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The top five entrepreneurial cities in the UK revealed 88w, 640w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Government-backed programme has provided more than 58,000 loans to start-ups and early stage businesses since 2012

London, Birmingham and Liverpool have been identified as among the top five most entrepreneurial cities in the UK, according to new data from the Start-up Loans Company (SULCo). 

London topped the list, with aspiring business owners in the Capital receiving Start Up Loans worth over £100 million. Birmingham came second (£9.2 million), followed by Liverpool (£4.8 million).

In fourth place came Sheffield, receiving over £4.5million, followed by Manchester, receiving over £4.4million.

A total of 17,339 businesses from across London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester – and over 40,661 across the UK – have received low-interest loans from the Government-backed scheme since it was launched six years ago by David Cameron with James Caan (pictured) acting as its Chairman at that time.

Lyndsey Tidmarsh, a former beauty and nail therapy teacher at Birmingham college, set up West Midlands Nail and Beauty Academy in April 2015, when she was looking for a new challenge.  

With the help of a £6,500 low-interest loan, Lyndsey launched her Academy in The Custard Factory in Birmingham and left her job at the college to work full time.

Since receiving the loan, the Academy’s studio has tripled in size, providing students with two training rooms to improve their skills. The business now employs five part-time staff and one apprentice.

The success of Lyndsey’s teaching methods is borne out by the Academy’s track record of finding employment for her students in some of the most successful salons in Birmingham, with some going on to set up their own businesses.

Lyndsey Tidmarsh, founder of West Midlands Nail and Beauty Academy, said: “There have been challenges to starting my own business, such as the long working days, and things being slow to take off. But I’ve never been put off. I live and breathe the business, it’s my baby. I’ve worked hard to ensure the Academy offers the best enrichment for students, and I get them to think about their futures and their employability after the courses.

“I am always on the lookout for the next challenge, and plan to open up two further Academies.  I also have plans to release a new product range for nail and beauty therapy.

“I would never have succeeded without the mentoring provided by the Start Up Loans Company, it has become a fundamental part of my business and growth. I am now encouraging and referring my students to Start Up Loans to set up their own salons.”

Eddie Holmes, founder of Launch 22, a charity helping to support young people starting their own businesses, received a low-interest loan of £10,000 in 2014 to set up on his own in London. Since then, he has opened a new premise in Liverpool, which is three times larger than the London office. He is now hoping to expand to Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Belfast.

Since receiving the loan, the business has gone from strength to strength. It now employs nine full-time staff and 30 volunteer members. 

Eddie Holmes, 34, founder of Launch 22, said: “My aim is to establish Launch22 as the leading charity which supports the entrepreneur, not the business itself, in helping them develop in the UK.

“It is often difficult for young entrepreneurs to afford premises and find mentorship, particularly in places such as Liverpool. The low-interest loan has helped me to provide these budding business owners with a space to develop.

“I know that starting a business is possibly the hardest thing to do in life, and failure is not usually regarded as an option. However, I’m trying to challenge that notion and change the culture within the UK, encouraging young people to not be afraid of taking that first step.” 

A spokesperson for The Start Up Loans Company, said: “It’s great to see that Birmingham and Liverpool are among the top five entrepreneurial cities in the UK, alongside London. This is testament to the number of aspiring business owners we’re seeing who are working hard to set up their own ventures in these areas.

“Start-ups are a critical part of our economy and we’re delighted to see the growth in self-employment across all regions of the UK. Setting up a business can be tough, which is why along with our financial support, we offer all Start Up Loan recipients free mentoring to ensure they are supported along their journey.”

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The top five entrepreneurial cities in the UK revealed

Former Apprentice finalist is successful with new business after Sugar firing motivation

Courtney Wood finalist in BBC1 TV show, The Apprentice has told how being fired made him even more determined 768w, 1024w, 230w, 850w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

A former finalist in the BBC1 TV show, The Apprentice, who went on to set up his own successful business, has told how being fired from the Boardroom made him even more determined to succeed.

Courtney Wood, 31, a runner-up in the 2016 series, was told by Lord Sugar that he would never make money designing novelty gifts, but the Essex entrepreneur refused to let that withering assessment dampen his ambitions.

He set up Bubblegum Stuff, a novelty gift company in 2013 while living in Hong Kong and after returning to the UK applied for a £10,000 loan from the Start-up Loans Company, using the money for product development and marketing.

The business, which sells gifts ranging from flamingo champagne flutes to space rocket baby bottles, is expected to turn over £250,000 this year. He has recently signed a range of deals with leading retailers, including Urban Outfitters, Paperchase, and River Island, and has also expanded to America.

As well as supplying retailers, Courtney has recently re-launched to allow customers to purchase products online in time for Christmas. 

Speaking ahead of the new series which starts tonight, Courtney said that since the 2016 series he has turned down multiple offers from investors.

“Being shunned by Lord Sugar in the Boardroom has made me determined to prove to him wrong, “he said. “He told me that I would never make money designing and selling novelty gifts. However, this year, with over 20 new products hitting the shelves on the High Street, I believe that he may now be questioning his decision.

“I’m on course for a very successful year and as much as I would have liked to have won the Apprentice, I do hold the advantage that I don’t have to split my profits with Lord Sugar. Since the show, I’ve turned down multiple offers from investors and I still own 100% of the business.”

SULCo has lent more than 58,000 loans totalling over £440 million to start-ups and early stage businesses across the UK since it was set up 2012.

A spokesman for the Start-up Loans Company, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to hear that Courtney wasn’t discouraged by his encounter with Lord Sugar in the Boardroom. We’re here to help and support anyone with an ambition to set up their own business, wherever you are in the UK.”

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Former Apprentice finalist is successful with new business after Sugar firing motivation

Getting To Know You: Phil Neale, Founder & CEO, Snoozle

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After reaching the final of Britain’s Got Talent with his family singing act ‘The Neales’, Phil left the world of music and showbiz to pursue his own business in creating a social alarm-clock app. 

What do you currently do?

I am the Founder of Snoozlea platform that gives young people meaningful reasons to care about their sleep routine- from falling asleep to audio content though to a fun, social wake-up experience to voice messages from friends. 

We have been delighted by the impression Snoozle has made since we launched it this sumer. It is a free app for users, and we have secured a ‘cost per acquisition’ of under 30p, which is a strong indication that what we are doing is resonating with our target audience. 

Our number of Active Users is growing week on week, and we’re focusing on delighting those first few thousand users before we look to scale rapidly. In the last few days, we have secured a partnership with one of the fastest growing companies in the world, and we are working on our next round of funding for early 2019. 

What defines your way of doing business?

Everything I do, I like to think I do with integrity. I believe there is a temptation within a start-up to ‘fake it until you make it’ which ultimately causes problems down the line for the business and for the people in it. If you’re not happy for someone to look under the hood of your business then it can result in your constantly compounding exaggerated traction with further exaggerations, which can cause anxiety and stress. 

Snoozle is a feel-good business; we want people feeling great from the very first moment they wake up to positivity from their friends, right through to when their drifting off to sleep. If we don’t feel good about what we are doing and how we are doing it, then we won’t deliver that for our users either. 

Who do you admire?

I draw a lot of inspiration from the likes of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Gary Vaynerchuck, Ryan Reynolds and Katheryn Ryan. All celebrities who add value to their audience through awesome content and a genuine desire to connect with their fans. 

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

It is easy to say I’d have started Snoozle earlier, but I doubt I’d have had the capabilities to thrive. I think with a big focus on healthy sleep and huge growth in audio, the timing is spot on for Snoozle now. 

The biggest learning I have had though, is to not wait for the ‘perfect time’ or the ‘perfect product’, as the only way to get close to that is by getting your product out there and working with genuine customers to perfect it. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Do not be afraid to tell people what you’re doing! I have quite a lot of people reach out to me asking for advice on an idea they have that they are too worried to share. Telling people means you get feedback and it also might give you that little extra incentive to move quicker before someone else delivers your idea; feedback is a gift. 

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Getting To Know You: Phil Neale, Founder & CEO, Snoozle

Amazon raises wages amid criticism

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Online retailing giant Amazon is raising pay for hundreds of thousands of workers in the US and the UK. 

Amazon’s lowest paid US workers will receive $15 an hour. In the UK, pay will rise from £8.20 an hour in London to £10.50, while outside London the rate rises from £8 an hour to £9.50.

The move comes after criticism of its employment practices, with complaints over its warehouse working conditions.

Amazon has also been attacked by campaigners for how much tax it pays. 

The company is one of the biggest companies in the world, worth about $1 trillion.

Its founder, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man, with a fortune estimated at some $150bn.

‘It’s a start’

The new pay rates start on 1 November, and will apply to all staff, full and part-time, as well as temporary and seasonal workers.

The move will benefit 250,000 workers in the US, 17,000 in the UK and tens of thousands of seasonal workers.

Tim Roache, the general secretary of the UK’s GMB union, welcomed the announcement but said more needed to be done: “Given their owner is the richest man in the world you’d think he could see fit to dig a little deeper, but it’s a start.

Mr Roache said that 90 per cent of the GMB Amazon members had said they experienced “constant pain at work”.

The union said Amazon did not allow it to operate under its roof.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “If Amazon is really serious about looking after its workforce it must recognise trade unions. 

“Today’s announcement is… only a start and shouldn’t be spun as a huge act of generosity.”

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Amazon raises wages amid criticism

Theresa May will freeze fuel duty as record pump price hits business and family budgets 88w, 400w, 160w, 650w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Fuel duty will be frozen for the ninth year in a row, Prime Minister Theresa May will say in her speech to Conservative party conference in Birmingham today.

May’s speech, in which she’ll hope to steal back the lime-light from former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, will also set out her vision for the UK after Brexit, saying the UK has “everything we need to succeed”.

It was not guaranteed the government would continue to freeze the duty on fuel, particularly as it had also pledged extra cash to plug NHS funding gaps but May will say the difference it makes to have a “little bit of money left to put away at the end of the month” isn’t “measured in pounds and pence”.

“It’s the joy and precious memories that a week’s holiday with the family brings. It’s the peace of mind that comes with having some savings,” she will say.

“Many people in towns and cities across our country, cannot take these for granted. They are the people this party exists for”, May will tell gathered delegates.

Chancellor Philip Hammond also said it will come at a cost to HMRC coffers: “This has come at a significant cost to the Exchequer, but the high oil price and the near-record pump price of petrol and diesel are also imposing a significant burden on motorists.

“So we have decided that to support hardworking families, we will once again freeze fuel duty in the upcoming budget.”

Hammond will spell out the government’s tax and spending plans for the coming year in his budget scheduled for 29 October.

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Theresa May will freeze fuel duty as record pump price hits business and family budgets

Aston Martin floats on London stock market in historic milestone for iconic brand

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Luxury car maker Aston Martin has today listed its initial public offering (IPO) price at £19 a share, valuing the company at around £4.33bn. 

The valuation falls short of the £5.1bn Aston Martin aimed to reach when it set out an initial pricing range of £17.50 to £22.50 a share.

The company, which has a long link with James Bond films, has gone bust seven times in its 105 year history.

The listing is the first by a UK carmaker for years, following the sale of brands such as Jaguar, Bentley and Rolls-Royce to foreign owners.

The IPO will hand around £1.1bn to existing shareholders like Italian Investindustrial and Kuwaiti funds Adeem Investments and Primewagon.

Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler will keep its 4.9 per cent stake in the company.

Aston Martin may fall short of a place in the FTSE 100 when the index is reshuffled in December. The smallest company to feature on the list at the moment has a market cap of £4.7bn. 

Chief executive Andy Palmer said: Today’s listing on the London Stock Exchange represents a historic milestone for Aston Martin Lagonda.

We are delighted by the positive response we have received from investors across the world and are very pleased to welcome our new shareholders to the register. We are excited about the momentum across the company and are fully focused on continuing to deliver our exciting growth strategy through the Second Century Plan.

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Aston Martin floats on London stock market in historic milestone for iconic brand

Want to impress clients visiting your office? This is what to do

Want to impress clients visiting your office 768w, 1024w, 230w, 850w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Entrepreneurs frequently encourage clients to come to the office for meetings. Gatherings of this sort are something that people in the corporate world cannot do without.

It is essential to talk about important issues and get things done in a timely manner. The thing is that businesspeople cannot afford to waste time traveling to offsite meetings. So, more often than not, they ask clients to come to the office. Face-to-face encounters are perfect opportunities for making a good impression. There is a fast rise in the competition and this is the reason why companies ought to do their best to retain clients.

Businesspeople fail to understand that the office is not just a workplace. It is an extension of the business and, therefore, speaks a great deal about the owner and the employees. if you want to produce a strong effect on your clients, then you should pay close attention to the following details. These are the secrets to blowing away office visitors.   

Get a great receptionist 

The receptionist may not necessarily bethe most significant person in the workplace, but that does not mean that the role of this professional can be neglected.

You need to have someone at the office to receive and greet visitors. The receptionist if the first person clients meet when making contact with the organization.

Did you really think that the receptionist does nothing else but drink coffee all day long? If the answer is yes, you should know that you were mistaken. The assistant acts like an ambassador of the company in the sense that they promote what you do. It is needless to say that you cannot hire just about anyone for the job.

The receptionist has to have great communication skills and be able to deal with multiple tasks at once. If the person you are looking to hire does not fit the description, then you should continue your search.

Always have a clean and tidy office 

Imagine the following scenario: someone walks into a dirty or unhygienic workplace. The place is not covered in mud, but still. When they see in what condition the office is in, the client will immediately disappear. You do not have to be a genius to understand that a dirty workplace scares away visitors.

People will be too afraid to take a foot inside the building out of fear that they will contact an illness.

What you have to do is make sure that the office is clean at all times. Dangerous germs and harmful bacteria thrive in unclean environments, so take action. The employees are too busy carrying out their tasks, so they cannot help with the cleaning. Since you cannot do the job yourself, you have no option but to hire commercial cleaning services. As far as the staff members are concerned, make sure that they keep their desks tidy.

Install office signs 

As stated in the beginning of this article, appearances matter when it comes to doing business. Clients visiting the office will judge every aspect, including whether or not there are signs to remind them that they are not at home.

Signage is underestimated and this is a shame because it directs visitors to the places that they need to go and help you set up a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

Regular signs are nothing compared to custom ones. If you are interested, you will be pleased to know that you can design custom office signs at Signomatic.

Custom office signs are like wall art. To be more precise, the colours and the layout grab the attention and create the perfect ambiance. You can include your logo, if that is what you want. Anyway, if you want to impress clients in your lobby, you should better make sure to use signage. Not only will your business look professional, but also visitors will be so intrigued that they will deeply research your organisation.

Have a game room in the office 

Many are against office play rooms and it is not hard to understand why. Instead of taking an active break, many employees get caught up in the game and forget all about their responsibilities. You know the members of your time for some time now.

Do you really think that the playful furniture and play equipment will keep them from doing their job? No, of course not.

Your employees are grown-up people and they know when enough is enough.

You should create an office playroom. The recreation room will benefit your staff members and it will make a hell of an impression on visiting clients.

How so? Well, they will see that you can about the people working for you.

In case you did not know, clients appreciate employers who care about their employees.

These people are driven to succeed, yet, unlike others, they do not walk over dead bodies in order to get what they want. Just think about it. As far as the financial effort is concerned, there is nothing to worry about.

Provide self-serve refreshments 

It is hard if not impossible to meet the needs of everyone in terms of light snacks and drinks. It is a good thing that there are coffee machines. Just about everyone enjoys a cup of Joe, so you cannot go wrong by acquiring this appliance.

No matter If you choose to accommodate a coffee machine or a snack station, make sure that the refreshments are within immediate reach.

Visiting clients should be able to find the appliance and serve themselves. Self-serve refreshments have something that makes them appealing.

Besides the fact that they can be consumed right away, the refreshments are not limited in terms of choice. If you want to make everyone in the workplace happy, have fresh fruits and vegetables.

As you can see, there are many ways in which you can impress visiting clients. Regardless of what you choose to do, you will be successful in your undertaking. If you want nothing but the best results, then implement all the strategies listed above.  

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Want to impress clients visiting your office? This is what to do

3 stress-free tips for reluctant business travellers

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Some of us enjoy a business trip. Sure, it’s work — but it also constitutes a couple of days away from family duties, complete with a comfy hotel courtesy of the corporate budget.

But for others, it’s a real pain in the posterior — hours stuck travelling in close proximity with colleagues you might rarely cross paths with normally, uncomfortable plane seats, soulless hotel rooms and lonely phone calls home.

If you’re aligned with the latter group and want to make your next corporate trip less painful to endure, here are three stress-free tips for reluctant business travellers.

Discount food

Grabbing something decent to eat before you board your flight is one of the best ways of settling your stomach and easing your frustrations.

But airport food is notoriously expensive and you might not want to blow your daily expenses limit before you reach your destination.

But discount voucher gurus Groupon offer brilliant cut-price offers on meals at restaurants like Bella Italia and Jamia’s Italian at UK airports like Gatwick — take a look at their website, select the most delectable deals and book a reservation before you leave home.

Sharing a meal with colleagues might become a good ice breaker, but if your culinary choice isn’t to their taste, dining alone will help you chill out in your own company.


When food, drinks and social media don’t distract you sufficiently from pre-flight frustrations, it’s time to ramp up your relaxation regime.

Massage maestros AeroSpa offer outstanding 15, 30 or 60 minute treatments  that will iron out those troublesome knots in your shoulders, neck and back and make you feel like a million dollars by the time you hop on board your business flight.

The company operates in Edinburgh and Newcastle airports and their additional services include gents barbering, leg waxing, facials, manicures and brow and lash treatments.

So provided you’ve got time, you can go the whole hog and book a head-to-toe beautifying session.


Driving to the airport in your own vehicle is less hectic than public transport and offers more privacy than sharing a ride with colleagues — given a choice, it might be the best option.

But be sure to pre-book park and ride or valet options from parking comparison pros— their website offers airport parking bargains for every British airport and beyond.

You’ll arrive in the terminal with plenty of time to make your flight and when you return, jumping in your car and setting off home feels convenient and carefree.

Being proactive about car parking might not immediately sound as satisfying as the first two suggestions — but it’ll certainly make your entire trip smoother and less stressful. 

There’s no guarantee that these three suggestions will convert you into an enthusiastic business traveller — but by reducing your anxiety levels to the bare minimum, they’ll make the entire experience much more pleasant. 

How do you relax on business trips? Share your tips in the comments section.

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3 stress-free tips for reluctant business travellers

Learn how to vape safely with these tips

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Vaping has become very popular in the last few years and more and more people become interested in every day.

They start buying their ownvaping kits. It’s true; it’ssafer than smoking, however that doesn’t mean that it’s totallyhealthy.

We’ve prepared for you some tips and tricks on how to learn to vape in a safe way. Check Vapemate for the best e-liquids.

Always charge the device with its charger

Sometimes it’s tempting to charge the vape with anything that’s close to you, but it’s wrong. You need to stick with the charger that came from your manufacturer, and that was especially madefor the device. This way, you’ll be sure that the charger is compatible with the battery of your device.

You also need to remember that it’s not okay to leave your vape plugged in overnight – just read the instructions that came together with your kit andyou should be okay.

The quality of your battery

Most of the vape kits and devices have a lithium-ion battery. There are also some specific batteries that you have to use with your device. You might not want to go for a cheap battery or one that’s not recommended for your devicesince it might cause it problems. Doyour homework and look for warnings that come with the batteries that you want to use – then you’ll know if they’re suitable.

The temperature-controlled mod

Many devices come with a temperature control setting. It’s more healthy, as the high temperatures let more chemical reactions to take place, the thingthat showsan increase when it comes to how much formaldehyde is released when you vape. If you choose to set a certain temperature, then you can control how hot the coil gets. 

Hydration levels

You will be surprised to find out how many people forget to stay hydrated. If your vape sessions are long, then you’ll feel dehydrated. By vaping, you take away some moisture from your body, and you need to replace it with water. 

Take care of your e-liquids

E-liquids have chemical makeup, that’s why they can be dangerous. And we all know how nicotine is classifiedas a poison, so storing your e-liquids improperlycan make the experience dangerous for you. Makesure that the liquid does not get into your skin, and also keep in mind that they should be storedat a certain, proper temperature.

Clean the battery terminal

You need to do this every twoweeks. It helps in improving the performance of your device, as there won’t be a layer of dust or debris between the device and the battery. You can clean it with alcohol wipes and simply cleandamp.

Don’t dry burn your coils

Dry burning is when you press the button, but you don’t have any liquid in your device. Many people dry burn their coils to make sure that the temperature is even and distributed everywhere, but this actuallyhas a negative impact on the metal structure of the device. The temperature can get as high as 700°C and it’s not good for the durability of your mod.

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Learn how to vape safely with these tips

Vauxhall & Toyota join other UK motor manufacturers warning of ‘dramatic & crippling consequences’ of Brexit 82w, 650w, 180w, 75w, 950w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Vauxhall and has warned of “dramatic consequences” for its UK plants if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking to the BBC, Carlos Tavares of Vauxhall said the carmaker’s “number one” request of Brexit talks was free trade.

Mr Tavares is chief executive of PSA, which bought Vauxhall and Opel last year and has operations in Ellesmere Port and Luton.

He said: “If we don’t have free trade conditions then of course we will have to adapt”.

“That may have dramatic consequences for our operations in the UK, which of course we would like to avoid as much as possible. 

“So for us the situation is crystal clear, we need free trade. That’s the number one request,” he said in an interview at the Paris Motor Show.

The PSA Group – which also owns Peugeot and Citroen – employs 3,000 people in the UK, including 1,225 at the Luton plant and 1,100 at Ellesmere Port.

Tavares comments were echoed by Toyota Motor Europe chief Johan van Zyl who said a Brexit without a deal would affect the firm’s investment decisions.

Van Zyl said if the firm is unable to sell into the EU market duty free, it will harm its UK operations.

Many carmakers in Britain have warned a bad or no Brexit deal would be damaging for the UK car industry.

“If we have anything that has an impact on your competitiveness of manufacturing in the UK, it will definitely have an impact on future investment decisions,” Mr van Zyl said in response to a question about a “no-deal” Brexit scenario.

“The reason for many manufacturers being in the UK is the fact that they could export to the European market duty free – and that is a critical one,” he told the BBC on the sidelines of the Paris Motor Show.

Last week Toyota UK warned that a no-deal outcome would temporarily halt output at its plant in Burnaston, near Derby.

Other carmakers have also warned about the impact of a no-deal Brexit, as delays to supplies could affect their “just in time” production models.

Ralf Speth, the head of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), told Reuters at the Paris Motor Show that it could move its annual summer-time shutdowns to the spring to handle any disruption from a disorderly Brexit. 

Rival carmaker BMW has already said it will close its Mini plant in Oxford for a month following Brexit.

Mr Speth said that JLR was also considering holding more parts in preparation for Brexit. He has previously warned that a “bad” Brexit deal would threaten £80bn worth of investment plans.

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Vauxhall & Toyota join other UK motor manufacturers warning of ‘dramatic & crippling consequences’ of Brexit

Geoffrey Cole & Co - Accountants In Reading

Geoffrey Cole & Co - Accountants In Reading

A safe on-line confidential facility where clients may store copies of their accounts, insurance policies and any important documents

Geoffrey Cole & Co - Accountants In ReadingGeoffrey Cole & Co Ltd is a member firm of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and is registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.