VIEW FROM THE INDUSTRY Hemmings explains role with SkillsActive
Anna Hemmings, six-time World Champion canoeist and two-time Olympian, has joine the SkillsActive board; she explains her role and how the group works within the sports and leisure industries…
eyond The Barriers is dedicated to improving health and performance in individuals and organisations. I launched the business with a couple of partners in January this year and we focus on three areas: mental resilience, peak performance, and health and well-being. My business is a really great synergy with SkillsActive, because their mission is about training the workforce for the nation’s well-being, and ours is to also help improve the wellbeing of employees and organisations, and using that to enhance productivity. There’s lots of benefits in improving well-being from a health perspective, but there’s a lot to be gained from a performance perspective as well.
I got involved with SkillsActive through my work as an ambassador for the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, and I sit on their performance steering group, which is nine former athletes from different sports. The trust has a program which is about giving retired athletes the chance to sit on various boards and committees of different sporting organisations. It might be on the national netball governing body, or a street games organisation. On the day of the program’s launch, I was at the event and I happened to be sitting on the same table as the guys from SkillsActive. We talked about what we all do, and it seemed to be a great fit with Beyond The Barriers; they approached me afterwards and asked me if I would sit on their board.
SkillsActive tackle skills shortages and gaps in the sport ands active leisure industry with a view to building strong foundations for the future. The sport and active leisure sector is a real growth area in the UK, particularly with London 2012 approaching and all the other amazing sporting events on the horizon. They’re ‘skilling’ and providing qualifications and training, particularly through the National Skills Academy [NSA].
I am there to give them a different perspective. Any professional athlete can give an insight from an athlete’s perspective on the industry. I can provide a new view on some of the areas they cover. Another role that comes with it is helping raise the profile of the organisation and the work we’re doing, and I also hope we’ll encourage young people to get into more sports and to be more active. Perhaps in the future I can get involved in the lobbying side, with MPs and councils.
I’m also doing quite a bit of commentary and presenting – I worked on the canoeing European Championships, and World Championships for Eurosport, for example, this year. I do have a desire to raise the profile of canoeing, and through the presenting work and commentary I’ve been trying to get the BBC involved in taking more interest in my sport. I’ve been helping advise some of the PR and media people at the BCU [British Canoe Union], to help raise that profile. It’s something I’m working at all the time and it’s very challenging.
16 Trading Intelligence
Business name: Rugby Heaven Ltd Location: Cwmbran and Ebbwvale both South Wales Owner: James and Dawn Evans Opened: Cwmbran in 2007 and Ebbwvale 2009 Affiliation: STAG Number of staff: F/t – 6 (including myself and Dawn) P/t – 18 Speciality: Rugby
Not a lot of people know this about my business, but ….
it is family run and not a concession as people have asked. It started out as a hobby in 2006 as my passion is rugby and I still play for a local team called New Panteg in Pontypool. It grew from there and by September 2007 we opened a small store on the outskirts of Cwmbran, my home town. Then in February 2009 we were asked if we would like to open a store in Ebbwvale Festival Park, which we were happy to do and it has been a great success. I then looked into going into the middle of Town and moved my small store there last July.
How is business at the moment?
Very good, but it has been a very tough summer as our business is very seasonal, and runs along with the rugby seasons. We will hopefully be very busy from now until the end of May, when the rugby season ends, and all rugby tours are over.
I think that this has been the worst trading conditions I can remember. Customers are expecting far more service and better value at the moment and people who can deliver this will rise to the top, the others I fear will sink.
What has been the greatest success for your business over the past 12 months?
Probably moving into two new stores within a month and increasing sales considerably in a difficult trading time.
We have actually had 3 new store openings in eight months, where we moved our Ebbwvale store to a much bigger unit after a few months of trading.
We have been stretched to the limit over the last 12 months and to increase on last year’s figures is a reward for our attention to service and value.
What recent supplier initiative has been successful? Our rugby suppliers don’t really run this sort of promotion, but new funky colours i.e. bright pinks, limes and purples in boots, headgear, body armour and baselayer has been a big hit within the industry.
What will be the biggest challenge for your business over the next 12 months? Matching and beating last year’s sales figures as the recession is still ongoing, and with increase in VAT next year this will not help. We have a website but up until now our focus has been opening and operating our stores, but we urgently need to look into upgrading and getting the website out there to the people who love to buy over the net.
SGB SPORT OCTOBER 2010
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