Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Investment Decision Making: Part One

Jim Stockton is senior lecturer in finance at the Warrington School of Management (University of Chester).


The term “investment decision making” or, alternatively, “capital budgeting” is used to describe how managers plan significant outlays on new projects or assets-the “big ticket” items. Spending on a large scale has long term implications and businesses usually have many more projects than they can afford to fund so business managers must carefully select and appraise projects from a variety of perspectives. The financial appraisal of projects is termed capital investment appraisal or C.I.A. (and, no, it has nothing to do with the American Secret Service). What follows is a simple (some might argue simplistic) guide to investment decision making.

The basics

Let’s address the basics first. Why do businesses invest in projects or asset purchases-for example-new machinery, new vehicles? Clearly it’s to employ the assets in the business in order to generate sales of products or services. (ignore the example of a car dealer whose business is actually the buying and selling of vehicles). The product or service is then sold, hopefully generating profits which can then be, in part or whole, reinvested in the business to allow expansion and growth. Note that the financial quantum involved will be large, generally speaking, but that will be set within the context of the size of the business. So the purchase of a new van costing £20,000 might be a huge decision for an SME but a “drop in the bucket” for a large plc which may be assessing the competing merits of purchase of a fleet of vehicles of different types possibly costing millions in total.   However, the importance of getting the capital investment decision right is the same for both organisations-it will have long tern consequences in terms of profitability. At the extreme end, it could be a “bet the company” investment decision meaning getting it wrong could be the end of the business.

The business context

It’s important to understand, at the outset, that any capital investment decision has to be appraised within the context of the business. How does the investment fit within the strategic direction defined for the firm?  The long term vision of the company must be articulated with sufficient clarity before investment proposals can be sensibly appraised.  Equally, the markets for the product or services must be fully researched and the customer demand to be satisfied fully understood. Only then does it make sense for projects that “fit” within this business context be developed and examined in greater financial detail.

Types of capital budgeting decisions

What types of business decisions require investment appraisal? Basically any decision involving significant outlay today spent in order to generate increases in revenue or reductions in cost in the future. Typically the following:-
Expansion decisions-should new facilities e.g. a new factory or machine be acquired to increase capacity and therefore enhance future sales?   

Replacement decisions-is existing equipment becoming obsolete or in need of modernisation?

Cost reduction decisions-would it be sensible to invest now in new equipment that will generate savings in the longer term compared with existing machinery? 

Compliance decisions-has the external regulatory environment changed meaning that current modes of operation are no longer viable? For example, waste products that are a by-product of manufacturing need higher standards of treatment before being released into the atmosphere or watercourse?

All the above are motives for capital investment and therefore financial appraisal.

Information requirements for capital investment appraisal

Let’s assume a business has a number of potential projects and only limited funding available to finance them-a fairly common situation-businesses routinely cannot afford all the projects they may see as commercially attractive. The information required will relate to the future and therefore require estimation (or, if you prefer, informed guesswork!). The information gathering will all be about the future revenues and costs usually expressed as cash inflows and outflows generated as a direct result of the proposed project. Typically the following questions will need answering:-

What will the new investment cost, for example, the cost of a new machine or a new vehicle? In larger firms the investment may run into many millions.

What will be the future revenues and costs associated with the investment over the life of the project (difficult one this!). This will require estimates of demand over the life of the projects being appraised and the revenues and costs associated with meeting that demand.

Will the project have any residual value at the end of its life e.g. scrap value?

Now you can perhaps begin to understand that C.I.A. is all about commercial judgement concerning the future and lacks exact precision especially when thinking about what the economic situation generally may be like and also what the business might be like, in particular, in say five years’ time. Here a word of caution is needed-defer to a friend named G.I.G.O. No it’s not some Italian stunner but an acronym-Garbage In Garbage Out. Put simply, if you feed into your investment appraisal rubbish as your inputs e.g. inaccurate and unresearched assumptions regarding future cash flows that is exactly what you will get out. 
Equally, when estimating future cash flows do not be seduced by spurious accuracy-remember these are broad brush business assumptions regarding the future and you do not have a crystal ball that will deliver complete accuracy so don’t fool yourself into thinking you do!

Sensitivity analysis

Often, when undertaking CIA, one can vary assumptions regarding the cost of the investment and the future cash flows that will result, for example, from different levels of customer demand. In more complicated appraisals, different assumptions regarding inflation or taxation can be introduced. This will help the financial manager assess how “sensitive” the project is to changes in certain factors and therefore help identify where the real business risks lie. But, hold on, let’s not get ahead of ourselves-what are the most commonly used CIA techniques?

Capital Investment Appraisal techniques

There are four commonly used capital investment appraisal techniques:-
1. Payback
2. Accounting rate of Return
3. Net present value
4. Internal rate of return

I will discuss each of these techniques in a subsequent article as they differ substantially from each other and, to make matters worse, often give conflicting answers when applied to the appraisal of, say, two projects competing against each other for limited investment funds. (I didn’t say this would be easy did I? Hey, stick with it, we will get there!).

One final thought, in the shape of a question. If I offered you £10,000 now or £10,000 in a year’s time, which would you choose? The answer may be obvious to you but have a think about why-there are a number of issues involved (at least three) all of which will help in your understanding of capital investment appraisal techniques.


The above article seeks to expose the basics of investment appraisal in business-nothing more. Think of it as appetiser before the main course. In a subsequent article I will delve deeper into the techniques I have listed above and hopefully deepen your understanding of this important business topic.   

Friday, 1 August 2014

Company Culture

The rapidly changing pace and focus of management has to be considered within the context of the organisation and that of its competitors, to gain any relevance or meaning. With this in mind, it may be useful to consider the impact of your organisation’s culture has upon both management style and employees’ involvement in their own company decision making.

Organisational culture has been defined as ‘the way things are done around here.’ Reviewing a company’s culture is not always as simple as it may seem…as any culture is value driven. The origins of most corporate cultures lie in the belief and value systems of its original management, however that was constituted. Hence, we can argue that mission statements, objectives and management style are all predisposed to reflect the dominant values of the company. If you consider your own organisation – the layout, artefacts, even the codes of behaviours taken by employees, will naturally be supportive of the culture.

Cultural Types 

It is interesting to look at the different characteristics associates to the four most frequently used cultural types, placing your organisation either in one dominant culture or across several.

1.Control (Hierarchy) Culture 

  •  Mainly found in autocracies and bureaucratic management led organisations 
  • Formalised recognised rules/procedures
  •  Specialised process 
  • Hierarchical structure 
  • Communication top-down 
  • Promotion through recognised stages 

2. Market (Compete) Culture 

  •  Core values of competitiveness and productivity 
  • Oriented toward the external environment instead of internal affairs 
  • Competitiveness and productivity achieved through external positioning
  •  Assumptions that the external environment is hostile rather than benign, consumers are choosy and interested in value
  •  Leaders are hard-driving producers and competitors are tough and demanding

 3. Clan (Collaborative) Culture 

  •  Shared values and goals, cohesion, participative, individuality 
  • Typical characteristics of clan-type firms were teamwork, employee involvement programs, and corporate commitment to employees
  •  Rewards on the basis of team (not individual) accomplishment 
  • Customers are best thought of as partners 

4. The Adhocracy (Create) Culture

  •  Management foster creativity, adaptivity and flexibility 
  • Titles, job responsibilities and even departmental alignments change frequently
  •  Dynamic environment of skilled individuals 

To accept that organisational culture has a strong identifying influence on both the internal and also the external customer, it is valid to question how managers can shape the motivational behaviour of staff through it. Interestingly, there can be very different interpretations of culture within one organisation, i.e what may be perceived by senior management as a highly effective learning environment, directed through an efficient policy driven management team, might be perceived by lower level staff as an organisation that is confining in terms of training and development opportunities and is disorganised within a confused management structure. This mismatch is not unusual and is often reinforced through a weak communications policy.

Many may remember Ricky Gervais’ character Brent’s motivational endeavours in the ‘Office’. Motivation is a complex and difficult task for management , requiring a need to understand not only the company’s cultural context, but having access to information concerning the extrinsic and intrinsic needs of staff.

Management Style and Staff Motivation 

There are many examples of organisational recognition of the positive relationship between management style influences and motivational behaviour. Central to most are:

  • Employee expectations
  •  Line management engagement 
  • Resources fit for purpose 
  • Recognition 
  • Communication 

It is useful to reflect upon the findings of theorist Herzberg in the context if staff perception. He suggested that employees do not necessarily become motivated by what they expect to be in place at work, such as: opportunities to work in teams, a fully equipped work station, access to line management and so on. However, if these were not available, the individual may well become demotivated. Thus, it is the ‘extra’ extrinsic or intrinsic opportunities made available that can motivate staff (features such as: new responsibility, training initiatives ,acknowledgement of their work) that positively influence behaviour. But, it is work recognising that what motivates one employee may not another – so what strategies can managers put in place to best access this knowledge?

Many companies have a rigorous performance management (PM) strategy that furnished them with detailed information concerning staff members. How this strategy is perceived by staff, again, depends upon the management communication style and how line managers view their role in the process. Ideally, PM initiatives should be the product of collaborative communication, to engender a more responsive and committed workforce.

In conclusion, the culture of any organisation is the key influence on internal and external perceptions, impacting upon the image and reputation of the company. Driven in many cases by traditional beliefs, management need to be responsive to the changing demands of both the internal and external customer within their particular market, to ensure they maintain or improve their position.

Meryl Bradshaw is senior lecturer in organisational behaviour at Warrington School of Management, University of Chester. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Warrington Wolves success can be a blueprint for other businesses

THE rise of Warrington Wolves, both as a sporting team and as a business entity has been quite dramatic over that last decade or so.
Their consistency on the pitch, coupled with investment in infrastructure has ensured that they have the appeal and through the Halliwell Jones Stadium the capacity, to draw and cater for an extensive fan-base.

A blueprint for rugby league facilities the creation of the stadium, despite any nostalgic feelings around moving from Wilderspool, represents the intent to grow the biggest club possible.

A shift from terraces to seating, the addition of added on-site leisure facilities, parking and good accessibility makes for a better crowd experience and so a stronger family appeal. The “From Wire 2 Wolves” display and DVD captures a huge shift in the operations, cultural context and business model of this historic entity.

The 130 year plus history of the club is a triumph, as few businesses manage to survive through so many ups and downs over such a period. It is the loyalty of the supporters which has ensured continuity. All businesses should learn from this lesson; build a brand that enough people love and the future should be assured.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy is Associate Dean at Warrington School of Management, University of Chester (Padgate Campus)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Flexible working in a 24/7 culture

Marketing and organisational behaviour lecturer, Stephenie Hodge, from the Warrington School of Management (University of Chester) provides insight into flexible working practices.

There is no disputing that over the last decade organisations of all sizes and sectors have worked in a constant state of change brought on through the recession, expansion of globalisation and the speed in which new technology and social media are testing the skills of even the most effective managers. So how does the manager of the future not only cope with, but thrive in, leading and motivating a team that is aligned with the organisational goals and have a mind-set of managing output, not hours?

A flexible working approach

A major future trend researched by The Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM, 2013) has identified that 94% of UK organisations offer some form of flexible working. 51% of all the managers surveyed expect flexible working to become the norm within five years and recognised as a future global trend. This is proven to be a highly effective incentive to attract and retain talented employees. It empowers the individuals, giving them greater control over their working week; increasing their engagement, productivity levels which in turn reflects positively to the brand image of the organisation. Their autonomy creates a corporate personality and helps to identify and verify the company’s values, therefore achieving the ‘buy-in’ to the culture and psychological contract.

Individual’s values and perspective on working life has changed; they don’t buy into the job for life concept anymore and would rather have the option to adjust their work/life balance to best suit their personal circumstances. Therefore, flexible work options can also be used as a trade-off against a salary increase, which may suit or be the only option available to an employer.

This research is further endorsed by Kingston University/Ipsos MORI who found that ‘workers on flexible contracts tend to be more emotionally engaged, more satisfied with their work and more likely to speak positively about their organisation and less likely to leave (CIPD, 2014)

Leadership and management

However, before this approach can even be considered the 2020 manager will not only have to be agile and adaptive, but also that the fundamentals of good leadership and management will matter more than ever.
52% of managers agree that skills such as communication, delegation, goal-setting and motivation are vital when operating with less time and in a more complex working environment (ILM, 2014). Trust and transparency are key as the flexible working approach has to be seen as fare and consistent and be embraced by the organisation and not seen a career limiting option.

There will be yet more on-going cultural changes due to the social and demographic shift, so a different hybrid breed of manager is required that still possess the traditional skills and qualities, but is equipped with a modern mind-set and approach (ILM, 2014).

Generation Y

There is now an expectation from our up and coming generation that this freedom and autonomy goes hand in hand with their ambitions. They are very much motivated by money, status and career advancement and do not perceive working in a flexible manner as impeding their promotion or dedication. This does not mean that they don’t want to work as hard or as long as required, but in a different working format to enable more a work life balance. This mind-set of changing working patterns needs to be embraced by employers or they could be missing out on new talent to take their business forward.

What is the payback?

If managed correctly, the payback will be built around a stakeholder relationship approach:-

·         The individual-Self-motivated and empowered which leads to a natural drive and commitment to the team effort.
·         The manager-Managing a contented team with an ethos which is aligned with the organisational values, therefore reassured that the job is being done to the best of its ability with no conflict acting as a barrier.
·         The customer & external stakeholders-The vision for transparency leads to collaboration and mutual trust which can bring a true competitive edge.
·         The organisation-Will be viewed as holistic and modern forward thinking in their approach. It holds potential value as a recruitment, engagement and retention tool; as well a great brand endorser.

Managers who are prepared to trust in their team and think differently can model the way into making flexible working the norm, will be the ones who are remembered not just as managers but as great managers.

Top of Form

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Profit or Cash - which is more important?

Jim Stockton, Senior Lecturer in Finance at the Warrington School of Management (University of Chester), discusses profitability and liquidity planning – essential elements for every business to succeed!


There are many reasons why these failures occur-some relate to the lack of a coherent business strategy, some to the absence of a focussed market research but many are simply due to the absence of some rudimentary financial planning, or to be blunter, basic budgeting. This brief article seeks to point out some fundamentals on this often neglected skill or to quote Monty Python the “bleedin obvious”!


Budgets are generally regarded as having at least five areas of usefulness:-
  • Budgets tend to promote forward thinking and the identification of short term problems
  • Budgets can help, in larger businesses to co-ordinate activity and ensure a common understanding exits on priorities-for example there is little point in the sales team aiming to deliver optimistic targets if the production team have a different aim in mind
  • Budgets can motivate managers and staff to improve performance if “stretch “ goals are set
  • Budgets can help control a business-simply put does actual performance, measured monthly, compare favourably or adversely with the budget?
  • Budgets can also act as a means to authorise spending within a business
coinsThe purpose of this article is to concentrate on the difference between profit and cash flow or, put another way, highlight the fact that profitability AND liquidity are opposite sides of the same coin when it comes to business survival. Business may fail through lack of profitability but its running out of cash that actually sends them to the wall. Indeed it is entirely possible for a profitable business to go bust by failing to pro-actively manage cash flow (known as overtrading)


Let’s consider some basics-business has to generate profit in the medium to long term-after all, in our capitalist society, that is what it is all about-why take the risk otherwise? Business entrepreneurs see an opportunity in the market place to launch a product or service and to do so in a way that will generate a profit possibly with an idea or expertise that others will find difficult to copy. A business plan can be developed around this which should be capable of being expressed in financial terms-in other words- a profit forecast based on the sales compared to the cost of those sales. All pretty straightforward so far hopefully.    This forecast or budget can and should be expressed over a reasonable time scale and should be as detailed as possible especially in the early days of the business-certainly for the coming year (broken down into months) and hopefully for another two years after that in order to give a reasonable perspective on the future of the business.. Let’s assume our small business compiles a profit forecast and that it looks reasonable-losses can be incurred in the early months as long as the longer term position indicates future profitability on a sustained basis. This profit projection can be enhanced by compiling a forecast balance sheet which will indicate:-
  • The assets the business will own
  • The liabilities it will generate
  • The impact on the owners initial and subsequent investment
It is important at this stage to differentiate between the long term (investment in fixed assets such as premises, machinery and vehicles) and shorter term assets such as stock, debtors and free cash). Equally a distinction needs to be made between short term financing obtained by trade credit from suppliers and an authorised bank overdraft and longer term funding via a formal bank loan for example.

Cash flow/liquidity

It’s at this point where the cash flow forecast becomes important-even vital. Our profit forecast can and should indicate business profitability based on the assumptions made by the owner of the business. However the next question to be asked is how does this affect cash flow going forwards? Just because the profit forecast is positive does not mean that the business will generate a positive cash flow and enable the business to meet its short term liabilities which includes those nice people from HM Revenue and Customs as well as suppliers to the business. The profit forecasts need to be converted into cash flow forecasts that take account of:-
  • Credit terms to be granted to customers
  • Credit terms obtained from suppliers
  • Stock holding levels to prevent stock outs but avoid overstocking
  • Investment in longer terms business assets
  • Use of any agreed overdraft facility
  • Longer term financing facilities
Plugging this information into our cash flow forecast should reveal any problem areas regarding whether the business will run out of money or need to increase any of its financing sources i.e. additional overdraft facilities, a longer term loan arrangement or increased investment in the business from the owner. At this point, it should become clear whether the business has a chance of financial survival or whether a complete rethink is required concerning the business assumptions built into the profit forecasts. Sometimes numerous iterations are required (know rather grandly as “sensitivity analysis”) in order to arrive at a business plan that meets the business owners’ aspirations but is also grounded in commercial reality as far as the generation of cash is concerned.


This article is necessarily brief and skips conveniently over numerous issues in order to deliver a fundamental point-(remember Monty Python above?). Business must financially plan to in order to succeed and that planning must involve profit planning and liquidity planning. One without the other is a business disaster waiting to happen.  

  Jim Stockton, Senior Lecturer in Finance at the Warrington School of Management (University of Chester)    


Friday, 25 April 2014

Warrington Businesses set to benefit from the International Festival of Business

THE International Festival of Business 2014 will be held in and around Liverpool during June and July.

The aim of this event is to boost international business opportunities and focus on regions of the world; China, India, USA, Asia, Europe and South America during different weeks.

Sector themes include Energy, Finance, Logistics, Manufacturing, Maritime, Creative and Digital Industries, Science, Technology, Research, Education and Enterprise.

The north west is well-recognised for these.

This will be a huge event, with 50 days of workshops, presentations, expert advice and networking activities to attend.

The City of Liverpool will be putting on an extensive cultural programme too, to showcase itself as a leading business and leisure destination.

So if your neighbour in the big house next door is having a party then you’d better make sure that you have an invite!

Warrington businesses are well-placed to benefit from the opportunities which this event will bring.

Energy, Manufacturing and Logistics industry clusters lead, not only in the region but also internationally.

Warrington businesses should not only be attending, but should be putting themselves forward within workshops, on stands, displays, volunteering their expertise and raising their profile with the international attendees.

Let’s make it IFB Warrington.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy is Associate Dean at Warrington School of Management, University of Chester (Padgate Campus)

Do you feel like your business needs a boost? 

Ignite Business Club is a unique initiative set up by Warrington School of Management to help local organisations access the extensive network of expertise available at the University.

Find out more here

Friday, 14 March 2014

Success and Failure in Small Firms: Take a SMaRRT Approach

Small firms are the backbone of the UK economy; they account for around 99% of all
registered firms and employ 50% of all workers. Professor Lawrence Bellamy provides
expert advice on how small companies can ensure strategic success.

Despite decades of research on small firms, there is still a lot to learn about when it comes to success and failure. Whilst there are no easy answers, there are some indicators - common mistakes made and examples of good practice. Most of these can be linked back to strategic awareness and the ability to operationalise ideas. One way to consider these is to use the SMaRRT acronym:


The ‘market’ is constantly changing. What worked one month may not work the next. Small firms don’t suffer from the ‘oil tanker’ problems that large firms do and, therefore, one of their key strengths is
adaptability (but they need to be alert to new possibilities). Trade magazines and journals often provide information on key industry changes and new technical developments; this information is useful but tends to be historical. The most up to date information tends to come from key customers and suppliers - by maintaining contact, you can gather data on a daily basis, enabling you to respond to market changes (but
you need to review what you are finding and check it with other information too).

Do your research!

Whilst it is important to deal with the day to day, it’s also important not to lose sight of the ultimate goal. Having a long-term vision allows you to view key decisions as steps towards an ultimate objective. Are
the things you are doing moving you in the right direction? As the business develops, your knowledge grows and the market evolves it may be reasonable to adjust your long-term direction. Whatever you decide, try to
make your offering distinctive. Why should customers choose you?


Lack of management skills are often cited as the root of many problems when it comes to success and failure in small firms. It is an easy assumption to make, as you can always criticise a business after something goes wrong and blame the management. However, this area can be broken down into specifics - delegation
is a big problem for many owner-managers. They have started the business, built-up the customer base and probably done most of the roles within the firm. They hate to let go!

If it is a specialist task, then employ a specialist. Release your time to work on something else of
importance and which you are good at. Planning, innovation, budgeting, people skills and
managing risk are also important.


Manage the downside: in approaching any situation think about the risk involved and
how it can be minimised. Making a significant purchase? Could you dispose of it easily and what would it be
worth? Would it be better to lease? Taking on new staff? If the projects they are working on don’t go forward then can they be reallocated? Would you be better outsourcing that operation?

Get your planning right and reduce the chances of failure. Run through scenarios when making key decisions; if ‘A’ happens, how could we respond? Could we prevent this from occurring? Use specialist insurance if you need to. If you are lacking experience, then use a mentor to assist you. Build up your personal ‘knowledge bank’ and prevent yourself being ‘blindsided’ by an event; critical thinking skills are crucial.


Finance, for small firms, is probably the largest single problem cited as a cause for failure. This can occur in a number of ways - liquidity problems occur simply because the time it takes customers to pay the firm is greater than the time you take to pay your suppliers (i.e. cash flow). In bridging the gap, firms fail to manage their debtors-creditor balance well and banks are often less helpful than they might wish for.

Small firms also tend to be underinvested; ‘make do and mend’ rather than invest in equipment which will make you twice as productive. Assess your investments carefully and look at the payback. Firms
really need to get a handle on what their fixed and variable costs are, especially in set up or growth phases when these can change dramatically. Monitoring and budgeting is crucial. When it comes to equipment (whether it’s for IT, your fleet or anything else), you need to have a renewal plan. Old kit is potentially unreliable and less productive than new. However, new kit depreciates quickly and financing costs can be high.

If you are running large premises plan your maintenance and if times are hard, you can leave replacement and renewal a little longer without too much detriment. People make your company perform well… invest in them. It’s not always about the money either; try to engage your employees by letting them try new tasks, recognising them with encouragement and personally engaging with them. Get to know your staff
and what motivates them - can you use the information within their job design?


Organise your firm through targets and measure them: new business gained, margin achieved, output levels, cost reduction, response time. Measure the things which matter, though. Break your business down into periods of operation and assign projects for completion within them, e.g. development of new products,
website update, IT upgrade, new area promotion, customer account review. Whilst running the day to day, projects will take the organisation forward. Cascade targets down to your employees and get them involved in the challenge, with appropriate support.

Ultimately, all owner-managers get to a point where they feel that it’s time for something new. So you also need to have an exit strategy. After all if you can be successful in one business, why not three
or four? There is always a right time to move on if you’re working SMaRRT.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy is Associate Dean at the Warrington School of Management, University of Chester Warrington (Padgate) Campus.

Do you feel like your business needs a boost?

Warrington School of Management is launching Ignite Business Club on Wednesday 26th March  - an initiative designed to help businesses increase sales through: a business diagnostic, ongoing webinars and master classes, access to grants and a mentoring network. 

This launch event is free to attend and provides local business people with the opportunity to network and find out more about the Business Club. You will also get the opportunity to hear the inspirational story of local entrepreneur, Adrian Lomas who set up his business from a spare room in his house to grow it into one of the most successful digital agencies in the UK, with a multi-million pound turnover.

Book your ticket now

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Warrington's World Class Industry

Warrington's nuclear industry is world-class.

You can measure by expertise, key projects delivered, innovations produced, finances and demand.  When the Japanese Fukushima Nuclear plant disaster hit in 2011 Warrington firms were called.

The nuclear jobs market (with salaries typically at £35K plus for technical roles) indications the health of the sector. This industry has been built up through decades of research, training and project experience. However the success of the industry is not just about nuclear applications; the broader supply chain is also critical.

The Warrington area also has chemicals, petrochemicals, biotechnology, automotive and high tech manufacturing elements. These industries all need engineering, logistics, project management, process control, metrology, scientific research and many other specialist shared skills and expertise.

The supply chains of these clusters support each other and so when one declines the others can feel the impact. Nearby AstraZeneca and Hewlett-Packard (Birchwood) job losses mean a migration of expertise from the area, if employees cannot find jobs quickly locally. Success breeds success.

Warrington is part of the 'knowledge economy' and keeping the knowledge here is critical. So what can be done to make Warrington more attractive to investors?

Professor Lawrence Bellamy is Associate Dean at the Warrington School of Management, University of Chester Warrington (Padgate) Campus.


The Warrington School of Management is launching an exciting new business service that will include events and ‘Master Classes’ to help small and medium sized businesses grow. If you are interested in registering for more information, or would like to come to our launch event on Wednesday 26th March please send your details to Beth Morris at

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Knowledge Action Network

The power of working together

Here at the University of Chester we know that small businesses are at the heart of the UK economy, with creative, innovative and entrepreneurial idea. However, we understand that while setting up and developing your business you face huge obstacles and challenges. Through our work with small business we have found that, when business owners work together to share, support and network, It sparks creative and innovative thinking which is a catalyst for growth.

The Knowledge Action Network (KAN) has been developed though this understanding of SMEs and the issues they face. It provides a platform for small business owners to work with our experts and each other to innovate and grow. 

We know that this approach works, and we are ready to take action and grow with you!

What will you and your business gain?

ll An individual diagnostic to uncover your innovation needs. This stays with you throughout your journey and measures your growth so that you are able to reflect upon what you have achieved.
ll Four hours of individual expert coaching.
ll Membership of a Knowledge Action Group including access to experts and support from peer companies.
ll Membership of the Knowledge Action Network with networking and trading opportunities of over 200 companies.
ll 24/7 access to online support and materials.
ll Growth! We aims to help your business grow, and all our activates will be focused towards this goal.
ll ZERO cost – Eligible companies are fully funded to participate in the project.

What is your commitment?
ll Attend all the programmed sessions.
ll Working with us to track your growth.
ll Willingness to acknowledge and support the programme.

What do I do next?
We like to talk to businesses. To work out how best we can help you:
To talk to one of our team, call 01244 511177 or email or fill in an expression of interest form You can also follow us on twitter at @KAN_Chester.

Learn how KAN can help your business

Friday, 26 April 2013

Innovation Vouchers



The University is pleased to announce the launch of a new funding scheme aimed at encouraging and supporting collaborative innovation with the business community.

Up to 15 Business innovation Vouchers are currently available, offering clients a discount on services provided for business by the University. Effectively, each voucher will entitle clients to one or other of the following:

£1000 off a project valued at £5000 or more

£3000 off a project valued at £10000 or more

Vouchers will be allocated to successful applicants, usually for small consultancy or technical services projects; but they could also be used for small research and development (R&D) contracts.


If you are interested in applying for one of our Innovation Vouchers you may already know which department of the University you would like to work with. If so, you should clearly identify this on the application form (please see below). However, if this is not the case, or if you are unsure whether the University has the expertise to help with your project, please contact:

The Research & Knowledge Transfer (R&KT) Office
01244 511481


Applications for vouchers are welcome from any UK based company but it should be noted that priority will be given to SMEs and other organisations that have not previously worked with the University.


This is an open-ended call for applications. All submissions received will be considered on a monthly basis by the Innovation Voucher Selection Group, chaired by the Executive Dean of Research.

Applicants should complete an application form which can be 
downloaded here:

Friday, 19 April 2013

HS2, Am I bovvered?

Aside from the obvious ‘it’s going to go through my back yard!’ then it really depends. Is Manchester to London in 1 hour and 8 minutes important to you? The first phase will progress to the West Midlands, Lichfield, Birmingham way. The second phase will progress north-eastwards, towards Leeds and north- westwards towards Manchester and Liverpool, in a giant wobbly ‘Y’ shape connecting the country. Long term maybe even Edinburgh and Glasgow could benefit.

It’s still a long time away, with phase two completion not scheduled until 2032. Assuming of course it’s on time. Remember too that it’s at least 4 governments away and Swampy (remember him, apparently he now lives in Wales) and his Eco-Warrior friends are yet to get physically involved.
The expenditure on the project will be staggering. It will benefit the economy, providing jobs on the project and for all players in the supply chain (let’s hope that we keep it to UK plc). It will also bring future business opportunities.

Northern Councils are generally in favour. Southern constituencies much less so, saying that it will cost each local authority involved around £51m. This is a painful hit for taxpayers. And how much will a ticket cost?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Warrington School of Management

Welcome to the Warrington School of Management
Our portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes has a strong international focus and is constantly being updated to offer students the best possible learning experience, shaped by the latest professional and research-based knowledge available.

We run a wide range of activities to support businesses in the North West region and have excellent links with industry and professional bodies. We also offer customised management development programmes to all.
Warrington School of Management also has a solid portfolio of Research and Knowledge Transfer Projects with a range of organisations. These projects are intended to give mutual benefits for students and the region’s business community by providing access to the University’s resources, knowledge and expertise. The majority of the School’s research is applied in a practical context and it is committed to constructing and improving sustainable relationships with external organisations and businesses. 
Whatever your study, training or research requirements may be, we look forward to welcoming you to Warrington School of Management.

This blog will feature articles from Professors, Senior Lecturers and members of the Business Faculty associated with the Warrington School of Management.

How to Contact
Warrington School of Management
University of Chester
Crab Lane, Fearnhead
Warrington WA2 0DB
Telephone: 01925 534 352
Twitter: @WSofManagement