Thursday 19th September 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 03/09/2019

Farming business with 100 year history sold to investment group

Strutt & Parker (Farms), one of the region's oldest diversified farming businesses which operates across Suffolk, Essex and Cambs, has been sold to Robigus, a farm and estate investment group. Chairman Peter Tritton said: “Strutt & Parker (Farms) has earned an excellent reputation over its 100 year history as a leading, innovative and diversified agricultural business. This acquisition provides a significant opportunity for Robigus to further enhance and expand on their ambition to be at the forefront of British agriculture. My great grandfather and founding partner Edward Strutt would approve of the opportunities that increased investment under new ownership will provide.” Robigus operates with Belport, a UK investment and asset management company in the sector, with finance provided by European investors. Deloitte and Savills managed the sale for Strutt & Parker (Farms). The company’s two anaerobic digestion subsidiaries, Euston Biogas and S&P Biogas, have been sold separately to Foresight Group, an infrastructure and private equity investment manager.

Charlie Paton, director national farm sales at Savills, said: “Given the political context, the interest in the portfolio and subsequent sale is recognition of the quality and provenance of this long established company and its assets. Such a substantial transaction also represents a significant vote of confidence in UK agriculture.”

Confidence under pressure but firms still plan to hire

Business confidence in the East of England weakened in August although a net balance of companies still plan to hire more staff over the coming year, according to a survey from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Its business barometer for August showed confidence amongst firms in the East in their own business prospects fell to 18 per cent from 10 per cent in July. Combined with firms’ views on the economic outlook it gave an overall confidence level of four per cent down five points on the previous month. Across the region, a net balance of ten per cent of firms said they felt that Brexit was having a negative impact on business activity expectations. However a net seven per cent of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, down five points on last month. Firms in the East also appear to be more optimistic than the national average; across the UK, overall confidence slipped to one per cent and confidence in firms' own prospects fell to eight per cent. David Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s disappointing to see business confidence falling for another month, but it reflects the uncertainty that is currently prevailing across the UK."

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for the bank, added : “While ongoing economic uncertainty is likely a key driver, it’s worth noting that companies’ assessment of the expected impact on their business of the UK leaving the EU has remained broadly unchanged this year.”

CBI urges MPs to find "Brexit deal that works for the East"

The CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn has written to every MP in the East of England urging them to “find a Brexit deal that works for the East of England.” The letter says that the government needs to focus as much on striking a deal as it does on preparing for the consequences of no deal although it also welcomes the “significant step change in government investment and energy.” The CBI warns that while big businesses have spent millions, preparing many smaller firms do not have the spare cash to try and mitigate the affects with so much Brexit uncertainty. The CBI has assessed the state of no deal preparations by the UK, the EU and businesses in 27 economic key areas and concludes that disruption is likely in 24 of these areas immediately following a no deal outcome. In all 27, it says a negative impact is anticipated in either the short or long term.

New air service to Aberdeen from Norwich takes off

A new air service between Norwich and Aberdeen catering for the offshore sector has been launched by Loganair providing up to three non-stop weekday services using an Embraer 145 jet as well as Sunday services. The airline is adding an additional aircraft at Norwich Airport, creating 15 jobs to operate the new route. Good connections between the two regions are key for the offshore industry and the airline says ticket sales from oil and gas customers have been encouraging. From Aberdeen, connections are also available to Orkney, Shetland and Esbjerg. Kay Ryan, commercial director at Loganair, said: “We know connectivity to Aberdeen is an important life-blood for the offshore industry and we look forward to delivering a frequent, dependable and rewarding product to our customers, as well as supporting the region.”

Richard Pace, managing director at Norwich Airport, said: “Loganair’s increased presence and local job creation at Norwich Airport is a welcome boost to the region and their new service enables business passengers and those wishing to travel to visit friends or family increased frequency on the popular Aberdeen route along with secure seamless onward connections too.”

Photo:Loganair sales manager Greig White with crew.

Big four professional firm expands regional business

Deloitte, one of the ‘big four’ professional services firms, has expanded its teams in Cambridge and Ipswich as growth across its regional business has speeded up and revenues have risen by over 15 per cent. Paul Schofield, South East practice senior partner at Deloitte, said: “In Cambridge we’ve seen a six per cent increase in headcount supporting market and market share growth; during the year we have welcomed colleagues in economic consulting, financial advisory and real estate disciplines as well as audit, tax and risk advisory. We have seen further growth in St Albans and in addition, we’re delighted to have opened a new 30-strong office in Ipswich, establishing a global trade bureau that offers a market-leading customs compliance service.”

Pauline Biddle, managing partner for the regional market, added: “Business is changing and with it the need to provide expertise and support across multiple locations, both nationally and internationally. Over the past year the regional practice has gone from strength-to-strength. Our employee numbers are up 13 per cent, now exceeding 7,500 and the firm’s regional footprint has grown significantly." The firm's investment outside London includes the creation of centres of excellence including a new Tech Foundry in Reading with plans to create 350 new jobs. Deloitte in the UK & Switzerland increased revenue by 10.9 per cent in the year to end-May 2019 and over 4,000 people joined the firm, including 1,200 graduates and apprentices.

Photo: Paul Schofield, Deloitte South East practice senior partner.

Financial services firm takes on new trainees

Audit, tax and consulting firm RSM has expanded its staff numbers in East Anglia with an annual intake of six new graduates and school leavers. The trainees in the RSM East Anglia offices of Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge will start their careers in the firm’s tax, audit, and restructuring advisory teams. Laragh Jeanroy, office managing partner for RSM East Anglia, said:”…We’re committed to providing our new joiners from school or university with all the support they need to develop themselves and their careers, as they are our future business leaders. I wish them every success in building their careers and reaching their goals here at RSM and encourage them to enjoy the experience as they go.” The firm recruited 400 new students across the UK, up from 314 last year as part of its bid to grow and become first choice adviser to middle market leaders globally.