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Easy Jet Magazine - "Who ya gonna call?"

Grey4Gold has featured in the February edition of the Easyjet In Flight magazine with a piece about Rowland's recent mentoring with the exciting new firm, The Longest Stay, who provide an interior design one stop shop based on supplying pieces from luxury hotel interiors.

Sew & Sews Attic in Shifnal work with Mark O'Dolan.

Only 18 months into setting up Sew and Sews Attic, Shropshire based former teacher, Helen Dale was struggling to survive but with the support of a retail business mentor, Helen has a renewed focus and vision for her business and sales have already doubled versus the same time last year.

Mark had already begun supporting other retailers in the town and as a member of the towns retail forum Helen became aware that via the NSAR funding he could also support her and she jumped at the chance. "Mark came to see me in January while I was still in Sale and it was amazing how much insight he was able to provide in that very first visit," Helen told me. "Mark asked me lots of questions about both the business but also about myself and my skills and experience. Mark wasn't in any way critical, in fact he helped me realise that I had a unique skills set and this gave me a potential competitive advantage over other similar businesses. I just needed to make that clearer to customers."

Bicester bookstore, Cole's Bookstore, benefits from Grey4Gold mentoring.

A successful Bicester-based bookstore is being taken to the next level thanks to the support of a retail business mentor programme funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Nigel and Caroline French were already punching well above their weight with a niche in selling signed copies of books, and high profile book signings like that of Sol Campbell, but they felt that they still needed specialist support and guidance in particular areas of their business. That support came in the shape of retail business mentor Rowland Gee thanks to funding secured by the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR) and made available by the Skills Funding Agency.

Shifnal retailer, Blue, benefits from Grey4Gold mentoring.

Retail mentor Mark O'Dolan, is part of the Grey4Gold network who work in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR), and he was able to support Jan through funding the NSAR had secured from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, specifically to support small retail businesses.

"Mark has been brilliant," she says, "not just for me but for the whole town." "I want the town to be filled with great retailers. The more great stores there are, the more people will visit and that benefits us all, and Mark is really helping to make that happen."

Wrexham fashion designer increases sales thanks to mentoring.

A fashion designer says she has increased her sales thanks to a campaign backed by the Welsh Government and mentored by Grey4Gold. Nicola Morrison studied fashion design at Yale College and sells her own clothes' at her boutique Adore in Charles Street, Wrexham.

Nicola said: "She changed so much of the shop it was brilliant and cost less than 100 to do all the changes. I really liked the mentoring and it's really made a difference to the shop. Fiona told me to try and use more of the space that I have for retail so I chopped up the counter and now there's more space for the customers. There's more of a luxury look to the shop now and customers say they like the new style. There's more people coming in now since I changed the window display and we are really busy on Saturdays. The changes took about a week and I've got two more clients for the wholesale orders. I need to get my website up and running and a lot more people have noticed that the dresses are hand made."

Grey4Gold increases sales at Divine fashion retailer.

A fashion retailer says she has increased her sales thanks to a campaign backed by the Welsh Government and run with Grey4Gold. Michelle Smith sells ladies' fashion and accessories from her shop called Divine in John Street, Porthcawl.

Recently Michelle decided to get involved with the Thriving High Street campaign which offers subsidised training and mentoring. The campaign is supported by the Welsh Government's Sector Priorities Fund Pilot (SPFP) programme, through the European Social Fund, and delivered locally by the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR). Under the scheme the mentoring service worth up to 1,500 is available for 50 and courses costing 80-120 are available for 25.

Michelle said: "Andrew was really good for me and the mentoring was really useful because I've always had a business partner but now I'm on my own it's nice to have someone to bounce things off and I found that really useful. He knows some of the problems I was coming across and how to sort out the problems. We spoke mainly about organising cashflow really in this kind of climate and I wanted advice on which products to sell or not and he talked me through all that.
One of the main issues for me was whether to stock clothing or not and I've tiptoed in and out of that a few times and it's difficult to find good quality suppliers at my price point. I knew in my head that I needed to do the clothing but I needed somebody to give me a second opinion really.
When we started we were purely selling jewellery, scarves and bags but I've tried to extend that now to clothes. We had new brands of giftware coming in and there is a gap in the market for good quality giftware. Last year we had a really difficult year with the business and we lost a lot of confidence and Andrew gave me a lot more reassurance that I am doing the right thing. He said I was on the right track and just needed to tweak this and tweak that. I've seen an increase in sales since Andrew's involvement."

Grey4Gold Mentoring helps fashion retailer in Llanelli

A fashion retailer says she is "more confident" for the future thanks to a campaign backed by the Welsh Government. Melanie Jenkins has sold ladies' fashion for nineteen years from her shop called Mossies in John Street, Llanelli.

Recently Melanie heard about the Thriving High Street campaign which offers subsidised training and mentoring. Under the scheme the mentoring service run by Grey4Gold and worth up to 1,500 is available for 50 and courses costing 80-120 are available for 25. Melanie's Grey4Gold mentor was former retail executive Lynne Robson who specialised in merchandising and buying for 550 shops throughout Europe.

Melanie said: "The mentoring was quite positive really and it was just nice to have some feedback from somebody who's got retail expertise and can look at your business in a different way. To have a mentor like Lynne was a win-win situation because I went through ideas where I would like to go with my business and the advice was invaluable. I also found out about the areas that I'm doing right so that gave me a lot of confidence to move forward. My buying was a bit of an issue with me and how much stock I need so we went through that. I did speak to her about finance and then went on the finance course and learnt how to do the spreadsheets so I have more idea about my margins and stock levels. Lynne advised me that I should always hold back on 10-15% of my budget for in-season fashions. She said my merchandising was very good and didn't advise any changes. When I organise my own fashion shows and promotion days I have a lot of support from my customers who are very loyal. I've been involved from the start of the National Skills Academy for Retail with the mystery shopping activity and it all evolved from that really. I do think it's invaluable to see things through somebody else's eyes and it's a fantastic offer for what you're paying and it makes you feel better about your business."

Grey4Gold Mentoring helps family business in Porthcawl

A FAMILY business in Porthcawl has taken advantage of a campaign being sponsored by the Welsh Government. Maple is a chocolate shop in Porthcawl which specialises in handmade chocolates and speciality gifts.

Rachel said: "The mentoring was really good, really useful because we're a family run business so it was nice to have an outside opinion with a fresh pair of eyes and he gave us some good ideas. The big change was for the window displays because we thought they were fine but Andrew said they were far too cluttered. He said rather than show everything we sell in the window, try and have more of a theme for things like Father's Day and Mother's Day because we didn't do that in the past".

Strong results from Grey4Gold Thriving High Street Mentoring

James Hobbley of Ark Pet Supplies and Ruth Rees of Martin Rees Jewellers and Pawnbrokers of Wrexham have already reported strong results from Grey4Gold's mentoring that they received as part of the Thriving High Street Campaign.

Ruth Rees: "What I liked about the National Skills Academy and Grey4Gold was their straight forward approach and there was virtually no red-tape and we were able to put things in place very quickly and we're looking forward to going from strength to strength."

James Hobbley: "The last two weeks were the best we've ever had back to back so it's not one of those things where you'll see an improvement over four to six months, it was an instant result. We feel we've had excellent value for money and it's the best thing we've ever done. I would recommend Grey4Gold mentoring to everybody because if you don't get the foundations of your business right then everything on top will just collapse."

Danielle Reid from Folklore Ltd

Hi Grey4Gold,

Thank you for providing financial plans and forecasts and for our conversation on Friday which was very helpful.

Overall we are very pleased with the work and are confident this framework is going to be of huge benefit to us going forward.

We appreciate the significant value in what you've prepared.

Kind regards,

Danielle Reid
Folklore Ltd

Tim.Elliott Retail & Marketing Consultancy

Hi Rowland,

I am just sending you a quick note to thank you for the candidates I have been able to put forward to one of my clients with who I supply temps, and now going forward Retail Agents/consultants. We have placed x3, 2 from G4G and 1 of my own contacts.

I threw a bit of a fastball at Alex last Friday and he didn't drop it, quite the contrary, he did a great job of getting details of guys over to me very swiftly.

It is still early days in respect of this, but with your support we are off to a good start.

I plan to see Alex next week in London, and hopefully we can catch up for a pre-xmas drink, I think we deserve it!

All the best!!


time - Retail & Marketing Consultancy

Cheltenham Retailers

Dear Rowland,

We wanted to drop you a line to thank Grey4Gold so very much for the time you spent in our shop yesterday. It was so refreshing to sit, listen and learn from someone who understood our passion and enjoyed the enthusiasm we have for our little shop.

All your points and suggestions were warmly received by us both and we are going to impart them to our designers with whom we are meeting this morning.

With fondest and warm regards.

Sarah and Lizzie
COOK Cheltenham

Late Artist Barry Flanagan's estate

Grey4Gold recently completed some consultancy work for the estate of the late artist, Barry Flanagan. This work included advice on accountancy services, corporate governance, and improving the web presence in order to enable continued promotion and awareness of Mr Flanagan's fantastic creations. Mr Alfred Widmann of Meckers Ltd, working for the late artist's estate, recently sent us this testimonial.

Hi Rowland,

I just thought I would let you know that we have taken steps, following Grey4Gold's advice and analysis, to get the accounting costs down and it has worked, we now have a flat fee for the bookkeeping for the year, which is a huge improvement. Thank you.

As with the corporate governance, the idea of getting a chairperson is catching on, though we will have to wait a while till things have calmed down on the company structure side since, again on your advice, we are merging the two companies so there will only be two that need looking after.

In any case I wanted to say thanks for your support.

Read more....

Shropshire Business Mentoring

A county of historical market towns full of independent shops, Shropshire is both a popular tourist destination as well as an area struggling to keep its high streets alive. In the last few years, Shropshire Council has created a Market Towns Revitalisation Programme in order to invest in its towns and local businesses to ensure their sustainability. Part of this project has been teaming up with the National Skills Academy for Retail to offer business mentoring to new and existing businesses, helping them to become more successful.

Read more....

NSA and Skillsmart Retail Ltd

"I met with Elegant Steps of Liverpool yesterday and Jayne Bransby was very complimentary and extremely appreciative of the work Grey4Gold have done with her company and also the continued support you are providing her with.

I am sure her business will go from strength to strength- just wanted to say a huge thank you on behalf of The NSA for Retail and Academy ONE as she is now using them for all future staff training- as your support has not only helped the business it has identified gaps in their own internal training structures."

Sara Challinor

Starting Over Show

"As a growing small business what I lack most is mentorship and links to key professionals and organisations, who can provide the experience and contacts that I need to develop and expand my Starting Over Show events. Grey4Gold is a godsend to small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere, who reach that point when their business is ready to grow into something much bigger - but they need specialist advice on a flexible, affordable basis and ways to get in front of the 'right people' that even LinkedIn cannot provide!

To be able to access professionals with the level of experience and impressive industry connections that can be found on the Grey4Gold site is impressive enough, but when added to that you have a venture that is one of collaboration and a genuine interest in supporting and helping those businesses to grow - it is that ethos that makes Grey4Gold so completely unique, and so very much needed. Their diagnosis of what was needed for SOS was clear and the resultant analysis has helped me significantly."

Suzy Miller
Creator & Producer

Minister for Business and Enterprise

February 2011

Mark Prisk, minister for business and enterprise has given his backing to the site and said it is "essential" that the UK makes "full use of the skills and talent that already exists in the community".

"I am delighted that Grey4Gold has risen to this challenge," Prisk said.

Mark Prisk

Stan Frith BComm, MBA, AICSA

Formerly Director of: Texas Instruments, House of Fraser, Harrods and Somerfield.

September 15th 2010

To the Directors of Grey4Gold:

"I have read the literature you gave me and I think it is a great idea. I have also sounded out a few retired or displaced ex main board directors I know who also liked it . Without exception they felt it could be a very useful tool for a variety of individuals all seeking different levels of engagement as well as companies satisfying their frequently diverse and sometimes ad hoc requirements. Although I am very busy at present with two non-executive directorships, a charity trusteeship and several committees, it is something I might entertain. If nothing else I would be happy to pass it around or participate in whatever other capacity you feel is helpful".

Harold Tillman CBE

Former Chairman of Jaeger, Aquascutum, and the British Fashion Council.

April 23rd 2010

To Grey4Gold,

The events of April 2010 have gone a long way to reminding us all that we are an island nation - one that has, over the centuries, still been responsible for some of the greatest inventions, discoveries and indeed brands, to have gone out and changed and influenced the world.

Those initiatives and energies are very much needed again and we can, no longer, afford to let any of our island assets lie fallow or go to waste.

Our greatest assets are our people and ideas like Grey4Gold would help connect experienced people with enterprise.

It is essential that small and medium sized businesses grow and flourish to get our economy going again, and that is why I believe that Grey4Gold, designed by young British talent, is an exciting new initiative.

Originally conceived for the British fashion and retail trades, it is already clear that it is just as applicable to so many other important activities.

Its an easy to follow and a free format, young and energetic companies will be able to find and tap into the wealth of experience which today's older, and still very much in touch generations, have to offer.

I wish Grey4Gold all the best...