Tuesday 30th November 2021
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 12/10/2021

New £7.4 million centre to boost productivity opens in Norwich

Productivity East, a new centre for engineering, technology and management focused on boosting productivity and tackling manufacturing challenges has been launched at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Students, academics and businesses will work together at the new £7.4 million centre to find innovative ways to support the region’s manufacturing and techn sectors with practical solutions and help on innovations. Facilities include a CAD studio, robotics laboratory alongside the latest 3D printers, CNC lathes and milling machines. Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia LEP, said: “Our manufacturing sector is worth £5.2bn and underpins productivity and innovation in other areas, so this facility is an investment in a vital part of our economy and will enable us to grow and compete nationally and internationally.” The new facility received £4.5m in funding from New Anglia LEP’s growth deal with government and wasdevised with New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering. It will also offer a continuing professional development programme to address skills gaps.

Tech East’s chief operating officer Tim Robinson added: “The opening of this new facility represents a really exciting time for Tech East and our community. The state-of-the-art equipment and links to the School of Computing Sciences at UEA represent a major step forward in advancing technology and technology related companies in the region.”

Business activity slows as firms struggle with labour shortages

Business activity in the region grew at its slowest rate for seven months in September and the degree of optimism fell but firms have continued to hire new staff despite problems with staff turnover and labour shortages. The NatWest East of England PMI business activity index fell from 54.5 in August to 53.9 in September although growth remained solid and above its long-run average. But optimism fell to a 11-month low amidst concerns over demand easing in coming months and worries about the long term implications of Covied. Payroll numbers in the East rose for the eighth month running in September although the upturn slowed from August. A lack of skilled staff was seen as one factor behind a rise in outstanding business. Meanwhile, firms in the region reported a further sharp increase in input expenses; the fourth quickest in the near 25-year history of the survey. Raw material shortages, rising freight fees and supply-chain problems all contributed to rising costs, which hit manufacturers harder than services firms. John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: "As expected, business activity in the East of England's private sector rose at a softer pace in September than those seen throughout the summer when the economy was initially reopening. Nevertheless, the latest expansion was still strong by historical standards, with demand improving noticeably and firms mostly resuming their pre-pandemic operations. However, new business growth outpaced activity again with global supply-chain issues continuing to impact the region.”

Briefly

London investors take lead role in equity investment in the region

Six in ten equity investment stakes into businesses in the East of England involve investors in London and almost a third have investors based in local business hot spots such as Cambridge, according to the British Business Bank’s first annual regions and nations tracker. It also shows that that with 91 per cent of equity investment stakes in the region, the investor and the company are within two hours of each other; 37 per  cent are within an hour. The tracker also shows that the East hosts 10 per cent of the country’s smaller businesses but accounts for just 9 per cent of equity investment and 9 per centof private debt activity. South Cambs is one of only three non-London local authorities to make the top ten for equity deals secured since 2011. Meanwhile, rural business owners are found to be more likely to inject personal funds into their business than urban entrepreneurs due to a lack of growth finance options. Steve Conibear, UK network director, South and East of England at the government-backed British Business Bank, said: “ These gaps in growth finance are undoubtedly holding back ambitious entrepreneurs and lead to wasted economic potential. This is something the British Business Bank is committed to changing.”

Digital marketing agency acquired by investment company

Milbank Group, a family-owned investment company based in Colchester, has acquired an Ely-based digital marketing agency, Xanthos, that specialises in helping small and medium sized businesses. Olga Travlos, the agency’s founder, said: “Xanthos has grown strongly in 2020 and 2021 through our focus on delivering results for customers in e-commerce and digital marketing. Joining the Milbank Group will help expand the company to continue to provide outstanding results for customers.” David McCormick, Milbank group sales & marketing director, has been appointed as managing director of the acquired business. Milbank’s diverse portfolio includes Cadman Cranes, Sui Generis International, ARK Agriculture, Orion Future Technology and Nicola Jane.

PR and marketing agency takes top award

Suffolk-based PR and marketing agency Genesis has been named PR Consultancy of the Year for the third year running at the Anglia, Thames and Chiltern regional PRide Awards organised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. At an online awards event, the agency also won a further five awards including Not-For-Profit Campaign, Regional Campaign and Public Sector Campaign. Out of 10 shortlisted awards, Genesis won six golds as well as three silvers and a finalist. The 22-strong team gathered at Genesis’ office to watch the awards (photo, right). Genesis director Penny Arbuthnot said: “To win the top award in three successive years is an extraordinary achievement and speaks volumes about Genesis. We have a hugely driven and talented team who have continued to demonstrate an abundance of creativity and results-driven impact for our clients. Like many forward-thinking businesses, our pre-Covid investment in technology combined with our great teamwork and intrinsic values allowed us to adapt to the pandemic and give our clients the PR and digital solutions that you need to stand out in our modern landscape.” Earlier this year, Genesis held onto its place in PR Week’s Top 50 Agencies Outside London for 2021 – one of only two agencies in the East of England at 40th position.

See Profile Genesis

Chartered accountants move to new offices with space for expansion

Ensors Chartered Accountants has moved to new offices in Ipswich on the top floor of the Connexions building in Princes Street that provides a larger usable space to accommodate further expansion. It also provides a state of the art air conditioning system and plans for a large roof terrace have been approved which will enable meetings to be held outdoors with views over the Ipswich skyline. Barry Gostling, Ipswich office partner, said: “This move has been a long-time coming as we have increasingly realised the need for a space that facilitated our collaborative way of working.  In order to deliver our clients with the best possible service it is essential that our teams work closely together and an open-plan space is clearly the best way to achieve this.”

Managing partner David Scrivener said: “Following significant investment, our relocation is a clear commitment to our staff, our clients and Ipswich town as a whole. Through the work of the Enterprise Zone, this area is rapidly becoming the premier position for the town’s professionals and we are really pleased to be a part of this future growth and development.” The move comes after Ensors has been custodians of Cardinal House, the site of the original Ipswich Hippodrome, for 35 years. Fenn Wright dealt with the lease negotiations and acquisition of the new premises.

Photo (l-r): Ben Hobbs, Eunice Edwards, Barry Gostling, Paul Downing, Joe Read, Alistair Mitchell and David Scrivener.

See Profile Ensors

Award for agency’s work to raise profile of renewables investment

Pier, a Suffolk PR and marketing agency, has won silver at the CIPR PRide Awards for its work on ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE wind farm. The firm collected the award in the Construction, Property or Infrastructure Campaign category.The team’s entry highlighted its work for developer ScottishPower Renewables, which raised the profile of its £2.5 billion investment in its offshore wind farm. Amy Bendall, managing director at Pier, said: “As a standout leader in providing PR in the renewable energy sector, Pier’s work for ScottishPower Renewables demonstrates how we elevated a major energy infrastructure project into the public sphere and used our creativity, insight and experience to over deliver in every area.” Amy Bendall has recently been promoted to managing director at Pier, which has a team of 18, while founder Kate Bowden Smith became CEO and the agency has moved its office to Ipswich from Felixstowe. The firm’s clients also include RWE, Greene King, and Homepride.

Law firm expands estates team with five new appointments

Regional law firm Howes Percival has expanded its estates team with five new appointments in the East following a significant growth in demand across its estates and private wealth offering. The team specialises in advising high net-worth families and business owners with their will, trust and estate planning – particularly on farms and landed estates – and has seen growth driven by the conditions over the past 18 months and the regulatory framework which has encouraged families and business owners to ensure their legal affairs are in order. Tony Jones (senior associate) joins from Tees Law as tax manager, Emma Pocknell is appointed as an associate and joins from Steeles Law, Joseph Keeping (associate) joins from Clapham & Collinge and Ying Mac joins the firm as a tax assistant.  Meanwhile, Georgina Jones has been appointed as a paralegal and joins from Birkett Long.

Partnership set up to drive young people’s careers

A new partnership aimed at driving career attainment for young people in Suffolk has been set up by Morgan Sindall Construction and West Suffolk College. The two have worked together for six years with the firm delivering guest lectures, STEM workshops and interview technique sessions for students along with site visits and work experience placements. It is the 12th such partnership that the firm has signed with a college in the East. Peter Whitmore, managing director for construction east at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: "Signing this partnership is hugely rewarding. It demonstrates our commitment to supporting educational attainment through curriculum activities, lectures and work experience placements."

Photo: Peter Whitmore and Dr Nikos Savvas, CEO of Eastern Colleges Group.

Cambridge company sponsors junior football team

Cambridge company Domino Printing is showing its commitment to promoting physical and mental wellbeing by sponsoring one of the city’s junior football teams. The company has funded the purchase of new kit for the U9 Chesterton Eagles Blue Team which is now being worn by all members for their training and matches this season. Chris Thorpe, UK marketing and business development manager at Domino,said: “Health and wellbeing is a critical subject, and we can all do more to support it. Sponsoring the U9 Chesterton Eagles allows us to contribute in some way to the promotion of physical and mental wellbeing, and having a positive impact on social and community development. We wish the team and managers all the best for the season.”