Saturday 25th May 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 22/11/2018

£160 million airbase contract set to create new jobs in Suffolk

One of the region’s largest construction projects got the go-ahead this week when the Ministry of Defence awarded a £160 million to contractor Kier VolkerFitzpatrick for infrastructure to prepare the RAF Lakenheath airbase in Suffolk for two squadrons of US F-35s fighter jets. At its peak, the project will involve up to 700 contractors on site and it will give a boost to the local economy with over 1,000 personnel and family living at the base. The Suffolk airbase will be the first permanent international site for US Air Force F-35s in Europe and will involve co-locating US and UK F-35 capability in the UK. The contract awarded by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation includes the construction of a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities and building work is set to start next summer. The MoD is also working with Forest Heath DC and Kier VolkerFitzpatrick to maxismise local jobs and training opportunities during and beyond the construction stage. A ceremony to mark the award of the contract was held at the airbase. Defence minister Tobias Ellwood, said: “Today marks another step towards reinforcing the strong partnership between our two nations and an exciting milestone for RAF Lakenheath. This investment will see substantial benefits to local economy, bringing 1,000 new personnel with their families and we will work hard to ensure that the benefits will last long after construction ends.”

Turnover profits and salaries rise at top Essex businesses

Essex’s 100 largest companies have reported a double digit growth in turnover and profits and rising average salaries, according to a study of their latest annual accounts from Grant Thornton and law firm Birketts. The Essex Limited study showed that combined operating profit for the top 100 companies owned and managed in the county rose by 14.3 per cent to £524m, reflecting improved efficiency and cost control. Total turnover rose by 10 per cent to £9.1bn and employment increased by 1.4 per cent (670 jobs) to 49,573 people across the group. Healthcare remained the largest employer and the largest increase in jobs was in the retail and wholesale, sector up 12.3 per cent to 7,184 people. The average salary of those employed by the top 100 companies increased by 5.3 per cent to £28,189. The only sector to see turnover fall was automotive, down 8.9  per cent whilst property and construction remained the most profitable sector. The report included a ‘Growth 50’ index of businesses which generated an average turnover rise of 34.9 per cent and a total turnover of £1.38bn. Average profits grew by 73.4 per cent for a combined operating profit of £137m. Trevor Ling who leads Grant Thornton’s Chelmsford office, said: “The results represent a resilient and growing county confident in its entrepreneurial roots, with much of this growth delivered through increased investment.”

Adam Jones, partner at Birketts said: “The strong performance delivered by both the top 100 and Growth 50 companies which are well spread across the county and operate in a variety of sectors, further goes to underline the strength and depth of the Essex economy. With 14 new entrants into the top 100 and 41 into the Growth 50 this year, it’s also reassuring to see a robust pipeline of new, dynamic businesses coming through.”

Photo (l-r) :: Adam Jones, Birketts; Dino Forte, Ventrica; Kim Morrish, Ground Control; Trevor Ling, Grant Thornton; Andrew Howie, Shaken Udder; James Lipscombe, The Chesterford Group and Graham Mummery, Grant Thornton.

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Foods firm expands with new warehouse in Norfolk

Barclays has supported Shire Foods East Anglia with banking facilities to buy new warehouse premises in Downham Market in Norfolk which will double its capacity and create future job opportunities. After the firm outgrewits existing premises, CEO Patrick Gould took up the opportunity when a larger warehouse became available on an adjacent industrial estate in St John’s Way. The new facility has enabled the firm to expand its range and create cost efficiencies. Having moved to Norfolk from Southend in 1995, Patrick Gould has built Shire Foods into a company with 25 staff and the new warehouse will mean a further 12 vacancies. He said: “We have, in the last few years, moved into other areas of production with the creation of our loaf cake bakery and we will in due course be opening a biscuit bakery to complement the baked range. We are concentrating in doing a huge amount of bespoke own label products for many independent retailers which has proved to be extremely popular.”

David Norris, business relationship manager at Barclays, Anglia said: “The capacity of the new warehouse will allow the company to take on new contracts and further expand their range of food and drink products, much of which is sourced from farms, manufacturers and companies across East Anglia. The new job opportunities will be welcomed by the local community.”

Photo (l-r): David Norris (Barclays) and Patrick Gould (Shire Foods East Anglia)

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Start of final Sizewell C consultation welcomed

Suffolk Chamber has welcomed the start of the final stage of EDF Energy’s consultation on a new nuclear power station at Sizewell C on the Suffolk coast, which will begin on January 4th. The chamber has supported Sizewell C from the outset and runs a supply chain website ( for EDF Energy.  Over 1400 legal and regional firms have signed up to the website and receiving advance notice of news on Sizewell C and ways to prepare for the project. Eighty per cent of the contracts in building a nuclear power station go to non-nuclear specialist companies. John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, said: “The nuclear sector has been good for Suffolk businesses and indeed for those across the east of England as a whole for over 40 years. Sizewell C offers the tantalising opportunity for this mutually beneficial relationship to deepen and continue for many more decades to come."

New appointments at Cambridge Ahead

Cambridge Ahead, the business and academic group has appointed Harriet Fear, a former Foreign Office diplomat, as its new chair from January 1. She takes over from Ian Mather, who has chaired the group - which promotes the sustainable growth of Cambridge and its region - since its creation in 2013. A career diplomat for over 20 years with the British Foreign Office, Harriet Fear has served in 17 countries in various roles including deputy ambassador, head of press and public affairs and head of commercial services. Since 2003, she has worked in Cambridge as chief executive of One Nucleus (a life science and healthcare organisation) and more recently as director of business & skills (interim) for the Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. She is also a long-standing member of Cambridge Ahead. She said: “There are huge opportunities at what feels like a pivotal time across the area – with the launch of the Cambridge and Peterborough Independent Economic Review, and growth being so strong. However, I am also keenly aware of the challenges." Cambridge Ahead has also appointed a new programme director, Lisa McLean who joins from Serco Anglian Support Partnership with 14 years’ experience leading diverse projects and transformation programmes.

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Inform Direct passes 100,000th customer milestone

A rapidly-growing Ipswich-based firm has passed a key milestone, with 100,000 companies now managed using its award-winning company secretarial software. Inform Direct, a crowd-funded business, first released its software in 2013 which is now adopted by accountants and business owners across the UK to help them comply with company secretarial requirements. The number of companies on its online platform recently passed the 100,000 milestone and it has expanded its team to 14. Inform Direct CEO Henry Catchpole said: “This is a significant milestone for us and welcome recognition that our software is being used and appreciated by a significant customer base. It’s a success for the whole team here who have already achieved so much in not only meeting but surpassing the rapidly changing demands of today’s accountancy practices and business owners."

Duo collects four accolades in PR awards

Pier PR & Marketing and the East of England Co-op have won four accolades at the 2018 CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) East Anglia PRide Awards at a ceremony in Cambridge. The wins include regional campaign of the year for the PR launch of the East of England Co-op’s food waste reduction initiative, ‘Co-op Guide to Dating’; and best use of photography or design for the retailer’s ‘Future of British Produce’ campaign. Pier managing director Kate Bowden Smith said: “It has been a fantastic year for the team, and winning these awards is a great way to round it off. It’s been a privilege to work with the East of England Co-op on these campaigns, both of which really play to our strengths in the food and drink sector and have gained significant traction in the retail sector.”

Accolade for Cambs company at national manufacturing awards

Cambs-based Domino Printing Sciences, a global leader in the development and manufacturing of coding and marking technology, won the ‘operational excellence’ accolade at the recent annual Manufacturer MX Awards. It also won the award for ‘supply chain excellence’ at the event in 2017. The awards organised by The Manufacturer magazine and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers is recognised as the gold standard for bench-marking performance across a range of categories. Carl Haycock, UK printer operations firector at Domino Printing Sciences said: “We are delighted to have won this award, which recognises the continuous improvements the business is making to its operations. By investing in our staff, products and processes, we continue to improve the service to customers, supplying a diverse range of products from an efficient, attractive workplace environment.”

Photo: The Domino team celebrates winning ‘operational excellence’ at the 2018 Manufacturer MX Awards.