Sunday 16th December 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 28/11/2018

Largest Suffolk companies lift investment despite 'more cautious approach'

Turnover and profit growth has slowed among Suffolk’s largest 100 companies and they are showing signs of caution with reduced debt, according to a study of their latest annual accounts. However, the Suffolk Limited study by Grant Thornton and law firm Birketts also showed that investment in fixed assets across the county's largest businesses rose 4.5 per cent to £1,612 million in their latest financial year. Average salaries have also risen by 4.4 per cent. Rob Thomson, director at Grant Thornton's Ipswich office said: “With ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and its potential impact on the economy, Suffolk Limited has returned to a more cautious approach to business with a significant reduction in debt and gearing. However, when encountering challenging trading conditions, the Suffolk economy has a proven track record of resilience and we hope this will continue well into the future.” Debt across the top 100 fell by 10.2% to £668 million and evidence of a more prudent approach was also reflected in a rise in interest cover to 9.4 from 7.7 last year.

The study showed combined turnover for the largest 100 companies owned and managed in the county rose by 2.1% to £5.2bn. Total operating profit increased by 2.2% to £279m, although profit before tax remained flat for the first time in some years at £261m. However the results were affected by the loss of Servest, a large facilities management company; comparing the top 100 with the same companies as last year showed a combined turnover up 10.8%, operating profit up 8.1% and profit before tax up 2.4%. Meanwhile, the ten largest businesses by turnover contributed 40% or £2.1bn of Suffolk Limited’s total revenues ....Read more

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Work starts on new offshore wind base at Harwich

Construction has started on Hutchison Ports Harwich International’s £10 million state-of-the-art operations & maintenance base for Galloper Offshore Wind Farm. Work on the new base, which will be home to a team of 60 who operate and maintain the 353 MW wind farm, is planned to take around 12 months and create 120 direct and indirect local jobs. Mark Seaman, finance director of the port’s owner Hutchison Ports (UK), said: “The O&M base represents the next logical step in the development of Harwich International as a major centre for the offshore sector. Our strategic location, providing sheltered, lock-free, facilities close to the North Sea is ideal for offshore support activities.”

Galloper general manager Guy Middleton added: “The ground-breaking is a symbolic but significant milestone as it has been quite a journey for us to first select the location of the base and then take it through the onshore and offshore planning consent to now be at the stage where construction is underway.” The Galloper O&M Base will comprise a 24/7 control room to monitor and manage all wind farm activity; a purpose built pontoon for crew transfer vessels; a gym; plus warehousing, office facilities and a new access road off the A120.

Photo:Harwich International general manager, Daren Taylor (second left) with Galloper staff at the ceremony for the new O&M base.

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First new warehouses opened at Suffolk Park

The leader of St Edmundsbury BC this week opened the first two new warehouse units to be built at the 114 acre Suffolk Park, near Bury. Cllr John Griffiths said: “This is the next chapter in a story that will see the council and its partners deliver new jobs for the future prosperity of the people we serve in West Suffolk....Our vision is for a range of business growth at the park creating opportunities that will enhance the mix of jobs and skills that we have in this area. Treatt will build its new global headquarters here, Sealey has secured land for it to expand onto the park and with the completion of these two new business units, we look forward to the announcement of more businesses coming to Suffolk Park.” The two new units of 147,241 sq ft and 206,491 sq ft on a 19-acre plot at Suffolk Park were built by Readie Construction on a £13m contract. Suffolk Park has planning consent for 2m sq ft of space.

Ben Oughton, development director at Jaynic, said:"There are no other developments in the region of this size and quality for companies to move into straight away and, already, conversations with potential occupiers are meeting with a very positive response.”

Photo (l-r): Nicola Barber of Jaynic, John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Council, Nic Rumsey, managing director of Jaynic

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Advisory firm opens new office in Cambridge

Audit, tax and consulting firm RSM has opened a new office in Cambridge at City House on Hills Road as it seeks to grow its market presence in the East Anglian market. The new office will house RSM's existing economic consultancy practice and provide a hub for the firm's other service lines to expand. Laragh Jeanroy will take on the role of RSM's office managing partner in Cambridge, in addition to her role as head of the firm’s Bury St Edmunds office. Mark Taylor, RSM's regional managing partner for the central region, said: “From our new office in Cambridge, we hope to deepen our relationships with the local business community – particularly fast-growing middle market businesses - drawing on advisory expertise from across our regional, national and international network.”

Farmers embrace technology ahead of Brexit

Farmers and landowners in the East of England are embracing technology and taking steps to develop new markets ahead of Brexit, according to a survey by Savills at its autumn seminars in the region. Sixty nine per cent of those surveyed - including regional banks, solicitors and accountants - said their clients were taking steps to develop new markets to support the future of their business and 71 per cent said clients were exploring the use of agri-tech in future farming plans. Will Hargreaves of Savills food and farming team in Ipswich, said: “Encouragingly, the current political landscape and the resulting legislative changes are being seen by some as an opportunity rather than a threat.”

Separately, Oliver McEntyre, the national agricultural strategy director for Barclays Bank will speak on funding opportunities for farm enterprises, at a Newmarket conference next month. The Anglia Rural Consultants (ARC) event, ‘Farming: Facing Future Challenges’ which is sponsored by Barclays, will be hosted by NFU East Anglia at its offices in Newmarket on December 6.

'Corporate law firm of the year’ named

Birketts has been named ‘corporate law firm of the year’ at the Insider Media Central & East of England dealmakers awards. The judges noted that a significant portion of Birketts' work involves an international element. During the year Birketts’ corporate team has worked on the sale of PLASgran Ltd to RPC Group, the sale of the H Erben Group to Berlin Packaging, and the acquisition of Servest by Atalian. Adrian Seagers, head of Birketts' corporate services division, said: “We are thrilled to win this award. It is great testament to the quality of client service, technical skill and commitment of the corporate team in all four of our offices, across the region.” He added: “The last year has seen Birketts’ corporate team complete transactions with a total deal value in excess of £1bn as we grow a client base with an increasingly international outlook.”

Separately, Birketts has advised American Vintage on the opening of its store in Coal Drops Yard, the new Heatherwick-Studio district in King’s Cross. The store is the fashion brand’s fifth UK store. Keith Andrews led the transaction with assistance provided by Mark Elgar.

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Cambridge advisers highly commended for their dealmaking in 2018

Cambridge-based advisers, PEM Corporate Finance, has been “highly commended” by judges at the Insider Central & East Dealmakers Awards 2018. The award recognises the team’s activity over the last 12 months involving company sales and buyouts. The annual awards ceremony, which took place in Milton Keynes last week, recognise advisors across a wide geographic area from Milton Keynes to the East coast. Lake Falconer, corporate finance partner, said: “The team is delighted to receive this accolade as a reward for their efforts over the past 12 months and to reflect the interesting range of deals we have advised on.” PEM Corporate Finance was also shortlisted in the “deal of the year (under £10m)” category for its advice on the sale of eSight Energy to BID Equity.

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Norwich-based agency strengthens team

Norwich-based design and digital marketing agency Creative Sponge has strengthened its team recently with the appointment of client services director Nikki Lamb and senior account manager Martin Betts (photo). Nikki Lamb joins from design agency Foolproof where she spent five-and-a-half years working with global brands such as Allianz, Coca-Cola European Partners and AXA XL. Former journalist Martin Betts has spent two decades working in marketing, design, publishing and PR. Creative Sponge founder and CEO Alex Tosh said: “We’re delighted to welcome Nikki and Martin to the team. They both have huge amounts of experience and knowledge, and share a passion for ensuring our clients get the best service and most innovative, effective creative. They will be key to our efforts to take the agency to the next level by playing major roles in the development of the business and how we communicate the benefits of the creative services we can provide.” Founded in 2004, Creative Sponge employs 15 and has offices in Norwich and London and was included in Design Week’s Top 100. Clients include Warner Brothers, Eat Natural, Imperial War Museums, University of East Anglia, and AST.

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Awards success for Ipswich-based PR agency

Ipswich-based agency Genesis had a night of success at the recent Anglia, Thames and Chiltern regional PRide Awards organised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Genesis won gold in the overall outstanding public relations consultancy award and gold for best corporate and business communications campaign, which was for OFTEC, the oil heating industry trade association. The firm also won silver for best not-for-profit campaign and silver for best integrated campaign. Meanwhile, one of the team’s account managers, Annabelle Rennie, won the silver award for outstanding young communicator. The judges said: “Genesis showed a real commitment to professional development and a demonstrable investment in their staff. They’ve adopted a genuinely differentiated approach in their use of SEO to inform PR strategy and this approach is clearly helping them win new business.”

Penny Arbuthnot, director of Genesis, said: “The digital world has changed forever how people and business communicate and we have invested in our team and our services to differentiate Genesis, advising and leading our clients in the new media landscape and optimising the opportunities of digital as part of an integrated PR approach.” The firm has recently made six new staff appointments and seven in-house promotions, taking its team to seventeen.

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Free park and ride to help small Colchester businesses

Visitors and shoppers in Colchester will be treated to free parking and transit to the town centre thanks to Essex County Council's decision to waive fees at the park and ride service as part of the Small Business Saturday initiative on December 1. The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr. Peter Chillingworth, said : "Small Business Saturday is a great way to celebrate and support all the small businesses that make our town such a welcoming and vibrant place to visit. As mayor, I hope the campaign encourages many more people to shop locally and proves hugely successful for the many independent retailers taking part."

Port of Ipswich raises further £1,000 for hospice

ABP colleagues and customers at the Port of Ipswich raised a further £1,000 for St Elizabeth Hospice at a well-attended charity quiz night, bringing the total raised in 2018 up to £12,000. Earlier this year, a team of 14 from ABP completed a 100 mile cycle ride to raise £2,500 for St Elizabeth Hospice.  Paul Ager, ABP divisional port manager - East Coast, said: “Through social events like the quiz night, we encourage colleagues to take part in fun activities which also help to raise funds for worthwhile causes in our communities. Our aims are to be good neighbours in our communities whilst at the same time creating a great place to work.” Next year, ABP will take part in ‘Elmer’s Big Parade’ which will run on the streets of Suffolk, following the earlier success of the ‘Pig’s Gone Wild’ art trail in 2016, which raised more than £200,000 for St Elizabeth Hospice.