Sunday 16th December 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 06/12/2018

Firms act to avoid ‘working capital crunch’ on Brexit no deal

KPMG’s restructuring practice in the region is seeing a ‘flurry of enquiries’ from firms looking to head off a significant ‘working capital crunch’ resulting from a Brexit no deal following the recent gloomy forecasts from the Treasury and the Bank of England. Steve Elsigood, head of restructuring for KPMG in the East of England, said: “Businesses have been contingency planning for some time now, but the recent forecasts from both the Treasury and the Bank of England regarding the impact to the British economy of the various Brexit scenarios currently in play appear to have prompted companies to take more direct action.

“We know from our conversations with banks that they are increasingly concerned about how to support their customers’ working capital requirements in a ‘no deal’ scenario. This has seen some rapidly trying to segment and prioritise their portfolios in order to form views on credit risk appetite and how to respond to what may be tens of thousands of requests for new credit facilities or extensions to existing lines. Indeed, we’ve already seen a number of banks confirm they have set aside extra cash for exactly this purpose."

Separately, Kier Group, one of the UK’s largest construction and support services groups and which is based on the Cambs/Beds border, launched an  emergency £264 million rights issue last week after its chief executive warned that lenders were reducing their exposure to the sector....Read more

Offshore wind set to create “honeypots for investment” but yards in the region still without work

East coast towns are set to be “honeypots for investment” as they benefit from the fast-growing offshore wind industry a sector event in Lowestoft heard last week although there are some yards in the region without work. The region’s “diverse and collaborative” supply chain is also well-placed to win export contracts in Europe.  The £22 billion being invested in offshore wind farm construction off the east coast - that will cost another £550 million a year to run - will help to reverse years of decline in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth,  Waveney MP Peter Aldous told the event. Supply chain companies setting up in and moving to the area were also giving local people hope for a better future and were well-placed to win export contracts. The east coast has the potential to deliver 50 per cent of the UK’s energy needs under an energy sector deal that is expected to be signed by Christmas. Martin Dronfield, chair of East of England Energy Group's offshore wind special interest group told the Offshore Wind Week event at OrbisEnergy: “A new sustainable journey has begun. It is happening in this region. Decarbonisation by electrification, and the east of England is keeping the lights on. Some huge sums of money will be coming into the east of England that already employs 20,000 people in nearly 1500 businesses in the “diverse and collaborative” supply chain."

However Mr. Aldous added:“At a time when the SNS is the focus of an enormous amount of activity or offshore wind that fact that yards are here and are not able to take advantage of this could well undermine the public support for the industry." Referring to Lowestoft’s Sembmarine SLP, he added: “There is a need for developers to sit down with fabricators and, if necessary with the government. There is a yard here that currently doesn’t have any work. It looks very bad.”

Region’s manufacturers stay confident despite mixed picture

East of England manufacturers saw a mixed picture in the final months of the year amidst economic and political uncertainty although confidence in the sector is strong compared to other UK regions and reached its highest level since 2013. The Q4 EEF/BDO manufacturing outlook survey showed output in the East contracted sharply to a balance of +3%, whilst domestic orders fell into negative territory for the first time since 2016 at -6%. But export orders bucked the national trend and grew to +24%, well above the average for other UK regions and investment trends rose to a balance of +26%, the best performance of any UK region. However recruitment plans by firms in the region turned negative for the first time since 2016 at -3%.  EEF has revised upward its growth forecast for manufacturing for 2018 from 0.9% to 1.1% but downgraded its forecast for 2019 to 0.3% from 0.5%.

Separately, Business confidence in the East of England actually re-bounded in November according to a Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking survey, although it appears to have been taken before the downbeat forecasts of the impact of a no deal Brexit were published by the Bank of England and Treasury last week. The bank's ‘business barometer’ showed confidence rose by nine points during November to 17 per cent and that East of England firms report higher confidence in their own business prospects at 26 per cent and higher economic optimism.

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Insurance broker opens new office in Ipswich

Gallagher, an insurance broker, risk management and consulting firm, has opened a new regional office in Ipswich. Staff from its existing Ipswich and Feering branches have come together in larger, refurbished premises at 12 Museum Street. Over the past four years Gallagher has increased its revenue in Ipswich by nearly 50 per cent. David Anderson, regional managing director at Gallagher, said: “We already employ nearly 100 insurance professionals in the East with over 70 in Ipswich alone, so this investment will see Ipswich become an even more important commercial hub for the region, while giving us the space to press ahead with our strategic development plans and create opportunities for future business growth, whether organic or via merger and acquisition activities.”

Stansted appointment for £600 million transformation

London Stansted has appointed Gerry Whyte (photo), previously preconstruction director at Laing O’Rourke, as its new delivery director for the airport’s £600 million transformation. He wiIl work closely with business change director Paul Willis on the project which includes a new £130 million arrivals terminal which is due to open in 2020 and the reconfiguration of the existing terminal into a departures-only facility. Gerry Whyte has worked on some of the country’s largest developments including Edinburgh St James, Liverpool One and Bluewater in Kent.

Ipswich engineering firms expands services with collaboration

Two engineering consultancy firms, Ipswich-based Superstructures and Ingent Consulting Engineers, which has offices in Brightwell and Bury St Edmunds, have formed a strategic alliance that expands the services they can offer to clients in the region. James Potter, managing director of Superstructures, which provides structural design services, said: “It really is the adage that ‘together we are stronger’, as Ingent brings the expertise in civils and drainage design and Superstructures has the expertise in the building structural design. The specialist design knowhow each can offer combines to produce an overall capability suited to bigger schemes across a range of sectors including commercial, education and residential.”

Richard Wigzell, managing director of Ingent, added: “Many clients want to use an engineering design practice that provides both capabilities. This arrangement benefits us and is a ‘good fit’.” The two businesses have worked together for the past 18 months on over 25 projects including the £30m Suffolk Glasshouse scheme at Great Blakenham, a new John Grose showroom in Ipswich and schemes on the Essex Schools framework.

Photo: Richard Wigzell and James Potter at the Suffolk Glasshouse Project

Projects in the pipeline in north Essex

Two new property schemes are progressing in north Essex for Colchester-based NEEB Holdings, where Wincer Kievenaar is the architect and Colchester-based Horizon Construction is the main contractor on both projects. Construction has started on a scheme of 14 homes at St Andrew’s Road, Weeley which will be marketed through Fenn Wright. Meanwhile a planning application has been submitted for phase two of commercial development Apex 12, on Old Ipswich Road in Colchester.  Apex 12 (photo, right) is the head office for NEEB Holdings and the application is to build two new large office buildings on the site for multi-tenant use. Phil Branton, director at Wincer Kievenaar Architects said: “As the schemes cover different markets; commercial and residential, they have called for different levels of design expertise to ensure the finished result fits in seamlessly to the environments the buildings sit in.”

New partners appointed at law firm

Greene & Greene Solicitors has appointed Ansa Khan (photo, right) and Greg Jones as partners, rounding off the firm’s 125th anniversary year. Ansa Khan qualified as a Solicitor in 2007 and joined the firm in 2012.  She has wide experience in property and development work, acting on all aspects of residential property matters.  Greg qualified as a Solicitor in 2009 and joined in 2016 and advises businesses and senior executives on employment matters and is a leading HR training provider to management teams and a speaker at events.  He was recently recommended by the 2019 edition of the Legal 500 directory as “knowledgeable, passionate and unflappable”. Stuart Hughes, managing partner at Greene & Greene, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ansa and Greg into the partnership.  They are extremely popular members of the team with colleagues, clients and fellow professionals, having already made a big impact at the firm over the past few years.  Their extensive experience further enhances the Property and Employment teams and the services that we can offer to our clients”

See Profile Greene & Greene

Law firm opens third office in Colchester

Ellisons Solicitors has opened the doors on its third office in Colchester town centre. Its new Bath House’ building is on the former Le Cateau Barracks site and provides 4,000 sq ft of modern office space for the firm’s insurance litigation department. Ellisons opened a Chelmsford office in March and the firm, which also has offices in Ipswich and Tendring, has almost doubled in size over the past four years. Robert Jones, partner and head of insurance litigation, who has been at Ellisons for over 40 years, will lead The Bath House team of 27 insurance litigation lawyers and support staff. Ellisons’ head office will remain at Headgate Court in Head Street. Guy Longhurst, managing partner, said: “2018 is proving to be a milestone year for the firm, as we expand into new locations and take on a number of new clients and business areas. Further expansion in our hometown of Colchester is very important to us, and we were delighted to find the Bath House. It’s a building which perfectly reflects the firm’s ethos of traditional values with modern, innovative working.”

Accountancy firm national runner-up for wellbeing award

East Anglian-based chartered accountants Larking Gowen was named as national runner up for the British Chambers of Commerce workplace wellbeing award at the 15th annual chamber business awards in London. “Attitudes to workplace wellbeing are evolving rapidly. I’m proud to be seen at the forefront of that in this region,” said Jon Woolston, managing partner at Larking Gowen. “For us, the wellbeing of all of our team is a fundamental part of our business culture, with positive impacts right across our business.” Since launching its wellbeing programme, the firm has seen increases in employee retention and productivity, as well as a reduction in sickness absence. The programme covers physical and mental wellbeing, as well as wider career, financial, social and community aspects.

Separately, Larking Gowen, is one of nine firms to take up the St Elizabeth Hospice ‘Early Bird Herd’ challenge, and has smashed its fundraising target, raising over £4,700 so far. “The Hospice challenged us to raise £3,500 by January 2019,” said Becky Ames, partner at Larking Gowen. “We thought that might be ambitious but our staff have been amazing. We’ve already raised over £4,700, and hope to raise more.”

See Profile Larking Gowen

Law firm wins BD and marketing award

Ashtons Legal has won the award for best business development and marketing at the national LawNet Awards 2018. Innovative strategic vision and creativity led to Ashtons’ success in niche areas of the law including GDPR consultancy, road transport law, French legal services and mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease. LawNet has 71 member firms representing a network of over 3000 lawyers and professionals. BD director, Mary Porch who collected the accolade, said: “There were many deserving winners and nominees at the LawNet awards this year. The Conference and Awards evening were a great success with over 200 law firm professionals in attendance. We were delighted to be singled out for our BD and marketing achievements.”

See Profile Ashtons Legal

Award for property and construction consultancy

Property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood has won an accolade in the News On The Block Property Management awards. The firm, which has an office in Colchester, won the award for professional services provider of the year and at a ceremony in London. The annual awards showcase those who work in the management of both residential and commercial properties. Daniel Legg (photo) , director of building surveying for Ingleton Wood, which also has offices in Norwich, Cambridge, London and Billericay, said: “We work in close partnership with all our clients and pride ourselves on the long relationships we have developed with them, so it’s great to receive this kind of recognition for our work. It really wouldn’t have happened without such a great team. We have a proven track record of delivering award-winning projects on time and within budget. I knew we had a good chance of winning but the joy of hearing our name called out was incredible.”

See Profile Ingleton Wood

Masterclass spices up vegan cookery at Cambridge college

Chefs from Murray Edwards College, Cambridge have recently been expanding their knowledge of vegan cookery by attending a masterclass led by a celebrity television chef who specialises in Indian cuisine. Joe Dean, head chef and David Correia, sous chef, both from the college, attended a one-day training course at Café Spice Namasté, in London, led by chef/proprieter Cyrus Todiwala OBE. The day comprised demonstrations and practical sessions, showcasing Indian vegan cookery and including dishes that can be created in university kitchens for students, staff and conference guests. A particular emphasis was using specific ingredients such as lentils and demonstrating how many different dishes can be made from the same base. Joe Dean said: “The Indian vegan cuisine masterclass appealed to us as we were keen to learn more about different styles of vegan cooking. At Murray Edwards we have seen a huge increase in demand for vegan and vegetarian dishes and want to keep our offering fresh and appealing."

Photo: David Correia and Joe Dean with course leader Cyrus Todiwala centre.