The latest from St Albans Chamber of Commerce, June 20

Federation of Small Businesses Awards - Mel Hilbrown, Lisa Bates, Cllr Beric Read

Federation of Small Businesses Awards - Mel Hilbrown, Lisa Bates, Cllr Beric Read - Credit: Archant

OUR first joint networking event with Herts Institute of Directors was a great success last week when over 90 delegates enjoyed a business breakfast at St Michael’s Manor Hotel.

Rev Richard Watson and Helen Gray from St Albans Cathedral briefly spoke to the guests about the Cathedral Flower Festival 2014.

For four days in September, St Albans Cathedral will be transformed into a stunning oasis of colour and sound when the 2014 Music in Bloom Flower Festival opens to the public.

Beautiful and imaginative flower displays will clothe the ancient stones and architecture of this unique building as over 20,000 visitors come to experience one of the largest events in the region. From huge constructions to delicate posies, the flower arrangements will be themed on musical titles of every genre and the cathedral will echo to the sound of local musicians, carefully chosen to complement the flowers and the setting.

The festival will be enhanced by a comprehensive programme of evening events including a spectacular Gala Preview evening with musical entertainment (for sponsors and their guests only), concerts and a picnic prom. Sunday evening will be dedicated to the local community when local charity groups are invited to view the flowers during a special session as the festival draws to a close. Flower-arranging courses will also be available to visitors on a pre-booked basis. Together with delicious refreshments, the festival will be a feast for all the senses and an important highlight in the life of the Cathedral and the city – a unique and breathtaking event which more than 20,000 visitors are expected to attend.

A recent survey by leading local accountants, Thomas Cox & Co, has revealed that their top clients are not only unaffected by the recession but have grown significantly over the last 12 months.

In fact, their top 30 per cent of clients have seen their combined turnover grow by 22 per cent, their combined profits rise by 102 per cent and their combined balance sheet net assets increase by 66 per cent.

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Managing director Peter Cox said: “We knew that many of our clients were thriving during this ‘recession’ but even we were surprised by exactly how well they were doing. This is an example to other companies that they can still grow, even in what are seen as challenging times.”

He added: “However, the companies concerned have taken a pro-active approach to their expansion and have planned for growth, working on their business not just in it, while controlling costs. We have worked closely with them on an ongoing basis to achieve the growth.”

During the last 48 months the same top 30 per cent of clients have enjoyed combined sales increases of 60 per cent, profits increases of 225 per cent and seen combined balance sheet net assets go up by 164 per cent, a sustained growth for all of these businesses.

Chamber members Rayden Solictors have a lot to celebrate this week after scooping three awards at the Herts Federation of Small Businesses gala evening held at Shendish Manor including; St Albans Business of the Year, Business Person of the Year (Katherine Rayden) and runner up for Enterprising Business. Other Chamber members winning on the night were Eat Lunch and On Tap Plumbers, congratulations to them all.

Cllr Beric Read, district council portfolio holder for community engagement, said: “The council are keen to support small business events and were very happy and encouraged that the FSB award we sponsored this year, St Albans Business of the Year, had the highest number of finalists including the overall winner Rayden Solicitors. I enjoyed being involved in the judging process and think it is really good to see St Albans is doing comparatively well.”

For those not able to get tickets and meet Terry Waite at our St George’s Day Lunch earlier this year, you are in luck! He is in St Albans this Saturday at Emmaus, Hill End Lane, who celebrate their 11th birthday from 12noon until 5pm. Terry is the UK President and will be there during the afternoon to welcome visitors and shoppers. There will also be a barbecue and refreshments accompanied by entertainment from The Verulam Big Band. See you there!

We welcome the following eight new members to the Chamber: Cote Brasserie, Pipeworks Plumbing & Heating, Redwood Starke & Co, Unique Training Solutions Ltd, Waitrose Ltd (St Albans), BSCP, Discount Tyres (St Albans) Ltd and Photographic Synergy.

Finally, don’t miss the first Alban Weekend event on Saturday and Sunday – more details elsewhere in this edition. This should be a great boost for our restaurants and shops; last year over the Jubilee weekend many shops closed at the usual time which was such a shame as there were hundreds of people still in the centre with money to burn!