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Our Peer Network Programme is helping local companies to move up a level

20 December 2021

Our Peer Networks continue to prove very useful and popular with small businesses locally.  We still have places on the Tourism and Hospitality group.  If you would like to apply please complete the form here.

Nimisha Chotai, Director of EFD-UK trading as Masalawaala

Our UK family company brings you rich, colourful and aromatic flavours straight from India to your kitchen for you to cook with ease. I joined the Food and Drink Group of the Peer Networks because I was intrigued by what they had to offer.  Since doing so, the sessions I have attended have been extremely helpful in my business.

The network not only helps put businesses in touch with each other, but the wealth of knowledge and sharing of skills has already been invaluable.  Every day as SME business owners, we are faced with challenges, some are like stones and others, pebbles.  The Peer Network has helped me by giving an insight on what others think and how they tackle these challenges.  I am excited to be part of this group and for the coming months, to see how more of the sessions will help me run my business.


Wendy Bebbington, Creative Designer at Newenglish Design

Newenglish is an award-winning creative studio.  Our passion is to help you flourish and stand out from the crowd with our expertise in creating effective brands, engaging websites and every touchpoint with your client

COVID hit our business hard so, as we were recovering, I thought it would be helpful to have a group of peers to share confidentially with, learn from and give and gain encouragement.  I was part of the High Growth group

I’ve learned a lot more in the sessions than I expected to.  One thing I’ve learned is to trust and respond to my own instincts more.  Another is to set firmer deadlines for our staff team when it comes to work for ourselves; designing, marketing and promoting what we do and giving the right balance of priority to that in our work schedules.  There’s been much more beside that, including learning about the other people in the group, about their businesses and challenges, and beginning to form new relationships with this group, hopefully to continue after the formal sessions have ended.


James Bowie, Operations Manager at Micro-Fresh

We provide a range of anti-microbial solutions that help keep items fresher for longer.  I joined the Manufacturers Group of the Peer Networks Programme to learn from others and to grow as a manager.

It’s been great to get the feedback and experience from a range of other businesses, including being able to share challenges and get a range of advice and experience from people at different levels in business.  This range of perspective has been invaluable.


Gaynor Forryan, General Manager and family owner of Upstage Theatre Supplies

I joined as I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to talk to other business owners. As a business owner you sometimes feel that you are firefighting and have no-one to bounce off and discuss ideas with.

Our business had just closed for 60 weeks because of the Pandemic and it was a very worrying time for us as we still had overheads to pay, with no income coming in. We supply tiered staging for choirs, orchestras and other events, and lighting and sound within the events industry. As you can imagine, our work dried up overnight, and we had to close our doors, until the government announced that we could all mix again.

Joining the Peer Network helped me to talk to likeminded people, who I could bounce ideas off and get some very useful answers to some problems we were facing at the time.  The feedback was tremendous from the other Cohorts in the Programme, and it gave me the confidence to go ahead with some new ideas to drive the business direction for the next 12 months.

I learned so much as a participant in the programme. I learned that there were other people out in the business world that have the same problems, whatever their industry. I learned about how to get your business prepared for a sale and exit; Operations within businesses; Marketing; recruitment and HR, and we had a really useful discussion about Accountancy and Book-keeping. Importantly, the course gave me the confidence that my ideas and plans for the future were sensible and achievable.


John Hackman, Director and Architect at The Drawing Room (Architects) Ltd

We offer a full architectural design service aimed principally at the domestic market covering both extensions and new build projects

I joined the High Growth Group on the Peer Networks Programme to gain advice from my peers in a wider range of professions and to be able to talk through issues with people from outside my normal circle of contacts.

The key things that I learned were that problems and issues are similar across the business spectrum and that there are people out there who can assist with advice and knowledge.


Pete Mackinson, Owner Director of Lapping Services Ltd (est 2011)

Lapping Services Ltd offers a UK-leading, dedicated Sub-Contract service for lapping and polishing ultra-high precision components.

I joined the Manufacturers Group somewhat reluctantly as I have managed to muddle along steering a small business successfully over the last 10 years.  I had identified some of my managerial weaknesses and felt it was time to reach out and see how people in similar scenarios approach their businesses.

Right from the first session I felt in line with a fair proportion of the participants and could relate to many of the topics put on the table.  I learned that the challenges I face on a daily basis are not unusual.  I learned that I am far more capable than I gave myself credit for.  I took on board some great advice from very capable people and have used that advice to reform my management structure to facilitate my exit planning.

I have learned that other family businesses such as my own suffer similar challenges on a personal level.  I have learned that there isn’t a single way to approach problems and that a view from many angles has a more balanced outcome.


Tamara Madylus-Truman, Marketing and Sales Co-ordinator at Ashbourne Foods

Established in 1988, we are a family owned BRC accredited bakery manufacturer, specialising in ambient, long shelf life, individually wrapped products.

I joined the Peer Networks Programme Food and Drink Group to learn and develop knowledge and insights from other like-minded local businesspeople.  I learned that sharing personal business experiences and knowledge with each other can help to resolve an issue or problem a fellow peer is currently facing.


Scott Taylor, Operations Manager at Vogue Beds Ltd

I joined the Manufacturers Group in the Peer Networks programme as part of my professional development. I believed it would give me valuable insight on other manufacturing processes and how other companies and individuals dealt with similar problem areas and issues that arise in any manufacturing environment

I have taken a great deal from the programme itself. It has taught me to look at issues from different viewpoints, to maybe approach the way I do things slightly differently.

However, the best thing to come from the programme is the support of my peers who have helped me when I have been very low.  But they have also challenged me to improve my own performance, making me look and think about things from very different perspectives. The programme has also given me an indication of my worth in the role I hold.

I can 100% say joining the Peer Networks programme has been the best thing I have done professionally for a very long time.