Monday 20th September 2021
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 27/07/2021

Business under pressure urged to take ‘swift action’ after jump in corporate insolvencies

Business in the East are being urged to take swift action if their finances are under pressure after government figures show corporate insolvencies in June hit their third highest monthly total since the pandemic started. Corporate insolvencies in England and Wales increased by 19 per cent to 1,207 in June up from 1,014 in May and 63 per cent higher than in the month last year. Eastern chair of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, Alistair Bacon (photo, right), of AMB Law in the region, said: "The surge in corporate insolvencies between May and June has been driven by a rise in creditors’ voluntary liquidations .The government’s decision to delay lifting the final Covid restrictions for another month has clearly been a further blow to the business community and may have been particularly unhelpful for the hospitality and retail sectors, which have been hit hardest by trading restrictions and lockdowns.” But he added:“….the news that HMRC will take a supportive approach to rescue proposals from viable businesses is welcome, and we hope will strengthen the profession’s efforts to support Covid-hit firms.”

Investment bank acquires Cambridge Science Park building for £50.1 million

US investment bank Morgan Stanley has acquired a prominent office building at 101 Cambridge Science Park for £50.1 million after a competitive process which attracted strong interest. Savills completed the deal above the guide price for a client of LaSalle Investment Management. Current tenants at the near-80,000 sq ft Grade A office building include Citrix, Huawei and Grant Thornton. James Vivian, director in the office investment team at Savills, said: “This was an attractive investment opportunity situated on one of Europe’s most established and successful science parks. The life science and tech sub-sectors of the office market have been incredibly resilient over the past year and following a competitive process, which attracted strong demand, we are delighted to complete this sale on behalf of our client for over the guide price.”

…whilst take-up of space stays buoyant

Strong activity across the life sciences and tech sector has meant that all of Cambridge’s existing available laboratory space - totalling 29,438 sq ft - is currently under offer. Take-up of office and laboratory space in the Cambridge property market hit 193,334  sq ft in the first half of 2021, according to Savills, broadly in line with the 10 year average and dominated by life science and tech occupiers, who account for over two thirds of deals. Wider availability, including offices, currently stands at 950,194 sq ft and has been bolstered by the completion of Trinity College and TusPark’s Building 2 Cambridge Science Park, a 118,000 sq ft speculative development. In the development pipeline there is 400,900 sq ft currently under construction, including 134,400 sq ft of refurbished lab space, all of which is under offer. William Clarke, director in the business space team at Savills Cambridge, said: “…we may see further emphasis placed on the repurposing of buildings within the key clusters in order to cater to this ongoing demand.”

New high street stores set to open as shoppers ‘look local’

There is potential for up to 17,000 local high street stores to open across the UK in the next 12 months as post-lockdown shoppers adapt by ‘looking local’, according to research from Barclays Corporate Banking. In a report Retail Unlocked, the bank's data shows that consumers in East of England have returned to physical stores with confidence since restrictions began to ease. Over a third are planning to step up in-store shopping over the coming year and 43 per cent say that it is their favourite way to shop. But the benefits are most likely to be seen in local high streets rather than in big cities. The research shows home and hybrid working patterns will continue into 2022 with 13 per cent expecting to work entirely from home and 24 per cent anticipating a part-home, part-office model. With many consumers saying the best way a retailer can appeal to them is to open stores in their local area, Barclays’ research shows that 18 per cent of retail businesses in the UK with 10 or more employees are eyeing community store openings, with each of them looking at five new premises on average. Stephen Ainsworth (right), head of mid corporate, Barclays Corporate Banking, Eastern region, said: “Our report shows how innovative UK retail businesses are looking to build back better to meet the challenges of a reshaped and revitalised retail landscape. Ecommerce has been the undisputed winner of the pandemic but not far behind are community high streets, as shoppers seek to ‘look local’ and support the stores on their doorstep. With the continuation of home working, this shows no sign of slowing down, and retailers are now looking at evaluating their store estates to meet local demand.”

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Economy forecast to grow at fastest rate for 80 years

The UK's growth prospects have brightened according to the EY ITEM Club Summer Forecast which now predicts that the economy will expand by 7.6 per cent this year – the fastest growth rate since 1941 – up from the 6.8 per cent it was expecting last April. It means the economy is now expected to return to its pre-pandemic peak by the end of 2021. Growth of 6.5% is now expected in 2022, up from 5% growth forecast in April, followed by growth of 2.1% in 2023 and 1.6% in 2024. Stuart Wilkinson, office managing partner at EY in the East of England, said: “While elements of the forecast remain uncertain, the UK has all the ingredients for a strong economic recovery from the pandemic. There is the possibility of a virtuous circle of positive expectations among businesses about rising consumer confidence and spending which, in turn, could boost firms’ confidence and output further. The fuel to sustain this circle – in the form of strong household and corporate balance sheets, and supportive fiscal and monetary policies – is there too."

Luxury cruise ship calls at Port of Lowestoft

ABP's Port of Lowestoft welcomed its first passenger cruise ship last week when Noble Caledonia’s flagship vessel The MS Island Sky made its maiden call at the east Suffolk port. The Italian-built ship has 59 luxury suites and Noble Caledonia is marking its 30th anniversary this year with ‘The Best of British 30th Anniversary’ tour on the vessel that takes in some of the most beautiful parts of Britain and finished with the final call in the Port of Lowestoft. Paul Ager, divisional port manager, ABP, said: “We are delighted to welcome the arrival of luxury cruise ships to the Port of Lowestoft and hope that this successful voyage of the MS Island Sky is followed by more visits from cruise ships in the future.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “It’s great to welcome the Island Sky to Lowestoft. Tourism is a vital component part of the local economy and the location of the Town Quay is an advantage that can help bring additional trade to the Town Centre and passengers will be able to visit the South Beach as well as making an excursion in to the unique Suffolk countryside.” Further calls at Lowestoft by the MS Island Sky and another of Noble Caledonia’s fleet, the MS Serenissima, are planned this summer.

Law firm advises on Suffolk holiday cottage firm sale

Law firm Birketts has supported holiday cottage business Best of Suffolk on its sale to Sykes Holiday Cottages. Based in Badingham, Best of Suffolk founders, husband and wife Alex and Naomi Tarry (photo, right), started the business in 2006 after spotting a demand for self-catering holiday lettings in the county. The pair grew their business from six cottages to more than 400 in their 15 years at the helm but are now stepping back. Sykes Holiday Cottages operates nationally and has more than 14,000 properties available and Best of Suffolk will run as a sister agency and its hq will remain in Suffolk. Partner Alex Nelson who led the Birketts team said: “Best of Suffolk is a fantastic business with a unique collection of more than 400 properties and we very much look forward to seeing its continued success alongside Sykes.” She was supported by solicitor Sarah Branwhite (corporate), legal director Stacy Aspden(commercial property), partner Catherine Johnson (employment), and senior associate John Kahn (tax).

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Loan on Ipswich office development refinanced

OakNorth Bank has provided a £2.3 million investment facility to Pertwee Estates to refinance a loan which was used to convert Ipswich’s historic building The Maltings into 24,000 sq ft of modern office space. Mark Pertwee, managing director of Pertwee Estates, said: “This development forms part of the re-generation of the Princes Street area – the gateway into Ipswich – so we’re hugely proud to be a part of it. The building offers modern, flexible space, for a mix of businesses of various sizes and could easily hold up to 300 people

Martin Williams, director of debt finance at OakNorth Bank, said: “The fact that six out of the eight office suites at this site are now fully let, highlights the high demand for modern and spacious office spaces in Ipswich and the loan will provide headroom for Pertwee to recover the full tenancies that could not complete during the various lockdowns.”

Property services firm named as Norfolk’s top commercial dealmaker

Norfolk-based property services firm Arnolds Keys has been named the county’s top commercial property dealmaker by industry magazine Estates Gazette. Its leaderboard shows that the firm has closed deals on more commercial buildings than its next-placed rival by 50 per cent so far in 2021, Arnolds Keys has acted on 38 transactions totalling 222,232 sq ft, some 80,000 sq ft ahead of its nearest rival, Eddisons. The Norfolk-based firm's largest deal so far this year was the disposal of 91,681 sq ft of warehousing at the Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate. Arnolds Keys managing partner Guy Gowing, who heads up the firm’s commercial property team, said: “2021 has proven to be a busy year for commercial property deals, particularly in the industrial and warehousing sector, and this bodes well for the county’s economic recovery from the Covid pandemic…"

He added: “Norfolk’s time has certainly arrived.  Whilst for many years we have looked enviably down the A11 to Cambridge, there is now considerable investment in the area by both existing companies and new arrivals to capitalise on the positive attributes of the area, such as enhanced connections by road, rail, air and sea, open space and low density of development compared to the home counties, the skilled pool of employees, and the availability of land and buildings for employment and housing.”

Suffolk-based recycling CEO named in top 100 global list

David Dodds, CEO of Suffolk-based scrap metal and waste recycling firm Sackers, has been recognised as one of the recycling ‘stars’ in the global industry, having reached 37th in a group of 100 in Recycling Industry magazine. David Dodds (right), who has worked in the family-owned business for 42 years, said: "It was a real surprise to see my name on the list, especially for global recognition. We’re a local business but we’ve traded globally for many years.  Having been acknowledged for this and how we’ve gone from strength to strength over the last few years is very humbling. We have always invested in new technology to adapt to the market needs and I will continue to look at further investments and new markets.” Based at Claydon, near Ipswich, Sackers was founded around 1920 and has grown strongly in recent years. It processes and sorts 75,000+ tonnes of scrap metals and 30,000+ tonnes of commercial waste and has invested £3 million in the region’s only steel shredding plant and more recently, £1 million in a copper cable granulating plant. The company has also appointed a new chief operating officer, Gary Young, to support the business with its growth plans. He has over 30 years’ experience in the metals and engineering industry with a track record of delivering business growth, high performance and continuous improvement.

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Cambridge company helps pharma clients crack Russian crypto code regs

Cambridge company Domino is helping its pharmaceutical industry customers to comply with new Russian crypto code legislation to meet regulations and continue to serve the market. Domino Printing’s high-speed thermal inkjet printer – the Gx-Series – enables printing of larger size Data Matrix barcodes onto packaging so that pharma manufacturers are compliant with the crypto code legislation, Chestny ZNAK. Bart Vansteenkiste (right), global life sciences sector business development manager, Domino said: “The Russian crypto code poses a challenge for pharmaceutical manufacturers who are faced with the need to include more data within a Data Matrix code, without impacting line speed. Our Gx-Series enables higher grade printing of crypto codes, at the fast speeds required which will help our customers to maintain production performance, while avoiding the risk of having codes, and therefore products, rejected for sale.”

Key phase at Cambridge college dining hall completed

The bursar and college principal at Homerton College, Cambridge recently joined members of the construction team and the college to mark a key stage in the building of a new dining hall at the site. Bursar Deborah Griffin and college principal Geoff Ward together with Bob Steward, joint MD of Barnes Construction, climbed to the rooftop of the building to take a closer look at the Faience (terracotta) cladding, which covers the external façade. Barnes Construction started work on the £10m scheme in 2020, which has been designed by architects, Fielden Fowles and is due for completion next February.

Photo (l-r): Bob Steward Geoff Ward and Deborah Griffin and Edmund Fowles, Fielden Fowles.