Tuesday 23rd October 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 13/06/2018

Surge in inward investment in the region led by new digital projects

The number of foreign direct investment projects in the East of England rose by nearly a half to a record 59 last year, helped by more digital sector projects and a doubling in the number of overseas-backed ventures in Cambridge. According to EY’s 2018 UK Attractiveness Survey, 59 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects were recorded in the East in 2017, up from 40 in the previous year, lifting the region up to 7th place out of the 12 UK regions. Cambridge, where the number of FDI projects increased to 14 from seven previously- now ranks as the joint 8th most attractive city for attracting overseas investment. The number of digital FDI projects jumped to 15 in 2017 from three previously and now accounts for a quarter of inward investment locating in the region. Nine pharmaceuticals and six agri-food inward investment projects were recorded in the region. Two large German retail/distribution investments in  Peterborough (where Lidl is opening a new distribution centre) and Bedford created 900 jobs in total. FDI has now increased in the East every year since 2014 although the number of jobs created by overseas investments in the region fell by 4 per cent to 2,800 jobs in 2017. Nick Gomer, managing partner at EY in the East, said: “These figures are great news for the East – not only has Cambridge doubled the number of FDI projects, but the East region has attracted 48 per cent more investment than in 2016. Furthermore, while Peterborough and Bedford did not make the top 20 ranking in terms of volume of investment deals, they too have seen sizeable and significant investment, winning projects that have resulted in hundreds of jobs for the local area.”...Read more

Growth picks up in the region helped by strong demand

Business activity across the East of England picked up sharply in May helped by a marked increase in demand for goods and services although optimism has faded in the light of political and economic uncertainty, says a key survey of purchasing managers. As businesses continued to catch-up after bad weather in March, the NatWest East of England business activity index rose to 55.8 in May, from 53.1 in April, pointing to a higher increase in output in the region than the UK average. The survey noted robust underlying client demand and an increase in payroll numbers although it was below the pace seen over the past year as skills shortages bite. New business growth was the fastest in three months and backlogs of work fell for the first time since last August althugh firms raised selling prices at a marked rate. Firms were generally positive on future business conditions but optimism fell to a 22-month low in May, reflecting political and economic uncertainty.

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Employers more cautious on hiring

Employers in the East of England are becoming more cautious about hiring, according to recruitment firm ManpowerGroup. Its measure of ‘hiring confidence’ in the region has fallen from +10% to +1%, compared with a national outlook of +4%. Director of Manpower UK Chris Gray said: “After a strong start to 2018, hiring confidence has now dropped by nine points and is at its lowest level in a year. We have found that businesses are struggling to keep up with the expectations of some millennials, who are increasingly demanding higher pay without having previous experience of the job that they are applying for. A separate skills shortage means there are fewer eligible workers.”

Export grant scheme launched

For the second year running Heathrow and the Department for International Trade’s ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign are offering grants to exporters looking to reach new long-haul markets. Its ‘World of Opportunity Programme’ will award 20 SMEs with grants worth £2,000 to fund trade missions, take part in trade shows or foreign market research. Ely-based ‘Love Beets’ last year won support from the programme to help fund a trade mission to Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong. Applications are open until July 6th. www.heathrow.com/worldofopportunity

Meanwhile, exports of East of England goods rose by 3.9 per cent to £28.7bn for the year ended March 2018, according to HMRC. Across England, exports of goods rose by 6.5 per cent to £244.6bn. The East is home to more than 11,000 exporters, up 2.7% on a year earlier and with an average value of £619,000. Alan Pain, head of exports for the East of England at DIT, said: “The latest figures from HMRC show that firms across the East of England enjoyed a jump in new orders in the last 12 months, demonstrating the growing number of opportunities for local businesses overseas."

Law firm restructures management after sustained growth

Ellisons Solicitors reported on a period of sustained growth and unveiled a management restructure at its agm last week. The firm has seen growth in income and in the numbers of partners and colleagues as well as a record amount of promotions and the recent opening of a new office in Chelmsford. It now has six offices in Essex and Suffolk. Under a management restructure designed to improve internal communications and efficiencies, Guy Longhurst has been appointed as managing partner, supported by a board with representation from four different areas of the business: Seamus Clifford will be head of business services; Tim Logan, previously managing partner becomes senior partner & head of private client services; Diane Leacock will continue as director of finance and John Turner, who was previously the firm’s chief information officer, as the new chief operating officer. Guy Longhurst said: “The new management structure will improve communication and lines of management internally, allowing our partners and colleagues to focus upon delivering the highest possible levels of service to our clients. Focusing upon our clients and colleagues, and improved communication with them, is essential, as the firm continues to grow, both in existing and new locations.”

Photo (l to r): Seamus Clifford, Tim Logan, John Turner and Guy Longhurst

Law firm advises on acquisition of nursing home

Ashtons Legal has advised Stow Healthcare Group on its acquisition of the business and assets of Attwoods Manor Nursing Home in Halstead from Attwoods Residential Homes. The business, which will be renamed Halstead Hall, is a 19th century country manor house and is registered for 65 residents. The deal sees Stow Healthcare take its overall bed capacity to 250 across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex and takes the number of homes in its portfolio to five. Geoff Hazlewood, a partner and head of the corporate and commercial team led the transaction, assisted by Ron Clare in the commercial property team and Colin Makin assisted on employment. NatWest assisted with the funding of the acquisition.

Six new partners appointed at law firm

Law firm Birketts has announced the appointment of six new partners, taking the total number in the firm to 64.From the private client advisory team, family law specialist Katie Beaven and agriculture law experts Sophia Key and Rachel Mc Killop-Wilkin have all been recognised. Additionally, Vicki Chilton (head of utilities team), Steven Kay (head of housebuilders team) and Karl Pocock (head of corporate tax team) are also promoted.

Separately, Ruth Morris (photo, right) has joined Birketts as a partner in its agricultural and estates team. Jack Royall, head of Birketts' agriculture and estates team, said: “Ruth has almost 20 years of experience advising on rural legal issues and is a fantastic addition to the team. She brings a wealth of expertise, including expert insight into the sale and purchase of estates and farms, agricultural tenancies, options and clawback, covenants, energy leases and high value residential property transactions, particularly involving listed or unusual buildings.”

See Profile Birketts

Expansion of family department at law firm

Essex-based solicitors Fisher Jones Greenwood has expanded its family team with the appointment of new partner Melanie Wilson (photo). She has over 30 years experience in all aspects of family law and is recognized in the Legal 500 as a ‘leading individual in family law in Essex’. Her particular specialism is in advising business clients and she deals mainly with high net worth matters involving companies, complex trust, pension, foreign and tax issues. She also advises high net worth individuals in financial matters arising from divorce proceedings. Paula Fowler, managing partner at FJG, said: “Melanie is highly regarded in her field, the wealth of expertise that she will bring to FJG and the Family team will be key to its’ continuing success”.

Promotions at property consultancy

Property and planning consultancy Rapleys has announced a series of promotions. Simon Harbour (building consultancy & project management, Nick Fell (affordable housing & viability), Neil Jones (town planning) and Richard Huteson (town planning) become equity partner. James Porter (building consultancy & project management) becomes partner. Colin Arnott (corporate & investor management) becomes senior associate and Alex Chambers (building consultancy & project management) and Andrew Latham (building consultancy & project management) become associates. Robert Clarke, senior partner, said: “I am delighted to announce these promotions. They underline the growth and ever-increasing profile of the practice. I look forward to sharing our onward journey with them.”

See Profile Rapleys

New partners at Whiting & Partners

Bury-based chartered accountants Whiting & Partners has made a raft of promotions including two new partners and three associates. Amanda Newman, 38 joined the firm in 2000 and now heads its start-up group. Keith Day, 39, is a corporate services specialist with a client base which includes foreign controlled UK subsidiary companies and UK branches. Paul Jefferson, 34, in St Neots, Stephen Malkin, 41, in Wisbech, and Jonathan More, 40, in Bury St Edmunds are the new associates. Whiting & Partners, is marking its 90th anniversary this year and has over 150 staff with 15 partners and five associates in eleven offices across the region.

Expansion at home improvement business

A large unit at St Peter’s Road Industrial Estate in Huntingdon has been let to The Kairos Group, which trades locally as Zenith Windows and is the UK’s largest privately-owned home improvements business, says agents Barker Storey Matthews who acted for the landlord. The firm, which employs 15, is expanding into its new 13,140 sq ft depot hq in the region from nearby premises. Alex Scott, procurement director of Kairos Group, said: “The town is well placed for transport connections. As one of our twelve UK centres, from here we can serve clients across a large regional swathe of the country.”

New R & D director appointed

Domino Printing Sciences has appointed Lutz Doehnert as group research & development director, to build on the company’s innovative technology, software and coding solutions. He has wide experience and a proven track record and joints from German high-end domestic appliance and commercial equipment manufacturer, Miele, where he was director of R &D. He said: “It’s an exciting time to be joining Domino, as the new group research & development director. With Domino’s investment in both its people and products, the company is in a strong position to offer more product development initiatives, building on its commitment to delivering industry-first coding and marking solutions to a variety of sectors.”

Essex-based Water Direct Scoops National Award

Planned and emergency water supplier Water Direct, based at Earls Colne in Essex, has won the UK award for disaster recovery as a service in the 2018 Business Continuity Awards. Water Direct is the UK’s leading provider of emergency water to UK businesses. In one week in March, Water Direct responded to emergencies nationwide, working 24/7 to mobilise more than 200 truckloads of drinking water and four million litres of emergency bottled water. Water Direct managing director Jonathan West said: “We’re really proud of this fantastic recognition for our team and unique disaster recovery and business continuity services. It’s great to take additional steps towards businesses recognising water as a critical business continuity theme.”

Photo (l to r): The Water Direct team: Sven Parris, Liv Morris, Jonathan West, Tiffany Tidmarsh, Peter Mayers

Suffolk business longlisted for national award

Ipswich-based Concertus Design & Property Consultants has been longlisted for the Business in The Community responsible business awards. Concertus was the only Suffolk business to make the list and was the only SME in the category, joining the likes of Aviva, Azoomee and Lloyds Banking. Andrew Rowe, MD of Concertus said: “Getting to the longlist of these high-profile national awards is a real boost for us as a business and for the Concertus team who work extremely hard to ensure we work collaboratively, behave responsibly and are considerate to others.” The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Royal Albert Hall on 3 July, in front of 1,200 business leaders. Anglian Water won the 2017 responsible business of the year award.

Separately, Nicola Booth, who works for Concertus as a senior mechanical engineer in Ipswich, has been elected as the first female East Anglia regional chair of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers. She was previously the hon. secretary and has served for eight years in total on the regional committee.

Photo: Andrew Rowe, receiving the award from Kevin Barber from Trading for Good.