Friday 03rd July 2020
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 19/11/2019

New infrastructure needed for Oxford-Cambridge Arc to reach its potential

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc has the potential to create up to 1.1 million new jobs by 2050 if the new infrastructure needed is delivered, according to research from Savills. It says an additional 9.6 million sq ft of office and R&D floorspace and 69 million sq ft of warehousing will be needed to facilitate the growth. The pharmaceutical, cybersecurity, automotive and biotech sectors are likely to remain the leading growth sectors. And whilst Oxford and Cambridge continue to attract the largest share of private equity and venture capital investment, new floorspace in Bedford and Milton Keynes – where a new university is opening in 2023 - should widen the distribution. Funding in the region has risen from £10.2 billion in 2018 to £27.4 billion to the end of the third quarter 2019 and venture capital investment has risen from £861 million to £1,076 million over the same period. Steve Lang, director in Savills research team, said: “An increase in overall investment into the tech and life science sectors within the arc is a strong indication of potential future real estate requirements. What’s clear is that there is a need for choice in terms of scale, price points and location when it comes to commercial space in order to facilitate this growth within the region and to ensure the UK remains attractive to global businesses.”

The report adds that if the government’s ambition for 1 million new homes across the arc by 2050 is to be reached a co-ordinated response from local authorities is key and the green belt is an additional challenge in certain places.

Free broadband would “delay or derail” network rollouts

The Labour Party’s pledge to offer free broadband has provoked strong criticism from a Colchester-based firm which is rolling out full fibre networks across rural East Anglia. Lloyd Felton (photo, right), chief executive of County Broadband, said the announcement shows: “…  an alarming lack of understanding about the complex nature of full fibre rollouts and the fact that, unlike by comparison the rail industry that operates rail franchises, the industry has already invested billions of pounds in building its own infrastructure over which the service is delivered, in direct competition to BT.” He added: “This proposal would almost certainly lead to delays, or at worst, derailment of existing full fibre investment and new network rollouts. It is a broad-brush, and makes no mention of how customers would be served and supported and provides no recognition for what has been achieved by the many Alternative Network providers who are currently active in providing a competitive full fibre solution.

Birketts named 'Corporate Law Firm of the Year’ for second year running

Law firm named Birketts has been named ‘Corporate Law Firm of the Year’ for the second year running at the Insider Media Central & East of England Dealmakers Awards at an event at held at Hilton DoubleTree in Milton Keynes. Birketts’ corporate team won after working on several high-profile deals including the sale of MLM Group to Sweco, the acquisition of Stuncroft by International Riding Company and the sale of a minority interest of Just Digital to BGF.  Birketts was also named as one of the advisers who worked on Deal of the Year (below £10m) for the sale of T. Groocock & Co. to The Little Norwich Shoe Company. The deal safeguarded about 60 jobs in Kettering at a business which went back more than 100 years.  Adrian Seagers, head of Birketts' corporate services division, said: “We are thrilled to win this award for the second successive year which acknowledges the team’s focus upon technical excellence and our drive towards impeccable client service. It was also very pleasing to see James Allen and his team’s work acknowledged in the Deal of the Year (below £10m) category.” He added: “Thanks to the commitment of the corporate team in all four of our offices we have grown a client base with an increasingly international outlook. Over the years, the team at Birketts has earned a first-rate reputation for building strong, multi-skilled teams as we deliver industry expertise in a number of sectors such as technology, family-owned businesses and motor retail.”

Jonathan Agar, chief executive officer at Birketts, said: “This is another fabulous feather in our cap and great testament to the collective hard work of the Corporate Team. We are currently enjoying a great deal of award success having also been crowned winners at The Lawyer and Estates Gazette.”

Photo (l-r): Mark Standish (Haines Watts), Ed Savory, Andrew Tubb, Adrian Seagers, Alex Schaafsma and Alexandra Nelson

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Expert-led events launched to help businesses scale up fast

Businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk are being invited to register for a series of events, Growth Pathways, designed to help growing ‘silver’ businesses with strong growth ambitions develop into thriving ‘gold’ firms. It is being launched by Scale Up New Anglia, which is managed by New Anglia Growth Hub and those taking part include Invest East, Innovate 2 Succeed and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme. Eligible businesses will go through key phases aimed at helping them strategise and execute their acceleration plans, with each area split into ‘pathways’ depending on their business needs and growth stage. Dr Morgan Potter (photo, right), high growth manager at New Anglia Growth Hub, said: “Businesses that Scale Up New Anglia have worked with so far have shown our region is home to some of the most skilled, ambitious and innovative companies. Our Growth Pathways are designed to help those businesses, by opening doors to our diverse network of growth specialists, which will allow them to grow rapidly and successfully" ....Read more

Register at or call New Anglia Growth Hub on 0300 333 6536.

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Work starts on £7 million expansion at Norwich Airport

Architects Stephen George + Partners (SGP) has marked the start of construction of a £7 million maintenance hangar and 15,500 sq ft workshop facility at Norwich International Airport with a ground-breaking ceremony. The new 54,000 sq ft hangar facility for Rigby Group plc is designed to service two Boeing 737 aircraft and will  accommodate the expansion of KLM UK engineering group, providing additional capacity to offer aircraft maintenance and repair services. Ian Yallop, chairman of SGP, said: "We have been able to apply our extensive experience of large and small-scale industrial units to the project at Norwich Airport, to create a facility that meets KLM UK's engineering needs as well as reinforcing Norwich Airport's position as a leader in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul."

Manufacturing jobs on the slide

The East of England has lost almost 60,000 manufacturing jobs since the financial crash, according to the GMB. Its figures show that in 2007, the East supported 329,400 permanent and temporary manufacturing jobs, but by 2019 that figure had fallen by 18 per cent to 269,900. The union blames the government’s lack of industrial strategy and ‘failure to invest’ in UK jobs and is calling for procurement decisions to take account of tax and spending in the UK, as well as subsides paid to non-UK competitors.

New office managing partner at professional services firm’s Cambridge office

Stuart Wilkinson has been promoted to EY’s new office managing partner in Cambridge to lead the office and continue its growth in the East region. He takes over from Nick Gomer who is retiring from the professional services business after 40 years. Stuart Wilkinson, who is also head of tax for the East region, joined EY in 2014 and has over 25 years’ experience working with PLC clients in the region and businesses in the private middle market. EY grew its UK fee income to £2.45 bn in the year to end-June from £2.41 previously and hired over 2,600 people. In the East of England, the headcount of EY’s offices in Cambridge and Luton reached nearly 400 people and the firm also recruited 22 university graduates in the region and 28 apprentices. Stuart Wilkinson said: “The East is a hugely diverse region, with a rich heritage in sectors including life-sciences, technology, agri-tech and many others. I’m looking forward to growing our service capabilities and the team here in Cambridge, as we have ambitions to increase our market share within the private middle market and work more closely with key stakeholders in the region.” He is joined by partner Ruth Logan, who has relocated from EY’s Belfast office, and newly promoted associate partner Lauren Houghton.

Photo (l-r): Ruth Logan, partner, Stuart Wilkinson, new office managing partner and Lauren Houghton, associate partner.

Recognition for law firm which invests in people

Ashtons Legal has won Law Firm of the Year at the national LawNet Awards 2019. The judges recognised that since 2013 the firm has invested heavily in its people, premises and technology and having built a new culture, invested in IT and moved to new premises in Bury St Edmunds while modernising its other offices. Chris Marston, CEO of LawNet, said: “Ashtons’ greatest achievement has been their people. Their collaborative and trusting environment was illustrated across the legal community when they deployed a paid time off policy in 2015; a policy which has subsequently been copied by a number of other firms including those within the LawNet community.” Ashtons also went from having five lawyers named in the Legal 500 leading individuals list for East Anglia in 2014 to having 25 named in 2019 and gained the gold status Investors in People standard.

Ashtons’ CEO Ed O’Rourke said: “I am hugely proud of my team here at Ashtons; this award recognises everything they do to make this firm one that stands out against our peers as the law firm of the year.”

Photo (l-r):  Chris Marston (LawNet), Barry Wilkinson (Wilkinson Read & Partners – Sponsors), Antony Sloan and Edward O’Rourke (Ashtons Legal), Helen Hamilton-Shaw (LawNet).

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Insolvency and restructuring specialist joins law firm

Colchester and Clacton-based law firm Thompson Smith and Puxon (TSP) has made a new addition to its corporate and commercial team, solicitor Nicola Rout (right). She advises clients on a broad range of corporate and commercial matters but specialises in insolvency and restructuring, including debt recovery work and has a wealth of experience acting for companies, investment banks and hedge funds. Nicola Rout obtained her law degree from Oxford University in 1998, a diploma in legal practice from Nottingham Law School in 1999 and took a training contract with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to qualify into the restructuring and insolvency team. She acted for stakeholders in the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008 as senior associate at Latham & Watkins and more recently, advised a FTSE 100 company and a global professional body on GDPR compliance issues. Nicola Rout said: “I am looking forward to bringing my insolvency and restructuring experience to TSP, and offering innovative solutions-based support for companies concerned with insolvency and liquidity issues, whether their own or those related to their customers or suppliers.”

Mary Anne Fedeyko, senior partner at TSP, said “She brings invaluable experience in insolvency and restructuring to the firm and has the business acumen and technical expertise required to deliver effective legal advice and commercial solutions to our clients. I am sure she will prove a valuable asset to the team.”

Norwich office building sold for £12.9 million

Lothbury Investment Management, on behalf of Lothbury Property Trust, has disposed of Willow House on Norwich’s Broadland Business Park to a South African-backed property fund. The 61,777 sq ft property was one of the first office buildings to be built on Broadland Business Park and completed in 2005. It has been sold to First World Hybrid Real Estate plc for £12,875,000 on a yield of 6.31%. The four storey block has been fully occupied by Aviva plc since its completion and ten years remain on the lease. Ed Hockley, director at Lothbury Investment Management, said: “This is a good disposal for the fund, and the asset has performed well for us. We look forward to redeploying the proceeds into our development projects and new investments in our target sectors such as industrial and alternatives”.  Broadland Business Park is Norwich’s premier business location, providing Grade A office and logistics/commercial accommodation. Occupiers include Aviva, NHS, Start-rite Shoes, Bertram Books, Tax Assist Accountants, Lovewell Blake, Lovell and Persimmon Homes. Savills acted for Lothbury; Lindley Mortimer represented First World Hybrid Real Estate.

Self storage business thrives as homeowners opt to stay put

A Suffolk self-storage business is seeing record occupancy from homeowners who are refurbishing their existing homes rather than moving house in the current political climate. HomeStore, with branches on Ransomes Europark in Ipswich and the Anglian Lane Industrial Estate in Bury St Edmunds, has seen a hike in homeowners using its facilities to store furniture and other items whilst their property is being extended, refurbished or decorated. Established 14 years ago as part of a removals business, the company has grown steadily as more people have seen the benefits of self-storage. Historically it has had more more business users than domestic, but this year the space rented is split equally between the two. Managing director Martin Tuck said: “Our facilities are currently seeing increasing popularity with domestic customers who for a range of reasons – including Brexit uncertainty and the cost of moving – are refurbishing or extending their properties, rather than moving house. What many discover is that we offer great flexibility in terms of contract length, as well as size of unit. We can also accommodate customers’ changing requirements during the project – upsizing or downsizing to suit their needs.”

Photo: HomeStore’s Bury St Edmunds branch (left to right): Hana Sculpher, assistant branch Manager and Heidi Baxter, branch manager.

New board members join Colbea

Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea) has appointed two new members to its board of directors. Kate Everett, managing partner of marketing agency TWI and Jo Clifton, director of human resources consultancy Heptagon HR, have been invited to join the Colbea board and appointed unanimously. Both have long been associated with Colbea as sponsors, trainers and associates. Kate Everett said: “I have had the pleasure of working with Colbea for more than fifteen years. As a sponsor, TWI helps to enable Colbea’s invaluable work, and I hope to help expand on that and help shape the future in my role as a board member. We have a fantastic team of leaders on the board, and, with the vision and passion of Ashleigh our CEO, I look forward to being part of exciting times ahead.”

Colbea CEO Ashleigh Seymour Rutherford said: “Kate and Jo have been passionate supporters of Colbea’s work for many years, and we are delighted to welcome them both to the board of directors. We have some challenging and exciting times ahead as we strive to drive and enable business growth across the county, and we are fortunate to have a such fantastic team of directors with an enviable shared skillset.” Barclays, Birkett Long, KAT Marketing and the University of Essex are also on Colbea’s board.

Photo: Kate Everett (far left) and Jo Clifton (far right) welcomed to the Colbea board.

Chamber launches gender equality charter

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has launched a Gender Equality in Business Charter and is urging local businesses to sign up. Designed by Suffolk Business Women (SBW), part of the chamber, the charter has been backed by nearly 20 organisations in the county, including Birketts, Challs International, Muntons, Suffolk Mind and Suffolk New College. The charter outlines a set of commitments that organisations can use to assess where they are today, and to commit publicly their support for greater gender equality in the workplace by signing up. Mark Tyldesley, managing director of Muntons Plc and an SBW member, said: “This charter an aspirational endeavour. It is a small but very public step in raising the profile of the ongoing need for greater gender equality in the workplaces."

Dutch vessel with a story to tell arrives in Ipswich

A floating storytelling museum, Noah’s Ark, has arrived at ABP Port of Ipswich’s Haven Marina where it will be berthed for three months as part of the first UK stop of a longer tour undertaken by the Dutch vessel. Paul Ager, ABP divisional port manager – East coast, said: “We’re delighted to welcome this educational vessel to our port and we hope that it will provide great entertainment to the local community over the festive period. Also, this is an enormous vessel which was expertly handled by our skilled people, with little or no margin for error. This is another example of our people’s expertise, to routinely handle any challenge, flexibly and safely.”