Michael joined members of the West Kent branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Otford today to provide support and advice to their members. Among the shops he visited in the High Street were Mille Fleurs (bespoke hats) and the Bill Skinner Studio (bespoke jewellery).
Jane Cave has been a milliner since 1982 and set up the shop Mille Fleurs in 1997. The shop also hosts a workshop, where bespoke hats are made on-site using traditional millinery techniques.
The Bill Skinner Studio creates collections using traditional techniques as well as state-of-the-art technology such as 3D printing. The company employs 14 people at three different locations and exports internationally following extensive restructuring three years ago.
Michael said: “The small business rate-relief has helped many businesses. However, I am also keen to support the cutting of red tape in any way possible. Small businesses in small villages don’t get the same footfall as in the larger towns. There is strong competition from the internet so anything that we can all do to help to promote local small businesses must be worthwhile.”
Michael visited three small businesses in Eynsford recently; Norman’s Butchers,Sefton Horn Winch (designers of prestigious commercial kitchens and restaurants in the UK and overseas) and G.D. Partnership, (structural engineers involved in major retail developments throughout the UK) all took the opportunity to explain their operations.
Norman’s Butchers have recently launched their 2014 Calendar entitled Hunt the Sausage, a 12-page gem featuring photographs of the village with sausages hidden within them. Images include Eynsford Castle, The World Garden, The Ford, and the butcher boys themselves.
Roger House, Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Kent and Medway said:
“The FSB was pleased to facilitate this event and for Mr Fallon to hear the experiences of real life entrepreneurs running successful companies and for them to be able to explain the challenges small businesses are facing and barriers affecting their continued growth and sustainability.”
The visits were followed by a round table discussion with representatives from several other businesses from a number of different sectors in West Kent with a common concern about employability skills and the need for students at school, college and university to be provided with more knowledge of the workplace.
Michael Fallon MP for Sevenoaks said:
“I was delighted to visit these three small businesses in my constituency as well as having the opportunity to discuss the current economic climate with various business owners and explain what the government is doing to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to grow and reach their full potential.
The UK economy is turning a corner and SMEs have a vital role in getting this country back onto a solid economic foundation. We will continue to support these businesses through the Regional Growth Fund and from April 2014 every business and charity in the UK will be given a £2,000 allowance towards their National Insurance Contributions bill. I hope these measures, amongst others, will allow businesses in Sevenoaks to flourish.”
Graham Taylor, Chairman for the FSB West Kent Branch said: –
“Businesses took the chance to express their views on a range of topics including finance and regulations and to give feedback to Mr Fallon on the merits of government initiatives to stimulate trade and exporting.”