Thursday 14th November 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 16/10/2019

Surge in R&D tax relief claims in the region bodes well for investment

Figures pointing to an encouraging rise in research and development in the region have emerged in statistics showing a 22 per cent rise in claims for R&D tax credits in the East of England over 2017/18. HMRC statistics show firms in the region submitted 4,710 claims for tax credits, up from 3,870 previously. Meanwhile, the level of support rose by 41 per cent. The improvement was in line the national trend; across the UK, the amount of R&D support claimed rose to £4.3bn, a rise of £1bn from the previous year. First introduced in 2000, R&D tax credits act to encourage greater R&D spending and innovation and cut a company’s tax bill by an additional amount. Over time, the rate of relief has become more generous and is now worth up to 230 per cent for SMEs. Today, just over 40 per cent of claims are made by companies less than 10 years old. Sheetal Sanghvi, RSM's regional head of R&D tax, said: “It's very encouraging to see R&D claims from East of England companies rising so significantly. While much is uncertain as we move towards the next deadline in the Brexit saga, enhancing the R&D scheme would be an obvious lever available to the government to try and boost the UK economy post Brexit, particularly if state aid constraints no longer applied.”

Lowestoft-based offshore firm sold for £6.5 million

Lowestoft-based Pipeshield International, a leading offshore services companies has been sold for £6.5 million to AIM-listed Tekmar Group, which provides specialised subsea pipeline protection systems. The sale is expected to provide a platform for further growth for the company, which has a workforce of 25 and employs around 15 contractors. Lovewell Blake and law firm Birketts advised on the sale. Pipeshield managing director and founder Steve Howlett said: “This is an exciting next step in the development of Pipeshield as a major global player in our sector. The sale to Tekmar will open up new markets for us, and provide the investment and foundations for further growth.”  Based at the Quay View Business Park in Lowestoft, Piepeshield was founded in 1999 and works in the oil and gas, renewables and marine civils sectors. It has manufacturing bases in Montrose, Blyth, Dammam (KSA); Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Qatar and Johor (Malaysia).

Photo: A Pipeshield International project in Dubai.

Norwich-based digital agency acquired by international group

Further, a Norwich-based digital marketing agency, has been acquired by an international B2B agency, Gravity Global. Further, which also has offices in London and Cambridge, employs 35 and specialises in search, content and social media marketing for clients including Avast, Aetna International, British Safety Council and Virgin Wines. The agency has been ranked in the Top six small search agencies in Europe for the past five years, picking up several UK and European search awards. Further (photo, right) started life as a two-man SEO agency in 2006 and will continue to operate from its former shoe factory hq in Norwich. The agency’s founders Steve Jaggard and Zak Ireson will remain on the board, together with joint MDs Lou Roberts and Rob Welsby. They will be joined by Gravity exec creative director Paul Anderson and CFO Andrew Daynes. Gravity CEO Mark Lethbridge said: “The two businesses have partnered successfully on pitches and projects over the past year – and we identified very early on that Further are exactly the type of best-in-breed business Gravity Global is seeking to add to its armoury.” Gravity whose clients include Santander, London Stock Exchange, Sage, Embraer and Aviva Investors, are planning more acquisitions.

Cambridge biotech group to recruit after raising $20 million

Cambridge-based Mogrify, a cell therapies specialist, has raised $16 million in a Series A fund-raising taking its total investment to over $20 million to date. The firm plans to increase the headcount from 20 to 60 scientific, operational and commercial staff at its facility on Cambridge Science Park. The funding round was led by existing investor Ahren Innovation Capital (Ahren) and included Parkwalk and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund III. Mogrify is commercializing its technology platform via a model that includes development and out-license of internally developed cell therapy assets. The firm says it has strengthened its management and scientific teams having and relocated to its new hq at TusPark’s Cambridge Bio-Innovation Centre on Cambridge Science Park in May. CEO Darrin M. Disley said: “Having now raised over $20 million, we can focus on delivery of our business strategy with the support of an aligned investor group. We will continue to engage with high-caliber investors with computational biology and cell therapy domain expertise as part of our on-going investor relations and capital markets strategy.”

Insurer moves to newly refurbished Ipswich building

Lonham, a speciality cargo and freight and liability insurer, is relocating to the refurbished Maltings building on the outskirts of Ipswich town centre. A £3 million refurbishment of The Maltings – which lies in the town’s new Princes Street business corridor – was completed this summer by Colchester-based developer Pertwee Estates. Mike Ayres, underwriting director at Lonham, which has been based in Grimwade Street in the town for 30 years, said: “Our new office supports our ambitious plans for the future and provides a modern and flexible working environment for staff and customers.”

Vanessa Penn of Penn Commercial, who negotiated the deal with Lonham, said: “Many local and national companies have already requested the property particulars and site visits. The building’s distinctive character, which has been brought to life by stunning new architecture, makes it the ideal location for a prestigious company headquarters or flagship office.”

See Profile Penn Commercial

New managing partner appointed at law firm

Andrew West has been appointed as managing partner at Gotelee Solicitors. An employment lawyer, he has been a partner for eleven of his sixteen years at the firm and has consistently ranked in the Legal 500 in recent years. Charles Rowett, chief executive, has decided to move to a new challenge, after two and half successful years at Gotelee. Peter Crix, senior partner, said: “Having a chief executive officer in place in recent years has focused the partnership on improving performance and our business strategy. We owe a great deal to Charles who has led us through a period of growth, and been responsible for a number of key appointments across our offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh and Woodbridge.”

Andrew West (photo, right) said: “This is an exciting new chapter for me. I fully understand the values of this firm and am delighted to play such an important part in its future.  There is an excellent management team in place with a huge amount of experience in running and developing growth in a legal firm. I believe we will continue to go from strength to strength.”

See Profile Gotelee Solicitors

Briefly…

Call for innovative projects to bid for funds

New Anglia LEP is launching a call for innovative projects which support growth across Norfolk and Suffolk. Its £1.5 million Innovative Projects Fund invites submissions from new revenue projects which help to deliver its economic and local industrial strategy. Schemes awarded funding in an earlier round include Growing the Year Round Economy (led by Visit East of England), events on the newly-refurbished Ipswich Cornhill and work on the international position of Great Yarmouth’s energy sector. New Anglia LEP chief executive Chris Starkie said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for projects to bid for revenue funding to deliver new exciting projects which help to deliver economic growth. We are delighted that local authorities are matching our investment into the fund through pooled business rates.”

Air India launches direct services from Stansted

The first scheduled flights to India from London Stansted will be take off later this month with the launch of Air India’s three-times a week service to Amritsar in the north west of the country. Offering business and economy classes in Boeing 787 Dreamliners, it will be the only direct service between London and Amritsar. London Stansted’s CEO, Ken O’Toole, said: “Stansted is ideally situated to serve the Asian community in North and East London and across the East of England so we are delighted that Air India has recognised the customer demand for Amritsar. He added: “Our ambition is to use our spare runway capacity to build our long-haul route network and improve the UK’s connectivity with the rest of the world at a time when availability is in short supply across south-east airports. The welcome arrival of Air India is another positive step towards that goal.”

Colchester-based group in agricultural acquisition

ARK Agriculture, part of Colchester-based investment company Milbank Group, has acquired Shropshire-based Thomas and Fontaine/Secure Covers, which supplies silage covers, windbreaks and econoblinds for agriculture. Working mainly in the dairy and livestock sector Thomas Fontaine is a market leader with products sold under the Secure Covers brand. ARK Agriculture is a leader in silage storage and has supplied several of the UK’s largest silage clamp projects. Francis Auchincloss, managing director of ARK Agriculture, said: “The acquisition of the Secure Covers business presents a great opportunity for ARK Agriculture to build on a successful period of steady and consistent growth within the United Kingdom and provides a platform to bolster our presence in dairy and livestock and anaerobic digestion sector nationally as well as internationally.” As part of Milbank Group, ARK Agriculture joins precast concrete manufacturer Milbank Concrete Products, Cadman Cranes and GRP fibreglass specialist Sui Generis International. The acquisition was completed with the help of Prism Corporate Broking (buy side advisors), Birketts Solicitors and Ensors (tax due diligence).

Investment pays off in export markets for scrap metal group

Suffolk-based scrap metal and waste recycling group Sackers has grown its international trade by 77 per cent since 2016, an average of 21 per cent year on year. Sackers sorts scrap metal into purer groups in ferrous and non-ferrous categories and the goods are sold for recycling to manufacturers, mainly in India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong with a small volume going to Spain and Belgium. Its success stems from investing £3million in 2008 in one of the only metal shredders of its size in the region which is able to process large items of metal such as aircrafts and cars. In 2018, the firm also invested £1m on a cable granulator to meet China’s zero-waste policy so metal such as copper is exported in the purest form. Meanwhile, Sackers location' near the A14 and Felixstowe is ideal for exporting and the firm has set up its own shipping department to have control over its cargo. Managing director Adrian Dodds said: “Equipment is the key to our success. We have made some big investments over the years and we are always reviewing new machinery and technology that will recover and sort as much material as possible.  It usually involves a lot of travelling but it’s worth it because in this market we can’t stand still and we have to invest not only to have that competitive edge to grow but to adapt to legislation and requirements.”  Even with our commercial waste, the equipment we have invested in allows us to recycle 92% of it and divert it from landfill”.

Separately, Sackers has won a contract with UK Power Networks for removal and disposal of scrap metal and cable for recycling in London and the South East. Sackers will be processing and recycling  metal waste for all UK Power Networks' sites in the South East on a four year contract with an option to extend.

See Profile Sackers

Cambridge group wins award for international expansion

Endomag, based at St John’s Innovation Park, Cambridge, has won the ‘International Expansion of the Year’ award at the Barclays’ annual High Growth and Entrepreneur Awards where the judges look at export sales growth, sustainability and global reach. Endomag specialises in technologies to help women with breast cancer avoid surgery when it isn’t needed, and get better outcomes when it is. Eric Mayes, CEO, Endomag, said: “Given the competition, we were absolutely thrilled to win this award.  It is a welcomed recognition of our efforts in bringing our products to benefit patients in over 30 countries.”

Nick Baker, relationship director, Barclays Corporate Banking, Cambridge said: “The Barclays High-Growth and Entrepreneur Awards, now in its fourth year, has proved to be a valuable and influential business competition for entrepreneurs and high growth businesses across the country.”

See Profile Barclays

Norfolk holiday lodge park up for sale

Woodlakes Park, a holiday lodge park at Stowbridge near Kings Lynn, is being sold on a guide price of £5.25 million by Savills for a private client. Set across 62 acres, the site is home to five fishing lakes and a woodland area with 44 detached timber lodges. Planning permission has been granted for a further 99 lodges and work is starting on a new clubhouse. Twenty glamping pods are also set to be added on the site. Kay Griffiths of Savills said: “Since acquiring Woodlakes Park in 2017 our client has significantly developed the site, providing significantly more accommodation and facilities for visitors. The work that has been undertaken, alongside the further development potential make this an attractive park for a range of potential buyers.”

Appointments at Norfolk family business

Norfolk fruit and vegetable wholesaler D & F McCarthy has recently appointed two members of the family to its board of directors. Daniel McCarthy and Samuel McCarthy are the sixth generation of the family to be involved in the business since it started trading in 1877. Daniel McCarthy has been the company’s transport manager since 2015 and is now transport director. Samuel McCarthy, who joined the company in 2015 and studied maths at Leeds University, becomes sales director. Managing director, Martin McCarthy said: “This positive move sets the scene for the transition over the coming years as the current directors head towards retirement and start to relinquish their day-to-day involvement in the company. With the great team of young people we have in place at the moment, the company will relish the challenges that the future will bring”. Since moving to a purpose-built facility on Broadland Business Park in Norwich in early 2010, the company has expanded its workforce from 35 to 72 and the payload capacity of its fleet has nearly doubled to over 100 tonnes.

Appointments at growing law firm

Rogers & Norton has recently appointed two additional staff members at its offices in Norwich and Attleborough. Meanwhile, the firm is continuing to grow and is looking to further expand and strengthen numerous other departments. Amber Tansley has joined the firm’s personal injury team in Norwich from another local law firm. She is currently half way through the level 6 diploma in law and practice and is specialising in civil litigation. Meanwhile, the firm’s conveyancing team in Attleborough has been strengthened with the addition of conveyancing executive Ashleigh Skeet. Having relocated to Norfolk from Essex, where she initially worked for a well-known regional law firm and from there went on to a large national housebuilder.

Photo: Practice manager Aidan Tidnam and new conveyancing executive Ashleigh Skeet.

See Profile Rogers & Norton

Cambridge college relaunches conference and meetings offer

Forty event planners from companies and organisations in the Cambridge area attended a recent reception to mark the relaunch of the conference and meetings offering at Fitzwilliam College - now branded Fitz Events. They heard at first hand what is available for events of all kinds – residential conferences, one-day meetings and corporate dinners – and were introduced to the new events team. Head of catering & events Robert Clarke said: “Our new events team is highly experienced in helping clients to create memorable occasions – whether it’s a small gathering or a much larger residential conference. Not only can we provide excellent facilities, we can also add value to our clients’ events with our flexible and creative approach.” Fitzwilliam College is located in a tranquil setting, with award-winning architecture, attractive gardens and close to the city centre. Its 19 meeting rooms provide natural light and spaces for groups of 10-240 delegates. www.fitz-events.com

Photo: The team behind Fitz Events, (l-r): Jo Olivey, Lina Vainauskaite, Robert Clarke, Caroline Choat (ret’d), Emma Hilditch and Lucy Allinson.

Customer service award for college

Goville & Caius College, Cambridge has won first prize for best customer service in the professional business category at the 2019 Cambridge BID Awards – for the third year running – as well as being recognised as one of the overall winners from all categories. It marks the sixth year in a row that the college has won an award, four times taking first place and twice as runners-up. Eve Stupart, conference & events manager said: “We are delighted to win first prize for the third year in a row. Mystery shoppers help us all to remain focused on our enquiry handling technique, ensuring that we not only help our customers with their current event but encourage them to book with us again and again.” The college has recently launched its new events space, Acropolis at Caius, at its West Road site which is now available for meetings, conferences and dinners – including Christmas joiner parties –  for the next 12 months whilst its facilities at Old Courts are being refurbished.

Photo (l-r):  Eve Stupart, conference & events manager;  Simon Gascoyne, deputy conference & events manager; and Laura Webb, conference & events coordinator