Allison Burden with Nick Helps from Tesco and Stephen Fenna from WaitroseRecognition of Marlborough as one of 600 Fairtrade towns in the UK was celebrated at the monthly Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast on Wednesday.
The meeting heard from Allison Burden, leader of the Fairtrade Marlborough Steering Group, who was joined by Tesco manager Nick Helps and Waitrose department manager Stephen Fenna.
To become a Fairtrade town, businesses leaders were told, its citizens, council and companies had to show a commitment to Fairtrade produce – where farmers are paid a fair wage for the crops they produce.
Over the past 20 years, Marlborough has embraced Fairtrade produce. Retail anchor Waitrose, the meeting heard, must stock a minimum of four Fairtrade products to qualify for Fairtrade status. At last count, its Fairtrade range extended to 183 products.
Allison, who lives in Marlborough but spent 20 years in Africa and Asia, said she had seen firsthand how minimum prices had made “a huge difference” to growers.
“There is a direct link between coffee prices and malnutrition,” she said. “This is a matter of life and death for producers.”
Stephen said Waitrose was committed to the idea of Fairtrade, and that sales of Fairtrade produce – including coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, and even wine – were up 75 percent year on year.
This was due in part, he said, to a closing gap between the price of Fairtrade produce and products not carrying the mark.
“Our customers want to make the change because there’s very little price difference,” he asserted.
During last months Fairtrade Fortnight, said Nick, shoppers at Tesco were greeted with a 1930s farm cart loaded with Fairtrade produce. On top of the pile was TV playing a video about Fairtrade.
During the two-week campaign, sales of Fairtrade hot chocolate accounted for 57 percent of product line sales – up from 25 percent. Ground coffee went from five percent Fairtrade to 15 percent while tea – typically the hardest to change, as customers remain brand loyal – went from two percent to seven percent.
Unlike Waitrose, not all of Tesco’s bananas are Fairtrade. The chain, said Nick, offered customers the choice. But, he admitted, non-Fairtrade bananas are sold as a loss leader – the product is one which consumers use to compare prices between supermarkets.
And talking of a race to the bottom, the meeting discussed the plight of UK dairy farmers. Last year, farmers protested after the ‘farm gate price’ they receive for their milk fell to 23p a litre – less than the estimated 30p a litre it cost to produce.
The blame was placed firmly at the door of the supermarkets, some of whom were engaged in a price war with each other – and were driving farm gate prices down.
Allison said the Fairtrade Foundation had said it would not be campaigning on behalf of UK farmers; preferring to concentrate on the world’s poorest producers, living on less than two dollars a day.
Both Stephen and Nick said their respective employers were working hard with the dairy industry to ensure that farmers received a fair price for their produce.
Marlborough businesses who want to find out more about the town’s Fairtrade status, and how to get involved, can find the steering group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marlboroughfairtradesteeringroup
Allison BurdenMarlborough’s recent appointment as a Fairtrade Town will be explored and celebrated at the next meeting of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce.
Allison Burden, director of programs at Equality Now, and Poppy Vanner from Waitrose will be exploring the concept behind Fairtrade, explaining how and why Marlborough was awarded Fairtrade Town status, and encouraging local businesses to promote the Fairtrade ethos in their own places of work.
Daniel Matthews Jack Peploe and Alistair Reynolds of ThirdlineFast-growing IT and communications firm Thirdline has taken on four new members of staff, bringing its workforce to 20.
Daniel Matthews has joined Liddington-based Thirdline as a service desk technician, supporting clients with IT issues and helping them find solutions to meet their business needs.
And there have been two appointments to the company’s new creative division, Phoenix Factory.
Alistair Reynolds has joined the company in a development role, writing applications to make the company’s systems work more smoothly, and creating pieces of software to meet the individual needs of clients.
Meanwhile, wordsmith Dave McGuffog will be writing sparkling copy for Thirdline’s promotional print and website, and raising the company’s online profile through search engine optimisation. His talents will also be available to Phoenix Factory customers.
Finally, Ismaeel Mohammed has joined Thirdline’s Cirencester-based satellite office, heading up the device repair team, which fixes broken smartphones and tablets for business and non-business customers.
The company is also looking for an apprentice to join the IT repairs team in the Cirencester office.
The four new team members join Thirdline at an exciting time: the company has been shortlisted in four categories at the Wiltshire Business of the Year awards.
Thirdline is up for the Small Business of the Year, Customer and Staff Care, and Outstanding Excellence awards, while founder Jack Peploe is a finalist in the Business Person of the Year category.
The winners will be revealed at a glittering ceremony at Centre Parcs Longleat on Friday, April 15.
For more information about Thirdline services, log on to www.thirdline.eu
David HemeryWhat is it that makes successful people successful? That was the question posed by Olympic athlete David Hemery CBE at the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce business breakfast last week.
Mr Hemery recalled his gold medal win in the 400m hurdles at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, setting a new world record in the process.
“On paper we (Hemery's British teammate John Sherwood won bronze) were the slowest, and the Americans should have won.
“On the podium, three things were going through my mind: relief that I hadn’t blown it; euphoria; and the question ‘why me?’
“It made me wonder, why do some people do well under pressure and others blow it?”
When his running career ended, Hemery worked as a coach in American, and it was while coaching at Boston University that he was given the chance to take a degree. For his dissertation, he interviewed people who had performed well under pressure.
“I found there are two attributes shared by high achievers,” he revealed. “They are self aware and self responsible. Someone who is aware of what to do and who takes responsibility will perform effectively.”
Today, David runs 21st Century Legacy to help to bring coaching and self-managed leadership to young people.
The intent is to inspire, engage and empower them to become more aware and responsible for their life choices, and a team of high-achieving athletes visit schools, coaching both teachers and students.
“I want young people to be the best they can be,” he said, “because that is a challenge for everyone.”
David HemeryOlympic gold medal winner David Hemery will be recounting his success stories and talking about teaching skills to young people at the next meeting of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce.
Hemery, who lives near Marlborough, is famous for the double Commonwealth title he won in the 120 yard hurdles in 1966 and retained in 1970, and for the gold he won in the 400m hurdles at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 – setting a new world record in the process.
Away from the athletics track, Hemery has been a coach, teacher, manager and writer, and was until very recently Vice Chairman of British Olympic Association.
For twenty-five years he worked to bring coaching into management in major blue chip companies, and seven years ago he founded 21st Century Legacy to help to bring coaching and self-managed leadership to young people. The intent is to inspire, engage and empower them to become more aware and responsible for their life choices.
Last year he ran the London Marathon, at the age of 71 – and wrote a column about it for Marlborough News Online.
The rebranded Now Vauxhall site in MarlboroughThe oldest name in the UK motor trade has disappeared following the retirement of its owner.
Established by Ernest Clement Skurray in 1899, Skurrays ran car dealerships in Swindon, Marlborough and Oxford. It was a Vauxhall dealer for more than a century, and the Skurray family owned the firm until the 1960s.
But following the retirement of managing director Nick Plevey – the most recent custodian of the Skurrays brand – the familiar name has disappeared forever.
Speaking to industry publication Automotive Magazine, Mr Plevey – who bought the business in 2009 – said: “I’m 60 now and I’m going to start my retirement. I started work serving petrol at 14 and it’s been none stop ever since. I’m ready for a break.
“Throughout my time here we’ve enjoyed excellent backing from Vauxhall Motor Holdings and it’s a relationship that the brand has maintained with the Skurrays name for over a hundred years.
“The biggest loss in all this is the loss of the Skurrays name.”
The Swindon and Marlborough dealerships have been bought by London-based Now Vauxhall.
Managing director Jon Taylor said: “We are very pleased to be taking our first steps outside of the M25 with our new locations in Swindon and Marlborough.
“This is an exciting time for the Now team and customers alike. We are confident we will be able to provide a fantastic experience to all as we develop the business further.
“We look forward to working within the local community and to welcoming customers, past present and future into our Now dealerships.”
The Haddon Training teamA Marlborough-based equestrian training provider is in the running for two prestigious awards.
Haddon Training, which delivers work-based apprenticeships in horse care, animal care and business, has been shortlisted for the Times Education Supplement’s Further Education Awards, and in the Apprenticeship 4 England Awards.
The renowned TES FE Awards celebrate and reward the dedication and expertise of the people and teams who continue to make a significant contribution to improving the skill levels of young people and adult learners. The awards are open to anyone working in the UK FE sector.
Haddon Training has been shortlisted in the Training Provider of the Year category. The winners will be announced on April 22 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.
The Apprenticeship 4 England Awards recognise and reward training providers and employers who are dedicated to delivering quality Apprenticeships.
Haddon Training are hoping to repeat their success last year, when they won the Small Prime Award. Due to the company’s recent growth, it will be competing this year in the Medium Prime category.
The awards will be presented at the Emirates Stadium, London on February 25.
Locally, Haddon Training has made it to the next stage of the Wiltshire Business Awards in the Small Business of the Year category.
Chris Hewlett, managing director, said: “To be shortlisted in two national awards makes me so proud of the whole team at Haddon Training. We are a niche training provider that strives to raise the standards of the industries in which we deliver qualifications.
“It is very humbling to know that the company, who delivered their first qualification 19 years ago, has now been shortlisted for two prestigious awards in the further education sector.”
Bob Holman of MADT with Free Community Wifi device and nodeCommunity champions are celebrating after a Free Community Wifi scheme was rolled out to cover 100 percent of Marlborough town centre.
The scheme allows anyone with a wifi-enabled device to log on to the internet for 20 minutes at a time, as often as they like, for no charge - perfect for casual users who want to check emails, log on to their social media channels, or access websites while they enjoy a coffee or do some shopping.
Meanwhile, regular users who want an uninterrupted service can pay £10 a year for always-on wifi, for two devices.
What's more, the entire scheme has been delivered for less than £10,000 - far less than similar market town schemes that have cost ten times that amount.
Now more businesses are needed to host the small devices that will make the facility more robust and reliable.
The scheme was funded mainly by grants from Wiltshire Council's Marlborough Area Board, with contributions from individual business owners, and was delivered by Marlborough Area Development Trust.
Board member Bob Holman said: "Visitors to the town, whether they are tourists, or locals popping in to shop and do business, can benefit from free wifi, and that's a terrific selling point for Marlborough.
"And the scheme has allowed us to address the lack of a Tourist Information Centre by allowing us to provide information and walking tours through a dedicated website - www.visitmarlborough.org
"But there are a host of benefits to the business community that we are keen to explore.
"For instance, we could launch an e-commerce site for Marlborough retailers, potentially including a Click and Collect service to allow customers to pick up purchased goods out of hours.
"We could also potentially use the wifi to extend the town's CCTV provision, with cameras both inside and outside premises, saving business owners tens of thousands of pounds when compared against commercially available schemes, and providing an accessible system allowing business owners to keep an eye on their premises - day or night - via their smart phone."
The system works by business owners donating a fraction of their wifi bandwidth to the scheme by means of a 'node'. There are currently 37 nodes in the town, which relay and boost the Free cCommunity Wifi signal around the town.
The nodes offer added security implications to business owners: they also allow businesses to offer wifi to visitors to their premises, without the need to give them access to their company broadband router.
The nodes also have built-in firewalls and content filtering, which means certain websites - for instance sites with adult content, or which encourage or enable piracy - are blocked to users of the community wifi scheme.
Nodes are located along the length of High Street and its environs, including Hughenden Yard and Hillier’s Yard. Marlborough Area Development Trust also operates small, local free wifi schemes in Ramsbury, Aldbourne, Avebury and Lockeridge.
Rick, Charlie, Jack, Jill and EdwardTV chef Rick Stein has spoken of his delight in obtaining planning permission for a 100-seat restaurant in the town – and has given excited diners the first clues as to what to expect on the menu.
And Mr Stein has told how he was immediately taken with the 18th Century Grade II listed Lloran House in Marlborough’s High Street.
“When I first saw the building in High Street I thought what a perfect restaurant it would make,” he said.
“For the menu I’m thinking a strong element of local meat and game, but with many of our favourite seafood dishes from Padstow too. I’m very much in favour of local food and we’ll be looking to highlight some of the best produce in Wiltshire.”
With the lease signed, Jill Stein with her son, Ed, and daughter-in-law, Kate will start the interior design.
Jill said: “Ed, Kate and I are working on a country townhouse feel. It will be inspired by Marlborough’s rich heritage and the beautiful old building and location will be key to our design.
“It will be different from our other restaurants, more traditional with warmer colours, but we’ll still have a few subtle nods to our coastal roots. We love this part of the process, seeking inspiration from the local surroundings and selecting all the finishing touches. We’re very excited.”
2015 saw Rick and Jill celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. From humble beginnings the business now employs over 450 people and includes ten restaurants, hotel and self-catering accommodation, retail outlets and a cookery school. Rick and Jill are both still at the helm, with all three sons involved in the business.
The self-titled ‘Rick Stein’ restaurant comes as the next stage as part of the group’s business growth with recent openings in Sandbanks, Winchester and also Porthleven and Fistral in Cornwall.
Interested diners can keep up to date with the latest news and developments from the new Marlborough restaurant at www.rickstein.com or @SteinMarlb on Twitter.
Stewart Joyce with Donna and Nick CowenA couple who took the plunge and opened an antique bath business to the rich and famous are branching out.
Stewart and Kim Joyce opened Antique Bathrooms of Ivybridge & Marlborough in the Wiltshire town in 2014. Now, they have joined forces with Nick and Donna Cowen to open a second branch in the Devon town where the business was founded way back in 1991.
Stewart and Kim bought the business in 2013 after Nick and Donna emigrated to Australia to start a new business. But missing life, friends and family in the UK, the couple are now back – and refurbishing their old showroom in Ivybridge.
Marlborough was chosen as a location because of the number of period properties in the area, and to benefit from easy access to London, and the South, where many of the finished baths go.
Stewart said: “When I took over the business, I opened a showroom in Wiltshire – which is home for me – while the workshop stayed in Ivybridge.
“The re-opening of the Ivybridge showroom is great news for our customers, great news for the business, and great news for me as I was driving between the sites two or three times a week. This allows me more time to concentrate on growing the Wiltshire side of the business.
“Nick and Donna are old friends, and it’s great to have them back – both as mates and as business partners.”
Nick said: “We ran a fencing company in Melbourne for four years, but we missed our antique baths, as well as our friends and family of course!”
Antique Bathrooms of Ivybridge & Marlborough buys and refurbishes cast iron roll top bathtubs before selling them on to plumbers, interior designers, boutique hoteliers, Lords and Ladies, and regular homeowners looking for an authentic tub for an older home. Personalised baths can vary in size from 4ft 6ins long to nearly 7ft long.
Clientele include world-famous actors, musicians and politicians.
It takes between four and six weeks to re-enamel, prime and polish an antique bath – which all date from the last 19th and early 20th centuries and are English, British or French in origin. An individual bath can range in price from between £800 and £10,000.
The company also refurbishes and sells antique taps, along with a full range of traditional style basins, cisterns, toilet pans and wooden toilet seats – which alone can sell in excess of £500.
The showrooms can be found at the Elcot Lane Trading Estate in Marlborough, and at Ermebridge Works, Ermington Rd, Ivybridge. For full details, log on to www.antiquebaths.com