Monday 20th May 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 02/05/2018

Jump in economic optimism prompts firms to recruit

A surprise jump in economic optimism has prompted a surge in hiring intentions amongst firms in the region in April, according to a survey from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Its business barometer shows that almost twice as many businesses in the East of England now plan to hire more staff this year compared to a month ago; a net balance of 29 per cent of firms in the region expect to hire more staff, up 14 points on last month. It comes as business confidence in the region rose six points during April to 33 per cent and economic optimism jumped 16 points to 43 per cent, the third highest among UK regions. Meanwhile, a net balance of 12 per cent of businesses in the region said they felt that the UK’s exit from the EU was positive for business activity, up seven points on a month ago. Steve Elsom, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Firms’ optimism about the economy has been growing all year, and increased significantly in April, prompting almost twice as many firms to start planning to recruit more staff. Although confidence in their own business prospects dipped slightly this month, this must be seen in the context of what businesses see to be an improving economy. With overall business confidence improving, the region’s firms look to be on a good footing for the next 12 months.”

Property specialists more cautious but acquisitions stay on the agenda

Property owners and professionals in the region have become more cautious on the market over the past year although more than half are planning to acquire property over the next 12 months, according to a poll of over 200 delegates taken at the annual Essex Property Conference last week. It showed that 29 per cent of respondents are more positive about the sector now than 12 months ago, down from from 63 per cent in a poll at the same event this time last year. But 54 per cent of respondents said they plan to acquire property in the next 12 months, up from 31 per cent a year ago. The survey at the event, hosted jointly by Fenn Wright, Ellisons Solicitors and BDO at Weston Homes Community Stadium, showed that almost a third of those polled expect commercial property values to increase over the next 12 months, and 36 expect predict residential property values to rise. Guy Longhurst from Ellisons, said: “We are immensely proud to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this annual conference. The event’s continued success is a testament to the reputation of Ellisons, Fenn Wright and BDO LLP as the firms that clients can trust for expert commentary and advice in respect of all property-related matters.”... Read more

Photo (l-r): Lewis Chambers, partner, Fenn Wright, Guy Longhurst, senior partner, Ellisons Solicitors, Phil Eckersley, agent, South East and East Anglia, Bank of England Peter Harrup, partner at BDO

Foreign buyers of SMEs help buoy up deal prospects

The outlook for deals in the region remains buoyant helped by a rising number of acquisitions of SMEs by foreign buyers, according to Prettys Solicitors. Iain Waine (photo, right), senior partner at Prettys, said 2017 was a positive year for deals in the East of England despite Brexit uncertainty and the trend is likely to continue throughout 2018. “Whilst we have been involved in a number of transactions between UK-based entities, the corporate team at Prettys has seen a noticeable rise in SME acquisitions by foreign buyers who want to get a toe-hold in the UK market and are taking advantage of the drop in sterling to invest in quality businesses which offer localised services,” he said. It is likely that the East of England will continue to attract international investment.  The Netherlands, US and Ireland have been particularly active in the work which we have done,” he added. The comments follow a financial year when Prettys’ corporate team saw increasing volumes of transactional work, completing deals in leisure services, high-end and specialist construction services as well as haulage and freight forwarding. …Read more

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Place shaping BID specialist firm acquired

Savills has acquired a ‘place shaping’ company Central Management Solutions (CMS), which specialises in developing business improvement districts (BIDs). Established in Ipswich in 2011 by CEO, Paul Clement, who takes on a new role at Savills as head of place shaping, CMS employs 28 staff who will join Savills. CMS has built a reputation and client base providing place shaping and marketing services and in developing and managing BID companies, which are business-led and funded. The firm provides management support to 11 BID locations and is developing new BID models in Maidstone, Colchester, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Andover and Stoke-On-Trent. Nick Herward, head of property management at Savills, said: “Having an in-depth knowledge of the areas in which our clients operate and own schemes is a vital part of our service and the integration of CMS will therefore provide a fundamental new offer to our existing business, as well as complementing the overall expertise within the management division.”

Photo (l to r): Martin Wallace, Graeme Clark, Katrina MacKay, Nick Herward and Paul Clement (CMS)

Corporate insolvencies on the rise

Underlying corporate insolvencies rose by 13per centin the first quarter of this year on the previous three months and stood 0.6 per cent up on the period a year earlier, according to Insolvency Service figures. R3 Eastern chair Mark Upton said: “Insolvency has definitely risen up the agenda over the first quarter of this year, with a roll-call of high-profile names – Carillion, Maplin, Toys R Us – entering a statutory insolvency procedure. There have also been widely-reported restructuring efforts among a number of other chains, especially in the casual dining space. Crucially, any time a company encounters difficulties there is a ‘domino’ effect on its suppliers and customers, who may face their own financial problems as a result of lost income or key supplies." Weak gdp growth may also have lifted insolvency numbers.

Legal firm merges Woodbridge offices

Suffolk law firm Gotelee Solicitors is merging its two Woodbridge teams to create one expanded service offering in its modern offices at Deben Mill. The firm has seen significant growth in recent months after establishing a presence in Woodbridge in 2016, after taking over Margary Miller. It will now have staff from its Quay Point office working under the same roof as those at the Deben Mill Business Park. CEO Charles Rowett said: “This is a very exciting move for us. Our clients were finding that despite being positioned next to the Adnams shop in the car park, they struggled with finding a parking space for appointments.  The Deben Mill office is much more accessible, with ample free parking and plenty of space for us to continue to grow.” The firm’s commercial property team, based at Quay Point, will move to a central hub in Ipswich as Gotelee continues to meet growing demand, after doubling its headcount in the past two years.

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Three new partners appointed at law firm

Ashtons Legal has appointed Colin Makin, Amy Richardson and Tom Bailey as partners in the firm, taking its total to34 partners and 320 staff across East Anglia. Colin Makin joined the firm in 2015 and has been promoted following completion of the firm’s partnership programme. He speialises  in employment law and is based in Ashtons’ Ipswich office. Amy Richardson has joined the firm’s commercial property team in Cambridge and specialises in planning. She is is an ex-local authority solicitor. Tom Bailey joins Ashtons’ Norwich office as a partner in the dispute resolution team and is a practising barrister with significant experience across civil and commercial litigation. Edward O’Rourke, CEO at Ashtons, said: “I would like to congratulate Colin on his richly deserved promotion and welcome both Amy and Tom to the firm."

Photo (l to r): Colin Makin, Amy Richardson and Tom Bailey

Law firm advises on flagship store at Westfield White City

Law firm Birketts has advised Stokke on its flagship store in the new £600m retail extension at Westfield London in White City: Europe’s largest shopping centre.  Stokke AS was founded in Norway in 1932 and provides worldwide distribution of premium children furniture and equipment. Birketts advised on all legal matters with Melissa Loucas, head of retail leading the transaction, assisted by Andrew Ridout, Laura Jones and Edward Long. Melissa Loucas said: “I am delighted that we have been able to advise Stokke on this exciting new venture. We were able to draw upon our sector expertise and marry that with a multi-disciplined team to finalise all matters within the agreed timeframe.”

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Internet firm relocates in Peterborough with support from bank

Evolving Networks, a growing specialist provider of enhanced internet connectivity to business, has releocated to new premises at Lynch Wood, Peterborough with banking facilities from Barclays. With premises twice the size of its previous site, the company has been able to take on two new staff and will be creating job opportunities in the coming months. The firm was started in April 2008 by Nick Johnson, with Nic Elliott joining as chief technology officer. It employs 15 and offers 1-2 apprenticeships each year and is the UK’s only SD-WAN software and network provider, having recently been named in a global list of the most dynamic SD-WAN companies worldwide. Nick Johnson said: “This is an important phase in our growth, we are providing cutting edge connectivity solutions to businesses throughout the UK and we needed to be able to accommodate our growing business."

Neil Collcott, Barclays business banking manager, Peterborough, said: “This is the story of a very successful scale-up company that is continuing to grow and employing more people.  Their technology services are vital in a world where connectivity really matters.”

Photo (L-R): Nic Elliott (chief technology officer), Nick Johnson, (managing director), and Neil Collott, Barclays business manager, Peterborough.

Separately, nominations have opened for the Barclays’ annual High-Growth & Entrepreneur Awards, which are open to non-Barclays’ customers for the first time. Categories range from the Start-up Entrepreneur Award to The Social Entrepreneur Award with a new International Expansion Award. Nominations can be submitted online at ahead of the deadline on Friday, 18 May.

Cambridge biotech firm secures £4.3 million

PredictImmune, a Cambridge-based developer of prognostic tools to guide treatment of patients with immune-mediated diseases, has secured £4.3million from the Wellcome Trust. The funding will be used to support a prospective multi-centre clinical trial of its prognostic biomarker test for treatment guidance in Crohn’s disease, one of the major forms of inflammatory bowel disease. The study is sponsored by Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge.

Phase 2 of business park completes

Riduna Holdings has completed phase two of its Riduna Park business park in Melton, near Woodbridge, with nine offices ranging from 1,250-7,500 sq ft two-storey options, ready for occupation. The park is home to the hq of East Suffolk District Council, coffee house Honey + Harvey and has attracted interest from companies keen to locate in a modern development with good road and rail links. Katie Emerson, project manager for Riduna Holdings, said: “Several companies had already approached us to be on the waiting list for Phase Two, so we are thrilled that we can now look forward to some very significant East of England businesses moving in to their units in the coming weeks.”

New training centre opens in Hunts

A new forklift truck training centre at Cambridge Regional College’s Huntingdon Campus - for use by apprentices, local companies and jobseekers - has been opened by the town's mayor Cllr Jay Dyne. The centre will allow the college to offer RTITB-accredited training and licencing, to meet demand from businesses across the county and region. College principal and chief executive Mark Robertson said: “Our region needs a variety of skills and this college offers a great range of specialist training and vocational courses. These industry specific licences are an essential part of what local employers are looking for new recruits to hold, making this a hugely useful new service for the local community”.