Thursday 31 December 2009


Over a third of people (37 per cent) would rather spend a grand on a holiday than save it or pay off debts. However, 28 per cent showed their caring side by offering to treat the family or put the money towards helping others.

Chiltern Railways commissioned the survey to highlight that rail commuters from the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire border area travelling to London can save over £1,000 a year on the cost of a season ticket.

Chiltern Railways spokesperson Emma Gascoigne says the survey highlights how precious our time is and that we all aspire to spend more time relaxing and away from the office. She says "We asked respondents to tell us what they would do with an unexpected £1,000 and the most common response was to go away on a holiday or mini break.

"It's not really surprising that we want to escape on holiday and maybe the current financial situation has prevented some people going on their normal summer break and a spare £1,000 would allow them to take the plunge."

Some of the more unusual responses were to buy a basset hound, go to Vegas and get married and pay for study towards an MA.

The kind-hearted among us opted to help build a school in Malawi, pay for parents to have central heating and fund an overseas Lifelong Learning project.

A Chiltern Railways Season ticket valid for travel from Wendover to Marylebone, including parking, offers savings of £1,070 compared to travel from Tring to Euston. In addition, Chiltern Railways season ticket holders can enjoy free weekend travel anywhere on the Chiltern Railways network. To find out more, visit

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For further media information please contact the Chiltern Railways press office on 020 7333 3014. Alternatively, please call Emma Gascoigne on 07771 668793 or mailto:

Thursday 24 December 2009

HiQ celebrate a decade of development

The introduction of the congestion calming M42 hard shoulder for traffic has been voted as the best automotive invention of the last 10 years.

Leading fast fit network HiQ has celebrated the end of the ‘noughties’ by asking customers for their favourite innovation of the decade, with the motorway’s hard shoulder being used at peak times coming out on top.

HiQ asked 200 of its customers to vote for the most successful piece of automotive gadgetry or invention that has made the most difference to motorists’ and the highways.

The M42’s traffic calming measure was voted as the best innovation (32 per cent) in the last 10 years with satellite navigation systems second (27 per cent) and the M6 Toll coming third (18 per cent).

HiQ’s create demand manager Geraldine McGovern said: “We wanted to commemorate the last 10 years in some way, and thought it would be nice to ask customers what they thought was the most memorable and successful creation over the decade.

“Traffic congestion has, and will continue to pose problems for drivers, so we can see why a scheme like the M42’s has been so popular. It has certainly saved us all time!

“We hope that the HiQ fast fit network will be top of motorists’ lists in 10 years time as we attempt to revolutionise the way the way cars and vehicles are repaired across the UK.”
Motorists have been able to use the hard shoulder from junctions 3a to seven, in the Midlands, since 2006.

The hard shoulder on the M42 is used at peak times and the speed limit is reduced to 50mph to ease congestion.

The full results are:

M42 hard shoulder running (32 per cent)
Sat Nav systems (27 per cent)
M6 Toll (18 per cent)
On-board tyre pressure monitoring systems (10 per cent)
SPECS Cameras (4 per cent)
Others (9 per cent)

The HiQ fast fit network celebrated is now hoping to make a big name for itself in the new decade, after celebrating its 1st anniversary as a fully franchised network in 2009.

In the first 12 months of operating as a fully franchised operation, retail turnover was up in double digit figures, average ticket value is up by more than 5 per cent and retail footfall has increased by more than 8 per cent.

HiQ retail director Juergen Titz said: “2009 has been a challenging year. But the overall picture is that there is always room for individual entrepreneurial performance .”

Win £1,000 in your pocket

Chiltern Railways would like to know what you would do with a spare £1,000. Answer our survey at and you could win £1,000.

If you think your Season Ticket to London is too expensive, it may be because you're travelling from the wrong station. For example, if you travel from Tring, you could save over £1,000 a year by changing to nearby Wendover and travelling with Chiltern Railways instead. To find out more visit

One respondent will be chosen at random when the survey closes on 4 January 2010.

Terms and Conditions

Prize will consist of a cheque for £1,000. Terms & Conditions apply: 1. The promoter of the competition is The Chiltern Railway Company Ltd (the “Promoter”) 2. The competition is open to all recipients of the promotion who are residents of the UK, aged 18 or over. 3. The competition is not open to employees of the Promoter or anyone connected with the organisation or with the promotion. 4. Entry is free without obligation, other than adherence to these rules. 5. The competition will close on 04.01.10. 6. Only one entry per person is permitted. 7. The winner’s details will be available on request by emailing The winner will be notified within 7 days of the result. 8. The judges’ decision will be final. The Promoter reserves the right to alter the prize and offer a substitute of equal value if necessary. 9. The winner must be willing to participate in any promotional publicity . 10. The Promoter’s decision as to the operation of the competition will be final. No correspondence will be entered into. 11. The Promoter reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time without notice, if in our opinion events or circumstances occur outside our control. 12Supply of email address is deemed to be acceptance of these terms and conditions. 14. The Promoter will not share your personal information with any third parties except those necessary to administer the competition.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Top business brains share recession-busting insights

The recession-busting insights of three top business brains were revealed to an audience of West Midlands’ professional accountants at a seminar presented by ACCA (the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Birmingham.

The event was hosted by Glyn Morris, president of ACCA’s West Midlands Regional Network and finance director of Higgs & Sons Solicitors, and was inspired by a quote from American thinker, George Wood Bacon:

“Fortunes are not made in boom times . . . Fortunes are made in depressions or lean times when the wise man overhauls his mind, his methods, his resources, and gets in training for the race to come.”

Sharing their experiences and thoughts on surviving the current economic climate were Stephen Hughes, chief executive of Birmingham City Council, independent consultant and former group finance director Raj Gandhi, and ACCA President Brendan Murtagh.

The trio was introduced and interviewed by motivational business speaker and best-selling author Jeff Grout, enabling the audience to discover their personal insights on a number of time-critical and relevant business issues.

Glyn Morris said: “The event audience was drawn from across the West Midlands, and included accountants from all stages in their careers. I am sure everyone gained valuable information that they can take back into their working lives.”

An audio recording of the evening will be made available on the ACCA website - – which also carries information on membership and other association events.

ACCA is a global accountancy body, supporting 362,000 students and 131,500 members through a network of 57 global partnerships all focused on helping accountants add value.

The association aims to promote the highest professional and ethical standards, advocating sound business practices and sustainable development.

Event co-host, Higgs & Sons, is one of the West Midlands’ largest law firms, providing a full range of legal services. The company recently announced it is to move its 170-strong team to £1.5m prestigious new offices on the Waterfront in Brierley Hill.

Monday 21 December 2009


Autogas UK has welcomed comments from Inigo Palacio Prada, chairman of the Global Automotive Industry Network (GAIN), highlighting that liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stands out as the ‘third fuel of choice for motorists’.

LPG represents a realistic alternative to petrol and diesel, with more than 14.6 million vehicles worldwide making the most of its financial and environmental benefits.

In an interview for Automotive Industries magazine(1), Inigo Palacio Prada explained how LPG not only saves money and reduces harmful emissions with no loss of engine performance but is also readily available right now, through the Autogas refuelling network – making it the third fuel of choice for motorists.

“Electric vehicles are no doubt going to emerge as an alternative to traditional automotive fuels at some stage in the future,” said Prada. “We must remember that Autogas can provide significant benefits over gasoline and diesel and is available here and now.”

Emma Bartle, spokesperson for Autogas Limited said: “We welcome the comments of Mr Prada, which echo our beliefs that LPG is the most accessible alternative to petrol and diesel currently available.

“Although electric vehicles are increasing in popularity, LPG is readily available right now, with a comprehensive refuelling network throughout the UK.

“Environmental concerns run deeper than just reducing CO2 emissions. Vehicles running on LPG do produce 17 per cent less carbon dioxide than petrol and 2 per cent less than diesel, but also 120 per cent less oxides of nitrogen than petrol and a staggering 2,000 per cent less than diesel, and up to 120 times less small particle (PM10) emissions than diesel vehicles(2).

“All of these other pollutants should also be considered when trying to improve urban air quality.

“And, of course, drivers are already reaping the benefits of reduced motoring costs. Forecourt prices of LPG are typically half that of petrol or diesel, making it attractive to individuals and commercial operators, and LPG motorists can benefit from up to 100 per cent exemption from the London Congestion Charge as well as lower company car tax or vehicle excise duty.”

Autogas is the UK’s leading supplier of LPG, with more than 200 refuelling sites and ambitious plans to expand the network further over the next year.To help drivers find their nearest LPG service station Autogas, a joint venture between Calor and Shell, offers a free to download ‘point of interest’ file for leading satellite navigation systems. Users can log onto or to upload the Autogas locator file so that no matter where you they are in the UK they can find their nearest Calor Autogas site.

GAIN is the network set up by the World LP Gas Association to promote Autogas to consumers and governments worldwide.

For further information on fuel supplies and bulk tank installation, contact Calor on 0800 216 659 or visit


1 Automotive Industries magazine, September 2009
2 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 EETP 2003

Notes to Editors
- There are around 1,400 public access vehicle refuelling sites in the UK in addition to which many businesses have their own “bunkered” facilities.

- LPG powered vehicles listed on the Powershift register can gain up to 100 per cent discounts and exemptions from the London congestion charge

- There are around 150,000 LPG vehicles on UK roads

- Finding your nearest Calor Autogas refuelling site couldn't be simpler – a file of retail sites is available for downloaded from the Autogas web site (

- A savings calculator can be found on

Friday 18 December 2009


A north west car retailer group is aiming to provide some charity festive cheer this Christmas by helping those unable to spend the season at home.

The Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund will benefit to the tune of £25 for every car sold at Inchcape’s 13 Volkswagen sites during the company’s January sale, which runs from 29th December to 10th January.

Cumbria Community Foundation’s appeal has already raised over £1m to help the victims of the recent floods that have left hundreds of people in temporary accommodation and without possessions.

The group’s sites in Chester, Bromborough, Salford, Altrincham, Macclesfield, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Hyde, Stockport, Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Telford are hoping to raise over £10,000 for the fund during the ten-day event.

Inchcape north’s divisional marketing manager, Tony Carr, said: “It’s important we help others at Christmas and this fund was very appropriate, as many flood victims will be spending the festive period away from their homes.

“Members of staff have family and friends directly affected by the floods, so we’re pleased to help in a small way.

“I hope lots of people take advantage of the offers we have and at the same time, help such a great cause.”

Deb Muscat, Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund Appeal’s acting director, said: “We’re grateful to every individual or business donation, especially from those outside Cumbria.

“Inchcape’s innovative idea shows the different ways businesses can help raise money.

“The Fund strives to improve the quality of life for those who have had their lives affected by floods in November this year.”

Tuesday 15 December 2009


Shropshire’s Severn Hospice is celebrating Christmas early following donations at a local Winter Fayre.

Shrewsbury’s Volkswagen retailer Inchcape, held the event at its Vanguard Way showroom and raised over £400 for the Hospice.

Local businesses ranging from a vineyard to cosmetics set up stalls, helping to raise vital funds for Severn Hospice.
Inchcape Volkswagen’s brand manager, Pete Southall, said: “The Winter Fayre was enjoyed by all and gave people the chance to raise money for a very worthwhile local charity, while at the same time letting them do some early Christmas shopping.”

Monday 14 December 2009


A recent weekend event at a Bury car retailer has been hailed a success for both customers and the business.

Customers to the event at Smith Knight Fay Volkswagen on Bell Lane benefited from new finance packages and up to 20 per cent off new cars.

The one-off event generated almost £1m worth of business for the retailer as local consumers picked up an early Christmas bargain.

Smith Knight Fay’s sales manager, Jason Brierley, said: “We were delighted with the customer response to the event. It proves Volkswagen vehicles are still one of the top choices for the region’s consumers.

“What makes the cars a good option is they hold their value very well. This means they are seen as an investment rather than an expense.”

“We took over 50 orders, with 40 new cars and 12 Volkswagen approved used cars, between the Friday morning and Sunday night.

“Although we are working our way out of a recession, consumers are still reluctant to purchase large and expensive items, which makes the event’s success much better than anticipated.”

Taking the lead from Heywood boxer, Mark Thompson, who purchased a Scirocco last month, boxing fan and Key 103 Radio DJ, Adam Cole has also followed suit.

Adam said: “I’ve wanted this car for a while and can’t wait to make the most of the Scirocco’s driving ability.”

Jason concluded: “The Scirocco, named’s car of the year 2008, is proving to be a popular choice among consumers.”


One of Britain’s best loved art brands will celebrate the end of the decade in style next week – when it unveils a commemorative exhibition of the last 10 years in the heart of Wolverhampton.

Community groups up and down the UK have painted a host of iconic images which will be displayed at the LightHouse Gallery on Tuesday December 15.

Reeves, based in Kidderminster, asked scores of amateur artists to create some pieces of artwork for their exhibition earlier in the year, and they are now ready t be viewed for the first time at the Fryer Street based gallery.

It is believed to be the only art exhibition of its kind to have taken place to celebrate the end of the last 10 years.

Reeves will choose an overall winner on the day and will also present them with a £500 prize for a charity of their choice.

Reeves’ communications manager Rachel Smallman said: “We didn’t think we could let the end of a decade pass without commemorating it in style, which is why we came up with this unique idea.

“There was no real criteria for entry – only that any piece of work was created on the back of a memorable moment in the last 10 years. It really was down to interpretation and we can’t wait to see the artwork displayed together at once.

“The advent of 2010 will be upon us before we know it, and being a brand with over 200 years of experience, we want to look forward to the future too. The interest generated in this initiative will be perfect to showcase our plans moving forward, so it really is the perfect time to engage with the public.”


For more information about this press release and all other Reeves news, please contact, or call Lee and Ben on 01902 714957.

Friday 11 December 2009


Three years of hard work and training have paid off for Roger Gibbons after he graduated from his technician apprenticeship with Gilbert Lawton Volkswagen.

The 21-year-old joined the Salford retailer straight from school, but had to wait two years before an opportunity to join the apprenticeship programme, in order to become a fully-qualified Volkswagen technician.

To celebrate his achievement Roger was invited to a national awards ceremony in recognition of his graduation.

He now faces another year of on-the-job training to polish his skills in Gilbert Lawton’s Bridgwater Way after-sales workshop.

Gilbert Lawton’s after sales manager, Steve Keenan, said: “Roger has worked exceptionally hard during his apprenticeship to become a skillful Volkswagen technician; he will be a brilliant asset to the team.”

Roger said: “I’m so pleased to have completed my apprenticeship. All I have ever wanted to do is work with cars and I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to become a specialised technician.

“I’m very grateful to Gilbert Lawton and Volkswagen for investing their time and money in me so I can do a job I want to do.”

To date Gilbert Lawton has invested £40,000 training Roger to technician standard and will continue to invest their time and money so he can progress to the next step and become a master technician.

Roger’s next challenge to qualify as a master technician will take approximately six years of further training.

Brettell's Bins bagged by Knowles

A leading manufacturer of buckets, bins and wheelbarrows has acquired its local rival in a deal that is expected to safeguard dozens of jobs in the Black Country.

H&E Knowles (Lye) Limited has acquired local rival Brettell & Shaw. H&E Knowles was advised by leading Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons.

Higgs & Sons’ David Ellis led the legal team representing the buyer. He said: “We had some tight deadlines to meet in order to complete the transaction whilst addressing employment, property and environmental issues in time. Luckily it was possible to galvanise the teams on both sides in order to meet the deadlines set."

Peter Knowles, Managing Director of H & E Knowles, said the firm now aimed to take advantage of economies of scale: “The acquisition will allow us to offer a larger range of products to our existing customer base which includes a number of major hardware and garden suppliers including B&Q, Homebase and Focus. We also hope to benefit from the considerable goodwill and customer base built up by Brettell & Shaw over many years.”

Brettell & Shaw is a family business established in 1902. The company supplies buckets, bins and other related hardware and garden products to customers across Europe. Both businesses are long established family firms. Peter Knowles’ son Dan is a director of H&E Knowles and John Cartwright, one of Brettell's directors and the grandson of the founder of Brettell & Shaw will be joining H & E Knowles to promote the larger business.

Higgs will be on the move in 2010, with the firm announcing a £1.5 million investment in new premises at Brierley Hill's Waterfront.


The UK's leading manufacturer of heating services has welcomed the Government's Pre-Budget report to deliver a boiler scrappage scheme.

Baxi Group has supported the call for a boiler scrappage scheme since Mick Williams, a plumber's merchant from Hampshire, started a petition to kick-start the campaign. It is hoped that by offering a £400 incentive to scrap old SEDBUK Band G-rated boilers, over 125,000 households will benefit from newer, more efficient models.

Mick said: "I am absolutely delighted on news of the report and am waiting to see the outcome of the Government's proposals. I'm particularly pleased that Baxi Group has supported the campaign from day one!"

Mark Kelly, CEO Baxi Group UK, said: "This announcement is great news for consumers as it helps them reduce fuel bills and will go some way to reducing their carbon footprint.

"It also gives the industry a great lift. After days of speculation, we are delighted that the Government has finally decided to introduce this initiative to tackle UK carbon emissions."

Statistics gathered by the HHIC (Heating and Hot Water Industry Council) estimate that there are 4.5 million Band G rated boilers in use rated at less than 70% efficient. Changing from a Band G rated boiler to a Band A rated boiler could give the householder up to £235 per year on their fuel bills. Upgrading the boiler could also make savings of 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per year.

For more information visit or call 0844 871 1525.


Released on behalf of Baxi Group by Connect PR.

For further information contact Lee Southen on 01902 714957 or email

Thursday 10 December 2009

Wealthy parents could be hit in the pocket after latest court ruling

A recent family court decision could have worrying implications for wealthy parents and those in line to benefit from family trusts, according to a leading family law specialist.

The head of Higgs & Sons’ family department, Philip Barnsley, says the case of SR v CR, where separated parties were unable to reach an agreement on how to split assets valued up to £7.88m could have implications for other family cases.

The couple asserted that these assets were inadequate to maintain a lifestyle of the standard to which they were accustomed, which was costing approximately £1 million annually.

However, the husband was a beneficiary under a number of offshore discretionary trusts with a value of $170m endowed by his father and had received support from these, and from his father, for a number of years.

On appeal, the High Court included the trusts as a resource available to the husband and ordered that the husband pay his wife a total of £6.25m.

Philip Barnsley explained: “The court was persuaded that, given a history of the previous payments to the husband, it was likely that the trustees would exercise their discretion and make further capital available to him.

“The trustees gave evidence that a debt of the husband’s failed property business to the trusts (£1m) would be taken off his apportionment and that he might be provided with rented accommodation and a modest living allowance. Further, the trustees stated that they must have regard to his father's wishes, that he was not prepared to give his son more money and would oppose any distribution to him from the trusts.

“The court found that the husband had a reasonable expectation of further capital advances from the trust in the short to medium term and, as he would expect to receive his share of the trust when his father died, it was therefore a resource which the court should take into account.”

Mr Barnsley concluded: “This case highlights the need for trustees to employ great caution in the manner in which they exercise their discretion under these kinds of trusts.

“However, the husband’s father was no doubt pleased that he had set up the offshore discretionary trusts in the first place, as these did act to protect the principal sums within them from these proceedings.”

To find out more contact Philip Barnsley, partner and head of family law team at Higgs & Sons on 01384 364148 or e-mail

Higgs & Sons is one of the largest law firms in the region. The firm has recently announced it is to move its 170-strong team to state of the art new premises at 3 The Waterfront, Brierley Hill.

Notes to editors: full case reference is SR v CR (Ancillary Relief: Family Trusts) [2008] EWHC 2329 (Fam).

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Seven figure Chiltern brief goes to Connect

Connect Group has been appointed by Chiltern Railways to handle its seven figure marketing communications account.

The three year deal was won following a four-way pitch, which included the incumbent agency, and will see Connect handling all advertising and design services across all of Chiltern’s routes between London and the West Midlands – including the all important Bucks and Oxfordshire commuter markets. Media will be handled by Brilliant Media who worked with Connect on the pitch.

Connect won the opportunity to pitch following its successful work this year with sister company Wrexham & Shropshire railway.

Marketing director, Thomas Ableman said: “Connect really impressed us with the way they had got to know our market. Their approach was highly insightful and really struck a chord with us - we’re pleased to be working even more closely with the team going forward.”

Antony Green, Connect’s client services director, said the win was a huge boost for the 100-strong agency: “Our pitch was heavily based upon consumer research and focus groups within the Home Counties and the Midlands. This pointed to a very clear opportunity for Chiltern, given its strong commitment to customer satisfaction and the way rail users currently feel about taking the train. We really enjoy working with the company on the Wrexham & Shropshire account and now we’re relishing the opportunity to work in partnership with Thomas and his team even further on Chiltern Railways.”

Connect Group’s clients include Jaguar Land Rover, Sealine, Goodyear Dunlop, Amtico, WD-40, Tarmac, Baxi, Uni-ball and Volkswagen.

Chiltern Railways operates passenger rail services between London and Birmingham, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and has built a one third market share of the London – Birmingham market from nothing by offering a passenger-focused, innovative approach including being the first train company in the country to offer tickets by text message.

HiQ network celebrate 1st anniversary

The HiQ fast fit network celebrated its 1st anniversary as a fully franchised network with a strong business performance by revealing an impressive increase in turnover, average ticket value and retail footfall.

In the first 12 months of operating as a fully franchised operation, retail turnover is up in double digit figures, average ticket value is up by more than 5 per cent and retail footfall has increased by more than 8 per cent.

The performance, in the context of the ongoing economic downturn, drew praise from both Juergen Titz, HiQ Retail Director and Goodyear Dunlop’s Managing Director Mark Brickhill.

But both still stressed the need for more improvement and expansion as HiQ celebrated its 1st anniversary at the network’s 3rd National Franchise Conference in 2009 at Albrighton Hall in Shrewsbury.

Juergen said: “2009 has been a challenging year. But the overall picture is that there is always room for individual entrepreneurial performance in a recession”.

“Is there room for winners in a recession? Definitely. The business performance of the group has proven this.”

Juergen cited the title sponsorship of the HiQ British Touring Car Championship and charity partnership with Breast Cancer Care as two examples of driving footfall and building retail demand, both of which franchisees have embraced and used to their advantage.

Mark Brickhill added: “What the HiQ network has achieved has been remarkable. If you look back 18 months, you would not be able to sit in a room like this, with people like this, boasting results like this.

“There is still much work to do, but overall, great progress has been made.”

Both Juergen and Mark stressed the importance of generating new retail business, and for franchisees to maximize a number of opportunities that present themselves through for example the partnership with Goodyear Dunlop. With initiatives such as the Goodyear Rugby Ready programme, HiQ’s own tyre safety and tyre checking programmes, there are many opportunities for franchisees to grow their retail business.

Juergen concluded: “We will continue to aggressively expand the network in 2010 and beyond using strong new business tools to drive the business forward.

“We believe that “local heroes” at each centre, coupled with our strong national retail brand, will make the difference in driving network growth”


A woman from Romford is celebrating an early Christmas present after scooping vouchers worth £250 in prize draw.

Brigit Granger, from Collier Row, was the first name drawn out of the thousands that had entered a competition to celebrate the launch of the Volkswagen’s new Polo.

Organised by local retailer Inchcape, Brigit is now deciding on which store in the Liberty Shopping Centre she’ll be spending her £250 worth of vouchers.

An excited Brigit said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call telling me I’d won. Christmas always comes early for someone and this year it’s me.

“I’ve not had chance to think of what to buy, although have had some people give me suggestions!

“I can’t thank everyone at Inchcape Romford enough for this prize and hope my luck continues to last.”

Inchcape’s brand manager, Richard Taylor, said: “It is always nice to hear about local people winning something and just before Christmas makes it extra special.

“I hope Brigit enjoys whatever she decides to purchase.”