Month: April 2017

8 out of 10 consumers prefer independent retailers

A recent survey by Liberis, a UK alternative finance provider, reveals that 8 out of 10 consumers plan to use independent businesses in preference to larger businesses this year.

The survey was commissioned by Liberis to discover current consumer attitudes towards small businesses.

The data further revealed that 65% were aware that using a smaller provider can be more expensive, but responses suggested that the benefits of doing so outweighed the increased costs as 48% still wanted to boost the local economy and support their community.

Convenience and leisure are the main reasons why consumers choose a small business over a larger retailer

58% of respondents said they use a grocery and convenience store the most, with the older generation, 55 – 64 year olds, selecting this as their most used type of independent store.

Clothing, jewellery, books, music and gift retailers were the second most utilised businesses at 45%, followed by cafes, bars, pubs and eateries at 44%, suggesting that consumers spend their disposable income at smaller, leisure focused establishments.

The primary reason for shopping small was due to convenience, suggesting that locality is still advantageous for many purchases.

However, almost 50% of those polled said that they shop small to support independent establishments, indicating that this plays an important role in purchasing decisions.

Friendly and personalised service makes ‘small’ successful

51% of those polled said there is a noticeable difference between the quality of customer service offered in small businesses compared to larger stores.

One respondent said “small stores seem more genuine and go out their way to help you” and another said at “smaller stores the service is more personal”,  suggesting that in order to be competitive against bigger brands, your business must continue to provide a memorable and tailored customer service.

Limited product selection and price are a challenge for small businesses

50% of consumers said that a ’limited product range’ selection is the number one drawback to using a small business. Almost half (48%) said that smaller stores tend to be more expensive, which was their second highest concern.

Very few people stated brand penetration (e.g. online offering, household name and peer recommendations) as an influential factor in their decision to support a small business, where historically, being a household name has gone in a larger brand’s favour.

However, when asked why consumers shop at larger stores, price was the number reason at 47%. It was the 65+ age bracket that chose price as their main reason to shop at bigger businesses, which indicates that this age group keep tighter control over their finances than other age groups.

“A more varied marketplace for consumers is dependent on the UK’s small business sector, having another major chain retailer doesn’t increase choice, in fact it reduces the choice. Liberis support local high streets, domestic hospitality, entrepreneurs and small scale industries here in the UK and in turn they all contribute significantly to the overall economy. Our findings show that consumers share the importance of growing this sector and the value that it brings everyone.”

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What a year for Cranleigh!

50 members of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce and special guests attended our annual dinner at Cranleigh Golf & Country Club yesterday evening.

Our speaker was the incredible Shaun Parry-Jones who shared the story of his life-changing rugby accident and inspirational journey since.

More photos can be found on the Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page.

Before dinner, Chamber president Richard Graham delivered his report at the annual general meeting.

A second successful year

He reflected on a second successful year for the current committee of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce, and thanked local businesses for supporting the reformed Chamber.

Membership now stands at a record 139 businesses.

It has been a busy year of events, lobbying, influencing, campaigning and partnering, to make sure Cranleigh is the very best place to live, work and play.

During the past year we have hosted seven popular networking breakfasts, one BBQ and also an evening event at Rudgwick Brickworks. Some hardy individuals even managed to cycle there and back!

Our speakers this year have been interesting and varied, covering a variety of topics from cheese making to cyber security, living longer to the cycling revolution that has hit Cranleigh.

Brexit debates

We held two Brexit debates in May and June last year, which were both extremely well attended as well as lively!

One big focus for the Chamber was customer service, with the Up Your Game programme of mystery shopping assessing what businesses are doing well, what they can do better and what they can learn from each other.

Once again we worked closely with Cranleigh Arts Centre, staging a second excellent Food & Music Festival on a very sunny day in late September.

Rain for the Christmas Lights

The Christmas Lights event in November was less sunny! The poor weather not only put a dampener on the evening but caused a power outage in the square just as the entertainment programme was about to start!

Nevertheless, the crowds were patient and stayed to watch the Christmas Lights being switched on.

It costs the Chamber over £12,000 a year to repair, buy replacements and erect the Christmas Lights, all of which is raised by the local business community. Unlike other local towns, there is no public funding for the Christmas Lights in Cranleigh.

Richard thanked the Christmas Lights team for their hard work – Roger, Martin, Julie and Rosemary. He also thanked the volunteers who got very wet helping Rosemary stop and redirect the traffic during the High Street road closure that evening.

BIG Awards

The second Business, Innovation & Growth (BIG) Awards were held in January, thanks to sponsorship from Alan Young of Surrey County Council, Dunsfold Park and other local businesses.

Once again, we celebrated small and large business achievements and were delighted to award the winner of the 5 Employees & Over Award to Idyllic Beauty & Day Spa, and the 5 Employees & Over Award to Atrainability.

We are planning to change the timing of the Cranleigh BIG Awards in 2018 to avoid the Christmas period altogether, giving entrants more time to prepare their winning entries and the organising team more time to plan the event itself.

Blooming Cranleigh

Cranleigh in Bloom, led by Martin Bamford, excelled itself last year by winning not only a Gold Award but also the Best Town Award at the South & South East in Bloom Awards 2016.

Cranleigh was truly exceptionally attractive in 2016 and indeed continues to be so in Spring with the field of crocuses on the Common, the cleaning up of local ponds and the vibrant displays of tulips, pansies and other spring flowers.

Lobbying and influencing

An important role for any Chamber of Commerce is to lobby and influence the public sector. We have really got into our stride during the past twelve months.

Cranleigh Chamber fought hard to try and retain Hewitts Industrial Estate as employment land. We wrote an economic justification paper for the Planning Inspector and spoke at the appeal.

However, the appeal was lost because Waverley Borough Council does not have a Local Plan in place. We are now desperately short of employment space in Cranleigh as a result.

Downs Link proposals

Many proposals have been made over the year for the Downs Link. Even as a leisure and commuter track, the path is not really fit for purpose.

We commissioned Sustrans to carry out a corridor assessment for us, including a recommendation for improving the path to a quality to take bicycles, walkers and even wheelchairs.

Once again, local businesses put their hands in their pockets to pay for the assessment, which has recently been received by the Chamber – more news on this very soon!

Car parking in Cranleigh

Committe member and vice president Bob Bayley has campaigned tirelessly with Waverley Borough Council to introduce a car parking system which will accept debit and credit cards. This new system will allow visitors and shoppers to relax and spend more time in Cranleigh.

Our experience in other towns which use this ‘check in, check out’ car parking system demonstrates income to the local authority increases due to longer stays. The upgraded machines are now in place and we expect the system to be activated within the next fortnight or so.

Unfortunately, the Chamber was unable to stop Waverley Borough Council from increasing car parking charges to 80p an hour. Now that the government is reducing financial support for local authorities, before entirely removing it in 2020, Waverley Borough Council (like others) will be doing everything it can to find other sources of funding.

We wrote a detailed economic paper in response to Waverley Borough Council’s request to refresh their own economic strategy. They were both pleased and surprised by the professional content of the paper, and both Richard and Bob were invited to speak with them about it.

Looking ahead

Richard explained that we will formally complete the incorporation of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce to a company limited by guarantee, on a not-for-profit basis.

We will continue to lobby and influence decision makers to identify more employment land in the village.

We will also work collaboratively to maintain the High Street as a vibrant destination for both local residents and visitors.

He gave his thanks to the committee, members and speakers over the past year.

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Notice of Annual General Meeting

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce will be held at 6.45pm on Tuesday 25th April 2017 at Cranleigh Golf & Country Club, Barhatch Lane, Cranleigh, GU6 7NG, for the purpose of:

-adopting the minutes of the previous AGM as a correct record of proceedings;

Cranleigh Chamber AGM 2016 Minutes

-receiving the President’s report;

-providing an update on the company incorporation of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce Ltd;

-adopting a change in membership fees paid by retired members;

-receiving the Treasurer’s Report;

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce Accounts 2017

-election of officers;

-election of committee;

Cranleigh Chamber AGM 2017 Agenda

Any other business and nominations for officers should be notified to no later than midday on 21st April 2017, using the following form:

Cranleigh Chamber Officer and Committee Nomination Form 2017

Apologies for absence: Please notify the Secretary by email to

The AGM will be followed at 7.30pm by our annual dinner to which partners and non-members are welcome.

The two course dinner will cost £20 per person, or £35 for two tickets, or £100 for a table of six.

Our guest speaker is Shaun Parry Jones, consultant solicitor at Lynn Murray & Co.

Prior to becoming a solicitor, Shaun worked for seven years as an art dealer. He is a popular speaker and has given numerous talks to groups on his many years as a wheelchair user and his charitable work.

Shaun will be sharing the story of his career and the rugby injury that left him paraplegic as a young man; an injury he has previously described as the best thing that’s happened to him.

Tickets are available to book at

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Gatwick business travel survey

Gatwick has launched their Business Travel Survey this week.  They want to hear from local businesses about their business travel needs.

If you travel on business please complete the survey, and do share the link with your own networks.

This is a repeat of a survey Gatwick conducted two years ago which was used to help inform the development and expansion of their route network – they currently serve 228 destinations in 74 countries, including 50 long haul destinations – with 20 new long haul routes added in the last year.

Complete the survey at

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