Monday, 29 June 2009

AD AND PR CAMPAIGN WIN FOR CONNECT


Home furnishings company Jim Lawrence has appointed Wolverhampton based Connect Group to create its new consumer advertising campaign.

The campaign will also be rolled out into the commercial interiors sector as the company enters this market for the first time.

The consumer advertising campaign will run this autumn within home interest and lifestyle titles featuring items from the company’s collection of individually hand crafted furnishing and fittings.


The trade launch will focus on hospitality, architecture and design-led publications with a media launch handled by Connect’s dedicated PR division.

Rob Hampton, MD of the Connect Group, said the campaign will build on Jim Lawrence’s strong reputation. “The company has built a loyal customer base due to its personal approach and the high quality of its service and product range. Our executions communicate that customers are purchasing hand crafted items, making them all individual and that no two products are ever exactly the same.”

- ends -

For further information, please contact Kathy Hodson
Connect PR. The Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT
Tel: 01902 714957 / Email: kathy@connect-group.com

Friday, 26 June 2009

NEW BEGINNING FOR FORMER LDV DEALER

A former LDV dealership will open its doors to van operators across the region by officially announcing its status as a Ford Commercial Vehicle dealer on July 1, 2009.

Imperial Commercials of Halesowen will celebrate the news with a four day opening event that gives customers the chance to view their wide choice of light commercial vehicles. The week will culminate with a fun day on Saturday for van drivers and their families.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Dudley, representatives from Ford and existing customers will kick off the festivities at the Park Road dealership, which now boasts two of the leading brands in the commercial vehicle sector.

John Asbury, franchise manager at Imperial Commercials Halesowen, said: “We believe that our comprehensive range of Ford and DAF vehicles, alongside our focused and professional approach, make us the first choice for commercial vehicle operators in the West Midlands.

“We very much look forward to welcoming new and existing customers to our opening event. It’s at this time we can showcase our promises on price, products, delivery and aftersales support that has underlined our professional service provision for nearly 50 years.”

A bouncy castle, face painting, magicians and a host of interactive games will entertain families on Saturday July 4, 2009. Admission is free with doors opening from 10am – 4pm.

To find out more about Imperial Commercials Halesowen call 01384 424 500

ENDS

News release issued by Connect PR.

For further information, please contact Lee Southen on 01902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

LTI SCRAP OLDEST TAXI TO DATE AS FLEET OPERATOR CASHES IN ON SCRAPPAGE SCHEME


LTI Vehicles has scrapped its oldest taxi to date under the Government's 'scrappage' scheme.

The 20 year old Fairway, which had clocked up over 600,000 miles, was taken in by leading LTI taxi dealership, M&O London.

As a result, the vehicle's owner, Sheldon Posner of Cricklewood Carriers, has received a £5,000 discount on a brand new model of the London taxi – the TX4. This fantastic deal was made possible thanks to the £2,000 scrappage incentive and a further £3,000 price reduction.

Commenting on the scheme, Sheldon said: "I buy cabs regularly from M&O as the older they get the more expensive they are to re-license, so this initiative is most welcoming.

“In my professional opinion, the TX4 London taxi is the best taxi ever made. No other vehicle is built quite like it. Purpose-built by securing the cab body directly onto the chassis, the taxi is strong and durable. It’s this feature, which gives the vehicle its unrivalled longevity that's so important to me. It also has an envious turning circle that can spin on a sixpence, making it quicker than any van conversion. This makes the vehicle so agile.

“The TX1 had only just come out when I fondly recall my four year old daughter shouting taxi and pointing at a TX1 parked up at Tesco. This proves just how recognisable and distinctive the traditional London Taxi is and is so across the world.”

Peter Rigden, General Manager at M&O London, said: “We’re delighted that fleet operators such as Sheldon are taking advantage of this offer to clean up London’s taxi fleet. We now open up the challenge to see if we can scrap an even older vehicle.

“However, in today’s current climate scrapping an old taxi is not the only way to grab a great deal. With excellent part exchange values and competitive finance rates, there are a number of offers always available which we can tailor to our customers needs if they are considering upgrading to a new or used taxi”.

“With the added advantage of the lower rate of VAT, our £5,000 scrappage offer means now is the time to buy and we would urge drivers to come and talk to us before the Government’s limited budget to support the scheme runs out.”

To find out more about LTI Vehicles visit
www.lti.co.uk.

ENDS

News release issued on behalf of LTI Vehicles by Connect PR. For further information call Lee Southen on 01902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com.

EASY 1-2-3 STEPHEN JELLEY WINS HiQ CHAMPAGNE MOMENT!


Team RAC speedster Stephen Jelley can look forward to another well earned bottle of bubbly after hundreds of fans voted him as HiQ’s latest champagne moment winner.

The Leicester star has received the prestigious award for his headline grabbing display in the British Touring Car Championship at Croft, when he finished on the podium in each of the three races in his WSR prepared BMW E90 320si.

Jelley ably backed up his championship leading team mate Colin Turkington in races one and two, finishing second on both occasions, before capping off a fine weekend with a third place finish in the final outing.

It was his first podium finishes of his BTCC career and firmly established him as a driver to be reckoned with for the duration of the 2009 season.

Jelley polled 32 per cent of fans’ votes with teammate Turkington second with 24 per cent of votes. Reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi was third (20 per cent) and Paul O’Neill came fourth (18 per cent).

He said: ““It is nice to be recognised by so many fans of the BTCC. It is the ultimate endorsement and I hope the champagne moment award will spur me and the team on to more successes at the Snetterton circuit.”

BTCC fan Barry Barney, of Drayton near Norwich, was picked at random to win a bottle of champagne and he will now win a pair of tickets to the next BTCC race at Snetterton, where he will present Stephen with his prize.

Barry said: “There were not one, not two, but three champagne moments at one meeting – all courtesy of Stephen. No one topped that, which is why I picked him to win.”

All spectators are invited to log onto HiQ’s official website,
www.hiqonline.co.uk to vote for their star performer from the next round of racing, at Snetterton on August 2.

The man that receives the most plaudits from the round of racing will be crowned with HiQ’s Champagne Moment award and presented with a magnum of bubbly before the next race.

One lucky fan who has logged his or her details onto the website will be picked at random to present the prize to the driver and complimentary race tickets will also be provided, along with a grid walk of the track before one of the races.

HiQ’s BTCC marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: “We are delighted for Stephen and Team RAC. He is certainly a worthy winner, and we all thought he stood a great chance for three stunning drives.”

Ends

For more information please contact Ben Smallman on 01902 714957 or email ben@connect-group.com

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

MITSUBISHI PENCIL CO. CELEBRATES ARMED FORCES DAY

Mitsubishi Pencil Co., owner of the uni-ball brand, is celebrating Armed Forces Day by offering a free Power Tank pen to the brave men and women currently serving in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

The company is attempting to resurrect the heart-warming tradition of posting love letters home. Troops have been given an open invitation to apply for one of a thousand free pens by emailing letters@connect-group.com.

The Power Tank pen can write in the most unpredictable of environments and features uni Super Ink, a unique pigment ink with outstanding levels of protection.

Stuart Barker, Marketing Manager at Mitsubishi Pencil Co. said: “Our Power Tank can write clearly upside down, in freezing temperatures and on wet paper without blurring. Featuring a pressurised refill, which allows it to write in extreme conditions, it will be perfect for soldiers to take with them. We also want to encourage them to write a letter home to their families, as it can make such a huge difference to morale.”

A recent Power Tank survey revealed that only 30% of people write letters to friends and family, while people who received letters instead of emails felt far more uplifted and appreciative as a result. Stuart added: “We want to support our troops while they are on their tours of duty. It’s a long time to be away from home in tough conditions. Our research suggests that writing a letter is a far more rewarding experience, so we hope they put their Power Tank pens to good use.”

There are 1,000 Power Tank pens up for grabs. Any soldier wanting to apply for one should send an email to
letters@connect-group.com by the end of July 2009 with the name and address of their military base.

To find out more about Mitsubishi Pencil Co. visit
www.uniball.co.uk

ENDS

Issued on behalf of Mitsubishi Pencil Co. by Connect PR. For further information, please contact: Lee Southen on 01902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

ILLUSTRATION STUDENTS THINK HAPPY WITH POSCA





In these times of doom and gloom, with the ever increasing scandal surrounding MP's expenses and financial worries at the forefront of many people’s thoughts, it’s important to try and find the smallest glimmer of joy.

That's exactly what illustration students from the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design faculty at Birmingham City University have been doing through a competition set-up to design a piece of 'happy' artwork.

Mitsubishi Pencil Co., owners of the uni-ball brand, challenged 50 handpicked students from the Gosta Green campus to create an inspirational piece of artwork based on the theme of happiness. Students were supplied with over 500 POSCA marker pens to get creative with and now the finished pieces of art have been shortlisted to six.

The six entries were chosen by a judging panel that consisted of POSCA artist and enthusiast Matt Jones, uni-ball's assistant marketing manager Clare Gibbard and the subject leader for Illustration at the School of Visual Communication George Hart.

All of the artwork selected demonstrated the 'write on any surface' quality of POSCA and interpreted the theme of happiness in a unique way. The entries include a pair of handmade shoes, a customised locker, a range of fine illustrated plates, an urban drawing on wood, illustrations underneath a table that are reflected by glass and a large wall drawing.

Commenting on the students' work George Hart said: “Everyone has put a lot of time and effort into this competition, which is highly commendable as the students enter the exam season. This shows that they have really enjoyed experimenting with POSCA, blending vibrant colours directly onto a selection of different materials to create some visually stunning art."

Clare Gibbard, assistant marketing manager for Mitsubishi Pencil Co., said: “POSCA marker pens are great for design students as they can practically write on any surface. From glass to wood to plastic, students can customize and create designs that are only limited by their imagination.

“We would like to thank the illustration students for taking part in this competition. The students’ entries were of exceptional quality and we look forward to revealing the eventual winner.”

The chosen artworks will be exhibited at the newly launched Doodle Bar in Battersea, London. It is here that members of the public will cast their votes to select the artwork that best interprets the theme. The winning student will receive the opportunity to work alongside Matt Jones as well as a top cash prize.

To find out more about POSCA and other products within the uni-ball portfolio visit
www.uniball.co.uk

ENDS

Notes to Editors:


POSCA marker pens from leading stationery brand uni-ball come in a wide range of vibrant colours.

POSCA are great for blending and produce paint-like finishes without the hassle or mess. With a variety of line widths available from extra fine to chisel tip, POSCA can be easily used to produce a wide range of unique designs.

About the Doodle Bar

The Doodle Bar overlooks Ransomes Dock, 33 Parkgate Road, Battersea. White-washed from top to bottom and with an illustrated map of London weaving across the walls, participants are encouraged to doodle on the walls map, tables, chairs and even the waiters.The Doodle Bar supports creativity in the community and will be hosting exhibitions and events, classes and workshops throughout summer 2009.

Issued on behalf of Mitsubishi Pencil Co. by Connect PR

For further information, please contact: Lee Southen on 01902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com.

AMTICO RECEIVES HIGHEST RATINGS IN GREEN ASSESMENT

Inspirational flooring company Amtico International has received the highest possible rating in the latest BRE Green Guide to Specification.

The online guide provides designers and specifiers with clear advice on how to make the best environmental choices when selecting products.

BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building's environmental performance.

Amtico International product ranges received top marks in the April 2009 assessment. Amtico, Spacia and Stratica all attained identical ratings. The top ‘A*’ rating was given to the health, retail and education areas whilst commercial areas were awarded an ‘A’ rating.

The products were assessed in terms of their environmental impact across a 60 year life cycle, within comparable specifications.

Amtico International’s UK Marketing Manager, Sian Lewis, said: “We have long been committed to the minimising the environmental impact of our products. We’re delighted the industry has recognised our achievements.”

The Green Guide is part of the Bre Environmental Assessment Method, an accredited environmental rating scheme for buildings. It contains more than 1500 specifications used in various types of buildings.

To view the guide online go to
www.thegreenguide.org.uk

Amtico International has 40 years’ experience in designing, engineering and manufacturing some of the most innovative and resilient flooring products in the world. The company delivers flooring solutions to commercial as well as residential environments.

ENDS

Issued on behalf of Amtico International by Connect PR

For further information, please contact Lee Southen on +44 (0)1902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com.

A ‘MIDSUMMER NIGHTS’ PICNIC AT WESTON PARK

Visitors to Weston Park in the Midlands can tuck into a locally produced picnic at this year’s outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, A Midsummer Nights Dream.

The entertaining tale of star-crossed lovers, magical potions and mistaken identity will be performed by touring group, Quantum Theatre, taking place on Saturday 27th June.

For the first time spectators can pack their picnic hampers with a selection of freshly prepared and locally sourced produce from the stately home’s recently opened Granary Farm Shop.

Sarah English, food business manager at Weston Park, is delighted to offer visitors this additional service and help promote the very best of the regions producers.

She said: “The new Granary Farm Shop will be selling a range of picnic goodies including freshly made sandwiches, crisps, pork pies, scotch eggs, homemade cakes and ice cream which play-goers can assemble themselves and enjoy before or during the performance. So bring your picnic basket and fill it with delicious goodies.

“Tickets sales are going well so we are looking forward to welcoming many visitors to this year’s enchanting play.”

The Granary Farm Shop is open all day until 6pm. Gates for the performance open from 5pm with the play beginning at 7.30pm. Rugs or low backed seats are recommended to add to the evening’s enjoyment.
Tickets cost £12 for adults, £7 for children (4-14yrs) or £26 for a family ticket comprising of two adults and two children.

The Quantum Theatre performers are renowned for their fast paced, humorous and highly energetic shows.

To purchase tickets call 01952 852100 or visit www.weston-park.com

If you are interested in this story contact
Sue Foster
Connect PR
Telephone: 01902 714957


ZANDRA RHODES STANDS OUT FROM THE CROWD WITH RAINBOW COLOURED FLOORING

A rainbow coloured floor might not be to everyone’s tastes, but for fashion icon Zandra Rhodes it’s the perfect addition to complement her colourful, South Bermondsey flat.

The first thing the international fashion designer did when she moved into her private fantasy space was decorate the main living area with Amtico Stardust flooring.

The floor definitely sends out a bold style statement. Situated above Rhodes’s Fashion and Textile Museum, which houses a 3,000-strong fashion collection, the brightly coloured tiles merge to create a dramatic rainbow effect.

When planning her interior d├ęcor, Zandra instantly fell in love with the vibrancy of the Amtico Stardust flooring. “Colour inspires me. I could never live in a plain white space.

“The brightly coloured floor was exactly what I was looking for and now that they are installed their glittering qualities are even more fabulous. They do indeed have stardust quality.”

Resting on a six inch ply wood base, the 144 sq. m. design took over one week to install. “The floor is in constant use, but because of its hardwearing surface any stains or spills are easily wiped away,” commented Zandra.

“My flat is now even more inviting and spacious thanks to the colours in my floor, which perfectly matches the painted rainbow walls of my interior.

“I didn’t want carpet and this is a wonderful modern alternative solution. These Amtico Stardust tiles do have a lovely feel.”

Sian Lewis, UK Marketing Manager for Amtico International said Zandra’s design uses a fun splash of intense colour. “Sometimes we all want to make a statement in interior design. Zandra has certainly achieved this by using Stardust tiles that add an eye-catching sparkle to her living space.

“Available in bold colours such as zingy juice, flamingo, ocean and cool grape, our designers have created a spectacular collection that is inspired by bold design.”

Visit
www.amtico.com or call 0121 745 0800 to find out more about Amtico International.

ENDS

Issued on behalf of Amtico International by Connect PR

For further information, please contact Lee Southen on +44 (0)1902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com.

SCOUTS FUNDRAISING CAR WASH


A group of scouts are planning for a wet weekend on 4th July when they will be washing cars to raise money for their Scouts’ fund. Local retailer, Listers Volkswagen in Stratford, has offered to host the event.

The soap studded fundraising day will see Wilmcote Scout Group set up a car washing service for drivers on the forecourt of Listers Volkswagen on Western Road.

All proceeds of the day will go towards the Scout’s fund which enables the group to attend various outings and adventures throughout the year.

Scout leader, John Bates is inviting motorists to take advantage of the one day only car washing extravaganza which will run from 10am to 3.30pm. He said: “We will be armed and ready with sponges and buckets and look forward to tackling Stratford’s dirty cars.

“We are asking for a just small donation in return for our shampooing and polishing efforts and hope many drivers will take advantage.

“We would like to thank Listers Volkswagen for all their support and I am sure we’ll be able to wash a few of their cars too,” concluded John.

The Wilmcote Scout Group hosts various fundraising events throughout the year and its firework night held at the scout hut is always a popular and well attended event.

Listers Volkswagen brand manager, Joe Tompkins, which has loaned its forecourt, hoses and provided water for the day, said: “We are more than happy to support the Wilmcote Scout Group and are looking forward to an action packed day.”

Picture caption: back, Joe Tompkins, Listers Stratford, John Bates and Vicky Brain, Scout leaders get ready of the big car wash with scouts, Dan Schumann (left) and James Brian.


If you are interested in this story contact Sue Foster on 01902 7149 57 or email
suefoster@connect-group.com

RETAILER URGES MOTORISTS TO TAKE A SUMMER PIT STOP

With the promise of a hot and sunny summer, Volkswagen motorists are being urged to check their vehicles are in the best condition for the holiday season.

To make life easier, participating Volkswagen retailers are offering a free 34–point health check for all Volkswagen cars.

Vehicles will be examined in all vital areas including brakes, steering, tyre condition and lights along with fluid levels such as water, oil, brake, coolant and battery.

Volkswagen spokesperson, Bhavisha Chotai, said: “As a business it’s vital we address customer worries with practical and affordable solutions.

“The health check gives the Volkswagen retailers a chance to help drivers make the most of their motoring, particularly this summer, in the safest and most cost effective way.”

The check can be booked directly with the service department and takes about an hour to complete.

In conjunction with the health check, participating Volkswagen retailers will price match any like-for-like service, maintenance or repair quotation on their range of vehicles, from any independent garage within a five-mile radius.

All customers need to do is provide a like-for-like quotation for the job, which has to use Volkswagen Original Parts®, in writing to their Volkswagen retailer.

Bhavisha added: “Running a car doesn’t have to be expensive but it’s up to us to help motorists stretch their budgets in every way we can.”

To find your closest participating Volkswagen retailer visit http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/find-a-retailer.

If you require further information on this story call Sue Foster on 01902 7149 57 or email
suefoster@connect-group.com

Monday, 22 June 2009

HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A MOTORIST SCORNED

Drivers who refuse to thank other motorists for giving way to them annoys more people than bullying bus drivers, middle-lane motorway hoggers and mobile phone users, it was revealed.

Hundreds of drivers across Britain have said cited a simple lack of manners as the most annoying aspect of their everyday journeys, after a survey was carried out by leading fast fit network HiQ.

A total of 500 motorists were asked what frustrates them about life on Britain’s open roads, with the results suggesting that some good old fashioned manners are of more importance than other highway inconveniences.

Motorway middle lane hoggers came second in HiQ’s top 10 list of irritations, with people failing to indicate third, and mobile phone usage while behind the wheel fourth.

Interestingly, drivers who take time to pull away from traffic lights on green also infuriate, while parents who proudly display ‘little princess on board’ stickers on their back windscreens also wind people up, as they are deemed too ‘pretentious.’

HiQ launched the questionnaire as the network attempts to revolutionise the fast fit industry.

Marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: “Our accelerated national franchise programme is now complete, and all of our 150 centres are being redeveloped to bring them in line with customer expectations.

“We are attempting to remove the stress and frustrations often associated with the fast fit industry, which is why we launched this survey, which we thought would be an interesting piece of research.

“We were surprised to see the results, particularly as there was no mention of traffic wardens or speed cameras, which we thought would be the cause of major frustration.”

The top 10 list of drivers’ frustrations are:
1. Drivers failing to acknowledge when being given right of way – 21% / 105 people
2. Motorway middle lane hoggers – 18 per cent / 90 people
3. Refusing / forgetting to use indicators – 16 per cent / 80 people
4. Using mobile phone while driving – 15 per cent / 75 people
5. Slow getaway from traffic lights when green – 10 per cent / 50 people
6. Bus drivers’ ‘bullying’ road tactics – 7 per cent / 35 people
7. Caravans on road – 4 per cent / 20 people
8. Failing to stop at pedestrian crossings – 4 per cent / 20 people
9. ‘Little monkey ‘ / little princess on board’ stickers – 3 per cent / 15 people
10. Boy racer customised cars – 2 per cent / 10 people

For more information about HiQ and its range of automotive services, click on
www.hiqonline.co.uk

Ends:

For more information please contact Ben Smallman on 01902 714957 or email ben@connect-group.com

Friday, 19 June 2009

ERIKS UK announces launch of new super branch

A new ERIKS UK super branch is set to open in Grimsby bringing 21 jobs to the town.

The new Europarc-based ERIKS UK service centre will open its doors in July and will provide products and repair services to businesses in the region.

The centre will be the largest facility in the region offering maintenance, repair and supply of industrial products to local firms.

Equipped with a 10 ton overhead crane, the 20,000 square foot branch will launch with two days of seminars and supplier trade stands on July 1 and July 2. There will be 25 supplier specialists on hand to solve technical issues as well as three free engineering seminars aimed at increasing plant efficiency for local businesses.

Speaking about the launch General Manager Michael Ingall said: “In the current economic climate, more businesses than ever are choosing to work in partnership with companies like ours to service and repair equipment.

“We have chosen Grimsby as the site for this super branch because of its thriving industrial community. Our new location will make working with us very easy.”

Local businesses who have not yet signed up to attend one of the events can do so by emailing grimsby@eriks.co.uk.

Editor’s Notes:

About ERIKS UK

ERIKS UK was formed on April 2nd 2008 following the acquisition of Wyko by ERIKS nv in November 2006 for £139 million. The company offers an enormous breadth and depth of products and service know-how to both the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) markets.

ERIKS UK is part of the ERIKS Group, the clear market leader in Central and Western Europe with sales of €1.2 billion and approaching 6000 staff. The Group now operates 300 service centres and 62 production and technical centres with a product range of over half a million items.

ERIKS UK plays a major part in the ERIKS Group’s intention to establish itself among the top three companies in each of its eight chosen core activities namely: bearings and power transmission; electrical and mechanical engineering services; flow technology; industrial plastics; sealing technology; specialist technologies; technical and logistics services plus tools and maintenance products.

For more information on ERIKS UK visit: http://www.eriks.co.uk/
For more information on the ERIKS group visit: http://www.eriks.com/

Further information for media:
Hazel Crawford-Upton
Connect PR
Tel: 01902 714957
Email: hazel@connect-group.com

More uncertainty for employers

A leading employment lawyer says that businesses face yet more uncertainty following a House of Lords ruling that says workers on long-term sick leave can now bring claims for statutory holiday pay.

Tim Jones, a partner and head of employment at Higgs & Sons, said that the ruling in the case of HM Revenue & Customs v Stringer still leaves room for confusion. “This is definitely a case of seconds out, round two. While some concerns may have been clarified, there are still fundamental issues remaining around this subject. More litigation is sure to follow and with it, more uncertainty for employers.”

In HM Revenue & Customs v Stringer and others [2009], the House of Lords held that workers can bring claims for statutory holiday pay under the deduction from wages provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This means that workers might be able to recover holiday pay going back several years, which is not possible under regulation 30 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 because of its stringent time limit rules.

Tim Jones said: “In effect, we could now see employers seeking to get staff on long-term sick out of the business as quickly as possible, as the ruling will add further costs onto employers’ sick pay bills. In turn, this could then pave the way for a mass of tribunal claims.”

The Stringer case follows the European Court of Justice ruling in January that staff do accrue paid holiday for their entire sick leave, and must be allowed to take it on their return or be paid in lieu if their employment ends. The Court of Appeal had originally held that employees on sick leave did not accrue annual leave during the time they were not working.

The case comes swiftly on the back of a new fit note unveiled by the Government earlier this month, which could mean more work for the region’s HR departments and employers.

Tim Jones says that the new medical fit note will shift a lot more responsibility on to employers and that an education programme should be put in place to ensure its success.

“The new fit note replaces the current sick note and is designed to help more people stay in work rather than end up on long-term sickness. A twelve week consultation on its design has begun with the Government hoping to introduce the new notes by spring 2010.

“Managing sickness can be a challenge for HR departments. The new fit note is designed to help people who are sick to stay in work or get back to work quickly.

“In the current economic climate, the responsibility on HR specialists has never been greater and it will certainly pay dividends to keep up with latest legislation.”

For more information about Higgs’ employment department contact Tim Jones on 01384 342100.

Higgs & Sons operates from three locations; Brierley Hill, Stourbridge and Kingswinford. The firm is one of the largest in the Black Country.

Further information:
Hazel Crawford-Upton
Connect PR
Tel: 01902 714957 Email: hazel@connect-group.com

AMTICO ‘XL’S’ WITH ITS NEW RANGE


If the latest collection of flooring from Amtico International is anything to go by, then bigger is better when it comes to interior design.

The XL range features an array of contemporary, sophisticated flooring, which seeks to add elegance and richness to interior spaces.

In developing its new products, the Amtico design team, which works to identify new interior trends, noted that UK customers are looking for large format flooring solutions that are considered excellent for open plan areas and commercial installations.

Sian Lewis, Amtico’s UK Marketing Manager says that Amtico is responding to customer demand: “The development of the XL range will provide our customers with even more choice. The range is ideal for commercial interiors and we expect it to be popular across the UK.

“Our team of creative designers look at global design trends as they update our ranges to provide world-leading variety for our customers and they recognised the gap in the current market for the trend in larger formats.”

XL, taken from the Amtico range of woods, stones and abstract features strong lines, dark tones and innovative designs which provide a dramatic platform on which to build and create a unique interior design.

“The XL range which includes Back to Black Vamp, Brazilian Rosewood and Cumbrian Slate to name a few, offers the perfect solution to commercial customers looking to add a sense of sophistication to their interior design,” Sian concludes.

Amtico International has 40 years’ experience in designing, engineering and manufacturing some of the most innovative and resilient flooring products in the world. The company delivers flooring solutions to industry and business as well as domestic environments.

To find out more visit http://www.amtico.com/.


Issued on behalf of Amtico International by Connect PR

For further information, please contact Sarah Allen on +44 (0)1902 714957 or email sarah@connect-group.com.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

LPG ALTERNATIVE TO CHEMICALS


NEW LPG BURNER PROVIDES ALTERNATIVE TO CHEMICALS FOR POULTRY FARMERS

Two companies active in the agricultural market have joined forces to develop an innovative chemical-free solution to fighting poultry house diseases.

Thermoweed aims to provide environmentally sound and economically viable chemical alternatives for the farming community. Together with Calor, the UK’s leading LPG supplier, Thermoweed offers an effective yet simple solution to fight poultry pathogens.

Thermoweed’s Richard Pearson says: “Poultry farmers are under increasing pressure environmentally to reduce chemical usage, but solutions must always weigh up financially. However, we believe we have developed a feasible solution to the particular issue of eliminating disease in poultry sheds.”

The Thermoweed poultry floor burner was developed following a specific customer request for a chemical free solution to combating pathogens and disease. The company was approached by Martyn Scott of Agriwash, a contract cleaning company working with many of the major growers, as well as other smaller companies.

Martyn explains: “It is vital that poultry sheds are thoroughly cleaned and all diseases and pathogens eradicated. However, I have always been wary of some of the chemicals used by the industry for this purpose.

“Having met Richard Pearson at a farm show, I approached the subject of developing an alternative machine that would both comply with Health and Safety standards whilst being easy to operate and transport.

“We work with a lot of different growers, but the cleaning procedure is always the same. After removing the litter and washing down we take the tractor mounted burner inside the shed and, at a walking pace, slowly burn the whole of the floor.

“We use two 47kg Calor LPG cylinders offering coverage of up to 60,000 square foot. An additional hand lance supplied with the machine means that the operator can get into corners and around the bottom of roof supports.

“The feedback has been remarkable. We have worked with growers with bad cases of coccidiosis in their sheds, but after cleaning them out using the burner, there have been no subsequent cases. Some growers have totally ceased using chemicals all together due to the success of the application.”

Whilst being effective and easy to operate, the Thermoweed burner also offers cost benefits compared to chemical applications “For a shed measuring 100,000 square feet the cost of LPG to power the burner is around £150. Compared to chemical costs of up to £500,” explains Richard.

The burner also offers an added benefit of warming the shed prior to restocking, as Martyn describes: “In one case we recorded a temperature of just 8 degrees prior to cleaning, and after we had used the burner, the temperature had risen to 30 degrees.”

Agriwash initially took delivery of one burner in March 2009 and has been so pleased with its success has since taken delivery of two more.

Calor’s Kevin Houlden says the product is certain to be a success for poultry farmers. “Thermoweed has developed a product that is not only easy to use, but is very effective at eliminating pathogens. Martyn has seen positive results since using the new burners, in particular in the fight against coccidiosis. Poultry farmers of all sizes can benefit from the burner as it measures just six foot wide and can be operated by just one person.”

Manufactured to bespoke customer specifications, the burners are available from Thermoweed. For more information contact Richard Pearson 07769 655564 richard@thermoweed.com or contact Calor at commercial@calor.co.uk or call 0800 216 659.

Friday, 12 June 2009

HiQ KETTERING MAKE SLICK RESPONSE TO SAVE RACING EVENT

Organisers of a prestigious motorsport event near Kettering are thanking a local fast fit centre for saving their skid marks, after the company answered an 11th hour call to provide tyres for a day of racing.

HiQ, based in Telford Way Industrial Estate, made a slick response to Honda Team Dynamics’ plea to fit 28 sets of tyres for a driving day with some of the nation’s biggest names in motorsport, at Rockingham race circuit.

HiQ, which was recently purchased by Easy Tyre & Autocentres Ltd, was contacted by Team Dynamics, who were in need of a specialist team to fit the slick race tyres this week.

HiQ immediately sent for mobile technician Russell Hickford, who drove the short distance to Rockingham and got in the pit lane for some fast fit action.

Team Dynamics marketing manager Richard Tate-Harris said: “We had organised a number of laps around Rockingham with racing slicks, which meant we had to find a team of fast fitters at extremely short notice to replace and fit them.

“I immediately went to HiQ, as they sponsor the British Touring Car Championship and have specialist motorsport experience. It is fair to say that they saved the day and, without them, we would have been looking at a postponement of activity.”

Emma-Jane Kisby, marketing manager for Easy Tyres, said: “We were only too keen to help out, despite receiving a call at the last moment.

“Rockingham race circuit is near to our centre, and the professional driver, Paul O’ Neill, is also form Kettering, so we were keen to support a local event, and ensure it was not in danger of postponement.”

Paul O’ Neill, who races in the British Touring Car Championship in a Honda Integra, soon put the car through its paces for a number of contacts from the world of motorsport.

He said: “We were all indebted to HiQ. The slick tyres performed really well, and I was keen to take some of the guys round in the car by way of thank you.”

HiQ Kettering, situated in Telford Way Industrial Estate, is now under the ownership of Easy Tyre & Autocentres Ltd, which specialises in all sections of the motor industry including service and MOT centres and tyre and exhaust centres.

For more information on HiQ Kettering, please call 01536 481415.

Photo Caption: HiQ Kettering’s fast fitter Russell Hickford helps Kettering BTCC driver Paul O’ Neill out with an emergency pit stop

THE WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL MINISTER GIVES THE ALBERT WING HIS SEAL OF APPROVAL

Ian Austin, The West Midlands Regional Minister, will open the Albert Wing, the second phase in the redevelopment of the Argent Centre, on Monday 15th June 2009.

Built by Midlands Industrial Association Ltd, the Albert Wing located in the Jewellery Quarter provides 10,387 sq ft of prestigious business accommodation that consists of 16 spaces including two retail units.

Gap funded by Advantage West Midlands to the sum of circa £600k (30% of the construction cost), a mixture of new start, sole traders and existing small and micro-businesses will occupy the building.

Ian Austin, The West Midlands Regional Minister, said: “The Argent Centre is an impressive development and I’m delighted to be asked to officially open the Albert Wing.

“This development will pump prime refurbishment into neighbouring derelict sites and gives opportunities to those in the creative industry.”

Clive Wilkinson, Chairman of Midlands Industrial Association Ltd, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ian Austin, The West Midlands Regional Minister, to open this state of the art business accommodation.

“The Albert Wing has been designed and equipped to create a vibrant and lively working environment for many different users. By providing new and affordable workspaces on ‘low risk’ licence agreements, we have revitalised the area and encouraged employment through the growth of small businesses.”

Designed by Dr Hugh Byrd of Hugh Byrd Associates (now based in New Zealand) the Albert Wing is located at the top of Newhall Hill on Frederick Street, the Main Gateway into the Jewellery Quarter.

For more information contact Midlands Industrial Association Ltd on
0121 233 232.

ENDS

Note to Editors:

Ian Austin, The West Midlands Regional Minister, will officially open the Albert Wing on Monday 15th June at 10.15am. If you would like to attend the ceremony please let Lee Southen know.

About Midlands Industrial Association Ltd

Midlands Industrial Association Ltd was founded in 1982 by a group of individuals who were interested in the regeneration of inner city Birmingham in partnership with Birmingham City Council.

The Association is a registered Friendly Society whose declared aims and objectives are to promote employment and fight dereliction through the encouragement of the small firms sector. This is achieved by providing suitable workspace through the refurbishment of redundant buildings and the reclamation of derelict sites in inner city areas.

The Association currently has five projects in management, jointly accountable for 250,000 sq ft of commercial and industrial floor space and accommodates over 200 small firms who in turn employ circa. 1200 jobs in the West Midlands.

Issued on behalf of Midlands Industrial Association Ltd by Connect PR

For further information, please contact:

Lee Southen on 01902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com
Annie Harris at COI News & PR on 07966 284 502

HARMFUL PARTICLES IDENTIFIED IN STUDY CAN BE CUT WITH LPG

The news unveiled by the BBC this week that children are at greater risk from harmful small particles in traffic pollution will have alarmed many motorists. However, the situation could be vastly improved with greater use of LPG technology.

Vehicles running on LPG produce far fewer harmful emissions that contribute to environmental and health problems than traditional road fuels including the microscopic particles, known as PM10s, cited in the study led by Professor Jonathan Grigg at the Centre for Paediatrics at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

LPG vehicles emit up to 120 times less PM10 particles than a diesel vehicle (small particle emissions are related to health effects including increased risk of heart and lung disease and problems such as asthma. All figures taken form the European Emissions Testing Programme 2003). Added benefits include 17% less carbon dioxide emissions than petrol and 2% less than diesel, and 120 per cent less NOx than petrol and staggering 2,000 per cent less than diesel.

As reported by the BBC (
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8092182.stm), early findings from the study in London show that the lung capacity of 8 and 9 year olds is up to five per cent lower than the national average. This is likely to be caused by the fact that the situation is worst at roadside level – a similar height to young children.

Autogas Development Executive at LPG supplier Calor, Chris Taylor, says replacing petrol and diesel vehicles with LPG-powered alternatives could help reduce the severity of the situation.

He says: “We have always known that Autogas LPG is a viable alternative to petrol and diesel and a much greener fuel. The recent study confirms that PM10 particles are extremely harmful and can lead to respiratory disorders such as asthma in children and more serious conditions in later life.

“The number of LPG vehicles is travelling in the right direction. In 2008 we saw an increase of 36 per cent in the number of LPG conversions carried out year on year. There are now around 155,000 LPG vehicles on the UK’s roads.”


The rise in popularity of LPG Autogas is also due to the cost savings that can be enjoyed. Motorists running LPG vehicles can expect to save up to 40 per cent on fuel costs* and, in many cases, can recover the cost of a conversion in under two years**.

Motorists in and around London can also benefit from up to 100 per cent exemption from the London Congestion Charge and all LPG vehicle owners can expect increased residual vehicle values.

There are now more than 1,400 public access LPG refuelling sites with the majority of these on petrol forecourts. Autogas Limited, a joint venture between Calor and Shell, currently supplies around 220 outlets in the UK. A full list can be found at
www.autogas.ltd.uk. In addition, Calor supplies autogas from over 150 outlets through its Calor Centres, Morrisons supermarkets and other independent sites.
For further information on fuel supplies and bulk tank installation, contact Calor on 0800 216 659 or visit
www.lpg-vehicles.co.uk.

- ends -

Notes to Editors

* Calculations based on fuel costs taken from
www.fleetnews.co.uk 11/05/09, consumption figures taken from www.whatcar.co.uk for a 2.0 petrol Vauxhall Insignia Estate and assuming a 20% reduction in fuel consumption for LPG. Calculation assumes conversion fee of £1,800 including VAT with an annual mileage of 20,000 miles. Payback period equates to 23.34 months.

** Savings are based on official combined consumption figures published on www.renault.co.uk for 2.0 16V Laguna Sport Tourer assuming a 20% reduction for LPG. National average fuel prices taken from
http://www.petrolprices.com/ and a typical onsite bulk LPG price of 45.6p per litre including duty and VAT (Prices as at 09 April 2009). In order to calculate potential fuel savings, Autogas has made a savings calculator available on its web site: www.autogas.ltd.uk.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

SPECIALIST CARS STORM TO VICTORY IN REGIONAL AWARDS

Specialist Cars in Kirkcaldy has made history by becoming the regional winner in all five categories of Volkswagen’s Paint and Body Shop Awards 2008.

The
Caxton Place retailer stormed to victory and went on to represent Scotland against six other UK regions to compete for the national title.

Specialist Cars beat off stiff competition from 19 other Volkswagen retailers in Scotland to achieve the feat.

The retailer scooped first place in all categories beginning with Regional Body Shop of the year 2008. The individuals listed below were awarded the following regional awards:

Body Shop Superior – Tom Wilson
Spray Paint Technician – Brian Bell
Mechanical Technician – Stuart Miller
Panel Beater Technician – Graham Ramsay

The body shop team includes seven Volkswagen specialists who have, all but one, worked together since it opened in 2001. Each individual had to undertake a series of online activities designed to measure their product and technical knowledge. They then had to complete three separate onsite assessments which monitored their customer relations, craftsmanship and skills in full.

Specialist Cars’ brand manager, Paul Lanni, said: “This is an amazing achievement and highlights the expertise and service we have at Kirkcaldy. The team thoroughly deserve the awards as they are always striving to deliver total customer satisfaction.”

Picture caption: back l-r, The Kirkcaldy Paint and Body Shop team, Tony Wilson, bodyshop supervisor, Kenneth Watt, spray painter, Brian Bell, spray painter, Roderick Davie, aftersales manager. Front row, l-r, Stuart Miller, panel beater technician, Graham Ramsay, bodyshop foreman, John Bradford, spray painter technician, Alec Burns, panel beater technician.

If you are interested in this story please contact Sue Foster on 01902 714957 or email
suefoster@connect-group.com.

Monday, 8 June 2009

FANS KEANE ON KEITH AS MIDFIELDER SCOOPS AWARD

Hundreds of Luton Town fans have given midfield dynamo Keith Keane the ultimate summer send off, after voting him as their official Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final man-of-the-match.

Ever since the Hatters’ historic win at Wembley on April 5, Johnstone’s have been urging fans to log onto the company’s website to vote for their player of the final.

More than 1,000 fans voted and Johnstone’s can reveal that Keane got the most nominations, polling 43 per cent of the votes, beating skipper Kevin Nicholls (27 per cent) into second place and Asa Hall into third (18 per cent).

Lucky fan Alan Burgess has been picked at random from those who voted and he will now present Keith with his prize at Kenilworth Road on Friday (June 5).

It will be the second time a Burgess has checked into Kenilworth Road, after Luton signed Andy from Rushden & Diamonds recently – the same name as Alan’s son!

Alan wins a magnum of champagne from the final, which was the only bottle not to get sprayed on the pitch after the final.

The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy decided to come up with the fans’ man of the match award in response to Luton’s phenomenal support for their side at the final at Wembley.

The Hatters’ legions of followers smashed a new-Wembley record for the largest contingent to support a single side at the venue.

Johnstone’s took the unprecedented step of allowing supporters to vote on their website for their man-of-the-match in an attempt to let them have their say.

Johnstone’s Paint Trophy brand services manager Tom Newton said: “We were amazed by the number of votes cast on our website. It is the highest amount we have received for any online competition we have launched.

“The whole project told us two things. Firstly, that Luton Town’s fans are some of the most passionate supporters that we have ever come across.

“Secondly, that pretty much every Luton player could have won the award, as every man received a good proportion of the votes.

“Keith Keane came out on top in the end and, for what it is worth, he was our personal choice too.”

After the celebrations had died down at Wembley following Luton’s win over Scunthorpe, Keane said his performance was the best one he had ever had in a Hatters shirt.

Kevin Nicholls scooped the Football League’s man-of-the-match award on the day, for a similarly inspiring performance.

For more information about the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy please click on
www.johnstonespainttrophy.com

Johnstone’s. Bringing colour to the beautiful game.

About PPG

Pittsburgh-based PPG is a global supplier of paints, coatings, chemicals, optical products, speciality materials, glass and fibreglass. The company has more than 150 manufacturing facilities and equity affiliates and operates in more than 60 countries. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG). For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

Issued on behalf of Johnstone’s by Sarah Allen & Ben Smallman, Connect PR,
sarah@connect-group.com or ben@connect-group.com ( 01902 714957)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

POLE POSITION FOR LONDON TAXI

A familiar sight on the roads of Britain, the London taxi is globally recognised as the world’s finest taxi service.

In a move by its manufacturer to develop a professional service throughout Europe and the world, a demo vehicle of the British icon has started to turn heads on the streets of Warsaw.

As a result, LTI Vehicles has been inundated with enquires on how Polish dealers and businesses can be a part of the unrivalled taxi system that provides its passengers with a first class ride and experience.

Matthew Cheyne, International Market Development Director for LTI Vehicles, said: “People who see the London Taxi instantly want it. Passengers want to ride in it, taxi drivers want to drive it and businesses want to own it. Our demo vehicle in Poland has proved just that.

“The London taxi is unique, instantly recognisable, practical, comfortable and spacious. Drivers find it easy to drive and very manoeuvrable with its tight turning circle and passengers will feel safe and relaxed. It’s sure to be a big success in Poland.

“We are currently looking for taxi dealers to get involved with its launch and take advantage of a tailor made taxi service that will set them apart from the competition.”

If you are a taxi operator, driver or passenger and want to find out more simply email info@londontaxis.co.uk.

ENDS

News release issued on behalf of LTI Vehicles by Connect PR. For further information call Lee Southen on 01902 714957 or email
lee@connect-group.com.

HiQ PREDICTING MOST COMPETITIVE CHAMPAGNE MOMENT YET!

HiQ is urging fans to keep voting for their champagne moment from the latest round of racing at Oulton Park, as a number of drivers remain in contention for the prize.

After Harry Vaulkhard scooped the champagne for an eye-catching all round performance at Donington Park earlier in the month, a number of other drivers sizzled in the Cheshire sun.

Rob Collard’s stunning performance in race three, where he battled through to fourth place from the back of the grid, puts him as a favourite to win most votes.
It would be his second champagne moment victory, after winning the accolade in 2008 for a second placed finish at Knockhill.

Team RAC’S Colin Turkington will also boast short odds for the bubbly, thanks to a fabulous double victory, while James Thompson should be in the frame, after another ominous showing.

All spectators are invited to log onto HiQ’s official website,
www.hiqonline.co.uk to vote for their star performer.

The man that receives the most plaudits from the round of racing at Oulton will be crowned with HiQ’s Champagne Moment award and presented with a magnum of bubbly before the action at Croft on June 14.

One lucky fan who has logged his or her details onto the website will be picked at random to present the prize to the driver and complimentary race tickets will also be provided, along with a grid walk of the track before one of the races.

Kerry Earl was picked at random as the winner from Donington, and another lucky fan will be picked when voting closes on Monday June 8.

HiQ’s BTCC marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: “Our champagne moment initiative has already captured the imagination, and we now want people to keep on voting after a stunning weekend at Oulton Park.

Ends

For more information please contact Ben Smallman on 01902 714957 or email ben@connect-group.com

PERFORMANCE PACKED WEEKEND

Abridge Volkswagen in Harlow and Loughton are geared up for a performance driving weekend giving customers the chance to get behind the wheel of the brand new Golf GTI and the sporty Scirocco.

The action packed weekend will take place on 6th - 7th June to launch the arrival of the
Golf GTI and is set to entertain the whole family.

Customers will have the opportunity to test out the enhanced capabilities of the new model, as well as the Scirocco R, on the roads around Harlow.

An impressive eight lane Scalextric track will challenge the younger customers, as well as those big kids, in a quest to find the quickest and most skilful driver. GTI branded merchandise will be awarded for the fastest laps for various ages groups.

The
Volkswagen retailers will proudly display a vintage Mark 1 Golf GTI and Scirocco for customers to admire and see how the range has developed over the years. The iconic vehicles have been kindly donated by members of the local Volkswagen Owners Club and Club GTI.

A pit stop refreshment stand will keep families fully fuelled with a barbeque taking place over lunch.

The arrival of the new Golf GTI has already generated high level of interest as Frank Plant,
Abridge Harlow brand manager explained. He said: “The new GTI is certainty impressive and we have already received a high number of test drive requests.

“Its class leading levels of safety with seven airbags, including for the first time a knee airbag, all as standard, combined with its stylish interior plus a 2.0 litre TSI turbocharged engine, makes it a striking choice for motorists of the classic car.

A competition to guess how many balloons will fit into a Beetle will add further entertainment. “Filling the car will be tricky but I am sure it will add to the day’s fun,” added Frank.

All test drives need to be booked in advance by calling
Abridge Harlow on 0870 413 7363 or Abridge Loughton on 020 8532 5555.

If you are interested in the above story please contact Sue Foster on 01902 714957 or email suefoster@connect-group.com