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Chartered Accountants Clement Keys has called on the government to stimulate the SME sector and support growth in this year’s budget due on 21 March 2012.

Clement Keys partner Ian Yorke believes that despite previous promises the government has not really put small business at the heart of its business growth strategy.

“Time and time again we have seen promises that have not been fulfilled. Take Project Merlin for example. Last months figures from The Bank of England illustrated that Project Merlin had not achieved its targets.

“Total net lending from the five main UK banks fell in every quarter of 2011, with a 3% drop in net lending in the final quarter of 2011. The figures also confirmed that the five banks had missed their lending target to small businesses.

“Without access to funding businesses are having to turn to family members to fund their business. A survey from the FSB found that in new businesses between 1-2 years old 70 per cent used savings and inheritance to fund their business, 34 per cent got money from friends and family and only 25 per cent used a bank overdraft.

“The government must listen to business and the organisations that represent them such as FSB and find ways to help small businesses access the finance they need.
“Whilst I am hoping to see measure in the budget that will create more competition in the high street banking and better promotion of the alternative finance sources there is a bigger issue that lies with the banks rather then the government.

“The banks are not lending because they holding onto their capital in order to re-build their balance sheets and will continue to do so whatever measures are introduced because of the way the system works.

“So whilst we wait for the system to change we must hope that what we have available can be improved. Initiatives such as peer to peer lending, asset backed finance in the Business Finance Partnership fund and better community development finance are all on my wish list.”

 

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Women & Theatre will be joining forces with Birmingham’s oldest charity, The Birmingham Settlement on 29th February to perform a unique piece of community theatre full of fantastic stories and tips, all designed to help people make their money go further.

As a charity, debt management is something at the very core of The Birmingham Settlement, so the 29th is planned as an Open Day, featuring money surgeries and advice, as well as a chance for potential volunteers to visit and find out more about the charity’s work. It will then culminate in the performance, entitled ‘Make, Do & Mend.’

Make, Do & Mend is a project Women & Theatre have been developing across Birmingham over the last 5 months. The company has been researching with a variety of community groups to understand the issues people face, and collect advice and information to resolve any problems.

They have had informal sessions and conversations, as well as running a series of intergenerational workshops to develop the project. The performances have been designed so that community members can join the company in the morning to be ‘rehearsed into’ the performance to share with audiences in the afternoon. This will create an exciting mix of professional and community performers – a participation technique Women & Theatre have delivered successfully a number of times.

Terina Talbot, Women & Theatre’s Associate Director said; “We’ve been working for several months with community members, and it’s looking very exciting. With stories and songs, and contributions from all generations, ultimately, it’s a feel-good piece of theatre that everyone can enjoy. So if anybody wants to get involved, or needs debt advice, or simply a good afternoon out – we’d encourage them to get in touch.”

All activities will be happening from 11am at the Centre for the Aston Family, 359-361Witton Road, B6 6NS. For more information on The Birmingham Settlement, or to book free tickets to the performance (which starts at 1.15pm) call 0121 250 0777 or email info@bsettlement.org.uk
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A ground-breaking new initiative from Mereway Kitchens that will enable independent retail partners to go ‘head-to-head’ with the likes of B&Q and Howdens is to be unveiled at KBB.

The new Trend Interiors range has been designed for those aspiring to the ‘look’ in terms of quality and style, but with an affordable price tag, opening up a new potential customer base for Mereway and for its specialist retailer network.

However, according to Sales & Marketing Director Graham Jones, the most exciting aspect of the new range is that it embraces the rapidly growing internet channel, with leads and even orders driven directly to the retail network.

“Mereway has adopted new technology and invested substantially both in developing a distinctive new brand for Trend Interiors and in building an interactive, buy online website. Consumers can browse through the kitchens and review the range content and, then either order a brochure ,submit an order online or request assistance with design and planning. In each case, the lead or order is sent directly to a trend partner retailer. We believe this is a real innovation in the industry and will enable us to compete in a market which until now has been dominated by the the large chain store retailers. With Trend Interiors, we can provide customers with the convenience of online shopping and competitive prices, but with the added support and service of a network of experienced kitchen specialists,” he says.

Retail partners will also be offered the opportunity to invest in a Trend Interiors e store, which will be pre-populated, maintained and updated with data automatically and retailers will also have the option to upload other products and ranges to the site should they wish. This will enable customers with orders and enquiries to be directly hyperlinked to individual retailers from the main Trend Interiors website.

“There has already been a strongly positive response to this initiative from our retailers,” Graham Jones confirms. “We have invested in the brand development, website and a range of marketing collateral from brochures to advertisements, flyers and posters for Trend Interiors – all the hard work has been done, we have embraced enabling our retailers to take full and immediate advantage of this exciting new e-tailing opportunity.”
Visitors to KBB will be able to view the new Trend product offer which includes exciting additions from a traditional painted look through to a highly contemporary gloss white handleless look.

Mereway will also be launching some exciting new additions into the Cucina Colore collection during the spring and selected prospects and existing partners will be invited by VIP invitation for a preview at the Mereway showroom which is a short distance from the NEC. Mereway has arranged courtesy transport between the NEC and the showroom between 1.00 pm and 6.00 pm on the 4th-7th March. Mereway sales staff will be on hand to greet visitors with refreshments and provide a guided tour around the showroom.

Graham Jones adds, “This is the start of an exciting year for both the Mereway and Trend brands which will see significant new additions to the offer in the coming months.”

Trend Interiors will be on in hall 19 stand no K92.

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Editor’s note:

Mereway Kitchens have an extensive network of outlets nationwide. All furniture is made to order and supplied rigid using traditional glue and dowel methods and carries a 10 year guarantee. Mereway Kitchens cabinets are available complete with doors in a choice of over 70 finishes. These finishes include; MFC, foil wrapped, veneer, solid wood and painted finishes in slab, shaker and curved door styles. Mereway Kitchens offer robust, quality 19mm rigid carcasses with 8mm solid backs in an extensive range of colour and finish options across their three collections for complete colour co-ordinated interior and exterior units. All cabinets contain high quality internal mechanisms and are available in a large range of sizes including reduced depth.

The furniture is sold through independent retailers under brands; Wentworth Kitchens the core range, Cucina Colore an Italian inspired contemporary collection and English Revival, a hand finished in-frame range with a traditional style.

www.merewaykitchens.co.uk


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