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Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 11/8/2016

Region stays on the growth path despite Brexit

PMI figures show the East was the UK’s top performing region in July

Business activity rose in the East of England in July and more jobs were created following the Brexit vote although new orders have slowed, according to a key survey of purchasing managers. The East emerged as the top performing region in the UK with a Lloyds Bank regional PMI of 51; higher than the 50 level which signifies growth but below June's level of 54.5. The survey pointed to an increase in new private sector job in the region last month across both manufacturing and services. However it also pointed to falling client confidence since the ‘leave’ vote which had caused “new business orders to stall.”  Weaker sterling also mean companies’ costs rose at the fastest rate in more than three-and-a-half years.  Steve Elsom, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A slowdown in new business orders is most likely due to companies putting growth plans on hold until post-referendum uncertainty eases. The upturn in job creation suggests that firms expect this to be sooner rather than later, and that demand will pick up in the near-term.”...Read more

New, faster trains planned as Abellio wins Gt. Eastern rail franchise

New trains and carriages and faster services are to be introduced on the London-Norwich rail mainline after the existing franchise holder Abellio won a £1.4 billion contract from the Department of Transport to run rail services in the region for the next nine years. Plans for the Great Eastern Main Line include more than 1,040 new carriages by 2020 and cuts in journey times averaging 10 per cent. New trains supplied through a £1billion contract with Bombardier, with 32,000 more seats by 2021 and free Wi-Fi for all passengers. The new franchise envisages at  least four 90-minute (two in each direction) London-Norwich services each weekday and two 60-minute London-Ipswich services. However, the service improvements depend partly on investment by Network Rail; the Great Eastern Mainline Campaign will be pressing for further track and infrastructure improvements.  Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP and co-chair of the GEML Rail Taskforce said:  “To have secured new state of the art rolling stock is a massive win for all those who depend on a reliable and high performing railway here in the East.”

Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP and member of the taskforce said: “As far as rolling stock is concerned we could not have won bigger. This will begin a radical transformation of rail services for commuters, business travellers and tourists alike, which will be worth billions of pounds of investment to East Anglia.“

Norfolk building firm goes into administration with 24 job losses

Norfolk-based building contractor W.S. Lusher & Son has gone into administration with the loss of 24 jobs although a buyer is being sought for the 92-year old company which holds a Royal Warrrant. The firm had incurred trading losses in recent years and a sale of the firm’s yard to recapitalise the business was unable to be completed in time. Director Mark Lusher said: We have given everything we’ve got to make it work, but we’ve been up against too many factors. We very much hope that a potential buyer may see a business opportunity.’ Norwich-based  McTear Williams & Wood is continuing to trade the business while seeking a buyer as a going concern.

Andrew McTear said: ”The company’s strengths are its long standing reputation and skill base. Since 1978 the company has held a Royal Warrant for its work at Sandringham House.” Founded in 1924, the chartered firm employed 32 site operatives and 24 redundancies have been made. It works mainly in specialist property restoration and improvement and had a turnover approaching £3.8 m. It operates from a two acre leased site in north Norwich. Enquiries to Sophie Barry on 01603 877540. The freehold Sprowston premises, leased by Lushers, remains on the market and could be part of a package. Details from Arnolds Keys on 01603 620551 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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New school handed over on time

Construction on the third and final phase at Pakefield High School in Lowestoft has been completed and handed over in time for the start of the new school year in September. When Barnes Construction started work on phase 1 in late 2010, Pakefield was the first new high school to be built by Suffolk County Council in over 20 years. The final phase started just over a year ago when the old middle school building was demolished and a new two-storey block housing  11 classrooms was constructed. Barnes has also built a sports hall and a multi use games area. Concertus Design & Property Consultants worked for client Suffolk County Council for the last two phases providing fully integrated consultancy services that included architectural and landscape design, as well as project management.

Matthew Self, executive director commercial at Concertus, said: “This fantastic result is the culmination of an almost six-year process which has involved a lot of input and hard work from everyone involved, from the Children and Young People’s Services at Suffolk County Council, through the building and sub-contractors who have worked on-site, to the head teacher and school project team at Pakefield.”

Nick Fayers, managing director of Barnes Construction, added: "As a construction company with its roots firmly embedded in Suffolk, the team has gained a great sense of satisfaction to have been involved in a project that has had such a positive impact on the young people of Pakefield.”

Work starts on Cambridge school

Work is starting on a new school building in Cambridge after The Stephen Perse Foundation gave the go-ahead for a new state-of-the-art learning facility at its senior school site on Union Road. Bidwells is managing the development which includes 10 flexible teaching rooms, a four-court multi-purpose sports hall, hub spaces for social or study on each floor and a library courtyard. The scheme also includes the first rooftop multi-use games area in Cambridge. Kier Eastern is the main contractor, the architect was chadwickdryerclarke studio , engineer: Smith and Wallwork, M&E consultant is Mott MacDonald and AECOM is the QS. Ben Hayek, project manager, said: “Demolition is nearly complete in time for the disruptive sheet piling installation to take place over the summer holidays, while the students and staff are off-site." Completion is planned before September 2017.

Profits growth at garden centre group

Woodbridge, Suffolk-based Notcutts, which says it is the UK’s largest family-owned garden centre group, has reported a 20 per cent rise in operating profit to £1.29 million on a turnover up by 6.3 per cent, in the year to February. The firm has been redeveloping its garden centres, which include sites in Nottingham and Cheshire. Chairman Nicky Dulieu said: “Our newly developed centres continue to prove really popular with our customers and this has reinforced our strategy to redevelop our garden centres over the next five years.”

Employment law conference

Birketts is hosting its second employment law conference at Rowley Mile Racecourse on 13 October. The day will include an update on the latest developments and a Q&A session on the state of play in employment tribunals. Keynote speaker David Thorneloe, head of the legal team for employment law at the department for business, energy and industrial strategy, will talk on his department’s view of the employment law landscape. The cost is £99+VAT per delegate.  www.birketts.co.uk/events

Separately, Birketts has announced the promotion of Stefan Harris-Wright, who joined the firm’s construction and engineering team in 2010, to partner. He said: “It’s an exciting time for the firm and I look forward to playing a central role in helping to continue the growth of our construction practice.”

See Profile Birketts

Over 150 businesses on the Hollands Road Industrial Estate in Haverhill have secured access to superfast broadband after a  two year campaign by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Prevously, the site had not been a priority in BT Openreach’s roll-out programme.

Investment manager Hargreave Hale said its Norwich branch has attracted over 250 clients and £85m in funds under administration during its first 12 months. The branch opened following the recruitment of Richard Larner and Paul Pearce from Brewin Dolphin.

Larkfleet Homes has extended its land and planning team with two new appointments; senior land manager David Morris and planning manager Hannah Guy. David Morris recently worked for Perimmon Homes and his new role will include sourcing and securing new residential land opportunities for Larkfleet Homes and the newly formed Larkfleet Homes Norfolk and Suffolk.

Over half of East of England businesses have no agreed written fraud risk policy in place to prevent and detect fraud, while 7 per cent say they aren’t sure whether they have one, according to the Eastern branch of R3.