Saturday 25th May 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 09/05/2019

Warning to small firms on dangers of financial problems at outsourcers

Thousands of jobs and hundreds of small businesses in the region could be threatened by the financial troubles facing large outsourcing groups according to insolvency trade body R3. “Many hundreds of local subcontractors rely on indirect payments from government projects, but these subcontracts are not always the prize they may seem. Margins are usually very tight, so it is easy to make a loss and, ultimately, small firms rely on the main contractors to pay them,” said R3 Eastern chair Mark Upton, a partner at Ensors Chartered Accountants. The Eastern branch of R3 is encouraging subcontractors to be more vigilant when entering into such arrangements. “In the event of a contractor’s collapse, businesses owed money should contact the administrator. Subcontractors are usually classed as unsecured creditors and come behind banks and employees in the queue for payment. Those at risk should take professional advice as soon as possible,” said Mark Upton. A recent Institute for Government report showed that £284bn or around a third of annual public expenditure goes to external suppliers, with indirect payments to small firms accounting for around £34bn. Big suppliers have increased their share of government spending, and some are now facing financial problems. The IfG report says the government currently has little understanding of how many subcontractors there are and is calling for better data and greater transparency in the supply chain.

Briefly

Airline launches new Aberdeen-Norwich service

Loganair is to start non-stop jet services between Norwich and Aberdeen this autumn. The airline will run up to three services per week-day on the route – which is popular with oil and gas workers - from September 1 and a non-stop Sunday evening flight. The airline currently flys to Edinburgh, Manchester and Jersey from Norwich and the new Aberdeen link will see a third Embraer Regional Jet aircraft based at Norwich, creating 15 new jobs. Kay Ryan, Loganair’s commercial director said: “The schedule to Aberdeen is constructed to offer maximum flexibility for businesses and the offshore oil and gas industry and we’re looking forward to strengthening our network for the benefit of our customers in Norwich.” Fares start from £74.99.

Broadband provider doubles size of workforce

Rural broadband provider County Broadband has doubled its employee numbers to 38 - and expects it to rise to 50 by the year-end - having recently started construction of a new ultrafast full fibre broadband networkin the region. Based in Aldham near Colchester, County Broadband has also increased the size of its operations and service centre and is recruiting staff – from procurement to technical design – on its website. Working with Colchester Institute, the firm is also offering an apprenticeship. The company has secured access to a £46million private investment fund for the construction of its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network. “Our FTTP infrastructure will propel forgotten villages across East Anglia into the 21st century and beyond, whilst delivering significant investment in their long-term prosperity,” said chief executive Lloyd Felton. Ipswich-based contractor Telec Networks is working with County Broadband on the first phase of construction in north Essex.

Consents specialist acquired by national group

Consents Solutions, a specialist in managing consents for utility and renewable installations and with bases in Cambridge and King’s Lynn, has been acquired by RSK Group, a leading environmental consultancy. It will become part of RSK’s agriculture, land and property management division and managing director Richard Spooner will lead the business. RSK has also acquired Biocensus, an ecological consultancy. RSK founder and chief executive officer Alan Ryder said: “… Consents Solutions is an established and renowned service provider within the energy sector with a proven track record of delivery. Both businesses will extend RSK’s service offering, so I am delighted to welcome them aboard.” In the last financial year, RSK acquired 12 businesses and expanded its workforce from about 2000 staff to more than 3000.

Photo: Richard Spooner (left) MD, Consent Solutions, and Ian Strudwick, director, RSK.

Planning for new depot in Tilbury

Planning permission for two large new industrial buildings of 10,000 sq ft and 8,000 sq ft to be built on a 7 acre site next to Tilbury Port for equipment rental firm GAP Group has been secured with assistance from property consultancy Carter Jonas. The firm’s first application for planning permission was refused. But Thurrock Council ultimately accepted that despite the new proposals’ apparent conflict with the local plan, the application scheme passed the stringent tests required for development in the green belt.

Law firm appoints new partner

Gotelee Solicitors LLP has appointed Demelza Butler to its family team and as a new partner. She specialises in all aspects of family law including divorce, resolution of financial matters following a relationship breakdown and arrangements for children.  She is also a qualified collaborative lawyer and member of Resolution, whose member lawyers are committed to non-confrontational divorce. “This is a great opportunity in my career.  I have been advising and supporting clients in Suffolk and further afield for more than 14 years.  Gotelee has an unrivalled loyal private client base across the county and I am looking forward to being part of their highly respected team,” she said.

Charles Rowett, chief executive officer at Gotelee, said: “The firm has grown significantly in the past two years and recently converted to a limited liability partnership (LLP). Demelza joining the partnership demonstrates our commitment to growth and the need to continue to attract more talent and respected lawyers and support staff across all practice areas….”

Promotion at corporate finance firm

Philip Olagunju has been promoted to the role of director at PEM Corporate Finance LLP with effect from 1 April. His promotion follows a successful 12 months of winning new business and advising local companies on a variety of M&A and buyout transactions, including the sale of eSight Energy to BID Equity, the MBO of Cambridge Insitu and the sale of Medical Device Usability to UL. Philip Olagunju (photo) joined PEMCF as assistant director in March 2017. Formerly of RSM and BDO, he has 15 years’ experience of providing advisory services to mid-market entrepreneurial businesses. Lake Falconer, partner at PEMCF, said: “Philip’s well deserved promotion to director is a reflection of the significant contribution he has made to way we operate PEMCF day-to-day, how we engage with the professional community, and how he has been delivering successful outcomes for clients. Throughout the two years he has been with our firm, he has consistently delivered a high quality of service.”

Call for fresh thinking on rural innovation policies

Policies aimed at encouraging rural innovation should take into account differences between entrepreneurs and how they view where they live, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of East Anglia and De Montfort University have found that meanings attached to where someone lives are shaped by previous experiences, and this in turn influences their innovation strategies and entrepreneurial activity. It says the most innovative rural entrepreneurs are migrants who not only use pre-existing contacts made outside the rural area to create jobs when they move into it but also build on previous life experiences to gain access to distant knowledge resources through new contacts and transient supply chains.