Monday 16th July 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 11/01/2018

East of England firms planning to recruit and invest despite uncertain times

Businesses in the East of England are planning to expand investment and recruitment over the coming year despite a dip in confidence, according to the latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds Bank .The net balance of firms looking to grow investment in the next six months rose by five points to 14 per cent whilst the balance planning to hire more staff rose by five points to 10 per cent, compared with last July. Meanwhile the share of firms reporting difficulties hiring skilled labour fell sharply from 62 per cent last July to 35 per cent. But the numbers expecting to increase wages rose by just five points to 11 per cent, suggesting businesses are still taking a cautious approach to pay. The East of England emerged as one of the less confident regions, with a balance of firms reporting business optimism falling four points to 18 points.  Steve Elsom, regional director of SME banking in the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Despite the slight dip in business confidence, firms in the East of England are continuing to plan for future growth in the new year. Many are looking to boost their investment and staff numbers, which is very encouraging.” Nationally, the only sector which saw a significant fall in confidence was construction, where it dropped from 31 per cent to 14 per cent.

Review launched into Cambridge and Peterborough economy

A review into the economy around Cambridge and Peterborough has been launched with a call for evidence. The Cambridge and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER) chaired by Dame Kate Barker, will look at the case for greater fiscal devolution and powers to unlock major infrastructure and show how the area benefits the rest of UK as well as drawing up priorities and a common strategy. She said: "...This area has seen strong economic growth, and to sustain that performance over coming decades we must plan now for the vital infrastructure needed.  In addition, we will consider how the benefits of the thriving economy can be used to tackle some of the inequalities which presently exist." The review is jointly funded by the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority, The GCGP LEP and by Cambridge Ahead and others on the commission include Dr David Cleevely, Lord David Willetts, Sir David Arculus and Warren East. Evidence should be submitted to the commission at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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New data protection emerge as firms' 'biggest concern'

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May, is the biggest concern for businesses across the East, according to a recent poll at a business event by law firm Prettys. The new regulations, which involves stricter rules on the security and use of personal data and tougher punishments for non-compliers, was ranked as the biggest issue by over a half of those attending. But a third of firms have yet to start making any preparations for the new regulations. Matthew Cole (photo, right), partner and employment law expert at Prettys, said: “The implementation of GDPR will be essential for all organisations in 2018. This is the biggest change in data protection law in 20 years, and there are still many businesses that haven’t started to prepare themselves. It is imperative that businesses, whatever their size, are prepared when the new rules come into place.”  Brexit ranked as the second key issue, cited by 20 per cent. Issues facing HR teams in 2018 in the survey at a Prettys’ recent business academy event emerged as sickness and incapacity (28 per cent), misconduct (23 per cent) and recruitment (21 per cent).

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Construction products group sold in £10.25m deal

Suffolk-based Poundfield Products, a pre-cast and pre-stressed concrete manufacturer, has been sold to SigmaRoc, an AIM-listed construction materials group in a £10.25 million deal. Law firm Birketts advised Poundfield, which was founded in 1999 by Mark Jardine and is based at Creeting St Peter, near Ipswich.  It supplies a diverse range of clients in the UK and internationally and parters with major firms in the industry for the licensing of its patented products. SigmaRoc paid an initial £9.5m in cash with a further £750,000 payable in a year’s time in SigmaRoc shares, subject to conditions. The deal was funded by a £13.9m placing of new shares. Birketts led the transaction through Adam Jones, corporate partner, assisted by Alex Forwood (corporate) and Kevin Palmer (employment). Mark Jardine said: “Birketts is well-known for dealing with transactions of this size and scale, and they couple fantastic local knowledge and insight with the ability to go toe-to-toe with large City law firms."

Separately, Birketts has advised Gates Group on its acquisition of four car dealerships from Ford Retail. Gates Ford, a family-owned and operated business whose history stretches back almost 100 years, now operates from ten sites across Essex, Hertfordshire and Greater London. Birketts advised on all legal matters with Adam Jones (corporate partner) leading the team.

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Housebuilder invests in new sites

Lincs-basedbuilder and developer Larkfleet Homes has agreed a series of deals to buy land for 189 new homes with a total development value of £35 million across sites in Horncastle, Baston, Nettleham and Boston. During 2017, the firm bought sites with a total development value of £70 million in Whittlesey (Cambridgeshire), Corby (Northamptonshire), Collingham (Nottinghamshire) and Colsterworth, Weston and Horncastle (all in Lincolnshire) for a total of 399 houses. Karl Hick, chief executive of Larkfleet Homes, said: “We are operating across a wider area and building more houses on more sites than we have ever done before. The new land purchases with which we are starting this year will open up new opportunities for building reasonably-priced, high quality homes in mostly rural locations where we can help local people get onto the housing ladder.”

Unilever urged to reconsider Colman’s Mustard closure

Unite is urging Unilever to look again at its decision to end Colman’s Mustard production in Norwichin 2019. Production of Colman’s Mustard will move to Burton on Trent. Unite says it will fight any compulsory redundancies and there will be 25 jobs created at a new milling facility in or near Norwich that Unilever is jointly setting up with local farmers to process the mustard plants used in Colman’s. Last month, Britvic said that it was closing its half of the Norwich site it shared with Unilever.

Appointments to farm and landed estates team

Larking Gowen has made two new appointments to its newly-branded farms and landed estates team. Manager Ashley Smith, who specialises in the agriculture sector offering specialist advice to farms from small enterprises to large rural estates across East Anglia, has been appointed partner from April. Bruce Masson (photo, right) recently joined the team from national firm RSM with wide experience in the agricultural sector and will be based in the Diss office but will cover Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk. Grant Pilcher, head of farms and landed estates at Larking Gowen, said: “2017 saw significant growth yet again in our client base in our farming and landed estates division so we are delighted to be able to announce welcome additions to our senior team.”

Bank appoints new area manager

Barclays has appointed Paul Judd as area business manager for Anglia West, responsible for the ongoing growth and development of Barclays’ business banking in the Peterborough, King’s Lynn and Bury St Edmunds areas. He will lead a team of business managers who look after SME business customers across a wide range of sectors. Paul Judd (photo, right)  has held a number of positions both inside and out of Barclays, most recently as commercial manager, supporting SMEs across East Anglia. He said:  “I am very excited to take up the position of area business manager and I am looking forward to working with my team as we focus on supporting our customers.”

Cambridge cleanroom specialist shortlisted for award

Cambridge-based contract cleaning specialist Atkins Gregory has been shortlisted for a national cleaning award, the bi-annual Golden Service Awards. It has been shortlisted in the manufacturing category for its work in the cleanroom environment, alongside site supervisor, Kerri Pickworth. Simon Biggs, managing director at Atkins Gregory, said: “2017 has been an exceptional year for the business, and we are delighted to have been recognised by such an eminent industry judging panel. The Cambridge region is seeing exponential growth, particularly in the technology and pharmaceutical sectors, where cleanroom environments are key to operations.” The firm has won a series of new contracts in 2017, including sites at St John’s Innovation Centre and Cambridge Science Park.