Wednesday 19th December 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 01/08/2018

Businesses growing more resilient amid uncertainty

East of England firms grew less optimistic on the economic outlook in July although a rise in the balance of firms planning to hire more staff suggests businesses are becoming more resilient amid widespread uncertainty, according to a business barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Whilst firms' confidence in their own business prospects dipped to 9 per cent, compared with 33 per cent in June, the survey also shows the net balance of firms which expect to hire more staff during the next year rose four points to 15 per cent.  Across the region, a net balance of six per cent of firms said Brexit was having a negative effect effect on business expectations. Andrew Connors, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “….the fact that their investment plans – seen here in their hiring intentions – are more robust suggests firms are beginning to adapt to operating amid such uncertainty, refusing to get ahead of themselves when confidence rises but equally not panicking when their optimism slides.” Nationally, the survey of 1200 firms showed overall confidence edged ahead as businesses’ confidence in their own prospects held steady at 34 per cent.

Surprise fall in insolvencies but directors need to stay vigilant

Corporate insolvencies saw a surprise fall in the second quarter - down 12 per cent compared to the previous three months – but the Eastern branch of R3 is warning it may only be a blip in an underlying upward trend. Insolvency Service figures also showed corporate insolvencies are still 12 per cent higher than the second quarter last year and R3 says company directors need to remain vigilant to help safeguard their businesses. R3 Eastern chair Mark Upton, a partner at Ensors Chartered Accountants, said: “While the dip in corporate insolvency numbers in the last quarter may surprise some, it is just one quarter. Insolvency numbers have bounced around from quarter to quarter in recent years, and the underlying trend remains slightly upwards. The current dip could be explained by the fact that corporate insolvencies often receive a bump in January to March as company directors take stock of their situation ahead of the end of the financial year.”


Norwich firm reaches “major milestone” on Jaguar Land Rover battery project

Norwich-based Connected Energy says it has reached a “major milestone” in its £1.3million collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover to establish key components of a second life battery value chain. The firm’s E-STOR energy storage technology has been adapted to integrate second life Jaguar Land Rover batteries. CEO Matthew Lumsden said:“This milestone demonstrates the flexibility of the E-STOR system and we expect it to lead to further collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover as British industry continues to lead in the global EV circular economy”.

Mick Cameron, head of e-mobility at Jaguar Land Rover,said: “From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will have the option of electrification. This project explores how automotive batteries can be given a second life in energy storage solutions to support wider industry needs.”

Law firm takes space in Cambridge

Sheffield-headquartered Harper James Solicitors has taken office space at Cambridge Innovation Park in a move which the firm says will allow it to expand its reach across the UK. The firm, which also has offices in London and Birmingham, was appointed earlier this year to a Cambridge-based tech start-up, Cauldron Science. Founder and CEO Toby Harper said: “Having access to office space in Cambridge will allow us to operate more efficiently in the Eastern UK market… provide further support for our clients in the region, whilst also attracting new clients to sign up to our range of legal services.” Founded in 2014, Harper Jones has more than 40 solicitors and support staff.

Record demand for Norse cleaning and catering services

Demand for Norse catering and cleaning services has never been so strong, after new contracts have been announced in each month of this financial year. “All catering sectors, educational, corporate and care home clients, are seeing sustainable growth but the schools and academies side of the business has also seen over £2m worth of contract awards since the start of the new financial year,” said catering operations director, Andrew Lipscomb. These contracts are typically three-year agreements and business retention is one of the key features of a business’ longer-term stability.

Norse has also had a good start to the year on the cleaning side of the business. The company provides cleaning services from its head office in Norwich and from eleven of the partnerships it has with local authorities around the country, accounting for around £70m of its £200m annual turnover. “We’ve had an incredible first few months in the current financial year, with a number of contracts renewed, some with additional services incorporated,” said Rob Trewick, cleaning operations director at Norse. Read more....

See Profile Norse Commercial Services

Consultancy appointed to NHS framework

Property and construction consultancy, Ingleton Wood, which has offices in Cambridge, Colchester,  and Norwich, has been appointed to the NHS Shared Business Services Construction Consultancy Services framework for a further four years. The practice specialises in delivering services for healthcare providers and recent projects have included operating theatres, dental surgeries and CT scanners. Under the framework, Ingleton Wood will be able to provide a range of services including architecture, building surveying, mechanical and electrical services, quantity surveying and structural engineering. Paul Cavalier (right), partner at Ingleton Wood, said: “We are extremely pleased to once again be appointed onto this prestigious framework. It gives our public sector clients the ability to access our full range of multi-discipline services and simplifies the procurement route in a cost effective and timely manner.” Established in the 1960s, Ingleton Wood has five offices across the East of England and London and employs close to 200 staff.

See Profile Ingleton Wood

New office space in Norwich reflects ‘forward thinking’

Grant Thornton has created an innovative new office space in Norwich which it says reflect the firm’s forward thinking, collaborative approach. The new modern office will include ‘collaborative working booths’, interactive screens and write on walls to inspire creativity. Grant Thornton has created similar work spaces in Chelmsford, Milton Keynes, St Albans, Oxford and London. The new space on the first floor of Kingfisher House in Gilders Way - where Grant Thornton’s 85-strong Norwich team operates from – is part of a firm-wide strategy to create work places for the future. Tim Hansell, head of advisory at Grant Thornton’s Norwich office, said: “Our new space will leave behind the traditional office concept to provide an open, informal and agile environment where our people can really connect with clients and each other.”

See Profile Grant Thornton

Law firm expands specialist asbestos disease team

Ashtons Legal has expanded its specialist asbestos disease team with the appointment of solicitor Martyn Hayward. He has dealt with asbestos-related disease claims for more than 15 years and previously worked for 25 years as an electrician. He is a qualified solicitor and is recognised by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers as a senior litigator and as an accredited asbestos and occupational disease specialist. Martyn Hayward will be based in Ashtons’ Cambridge office with fellow asbestos disease solicitor Phoebe Osborne and both will work alongside the firm’s personal injury teams in Ipswich, Thetford and Bury St Edmunds. Richard Foyster, partner, and head of personal injury at Ashtons, said: “His recruitment is an important part of our strategy to continue to grow our asbestos team across East Anglia, helping to gain a fair result for our clients and to raise public awareness of the dangers of asbestos related disease”. Separately, Ashtons Legal has launched a Wills Year initiative where a donation of £10 for each will completed in a year will be donated to local charities.

Photo - Ashtons’ specialist asbestos disease team (l-r): Richard Foyster (partner), Tony Shord (paralegal), Phoebe Osborne (solicitor), Martyn Hayward (solicitor) and Michael Wangermann (partner).

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Law firm raises £43,000 for hospice

Bury St. Edmunds law firm Greene & Greene Solicitors has been supporting ‘Wills Weeks’ in aid of St. Nicholas Hospice Care since 2011. As an alternative to charging a fee for the service, legal advisers ask for a donation to the hospice. In the past eight years, Greene & Greene has received donations totalling £35,831. With a Gift Aid top-up from HMRC of £7,542.75, the final amount raised totals £43,373.75 thanks to client contributions and the firm's private client team’s work. Trusts & estates practitioner Martine Swaep said: “We offer 25 appointments during Wills Weeks and they are all booked well in advance of the cut-off date with a significant number of people opting to join a waiting list should a late cancellation become available. We are astounded once again by the generosity of our clients and grateful for their continued support of such a worthy cause”.

See Profile Greene & Greene

Life sciences firm expands in Cambridge

Cambridge-based technology and product development company TTP plc has moved into a new extension of its life sciences development facility. The extra lab space has been developed in response to increasing demand for product development projects in diagnostics, R&D and bioprocess. The new facilities are part of investment at TTP in dedicated space for system development programmes for life science and diagnostics companies, and a growing initiative to find biologically derived solutions for challenges in assay development and biomarker discovery. TTP has a particular focus on helping customers to develop new products in molecular and immunodiagnostics, life science R&D and bioprocess, cell-sorting, bioprinting and microfabrication. Founded in 1987, TTP Group employs over 400 engineering and technical staff at its Cambridge campus.

Promotion at Felixstowe freight specialist

Diana Dostalova-Sujewicz has been promoted to head of operations at Felixstowe-based European freight specialist, Jordon. She has been promoted from operations team leader after three years. Her new position covers further improving service levels and standards, increasing sales volumes and identifying training needs. Jon Swallow, director of Jordon, said: “Diana is a great asset to the company. Her background in customer service management and positive ‘can-do’ attitude makes her a natural when she’s dealing with colleagues and customers alike.  She also played a key role in achieving our ISO 9001: 2015 accreditation earlier this year.”