Wednesday 26th September 2018
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 14/09/2018

Call for upgrades to infrastructure to keep Cambridge phenomenon going

A call for significant investment in infrastructure around Cambridge - including rail upgrades and the full dualling of the A47 and A10 - together with increased housing targets for the area, emerge in The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review, published this week. To meet targets in the mayor's devolution deal to nearly double the area's economic output over the next 25 years, it says infrastructure issues in and around Cambridge must be dealt with as a first priority. It suggests new sources of income such as land value capture which could be put into a fund to leverage private sector investment. Improvements to road and rail are recommended to deepen links between three distinct economies; the Greater Cambridge area, Peterborough and the Fens. The report also calls for an increase in housing targets in the area from 4,700 currently to between 6,000 and 8,000 pa and for businesses to work to improve productivity as well as a full devolution of skills funding. Market town masterplans should be tied into a local industrial strategy. Dame Kate Barker, chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Commission, said: “This area has been growing significantly – faster we believe than official figures indicate.  But to continue this robust growth, both from homegrown businesses and from attracting international firms, major improvements in infrastructure and increased provision of housing of all types will be required.” She added: “We believe that the combined authority and local authorities need to work together to build the strong case for more powers and funding to be devolved to the local level…”

Business expectations fall despite pick-up in orders

Business activity in the East of England picked up to a six-month high in August thanks to a marked growth in new orders although political uncertainty meant busiuness expectations fell to their lowest level in six years, according to a key survey of purchasing managers. The NatWest East of England business activity index covering manufacturing and services rose from 55.7 in July to 56.1 in August, staying  above the 50 level which denotes growth The pick-up in orders meant a number of companies are expecting business development and investment over the next 12 months and firms hired extra staff at the fastest pace since March. The expansion in services was slightly stronger than manufacturing although new order growth was broad-based across both sectors. But the survey said rising wage costs and raw material prices meant businesses ramped up their selling prices at a marked pace. John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: “The East of England’s private sector shifted up a gear in August, with output growth reaching a six-month high due in part to stronger inflows of new business. Furthermore, despite subdued optimism with political uncertainty on the horizon, local businesses hired additional staff at the fastest pace since March in response to increased client demand.”

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Five Cambridge companies on tech fast track

Five Cambride-based companies feature in the 18th annual Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 which ranks private technology, media and telecoms companies. Together, they have grown their sales by an average of 105 per cent a year over three years to a total of £138m and now employ over 1,000. They are: Arcus Global, (local authority software and a new entrant), Darktrace (security software), currency transfer provider TransferWise, peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle and online entertainment community LADBible Group. Steve McGerr, head of direct commercial at Hiscox Insurance UK, said:“Tech businesses in Cambridgeshire are thriving thanks to the fearlessness and determination of those that run them. We have great admiration for the talented entrepreneurs that make up the companies on this year’s Tech Track 100.”

Number of Suffolk companies passes milestone

The number of companies in Suffolk has passed the 35,000 milestone for the first time. At the end of July 35,027 businesses were registered in the county, according to Ipswich-based company secretarial software specialists Inform Direct. Its figures based on statistics from Companies House and the ONS show Ipswich leads (6,133 companies), followed by St Edmundsbury (5,928) and Suffolk Coastal (5,813). Meanwhile, some 4,145 new businesses were formed in 2017. John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct, said: “This latest milestone underlines that Suffolk offers a number of key benefits to businesses and a supportive environment for both new and established companies. Proximity to London, extensive transport links both to other areas of the UK and overseas and an excellent quality of life are all key factors. The growing portfolio of high profile companies already established in Suffolk also makes it a thriving place to do business and is a further encouragement for new ventures to choose it as a preferred location.” Inform Direct’s company secretarial software currently supports more than 90,000 companies.

Cambridge medical sector specialist acquired by global group

Medical Device Usability, a Cambridge-based human factors services business specialising in medical technology, has been acquired by UL, a global safety science leader. The deal reinforces UL’s expertise in medical human factors and offers greater access to services by UK and European customers. Richard Featherstone, Medical Device Usability’s CEO and founder said: “We are excited to join forces with UL and, together, offer best-in-class medical human factors services. Our group’s shared reputation for delivering safe and effective medtech services will allow us to significantly accelerate our growth and access to global markets, in addition to providing our customers with a broader range of complementary services and expertise.”

PEM Corporate Finance acted as lead advisor, project managing the sale process and negotiating on behalf of the Medical Device Usability shareholders. Philip Olagunju, assistant director at PEMCF, said: “…There’s a real strategic fit between the two companies which will create an exciting platform for future growth.”

Norwich software developer expands

Barclays has supported Norwich software business Purple Tuesday with banking facilities to help grow and expand its technical team. Founded by Carl Wright and Seb Butcher in 2011, Purple Software has built a team of 14 engineers, analysts and project managers. It helps firms improve process efficiency through custom software and clients include Adnams, Premier Inn and East of England Co-Op. Purple Tuesday will use the borrowing facility to support its growth plans with graduate training with the aim of recruiting five additional 5 software specialists over the next 12 months. Seb Butcher, director of Purple Tuesday, said: “It’s been a really straightforward process working with Barclays to help us define and implement the borrowing required to rapidly expand the business.”

Alex Broome, business manager at Barclays, Norwich, said: “Purple Tuesday is a leading company in the fast-growing digital tech economy in Norwich and Norfolk. The time is now right for them to move to the next stage and accelerate their growth, which in turn will provide new job opportunities to join them on their journey.”

Photo (l-r): Seb Butcher and Carl Wright of Purple Tuesday and Alex Broome, Barclays.

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GDPR produces surge of work for law firm

Regional law firm Howes Percival has seen a ‘significant increase' in clients asking for help post-GDPR, particularly on website terms and conditions of sale. The firm believes the regulations and wide publicity has prompted many e-commerce businesses to review other aspects of their online presence and having seen various common issues has produced a new terms and conditions of sale checklist for e-commerce businesses. Miles Barnes, a corporate and commercial solicitor at Howes Percival, said: "In recent months we have seen a significant increase in clients asking for our help to review and update their website's terms and conditions of sale.  It appears that the onslaught of publicity around GDPR and the constant reminders about privacy policies, has had a knock-on effect and made people think about the other legal issues affecting their business when they trade online.”

New team to meet demands from overhaul of tax procedures

Accountants and business advisers Whiting & Partners has created a new specialist tax team to meet increasing demands from the overhaul of the UK’s tax procedures. The partner-led group has specialist knowledge of the agricultural, construction, property and retail sectors as well as offering core accounting services. “Whiting & Partners is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and over those nine decades it’s unlikely that we have faced changes like the massive overhaul in the UK’s taxation system that is going on now,” said tax partner, Philip Peters. “We’ve taken a lead with our clients in helping them to meet the demands of HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ - MTD programme and we are determined to continue that lead with our new, dedicated tax team.”

Photo: Whiting & Partners tax team (l-r): Jeannette Hume, Matilda Mawson, Lisa Smith, Philip Peters, Andrew Winearls, Jodie Tarbin, Shamus Chaplin.

New head of personal tax appointed

Larking Gowen has appointed Sally Farrow, as head of its personal tax team in Norwich. She is a chartered tax advisor and member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and having originally trained with Larking Gowen, she now returns as senior tax manager, after a number of years with a national accountancy firm. With more than 16 years’ experience of advising private clients and trusts with a national firm, she will be working closely with the company’s other offices across East Anglia. Sally Farrow said: “I’ve worked with individuals and trustees for over twenty years, advising on tax planning and compliance. There’s a lot of satisfaction in helping clients manage their tax confidently, in an ever-changing tax landscape, ensuring they make best use of tax allowances, and taking the worry out of compliance.”

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Strategic growth workshops for SMEs

The Marketing Centre is running a series of strategic growth breakfast workshops in the Eastern region - offering local SMEs tips for expansion in the current economic climate. Malcolm Johnson regional dreictor at The Marketing Centre, said:"We are excited to be launching these workshops in the region with a high calibre of speakers lined up. The events have been designed to facilitate expanding knowledge and skills, in order to help businesses achieve their desired growth. At the end of the day, why survive in this current climate, when you could be seeking to thrive?" Event sponsors include: FJG, Freeman Clark, People Puzzles, Sales Plus Profit, The FD Centre and Towergate. The breakfast workshops are monthly from 8-10 am, starting on September 18th at Hylands House, Chelmsford. Delegates can attend one, or as many of the five events as they would like. A £20 charitable donation to local charity, DABD is suggested. Delegates can register at: https://tinyurl.com/yb5ecyxx

Printing firm's 40 years in business

Litho and digital printer Great Yarmouth Printing Services is marking its 40th year in business. The company specialises in bespoke jobs and has wide print and finishing experience with over 100 years’ experience in the trade collectively among its six staff, three of whom have worked in the business for 30 or more years. Set up in 1978, the company has embraced new technology but also retained many traditional print and finishing processes. The firm has developed a niche in print for b2b customers, with services ranging from four-colour business cards and functional materials, such as order forms and instruction leaflets, to full-colour brochures and leaflets. Customers currently include local academy schools, food and industrial manufacturers, public sector and charities, as well as national businesses and print management companies. General manager Malcolm Kenyon (photo, third from left),who has worked in the industry for 30 years and joined the company in September 2017, said:“While we do offer modern short and long run digital print services, one of our great strengths lies in more traditional and bespoke litho print jobs which require additional expertise and skilled manual work. With a 40 year heritage and more than 100 years’ combined experience in the trade, we can offer customers something that you sometimes just can’t get with larger printers.”

Work starts on Bury social housing scheme

Construction is underway on the redevelopment of a social housing scheme at Tayfen Road in Bury for Havebury Housing Partnership. Suffolk-based Mixbrow Construction is the main contractor for the £4 million project which will provide 26 one-bed and 10 two-bed apartments when it is completed next summer. The development, is part- funded by Homes England and sits on land which previously housed The Old Maltings and Lucky Break Snooker Hall. Both the architect, Rees Pryer and the civil engineering and structural designer, Morrish & Partners, are Bury-based firms. Senior project manager at Havebury, Elliott Bragg said:“We are extremely pleased with how construction is progressing.  The plan has been well thought through and maximises the potential by converting the two older buildings on the site and constructing a new building on the remaining land to create much needed social housing and affordable homes for the town.”

Photo: Elliott Bragg with Doug Jaye, contracts director at Mixbrow Construction

Consultancy appointed to NHS framework

Bury-based property construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard has secured a four-year appointment to deliver services to the healthcare and wider public sector through the NHS Shared Business Services Consult 18 framework, valued at between £20m and £50m. “Pick Everard tendered for this framework as a route for access to the management consultancy market. As a new discipline within advisory services, this long-term partnership with the NHS SBS will allow us to open new doors and also provides a fantastic opportunity to continue to grow the management consultancy discipline,” said Nicola Thompson, national director at Pick Everard.

Global sales milestone for Cambridge company 

Domino Printing Sciences has produced its 10,000th Ax-Series continuous ink jet printer (CIJ)at its Cambridge manufacturing site. Launched in 2016, the printer is now being used worldwide, with sister manufacturing sites in China and India. The ground-breaking design means that the printer is suitable for the most demanding industrial coding environments, in industries as diverse as food production, pharmaceutical packaging and electronics component manufacturing. Carl Haycock, UK Operations director at Domino said: “CIJ remains the coding solution of choice across many markets and industries, but with the design of the Ax-Series, we saw the opportunity to rethink three fundamental elements of the technology to deliver measurable benefits for our customers. This strategy has certainly reaped rewards and as we celebrate the 10,000th printer to be manufactured in our award-winning factory here in Cambridge, we look forward to further adoption of the technology across the world in the years to come.”

Photo: Domino staff celebrate the production of the 10,000th Ax-Series printer at its Bar Hill hq.

Law firm sponsors bike event

Ashtons Legal is to sponsor the Bury Goes Biking event on 30 September. The event is run by Abbeycroft Leisure and is supported by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Wheelers. There is no entry fee but attendees are encouraged to raise sponsorship which will go to support St Nicholas Hospice in Bury. Ashtons has bought 400 branded high vis vests which will be worn by the riders. Bez Baker, client relationship executive at Ashtons, said: “As a member of Ashtons’ Cycling Club I am delighted to be a part of this event, a first for Bury St Edmunds. We are hoping to get lots of our staff involved on the day and hope the local community comes out in force to support this fantastic cause.”

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