Wednesday 02nd December 2020
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 09/11/2020

Norfolk-based firm wins £9 million contract for new pilot boats

Associated British Port is investing around £9 million in a fleet of nine new pilot boats from Goodchild Marine Services, based at Burgh Castle, near Gt. Yarmouth, to be delivered over the next five years. Construction of the first of the faster and more fuel-efficient vessels has started and is set to be delivered to ABP’s Humber region in 2021. In all, ABP has commissioned five vessels to serve its Humber ports, three for Southampton and one for Barry in South Wales. Mike McCartain, ABP’s group director for safety, marine and engineering, said: “It is fantastic that we have been able to award this significant contract to a UK manufacturer who is at the leading edge of pilot boat technology. This will also help support existing local jobs and the regional economy which is great news given the current economic conditions. The state-of-the-art vessels will improve the efficiency of port operations and will ensure that we can continue to service our customers’ needs to a very high standard.”

Stephen Pierce, general manager at Goodchild Marine Services, said: “Associated British Ports have demonstrated commitment to the quality of British manufacturing and our supply chain for their next generation of pilot vessels.” In 2019, Goodchild Marine delivered its second pilot boat to ABP, the ‘Kingfisher’ at the Port of Lowestoft. Its first pilot boat for ABP, the ‘Osprey’, was delivered more than 25 years ago.

Suffolk bosses stay positive but keeping staff ‘safe and motivated’ a concern

Despite the second lockdown, almost half (48%) of the region’s business leaders said they feel more positive about the future now than they did in April and only a quarter felt ‘less positive’, according to a poll of 150 delegates taken at Grant Thornton’s Suffolk Limited panel & audience discussion, in partnership with Birketts. Some 40 per cent of employers across the region said the pressure to keep people safe, motivated and able to do their jobs, is the concern ‘most likely to keep them awake at night’. Data showed that firms in the East have a better cash position than elsewhere in the country - around 35 per cent of firms have less that six months’ worth of cash compared to a UK average of 41 per cent. Some 37 per cent of delegates highlighted a low tax regime as being most beneficial. Rob Thomson (photo, far right), tax director at Grant Thornton, said: “It has been a stressful period for business leaders and it was encouraging to see that businesses in Suffolk are resilient and feeling more positive about the future. The region’s leaders really identify the importance of investing in people and their ability to do their jobs. We also saw that extra support from the government is vital and many are relying on the low tax regime.”

Alexandra Nelson (right), partner at Birketts, said: “Ensuring our people stay safe, motivated and able to successfully do their jobs remains at the heart of the concerns and challenges raised. It is also really encouraging to see that diversity and inclusion remain key to the ongoing success of Suffolk businesses and that in the midst of all the challenges our businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities available from the wider, non-geographically limited talent pools enabled by remote working.”

See Profiles: Grant Thornton and Birketts

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New business growth slows in the East ahead of lockdown

The recent growth in new business placed at firms in the East of England lost momentum in October and firms were less confident on higher activity in the year ahead. The NatWest East of England business activity index, covering manufacturing and services, fell to a four-month low of 54.9 in October, down from 57.7 in September. Despite dropping, the latest figure did signal a solid rate of growth in business activity that was stronger than the UK average and firms in the region also still anticipated a rise in output over the coming 12 months. Where optimism was reported, firms linked it to hopes of stronger demand and the passing of Covid-19. Meanwhile, cost pressures faced by firms in the East picked up to a 13-month high. John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: "There were signs of a movement towards a second dip as new business moderated to a four-month low...firms in the East of England look set for another challenging period with the onset of a second lockdown."

Fall in insolvencies masks ‘precarious state’ of economy

A large quarterly fall in the number of corporate insolvencies in England and Wales is disguising the precarious state of the economy, according to the Eastern branch of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3. It says many firms which were healthy and profitable pre-Covid-19 are now facing serious financial struggles, particularly in the face of a second national lockdown. Government  Insolvency Service figures showed that corporate insolvencies fell to 2,672 in the third quarter of 2020, down 39 per cent on the same quarter last year and nine per cent lower than the previous three months. The fall was driven by fewer reditors’ voluntary liquidations. R3 Eastern chair Alistair Bacon, of AMB Law in the region, said: “The figures demonstrate that the support that the government has offered to businesses, from providing a range of emergency loans to suspending winding-up orders and stopping commercial evictions, is helping to keep many companies afloat during this period of economic turbulence. We need to be mindful, however, that things remain very tough for businesses and many, particularly in retail and hospitality, will be heavily impacted by a second national lockdown."

Belgian logistics group secures land for major new warehouse at Bury

In the largest-ever warehouse deal in Bury and west Suffolk, a Belgian logistics, real estate and motor-racing company Weerts Group has secured over 42 acres at Suffolk Park from developer Jaynic, which will deliver a new 870,000 sq ft logistics facility. A detailed planning application has been submitted for the project, which is set to bring major new investment and jobs to the region. The facility will be developed in two phases with a first phase of 476,000 sq ft to be completed next summer and with a second phase to follow immediately. Liege-based Weerts Group, which has operations in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Hungary and Romania, chose Suffolk Park for its proximity to Felixstowe and the A14. In 2017, it acquired the in-house logistics of the Audi plant in Brussels. Pascal Weerts, CEO of Weerts Group, said: “We are delighted to support one of our biggest clients in their international growth and expansion by setting up our first important warehousing facility in the UK, and to have attracted a solid financial partner to secure the funding of the land acquisition and the development (Blackstone)."

Ben Oughton, development director of Jaynic, said: “This is a very significant deal for Suffolk Park, Suffolk and East Anglia. This transaction with Weerts Group comes swiftly on the heels of the sale of our SP206 unit to Chinese consumer goods importer M H Star and re-affirms the rapidly increasing popularity of the A14 as a logistics location. In under six months these two transactions amount to 1.1m sq ft of warehousing and the creation of around 700 jobs for the local economy.” Elsewhere at Suffolk Park, the 112,000 sq ft first phase of Treatt Plc’s new global hq being developed by Jaynic is due for completion. The 114-acre Suffolk Park has outline planning consent for 2 million sq ft of business, distribution, and industrial space.

See Profile Jaynic

Norwegian company to open its first UK office at The EpiCentre

A Norwegian materials testing equipment company Dolphitech has been signed up to take its first office in the UK at The EpiCentre in Haverhill by the innovation centre's operator Oxford Innovation. Dolphitech develops advanced ultrasound cameras for 2D and 3D test and inspection of materials in a variety of industries. Jason Smith, the company's chief commercial officer, said: “The new EpiCentre office will become Dolphitech’s technical hub, providing training and customer support, materials sample testing, non-destructive testing results and verification in a Covid-secure, safe operating environment. In a time where people are moving out of offices, we see the value and importance in continuing to offer world class customer service and aftercare service."

Developed by Jaynic, the EpiCentre has over 60 office suites available from 172 sq ft up to 840 sq ft including three flexible shared purpose-built laboratory spaces with access to specialist equipment. The suites are available for pre-let  nd are supplemented by communal breakout spaces, a café and meeting and conference rooms. The offices are rented out on an inclusive basis to include reception, concierge, rent, rates and utilities, and the building has fibre broadband with a minimum capacity of One Gigabyte.

Strong interest in new Ipswich office development

Penn Commercial has been appointed sole agent of The Coalyard, a new addition to Ipswich’s office market being developed by Pertwee Estates in Chancery Road. Located next to the newly-refurbished Maltings building, it will provide 19,000 sq ft of premium office space available for pre‐let or freehold, of which 7,000 sq ft will be terraces, and 4,500 sq ft will be on the roof. Pertwee Estates had plans approved in July for the four-storey, glass-fronted block with car parking. Vanessa Penn, managing director of Penn Commercial, said: “At an early stage, off-plan, we have already been attracting strong interest in this landmark development from multiple occupiers. The Coalyard is ideally located, in the heart of an up-and-coming business corridor in the town, and just a short walk from the fully-refurbished rail station. It is set to play a key part in the ongoing regeneration of the ‘Ipswich Village’ and the Princes Street corridor opportunity area.”

See Profile Penn Commercial

Corporate finance department retains top spot

The Ensors corporate finance team has held on to the top spot in Experian’s East of England deals league table for the third quarter. The team completed 15 transactions up to the end of September, with deals spanning a wide cross-section o f industries. Many of the deals were completed in record time despite the pandemic. David Scrivener, corporate finance partner, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and a true reflection on how hard the team have worked over the last nine months.  Certainly, late March and April did see a brief dip in deals as companies took stock of the pandemic.  However, this was temporary and the market quickly recovered.”  He continued: “We are seeing a number of MBOs and Employee Ownership Trust transactions kick off as shareholder look for controlled exit processes. There are also a growing number of companies out there making strategic acquisitions where there is a strong strategic reason to do so, such as securing supply chain."

See Profile Ensors

Law firm expands insolvency team

Ellisons Solicitors has appointed Hannah Dersiley as a solicitor in its insolvency team, reinforcing the firm’s position as the largest specialist insolvency team in Essex and Suffolk. She started in September in the firm’s Colchester office after completing her training contract with Ellisons and earning a law degree from the University of East Anglia and LPC at the University of Law Bloomsbury. Her experience covers small claims debt recovery, fast track acting for both claimant and defendant, winding up petitions, statutory demands, bankruptcy, liquidation and administrations, as well as debt enforcement. Scott Porter, partner and head of insolvency and debt recovery at Ellisons, said: “We are delighted to welcome Hannah. She is great asset to the team. Now is one of the most important times for this team as we continue to guide businesses through these unprecedented times. It is a testament to our conscientious, empathetic and knowledgeable team that we are the biggest specialist team of our kind in the region.”

Photo (l-r): Hayley Songhurst, Hannah Dersiley, Lyndsey Squirrell and Scott Porter.

Dispute resolution team at law firm expands

Essex law firm Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors is expanding its dispute resolution team with the appointment of two new solicitors, Joe Sandercock and Billy Smith and the promotion of Rhian Lowe to associate solicitor. Joe Sandercock qualified at a well-established Essex legal practice and specialises in commercial and civil litigation and became the head of litigation at his former firm. Having worked in the legal sector for nearly a decade, he is described by his clients as personable, responsive and supportive’ and ‘always in my corner’. Billy Smith joins from a local Essex law firm too, having obtained his law degree at the University of Essex and working in the county ever since. With many years’ experience in the legal sector he regularly advises on various civil matters. The appointments follow the recruitment of Laura Frith and Priya Patel to the dispute resolution team earlier in 2020. Meanwhile, the promotion of Rhian Lowe, who has gained recognition for her personal injury work by securing a third tier ranking in the latest two Legal 500 editions, brings the total number of female associates at FJG to seven. Paula Cameron, managing partner at FJG, said: “I am delighted to share the news of these two new appointments as well as the promotion of Rhian Lowe. Following on from the partner promotions earlier in 2020 which saw the total of female partners reach 65 per cent and in the year we celebrate 100 years of women in law."

Photo (l-r): Billy Smith, Joe Sandercock and Rhian Lowe

See Profile Fisher Jones Greenwood

Quality management accreditation for Bury-based commercial storage and warehousing facility

Glasswells Commercial Storage and Warehousing facility in Bury St Edmunds has achieved ISO 9001:2015 certification for quality management systems. The Glasswells Commercial Storage operation is a successful part of the family-run home furnishing business, offering third party storage, warehousing and distribution to businesses across the UK. The division has seen significant growth over the last five years, with turnover in excess of £700,000 last year. The purpose-built secure storage facility is located just off the A14 corridor to the Port of Felixstowe. Glasswells has been offering pallet and bulk storage since 2006 and document archiving even longer. Graeme Simkins, warehouse and distribution manager, said: “We constantly strive to improve the service we offer to our existing and potential business storage clients and committing ourselves to a quality management system was a natural step in our development. BS EN ISO 9001 is a standard that potential customers recognise and look for.” Next year Glasswells will be celebrating 75 years of trading in East Anglia.

Demand for warehouse space holds up region-wide

Demand for industrial units in Bury St Edmunds remains buoyant. Acting for the landlord, agent Barker Storey Matthews has completed the letting of a large warehouse unit on the Blenheim Industrial Estate to a leading window and door manufacturer and installer. The new tenant will occupy F5 Dettingen Way on the estate, an 11,355 sq ft end-of-terrace warehouse unit and one mile west of the town centre and with access to the A14 .

Industrial space also remains in demand Peterborough, helped by the city’s good position on the road network. Barker Storey Matthews has let a single storey refurbished warehouse covering 7,750 sq ft at Milnyard Square in the city’s Orton Southgate business district to a firm company supplying construction industry components. Nearby occupiers include NCR, BGL Group, Virgin Media and Linden Homes.