delegates from the town’s tourism industry and tour the Focal Point Gallery. The networking session will provide a leaflet exchange to cross promote the town’s tourism assets.
Speakers from across Southend’s tourism offer will speak about what’s coming up this year, outline exciting upcoming events in the town and launch a new events guide.
Cllr Mary Betson, executive member for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, said: “Tourism is our borough’s biggest employer and supports many aspects of our town’s prosperity.
“This new partnership is helping connect interested parties for the overall benefit of the area. The conference will show a really positive example of how businesses and council operations can pull together to deliver a modern, attractive and powerful offer for today’s tourists.
“It’s clear that the expectations of tourists – both from the local area and further afield – are evolving and we’re united in our aim to encourage people to stay overnight, rather than just take a day trip, and to deliver a visitor experience that will keep visitors coming back.”
The partnership’s ambition is to attract longer staying visitors with the clear message “you can’t cover it all in one day’. The Borough boasts historic houses, such as Prittlewell Priory (pictured) and Southchurch Hall, outstanding museums and galleries, new digital attractions such as Netpark and the central seafront with Adventure Island, named the world’s fourth “Friendliest Amusement Park” at the 2015 Golden Ticket Awards.
Jacqui Dallimore, Managing Director of Roslin Beach Hotel and chair of the Southend Tourism Parnership, said: “Southend is a world-class visitor destination with excellent rail connections from London and an increasing array of connections from major European cities. As such, the town currently has enormous potential to broaden its visitor base to domestic and international visitors alike.”
“The Southend Tourism Partnership, though only recently formed, has big ambitions for the town. We believe that, by pooling our combined knowledge, expertise and budgets, we can ensure that Southend punches above its weight. This inaugural conference is an important first step for the partnership and we very much look forward to welcoming delegates on the day.”
If you have a relevant interest and would like to attend the conference email email@example.com
For further information on the Southend Tourism Partnership, please visit: http://www.visitsouthend.co.uk/Business-on-Sea-Coastal-Communities-Team.aspx
SMEs in Essex encouraged to join innovation project
February 22nd, 2016
Small and medium-sized businesses in Essex are being encouraged to sign up for a project which will help provide them with expertise and mentoring.
The Innovation 50 scheme, a partnership between Essex County Council and Anglia Ruskin University, will run for the next three years.
The project aims to identify and support the 50 most successful small and medium enterprises in the county.
Applications are now open for businesses to become part of the Innovation 50.
Benefits of the project include free business mentoring from the Essex Innovation Programme, expertise from the university, publicity and networking opportunities.
Kevin Bentley, county councillor responsible for economic growth, said: “The launch of this project will give a major boost to some of the top small businesses in Essex and will enable us to support many more across the county.
“Small businesses are absolutely vital to growing the Essex economy and I would encourage all that are eligible to apply.”
Dr Rob Willis, Anglia Ruskin University director of research, said: “We have had a successful partnership with Essex County Council for some time and we are particularly looking forward to the contribution that we as a university business school can make to enable businesses to thrive.”
January issue of Southend Business Partnership newsletter
January 14th, 2016
The January issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be viewed here.
Learn about council budget and funding opportunities
December 24, 2015
Don’t miss the special ‘New Year, New Finance’ business briefing from 8:30am on Tuesday 19th January 2016 at the Holiday Inn, Southend.
This will provide the chance for the borough’s businesses to hear more about the council’s draft 2016/17 budget, the savings required, investments planned, and how any new proposals may impact on local businesses. There will also be a funding marketplace to introduce people to potential sources of funding they may not have considered.
Guest speakers from the Council will be the Leader, Ron Woodley, Chief Executive, Rob Tinlin, and Head of Finance and Resources, Joe Chesterton.
Mary Betson, Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, said: “This briefing, organised by the Council’s Economic Development team, will give an invaluable opportunity for the local business community to discover more about what is in the planned draft budget from key senior Council officials.
“There will also be a very useful chance to learn more about other funding possibilities.”
For more details and to book your place at the event on Tuesday 19th January at the Holiday Inn, 77 Eastwoodbury Crescent, Southend SS2 6XG please call 01702 215022, email:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.businessonsea.co.uk
Registration starts from 7:30am and the briefing begins at 8:30am
December issue of Southend Business Partnership newsletter
December 18, 2015
The December issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be viewed here.
Small Business Saturday
November 27, 2015
There will be free parking and competitions for Southend businesses as part of the Small Business Saturday campaign on December 5th, 2015.
Find out how your business can get involved here.
November issue of Southend Business Partnership newsletter
November 16, 2015
The November issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be viewed here.
Special briefing on new Airport Business Park
November 6, 2015
A chief officer from top construction firm Henry Boot is giving a keynote speech to Southend Business Partnership Briefing on Thursday 19th November.
The major national company, in partnership with the Council, is developing the hi-tech Airport Business Park and a representative will address the briefing meeting from 8:30am at the Park Inn Palace Hotel, Church Road, Southend SS1 2AL.
Audience members will have the chance to find out about plans, timescales and opportunities relating to the park, as well as the broader development context in Southend.
Registration will open at 7:30am to allow ample time for networking, and the event will finish at 10:30am.
Delegates will also have the chance to put their questions to a business-led Question and Answer panel
The meeting will conclude with a seminar from 10am until 10:30am, led by the Council’s Planning Team. Team members will run through recent changes to the planning system and discuss planning issues for local businesses. This includes information about implementing CIL - the new Community Infrastructure Levy payable by developers.
All businesses in Southend, regardless of size, sector or location are invited to register to attend and places are free but must be pre-booked.
The Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Ian Gilbert said: “These popular Business Partnership Briefings are an excellent way for Southend firms to keep track of the very latest developments locally and nationally.
“This forthcoming event, which is the last in this year’s series, is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, so it is especially apt that it will showcase the ground-breaking Airport Business Park, with the help of the company Henry Boot.
“We urge business leaders to make the most of this opportunity.”
As places are limited, tickets must be booked in advance via: http://eventpilot.evolutive.co.uk/eventDetails.aspx?siteId=302&eventNo=6714
For more details, please contact Nicola Mason 01702 215368.
October issue of Southend Business Partnership newsletter
October 21, 2015
The October issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter is now available to download here.
Devolution workshop for South Essex businesses
October 19, 2015
Local businesses will get a chance to discuss devolution at an event being held in Southend this Friday, 23rd October.
Councils in Essex, Southend and Thurrock have indicated to government that they would welcome a discussion about devolution, and the role of business in the process is critical in helping to develop the proposition and in supporting its delivery.
Kate Willard, Corporate Affairs Director at Stobart Group, and chair of the South Essex Growth Partnership, will be hosting a workshop at London Southend Airport terminal building from 9am until noon to discuss the issue.
Kate said: “Government has made it clear that businesses need to fully integrated in discussions around devolution.
“This workshop is your opportunity to find out what devolution is; what processes there will be as we move towards a devolution deal for this part of the South East; and most importantly how you can influence this debate and outcome.”
The workshop will help to provide an understanding of devolution and the opportunities that it presents with examples of what it has already delivered in other parts of the country.
There will also be a chance for businesses to talk about the issues and challenges they face to ensure we fully understand the needs and opportunities South Essex has.
Glyn Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Stobart Aviation, will also be outlining plans for the airport’s future.
Places for the workshop are free and can be booked here.
Get latest Southend business news at briefing
September 14, 2015
Local businesses are invited to the next Southend Business Partnership Briefing.
The free event takes place on Thursday 24th September at the Genting Club, Western Esplanade, with registration from 7.30am and the briefing starting at 8.30am.
Rob Tinlin, Chief Executive of the Council will present the latest Council news. Matt Abott from DP World London Gateway, the UK’s newest and most advanced deep-sea port and Logistics Park, will give the keynote speech. There are also opportunities to post questions to the panel.
Businesses can book their tickets by visiting www.businesssouthend.co.uk/events or emailing Nicola Mason email@example.com.
Essex businesses invited to apply for European funding
September 13, 2015
Essex businesses are being offered a helping hand to access £380 million of European funding.
A guide to help businesses apply for European funding has been produced by Essex County Council.
The Council’s Funding and Investment (FIT) team have put the guide together to make it easier for businesses to find out how they can apply for funding from the European Commission.
Essex County Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Cllr Kevin Bentley, said: “Gaining access to European funding can often be seen as a daunting challenge and this is why many of our businesses in Essex are missing out on great funding and development opportunities.
“We want to give businesses the tools and knowledge to get a piece of the £380 million of European funding that is available until 2020.
“Our team can advise businesses on project ideas and help search for funding and connect them with UK agencies that manage the different EU programmes.
“This guidance is free and could lead to some fantastic opportunities so I would encourage businesses to get in touch with us to find out more.”
Contact the Funding and Investment Team via email atFIT@essex.gov.uk to be sent a digital copy of the guide or call 03330 138 968.
Alternatively search for GRANTnet on the Essex County Council website at www.essex.gov.uk.
Apply now for broadband boost
August 17, 2015
Businesses in Southend are being urged to apply now for grants of up to £3,000 to boost their broadband connection and reach quicker speeds whilst funding is still available.
Each voucher covers up to £3,000 of installation costs, but businesses can also apply as a group to connect bigger or more complicated premises.
Once installed, businesses pay the line rental and VAT.
Cllr Graham Longley, Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, said: “We are open for business and this funding is benefiting many small local companies that need to upgrade their technology which will improve the services they can offer and ultimately boost profits.
“The take up has already been excellent and we want to ensure that every business here is aware that they can receive these vouchers. However, this is not a limitless pot, and business should apply now before it is too late.”
Robert Moss, from Arrange My Mortgage.com benefitted from a voucher in May to purchase an ultrafast upgrade for their wireless connection. The voucher was used for the connection installation and router upgrade which has helped to increase productivity and improve upload speeds.
Robert said: “As the majority of our work is done online, we were waiting around two minutes for each file, which are often confidential and large, to be uploaded onto our servers. This amount adds up when you are uploading hundreds of documents each day and slowing down the business’s productivity.
“We had no access to cloud based storage and every piece of scanning that was being done was saved and stored locally, often involving confidential and important mortgage documentation. A small investment has had such a large impact on our business.
“We can now upload large files almost instantly and have been able to invest in cloud based software where we can securely store the documentation and then download it within an instant. This has saved on office space and allowed the business to have a solid start. We have also been able to complete backups quicker, which means we have not had to leave PC’s on overnight and therefore save on energy".
To apply, Southend businesses must enter their postcode at www.connectionvouchers.co.uk to check eligibility, choose a supplier (there are over 800 registered suppliers available) and fill in an application form or pick an off-the-shelf deal with no forms to fill in.
Charities, not for profit organisations and commercial landlords can also apply.
Businesses can also visit www.southend.gov.uk/broadbandvouchers for further information on the scheme or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Funding for the broadband vouchers programme will end on 31st March 2016 or when there is no longer any funding available.
August issue of the SBP newsletter
August 14, 2015
The August issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be downloaded here.
July issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter
July 15, 2015
The July issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter can be viewed here.
Launch event for Southend Energy and Broadband Voucher Scheme
June 25, 2015
Is your business currently paying too much for energy? Is your Broadband connection slowing down your business?
Local business owners are invited to The Hive Enterprise Centre, Victoria Avenue, SS2 6EX, on Thursday 16th July, 07:30am to 09:30am to hear more about the two new schemes that could help them. The new Southend Energy Company, as well as the Southend Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme, are operating to aid Southend companies in lowering costs and improving connectivity.
Representatives from Ovo Energy and Southend Council will be on hand to present information on the opportunities available and to give people the chance to ask questions about the schemes.
Registration and refreshments will begin at 07:30am to provide guests with an opportunity to network before the event begins. After the event there will be full guided tours offered of The Hive Southend Victoria for people to see the new enterprise centre in action.
Parking is available in the Central Library Car Park next door and over the road from the Beecroft Library on Victoria Avenue, charges may apply.
Head to the Event page to guarantee your place at the event. If you are unable to attend and you have booked a ticket, please contact the Economy and Tourism team as soon as possible.
May issue of Southend Business Partnership newsletter published
May 14, 2015
The May issue of the Southend Business Partnership is packed full of news and can be downloaded here.
Free workshops to help Southend businesses
May 1, 2015
Free business workshops have been arranged to help Southend firms grow and develop in today’s fast-changing commercial environment.
On Tuesday, May 12th, a ‘brilliant networking’ workshop is being held from 9am until 12 noon at the Tickfield Centre, Tickfield Avenue, Southend, to help businesses progress.
Then, at the same venue on Wednesday, May 20th, during Export Week, there is a workshop from 10:30am until 12:30pm about Web Optimisation for International Trade and ‘how to turn your website into a marketing machine.’
In June there will be a marketing workshop on strategy - how to develop a winning strategy for your business along with an event on stress management.
The focus for July is on ‘green’ business and also leadership and delegation. After the summer, more workshops will be held, featuring marketing, social media, recruitment, personal development, health check, business plans and much much more.
For further details of the free workshops and to book your place, please visit:www.businesssouthend.co.uk.
The Council’s Head of Economy, Regeneration & Tourism, Scott Dolling said: “We would encourage as many as possible of our local businesses to come along to some of these workshops to gain invaluable advice free.
“The events will be led by experts in their various fields, who can help businesses of all sizes make the best use of all opportunities available to help their enterprises to grow and flourish.”
April newsletter out now
April 22, 2015
The April issue of the Southend Business Partnership has just been published. You can download a PDF here.
Broadband boost for business
March 26, 2015
Businesses in Southend will soon be able to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to boost their broadband.
The news comes after the Government announced that it was extending its broadband connection voucher scheme for a further year and to include new areas including Southend.
Each voucher covers up to £3,000 of installation costs but businesses can also apply as a group to connect bigger or more complicated premises. Once installed, businesses pay the line rental and VAT.
More than 12,000 vouchers have already been issued to businesses in other cities around the UK but from 1 April 2015, small businesses in another 28 cities including Southend-on-Sea will be eligible to apply.
The Government’s Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is fantastic news for Southend-on-Sea as we know how important a fast broadband connection is for businesses across the UK. We want to make sure that small businesses have the technology they need to compete in the digital age. This scheme will help tens of thousands of small businesses around the UK and I urge all Southend businesses to apply for a voucher from April 2015 onwards.”
Applying for a broadband grant is easy - after 1 April 2015 all Southend businesses have to do is enter their postcode at www.connectionvouchers.co.uk to check eligibility, choose a supplier and fill in an application form or pick an off the shelf deal with no forms to fill in. Charities, not for profit organisations and commercial landlords can also apply.
Free websites for Southend businesses
March 18, 2015
Southend businesses can get a new website made for free until the end of March thanks to the Low Carbon Business Programme.
The Programme will fund these new websites for Southend businesses, to be designed and produced by a company called Delicious Webdesign.
To take advantage of this special offer, businesses are urged to contact them on 01375 460094 as soon as possible.
Read more here
March newsletter out now
March 11, 2015
The March issue of the Southend Business Partnership has just been published. You can download it here.
Southend Business Partnership newsletter
February 17, 2015
The February issue of the Southend Business Partnership newsletter is out now. You can download it here.
Advice on how to win contracts
February 10, 2015
Small and medium sized businesses in Southend are invited to free workshops to learn how they can clinch valuable contracts and manage them afterwards.
The Council is running these six sessions in partnership with Med Tech and Bizphit, all about tender/procurement awareness and readiness for businesses.
The workshops each last four hours, and representatives of companies can attend one or all six – there are no restrictions. Lunch and refreshments are available.
Sessions focus on the issues facing small firms keen to submit tenders to supply their goods or services to the private or public sector.
The Council’s Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, Councillor Graham Longley said: “In the competitive world of business, small and medium-sized firms can find tendering a very daunting process.
“These workshops are a really good opportunity for businesses to find out exactly how best to put themselves in the running for public and private sector contracts, and how to operate and present their companies in the most productive way.”
The workshops are as follows:
Ventrica to create 80 new jobs in 2015
January 16, 2015
Ventrica, the Southend-based contact centre business, has opened a new "designer" contact centre wing, creating at least 80 new jobs in 2015.
Since the business was founded five years ago during the height of the recession, it has created 160 jobs and has plans to extend its workforce to 300 within the next 18 months. Part of the company’s £750,000 investment came from a European grant of £114,000 that was secured with the help of Essex County Council’s Economic Development Service.
Read the full story here
Businesses to hear more about 2015/16 Budget proposals
January 15, 2015
Local businesses are being urged to find out more about the recently announced 2015/16 budget proposals, at a business consultation event being held next week.
The ‘New Year, New Finance’ event will see Cllr Ron Woodley, Leader of the Council, Council Chief Executive Rob Tinlin, and the Council’s Head of Finance and Resources Joe Chesterton presenting the council’s draft budget proposals for 2015/16. There will also be the opportunity to post questions to them about the budget.
Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development, Graham Longley says: “It is very important that local businesses come and find out more about our budget proposals for the next year and have their say. We are facing a Government funding cut of over £11m next year alone and have to make significant savings to bridge a funding gap of £12.4m in 2015/16 and over £33m over the next three years.
“In addition to the budget presentation, there will also be a funding marketplace which will see funding organisations advising businesses of the products available to them, whether that is loans, or grants funding for example. We have all the high street banks in attendance along with private funding organisations which include Foundation East, British Growth Service, Universities, colleges, National Apprentice Service and UKTI. “
The event is being held at The Forum, Elmer Approach on Tuesday 20th January 2015. Registration starts at 7.30am with the budget consultation beginning at 8.30am. There will be an opportunity after the consultation at 9.30am for businesses to look around the marketplace which will be open until 11.00am.
The event is FREE and if people are interested in attend then they can visitwww.businesssouthend.co.uk or telephone 01702 215368 to book their place or for more information.
Small businesses urged to bid for Government contracts
January 7, 2015
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are missing out on a wealth of public sector contract opportunities and are being urged to revise their outdated view of a system they see as overly complicated.
Despite local government spend topping £227bn, the lion's share of SMEs still avoid taking advantage of this opportunity. A lack of technical know-how, fears over red tape and feeling powerless to compete with larger organisations are the primary reasons cited, according to Graham Longley, Executive Councillor and Deputy Leader of Southend Council.
At a time when Westminster is placing a strong emphasis on exporting, SMEs are now also advised to look closer to home in search of growth opportunities. A local government contract not only offers a steady revenue stream, it signals the high quality of a business, making it an invaluable new business tool.
Aiming to make winning contracts more accessible than ever, Business Southend has launched a Local Procurement Portal aimed at businesses of any size. A key feature for small businesses is the innovative ability to form consortiums with, so even embryonic sole traders can begin winning lucrative contracts.
The launch of the portal is an important step towards dispelling the myths that public sector contracts are only for larger companies and that they necessarily involve a great deal of effort to achieve. A free Put The Pro in Procurement guide is also available for download and contains invaluable advice to businesses looking to do business with the public sector.
Cllr Longley said: "We see first-hand how gaining public sector contracts can boost any business, from multi-nationals, to kitchen table start-ups. At Southend Council we are working extremely hard to dispel some of the unhelpful procurement myths which still linger. From where we stand, local government contracts have never been easier to attain and there is a tremendous amount of support available to those who seek it, with the Business Southend Procurement Portal a prime example."
Alan Davies at SimplyBetter.co.uk said: “We’re a local firm based in Essex. In the past we’ve taken on a lot of smaller contracts which have been great for getting us known and building a loyal group of customers. Going for the opportunity at Southend Council meant that we had to improve our policies and change our internal systems. The result of winning the contract has meant that we’ve practically doubled our staff numbers and significantly grown our turnover. Now that we have the Southend contract we’re looking for other opportunities to continue growing our business.”