Q4 2023

EMSn e w s SME News- Q4 2023 Featuring:

Welcome to the 2023 Q4 edition of SME News magazine, where we provide you with all the latest news, announcements, and features about some of the best up and coming enterprises around the United Kingdom. As we inch closer towards the end of year, it becomes a time for reflection for businesses across the country in terms of what went well and what didn’t go so well. Things aren’t easy in the world of business; challenges are inevitable, especially with the turbulent economy and ever-changing consumer habits – but our award-winning businesses are well-versed in how to respond to such obstacles and they know how to always keep their customers satisfied. They take it all in their stride and work hard to weather the storms year-round. A key theme among our award-winning enterprises, too, is ‘compassion’ – whether they are providing extraordinary care and rehabilitation for veterans, delivering best-inclass care home services, helping individuals with their skin grievances, creating the perfect bouquet for any occasion, or transforming people’s homes through renovation. This festive time of year is all about being there for others, and our outstanding businesses go above and beyond, no matter the time of year. I hope you find these stories to be insightful and inspiring as you prepare to head into 2024. In the meantime, the team at SME News magazine wishes you a wonderful Christmas and the most prosperous quarter ahead. We look forward to welcoming you back again soon for our Q1 2024 issue. Editors Letter Phone: 0203 970 0037 Website: www.sme-news.co.uk Rebecca Scotland Editor

Contents 4. News 6. Caring for Veterans of the Past, Present, and Future 8. The Skin Confidence Clinic: Best Aesthetic Treatments Centre 2023 - Gloucestershire 9. Luxury Florals Delivered to Your Door 10. Smartstone Energy Solutions: Best Family-Owned Insulation Business 2023 11. Allcott Commercial: Commercial Surveying Practice of the Year 2023 - England & Wales 12. Fully Customisable and Scalable HR and Productivity Software 14. Sustainable Recycling and Waste Management Solutions 15. My Homecare Leicester: Most Compassionate Nationwide Care Home 2023 16. Airey Tiling: Most Trusted Ceramic Tiling Service 2023 17. Collage Recruitment: Where Values Meet Opportunity 18. A Personal Approach to Accountancy Done Right 19. E-Commerce Experts Unlocking Brands’ Amazon Potential 20. Best Nationwide Rail Recruitment Specialists 2023 21. Most Reliable Home Renovations Company 2023 22. Forging Strong Connections Through Team Building 23. Creating Content That Genuinely Speaks 24. A gamechanger for retirement savings 26. Moving Over to the Fast Lane of Recruitment 27. Best Car Finance Broker 2023 – UK 28. Best Vehicle Repair Specialists 2023 - Dudley 29. Best International Trading House 2023 - London 30. Best Full-Service eCommerce Agency 2023 - Cardiff 31. System Store Solutions – Simple Exceptional Workshop Design 32. Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Competition 34. Delivering Outstanding Design across the South East 35. Reviewing Experiences, One Padded Seat at a Time 36. Your Online Electric Vehicle Community 37. Tracking the Solutions to Success 38. The Best Care, Delivered at Home 40. Exceptional Gate Automation Services in Cranleigh 41. Best Signage & Vehicle Graphic Studio 2023 - South East 42. eCommerce Accountants of the Year 2023 – Hampshire 44. Most Strategic Windows & Doors Business 2023 46. Most Dedicated ADHD Diagnosis & Treatment Clinic 2023 48. Bringing a Sense of Calm to the Refurbishment of Care Homes 49. Scale Up Your UK Dropshipping Business 50. Best Family-Run Mobile Mechanic Business 2023 - Hampshire 51. Best Classic & Supercar Restoration Services 2023 - East London 52. Best International Education Consultancy 2023 54. Luxury Motorhome Hire Business of the Year 2023 55. Best Live Music Venue 2023 - West Sussex 56. Best Local Laundromat 2023 - Hertfordshire 57. Most Trusted Window Installation Service 2023 58. Bedfordshire’s Best MEP and Building Contractor

SME News Q4 2022/ News SMEs relying on savings rather than new lending in Q3 UK Finance today releases its latest Business Finance Review which reports on the finance needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the third quarter of 2023. Gross lending UK Finance’s latest data shows £3.5 billion was lent to SMEs in the third quarter of 2023. This represents the fifth consecutive quarterly fall, while gross lending is down by just over a fifth when compared to 2022. Demand uncertainty, higher interest rates, and the impact of lending taken out during the pandemic have all contributed to the weakness in gross lending this year. Approvals In the third quarter, we saw a slight decrease in the number of approved loans and overdrafts from Q2, with the trend of more overdraft approvals compared with loans continuing. The steady drop in overdraft approval numbers over the past year may be because cost pressures have eased, meaning that cashflow finance is not needed as much as during peaks last year. Deposits One factor that could be limiting demand for new finance is the availability of a still significant stock of cash deposits. Our latest data indicates that SMEs were drawing on these to a greater degree than seen in the previous quarter, with total deposits falling 4.5 per cent. Both current and deposit account balances are still significantly up on pre-Covid levels (19 per cent and 16 per cent respectively). Spotlight: Accommodation and food services One of the standout differences between SMEs in accommodation and food services and the rest of the economy is the pace at which they have drawn down on savings. In the first half of 2022, deposits in the sector fell 12 per cent compared with a fall of just over three per cent in the SME population as a whole. There was a similarly rapid pace of decline in the first half of this year (nine per cent compared with four per cent for all SMEs). And in the most recent three months, deposits have slowed compared with the rest of the economy. SMEs in this sector have taken on new finance, mostly in new overdrafts to manage cashflow challenges and have used savings to navigate recent cost pressures. Invoice finance and asset-based lending Invoice finance and asset-based lending (IF/ABL) saw a similar trajectory to other forms of finance, falling for the fourth quarter running, following robust growth as the economy emerged from the pandemic. Our data does, however, point to businesses retaining a good deal of headroom within existing IF/ABL facilities, with utilisation falling to 60 per cent in the most recent quarter, from 66 per cent a year ago. Looking ahead This year SMEs have proved resilient when faced with continued uncertainty. Despite this, our latest figures point to a stable picture for SME finances. Lenders are ready to support investment plans or help businesses facing difficulties. UK Finance encourages any businesspeople to speak to lenders to find out about the range of options available to them. Looking ahead, businesses are being understandably cautious about taking on new finance. In 2024 we don’t expect this picture to change significantly in the coming quarters. Until businesses see a clearer path to a stronger and more certain recovery, they are unlikely to be focused on longer term investment and expansion. They will also be aware of the risk of further price shocks, which could erode any remaining cushion SMEs have available. David Raw, Managing Director of Commercial Finance, said: “SMEs in all parts of the economy continue to face a challenging outlook. Cost pressures may be easing but demand looks set to remain weak in the near term. “Our data suggests that SMEs are leaning more heavily on existing resources, particularly cash deposits, rather than seeking new finance. The higher interest rates environment will also be suppressing firms’ appetite to borrow. “A stronger demand outlook is ultimately what SMEs need to be confident to make investment decisions for future growth. And the Chancellor’s recent announcement on ‘full expensing’ of investment could provide an added boost for future plans. “Lenders are ready to support businesses across the UK. Financial services can help firms navigate current challenges and deliver growth and the sector stands ready to support any SMEs concerned about their financial obligations.”

Stark Net Zero gap revealed among UK SMEs • Almost a third (32%) of UK SMEs have no NetZero plan in place, despite the Government’s target to meet Net Zero by 2050. • While Net Zero is a priority for over half of SMEs (54%), other financial pressures have pushed it down their agendas. • Over two-thirds of SMEs (63%) are worried about how much Net Zero will cost their business. With climate talks at the COP28 conference ending this week, all attention has been on how the UK is maintaining and driving forward its commitment to achieving Net Zero for a 2050 deadline. But following the Government’s revised green targets earlier this year, research from specialist business lending provider, Simply Asset Finance, reveals that UK SMEs are still unclear on how they’ll meet climate goals. Now, almost three years since the UK Government announced Net Zero targets ahead of COP 26, almost a third (32%) of UK SMEs admit they have no Net-Zero plan in place for their business. With SMEs accounting for 99% of all businesses in the UK[1], this represents a significant portion of the UK’s business population. But perhaps most concerningly, this lack of commitment is not a result of complacency – over half (54%) have outlined Net Zero as a priority – but because SMEs increasingly feel alone in their pursuit of it. Over two-thirds of SMEs (63%) are worried about how much Net Zero will cost their business, while more than half (58%) feel they don’t have enough support to achieve their targets. And while initiatives such as UK Business Climate Hub[2]– launched earlier this year – have been set up to help UK businesses tackle climate change, one in ten (11%) don’t know where to start to implement a Net Zero plan. In fact, when asked what government policies or initiatives would have the greatest impact on their businesses, a fifth (22%) agreed that more support for achieving Net Zero or other ESG goals would be needed. The concerns small businesses have expressed are significant enough to have led business leaders to deprioritise their Net Zero goals. Over half (54%) of SMEs said they have had to reduce their focus on Net Zero targets due to financial pressures. The main reason that SMEs had introduced, or improved reporting of ESG criteria in their business was because their partners or suppliers had demanded it (21%) – with around one in ten (13%) doing so. Mike Randall, CEO at Simply Asset Finance, said: “The impact of escalating costs on small businesses creates a significant dilemma as they try to balance the growing financial pressure with the desire to grow and future-proof their business. The investment required to reach net-zero is something they are incredibly conscious of, but it was acknowledged as a significant undertaking pre-pandemic, let alone now. The will is there, but unfortunately the means are often not. “The recovery loan scheme (RLS), introduced by the government in 2021, played an important role in stabilising the availability of funding for businesses during, and after, the pandemic. However, it is soon ending and without the reassurance of this guaranteed support, businesses are being forced to scale back business investment and deprioritise their climate commitments. By either extending RLS or repurposing the scheme to support green investment, the government could make significant strides towards supporting these businesses so they are bolstered for the long term. “A net-zero shift should not just become achievable for businesses across the UK, but also beneficial to their business models and balance sheets. It’s a competitive advantage, not an unaffordable burden.”

SME News Q4 2023/ 6 Since 1914, when World War I armed forces were returning home, Care for Veterans has been providing support to veterans from the Armed Forces in desperate need of recuperation and tender care. Since then, Care for Veterans has transitioned from its location in West London to the coast-side town of Worthing, evolving into a modern hospital residential home known as the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home. Join us as we explore how its long-term dedication to healing veterans has earned it the title of Best Veteran Care & Rehabilitation NPO 2023 - Southeast England. Known across the country for providing complex, clinical support to veterans who have found themselves struggling to manage, Care for Veterans is a nonprofit organisation that has compassion at its core. Assisting veterans and their families where there is suffering from brain injuries, spinal trauma, fragility, degenerative illnesses, dementia symptoms, or cancer, Care for Veterans prioritises the assessed needs of the hospital’s occupants, whilst also remaining resonant with the family’s emotional requirements too. And, thanks to its breathtaking costal location, Care for Veterans provides the perfect space for the strongest of us to recuperate. Operating alongside the value of keeping veterans at the forefront of its mind at all times, even going so far as to accommodate couples who may share similar conditions or simply wish to spend the most time together, Care for Veterans has adapted its living spaces to be the very best that they can be. Regardless of whether someone has worked a single day of service, or have spent years engaged in military operations, Care for Veterans recognises the impact that such an intense environment can have on the mind. In response, it provides a package equal to the highest degree of NHS care but without long waiting times. Partnered with the fact that Care for Veterans acts as a one-stop portal to clinical assessment and nursing care, the organisation has long since proven its commitment to making veteran care as accessible as possible. Additionally, Care for Veterans also promises on-site clinical services, whether they revolve around physio, speech and language, swallowing training, and psychotherapy. Regardless, its dedicated team is prepared to go above and beyond to assist veterans who are struggling from the aftereffects of PTSD, through to those experiencing difficulties following the deterioration of their physical health. Keeping individuals happy, healthy, and well cared for is the backbone of Care for Veterans, and this quality has never once faltered over the course of the past century. If anything, it has only grown more passionate as time has progressed, with advances in technology allowing it to open new amenities for occupants to enjoy. Ranging from social events, arts, and crafts activities, to a screen projector cinema facility, Care for Veterans encourages all manner of engagement from veterans of all kinds. Residents are granted the option to make full use of the facilities alone, or in a group. From careful, guided cooking to peaceful reading time in the library, the abundance of activities allow for healthy stimulation, whilst also nurturing the best interests of each veteran. There truly is something for everyone under Care for Veterans’ guidance, meaning that, despite potentially experiencing the most difficult part of their lives, veterans can still make the most out of their spare time. However, Care for Veterans’ reach doesn’t end there. Having carried out in-depth discussions with partners, service users, the NHS, and Social Caring colleagues, the organisation details how it is preparing to open its doors to those who either don’t find necessity in residential stay, or those who are at risk of hospital admission without a form of structured, service-related support. Care for Veterans aims to invite self-referral for its programme of day sessions too, permitting participants to enjoy the activities whilst being granted access to a piping hot meal. Additionally, GPs and insurers will be able to refer people to Care for Veterans as part of their social and wellness prescribing schemes. Partnering this venture is Care for Veterans’ structured 12 weekly programme. Tailored to small groups who require sessions one day per week, this programme tracks progress and measures it against the initial assessments in order to help those at risk of a variety of struggles. Whether they’re likely to face extended hospital stays, risk falling at home, or have been diagnosed with dementia symptoms, Care for Veterans promises a programme that’s perfectly suited to help in any way possible via bespoke sessions. There isn’t anything that Care for Veterans hasn’t thought of when cultivating its services, resulting in a comprehensive space within which veterans can receive quality, professionally supported care. With a rich history of delivering compassionate nursing and respite residential care, Care for Veterans has long since learned how to promise comfort throughout all of its services. Caring for Veterans of the Past, Present, and Future

Whether this manifests through its upcoming support extension, through which it hopes to assist those who aren’t in need of overnight stays, or through its devotion to uniting families and veterans who have experienced similar hardships with one another, Care for Veterans demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the wellbeing of every individual involved in the process. If there’s a way to help, chances are Care for Veterans has already discovered it. Despite having earned mass renown over the years from a variety of outlets, from BBC news to its appearances at the London Cenotaph Parade on Remembrance Day and the Royal Albert Hall Remembrance Ceremony, Care for Veterans has never once been distracted from its initial goal. Helping those in need is where it thrives, with its dedication to veterans second to none across the country. Combined with the fact that its income base has been largely self-driven, Care for Veterans is in a better place than ever before, and it hopes that this will allow it to share its positioning with corporate partners in order to develop both its services and capacity. We’re so very proud to feature Care for Veterans in this issue of SME News. Its work transcends the meaning of the word ‘kindness’, resulting in an organisation that truly understands what the country’s greatest heroes need to start their journeys of recovery. We hope that, as time progresses, it’ll continue to extend its reach to more and more veterans in need of some tender loving care. Contact Details Contact: Kate Schroder MBE Company: Care for Veterans Web Address:www.careforveterans.org.uk/

SME News Q4 2023/ 8 Best Aesthetic Treatments Centre 2023 - Gloucestershire Based in Coalpit Heath, The Skin Confidence Clinic is a skin care and aesthetic treatment clinic owned and operated by Director Vicky Denning, a qualified aesthetician and trained paramedic who uses her skills and expertise to make people look and feel their best. In this year’s Southern Enterprise Awards, the clinic has been named Best Aesthetic Treatments Centre, Gloucestershire, for its highly effective treatments and exceptional standard of service. At The Skin Confidence Clinic, Vicky delivers a number of personalised treatments designed to enhance clients’ natural beauty and boost their confidence. Her services include anti-wrinkle treatments, dermal fillers, skin treatments, skin needling, chemical peels, lip sculpting, cheek enhancement, and more. Importantly, Vicky is a fully qualified medical professional and an insured aesthetics practitioner, registered with the Healthcare Professionals Counsil. As a fully trained paramedic, she is equipped with an in-depth knowledge of medicine, anatomy, and physiology, which gives her a unique perspective on skin structure. She provides clients with the highest standard of medical supervision at every visit, whether it is a quick touch-up or a full treatment programme. With this knowledge, clients can rest assured that they are receiving the best care from a qualified beauty and skin expert in a safe place. Whether you have a special event coming up or want to counteract the effects of aging on your skin, The Skin Confidence Clinic will deliver the results you want, either gradually or instantly depending on your needs. From lip fillers to dermaplaning to skin needling, clients are bound to see stunning results without going under the knife. With no long recovery process, this is a great option for those who are unable or unwilling to take time off work. People visit The Skin Confidence Clinic for many different reasons. It is a common misconception that the goal of aesthetic treatments is to create the perfect version of a person, fixing everything that is “wrong” with their appearance. However, Vicky believes that her role is to give clients their confidence back by helping them to achieve their aesthetic goals, enabling them to feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin. Any new clients to The Skin Confidence Clinic must attend a free one-onone 30-minute consultation before Vicky carries out any treatments. In this, she will engage in meaningful conversation with them, aiming to learn about their goals and concerns. Committed to ensuring that clients only receive the treatments they require, Vicky forgoes the hard sell, instead offering honesty. If she thinks that all someone needs to do to achieve their desired result is tweak their beauty regime or adjust their diet, she will tell them. However, if she believes that they could benefit from treatment, she will create a personalised plan for them. Throughout the consultation process, there is no pressure, and clients are only invited to go ahead with the plan when they are certain. To ensure that clients receive optimal results, Vicky closely monitors their progress during the delivery of their treatment programme and makes any necessary adjustments. At the end of the process, they will receive a detailed and personalised aftercare package, designed to help them maintain the treatment’s effects for the maximum possible time. The results that people have achieved at The Skin Confidence Clinic show that, whilst getting older is inevitable and unavoidable, looking older doesn’t have to be! As a result of her outstanding services, Vicky has received several positive reviews, resulting in her impressive five-star rating on Google. For example, one satisfied client states, “Vicky is a true professional and puts you at ease the minute you enter the clinic. Everything is explained thoroughly, and you really feel like you are in safe hands. If you are thinking about a treatment from Vicky, I would highly recommend that you go to the skin confidence clinic.” In light of this glowing praise, it is no surprise that The Skin Confidence Clinic has been named Best Aesthetic Treatments Centre, Gloucestershire, in the Southern Enterprise Awards 2023. We congratulate Vicky Denning on this exceptional achievement and wish her the best of luck in the years to come! Contact: Vicky Denning Company: The Skin Confidence Clinic Web Address: theskinconfidenceclinic.co.uk

Born from the desire to connect customers and businesses through the ever-gorgeous medium of flowers, Flowerbx is a luxury brand that prides itself on producing florals for every occasion. Regardless of the season, event, or circumstance, Flowerbx goes the extra mile to produce showstopping arrangements that are perfectly suited to fit the client’s need. Join us as we delve into how such a dedication to delicacy has earned Flowerbx the prestigious title of Best Bespoke Luxury Florist 2023 – London. Luxury Florals Delivered to Your Door Before Flowerbx, there was Whitney Hawkings. As ex-Senior Vice President of Communications at Tom Ford, Whitney had her sights set on a new kind of luxury. One that promised premium, single-variety flowers at an accessible price point. Struggling to find what she was looking for, from both florists and suppliers alike, Whitney quickly came to realise that there was a gap in the market in desperate need of filling. Flower-lovers from London to Manhattan were facing her exact qualms, and it was time for change. And so, Whitney founded Flowerbx – a way to deliver bestin-show florals to the doorsteps of customers from every corner of the globe. Fully committed to uniting people around the world with beautiful, carefully grown flowers, Flowerbx has become the leading luxury floral retailer throughout London. No matter the occasion, Flowerbx proudly sources florals that align with the theme, desire, and intent of the client, all whilst promising a seamless delivery process once a gorgeous arrangement has been brought together. Whether it’s a big, blow-out wedding, or an everyday gesture, Flowerbx has made sure to promise premium levels of quality at an affordable price. Luxury flowers shouldn’t be restricted to the wealthiest of us, and Flowerbx exists as a waypoint for the general populace to indulge in something truly special. Having established immensely strong connections with trusted growers across the market, Flowebx also manages to consistently keep up to date with the season, allowing it to source blooms that perfectly fit in with festive events and occasions. Partnered with its cut-to-order model, the collective promises perfection in every petal – by strictly ordering flowers from the world’s best suppliers when its customers do, Flowerbx has truly broken the mould. The floristry industry is typically renowned for its ongoing battle against waste and procurement, and yet Flowerbx’s revolutionary model ensures every fresh flower plays an active role in increasing sustainability. This is further proven through Flowerbx’s blooms boasting an impressive vase life. With extra-long lifespans, and vivid colouration, the flowers that customers receive from Flowerbx have earned a reputation for standing the test of time. Where most flowers may struggle to persist only a few short days after being presented to a loved one, Flowerbx has put in endless hours to cultivate a way of delivering fresh florals that promise to maintain their poise. As such, not only has Flowerbx taken a huge step forward in terms of sustainability, but it also sees that every customer has the chance to enjoy their premium petals for as long as possible. In short, Flowerbx is a florist that believes in giving the world access to the most beautiful flowers available on the market. Through carefully crafted arrangements, partnered with fantastic delivery services that bring beauty right to your door, it has redefined what customers should expect from the floristry industry. No company has managed to transform the market into something so unapologetically special before, and it’s for this very reason that Flowerbx has been recognised by SME News. Its dedication and love for its craft is infectious, and we can’t wait to see it flourish further in 2024. Company: Flowerbx Web Address: https://www.flowerbx.com/

SME News Q4 2023/ 10 Best Family-Owned Insulation Business 2023 As one of the UK’s leading insulation specialists, Smartstone Energy Solutions (Smartstone) provides crucial services to the private sector to reduce energy bills and enjoy a warmer, cosier environment as a result. Its services are empathic and sensitive, its staff willing to go above and beyond to help each customer find the energy solution that is right for them. We took a closer look at the company following its well-deserved recognition in the awards programme. Fundamentally, Smartstone Energy Solutions works with local councils and leading energy providers to help Britain move towards carbon neutrality. Moreover, it strives to give people access to the educational resources of what insulation does, why it’s so important, and where and how a home loses energy. Through this ethos, it promotes a better overall literacy regarding energy and its domestic loss through its intuitive and user-friendly website. With an in-depth guide, it goes through the most common places that perpetrate heat loss, giving practical and actionable solutions that will help a client to improve their insulation, reduce loss, increase efficiency, and save on monthly bills. Indeed, its free home energy audit helps customers to investigate this further. Far from just directing its customers to its expansive knowledge centre and leaving it at that, its diligent and dedicated staff are more than happy to go over things in person, on the phone, through email, or with its free Smartstone Home Energy Audit, something carried out by an independent PAS 2035 Retrofit Certified Assessor. With this person being a third-party worker, clients can build and retain trust in Smartstone as a company, confident that the assessor has no reason to upsell them in any way. This, alongside the transparent and highly client-focused way it works in the macro scale, ensures the building of healthy clientcompany relations. Stroma certified, ECMK accredited, and a member of the National Insulation Association, clients can trust the rigorous joining requirements of each of these governing bodies and are often directed to look up the numerous glowing reviews and testimonials that past clients leave in order to see for themselves why it is such a sector cornerstone. With so many overtly difficult and bloated processes to wrangle when it comes to insulation, Smartstone recognises why so many never make it beyond the first hurdle when it comes to insulation. It hopes to be the company that makes these processes obsolete by operating in the way it wishes to see the whole industry do – in short, leading from the front – in order to handle everything from bottom to top, taking the stress out of the proceedings by taking on the brunt of the navigational work. Nominally, it has worked hard to make itself the simple, cost-effective, reliable solution, one that a customer can trust from start to finish, and without any additional unforeseen strings attached. With reduced energy bills as a direct result and a far cosier home, Smartstone’s customers constantly tout its client-focus and exemplary staff as the reason they use it as their number one insulation solution, recommending it to family, friends, and peers alike in such a way that forms a solid segment of its advertising. It extends its thanks out to every customer who refers it in this fashion. Able to consider each unique aspect of a property, and with new technologies becoming available all the time, each measure opens up a new minefield for customers. It, in essence, takes the stress and complications out of these proceedings by doing all the relevant research for a client, presenting the findings in the context of the home in question in order to make the whole process far more simple, friendly, and undaunting. This also goes for such processes that seem uncomplicated on the surface only because they are hiding numerous hidden depths of overly bloated proceedings, and it hopes to save the customer the irritation, stress, and wasted time of going through finding such things out by only recommending what will work. All of this is handled in its simple three-step process to bettered energy efficiency. When a client follows this, they will soon find insulation less of a minefield and more of a path, one paved by highly achievable milestones and actionable goals that Smartstone helps them with every step of the way. It must be mentioned that Smartstone has recently secured several housing project contracts and other private government contracts to deliver best-in-class solutions for Everwarm and E.on. In addition, the team have signed a new four-year contract on the decarbonisation scheme. By working primarily with private contractors moving forwards, Smartstone Energy Solutions hopes to service a greater number of properties over a greater area of operation – accelerating its drive towards country-wide carbon neutrality. In this, the company has also expanded its team to meet the increased demand of these contracts, a move that will significantly strengthen its mission moving forward into the foreseeable future. Company: Smartstone Energy Solutions Contact: Gary Hanson Website: smartstoneenergy.co.uk

It would be an understatement to say that the COVID pandemic had an impact on the greater commercial industry, with repercussions still rippling across the country and around the world. Ultimately, the world of work has changed, with a greater need to move away from traditional office spaces and further into one of hybridity. Yet, there has and always will be a demand for experts in commercial surveying, though perhaps now that need is one catered towards more expansive expertise, and honed experience. This is a market where the true experts emerge, and one such expert is Allcott Commercial. Kim begins by explaining how the company has differentiated itself over the last couple of years. “As a trusted, RICS-regulated independent consultancy, we pride ourselves on delivering in-depth technical insight and high-quality service for every client. Our ethos is to provide a truly personal service, with project teams that really get to know the clients and their objectives and requirements.” With such a dramatic paradigm shift in the industry, Allcott Commercial has pivoted to work on other areas within their sector, namely regarding the industrial space. Thus, the team have diversified their offerings to include more work within dilapidation services and Section 18 valuations, as Kim continues. “COVID, combined with rising interest rates, has made it a tricky time for the commercial market recently, although there are areas that are prospering. We have built on our work on industrial buildings and warehouses, completing numerous preacquisition surveys, schedules of condition, refurbishments, fit-outs, and structural inspections. The demand for commercial valuation and expert witness support has also remained strong. “We have also been supporting our clients with buildings constructed in the second half of the 20th century by carrying out RAAC surveys. By assessing the level of risk if RAAC is found, and advising on any safety measures that need to be taken, we can provide reassurance where possible, and action plans where required.” Over the last few years, Allcott Commercial has remained a potent force through a cultivation of its internal culture and team dynamic. With a strong trust in its team, the company has been able to navigate uncertainty and challenges as they have arrived. This team is comprised of chartered surveyors and structural engineers, creating a potent two-pillared approach that has been committed to delivering results for clients since the company’s establishment. “Across the company, we have decades of commercial surveying expertise across almost every commercial sector, from hospitality and retail to healthcare and education,” Kim adds. “By employing only experienced, qualified professionals, we ensure that every client receives exceptional, tailored service that meets their specific needs.” More than anything, Allcott Commercial has curated a seamless dynamic between those in leadership and the larger team – and that has been the key to its enduring success. Through a focus on open collaboration and communication to championing continual professional development, Allcott Commercial has everything in place to secure a fantastic future ahead of it. In her closing comments, Kim concludes on how the company approaches supporting its team. “Because our surveying professionals are spread across the country, maintaining a strong team culture is a priority. We have regular meetups and often work in sub-teams on larger projects, and there is a steady stream of chatter and advice on our team WhatsApp groups. Because we are an independent SME, we have the flexibility to design our staff’s roles to play to their strengths and fit around their other commitments. We have supported team members through professional qualifications, expanding their repertoire of surveying expertise and even developing new departments within the company and progressing to partner level. It is incredibly important to us that we work as a collaborative team, and we believe that this shines through in the service we deliver to our clients.” Company: Allcott Commercial Contact: Kim Allcott Website: https://allcottcommercial.co.uk/ Email: info@allcottcommercial.co.uk Telephone: 0333 202 6386 Allcott Commercial is a leading commercial building surveying practice in the UK. Over the years since its foundation, it has secured a robust reputation for delivering client-centric services with in-depth technical insight. We spoke with partner, Kim Allcott following the team’s well-deserved success in this year’s award programme. Here, Kim discusses the impact of the COVID pandemic on the industry, and how Allcott Commercial has thrived in this uncertain landscape through its internal culture. Commercial Surveying Practice of the Year 2023 - England & Wales

SME News Q4 2023/ 12 Since 2009, Appogee HR has been developing Software-as-aService HR applications designed to reduce administrative tasks for employees and managers, enabling them to complete their jobs in the most productive way possible. The company has four key solutions: Appogee Leave, Appogee HR Essentials, Appogee HR Success, and Appogee Time Tracker. Firstly, Appogee Leave is a simple absence management software solution with which businesses can easily track and manage their staff absences, including holiday allowance, sick leave requests, time off in lieu (TOIL), unlimited paid time off (PTO), and leave reporting. Secondly, Appogee HR Essentials is a core HR management software solution that allows clients to keep all company and employee information centralised, secure, and accessible. Using this solution, businesses can store important company documents and employee profiles, including right to work information, learning and development progress, and performance tracking. They can also manage staff time and attendance with location recording, clock-in and clock-out capabilities, and online timesheets. With Appogee HR Essentials, clients also receive Appogee Leave and multiple integrations. Thirdly, Appogee HR Success is an advanced HR management software solution that has even more useful features than Appogee HR Essentials. With the solution’s online onboarding portal, companies can easily preboard both remote and in-office employees. They can also benefit from enhanced performance management processes with all the features they need to deliver valuable employee reviews. When clients choose to invest in Appogee HR Success, they also receive Appogee Leave, Appogee HR Essentials, and regular health checks and support from the company’s customer service team. Lastly, Appogee Time Tracker is a time tracking software solution that empowers businesses to ensure that their workforce is focusing on the most important tasks at hand. With an intuitive and simple interface, this solution allows clients to track project information accurately by inputting individual project roles with cost and rate data. Furthermore, to improve planning and productivity, they can also input forecast costs and timescales with project estimates. Generally, Appogee HR’s clients start out with Appogee Leave, upgrade to Appogee HR Essentials, then upgrade again to Appogee HR Success. Appogee Time Tracker can be purchased as either an add-on to any package or on its own. As a standalone product, it also comes with staff location recording, clock-in and clock-out capabilities, and online timesheets. Built on the highly scalable and secure Google Cloud Platform, Appogee HR’s web-based solutions are used by over 700 businesses Empowering SMEs across the world, Appogee HR offers fully customisable HR and people management software solutions that are easy to use and seamlessly scale with growing businesses. Its comprehensive suite of cloud-based HR solutions includes software for absence management, core HR management, advanced HR management, and time tracking. Here, we take an in-depth look at Appogee HR’s offerings and what makes the company unique. Fully Customisable and Scalable HR and Productivity Software

across the world and require no server or client software installation. The company also offers integrations with other cloud platforms like Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Microsoft Office, and more. However, it is important to note that Appogee HR’s online applications can be used independently. Operating in a competitive industry, Appogee HR sets itself apart from its competitors through its highly customisable solutions, which can easily be tailored to meet the unique needs of each client. On top of this, the company offers flexible package sizes that are designed to cater to businesses at every stage of their journey. No matter their industry, from logistics to travel to recruitment, Appogee HR has the tools it needs to support them. One of Appogee HR’s clients is FirstGroup PLC, a transport company with more than 30,000 employees. The business has been using Appogee HR to streamline leave processes across its divisions since 2017. FirstGroup’s previous HR system lacked leave management capabilities, which meant that the HR team had limited visibility on employee absences. This caused significant difficulties in payroll. Since the company began using Appogee Leave, it has benefitted from a simple-to-use solution that caters to all types of employees. It also appreciates the ongoing support it receives from Appogee HR’s technical team. Appogee HR’s commitment to exceptional customer service is truly unmatched. The company promises to deliver user-friendly HR and time-tracking solutions that evolve alongside clients’ businesses. Appogee HR goes above and beyond to not only achieve this goal but also exceed customers’ expectations by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of its diverse team. Over the years, the team has been relentless in their efforts to create a software platform that not only streamlines HR tasks but also provides employers with valuable insights into their workforce. Internally, Appogee HR values diversity, equity, and inclusion above all else. Its culture is friendly, dynamic, creative, and centred around its core values. For this reason, in hiring, the company seeks individuals who possess qualities like adaptability, creativity, and strong customer focus. Furthermore, to foster the team’s personal growth, it aims to create a work environment in which staff are encouraged to become the best version of themselves. In the years to come, Appogee HR plans to step up its game to meet the needs of its customers as the demand for integrated HR solutions continues to grow. For example, it is currently working to redesign its mobile experience and develop further integrations for addition to its product portfolio. Appogee HR’s ultimate goal is to provide businesses with a complete HR ecosystem whilst facilitating effortless communication and collaboration between its various tools and platforms. Additionally, as a highly customer-centric company, Appogee HR values customer feedback and will continue to use it to drive its product roadmap and innovation in the future. By seeking a deeper understanding of clients’ pain points, priorities, and needs, the company will continue to adjust its solutions to better serve them. The result of these efforts will be a more intuitive, efficient, and effective product. With ambitious plans for the years ahead, there is no doubt that Appogee HR looks towards a bright future as it works to continue simplifying the complexities of HR management for the world’s growing SMEs. Contact: Tara Clarke Company: Appogee HR Web Address: www.appogeehr.com

SME News Q4 2023/ 14 Sustainable Recycling and Waste Management Solutions Established in 1998, J&B Recycling, part of the Urbaser group, is one of the northeast’s largest waste management companies, processing over 200,000 tonnes of commercial and household waste every year. Sustainability is at the heart of J&B Recycling’s operations and the business is dedicated to creating a circular economy with effective waste management. For its efficient waste and recycling solutions, J&B Recycling has received our award for this year’s Best Waste Management & Recycling Company - County Durham. J&B Recycling operates two materials recycling facilities (MRFs) in Hartlepool, one in South Tees and a transfer station in Washington. Over the last 25 years, Managing Director Vikki Jackson-Smith has steered the company from a small family business to a nationally renowned waste management company that employs almost 200 people, and which is now part of one of the largest waste management companies in Europe. The company is committed to offering quality and reliability, consistently innovating its processes to be one of the best in the industry. The collections fleet provides the highest standards of service, ensuring that collections are always efficient and timely. J&B Recycling processes waste 363 days a year, delivering both commercial and household waste services across the north of England and parts of Scotland. As well as general waste and dry mixed recyclate collection, the business provides skip hire and bulk waste disposal for businesses, hazardous waste disposal, and many other services. J&B Recycling’s processing facilities are used to save customers money, time, and stress whilst making a positive impact on the environment, with the business’s flagship Windermere MRF in Hartlepool employing the latest sorting technology to guarantee a 99% recovery of recyclable materials. J&B Recycling is proud of its Zero Waste to Landfill solution where waste is either recovered for recycling or taken to an energy from waste facility. Energy from waste is a technique that uses non-recyclable waste to recover partially renewable energy which can be used to power homes and businesses, helping to pave the way for a more sustainable future. Over the past five years, the Windermere MRF has increased its processing capacity by more than 300% through efficiency improvements. This increase has enabled the company to achieve sustainable EBITDA levels (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation), which are above the market average. Looking to the future, J&B Recycling remains focused on further growth in gross profit and EBITDA. It is the business’s aim to surpass its competitors in the waste industry marketplace by operating at between 20%-25% EBITDA. The company is committed to driving EBITDA by improving efficiency, investing in its facilities, and delivering superior recycled products. In 2021, J&B Recycling was acquired by Urbaser Ltd and became part of the Urbaser group. Urbaser is a world leader in environmental solutions, a global company focused on leveraging the value of the world’s resources to build a more sustainable tomorrow, serving more than 70 million people in 15 countries through a huge network of more than 50,000 employees and 150 plants that work every day to achieve real circularity. In the United Kingdom, Urbaser offers a wide range of municipal, commercial, and waste processing services which are dedicated to conserving resources, reducing carbon emissions, and making circularity real. Vikki Jackson-Smith is J&B Recycling’s founder and Managing Director. Here she shares her advice for SME businesses: “Your team is your biggest asset. Invest in hiring skilled employees and provide them with training and development opportunities. Networking is also crucial; building relationships with other businesses, industry experts, and potential customers can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations.” Sustainability is a fundamental value for J&B Recycling, deeply embedded in its business operations. The company's dedication to positively impacting the environment is evident through its cuttingedge recycling and waste management solutions. J&B Recycling continuously strives to improve its recycling methods and promote sustainable habits within the community. It aims to leverage advanced technology and environmentally friendly processes to contribute to a cleaner planet and provide responsible waste management services to the businesses and local authorities it serves. Looking to the future, J&B Recycling remains dedicated to offering its unparalleled services across multiple sectors to maintain its position as one of the North East's leading waste service providers. The business will remain at the forefront of waste management and recycling by continuing to innovate its facilities and invest in its skilled team. J&B Recycling embraces sustainability and is passionate about securing a greener future with its effective, end-to-end waste management and recycling solutions. J&B Recycling has received our award for this year’s Best Waste Management & Recycling Company - County Durham. Contact: Charlie Payne Company: J&B Recycling Web Address: www.jbrecycling.co.uk

Peace of mind is crucial when seeking homecare services, built on the back of a consistent ability to exceed expectations and deliver an outstanding quality of care. My Homecare Leicester (My Homecare) has achieved exactly that, with a history dedicated to compassionate, best-in-class care. We spoke with registered nurse and director, Shiji Leji to find out more on the back of the team’s deserved success in the awards programme. Most Compassionate Nationwide Care Home 2023 Since 2015, My Homecare has become a standout care provider across Leicester and beyond, with a commitment to providing vital services “that help your loved one live comfortably and safely”. Much of this is down to the company’s now crucial person-centred style of care, which has led the way for further expansion with branches across England and Scotland. This locally-focused approach has distinguished My Homecare within a highly competitive landscape, but of course, as with all things in this industry – it’s about the people. The team are the drivers of success. Shiji understands this and offers more insight into some core members of the team, their expertise, and their dedication to incredible care. “My Homecare’s compassionate and hardworking care team has a clear goal to maintain our first-class reputation for providing high quality care. We help people who, either through illness or injury, require assistance to maintain their wellbeing, whilst continuing to live in their own homes and neighbourhood.” “Our care team are local to you. We can help you or your loved one to live comfortably and safely at home.” A key member of this team is Leji Oommen, who is CQC nominated. As a qualified biomedical scientist, Leji has worked in the medical industry for decades, as Shiji explains in more detail. “Leji has worked with the University Hospitals of Leicester (NHS Trust) for 17 years and worked at Royal Papworth Hospital (Cambridge) as a biomedical scientist. Throughout his career he’s always kept patients in the centre and ensured the best possible care in a timely manner efficiently and effectively.” Leji adds that his personal focus is on ensuring that people maintain their independence and dignity. “I want to make sure that we as a team deliver excellent care to each of our service users in the community. I would describe myself as a friendly, approachable, and kind person. My Homecare’s mission is that there is no place like home, and we want help individuals to stay independent living in the comfort of their own homes.” Shiji herself is a qualified nurse with a background in Leicester’s NHS trust within intensive care and research, again with some near two decades of experience informing her current work. “Prior to that placement, I worked in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for two years. I also have a postgraduate certificate in higher education which heavily influences my ongoing commitment to supporting our care staff to provide effective care to our service users.” The compassion behind My Homecare is obvious from the outset, but it informs every aspect of the work the team does, too. Driven by expertise and experience, it has become a truly standout company in a field that requires nothing but excellence to operate effectively. Shiji herself founded My Homecare with the aim to help the people of Leicestershire and the surrounding areas, and in that, she has surely succeeded. A Selection of Client Testimonials “I am delighted with this care agency. Care is being provided in a kind, courteous, and attentive matter. The care provided enables my parent-in-laws to start their day in the best possible manner. Punctuality and attention to detail observed on a daily basis.” “In a time of crisis, My Homecare Leicester responded quickly and with true understanding. They were able to put care in place the following day, which was very impressive. The managers were responsive, kind, and flexible. The carers were friendly, sensitive, and efficient. I cannot recommend My Homecare Leicester highly enough.” “I was very satisfied with the standard of care my mother received. She was treated with care, respect, and dignity. Thank you to all at My Homecare.” Company: My Homecare Leicester Address: The Old Rectory, DBS Office, Main Street, Glenfield, Leicester, LE3 8DG Email.: leicester@myhomecare.co.uk Website: https://myhomecare.co.uk/ Phone: 0116 218 4989 /218 4965