Business news

Looking for a hero?

The first Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce members' meeting of 2018 will be held on Tuesday, February 6 at 5.30pm at a very special venue. Chamber members will be guests of the town's latest tourist attraction, the Helensburgh Heroes Centre, on Sinclair Street. Come along, meet some fellow business people and find out more about the people who helped make Helensburgh Great!

If you know any business owners who have not been to a Chamber meeting bring them along, the more the merrier!

Is there an appetite for BID?

Dear Helensburgh Business Owner,

You may be aware that over the past few years there have been a number of attempts to test the appetite of the Helensburgh business community for the establishment of a BID Area.However, these attempts have never gone much further than a few initial inquiries and have generally fallen at the first hurdle.

In order to get that answer for once and for all a small group of business people have applied for a grant to undertake a full investigation by a professional firm which can be used to establish whether there is a case for trying to set up a BID in Helensburgh.

We are holding a public meeting on:

Wednesday, January 24 at 7pm in the Helensburgh Civic Centre

All local businesses are welcome and it is hoped you will be able to attend. Speakers are Phil Prentice, Chief Officer, Scotland's Town's Partnership and Andrew Spence, Oban BID Manager.

For further information please visit

Helensburgh BID Group

Facebook: Helensburgh BID 2018

Top 10 place for Grasshopper

HELENSBURGH'S Grasshopper Toys has been named as one of Britain's Top Ten Toy Shops by a leading family travel blog and joins world famous names like Hamley's, Disney and Harrods in the list

The “You Need to Visit” website is aimed at parents and families, and in her “Top 10 Toy Shops that your Kids will love visiting” blog Lauren Vaughan, a mother of two young children wrote: “Grasshopper Toys is one of the biggest and best loved independent toy shops in Scotland.”

Lauren added: "We chose Grasshopper Toys from mum recommendations because of the wide range of toys available many of which you are unlikely to find in the major chain toy stores. There are very few great independent toy shops left in the UK and Grasshopper toys is one of the very best."

Company owner Dr Wendy Hamilton said: “What a thrill it was to wake up to the news that @youmustvisit have named Grasshopper Toys Shop as one of the top ten toy shops in the UK to take your children to visit.

We are delighted. As an independent toy store we work very hard to make our shop a magical and exciting destination for all our customers, young and less young. It's fabulous to be recognised for our efforts in this way.”

Grasshopper Toys Ltd, the only Scottish shop included in the list, is one of the biggest independent toy shops in Scotland, stocking some of the best loved names in the toy world but also has an extensive international online customer base for both Grasshopper Toys and for their sister business Curious Minds, which specialises in scientific and educational toys, kits and gifts for all ages.

The other nine toy shops listed in the Top 10 are: Hamley's of London, The Disney Store, London, The Lego Store, London, Sylvanian Families Store, London, Toy Kingdom Harrods, London, Little Citizens Boutique, County Down, Crocodile Toy Shop, Cirencester, Toyville, Bristol and Eve’s Toy Shop, Llandeilo


HELENSBURGH'S Grasshopper Toys Ltd is one of the biggest independent toy shops in Scotland, stocking some of the best loved names in the toy world: Lego, Brio, Melissa & Doug to name but a few. is the science arm of Grasshopper Toys Ltd and features a wide range of science, nature, space, and technology products, toys, kits, and gifts vetted for scientific integrity by their staff. They stock science fun for all ages from teeny tinies to university level and specialise in goodies for the armchair scientist.

You Need to Visit: Travel Inspiration for Families

Speed networking for businesses

e-Placement Scotland is giving employers the chance to meet university students at two speed networking events in October and November 2016.

These events allow employers early access to students before they graduate, providing a platform to showcase career opportunities available within your organisation.

The event details are:

Edinburgh Napier University - Thursday 20 October 2016, 11am - 1pm

Stirling University - Thursday 3 November 2016, 12pm - 2pm

If you would be interested in attending either of these events, or would like further information on the format, please contact Jamie Duncan on 01506 472 200 / email The cost is £100 + VAT, with a discounted rate of £50 for SMEs.

Please note that these events are limited to six employers, so please get in touch quickly.

Remember, it's FREE to advertise your positions to e-Placement Scotland's student network via the e-Placement website.

 Glasgow 14th Sept - Making skills work for employers: Work-Based Learning

Skills Development Scotland is holding a free event in Glasgow for employers all about work-based learning. The event will take place on 14th September at GTG Training.

Europe’s highest performing economies have strong systems of work-based learning which contribute to low unemployment, fewer skills shortages and high economic growth. In partnership with employers, we are aiming to achieve a world-class infrastructure for work-based learning here in Scotland.

There are many benefits to employers:

• it’s employer-led and aligned to the skills needs of employers

• it’s focused on creating economic growth

• there’s help with training costs

• you get early access to a pipeline of future talent

• you attract motivated young people who want a head start in their careers.Modern Apprenticeships already deliver fantastic results for employers across Scotland. Together with new and exciting initiatives such as Foundation Apprenticeships and Graduate Level Apprenticeships, there’s never been a better time to get involved.

Click here for more information and register to attend the event.

Growth Grant takes Garelochhead business forward

A Garelochhead company that was founded 35 years ago is targeting growth after achieving a major industry accreditation.

N J Slee Welding and Fabrication was established by Nicol Slee and has developed a wide customer base that includes blue chip companies Babcock, Rolls Royce, Ineos and Qinetiq.

Last year, Nicol, 65, hinted to his family and workforce of his intentions to retire in the near future, and his son, Steven, 34, who served his apprenticeship with his dad’s company, would naturally be in line to take over.

Steven approached Argyll and Bute Council’s Business Gateway to see how they could help with his growth plans for the business and was encouraged to apply for a Business Gateway Plus growth grant. Having being awarded the grant, Steven was able to take the company through the ISO 9001 certification process; a Quality Management standard that will help N J Slee attract and tender for higher value contracts.

Steven said: “My dad built the company up himself from scratch and for 35 years has won contracts with some of the leading businesses in the construction and defence industries, including Faslane and Coulport, but I feel ambitious enough for us to be competing for even more, larger contracts as we go forward.”

“We remain a small company, with a team of five staff, but we believe our current and projected workload will allow us to take on apprentices and steadily increase our staff. Gaining the ISO 9001 is the first step in this as it allows us to compete for the higher value contracts.”

After working with his father for six years, Steven went on to gain a BSc in Quality Management from the University of the West of Scotland and subsequently joined the Oil and Gas Industry as a Quality Engineer and worked up to Quality Manager Level. His experience and understanding of the work his dad has carried out combined with his experience in the Oil and Gas Industry, has resulted in him being the perfect person to lead N J Slee into the next generation.

Steven added: “The support we received from Business Gateway has resulted in us being further ahead than we expected. The Business Gateway Plus growth grant meant we could go for the ISO accreditation, as well as invest in much needed software. This, and the advice from our adviser means we can push ahead with our plans and implement new strategies that will focus on growth.”

Ann Scott, the Business Gateway adviser for Helensburgh who worked with Steven said: “N J Slee is the perfect example of a company that has been well run for a long time, but now feels it’s time to implement new ideas to modernise and further develop. As well as the grant, we used our extensive contacts to introduce Steven to Energy North, a not-for-profit trade group that will enable N J Slee to learn more about the renewable industry.”

A better deal for reservists and employers

RADICAL reforms bringing a raft of new benefits for reservists and their employers came into effect this week on October 1.

The changes will mean that reservists have greater opportunities to serve their country as they can now be mobilised for any purpose that regular troops can be used.

Reservists already make a vital contribution to the armed forces and these changes mean that they are able to do more.

Now they could be called out to assist in protecting the Falkland Islands or help to stabilise fragile regions around the world by training the armed forces of countries such as Mali.

Reserve units and sub-units are also more likely to be used as formed bodies, offering greater opportunities for leadership and comradeship.

Importantly, the Ministry of Defence policy to take into account the personal and employment circumstances of individual reservists will continue; that is, short of war or national emergency, we will use those reservists who are willing and able, or who have a particular skill set that is urgently required.

The new legislation also offers extra financial benefits for organisations which employ reservists.

Now small and medium-sized enterprises and equivalent-sized charities and partnerships will enjoy up to £500-a-month when any reservist employee is mobilised.

These payments are on top of the existing financial assistance that covers the cost of replacing reservists when they are mobilised and the retraining costs when they return to work.

Reservists will also enjoy better protection in the workplace and will be exempt from the two-year qualifying period in bringing unfair dismissal claims to an employment tribunal if the reason, or primary reason, for dismissal is because they are a reserve.

Minister for Reserves Julian Brazier said: "Reservists are playing an increasingly important and wider role in defence, working and training alongside their regular counterparts.

"In recognition of their crucial contribution, from today, the law governing call-out powers will change and new legislation will help protect reservists, where necessary, within the workplace.

"There are also enhanced financial benefits for small and medium-sized businesses with employees on operations. Reservists will enjoy a much wider range of opportunities and better remuneration."

Major General John Crackett, Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets) and the highest ranking reservist in the Ministry of Defence, said: "As a result of these measures, reservists will be able to serve alongside regulars on any kind of operations. So they will see more varied and more exciting roles.

"It is right that we are offering reservists the opportunity to do more while giving them job protection and financial assistance both for them and for their employer."

The UK reserve forces play a vital part in our nation’s defence. Find out how you can get involved and what is on offer for reserves.

Winter Health Check!

Compliance Short Courses in November and December 2014

THE Tell Organisation is offering a comprehensive short course programme for business.

The Winter Health Check is an ideal way to stay up to date with regulations and legislation, update your skills or learn the foundations. These courses offer a practical, interactive way to learn new skills and then apply them.

Please note that all our courses are approved for ILA funding.
Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) are for people who are 16 or over and living in Scotland who have an income of £22,000 a year or less, or are on benefits. Individuals can claim up to £200 towards the costs of learning or training. To find out if you are eligible for an ILA phone: 0800 917 8000 or look up:

Food Hygiene
REHIS Elementary Food Hygiene, Tuesday 18th November 2014, 1 Day Course - £75(excluding VAT)
REHIS Elementary Food Hygiene Refresher, Wednesday 19th November 2014, ½ Day Course - £45(excluding VAT)
Health and Safety
REHIS Elementary Health and Safety, Thursday 20th November 2014, 1 Day Course - £75(excluding VAT)

First Aid Courses
HSE - Emergency First Aid at Work, Wednesday 26th November 2014, 1 Day Course - £90(excluding VAT)
First Aid Annual Refresher Course, Tuesday 25th November 2014, ½ Day Course - £50(excluding VAT)

Moving and Assisting Refresher Course, 3rd December 2014, 1 Day Course - £75(excluding VAT)
BIIAB – Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (Refresher), Wednesday 10th December 2014, ½ Day Course - £100(excluding VAT)
BIIAB – Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders, Thursday 11th December 2014, 1 Day Course - £200(excluding VAT)

Get your staff trained up on their personal licence holders course for Christmas
The Scottish Government requires all personal licence holders to undertake regular refresher training every 5 years to keep up their skills and to enable them to retain their personal licences. All personal licence holders must attend a 1/2 day update course, sit and pass an exam at the relevant time.

Failure to ensure this training is done could be fatal to your business. You cannot operate licensed premises unless the premises manager has a valid personal licence. You cannot operate premises after 1a.m. unless a personal licence holder is present in the premises.

If you would like to book any members of staff on to these courses please contact, Andrew Pace, Business Development Support Advisor, The Tell Organisation Ltd, Tell House, Bankend Road, Dumbarton, G82 2RT
Tel: 01389 726 555: Fax: 01389 726 677:

Please email to ask for a copy of the short course booklet which provides information on all the coursesand will give you detailed course information on the courses outlined here.

West Dunbartonshire Business Show

Tuesday 7 October (10:00 - 16:00)
Clydebank Town Hall, 49 Dumbarton Road, Clydebank, G81 1TX
A fabulous day of business to business opportunities, networking and knowledge exchange. It's a great business day out, no matter the size and type of your business.
Meet fellow business owners, chat to representatives from leading companies and find out about all the business services on offer in the area.
What's on at the Show?
40+ Exhibitors
Business Wall
Networking Area
Property Zone
Meet the Buyer Seminars - Balfour Beatty, BAM, Heron Bros, Morgan Sindall
Business Seminars - Sales and Marketing, West College Scotland, Social Media and Funding for Business.
Event Entry is FREE
To register attendance contact the Business Support team at:
Email: or tel: 01389 737777.

Businesses need more time to invest 
COMMENTING on Thursday's (Sept 4) decision by the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee to keep interest rates on hold at 0.5% and to leave QE unchanged at £375 bn, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

"The Bank of England's policy on interest rates matters to Scottish businesses because, ultimately, it affects the cost of borrowing. If the Scottish economy is to maintain its steady recovery, then this needs to be supported by business investment, and this, in many cases, requires that businesses are able to borrow money at affordable levels.

"Business lending by the banks is still not at the levels we would like, partly due to some businesses feeling that borrowing is difficult to access or too expensive, leading to some looking beyond the traditional High Street banks for funding.

"That is why there is no solid case yet made for the Bank of England to raise interest rates. Prices are currently under control and businesses need every encouragement possible to invest. When interest rates do rise, so, inevitably, will the cost of borrowing. We can't expect historically low interest rates to remain forever - that would be unsustainable - but we need the Bank of England to give businesses every possible opportunity to set themselves on a path of investment and growth."

 Road disruptions - Dumbarton

DUMBARTON'S Round Riding Road is now due to remain closed until October as part of the £3.5million flood alleviation scheme for the Knowle Burn.

There were hopes the road could open in August, but the discovery of unexpected utilities along Round Riding Road has led to a delay in completing the bypass culvert within the road.

The remainder of the Knowle Burn Flood alleviation scheme is substantially complete and should be concluded by mid-October. Part of this includes the creation of a huge storage pond between the Council offices at Garshake and the A82. This collects overspill water from the burn and protects nearby residents and passing motorists from flooding.

The Council’s Convener for Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, Councillor Patrick McGlinchey said: “I’d like to apologise to residents and road users for this inconvenience and thank everyone for their patience so far. This short-term delay is frustrating but the most important thing is that the Council is putting a long-term solution in place that will give residents the reassurance of knowing their homes are safer from future flooding.”

All existing arrangements for diversions, vehicle access and pedestrian access will remain the same.

Parking changes

ARGYLL and Bute Council will take responsibility for enforcing parking regulations in May when parking offences are being decriminalised.

Members of Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce heard recently that the change over will take place on May 12 and a team of wardens has been employed to manage the scheme.

A two week period of grace will apply from May 12 when people breaching the parking regulations will be sent a warning letter but after that there will be a £60 which can be reduced to £30 if paid within 20 days.

Under the new system the wardens will not be able to issue points or deal with criminal traffic offences. The fine money will be used to fund the scheme and should there be any surplus that will be spent on any additional traffic management resources demed necessary.

Members heard that implementing the new system is complicated in Helensburgh by the CHORD Project works and at the beginning the new rules will not operate within the CHORD works area.

However, all other parts of the town will be included so anyone breaching parking rules, for instance in Maitland Street which is not affected by CHORD, will be subject to the fines.

Once the new system is up and running smoothly the Council will look at parking throughout Argyll and Bute and once strategic policies are decided the local area committees will make decisions on parking for each area. The whole process, the members heard, is likely to be a two years process.

 Gateway Plus

THE Business Gateway Plus programme offers grants, specialist advice and workshops to help businesses right across Argyll and Bute realise their growth potential.

The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the 2007-2013 Structural Funds Programmes and can provide financial support for up to 26 businesses and advisory support for over 80.

The Business Gateway Plus growth grant can provide discretionary grant funding to growing small and medium sized businesses based in Argyll and Bute.

The grant can be used to buy capital equipment, towards marketing costs or other costs directly supporting business growth. Statutory costs, wage subsidies, training, property development and the purchase of stock or vehicles are excluded.

The grant can provide 50% of project costs up to a maximum of £3,000.

To be eligible for support, existing businesses (over 6 months old) must be actively trading with a turnover above £70,000 and be projecting turnover growth within the next three years.

Start-up businesses can apply for support only where they have been actively trading for at least three months and are able to demonstrate clear potential to achieve an annual turnover of at least £70,000 within their first 18 months of trading and further growth beyond.

A restriction applied with the European funding means that retail businesses are not eligible for support.

Anyone looking to apply should firstly download an application form as this includes the terms and conditions and then contact the local Business Gateway team to confirm eligibility.

Business Gateway has a team of local business advisers on hand to answer questions and to help interested parties progress their application.

The programme will close in March 2015 or sooner if funds are fully allocated.

Anyone looking for support should contact the local Business Gateway team to find out more on 01546 605 459 or email

The Business Gateway Plus programme can also help businesses access specialist advice to help their growth plans, particularly around marketing, IT, HR or e-Commerce issues. In addition, the programme will also provide a range of workshops that will be available from 2014.

Tendering for fresh meat and fish supplies for A&B schools

WITH a key tender worth at least £60,000 due to be issued later this year for the supply of fresh meat and fish across Argyll and Bute to schools, school hostels and social care units, Argyll and Bute Council is keen to explore alternatives to simply opting into a Scotland-wide procurement contract.

The fresh approach being piloted by the council is to discuss the opportunity with suppliers and distributors before the tenders are created in order to gain their input into how contracts could best be allotted by product and by region, and by supply and distribution, to support local and SME food producers.

To facilitate these discussions, Argyll and Bute Council is hosting a Suppliers’ Forum on Tuesday, March 25 in the Council Chambers at Lochgilphead and is urging any fresh meat or fresh fish suppliers or distributors to come along.

The focus of the event will be on outlining the opportunity, the procurement process and meeting suppliers and distributors interested in collaborating with each other. The council buyers for this tender will be in attendance and available for questions.

The goal is to establish whether suppliers in the market are willing and able to work together to bid for this type of council contract. Also on hand will be Argyll and Bute's Business Gateway team to outline the free support available for businesses to help them enhance their tendering skills.

This is a fantastic opportunity to come along and meet the council’s buyers for this contract and discuss the possibilities available to suppliers,” explained Argyll and Bute Council Leader, Councillor Dick Walsh.

By encouraging local providers to explore collaborative bids for the forthcoming council contracts, and signposting the assistance available to help them do so, we hope to open the procurement opportunity out more widely."

The event will take place between 10am and noon at Kilmory Castle and anyone wanting to attend can book a place by contacting Elaine Appleby, Purchasing Officer, by March 18 either by email to or telephone 01369708594.

Is your Window Cleaner Licensed?

Did you know that any person operating as a Window Cleaner needs to be licensed under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982?

The aim of this legislation is to make sure that window cleaners accessing property have been vetted by Police Scotland before the Council makes the decision whether or not to issue the licence.

Licensed Window Cleaners also have to hold third party indemnity insurance to cover the possibility of any damage to property or individuals that might occur.

"Residents can therefore ask to see the identification badge to satisfy themselves that the person who is carrying out this potentially intrusive activity has been vetted and holds the appropriate insurance.”

Scottish retailers leading the way

Retailers in Scotland have made major strides to reduce their environmental impact across a wide range of areas, according to a new report launched recently).

The Scottish Retail: Our Commitment to the Environment report, published by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), highlights that the sector has made significant progress against challenging targets in areas such as grocery packaging, food waste, and waste in the supply chain.

Key achievements include the home improvement sector making a 25 per cent reduction in own-label packaging between 2007 and 2012, going well beyond the 15 per cent target, and a 7.4 per cent reduction in supply chain waste between 2009 and 2012 (against a target of 5 per cent).

The report, which has been welcomed by the government, sets out the Scottish retail sector’s activity, good practice and progress across a number of environmental initiatives, including the Courtauld Commitment work on waste, which is co-ordinated by Zero Waste Scotland and its UK-wide counterpart, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

It also highlights progress made under the Better Retailing Climate initiative, a five-year environment strategy led by the British Retail Consortium and working with half of the retail market.

David Martin, SRC Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “Retailers in Scotland take their green responsibilities very seriously, and this report demonstrates that they’re working hard to reduce environmental impact across all aspects of their operations.

"Significant progress has been made over the years, and it’s helping to deliver key environmental benefits as well as value for customers.

"We want to set out those success stories and also look at how we can keep this momentum going and continue to achieve more through innovation and partnership working.”