Colors: Purple Color

The process to replace Paul Faulkner as chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) has been launched.

SF Recruitment is handling the search following Mr Faulkner’s decision to take up a position with the Richardson family. The closing date for applications is February 12 with first interviews expected to take place in the week beginning February 22 and second interviews in the week of March 1.

The GBCC said a recruitment committee had been appointed and that it would be seeking an “outstanding CEO to take the Chamber forward”. Interested people should in the first instance send their CVs to SF’s Matt Burling at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Chair David Waller (pictured) said: “Over the past few years, the GBCC have, under Paul, focussed on building up a balanced portfolio of activity.  The Chamber’s financial position is strong and was augmented in 2020 with the sale of its leasehold building. 

“There is an experienced and settled leadership team in place and the Chamber is now the premier business representative organisation in the region. With the departure of Paul the board is now looking for an outstanding CEO to take the Chamber forward. This is a great opportunity for the right person to join the Chamber team and lead it in the period ahead.”

SF will be launching a high-level visual advertisement with details of the role. It states that the successful individual will:

·         Understand the local and regional economy

·         Have hands-on experience in a business environment and understand issues facing      

       business of all scales and sizes

·         Have excellent interpersonal skills

·         Be an effective communicator and confident public speaker

·         Be politically astute and have a general interest in policy and current affairs


Job role:

·         Leadership of the Chamber team

·         Report to the chairman and the board

·         Stakeholder engagement across the city region

·         Engagement with patron and high-value memberships

·         Representation of the Chamber at regional level with WMCA, West Midlands Mayor,

       West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, GBSLEP

·         Represent the region nationally with British Chambers of Commerce, and on regional

       priorities (eg HS2)


It adds details of the GBCC, an independent B2B business support agency and consultancy in the West Midlands. It was established over 200 years ago and is a commercial (but not for profit) organisation, with a turnover of around £7 million, employing 90 staff.  The group comprises six geographic Chambers, covering Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield & Tamworth and Burton & District as well as the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (formed over 30 years ago), Transatlantic and Commonwealth Chambers, and Future Faces Chamber of Commerce for young professionals from all sectors.

The Chamber’s mission is to Connect, Support & Grow business across Greater Birmingham and its diverse services to members and other businesses include: Research and campaigning (including Brexit and Covid support); membership, networking and events, International Business Hub (including export documentation and translations) and training.

Birmingham faces the biggest challenges to level up in the UK due to the economic impact of Covid-19, according to Centre for Cities’ annual study of the UK’s major urban areas –Cities Outlook 2021. Over 100,000 people in Birmingham now need to find secure, well-paid jobs to level up – compared to 43,000 last March. This means its claimant count rate now needs to decrease by 6.7 percentage points to bring Birmingham in line with the pre Covid-19 national average.

In addition to hitting Birmingham and the rest of the North and Midlands badly, Covid-19 has also hit many previously prosperous places in the South disproportionately hard. The Government must act fast to prevent a levelling down of these places that the whole UK depends on to create jobs and fund public services. London’s, Crawley’s and Slough’s futures are among the southern places of concern due Covid-19’s potential long-term impact.

The Chancellor should announce how he will deal with Covid-19’s short-term damage to cities and large towns. The plans should include:

• Making permanent the £20 rise in Universal Credit.
• Supporting jobless people to find new good jobs.
• Consider the merits of a renewed Eat Out to Help Out scheme for hospitality and non-online retailers once it is safe.

Acting to prevent further economic damage by Covid-19 is not the same as levelling up. Once the health crisis ends, the Government will need to spend additional money on further measures to level up, including:

• Further education to train jobless people for good roles in emerging industries.
• Making city centres better places for high-skilled businesses to locate.
• Improvements to transport infrastructure in city-regions.

Centre for Cities Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “Covid-19 has made the Government’s pledge to level up Birmingham much harder. It was promised on the assumption that places in the South would remain prosperous but Covid-19 has shaken this assumption.

“Levelling up Birmingham and stopping the South’s levelling down will not be cheap and will require more than short-term handouts. Government support and investment for new businesses in emerging industries will be essential, as will spending on further education to train people to do the good-quality jobs created.”


74 per cent of businesses are boosting their marketing and consumer research budgets this year, to better reach potential customers, according to new research from Stravito, a leading provider of knowledge management software for insights. The research, which was conducted by independent polling company Censuswide, surveyed 200 business decision makers in large and medium sized UK companies in the last week of December 2020.

It revealed that 76 per cent of business are set to overhaul their customer engagement strategy in response to the disruption and dispersal caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, suggesting that many companies are already anticipating 2021 to be the year that they ‘bounce-back’ from the difficult period caused by the crisis.

Interestingly, 82 per cent of surveyed decision makers agreed that data-driven insights are a top priority for them in 2021, and a whopping 83 per cent agreed that improving communication and relationships with customers will be critical to their business growing this year. Similarly, 72 per cent of business decision makers agreed that their company needs to improve its knowledge and research sharing capabilities in order to improve sales in 2021.

Thor Olof Philogène, CEO and co-founder of Stravito, commented: “In this pandemic era, connecting to consumers on a ‘human level’ is more important than ever, and demonstrating empathy and understanding with customer concerns and needs is imperative. This process must start with comprehensive market and consumer research to help inform business strategy and understand exactly how consumer behaviour and expectations has adapted over the course of the very eventful last 12 months. With workforces still distributed, and remote working here to stay for the foreseeable future, it is essential that research and business insights are made available to all departments and workers in a given company, so that there is no misalignment in knowledge or customer acquisition strategies.

“Getting instant access to all available market research at the touch of a button will also go a long way to preventing knowledge silos developing between already distributed workforces and departments.”


Eligible City of Wolverhampton businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors can now apply for an additional one-off national lockdown grant of up to £9,000. The application process is now also open to the latest Local Restrictions Support Grants (Closed), which cover the period Wolverhampton was under Tier 4 restrictions (December 31 to January 4) and the current national lockdown. It relates to businesses that are ratepayers and are required to close under national or local Covid-19 restrictions.

For anyone who has already made a recent application for a business grant then you can use this information and evidence as the basis for any subsequent application. A further discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant to support other businesses impacted by the national lockdown is expected to be confirmed once government funding arrives. These grants are in addition to previous Local Restrictions Support Grants and the Additional Restrictions Grant established during the pandemic, which continue to receive applications.

Councillor Stephen Simkins, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “I am urging Wolverhampton businesses to check what they are eligible for by visiting the website and apply for these critical grants. As a council, we have ensured thousands of eligible businesses have had quick access to vital funding to help them.

“We appreciate this is an extremely difficult time for businesses and assure you that these payments are our priority. We will ensure these new grants get allocated swiftly and that no business is left behind as our city looks to recover from the financial impact of Covid-19.”

With extremely high levels of demands experienced, businesses are urged to remain patient. All of the grants are subject to State Aid rules and are treated as taxable income.

Specialist business property advisor, Christie & Co has brought to market, the Mercure Birmingham Barons Court Hotel, a stylish and contemporary mid-range hotel located in Walsall Wood. The Mercure Birmingham Barons Court lies in the middle of England’s heartlands, to the north of Birmingham. The hotel is well positioned near the M6 toll, with good links to the M6, M5 AND M42 leading to the M40. Additionally, Birmingham International Airport is just over 20 miles away, making the hotel a popular choice for both leisure and business layovers.

The hotel is situated in an historic property dating back to 1901 and now comprises 98 modern en-suite bedrooms, an in-house bar and restaurant, and conference and event space for up to 700 guests. It is currently managed by the Talash Hotel Limited as part of their portfolio of 12 hotels. The group is now looking to sell the business to pursue other property interests. The sale of the Mercure Birmingham Barons Court presents a rare opportunity to acquire a substantial hotel in the Midlands, with the benefit of the Mercure franchise agreement in place. Equally, the site offers various asset management opportunities, subject to the relevant planning permissions. The hotel will be sold as a TOGC.

Talash Hotels said: “The hotel commands an enviable position on Lichfield Road and is in close proximity to key conurbations and businesses in the area. We have deployed a significant amount of capital expenditure in recent years to bring the hotel up to brand standards. As such, very little additional investment is required, so it’s a great opportunity for a new owner to take on the business and build on its existing success. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed managing the hotel, but the time has come to pass it on, and we look forward to finding the right new owner with the help of Christie & Co.”

Charles Jones, Associate Director in Christie & Co’s Hospitality team is handling the sale and comments, “2020 proved to be a challenging year due to COVID-19, however branded hotel opportunities remained very much in high demand, with our team achieving in excess of 360 offers accepted. We’ve seen similar demand levels in the first few weeks of 2021, so we’re excited to launch this opportunity to market and expect a significant level of interest.”

The Mercure Birmingham Barons Court is currently on the market with a guide price of £2,850,000.

Go Carz, the biggest private hire taxi operator across Shropshire and the West Midlands, is offering free taxi rides to help roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to the first wave of elderly and vulnerable patients of Telford. Formed in 2017, Teldoc is Shropshire’s first super practice, with a patient population of over 48,000. In accordance with national guidance, Teldoc have commenced vaccination of the elderly and vulnerable in the local community.

Go Carz are working with participating Teldoc practices to offer transport only to those eligible persons who have been invited to make a vaccination appointment if they have no other means of transport. These free rides provide a COVID-safe taxi journey to the vaccination centre only, and the patient has the option to book a safe journey home too. Eligible individuals who have been invited to make an appointment with the vaccination centre, will be able to claim their free journey using a dedicated account and provided by the Teldoc telephone operator. Patients will then be able to phone Go Carz dispatch centre to book their free ride using this information.

The gesture of goodwill will benefit the elderly and vulnerable within the local community who, without Go Carz and Teldoc’s help, would have had their vaccination delayed.

Graham Hoof, Regional Director of Go Carz, said: “Many of the elderly and vulnerable may feel safer in a private hire vehicle rather than public transport. Safely transporting them to ensure they can get their vaccination is a vital step that we can assist with to help our local community beat COVID.”

Go Carz was also one of the first transport companies to introduce additional health and hygiene measures in 2020 to make journeys as safe as possible for all passengers and driver-partners. The measures, designed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, include specialist cleaning regimes, in-vehicle protective screens, the wearing of face coverings and passengers sitting in the rear of the vehicle.