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Channelling international business

IFA member Ermal Krutani might hail from Essex, but he has recently popped across county lines to drum up support for both the IFA and the business community in Kent. 

Channelling international business
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  • Staff Reporter
  • May 29, 2020
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Tells us about your role and responsibilities

I’m a director at Devonports Accountants, a firm that’s over 25 years old. Ian Hornsey, a board director of the IFA, set the practice up. We’re heading towards 2,000 clients following a new acquisition. I look after the IT for the firm, helping it all run smoothly during the Covid-19 crisis. In terms of the IFA, I’ve recently volunteered to serve as ambassador for Kent, having seen Ian run the Essex branch for a number of years.

What’s the current business and economic environment like in Kent?

Kent is one of the largest regions in the country, with more road networks, plus the HS1 train, so it’s very well connected, yet still rural. It has the biggest ferry port in Europe, with between ten million and 13 million passengers travelling from either the Eurotunnel or Dover. Once we get through this lockdown, and Brexit, the focus will be on Kent being the gateway to Europe. 

How does the IFA work with business, people and the community in Kent?

I’m looking to speak to the local chambers of commerce about working together to help our members. There have been two member meetings since I took on the role, with 60 people in attendance. Topics have covered HMRC investigation, anti-money laundering and IR35 – a particular issue pushed back a year by the government.

It looks like there’ll be lots of member engagement, having already spoken to many about what they want from the IFA. And we need as much feedback as possible. Voice is important: whether it’s members telling the IFA what they want and need; or the IFA lobbying for us. Remember: without us the IFA has to make its own opinions. 

Region in focus: Kent 

Understandably, news is dominated by businesses’ fight to continue post-coronavirus lockdown.

Commercial vineyards have been hit hard, with tours and tastings cancelled, while orders have dried up from hospitality venues.

Julian Barnes, MD of 50-year-old Biddenden Vineyard, said revenues had fallen 70%. However, Simpson Wine Estate has switched focus to retailers from direct sales.

“We’re now looking to do more business with shops like Waitrose and wine specialists Majestic, and are also offering free home delivery,” said co-owner Charles Simpson to Kent Online. 

  • More details have been released about a £63m new railway station set for the Hoo peninsula, an area which will also see some 12,000 new homes built over the next 22 years. The high-speed service will connect Hoo to London terminals and other Medway stations.
  • Accountancy firm EY has acquired Breakthrough Funding Ltd, a Kent-based R&D tax consultancy specialising in SMEs. Its 20 staff will continue to operate from its Ashford head office. “We are so excited that our team in Ashford has been recognised for their outstanding work by a highly respected multinational and will get the opportunity to expand more rapidly across the UK,” said Sue Nelson, who established Breakthrough Funding in 2015.
  • The Maidstone Innovation Centre has seen building work start. The ‘breaking ground’ ceremony marked the start of building a mix-use medical technology-based development. “This signifies a milestone for this exciting project in Maidstone and will contribute towards ‘Embracing Growth and Enabling Infrastructure’,” said councillor Martin Cox.
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