Local business catering for global and celebrity clients celebrates milestone

A Lancashire firm which supplies clients worldwide, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, with bespoke mobile catering systems, is celebrating over 40 years in business.

Darwen based Wilkinson Mobile Catering Systems has manufactured catering trailers and mobile vans for more than 3,000 customers since the business was established in 1978.

Its experienced and skilled manufacturing team, based at the head office in Darwen, builds trailers and converts a range of existing vehicles from Volkswagen camper vans to double decker buses into catering vehicles.

Their clients span the globe, reaching as far as Australia, and include iconic locations including Harrods, Manchester City FC and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who used a converted mobile van created by the company in his Food Tube videos.

The family business has been supported by local accountancy firm Pierce for the past couple of years, who have helped the company manage multiple changes to payroll.

Angela Rawson, Financial Director at Wilkinson Mobile Catering Systems, said: “There have been lots of changes with PAYE and pensions in recent years. Pierce have taken the headache of that away from us and have seamlessly implemented those changes to the business.

“Pierce have a really skilled and friendly team, and they do all the gritty accountancy work for us, which we don’t have the skills for in-house including year-end accounts, management accounts, VAT returns as well as payroll and pension support.

“We’re so proud of our Lancashire roots, so having a local accountancy firm was crucial to us.”

Simon Diggle, Director at Pierce said: “It’s been a pleasure working with Angela and the team and supporting them as they go into their 40th year of business.

“Wilkinson Mobile Catering Systems is a very successful, innovative and high-quality business and we’re really proud to be working with a firm based in the heart of Lancashire who are working with clients on a global scale.”

Let’s get the Apprenticeship Levy working for Lancashire

Lancashire’s leading employers are being urged to share their unused Apprenticeship Levy funds with local companies to help bridge skills gaps and seize the economic benefits of training.

The plea for collaboration from local accountancy firm Pierce, comes as the first tranche of payments dating from the scheme’s introduction in April 2017, are set to expire in April 2019.

Companies that have not made full use of their Apprenticeship Levy credits, are also now able to transfer funds to any business whether they are operating either locally, in their supply chain or within their broader industry.

Currently, employers can transfer a total of 10% of their annual funds to as many businesses as they wish, with the amount increasing to 25% from April. Both companies need to be registered with the apprenticeship service in order to transfer or receive the funds.

The option of transferring funds was introduced following the lack of uptake to the levy. Last year, it was announced that 92% of the funds were not spent in the first year of the scheme.

Lisa Kennery at Pierce said: “The Apprenticeship Levy is a fantastic initiative but various complexities mean that not all companies are taking full advantage of it. Simply by collaborating locally and regionally to share money that is set to be lost anyway however Lancashire firms have a unique opportunity to spread the immense benefits of training and upskilling.

“Right now in our region, there are skills shortages in construction, engineering, manufacturing, IT, logistics and many more specialisms. The Apprenticeship Levy offers an excellent opportunity to get our regional workforce trained and upskilled, and our businesses poised to unlock future growth and investement.

“Lancashire is famed for its friendly, open way of doing business, so it would be fantastic if we could show the rest of the UK just how well we collaborate by using this opportunity to plug as many regional skills gaps and creating as many jobs as possible.

“SME’s account for 60% of all private sector employment in the UK, so the opportunity to transfer funds will not only add fuel to regional growth by stimulating all areas of the supply chain – it will enable smaller firms to offer apprenticeship schemes, or upskill existing staff.

“This will allow many more people in the local community to enhance their careers through training.”


Pierce FC wins football league following unbeaten spell

Employees at Pierce have swapped bookkeeping for goalkeeping as their five-a-side football team topped Blackburn’s Power League.

Team members Jimmy King, Jimmy Moore, Lewis Withnell, Adam Zinga, Daniel Burrows and Charles Hopkinson won the league following an unbeaten run in all 10 games of the season. Their win means they will receive automatic promotion to Division One next season.

Director Jimmy King was the team’s top goal scorer with 30 goals, closely followed by Audit and Accounts Senior, Jimmy Moore, who scored 28.

Organiser Lewis Withnell, Trainee Accountant at Pierce said: “We started playing in the league as a bit of fun, for team building and to keep fit.

“We’ve really enjoyed our first season and it’s the icing on the cake that we won the league after winning every game. We’re really looking forward to next season now and hoping we can have a repeat performance.”

Ben Smith, Director at Pierce added: “We’re really proud of Pierce FC’s achievements this season. We actively encourage our staff to keep fit and it’s even more fun when you can do this with your colleagues.”

Pierce supports local designer to create D-Day anniversary garden to be seen by the Queen

Pierce is delighted to be sponsoring its designer client John Everiss , to help create a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show celebrating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

The ‘D-Day 75 Garden’ will be created by the Chorley-based designer to celebrate the lives of the Normandy veterans. It will be seen by the show’s 2.1 billion global media audience and 166,500 show visitors including HM the Queen.

The garden will be on display at the show between May 21-25 before relocating to a permanent site in Normandy in time for the D-Day anniversary on June 6.

This year is particularly poignant as it will be the final year the charity behind the garden, D-Day Revisited, will send veterans on a pilgrimage to Normandy.

Ben Smith from Pierce said: “John is a really talented gardener and as soon as we heard about his latest project, we knew we wanted to get involved. We’re really proud that our donation will go towards supporting a local business creating a lasting tribute to the D-Day veterans.

 “We can’t wait to see the finalised garden and the reactions of the veterans and the Royal family towards this tribute.”


Businesses braced for payrolling changes

With Christmas and New Year celebrations now becoming a distant memory, businesses are settling back into work for 2019.

Without doubt, the main focus for businesses this year is Brexit, but the uncertainty around the deal is making companies feel unprepared for change.

However, there are some payrolling changes that will be introduced from April 6 which businesses can plan for now.

Changes from the new financial year include:

  • Changes to hours on payslips – employers will be required to provide the number of hours being paid on the payslips of employees who are paid according to ‘time worked’.
  • Payslips for all workers – currently all people in full-time employment receive a payslip, but from April it will also become compulsory for non-employees such as freelancers and contractors to receive a payslip.
  • Welsh tax rates – for the first time, a proportion of the income tax paid by 1.34 million taxpayers living in Wales will directly fund Welsh public services.
  • Pension auto-enrolment – presently under auto-enrolment, 5% of qualifying earnings are set aside for the employee’s retirement, of which at least 2% must be paid by the employer. In April, this will increase to 8% of qualifying earnings of which at least 3% must be paid by the employer.


  • National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage – the hourly rates will also increase:
  • For 25 year olds and over – an increase from £7.83 to £8.21
  • 21 to 24-year olds – an increase from £7.38 to £7.70
  • 18 to 20-year olds – an increase from £5.90 to £6.15
  • Under 18s – an increase from £4.20 to £4.35
  • Apprentices – an increase from £3.70 to £3.90
  • Termination payments – payments over £30,000 are currently subject to income tax and will also be subject to Employer National Insurance Contributions from April 2019.
  • Student loans – the Department for Education is introducing a new loan type, the Postgraduate Loan (PGL).  The threshold for paying back the loan in 2019/20 is £21,000, earnings above this will be calculated at 6%.

For more information on the changes to payrolling, email l.kennery@pierce.co.uk

HMRC removes Earlier Year Update from payroll processes

Pierce is alerting businesses to a big change to payrolling as from April 2019, the Earlier Year Update (EYU) will no longer be a valid submission for the tax year 2019 /20 onwards.

Currently used to fix any inaccuracies in reporting, HMRC is introducing the change to make the processes simpler for businesses and to allow HMRC systems and employer payroll records to align sooner.

HMRC will extend the use of the Real Time Information (RTI) Full Payment Submission (FPS) from April 20 2019, to allow employers to continue to report revised year-to-date payment data after the deadline of April 19.

Since RTI was rolled out, this decision to cease EYU has been long awaited by businesses. Currently, if an employer notices an inaccuracy in payroll data, they submit an EYU to correct the amount. This involves the employer calculating the difference between the original submission and correct position for each employee by submitting the difference on an EYU.

The use of RTI Full Payment Submission (FPS) will be extended by HMRC to allow employers to continue to report revised Year to Date (YTD) payment data after the current deadline of April 19, however the EYU will be accepted for the 2018-19 tax year.

For further information about EYU and to find out how this will impact your payroll processes, contact Lisa Kennery on 01254 688 100 or email l.kennery@pierce.co.uk.

Planning ahead for extreme weather

As our excitement for Christmas begins to build, so too does the prospect of plummeting temperatures and weather warnings hampering, hindering or halting us as we struggle to work.

If extreme weather hits the UK this winter, school closures, train delays and vehicle breakdowns will make it a struggle for staff to get to the workplace. Last year, the ‘Beast from the East’ created a predicted £1bn loss to the UK economy.

Of course businesses can’t control the weather, but they can prepare for it by putting the correct processes in place. So what rules should businesses follow if their workers can’t make it into the office and what are the rights of employees?

Schools out

If a school is closed, then parents can take ‘dependent leave’. The parent is expected to use this time not to look after their child, but find alternative child care.

However, many employers are flexible in these circumstances and will allow employees to take holiday at short notice, make the time up on another day or, if appropriate, work from home.

Travelling troubles

If the bad weather prevents you getting into work then essentially your employer does not have to pay you as it is your responsibility to make it into your workplace. The only exception to this would be if your employer provides transport for you and this is cancelled.

Employers may allow workers to request time off as part of their annual leave or work from home. Employers should not force or put pressure on employees to attempt the journey if there are safety warnings against travelling.

However, if your boss decides to close your workplace then you will still get paid. If you are on a zero hours contract though, or your employer has a contractual right to decline to offer you work at short notice, they may not have to pay you.

Also, if there is advance notice of bad weather, the employer could give notice to require employees to take their holiday.

Planning is key

Planning ahead of the arrival of adverse weather is essential to ensure disruption is minimised.  Businesses should act now to put processes in place before briefing workers on situation specific procedures. Doing so will help to maximise both staff safety and company productivity until clearer skies return.

Lisa Kennery, Payroll Manager


Exporting is great!

The UK witnessed a sharp fall in the value of the pound following the Brexit announcement, making goods and services priced in sterling more competitive in the global market.

That makes it a great time for businesses to consider exporting. However, 29% of those SMEs who would like to trade internationally say they lack the knowledge or expertise to do so.  To tackle this issue, Pierce invited industry professionals to our head office to share their knowledge with businesses wanting to export for the first time, or increase their exporting activities.

Statistics show that firms who export are 34%* more productive in the first year and exporters achieve 59%* faster productivity growth. Our event proved that exporting is great and here are some reasons why.

*Statistic taken from PIMS Annual Report, DIT (2013); Harris and Li (2007)

Top tips

Delegates heard that there is essential work that needs to be done before companies begin exporting.

Mandy Lockett, International Business Director at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce provided us with tips and advice about exporting basics.

  • Conduct market research: the economy and markets are constantly changing – getting the right intelligence and understanding demand is crucial for success.
  • Negotiation: British people are typically shy at negotiating, but every country does it so you need to sharpen your negotiating techniques.
  • Payment methods:  payments for domestic deals are usually 30, 60 or 90 days net (open account), but when exporting, other options are available and need to be understood.
  • Quotation and terms and conditions: exporting can bring risk, so build safety nets within your terms and conditions.
  • Branding and packaging: consider whether your goods/services are suitable for overseas customers and whether they comply with the overseas markets.
  • Commodity code: carefully choose the correct code to be compliant with HMRC regulations.
  • Pricing: quotations need to build on UK selling price and take into consideration any modifications, extra packaging, bank finance charges, pre-shipment inspection, special certificates, offering extra warranty, insurance, freight charges, agent commission and potential negotiation.  

Support available

Whether you’re new to exporting or want to develop your exporting opportunities, there is a wealth of help available. East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce is in the top three chambers in the UK for international support.

Stef Heywood, International Trade Advisor at the chamber, shared details of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), an £8.2 million fund to help job creation by supporting 750 enterprises in becoming exporters.

Divia Patel-Smith, International Trade Advisor at the Department for International Trade (DIT) explained how they can provide strategic advice to businesses in the region from their global network. The DIT has a high success rate: for every £1 it spends, £22 is generated for the UK economy. On a daily basis, the DIT website has new exporting opportunities uploaded from businesses looking for specific services and products from the UK.

With 36%* of UK SMEs believing that trading internationally is inherently risky, Simon Watson, Director of International Trade at NatWest, explained how banks can provide support. Banks can help businesses understand and manage risks and provide assistance with foreign exchange, duties, taxes, supplier debt and due diligence.

*Statistic taken from a Natwest and RBS survey of 200 UK SMEs called ‘World Economy Barometer: Into the Groove’.


Concluding the presentations was Michael Hill, Director of Optima Control Solutions, who shared his experience of exporting. Using the help of NatWest Bank and DIT, Michael successfully delivered his first exporting project by supplying a lithographic coating line for a company in Korea and described it as a “game changer for his business”.

Share your exporting stories with us on Twitter using the hashtag #exportingisGREAT