Movers and Shakers: Chris Gilmore hopes Ovenu franchise will be ‘recession proof’

AN EX-soldier from Woodbridge has launched his own oven valeting business in response to the growing “make do and mend”mentality of householders amid the downturn.

Chris Gilmore, 50, set up Ovenu, an oven valeting business, in south Suffolk after researching the market for business opportunities that had the potential to be “recession-proof”.

Chris decided that a franchise, rather than starting a new business from scratch, would be the best, and most straightforward, option. He was encouraged by the growing desire among people he knew to make the most out of their existing household appliances, rather than buying new ones.

Chris, who was a sergeant in the army for 10 years, decided that Ovenu, with its strong network of franchisees reporting good trading results and its extensive experience of working with franchises, was the ideal choice. It would also give him the flexibility to spend quality time with his young family.

Chris’ Ovenu business is part of a UK-wide franchise operation made up of more than 100 UK franchisees.

Ovenu South Suffolk provides an environmentally-friendly oven cleaning service to residential properties and businesses across Felixstowe, north Ipswich and Woodbridge.

He underwent training to become a fully trained ISO 9001:2008 accredited Ovenu technician.

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“I enjoyed the comprehensive training that Ovenu gave me and, while it’s still early days yet, I’m really enjoying running my own business. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that I’m in charge,” he said.

Rik Hellewell, founder of Ovenu, said: “Even in difficult economic circumstances, this is proof positive that dedicated people can use our franchise model to create very successful small businesses.”

“It also demonstrates that franchise holders come from a wide range of different backgrounds and that they can use their existing skills and experience to benefit their new Ovenu business.”

: : Four new recruits have taken their first steps on the career ladder at the Ipswich office of financial and business advisers Grant Thornton as part of the firm’s annual graduate programme.

Toby Hare, Dominick Knight, Lauren Andrews and Rebecca Andras have all joined the three- year training programme in the firm’s audit department. During this time they will work towards professional accounting qualifications while receiving first class training and on the job experience.

James Brown, practice leader at Grant Thornton’s Ipswich office, said: “Despite current conditions, Grant Thornton continues to invest in its business to further strengthen the services we offer to clients. An important part of this strategy is recruiting and training young talent to build our skills base of tomorrow.

“To this end we are taking on 210 trainees across 21 of our national offices, an increase of 120% on last year, to begin what we hope will be a long career with the firm. We are delighted to welcome four of these trainees to our Ipswich office and we look forward to working alongside and supporting them as they begin their career.”

Throughout the programme, which is open to both graduates and school leavers, all trainees undergo expert internal and external training. They are also given immediate responsibility, with full support from Grant Thornton’s experienced team, to help them develop.

Grant Thornton also runs an internship programme for students in the penultimate year of university. This offers four to six weeks’ paid work experience over the summer and a possible fast track to the graduate programme.

Graduate trainee Toby Hare took part in Grant Thornton’s internship programme during his second year of university and has now returned to the graduate scheme having completed his degree.

Toby said: “I was attracted to Grant Thornton because of the quality training and support the firm offers while studying for professional qualifications. I am looking forward to working first hand with a wide range of clients, right from the beginning and also becoming part of a highly successful organisation.”

: : ANDREW Bullard has joined Tastes of Anglia Ltd as commercial director.

Andrew, who is 48 and lives in Woodbridge, has been in the B2B sector for over 25 years, mainly in the timber and building product industries.

The Witnesham-based regional food promotion and trading group has been operating for two decades working with a range of local producers, manufacturers and customers.

“I am relishing the opportunity to work with local produce in a field I thoroughly enjoy, food and drink, and have a dedicated team around me here in Witnesham,” said Andrew.

: : Coggeshall-based financial advisory practice Unizone has appointed Clare Eve to its growing team as a trust and estate executive.

Clare is a chartered tax adviser and trust and estate practitioner (STEP qualified) and brings 14 years of industry experience to Unizone.

Managing director Neil Donnelly said: “Clare’s specialist knowledge will provide our clients and professional partners with an invaluable resource. Her focus will be working in conjunction with our advisers to offer specialist tax and Inheritance Tax advice for all private and corporate clients, particularly on trust and estate issues.

“Our mission has always been to achieve the most favourable tax position for our clients and Clare’s appointment will help us to continue to achieve this.”

Clare said she was looking forward to the new challenge of working at Unizone.

“Providing expert advice that is individually tailored to each client is something that I have always felt strongly about, so the Unizone business ethos fits perfectly with me. I am looking forward to working in a dynamic environment for a progressive and forward-thinking company,” she said.

: : Blue Star Human Resources Ltd, an Ipswich-based Human Resources consultancy now in its tenth year of business, has appointed Paula Phelan as a consultant.

Paula is a human resources professional with more than 20 years of generalist experience including introducing HR policies, implementing procedures, providing advice and assisting line managers on day to day HR issues, coaching managers and other employees in matters related to sickness management, career development, employee relations and performance management, writing and delivering “soft skills” training such as communication, team working and management skills.

Paula’s primary experience is within the private sector although she has recently spent seven months introducing a new sickness policy within a public sector organisation which has significantly reduced sickness absence. She is an ILM accredited coach and a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

Richard Brice, director of Blue Star Human Resources, said: “We are delighted to welcome Paula as a member of our successful team at a time when our business is growing steadily by organic means.”

Blue Star Human Resources, based in Tower Street, Ipswich, has built a strong client portfolio over the last decade providing high value-added HR support across private, public and not-for-profit sectors and is actively working in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, service, retail, distribution & logistics, pharmaceuticals, local authorities, the NHS, industrial provident societies and charities.

: : Beckett Financial Services, based in Bury St Edmunds, has continued to strengthen its client team with the appointment of Ken Bird.

Ken is a very respected consultant who brings with him a wealth of over 25 years’ financial planning knowledge and experience.

He is a member of the Personal Finance Society, and has practised in East Anglia with the firms including Scottish Amicable, and Aegon Scottish Equitable for much of his career.

He said he was delighted to be joining Beckett

“Beckett’s is one of just 2% (404 out of 19,500) of financial planning firms across the UK who have made the ‘chartered’ grade, putting them into an elite group of professionals who are totally dedicated and highly qualified to provide financial advice of the highest standard to both private and corporate clients. I’m very excited to be amongst such good company as one of their technical support consultants,” he said.

Managing director Tim Hines said: “Ken is a fantastic hire for Beckett’s and our clients, both in terms of his advisory expertise and his background in technical roles for major European financial services providers. He has built an impressivereputation within our industry for providing first class, professional service of the highest standard, which is what makes him such a great fit for Beckett’s.

“He shares our ethos on quality and service and our vision to remain as one of the most progressive financial services advisory businesses in the UK. His appointment demonstrates our commitment to the importance of resourcing an ever stronger client proposition as we head towards what will be the biggest change in our industry yet, at the end of this year.”