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Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 28/02/2013

Pressure mounts on transport firms

Medium sized transport and logistics firms in the region could be vulnerable as confidence across the sector has fallen in the face of weakening consumer demand, pressure on margins and rising fuel costs.

A UK logistics confidence index compiled by Barclays and Grant Thornton, which includes firms in the region, has fallen by 10 per cent from the first half of 2012, to 52.5. Some 42 per cent of those surveyed do not see business conditions improving over the next six months. A further 41 per cent expect them to be ‘somewhat or much more difficult.’

However the industry appears to be more optimistic for the longer term with 52 per cent of firms expecting to increase profits, 37 per cent predicting a rise in headcount and 57 per cent expecting to increase capital spending over the next six months....MORE





Enterprise zone funds targeted

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership is bidding for cash from a new £60 million government enterprise zone fund created to complete key infrastructure projects quickly. Funding will be targeted at sites capable of delivering growth in the next two to three years. New Anglia’s Enterprise Zone, part of the East of England Energy Zone, is based across six sites in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.  It provides a range of benefits for energy-related businesses, including a discount on business rates of up to £275,000, simplified planning and super-fast broadband. Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “This is a really exciting development. We’ve been looking at infrastructure needs across the six sites and will closely study the criteria for funding and put our best case forward. If we are successful in our bid, the fund will help put in place the infrastructure required to unlock sites. This will enable developers to build more premises on the Enterprise Zone that companies need to thrive.” The hope is that there will be over £50 billion capital expenditure invested in the East of England Energy Zone over the next 20 years in offshore wind farms including the East Anglia Array, oil and gas exploration and extraction, nuclear – new build and decommissioning & gas storage and platform decommissioning.

Cashflow problems mount at SMEs

The proportion of SMEs in the East of England facing cashflow problems has increased to 35 per cent from 26 per cent a year ago with the majority blaming late payers, says a survey from Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance. Roger Brown, regional director for Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance in the East of England, said: “There are several things companies can do to ensure that late payments don’t affect their cashflow. Prevention is better than cure, so carrying out background checks on customers, and setting out clear payment terms at the beginning of the relationship can help avoid any problems before they begin. In addition, widespread adoption of the Prompt Payment Code will mean that companies treat suppliers fairly, and late payments will become less endemic.”


Saxton John Brown Ltd, a Saffron Walden-based loft conversion and home extensions business, has ceased trading with the loss of 11 jobs after 20 years in business. A buyer for the business, which had a turnover of £1.3 million,is being sought. Chris McKay of Cambridge business rescue and insolvency specialists, McTear Williams & Wood, said: “The company has a good name locally and is known for its reputation of delivering a quality product. Poor trading in the lead-up to Christmas resulted in pressure on cash flow, which the company was unable to sustain."

Blue Sky Leisure is investing nearly half £500,000  to improve facilities at its two north Norfolk holiday parks, Kelling Heath Holiday Park near Holt, and Woodhill Park in East Runton. The investment includes 19 new luxury caravan holiday homes for the parks, totalling £400,000. Woodhill Park will also see a £85,000 refurbishment of the park shop and reception area. Blue Sky Leisure owner Michael Timewell said the investment builds on year on year growth in bookings at both parks.

Eastern Counties Leather has acquired the business and assets of Devonia, the last commercial tannery in the country. It follows the appointment of  three individuals at Duff & Phelps as joint administrators at the Buckfastleigh-based firm, which processes British sheepskins.

‘Managing People in the Information Age’ will be the theme of the annual Taylor Vinters’ Employment law conference today, 28 February at the Møller Centre in Cambridge. The Judge Business School’s Dr Jonathan Trevor, a leading thinker on strategic human resource management will talk on how organisations are developing in response to an increasingly complex and dynamic environment. Over 80 HR professionals have registered.

Suffolk-based Muntons has been verified as an ethical trading company following a successful audit against the SEDEX (Suppliers Ethical Data Exchange) scheme. Carlsberg, a major customer, invited Muntons to become part of this pilot scheme in its brewing supply chain. Its labour standards; health and safety; environment; business practices were audited. Muntons manufacturing and technical director, Dr. Nigel Davies said: “Passing this audit underlines Muntons continued commitment to sustainable manufacturing and strengthens our business credibility.”

Peterborough-based medical devices company Coloplast has climbed from 85th to 67th place on the  ‘Global 100 list', a corporate sustainability ranking. Sue Kernahan, Coloplast general manager, said: "We work closely with our staff. It is thanks to their hard work that we are able to improve our sustainability while continuing to grow the company. We aim to achieve best practice in everything we do - and that includes corporate responsibility."

Leading coding and marking specialist, Domino Printing Sciences, is supporting a month-long charity campaign to encourage its employees to adopt healthier lifestyles and avoid the risk of heart disease. The Bar Hill, Cambs -based company has been holding a number of initiatives during February as part of the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Awareness Month. Vicki Sanderson, Domino Group HR director said: “Heart Awareness Month culminated in a Fitness Challenge for Domino staff on Friday 22nd February at our offices in Bar Hill, resulting in a 'healthy competition' between departments with 48 employees taking part from all areas of our business. The competition included individual and team challenges undertaken during a timed five minutes on a rowing machine, with all entry fees going to the charity. I would like to say a big thank you to Menzies Waves Health & Leisure Club, located near us, who made the event possible by providing both the sports equipment and two qualified instructors on the day to oversee proceedings. We are sure this will help us reach our target of raising over £1000 for BHF.”