Q&A: Get Connected event at The Warranty Group in Gloucestershire

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Written by:   | Posted 26-March-2013 9:34

Almost 40 business people from all over the county attended the Get Connected networking event held by The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo last Tuesday.

It was hosted by The Warranty Group at its headquarters at the Vantage Point Business Village in Mitcheldean. It featured a five-minute interview by Gloucestershire Media’s content director Ian Mean with Warranty Group director Ian Kenny.

Q. What do you actually do here?
A. We are an insurance company that administers its own risk. We have been in the UK for about 30 years and have about 15 million UK and Irish policyholders we look after from this office. We work on behalf of clients such as Honda, Toyota, John Lewis and Santander.

Q. That’s an amazing portfolio isn’t it?
A. It’s pretty big. Culturely we have to fit. Our job is to delight the customer so that they go back and repeat the buying process with the brand. Our job is to provide assistance. We are not your typical insurance company and we are certainly not your typical contact centre.

Q. Five years ago you moved lock stock and barrel from London to here. Was it the right decision?
A.Yes, very much so. I wanted to go somewhere where you could recruit a workforce, invest in it and retain it. It is important to me to that you deliver a high quality service. You only really get that with tenure and five years on we have an average staff tenure of four years. It has been great.

Q. It is fantastic that you have managed to keep people in an absolutely amazing part of this country.
A. We have just under 250 people here. The management team and I work really hard to establish a culture of personal development. We only bring in people from outside if there is a special skill set we cannot develop internally. We have this rule that all new recruits have to start in our customer services area. In the five years we have been here we have had people travel the full distance through the business to the senior management team. We have given a lot of people here the chance to become something. I am pleased where we are but it is like painting the Forth Bridge, you are never finished.

Improving the infrastructure of the Forest of Dean and sustainability were the main topics at the Get Connected event.

John Reynolds, BT regional director for the South West, explained how the recently announced £57 million fibre optic project with Gloucestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council would to bring superfast broadband to the Forest by 2015 enhancing business opportunities and home entertainment.

“It is a major investment programme,” said Mr Reynolds. “It will transform businesses and drive the economy. It is a fantastic opportunity for the county.

“Gloucestershire is in the vanguard of this. There will be broadband speeds of up to 80 megabits per second, a massive transformation of what it is today.

“By the time it is done we think at least 90 per cent of the county will have the opportunity to take fibre broadband services and that number is going to increase even more.”

Dorian Wragg, head of commercial at Vantage Point Business Village, explained how the former Rank Xerox site now provided 73 acres of commercial space used by more than 100 local, national and international companies employing 3,000 people.

It is now one of the largest multi-let industrial sites in the South West.

“The legacy of Xerox is a very high quality labour force,” he said.

“We have a very clear vision of where we are going. We want to be the UK’s first green trading estate. We slashed our energy consumption by two thirds in three years.

“We want to be self-sufficient and carbon neutral and in 2011 we installed the UK’s largest roof top solar array with 5,500 panels.

The leader of Forest of Dean District Council Councillor Patrick Molyneux explained the initiatives in place to develop the potential of the area – including the changing face of the district’s towns.

“We are a brilliant place to live and work.

“That is why getting superfast broadband into the district and keeping up with everyone else is vitally important.”

The towns in the Forest of Dean were the face of the district and presented the biggest challenge as spending habits changed.

“It is crucial we look at what the town of the future will be and I think they are going to very different from the old market towns of before and we have to accept that and see how we can make them hubs for the community.”

The council’s regeneration manager Wendy Jackson explained the plans for Cinderford’s northern quarter with a sustainable mixed use community and a new Gloucestershire College campus.

The council was also looking at temporary “pop up” shops to inject new life into empty properties in Newent, Lydney, Coleford and Cinderford.

To view a gallery of the event, click here.

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