AGM Report from the Chairman

Chairman’s Report for the year ending March 2017

Reflecting on the 2016 Chairman’s Report for a moment, it’s certainly true that we have experienced some challenging times. Not only did the UK Referendum result in a surprise vote to leave the EU but the maverick Donald Trump found his way to The White House! For some, one or both of these outcomes have been quite unpalatable but, as these are the cards that have been dealt, it is for us to all to adapt to change and remain united in order that we may survive and indeed prosper.

BOS has again enjoyed some high points during the year but it’s fair to say the Committee has found it hard to engage with its members sufficiently and so turned to Suffolk Coast Business (SCB) for assistance. Consequently our members have recently been invited by SCB to complete a survey that hopefully will provide valuable insight and sign-posting as to what members (past and present) really want to see from their local business association.

At the last AGM we launched the 2016 Customer Service Awards that meant a three month window for voting before the awards ceremony, again held at Bruisyard Hall on 22nd June – the day before the Referendum!

The BoS Customer Service Awards again generated a huge amount of interest and enthusiasm. After delicious food and drink, kindly supplied by Heathcote & Hare and Waitrose respectively, Scott Russell (Paddy & Scott’s) and Miles Beasley (Waitrose) took over the proceedings to announce the winners. There were 28 businesses nominated from the IP17 area. The Business Individual of the Year was won by Karen Baker of Trinity’s at No. 14. The other finalists presented with certificates were: Janene Hawkins from Heavenly Hair Styling; Sam Martin and Rachel Newton both from Angels Beauty Clinic; and Peter Ewart from Persell & Ewart Financial Management.

The winner of the Business of the Year was Angels Beauty Clinic. In this category, the other finalists were: Trinity’s at No. 14; Heavenly Hair Styling; The Store and in fifth equal place with the same number of votes were Jackey L Jewellers; Jeffrey & Associates Opticians; Olive Dental Practice; Rade Digital and Persell Ewart & Co. Financial Management.

Entrepreneur Scott Russell is quoted as saying, “I am truly proud of Saxmundham and the businesses represented here today. It is really hard to win awards like these and the winners should be justly proud of their achievement.” Thank you to all those that voted and participated in the second year of these awards.

Throughout the year an encouraging number of new businesses have joined BOS and with the invaluable support from Tish at Rade, members have benefited from regular Business Bulletins and the monthly SCB Business Breakfast meetings. Along with updates on the website, members have had the opportunity for face to face networking as well as informative web news that has been relevant to our region.

In October Shelley Nott (Vice Chair) was forced to resign for health reasons, although I am pleased to report she is doing well in her recovery. Shelley has been an invaluable Committee member and amongst her many supporting roles she has brought numerous designs that have helped keep the look and feel of BOS fresh and up to date. The most notable have been the association’s new logo and artwork for both years that we have run Customer Service Awards.

On the back of a successful Christmas event the previous year, detailed plans for ‘Christmas in Saxmundham’ proved worthwhile as despite the chairman been called away at the last minute, the event still went off smoothly and was well attended by local residents. A big thank you to Giles Croucher and all the volunteers.

Looking forward there is still a large dose of uncertainly with geo-political risk firmly on the agenda. Economically there are signs of global growth and the effects of rising interest rates will have an inevitable impact on the business community. Article 50 will no doubt soon be triggered and in two years from now we will see how successful the Government has been at global trade negotiations. This means that at a local level we need to remain nimble and be ready for the opportunities that hopefully lie ahead.

There are also inevitable changes for the association. As Chair, I have completed my statutory two year term and although there has been no obvious successor in the wings, I hope the seat will be filled with someone who has even more passion and innovation to take the association in the direction that it members most require. I have no doubt the forthcoming results of the SCB survey will be revealing and help to shape the association’s future. In a rural environment such as Coastal Suffolk, where commerce is predominantly centred around SMEs, staying connected to others and ‘plugged-in’ is surely vital for staying ahead of the game.

Finally, I would like to thank members of the Committee who have worked tirelessly to ensure BoS remains relevant and purposeful for its members. I’ve enjoyed the collaboration and feel we have worked well as a team. Vice Chair - Shelley Nott (Shelley Nott ARPS), Treasurer - Carl Page (Ensors Chartered Accountants), Secretary - Lin Barnes (Christies Care) and Communication & Marketing Jake Barton (Rade Digital).

Wishing all our members every success in the year ahead.

Peter Ewart

Chairman, Businesses of Saxmundham