All posts by Paul Andrews

Paul is the founder and editor of More Yorkshire, the latest digital publication that he has launched.

York Dementia Care Home Receives A Garden Makeover

Award-winning garden designer Luke Arend recently designed a garden for a Dementia care home in York with plants donated by a local nursery firm, Johnsons of Whixley.

St Catherine’s in Shipton by Beningbrough is a dementia specialist care home run by Wellburn Care Homes which has recently gone through a complete transformation after months of research, development, planning and design.

The transformation sees innovative dementia-friendly interiors, gardens and exteriors added all of which were installed with the needs of patients with dementia in mind.

Garden designer Luke Arend, worked to a brief to tempt residents outside, and enjoy the garden with family members. It included functional requirements such as wheelchair access, safe paths with no anxiety-inducing dead-ends and clear edges, safe sensory plants (no poisonous, spiky, or thorny), plants which mark seasonal change, a safe water feature, dappled shade, clear views from the building and raised beds for interaction with the planting.

Luke created concept plans and mood boards and spoke to residents and family members about the design and considered garden features, materials, furniture, lighting and safe plants to invoke a positive, beautiful environment and memories.

Speaking about the benefits of the garden, garden designer, Luke Arend said: “ there is now a strong body of evidence of the enormous physical and mental benefits of just being in a garden and nature for patients with dementia including evoking memories, increasing confidence and socialisation, and importantly decreasing agitation.”

The garden is now complete and includes wet-poor rubber flexible non-slip paths, a beautiful Victorian-style central Gazebo, raised beds, a water feature, furniture, sculptures and memory-invoking plants.

The plant donation from Johnsons of Whixley was worth over £500 and included Hydrangeas, Skimmias, Echinaceas, Geraniums, Geums, Helleborus, Hostas, Lavenders, Lupins, Nepeta, Paeonia, Roses, Pulmonaria, Salvias, Vincas, Clematis, Buddleia and fatsia.

The aim was to include plants that residents are familiar with to help invoke positive memories, including lavenders, tulips, geraniums and roses.

Johnsons of Whixley is located between Harrogate and York and is just 2.5 miles from the A1 at Junction 47 they are one of the UK’s largest commercial nurseries supplying 5-6 million plants annually to landscaping projects throughout the UK.

Garden designer, Luke Arend said: “It’s so rewarding to see residents and family members enjoying the garden and savouring being outdoors. A huge thank you to Johnsons of Whixley for supporting this project and making it a reality.”

Discussing the donation, Johnsons marketing manager, Eleanor Richardson said: “It’s great to give something back to our local community, there are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK so it’s great to support our local Dementia care home. We hope our plants bring joy to residents, staff and visitors of the care home for many years to come.”

Duvalay’s New Showroom Is Now Open

Duvalay’s new showroom was officially opened by the Mayor of Kirklees
It’s certainly been a busy few months at Duvalay HQ, with lots of exciting projects in the pipeline and the long awaited opening of the brand new showroom.

Since moving to their new premises back in 2020, they’ve been in the process of getting the showroom up and running to display all their innovative sleep products, including the Outdoor and Home range.

The move to the new premises was a huge milestone for the business. The larger factory has allowed them to consolidate their entire team into one site and given them much-needed extra space for a larger showroom. After many months of planning, designing, and a fair few delays along the way, they were finally ready to officially open the showroom to the public in May.

To mark the occasion, they invited the Mayor of Kirklees, Councillor Nigel Patrick, and Kevin Sharp, Clerk to the West Yorkshire Lieutenancy, to come along and celebrate the opening with. Nigel & Kevin had a tour of the factory, met the majority of the 80+ employees, and the Mayor did the honours and cut the red ribbon to officially declare the Duvalay showroom OPEN!

“We had a fantastic time opening our new showroom with Councillor Nigel Patrick and Kevin Sharp in attendance,” says Alan Colleran, Managing Director at Duvalay.

“It felt very special to have the Mayor here in all his formal attire and he certainly seemed impressed with our innovative range of products on display, and was pleased to hear of how we champion the local community and support local people with jobs.”

“Our new showroom has all our market-leading products on display in one place, including our bestselling Duvalay Sleeping Bag and Easysleep mattress range,” added Alan. “This gives our customers the opportunity to come along and test out our sleep products to ensure they’re making the right purchase.”

“The visit to Duvalay was one of Nigel’s last events before he retired as Councillor. We thank both him and Kevin for taking the time to join us for such a special day and another big milestone in our history. We wish Councillor Nigel Patrick all the luck in his next venture.”

Duvalay’s new showroom is now open to the public and is situated in Heckmondwike.

Over 70% Of Population Suffering From Data Dread

Over seven in 10 Brits suffer from ‘Data Dread – with no interest in figures and stats according to the latest research.

A poll of 2,000 adults revealed 30 per cent confess their brain ‘shuts down’ when they see or hear the word data. For more than a quarter it’s because they are simply uninterested, and 43 per cent admit they find data dull.

But despite 55 per cent actively avoiding figures and data, half believe improving their skills would put them at an advantage in the current economic climate. And one in five think it would also allow for better career opportunities.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) suspect they’d be able to deal with bills better each month as 22 per cent find it difficult to digest everyday information like bank statements or data-led news articles.

The study was commissioned by interactive learning platform DataCamp to raise awareness of data literacy as a fundamental skill.

With almost one in five not knowing that a quarter of a pie chart is the same as 25 per cent, the brand hopes to democratise data skills across the country.

It also emerged more than one in 10 believe a ‘Helix Chart’ is a real thing – and not a complete invention.

DataCamp’s co-founder, Martijn Theuwissen, said: “We’re in the middle of a paradigm shift and even if you don’t work with data, you need to know how to read and interpret data in places like the news, health apps, and phone usage reviews.”

“Nobody should dread data – it can really empower individuals to make informed decisions and improve their personal and professional lives.”

“That’s why, this World Literacy Day, we want to encourage people to consider data literacy a vital skill in everyday life.”

Regardless of the nation’s day-to-day interactions with numbers and statistics, 52 per cent admit to sometimes simply smiling and nodding along to a conversation about data and statistics, even if they’re completely in the dark.

According to the OnePoll study, 29 per cent admit they rely on their friends, partner or family members to take on any data analysis they may need in day-to-day life.

Concerningly, this could include reviewing mortgage rates, loan options or, particularly pertinently at the moment, energy prices.

Martijn Theuwissen added: “While most people might not be looking for a specific career in the data industry, many employers are looking for data skills across a variety of roles in sales, finance, HR, logistics, and more.

“Building these skills can help you to find a new career or excel further in your current position.

“That’s why we’re committed to democratising data through our online platform to help educators and students prepare for further education and improve data literacy learning.”

Six Popular Types of Marketing and How They Can Help Businesses

Marketing is all around us. We cannot go about our daily lives without coming across at least one example.

Bus stop posters, Facebook browsing, leaflets…even coffee cups are a form of marketing.

As technology has evolved, more and more businesses have felt drawn to areas of digital marketing specifically. It’s very popular across the UK, with the nation having spent a staggering £23.47 billion on digital advertising in 2021.

The industry, both digital and traditional, exists to support all areas of business, including product development, distribution, sales and advertising.

Here we explore six popular types of marketing and how they can be used to improve business performance.

Social media marketing
Whether you like it or hate it, social media is a massive part of our society. When used correctly with the right strategy and compelling content, businesses can connect with their target audience and encourage them to engage in conversation and interaction.

4.62 billion people globally use social media, so it’s a great opportunity for companies to promote who they are, what they do, and how they can help their prospective and existing clients.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)
A highly visible website means more traffic and more opportunities to convert browsers into buyers, which is why search engine optimisation is a crucial marketing strategy. 68% of online experiences start with a search engine; if a business’s website isn’t anywhere to be seen on the results page, they’re guaranteed to be missing out on valuable visits.

For an SEO strategy to be successful, it must address numerous topics, including technical, on-page, content, and off-page. It’s important to note that this form of marketing is by no means a quick fix – it can take as long as 12 months to see considerable results.

Content marketing
Growing a business becomes easier once you understand the fundamentals of content marketing and how to apply them to your specific goals. In its simplest form, this type of marketing is the technique of creating and distributing relevant, quality content to influence profitable customer action.

Once a plan is in place and the content has been created, it must then be shared across the relevant channels, such as social media and news websites, to attract and convert new and existing customers. Content could include articles, newsletters, videos, and podcasts.

Email marketing
An email marketing campaign involves a series of well-written, visually appealing emails that help businesses connect with the audience in their inbox. Not only is this form of marketing great for brand awareness but also lead generation.

What businesses choose to discuss in their emails will depend entirely on their goals. For example, a company may use this as an opportunity to promote a new product or service to their existing email list.

Video marketing
Videos are a fantastic tool to help businesses reach a wider audience in a way that’s modern, on-trend, and engaging. For the ultimate video marketing strategy, creating specific goals that align well with the overall business growth strategy is imperative.

Once that’s in place, businesses can identify the best platforms for video exposure, before getting down to the creative elements and producing their promotional videos.

Not only is taking advantage of video marketing fantastic for brand awareness, but 78% of marketing professionals claim videos have helped increase sales.

Print marketing
One of the most traditional forms of marketing, print remains a powerful way to grow your business – and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. This form of advertising uses printed media, such as leaflets, brochures, and business cards to get key messages across to a business’s target audience.

Despite living in a digital age, many consumers respond better to printed materials than virtual materials. Information given to an audience on something tangible helps to create trust and familiarity, and brand recognition can be amplified.

There’s so much more to be explored
If you want to pursue a career in marketing or gain a deeper understanding of the topic to improve your business, undertaking an MSc digital marketing course can boost your knowledge and refine your skills.

There are so many different types of marketing, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, an avenue that works brilliantly for one business might turn out to be a disaster for another. Being successful in marketing a business often requires a lot of exploration and even some trial and error.

Don’t give up, because there’s so much triumph to be enjoyed once you find the right formula for your own goals.

British Cheese Awards Return

The British Cheese Awards returns to celebrate innovation and resilience across the industry

The British Cheese Awards will return on Wednesday 5 October, with The Bath & West Showground now preparing to host the biggest celebration of British cheese since the COVID-19 crisis began.

This year’s event will be the first edition of the awards since 2019, giving the industry the opportunity to come together and celebrate both the survival of the nation’s finest cheeses and the emergence of many new cheeses in response to the challenges imposed by the pandemic.

Among this year’s 490 entries are 20 brand new cheeses that have been created since the British Cheese Awards last took place. These new cheeses represent the sudden boom in creativity that was witnessed within British cheese, following huge losses in business as the hospitality sector was closed down during successive lockdowns, and these newcomers will now line-up alongside the much-loved territorials and other classic cheeses that came under such pressure during this period.

The 50-strong judging panel will be made up of cheesemakers, cheesemongers, cheese experts, buyers and commentators, who will assess all entries from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales in a single day.

Entries will be judged in individual classes during round one, as the panel decides upon Gold, Silver and Bronze award winners.

During the second round, all Gold award winners from each category will be judged alongside one another to identify the category winners, before all category winners are judged during the final round to find this year’s Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion.

The 2022 Supreme Champion will be revealed during the British Cheese Awards Dinner on the evening of Wednesday 5 October.
British Cheese Awards 2022 statistics:

Having been forced to cancel the last two editions of the competition due to the COVID-19 crisis, the British Cheese Awards will take place during The Dairy Show for the very first time, creating an event that will cover everything from agriculture and production, right through to the finest examples of British cheesemaking.
The British Cheese Awards, organised by The Royal Bath & West Society, will take place on Wednesday 5 October at The Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Rising Inflation Continues To Hit Yorkshire Businesses

Rising inflation has impacted 95% of UK SME’s, many of them family businesses, with post-pandemic staffing challenges taking a heavy toll according to the latest research in a study conducted for NatWest’s Mentor by OnePoll.  The extent of current hardships and emerging concerns faced by the UK’s SME.s is all too clear.

Small and mid-sized UK enterprises are battling a harsh range of post-pandemic staffing challenges, and face external challenges on multiple fronts, mainly brought to the fore by inflationary pressures.

The poll highlights four key areas of concern:

  1. The cost of living crisis is biting into budgets: Over half of SMEs have endured above-inflation running costs, as global crises hit commerce, while 95% report higher running costs as a result of increased cost of living.
  2. Recruitment challenges continue to take a heavy toll: Wage negotiations and interview no-shows are the biggest recruitment challenges for SMEs. Almost a quarter have seen new hires leave shortly after joining.
  3. Staff attrition is causing talent concerns and wage inflation: The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ has cast its shadow over SMEs, with more than a quarter reporting they have been unable to replace lost staff and vacancies remain unfilled as a result. Millennials are confirmed as the age group most likely to have left jobs in SMEs, with 29% reporting this.
  4. Juggling act continues with hybrid working, wellness and inclusivity vying for visibility: Around a third of decision-makers plan to scrap hybrid working within the coming six months. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is still not a priority for 28% of SMEs.

The poll also identified regional inflationary hotspots in London, East Anglia, and Yorkshire. In the capital, costs have jumped by up to 30% for a third of respondents. The majority (79%) of East Anglian firms report costs surging above inflation, at a rate of 11-20%, while 64% of businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber say their costs have risen by 6-10%, suggesting SMEs here are slightly less affected by inflation than the national average.

Other areas of concern include:

  • Recruitment challenges take a heavy toll: The poll found 95% of SMEs have struggled to recruit staff in the last year. The most pressing problems reported were of an inflationary nature: almost one third (29%) of decision makers say that in the past year, wage negotiations have failed to meet candidate expectations. Moreover, almost one in four SMEs (24%) struggle with further inflationary staffing pressures, where benefits packages are failing to meet candidates’ expectations.
  • The continuing juggling act of hybrid working: While many firms continue to embrace a split between home and office working, the future is less certain for others. 35% of SMEs feel team dynamics have improved thanks to hybrid working. Even so, according to those polled, the future of hybrid working appears far from secure, with 32% planning to call time on the policy within three to six months according to the poll. However, another 38% have no plans to ditch it.
  • Wellbeing inches up SME agendas: The poll gives a mixed view of wellbeing initiatives in SMEs. 31% having no plans in place, whilst others are showing more imagination; 24% are introducing flexible working hours, 23% opt for free or supplemented private healthcare, and 21% are creating wellbeing champions.

Natalie Nelson, Technical Advice Lead of Mentor comments: “Our survey reveals that SMEs have a fight on their hands – not only to stay afloat as costs continue to rise, but also to keep hold of staff, adapt to society’s new work-life expectations, and to recruit new team members. Mentor has a suite of expert help and advice on hand to help business owners and managers navigate the everyday and unexpected HR challenges alike.”

Further results can be found on the NatWest Mentor site here

Four Factors For An Effective CEO Succession

The media coverage of ‘The Great Resignation’ has raised the profile of the ongoing and critical role of the board in succession planning. Good boards and smart directors plan the succession of the CEO to ensure a smooth transition in the leadership of the organisation, with minimal disruption and business continuity. John Harte, Managing Director of Integrity Governance shares his thoughts.

Succession planning takes time and effort, and while the best made plans can sometimes fail, it’s always better to have one than to be caught in a position without a plan, or a clear leader. Family firms have the advantage in that they can take the long-term perspective and are not obliged to respond to the volatile sentiment swings that sometimes characterise the public listed markets. At least once per year the board should think about succession for the CEO. However, it’s not something family firms should look at shortly before a CEO comes towards the intended end of their term or reaches retirement age. What happens if they have to leave a board unexpectedly at short notice?

It could take many months, even more than a year to source a suitable replacement, particularly if looking for someone external to the business, which could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the organisation and board.

Having a succession plan is even more important where the departing CEO may have had unique skills or experience, such as in mergers and acquisitions, which is vital to the organisation’s growth and future success.

Once boards start to create or revisit the CEO succession plan, which they should do at least annually, they need to consider four key factors:

1) Clarity on the role of the business: Family firms need clarity on the future role and direction of their business. Is it about making as much money as possible, evolving into a social enterprise, providing jobs for family members, or something else? Only then can the appropriate succession plan be formulated, along with a clear brief and job specification for the CEO.

On the theme of clarity, being transparent with candidates about what the role entails at the recruitment stage is crucial. Starting at the job specification and interview stage, through to the CEO’s appointment and beyond, role clarity is at the heart of a successful succession process and an effective board. If there is any ambiguity the CEO is set for failure.

2) Consider what’s needed to bring the strategy to life: Forward thinking boards recognise the importance of diversity on the board to help bring the strategy to life. This is vital for family-owned businesses which may have a board loaded with family members who have the same way of thinking and outlook. A CEO with a different demographic background, experience, skills, thinking styles and circles of influence is often just what is needed to breathe life into the strategy and help take the family business to the next level.

For example, if there is a lack of digital skills at a senior level it’s important to have someone on the board who has skills in this area, with digital disruption being a key driver of business success.

If the board is adamant they want the next generation of the family to take over as CEO, then prepare them properly. An important part of this may involve encouraging them to leave the firm for a number of years so they can experience different businesses, new ways of working and learn new skills.

Leading on from this, when recruiting a CEO family firms should bear in mind the importance of a good mix of thinking styles on the board, particularly across the four lines of sight – oversight, hindsight, insight and foresight. This is crucial to deliver an effective board and ensure it provides maximum value, and why it’s important that owners seriously consider appointing a CEO from outside their family.

3) Set clear performance indicators for the CEO: The new CEO will need to know how they will be expected to steward the creation of value, and therefore what they will be evaluated on. Clear performance indicators must be confirmed prior to an appointment being made. Then regular reviews of the CEO are vital to assess their effectiveness, identify opportunities to develop and ensure they are ‘fit for the future.’ After the challenging last 18 months it’s more important than ever that these reviews should take place, at least annually.

If a review highlights issues with the CEO (even if it is one of the owners) it may prompt the board to consider if a new one is needed. This makes it even more critical that a watertight succession plan is in place. It’s also worth bearing in mind that planning for the exit of the CEO and onboarding of the new one is part and parcel of the succession process.

4) Onboarding: The onboarding, or induction stage, is the final step in the succession process. With many boards operating in crisis mode and virtually due to the pandemic, it’s vital that the new CEO is able make a meaningful contribution to board deliberations from the start of their tenure. This can only be achieved via a formally structured ‘journey of learning’ induction plan over 18-24 months. This includes a programme of visits and experiences, a buddy system and governance training.

By taking these four steps boards will deliver a smooth and effective CEO succession process and help engender an effective board.