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Boost to region's trade from surge in exports to North America

Strong growth in overseas sales to North America and new markets in Latin America and the Caribbean have given the region's exporters a shot in the arm. Exports from the East if England to north America grew by 12 per cent to £4.8 billion during the year to June. Meanwhile, the fastest growing market for the region's exports were Latin America and the Caribbean, where exports from the East of England rose by 16.5 per cent to £531 million. Since the EU referendum in 2016 , overseas demand for goods has increased in each UK nation compared to the previous three years, helped by the falling pound. International trade secretary Liz Truss said: “Opening up new markets for British businesses across the country is a top priority of mine, and todays statistics show businesses are benefiting more than ever from global trade.” In the second quarter of 2019, there were 10,131 East of England businesses exporting goods abroad and overall, the value of exports from the East of England rose by 3.3 per cent to £29 billion in the year to June.

Region tops growth league in August despite uncertain outlook

Business activity in the East of England bucked the downward national trend in August by growing at the strongest rate of any UK region and at the quickest pace since February, according to a key survey or purchasing managers. However new business expansion almost ground to a halt and political uncertainty dragged the 12-month outlook for activity to the second-lowest on record.The NatWest East of England business activity index rose to 52.4 in August, from 51.6 in July as the volume of new business increased for the third month running albeit marginally. Manufacturing new orders continued to fall and backlogs fell for the tenth month running in the region., Meanwhile, private sector jobs in the East of England continued to rise in August and average input prices rose in line with the average for 2019. Brexit uncertainty meant a future activity index fell to the lowest since last November and was the second-weakest since the series began in mid-2012. John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: “Backlogs have fallen markedly throughout much of 2019 so far, suggesting that new business needs to pick up if August’s rate of output expansion is to be sustained. Moreover, political uncertainty continued to cloud the 12-month outlook, with expectations the second-lowest on record in August.”

Brewers in the East roll out the barrel in overseas markets

The overseas demand for British beer, particularly in north America and Asia is creating opportunities for breweries from the East of England. Breweries from across the region recently gathered at an event hosted at the hq of Cambridge brewer Brewboard – which is exploring exporting - to showcase beers and ales to overseas buyers. The UK beer market grew at its fastest rate in 45 years last year and HMRC figures show that the UK exported over £490 million worth of beer in the year to March. According to Thinley Topden, head of region East of England at the department for international trade, countries in North America and Asia & Oceania are increasingly seeking out British-stamped beer with exports reaching over £140 million and £95 million respectively. Norfolk alone is home to at least 50 breweries. An East of England Craft Beer and Cider Export Club has been set up by the DIT with regular meetings where firms can find out about exporting. There are also overseas trade missions and events taking place each year, which East Anglian breweries can attend with support from the government’s Food is GREAT campaign. 01707 398 398 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Separately, Peterborough-based Oakham Ales has been named as the Brewery of the Year by the latest edition of the Good Pub Guide. Managing director Adrian Posnett said: “It’s a fantastic award from one of the best-known publications in the industry and reflects the hard work of the team and commitment to our customers. This is proving to be a very special year, with more awards for our beers, expansion plans well underway and now this.”

The editor of the Good Pub Guide Fiona Stapley said: “Oakham Ales’ prices are fair, their award-winning beers are excellent as well as interesting and they are constantly coming up with new ideas rather than just sticking to what they know and branching out to reach new areas.”

Photo (l-r): Stewart Poulter, brewer; Ed Sharman, brewer; Oliver Jones, brewer; Alex Kean, head brewer and Daniel Teat, trainee brewer.


Law firm advises on council property deals

Law firm Birketts has advised Cambridgeshire County Council on its acquisition of a Tesco Superstore at Cheddar's Lane off Newmarket Road in Cambridge. The £51.4m deal is part of the council’s strategy to broaden its investment portfolio to generate revenue for front line services. The deal was led by commercial property partner Cameron Barlow.  Birketts has also advised Cambs County Council on its acquisition of a ten acre industrial estate in Peterborough for £11.57m. The Kingsbridge Centre site in Sturrock Way is home to the UK hq of materials technology company E-Leather and the world’s largest distributor of Caterpillar products, Finnings (UK).

Separately, Birketts, has appointed 18 new trainee solicitors and reported a record turnover of £54.9m - a 12 per cent increase on last year. The trainees will take their seats across the firm’s Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich and Norwich offices. Jonathan Agar, chief executive officer for Birketts, said: "...Having been awarded UK Regional Law Firm of the Year at the Lawyer Awards along with further nominations for our technical excellence and high quality legal service, this year's intake join the firm at a very exciting time, and we look forward to their contribution to our 2025 objectives and beyond.”

Photo : The trainees and their first departments are: Macauley Alsford (Commercial Property), Harrison Barber (Commercial Property), Amber Coteman (Corporate Banking), Lauren Guiler (Corporate), Caragh Hargreaves (Commercial Property), William Hodges (Commercial Property), Jessica Kilkelly (Private Client Advisory), Hannah Meara (Private Client Advisory), Faye Milton (Agriculture), Ruben Ringelmann (Private Client Advisory), Jordan Scott (Corporate), James Twamley (Agriculture), Samuel Varney (Employment), Gemma Waldock (Public Sector), Elliot Tayler (Family), Raina Victor (Employment).
They are joined by Francesca Reason (Charities) and Shereen Semnani (Corporate) from Birketts’ spring intake of trainees.

See Profile Birketts

Fears mount over fraud attacks on SMEs

Over two thirds of SMEs in the East of England say fraud attacks are becoming more frequent, with over 80 per cent also claiming fraud is becoming more sophisticated according to an HSBC UK survey. Overall, nearly a quarter of companies from the East of England surveyed said they had been a victim of fraud or attempted fraud over the past 12 months but over a third have failed to put any fraud prevention measures in place. HSBC UK head of commercial banking Amanda Murphy said: “It’s clear that fraud is a mounting issue for more companies across the East of England; not only are attacks becoming increasingly regular, they are also growing in sophistication and are very difficult for companies to detect. Complacency is the fraudster’s friend and we’d urge companies to ensure they are doing all they can to combat scammers. It’s also critical that the victims of fraud report their circumstances to the police to bring these criminals to justice.” Criminals stole £1.2 billion from UK consumers and businesses through fraud and scams in 2018 according to industry body UK Finance.

Business struggle to prepare for no deal Brexit

Over a third of East of England businesses have not done a Brexit risk assessment although those that trade internationally (54 per cent) are more likely to have carried out one, according to a British Chambers of Commerce survey. In a no deal scenario, firms that trade with Europe will face new customs procedures at the border. But the survey showed that even among internationally active East of England businesses, two thirds are not aware of transitional simplified procedures and over half were not aware of authorised economic operator status or customs comprehensive guarantees. Nova Fairbank, head of policy for Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, said: “Norfolk businesses do not want to see a messy and disorderly Brexit, but ongoing uncertainty means they must prepare for all possibilities as the October deadline looms. While more firms have taken basic steps to prepare for change than was the case last year, and government has stepped up communication to businesses, ongoing uncertainty makes business planning with confidence next to impossible. Companies are told to plan - but are being presented with a moving target.”

M & E group looks to grow onshore from Gt Yarmouth

Aberdeen-based EnerMech is expanding its operation in the East with the appointment of its first general manager for the region at its base at Great Yarmouth. Laz Koszeghy (right) has joined the M& E and instrument services firm which is persuing onshore markets in the renewables, nuclear, power, chemical and industrial sectors. He joins from BHGE where he held senior global operations and M&A positions in the company’s subsea services division. EnerMech employs around 30 people in Great Yarmouth serving  the offshore sector in the Southern North Sea. EnerMech’s regional director for Europe, Ross McHardy, believes the firm’s capabilities in Great Yarmouth in valves supply and servicing, hydraulics, training, process  services, cranes and lifting, and integrity and inspection, will appeal to a diverse range of businesses across the region. He said: “Our skills, services and experience are transferrable and can add value for our clients. Laz will be charged with introducing us into new markets which could benefit from the integrated approach which is at the core of EnerMech’s offering.”

Chair appointed for chamber’s new Central Suffolk branch

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has appointed Dr Peter Funnell (photo right) a past president of the chamber, as the inaugural chair of its new Central Suffolk branch. Dr Funnell said: "Suffolk Chamber has become a national leader in recent years. Suffolk's diverse economy is well represented by the chamber and its network, but more can be done to ensure that the views of businesses in the heart of our county are heard and actioned. A strong Central Suffolk voice will complement and add significant value to existing arrangements: an important development given current uncertainties." The next few months will see a local business board created and a manifesto that will drive its long term local campaigning and business support efforts.

Week for business growth in Tendring

The first TENDRING4GROWTH Business Week takes place across the district from Monday, 30 September to Friday, 4 October 2019. The programme organised by Tendring District Council is aimed at supporting and championing local businesses, and entrepreneurs with events which aim to inspire, educate and celebrate businesses in the district. It will be launched with a free breakfast event on 30th September - ‘Fuelling Ambition’ with Scott Russell – from 8-10.30am at The Pavilion, Clacton. Council leader Neil Stock will introduce the council’s growth ambitions and its plans for the future and the guest speaker is Scott Russell, founder of Paddy & Scotts Coffee. On Wednesday, 2 October the Tendring Energy Seminar, running from 8.30-10.30am at The Waterfront, in Dovercourt will include talks from industry experts from Nautilus Associates, EDF Energy, Galloper Wind Farm and Greater South East Energy Hub. On Thursday, 3 October, the Women in Business Networking event will run from 8-10.30am at the Royal Hotel, Clacton. For more details go to

Tech giant founder to speak in Suffolk

Suranga Chandratillake, the founder of video search engine company blinkx, will be speaking at a lunch event for Ipswich Suffolk Business Club lunch on Thursday 19th September at Kesgrave Hall. Currently a venture capital partner for Balderton Capital and a member of the government’s Council for Science and Technology, Suranga Chandratillake (right), holds patents in video discovery and online video advertising and was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s annual silver medal. Luke Morris, chair of the Ipswich Suffolk Business Club, said: “We are amid a revolution whereby the digital economy, artificial intelligence and data analytics are revolutionising all business sectors. This is a unique opportunity to hear the latest trends and insights from someone who advises the Prime Minister on these kinds of developments.” The event is supported by Milsoms, Greene King and Genesis PR. See