Homesitting Benefits: survey reveals cost savings and adventure opportunities

Leading home and pet sitting company and winners of the SME Best Home & Pet Sitting Company 2024 – UK, Homesitters Ltd, conducted a survey amongst its homesitters, revealing that 66% have saved money on their utility bills due to being away from home on assignments for extended periods.

Additionally, 28% of homesitters prefer winter assignments, noting that being away for several weeks during the colder months results in significant energy bill savings—just one of the many benefits of homesitting.

 

Ben Irvine, Director of Operations at Homesitters Ltd, says: “Homesitters not only enjoy savings from reduced energy usage but also receive daily food allowances and travel expenses to and from assignments. This additional income is particularly appealing during the costly winter months and amid a cost-of-living crisis.”

 

Homesitting also serves as a financial cushion: 12% of homesitters have increased their assignments to ease financial pressures, and 20% use homesitting to supplement their pensions.

Many people approaching retirement seek a balance between work, leisure, and staying active. The survey found that 70% of retired homesitters engage in this role to keep busy and find purpose, while 77% appreciate the escape from daily life’s hustle and bustle.

For some, the love of pets is a major motivation, with 62% home & pet sitting for this reason. Adventure and travel are also key factors, with 75% enjoying the exploration of new areas, and 32% loving the opportunity to stay in beautiful homes.

The respondents also shared their top tips for successful homesitting: 70% emphasised the importance of asking lots of questions to clients in preliminary meetings and having a detailed plan of local activities. A love of animals and sturdy walking boots are also considered essential, as half of the homesitters recommended these for exploring new areas.

 

Other advice includes researching the breed or type of pet you’ll be caring for (37%), bringing pre-prepared meals (25%), and packing a good book (27%) to enhance the experience. Home & pet sitting is a wonderful way to enjoy pets without the long-term commitment, offering retirees the flexibility they desire.

 

Homesitters Ltd stands out because all its homesitters are employed by the company, ensuring professional support and reliability. Many homesitters choose to work with them due to this comprehensive support and assurance.

 

Ben adds, “Our homesitters are the backbone of our business. We provide them with all the necessary support, information, and assurance they need during assignments. This level of support is also reassuring for our clients, knowing they are getting fully vetted and reliable homesitters.

“We have been in business since 1980, building our reputation on having happy clients and homesitters. We operate throughout the UK and are always looking for new home and pet sitters to join our dedicated team.”

 

For more information about becoming a homesitter, please visit the Homesitters Ltd website at www.homesitters.co.uk.

New privacy research pegs AI as a rival threat to cybercrime

  • More than half of developers believe AI will almost equal Cybercrime in terms of risk to data privacy
  • Developers concerned about current regulatory frameworks, with 98% advocating for proactive measures to address future data privacy concerns

 

21st May 2024: New research* released today reveals the extent of concern regarding the future threat posed by AI and Machine learning to our privacy.

Cybercrime is still seen as the main threat with 55%, but AI comes in close second at 53%.  Despite AI being a relatively new menace, the research shows that developers believe the technology is a threat that is rapidly catching up with cybercrime, as it becomes more mainstream. The cost of cybercrime is projected to reach $13.82 trillion by 2028: the reality is that with increasingly sophisticated AI potentially in the hands of a new generation of cybercriminals, this cost could grow exponentially.

The study, commissioned by Zama – a Paris-based deep tech cryptography firm specialising in the world of Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE)* – surveyed developers across both the UK and US.

During the research, more than 1000 UK and US Developers were asked their opinions on the subject of privacy, to uncover insight from the people that build privacy protection into everyday applications.  The research revealed developers’ own perceptions and relationship with privacy, delving into subjects such as , what privacy considerations should be at the centre of evolving innovation frameworks, who holds the ultimate ownership of privacy and what their opinion is on the approach to regulation.

 

In addition to the findings revealing significant concerns about AI’s threat, the research also reveals that 98% of developers believe that steps need to be taken now to address future privacy and regulation framework concerns.  72% also said that regulations made to protect privacy are not built for the future with 56% believing that dynamic regulatory structures – which are meant to be adaptable to tech advancements – could pose an actual threat.

“Despite cybercrime expected to surge in the next few years to the cost of trillions, 55% of developers we surveyed in our research stated that they feel cybercrime is only ‘marginally more of an issue’ than the threat to privacy that AI will pose. We have seen from our work that many developers are the real champions of privacy in organisations and the fact that they have some legitimate concerns about the privacy of our data, in relation to the surge in AI adoption, is a real worry,” says Pascal Palier, CTO and Co-founder of of Zama.

“Zama shares the concerns expressed by developers about the privacy risks posed by AI and its potential irresponsible use. Regulators and policymakers should take this insight into consideration as they try to navigate this new world. It’s important not to underestimate the very real threat highlighted by the experts who are thinking about protecting privacy every day, and make sure upcoming regulations address the increased risks to users’ privacy,” he added.

 

The survey went on to reveal that 30% of developers believe that those behind making the regulations are not as knowledgeable as they could be about all the technologies that should be taken into consideration, also presents a real danger, while 17% believe this would pose a possible threat to future tech advancements.

 

“It’s undoubtedly an exciting time for innovation, especially with AI advancements developing as fast as they have. But with every new development, privacy must be at the centre; it’s the only way to ensure the data that powers new innovative use cases is protected. Developers know this,  embracing the vision championed by Zama in which they have the ability and responsibility of safeguarding the privacy of their users. It’s clear, in analysing their insights, that they would like to see regulators taking more responsibility for understanding how Privacy Enhancing Technologies can be used to ensure privacy of use for even the newest of innovations, including Gen AI. Advanced encryption technology such as FHE can play a positive role in ensuring innovation can still flourish, while protecting privacy at the same time,” he adds.

References

*FHE, Fully Homomorphic Encryption

FHE is an encryption technique that enables processing data without decrypting it. With data encrypted both in transit and during processing, everything you do online could be encrypted end-to-end, allowing companies and organisations to offer their services without ever seeing their users’ data — and users will never notice a difference in functionality.

The research was carried out by Research Without Barriers (RWB) between 9th January 2024 and 8th February 2024 with a sample comprising 1,098 Developers from the UK (571) & USA (527).

About Zama

Zama is a cryptography company building open-source homomorphic encryption solutions for blockchain and AI. Their technology enables a broad range of privacy-preserving use cases, from confidential smart contracts to encrypted machine learning and privacy-preserving cloud applications. Zama was founded by Pascal Paillier and Rand Hindi, and currently has the largest research team in homomorphic encryption.

Since it was founded in 2020, Zama has established itself as the main actor shaping the FHE market, having already made significant contributions to the field of data privacy and encryption, including 17+ filed patent families, $100 million in secured deals and the successful delivery of four innovative products/solutions to the market.

 

 

Loughborough tech consultant helping children to read

A tech consultant from Loughborough has used the benefits package at the company she works for to help support a number of local charities.

Becky Henson works at Synergy Learning, a tech company headquartered in Belfast, and has been volunteering with a number of charitable organisations during Global Volunteering Month.

Announced at the start of 2024, Synergy Learning offers the Giving Back programme, 15 hours of paid volunteering time to employees every year. With the new perk, the Synergy Learning team can support schools and charitable organisations in their communities. This encourages the team to support causes they are passionate about, and is also augmented by a subscription to the OnHand Volunteering app which matches volunteers with good causes across the UK

Following Global Volunteering Month, employees at Synergy Learning have taken the opportunity to support initiatives and activities that hold a special place in their hearts. Becky has been volunteering for over two years and is now using her volunteering hours to show more support.

 

Through the Synergy Learning Volunteering Hours Programme, Becky has had the opportunity to volunteer for charities such as The Compassionate Friends, Homeless Outreach and a local primary school in Becky’s area.

Becky joined Synergy Learning in June 2022 as an Implementation Consultant after she had a look at the company’s LinkedIn page and thought she would fit in well with the team. She said:

 

“In my first week at Synergy Learning, I remember feeling like I found my people. Two years down the line, I realised I really have found my people. Everyone cares about each other, and we can all have a laugh. The benefits are great too. Not just the financial benefits, but also in terms of wellbeing support too.”

 

With the backing of Synergy Learning’s volunteering hours, Becky is currently volunteering at her son’s primary school in Loughborough. Speaking on the experience, Becky said:

“A local school in my area has recently launched a scheme to support pupils who are struggling with their reading. Because of the volunteering hours at Synergy Learning, I can support the school with visits to read with the children and watch them progress to the next reading levels.

“I’m so passionate about this scheme. I have been given the opportunity to have an impact on the education of our young people. In the short time that I’ve been volunteering with the children, a lot of them have progressed to the next reading level and their improvement means so much to me.”

 

Becky also volunteers for The Compassionate Friend after seeking support from the charity when her sister passed away in 2015. She said:

“I sought help from The Compassionate Friend which offers peer to peer support with sibling bereavement, and I now volunteer for that charity as a facilitator. They support bereaved grandparents, parents and siblings. Just knowing I can be there for other siblings has such a big impact and it can really help people with their grief.”

 

When asked what initiatives she would like to take part in the future, Becky said:

“In the future, I would love to get involved with a charity or set up a charity that supports cardiac risk in the young. If my sister had a similar support system or had an ECG she would have been saved and if I could save one person, it would make such a difference.”

 

Synergy Learning Head of People, Performance and Culture Tory Kerley said:

“Synergy Learning’s Giving Back programme is something we’ve been focused on for years through charity partnerships, so we have been delighted to add this new initiative to really support connection with what matters most to the team. With the new benefit of volunteering hours, we can encourage them to support their local communities, wherever they live, or causes that they are passionate about at a time that works best for them.”

“Not only has Becky made a fantastic professional impact since joining our team in 2022, but she has made a massive contribution to our Giving Back programme through her enthusiastic use of volunteering hours.  We are really proud of the work she has already done with Compassionate Friends and for pupils in Loughborough”

 

To find out more about current opportunities available, visit their website.

Synergy Learning is one of the UK’s fastest growing businesses and is recognised as one of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 Tech Companies. Synergy Learning works for a wide range of local and global organisations, including the World Trade Organisation and Hyundai Motor Europe, and is headquartered at the Catalyst Innovation Centre in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

Skills factory unveils new Industry 4.0 tech to train future generations of manufacturing workers in Wales

A SKILLS factory unveiled groundbreaking new technology that will deliver cutting-edge Industry 4.0 training to students and manufacturing workers in North Wales.

Coleg Cambria has introduced a state-of-the-art industrial sorting plant and autonomous Universal Robot platform with ER Flex interface to its Deeside site.

The equipment was funded by Medru, a collaborative project between Cambria, Bangor University, and The Open University in Wales, supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

Dan Jones, Curriculum Director for Advanced Engineering, said the machinery will be of value to students and those already working in industry, apprentices or time-served workers looking to upskill.

“The technology is incredible, and the sorting plant in particular will be pivotal in helping to educate groups of learners,” said Dan, from Prestatyn, who before turning to academia spent more than 20 years in the Armed Forces as a Military Control Systems Engineer prior to working as an Engineering Manager in local industry.

“The machine’s system is applicable to a wide range of themes from health and safety and industrial sensor technology to condition monitoring systems and maintenance and repairs.

“The scenarios that present themselves while working in a factory can be replicated here at the college, it’s a fantastic addition to our suite of equipment and a significant investment from Medru, so we are very grateful.”

The industrial sorting plant – built by Germany company, Gunt – can simulate many different outcomes and processes, dividing items by colour, size, material, weight, and other categories.

The plant is controlled via touch screen, and an operating mode and a training mode are available.

The training mode is used to simulate time- and sensor-controlled maintenance work and there is an augmented reality interface for mobile devices which offers extensive additional functions, such as the display of exploded views and data sheets.

The process uses an open design so that all components are freely accessible. Extensive safety equipment, such as light barriers in accessible danger areas, ensure safe operation. For the removal and installation of the gear units, the plant has a crane that can be set up in three different positions.

Users will further develop their hand skills, and Dan said they are able to create problems for learners to identify and solve, as they would have to in a real-time, real-world work setting.

“Fault-finding on automated systems is something which is often not trained, it is reactive and comes with experience, so being able to prepare maintenance teams to better anticipate any issues is a big USP,” he added.

“We are already getting a positive response in north east Wales and would like to collaborate with local businesses to test this machine further, so it can be tailored to any environment.

“Initially, our part-time learners will use it but eventually it will become a centrepiece for our Level 3 and Level 4 students in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering.

“We want the curriculum here to match what is happening out there in the sector, so our learners are ready for the world of work and have been trained using relevant technology on leaving college.

“We were already renowned for that, and with this addition to our facility it advances our position further in local industry.”

Medru aims to provide learners with the opportunity to achieve valuable Industry 4.0 technical skills and knowledge and deliver training across north east Wales, creating a pipeline of talent for the future.

For more news and information from Coleg Cambria, visit the website: www.cambria.ac.uk

Amperity Redefines Composability with the World’s First Lakehouse CDP

Data teams can now stop integrating and start sharing data across their tech stack to save time and lower costs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024Amperity, the leading AI-powered enterprise customer data platform (CDP) for consumer brands, today announces a new composable approach for customer data management: the Lakehouse CDP. Now, brands can seamlessly share live data sets between a CDP and a lakehouse without maintaining ETLs or copying data. IT teams can optimize how data is stored and processed with any platform that uses lakehouses’ open table formats to save time and lower costs. This composable and more secure flow of data ensures brands can fuel the data-intensive demands of Generative AI and 1:1 personalization with high-quality data.

 

Amperity’s Lakehouse CDP addresses two critical concerns that composable CDPs often overlook: data quality and governance.

Other composable solutions fall short because they are built as ‘reverse ETL’ tools that activate data from a big data environment. Unfortunately, lakehouse data still needs to be cleaned, unified and aggregated into insights for business users. The CDP components available today lack an AI-driven approach to resolving identities and governing the data operations of constantly changing profiles. Reverse ETLs also require complex query logic to access lakehouse data, resulting in hidden compute costs and ongoing integration work.

 

“The shift to composability in the marketing technology landscape continues to gain momentum as brands become more sophisticated and strategic in how they manage customer data,” said Juan Mendoza, CEO at The Martech Weekly. “Amperity’s Lakehouse CDP reflects this shift perfectly by enabling the cleaning, enriching and harmonizing of data from often complex and hard-to-use data clouds, while also providing the capabilities to utilize that data to drive growth outcomes for marketers. The worlds of data engineering and marketing operations can come closer than ever thanks to Amperity’s release of the Lakehouse CDP.”

 

With the Lakehouse CDP, Amperity breaks down silos between SaaS tools and teams to fuel AI and engagement with better data.

Since Amperity’s capabilities are composable, brands can plug it directly into a data lakehouse and use any combination of its offerings to optimize customer data operations. Data teams can improve data quality across Amperity and a lakehouse with identity resolution through AmpID, generative AI with AmpAi, and pre-built data assets with Amp360. Business users can use AmpIQ to securely activate lakehouse data, enabling deep personalization. All components come with data validations and checks to govern end-to-end data workflows across platforms.

“We use Databricks for its unparalleled data tools and ability to seamlessly share data with Amperity,” said Tom Barber, head of data at Virgin Atlantic. “This powerful combination allows us to quickly unify and enrich vast amounts of customer data. By democratizing data access, we empower our non-technical users to easily make data-driven decisions. Amperity has enabled us to maximize the value of our data, enabling us to focus on delivering exceptional travel experiences.”

 

Introducing Amperity Bridge

To enable the Lakehouse CDP’s core benefits, Amperity is adding a key new feature: Bridge. Amperity Bridge allows users to point and share data to and from a lakehouse rather than using the slower, less secure method of reverse ETL. It uses each lakehouse’s open, industry-standard data formats so that data is available across the tech stack through a shared catalog. This provides the benefits of zero-copy for greater control and compliance without unnecessary network calls and processing. Amperity Bridge is currently available for Databricks and Snowflake.

 

“In today’s data-driven landscape, brands are struggling to unlock the true potential of their customer data due to the siloed nature of traditional data management tools,” said Barry Padgett, CEO of Amperity. “Amperity’s Lakehouse CDP rides the wave of open data sharing, enabling brands to build cross-platform data workflows. Our goal is to ensure high-quality customer data is available across all platforms that use lakehouse architecture without replication. With Amperity, businesses can meet the data demands of Generative AI and personalization at scale with unparalleled data governance.”

 

Why Brands Win with a Lakehouse Approach

Amperity’s Lakehouse CDP accelerates time-to-value by enriching data in a lakehouse. With Amperity, brands can:

 

  • Automate First-Party Identity Resolution. Easily maintain high data quality in your lakehouse. Unify raw customer data and produce a stable, universal identifier with AI-powered ID resolution.
  • Build Data Assets Quickly. Quickly shape data for activation. Leverage pre-built industry and use case data assets that can be easily shared with and enriched in a lakehouse.
  • Sync Enriched Data to Any Tool. Easily access and activate high-quality data from a lakehouse with Amperity’s marketer-friendly tool that’s more secure than reverse ETL.
  • Keep Data Secure and Flowing. Improve data governance by securely sharing data without replication, tracking every transformation and automating consent management workflows.

 

“The future of customer data management lies in enriching and activating data from a shared lakehouse catalog. This approach enables businesses to securely manage customer data in their preferred platforms and tools without the need for costly and time-consuming data migrations,” said Gerry Murray, research director at IDC. “The result accelerates and expands the use case roadmap, enhances data-driven decision-making and improves downstream application optimization.”

To learn more about Amperity Bridge, check out the demo here.

 

About Amperity

Amperity, the first Lakehouse CDP, delivers the data confidence brands need to unlock growth by truly knowing their customers. With Amperity, brands can build a first-party data foundation to fuel customer acquisition and retention, personalize experiences that build loyalty, and manage privacy compliance. Using patented AI and ML methods, Amperity stitches together all customer interactions to build a unified view that seamlessly connects to marketing and technology tools. More than 400 brands worldwide rely on Amperity to turn data into business value, including Alaska Airlines, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Endeavour Drinks, Planet Fitness, Seattle Sounders FC, Under Armour and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. For more information, visit amperity.com or follow us on Linkedin, X, Facebook and Instagram.

Cornish ‘surfers’ paradise’ sailed to 95% direct bookings through Profitroom partnership

Three Mile Beach, a boutique resort in North-West Cornwall experienced skyrocketing direct bookings share levels reaching 95% within its first year with Profitroom.

Situated off the coast of St Ives Bay, widely known as ‘surfers’ paradise’ Three Mile Beach resort prides itself on offering all the comfort, freedom and space of having your own holiday home – but with all the amenities and services of a boutique hotel.

With 15 luxury beach houses with uniquely premium self-catering options, Three Mile Beach did not struggle for attention in the highly competitive market. However, its challenge lies in showcasing available dates, leading to a disjointed booking experience and revenue loss.

Three Mile Beach found Profitroom’s advanced cart abandonment and availability navigation systems a tech game-changer which saw its cart abandonment and retargeting tools contributing an additional 5% to their revenue since working with Profitroom. 

This aspect was crucial for Three Mile Beach, as they frequently encountered “unavailable” notifications for new clients and lacked reminders for abandoned carts with their previous provider.

Nick McIvor, General Manager at Three Mile Beach, said: “The results we saw after implementing Profitroom’s availability calendar and cart abandonment tool were eye-opening. 

“After our first three months with Profitroom, our direct bookings instantly rose by 28%, going on to reach 95% by the end of our first year. 

“Through working with Profitroom, we were able to eliminate our over-reliance on OTAs and seamlessly integrate the new technology into our existing POS system and minimise stumbling blocks for potential customers.” 

“We wanted a provider who could give us peace of mind and who could maximise our conversion rate online, and I could not fault the team at Profitroom. From the onboarding team to our customer success manager, I felt reassured to know that they were just a phone call away.”

Thanks to Profitroom’s hand-on customer service, the team were also able to identify package opportunities Three Mile Beach could seamlessly add on to their current offerings to boost average room spends.

This included packages from yoga and surf lessons, to foraging walks and a dinner with a private chef, all integrated at every customer interaction to further set Three Miles Beach apart from its competitors. 

As a result, there has been a remarkable 43% spike in year-on-year online package sales revenue and room nights by 15%.

Patryk Luszcz, UK Director at Profitroom, said: “Profitroom’s ethos is to partner with hotels and resorts worldwide and truly tailor the booking journey to their customers’ exact needs. Three Mile Beach’s impressive success is rooted in our dedication to providing guests the power of choice, allowing them to personalise their stay as they see fit.

“The next 12 months for Three Mile Beach are set to be its most exciting yet, and we can’t wait to help integrate a new strategy for the resort and find the best ways to secure more bookings and drive total revenue.” For more information about Profitroom and Three Mile Beach visit www.profitroom.com

SYTECH Secures Prestigious ISO Accreditation for the Second Re-Certification Cycle

SYTECH, the UK’s longest-established digital forensics consultancy service provider, has successfully undergone a rigorous audit to secure its second UKAS re-certification for ISO 17025:2017.

The international standard, which has been made a mandatory requirement by the Forensic Science Regulators Code of Practice for forensic providers who are putting evidence into the Criminal Justice System, outlines the robust requirements for testing and calibration in laboratories. It sets out guidelines for quality management, technical competence and the ability to produce accurate and reliable test and calibration data.

In securing the coveted UKAS re-certification for the second time, SYTECH has been accredited under ISO 17025 for the previous eight years – a notable achievement in the digital forensics sector.

Significantly, the Stoke-on-Trent and South Wales firm is now also the first UK private-sector company to undergo an extension to its scope, to now have included within its schedule of accreditation the pioneering GrayKey software solution, utilised for full-file system mobile extractions.

In further successes, SYTECH has successfully passed its re-certification audits for ISO 27001, 14001 and 9001.

Jessica Clewlow, Operations Director at SYTECH and Senior Accountable Individual (SAI), a requirement from the Forensic Science Regulator commented: “We are incredibly proud to be embroiled in several international quality standards, and to have once again met the stringent audit requirements to secure re-certification for ISO 17025 and highlight our commitment to quality and accuracy.

“With an increasing number of businesses seeking ISO 17025 accreditation to demonstrate their competence, and with our significant testing and calibration laboratory experience, our SYTECH consultancy team is honoured to be supporting companies to secure accreditation – and maintain their status thereafter. By helping businesses navigate the complex process to achieve this globally recognised standard of excellence, we can enable more industries to benefit from the bolstered reputation that the implementation of ISO 17025 accreditation provides.”

SYTECH’s schedule of ISO 17025 accreditation can be viewed here: https://www.ukas.com/wp-content/uploads/schedule_uploads/00002/8765Testing-Multiple.pdf

From its offices in Stoke-on-Trent and South Wales, and established in 1978, SYTECH provides all aspects of digital forensics and cyber services (Cyber Essentials, penetration testing etc), consultancy and training, for national public sector organisations and major blue chip organisations. Predominantly working on behalf of the Criminal Justice System, and associated stakeholders, the company maintains a highly experienced, multi-discipline team of Professional Expert Witnesses and Analysts, who each specialise in complementary areas, working to understand the unique requirements of each business.

SYTECH is accredited under ISO 17025 and Forensic Science Code of Practice and Conduct (FSR-C-100), and certified for ISO 27001, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.  SYTECH delivers consultancy and on-the-ground training support services for businesses striving to achieve ISO/IEC 17025 Quality Standards. With nine years of testing and calibration laboratory experience, and having secured the rigorous accreditation themselves, the experienced consultancy team can assist laboratories and businesses to achieve the accreditation – and maintain their status thereafter.

R3 responds to the April 2024 insolvency statistics

  • Corporate insolvencies increased by 18.4% in April 2024 to a total of 2,177 compared to March’s total of 1,838, and increased by 18.4% compared to April 2023’s figure of 1,838.
    • Corporate insolvencies also increased by 5.4% from April 2022’s total of 2,065 and increased by 52.7% compared to pre-pandemic levels in April 2019 (1,426).
  • Personal insolvencies increased by 9.9% in April 2024 to a total of 9,651 compared to March’s total of 8,782, and increased by 4.7% compared to April 2023’s figure of 9,222.
    • Personal insolvencies also increased by 1.2% from April 2022’s total of 9,537 and decreased by 0.4% compared to pre-pandemic levels in April 2019 (9,685).

Eleanor Temple, chair of the UK’s insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 in Yorkshire, and a barrister at Kings Chambers in Leeds, comments on the publication of the April 2024 insolvency statistics for England and Wales:

“The last year and the last quarter have seen corporate insolvency numbers reach a level not seen since the previous recession in 2008-09. The fact the UK had entered a recession (albeit relatively modest) during the last two quarters of 2023 was a contributing factor, however the recession would appear to have been short lived with a better than expected growth in GDP of 0.6% between January and March which has largely cancelled out the recession itself.

“Against this backdrop, inflation is falling and the Bank of England have held interest rates for a further month, with market speculation abundant as to whether and when a cut is on the cards. Corporate registrations are at a record high, so there are factors at play which suggest some return of business confidence, if not consumer confidence with cost-of-living pressures still playing their part. Working out what is going on is therefore becoming more nuanced than simply blaming the pandemic, cost of living, inflation and interest rates.

“The annual and monthly increases in corporate insolvencies shown in the figures published today have been driven by an increase in all types of corporate insolvency process, but the key areas which stand out are the increases in Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs) most of which relate to small and medium sized companies – the process which has seen the largest rise (after a brief decline in March) – and administrations.

“One factor in the increase in CVLs is likely to be down to directors closing their business at the end of the financial year – either because they believe the market won’t improve or because they’ve simply had enough after four tough years. Another possibility could be difficulties in small businesses in distress being able to access more complex and more expensive forms of restructuring, and having to resort to liquidation as a means of dealing with unserviceable debt.

“While the increase in administrations isn’t by a large number, it does suggest that there are an increasing volume of businesses that could potentially be rescued rather than wound-up and as the economy recovers we would anticipate this rise will continue. We will need to keep a close eye on this, as the trendline is upwards and the causes are not clear against a backdrop of an apparent increase in business confidence and the so-called ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery. One would expect liquidations to level out or decline, as rescue mechanisms begin to replace closures – but we shall have to wait and see.

“The sectoral data we have available shows that the construction, retail and hospitality sectors continue to experience the highest insolvencies this year so far. Retail and hospitality businesses have been especially affected by consumers’ wariness about spending money, poor weather in February and a tough pre-Christmas trading period. Issues with the weather will also have affected the construction industry, as will the fall in new work it has suffered from since the start of the year.

“Despite the difficult business climate over the period these figures cover, there is some cause for optimism. The economy is growing again and business and consumer confidence are both improving, and while businesses remain concerned about costs and consumer demand, the mood is generally more positive with a significant increase in new company registrations being reported by Companies House.

“Turning to personal insolvencies, the key factor behind the month-on-month and year-on-year increase has been a rise in the number of Debt Relief Orders – a trend which was expected after the Chancellor announced he was removing the administration fee from the start of April.

“Breathing Space numbers have fallen compared to last month, but are still higher than they were in April 2023 and 2022. When this is considered alongside the numbers for the other personal insolvency processes, it’s clear that a significant number of people are in need of either debt advice, or debt solutions. Based on the figures, it seems the majority of these people are choosing to either seek protection from creditor action while they explore their options, or enter processes that enable them to come to an arrangement with their creditors when it comes to repaying their debts.

“It’s also very clear the cost-of-living crisis is still taking a toll on people’s finances. Prices are continuing to rise despite the fall in inflation, and we’re hearing reports of people turning to credit to bridge the gaps in their finances. Despite these issues, the mood among consumers is becoming more positive – people seem more optimistic about their personal finances over the next year, although it’s worth noting that the future of the economy, the cost of living and concerns around job security remain key areas of concern.

“While the picture seems to be more positive for businesses and individuals, and consumers seem more optimistic about the weeks and months ahead, people still need to keep a close eye on their personal and business finances and seek advice as soon as they become concerned that they are having problems or could have them in the near future. Most R3 members will provide a free consultation to potential clients to learn more about their situation and outline the potential options that could be open to them for improving it.”

Duo acquire pioneering engineering company

A specialist manufacturing company which supplies trenchless technology equipment to sectors including water, oil and gas has undergone a buyout.

Business partners Graham Edden and Pat Farrell have acquired Brewis Engineering for an undisclosed sum. The transaction has been supported with financial backing from WeDo Business Services.

Brewis, based in Somerset, specialises in the design, development and manufacture of equipment for the trenchless technology industry worldwide. Its products are used in the laying of pipes and cables in the water, oil and gas and utility industries.

The company was founded in 1984 by Rod Brewis in his garden shed. He invented the Brewis towing head to pull pipes ranging in diameter from 25mm to 900mm.

Other products in the Brewis portfolio include high flow transmitter housings, directional drilling swivels with a pullback capacity of up to 550 tons, along with cable swivels.

Brewis, which has 16 staff and is based at 10,000sq ft premises on the Marston Trading Estate in Frome, exports across Europe, the United States and Canada as well as to New Zealand and Australia, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, South Africa and India.

Following the buyout, Graham and Pat have become managing director and commercial director of Brewis respectively.

The pair have a wealth of business experience. Pat has spent most of his working life in the trenchless and construction industries. Graham is a seasoned investor and business leader who has built and run companies across a variety of sectors, including automotive, hospitality and waste management.

The deal provides an exit for Rod and his wife Sheila, who was company secretary. Paula Fitch has retired as commercial director. Operations director Michael Rudd remains with the business.

Graham said: “Brewis Engineering is renowned and respected throughout the world for its innovative, market-leading products. Rod and the team have laid a tremendous platform for us to build on and capitalise on the opportunities for growth, especially in the US but also in other territories.

“With the help of our fantastic and loyal workforce, we are looking to expand our manufacturing capacity and develop new products to provide sustainable growth over the coming years.

“Some of the staff have been with the company for more than 25 years, having served their apprenticeships with us, and there is a wealth of knowledge, skillsets and ideas among the team for us to harness and achieve our goals.

“We have some of the best engineers in the world here in the UK. The country’s design and manufacturing sector has a bright outlook despite the challenging economic headwinds, and we are proud to be playing our part in flying the flag.”

Rebekah Middleton and Jim McDonnell at WeDo Business Services arranged a funding package to help facilitate the buyout.

The WeDo group has its headquarters in Greater Manchester and additional offices nationwide. It provides invoice and trade finance, asset finance, loans and start-up funding to a growing client base, as well as accountancy, HR, back-office and IT services.

Rebekah said: “We were pleased to provide a package which enabled Graham and Pat to swiftly complete the acquisition once they engaged us. The founders and vendors, Rod and Sheila Brewis, have traded very successfully for 40 years and we wish them, Graham and Pat and the entire team all the very best for the future.”

Graham added: “Rebekah and Jim did a fantastic job in helping us to successfully complete the transaction. They were thorough, and moved mountains to get things done.

“We are excited to be taking a prestigious brand in the trenchless technology sector forward, using our extensive business and sector experience to support our customers and seize new opportunities.”

David Gledhill, Rachael Killworth and Jenny Chapman, of the asset-based lending team at law firm Bermans, provided advice and support to WeDo regarding the legal documentation involved in the transaction.

James Young and Helen Carter at Harding Evans Solicitors, based in South Wales, advised Graham and Pat on the acquisition. Financial due diligence was carried out by Marcel Frei, of GMT Finances.

Zip World Boost Welsh Economy By £941 Million

An independent report from North Wales Tourism has revealed a figure of £941 million as Zip World’s 10-year contribution to the Welsh economy.

This milestone, following its latest Economic Impact Assessment, highlights a remarkable surge compared to the previous figure of £251 million reported in 2018, with over £690 million added in the last five years.

By analysing commercial data, survey insights, and research findings, the assessment explores Zip World’s visitor influences, staffing levels and economic contribution to its local communities.

Andrew Hudson, Chief Executive Officer at Zip World, said: “We’re incredibly proud of our contribution to economic regeneration in Wales, and this report underscores the impact we’ve had and will continue to have. Our ambition has always been to create long-term jobs and to support the wider economy of our local communities.

“Since launching in 2013, Zip World has opened seven sites – including our newest location in Conwy – and North Wales Tourism’s analysis will provide invaluable insight to guide our future endeavours in driving more growth and prosperity.

“There are also ongoing initiatives to expand our UK presence further including in the Lakes and proposals in the South East of England. Investment is key for us, not only in our new sites but by adding value to our existing locations.”

Zip World’s expansion plans and enhanced management of existing attractions are supported by both the Welsh and UK Governments, securing £6.2 million worth of matched funding as part of the North Wales Growth Deal.

This funding aims to further enable Zip World’s vision as a leading responsible tourism destination, facilitating sustainable transport links and year-round employment opportunities.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “The Economic Impact Assessment from North Wales Tourism shows the benefits of world-class tourist attractions. Zip World’s growth, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic, has been instrumental in championing tourism in rural Welsh communities and generating more year-round job opportunities.

“Zip World is a North Wales home-grown company who have gone from strength to strength, and it’s great to see the impact they are having.”

Jim Jones, CEO of North Wales Tourism, said: “As Zip World continues to enthuse adventure seekers from near and far to Wales, the positive economic ripple effect of this leading tourist operator has been felt across our communities.

“Every pound visitors spend in North Wales circulates within the local economy, meaning the impact is even higher among other local businesses. By attracting tourists to the region, Zip World has injected over £414 million in local reinvestment across the last five years alone.

“Zip World has been the catalyst to the branding of North Wales as the Adventure Capital of Europe, and the company remains steadfast in its mission to not only thrill visitors but also to enrich and empower our Welsh communities.”

Operating 33 different adventures at seven locations across Wales and England, the company offers a range of experiences within the active leisure sector, including its latest locations, the indoor Zip World Conwy and its Zip World Windermere and Manchester sites.

In addition to its adventures, Zip World has recently launched its brand-new luxury Forest Lodges and Camping Pods as well as renovated its Tyn-y-Coed Hotel, further expanding its accommodation offerings in the region.

For more information about Zip World’s sites and adventures, visit www.zipworld.com