Tuesday 26th March 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 16/10/2018

Survey shows majority of firms expect 'no deal' would have ‘positive effect’ on revenues

More than half of middle market firms in East Anglia and the Midlands think that leaving the EU without a deal would have a positive effect on their revenues, says a quarterly Brexit monitor survey from RSM compiled by YouGov. Fifty-two per cent of the region's mid-market business leaders surveyed said they thought exiting the EU without a deal would benefit future turnover. Of this, seven per cent felt ‘no deal’ would be ‘advantageous’ and 45 per cent said it would be ‘favourable’. But 19 per cent thought it would hit revenues and 21 per cent thought it would have no effect. Nationally, just over a third expected a turnover boost in the event of a 'no deal'. Mark Taylor, RSM's regional managing partner for the central region said: "We know that businesses across the region are getting increasingly concerned about the Government's ability to deliver a good deal. However, in the event of a 'no deal' outcome, they are fairly bullish about their revenue prospects. One of the reasons for this surprisingly upbeat sentiment could come down to their view that come what may, they remain sufficiently agile to react in a way that adapts to the new environment.”

Growth forecasts cut despite rise in third quarter activity

Forecasting group EY ITEM Club has cut its prediction for UK economic growth this year and next despite a strong performance in the third quarter. The downgrade reflected the dangers of no deal on Brexit, weaker consumer spending at home, the slowdown in the eurozone and uncertainty on global trade. It now expects the economy to grow by 1.3 per cent in 2018 (from 1.4 per cent previously) and by 1.5 per cent next year (against 1.6 per cent previously). Thanks to the World Cup and the heatwave, the EY ITEM Club expects third quarter gdp growth to have improved to 0.6 per cent over the previous three months, making it the best quarter for almost two years. But it predicts growth will fall back to 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter and through the first half of 2019. Nick Gomer, managing partner at EY in the East (photo, right) said: “The UK economy is going to experience a period of low economic growth for at least the next three years, and businesses in the East need to recognise this and adjust accordingly. They should also consider a sharp downside to the economy in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and make preparations for such a scenario.” The club also says business caution over investment over the next few months could be partly offset by firms seeking to ‘re-shore’ supply chains from the EU to the UK

Skills recruitment 'a challenge' for Suffolk firms despite strong culture

Most  Suffolk firms - some 78 per cent - find recruiting people with the right skills is a “major challenge” although most believe they have a strong culture backing their growth strategy. This is according to a poll taken ahead of the launch of this year’s ‘Suffolk Limited’, study into the county’s 100 largest companies by Grant Thornton and Birketts. Rob Thomson (photo, left), director at Grant Thornton’s Ipswich office who is leading the study, said: “Our launch poll indicates Suffolk businesses certainly have the foundations in place to build on this with strong culture underpinning ambitions for growth. However, the issue of talent recruitment in an increasingly competitive market threatens to hamper future progress.” On training, the survey showed that 42 per cent of Suffolk firms are concentrating on developing employees’ skills from within and 72 per cent are making use of the Apprenticeship Levy.

Jonathan Agar (photo, right), CEO at Birketts, added: “It’s positive to see so many Suffolk businesses recognising a strong culture as critical to success. Our launch poll found many local firms are creating the right environment for people to progress with 88 per cent saying their employees can grow and improve their skills and 69 per cent stating their people feel free to express opinions and ideas.” The Suffolk Limited study will be unveiled at a breakfast briefing on Wednesday 28 November at Wherstead Park.

Support programme boosts skills for over 700 businesses in the region

More than 700 businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk have had the chance to boost their workforce’s skills thanks to a skills support programme from New Anglia LEP and skills specialist Seetec. Through the LEP and the European Social Fund, businesses have received funding to raise skills at all levels. Paul Winter, chair of the LEP skills board, said: “We have bold ambitions for a more highly skilled workforce, better able to meet the demands of business in Norfolk and Suffolk. Skills provision and education isn’t just for the young. The work of Seetec and its partners is really assisting us to drive skills progression for the whole workforce.”

At a joint LEP and Seetec event near Diss last week, Chris Starkie, CEO of New Anglia LEP stressed the importance of partnership working across industry sectors to improve skills.

Chantel Hampton, Seetec’s skills delivery manager, said more than 2,800 people had received training through the Skills Support for the Workforce programme over two years.

Law firm advises on £9 million investment in Essex-based contact centre group

Law firm Birketts has helped secure a £9m investment for Ventrica, an outsourced contact centre based in Southend, from Mobeus Equity Partners. Founded in 2010, Ventrica provides intelligent, multi-lingual and omni-channel outsourced customer service to a range of blue-chip clients. Birketts has advised Ventrica and its owner, Dino Forte, since its beginnings. The firm launched a second site in the town in 2017 and with support from Mobeus, the company plans further investment to expand in the UK and Europe to support its growing multi-lingual client base. Adam Jones (corporate partner) led the team which included Alex Forwood (corporate), Ozan Zorba (corporate), Clare Barlow (employment), Matthew Grindley (property), Karl Pocock (corporate tax) and John Kahn (corporate tax). Dino Forte said: “Throughout the process Birketts has demonstrated a clear understanding of our business and their market knowledge showed.“

Adam Jones said: “Given our long and continuing history with Ventrica we were delighted to spot this opportunity for Dino and assist him in the securing this multi-million pound investment from Mobeus.”

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In brief….

SMEs stay confident on five year view

SMEs are confident about their prospects over the next five years although they are worried about the potential impact of Brexit and ongoing concerns about recruiting staff, according to a MetLife UK survey of firms employing between 50 and 300. More than a quarter are very optimistic. Companies in the agricultural and legal services sector are the most confident about expansion followed by IT and computing and the construction and transport sectors. Larger SMEs, employing between 200 and 300 staff, are the most optimistic with 80 per cent saying they are confident about the next five years.

Main contractor appointed for £11.3 million energy skills centre

Morgan Sindall has been appointed as the main contractor to build a new £11.3 million energy and engineering skills centre of excellence, on East Coast College’s Lowestoft campus. Construction is expected to start in October with a target date for completion of autumn 2019 in time for the next intake of apprentices. The project is supported with £10m from New Anglia LEP's local growth fund and will support the development of higher level technical skills and professional expertise in the energy, engineering, marine and offshore industries. Stuart Rimmer, chief executive and principal of East Coast College said: “The new facility will have enhanced functionality, delivering cutting-edge training and state-of-the-art equipment for the whole community to access.  I am delighted that we are now ready to start building on site.”

Offshore energy alliance formed

Four offshore energy organisations are to form the ‘Southern North Sea Energy Alliance SNSEA’ to co-operate on marketing. Amsterdam Ymuiden Offshore Ports AYOP, East of England Energy Group, North Sea Energy Gateway Den Helder NSEG and Team Humber Marine Alliance are to sign a memorandum of understanding in Amsterdam on 23 October during the Offshore Energy 2018 Exhibition and Conference. The four believe they have the chance to become key offshore energy hubs as Western Europe grows to become a world leader in the offshore and marine energy innovation.

Separately, ABP’s Port of Lowestoft recently welcomed its newest customer, World Marine Offshore as part of the company’s UK-based project to support ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm. ABP has provided indoor storage and quay and yard space for marine operations, to enable WMO to mobilize.

Call for health & safety landscape to be ‘maintained’

Manufacturers in the East of England are calling for the current health & safety landscape to be maintained when the UK leaves the EU. A report from EEF and sector specialists Arco ‘Making Health & Safety work for UK Business – manufacturers’ concerns in a post Brexit World’ says existing requirements should continue to be transferred into UK law to avoid cost and disruption. It also calls for the British Standards Institution to continue to play a leading role in EU standards.

Accolade for Cambridge biotech firm

Cambridge-based Evonetix has received the award for “best emerging synthetic biology company” at the 10th anniversary of the Oxford Bioscience Network Awards, in recognition of its novel gene synthesis technology and its potential to facilitate growth in the field. Tim Brears, Evonetix CEO, said: “It is a huge honour for our de novo gene synthesis technology to be recognised for its potential impact on the exciting and fast-growing synthetic biology field. “

Law firms wins inaugural Lexology Awards

Birketts has been recognised as Thought Leader in both Employment (UK) and Private Client (UK) at the first Lexology Awards. Additionally, Bernadette Baker (legal director, dispute resolution) and Liz Stevens (professional support lawyer, employment) have been recognised as Legal Influencers in their practice areas.The awards reward law firms which produce legal content for their subscribers. Edward Costelloe, managing director of Lexology said: “Birketts has beaten off stiff competition to be recognised for their work. Being one of the first winners of the Lexology Awards is a great achievement. They have been carefully designed to recognise those authors and firms who consistently provide our subscribers with useful, insightful legal updates and we are delighted to recognise excellence in legal content today.”

Matthew Rowe, head of PR and communications at Birketts (photo, right), said: “We have invested heavily in our content management programme in recent years. The team produce a substantial number of legal articles that are published on our website and posted via our social media accounts each month. Additionally, we offer a large selection of newsletters throughout the year that people can receive for free via www.birketts.co.uk/register.”

Contract at new medical facility

Contract cleaning company Monthind, which has bases in Gorleston and Horsham St Faith in Norfolk has secured a multi-service line contract at the new £81 million Quadram Institute at Norwich Research Park. As CBRE Asset Services’ chosen partner for cleaning and associated services, Monthind has been appointed as the provider of services including cleaning, window cleaning, pest control, grounds maintenance and waste management. Wates Construction awarded Monthind the contract to provide the post-build clean prior to its opening.

Tall ships arrive in Ipswich crewed by young professionals

A fleet of 21 classic tall ships arrived at the Port of Ipswich from the Netherlands as part of the annual ‘Race of the Classics for Young Professionals’ last week. More than 500 young managers from leading Dutch companies and government take part in events on board classic sailing vessels of all shapes and sizes. As part of the race, participants sail and navigate from Veerhaven in Rotterdam to the Port of Ipswich. Andrew Harston, ABP short sea ports director, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this fantastic event which brings a fleet of tall ships and their crews to Ipswich every year and reflects the trading history of the port and especially the wet dock. It is great to see the colourful fleet of tall classic ships moored on Ipswich’s Orwell Quay for the people of Ipswich to enjoy."