Sunday 22nd April 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 15/03/2018

Cambridge tech and professional services set to bolster region’s growth

The East of England economy is set to grow slightly faster than the national average over coming years in the light of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement this week, thanks partly to Cambridge’s thriving ICT and professional and financial services sectors. Commenting on the statement, Stuart Wilkinson, partner at EY in Cambridge, said: “Our research shows that in the East of England we are predicted to grow at an annual GVA growth rate of 1.7 per cent to 2020. With over 50 per cent of Cambridge’s growth in the next three years forecast to come from ICT and professional services, investment in these areas will be vital to maintaining this trajectory ….the more a region is exposed to ICT and professional and financial services, the faster the growth tends to be, as those sectors continue to drive the economy.” The Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts with the Spring Statement predict a slowing in gdp growth from 1.7 per cent in 2017 to 1.3 per cent in 2020.

Confident employers stay keen to recruit

East of England employers emerged as the most confidence of any UK region in terms of hiring with heavy demand for a wide range of roles and more jobs expected in the region although candidates are becoming scarcer as more East European workers return home. A survey by recruitment firm Manpower Group showed a hiring confidence of +10% in the East, compared to a national average of +6%. Jason Greaves, operations director at Manpower, said: “... employers are coming to us looking for candidates in a diverse range of roles. …from finance to landscaping – and with a new business park being developed outside of Peterborough, job prospects should continue to grow. However ... the supply of candidates has been limited. We have seen more and more EU workers leaving the UK, notably from Eastern European countries like Lithuania...." Nationally, jobs optimism was unexpectedly strong reaching its highest level in over a year, with hospitality+16 per cent emerging as the best-performing sector although manufacturing, at +4 per cent and construction,+1 per cent showed signs of weakening.

Young people seen as lacking “soft skills”

Young people today are seen to be lacking resilience and self confidence and the “soft skills” which are increasingly valued by employers, the past president of Suffolk Chamber told the annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce last week. Sarah Howard (right), who is also a vice president of the BCC, told a debate at the event:“A first-hand view I have been hearing from our members all over the country is that our young people lack resilience, thinking skills, emotional intelligence and most importantly and probably most surprisingly, self confidence. As technology is taught to do more and more of the tasks we currently value in our workplace, in the future these soft skills are going to become more and more attractive to employers.”

A delegation of Invest in Suffolk Ambassadors joined Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Chamber at the conference. Vimmi Hayes, Suffolk County Council economic development manager, said: “It was great to see such a good turnout of Invest in Suffolk Ambassadors at such a prestigious event. We look forward to further opportunities to promote the 'Suffolk is great for business' message to national and international audiences.”

Briefly…

Region's exports surge to meet 'appetite for British goods'

Exports of goods rose by 8.2% to £28.9billion in the East of England in 2017, according to HMRC figures. They show the region is home to more than 15,000 exporters with an average value per exporter of £1.9million. Alan Pain, Regional Director at the Department for International Trade in the East of England, said: “HMRC’s latest figures cover the first full year following the EU referendum and clearly demonstrate the appetite for British goods abroad and the potential for businesses who want to export. They back up the first-hand experience of the many companies in the East of England that are already feeling the benefits of increased global trade and finding success in overseas markets. We have more than 30 International Trade Advisers in the East of England that can help businesses navigate the entire exporting process.” Meanwhile, UK exports rose 11.5% to £625.9bn in the year from February 2017 to the end of January 2018

Norwich City launches £3.5 million bond for academy

Norwich City FC is launching a £3.5m five year bond to raise funds to build a state-of-the-art academy as part of a strategy to produce more home-grown players and give supporters a chance to invest in the club. The money raised by the Canaries min-bond - which has a maximum £5m threshold - will be ring-fenced to invest in facilities at Colney and maintain the category 1 status of the academy, which is being revamped under its new manager Steve Weaver and sporting director Stuart Webber. The unsecured bond will pay 5% gross interest annually, with an additional 3% gross in club credit, and investors will be paid a one-off 25% bonus if the club is promoted during the lifetime of the bond. The minimum subscription is £500 with no upper limit.

Commercial property investors face 'risk aversion and opportunities'

Investment in commercial property across the East of England was up in the final quarter of 2017 and above the five-year average, according to figures from consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton. It says Q4 investment in the region stood at £0.6bn, against a five-year average of just over £0.35bn. Peter Williams, operations director at LSH Lincoln, said: “An intriguing year lies ahead for real estate across the East of England, one characterised by both risk aversion and clear pockets of opportunity.” Meanwhile, total investment volume in the regions outside London was £7.0bn in Q4, the second strongest quarter on record.

Ezra Nahome, CEO of LSH, said: “Judging by the tremendous finish to 2017, the market is clearly taking all the political noise and uncertainty firmly in its stride. The emphatic return of domestic investors also confirms that there is far more to UK property investment than a mere currency play in London.”

Agent takes ‘most active’ award for fifth year running

Barker Storey Matthews has been named as the most active regional agent by property research specialists, EGi. For the fifth year running, Barker Storey Matthews has won the title of East of England Overall Winner and for the third year in a row it secured the top dealing agent slot in the region in the office and industrial sectors. The firm was also number one for deals in the investment sector. EGi said that Barker Storey Matthews has extended “ ..its position of strength..” in “..a market strongly controlled by the regional players..”

Managing director Steve Hawkins, said: “It is gratifying to be judged at the top of the overall list of regional and national agencies operating in such a competitive market and in such an economically active region as the East of England.”

Law firm opens new Chelmsford office

Ellisons Solicitors has opened a new Chelmsford office offering a full suite of commercial property, corporate and personal legal services from its location in Saxon House, Duke Street. It is the sixth office for the firm, which traces its roots back to 1764. The expansion into Chelmsford was a natural progression for the firm, which has offices in Colchester, Ipswich and Tendring, and has almost doubled in size over the past four years. Ross Wiltshire and Paul Forsyth, who are both local to the area, will be leading the Chelmsford team. Ross Wiltshire, a commercial property solicitor with a specialist knowledge of banking and secured lending. joined Ellisons as a partner in April 2017 with wide experience and having previously worked at some of the region’s best-known law firms. Paul Forsyth is a partner in the corporate and commercial team, with his main focus being the sale or acquisition of private companies. He originally trained and qualified in a London firm but has been with Ellisons since 2010. Guy Longhurst, senior partner, said: “We are looking forward to bringing our exceptional service standards, and philosophy of providing straightforward, clear advice to our existing clients and contacts in the Chelmsford area, as well as the wider marketplace.”

Photo (l to r): Paul Forsyth, Ross Wiltshire, Guy Longhurst, Natalie Simpkins, Tim Logan, Seamus Clifford.

Accountancy firm ranked in top 30

Price Bailey has been ranked as one of UK’s top 30 best performing accountancy firms by Accountancy magazine. The company, described by the magazine as ‘one of the strongest in the east of England’, was ranked 26th in the country, having grown its income by more than 8 per cent over the previous year to £26.5m. The firm was recently named in The Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For 2018. Managing partner Martin Clapson said: “All parts of the firm – including outsourcing, bookkeeping, insolvency, audit and strategic corporate finance – are growing well. And while we wouldn’t rule out further acquisitions if the right opportunity comes along, at the moment we are very happy to be achieving this growth organically.”

Record month for Stansted Airport

Boosted by the half-term getaway, London Stansted had its busiest-ever February with over 1.7 million passengers passing through the terminal, an increase of 79,000 or 4.8 per cent over the month last year. Popular countries included France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria and the Canary Islands, Turkey and the Spanish mainland. Denmark and the Czech Republic saw the largest year-on-year growth.  The rolling 12-month total of 26 million passengers rose 6.8 per cent. Meanwhile, contractors are being sought to build the airport’s new £130 million arrivals terminal plus the £200 million revamp of its existing terminal building.”

Separately, Loganair is launching a new service between London Southend Airport and Carlisle Lake District Aiport starting from 4th June.

Law firm raises funds for hospice

Ipswich-based law firm Prettys has raised over £850 during Ridefest’18, a static bike challenge in which companies across the region test their strength, stamina and nerves to raise money for St Elizabeth Hospice. Nine of Prettys staff clocked up over 93 km over 30 minutes. Matthew Cole, partner at Prettys who took part in the challenge, said; “Many thanks to all the team for their cycling efforts and to all our colleagues, clients and suppliers who supported us. We are delighted to have helped St. Elizabeth Hospice continue with their amazing work supporting those with life-limiting conditions and their families.”

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SMEs urged to act to avoid weather after-chill

Ways to help protect small businesses in the East of England from the long term knock-on effects of the recent bad weather have been outlined by Mark Upton, chair of R3's Eastern branch and a partner at Ensors Chartered Accountants. R3 Eastern’s February figures show that 39 per centor (133,253 companies) based in the East already have an elevated risk of insolvency, up from 25 per cent in the month last year. He said:"The single most important thing for owners and managers to do if they think their business is heading for trouble is to take advice from a qualified professional as soon as possible.” He urged companies to keep a tight control on cash flow to show continuing viability and get payment for any outstanding invoices within the agreed time limit. "At the first sign of significant cash flow difficulties, it is crucial to communicate quickly and clearly with both the bank and the company’s creditors, showing them how problems are being resolved and getting them to buy into the strategy being put into place,” he added.

Emergency water supplier kept busy as snow thaws

Earls-Cone, Essex-based emergency water supplier Water Direct worked around the clock to  support thousands of homes and businesses struggling with low pressure or no water caused by bursting pipes during the rapid thaw. During 3-9 March, Water Direct provided 24-hour critical support to national water retailers and regional water utility wholesalers across eight counties. The company mobilised over 200 truckloads of drinking water; pumping more than 7 million litres of water and delivering an extra four million litres of bottled water. Water Direct’s Sven Parris said: “For the first time in Water Direct’s history, we were called on by almost all of our contracted customers simultaneously across the country to provide emergency alternative supplies.”

Award-winning new Volvo XC40 available to test drive

What Car?’s overall 2018 Car of the Year, the new Volvo XC40 premium compact SUV, is now available for test drives at M. R. King & Sons in Halesworth, Suffolk. The car, which was launched by M. R. King & Sons on 22 February, breaks new ground for Volvo as its first ever compact SUV. Every XC40 is exceptionally well equipped. Even the entry-level Momentum version has a nine-inch touch screen control system, satellite navigation, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control with a sophisticated interior air-quality system, and 18-inch alloy wheels – all as standard. The What Car? judges said: “The XC40 mixes style, space and comfort with cutting-edge safety and relative affordability so ably that we named it our 2018 What Car? Car of the Year. Amid a year of great cars, it stands out as the most impressive by far.” ....Read more

M.R. King & Sons and all the Volvo range can be found at Quay Street, Halesworth or at www.volvocarshalesworth.co.uk or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 01986 874464