Tuesday 28th June 2022
Home Weekly Business<br />E-newsletter ebusiness weekly news 10/05/2022

Pace of growth slows as inflation rises but firms still hiring

The growth in business activity in the East of England slowed to a three month low in April as the recent upturn in new orders weakened but firms remained confident on their prospects for the year ahead and are continuing to recruit new staff, according to a key survey of purchasing managers. Meanwhile the rate at which firms are increasing prices rose to a new high. The NatWest East of England PMI business activity index fell from to 57.1 in April from 60.1 in March. Although firms noted greater activity, growth was the second-slowest recorded in the current upturn that started in March last year. But optimism amongst firms in the East strengthened slightly on hopes that the easing of Covid restrictions would support demand and supply-side pressures will ease. The pace of job creation in the region slowed to a five-month low but remained strong overall and backlogs of work rose as staff shortages and delayed deliveries took their toll. The rate of input cost inflation quickened to the second-fastest on record driven by higher energy, transport, raw material and labour costs and the rate of inflation of prices charged by firms accelerated to a series high. John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East Regional Board: "The East of England recorded a robust expansion in business activity during April….That said, there was a clear loss in momentum as the upturn was the weakest in three months amid a slowdown in new order growth. Hiring activity also increased at a slightly slower pace in the latest survey period.”

Separately, a stark rise in commodity and energy prices in April pushed an inflation index from advisory firm BDO to an all-time high. The firm’s inflation index saw the largest monthly increase in its ten-year history, jumping 4.29 points to 115.26. The last time the index saw a jump comparable to this was in October 2016, with a monthly uptick of 3.93 points in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

Food group plans UK’s largest ‘vertical farm’ in Newmarket

Plans have been unveiled to build the UK’s largest indoor ‘vertical farm’ on a disused warehouse site in Newmarket which will be able to grow up to 415 tonnes of food for local people annually. Construction on a first phase involving up to 6,400 sq of growing area in nine-metre-high growth towers will start later this year. A second phase of the private and publicly funded scheme is planned to increase capacity to 13,000 sq m and production to over 1,000 tonnes of crops pa.  Food producer OneFarm will work with indoor agritech specialist, IGS as well as Suffolk County Council and New Anglia LEP with funds raised through Abundance Investment. The farm is expected to be fully operational in early 2023 as the first of 25 vertical farm hubs OneFarm envisages across the UK. It will grow a range of herbs and salads on-demand to avoid waste and unnecessary harvesting and agreements are in place to supply retailers. Iain Dunnett, senior growing places fund coordinator at New Anglia LEP, said: “The LEP recognises that OneFarm’s Newmarket development will make a significant contribution to our clean growth ambitions for the Eastern region of the UK. The LEP is fully supportive of the farm business, a highly innovative development for the important agritech sector. The farm will contribute to the world-leading science and research base that exists in the East of England in relation to sustainable food production, land use and climate resilience.”

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Housebuilders drive up greenfield land values in the East

Greenfield land values in the East of England have outperformed the national average and risen faster than any other region in the UK in the last year, according to Savills. The agent says high levels of demand coupled with constrained supply have led to the increase – with housebuilders bidding competitively for sites to secure their pipelines. Greenfield sites in the region have seen average price growth of 11.5 per cent in the last year – with growth of 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2022. Urban land values in the region rose by 6.4 per cent over the last 12 months (and 7.2% nationally) and by 1.8 per cent in the last quarter. Richard Janes, who leads the development team at Savills in Cambridge, said: “Major housebuilders continue to be the most competitive in the land market, with many still having surplus money to spend and requiring land to plug gaps in their immediate pipelines, especially  given that many sites are already significantly forward sold for 2022. However smaller and medium sized players are also very active." He added: “Interestingly we have also been seeing interest from alternative uses. Demand from industrial and logistics developers for example has been high in some parts of the region – putting even more pressure on constrained residential land supply.  Strong prices are being paid for well-connected sites close to major road networks and motorway junctions.”

Ladies fashion retailer expands in Peterborough

An expanding online retailer, Yours Clothing, has agreed to a new 10-year lease for a recently refurbished warehouse unit of almost 130,000 sq ft at Orton 130 at Orton Southgate in Peterborough. William Rose at Savills Peterborough, who let the space for Paloma Capital,  said: “The demand for sizeable units in the region remains incredibly high, which coupled with the lack of Grade A supply, means we were able to secure a strong deal on behalf of our client.”

Steve Hawkins, partner and head of UK agency at Eddisons, who advised Yours Clothing, said: “The expansion of the business has been a phenomenal success and the company is one of the fastest growing ladies fashion retailers in the UK. The addition of Orton 130 to the distribution part of the business will help to accelerate this expansion further and is great news for Peterborough and the local economy.”

Developer agrees promotion deal on 25 acre site in Bury

Developer Jaynic has agreed a land promotion deal on a 25-acre site off the A134 at Fornham St Martin near Bury with potential for about 340,000 sq ft of employment development. The developer will be seeking to have the site on Fornham Road allocated in the West Suffolk Local Plan Review, the first draft of which is expected shortly. Nic Rumsey, managing director of Jaynic, said: “There is huge demand for employment land along the A14 corridor and we believe that this site can satisfy some of that demand. West Suffolk and Suffolk County Council both recognised the attractiveness of this location and this site benefits from the same advantages. West Suffolk’s recent Employment Land Review identified the land as having potential”.

See Profile Jaynic

Solicitors firm launches new look and promotes three solicitors to partner

Barker Gotelee Solicitors has unveiled a new look to its brand and website and promoted three of its solicitors to partners. The firm says it has worked closely with design consultants to create a fresh, modern feel to its brand and website which reflects its recent evolution and the positive direction of travel at the firm, whilst maintaining its core values and services ‘For Life, Land and Business’. Barker Gotelee continues to grow through the recruitment of a number of new legal professionals in all of its core legal services. As the strength in depth of the firm’s various teams increases, three solicitors, Miles Coates (agriculture and real estate), Luke Cain (property) and Mark Wrinch (dispute resolution), have been promoted to partner. Managing partner Andrew Nicholson said: “I am delighted to be welcoming so many new people to our team here at Barker Gotelee and would also like to offer my thanks to everyone throughout the firm, as well as our professional partners and clients who have all contributed to our continuing success."

Photo (l-r): Miles Coates, Andrew Nicholson, Luke Cain and Mark Wrinch.

Two hundred Suffolk businesses attend net zero event

More than 200 Suffolk businesses attended a recent event at Trinity Park in Ipswich to find out how they can take their first or next steps towards becoming net zero. The How to Be a Net Zero Hero conference, marked the first in-person event as part of Suffolk Chamber's new net zero series and included talks from Suffolk County Council, New Anglia LEP, SaveMoneyCutCarbon, Vertas, Bouygues E&S and Green Sky Executive. Ned Harrison, BEE project manager at Suffolk County Council, who spoke at the event said: Net Zero Carbon is a significant challenge as well as an opportunity for Suffolk’s business community. It was hugely encouraging to see so many businesses engaging enthusiastically on the day and we look forward to working with them and the Chamber to help make the aspiration a reality. I certainly came away newly inspired by seeing how much the businesses in our region are doing already.”  suffolkchamber.co.uk/netzero

Venue shortlisted for prizes at conference & events awards

The Woodlands Event Centre at conference, training and leisure venue Wyboston Lakes Resort west of Cambridge has been shortlisted as a finalist for both Best Conference Venue (401-1100 seats theatre style) and for the Venue Sustainability Award at the Conference & Events Awards 2022 to be held in London in July. Director of marketing Louisa Watson (right) said: “It is tremendously exciting to be recognised as a finalist for two such prestigious awards and it is wonderful testimony to the superb quality of our facilities and to the continuing commitment of our team to our policy of More Sustainable, No Apology." The Woodlands Event Centre was transformed in 2019 to meet the needs of the latest generation of delegates and event organisers. With a variety of rooms fully equipped with the latest technology, it is highly popular and busy with events for many sectors including financial services, pharmaceutical and associations. The resort’s commitment to sustainability has been accredited by gold awards from the Green Tourism Awards and the IACC, and EcoSmart Platinum Venue Award from Greengage Solutions.

See Profile Wyboston Lakes Resort

Southend Airport reopens terminal to holidaymakers bound for Spain and Portugal

London Southend Airport has re-opened its terminal to holidaymakers as easyJet returned to flying from the Essex airport to Malaga six times a week, Palma four times a week and Faro twice a week using an A320 aircraft. Glyn Jones, CEO, said: “London Southend Airport is delighted to welcome back passengers for the first flights from the newly minted City of Southend.”

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager said: "We are delighted to be flying once again from London Southend Airport this summer, providing customers with convenient direct connections to explore or relax in some of Europe’s most popular beach destinations."