Saturday 31st October 2020
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 28/09/2020

Warning of more administrations in leisure and tourism sector

Aggressive planning for more CVAs and administrations of leisure and tourism-related businesses is in prospect if operators are to survive the winter months, according to KPMG. Will Hawkley, UK head of leisure at KPMG, said: “While the Chancellor may have demonstrated that the sector’s woes haven’t been overlooked, most businesses are likely to conclude that the extension of the VAT cut and the latest job support measures don’t go far enough. As things currently stand, those that can quickly adapt and evolve their operating models in line with the restrictions will be more successful. Sadly not all operators will be able to survive and further job losses will be inevitable without further government support,” He added: “Aggressive planning for all scenarios is now back on the table, with yet more CVAs and administrations having to be considered if operators are to survive over the winter months.”

Meanwhile, Alistair Bacon, Eastern chair of business rescue group R3 said that many businesses would welcome the measures. He said: “The pandemic has hit East of England businesses in a way that no one could have imagined. These temporary insolvency measures, combined with the furlough scheme and the package of emergency business loans, have played an important role in preventing financial pressure from translating into increased corporate insolvency levels of the size and scale we would expect to see in this type of economic climate.” He added that the extension of the temporary relaxation of entry requirements for the new moratorium procedure could help to  facilitate the rescue of otherwise viable businesses.

Businesses looking for space in Essex and Suffolk as part of ‘hub and spoke’ strategy

Many commercial property occupiers are reassessing their requirements and looking for premises in Essex and Suffolk while keeping a smaller base in London, according to agent Fenn Wright. Partner Alistair Mitchell said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant change in working patterns with a large number of businesses now embracing alternative solutions. Speaking to occupiers it is clear that a variety of options are being carefully considered to improve productivity and reduce overheads, whilst creating new recruitment opportunities and providing staff with a better work-life balance. A number of business owners we have spoken to have identified that a ‘hub and spoke’ strategy will be the way forward for them in the future, retaining a smaller London base coupled with strategically located regional offices, close to where their employees live.” One new development being built in Needham market, Chesters (photo), offers an opportunity for businesses looking to secure offices likely to come to the market in the area, is available from early next year.

See Profile Fenn Wright

New 'innovation lab' re-launches in Peterborough with backing of Anglian Water

A new innovation lab for developing and testing environmental and social products is to be re-launched in Peterborough with backing from Anglian Water. The Innovation Lab launched originally in 2017 and helped more than 60 entrepreneurs before it closed 18 months ago when European funding dried up. Anglian Water is new partnering on Allia Future Business Centre’s fully-equipped lab facility which is available for innovation teams, start-ups and entrepreneurs to create and test products and solutions for environment, sustainability and social issues. The lab will also seek to encourage innovation and collaboration amongst local businesses in the region. Facilities include 3D printers, mills and drills, Raspberry Pi and virtual reality plus high-end digital media kit. Jason Tucker, director of strategic delivery & commercial assurance at Anglian Water, said: “The work environment over the last six months has changed immeasurably and it is important that people have the space both in person and virtually to be able to develop ideas; the Innovation Lab provides a safe and controlled environment to allow this to happen.”


Fintech firms from the region selected for tech scaleup programme

Two East of England companies – Balkerne and Pikl - are among 31 tech scaleups chosen to join Tech Nation’s six month fintech programme, to support the growth of the UK’s most promising firms in the sector. Liam Gray, fintech lead at Tech Nation, said: "The UK fintech ecosystem is truly world leading and its strength is clearly demonstrated by the calibre of companies on this year's Tech Nation Fintech programme. Our third cohort will officially introduce insurtechs to the programme, a sub-segment of fintech that has matured significantly in recent years. This cohort will also be the most geographically diverse group of fintechs we've ever had, with 60 per cent located outside of London, highlighting the growing prevalence of regional fintech hubs." Colchester-based Balkerne provides information to help property owners reduce losses and business interruptions and Norwich-based Pikl provides usage-based insurance products and experiences.

Mid-market firms feature in growth league

Six companies with hq’s in the region feature in The Sunday Times PwC Top Track 250 league table which ranks Britain’s leading mid-market private companies by sales. They are BGL Group (insurance, Peterborough),  Mick George (construction, Huntingdon), Yours Clothing (Peterborough), The Recruit Venture Group (Dereham), TruckEast (Stowmarket), AJN Steelstock (Newmarket). Together with two firms from Lincolnshire, Branston (potato packing, Lincoln) and (Hexadex, steel systems, Gainsborough), the companies increased their combined sales by 14 per cent to £1.7bn and operating profits 11 per cent to £224m, and employed more than 8,000 people.

Peterborough-based firm secures CBILS loan to support manufacturing

Peterborough-based skin and body care group Eve Taylor (London) has secured £225,000 from Barclays via the government-backed Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) to support its manufacturing expansion plans and give it enough working capital to see it through the crisis. Founded in London in 1963, the firm is now based in a single purpose-built site in Peterborough. It has developed a range of professional and retail skin and body care products for the therapist alongside its range of pre-blended aromatherapy oils. Today, the company employs 21 and exports to over 40 countries worldwide. Founder Eve Taylor OBE is still involved with the day-to-day running of the company, along with her three sons, Chris, Alan and Raymond. Chris Taylor, business development director, said: “We are delighted that Barclays has been able to help support us with our recent application for the government backed CBILS loan. This loan will enable us to both secure and expand our manufacturing capability and enable us to add more staff in the near future as part of our growth plan.”

Nigel Killock, Barclays business manager, Spalding, said: “Like many businesses during the peak of the Coronavirus crises, the company needed to adjust their operating model to maintain their products and services.  They have a strong management team and we were pleased to be able to support them with a CBIL, which will give them the working capital and flexibility they need.”

See Profile Barclays

Life sciences initiative launches in Cambridge

Deloitte has launched a ‘life sciences catalyst’ initiative in Cambridge with a virtual event involving a panel of experts looking at the sector's contribution to economic growth and a discussion of the support available for companies in the area. The panel, which included Sir Mene Pangalos, executive VP of AstraZeneca and Dr Andy Richards, also looked at inward investment, scaling up and talent exchange and the barriers to the start-up of sector clusters as well as the challenges of bringing innovation to the market. Fran Cousins (right), life sciences catalyst lead at Deloitte said: “Deloitte is committed to supporting industry leaders in the life sciences ecosystem to navigate the challenges of business growth.  From scaling at pace to tax and regulation, we have an expert life sciences team to support businesses on this exciting journey.”

Fred. Olsen’s new hq building in Ipswich completed

Artisan Developments has recently completed construction and fitting out of the new flagship headquarters building for Fred. Olsen in Ipswich. The new building is next to Fred. Olsen’s existing offices in Whitehouse Road and will more than double the space at the site. It provides 18,000 sq ft of high quality office accommodation over three floors, plus a basement car park and further extensive parking externally. Artisan managing director Michael Eyres said: “Clearly the lockdown restrictions presented us with many challenges, particularly to ensure the safety of our staff onsite, but also the supply of raw materials. Maintaining social distancing amongst our teams was paramount, but I’m delighted that we have, nevertheless, been able to complete the building with minimal delays.” The new building marks the completion of the first phase of a two-stage project. The second will see the refurbishment of the existing offices, which will start once Fred. Olsen staff have moved across to the new building and is due for completion in the first half of 2021.Once both phases are complete it will allow Fred. Olsen to rationalise its various locations in Ipswich into a single, combined hq. It marks a significant investment for the company, in terms of its continued commitment to the businesses and to the local area. Michael Eyres added: “As we already owned the site next to their existing offices in Whitehouse Road we have been able to achieve the best possible outcome for both Artisan and Fred. Olsen.”

Separately, Artisan (UK) Developments Ltd. has recently completed Marston Business Park, a new high-quality development near to Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire. It comprises fourteen small business units and a rare opportunity in the area to buy freehold units ranging from 1000-5100 sq ft. Marston Park is the 14th business park the company has completed.

See Profile Artisan (UK) Developments

Million-pound scheme moves GP surgery to Newmarket hospital site

Property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood is completing a million-pound, nine-month project to move Oakfields Surgery into a modern purpose-built surgery which forms an extension to Newmarket Community Hospital. Finished during the  lockdown, the new surgery provides improved treatment and consultation facilities with ancillary spaces and a new dispensary. It also provides capacity for growth as new housing in the area is expected to increase the patient list at the practice from 7,000 to 12,000. Ingleton Wood provided full multi-disciplinary design services including architecture, building services engineering and civil and structural engineering, with construction being carried out by CPS Building Services. During the design process, user group meetings were held with surgery and hospital staff and patient groups to influence the design and layout to suit their needs. Anni Folan-White, partner at Ingleton Wood’s Cambridge office, said: “The building was designed to respond to the desires of the surgery and to comply with the current healthcare and British standards, whilst providing up-to-date clinical facilities for patients."

See Profile Ingleton Wood

Renovation of Bury store atrium at forward-thinking company

Glasswells is renovating the atrium at its Bury St Edmunds store. Almost 20 years ago after the company built an extension to house its atrium entrance, homewares and bedroom departments and a purpose-built carpet warehouse, the renovation will complete the modern look of the area. Managing director Paul Glasswell said: “Glasswells always strives to offer our customers the latest and most stylish furnishing options and it is essential that our environment provides visitors with the very best shopping experience to match this. We are a forward thinking company and understand how important it is to move with the times and embrace change. Whilst the store will be given a fresh new look, our ethos of offering the widest choice, at the best value, with the highest customer service will remain the same.” The work has been planned and managed in-house by Glasswells’ visual merchandiser & interior designer, Sarah Norris. Work was delayed by lockdown and by flooding at the Bury store at the end of August, but was underway by early September.