Friday 19th April 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 03/04/2019

Suffolk businesses remain 'resilient' in uncertain times

Suffolk manufacturing firms are reporting more bullish data than service businesses, according to a Suffolk Chamber quarterly economic survey. In the fourth quarter, a net balance of firms seeing higher domestic sales increased from +13 per cent to +23 per cent. The share of service companies reporting higher domestic sales fell from +25 per cent to +12 per cent. However, the results, based on responses from 136 firms in the county, all showed figures for cashflow, profitability and overseas orders are all now in negative territory, for the first time in over two years. Employment activity showed little change. Competition (named by 41 per cent of firms), exchange rates and inflation were the most significant concerns mentioned by companies. Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’s head of communications and campaigns, said: “These figures suggest that the previous gentle decline in current and planned business activity and sentiment in Suffolk is accelerating and that must be a cause for worry….That said, given the context of Brexit and a general sense in which the Government is failing to come to grips with the needs of business in terms of the fundamentals of the economy, the situation could have been a lot worse. The figures suggest that the Suffolk business community remains remarkably resilient in the circumstances.”

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Royal visitor sees expanding Cambs pharma business

Cambs-based biotech firm LGC hosted a visit by The Princess Royal to its recently expanded laboratories at its site in Fordham, last week. She met with scientists and apprentices to hear how the company’s analytical science supports doping and medication control in animal sports and helps develop new drugs and therapies. Dr David Griffiths, managing director, pharma and health solutions, LGC, and who hosted the visit said: “…With her background as a former member of Great Britain’s Olympic equestrian team, as well as her current roles as president of the British Olympic Association and member of the International Olympic Committee, we were obviously keen to show her the labs from which we successfully tested the equestrian events at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics. Her interest in, and knowledge of, science and encouraging young people to study STEM subjects at school also provided some fascinating discussions between Her Royal Highness and our teams.” LGC’s Fordham site is one of the largest bioanalytical centres in Europe and employs around 380 scientists. It will host open sessions for people interested in its apprenticeship scheme on 16 April.

Separately, Cambridge-based Metrion Biosciences, a specialist ion channel contract research and drug discovery company, has completed a fully subscribed funding round. It will use the funds to support the broadening of its ion channel screening capabilities and continued research.

Manor house renovated to cater for lager holiday groups

A family-run holiday cottage business on the 1,000 acre Stowlangtoft Estate near Bury has doubled its capacity to cater for a growing number of large groups booking staycations. The business has renovated Stow Manor which has doubled capacity from 24 to 48 guests at the holiday cottages, helped by a six-figure funding package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.Three extra staff have also been hired and the refurbishment is expected to increase the estate’s turnover by £100,000, a doubling in revenue. Roger Catchpole, one of the estate’s owners, said: “We noticed that there was growing demand for larger holiday homes, with five or more rooms. These kinds of properties enable big families or friendship groups to be together in one building. We wanted to tap into this trend by creating a property to accommodate up to 24 guests.”

PR and marketing agency becomes corporate member of chartered institute

Ipswich-based PR and marketing agency Genesis has become a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). The new status gives the agency the opportunity to support personal development for its 18 employees as well as business growth. Penny Arbuthnot, director of Genesis, said: “The new category of corporate membership of the CIPR is for established PR agencies and demonstrates our commitment to investing in our people, as well as to professionalism and ethical practice. It give us significant company and individual benefits which we will use to further develop our team, ensuring we are always leading the way with the latest PR and digital skills.” Genesis won gold for outstanding public relations consultancy and gold for best corporate and business communications campaign at the 2018 CIPR PRide awards for the Anglia, Thames and Chiltern regions. It is the only PR agency in the East of England listed in PR Week’s top 40 agencies outside London.

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Suffolk law firm moves to become an LLP

Suffolk law firm Gotelee Solicitors has moved to become a limited liability partnership. The change is the latest in a series of strategic developments that have seen two mergers and new offices in Woodbridge and Felixstowe. Chief executive Charles Rowett said: “The legal sector is changing fast and we needed a more contemporary structure to support our plans for long-term growth and help us to attract new, dynamic lawyers and especially aspiring partners who want to invest in the future success of the firm.”

Peter Crix, senior partner, said: “Gotelee is a long-established heritage brand and we are very proud of our local roots in Suffolk. Clients regularly tell us that they really appreciate the fact that we have local offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh and Woodbridge.”

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Law firm rewarded at Cambs awards

Law firm Birketts was rewarded for its ‘Excellence in Client Service’ and won ‘Commercial Property Team of the Year’ at this year’s Cambridgeshire and District Law Society awards at Trinity Hall, Cambridge recently. The judging panel, chaired by Ian Mather, with Graham Martin (Barclays), Fiona Holston Moore (Ensors), Mark Winchester (Rathbones) and Paul Smith (Handelsbanken), was impressed by Birketts’ emphasis on client care and commitment to continued excellence in client service. The technical knowledge, teamwork, and client service of Birketts' commercial property team were key ingredients for delivering complex and high value property projects for demanding clients. Kath Herbert, partner and head of commercial property at Birketts' Cambridge office, said: "The CDLS Legal Excellence Awards recognise the best individuals, legal teams and law firms practising in the city of Cambridge and the surrounding region. Over the years at Birketts we have looked to develop a first class reputation for the size, scale and complexity of the work that we do in the strategic land, development, investment, finance, construction and planning arenas and so to be recognised by the CDLS in this way is very rewarding."

Photo: members of Birketts' Cambridge office

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Offshore wind farm funds design school in Norfolk

A Norfolk school has set up an out-of-hours design school to inspire students to embrace STEM education as a career option thanks to a grant from the Dudgeon Community Fund, which is funded by Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. The design school at Neatherd High School in Dereham runs once a week for groups of 15-20 students to work on a STEM project to find solutions to a given problem. Students worked with local business Pauls Cycles to improve their bike maintenance skills and studied micro controllers to design their own bicycle light, helped by WestCotec, a Dereham-based business which makes vehicle activated traffic signs. Another project involved students designing bookstands for  Dereham Library to help engage more readers. Jason Chapman, head of design technology at Neatherd High School, said: "It would have been impossible to fund this initiative from internal resources, so my colleagues and I are extremely grateful to the Dudgeon Community Fund for this grant. With some of the grant funding, the department has purchased a 3D printer which is proving invaluable in producing prototype models of students' designs.”

Thriving conference and events business reaches milestone at Cambridge college

Murray Edwards College, Cambridge founded over 60 years ago to provide education for women, is marking 20 years of running ‘New Hall Events’, its commercial arm operated as a limited company. Hundreds of events have been hosted at the venue over the period, ranging from residential conferences, summer schools to one-day meetings and dinners. The college’s facilities have become popular with clients from a wide range of sectors looking for self-contained conference centres such as the Kaetsu Centre and Buckingham House. The Dome Dining Hall had provided space for Christmas parties and weddings, whilst the smaller Fellows’ Dining Room has been ideal for smaller gatherings. Chris Pope, general manager of conferences, catering and residences, said: “Our 20-year milestone is an important occasion and a good moment to reflect on how our offering has evolved over the years. By listening to feedback from our customers we have been able to adapt our product to meet new requirements.

“These include state-of-the-art AV, healthier refreshment break options, more vegan choices and a commitment to adding value, whether it is using our wonderful gardens or adding a private tour of the New Hall Art Collection which is the second largest collection of works by female artists in the world.”