Thursday 17th January 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 05/07/2018

Hopes rise for new jobs and contracts from £200 million nuclear deal

A Nuclear Sector Deal worth over £200 million has been developed by the government with New Anglia LEP and others which holds out the prospect of significant job opportunities in the East of England as Sizewell C and Bradwell B in Essex take shape. The deal signed by business and energy secrtary Greg Clark aims to promote growth in the nuclear supply chain through joint government and industry support for smaller companies to win higher value contracts and new markets. LEPs will play a key role in delivering support, with the East of England see as a national cluster of nuclear expertise. On skills, the deal involves regional apprenticeship pilots, action on STEM careers in nuclear, and looking at expanding the National College for Nuclear to the east of England. The deal includes industry pledges to cut the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30 per cent and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20 per cent by 2030. Doug Field, chair of New Anglia LEP, said: “A sector deal for the nuclear industry has the potential to bring great benefits to the East. The existing supply chain for Sizewell B means our businesses already have the expertise. The opportunities created by Sizewell C and Bradwell B will be enhanced by this deal, creating more high value jobs and investment in Suffolk and Norfolk and the wider eastern region…..Alongside our rapidly growing offshore wind industry, this deal puts us in a strong position to help the UK meet that challenge.”

Separately, Simone Rossi, chief executive of EDF Energy (photo, right), told a Suffolk Chamber event last week that Sizewell C will boost the local economy by acting as a catalyst for top-end engineering, construction and manufacturing jobs, creating 100 apprenticeships during construction and contributing £4 billion into the economy over the lifetime of the project.

Cambs software firm acquired by French company

Cambridge-based CAD specialist Innova Systems UK has been sold to a French-listed digital company Visiativ SA in a deal supported by Grant Thornton and law firm Birketts. Innova provides Solidworks products, training and support for firms employing CAD across a wide range of industries and had sales of around £4 million in 2017. Set up in 2002, as a branch Root Solutions, Innova Systems became a separate entity in 2015 after consistent growth and also has offices in London and Nottingham. The deal gives Lyon-based Visiativ SA, with a €124 million turnover, a presence in the UK and enhances its European offering. Phil Sharpe, partner at Grant Thornton’s Central and East Corporate Finance team, who led the deal, said: “We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to advise on the sale of Innova Systems, a deal which delivers a great result for all parties involved and provides a strong basis for Innova to continue on its impressive growth trajectory.” Birketts advised on all legal matters with James Allen leading Birketts’ corporate team and assistance being provided by Laura Ing-Beaufils.

Norwich insurance software firm bought by US group

Norwich-based Validus-IVC, which provides claims management and analysis services to the UK motor insurance industry, has been acquired by a US data analytics group Verisk, which is based in New Jersey. Validus-IVC was founded in May 2007 and its proprietary software platform, verifyTM, provides settlements for a sizeable number of motor repair and mobility claims, in the UK and overseas. “We’re excited to join Verisk because this will provide us additional opportunities to accelerate our momentum in the UK claims market,” said Edwyn van Rooyen, chief executive officer of Validus-IVC. LDC, part of Lloyds Banking Group, invested in Validus in 2013 to back the buyout of the business.


Farmland market gets tougher

The farmland market in England is getting tougher, despite rising values in the first half, says Strutt & Parker. "Our figures show that over a third of the farms marketed in 2017 either remain available or have been withdrawn and these farms are obviously not factored into average prices," said Michael Fiddes, head of estate and farm agency. “There are still farms selling incredibly well, but overall it is getting tougher. The market remains incredibly polarised with location and farm type, rather than quality, remaining the key drivers of the price achieved." The price paid for arable land in England over the past six months ranges from £6,800 to £15,000/acre.

Commenting on the East, Giles Allen said:“An interesting phenomenon in the East Anglian region is that large farms and estates are outperforming the rest of the market. It is the sale of the larger blocks of land and estates where we are seeing the fastest sales and at higher £/acre than smaller parcels. The price of smaller parcels of commercial farmland can be lower as they are attracting buyers solely focused on the levels of return achievable from farming that land.”

Estate agency sold to family-run business

Howards Estate Agency, which operates in Norfolk and north Suffolk, has been sold to a family-run business, SpicerHaart, which is based in Colchester and employs more than 2,000. Law firm Birketts advised Howards' owner on the sale with Ed Savory (photo, right) leading the team assisted by Monty Chamberlain (corporate), Andrew Ridout (commercial property), Ben Clarke (corporate / commercial property), Catherine Hepworth (employment) and Karl Pocock (tax).Adam Darling, ex-director at Howards Estate Agency said: "We needed a law firm that could advise on a number of legal matters, had excellent local market knowledge and a reputation for clear, legal advice."

See Profile Birketts

Work starts on new Thetford warehouse

Construction has started on a new 20,000 sq ft storage and distribution building for TROX UK an air conditioning and ventilation system manufacturer based in Thetford which includes a canopy linking the new facility to existing space on Caxton Way. Suffolk-based Mixbrow Construction is the main contractor for the concrete and steel framed structure, which forms part of TROX UK’s long-term expansion plans. Bury St Edmunds based Rees Pryer was the architect for the scheme which include a 42-space undercroft car park beneath the new warehouse. Local engineering consultancy, Superstructures was commissioned to carry out the structural design proposal for the scheme including the car park. Attleborough-based BHA carried out the civils design and Suffolk-based Gill Associates was the employer’s agent. The multi-million project is a vote of confidence in the business by German  parent company TROX GmBH and will reduce its carbon footprint and costs and improve customer service when it completes in February 2019. TROX has been based at Thetford since 1971 and employs around 150 at the site.

Polish contract gives Ipswich firm a boost

Ipswich-based UV Safe, which makes knife sterilising equipment for the food and catering sector, says it is set to increase turnover by a quarter after winning a new contract in Poland helped by a  £100,000 factoring finance facility from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Since launching in 2016, the firm has won significant orders from brands including ABP Food Group, one of Europe’s largest food processors and it plans to target the US, Canada and New Zealand in the next 12 months. Based on Ipswich marina, UV Safe has an annual turnover of £250,000 and having doubled its monthly profits in two years, is  expecting a further increase of 300 per cent in the next six months. Paul Anderson, managing director at UV Safe, said: “The food industry still widely relies on hot water to clean knives. Using UVC light is more efficient and 99 per cent cheaper to operate. Because of this, there has been a high level of demand from customers both in the UK and abroad.”

Norfolk resort in the spotlight

Gorleston-on-Sea, the seaside resort near Great Yarmouth, hopes to benefit from a role as the backdrop for a music gig in a new Danny Boyle film, Jack and Ellie. The town is hoping the movie will help raise its profile and attracts visitors after new shops and restaurants have opened in the area and improvements have been made to businesses in the area. Wetherspoons has built a new £2.2m pub in the high street and the former Palace Cinema has seen a £1 million refurbishment.  Gareth Brown, chairman of the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area, said: “We have experienced a real upturn in Gorleston with a number of businesses and individuals investing a great deal of money into the town, which has led to an influx of tourists and visitors. The new movie has also created a lot of interest, with people flocking to be extras or just to watch the filming from the clifftop. And we are hoping the town’s appearance – even if it's called something different – will encourage people to find out where it is in real life and come to visit.”

Yacht built in Suffolk to be launched at boat show

Ipswich-based yacht designer and builder Spirit Yachts is launching its latest new boat, the Spirit DH63, at this year’s Southampton Boat Show in September. The 19.2m yawl sailing yacht has been designed for cruising and racing in the UK and Caribbean and includes a  raised coachroof, which provides protection from the elements. Spirit Yachts managing director Nigel Stuart said: “We worked closely with the owner to fulfil his brief of iconic Spirit style married with practicality for liveaboard cruising as well as occasional racing.” Spirit Yachts will be marking its 25th anniversary later this year.

Agency completes new brand work for leading law firms

Suffolk-based agency Yellobelly has completed new brand work with two of the region’s leading law firms, Gepp Solicitors and Birketts. Chelmsford and Colchester-based Gepp Solicitors tasked Yellobelly with modernising and refreshing its brand to help mark its 250th anniversary year. Yellobelly’s work on the rebrand included renaming the firm - formerly Gepp & Sons - and refreshing the logo, redrawing the Gepp eagle from original heraldic source documents. Following previous advertising campaign work with Birketts, Yellobelly has created a 33.5 metre long, floor to ceiling vinyl decal timeline which has been applied to wall space stretching the length of the fourth floor of the firm’s new offices in central Ipswich and which charts key events in the law firm's 155 year life. Mary Graham of Yellobelly said: “We are delighted to have worked with two such established and respected law firms who are also deeply invested in adapting to meet the challenges of the modern legal world.”

Cambridge venues to open doors

A total of 38 venues around Cambridge are showcasing their facilities for meetings, conferences and corporate dining as part of a series of Open Doors events organised by Meet Cambridge, the conference and events bureau for the city and the region. The showrounds are limited to 12 people and comprise two or three venues within one session and places on tours need to be reserved but are free of charge to event organisers. The next Open Doors event will take place on Wednesday 11th July, from 10.00am – 1.00pm and includes Hotel Felix, Cambridge Belfry Hotel and Madingley Hall. Details at

In brief…

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has been commissioned to survey Suffolk businesses on their experiences attitudes on public sector procurement. Including  local councils, the Police and health bodies and the University of Suffolk and local colleges, total public sector spend in Suffolk in 2017 was around £1.9 billion. The Suffolk Growth Programme Board (SGPB), is looking into the buyers and suppliers' views.

Cambridge-based Evonetix has secured substantial funding to support the development of a novel approach to DNA synthesis from Innovate UK, which will co-fund the £1.3 million project which is being run with Durham University’s department of chemistry.

A 23,600 sq ft (2,192 sq m) warehouse with a 20,000 sq ft (1,858 sq m) mezzanine floor in Peterborough’s Woodston Industrial area has been sold through agent Barker Storey Matthews to a city-based family firm whose turnover has almost trebled in the past six years. The warehouse will give extra depot storage space to J Huggins & Sons.