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    The fourteenth in the series of PM+M’s ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ virtual panel events took place on Thursday 31 March, facilitating discussion between a panel of speakers on the current challenges faced by businesses and highlighting support, guidance and best practice to navigate these going forwards.

    Hosted by our very own Neil Welsh, with digital hosting managed by our friends at The Landmark in Burnley, we welcomed panellists:

    Frazer Durris – CEO, Businesswise Solutions

    Caroline James – Managing Director, Trevor Dawson Commercial Property Consultants

    Paul Spencer – Partner, PM+M

    Jenny Heyes – Head of People Projects, Napthens LLP

    Following the opening introduction and welcome from Neil, Frazer Durris (Businesswise Solutions) kicked off proceedings by discussing something very apt in the current climate – rising energy prices.  Frazer explained how inflationary pressures, in particular the volatility caused by the Ukraine-Russia crisis, may cause a problem in the short term for the energy sector, but there is a positive takeaway in that the UK are now looking at more sustainable sources of energy which will hopefully reduce the reliance on volatile gas prices in the long term. Furthermore, the ongoing trend of more businesses placing sustainability and low-carbon at the forefront on their agenda has seen a rise in salary sacrifice schemes for electric vehicles and the installation of EV charging points and solar panels – something which we may see gain even more traction moving forward due to rising fuel prices. However, Frazer explained that there is an especially high demand for solar electricity panels at the moment – warning attendees of the current lead time of 30 weeks.

    Caroline James (Trevor Dawson Commercial Property Consultants) steered the conversation towards trends in the property sector, describing how the Lancashire property market is holding reasonably well given the threat of inflation – partially due to the reliability of the industries and family businesses around East Lancashire (of which engineering is very successful) and overseas investment (mainly coming from Europe and America).

    Caroline went on describe the problems she has encountered with the fast-increasing prices of property and land in the area, which could be detrimental in the long term. Commercial property prices have increased by about 30%-40% in the last two years and rent has seen an increase of 50% (from £4 per square ft. 3 years prior, to £6 per square ft.). Caroline described how a solution to this problem may be for businesses to look at greenbelt land or consider a merger with another business in the industry to ease the struggles of finding space.

    Next up, Paul Spencer (PM+M) detailed his own experience of a merger, between Haworths Chartered Accountants and PM+M. Paul described the reasons why Haworths were looking to merge with another firm, including succession planning and struggles with recruitment, detailing how PM+M were the perfect fit as we share a client-focused approach. There was an assurance that clients could be handled more efficiently, due to the variety of services offered at PM+M, as well as the certainty that employees at Haworths now had a secure future.

    Our final panellist, Jenny Heyes (Napthens LLP), discussed her role as the Head of People and Projects at Napthens, detailing how inflation is further increasing the challenges businesses are currently facing in terms of staff retention and recruitment, otherwise called the ‘great resignation’. Jenny suggested that problems could be alleviated through strategic workforce and succession planning – offering employees improved salaries is one option but opportunities for career growth, development and culture are also valued in the current climate with rising living costs and inflationary pressures.

    Additionally, Jenny detailed how employee branding is becoming a significant factor in the recruitment field, where the focus is on the value-add, positive influence and corporate social responsibility of a business, and what this can offer potential employees when deciding on their next move.

    Neil brought the panel discussion to a close and opened the floor to the audience, with additional comments and thoughts from Andy Platt (Simply Corporate), Azeem Khan (Gemini GRP) and Claire Rhodes (The Landmark), before thanking Claire for hosting the event.

    If anyone would like to be introduced to members of the panel or audience, included in the invite for next month’s event or wish to speak to one of the PM+M team about our services, please get in touch with Neil Welsh via the button below.

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