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Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 26/03/2024

Faster job creation around Cambridge adds weight to infrastructure investment calls

New jobs are being created across all sectors around Cambridge, with major employment growth driven by knowledge-intensive sectors such as life sciences and healthcare, ICT and high-tech manufacturing. An annual monitor of the area’s economy from Cambridge Ahead also shows there has also been a strong post-Covid recovery of growth across other, so-called 'non-knowledge intensive' sectors such as transport, education, hospitality and retail. In a 20-mile radius from the centre of Cambridge, knowledge-intensive sectors grew employment by six per cent over the period 2021/22 to 2022/23, led by an 11 per cent increase in life sciences. Employment in high-tech manufacturing grew 19 per cent in the Cambridge region during this period. Jobs growth was also strong across the wider Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region, up by over four per cent over the period. The survey adds weight to calls for more infrastructure spending in the area to sustain growth. Commenting on the data, Dan Thorp, chief executive of Cambridge Ahead, said:“It shows that the national attention on Cambridge is more than warranted, and our opportunity now is to showcase how national and local leaders can come together to unlock a city region’s full potential.”

Kirsty Gill, chief people officer of Arm, said: “As the location of our global headquarters and a major talent hub for Arm, it is encouraging to see this latest research into the sustained growth in Cambridge and the surrounding area.”

Private equity-backed firms hailed as ‘reslient & dynamic’ part of region’s economy

Private equity-backed businesses in East Anglia saw an average growth in underlying profits (ebitda) of 53 per cent over the latest three-years, according to a new report. The Private Equity Value Report from Real Deals, commissioned by BDO, found that the fastest-growing 25 private equity backed businesses in East Anglia saw average ebitda growth of 69 per cent over three years and included: Vita Health Group, ASL Group and Techpoint Group. John Gethen, head of M&A in the East Anglian region at BDO, said: “Despite the challenges of the past three years, this research demonstrates PE-backed businesses are a resilient and dynamic segment of the region’s economy...This growth creates jobs and wealth -from which we all benefit.” It says the fastest-growing PE-backed businesses in the region created an additional 2,258 jobs between 2020 and 2022. BDO’s latest economic engine survey of 500 mid-sized businesses showed that 22 per cent of businesses in East Anglia are either currently looking for private equity investment or will do so in the next three months.

Separately, a US-based private equity firm, Bright Path Sports Partners is to make an investment of up to £105 million to secure a 40 per cent stake in Ipswich Town FC which the club says will support it in the long term and provide ‘capital and strategic thinking’. ORG will own around 50 per cent and CEO Mark Ashton will continue to manage the club.

Festive peak continues into new year for transport & logistics company

East Anglian transport and logistics company Fitzmaurice Carriers has seen a busy first quarter as the strong demand for the goods it distributed over the festive period has continued into the new year. “The quantity of goods typically reduces after the Christmas rush, but this year levels seem to have stayed higher. Though the mix of goods we are transporting changes, both new or existing clients have turned to us to deliver bigger volumes” said operations director Matt Richards. Fitzmaurice Carriers has a fleet of over 30 vehicles operating across the region from its hq and warehouses in Norwich. Established in 1919, this year marks the independent family company’s 105th anniversary. “Though there is uncertainty in the economy, businesses appear keener than ever to begin the new year as they mean to go on. If we can help them stock and replenish the products their customers love, we’re always keen to help,” added Matt Richards.

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Cambridge private equity office plans more deals

The Cambridge office of infrastucture and private equity investment manager Foresight Group is planning more deals in the region after investing £50 million in 14 companies in the East of England since it opened in 2019. To date, it has invested over £43 million in nine companies whilst other growth and venture funds managed by Foresight have invested around £7 million in five Cambridge-based earlier stage tech companies. “In 2024 and beyond, we plan to deliver more investment deals that will help firms achieve their potential. We've achieved a lot in the past four years, but the exciting news for the East of England is we’re only getting started,” said director Matt McLoughlin. Notable deals at Foresight have included Cambrionix and Bury-based financial planning firm Beckett.

Biotech company win award for wound care R & D

Cambridge-based SolasCure, a biotech company developing a novel treatment to transform chronic wound care, has won a Biomedical Catalyst grant for R&D from Innovate UK for £405,000 to support its first investigational product, Aurase Wound Gel. It is one of 32 companies to be awarded the grant, which aims to support the development of solutions to significant health and healthcare challenges, out of 358 which applied. “Chronic wounds represent an immense healthcare and economic burden. The Biomedical Catalyst grant award provides exciting validation and recognition from Innovate UK that SolasCure has the technical innovation to address this urgent unmet medical need,” said Andy Weymann, SolasCure chairman.

Separately, Nuclera, a Cambridge-based biotech company enabling rapid protein expression and purification screening has been selected to join the Tech Nation Future Fifty 2024 program for the UK’s next generation of unicorn founders, recognizing the most promising late-stage tech ventures. Launched at an event at 10 Downing Street, hosted by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the 2024 cohort consists of 25 companies which have raised a combined £1.3 billion.

Planned expansion after promotions at Essex law firm

Essex law firm Fisher Jones Greenwood is embarking on a planned expansion having made a number of senior leadership promotions. The firm secured backing from private equity house Blixt in 2021, becoming part of the larger Lawfront Group. Paula Fowler has been promoted to FJG CEO, with 40 years’ experience in the profession and has overall responsibility for running the business. Former CEO and senior partner Tony Fisher takes on the role of chair and will continue to guide the firm's direction and reinforce its standing in the sector. In Colchester, Charlotte Knappett is the new head of the family team, taking over from Simon Osborn, who has retired. Gayle Fordham now leads the residential conveyancing department in advance of Mike Theeman’s retirement later this year, supported by new business development manager Marion Knocker. Ashton Carter has assumed the role of head of corporate and commercial. Paula Fowler said: “These advancements reflect not only our firm's dedication to enhancing our client services but also our commitment to fostering talent and promoting from within.”

Photo (l-r): Leon Pascal, Charlotte Knappett, Greg John, Paula Fowler, Ashton Carter, Gayle Fordham, Rhian Lowe and Keeley Miller.

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Senior appointments at Ipswich construction company set to pay a ‘pivotal role’

Ipswich-based Barnes Construction has made four promotions to its senior management team as associate divisional directors who it says will play a 'pivotal role' at the company. Damien Kerry will oversee the estimating team within the pre-contracts department and be the key point of contact for the Suffolk County Council framework; Dan Mackenzie will lead the bid management, planning and marketing teams, and will continue to be involved in the firm’s net zero journey. Daniel Sheldrake will lead the design management department and continue to drive forward the firm's sustainability agenda and Matthew Ramplin will have  responsibility for delivering projects in Cambridge, the hotel & leisure and nuclear generation sectors and Essex Health Care. Joint managing directors Bob Steward and Mark Hart said: “These appointments will ensure that our ‘family’ ethos and growth is maintained and secured for the foreseeable future.”

Photo (l-r): Damien Kerry, Dan Mackenzie, Daniel Sheldrake, and Matthew Ramplin.

New international food supermarket set to open in Ipswich

A new international food supermarket is set to open in the centre of Ipswich in mid-June which will create 50 jobs. Penn Commercial has let retail premises at 26-32 Carr Street – a former Poundland – to Ipswich Bazaar Ltd on a 25-year lease, acting for Carr Street Estates. The retail premises of around 26,000 sq ft will be used as a multi-cultural food supermarket, with internationally-themed aisles of produce, to cater to a diverse range of communities and cuisines. It will feature a 14-m-long Halal meat counter, a fresh fish section, a bakery and an 80-seater restaurant with a staffed crèche area. The new store is looking to grow staff numbers in due course. Ariful Islam, director of Ipswich Bazaar – who has lived in Ipswich for 14 years – said: “Ipswich town centre has suffered since Covid-19, and I believe that setting up Ipswich Bazaar will bring, not only job opportunities for people, but a reason to visit the town centre also." The new supermarket will be open from 8am to 11pm, seven days a week.

Paul Keen, senior associate at Penn Commercial, said: “We would like to wish Ariful and his team the very best of luck with their ‘world of food’ supermarket. What a splendid idea to cater to Ipswich’s multi-cultural community.”

Photo: Paul Keen (right) presents Ariful Islam with the keys to the premises.

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'Emotional intelligence' seen as key to business success

Emotional intelligence in business must begin with leadership, around the four points of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, guests heard at the opening of Larking Gowen’s 2024 Business Breakfast series in Ipswich. Speaking on the theme of ‘Practical Strategies for Success’, Ben Coomber, a high-performance coach, bestselling author and CEO of award-winning nutrition business Awesome Supplements, told a full house: "I help empower people with their potential by helping them be the truest version of themselves, to become fit, healthy and strong, and to ultimately, follow their dreams. When you bring people into the space they need to be in, mind-blowing things happen," he said. To make this personal transformation, he said you need to focus on purposefulness, psychology and physiology, with sleep, nutrition and movement as the key elements. Ben Coomber's connection with Suffolk began at age 11 when he attended the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook. He will also appear for the relaunch of Larking Gowen's Norfolk Business Breakfast on 2 May at Royal Norwich. Larking Gowen digital partner Martin Bugg said: "Following the great success of the Suffolk Business Breakfasts, we’ll be relaunching in Norfolk in May. It will be a great opportunity for guests to make connections and swap insights."

Photo: Ben Coombers with partners and northern team.

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Norfolk-based agency launches marketing training courses

Business owners in East Anglia who want to grow their organisation in 2024 are set to benefit from a series of new marketing training courses being held at the new training facility at the Norfolk Showground. Nurture Marketing  is launching a series of ten marketing workshops covering topics including website optimisations, personal and business branding, email marketing, social media strategy and videography.  The courses are designed for business owners with no in-house marketing support as well as in-house marketeers who wish to expand their skillset. The ten courses cost £100 each or all ten can be bought for £500 if booked by the end of March. Rechenda Smith (photo), managing director of Nurture Marketing, said: “Since launching the agency 20 months ago, we’ve seen a need for marketing knowledge on the frontline. Business owners don’t always have the budget for regular marketing support, so we have devised the courses to help them DIY. The courses will also be great for marketeers to brush up their skills.”

See Profile Nurture Marketing

How much do central banks affect markets?

Discover more insights in Brown Shipley's latest market and investment update: Markets & Investment Update - 25.03.24 (brownshipley.com)

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