Sunday 25th February 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 18/01/2018

Carillion subcontractors urged to seek help to stay afloat

Subcontractors and other small firms which might be at risk due to the failure of construction group Carillion are being urged to seek professional advice at an early stage. Mark Upton (right), Eastern chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, says firms which are owed money need to assess what impact it will have on their business and understand their options. “Subcontractors and suppliers are usually classed as unsecured creditors, and come behind secured creditors, such as banks, and employees in the queue for payment. Firms are being told to contact the liquidator for information on their specific case, but at this stage the liquidator will be unlikely to give any firm indication of the outcome for creditors.”…Read more

Mid market firms positive on Brexit on a five year view

Sentiment on the short-term impact of Brexit among businesses in East Anglia and the Midlands  dipped in the fourth quarter although firms are significantly more optimistic on a five year view period and are reasonably confident the government can deliver a good Brexit deal, according to a survey from RSM. Its Brexit monitor survey, by YouGov, on the impact of leaving the EU on their business over a two-year period slipped from a positive score of 108 in the third quarter to a negative 94 in the fourth quarter and below the national average of 98. But on a five-year period, firms across the central regions of the UK were much more upbeat; the index rose from 101 to 113 in the fourth quarter, eight points above the national average, and the highest score across the English regions. Firms in the region were also slightly behind the national average on their preparedness for Brexit. Nearly half were confident that the UK delegation will be able to negotiate a ‘good deal’ with the EU, compared to just 11 per cent who said they were not. Mark Taylor, RSM’s regional managing partner for the Central region said: ‘Businesses throughout the Midlands and East Anglia are unhappy about the lack of certainty surrounding our future trading arrangements, and that’s understandable. That frustration is reflected in their pessimism over the short term. However, they do remain relatively upbeat about Brexit’s longer term impact.”

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Works starts on £12 million innovation centre at University of Essex

Work is starting on a £12m Innovation Centre to provide space for start-ups and innovative businesses at the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway research and technology park helped by £2 million of funding from Essex County Council. It has also benefitted from £2m from the South East LEP’s growth fund. The Innovation Centre will offer space to over 50 start-ups and hi-tech businesses and open early in 2019. Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economic growth, said: “Essex is leading the UK on start-ups of new enterprises and Essex County Council’s investment of £2million into the Innovation Centre at the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus demonstrates our commitment to support these businesses by providing the right types of workspaces. We also recognise the importance of Colchester as a digital cluster and this investment will help to further enhance Colchester’s presence in this sector.”

Vice-chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for our Knowledge Gateway research and technology park. We are starting 2018 with the first phase of our Parkside Office Village completely full and very strong interest in our next phase which will be ready by autumn this year."

Shortage of Cambridge office & lab space starts to bite

Take up of Cambridge office and laboratory space has fallen ‘below trend’ for the first time in five years as a shortage of supply bites although prime office rents have risen to £38 per sq ft and are likely to rise towards £41 per sq ft by 2022, according to Bidwells. However the agent says new schemes which are due to complete in 2019 will deliver 350,000 sq ft of office space. The combined availability rate in the city’s office and laboratories market stood at 9.4 per cent at the end of 2017. Meanwhile, the first pre-let at CB1’s 50/60 Station Road scheme has involved Costello Medical taking 21,340 sq ft. Open plan laboratory rents in the city have now reached £34 per sq ft. Separately, Bidwells has created and let six units on the Cambridge Science Park, comprising flexible self-contained offices and labs. The firm refurbished the units which range in size from 985-2,500 sq ft and which are proving ideal for small companies looking to grow.

Skills plan signed for biotech sector in Norfolk and Suffolk

A new sector skills plan has been signed for life sciences and the bio-economy in Norfolk and Suffolk, which aims to 'future-proof' the sector’s skills provision and increase the commercial benefits from research carried out in the East. It aims to meet the region’s projected demand for up to 14,000 new, skilled workers in the sector by 2025.The Life Sciences and Bio-economy Skills Plan has been developed by the industry sector in Norfolk and Suffolk, the New Anglia Skills Board and supported by SkillsReach. Paul Winter, chairman of New Anglia LEP’s Skills Board, said: “...if we’re to stay at the leading edge of this vital and growing sector we must provide the skills to match. Key to that is working with business and education to identify the skills needs of this fast-changing industry. I’m confident this plan can do exactly that.”

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, chief executive officer of Norwich Research Park, said: "..This Skills Plan comes at a crucial time for our industry. It’s vital we work together to provide the skills needed to translate our leading research into innovative products for the global market place.”

Work starts on expansion at Port of Felixstowe

Transport secretary Chris Grayling attended a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of work on the latest phase of expansion at the Port of Felixstowe last week. Around 13 hectares of new paved container yard is to be built behind Berth 9 at the port which will involve the reclamation of 3.2 hectares of seabed. Completion of the new container yard, which will comprise ten container storage blocks and allow 6-high stacking, is scheduled for early 2019. The yard will add 18,000 TEU of storage capacity to the 130,000 TEU already available at Felixstowe. Chris Grayling said: “This important expansion of Felixstowe continues the port’s impressive record of investment to make sure it is well placed to make the most of trading opportunities both now and in the future.”

Clemence Cheng, CEO of the port and executive director of its owner, Hutchison Ports, added: “Berths 8&9 were the first berths in the UK built to accommodate the latest class of ultra-large container vessels. The creation of additional container storage will allow us to optimise container handling operations between the berth and its supporting yard and further enhance the service we offer to our customers.”

Financial planning firm named in top 100

Scrutton Bland has been named as one of the Top 100 financial planning firms in the UK in an annual list which recognises ‘prominent leaders and outstanding achievements in the UK financial advice community’ compiled by New Model Adviser and citywire.co.uk. Grant Buchanan (photo, right), a financial planning partner at Scrutton Bland, said: “2017 was a pivotal year for us. We have expanded the number of partners in our leadership team from nine to 15, opened a new office in Cambridge and increased our footprint in Chelmsford. Additionally we have worked to give greater professional development training and autonomy to our technical people in our financial planning team.  This has enabled us to grow our involvement in many areas of investment including defined benefit pension transfer advice.” Over coming months, the firm is introducing new technology and online platforms to provide clients with greater choice and ease of access to savings and investments and has strengthened its team with the appointment of Jonathon Clarke who will join its team of financial advisers in Cambridge.

Growth in Spain and France traffic helps Stansted to record year

London Stansted Airport had a record year in 2017, handling 25.9 million passengers - an increase of 1.57 million passengers, up 6.5 per cent over the previous year - and helped by growth in travellers to Spain, France and Denmark. The airport added 11 new routes during the year and now serves over 190 destinations across 38 countries. During 2017, the strongest growth in passenger volumes from the airport were to Spain (+478,000), France (+382,000), Denmark (+281,000), Turkey (+222,000) and Bulgaria (+134,000). The top five destination airports from Stansted were Copenhagen (+263,000), Oslo (+240,000), Hamburg (+180,000), Toulouse (+153,000) and Sofia (+137,000). Stansted Airport CEO, Ken O’Toole, said: “The positive passenger growth was driven by increased choice from many of our airline partners, particularly Ryanair who experienced another strong year, and the very successful opening of Jet2.com’s first base in the south of England back in March." Emirates recently announced it was starting direct flights from Stansted to Dubai next June. Separately, Novotel London Stansted Airport has re-opened after a refurbishment involving 250 new bedrooms, all-day dining restaurant, café, bar and gym.

Domino appoints new global marketing director

Cambs-based Domino Printing Sciences has appointed Jeremy Jones as global marketing director, based at its Bar Hill hq. In his new role, he will lead the global marketing team in continuing to build on the coding, marking and printing technologies company’s marketing function to support corporate objectives. He has wide experience from a lengthy career in B2B technology marketing, including – most recently – his time at AVEVA Group in Cambridge where he was global head of campaigns management and director of brand marketing. Jeremy Jones said: “I am delighted to join Domino as it is a company I have admired for a long time. This is a very exciting time in Domino’s ongoing evolution. The ambition shared throughout the organisation is immense and the opportunities for growth are significant. As a marketer focused on delivering value to the business, this is truly inspiring.”

Contract renewal at Norse

Heart Education Trust, a multi-academy trust based in Norfolk, has renewed its schools catering agreement with Norse. Under the renewed three-year, £240k per year, contract Norse will provide upwards of 500 meals a day across the four schools. “This is a very significant retention for Norse, and we are delighted to reaffirm our long-standing relationship with the schools,” said Norse business development director Chris Richardson Smith. Norse currently provides catering in over 250 schools and academies in Norfolk and Suffolk, preparing and serving in excess of 4 million meals a year, and providing employment for around 900 people in the region.

Separately, Norse has appointed Andrew Lipscomb (photo, above) as operations director of its £23 million plus catering division, responsible for directing Norse’s catering teams in schools, care homes and commercial clients.Prior to joining Norse, Andrew, a qualified chef, spent seven years with ISS Facility Services, as education regional operations director, looking after local education authority contracts covering Redbridge, Richmond, Kingston, West Berkshire, Bracknell and Slough.

See Profile Norse Commercial Services

Law firm sponsors wheelchair basketball team

Ashtons Legal is sponsoring the Bury Bombers Wheelchair Basketball team. Formed in 1997 and catering for people of all ages and abilities, the team trains weekly at Culford School near Bury. Adults who are coached from beginner level have the chance to work with players who are part of the current national league team. Having charity status means that Bury Bombers rely purely on membership fees and support from local people and organisations. Ashotons Legal also sponsors Bury Rugby Club and Woolpit Girls Cricket Club U12s as well as supporting other local charities, causes and events on a regular basis. Bury Bombers chairman & head coach Jill Anderson said: “We are delighted to be establishing links with local lawyers Ashtons Legal through their sponsorship of Bury Bombers.  We look forward to welcoming staff and clients from the area to our club and hope this will be the beginning of a beneficial and reciprocal arrangement.”

Growing cycle business relocates in Peterborough

After growing signficiantly over the past 12 years, independent retail shop Terry Wright Cycles is set to create local job opportunies by moving its current base at Market Deeping to new premises closer to Peterborough city centre. With the support of Barclays business manager, Alex Spires, through banking facilities and business contacts in commercial property, the alternative site at Mancetter Square, Werrington, was found which suits its future needs. Alex Spires said: “As the popularity of cycling has built momentum, coupled with strong customer service, the business has grown from strength to strength.  The new premises will showcase their full range of cycles that cater for every need and allow them to develop further.”

Photo (l-r): Paul Bonham (Terry Wright Cycles), Alex Spires (Barclays) and Ben Fletcher (Terry Wright Cycles)

Port sponsors classical close to the festive season

ABP’s Ipswich team helped to close the festive season by sponsoring the Trianon Music Group’s Twelfth Night Christmas concert bringing classical music to the wider community. The Trianon symphony orchestra and choir performed at the Ipswich Corn Exchange on Saturday, 6 January to mark the twelfth night in front of a packed hall. Conducted by Christopher Green, the concert included a variety of pieces, ranging from Bob Chilcott’s The Twelve Days of Christmas to Christmas to the Annie Lennox song Into the West from Lord of the Rings and a selection from The Lion King. Trianon buskers entertained the audience to raise money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), one of the charities that Trianon is supporting in 2018. Paul Ager, ABP divisional port manager, East Coast, said: “Supporting and nurturing the communities surrounding our ports is important to us, which is why we regularly raise funds for charity and donate to charitable causes.”