Riding the wave of a new business landscape

Riding the wave of a new business landscape

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has caused immense disruption to businesses across the globe – and in some cases, irreparable damage. But for The Martin James Group, the clever use of data and digital platforms, alongside unwavering persistence, has meant we have been able to navigate the crisis and ride the bumpy wave.

From charities to leading technology brands, The Martin James Network consists of three groups of companies all with a shared vision of changing futures. Founded by Martin James Cockburn – or Jim, as he’s commonly known – the network ranges from start-ups to well-established brands that have been in business for over 15 years.

jim cockburn
Chair of the network – Jim Cockburn

Like all businesses, the Martin James Network hasn’t been able to completely avoid the impact and interruption felt by this unprecedented global pandemic. Yet, thanks to its existing innovations and the need for continued support from the markets it operates within, the network has been able to adapt and make the most of a potentially catastrophic situation.

Jim shares the network’s learnings and successes from the last four weeks of this new business landscape:

Accelerating innovation

Over the last 12 months, the Martin James Network has developed and implemented a digital communication and engagement app called JiffyJab, which allows organisations to share information within their own private network. Having already been successfully adopted by a number of businesses, we are now offering the app to the care, charity and health sectors free of charge during the coronavirus crisis.

One of our brands, FosterTalk – a not-for-profit support service for foster carers – has also been working with internal partners to implement a new communication tool. Due to launch soon, the app will allow FosterTalk members to access advice and support, as well as chat in real-time to other foster carers at what is an extremely stressful and challenging time for them.

Responding to market needs

Our brand leaders across the network have been using this crisis to shape new ways of working, whilst responding to market needs. Life sciences company, Okra, is working to offer COVID-19 insights using transformative predictive AI technology. Our workplace mental health organisation, TalkOut, is offering more webinars and online training at a time when managing employee mental health remotely is crucial. Business support and IT brand, Anster, has been busy developing a family support package to help Local Authorities across the UK support more vulnerable families. And Intellect – our foster carer tax advice service – is supporting carers to unpick and understand the massive volume of information regarding self-employment.

Offering a helping hand

Our charity, the Martin James Foundation, supports vulnerable young people around the world and has stepped up during this crisis to launch an emergency appeal. It is also working closely with partners in Birmingham to support more vulnerable families within communities that need it.

Internally, the network’s People team have launched a range of initiatives to boost morale and wellbeing, including wellbeing Wednesday, Sing-a-long Thursday, quiz nights on Friday, daily HIIT workouts on Facebook Live, and a Facebook group for employees needing to keep their kids entertained which has grown to nearly 4,000 members.

We are also hugely proud that we haven’t had to furlough too many staff and any that have been, have had 100% of their salaries covered.

Crisis builds collaboration

In what is an unsettling and stressful time, our people have really stepped up to get employees and themselves through the upheaval. Whilst information and updates were always previously shared between brands, our network leaders are now having weekly virtual meetings so we can share ideas and concerns, as well as identify new ways to collaborate and support each other.

Our staff continue to support each other through candid and authentic communications via our internal communications app, JiffyJab, as well as through Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack.

Jim comments: “It could be very easy to be knocked back by a crisis like this but through collaborative effort and the commitment of each brand within the network, we’ve managed to explore new ways of working and meet market demands.

“Our focus has become sharper during these testing times and our network’s mantra of ‘connecting minds and shaping futures to transform lives’ resonates now more than ever.

“We’ve learned that times of crisis and uncertainty can actually give us more courage and we believe that we will come out the end stronger and more resilient as a network.”

Find out more about the Martin James Network here.

Martin James Network continues partnership with FoodCycle during COVID19

Martin James Network continues partnership with FoodCycle during COVID19

A few weeks back, our Birmingham-based restaurant, Holy Moly – home of the ‘Proper Mac’, headed up by Paul Elliott teamed up with national charity, FoodCycle, to help support vulnerable people in the local community each week with hot meals.

FoodCycle combines surplus food, spare kitchen spaces and volunteers to create three-course meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation, whilst helping those who may not be able to afford to feed themselves or their children.

Holy Moly donated its first selection of its vegetarian cheesy ‘Proper Mac’ to the UK charity in January and has provided hot meals on a weekly basis since, until the restaurant was forced to close due to the COVID19 outbreak.

We’re pleased to announce, we will donate essential food on a weekly basis, during lockdown. Throughout this uncertain time, it is now more important than ever, that those who are most exposed are not left hungry or lonely, and we support the mission and determination of this incredible national charity, and ensure our community is fully nourished.

Different parts of the network have been involved in ensuring this goes ahead including –

Martin James Foundation who have provided the donation through their EPIC programme. Agility Group – kindly provided the van to transport the goods between wholesaler and FoodCycle. Martin James Group – some of our colleagues helped arrange collection and drop off and Tribera who continue to raise awareness of FoodCycle and promote the partnership.

Paul Elliott, Head of Business at Holy Moly which is part of the Martin James Network, added: “FoodCycle do some incredible work supporting the local community. The charity is made up of amazing volunteers who provide so much to those in need and being able to play a small part in helping, especially during this time, means a lot to us all here.”

You can find out more about FoodCycle by clicking here. Find out the latest news from Holy Moly by clicking here.

6x official world record holder, Leah Shutkever, takes on the ‘Not so holy challenge’

6x official world record holder, Leah Shutkever, takes on the ‘Not so holy challenge’

Birmingham-based restaurant, Holy Moly, home of the Harlem-inspired ‘Proper Mac’, –teamed up with 6x Official World Record Holder, Leah Hutkever, on Monday 3rd February as she attempted to take on the new the ‘Not So Holy’ Challenge.

Leah will be the very first person to take on this Harlem-inspired feast, made up of four fully loaded ‘Not So Holy’ burgers and a portion of fries – setting the tone for those that think they can do better, as the challenge opens up to the public from 4th February 2020. With just 30 minutes on the clock, it will be a race against time to become the soul food champion. Leah completed the challenge in a record breaking 9 minutes 53 seconds.

Paul Elliot, Head of Business at Holy Moly said: “We are extremely excited to be teaming up with Leah Shutkever as she takes on the Not So Holy Challenge. As a 6x Official World Record Holder, we are looking forward to seeing how our soul food platter fares up to Leah’s previous challenges.”

Sound easy? Think you can take on the ‘Not So Holy’ Challenge? Well, it’s your lucky day because now you can. From 4th February, for just £30 you can take part in the challenge, facing the same amount of food as Leah and all under the same time constraints too. Complete the challenge and your food is free.

Think you can complete the challenge in better time? Your photo will be taken with our clapper board and we will announce you on our social pages as the new reigning champion. So, what are you waiting for? Head on down to Holy Moly based in Grand Central and take on the ultimate soul food challenge.

Bookings are not required at Holy Moly. For more information about the restaurant or menus available, visit here.

Holy Moly Macaroni Birmingham UK Reopening

Holy Moly Macaroni Birmingham UK Reopening

Birmingham’s Holy Moly Macaroni Restaurant is back with a new menu. 

The Birmingham based, Harlem inspired, Holy Moly Macaroni, has re-opened with a brand new look. The “home of soul food” is now offering breakfast and afternoon tea. 

Breakfast will be offered every day from 8.30am (9.30am on Sundays) until 12pm. You can choose from a light American breakfast of waffles, a full English breakfast or a spicy Harlem Special, which features hot and spicy chilli eggs or a BBQ pulled beef brioche.

To accompany the new look, Holy Moly have added a bar and a mixologist to boot. Now, you can also upgrade your “Harlem inspired” afternoon tea to include prosecco.

For the ultimate cherry on top, you don’t even have to leave Birmingham Grand Central for your happy hour, combine your Friday night pub crawl with Holy Moly and you can enjoy 2 cocktails for £11 between 5pm and 8pm. 

 Born in Harlem, made in Birmingham.