Woking Business

DURING Volunteers’ Week, which started last Saturday, Yorkshire Building Society is celebrating donating more than 100,000 hours of volunteering time by its staff members.

The time has been given to charities and good causes around the UK since the society’s award-winning volunteering scheme began in 2007.

People who work at the society’s branch in Woking have donated more than 93 hours to local community projects.

GOOD CAUSES – Yorkshire Building Society staff celebrate donating 100,000 hours of time to volunteering

Charities, schools, good causes and community groups that need voluntary support can call at the office in Commercial Way to find out ways they might be able to benefit from the scheme.

Woking manager Emma Batley-Spalding said: “Volunteers’ Week is a great reminder of the contribution voluntary work can make across the UK and we know first-hand about the impact it has brought in Woking.

“For over a decade we have seen that time can be just as valuable a gift as money to charities and community groups. That’s why the society’s programme gives us the opportunity to support projects and charities in our local community here in Woking and we want to hear from more local groups that need support.”

One of the society’s flagship volunteering activities is Money Minds, a free financial education programme delivered by staff to help children aged five to 19 learn more about managing money.

Yorkshire Building Society’s volunteering scheme allows every staff member up to 31 hours’ paid leave a year to help out at a charity or good cause of their choice.

Volunteers’ Week, is an annual event which takes place at the start of June. It celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK.

EAST meets West at Woking’s newest eatery Wrapchic, which was opened by the Mayor of Woking,  Cllr Will Forster in Woking town centre’s Peacocks Shopping Centre.

The outlet has brought Indian street food together with an easy to eat Mexican format and is one of 32 franchised outlets across the UK, of which Woking’s, owned by Sarika Grover, is the newest.


New Wrapchic owner Sarika Grover with, from left, Mahesh Raikar, Managing Director and founder of Wrapchic, her husband Vishal Grover, and the Mayor of Woking Cllr Will Forster

Mrs Grover, who lives in Guildford, says: “Every time I came to the Peacocks shopping mall I thought there was something missing – there was a McDonalds and a Chinese eatery but there wasn’t enough hot food on offer. Also, when I looked at the local demographic it was primarily a mix of Asian and Western people so I thought that Wrapchic would be a good idea.”

Wrapchic was opened in the food court area of the shopping centre on Friday 26th in a flourish of traditional Indian drums since when Mrs Grover says: “We’ve been really well received. It is casual food to eat on the go.”

A mother of teenagers, her son 18 and daughter 13, Mrs Grover explains: “Young people don’t want to sit down to eat in a formal restaurant. All our food is fresh, nothing is frozen and the fillings are familiar Indian food but served in a wrap, burrito or pannini.”

She adds: “I have visited the mall quite often in the past so I’m very pleased to be here but I would like to open another franchise.”

LOCAL companies have been celebrating after being awarded a prestigious business honour, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Woking-based engineering company Semmco has been recognised for International Trade for outstanding short-term growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

GRAND DESIGN – Stanhope-Seta has received the Queen’s Award for Innovation for the design and manufacture of FIJI

Semmco designs innovative solutions to create a safe and efficient working environment for aviation, helicopter and rail customers, engineering maintenance equipment, access platforms and aircraft refuelling systems. The company has seen its overseas sales grow from £392,340 as 19% of total sales in 2015 to £1.365 million as 40.5% of total sales in December 2017.

“We are extremely proud to have received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category this year. It’s an incredible achievement and a testament to the hard work of every person at Semmco,” said Stuart McOnie, managing director.

“We’ve had an exciting few years; in 2017 we saw the opening of our maintenance and assembly facility in Dubai. Last year we expanded our design and manufacturing facility in Woking due to high demand, and this year we opened our USA office in Texas. This award win puts us in good stead for the future.”

Semmco has an impressive roster of customers, including British Airways, Qantas, Delta, Easy Jet, First Capital Connect, Alstrom and Rolls Royce. It will celebrate its award during a royal reception for the Queen’s Awards winners in the summer.

Now in its 53rd year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the country, with winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years.

Among those is Stanhope-Seta a family-owned business that specialises in the design and manufacture of laboratory test instruments for quality control applications. From its manufacturing base in Chertsey, they export innovative instruments worldwide and have received a Queen’s Award for Innovation.

The award, granted for the design and manufacture of the Fame in Jet instrument (FIJI), is the third such honour to be bestowed upon Stanhope-Seta, having previously won the International Trade award in 2012 and the award for Innovation in 2014.

The FIJI detects ultra-low levels of a chemical compound known as fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), classified as a contaminant in aviation fuel whose presence must be strictly controlled. FAME contamination in sufficient quantities could result in airport closures and grounded aircraft.

The FIJI provides a rapid and reliable method of detection, and is now deployed around the world in both commercial and military settings and forms one of the key testing techniques designed to ensure that aviation fuel is fit and safe for use in today’s aircraft.

“The Queen’s Award is the most prestigious business award made to UK companies and winning a third award is a proud and defining moment in the company’s history,” said Stanhope-Seta directors Giles and Martin Verity. “It is a real achievement to receive this award in recognition of our loyal, hardworking team. We will continue to fly the flag for Britain with its development and manufacturing excellence.”

NEW challenges for businesses have been kept human resources expert Martine Robins in demand in the Woking area; so much so, she is taking over The HR Dept Guildford and broadening the reach of her outsourced HR support business.

The expansion became live from 1 April, less than three years after she moved from her corporate role to running her own business. A prominent member of Woking Chambers and founding partner of CMPP Woking, Martine expects the current unsettled impact of Brexit and ongoing issues over employment legislation will continue to keep her busy providing support to local businesses.

“The ‘employment field’ continues to be regarded as a battleground for businesses not least with the introduction of new legislation, in May 2018, namely GDPR. Meanwhile, it’s clear that Brexit is having an effect on the labour market and will continue to do so regardless of whatever the final outcome is,” she said. “Finally, there are also issues following the Matthew Taylor report in 2017 – the Good Work Plan – which the Government has accepted. The outcome will mean more that employers will have to ensure that they are employing people in line with the recommendations that will become law.

“If you are an SME business, how do you cope with these changes by ensuring compliance that will support and align to your business rather than detract from it?  This is where I can add value to clients, by ensuring that they are compliant and removing risk from employing people wherever possible.”

THERE’s no stopping Liane Jackson, who set up her own franchise as a Daisy First Aid Trainer less than a year ago and came away from a national business ceremony with a Highly Commended award.

“It was very exciting,” said Liane, a 55-year-old Woking grandmother, having made it through to the finals of The Family Network Recognition National Business Awards to receive a Highly Commended in the New Business of the Year category.


Liane at the awards ceremony on London

“Being a grandma to a gorgeous three-year-old, I wanted to bring paediatric first aid training to as many parents and also grandparents as possible.”

Daisy First Aid CEO Jenni Dunman said: “Liane has shone so brightly since joining Daisy First Aid, she is a fantastic trainer with such incredible feedback. 

“She has had to learn so many new business skills but has done this with enthusiasm and confidence. I am so impressed with the way Liane has grown her business from a seed. She has become a popular member of her local community and is a true delight to be around.”

For Liane, Daisy First has been “some of the best training I’ve done in my life”. She is currently working for her Level 3 Education and Training certificate which will enable her to train teachers and school classes: “I am passionate about providing all parents with lifesaving first aid skills so that they feel prepared in an emergency.”

A qualified paediatric instructor and registered nurse with 25 years nursing experience, she worked in intensive care in several London hospitals as well as St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey for many years. She also worked as a school nurse with children with severe disabilities and as a genetic counsellor working with families affected by genetic diseases before leaving the NHS to work for Virgin Airlines as a cabin crew first aider on long haul flights.

Technology solutions specialist, Krome Technologies, has purchased new office headquarters near Chertsey town centre from Gardiner Real Estate plc.

Woking-based property advisers, Vail Williams LLP, were the selling agents for one of the biggest property deals to date in the Chertsey area this year.

It will see Krome relocate from its offices in Addlestone, to a fully self-contained office building at Kestrel Court, Pound Road, Chertsey – just two miles from its former premises.  

New premises – Krome Technology’s new 9,658 sq. ft. premises in Kestrel Court in Chertsey, which is soon to be named Krome House

Situated five minutes’ walk from the town centre, the building, which will soon be renamed Krome House, underwent full refurbishment to create 9,658 sq. ft. of outstanding high-quality office space spread across two floors.

Made up of an open plan first floor, together with two separate ground floor wings accessed from a modern reception, the building is ideally situated close to the M25, with good transport links to both Heathrow and London.

Steve New, partner at Vail Williams, who marketed the property on behalf of Gardiner Real Estate said: “We’re pleased to have secured the sale of this property to Krome at what is an incredibly buoyant time for the Chertsey office property market.

“Having been involved in every detail from the design of the space to the marketing and subsequent sale of the property, it is very satisfying to see the end result and welcome such an exciting, high growth firm to the town.”

Krome, founded in 2009, recently announced turnover in excess of £15 million for the first time, with profits up 19% on the previous year.

John Hall, Managing Director at Gardiner Real Estate, commented: “We’re grateful to Vail Williams for the expert insight they brought to this transaction, which resulted in a competitive Grade A property capable of attracting a high-quality, high-growth occupier like Krome.”

Krome, which has contracts in place with a number of enterprise businesses and High Street names, is committed to providing a quality service around all aspects of Information Technology, delivering an enhanced customer and employee experience. A core part of this is the environment in which its employees work.

Rupert Mills, Director at Krome discusses: “We moved our Manchester office into new high-quality facilities in Salford Quays last year with great success. This move for our head office in Surrey was the next natural evolution for us.

“Having a great working environment that our team can enjoy and be proud of helps us build on our culture of being a quality place to work, whilst providing the right services for our customers.”

75 staff from Krome are expected to relocate to the new premises over the next 6 months.

The Woking-based, multi-million pound, international IT distributor Nuvias, has appointed Simon England as its new CEO. He has been tasked with taking Nuvias into the next phase of its development, leveraging the service-led and solution-rich platform and completing the vision to become Europe’s leading High-Value distributor, accelerating growth and impact for partners.

Simon England

Simon takes full operational control as chief executive from 1 April. His experience in developing and leading businesses in the value added distribution space for almost 30 years includes his most recent role as senior vice president at Next Generation Technologies.

The Nuvias Group, which has a turnover in excess of $500million, has brought together award-winning channel businesses across Cybersecurity, Advanced Networking and Unified Communications. The initial phase, integrating these acquisitions as a group, has been led by Paul Eccleston, who will take the position of Executive Chairman of Nuvias Group, retaining responsibility for vendor and corporate Strategy.

He said: “This is a very exciting step in the development of Nuvias and will enable us to move forward under Simon’s leadership to fully realise the enormous opportunity for Nuvias over the months and years to come.” 

Simon said: “Nuvias is exceptionally well positioned in a market which continues to grow strongly and is transforming how IT Services are securely delivered and consumed. Nuvias has a unique set of assets, from its expertise and reputation to its partner network and portfolio of market-leading vendors and services. I am excited about the opportunity to build on these foundations”.

THE Woking-based digital intranet software company Invotra hosted a visit by Anne Milton, the   Apprenticeships and Skills Minister.

The visit marked Apprenticeship Week and also International Women’s Day. Mrs Milton was formerly Minister for Women and met several female apprentices at the Chertsey Road offices.

MPs Anne Milton and Jonathan Lord with Alison Galvin, far right, and other staff and apprentices at Invotra

Andrew Doyle, a former Apprentice of the Year, and Leonie Watson led a session demonstrating Invotra’s enABLE laboratory, which helps to improve the accessibility of computer equipment and software.

Mrs Milton used several sets of special glasses, which simulate different forms of visual impairments, so she could experience what this was like and how different products and designs could be used to improve accessibility.

The visit was organised by Alison Galvin, the Invotra HR director, who met Mrs Milton, who is also MP for Guildford, at an International Women’s Day event last year.

During the visit on Friday the minister saw a session led by Chelsea Cadd, who has completed a level 4 cyber security apprenticeship, that included a live cross-site scripting attack involving apprentices Shona McClarence in the Newcastle office, and Georgia Ashby.

The day included visits by Keith Smith, the director of apprenticeships at the Education and Skills Funding Agency, and Jonathan Lord, the Woking MP.

Alison said the visit went very well.

“It was wonderful – beyond what we thought it would be,” she said. “It has put Woking on the map.”

Alison said that Invotra software was used in more than half of all government offices and having apprentices had helped the business to succeed.

“Many of them are now heading up their areas of business and several are now part of our management.

“We have put a lot of investment into apprentices; its very multifaceted.”

WOKING-BASED Harvey Water Softeners has been presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation by the Duke of Kent, who visited the Hipley Street factory and offices.

The Duke was given a demonstration of the company’s products and then taken on a tour of the factory and production line where thousands of domestic water softeners are made each year.

He presented the trophy to company founder Harvey Bowden and Martin Hurworth, the managing director.


Harvey Bowden, the Duke of Kent, and Martin Hurworth

Harvey was chosen as a winner of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation for 2018 for its invention of the first compact, non-electric block salt water softener.

Guests included Michael More-Molyneux, the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Jonathan Lord, the MP for Woking, Jeannie Satchell from the Local Enterprise Partnership Enterprise M3 and John Pearce, CEO of the manufacturing organisation Made in Britain, of which Harvey is a member. Also, in attendance were Beryl Hunwick, the deputy Mayor of Woking, and Louise Morales, the borough councillor for the area around the Harvey.

Mr Hurworth said: “We’re really pleased to have won this award and it’s great that our team has been able to take Harvey Bowden’s original idea and grow this business into the success it is today – so well in fact that we now need to move to larger premises to keep that growth going.”

Mr Lord said: “What a great Woking business success story we have here. What began as one man with a dream is now the largest water softening company in Europe with 300 staff in Woking alone.

“It only goes to show what can be achieved when you develop the best product and have the drive and ambition to go out and sell it to the rest of the world.

“Harvey Water Softeners is an amazing example for local businesses.”

The compact twin-cylinder water softener was invented by Mr Bowden and was the first to fit under a kitchen sink with two cylinders that allowed for continuous softening. It solves the problem of limescale build-up for hard water areas.

Harvey sells thousands of water softeners every year to households across the UK and around the world. The company hopes to move from its Old Woking site to Fairoaks Garden Village, where it would create a further 150 new jobs in 2023.

The company, which turns over more than £30 million a year, posted record sales last year, with a quarter of that coming from exports, after recent multi-million-pound investments helped to increase factory output by 28%.

John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain, said: “Everywhere you look at Harvey you see exemplary business practice. It’s a truly unique business that, after 40 years, isn’t defined by just surviving but rather by turning its long legacy into a strong strategic future. That’s often what we see in manufacturers across our other 50 product sectors.

“At Made in Britain, we champion this manufacturers mindset that Harvey demonstrates; that ability to cope with changing economic or political uncertainty far better than many other non-manufacturing sectors.”

Churchill Retirement Living voted 2nd Best Company to Work For in the UK and wins special Wellbeing Award

Byfleet housebuilder Churchill Retirement Living has been named in the Top 100 Best Companies to work for in the UK by the Sunday Times, achieving its highest ever position of 2nd place. The Company also won a special ‘Wellbeing Award’ in recognition of its leading approach to looking after Colleagues’ health and wellbeing – from regular social events to free health checks, a day off on your birthday, and a confidential Colleague support line.

“To be named the second best company in the country to work for is a fantastic accolade and something every single member of the team can be proud of,” said Spencer McCarthy,  chairman and chief executive officer of Churchill Retirement Living.

RUNNERS-UP – Some of the Byfleet team celebrating their success

I’ve always believed in the importance of looking after my team and treating them well, so it was great to have that recognised with a special award for wellbeing. The culture of any company is its lifeblood, and I believe that happy and motivated Colleagues are the key to Churchill’s continued success.”

Jonathan Austin, Founder and CEO of Best Companies, added: “I would like to congratulate Spencer, Clinton and the Churchill team on their achievement. Best Companies have been producing the Accreditation standard since 2006 to acknowledge excellence in the workplace. Organisations like Churchill have continued to focus on their Colleagues and have been rewarded with an engaged workforce who tell us that this is a best company to work for.”

The Sunday Times Best Companies survey has been produced and published annually since 2001