Thoughts from our President
This has been a busy Chamber month for me with some exciting events. We began November with a Greenwich breakfast presentation by Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich & Woolwich, and finished with a drinks reception with the guest speaker, The Rt. Hon. Nick Raynsford – President, Town & Country Planning Association. Unfortunately, Matthew could not join us to hear his predecessor speak due to the arrival of his son, a few days earlier. Congratulations from the Chamber on the arrival of Baby Pennycook.
In between the Greenwich events, I attended the Bexley breakfast meeting with Gareth Bacon, Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley. Gareth was elected last year as AM for Bexley and Bromley, but prior to this, he was a London wide AM, elected in 2008. Gareth gave us such an illuminating talk, it is recorded in full under the Bexley Breakfast Event. The Chamber looks forward to working with Gareth in the future in his duel capacity as a GLA member and Bexley councillor.
I attended the networking lunch at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. London’s International Drama School is set in the most beautiful surroundings of Lamorbey Park in Sidcup. Sadly, I could not attend the student’s afternoon performance, but I look forward to the Chamber returning to this beautiful location in 2017.
As a Living Wage Employer, I was delighted to represent the Chamber at a breakfast meeting hosted by Sir Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham. Under Sir Steve’s guidance, Lewisham was the first London borough to introduce the Living Wage in 2012.
Since September, I have continued Bob’s blog as President. My blog will continue, but not in the current format. This will be the last issue of Inspire and in January, a new quarterly print magazine will be sent free of charge to members. The Chamber has entered into a contract with Benham Publishing who will produce the magazine and they will be responsible for advertising sales. To assist this, we are sharing our membership database with them and they will be contacting members. All advertising is welcome and Chamber members will receive a discount on the published rates.
Benham work with many other Chambers across the country and we looking forward to working in partnership with them. The new glossy magazine will be called Masthead. Many of you will remember this was the name of the Chamber’s monthly newsletter, and now is the time to bring it back as the masthead of our flagship journal.
Our electronic communications with members will also change. We will issue a weekly electronic newsletter called Masthead Light, which should appear in your Inbox mid-morning each Friday.
Masthead Light, will contain news and links to book into our forthcoming events. The Chamber is delighted to have sorted out its various mailing lists and we now have one comprehensive database.
Please continue to send the office all your news and we’ll share it with the database. This includes Chamber members, officers and councillors of the four boroughs within our catchment area. Plus, all our local MPs and GLA members.
I will be in touch again, in early 2017.
My Chamber life is getting busier and I am enjoying wearing the Presidential Gong at events. The months of planning the Talent Chamber were worth it. The Chamber was invited to attend the University of Greenwich, Graduate Fairs at Avery Hill and the Old Royal Naval College. Students are signing-up with enthusiasm and we will be working with the other universities and colleges of higher education in our catchment area. Once we have a good database of students, we will approach our members to use the site for recruitment.
As President of the Chamber, I am very proud to have been invited to join the board of the new London South East Colleges. This is the three-way merger of Bromley College of Further and Higher Education with Greenwich Community College and Bexley College; giving LSEC a combined turnover of £50m. I look forward to attending the first board meeting early next year. Apprenticeships will be at the forefront of the Chamber’s activities next year and we are planning events at LSEC and with our partner, Lewisham Southwark College.
I attended the launches of the Royal Greenwich Partnership and the Royal Greenwich Fairness Commission and I am pleased the Chamber is now a working partner on both bodies. Next month, I look forward to telling you more about our new quarterly magazine which launches in January.
As always, please send me any ideas you may have for the Chamber’s activities in 2017.
I enjoyed my year as Vice President working with former President Bob Harris on new ideas and initiatives for the Chamber. The strategy for the Talent Chamber has taken time, but we are very pleased with the result. The Chamber’s breakfast meetings, regular lunches and Link ‘n’ Drink dates are in place for the remainder of the year. We are currently planning a full year of events for 2017 and we welcome ideas for events from you all. 2017 will see the launch of a regular printed magazine and a new electronic method of keeping everyone informed of events and news. I am delighted to have become your President along with Terri Johnson who is now the Vice President. Bob Harris has resigned to live in the south of France and Paula Hines, Peabody and David Sayce, Digital Marketing Consultant have joined the board. Together with our excellent office staff, we are a cohesive and strong team eager to take the Chamber forward: we are in business for business and I look forward to us working together.
Well my last blog as President and in fact soon almost, certainly my last act in public ending 37 years working in the Greenwich and South East London community.
At the AGM I will stand down as President and finally retire from active public life. The last two years have been a bit of a roller coaster and challenging times for the Chamber and there has been much to do behind the scenes to secure our future.
The context of doing business is changing dramatically and I am pleased that I feel the most important achievement during my term of office has been to create a new agenda for the Chamber to follow and the consideration of new services and products to pursue.
At the AGM we will launch the Talent Chamber; it has been hard work in its gestation and will be a major challenge in delivery. If it takes off I have no doubt that it will bring the South East London business community, the Chamber membership and that body of talent out there that want to do business and develop ideas and try things, a new digital home.
On the horizon, and as London grows eastwards, I see finally the emergence of a new heart of commerce in Abbeywood. Yes many years off, but the new transport links and potential river crossing will pave the way perhaps to renew the riverside, bringing prosperity to the hinterland South East London.
There are too many people to thank individually, the staff, the directors and the loyal members who have all made a contribution to a fresh start, but I thank you all. I have only scratched the surface of what can be achieved, others can take the agenda forward and I wish them every success.
Good luck to all and thanks for the opportunity.
Since I last put down some thoughts the business environment has changed dramatically as we enter the first post Brexit period.
A new Chancellor, new approach to trade and industry, falling of the pound, it will be good for some and a challenge for others. We know that the next period will be one of uncertainty for many of our strategic partners and only time will tell how this will all play out, but I personally see major threats for the new Mayor of London in his desire to promote and develop the small business sector.
The Chamber has had a more profitable year and we shall launch at our AGM (15th September) our new ‘product’ or service the Talent Chamber - where we strive to showcase local talent and broker opportunities for both members and non-members to recruit new talent and grow businesses. We hope to have John Lewis the new Director for Peabody at Thamesmead, to address us and I shall take all those present through the Talent Chamber proposal.
Between now and the Rio Olympics take place, it seems only yesterday we were cheering the success of the London 2012 Games. What little summer we appear to have is an opportunity for us all to get out of the workplace and refresh our relationships and if you have time I suggest attending a Chamber event would fit the bill.
I hope to see you all at the AGM and the Talent Chamber workshop in September.
The vote is done and dusted and people have had their say. Though there is considerable uncertainty both politically, economically and culturally - one thing is clear London voted to remain and is likely to see the most of the difficult economic effects. It is likely that jobs will be lost from London, investment will stall, companies will move, prices will rise, unemployment will rise and talent will leave. A large percentage of those directors who lead London’s industry fear the worst. The biggest worry for me is that younger people who predominantly voted to remain will lose the most, through the lack of growth and the loss of access to training and development.
The business community at all levels has a role to play to mitigate the negative effects of the decision, though the South East London Chamber of Commerce is but a small cog in the machinery of London. We will stick to our task of sustaining and developing the sub regional economy and contributing wherever possible to the South East London brand and to our local prosperity. We shall analyze things over the coming months and listen to our members and devise wherever possible events and programmes to ensure our members thrive and prosper.
Trust all is well and business is good. The Chamber has been going through a process of renewal and training, needs analysis to identify key skills that we need on the board. As a result of this I am pleased to announce that Rupert Chichester (partner Boulter and Co), Peter Wilson, (formerly Greenwich Council) and David Warnes (Executive Director Business and Commercial operations Bromley and Orpington College) have joined our board. Rupert brings much needed legal skills into our mix, Peter Wilson much needed strategic advice and David Warnes a lifetime experience of business experience in the formal training sector, we thank them for volunteering and stepping up to the plate. We also welcome our new partner Peabody, who will be sponsoring our new Talent Bank project.
It is time to say goodbye to Peter Scott-Wilds our recent President and long term supporter of the Chamber both in leadership and financial support; we will miss him and Julie Askew, who though has not been with us for long , was full of commitment and ideas.
It’s the Universities showcase time, I attended the University of Greenwich’s Maths Talent evening and was very impressed with the scope of work placements and projects delivered, local businesses need some of this talent for data analysis and programming so you’ve missed an opportunity! Seriously though wherever you can, try to attend graduate shows at our local institutions Ravensbourne, University of Greenwich, Trinity Laban, Goldsmiths and Rose Bruford - the standards are very high and graduates have transferable skills!
The referendum is upon us I am not going to add to the plethora of information or disinformation that’s out there, safe to say it’s important that we all vote our democracy needs all the support it can get!
Don’t forget to come to a Chamber event soon!
The Chamber's President, Bob Harris is currently in France without an Internet service due to a local technical problem and he has asked me to take over his May blog.
As I am about to take up a directorship role for the second time with your Chamber, I thought it only proper, that you should know a little of my background and by stating that I have lived in South East London all my life.
During the 1960s, I attended the same school as Ken Livingstone (Tulse Hill Comprehensive) and what a wacky place that was; the Masters used to wear Public School gowns with matching head wear!
I left in 1967 and worked in Carnaby Street where I met the likes of Jimmy Hendrix and other '60s icons, which was all very exciting at the time and I seem to recall being proud photographed wearing a pair of two toned trousers or slacks as we called them then!
I trained as a surveyor prior to joining Chartered Surveyors Hillier Parker May & Rowden based in Mayfair, where I spent 10 very enjoyable years travelling the country between 1972-1982. I also played a small instrumental part in the office and retail development of the first Arndale Centre in Manchester, prior to it being blown up by the IRA.
Having decided to work for myself, I formed Rummall investments Ltd, a commercial property project management company in 1982 with an accountant friend, taking offices at 29 New Bond Street. As MD I oversaw an investment portfolio of £70m and during this period I was bestowed the honour of the Freedom of the City of London in 1985. Therefore, like other City Freeman I am entitled to take my flock of sheep over London Bridge at any time, although I suspect I won't bother.
I was appointed Business Procurement officer for Greenwich Local Labour and Business in 1998. This was, and still is, very much part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It was created prior to the building of the Millennium Dome, now The 02, and has done an excellent job in promoting job opportunities for Greenwich residents and promoting contract opportunities for local businesses.
In 2006, or thereabouts, I was seconded to the Bexley & Greenwich Chamber of Commerce as their Business Development director, a position funded by my old school mate, Mayor Livingstone's London Development Agency from 2006-2009.
Once in position, I set about amalgamating both the Lewisham and Bromley Chambers to form, what is today the South East London Chamber of Commerce. I felt at the time and still do, that it was important for the whole of South East London to have a significant business presence when dealing with issues effecting this part of London, in particular communication, transport and river crossings.
Still very much supporting Chamber activities when my secondment came to an end, I returned to Greenwich Council in 2010 working in the Business Support team, mainly concentrating on procurement opportunities for local businesses and promoting Meet the Buyer events.
Having recently taken voluntary redundancy from the Royal Borough of Greenwich at the end of March this year, I have now accepted the offer to once again take up the position of Part-time Business Development director of the South East London Chamber of Commerce and I have set myself a number of objectives, which I list below.
Working closely with the President elect, Helen McIntosh who takes up the role later this year. Together we intend to promote more networking events to be held in the numerous exciting venues across the four boroughs within the Chamber, and once again, with the intention of re-introducing monthly networking lunches, which I know have been sorely missed by the majority of members. During my secondment years, these networking lunches were very popular and often attracting well over 100 attendees.
It is also my intention to help heighten the profile of the Chamber by assisting Bob Harris, who has been instrumental in formulating the proposed Smart Chamber and the employment Talent Bank programmes which will be unveiled at the AGM in September when Bob stands down. I very much hope that he will stay on the Chamber's board to oversee these two new strategic Chamber projects.
It will also be my intention to work with the Chamber's Local Government Liaison director, Steve Nelson to try and identify procurement opportunities across the four boroughs, which we will then be promoted to Chamber members.
Finally, I would welcome any ideas that Chamber members might have to improve the Chamber's services.
In the meantime, I very much look forward to meeting up with as many of you as possible over the next few months.
I believe members will welcome the support of the SME’s budget announcement and the Chamber looks forward to the benefits coming on-stream.
In this blog we can formally announce that Peabody the national housing company, has recently taken over the residential and commercial developments in Thamesmead (across Greenwich and Bexley boroughs) and that will be contributing significantly to the regeneration of South East London has agreed to be the lead sponsor of our Talent Bank which we expect to go live in September. They also become a new strategic partner Peabody have ambitious plans for Thamesmead and we hope to play a part in them.
Recently the Chamber supported the ‘Great Gathering’ event at the Royal Naval College endorsing the work of a team of undergraduates from the University of Greenwich where over 400 pounds was raised for the Demelza Charity. We congratulate the students for organising a lively event and informative speech about the Greenwich World Heritage Site delivered by Brendan McCarthy, CEO of the Old Royal Naval College. It is the Chambers policy to encourage wherever possible new enterprise and innovation from young people who will form the business of the future.
We wish you all good trading, networking and socializing and hope to see you soon at a Chamber event!
Thanks to all who attended our event recently held at the O2 and I am sure those who did enjoyed the event. It’s important to remind members of the value of coming to our events and meeting other businesses, making new contacts and winning new business. If you didn’t attend then make a point of putting one of our events in your diary soon!
The proposed SELC Talent Bank becomes one step closer with Peabody joining the Chamber as a strategic partner and agreeing to sponsor the Talent Bank when it comes online in the upcoming months, it is great to welcome Peabody into the Chamber - another major company with whom we can all do business and who recognizes the work of the Chamber in its new and developing agenda.
We are hoping to run events both in the National Apprentice week in March and during Responsible Business week in April, these are key dates in the National Calendar and an opportunity to focus on growing the business in South East London and making a success of business in the local community. The Chamber champions will run and responsible business and as such we believe that well run business grows and succeeds.
Many of you will know Peter Wilson, who for many years has been a key face and force for business support in Greenwich has decided to move on and I am delighted to say that, from April will be spending some of his time with the Chamber helping us develop and grow.
Lastly the In/Out debate, yes the referendum is going to happen on June 23rd and the Chamber directors will organize an opportunity for both campaigns to put their case in the upcoming weeks prior to the vote
Hope to see you at an event soon!
The Great Greenwich Gathering – Thursday 10th March
Breakfast Meeting – Monday 14th March
National Apprentice Week – Wednesday 16th March
Happy New Year and on the behalf of the Chamber I wish all our members a busy and prosperous 2016.
Cold weather has descended and its not a friend of mine, but it looks like things will warm up a bit before to long!
I believe it is not the best practice to talk about any New Years Resolutions but I trust that any made are willingly adhered to and benefit us all.
We are very pleased to welcome Christian Toth to the team as a University of Greenwich graduate Intern. Christian has a first class honours degree in International Business and is helping develop potential new offers for chamber members and conducting further research into opportunities to create a ‘Smart Chamber’ in South East London.
We congratulate all those locally who have made it to the UK’s 2016 honours list and especially Sam Parrett The Principal of Bromley College with whom the Chamber has strong and developing ties, who was awarded the OBE in New Year’s Honours List. I hope that those who made it to our Xmas lunch had a great time I certainly did the food was excellent, seasonal, brilliantly presented. The new facilities at the Orpington Campus of Bromley College are second to none and our thanks go to the chefs and the students for a job well done!
We have some superb events coming for you in the near future - including the Business Networking Lunch on 10 February at The Slug and Lettuce in Greenwich.
Look forward to seeing you there!
The first blog of 2016 sets the scene for the year ahead.
2015 ended on a high with our Xmas lunch, and I think everyone who attended truly had a good time, good food with good company. Our thanks go to Bromley College and their Catering and Hospitality programme at the Orpington Campus. Which features state of the art facilities in a great location. They pulled out the stops to provide a classic, but innovative menu. It was great to enjoy such an event knowing we were contributing to the education and training of the next generation of staff across the sector. We shall be back and I encourage all local business in Bromley to get involved!
Bromley features again with the good news that FLR Spectron Ltd announces its third year as a Chamber strategic partner. This award winning multi services business has played a blinder in helping develop the Chamber in recent times and we thank them once again.
However, it is not all good news, we have been caught up in the cuts to BIS announced in the recent Autumn Statement and as such we shall not be able to benefit from the second stage of the Growth Accelerator scheme. This will slow our ability to bring the Talent Bank scheme live and slow the development of the Chamber as a Smart Chamber.
Next year will see the introduction of our new business intelligence service and we are pleased to welcome Christian Toth, a first-class honours student from the University of Greenwich (another strategic partner) who for the next three months will be working as a graduate intern developing a business analyst research programme to help introduce this new facility.
On the behalf of the Directors and staff of the South East Chamber of Commerce we wish you a peaceful, prosperous and profitable 2016.
27th November 2015
The festive season is upon us and this edition of my blog will do its best to address that!
But first, it was interesting to see the recent report that makes is clear how little money is getting to those SMEs that need to invest to grow and develop, despite the introduction of many new sources.
There are many new options available to businesses such as crowd sourcing, challenger banks, credit unions, peer to peer lending, and this for me has become a strong argument to ensure that our new Talent Bank must signpost opportunities to companies in SE London to enable them to grow and prosper. The Talent Bank website portal is currently going through a competitive tender process, but soon we hope to go into production!
We say hello to Stella Degazon our new Office Operations Manager who is going to be our day-to-day person managing all things Chamber and the first point of call for many of you. Over time we will all get to know her well, but in the meantime we wish her every success in her new job. She comes from the entertainment frenzy of The O2 and brings her event skills and experience to our highly successful events programme.
We also say hello to Sandra Idio and Emma Bernard, our two new apprentice graduates who will be with us for the next period of time and we hope are making the first steps along new and successful careers.
And sadly we say goodbye to Shirley Nelson, who has been the rock behind the Chamber for over six years and to whom I owe an immense vote of thanks for contributing to the Chamber in difficult times and helping us take the Chamber into the next chapter of a fine history. Shirley has decided to retire and enjoy her leisure time whilst contributing to the family fortunes.
We also say a sad goodbye to Cheyenne who has been a fine apprentice and I hope has gained valuable experience whilst contributing to keeping the Chamber on the road! She has decided to travel and see a bit of life before her next challenge.
Those who have booked will have the opportunity to wish Shirley and Cheyenne well at our Christmas lunch on 9 December at Bromley College and taste the fabulous food at their new hospitality venue.
See you there!
23 October 2015
Now the dust has settled from the AGM my blog this week will turn to my presidential year and the year’s programme.
We shall of course continue to push business to business activity and procurement in order to do our very best to help companies win new business.
With the help of Branduin we shall be able to run business clinics for new members, but for those of you who are well established it cant hurt to have an MOT! Let us know if you want to take up this offer.
Don’t forget we are working in partnership with South East Enterprise to run free training and development sessions for Greenwich businesses on e-business, including a free initial digital ‘health check’. Sign up if you haven’t already done so.
I will be working with the team to plan some special events throughout the year hopefully to stimulate business development and global enterprise.
The development of a new Talent Bank moved a step closer with the board giving the go ahead to move to build the new portal to service this activity and hopefully we will be able to launch in the new year.
It’s really important that if you have any ideas or activities that you would like to see the Chamber run on your behalf let us know!
We hope to be able to introduce a new business intelligence service and renew our business directories again as a service for members.
At the end of November we lose our apprentice Cheyenne who has been with us for 9 months who has decided to go travelling. We thank her for her hard work and wish her well.
Lastly we shall be waving goodbye to Shirley at the end of December who is taking a well-earned rest before taking on other challenges. If you want to say a personal goodbye then make sure you come to our Christmas event on the 9 December.
Hope to see you at that event or one of the many chamber offerings we organise for you soon.
29 September 2015
For this week’s blog, I’d like to report on the Annual General Meeting. I noted at the AGM how important the membership of the Chamber is to me and to my fellow Directors of the Chamber. The Chamber is first and foremost about its members.
During my Presidential year with a challenging economic backdrop it’s really important that members keep in touch, attend events, and participate. We need you to engage, turn up to events let us know what we are doing right and more importantly when we do things wrong. Our aim is to create a dynamic interactive business community, winning business from each other, growing strong, employing more people, and contributing both to the prosperity of our geography and ensuring south east London is a great place to live and work.
We are as strong as the total sum of our members and our network punches well above its weight in the big strategic issues of the day and there is much going on locally that the Directors need to engage with and push for.
We are not well served by superfast broadband and there is a long-term decline in industrial floor space. The local authorities in membership are pushing hard to support business: Lewisham is developing three Enterprise centres at Ladywell, Catford and Deptford, and Bromley is developing Biggin Hill. Greenwich has invested in one of the largest e- commerce programmes to be seen locally, and hopefully these innovations will stimulate business-to-business activity.
At the AGM we said goodbye to Clive Barker who has been a key Director over many years and we wish him the best for the future.
I would also like personally to thank Peter Scott-Wilds of FLR Spectron Ltd whose Presidency has ended after two successful years, and for his terrific contribution to the Chamber during that time and the many years prior to that when he’s been an active member and board director.
Thanks to all who have attended our events recently and I hope to see you at a chamber event in the near future.
24 August 2015
South East London Chamber is at its heart a membership organisation and the most important date in the year is the annual meeting. This year 9 September is the chosen date and the event, which is to be held at Charlton Athletic, is an opportunity to get feedback from members for the Directors in order to plan and assess the best way of spending limited resources.
It’s also an opportunity to review our achievements and make plans for the future. It has not been an easy year with a considerable change of membership, and the Directors have spent time concentrating on a change agenda in order to make the Chamber more appealing to the changing face of business in South East London.
We have concentrated on a number of initiatives designed to widen the Chamber’s appeal and to attract new members as well as listen to the needs of those who have supported us over the years.
We continue to provide events, workshops and meetings to deliver business-to-business activity across the board. We have introduced sector working, a new micro business rate, launched South London Wired and the Pub Clubs, and encouraged the Local Authorities to be more proactive in placing orders locally.
We have developed the South East London Talent Bank and hope to go live in the Autumn of this year. We are supporting local business campaigns and working closely with developers to ensure the right sort of commercial premises are provided to encourage growth and innovation within our geography.
We have engaged with a number of other significant partners such as the Greenwich Tourism Partnership and the new Enterprise hubs in Lewisham and continue to play a role in economic development in Bromley and Bexley.
We continue to play a sub regional economic development role with key agencies and opinion formers but fundamentally we need you the membership to work with us to help develop the services that you need to sustain and grow your business. So do come and participate and contribute to UK PLC.
And if you are interested in becoming a director of the company then let us know.
Hope to see you at the AGM.
1 June 2015
The Chamber has won a small lottery bid to help create a new Social Enterprise sector for South East London. The social enterprise sector is the fastest growing new business network in the UK, and the sector is broadening its business base throughout South-East London. As we do all new business, we will be welcoming this new initiative and doing our best to recruit them into the Chamber to benefit from our business activity and support. This means we shall be able to undertake a mapping exercise and create a focus within the Chamber as we have done for the Construction Industry. It is also really good to celebrate the work of Berkeley Homes one of our strategic partners who are always interested in supporting the development of culture. Berkeley Homes are also the destination for the new cultural buildings based in the Royal Arsenal provided by Greenwich Council and celebrated by the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival recently. Berkeley homes have also created and new quality farmers market which focuses on quality, artisan food produced in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and is being launched on Saturday 11 July at 10am at Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal Riverside development in Woolwich. Other Chamber members are encouraged to support this initiative I hope you do!