Monday 19th November 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 1/12/2017

Confident Suffolk firms step up investment for growth

The largest 100 Suffolk businesses have significantly increased investment and employment against a background of rising profits, turnover and employment, according to the latest Suffolk Ltd study from Grant Thornton and law firm Birketts. Fixed assets across the top 100 rose by 14.2 per cent and total debt by 17.5 per cent to £881 million as the county’s largest firms expanded operations and shrugged off concerns over the EU referendum and last year’s US presidential election. The study, based on the last-published annual reports, showed combined turnover rose by 8.7 per cent to £5.12 billion and combined operating profits rose by 14.2 per cent to £273 million whilst the workforce rose by 11 per cent to 53,749. Retail & wholesale remained the largest sector followed by transport & motor retail. Rob Thomson, director at Grant Thornton Ipswich, said: “Suffolk’s top 100 companies have returned an impressive set of results against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty….As well as revenue growth, borrowing and investment has also significantly increased with fixed assets up 14.2 per cent and a considerable rise in employment. This suggests companies are taking a less cautious approach and ensuring they have a stable foundation from which to face an uncertain post Brexit world.….Read more

Photo (l-r) : Jonathan Agar, CEO, Birketts with guest speaker Ian Twinley, chairman, John Grose Group;  panellists Susanna Rendall, Group MD, Boxford (Suffolk) Holdings; Phil Morris, Group CFO, Servest; Richard Lister, Vice Chancellor, University of Suffolk; and Rob Thomson, director, Grant Thornton.

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International events bring £8 million into Cambridge

A total of 75 international events were hosted in Cambridge bringing 4,620 delegates into the city and generating an £8 million economic impact in 2016/17. Kelly Vickers, director of Meet Cambridge, shared the figures with a gathering of academics from the university and others from local organisations including the Mayor of Cambridge at an event to mark the successful promotion of Cambridge as a global centre of excellence and a location for international conferences. Organised by Meet Cambridge and held at Christ’s College, the evening presentation and dinner was a ‘thank you’ to Cambridge Ambassadors who played a major role in bringing events and business to the city Professor Andy Neely, pro-vice chancellor of enterprise and business relations, University of Cambridge, said: “It is essential that we communicate the ground-breaking research that is taking place in Cambridge and continue to build international links. By helping to host conferences and meetings here, Meet Cambridge’s Ambassador Programme is already playing a key role in achieving this.”

Left to right: Emma Thornton, Visit Cambridge; Anita Macdonald and Kelly Vickers, Meet Cambridge; Councillor George Pippas, Mayor of Cambridge; Dr Dervila Glynn, Cambridge neuroscience coordinator, University of Cambridge; Professor Andy Neely, pro-vice chancellor for enterprise and business relations, University of Cambridge; and Professor Julian Allwood, professor of engineering and the environment, department of engineering, University of Cambridge.

Ipswich-based software company reaches milestone

Ipswich-based Inform Direct, which specialises in award-winning company secretarial software, has reached a significant milestone in its five- year history by signing up its 75,000th customer. The firm, which simplifies all necessary company secretarial tasks, has seen rapid growth in its user base. The firm’s customer service was also recently recognised with a Feefo Gold Rating, an independent seal of excellence. Inform Direct CEO Henry Catchpole said: “This is an important milestone for our skilled and talented team and one that we feel is well worth celebrating. 2017 has been particularly busy and successful – in May we reached our 50,000th customer and just six months on, that figure has risen to 75,000.  During this time we have also expanded our support team which we see as an integral part of the service we offer to customers. Feedback shows that they like having a knowledgeable person at the end of the telephone to call if they need guidance.”

Awards for Norwich-based agency

Norwich-based agency, GRIT Digital, won two national awards at the UK Digital Experience Awards at Wembley Stadium last week, including the award for best overall digital experience. Competing against brands including Virgin Money, Three UK and Sage, GRIT Digital won the ‘not for profit’ category and was overall winner across all 20 categories for their work on behalf of the Association of Independent Museums. Founder and managing director Peter Whitmore said: “We are a small team of 11 so I am incredibly proud that our work has been recognised amongst household names and some of the UK’s leading agencies. It proves you don’t need to be based in London to provide award-winning digital expertise.”

Work starts on new Sudbury building

Rose Builders has started work on a new commercial property in a conservation area at Market Hill in Sudbury to replace the 19th century Goldsmith’s Mansion in Friars Street, which was destroyed by fire in 2015. Designed by local architects, Wincer Kievenaar and marketed by Fenn Wright, the new three-storey building will fill the gap between the former Anchor Inn and HSBC Bank. When completed in Autumn 2018, the property will provide a 14-metre wide full depth shop front retail / restaurant space, along with six flats.  Over the next few weeks, enabling and site set up work will be carried out before construction starts in the new year.

Cambridge college achieves national accreditation

St John’s College, Cambridge has become one of the few organisations to achieve official UK recognition as an Allergen Accredited Venue. The catering team at St John’s College, which produces more than 1,400 meals each day in its Cambridge kitchens, has been working towards it for many months, before being assessed this Summer. Bill Brogan, conference & catering manager said: “The college has had an Allergy Policy in place for some time and working towards this accreditation has helped ensure we meet the objectives set. It has involved not only reviewing practices, but also training our team to understand the implications and responsibilities of being an Allergen Accredited Venue.” The college has a growing number of students and visitors from both the UK and overseas who have allergens and food intolerances, particularly dairy.

Photo: Bill Brogan (left), conference & catering Manager and Ian Hogg, assistant catering manager, who led the initiative.

House builder signs up to skills pledge

Lincs-based housebuilder Larkfleet Homes has signed up to the Home Building Skills Pledge, designed by the Home Builders Federation, to work with its subcontractors to recruit and train more people and help to tackle the industry's skills gap in the East Midlands and East of England. Karl Hick, Larkfleet Homes CEO, said:“By signing up to the pledge we are committing Larkfleet Homes to recruit the best possible talent and to train people to the highest standards. By being proactive in terms of engaging staff, and by being inclusive and diverse in our recruitment, we will be able to future-proof our workforce to continue to deliver high quality new homes.”

Employers recognised by MoD

The Ministry of Defence has awarded six East Anglian businesses with an Armed Forces Covenant Silver Employer Recognition Scheme Award. An event held at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge marked the achievements of Anglian Demolition & Asbestos Ltd (Norfolk), Carbon60 Ltd (Bedfordshire), Colchester Institute (Essex), Cranfield University (Bedfordshire), CS Hodges and Son Ltd (Hertfordshire) and Servest Ltd (Suffolk) in supporting the defence community. As part of the event, 61 other businesses from across the region also had their status as silver award winners re-validated highlighting their continued commitment to defence personnel since 2014.

Three star campus rating for Cambridge college

Murray Edwards College, Cambridge has received a three star campus rating for the third time, following an audit of the standard of the en suite accommodation it provides for conference delegates and B&B guests. It was awarded the accolade from VisitEngland, the country’s national tourist board, for the facilities and services on offer in its bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as public areas. This year’s Quality in Tourism report highlighted the college’s quiet location, transport links to the city centre, its well-tended gardens with sculptures and on-site parking. The resident New Hall Art Collection – the second largest collection of works by female artists in the world – was also identified by guests as adding ‘significant value’ to their stay. Freya Vaughan, marketing & events officer said: “Our repeated success reflects a number of enhancements we have made to our facilities since the last audit, including co-ordinated throws and cushions in our rooms and the addition of large New Hall Art Collection Posters featuring a selection of the artworks to create a more welcoming feel.”

Photo (l to r): Chris Pope, general manager conferences, catering and residences with Freya Vaughan, marketing & events officer.