Friday 23rd August 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 16/05/2019

Call for offshore training to be recognised in tenders to avert workforce ‘crisis’

A 'workforce crisis' is looming in the region’s offshore wind industry unless companies are recognised for their investment in training when tendering for work, according to a leading figure in the sector. Graham Hacon, CEO of Great Yarmouth-based offshore wind services firm 3sun Group, told the SNS2019 conference in Norwich this week that businesses training technicians and inspection engineers can no longer carry the financial burden of funding training then lose tenders to companies that invest nothing. His firm has spent more than £3 million in the last two years on training new entrants into the industry. “None of our competitors in the East of England trains on the scale and to the value that we do or shows the same commitment to developing a pipeline of skilled workers to sustain the industry’s future demands," he said. "However, when it comes to tendering, there remains no recognition for companies like ours that make this investment. We pay for the training, and then don’t get awarded the work.” He is calling for evidence of training provision to be compulsory in tenders.

...whilst new industry council launched to develop region’s energy industry

New Anglia LEP has called for a new approach on the strategic delivery of future energy supply by leading on the creation of the UK’s first All Energy Industry Council (AEIC) to help develop the offshore wind cluster alongside planned investment and development across the energy industry. Norfolk and Suffolk is becoming a centre for UK energy generation thanks to its mix of offshore, gas and nuclear production which together could be worth £59.4bn by 2040. The government-backed council will be chaired by Mark Goodall, senior manager of Aker Solutions and is made up of all energy suppliers, local authorities, business groups and a member trade body. Mark Goodall said: “The East of England is pivotal in contributing to energy transition and decarbonising our sources and uses of energy. Never before has the future of energy been so high on the global agenda in terms of meeting demand while being mindful of climate change. We need to capitalise on our region’s richness in natural resources and be at the forefront of this transition.“

Doug Field, chair of New Anglia LEP, said: “Already 52 per cent of the UK’s offshore wind power capacity is generated in Norfolk and Suffolk and Bacton Gas Terminal provides on average 30 per centof the UK’s gas supply. Our region is one of the busiest and most densely packed energy regions in the world. There is immense opportunity for economic and business growth with the right strategic direction and delivery.”

Major defence group to move operations from Cambridge Airport

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group is to move its operations based at Cambridge Airport to a new location in the region by 2030 and redevelop the site close to the city with around 12 000 homes and 5 million sq ft of business space. Cranfield, Duxford and Wyton are the preferred options for the business, which employs 2000. Alistair McPhee, the group’s chief executive, said: “… it has become increasingly clear that a move to new, purpose-built facilities will afford us a fantastic opportunity to fulfil our true potential as a business. It is still very early days but we know that finding the right airfield location that will give us the necessary space and flexibility to support our planned growth, which is close enough to Cambridge to enable us to retain and attract talent, will be a complex and time-consuming task.” The firm has won a number of significant programmes in the past 18 months and says it remains committed to investment plans for the Cambridge Airport site. It plans to spend more than £30m over the next five years to upgrade infrastructure. Unite, which has 900 members at the group, is calling for urgent talks with Marshall’s management.

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New retail park completes at Lowestoft

Tenants are starting to fit out premises at a new £7 million retail park on Tower Road in Lowestoft where a 70,000 sq ft development has turned a brownfield site into a new gateway for the town. Anchored by Aldi and The Range, the scheme includes a new retail terrace, coffee drive-thru and a mixed retail and restaurant unit with hard and soft landscaping. Urban Edge Architecture worked with TPS Development and project managers for client Freshwater Group, on the scheme, which will includes Costa, Greggs, Subway and Card Factory. Tom McNamara, director at Urban Edge, said: "It has been a long journey - with the original planning being granted in December 2015 - but the finished development is a quality new retail destination that will boost Lowestoft's economy and offer good local employment opportunities, as well as creating a positive first view of the town from the south."

Surge in R & D tax relief claims in the region

Businesses across the East of England submitted 3,870 R&D claims in 2016/17 – a 47 per cent rise on the previous year and claiming some £395m in tax relief, according to HMRC figures. R&D tax credits are designed to encourage greater R&D spending, leading in turn to greater investment in innovation. Hertfordshire-based businesses topped a league of hotspots for R&D tax credits in 2016/17 at 875 claims, followed by Cambs on 855 and Essex on 790. Sheetal Sanghvi, regional head of R&D tax credits at RSM said: "Compared to the data released this time last year, the latest figures show a healthy rise in the numbers of applications for R&D tax credits, and higher payouts for East of England-based businesses involved in R&D activity. While this is very encouraging, there are some sectors – construction in particular – where the numbers of claims are negligible, despite the likelihood that many are involved in R&D activity."

Cambridge life sciences firm secures £200 million for growth

Life sciences firm Abcam plc, which is based at Cambridge Biomedical Campus, has secured £200m of funding in a deal led by HSBC UK. The bank has provided a revolving credit facility to enable Abcam to achive its ambitious growth plans which include further global expansion, particularly in the US and China and corporate deals to supplement growth. Abcam specialises in biological reagents to life scientists in over 140 countries recently moved into new purpose-built premises with enhanced scientific capabilities. Chief financial officer Gavin Wood said: “This is an exciting time for the life science industry, with new research discoveries and breakthroughs leading to more accurate diagnosis, better treatments and improved health outcomes. By providing high-quality biological reagents and tools that are crucial to research, drug discovery and diagnostics, Abcam has many opportunities to grow its markets. As we look to expand through considered investments and selected acquisitions, we are delighted to have HSBC’s backing, global knowledge and experience.”

New partner appointed at Norfolk property firm

Norfolk property services firm Arnolds Keys has appointed Nick Williams (photo, right) as partner. He joined the firm in 2016 as a commercial management and valuation surveyor and has a degree in property agency and marketing from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, and is a chartered surveyor and a RICS Registered Valuer. Arnolds Keys managing partner Guy Gowing (photo, left)  said: “We are delighted to welcome Nick into the partnership.  In the three years he has been with the firm, he has demonstrated an excellent professionalism and a wide skills base in valuations, negotiating landlord and tenant matters, as well as overseeing our extensive commercial property management division.”

Law firm advises on international sale of consultancy

Law firm Birketts has advised the owners of MLM Group, one of the largest private engineering, environmental and building control consultancies, on its sale to a Swedish consulting engineer Sweco. Established in 1966, MLM has 13 offices in London, southern England and Ireland and employs 460 people. The deal creates a combined business with a turnover of £108m and 1,340 employees, across 26 offices in the UK and Ireland. James Austin, senior partner and head of Birketts' corporate and commercial teams in Ipswich, and Alexandra Nelson led the deal with support from Andrew Tubb (banking and finance), Sarah Branwhite (corporate), Stacy Aspden (commercial property), Amy Guest (employment) and John Kahn (corporate tax). Steve Oliver, chairman at MLM Group, said: "This is a really exciting time for our development and strategic growth . Sweco and MLM Group are an excellent fit – culturally, operationally and geographically.” Separately, Birketts has been named as a finalist at The Lawyer Awards in the ‘law firm of the year: the independents – regional’ category.

See Profile Birketts

Packaging business acquisition with advice from law firm

Ashtons Legal has advised owner Joseph Fogel on the acquisition of his company Vaiopak, based in Saffron Walden, by an Irish food services and distribution group Zeus Packaging. Vaiopak, which was formed ten years ago, supplies the food and beverage packaging industry and has won numerous local and regional business awards. The acquisition - which is one of three deals worth €15m that Zeus has recently made - sees Joseph Fogel remain with the company as managing director after completion. James Tarling and David Sloman from Ashtons’ corporate and commercial department led the team assisted by Charlotte Vallins in the firm's commercial property team and Jessica Piper from the employment team. David Sloman (photo, right) said: “Ashtons have watched Vaiopak grow year on year thanks to Joe’s efforts, so it was a real pleasure to be able to assist him and help him get his reward from the business, which he had put so much time and energy into.”

James Tarling added: “The transaction affirms Ashtons’ regular handling of some of our region’s largest deals, and we continually grow the quality, size and profile of our corporate instructions.”

See Profile Ashtons Legal

Law firm creates new senior associate role alongside promotions

Law firm Ellisons has appointed senior associates for the first time in a fee-earning role which it says will be vital in delivering its business objectives, vision and growth plans. The firm has also made a series of promotions across its four regional offices, including one new partner and eight new senior associates, as well as four new associates. Recent growth at the firm has seen Petra Sharp join the corporate and commercial team as a senior associate with over 17 years’ experience.  This is in addition to five appointments in the firm’s commercial property, residential property and employment team which takes the total number of associates (including senior associates) to 21, with the new total number of partners reaching 23. Susan Ryan, who joined Ellisons’ commercial property team in 2013, and was promoted to associate in 2017, becomes a partner. Managing partner Guy Longhurst said: "Introducing the senior associate role is something that we’ve been considering for a while and the new senior associates will be an integral part of our positive culture, actively contributing to the delivery of excellent service to our clients."

New partners and promotions at law firm

Regional law firm, Howes Percival has made six senior promotions, including two new partners as it prepares for further growth. The promotions span the firm’s Cambridge and Norwich offices, covering its commercial property, planning, estates and dispute resolution practices. Katharine Danks (estates, Norwich office) and Nicola Curle (commercial property, Norwich office) have been made partners in the firm. Elizabeth Thomas and Victoria Sandell have been promoted to director and Jamie Childs and Charlotte have been made senior associates. Chairman Tessa Haskey said: "At Howes Percival, we are committed to investing and developing our people, and giving them opportunities to develop their career with the firm."

Ambassadors bring international conferences to Cambridge

A recent event to mark the successful promotion of Cambridge as a location for international conferences was organised by Meet Cambridge at St John’s College Old Divinity School. Kelly Vickers, director of Meet Cambridge thanked the Cambridge Ambassadors for their work in winning and hosting 18 international conferences during 2018 and the first part of 2019. She said: “During this period, these events attracted more than 2,400 delegates and were worth just over £2.4 million to the local economy; we have a further 16 in the pipeline through to 2024.” She added: “International conferences and events are a fantastic platform for showcasing the city and for facilitating collaboration on many levels. We hope that we can inspire more academics and business people to champion and propose Cambridge as a conference destination to their respective associations and societies in the future.”

Photo (l to r) : Dr Olena Lytovka and Elmer de Vos, International Conference on Gender Studies; Kelly Vickers, Meet Cambridge; Alan Pooley, Consort and Councillor Gerri Bird, Mayor, Cambridge City Council; Dr Karen Kennedy, University of Cambridge; David Dugdale and Louise Holder, International Symposium on Equine Reproduction; and Dr Leslie Gelling, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.