News and Articles

  • 5 Feb 2021 9:38 AM | John Chablo (Administrator)

    We are currently not meeting as a group, but will be back together again as soon as we can for face to face breakfast networking meetings in Portishead. 

    Stay tuned!

  • 5 Feb 2019 1:38 PM | Anonymous


    February 1, 2019

    By Robert Buckland

    Bristol will become one of Europe’s fastest-growing cities for job creation over the next three years with thousands of new posts in the digital and creative sectors, according to a new economic forecast.

    Bristol is ranked seventh in a Europe-wide table for jobs growth between 2019 and 2022 – behind some capital cities such as Madrid and Amsterdam but outperforming other including Berlin and Paris. 

    The city’s employment growth rate of 3.5% in the research by Oxford Economics, also places it higher than Milan.

    The report shows that last year Bristol’s job market growth of just under 2% was the sixth highest in Europe and greater than London or Manchester. 

    In the UK, Bristol will boast the third-fastest growing employment market in the period 2018-2021 with a rate of 5.3% – equivalent to 6.070 new jobs. That places it behind Manchester, in the number one spot, and Birmingham but above Leeds, London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

    The figures were presented to a gathering of Bristol property industry figures last night staged by the city office of international property group JLL. 

    The group’s economist Jon Neale said Bristol’s growth would have been even greater had it not had a large number of people working in financial services – an industry that will lag behind the growth of sectors such as tech and creative. 

    The upbeat outlook for Bristol was highlighted during the event, including the city’s ability to attract businesses and people working in tech from other locations.

    JLL lead director in Bristol, Simon Peacock, said the fourth industrial revolution driven by the tech sector would see the next few years define which cities become the destination for choice for tech businesses. 

    “With Centre for Cities predicting that in 11 years 21% of all current jobs won’t exist, cities are in ‘an arms race with other city regions’ to attract these businesses in,” he said.

    “As big companies, as well as niche firms, grow their tech jobs, they are being forced to rethink where they are located and seek out cities where they can access the skills base needed.

    “In Bristol, we do well in attracting and keeping the talent these tech firms so badly need, but we must have better transport links and convince our councils and communities of the need to grow and change if we want our cities to secure this prize and prosper.

    “There are two things that are essential for the future success of Bristol city centre, or indeed any town or city centre; they are strong civic leadership and a vision for the future.”

    That meant changes to the retail sector ushered in by a raft of shop closures should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat, he said.

    “In Bristol, we need more housing, we need investment in infrastructure and more places for people to work. It’s a no brainer to capitalise on the opportunities changes to our retail landscape and transport hubs bring to ensure our city’s future prosperity.”

  • 5 Feb 2019 1:24 PM | Anonymous


    A number of cutting edge projects designed to help small businesses become more profitable will receive a total of £2m in government funding.

    South West businesses will be among the first to benefit from The Business Basics Fund, with Business West is set to roll out an innovative management development programme aimed at micro-enterprises.

    Phil Smith, managing director of Business West (pictured), said: "We work with thousands of small businesses across the South West and know from experience that it's a big step for many to divert precious time and resources away from their day-to-day operations and try something new. Nevertheless, innovation is what enables firms to grow.

    "The Business Basics Fund is a clear signal from government that it takes the need to solve the UK's productivity puzzle seriously. It is vitally important that small businesses are given the support they need to adopt new technologies and find novel ways of doing business to be competitive."

    A total of 15 projects from across the UK were awarded a share of £2 million funding from the Business Basics Fund.

    The fund is part of the government's plan to boost UK national productivity through its modern Industrial Strategy, by encouraging more businesses to take advantage of existing technologies, management practices and business support.

    Kelly Tolhurst, small business minister, said:   "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and as part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we are supporting them with new investments to boost their productivity and ensure they can continue to thrive in the future.

    "This investment will support innovative projects that test how government and private sector companies can help small businesses  adopt a range of technologies and management practices that save them time and make them more efficient."

  • 5 Feb 2019 1:22 PM | Anonymous


    Business activity in the South West has fallen for the first time since July 2016, according to new research.

    The decline coincided with the first reduction in new business for nearly two-and-a-half years, the latest NatWest PMI data report revealed.

    Lack of demand had an impact on job creation, while business confidence towards the one-year outlook slipped to a 17-month low.

    There was also a sharp rise in input costs for businesses, which prompted companies to raise their charges further.

    The headline South West Business Activity Index – a seasonally adjusted index that measures the combined output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors – registered below the neutral 50.0 level at 49.1 in November, down from 52.0 in October.

    Though only slight, this signalled the first reduction in South West private sector output for 28 months.

    Read more: Manufacturing careers fail to appeal to Generation Z

    Supply-chain difficulties and Brexit-related uncertainty dampened business confidence midway through the fourth quarter.

    Chris Preston, chair of the NatWest South West Regional Board, said: “The latest set of Natwest PMI data for the South West private sector painted a disappointing picture, with both business activity and new orders declining for the first time in over two years.

    “Weaker demand conditions and Brexit-related uncertainty meanwhile pushed business confidence down to its lowest level for nearly a year-and-a-half, which translated into only a marginal rise in staffing levels during November.

    “A further sharp rise in costs meanwhile led firms to raise their charges again, which may dampen sales further in the coming months unless confidence and activity picks up.” 

    Across the UK as a whole, activity rose marginally, with the rate of growth easing to the weakest in the current period of expansion that began in August 2016.

    The service sector, in particular, saw a decline in business activity, while manufacturing output continued to expand.

  • 5 Feb 2019 1:15 PM | Anonymous


    South West retailers issued the biggest number of profit warnings in 2018 for seven years, according to research.

    A total of 18 per cent of profit warnings by listed companies in the region were in the retail sector, the EY Profit Warnings Report found.

    The retail industry in the South West issued four profit warnings in 2018 – comparable with the four warnings reported in 2011.

    South West companies across all sectors issued a total of 22 profit warnings last year, with 10 of these warnings issued between October and December 2018.

    Profit warnings in the region have risen consecutively over the past three years, from 18 in 2016, to 21 in 2017 to 22 in 2018.

    The travel and leisure industry in the South West also issued four profit warnings in 2018.

    Nationally, 38 per cent of the retail sector across the UK issued a profit warning – the highest level since 2008 – mirroring the upward trend in the South West.

    Read more: Brexit vote reduces value of UK companies by 16 per cent, Bristol study finds

    Last year also saw the second highest level of profit warnings issued by UK plc since 2008, with 287 profit warnings – a rise of 4 per cent year-on-year.

    Allan Noble, director in EY’s transaction advisory team in Bristol, said: “Following events last week, there is further political and economic uncertainty to contend with and no let-up in the pace of change.

    "But rising uncertainty wasn’t the only reason why profit warnings spread in 2018.

    “In the retail sector, a combination of a relentless margin squeeze, the continuous need for reinvention and falling consumer confidence made 2018 an exceptionally tough year for the retail sector in the South West and across the whole of the UK.

    “What happens next depends on how much more unpredictable 2019 becomes.

    Markets adjust quickly to new realities, however, in this fast-moving world companies need to keep moving forward or risk finding themselves on the wrong side of sector trends, potentially triggering a new cycle of profit warnings in years to come."

  • 28 Oct 2018 5:35 PM | Anonymous

    Thatchers Cider has won a national award for its young talent programme.

    The cider-maker scooped the IGD Award for Employability after hiring 17 apprentices and graduates to work in the business.

    IGD is a national research and training charity in the food and grocery industry.

    Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cidermaker at Thatchers said: “It is a real honour to be recognised by IGD with this award for our Young Talent Programme.

    "Over recent years we have found that knowledge about careers within the food and drink sector hasn’t met our needs as an emerging business, so we wanted to create our own apprenticeship programme to attract the best people and invest in training and development.”

    Thatchers has been working with local schools, colleges and universities over the last 12 months to develop the progamme.

    Read more: Bristol education company 3P Learning celebrates double award win

    Emma Cox, training coordinator at Thatchers, said:"[The programme] is tailored to the needs of our industry, not only helping young people start on their career path, but importantly developing the skilled workforce that as a growing company we need at Thatchers.”   

    Fiona Miller, head of employability and skills at IGD, added: "We were blown away by the results Thatchers is achieving after just 12 months of its Young Talent programme.

    "The Thatchers team has a strong understanding of the education landscape and has developed a long-term strategy and comprehensive programme that puts the needs of young people at its heart.

    "They run engaging activities for school and university students, and work collaboratively with teachers and parents, to empower young people to make informed decisions about their future.

    "It’s great to see that the young talent pipeline is already building as a result, and that they work closely with other business in the region to share best practice.”  

  • 22 Oct 2018 5:36 PM | Anonymous

    Vodafone is encouraging South West businesses to apply for its new UK social innovation fund. 

    The technology awards programme - Vodafone Techstarter – aims to support start-ups and early-stage ventures developing innovative tech with social purpose. 

    The £300,000 fund is split into a number of monetary prizes, but winners will also receive access to industry and technology expertise from Vodafone and the Social Tech Trust.

    This includes coaching, commercial development support, mentorship, investment and partnership advice.

    Tom Marks, Vodafone’s South West head, said: “We know there are many organisations and individuals across the South West who are developing innovative technology solutions with a social purpose.

    “Vodafone Techstarter is an exciting opportunity that could help them to take their idea to the next level.”

    Judging is set to take place in December, with the finalists announced in January 2019 and winners crowned at an awards event in February 2019.

    Read more: Free cyber security workshop for SMEs to take place in Bristol

    Helen Lamprell, Vodafone UK’s general counsel and external affairs director, said: “Vodafone Techstarter is a hugely exciting opportunity for industry to contribute vital support, expertise and funding to help take early-stage ventures driven by social purpose from start-up to scale-up. 

    “We believe that some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation. The UK has a fantastic opportunity to lead the way in providing solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.”

    Vodafone Techstarter is open to UK-based inventors, innovators, charities, social enterprises, businesses and entrepreneurs, with prototype ideas. 

    All applications must have a clearly defined social purpose. 

    The prize fund will be split as follows:

    • For Profit Vodafone Techstarter Award – four winners will each receive £35,000, a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind.
    • Not-for-Profit Vodafone Techstarter Award – four winners will each receive £35,000, a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind.
    • Vodafone Techstarter Champion’s Award – two winners, voted for by Vodafone employees, will each receive £10,000.

    Anne Sheehan, enterprise director of Vodafone UK, said: “I’m particularly excited to be encouraging new innovations that will contribute positively to the world we live in.”

    Bill Liao, Social Tech Trust, added: “We believe that valuing the social purpose of tech from the outset, combined with cross-sector collaboration, is vital in achieving transformational social change at scale. We’re really excited to see the ventures that come forward.”

    Applications must be submitted by Tuesday, October 23, 2018.

PING - Portishead Independent Networking Group

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