Thursday 17th January 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 06/06/2018

Upturn in exports brightens mixed picture for manufacturers

Manufacturers in the East of England have seen conditions ease in the second quarter and face a 'slightly more subdued outlook' although orders remain strong thanks to a pick-up in export business, says a sector survey from EEF and BDO. It says political uncertainty, slower global growth and a weaker construction sector is behind a fall in output from +32% at the start of this year to +6%. However total orders remained ‘very strong’ at +41%, thanks to more overseas orders. Intentions to recruit and invest have also slowed in response to political uncertainty and EEF has cut its forecast for gdp growth slightly to 1.2% in 2018 and 1.3% in 2019. EEF region director for the East of England, Charlotte Horobin, said: “This is a more mixed picture than we have seen for some time and reflects the easing to come from continued political uncertainty in line with the national picture. However, the long-term prospects for companies in the East of England that invest in skills and training in particular will remain bright.” Read more

Firms stay confident in their own prospects

Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects in the East of England increased slightly to 23 per cent in May although economic confidence in the region stood at just 3 per cent, down sharply on the previous month, according to a business barometer survey from Lloyds Bank. A net balance of 21 per cent of businesses in the region now expect to hire more staff during the next year, down eight points on last month. Steve Elsom, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:“While firms’ confidence in their own prospects remains resilient, their optimism about the economy overall has taken a hit, which has in turn knocked their recruitment plans as well.”

Cambridge tech firm raises funds

Cambridge Touch Technologies, a developer of sensing technologies for smart devices, has completed a £4.1 million series A1 round of investment. Existing investors - Parkwalk Advisors, Cambridge Enterprise and Amadeus Capital Partners - participated joined by new investors China Materialia of Shanghai and Downing Ventures of London. Ascendant Corporate Finance provided advice to CTT on the fund raising. CTT was spun out of the University of Cambridge in 2011 to commercialise next-generation 3D multi-touch technology for devices such as smartphones and tablets. Corbin Church, CEO at CTT, said: “The company has a number of opportunities to exploit with its technology, IP and first-class team, and this new funding will allow us to accelerate business, product and market development over the next 18 months.”

Law firm advises on sale of family-owned business

Law firm Birketts has advised the shareholders of Frimstone, a family-owned minerals business on its sale to construction industry supplier Mick George. Based in Downham Market, Frimstone operates from 10 premises and has over 70 years’ experience in mineral extraction, recycling and restoration projects in the region. Mick George, which has its hq in Huntingdon, works in building services and skip hire and is a leading construction industry supplier in East Anglia and the East Midlands. Mark Davenport, CEO of Frimstone, said: “The Birketts team were easy to get hold of and easy to deal with. It was a pleasure to be advised by lawyers who understood our requirements, were commercially-minded and proactive." James Allen, corporate partner at Birketts, led the transaction assisted by Corinne Spencer.

See Profile Birketts

Biotech firms fly direct to Boston from Stansted

More than 20 life science businesses from the region joined a trade visit to BIO 2018 in Boston this week to mark the launch of Primera Air’s direct air service between London Stansted and the US city. In partnership with One Nucleus, the delegation included firms such as O2h Ventures, Global Regulatory Services and Invest Essex. The delegation was joined by James Palmer, the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, who is keen to help open up new trade links between the life-science hubs in Cambridge and Boston. The East of England region is one of Europe’s leading life sciences clusters employing over 25,000 people across more than 600 businesses. The new flights by Primera Air operate four times a week from London Stansted Airport to Boston Logan Airport on new 196 seat, two-class Airbus A321NEO aircraft.

Food group acquires Yorkshire game business

Gressingham Game, part of Suffolk-based Gressingham Foods group, has acquired the business and assets of Yorkshire Game 17 Limited – which was in administration - including its retail game meat brand, ‘Wild’.  It has taken on a new lease for the North Yorkshire premises at Brompton-on-Swale and all its 23 employees. Co-owner and joint managing director William Buchanan, said: “Our aim with Gressingham Game is to build on the tremendous success we have enjoyed over the last 20 years introducing more and more people to the great taste of duck. We want to replicate that success and grow the category, ensuring game is also more accessible, available all year round in more stores, and that we show just how simple it is to prepare at home.”

In brief…

Senior promotions in Chelmsford

Two senior promotions have been made at the Chelmsford office of Grant Thornton as the firm  strengthens its offering across the county and wider region. Doug Bentley takes up the role of corporate finance director in the advisory team following seven years with the firm. He will continue to work with local businesses from large corporates to owner managed businesses, drawing on his wide M&A experience to support their strategic objectives. Graham Mummery has also been promoted to the role of director in the audit team. During his 12 years at Grant Thornton, he has worked with many dynamic local businesses across a broad range of sectors.

See Profile Grant Thornton

Developer appoints joint agent

Jaynic Properties, the developer of the 114-acre Suffolk Park scheme at Bury St Edmunds has appointed property agency Bidwells as joint agent to continue its current marketing success. Ben Oughton, development director of Jaynics, said: “We are delighted to have Bidwells on board with its strong reputation in East Anglia and to continue the excellent work of Savills and Hazells. We have had a tremendous start with site sales to Treatt and Sealey and the commencement of construction on two new speculative logistics warehouses which the agents are now actively marketing.”

See Profile Suffolk Park

Solicitor appointed on completion of training contract

Gotelee Solicitors'commercial property department has appointed Annalise Shelcott (photo) as solicitor after successfully completing her training contract with the firm. She graduated with a degree in law from the University of Warwick in 2015 and used the academic experience to gain an understanding of the law doing various charity and pro-bono work. She was offered a paralegal role in the commercial property department whilst completing the Legal Practice Course - and achieving a distinction - and then started her training contract, completing seats in commercial property, private client (from Gotelee’s Woodbridge office), corporate and commercial and family. Martin Whitworth (photo), head of commercial and residential property for Gotelee said: ‘Thanks to her time in the team as a paralegal, Annalise was able to hit the ground running when commencing her training contract with us. She has a natural ability to build commercial relationships and due to her pro-bono activities is a sure to be a very balanced lawyer. We are thrilled to have her on board in her new capacity as solicitor.’

See Profile Gotelee Solicitors

Norfolk landowners seek legal advice on wind farms

Churchgates' legal team has seen a growing number of urgent requests for legal advice, support and assistance from Norfolk farmers and landowners who are being asked to enter into a 10 year heads of terms agreement with offshore wind farm developer, Vattenfall. They are linked to onshore construction work on the Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas Offshore Wind Farm projects involving underground electricity cables from the north east Norfolk coast to a substation site close to Necton, near Swaffham. Churchgates' property solicitor Fraser Paskell said “…high-level negotiation and experienced legal drafting work is now needed to make each agreement ‘fit for individual purpose”; it is too easy for informal understandings reached in early discussions to be missed out of the document clauses."

Tech firm wins start-up challenge

Cambridge-based artificial intelligence and machine learning company, OKRA Technologies, has won a global start-up challenge at the VivaTech 2018 show in Paris. OKRA was one of hundreds of companies invited to pitch to a jury of 12 executives from French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi and its winning pitch focused on real time AI solutions for pharmaceutical companies.