PUBLISHED: 12:44 16 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:27 20 February 2013
A round-up of Oxfordshire Business stories
Service station wins awards
A petrol station in Yarnton, which had been operating for more than 100 years but was in danger of closing, has won a clutch of industry awards after being taken over by the Fraser Group and transformed into a hub of the community. The Fraser Group has bucked the trend of petrol forecourt closures through providing a new forecourt site with a Budgens store, an expanded post office, off licence and Subway franchise as part of the 1m project.
Development manager Nick Fraser said: Yarnton is trading beyond our expectations and we are delighted with how it has been received by local residents. This is the Fraser Groups first forecourt site with a Budgens store, the 50-year old family business owns six forecourt sites altogether, the other have Spar convenience stores.
Founded in 1954, the Fraser Group is operated by brothers Robert and Hugh, Roberts son Nick and Hughs son Jonathan, who has joined the family business as store manager for Yarnton. Jonathan said: With so many petrol stations closing, our business model has completely changed. Fuel is not the prime reason why people come here. Weve had great support from Budgens every step of the way and customer feedback has been great.
The rebuild of Yarnton took two years in planning and included transforming an 850 sq ft shop into a 2,950 sq ft state-of-the-art Budgens store with longer opening hours, opening 6am till 11pm every day. It employs around 30 people and stocks goods from about 20 local suppliers including Deddington-based butcher The Meat Joint and bread from La Patisserie of Kidlington.
Recent awards include Best Forecourt with a store over 1,000 sq ft at the Retail Industry Awards and four titles at the Forecourt Trader Awards including Best Customer Service and Best Forecourt Facilities. The Group says that its decision to remain as independent retailers has proved to be vital in its continued success, allowing it to provide what local customers want. www.frasersretail.co.uk
Bloxham business takes on the big boys
Web-based building supplies company, Building Supplies Online, established just last year by twin brothers, Ian and Craig Baldwin, has launched what they claim is the only building supplies iphone app allowing customers to compare prices, order and pay via the app.
According to Ian: A customer can be anywhere, even in a large DIY chain, and check their prices against ours through our free-to-download app. If were cheaper, they can order there and then, rather than having to go home and visit our website on line. We are not always cheaper, but if we are, its the customer that wins.
Building Supplies Online, which is on track to turn over in excess of 1 million this year with over 3000 website visitors a day, has over 10,000 products listed on its website, and the company targets are small building companies and domestic DIYers who dont have the buying power of large construction companies.
We negotiate and buy directly from wholesalers and deliver directly to our customers, explains Ian. However, the business also supports local builders merchants if it is more cost effective to order and deliver locally.
The new business venture was an almost accidental change of career for both men: Ian was a financial adviser in the mortgage industry and Craig was a health and safety consultant in construction. Ian explained: As the economic crisis continued, work slowed down drastically. I had time on my hands and was looking to set up an on-line business for our Dad who had retired.
The business, set up with minimal financial investment, took off quickly, and now Craig and Ian employ four members of staff not including dad Graham, who decided to let his sons build up the business originally meant for him.
PRIME MINISTER OPENS NEW MANUFACTURING LINE
Leading safety helmet manufacturer, JSP, has opened a 3 million state of the art manufacturing facility at its Witney headquarters. Prime Minister David Cameron officially opended the new building at Worsham Mill, Minster Lovell late last year.
The line, which the company maintains is the most advanced industrial safety helmet manufacturing line in the world, has the capacity to manufacture over 4m helmets a year, which will be sold in over 90 countries globally.
West Oxfordshire District Councillor Richard Langridge, Cabinet Member with responsibility for economic development said, This investment in manufacturing is tremendous for the local economy. Not only creating new jobs but sending out a very clear message that, despite everything we hear about the state of the national economy, a local business in West Oxfordshire is investing for the future and is holding its own around the world.
Mark Johnstone, Chief Executive of JSP said, The new range provides the platform for growth over the next 5-10 years, The companys future expansion in West Oxfordshire includes plans for apprenticeship and graduate trainee schemes in 2012.
Dan Rogers, Director for Hays Oxfordshire comments: The Government announcement that Science Vale UK in south Oxfordshire is to be one of the Governments new enterprise zones is fantastic news for the whole economy across the Cotswolds.
The sector focus is green technology, advanced materials and engineering, space and other high value R&D. The Local Enterprise Partnership estimates that this investment will help create circa 200 businesses and between 6,250 - 10,500 jobs by April 2015.
NATIONAL VAT COMMITTEE APPOINTS RUTH CORKIN AS CHAIR
One of the Thames Valleys leading firms of accountants, James Cowper, which has offices in Oxford and Newbury, has announced that Ruth Corkin has been elected Chair of the VAT Practitioners Group (VPG) National Technical Committee.
Ruth will also report to the VPG National Council, which makes proposals for new legislation and changes to current practice. The VPG is part of the Joint VAT Consultative Committee (JVCC) that feeds into HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the European Union. The VPG has a vital role in ensuring VAT Practitioners are heard by HMRC, the Judiciary and Government. Steve Clarke, Managing Partner at James Cowper said: We are delighted that Ruths skills have been recognised by her peers in this way.
PROSONIX APPOINTS NEW SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD
Emerging pharmaceutical company Prosonix, based on the Oxford Science Park, has announced the appointment of a new Scientific Advisory Board. Chaired by Dr Ken Cunningham, the board includes Professor Peter Barnes, Dr Marianne Mann and Dr John Pritchard.
David Hipkiss, Prosonix CEO, said: We are delighted to announce the new members of our Scientific Advisory Board, all of whom are distinguished experts in their relevant fields and will provide invaluable advice and guidance to the Company. www.prosonix.co.uk
BRETHERTONS SOLICITORS AWARDED APIL ACCREDITATION
Brethertons solicitors Rugby and Banbury offices have been awarded the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) accrditation. APIL was established in 1990 by solicitors and barristers working for claimants and aims to improve the services provided for victims of accident and disease. It is now one of the most respected bodies representing the interests of injured people in the UK. Jon Rees, Head of Personal Injury at Brethertons and a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said: This is a recognition of our teams long established commitment to helping injured people. He continued: The legal landscape is changing dramatically and the legal profession must adapt to better meet the needs of injured people.