Friday 23rd August 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 13/08/2019

Pick-up in new business in the region despite uncertain times

Private sector activity in the East of England picked up in July helped by the fastest rise in new business in 2019 although firms were less confident on the outlook for the coming 12 months than in June, according to a key survey of purchasing managers. The NatWest East of England business activity index rose to 51.6 in July from 51.3 in June; the second month running that private output has risen in the region although it remains below its long term average. Employment also rose solidly - albeit more slowly than in June - while input price inflation slowed to a three-year low. Although modest, the rate of expansion in the East of England was stronger than all other UK regions except Wales and London. Uncertainty over Brexit meant the 12-month outlook for business activity was the weakest since February. John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: “A key standout of the latest survey was the fastest increase in new business of the year so far, which justified another solid rise in employment. But the 12-month outlook remains clouded by Brexit uncertainty, as the future activity index weakened to the lowest since February.”

Law firm advises on foodservice consultancy acquisition

Law firm Birketts has advised Tricon Foodservice Consultants on its acquisition of foodservice design consultancy Grantham Winch Partnership (GWP). Founded in 1981, Tricon has offices in London and the UAE and employs 45 people and is one of Europe’s  largest foodservice design and management consultancies. It has advised on high profile projects, working with The British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Modern, the NATO hq in Brussels and the Palace of Westminster. Based in Melton Mowbray, the Grantham Winch Partnership has worked with clients in the hotel and education sectors for over 20 years. Tricon had a turnover of £4.47 million at the end of 2018 and is likely to see its position in the market strengthened with new projects and clients as part of the acquisition. Mike Coldicott, managing director at Tricon, said: “The acquisition of the Grantham Winch Partnership is a key milestone in the companies continued strategic development, as we look to consolidate our position in the hotel and education markets.…We were pleased with Birketts’ support, and very much valued having a commercially-minded legal team at our side to manage the process”.

Lisa Gray, legal director of the corporate team led the transaction with support from Abigail Trencher and Josie Beal (employment) with assistance from Simona Gruodyte (corporate).

Photo: Mike Coldicott with Garry Nokes, design consultant, GWP.

See Profile Birketts

Cambridge-based components firm acquired by private equity group

Equistone Partners Europe, a private equity group, is taking a majority stake in Cambridge-based component manufacturer Bulgin from Elektron Technology PLC for an enterprise value of £105 million. Bulgin will continue to be led by John Wilson, who moves from executive chairman to CEO. The firm’s existing management team will acquire a minority shareholding alongside Equistone. Peter Williamson, who has wide experience in the sector, joins as non-executive chairman. Founded in 1923, Bulgin develops and manufactures connectors and related components for harsh-environment applications, in sectors including industrials, transport & infrastructure and medical technology. It has bases in the UK, North America, Asia-Pacific and north Africa. In recent years, Bulgin has invested in new cutting-edge fibre and sensing products and rationalised its product range and distributor base. The business employs around 680 people and has revenues of over £30 million. Paul Harper, partner at Equistone Partners Europe, said:“ In Bulgin, we are pleased to be backing a market-leading manufacturer with a global reputation for high-performance engineered component solutions used in a range of harsh-environment applications. We look forward to working with John and his team, to build on their fantastic track record of developing Bulgin’s product range and global footprint.”

Design for new cultural quarter in Ipswich unveiled

The design for a new theatre square and pavilion as part of a wider mixed-use development to revive the Westgate area of Ipswich have been unveiled. The scheme for the 35, 000 sq m site, designed by WG+P Architects (Waind Gohil + Potter) forms part of Ipswich Borough Council’s development plan. Phase 1 of the masterplan is to improve the area outside the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, including a new pavilion to be managed by the theatre. The aim is for the new square to become the north west gateway to the town centre with the pavilion becoming home to the theatre’s growing community engagement and creative learning programme and to provide a tech hub for developing digital skills in arts in the area. The design for the new pavilion uses a pre-fabricated timber structure and a concertinaed gold coloured metal roof.

Phil Waind, director with WG+P, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for us to create something delightful within the space and for all who visit Ipswich. The Willis Building, being one of our favourites, is a short distance away and we wanted a design that aspires and uses construction methods relevant to today. The new public space and building will fundamentally support The New Wolsey Theatre and allow them to maintain and enhance their status as a cultural landmark in the heart of Ipswich."

Peter de Savary from Charterhouse Investments who owns the site said: "We hope this project can set an example to others of where public/private partnerships can deliver regeneration and community benefit in this otherwise distressed market’". Local main contractor Gippings and quantity surveyors Daniel Connal Partnership are set to start work on phase 1 in August with completion set for spring 2020.

First for ISO accreditations at Suffolk construction firm

Needham Market-based Mixbrow Construction is thought to be the first Suffolk-based construction company to achieve certification for its business management system against all three major international standards. In recent years, the pre-requisite for businesses has been achieving international accreditation under ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 14001 for environmental management. Last year ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety was introduced and Mixbrow Construction achieved it earlier this month. Stuart Leech, operations director at Mixbrow Construction, said: “Our BMS has been developed to evolve. It establishes a formal structure for the business whilst still providing us with the essential flexibility to improve co-ordination and communication and encourage innovation. This optimum balance of structure and adaptability allows us to accommodate our client’s specific needs whilst maintaining consistently high standards of service.”

Photo: Paul Rowe, PS Rowe Associates, Claire Foreman and Stuart Leech from Mixbrow Construction, with the ISO accreditations.

Industrial property sold and let in Haverhill

The Cambridge office of Barker Storey Matthews has completed a deal where it let and sold a large industrial unit at the same time in a prominent site in Haverhill. A private investor has bought Unit 1 on the town’s Homefield Road - a detached warehouse of 26,650 sq ft including ground floor and first floor offices and mezzanines - for £1,325,000 on a lease with a net initial yield of 8.2 per cent. Meanwhile, it has been let to a new tenant, Frem Group, a manufacturer of office furniture. Ben Green, of the agent’s Cambridge office, said: “This latest transaction demonstrated solid occupier and investor demand in towns with a strong industrial profile, such as Haverhill, where the supply of quality units is low.” The building  has the potential to add a further building of up to or around 1,115 sq m (12,000 sq ft). Barker Storey Matthews is now part of Eddisons.

Separately, Pico Technology, an electronics test instruments company, has taken additional commercial space at Colmworth Business Park, Eaton Socon in St Neots where it has its hq. The firm has taken a new lease on Units 3-5 Chester Road, giving it a total of 13,750 sq ft of additional workshop, warehouse and office space, says Barker Storey Matthews, the sole agent acting for the landlord in the letting.

Roofing supplies company moves to new premises with bank's support

Castle Roofing Supplies has moved to new industrial premises at Stirling Way, Northfields Industrial Estate, Market Deeping, near Peterborough after Barclays supported the company with a loan to purchase the freehold earlier this year. Directors Ken and Mandy Smith have been running Castle Roofing Supplies next to their home in Langtoft, Peterborough since 1997. After being joined by Simon Wall, sales manager, in 2007 and with an increasing turnover and the need to store a wider product range of products they looked for new purpose-built premises. The company moved into the property at the beginning of July and once established, will be looking to offer further local job opportunities. Ken Smith said: "Although we have been trading successfully from our old premises at Langtoft Fen, it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep a suitable amount and range of products to maintain the delivery service that our customers have come to expect. The new premises will give us this ability, and also allow us to diversify into other products such as external cladding, Upvc fascias and rainwater products.”

Neil Collcott, Barclays business manager, Anglia, said: “The company has grown significantly over the years and the time is now right to make that investment decision to purchase their own freehold premises.  This will give them greater security and the opportunity to store and offer a wider range of products to their customers.”

Left to right: Neil Collcott (Barclays), Ken Smith and Stuart McCabe, Glenn Smith and Simon Wall (Castle Roofing Supplies).

Pupils race at Goodwood with ‘Greenpower’ Project

Cambs-based Domino Printing has had a successful collaboration with a local primary school where it has been helping with the teaching of STEM subjects. Domino Printing volunteered a team of technical specialists to work with classes at Newton Primary School in Eltisley with the aim of building two Goblin Kit Cars to be raced at Goodwood. Over the last few months, 25 children aged 9-11 years have taken part in a series of two-hour sessions, which included safety briefings, practical work on the cars, looking at factors that influence a car’s speed, discussing changes to improve performance and driving practice. All of this led towards taking the cars to the Greenpower Education Trust’s regional Race Day at Goodwood Motor Circuit on 21st July. Two teams from Eltisley – Vulcan and Newton Destroyer – competed in this year’s ‘Goodwood Gathering of Goblins’, finishing in 30th and 46th place respectively out of a total of 84 entrants. Phil Bailey, model shop manager at Domino, said: “The Greenpower Project offers more than just racing a cart around the Goodwood circuit – it gives the young students of Newton Primary School the chance to engage with industry-qualified engineers through practical hands-on learning in a fun and enjoyable way. Pupils cover a range of subjects such as properties of materials, strong shapes, DC current and friction including some driving skills along the way. Most importantly, it started the young people thinking about pursuing an engineering or science- based subject as a career.”

Photo: Pupils from Newton Primary School with their kit cars ready to race.

New events space opens at Cambridge college

A Cambridge college has opened its new events space in the city centre offering potential for organisers of conferences, meetings and dinners. Gonville & Caius College has opened the Acropolis At Caius, a marquee structure in the gardens on its West Road site which extends to 2,150 sq ft and is available until September 2020 whilst some of the college’s kitchen and dining facilities are refurbished. Named Acropolis for its architectural shape; the multiple glass sides around its linked hexagonal structures provide outdoor views into the gardens. Up to 140 can be seated on round tables for dinner, 91 cabaret style and 150 theatre style. Eve Stupart, conference manager at Gonville & Caius, said: “After many months of planning and anticipation, we are delighted that Acropolis At Caius is here and already attracting very positive feedback. Clients are choosing it for corporate dinners, lunches, team-building events and garden parties with the surrounding gardens providing a perfect backdrop for drinks receptions and outdoor events.  It’s an exciting and stylish alternative to other events spaces around the city and later in the year enables us to hold Christmas Parties – both private events and joiner party nights – in this atmospheric environment.” The Acropolis is adjacent to other Caius facilities: the Cavonius Conference Centre, The Stephen Hawking Building and Harvey Court which offers residential facilities for 175 during the vacation. An open event for events organisers is being held on Thursday 12th September from 4.00-6.30pm. To attend email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it