News in brief: family-run businesses; alternative finance; productivity

News in brief
News in brief

One in five shoppers prepared to pay more at a family-run business

Recent research from American Express reveals that more than half (57%) of small businesses employ family members and on average 16 new family businesses open every day.

What’s more, six in ten Brits would consider going into business with a relative. Joining forces with a partner or spouse (44%) was the most popular choice, followed by mothers and brothers with 17% of the vote apiece.

For customers, the personal nature of family-run businesses is an important motivator for shopping with them, with nearly a third (30%) saying they are on first name terms with their local family shop keeper. Loyalty also extends to customers’ wallets. Six in ten claim they are more generous when it comes to spending in small, family-run businesses - with one in five prepared to pay more, even if they could find their purchase cheaper elsewhere.

Specialist manufacturer Astracast secures multi-million pound investment

Astracast, a specialist manufacturer based in Bradford, has secured a multi-million pound asset-based lending facility from Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance.

Founded in 1984, Astracast is a market leader in the manufacture of kitchen sinks, taps and acrylic baths, working across all three materials of granite, stainless steel and ceramic. Based in Bradford, the business has grown to become one of the UK’s largest sink manufacturers by market share, boasting a staff count in excess of 200 and a turnover of around £40m.

CEO of the HLD Group, the parent company of Astracast, Demis Ohandjanian, said: “The team at Secure Trust Bank, led by John Bevan, demonstrated an excellent understanding of the business plan and the opinions of the management team. They have a unique proposition in terms of their approach, and as such I would strongly recommend them to other SMEs searching for a financial partner to match their aspirations.”

New research stresses the importance of choosing the right software

Global research from SAP has revealed the importance for small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) to design their businesses to run simply from the beginning.

As businesses grow, they gradually add new software and processes that introduce complexity into their operations, creating a network of disjointed solutions that can hamper efficiency and growth.

According to a survey of small and midsize businesses conducted by the online business journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge@Wharton and SAP, almost three quarters (72%) of leaders and team members say business complexity has hurt efforts to meet process and decision-making goals. More than 30% said it “strongly inhibited” that ability, and 58% pointed directly to technology complexity as the culprit.

Aussie coffee group secures £800k via Crowdcube

Australian coffee and food group Beany Green has closed its Bondi Bond 38 days early, raising £800k via Crowdcube in just under a week. The cafés serve hand-roasted speciality coffee, Great Taste award-winning banana bread, Time Out-acclaimed healthy lunchtime detox boxes and bottomless brunches praised by the Evening Standard.

More than 220 savvy investors rushed to back the Bondi Bond, investing an average of £3,500 each into the Australia-based independent. The combination of solid historical revenue growth, rare early profitability and an attractive 11% interest rate drove investors to step up their ticket sizes and get on board early.

Founder Prue Freeman said: "As announced last week, we will use the £800k investment to help fund our expansion to two additional prime central London locations in 2016. We are committed to creating truly individual destinations with real personality, great coffee and art and big bold healthy food.”

Many employees believe they would be more productive if they stuck to lifestyle changes

Half of UK employees are trying hard to make long-term changes to their lifestyles, but are struggling, new research by Bupa has found. In the study of 2,000 UK employees, 52% admitted that their changes generally last no longer than a few weeks and just 7% have been completely successful in changing how they live for the better.

Employers should take note, as 85% of employees believe they would be more productive if they were able to stick to positive lifestyle changes in the long term. Furthermore, two in five (44%) would love their work to help them make positive changes to their lifestyle and half (48%) say a regular wellbeing review would help with this.

Medical Director at Bupa UK Dr Steven Luttrell said: “Clearly we all want to be healthier, but currently don’t feel supported to reach our goals and this means we are struggling to make our health resolutions stick. Improving the wellbeing of workers in the UK needs a proactive effort, yet unfortunately many employers are failing to see the value of health and wellbeing initiatives. By supporting staff to make positive lifestyle changes, employers can also benefit from healthy and productive workforce.”