Thursday 19th September 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 27/06/2019

Sales and exports growing at ‘healthy’ pace in the region

Domestic and export sales across businesses in the East of England are growing at a ‘fairly healthy’ pace so far this year and are outpacing national averages, according to a survey from the chartered accountants group ICAEW. It shows the region’s domestic sales growing at 4.2 per cent and exports at 3.8 per cent up to the second quarter of this year. Over the coming 12 months, businesses in the region expect growth in exports and profits will remain broadly similar to the past year, although domestic sales growth is expected to slow to 2.9 per cent. However the survey also shows business confidence in the East of England is reflects Brexit concerns as well as skills shortages, late payments and rising costs. Harpreet Panesar, ICAEW East of England director, said: “Businesses in the East of England have told us that they don’t see things changing much in the next few months, and this is reflected in their low confidence. Companies in the region, especially those who currently benefit from EU farming subsidies, are facing lots of challenges and say they need clarity to help them plan their operations for the future.”

Separately, business confidence in the East of England jumped 19 points during June to 13 per cent, says the latest business barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Confidence in their own business prospects amongst firms in the region leapt to 29 per cent, up from just 3 per cent in May. Businesses’ hiring intentions show a net balance of 23 per cent of firms in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, up from zero last month.

Go ahead for new Cambridge hotel in former police and fire station

Cambridge City Council has granted permission for the conversion of Hobson House, the city's former police and fire station, into a 57 all-suite boutique hotel and tearoom. Operating under the Rogue City Hotels brand, the hotel has been designed by Dexter Moren Associates for client Henley. It will see key features of the Grade II Listed building preserved, restored and opened up to the public. Built in 1901, Hobson House has functioned as a workhouse, a gaol for the university, a police and fire station and, more recently, as council offices. The design involves a covered courtyard, the former Drill Yard, being enclosed to become a tearoom and eatery in the centre of the hotel. Nassar Khalil, director of hotels and leisure at Henley and chief executive of Rogue City Hotels, said: "As with all our hotels, our focus is to provide guests with design led luxury accommodation, exceptional service, comfort and convenience, and curate a special relationship with the local area.”

Hopes for strong economic ties from Dutch ambassador's visit to Norfolk and Suffolk

The Dutch ambassador Simon Smits is visiting Norfolk and Suffolk this week to learn more on the area's research and innovation around food, health and new technologies. Regional representatives will be seeking business and investment opportunities and ways to boost trade. Exports to the Netherlands from Norfolk and Suffolk are worth £392 million, some 14 per cent of the areas's total exports. The ambassador will be visiting the Royal Norfolk Show and Norwich Research Park. New Anglia LEP, Norwich Research Park and the University of East Anglia (UEA) will provide insight into the scientific and commercial work undertaken on food, health and the microbiome, genomics, med-tech, agri-tech and industrial biotech.

Dutch Ambassador Simon Smits, said: “I find many areas of opportunity in Norfolk and Suffolk – the businesses here really have it all: deep knowledge and experience of food and drink production, innovative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit – attributes we Dutch share with you!"

Doug Field, chair of New Anglia LEP said: “We’re looking forward to showcasing our world-leading projects in health research, food security, clean energy and new technologies to Dutch Ambassador Smits and his team.

Separately, UK Export Finance provided almost £5 million of support for exporters from the East of England last year helping to generate over £24 million worth of overseas sales, according to the government body's latest annual report.

Law firm wins award in 'competitive field'

Law firm Birketts has won the ‘law firm of the year: the independents – regional’ category at this year’s The Lawyer awards held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair this week. Jonathan Agar, chief executive officer at Birketts, said: “The Lawyer Awards are now in their 25th year and are recognised within the legal profession as the leading awards initiative within the industry. This year, over 60 judges from across the industry debated entries from law firms, companies and barristers' chambers.”

James Austin (photo, right), senior partner, who collected the award on behalf of the firm, added: "The shortlist was an incredibly competitive field and demonstrates the strength of the legal services offering outside London."

Separately,  Birketts has advised NW Brown, a Cambridge and Norwich-based provider of wealth management and employee benefits services, on the merger of its financial services operations with Brown Shipley. Founded in Cambridge in 1974, NW Brown works mainly with private clients to offer financial planning and investment management services and has £1bn of discretionary funds under management.  Completion is expected by the end of the third quarter and the Cambridge and Norwich offices will be fully integrated into Brown Shipley in 2020, serving as the East Anglia hub for the business and adding to the firm’s six existing offices. James Allen, corporate partner at Birketts led with transaction with support from Faisal Bhatti (corporate) and Karl Pocock (corporate tax).

See Profile Birketts

Work starts on Chelmsford redevelopment of Royal Mail site

Bellway Essex has started construction work on redeveloping the Royal Mail depot site in Chelmsford into a new scheme of 203 flats. The building was demolished in 2015 and Bellway’s plans for the site were approved in February this year. The scheme, Novello, will include a range of one and two-bedroom flats in blocks between three and five storeys high along with a landscaped urban piazza and pocket park. It will also include affordable housing for local people, public art, and funds for cycle parking and footway and cycleway improvements in Chelmsford. Bellway Essex head of sales Jenny Walker said: “Our plans will transform this derelict piece of land into an attractive residential community and will help continue the regeneration of this part of Chelmsford. There is a growing demand for new apartments in the city, as we have seen at our Marconi Evolution site nearby, which has almost completely sold out.”

New senior architect appointed at consultancy

Property and construction consultant Ingleton Wood has recruited a new senior architect to its team to help grow the business in the region. Malcolm Clarke, 35, is a RIBA member who started training 15 years ago and has worked in the construction industry since, focusing on regeneration in the past ten years. He joins the architectural team at Ingleton Wood, which has offices in Colchester, Norwich, Billericay, London, Cambridge, and Oxford and which works on a wide range of sectors on projects valued at up to £50 million. He has a strong commercial background having been integral in the design and delivery of shopping malls across the UK including St Enoch Shopping Centre in Glasgow and Westfield Stratford City. The firm's architectural work across East Anglia includes Canary Quay in Norwich, Albion Wharf, Ipswich, (the Winerack), and local schools and hospitals in south Essex. Malcolm Clarke said: “I’m a flag bearer for ‘form follows function’ and really believe architecture can be a tool to improve the lives of people that use our buildings. I’m looking forward to engaging with new clients and providing them with the best possible design solutions, which I hope will meet and exceed their expectations.”

Paul Cavalier, partner at the firm, said: “We are really pleased to have an architect of Malcolm’s calibre and background join the team.”

See Profile Ingleton Wood

First occupiers move in to new Huntingdonshire development

A family-owned car dealership specialising in quality marque vehicle sales called Junction 17 has become the first occupier to move at Harrier Court on Eagle Business Park in Yaxley, Hunts, says sole agent Barker Storey Matthews. The dealership moved in to Unit 3, Harrier Court where it will use the 3,820 sq ft space as its pre-sales workshop for servicing, detailing and valeting vehicles before they go to its nearby showroom. Harrier Court and Peregrine Court form the second phase of the development at Eagle Business Park where construction is almost complete with many units ready for occupation. Richard Jones of the agent’s Peterborough office, said, “Eagle Business Park has played its part in raising the commercial property profile of this part of Huntingdonshire, close to the A1(M), during the past decade. Harrier Court and Peregrine Court are attracting interest from a range of commercial operators. The majority…are either relocating from smaller premises or, like Junction 17, have requirements for additional space space to accommodate their business growth.”