Woking Business

DISCOVERING an appetite for food with flavour and dishes from a variety of cultures has fuelled the success of cooking and catering business Rameeza’s Repertoire.

It was set up by Rameeza Rayner, a West Byfleet mother of two, who focused on the curry dishes of her childhood as the launchpad for her business. She is now branching out to also provide cookery workshops on a range of international cuisines.

Culinary magician Rameeza Rayner

“Having studied law at university and then working in insurance in the City I never expected that I would be running a business offering catering and cooking workshops,” said Rameeza.

She credits her mother Rafeea, who was Cordon Bleu trained, as being the inspiration for her love of cooking and an introduction to teaching people to cook.

Rafeea used to run adult education cookery classes. In addition to that, as her mother is from the south of India and her father from northern Pakistan, Rameeza has gained a knowledge of a wide variety of regional curries.

Rameeza at work with a pestle and mortar

She started cooking while she was chair of her children’s school parents’ social committee, catering for some of their events on an ad hoc basis. When her two-year tenure ended, her friends suggested that she set up a catering business – which was the beginning of her Friday Curries venture.

She started taking orders for curries that she would prepare on a Friday and clients would collect from her house, gradually building a loyal following of regulars, primarily through word of mouth. Then, responding to requests for curry workshops, she started teaching groups at her home.

“People come with a very positive frame of mind and I really enjoy the sociable aspect of these days because I find cooking can be quite solitary,” she said.

Among the popular dishes included in her workshops have been Lamb Bhuna and Chicken in a Coriander Sauce, as well as a simple okra dish.

“People are surprised by the amount of time needed to prepare and cook the dishes, for example you have to allow the onions to cook slowly to bring out the flavour and create a base for the sauce,” Rameeza explained.

While she continues to provide catering services, she hopes to increase her workshops and intends to include Korean, Peruvian and Mexican dishes among a range of options.

For the full story get the 14 November edition of the News & Mail

THE 2019 Woking Means Business exhibition has been hailed a success, once again showcasing all that the enterprising borough has to offer.

Exhibitors chat to visitors in the HG Wells Centre

“I was delighted with the response from exhibitors, visitors and speakers,” said the organiser, Paul Webster of Woking Chamber of Commerce.

“The council pre-show breakfast briefing was packed out and got us off to a great start while the atmosphere in the hall was the usual ‘jolly, friendly buzz’, according to Keith Grover, of Networking in Surrey.”

The exhibition was held, for the 16th year running, on Wednesday last week in the HG Wells conference and events centre in Woking. It was the opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses from the area to network and showcase their products and services.

The News and Mail’s own carol Miller with Simon Isherwood of the BNI Woking business networking group

The day started with a Woking Borough Council breakfast forum and included seminars on tips for becoming an exceptional manager and leader, making the most of online marketing and winning new business.

Danusia Jolliffe of TVision Technology, a first-time exhibitor at the show, said: “We have been in Woking for five years now as a business, and it was really great to be able to speak to so many local companies.

“My colleague told me that he’d had more – and higher – quality conversations at this show, than we had had at one recently attended in London.

“We’ll definitely be exhibiting again, and look forward to next year’s event. We hope that everyone enjoyed the drinks reception at the end of the day that we sponsored.”

For more on this story and pictures of the event, get the 24 October edition of the News & Mail

PROPERTY consultants Vail Williams LLP are marketing a number of suites at the One Crown Square office block in Woking town centre, ranging from 312sq ft to 1,618sq ft.

The refurbished building, formerly known as Crown House, has been home to Vail Williams itself since 2018. The other occupiers include SMA Technologies, BLG Development Finance and Haier Appliances UK.

They benefit from a range of amenities including a concierge service, a refurbished reception area, meeting rooms, superfast broadband and wifi connections, together with communal tea points, secure cycle parking and showers.

QUALITY WORKSPACE – The remodelled reception area at One Crown Square

There is an onsite café and Fitness Space will shortly be fitting out a gym in the former RBS branch premises on the ground floor.

Vail Williams surveyor Elliot McNish said: “Opportunities of this quality are hard to come by in Woking. With a broad range of office suites available for start-ups, as well as more established businesses, One Crown Square offers high quality refurbished office accommodation on flexible terms to meet the evolving needs of today’s occupier.

“As tenants in the building ourselves, we speak from experience when we say this is a great place to locate your business.”

Vail Williams has been appointed to market office space by McKay Securities, which bought the building in 2014 and has since undertaken an extensive rolling refurbishment. There is now a total of 6,226sq ft available to let.

More information about the property can be found at www.onecrownsquare.com.

A COFFEE shop that combines a wide range of snacks with hot and cold drinks has opened in Woking town centre.

Coffee fans Bradley and Larne Johannie and son Benjamin enjoy drinks at the new cafe

Black and White has taken the site previously occupied by Café Americano, later renamed Santa fe, in Middle Walk.

Carl Whiting-Gorley, the owner of Black and White, has been in catering since he was 16 and considered opening a coffee shop in Guildford before choosing the Woking site.

Carl said the café catered for all dietary requirements and doesn’t charge extra for non-dairy milk.

He said the site was ideal for passing trade, especially commuters going to and from the railway station.

For the full story get the 17 October edition of the News & Mail (Pictures by Terry Habgood)

WOKING Means Business opens its doors for the sixteenth time on Wednesday to provide the perfect platform for companies wishing to take advantage of all that this enterprising town has to offer.

The event, on 16 October, is probably the longest-established business-to-business expo in Surrey.

STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD – Woking Means Business invariably attracts a large and attentive audience

Those keen to get right up to date with developments in the town can attend the free Woking Borough Council Breakfast Briefing at 7.45am (for an 8.15am start), immediately prior to the show opening.

Speakers include the leader of the council, David Bittleston; chief executive, Ray Morgan; and guest speaker Ruth Nic Aoidh, executive director, commercial & legal at McLaren Automotive.

Anyone wishing to attend this event can do so if they register at www.wokingmeansbusiness.com/seminars, click on the main registration page link and book on Eventbrite. Pre-booking is essential as this event is always oversubscribed. For those unable to get to the breakfast, the council will be represented on the Woking Works stand no 6.

The early forum gives the show a substantial boost because the hall is quickly filled with delegates from breakfast and visitors as soon as the exhibition opens at 9.30am.

Last year’s Woking Means Business event attracted a great turnout

There will be a fascinating range of products and services on show, with exhibitors including Woking Borough Council, DoubleTree by Hilton, Woking Football Club, Lansbury Business Estate, who have not missed a show since it started in 2004, Menzies, Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, Eagle Radio, Woking News & Mail, Truffles, Headline Design & Print, Madlins, Curchod & Co, Tvision Technology, CCS Insurance, and the Talbot Inn.

There are three speakers on the seminar programme at 10.30, 11.30 and 12.30. All three consider different but essential aspects of running a successful business and explain how visitors can increase their knowledge and enhance their skills.

At 10.30am, Dene Stuart will present How to become an Exceptional Manager and Leader; an hour later, Paul Squires offers practical advice on how to make the most of your marketing online; and at 12.30, Richard Maybury delivers Win Easier in your Business – Top Tips from “Mr Productivity”.

Places can be booked at the same seminar link mentioned above.

Car Parking for Woking Means Business

During the regeneration of Woking Town Centre, parking has become more difficult. The council’s live link will show car park spaces available when you visit Woking Means Business.


For the full story get the 10 October edition of the News & Mail

A WOKING engineering company was officially presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise during a royal visit.

The Duke of Kent was at Semmco’s factory on Goldsworth Park Trading Estate on Wednesday last week to hand over the award, which was made for the company’s international trade achievements.

Managing Director Stuart McOnie accepts a commemorative glass vase from the duke

The Duke was welcomed by Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey, Shahid Azeem, who is also chairman of the Woking Asian Business Forum.

Semmco manufactures access platforms and ground support equipment for the aviation sector and rail access platforms. The award recognises outstanding short-term growth in its overseas sales over the last three years.

Managing director Stuart McOnie said “We are extremely proud to have received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade and to have been presented with this award by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.

“It’s an incredible achievement and one that has been possible because of the hard work and commitment from our amazing staff and the support of all of our customers.

“We are looking forward to continuing to develop our range of products and to promoting and selling them around the world.”

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is made each year to around 200 organisations. Now in its 53rd year, it is the most prestigious business award in the country. Winning businesses are able to use the Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years.

During the royal visit, long-serving staff were presented with individual awards to mark the occasion and to thank them for their contribution to the company success.

For more information about Semmco visit www.semmco.com.

For the full story get the 10 October edition of the News & Mail

TV PRESENTER, architect and builder George Clarke visited the new V4 World design centre in Horsell and praised the company’s commitment to sustainability.

Following a multi-million pound investment the wood flooring centre allows the company to showcase its luxury flooring products and wall panels to customers in individual room settings. It also offers product training facilities, including the fitting of the various floor and wall products.

Robin Russell V4 general manager far left, former V4 employee Katherine Williams and TV presenter George Clarke with a local customer Lisa Mathews, of Past and Present Wood Flooring

George, who mingled with guests including designers, specifiers, architects and interior design influencers, was given a tour of the centre and briefed on the product range. 

He said: “I’m a big fan of V4, they have some fantastic, very sustainable products. For me, it’s important to be as ecological and sustainable as possible, and V4 do an amazing job.”

He also presented prizes to the winners of V4’s Cube design awards, for the best installation, a stunning home renovation completed by the owners of a Victorian home in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, chosen by a public vote on the V4 website, from a shortlist of 10 nominees.

A family-run business V4 has four warehouses that amount to 35,000 sq. ft and employs 40 members of staff. Managing director Chris Vincent, said: “It has been a major project to bring the design centre to the point where we were proud to welcome George Clarke.

“It was a pleasure to welcome all our guests and the feedback has been extremely positive.   We hope to open a showroom in Clerkenwell, which is renowned for being the home of trendy design centres, followed by a centre in the North of England, with Manchester an option under consideration.”

INVOTRA, a Woking-based company providing innovative intranet and extranet services, has scooped another regional award, winning the South East SME Employer of the Year category at the National Apprenticeship Awards.

The company will now go through to the national final on 27 November, which is England’s biggest apprenticeship awards ceremony, designed to recognise the achievements of the country’s best apprentices and employers.

Steve Latus, from the Education and Skills Funding Agency,  far left, and Michael Grant president of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT , present the award to Alison Galvin, the Invotra co-founder and financial director and Lisa Parker, Invotra executive assistant

The Chertsey Road company has won the regional finals of the competition every year since 2016 and was recognised as “highly commended” for the past two years running in the national awards.

Invotra is an enterprise software company specialising in providing intranet and portal services worldwide, including to central government civil servants and 22 local authorities.

Alison Galvin, Invotra co-founder and chief financial officer, said: “As a service company, people are at the very heart of everything we do and critical to exceeding our customers’ expectations. Because of this, we invest a huge amount of time and effort into developing people.

“Winning the South East Regional Finalist SME Employer of the Year means so much to us as it validates all the hard work and commitment we put into mentoring and developing our apprentices. Just because you don’t have a qualification from a university does not mean you can’t get to a top position. Apprenticeships create a level playing field.”

Invotra decided to invest in apprenticeships in order to be more attractive to raw talent; to provide specific technology and product skills and to invest in the economy.

Over the past four years, Invotra has had a 100% retention rate of qualified apprentices, with eight on higher or degree apprenticeships and 16 on permanent placements.

The SME Employer of the Year category is sponsored by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, which said that the sector employs more than 16 million people and that the importance of digital skills is just as critical for SMEs as for any large organisation.

Annette Allmark, head of apprenticeships at BCS said: “Apprentices can learn so much from being employed in a SME that will not only help them achieve the apprenticeship they are working towards but provide a wealth of experience as they progress through their careers. 

“Automation and digital transformation are becoming part and parcel of all organisations, whatever their size, and we have seen some outstanding examples of how SMEs are engaging with apprenticeships in these areas.”

This year marks the 16th National Apprenticeship Awards and consists of nine regional ceremonies, with a national final taking place in London. The awards showcase the diverse and growing range of sectors engaged with apprenticeships, while celebrating the achievements of outstanding apprentices, apprentice employers and individuals to inspire others to follow in their footsteps and champion apprenticeships across England.

Education Secretary Gavin Williams said: “Huge congratulations to all of the regional winners. Apprenticeships change lives, improve businesses and support local communities, so it’s great to see such a diverse range of employers and apprentices being recognised for their great work. I wish them all the best of luck for the final award ceremony in November.”

A TRADESMAN’S van dubbed “the dirtiest in Britain” has been given a professional makeover – thanks to a leading builders merchant.

Selco Builders Warehouse launched a nationwide search to find the filthiest trade vehicle on the road.

Inundated with entries, from plumbers’ cars caked in mud to neglected builders’ vans full of old cement and dust, judges carefully studied the dirty photos – before crowning a van belonging to Arek Build & Renovations in New Haw as the country’s grubbiest vehicle.

Just look at us now. From filthy van to clean machine.
Anna Bargiel, of Arek Build & Renovations, with Scott Coleman, owner of Totally Dynamic’s centre in Redhill

“We have to admit, we did let this van get a little dirty,” said Anna Bargiel, of Arek.

“It was amazing to win this Selco competition and to receive this fantastic re-wrap. Now that it has been fully cleaned and re-branded, it looks better than it did when it was new.”

Having picked a winner, Selco paid for the offending van to be professionally cleaned and wrapped by Totally Dynamic.

“We know that busy tradespeople often struggle to find the time to clean their work vehicles. We had some impressive entries but just felt that the Arek van deserved a bit of TLC,” said Carine Jessamine, marketing director of Selco.

“We were delighted to team up with Totally Dynamic to give the Arek team a real boost. The van now looks fantastic and hopefully the additional branding on the vehicle will drive extra business.”

BARONS Pub Company has added two premises near Woking to its portfolio, taking the total to nine.

The Jovial Sailor in Ripley and The Inn at West End, the latter being the first with accommodation for the award-winning group, were acquired after a £2,835,000 commercial mortgage was secured from HSBC UK.

OVERNIGHT SENSATION – The Inn at West End is the first of Barons Pub Company’s establishments to offer accommodation

The purchase of the two pubs means Barons will create 40 new full and part-time jobs, in addition to the existing 24 members of staff.

Part of the funding is for the renovation of both pubs, allowing the company to create similar atmospheres to those of its existing establishments. This includes new furnishings and lighting for the restaurant areas, and higher quality catering equipment for the kitchens.

Clive Price, managing director of Barons Pub Company, said: “We’re proud to deliver great food and drink for people to enjoy with their families and friends.

 “Thanks to the support from our HSBC UK relationship manager, Andy Brunning, we’ve been able to bolster our offer and begin our venture into providing overnight accommodation for our customers.

“We look forward to welcoming our new guests in both locations and getting to know the locals.”

Andrew Steer, HSBC UK’s area director for business banking in Surrey and Sussex, said: “We are committed to supporting British businesses, helping them to realise their ambitions.

“Since its inception in 2000, Barons has steadily developed its portfolio of pubs and we were happy to assist the business this time around as they looked to scale up further.”