29th February, 2016.

A typical employee wastes around 1.6 of the paid hours he or she spends at work.

Social media, online shopping and tea-making are among the chief distractions, according to a survey.

One in five in-house employees admit they never spend a full day on work related tasks, says virtual PA company AVitual.

Men are more likely to spend time having cigarette breaks and playing games on their mobiles; while women prefer Instagram and online shopping.

Other work avoidance trends include:

• Social media (for 42% of employees) with Instagram and Facebook the most popular.
• 35% said that gossiping with co-workers was a time wasting tactic
• For 1 in 3, making tea and coffee affords a good excuse for a desk-break
• Mobile phones provided mental play-time for 27%
• Office visitors took 18% away from their work
• Cigarette breaks were an excuse for 16% of survey respondents
• Online shopping was a top diversion for a further 1 in 8
• More than a third (34%) of employees felt they were more productive when working from home.

“As long as employees get their allocated work done on a regular basis, they’re guaranteed a wage so there’s no benefit to getting the job finished early – because they still have to stay until the end of the day,” said Richard Walton, founder of AVirtual which offers paid-by-the-minute PA, book-keeping, admin and social media management services.


23rd February, 2016.

Joules has appointed stockbrokers to prepare it for a £150m IPO (initial public offering).

At the weekend, The Sunday Telegraph was predicting that the clothing brand would float on the stock market by April or May.

Tom Joule, who owns 80% of the company, can expect to earn £120 million from the listing.

LDC, the private equity division of Lloyds Banking Group, owns the other 20%.

It’s thought that Joules is among companies hastening their attempts to float on the stock exchange ahead of market uncertainty created by the EU referendum.


23rd February, 2016.

Battles has taken on the distribution of WildWash equine and pet shampoos.

The Lincoln based wholesaler is also stocking the brand’s calming candles.

WildWash pet shampoos and cosmetics are popular with professional dog groomers.

The company exhibited four all-natural equine shampoos at BETA International.


23rd February, 2016.

Retailers can safely and legally continue to sell EN1384 standard riding hats, a leading wholesaler has reminded the trade.

Hats meeting the ‘old’ European riding hat standard can still be worn by all riders unless they’re competing and/or riding under certain organisations’ rules.

“We get a huge amount of calls about this,” says Christine Dale of Snowhill Trade Saddlery. “And we’re pleased to tell retailers that 1384 hats are definitely still safe.”

Of the 1.6 million regular riders in the UK, only around 200,000 compete.

“Leisure riders can continue to wear and enjoy the protection offered by 1384 hats for many years to come,” added Christine.

The EN1384 hat standard first appeared 20 years ago.

“Once a hat has been manufactured to a standard, it does not become non-standard after a withdrawal and can continue to be sold and worn,” said BETA when ETN reported on the withdrawal of (BS) EN 1384 in January 2015.

“During nearly 20 years’ consistent use across Europe, EN1384 and thus BS EN 1384 have undoubtedly saved many riders from head injury or death.”

Snowhill Trade Saddlery offers a selection of Rhinegold and John Whitaker branded helmets meeting the EN1384 standard as well as a range of PAS 015 helmets.


22nd February, 2016.

A Cheshire man who pretended to trade in equestrian products has been jailed after his £2 million VAT fraud was exposed.

Anthony Knowles (57) of Clapgate Crescent, Widnes, also claimed to have a £25 million bank balance.

During routine checks on Knowles’ VAT repayment claims he provided false paperwork, including bank statements, in a bid to convince officials that his multi-million pound business was booming – despite it being run from his two bedroom council house.

Knowles also falsely claimed that his business was being financially supported by a sheik – who was never traced.

Knowles registered three companies trading from his home address.

Eques Nobilis Limited was described as a manufacture of advanced equestrian medical supplies.

Other companies were H2 Healthcare Limited to market equine products, and Zone 37 Limited to sell equestrian items over the internet.

“Knowles provided dozens of fake documents to convince us he was genuinely trading as a multi-million-pound empire,” said Sandra Smith of HMRC’s fraud investigation service. “His abuse of the VAT repayment system was ambitious to say the least.”

When Knowles’ home was searched, officials found forged bank statements, fake supplier invoices, digital copies of signatures to create false delivery notes and evidence of luxury spending.

He had also attempted to buy a Cheshire mansion and farm, and received quotes for building a huge extension.

Knowles was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday, 15 February.


22nd February, 2016.

Significant savings are available to companies wishing to exhibit at BETA International 2017 via the show’s discount plans.

The booking deadline is the end of this week – Friday, 26 February.

Exhibitors can save themselves a total of 7.5% on the cost of their stand space by using the combined early commitment and prompt payment schemes.

In order to qualify:

• Space must be booked by this Friday (26 February)
• Deposits must be paid by 9 September, and
• Full payment made by 4 November.

Eligible exhibitors will receive their discounts in the form of a rebate payment made during March 2017.

BETA International 2017 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, on Sunday to Tuesday, 22 - 24 January.

To find out more about exhibiting, contact James Palmer, tel +44 (0)1937 582111, email jamesp@beta-int.com or visit www.beta-int.com

See a full report and pictures from BETA International 2016 in ETN February issue.


16th February, 2016.

Neue Schule is to continue as main sponsor when BETA International returns to the NEC, Birmingham on 22 – 24 January, 2017.

It will be the fourth consecutive year that the Yorkshire based bitting specialist has fulfilled the role.

“Every year the show has delivered results beyond our expectations. We have seen increasing demand from across the UK and, significantly for Neue Schule, BETA International has brought excellent international exposure,” said CEO Sarfraz Mian.

Claire Thomas, organiser of BETA International, added: “We are extremely pleased to receive Neue Schule’s support once again and look forward to working closely with the company for another year.

“The decision to continue as main sponsor is a fantastic endorsement of the show’s strength and reputation as a powerful business platform for UK and overseas trade.”

ETN continues as the official media partner of BETA International 2017.


16th February, 2016.

New and established talent was rewarded at this year’s Society of Master Saddlers’ (SMS) National Saddlery Competition.

Supported by The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, the competition was held at Saddlers’ Hall, London, last week (8 February).

Steven Delaney, of Vale Brothers, won the Bruce Emtage Memorial Plate for Best in Show for his entry in the open saddle class.

His success followed his two wins last year.

“I’m delighted,” said Steven who makes Harry Dabbs branded saddles.

“It’s always a great honour to take home a prize at the national competition which gets better and better every year.”

The Les Coker Millennium Trophy for the best entry by an Apprentice was awarded to Kirsty Thomson of The Royal Mews for her driving bridle.

Ellie Tomlinson took home the Alf Batchelor Memorial Trophy, presented by John Batchelor, for the best bridlework with her breast girth.

The Side Saddle Association Trophy for the best side saddle went to a delighted James Adair. It took Northern Ireland based James six weeks to make his winning entry.

“This is the first side-saddle I’ve ever made,” he said. “I was encouraged by Mark Romain of the Saddlery Training Centre to have a go, so to win is just fantastic.”

The President’s Choice class for a bag, box or case suitable for a country pursuit went to Master Saddler Catherine Baker from Wiltshire for her gun slip.

See the full results plus pictures in the March issue of ETN.


16th February, 2016.

Equine and pet care brand Lintbells has made The Sunday Times Fast Track ones to watch list.

The list names UK companies with the fastest growing sales over the past three years.

Lintbells joins an impressive line-up, with previous winners including Innocent, Graze and the Carphone Warehouse.

Hertfordshire based Lintbells is best known for its Yumove and Yumega supplements for dogs and horses.

The company was established in 2006 by John Howie and John Davies. By 2014, it had sold its products to more than 15 countries, and generated sales of £4.6m, with in excess of 60% growth forecast.


15th February, 2016.

Nick Gray is to retire at the end of this year.

He’s selling his equestrian gifts business Grays of Shenstone to long-standing employee Greg Copeland.

Nick began working for Grays when he left school at 15 to join the family firm.

“We began importing in 1993 and my first visits to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China were like discovering a new world, which I suppose we were,” he said.

“Ironically, we’ve now revolved almost full circle to mainly UK sourced products where possible.”

Nick has been married to Kate, who also works in the business, for 32 years.

With their three children pursuing their own careers, they decided to hand over the reins to Greg who has worked on the retail side at Grays for 14 years.

Retirement will give Nick more time for his Presidency of the Rotary Club of Walsall, other voluntary work and riding his Harley Davidson motorbike.


9th February, 2016.

Gerald Brown, the founder and chairman of Abbey England, died last week (4 February). He was 90.

Gerald supported the trade for more than 45 years. Highly respected and immensely popular, he played a key role in shaping the equestrian industry of today.

There will be a requiem mass at Holy Angels Catholic Church, Wicker Lane, Hale Barns, Cheshire, WA15 0HF at 10am on Friday (12 February).

Following the mass, family will attend the crematorium and there will be a reception for all attendees after the requiem mass at the Marriott Hotel, Hale Road, Hale Barns, WA15 8XW.
Donations (if desired) to Riding for the Disabled Association.

A tribute to Gerald Brown will appear in the March issue of ETN.


8th February, 2016.

You could be in for a shock if you’re an employer and you turn a blind eye to the Government’s pension auto enrolment scheme, warns Paul Kelly.

Under the Pensions Act 2008, the auto enrolment scheme provides that if a firm employs at least one person, regardless of their age or earnings, then they are an employer and have a mandatory duty to place their employees into a pension scheme and contribute towards it (subject to the employee being eligible, see below).

An employer must ensure they have done this by their staging date. Initial automatic enrolment has already been rolled out starting with larger employers. Staging dates for smaller employers have been staggered over five years to allow them longer to prepare.

The scheme is in response to the Government’s concerns that the UK workforce were not saving enough for their retirement and thus not putting aside sufficient funds to live comfortably in their retirement. This is coupled with the fact that people are living for longer and therefore require extra funds.

How do I keep up with the changes?

Any employer regardless of size should identify if they are obliged to enrol their employees into a pension scheme, and if so, when.

Employers should not delay in familiarising themselves with their obligations. Standard advice suggests that employers should leave themselves at least a year before their staging date to ensure they have the correct provisions in place to allow for a smooth transition.

A useful starting point for any employer is to consider what type of “worker” they have. The employer has a duty towards all workers, but the duties are different dependent upon the category into which a worker falls. The category is determined by their age and whether they earn qualifying earnings. For more information as to your duties for each type of employee/worker see here.

Time limits

Employers are under a requirement to declare compliance with The Pensions Regulator and adhere to the safeguards (such as ensuring they include eligible jobholders into a qualifying scheme) within five months of their staging dates. This obligation stands even if an employer has no employer duties for their staff.

Furthermore, an employer may choose to postpone automatic enrolment for up to three months – if this occurs then they are under an obligation to explain to their workers how the postponement affects them.

Am I exempt?

Employers are exempt from their automatic enrolment duties in five specific circumstances, where:
1. an employee has opted out or ceased active membership of a qualifying scheme;
2. a worker has left their employment;
3. a worker has built up pension savings above the Lifetime Allowance for HMRC purposes;
4. a worker has been paid a winding up lump sum payment; and
5. a worker meets the definition of a ‘qualifying person’ for the purposes of separate UK legislation on occupational pension schemes and cross-border activities within the European Union.

Additionally, employers should keep track of age and earnings as an employee may move between different categories of worker; this is especially important for workers who earn below the qualifying earnings threshold, or who are under 22 years of age.

Staging date

An employer’s staging date is set by law and is based on the number of persons in their largest PAYE scheme. The number of persons is based on the information held by the regulator from HMRC at 1 April 2012. Staging started in October 2012 and is being rolled out based on the largest to smallest PAYE schemes. To find out your staging date see here.


From the 30 September 2017, the minimum contribution an employer can make is 1% and the total minimum contribution is 2% (both employee and employer). This will be increased so that the employer’s minimum contribution will be 2% and the total minimum contribution amounting to 5%. From the 1 October 2018 onward the minimum contribution will be 3% and the maximum contribution 8%. However, these dates may be subject to change and the proposed dates are subject to Parliamentary approval.

What do I need to do?

Employers should, if they haven’t already done so, have a nominated contact within their business that can implement the relevant scheme and be the point of reference for both employees and The Pension Regulator. It is also advisable to get up to speed on what schemes and policies will need to be in place, if your business has not already become involved in its staging date.

• Paul Kelly is a solicitor partner at Blacks Solicitors. For more information, visit http://www.lawblacks.com/Employment_Law


8th February, 2016.

The equestrian trade is urged to join National CARE Day this Wednesday (10 February) and help raise awareness of laminitis.

The Animal Health Trust’s campaign aims to encourage owners to monitor their horses’ health and fitness.

The ongoing CARE scheme also collects data on the effects of equine lifestyle on the development of laminitis.

Participation is open to all ages, sizes and breeds of horses and ponies, whether or not they have ever had the disease.

“We encourage anyone that owns a horse or pony to sign up to the CARE study today,” says Dee Pollard of the Animal Health Trust. “The more owners that take advantage of this free health scheme, the more horses we can prevent from developing this painful disease in the future.

“It is vitally important to unite our efforts and further our understanding of factors associated with laminitis development and what we can do to help prevent it,” adds Dee.

• Find out more and download CARE Day images to share with your customers via Facebook and Twitter from www.careaboutlaminitis.org.uk


5th February, 2016.

Wholesaler Trilanco has appointed Craig Mackinnon as head of finance.

Craig comes from HTI Toys UK, a family owned toy wholesaler and distributor.

Previously he has worked for various companies in the north-west and London while studying for his CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) accountancy exams.

“Craig has been involved with family wholesale and distribution businesses for the last 13 years and brings a wealth of knowledge that will help us continue to grow and develop,” said Martin Balmer, managing director of Trilanco.

The company scooped the Trade Supplier of the Year title at last month’s BETA Business Awards.

“I’m pleased to be working for Trilanco for many reasons,” said Craig. “Firstly, Martin and the team put the customer first and that makes it much easier for the company to be successful. Secondly, the company is growing and investing for the future.”

• Read an exclusive behind-the-scenes account of progress at Trilanco’s £7m relocation project in the March issue of ETN.


2nd February, 2016.

As many consumers rate delivery choice as important as price, getting their shopping to them is the new retail battle ground.

The prediction comes from ParcelHero, the parcel broker claiming the delivery wars will be powered by driverless vans, drone drop-offs and even the return of pedalling posties.

“This year will see a transformation in the way we send and receive parcels and deliveries,” said ParcelHero’s David Jinks.

“Driverless deliveries may sound like something out of I Robot, but in fact will be happening in London this year. Greenwich’s streets will soon see the eerie sight of driverless vans operating a predetermined route, moving parcels between either warehouses and shops or stores and homes.”

Meanwhile despite the Royal Mail phasing out postie’s bikes in 2014, this ‘green’ delivery option could re-appear.

“Cargo bikes will become increasingly popular for last mile deliveries - particularly in cycle-friendly cities such as Cambridge. Heavier cargo bikes can now be fitted with electric assistance without being classified as motor vehicles,” adds David.

“This will be the year technology delivers for parcel senders and internet retailers,” he concludes.


2nd February, 2016.

The American retail practice of adhering to a minimum advertised price (MAP) and its chances of coming to the UK met with a mixed response from equestrian industry heavyweights in BETA International’s new Talking Business feature, hosted by ITV newscaster Alastair Stewart.

“I would welcome MAP over here,” said David “Monty” Stuart-Monteith, owner of distributor Shaws Equestrian, during the trade fair at the NEC, Birmingham, on Sunday 24 January. “It really supports retailers and ensures good margins and profitability, but it has to have flexibility.”

John Nunn, president of American equestrian wholesaler Nunn Finer, revealed that MAP did not apply to all products in the US – and discounts were sometimes allowed at specific rates and times. “Trying to keep track is a job in itself,” he said. “So, if you’re going to have MAP pricing, be very diligent about what it should be because I think it’s broken in the United States.”

Sara Blackshaw, equine category manager of Countrywide Farmers, and David Haythornthwaite, chairman of the Tangerine Group, doubted whether it would be legal to introduce MAP here.

Phil Duff, a business consultant and non-executive director of equestrian companies, said: “The law is not definitive. It does need to be resolved.” But he believed price was not the determining factor. “If you’re carrying strong brands, you can be bold about them,” he advised retailers. “The bigger demand is for the level of service and what the product can do for you and to improve your riding.”

Black Friday

Black Friday, an American phenomenon that has already arrived in Britain, was another bone of contention for the Talking Business panellists. “Anybody selling premium products will have at the end of the season a period of time where they need to de-stock, cash in and have cash for the following season,” said Monty. “Black Friday seems to me a wonderful opportunity to do that.”

Journalist and brand developer Lucy Higginson took a different view. “Rather sadly for the equestrian world, where September/October is a key shopping time, with winter coming and all the kit you need to make sure you’re ready, its timing is pretty lousy,” she said. “I also dislike the connotations of it.”

Phil believed independent equestrian retailers should not go head-to-head with high-street stores. “There are other ways of getting rid of your old stock,” he explained. “Have your own sales, be more innovative, but don’t try to compete with John Lewis.”

The EU: in or out?

Further divisions on the panel were revealed when Alastair asked what the effects of a possible withdrawal from the EU might be. “We sell to 42 countries,” said David Haythornthwaite. “I’m a passionate believer that, if you’ve got a great product, people will buy it.”

Phil agreed, adding: “As long as we as a country continue to make the finest equestrian products and produce the best innovation, it will make absolutely no difference.”

Monty saw the positives in staying in the EU. “We have a shortage of grooms over here,” he said. “Free movement of labour in the equestrian trade across Europe is great. Secondly, anything that brings nations together like the EU is a good thing.”

Lucy believed more jobs should be filled by those in Britain who are qualified to do them. “It really saddens me that we have this massive equestrian education industry producing gazillions of graduates,” she explained. “It’s a shame that, while we’re educating and training people, we can’t dovetail that more with the actual employment pattern.”

Independent retailers

Wholesalers’ support for independent equestrian retailers was another hot topic for panellists. “The best thing a supplier can do to allow the independent trade to flourish is to provide them with jolly good products where they can make high margins,” said Monty. “You’ve got to be looking for suppliers who are giving 2.2, 2.4 times mark-up so that shops can make good margins.”

Sara said: “The nature of the marketplace has changed. If a new product is being launched, it’s not just about having it in stores – it’s about how it goes viral on social media. It is important that the supplier works with the store to make sure all the timing is right on that.”

Customers’ relationships with retailers were all-important, according to Lucy. “My local retailer feels like a bit of a club,” she said. “There’s a coffee machine, information about what’s happening, people I see regularly and expertise I tap into. As a supplier, you have to talk to that community.”

Phil argued that there were “too many brands, too many suppliers and, I’m sorry to say, too many retailers”, adding: “Over time, things will balance out, but responsibility at every level and prudent thinking is the only route to survival.”

Buying power and online retailing were highlighted as major issues by David. “The biggest single threat is two-fold,” he told visiting retailers. “One is the internet and the second is what we call the corporates – Mole Valley, Countrywide or Wynnstay. These are organisations that have great buying power.

“The question is, what can retailers do? The manufacturer can, first, not sell to the internet, which is a bit difficult, but also make sure it’s a level playing field. Corporates use their buying power, as we would if we were in charge, to beat up people like me to get a better price so they can beat up people like you.

“Our responsibility is to make sure we don’t give a better price to the corporates, allowing the average independent to compete.”

Responding as a representative of the corporates, Sara said: “I would say to an independent retailer, make yourself specialist and be exceedingly good and the best at what you do.”

Resounding success

Declaring the new Talking Business feature to be a resounding success, BETA International organiser Claire Thomas said: “It proved to be a brilliant talk shop and source of debate on some of the big issues affecting our industry. The panellists were not afraid to be forthright and air their views. Talking Business will certainly be a feature at the trade fair next year.”

BETA International is the world’s leading equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet product trade exhibition. The 2017 show will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 22 to 24 January. For information about exhibiting, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email jamesp@beta-int.com.

ETN is the official media partner of BETA International.


1st February, 2016.

The NOPS scheme, set up in 2009 to reduce the risk of naturally occurring prohibited substances in equine feed, becomes a stand-alone code from today.

From 1 February, it’s run solely by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) and will no longer exist as an appendix to the UFAS and FEMAS codes.

The move will see the BETA NOPS Code continue to grow and develop its international presence, says BETA.

Under a review of the code, the list of naturally occurring substances has been amended. Hordenine has been removed and a list of herbal NOPS introduced.

Companies wishing to be audited to the BETA NOPS Code will now have a wider range of pre-qualifying Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)-based schemes to choose from.

Although the code comes into force in February, auditing to the new conditions will not take place until 1 June, whereby scheme members will feature the new BETA NOPS Code logo – rather than the previous version – on packaging.

BETA executive director Claire Williams said: “Since the BETA NOPS Code was introduced, a number of potentially serious incidents of contamination by naturally occurring prohibited substances have been averted or contained and the supply chain for feed ingredients has become more transparent.

“The decision to make BETA’s NOPS scheme a code in its own right can only strengthen what is already an extremely effective system.”


1st February, 2016.

Spillers trade sales manager Nikki Collins has qualified for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup (formerly Badminton Grassroots Championships).

She will ride her homebred, seven year old mare Jumbo’s Rose [Tilly].

Nikki has worked for the feed company for 11 years, originally as a regional sales manager. With a full time job and four year old twin boys, Nikki says she relies on support from family and friends to fit in training Tilly.

She attributes her determination to her “inspiring, horse loving Mum” who lost her battle against bowel cancer in 2014.

“My passion and inspiration for riding has always come from my amazing Mum so this competition is as much for her as it is for me,” said Nikki.

The Mitsubishi Motors Cup takes place at Badminton on 3/4 May 2016.