Thursday 14th November 2019
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 29/10/2019

Administrations rise after upturn in building & property sector failures

A surge in building and construction business failures was partly behind a 35 per cent increase in the number of companies going into administration in the third quarter of the year, according to KPMG. A total of 417 companies went into administration between July and September, up from 310 in the previous quarter and 322 in the period last year. High profile administrations included Late Rooms and Super Break, Ferguson Marine Engineering and Eversmart Energy although the number of retailers going into administration actually fell from 26 in the second quarter to 18 in the third. The number of building and construction administrations rose from 49 in the second quarter to 76 in the third and property insolvencies rose from 18 to 33 over the quarter. Pubs, restaurants and clubs administrations rose from 14 to 26. Will Wright, restructuring partner with KPMG in the East of England, said: “… the more marked increase in administrations seen last quarter may herald the start of a new wave of activity. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the challenges presented by fragile consumer confidence, rising overheads from fluctuations in exchange rates, increasing employment costs and general political uncertainty. The good news is that companies across all industries are now proactively addressing long-term issues and attempting to place themselves on a more sure financial footing, ahead of any further macro-economic challenges that are coming down the line.”

Big opportunities for Harwich from offshore wind power

Harwich is ideally placed to benefit from a surge in offshore wind power in the region but needs to develop a supply chain and workforce skills to make the most of it. Speaking at an energy seminar during the recent Tendring4GrowthBusiness Week, Jonathan Reynolds, from Opergy, said: “Offshore wind is one of the biggest economic opportunities for Essex in terms of creating jobs – in engineering, supply chains and elsewhere. There is significant potential when it comes to building turbines, something not really done in the UK at the moment, and I have had discussions in China where they understand the opportunities in the UK, East Anglia, and Essex.” Work is underway on Galloper Wind Farm’s £10million operations and maintenance facility at Harwich International Port, due to open in December.

Sean Chenery, Galloper Wind Farm’s operations and maintenance centre manager, added: “There is a great opportunity for Harwich and Tendring, and if a supply chain can be built around the industry it should get some of that investment. The Crown Estate has very recently launched the next round of auctions for offshore wind sites, and two of those areas can be accessed from Harwich.” He also pointed to the importance of developing a local, skilled workforce and said talks were ongoing with local education providers to run courses.  By 2040 a £59.4bn capital investment in offshore energy in the eastern region is planned and by 2025 £1.3bn pa will be invested in offshore wind.

Photo (l-r): Sean Chenery, Chris Squires, Ewan Green (Corporate Director, TDC), Simon Gray, Jonathan Reynolds, and Peter Gudde.

Law firm advises on sale of global golf brand

Law firm Birketts has advised the shareholders of Herts-based Motocaddy Holdings, a world leading golf trolley and cart bag brand, on the sale of a majority stake to private equity firm Ethos Partners for £22m. Established in 2004, Motocaddy Holdings employs over 40 and sells electric and push golf trolleys, golf bags and accessories in over 40 countries worldwide. Further international expansion is planned after the firm reported sales of £19.4m last year. The Birketts’ team advising on the deal included Rafael Ruiz, Adam Jones, Alex Forwood, Thomas Utting and Sabina Rooney (corporate) with support from Karl Pocock and Ben Clarke (tax), Abigail Hubert (employment) and Matthew Grindley (property). Tony Webb, exiting CEO of Motocaddy, said: “We are proud of what the company has achieved over the last 9 years since the original MBO back in 2010, and I am very grateful to the whole of my team for working so hard  to build a reputation for offering the very best in design, build and functionality in order to become leaders in our field.” He added: “The Birketts’ team provided exceptional support throughout the transaction,  impressing us with their corporate knowledge, commercial insight and personable manner.”

Separately, Birketts has won the national Legal Team of the Year title at this year’s Estates Gazette awards at an event at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London last week. The firm was described by the judges as ‘an East of England-based law firm behaving like a London-based international business,’ and it won against others on a shortlist made up entirely of global firms. Birketts chief executive officer Jonathan Agar said: “To win the prestigious Legal Team of the Year award in a highly competitive year, is a tribute to the strength of our services to the property sector, both in terms of the growth of the team (58 new recruits joined the property division in the last financial year alone) and the income generated (which amounts to 17% year on year growth). This award is a testament to the combined efforts of those in, and those supporting, our property teams.”

Photo : Claudia Winkleman, partner Chris Schwer, partner Cameron Barlow, a representative from sponsor New London Architecture and EG editor Samantha McClary.

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Welcome for deal to tackle mobile ‘not-spots’

Plans for a £1 billion deal between the department for digital, culture, media and sport and the mobile phone industry to banish rural ‘not-spots’ have been welcomed by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. The government is backing industry plans to build a shared rural network to fund new phone masts in rural areas with poor 4G mobile coverage. Suffolk Chamber took a lead across the UK in encouraging its members and others to register not-spots and nearly 400 were located in the east of England. Suffolk Chamber chief executive John Dugmore said: “This announcement will offer hope to all our rural businesses whose day-to-day operations have been made harder and whose growth plans have been put on the back burner because of poor 4G coverage.”

New rail taskforce chair pledges to improve reliability

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has been appointed as the new chair of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce and has pledged to improve reliability, reduce journey times and attract new investment. The taskforce – a collaboration of MPs, business leaders, Network Rail and Greater Anglia - lobbies for improvements to infrastructure and service on the line. Giles Watling said: “This is an important group, that I have worked with since my election in 2017. Improving rail infrastructure to my constituency, and across Essex, is one of my priorities and this is a great opportunity to improve the journeys for all residents. He succeeds Priti Patel, home secretary and MP for Witham, as chair of the taskforce, which has helped secure a £1.4bn investment as part of Greater Anglia’s new franchise, including 1040 brand new carriages.

Opportunities to work and learn at Stansted

Over 800 jobseekers attended London Stansted’s 2019 jobs fair last week and nearly 1,000 people secured employment at the airport last year, helped by the Stansted Airport Employment and Skills Academy. The airport’s CSR report also highlights its Aerozone Education Centre - which has now attracted 16,000 young people - and the Stansted Airport College which opened last year as the first purpose-built further education college at a UK airport and is now operating at its 500-student capacity. The college recently unveiled concept designs for a phase two development to meet rising demand and create a dedicated education zone on the existing site. Ken O’Toole, CEO of London Stansted Airport, said: “As we look to the year ahead, we are more determined than ever to ensure that the benefits of our success are shared with our neighbours, and with all those whose lives and businesses are connected to us.”

Financial services firm adds to partnership team

Scrutton Bland Group has strengthened its senior management line-up with the promotion of Faye Howard (right) to its partner team. Qualifying as a chartered certified accountant in 2004, Faye Howard joined Scrutton Bland in 2014 as a private client tax director to develop the  firm’s private client tax offering. The group has been expanding over the past 18 months and the promotion is a further sign that the firm is committed to continuing its development over coming years. Managing partner Jason Fayers said: “It is a very exciting time for Faye to be joining the partner team, we are continuing to grow our service lines, employing more staff and investing in our operational structure. Our tax advisory service is a core offering for us and an area in which we have developed and excelled over recent years, and Faye has been pivotal in that progression.”  Scrutton Bland is marking its centenary in 2019 with a series of events and initiatives. “

Faye Howard said: “…We have a fantastic suite of advisory services across the firm and I am delighted to be joining the senior team at a time where we are looking for the business to be taking its next steps into the future and exploring the opportunities which will come with that.”

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New appointments strengthen law firm

Colchester and Clacton-based law firm Thompson Smith and Puxon (TSP) has made two new additions to the firm; solicitors Hayley Weston and Laura-Pauline Adcock-Jones. Hayley Weston (near right) has joined the firm’s Wills and Estates team and advises clients on a broad range of private client matters and specialises in elderly and vulnerable client matters. She is a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly and secretary of the Essex branch and also an affiliate member of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners. Hayley Weston said: “One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is being able to help and support clients through challenging and/or distressing times such as the death of a loved one or concerns regarding the capacity of an elderly relation.”

Laura-Pauline Adcock-Jones (far right) has joined the firm’s dispute resolution team. She advises both commercial and private clients on a wide and varied range of general litigation matters and is also a trained mediator. She said: “Having worked in London for a number of years I am looking forward to the same challenges and pace of work at TSP, just with the benefit of being closer to home.”

Senior partner at TSP, Mary Anne Fedeyko, said: “Hayley and Laura-Pauline are both experienced additions to TSP’s team of lawyers and we look forward to them transferring their first-rate skills to TSP’s client base. I am positive that they will both thrive at TSP and become valuable assets to the firm.””

Tax partner returns to chartered accountancy firm

Katie Varney has returned to Ensors Chartered Accountants as tax partner based in the firm’s Fornham All Saints office at Bury St Edmunds and bringing the total number of partners across the firm with the CTA tax qualification to six. She originally joined Ensors in 2002 as a student, qualifying as a chartered tax advisor in 2013 and took a lead role in developing the firm’s corporate tax department in West Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.  In 2017 she moved to a large multi-national group where she headed up the corporate tax team. Robert Leggett, partner and head of the corporate tax team, said: “We are delighted to welcome Katie back to Ensors as part of the tax team and wider partnership. Her experience and skill set both complements and enhances the current team’s offering and will allow us to add even greater expertise, value and service to our clients.”

Photo: Katie Varney and Robert Leggett

PR agency appoints new director with financial sector expertise

PR and digital marketing agency Genesis has appointed Louise Ahuja (right) as a director to accelerate its growth in East Anglia with a focus on professional and financial services and fintech. She has two decades of experience at a London agency, Lansons, where she was a partner on the management board and was instrumental in growing the firm’s client base in reputation management consultancy, working with organisations such as Pension Protection Fund and Post Office Money. Louise Ahuja said: “Genesis’ ambitious growth plans means it’s a really exciting time to join and work with clients in East Anglia to help their PR programmes earn attention; change perceptions and ultimately, influence behaviour to increase and protect their profits. In addition, the region has many fast-growing financial services, fintech and professional services companies looking to build their brand and purpose, which is my area of expertise, so I'm keen to get stuck in."

Penny Arbuthnot, director at Genesis, said: “Louise brings national and international experience and expertise in reputation management and corporate communications and we are incredibly excited she has joined Genesis to help steer the agency’s development and growth.”

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New group HR director appointed at Cambs-based group

Domino Printing Sciences has appointed Chris Webb as its new group human resources director and the latest member of the company’s executive team, following the retirement of Hilary Wright. He will concentrate on advancing both Domino’s employee development framework and its leadership and talent strategies. Multilingual, with a degree in Russian, French, and economics, Chris Webb has worked in human resources on a global level, having lived and worked in Italy, Russia, and France. In 2012, he joined the HR team at Illinois Tool Works, a US-based manufacturer of industrial equipment and consumables, as global HR director for its  powertrain automotive segment. Chris Webb said: “Domino has such a strong track record on innovation and customer focus, with great people at its core. It’s an exciting time to join, as we move forward into the next chapter in our journey, with an enhanced focus on global strategic organisational development.”

Gt Yarmouth businesses urged to enter for awards

Top-performing businesses in Gt Yarmouth are being invited to enter the town's Spirit of Enterprise Awards. Organised by enterpriseGY, the council’s business support and inward investment service, the awards aim to recognise and raise the profile of the area’s top-performing businesses, while boosting confidence in the local economy.  The awards are free-of-charge to enter online at www.enterpriseGY.co.uk. Businesses of all sizes and sectors can enter one or more of the nine categories before entries close on Friday, November 22.

Outdoor weddings gazebo completed at 17th century hotel

A much-anticipated outdoor wedding gazebo at Orton Hall Hotel & Spa, near Peterborough has been completed and the team are taking enquiries with immediate effect. The elegant wooden structure sits on the lawns with the 17th century hotel as it’s backdrop whilst flower boxes add a touch of colour. The venue can cater for up to 140 guests for an outdoor civil ceremony but it is worth noting that it is the Registrar that makes the final decision as to the suitability of the weather on the day. Orton Hall’s experienced team will have everything organised in the event that a ceremony needs to move indoors. To discuss the discuss the option of an outdoor wedding at Orton Hall call 01733 391111 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it www.ortonhall.co.uk

Award for innovative ideas

Sophia Montagna, HR Manager for the Woodlands Event Centre at Wyboston Lakes Resort has won the IACC Europe Future Leaders Award for producing and implementing innovative ideas and initiatives in her workplace. The ideas were designed to create the best possible delegate experience following a major refurbishment of the venue by maximising engagement among all the teams working there. The initiatives included introducing new workplace practices, a coaching programme, a 12 month course for middle managers and future stars and team building meetings for all staff. She said: “Wyboston Lakes Resort has always developed and produced top talent by encouraging young professionals to introduce their own ambitious ideas. It is through this corporate ethos and the support of my managers that I have been able to implement these wide-ranging policies.”