Friday, June 29, 2012

Weymouth & Portland Chamber improves value to members

The Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce has launched a brand new exclusive membership pack, as part of a programme to provide added-value to members.

The membership packs created for members of the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce contain: a certificate of membership, a copy of the chamber constitution, badges for networking events, membership benefits, business cards, a networking breakfast calendar and unique car stickers.

The chamber’s membership has grown rapidly over the last few months with credit going to President Anna-Maria Geare and the Chamber Executive Committee for their on-going efforts and enthusiasm in the local area.

Anna-Maria said: "I’m so pleased to be able to launch our brand new membership packs; a lot of hard work has gone into making them a success. Our members have given us their feedback and said how great they are."

"We are steadily making a number of amendments and changes to the chamber to improve it as per our members feedback, which over the past year has seen the appointment of our new Business Coordinator, Laura Culshaw; a rebrand of our website, new marketing materials and variety of fantastic guest speakers to our regular monthly breakfasts which has resulted in a surge in membership to the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce," Anna-Maria continued.

"The Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce has open membership all year round and encourages businesses in the local area to join and sculpt ‘the voice of the local business community.”

The chamber hosts a breakfast meeting every month which regularly attracts over 70 representatives of local firms, and it has recently begun exploring opportunities for other forms of meeting.

If you wish to be part of the chamber or would like to know more information; you can contact Business Coordinator Laura Culshaw by email for enquires, queries or issues to do with the Chamber and for membership, events and local issues: [email protected] or by phone: 07730 135973.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Words That Sell copywriting conference May 2012

Around 70 copywriters and marketing professionals gathered at Bournemouth University Business School last month, to learn, network and inspire one another.

Organised by the UK Speechwriters’ Guild and Dorset writing agency A Thousand Monkeys, the Words That Sell event was a rare opportunity for copywriters to meet at an event dedicated to their profession.

Between them, the conference presenters had written marketing copy for a copious list of the UK’s household brands. Opening keynote speaker, Sarah McCartney, was the top writer at Lush during their years of growing from a handful of stores to a global retailer, and she set a tone that was matched by all who followed.

Phillip Khan-Panni demonstrated his expertise as the UK Business Speaker of the Year and also as a copywriter and author.

Andy Maslen, Reg Starkey, Ben Afia and Nick Parker all brought different perspectives on the business of writing the words which allow brands to communicate their message clearly in an increasingly crowded media.

No meeting of writers would be complete without a discussion of grammar and punctuation, and this was provided by Matthew Male of Future Perfect.

The afternoon sessions included three breakout seminars run by Carol Bentley, Alan Barker and Andrew Knowles.

Words That Sell was acknowledged as a success by many who attended and as delegates were leaving, there was considerable talk about when and where a similar event might be held in the future.

One of the organisers, Richard Spencer of A Thousand Monkeys, said: “The conference showed how businesses benefit through more effective use of language. Businesses often spend time and money on design or websites but forget to pay the same attention to the way they express their message. Words are still at the heart of communication and the conference was a great reminder of the different ways we can make them work harder.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dorset Small Business Friendly awards launched for 2012

Dorset's local nine local councils are being given another opportunity to show what they are doing to support and encourage small firms.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Dorset has launched this year’s bid to find the best small business friendly initiatives undertaken by the councils. The Small Business Friendly Awards 2012, now in their fourth year, have three Award categories, with councils being encouraged to enter as many categories as they wish.

The launch took place at The Menzies Carlton Hotel, Bournemouth with representatives from all nine councils within Dorset. In the introduction to the awards it was confirmed to the mix of Council Leaders and Economic Development Officers that the Awards have now become firmly established, and are well respected by all councils.

Last year’s Awards were a resounding success and managed to uncover some excellent work undertaken by local councils to support small businesses in their areas. All local councils entered at least one award nomination, and were represented at the Awards Presentation Ceremony.

The Councils have until 24th August 2012 to submit their entries and the winners will be announced in mid September.

The three Award categories are:

    •    Best Small Business Friendly Procurement Performance
    •    Best Small Business Friendly Programme or Campaign
    •    Best All Round Small Business Friendliness

David Ramsden, FSB Dorset County Chairman, said: “The FSB looks to the region’s local authorities to help create the environment for small businesses to survive and thrive. Particularly in the current economic climate, we are very keen to recognise any organisation that has gone above and beyond to achieve this.

The Small Business Friendly Awards scheme shows local authorities the best examples of services and high levels of support that this region’s small businesses receive from their councils."

Last year Bournemouth Borough Council won both the Procurement and Programme awards, while Christchurch Borough Council won the All Round title. This year it would be great to see some winners from other parts of Dorset.

(Picture: David Ramsden, FSB County Chair with representatives from councils within Dorset, and the local FSB)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Condor Ferries return to Weymouth in 2013

Condor want to restart their fast ferry service from Weymouth to the Channel Islands in March 2013, the Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce was told this week by Ken Soar, Managing Director of Condor Ferries. 

Having visited Weymouth himself on several occasions, and spoken to many local people, Soar said he was convinced it was the right decision to bring Condor back to Weymouth.

The ferries had to leave in haste because of damage to the quayside, caused by movement of the sea, which undermined it. Once the required repairs have been made, the ferries should return.

The Condor fast ferry service is worth well over £7 million a year to Weymouth’s local economy. It employs over 250 local people and many local businesses benefit from the passenger traffic through the town.

However, Soar did bring a note of caution to his upbeat message to Chamber members. Poole is a more attractive port to many travellers from the south-east of England, because it’s perceived to be much closer than Weymouth.

To succeed as a ferry port, and to reclaim its historic position as ‘gateway to the Channel Islands’, Weymouth needs to make it as easy as possible for travellers to get from the new relief road to the town’s ferry terminal. In addition, the terminal itself needs substantial improvement.

Ken Soar was speaking to over 20 members of Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce who had travelled to Guernsey, courtesy of Condor. The firm’s commitment to Weymouth was warmly welcomed by Anna-Maria Geare, President of the Chamber of Commerce, and the others who had travelled with her.

(Picture courtesy of Condor Ferries).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dorset holiday park owner delighted by re-think on VAT for static caravans

The news that the Government has back-tracked on its plans to increase VAT on caravan sales has been welcomed by the owners of Newlands Holiday Park near Lyme Regis in West Dorset.

It had been announced in the recent budget that VAT charged on static holiday caravans would be increased to 20% to bring them in line with mobile caravans.

However, after widespread opposition, the government has now decided to limit the VAT rise to just 5 percent. Newlands owner Rex Ireland had previously spoken out against the VAT rise on caravans in the local press, arguing that the price hike was “unjust” and predicting it would harm the local economy in Dorset, which relies heavily on tourism.

It was in the long term that he expected the impact would be most keenly felt. “When somebody buys a caravan on our caravan park, not only do they buy into West Dorset for approximately 15 years or more, but so do their family & friends” He argued that a 20% increase would “drive away potential holiday home buyers from the park, and this will have a knock-on effect on local businesses and tradesmen, as there will consequently be less money coming into the area”.

It has therefore come as a major relief to holiday park owners like Rex that the VAT hike will be revised down to 5%. Newlands are now looking forward to a successful summer, welcoming both regular and first-time guests to their Dorset caravan park and campsite for what is sure to be an eventful and fun-packed season on the Jurassic Coast.

(Picture - Newlands Holiday Park, Dorset)