North West business briefs: Kendal BID; Poke Marketing; Trendsetter; Exchange Quay; 4th Utility; Tristone

Kendal BID has launched an innovative new training initiative offering more than 200 free online courses to help employees learn new skills and ultimately make their employers and Kendal even more successful.

Topics range from customer service, sales, retail management, hospitality and leadership to social media, project management, self-development, Office 365 and Microsoft Excel. There are also courses based on mental health and wellness awareness.

Peter Bendling, Kendal BID Manager said: “With so many types of businesses in our city centre, this is a great opportunity for us to meet the learning needs of both retailers and professional service companies. We sincerely hope that people will seize this excellent opportunity to develop themselves and their businesses. We believe the new training initiative will help people learn, perform and succeed.”

Representing almost 700 companies in the city, BID offers interactive live online webinars. People can also watch a recorded version of the event whenever it suits them. For each course completed, employees can download a certificate of learning and receive a training record to use as evidence of their personal development. Kendal BID also presents awards for the most engaged learners.

Explaining the need to start the training initiative, Mr Brendling said: “Clearly, like the rest of the country, there is a labor shortage in Kendal and one of the ways companies can help attract people to their jobs is by providing training . The courses also help an employer with his team development goals and for the employee the training improves his professional prospects in the future.”

The training initiative was launched in partnership with SeedL, a live virtual learning subscription service. Jo Shepherd, SeedL’s Chief Learning Officer, said: “Our partnership with Kendal BID will be truly game-changing for businesses in the city.”


From left: James Seith, Giles Dobson (Oxford River Cruises), Mark Harrington, Nicola Docking (Poke Marketing)

A ‘disruptive’ creative agency based in Liverpool has unveiled its new vision for the Oxford River Cruises destination. Founded in November 2020, Poke Marketing was chosen over its London-based rivals to rebrand the company’s overall offering, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and has operated in the historic city for 18 years.

Led by Andrew Binns, Mark Harrington and Nicola Docking, the Poke team took the helm in creating a new brand identity for Oxford River Cruises that aligned them with their sister company The Folly. They launched a more targeted website, emotive copy, images and videos, an email marketing campaign, and a sophisticated “time to drift” search strategy that allows visitors to “see life through a comfortable lens.”

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Head of Strategy, Nicola, said: “We are really proud to have worked on this project and it was extremely important for us to gain the full trust of the ORC team. We are our customers’ allies, not service providers, and that is exactly what happened on this particular project.

“As a company, we have simple goals. We exist because businesses need to make a difference, and through segmenting audiences, creating contextual messaging, and delivering work, we have that direct impact. We have established robust KPI frameworks that identify the customer engagement journey and show the transition from ignorance to conversion, and this approach is key to showing marketing as an integral part of achieving commercial goals.”

Andrew Binns said: “Bringing our four years of experience working on Madison Avenue in New York, we were determined to change perceptions of the lack of agencies. We didn’t win any business initially because we were so strict in our insight-driven approach and refused to fall into the “we just want a website/logo” mentality that some clients have.”


Claire Watkins

Trendsetter, the Manchester-based sustainable bedding company and parent company of The Fine Bedding Company and Night Owl, has announced its global B Corporation certification.

The brand joins an international movement of 4,500 purpose-driven companies that meet B Corp’s high standards of social and environmental responsibility and transparency. Based on B Corp’s assessment, Trendsetter earned an overall score of 84.3, performing particularly well in the Environment and Workers categories.

The certification process involves going deep into a company’s DNA to understand how it works and takes up to 10 months. The BI assessment of more than 200 questions and a subsequent verification process meant that Trendsetter had to meet high social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency in order to qualify.

Trendsetter says it puts sustainability at the heart of what it does. By 2025, it aims to have a fully carbon-neutral factory, and by 2030 the brand will be fully circular and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 1.5 degree Paris climate agreement.

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Managing Director Claire Watkin said, “The B Corp certification reflects our long-standing trendsetter commitment to building sustainability into every fiber of our products, ensuring we grow responsibly and minimize our impact on people and the planet.”


Luke Podmore, left, and Les Lang

Exchange Quay, Manchester’s 435,000 square foot office campus, has launched a new workplace wellbeing partnership with Urban Reform as part of its Health and Wellbeing strategy to support residents and employees in a post-COVID world.

Manchester-based health and wellness company Urban Reform offers a diverse team of health coaches who specialize in helping inner city businesses and their employees take responsibility for their health, happiness and lifestyle through a range of wellness programs and workshops to take over.

The pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health as more workers need, and are increasingly seeking, additional support from their employers. Exchange Quay said it recognizes and embraces the wellbeing of its residents and the new collaboration aims to educate, encourage and motivate more than 4,000 campus staff to create and develop new habits to improve their health and wellbeing respect, think highly of.

Luke Podmore, Health and Wellbeing Leader and PT at Urban Reform, said, “We believe that happier, healthier employees are key to long-term success in business as talent increasingly seeks out companies with a strong health and wellbeing agenda.”

Les Lang, Director of Till AM, said: “We believe the wellness programs will help in a variety of ways, from addressing low motivation and energy, to improving morale, addressing and helping with anxiety and mental health needs, to educating about nutrition – and health decisions to empowering people to take control of their health and fitness and much more.”


Markus Cueto

Full-fiber broadband provider 4th Utility and Premiership rugby club Sale Sharks have teamed up for their third consecutive season. The Hale-based company have agreed on a new deal with the club which will see the 4th Utility branding continue to feature on players’ home and away kits for the 22/23 season.

The news comes as Sale Sharks prepare to start the new season against Northampton on Friday night after securing the signings of England stars George Ford and Jonny Hill in the summer.

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Tony Hughes, CEO of 4th Utility said: “It’s fantastic to be on board with Sale Sharks for another season as we look forward to what will hopefully be a very good campaign. As a company we have always called Manchester home and as club partners we can play a key role in supporting the club’s growth plans and building on ourselves through this exciting new deal.”

Mark Cueto, former Sale Sharks and England player and Head of Sales at 4th Utility, said: “To be teaming up again with Sale is brilliant news and it is obviously a club I know very well having spent many fantastic years there the pitch. They’ve made a number of impressive signings with the likes of Ford and Hill and also produced plenty of new young talent. They are in safe hands under trainer Alex Sanderson and everyone at 4th Utility wishes them all the best for the season.”

Sid Sutton, CEO of Sale Sharks said: “As a club we have a strong track record of working closely with exciting and ambitious companies like 4th Utility. Your support is a great boost for our club.”


A team of fundraisers from Tristone Capital have completed the 309 mile London to Paris charity bike challenge, raising over £18,000 for charity in the process.

Over four grueling days after 16 weeks of training, the team of nine, led by Tristone CEO Yannis Loucopoulos, crossed the finish line in Paris last Saturday and spent more than 23 hours in the saddle.

The cycling performance, which included a climb of 15,468 feet during the daily 75-mile challenge, benefited the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity – an organization that provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness.

Yannis said: “At Tristone Capital we are deeply committed to improving the lives of those who are less fortunate than others. Our business community has a social impact in everything it does, providing safe and essential care to vulnerable children, youth and adults. While providing the best possible social care services to as many vulnerable people as possible, we also wanted to do our part to support these children with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses through our London to Paris Bike Challenge.”

He added: “Congratulations to everyone on the team for this brave effort – the blood, sweat and tears were all worth it for such a wonderful cause.”

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