Saturday 14th December 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 31/07/2019

Uncertainty on farm policy takes toll on land market

The volume of farmland put on the open market during the first six months of the year was the lowest for five years, says agents Strutt & Parker. The first half of 2019 saw 43,000 acres publicly launched in England, the lowest area marketed since 2014. Strutt & Parker’s head of estate and farm agency Michael Fiddes said: “The fall is not unexpected as landowners who have a choice about when to sell are holding back until there is greater economic certainty. This is something we have seen during previous rounds of CAP reform, where uncertainty about agricultural policy has led to a fall in the amount of land being marketed.” The biggest fall in volume was recorded in the East Midlands but supply is also below average in the East of England, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber. But tight supplies are helping to underpin average values which remain consistent at £9,100/acre for arable land although the range of values is wide. He added: “Overall, farms and estates where there is potential to generate mixed revenue streams, combining residential, commercial and agricultural enterprises, are tending to attract strong interest, as are best-in-class farms where there is a neighbouring farmer looking to expand." In East Anglia, values are holding firm with prices for arable land ranging between £7,000-10,000 per acre. Security of water supply can be key to profitability for landowners as it allows greater flexibility of cropping and there is strong demand for irrigated light/ flexible land, which sells at a premium.

Law firm extends reach to west Suffolk and beyond with merger

Ellisons Solicitors is merging with Bury St Edmunds-based firm Gross & Co. The combination will give Ellisons a London base and a second office in Suffolk, after setting up an Ipswich office five years ago. Founded in 1848, Gross & Co. will bring complementary expertise and 25 additional staff to Ellisons. The Bury-based firm has a reputation for immigration and charity law and Gross & Co will help to bolster Ellisons’ offering nationally and internationally. The firm will initially be known as ‘Ellisons incorporating Gross & Co.’ All staff at Gross & Co. will continue in their roles in Bury and senior partner Graeme Kirk and finance partner Sohan Sidhu will continue as partners while Elizabeth Hodder will remain in her role as head of the family team in Bury. Graeme Kirk will also take a place on Ellisons’ management board. Guy Longhurst, managing partner at Ellisons, said: “We truly believe that our respective service offerings and firm cultures are as near perfect a match as you’ll ever find. Bury St Edmunds is a fantastic location, and having previously acquired Wanham Longhurst & Co., my father’s firm, we are confident that our new and existing clients and colleagues will benefit from the greater opportunities and services presented by the merger with Gross & Co.”

Graeme Kirk said: “It is a wonderful opportunity to grow the business further and with Guy’s family connections within Bury St Edmunds’ legal community, I’m very much looking forward to developing our client relationships both past and present.” Ellisons now has seven offices in total, including its head office in Colchester.

Photo (l-r): Graeme Kirk, Guy Longhurst, John Turner, Sohan Sidhu.

Tougher times for business reflected in insolvency figures

Corporate insolvencies in England and Wales rose by 11.9 per cent in the second quarter compared to the period last year and were up by 2.6 per cent on the first three months of this year, according to Insolvency Service figures. R3 Eastern chair Mark Upton, a partner at Ensors Chartered Accountants in East Anglia, said: “These figures are evidence of a difficult period for UK businesses. Tighter constraints on consumers and significant uncertainty about the future of the UK economy and the UK’s relationship with the EU are just some of the key factors at play that are making the business climate a challenging one.” Numbers of administrations have fallen back slightly from last quarter, but they are at still their second highest quarterly level since 2014. Meanwhile, an increase in creditors’ voluntary liquidations suggests business rescue is more difficult to achieve in the current economic environment, perhaps reflecting greater uncertainty that purchasers can deliver sustainable business turnarounds.

Stansted Airport joins Cambridge Ahead for the long haul

London Stansted Airport has joined Cambridge Ahead, the business and academic group which promotes the city and the region. The airport’s close proximity to Cambridge and its ability to develop new routes, including long haul, is seen as a key factor in the city’s development. Following the recent start of Emirates second daily service to Dubai, Stansted has announced plans to secure direct services to at least 25 new long-haul destinations, particularly in the Far East, India, North America and the Middle East. Jonathan Oates, corporate affairs director, London Stansted Airport, said: “Stansted Airport sits at the heart of one of the most dynamic and affluent regions in the UK and the combination of the significant investment we are making in our facilities and our spare runway capacity will ensure that we can play an ever-increasing role as an economic catalyst for Cambridge.”

Jane Paterson-Todd (photo, right) , CEO, Cambridge Ahead, added: “This partnership gives Cambridge’s key sectors an opportunity to work much more closely with London Stansted to support future air travel needs. With Stansted’s close proximity to Cambridge, it is ideally located for many businesses that have increasing requirements for longer-haul flights.”

See Profile Cambridge Cluster Map

Cambridge biotech group raises £10 million for expansion

Cambridge-based biotech group PredictImmune, a developer of prognostic tools for immune-mediated diseases, has completed a Series B fund-raising having £10 million to support growth and to expand its product pipeline. The firm plans to build on the launch of its first product, PredictSURE IBD™ and expand across Europe, the USA and the rest of the world in the coming months. The financing has extended its links with existing investors Parkwalk and Cambridge Enterprise and the group has  also attracted two new major investors, BGF and Cambridge Innovation Capital. Alastair Kilgour, co-founder and partner, Parkwalk said: “Parkwalk are delighted to continue to support the ground breaking technology from Dr Ken Smith’s laboratory at Addenbrookes, which enables the prognosis of IBD and an earlier clinical decision as to the correct drug treatment. This will significantly improve clinical outcomes and enhance patient welfare...We look forward to seeing the platform extended to benefit clinical outcomes in further diseases.”

First tenant set to move into landmark Ipswich development

The Maltings, the new 24,000 sq.ft. landmark office building close to Ipswich station, is open after nearly three years being developed by Pertwee Estates supported by New Anglia LEP. The first tenant, Chaucer Underwriting, is set to move into the building in Princes Street next month. The offices are available to let in suites from 600 to 21,000 sq ft and the property aims to provide an inspiring and creative place to work which should help companies attract employees. Penn Commercial is sole agent for the development.

Photo (l-r) : Robin Cousins, Vanessa Penn and Mark Pertwee

See Profile Penn Commercial

Bank appoints new business development manager for region

Louise Prior has been appointed as business development manager at Barclays covering Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. She will provide tailored financial solutions for brokers and their clients across commercial and agricultural mortgages, property investment and development loans and cash-flow finance. Louise Prior has worked for Barclays for over 30 years and has wide experience as a relationship manager lending to a variety of businesses and sectors. She said: “My career in Barclays has always been focused on building relationships with my customers and supporting them to achieve their goals and move their businesses forward. There is always a great sense of achievement when you see any business grow, especially when it means they are then able to offer vital local employment.  My new role will mean that I will work in a wider external network with brokers, but still with the same aim of helping people to invest in their businesses.”

See Profile Barclays