Sunday 09th May 2021
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 13/04/2021

Work starts on £13 million speculative industrial scheme in Norwich

The wave of new speculative industrial and warehousing development in the region gathered momentum this week with the start of construction on a £13 million scheme at a former Allied Bakeries site in Norwich. Developer Chancerygate is building a 17-unit, 116,448 sq ft light industrial and warehousing scheme to be called Diamond Point. Development director George Dickens said: “Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of the industrial and logistics sector, there is pent-up demand for our high-quality product and this speculative development will provide Grade A space in a market of very short supply. Our intention is to deliver a great asset for businesses to enable growth in the region.” The scheme is two and half miles north of the city centre with good links to the airport and major roads. Units will range from 3,045- 19,912 sq ft and are available on a leasehold and due for completion this September. Elsewhere in the region, plans have recenly been submitted for a new mixed-use park of 2.45m sq ft of business, warehouse and industrial space at the Gateway 14 site in Stowmarket. At Orwell Logistics Park near Ipswich construction of phase 1 is set to start in the second quarter to deliver 546,000 sq ft across three units.

Rising cost inflation takes shine off surge in new activity

New private business activity and business optimism surged upwards in the region in March although firms also faced a marked increase in costs, according to a key survey of purchasing managers. The NatWest East of England business activity index leapt from 49.0 in February to 60.9 in March, one of the sharpest rises in the 24 year history of the series. Firms benefitted from higher sales often linked to the easing of virus restrictions. Only one region, Yorkshire & Humber, saw a steeper rate of new order growth than the East and business optimism linked to hopes of continuing recovery in demand was the strongest since the data was first collected in 2012. Firms are continuing to recruit with manufacturers seeing stronger growth in staffing numbers than service providers. But private firms faced the sharpest rise in average costs for four years which extended the period of inflation seen to ten months. Higher wage costs, supplier shortages and increased transport prices were all cited as having driven up expenses in March. Manufacturers saw a sharper rise in costs. Prices charged by firms in the East also rose in March as higher material costs were often passed onto clients. John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: "After a difficult start to 2021, March survey data reveals a substantial rebound in activity….Nevertheless, many firms eagerly await the next phase of the reopening in April. However, demand and output still have a long way to recover to make up the ground lost during the pandemic."

Briefly…

Law firm advises on sale of solar panel manufacturer

Law firm Birketts has advised Cambridge-based solar panel manufacturer, Viridian Solar, on its sale to roof systems manufacturer Marley. Viridian Solar has its own solar roofing system which has been installed in homes and businesses across the UK and Europe; its Clearline Fusion roofing systems introduced in 2015, is the UK’s market leading roof integrated solar PV system. The company will continue to trade as a standalone entity with the same management team, led by CEO Stuart Elmes. The Birketts team was led by partner Quentin Golder (corporate) and associate Samantha Woodley (corporate), with support from legal director Nick Pickersgill (commercial property), senior associate John Khan (corporate tax) and associate Josie Beal (employment). Corporate finance advice was provided by Grant Thornton.

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New barge gives marine contractor scope to take on bigger projects

Ipswich-based marine contractor Red7Marine has completed the purchase of a 1,000t jack-up barge, the Haven SeaChallenger. It comes as the business has grown its offering in its core market sectors of nearshore marine infrastructure and renewable energy and moved into new markets focusing on projects in areas such as climate change, energy supply and environmental protection. The firm now owns and operates 12 jack-up barges ranging from 100-1000t. Kristen Branford, managing director at Red7Marine, said: “By purchasing the Haven SeaChallenger, we are ready to take on bigger projects with an enhanced capability. This will open greater market share for the business and is an investment which will grow our core business activity as well as open new doors.” The firm is in talks on several future projects for the Haven SeaChallenger. Meanwhile, Red7Marine’s CEO Nick Offord and business development manager Sophie Willcock have been elected directors of the International Jack-up Barge Operators Association.

Campaign launched to help event organisers book ahead with confidence

Meet Cambridge, the venue-finding service for spaces at the University of Cambridge, its colleges and other facilities around the city, has launched a campaign to enable event organisers to book ahead with confidence. Meet Cambridge has launched ‘Ready For You’ with more than 40 of its member venues to highlight the work that has gone on behind the scenes and encourage people to plan ahead for events as and when face-to-face gatherings are allowed. The campaign is being rolled out as the bureau has seen a growing number of enquiries for events from June onwards; March has been its busiest month for a year with enquiry levels up 116% on February and worth an estimated £829k. ‘Ready For You’ focuses on four key areas to reassure event organisers: enhanced hygiene, flexible booking terms, solutions to help with hybrid events combining in-person and online attendance and sustainable practices.  Judith Sloane (right), head of Meet Cambridge said: “The uncertainty of the last year has shown us that flexibility is key for those organising business meetings, celebrations, lunches and dinners. That’s why we have created ‘Ready For You’ so you can book ahead with confidence, knowing that the venues offer flexible terms should plans have to change. We also wanted to highlight our venues’ success in implementing enhanced hygiene procedures and their commitment to sustainability.”

New business support programme in Tendring

A new website has been launched detailing business support services available in Tendring. Start-up and early-stage businesses in the Tendring area are being offered business information, advice, and guidance alongside training programmes, through Colbea, an Essex business enterprise support provider based in Colchester. The new website gives further details on business advice and how to book fully-funded sessions, training courses, helpful leaflets and useful websites. It is live thanks to a new partnership between Colbea and Tendring 4 Growth, under the umbrella of Tendring District Council. Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford, Colbea chief executive, said: “Expert 1:1 advice and training for businesses of all sizes has been shown time and again to be a cornerstone of support to business owners. Pragmatic advice is invaluable to those seeking to start out and grow their businesses.”

Agency invests in digital team amid record demand

Suffolk-based PR and marketing agency Genesis has invested in its digital team amid record demand from businesses for online services by appointing James Smith as a senior digital account executive. The agency, which employs 18, has seen businesses significantly stepping up investment in online advertising, SEO, websites and other digital services. James Smith (right) graduated from the University of Lincoln with a master’s degree in marketing in 2017 and previously worked at one of Suffolk’s largest leisure providers. Genesis director Penny Arbuthnot said: “We’ve seen record investments in digital marketing during the pandemic as businesses have had to react quickly and adapt to changing needs to stay competitive and resilient. We’re confident this trend will continue this year and beyond.”

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New director at business advisory team with construction specialism

Financial services firm Scrutton Bland has strengthened its business advisory team with the appointment of Ben Cussons as a director. He has been with the firm since 2011 and has a large portfolio of clients across the region. Ben Cussons (right) specialises in providing targeted business finance advice to clients of all sizes, particularly those in the construction industry. With a family background in the building trade and a father who ran his own construction business, he has hands-on experience of what is involved in running a business. “I understand the stresses and problems that business owners are facing at the moment. More importantly I can bring in the professional expertise of our teams to help with digital accounting, tax filing, year-end accounting, tax planning and strategic advice,” he said. Scrutton Bland’s business advisory team is based across its Ipswich, Colchester, Cambridge and Diss offices, and Ben Cussons will be spending much of his time in the Diss office. Scrutton Bland managing partner Jason Fayers said: “This appointment is very well deserved - our business advisory team has developed and grown in recent years and shows our commitment to growth in the region.”

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Solicitors expands insolvency team in Ipswich

Ellisons Solicitors has extended the firm’s full-time insolvency presence in Ipswich to meet an expected growth in demand as the economy recovers. Solicitor Lyndsey Squirrell (right), who was previously in the firm's Colchester office, started a position in the Ipswich office this month. She joined Ellisons 2017 from an Ipswich-based firm and specialises in corporate and personal insolvency, debt recovery on both the claimant and defendant side, enforcement matters and advising on financial services litigation including personal guarantees and loan agreements. She has also recently passed the Certificate of Proficiency in Insolvency exam with a distinction and is member of R3. She said: “It has been an incredibly difficult period for many businesses and sadly there may still be tricky decisions for business owners to make so I am pleased to be able to share my expertise in the area and help companies resolve issues in as least destructive way as possible.”

Green shoots showing through at new innovation centre

A family-owned start-up company that has outgrown its garage has become the tenth occupier at The EpiCentre innovation centre which opened in Haverhill last November. Gardening for Kids has managed to navigate its way through the last year to a position of strength and now needs bigger premises for the growing business. Centre manager Kelly Boosey (right), said: “The green shoots are now showing through clearly and signing up Gardening for Kids is a great example.” In less than six months, The EpiCentre has attracted a variety of occupiers ranging from biotech companies taking space in labs that come fully fitted-out with specialist equipment to tech consultancies like Snowing Data. The centre is also becoming popular amongst companies wanting ‘touch down’ space as and when needed.

Crane towers over Bury skyline for Post Office redevelopment

A milestone in the redevelopment of the former Post Office on Cornhill in Bury was passed last week with the installation of an 18-metre-high tower crane. The Terrex Comedil Luffing Jib tower crane will form part of the town's skyline for the next seven months as work is carried out by Suffolk firm Barnes Construction for West Suffolk Council. Barnes is working with its appointed architects, Concertus Design and Property Consultants and structural engineers, Superstructures, to deliver the complex scheme. When completed in summer 2022, the building will retain its Victorian façade but with new purpose-built ground floor commercial units and 12 flats above. Barnes Construction director Mark Bailey said: “A key aspect for us throughout the build, is that we work with the local business community and retailers, to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and the project goes as smoothly as possible.”

Cambridge company strengthens customer support with new augmented reality tool

Cambridge-based Domino Printing has strengthened its customer support with the creation of a new augmented reality tool which provides remote visual support in real-time. The company has launched SafeGuard AR, enabling customers using its coding and marking technology to benefit from quick production line fixes, preventing down-time and reducing the need for onsite visits. Using SafeGuard AR’s secure virtual service environment, customers can show Domino’s remote service staff exactly what is occurring on the line, making it quicker and easier to identify the cause of line issues and implement fixes. Eddie Storan, Domino’s head of global service said: “Collaborating with customers in this way allows Domino’s service engineers to gain a better understanding of a problem than can be achieved by traditional telephone support. When possible, a customer can be guided to safely implement a fix themselves, or, in cases necessitating a site visit, an engineer can be dispatched with a thorough understanding of the issue and equipped with all necessary materials to rectify the problem.”