Wednesday 31 March 2010

HiQ's Champagne Moments are back!

They are bubbly, they are full of fizz, and HiQ’s Champagne Moments are back for a third season, starting at Thruxton this weekend.

After a phenomenal uptake to HiQ’s online award initiative in 2008 and 2009, the Teams’ Championship sponsors of the British Touring Car Championship are proud to bring back the bubbly for the duration of the 2010 season.

Following each race weekend last year, scores of spectators logged onto HiQ’s official website, to vote for their star performer from the weekend’s action.

And now they will get the chance to do the same again, once the excitement has concluded in Hampshire.

Whether it’s a first place finish or just one particular overtaking manoeuvre that caught the eye, HiQ want fans to get voting for their favourite driver once more.

The driver that receives the most plaudits from the round of racing at Thruxton will be crowned with HiQ’s Champagne Moment award and presented with a bottle of bubbly before the action at Rockingham on April 25.

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 marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: “In our two years as title sponsors, our Champagne Moment awards were a big highlight.

“From around 50 votes per round back in 2008, we have had nearly 1,000 votes for each race up to Brands Hatch in October.

“We want these awards to keep growing and long may they continue, as we always want to give back to the fans wherever possible at HiQ.”

Fans can vote for their Thruxton champagne moment from Bank Holiday Monday April 1 by logging onto

Qualifying success for Volkswagen apprentice

Three years of hard work and training has paid off for Phil Bachelor after he graduated from his technician apprenticeship with Volkswagen Van Centre Birmingham.

The 20-year-old from Great Barr joined the St Stephens Street retailer straight from school and embarked on the intensive three-year programme to become a fully-qualified Volkswagen technician.

His rigorous training programme incorporated on and off-site workshops and assessments through the Volkswagen Training Academy. The process enables Phil to carry out complex diagnostic and engineering analysis for the complete Volkswagen commercial vehicle range.

As part of his graduation Phil was taken to Pembrey Race Circuit in Llanelli to drive performance cars around the track. Speaking of his qualification Phil said: “I have always been interested in motor mechanics and I am passionate about the Volkswagen brand. This qualification has given me further knowledge which i will apply to my day to day work, benefitting our customers.

“I’m really grateful to Volkswagen Van Centre Birmingham, because they have shown faith in my ability and backed my ambitions by funding my training programme,” added Phil.

Volkswagen Van Centre Birmingham, service manager, Neil Cook said: “Phil has worked diligently throughout his apprenticeship and fully deserves to have reached technician status.

“He’ll now be able to work independently within the workshop, but will still receive elements of training in order for him to progress even further in his career.”

Phil’s next challenge is to qualify as a master technician, a process that will take approximately six years.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Martins Van Centre recieves national recognition

A Basingstoke business is celebrating after being crowned the best Van Centre for customer service for the third consecutive year, at a national excellence award.

Martins Van Centre was awarded the national accolade at the recent Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Excellence Awards in London.

The London Road van centre beat 62 other Volkswagen commercial vehicle sites to gain the prestigious title.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles closely monitors all aspects of its van centres to ensure the high level of customer service and standards are maintained at all times. Scores are collated throughout the year accumulating in the annual result.

Accepting the award Paul Kinge, aftersales manager at Martins Van Centre, said: “We are delighted to have received the award and for the third year running it is even more special. It is a testament to the teams devotion to hard work and customer service.

“In the current economic climate, it’s very important that van operators are confident in our ability to provide the best service. Receiving this awards confirms our commitment to delivering excellent customer service.”

Simon Elliott, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “It’s important to reward the best performing van centres and show the employees we appreciate their hard work and dedication.

“We would like to congratulate Martins Van Centre on their hat trick win.”

Martins Van Centre supplies the full range of Volkswagen commercial vehicles, parts, accessories and tyres, as well as van MOT's, servicing and repairs on all makes and models of vans.

Van Centre recieves national recognition

A Sussex business is celebrating after being crowned Van Centre of the Year at a national excellence award.

Eurovans was awarded the national accolade at the recent Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Excellence Award in London.

The company, with sites in Brighton, Crawley and Eastbourne beat 62 other Volkswagen commercial vehicle sites to gain the title.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle closely monitors all aspects of its van centres to ensure the high level of customer service and standards are maintained at all times. Scores are collated throughout the year accumulating in the annual result.

Bruce Smithson, director of Eurovans, said: “We are delighted to have received this award, it is a testament to our team’s devotion to hard work and customer service.

“In the current economic climate, it’s vital for businesses to ensure consumers are pleased with the service, receiving this status gives customers a greater confidence in our ability to provide them with the best service possible.”

Simon Elliot, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “It’s important to reward the best performing van centres and show the employees we appreciate their hard work and dedication.

“We would like to congratulate Eurovans on their win.”

Eurovans supplies the full range of Volkswagen commercial vehicles, parts, accessories and tyres, as well as van MOT's, servicing and repairs on all makes and models of vans within Sussex .

Picture Caption: Director of Eurovans Bruce Smithson accepting the award

Quick Step ahead for Inchcape Volkswagen

Inchcape Volkswagen is joining Strictly Come Dancing sensation, Camilla Dallerup, to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the leading relationship charity, Relate.

As one of the events main sponsors, the Shrewsbury Volkswagen retailer is perfecting its moves to help make the Ladies Day 2010 a complete success.

Organised by Relate Shropshire and Herefordshire, the event takes place at Albright Hussey on Wednesday 21st April, and is strictly ticket only.

Gardening expert, Margaret Thrower, will compere the event which will feature a presentation and fashion show of Hayley J’s latest evening gown creations and a talk by dancing professional, Camilla. As the main speaker, Camilla will share her life experiences from the world of dancing.

It is the first time the Vanguard Way retailer has supported the charity as Pete Southall, brand manager for Inchcape, explains: “We are very happy to support Relate’s anniversary event and are looking forward to the day, we may even pick up a few dancing tips.”

A fleet of Volkswagens will be on display throughout the day along with a team of experts to answer any motoring concerns.

Relate’s Shropshire and Herefordshire chief executive, Lin Foley, added: “We are most indebted to Inchcape Volkswagen as it would not be possible to stage this special event without their support.”

To purchase a ticket for the ladies Day 2010 call 01743 344010.

Relate, is a leading organisation offering advice, support and relationship counselling for couples, individuals, young people and families.

Rallying support for Charity

A car salesman from Aylesbury is gearing up for the ride of his life this summer, all in the name of charity.

Richard Creaser is racing across Europe in the Scally Rally, raising funds for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Cancer campaign.

The 34-year-old has spent months preparing his 1993 Volkswagen Golf for the 3,000 mile trip, with help from colleagues at Keith Garages Volkswagen in Aylesbury.

It’s not the first time Richard has raised money for the charity by driving in the Scally Rally. Last year he raised £850 during the rally in Ireland.

He said: “I am really looking forward to racing again this year. It is an organised bit of fun that allows like-minded people to enjoy a scenic drive and a holiday as well as raising money for charity.

“I’ve had great support from everyone at Keith Garages and I hope to raise even more money than last year.”

The race, which runs from Calais to Brescia via Zurich, Ferrara and Rome normally has one rule - contestants cannot spend more than £100 on a car. It attracts more than 50 racers each year with the principle being, the oldest and wackiest car, the better.

The Golf, which Richard bought for just £50 is kept at the Bicester Road retailer where he works.

Derek Mills, Managing Director at Keith Garages, said: “Richard has been raising money for charity for a few years now and what better way to do it.

“He spends a lot of time preparing for the event so I’m glad to help out by allowing him use of the facilities to keep the car and complete necessary work. We wish him all the best in this year’s rally.”

The race takes place over four days from the 25-29th June. To sponsor Richard go to or call into Keith Garages Volkswagen on Bicester Road.

Volkswagen sponsors motoring event for a second year

Three of Suffolk’s Volkswagen retailers have renewed their support for the highly popular ‘Alive and V-Dubbin’ motoring festival, by sponsoring the family friendly attraction for the second year running.

The weekend event, which attracted over 6,000 visitors last year, takes place at the Mid Suffolk Showground from June 11th to 13th, and is planning to be bigger and better for 2010, thanks to its main sponsors the Marriot Motor Group.

During the event, supported by Volkswagen retailers, Northgate, Barnards and Wolsey which are owned by the Marriot Motor Group, families and Volkswagen enthusiasts will be entertained by local bands, treated to an exhilarating night time flame throwing display and have the chance to rummage for a bargain at the trade stall.

Organised by the VW owners club, Suffolk Bugrs, visitors will have the opportunity to inspect the autojumble and trade stands and pick up those hard-to-find Volkswagen spare parts and collectible items.

An impressive display of iconic Volkswagens will be available throughout the weekend from the earliest models through to more modern conversions, while children can take advantage of the skate ramp, climbing wall and new Volkswagen bouncy castle.

A big screen will feature England’s World Cup match on Saturday evening so football fans can keep up with the action.

Rob Rolfe, brand manger of Northgate Volkswagen, said: “After such a successful and enjoyable event last year, we are more than happy to renew our support for this year.

“It is such an action-packed weekend, and we are looking forward to meeting even more likeminded individuals who share the same passion for Volkswagen as we do.”

Barnards, Northgate and Wolsey will bring a display of the current range of models allowing visitors to see the evolution up to modern day styling.

Andrew and Naomi of the Suffolk Bugrs: said: “We are delighted that Barnards, Northgate and Wolsey Volkswagen have continued their support for this year.

“As a not-for-profit organisation it is essential for the success of the event that we have the support of local businesses.

“The funding from the Volkswagen retailers has enabled us to add lots of little extras for everyone’s enjoyment at no extra cost. Without the retailers’ help, the event would not be the success story that it is.”

Alive and V-Dubbin takes place from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th June at Mid Suffolk Showground, Stonham Barns. Costs for weekend camping packages begin at £15, day tickets cost £5 with free entry for under 16’s .

Northgate Volkswagen is part of the Marriott Motor Group which includes Northgate Volkswagen in Bury St Edmunds and Barnards Volkswagen in Stowmarket and Wolsey Volkswagen in Ipswich.


A man from Brooklands is living the dream after passing the first hurdle on his career goal.

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

The 20-year-old from joined the Manchester Road retailer straight from school and embarked on the intensive three-year programme to become a fully-qualified Volkswagen technician.

He has always wanted to be a top car technician and is delighted to have passed the apprenticeship. Steve said: “It’s been a tough three years but this is the only job I want to do and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

“There’s a long way to go before I reach my career goal, but passing my apprenticeship is the first major hurdle.

Gilbert Lawton Volkswagen has provided me with the perfect platform to start my career and I can’t thank the company and staff enough for the support I’ve been given.”

Steve now faces another year of on-the-job training to polish his skills in the after-sales workshop.

His next challenge is to qualify as a master technician, a process that will take approximately six years.

Gilbert Lawton Volkswagen’s after sales manager, Mike Davies, said: “Steve has worked diligently during his apprenticeship and fully deserves to have reached technician status.

“He’ll now be able to work on his own on some jobs, but still receive elements of training in order for him to progress further.”

To date Gilbert Lawton has spent over £40,000 training Steve to this level and will continue to invest in his future career.

LPGenius from Calor

The benefits of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the forklift market have been widely recognised over recent years with all of the major equipment manufacturers offering LPG models in their product ranges. Calor’s forklift truck National Account Manager Jason Whitwell says that with numerous developments in the LPG market the case for LPG has never been stronger.

Highlighting the advantages of choosing Calor, the UK’s leading LPG supplier, Jason says: “There are numerous benefits of switching to LPG including reduced emissions compared with diesel (1) allowing trucks to be used inside and out, and the avoidance of lengthy charging periods associated with electric trucks. However, operators choosing Calor can enjoy even more fuel supply benefits.”

As a cleaner burning fuel than diesel, using LPG already results in lower carbon emissions from engines, less oil contamination and less overall engine wear (1), however two innovative features, unique to Calor LPG cylinders, mean an even cleaner fuel supply.

Inside every LPG cylinder is a tube that extracts the fuel inside ready for it to be burned in the engine. Traditionally, these tubes have been made from metal that can easily corrode inside the cylinder leaving small particles which are then sucked into the engine system causing issues with the vehicle’s maintenance and efficiency. In contrast, Calor cylinders utilise a ‘memory plastic’ tube that reduces the risk of fracture and breakage, meaning less residues or particles are deposited.

However there still remains a small risk of particles in the fuel supply from the corrosion of the interior of the cylinder itself. To overcome this, every Calor cylinder includes Magnatract ™ technology; a small magnet to attract any loose metal to prevent it from entering the engine.

For larger fleet customers requiring bulk tank supply, Calor boasts a series of productivity boosting tools.

With increased capacity over cylinders, Calor’s Fixed Fuel Tanks (2) mean that trucks can operate for longer and refuelling is quick and easy eliminating the need for manual lifting and replacing of cylinders. With the company’s telemetry system, The Think Tank®, fuel levels are constantly monitored alerting Calor when a top up is due meaning that the customer no longer needs to manually order deliveries and should never run out of LPG.

Finally, Calor offers a team of experts in the materials handling market that works with customers to identify their individual needs and offer a fuel solution totally tailored to their operation. Jason continues: “LPG supply goes far beyond merely the supply of gas or the fuel price. Discussions with an LPG expert with the right technical capability can ensure a hassle free conversion to LPG as well as providing a package of ongoing technical support, safety assurance and training.”

For more information on Calor’s innovative supply solutions, visit, call 0800 626 626 or email

- ends -

Notes to editors
(1) LPG continues to be acknowledged as an environmentally friendly and versatile fuel alternative without compromising performance achieving a 95 per cent reduction in NOx emissions compared to diesel. LPG powered FLTs produce, 2,000 per cent less NOx, 2 per cent less carbon dioxide and up to 120 times less small particle (PM10) emissions than diesel powered fleets. Small particle emissions are related to health effects including increased risk of heart and lung disease and problems such as asthma. All figures taken from the European Emission Test Programme (EETP) 2003.
(2) Fixed fuel tanks are a larger capacity refillable vessel attached to the rear of a forklift truck.

Friday 26 March 2010

Get the most from your employees - latest training event from Higgs & Sons

One of the region’s leading employment law departments is holding a training event for local businesses and HR managers.

Entitled ‘performance management – get the most from your employees’, the event takes place on Wednesday 21 April 2010 starting at 8.30am.

Louise O’Connor, Higgs & Sons’ HR consultant is leading the training event. She said: “This is an ideal opportunity for senior HR professionals and business owners and directors to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their workforce, which is in most cases their largest overhead.”

The event takes place at Higgs & Sons’ new £1.5 million headquarters at 3 Waterfront Business Park, Brierley Hill.

To attend, register directly with Louise by calling 0845 1115050 or by email

The event costs £40 plus VAT.

For a list of all Higgs & Sons' employment training events, visit -

Thursday 25 March 2010

Time for a sharp exit for business owners?

A leading corporate lawyer says that now may be the time for entrepreneurs in the region to consider their exit strategy following Alistair Darling’s budget yesterday.

Nick Taylor, head of Higgs & Sons’ corporate team and recommended by Chambers as a leader in his field, says that the doubling of entrepreneurs' relief and the confirmation that there will not be an increase in the main rate of capital gains tax (CGT) currently at 18% is excellent news for local business owners. “My advice to local entrepreneurs would be to think quickly and seriously about their exit strategy now because the goalposts could move again in the near future.”

At the moment, the first £1m of lifetime gains for qualifying individuals exiting their businesses is taxed at an effective rate of 10% under entrepreneurs' relief. The threshold will now increase to £2m. Nick says that for people considering selling their business, from a tax point of view, now could be a really good time to do it: “The doubling of the threshold is designed to enable entrepreneurs to benefit more from their effort and investment, with the first £2m return taxed at 10% and subject to CGT at 18% above £2m.”

Higgs & Sons has a 12 strong corporate team working out of Higgs’ new £1.5 million headquarters on the Waterfront in Brierley Hill. To find out how Nick and his team can support you, contact him directly on 01384327129.

HiQ praises BTCC fans after raising £50,000

HiQ has heaped praise on the thousands of British Touring Car Championship fans, after they helped to raise a staggering £50,000 for Breast Cancer Care.

The fast fit network hit the five figure target last season, thanks in the main to the kind hearts of BTCC supporters, who gave generously to the cause throughout the 2009 season.

An official presentation to Breast Cancer Care took place at Brands Hatch, featuring some of the stars of the grid, along with HiQ officials.

The news comes at the perfect time for HiQ, which is celebrating a new sponsorship with the BTCC, following a successful two year period as title sponsors of the UK’s most popular motor racing series.

HiQ’s marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: “We are absolutely over the moon to have reached the £50,000 for Breast Cancer Care.

“We launched this partnership at the 2009 media day at Rockingham, when drivers all donned their pink wigs especially for the occasion.

“It really is a special feeling to be at the 2010 media day, being able to tell those drivers, and every fan up and down the UK, that we have raised £50,000.”

HiQ organised a Strawberry Tea event at Oulton Park to swell the coffers, where countless fans took time away from the track to have some strawberries with staff.

The fast fit network also gave away pink HiQ caps in return for donations, while a big pink day at Brands Hatch in October helped to raise £10,000 alone.

Geraldine added: “We are half way to our £100,000 target now, which we hope to reach by the end of the year.

“We have found that the charity fits perfectly with what we are trying to achieve at HiQ. Not only is it close to all of our hearts, but no fast fit company reaches into the family market to help remove the intimidation associated with the fast fit sector.

“Our aim is to become the ‘fast fit company you can be sure of’ and our charity partnership will allow us to reach into the family market and educate them about us, while raising thousands of pounds for Breast Cancer Care in the process.”

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Higgs shortlisted for prestigious legal awards

Higgs & Sons has been shortlisted for the prestigious Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards 2010.

The Black Country law firm, which recently moved 150 of its team into a new £1.5 million office, is shortlisted for the Law Firm of the Year (16+ partners).

Senior partner, Ian Shovlin, said: “2010 is proving to be an extremely exciting year for the firm. Our move to Waterfront Business Park has created the largest law firm in the Black Country. Now, to be recognised by our peers as one of the best law firms in the region, is the icing on the cake.”

The awards take place on Thursday 25 March 2010 at Birmingham’s ICC.

Monday 22 March 2010

Landlords and agents urged to know the law to avoid costly litigation

One of the West Midlands’ leading property lawyers is urging landlords and agents to understand their legal responsibilities better to remain on the right side of the law and to avoid costly litigation.

Nyree Applegarth, a property litigation specialist at Higgs & Sons, says that a recent High Court decision on tenancy deposit schemes is providing some much needed clarification on the obligations of landlords.

“Since 6 April 2007, it has been a legal requirement that any deposit paid be placed in one of three Government approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes,” says Nyree. “This is the case for all shorthold tenancies except if the rent exceeds £25,000 per annum.

“All competent letting agents should know the procedure inside out, as too should landlords who are managing properties without help from an agent. However, the legislation presents a plethora of potential traps for someone less well versed in the vagaries of the Housing Act 2004.”

There have been many cases involving the interpretation of the Act but the recent decision in Draycott v Hannells Lettings Ltd provides a sound indication of how the Court will deal with tenancy deposit issues.

Nyree said: “The dispute in the Draycott case arose because the letting agents had taken a deposit from a tenant, but failed to lodge it with one of the approved schemes, within 14 days of receipt. The deposit was registered with the Deposit Protection Scheme but not for some two and a half months after it was paid.

“The tenant therefore issued proceedings claiming that the letting agents were in breach of the requirement to lodge the deposit within 14 days and sought compensation equal to three times the amount of the deposit. The agents sought to defend the claim on the basis that any proceedings had to be brought against the landlord, not the agents, and that the claim had no merit, since by the time the proceedings had been issued, the deposit had been properly protected.”

In the first case the judge dismissed both arguments and ordered that compensation be paid to the tenant. However in an appeal at the High Court, it was decided that the judge had been too harsh on the agents.

Nyree said: “Landlords and agents needs to act fast, as where deposits are not registered until after proceedings had been started, there is nothing in this decision to prevent another judge from wielding the full force of the legislation as occurred in the Da Costa v Pinter case in April 2009.

“Here the tenancy agreement provided for a monthly rent of £1,950 but also stated 'Payment required in advance of £4,200'. The agents’ invoice described £2,250 of this sum as a deposit, and at the end of the tenancy the tenants asked for it back. As it was not forthcoming they issued county court proceedings for its return and also claimed the fine of three times the deposit sum. The deposit was then protected, after the issue of proceedings. The Judge accepted that the sum paid was a deposit and awarded the claimants the deposit money and the fine of £6,750.”

There have been suggestions, following on from the Harvey v Bamforth case, that a landlord is 'safe' so long as he protects the deposit before any court hearing. This is still likely to hold true, but in line with decision in the Draycott case, the Court is also willing to look at the requirements of each scheme, before concluding that the sanctions of section 214 of the Act automatically apply.

Nyree concludes: “All three of these cases tell landlords and agents one thing – whatever the outcome of court cases, it’s better to stay on the right side of the law to avoid costly litigation in what is a complex area of law.”

Higgs & Sons is headquartered at prestigious new offices in Brierley Hill’s Waterfront where 170 of its 180-strong team are based. The firm has recently been nominated for Best Law Firm (16 partners and over) in the Birmingham Law Society Awards.

Friday 19 March 2010



It’s been a week of more headlines and highlights for Connect PR as we reflect on another frantic seven days - both in and out of the office.

Our lead story of the week arose on Wednesday evening, when Goodyear was awarded the coveted Environmental Award at the prestigious 2010 Fleet News Awards in London.

The announcement is great news for our client’s EfficientGrip tyre, which won the accolade thanks to Goodyear’s FuelSaving Technology.

We will now be treading a path to get maximum coverage in a range of automotive titles, so watch this space.

The news arrived just 24 hours after another major success story for us, courtesy of Baxi and its prestigious networking event in Covent Garden.

The contemporary I.N.C Space was the glitzy venue (pictured above left) for the leading heating experts, who unveiled two revolutionary new boilers to a captive audience.

More than 100 people attended the evening, featuring a host of national reporters and some of the industry’s leading trade titles.

The event has already led to a number of journalist requests for more information, and the promise of plentiful coverage in the weeks and months ahead for Baxi.

From the heat of Baxi, we move into the cool world of Uni-ball, and their fantastic new Signo Scents pen range.

We were delighted to launch an eye-catching microsite for the company’s range of smelly pens, which are proving to be a bit hit in classroom.

Not only are we promoting the joys of strawberry, cola and pineapple smelling pens to the national media, but we are also giving away a one-week family holiday for 2 adults and 2 children under 16 years to a Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Meanwhile, back in the ranch, we are shooting from distance to just about every sports journalist under the sun as our Johnstone’s Paint Trophy activities reach fever pitch.

The final is only a week away, and with 60,000 fans expected to descend upon Wembley, we really will be working into the last minute of injury time to get every project and news release out there for them all to see.

And finally, who was it that said ‘form is temporary, class is permanent?’

We only ask because it came into our heads when watching James Wade in the Premier League of Darts last night.

The Machine is sponsored by our client WD-40 and on behalf of everyone at the Milton Keynes based brand, we wanted to say well done to The Machine.

He dispatched Simon Whitlock 8-4 and will still hope to qualify for the semi-finals of a competition he won last year.

He’s a great bloke, a great ambassador for WD-40, and we’ll be toasting him over a beer tonight, along with all of our clients who keep us busy here in the Chubb Buildings!

Have a good weekend

Top fleet award for Goodyear

Goodyear has been awarded the coveted Environmental Award at the prestigious 2010 Fleet News Awards in London.

At the awards, held on Wednesday 17th March, judges praised the fuel saving qualities of Goodyear’s EfficientGrip tyre and recognised the successful green programmes introduced by the firm.

EfficientGrip received the accolade thanks to Goodyear’s FuelSaving Technology. As a result, the tyre benefits fleets by delivering important fuel savings while at the same time offering high mileage and excellent wet braking performance levels.

Lisa Faulkner, fleet manager for Goodyear, said: “We are delighted to win this award in recognition of the benefits delivered by EfficientGrip. This is something that fleet managers have been quick to realise by choosing a tyre that offers exceptional fuel efficiency without the need to compromise on safety. The award also underlines our company-wide commitment to the environment.”

Tests* by the respected independent testing organisation, TÜV SÜD, show that the new Goodyear EfficientGrip provides:

13% better rolling resistance
2% shorter braking distance on wet and dry roads
1.9% better fuel consumption

Additionally, extensive long-term tread wear tests conducted by TÜV SÜD show very positive results for the tyre’s mileage potential. A car equipped with the new Goodyear EfficientGrip can drive up to 49 per cent more miles with the EfficientGrip on the free axle and 8 per cent more miles with the EfficientGrip on the driven axle, which is another significant benefit for consumers and more friendly towards the environment.

Lisa said: “As prices at the pump continue to soar, there has never been a better time to look at ways to save fuel. Only this week, the AA has warned that soaring wholesale prices, an increase in duty on 1 April and the end of the subsidy for biofuel producers could push the cost of petrol close to 124p a litre just after Easter.”

On the night, Goodyear also celebrated finishing second in the Best Technical Innovation Award category for its OptiGrip tyre.

* Compared to the average performance of four leading competitors, tested by TÜV SÜD Automotive in March 2009; tyre size: 205/55R16; car: VW Golf; report Nr 76236753). Versus its predecessor (sizes: 195/65R15 and 205/55R16).

For further information visit


News release issued on behalf of Goodyear by Connect PR

For further information call Lee Southen on 01902 714 957 or email


To celebrate the 1st Birthday of the Granary Farm Shop & Art Gallery, Weston Park will open its Park and Gardens on Easter Saturday, 3rd April, for just £1 per person.

Since it opened, the farm shop and art gallery has welcomed thousands of shoppers seeking out the very best in locally produced food and drink. Visitors to the gallery have been able to purchase some remarkable works by acclaimed artists during the monthly selling exhibitions.

To celebrate the day, the stately home on the Shropshire / Staffordshire border has a range of activities to suit all ages.

Suppliers to the farm shop will be talking about their produce and be offering samples of their delicious products, the Park and Gardens will be open at a special rate of £1 per person and children can follow the Easter Chick Trail in the stately home.

The art gallery will welcome Colin Carruthers, acclaimed landscape artist, for a selling exhibition of his most recent works. Now based in the West Midlands, Colin travels widely to capture the beauty of the British Isles.

Children can run wild in the Adventure Playground, take a ride on the Miniature Railway and explore the woodland walks, lakes and follies.

The Park and Gardens open from 10.30am until 6pm (last admission 4.30pm). Entry is £1.00 per person, children under four are free of charge.

The House opens from 1pm – 5pm (last admission 4.30pm) Entry is £2.00 per person, children under 4 are free of charge.

Rides on the Miniature Railway are £2.00 for adults, £1.50 for children (2-14 years) and £1.50 senior citizens.

The Granary Farm Shop and Art Gallery is open daily and free to enter.

For further information please contact Sue Foster at Connect PR on 01952 714957 or email


Spring 2010 will see the opening of a 60 seat restaurant in the grounds of a Midlands stately home providing picture-perfect surroundings in which to enjoy high quality, locally-sourced food and drink.

Weston Park has begun work on its latest business venture, The Granary Bar and Grill, which completes the final phase of its restoration programme. The ambitious development project has already seen the transformation of part of the disused building into a ground floor farm shop and an art gallery, created in the eaves of the building.

The restaurant will be located in the old malting house of the restored 18th century Granary building and will provide a modern British menu incorporating the region’s finest produce.

The new Bar and Grill will feature a spilt level seating area and will provide diners with views over the pools, as well as the estate’s church and cottages. The state-of-the-art open plan kitchen and preparation areas will be located in the former slaughter house.

The restaurant development will complete the estate’s dining repertoire allowing more visitors the opportunity to enjoy great food at everyday prices as Colin Sweeney, Weston Park’s Chief Executive explains.

He said: “Our latest project will complete the Weston Park all year round experience bringing the very best of locally sourced food and drink to the heart of our customers. It complements beautifully our fine dining occasions in the main house and our more informal style in the stables coffee bar.”

Weston Park hosts a number of public events throughout the year in its 1,000 acres of parkland including the popular V Festival and the Midland Game Fair. The House, gardens and parkland is open to the public throughout the summer offering a children’s Adventure Playground, woodland walks, lakes and follies.

As the former home to the Earls of Bradford, the estate is held in trust for the nation by the Weston Park Foundation. All profits from commercial activities directly fund the on-going preservation of the estate for future generations.

The Granary Farm Shop and Gallery is open seven days a week stocking locally produced food and drink and is free to enter.

For further information contact Sue foster at Connect PR on 01952 714957 or email

Thursday 18 March 2010

Garage clocks up its half millionth service

An Aylesbury Volkswagen retailer is celebrating a record milestone after servicing its half millionth vehicle.

Keith Garages opened its doors to Volkswagen customers in 1954 and is one of the oldest Volkswagen franchisees in the UK.

The family-owned business is dedicated to customer service and is the only Volkswagen retailer in the country which offers extended opening hours six days a week.

The service team works from 7.30am to 8.30pm Monday to Friday and has collectively clocked up an astonishing 188 years of servicing expertise between them.

Speaking of the servicing milestone Derek Mills, manager director of Keith Garages, said: “The first vehicle we serviced was the Beetle and it is certainly fascinating to see how the Volkswagen range has vastly developed over the years.

“We are very proud of our heritage and expertise, and pride ourselves on putting our customers first. Our extended opening hours is just one way in which we manage our business to meet our customers’ needs.

“All our technicians undertake Volkswagen’s latest diagnostic training to ensure their skills are of the highest level. We also operate a mentoring programme so that our younger technicians can benefit from the experienced members.”

One such experienced individual is John Ellett, who joined Keith Garages in 1972. “John’s expertise and devotion is second-to-none. Excluding my family, the originals founder’s of Keith Garages, John is our longest servicing member of staff and is integral to the team.”

The Bicester Road retailer supplies the full range of Volkswagen new and used vehicles, servicing offers and MOTs for retail and corporate businesses and also provides a free collection and delivery service within a 25-mile radius.

For more information about Keith Garages please call 01296 317000.

Runners notch up the pace for Marie Curie

Two teams of runners from Isaac Agnew Volkswagen are in training for the Belfast City Marathon and plan to raise £1,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The success of last year’s relay team has encouraged more Isaac Agnew staff to take the baton and raise money for the worthy cause.

Team organiser, otherwise known as Isaac Agnew site supervisor, Desi O’Neill, is delighted with the increase in supporters.

He said: “Last year we entered just one team and raised money for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice but this year it will be bigger and better. We have two teams of five running a relay format, plus service advisor, Lisa Hancock and I will complete the full marathon for our first time ever.

“Everyone is training and fundraising very hard and we are very grateful to Isaac Agnew who have kindly covered our entry fee.”

Encouraged by their work colleagues from the Boucher Road Volkswagen retailer, each runner will take on the worthy challenge by completing a distance of between 3.5 miles to 7.2 miles, with the exception of Lisa and Desi who will run the complete distance.

Donations can be received at the Boucher Road retailer.

Brian Robinson, Isaac Agnew’s managing director, added: “We were very happy to support the staff team and wish them all the very best of luck on the day.”

The two teams include Desi O’Neill, Lisa Hancock, Brian O’Neill, James Magee, Emma Spears, Kathryn Magee, Gerard Devlin, Lyndsey Brown, Keith Montgomery and Arlene Martin.

Does your product have the right protection?

Law firm Higgs & Sons has reported a rise in trademark registrations over recent months, as companies seek to protect their brand’s assets in increasingly competitive markets.

Amy Shakespeare, a solicitor in the commercial department at the firm, said: “We have noticed a significant increase in enquiries for trademark applications. It would seem that local businesses are seeing the importance of a strong brand in these challenging economic times.”

Higgs & Sons’ findings are reflected in recent UK Intellectual Property Office statistics, which report that the number of trademarks successfully registered had increased from 21,350 in 2007 to 27,962 in 2008.

Amy also stressed the importance of monitoring and protecting business brands, saying: “Since the Company Names Tribunal was launched in late 2008 to deal with opportunistic company name registration, there have been over 70 decisions requiring a company to change its name. This generally occurs where the purpose of registering a particular name is to cash in on another entity’s reputation and goodwill.”

Branding can prove to be a very valuable asset to any business. In a recent Interbrand 2009 survey, the value of the world’s top ten brands ranged from $28.4 billion to $68.7 billion, with Coca-Cola, IBM and Microsoft topping the list of the most valuable global brands.

Amy added: “Registering trademarks and keeping an eye on competitors are the first practical steps to take in protecting and developing a business brand. And those brands don’t need to be valued at several billion dollars for companies to recognise and experience their significance in terms of business growth and value.”

To find out how Higgs can help you protect your business, contact Amy directly on 01384 327128.

Friday 12 March 2010


If a week is a long time in politics, then it has been something of a lifetime the world of PR, as we reflect on another busy seven days at Connect PR.

We’ve continued to grab the headlines on the TV, in newspapers and on a host of popular websites as a hectic month continues.

If we were writing our own front page lead story this week, it would have to star WD-40 and its offer of help to the failing Great British Winter Olympic team

We recently wrote that GB’s athletes were missing out on medals because they were overlooking a simple performance enhancing, home grown ingredient - a squirt of WD-40.

The Scotsman was particularly impressed with our ‘masterclass in turning failure to our advantage.’ Check out for more!

Meanwhile, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy went on the road to Carlisle to make the second of its two trophy tours, following a successful visit to Southampton last week.

The chance to showcase the glistening piece of silverware to hundreds of fans has been invaluable in whipping up more cup fever ahead of the final on March 28, and showcasing the Johnstone’s Paint brand to a captive audience.

Connect PR is also gearing up for a high profile media event in London on Tuesday for Baxi, who will be outlining some exciting new plans which promise to revolutionise the boiler industry. With a host of national reporters attending, we are confident of some major successes following the evening.

Whether we encounter any pot holes on our way to the evening will be interesting, particularly as we have been positioning the HiQ fast fit network and Volkswagen retailer network as the perfect destinations to deal with the ongoing issue.

Check out for one of many stories that we have secured, as we position each centre as voices of the industry – for a number of automotive topics.

We have been touched by the indefatigable spirit and courage of one Volkswagen worker this week, who has overcome an aggressive form leukaemia and is now preparing for the London Marathon.

Jonjo Rooney (25) of Bromsgrove was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in December 2006 and we have been promoting his sterling efforts for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. Good luck Jonjo! (pictured above left)

To round off a busy week for Volkswagen, a commercial van centre is grabbing trade headlines following a hat-trick of new appointments
In the decadent world of Amtico, we have been placing the desirable flooring specialist in a number of national and consumer magazines.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is a man with good taste too. He has fitted his kitchen in black Amtico flooring to create an opulent, spacious ambience to his kitchen, which we were delighted about.

We’re a big admirer of the Brazilian rosewood if you’re thinking of adding a touch of elegance to your home.

With that, we will leave you to look forward to your weekend, and hope you steer clear of the pot holes!

Thursday 11 March 2010


A Leeds business is celebrating after being named one of the top Volkswagen fleet retailers for 2009.

Leeds Volkswagen, based on Elland Road, was awarded the ‘Fleet Focus Top Achiever’ award from Volkswagen UK.

Volkswagen monitors all 64 fleet retailers ensuring all areas of the business are performing according to Volkswagen standards and targets. The scores on areas including sales and customer satisfaction are then added up to reveal the annual results.

Leeds Volkswagen’s fleet manager, Rachel Smith and brand manager Martin Sewell, were presented with the award at a recent ceremony.

Rachel said: “I was delighted to receive this award on behalf of the fleet staff; it’s something we’ve worked hard for all year. The most pleasing aspect is the positive feedback from customers.

“In the current economic climate, it’s vital for businesses to ensure consumers are pleased with the service they receive.”

Martin added: “Rachel has injected new life in to the fleet department, with a focus on customer satisfaction and knowledgeable staff.

“Rachel and her team fully deserve this recognition for their fantastic achievements in 2009.

“I hope this will be the first of many accolades in 2010.”

Vincent Kinner, head of Volkswagen Fleet, said: “Leeds Volkswagen’s dedication to putting the customer first is a testament to achieving this award.”

Wednesday 10 March 2010


A Wrexham van centre is celebrating the opening of its new workshop following a £150,000 investment.

The new facility at Wrexham’s official Volkswagen Van Centre has resulted in an increase in staff to cope with customer demand.

The building took three months to complete but now houses four new ramps capable of lifting the full range of Volkswagen commercial vehicles.

David Cowan, general manager at the van centre, said: “The facility is a real boost to our business allowing commercial vehicle customers a dedicated centre for servicing, MOT and repairs.

“An increase in business meant the investment was inevitable, with two new van technicians employed to keep up with demand.

“The facility will enable us to deliver customer service above and beyond what drivers expect, something we’re very proud of.

“Further jobs are possible if customer demand continues to increase at the current rate.”


Amtico International has given some much needed TLC to the flooring at Northampton General Hospital. In part of a larger refurbishment project within the hospital, the old flooring in the canteen and reception area has been replaced with a high quality solution from Amtico International.

The previous floorings fitted were a mixture of materials including carpet and linoleum and these had begun to look tired and worn-out. Spacia was specified to unify the areas, providing a fresh appearance throughout.

The 200 square metre upgrade was specified and installed by contractors Absolute Coverings Limited of Silverstone. This saw the installation of Spacia in a key colour of Limestone Cool. Within the canteen, contrasting Ceramic Terracotta was used as a border to differentiate areas.

Durability, low maintenance and speed of installation were all essential factors in deciding upon Spacia for the refurbishment as director of Absolute Coverings, Stephen Rams explained.

He said: “As with all hospitals hygiene is of the utmost importance and the Spacia urethane coating protects against indentation and stains where bacteria can live and breed.

“The location of the installation required the floor to withstand a high level of footfall including trolleys and wheelchairs whilst retaining its initial appearance for years to come.

Spacia’s ease of installation allowed us to work quickly and efficiently in stages minimising any disruption to the running of the hospital, which remained open throughout the project.”

Sian Lewis, UK Marketing Manager at Amtico International, said: "The hospital could use Spacia as part of their revamp safe in the knowledge that it would deliver consistent quality over the years. Amtico International flooring is available in a selection of ranges including Spacia, Spacia Access and Stratica, each meeting the changing needs of commercial businesses and coming with a 10 year commercial warranty."

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

For further information, please contact Sue Foster or on 01902 714957 or email

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Local lad tackles Leukaemia head on

A local Bromsgrove marketing executive will pound the streets of London this April as he takes part in the 26 mile London Marathon in support of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Jonjo Rooney (25) was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in December 2006. He has since overcome the life-threatening illness and is dedicating his time to raising funds for the worthy cause.

The active fundraiser, who divides his time between his job at Redditch Volkswagen and his charity efforts, has stepped up his training in order to complete his latest challenge.

Speaking from his own experience, Jonjo explains: “After dropping into the hospital on a mid-December evening after feeling very unwell and suffering tremendous back pain, my world was rocked with the biggest of bombshells - I had cancer, leukaemia.

“I was taken to Worcester Royal Hospital the following day where a hospital bed was waiting for me in the hematology ward. From there I was kept in a tightly confined isolated room where treatment began immediately.”

After numerous courses of chemotherapy as well as a bone marrow transplant Jonjo is now in complete remission.

“I am very aware of how important it is to help ensure that many more patients can be as fortunate as me in overcoming this destructive disease.

“The charity relies solely on the generosity of others to help fund clinical trials into treating and beating the disease so I am asking family, friends, and anyone who knows me to give generously.”

Tina Croot, group marketing manager for Redditch Volkswagen, part of the Trust Group UK added: “We are delighted to contribute to Jonjo’s fundraising efforts. He is an inspiration to all leukaemia sufferers. We wish him the very best of luck in his bid to raise £1000.”

To help Jonjo raise funds for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research visit


Global tyre manufacturer Goodyear has been nominated for two top awards at the prestigious Fleet News Awards.

The company will be fighting it out to take home both the Environmental Award and Best Technical Innovation Award at a ceremony to be held at Grosvenor House, London on March 17th.

James Bailey, corporate communications manager for Goodyear, said: “It is fantastic news that we have been nominated for these two awards that recognise the research and effort that goes into the development of our tyres and environmental policies.”

The Environmental Award recognises successful programmes that have helped drive green innovation in the automotive industry. Goodyear has impressed within this category with its Ultra-Low Rolling Resistance tyres, zero solvent use, environmental management and recycling scheme. The focus for Goodyear’s application was based on the fuel saving advantages of EfficientGrip that had gained notable praise from environmentalists and the fleet industry.

The new Technical Innovation Award celebrates the latest innovations that make a real difference to the vehicles that they are fitted to. Goodyear’s OptiGrip is a shining example of an innovation that meets this description. The tyre, which incorporates SmartWear Technology, offers drivers excellent performance in wet handling, aquaplaning resistance and braking even when the tyre is worn.

For further information visit

Monday 8 March 2010

Double honours for Higgs duo

Two solicitors in Higgs & Sons' private client team are celebrating after passing examinations to become full members of a global legal organisation.

Jo Dutton and Sharon Rowley have both passed their final examinations to become members of STEP, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. STEP is the professional body for people working in the trust and estate field across the world, providing members with a local, national and international learning and business network.

Peter Gosling heads up Higgs' highly respected private client department which is one of the largest in the Midlands and boasts 20 lawyers. "This is excellent news for Jo and Sharon, our department and our clients. Jo gained distinctions in all four papers and she is one of only a small number of people to achieve this in the UK."

The private client team at Higgs acts for many families and trusts across the Midlands and beyond. 18 members of the team have just moved to Higgs' new £1.5 million office facility at 3 Waterfront Business Park. In addition, the firm's older persons' group and residential property team remain based at the Kingswinford office.

Higgs & Sons has been shortlisted for Law Firm of the year 16+ partners in the Birmingham Law Society Awards.

It's better than winning an Oscar

We would like to extend our thanks to editors at The Scotsman for awarding us 'Top Marks'.

Our offer to the GB Olympic team of lashings of WD-40 to slide them to victory caught their eye: Scroll down to the Oil be looking for an excuse subheading.

Our top marks, and the employee of the week award, go to account manager and FA Cup charity hero, Richard.

Commenting on the accolade, Richard said: "To put it into some perspective, it's like winning my very own Oscar. I would like to thank all my colleagues at Connect PR, my family, and of course, the client. I will be making a chocolate cake to celebrate!"

Friday 5 March 2010

Connect PR hit the headlines

What has a Wembley-bound football trophy, a ruck of smelly pens and a can of iconic lubricant got in common?

They have all received endless amounts of press coverage courtesy of Connect PR, as we reflect on an extremely busy week both in and out of the office.

We took the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy along to Southampton for hundreds of Saints fans to get their pictures taken with, as we score a number of PR goals in the run-up to the big Wembley final on March 28. (see picture of the JPT team)

Meanwhile, we are finding even more uses for a can of WD-40, and have been extolling its virtues to the Great Britain Winter Olympic Team this week.

The guys at WD-40 headquarters believe that snowboarders, skiers and tobogganists actually gain speed when spraying their equipment with WD-40 and have invited GB bosses to contact them and devise a winning formula for the next winter Olympic games.

Naturally, we have been spraying the novel news to the national press and hope to hit the headlines soon.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, the memorable blue and yellow brand will also be making a name for itself in the golfing and angling world. If you like to tee it high, or let it fly in your spare time, you should give your clubs or rods a spray to keep them clean.

Despite some signs of spring slowly emerging in the Connect PR garden, the ravages of the 2010 Big Freeze are still taking their toll on motorists.

As PR specialists for the Volkswagen UK retailer network and the HiQ fast fit network, we have been reporting on the surge in pot hole related problems that drivers are facing, including cracked alloys and wheel alignment faults - with notable successes in regional newspapers.

To complete a hectic week here in Wolverhampton, we have had great fun with a range of novel pens from uni-ball, where writing has never smelt so good.

Not content with producing fantastic gel pens with customary uni-ball quality, the stationery items actually whiff of all manner of playground favourite smells, including coconut, pineapple and cola.

With our assistance, we believe that uni-ball has a classic children’s product on its hands and we look forward to writing our own column inches for them.

Finally, we have taken a leaf out of a leading Midland law firm’s book as spring approaches.

Here at the Chubb Buildings, we have had a major office clean-out as we draw up some exciting new refurbishment plans of our own.

It is nothing compared to Higgs & Sons’ new £1.5 million office move to the Waterfront, Brierley Hill, but a step in the right direction at least!

Higgs are one of our longest standing clients, and we are now evolving their corporate identity as we look forward to a new chapter in the firm’s history.

With so much other work taking place at Connect PR, we will update you on our developments again on Friday March 12.

Enjoy the weekend!


A teenage girl from Buckinghamshire has lived life in the fast lane after completing work experience in her dream job – a car technician.

While not the average 15-year-old girl’s first choice of work experience, for Kim Sample from Little Chalfont, it gave her chance to test her ability to join the motor industry.

To give her the best tutor, Little Chalfont’s Volkswagen retailer Citygate, assigned Kim to one of the most experienced serving technicians in the country.

Roger Caton has spent almost 50 years with Citygate Volkswagen as a technician and was able to share his wealth of experience with Kim during her time at the retailer.

Kim, who attends Amersham Secondary School, said, “A motor technician is a career I’m seriously considering when I finish school and after my time with Citygate and Roger, I’m thinking of applying to the Volkswagen Apprenticeship Programme.

“I would like to thank Roger and Citygate Volkswagen for the time to show me some of the many skills a technician requires.”

Peter Wood, brand manager for Citygate Volkswagen, said, “We are thrilled Kim chose to complete her work experience placement with us.

“We have never had any female technicians or placements at Citygate before, but it is fantastic news that young women like Kim are showing an interest in working with cars.”

Roger, who will retire later this year, said: “We need as many good mechanics as we can get and I’m glad I got the opportunity to teach Kim some of my skills.

“I’m pleased to see more females are thinking of this as a career option as it is not an occupation limited to men.”


Writing has never smelt so good thanks to a new range of scented gel pens.

Launched by the leading rollerball pen brand uni-ball, Signo Scents are available in ten fruity and sweet smells to liven up retail spaces across the UK.

Sold individually or in packs of three or five, the scented pens will soon become the talk of the playground as children collect them to write essays that stink and draw pictures that pong.

Stuart Barker, marketing manager at Mitsubishi Pencil Company, said: “We are really excited to be announcing the arrival of uni-ball Signo Scents. We are confident that they will prove to be hugely popular thanks to the eye-catching packaging, point of sale materials and dedicated microsite we have created.

“We hope that by making the pens smell sweet and fruity, we can help develop the enjoyment of writing to further strengthen our foothold in the writing instruments market.”

Scents available include Strawberry Pink, Orangey Orange, Blueberry Blue, Pineapple Yellow, Coconut Brown, Cola Black, Soda Blue, Cherryade Red, Bubblegum Pink and Mint Green.

For further information on uni-ball visit,, or view their latest tweets on Twitter by following @uniball_uk.

Ali McGill making space on his sideboard

HiQ franchisee Ali McGill is making some space in his HiQ Blyth reception to display a gleaming new award, after being honoured by Northumberland County Council.

Ali, who owns five fast fit centres in the north east of England, is the toast of his local authority, having scooped the Employer of the Year award at the council’s Adult Learning Awards.

Ali was mixing with civic dignitaries at Northumberland’s council chambers when he picked up the accolade, thanks to a successful apprenticeship programme with the council.

Ali said: “It was a great evening and lovely to be acknowledged in this way, with so many other hardworking local companies.

“There were a number of success stories and inspirational accounts of people overcoming personal obstacles to succeed in the workplace.”

Meanwhile, Ali has given HiQ’s Academy scheme a big thumbs-up for its work with budding technicians.

He added: “The HiQ Academy is an extremely good programme and appears to be very well structured.

“We already have a 12 month calendar of courses, and they have been developed for the front line. They are more skills related and more relevant to the lads we employ, which is great.”

The HiQ Academy offers a dedicated range of skills for employees including business management, technical training, product knowledge, health and safety and a high level of customer services.

It is geared up to helping each franchisee provide the ultimate customer experience at each of their centres.

The Academy is a comprehensive service which is supplied in the most appropriate form whether on-site, in the classroom, in a dummy workshop environment or via e-learning.


One lucky office worker has become the envy of all her neighbours by winning an impressive new home entertainment system courtesy of uni-ball.

Annalisa Powell, an office manager at Application Solutions in Lewes, received the prize by winning the leading stationery firm's national ‘Style, Live & Entertain’ competition.

Running throughout 2009 the competition required office workers to send in barcodes from 12 pack uni-ball pens for the chance to win the top prize of £3,000 worth of home entertainment goods.

With a living room now resembling a deluxe cinema, the technological treats selected by Annalisa included a 50” LG plasma TV with surround sound, an iPod touch, a DVD recorder and Nintendo Wii.

“This is the first time I have won a competition and I am thrilled to receive such an amazing prize," commented Annalisa. "I'm a big fan of uni-ball pens, especially the Jetstream thanks to its smooth writing qualities and long lasting ink.

"I came across the competition on a box of Jetstream pens and thought I would give it a shot and enter; never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would win.”

Lyreco who hold the stationery account for Applications Solutions, said: “We are delighted that one of our dedicated customers is the winner of such a great competition commissioned by uni-ball. We want to say a big congratulations to Annalisa and hope that she has many entertaining evenings enjoying her prizes.”

To find out more about uni-ball visit

Thursday 4 March 2010

Connect drinks to new partnership with Banks's

Banks’s, brewers of the West Midlands’ favourite ales, has appointed Connect Group to handle its new brand campaign.

Press, outdoor and point of sale combine in a campaign which focuses on the freshness of what is the region’s fastest selling beer.

Location, creativity and understanding of the brand were all vital components in Banks’s decision to appoint Connect. Wolverhampton is home to both businesses with Banks’s brewing its ales at the Park Brewery since 1875 and Connect being based in the city since the business was founded in 1993.

Rob Hampton, Connect’s founder and managing director said: “Banks’s was looking for an agency that understood its roots but also had a creative edge. In the last 17 years we’ve demonstrated that we’re an honest Wolverhampton agency with buckets of creativity. It was a true pleasure to work with Banks’s on this campaign and promote a fantastic product so closely linked with our home town.”

Connect’s clients include Tarmac, Chiltern Trains, Calor, Goodyear Dunlop, Baxi, Bentley and Uniball.

Wednesday 3 March 2010


The Great British Winter Olympics team is missing out on medals because it is overlooking a simple performance enhancing, home grown ingredient, it has been claimed.

WD-40, the world’s leading multi-purpose product, is confident a spray of their blue and yellow can will lead to quicker times, and more success, for skiers, snowboarders and tobogganists.

The Milton Keynes based brand now wants GB bosses to pick up the phone and discuss a success strategy for the next games in Russia.

A spokesperson said: “The difference between success and failure in professional sport comes down to mere fractions. We believe that we have a product that can lead to better times and better results for many Winter Olympic competitors.

“We would like to offer the team a year’s supply of product to help maintain equipment and hopefully improve performance in competition.”

The brand, famous for having over 2,000 uses is also providing a list of relevant uses for winter sport athletes.

The spokesperson added: “We would welcome feedback from the British Winter Olympic team and possibly new uses for WD-40.

“With various national and international competitions in the coming months, we hope the team finds positives when testing the product.”

Winter sports uses

  • Lubricates sleds and toboggans
  • Cleans and protects metal buckles on snow gear
  • Lubricates snowboard bindings
  • Removes rust from sled runners
  • Stops squeaks on ski boots
  • Prevents rust from forming on ski bindings

For more information contact Richard Knowles or Zoe Guest on 01902 714 957 / 07959 200 703 or email,

Monday 1 March 2010

Fairytale or Nightmare? Wealth warning for millionaire lottery winners everywhere

As EuroMillions lottery winner Nigel Page and his partner Justine Laycock faced the world’s press together, they could not have looked happier.

The Cirencester couple represent a 21st Century fairytale rags-to-riches story, scooping a mammoth £56m jackpot prize.

However, a leading family lawyer from Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons warns that the new-found wealth may not necessarily mean the couple live ‘happily ever after’.

Philip Barnsley, head of the family law department at Higgs & Sons said: “Many of us dream of that big lottery win and how it would change our lives. But sadly not everything about a sudden windfall is wonderful.

“Quite apart from receiving thousands of letters asking for financial assistance, and notoriety around the quiet Gloucestershire town in which Mr Page and Ms Laycock live, there are other concerns that could seriously impact on their future together.

“Although the couple have faced the press together, technically Mr Page is the only winner. On all publicity shots taken, you will see his name is the only one that appears on the cheque. This may not instantly appear to be an issue.

“However, Mr Page purchased the winning ticket online, using his own account, and despite being together for over eight years, the couple are not married. In the absence of their marriage, it would appear that Ms Laycock has no financial claim to the winnings.”

At a press conference held on the day that Mr Page received the cheque, Ms Laycock claimed that she and Mr Page had not yet decided whether to tie the knot.

Mr Barnsley added: “Doubtless, those advising Mr Page are faced with some tricky meetings in the coming weeks and months.

“If the couple were to split now, Ms Laycock would not be entitled to any of the money, unless she could prove that the online lottery account was funded directly by a joint account in the name of herself and Mr Page.

“However, if they were to marry, despite the winnings being received prior to any marriage, Ms Laycock would be able to make claims against the fortune, under present legislation.”

The couple, both divorcees, have three children from previous relationships and Mr Barnsley recommends both should ensure they have a clean financial break from their former partners before getting married.

“I would also expect Mr Page to be advised to enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, in order to regulate the terms of any financial liability if the couple were to separate.”

Anyone requiring advice on managing their legal affairs can contact Philip Barnsley, a partner in the family team on 01384 327180 or e-mail