Wednesday 24th April 2024

Surge in confidence as region’s firms see upturn in new business

Business expectations in the region for the year ahead surged in January as firms saw a good start to the year and the first increase in new orders since May, according to a key survey of purchasing managers. The upturn in new business reflected growth at service providers and provided a major boost to confidence; the NatWest East of England PMI future activity index posted its second-largest one-month gain on record at 9.1 points to 69.1. Meanwhile, expectations were the strongest since before the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February with manufacturers more confident than service providers. However price pressures remained strong and employment fell for the second month running in January although the rate of job-shedding remained modest. The survey's business activity index rose to 48.4 from 48.0 in December, signalling a decline in output for the eighth month running albeit at a slower rate. Private sector firms in the East raised their charges for the 31st month running in January. Rashel Chowdhury, NatWest Midlands and East regional board, said: "The East of England's private sector economy made a promising start to 2023. Although total activity fell further, the rate of decline eased and, importantly, new business increased for the first time in eight months. This, combined with only a fractional decline in outstanding business, bodes well for renewed output growth in the near term. The longer term is looking up too…”

Bury-based digital infrastructure training provider sold to New York-based group

CNet Training, a provider of professional network infrastructure programs based near Bury St Edmunds, has been sold to a New York-based global digital infrastructure group, Uptime Institute. CNet has been designing and delivering professional network infrastructure training programs since 1996 and is a global leader in the sector, having trained over 83,000 professionals across 45 countries. Tech M&A specialist Prism Corporate Broking, based near Cambridge, advised CNet on the sale. The acquisition of CNet dramatically extends the range and depth of Uptime Education offering. Andrew Stevens, president & CEO of CNet said: “We are excited to join the accelerating Uptime team. CNet was already growing quickly, but now will have many more opportunities.”

Robert Fiske, Prism’s director of corporate finance, said: “We’ve known CNet Training and its four owners for a number of years and I couldn’t be more pleased to unite them with Uptime Institute. I am excited to see how the company will continue to thrive under the continuing leadership of Andrew Stevens.” Legal support to the vendors was provided by Ashtons Legal, led by partner and head of corporate & commercial, Geoff Hazlewood in its Bury St Edmunds office.

Separately, Fidus Information Security, a Cambridge-based cyber security consultancy set up in 2017 by Kurtis Baron and Andrew Mabbitt, has been acquired by a private equity-backed IT managed services provider, Wavenet. Ashcroft Partnership, a Cambridge-based accountancy and corporate finance advisory firm, led the sale.

Law firm launches new medical negligence team

Ellisons Solicitors has launched a new medical negligence team to give advice to those who have faced poor treatment. Mark Stafford-White (right) has joined the firm’s Ipswich office as a medical negligence lawyer. Joining the injury services team, he will provide expert support and assistance to people injured as a result of negligent medical treatment, helping them to access compensation. He said: “Launching the new Medical Negligence team at Ellisons Solicitors is a hugely exciting step forward for myself and the firm. I’m thrilled to be joining the team and leading the way in its continued expansion.” Mark Stafford-White is a member of APIL with litigator status and has specialised in medical negligence since 2013, with a particular focus on Fatal Accident Act claims, misdiagnosis, birth injury, orthopaedic injury and delayed diagnosis of cancers. The new practice area is the latest in a string of expansions for Ellisons in Suffolk, with more than 70 new colleagues joining the firm in the last five years.


Jump in insolvency activity reflects national trend

The number of East Anglian businesses facing ‘insolvency-related activity’ rose to 225 in January, up from 200 in the month last year, according to the Eastern branch of R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body. The statistics include liquidator and administrator appointments and creditors’ meetings and follow various high-profile company administrations in recent weeks including retailer Paperchase and Flybe. R3 Eastern chair Alistair Bacon, founding principal at AMB Law in Ipswich, said: “What we are seeing here in East Anglia is a reflection of what is happening to businesses at a national level, where annual insolvency numbers are now riding at a 13-year high.” Insolvency Services figures show that corporate insolvencies in England and Wales increased by 57 per cent to 22,109 last year. He added: “Rising numbers of company directors in the East of England are now turning to insolvency processes to resolve their financial issues in the face of rising costs, low consumer confidence and ongoing economic turbulence.”

Norfolk vets practice invests to cater for growing number of pet-owners

A Norfolk veterinary practice, Westover Vets, is expanding and creating ten new jobs with a new branch and an extended animal hospital through a multi-million pound investment helped by a Lloyds Bank funding package. The practice is one of the region’s largest independent vets, with four practices caring for more than 21,000 animals across Norfolk. Its fifth practice involves converting a former motorhome sales garage into an 8,300 sq ft hub for small animal care. The business is also extending its existing animal hospital in North Walsham with a new wing. The addition will include two new consultation rooms and greater kennel space along with a new CT scanner. Toby Morrell, director at Westover Vets, said: “Not only have we seen an increase in the number of people owning animals in recent years, we’ve also seen an increase in demand for the best available care for pets, who are often considered members of the family.”

Family-run industrial supply firm celebrates 60th anniversary

Norfolk-based Lamberts is celebrating 60 years supplying materials and workwear to heavy industry this month, after it was formed by Henry Beare in February 1963. The company is an independent family-run supplier and distributor of industrial equipment including pipes, valves, fittings, fasteners, tools, lubricants, workwear, and safety wear for businesses in East Anglia. Clients include Anglian Water, Bernard Matthews, Briar and Simpsons Malt. In 1980, the company - which has its hq in Whiffler Road, Norwich - passed to Henry’s son Tim, and then in 2006, Tim’s daughter Trina Beare joined the company and became MD in 2015. Trina Beare said: "My grandad used to say: 'staff, service, systems - get them right and you'll do well'. He was 100 per cent right. What a milestone to have reached! Every single one of our team has helped us get to where we are to date. Our team is our business and many of our employees have been with us for 20 years or more. Our customers, many of whom have also been with us 20 years plus, love having direct contact with our team and we aim to give a great personalised service. Both these factors have contributed to our success over the past 60 years. We look forward to what the next 60 years bring.”

See Profile Lamberts