East Midlands social enterprises urged to bid for final £4m of vital funding

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Social enterprises in the East Midlands are being encouraged to apply for their share of the final round of The Social Enterprise Support Fund, which opens for applications at 10am today. More than £4m of support is still available as part of the fund, which was established in partnership by The National Lottery Community Fund and delivered through five support agencies, including Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, Community Land & Finance CIC (also known as Resonance), the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and UnLtd with support from CAF Venturesome, the Young Foundation and Ashoka. In excess of £14m is in the process of being awarded to 400 social enterprises across England with the remaining money in place to help social ventures weather the ‘perfect storm’ they face from Covid-19, increased demand for their services, a global recession and the end of short-term Government support. Eligibility has also been widened for the last round of the fund to include organisations with an annual income of between £20,000 and £1.8million, with grants ranging from £10,000 up to £300,000. Daniel Brewer, CEO of Resonance, said: “From the first two rounds of funding we have seen applications from a diverse range of enterprises in the East Midlands, who were in critical need of funding to help them recover from COVID-19. “Their commitment, passion and energy to adapt and react to this crisis, whilst continuing to deliver essential services to their communities and the most vulnerable in society, really has been an inspiration to us.” He continued: “This is the final opportunity to apply to the fund, so therefore we are encouraging all East Midlands enterprises who qualify and require financial support to apply as soon as possible.” According to recent research, a quarter of social enterprises in the UK have cash flow for just three months or fewer. As the furlough scheme and other short-term support ends, four in ten social enterprises say the outlook for their business over the next six months looks uncertain. With this in mind, it is no surprise that The Social Enterprise Fund has so far received nearly 900 applications and, by 8th September, had agreed to support over 400 social enterprises across England. It has also made a commitment to ensuring that the grants reach enterprises that are led by people most impacted by Coronavirus, with more than 70% of those funded to date being organisations who are using the money to keep critical services running or are transitioning to dealing with life during Coronavirus.

New grants revealed for firms forced to close due to local COVID-19 restrictions

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Businesses in England required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions will now be able to receive grants worth up to £1,500 every three weeks, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay has said. To be eligible for the grant, a business must have been required to close due to local Covid 19 restrictions. The largest businesses will receive £1,500 every three weeks they are required to close. Smaller businesses will receive £1,000. Payments are triggered by a national decision to close businesses in a high incidence area. Each payment will be made for a 3 week lockdown period. Each new 3 week lockdown period triggers an additional payment. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “These grants provide businesses with a safety net as they temporarily close their doors to help save lives in their local areas.

“As local economies eventually and carefully re-open after local interventions, our Plan for Jobs is there waiting to help businesses get back on their feet, protect jobs and thrive in the future.”

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “No business should be punished for doing the right thing, which is why today’s package will offer additional breathing space for businesses that have had to temporarily close to control the virus.

“Through our wider Plan for Jobs, we will continue to back our innovators and job creators across the country who are playing a critical role as we build back better from the pandemic.”

East Midlands Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles said: “Businesses forced to close through no fault of their own will welcome any new grant support, but for most this will not be enough to offset the result cash crunch. “In Leicester, the first city to go into local lockdown, we saw many companies preparing for the lifting of restrictions investing lots of money that was ultimately wasted when the lockdown was imposed at the end of June. “Businesses that would otherwise have been healthy and able to survive were instead put into a hugely difficult position and many of these will have been forced to cease trading for good. “We have long lobbied for a comprehensive package of support from Government for firms affected by local restrictions, which are becoming more frequent by each week. “And while we believe the decision to provide grants, rather than just loans, is the right one, ministers may soon find the amount on offer isn’t enough to ensure businesses and jobs are protected. “This only scratches the surface and businesses in cities like Leicester have been at a disadvantage for a long time now, so they should also be able to access this funding retrospectively to account for the harm they have already sustained. “Lastly, the experience of Leicester – when £2.6m was made available for small businesses in the city forced to close – proved the actual funding process was slow and resulted in a lot of confusion about how it should be allocated, so it’s important the Government clarifies these points early on.”

Digital training provider sets up home at Sadler Bridge Studios

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Digital training provider, Althaus, has set up home at Connect Derby’s Sadler Bridge Studios. The company, which was founded earlier this year, is an alternative training provider which offers digital and IT apprenticeships to employers across Derbyshire. Commenting on the move to Sadler Bridge Studios, CEO, Pete Buller said: “We’re delighted to have chosen Sadler Bridge Studios as the home for our new business. The central location is perfect for us and the facilities are excellent, especially the meeting rooms and the super-fast broadband. “Althaus’ mission is to empower the digital leaders of tomorrow by ensuring that both learners and employers have the skills and resources they need to thrive.” Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said: “I’d like to welcome Pete and the team to Sadler Bridge Studios. They are joining a thriving business community that combines traditional creatives with other businesses in creative industries supply chain. “Althaus is an exciting new business and I look forward to seeing the company grow and develop at Connect Derby.”

Nottinghamshire construction firm welcomes new company secretary  

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Nottinghamshire-headquartered construction firm nmcn plc has appointed Richard Monro as company secretary, with effect from September 2020. Richard Monro brings over 30 years of construction experience, having previously worked at Redlands Plc, Marshalls Plc and most recently SIG Plc, where he was Group Company Secretary for 15 years. Richard will be responsible for ensuring best corporate governance practices and efficient administration and will support the strategy and operation of the main board with an in-depth understanding of law, finance and policy as Company Secretary. In his previous roles, Richard has been accountable for health & safety and environment, pensions, group insurance programmes and compliance functions including UK Stock Exchange Listing Rules and GDPR. Richard said: “nmcn is a company well known across the country for its contributions to the built environment and water sectors, so I’m really pleased to be joining them. “I’ll be assisting the main board to achieve their goals and ambitions for the future, and will ensure continued compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. I’m looking forward to learning more about nmcn’s impressive sustainability strategy, financial performance and operational aspects to support future growth opportunities.” nmcn chairman, Robert Moyle, added: “I’m delighted to welcome Richard to nmcn, he will no doubt be an important voice at our board meetings. We look forward to the benefit of his insight, experience and forward-thinking approach. “Richard will work closely alongside the board members, with a focus on maintaining high standards of business integrity, ethical values and professionalism.”

Jobs created as Nottingham agency lands “game-changing” digital brief for global leisure manufacturer

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A Nottingham-based web, ecommerce and digital solutions developer has been named as the digital support partner for international indoor leisure brand Entre-Prises. MP Digital will develop and maintain Entre-Prises’ new global corporate website, as well as create several ecommerce stores and extranet sites for gyms and climbing centres around the world to buy its products and spare parts. It won the contract following a competitive tender process, which saw it pitch against 11 international creative agencies. On the back of securing the deal, the firm, based in Eastwood, has created two new jobs. Entre-Prises is a manufacturer of indoor climbing walls for the leisure sector. It is part of the £230m turnover Abeo Group and operates in more than 30 countries worldwide. Alexandre Mornard, Digital Marketing Project Manager at Entre-Prises, said: “MP Digital is very strong overall. They really listen to our needs and provide a highly customised solution. Collaboration is top-notch. It’s an open two-way conversation with lots of flexibility and almost instant reactivity.” David Maran, MP Digital’s Managing Director, said: “We’re a young, small and dynamic digital agency that has achieved so much already since we started two years ago. This contract win forms the basis of our new working relationship with Entre-Prises and is an absolute game-changer for our business. “It has enabled us to create new jobs at a time when many other businesses are having to lay people off because of Covid-19. It also means that the technology we have designed and created is being used around the world to help a leading leisure chain improve its service delivery to its global customer base.”

Leedale pushes for greater national coverage with new appointments and investments

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Leedale Ltd, the long-established construction support services provider based in Alfreton has progressed its push for greater national coverage with a series of appointments and further investments. Philip Pheasey, who sits alongside Ollie Walkup (Managing Director and son of its founder) on the Leedale board and as director of the group companies, has been appointed group Chief Executive Officer with responsibility for co-ordinating the group’s assets, resources and expertise so it can achieve expansion southwards along the M1 corridor, up to and including London, and outwards through the Midlands and towards the East Coast. As a practising solicitor Philip also acts as General Counsel to the group and brings a skill set aligned with Leedale’s ability to provide solutions to complex projects in the uncompromising commercial environment. Leedale has appointed Kim Smith as its first National Sales Manager, an appointment integral to the expansion process and one that Kim is ideal for because of her in-depth knowledge and expertise of the industry, gained though her involvement in the expansion of a national construction business. Supporting Kim is Yvonne Cotterill, who joins as the first Area Sales Manager (Midlands and Eastern). Yvonne’s comprehensive industry knowledge, coupled with her product expertise compliments her commitment to customer satisfaction and enables the Group to identify, provide and follow up on the service levels that have always set Leedale apart. Aside from new appointments Leedale has also significantly invested in the fleet and recently have welcomed the addition of several of the latest new Johnston Sweepers increasing the number of road sweepers within the fleet to 20 and two Mercedes-Benz 8 wheel tipper grabs taking our overall fleet numbers to over 50. Leedale caters for the needs of developers, builders, landscapers, groundworks contractors, homeowners, gardeners and many more making Leedale the complete construction service provider.

Nottingham cybersecurity firm appoints new CFO

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Nottingham-based Redscan, the cybersecurity and ethical hacking business, has appointed Mark Doughty as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Doughty will help support Redscan’s high-growth strategy, which has seen the business increase its revenue at an average rate of 110% per annum over the last three years and invest significantly in its services, technology and talent. Doughty has more than 25 years’ financial management experience within the technology sector and had previously been working with Redscan in an advisory capacity. He will now join full-time, with a remit to oversee financial operations and help consolidate the company’s position as the UK’s leading provider of MDR and cyber assessment services. “Over the last five years, Redscan has earned a reputation as the go-to provider of outcome-focused security services,” said Redscan CEO, Mike Fenton. “I’m delighted that Mark has agreed to join us permanently to help support the next phase of our growth. His extensive experience of working with high-performing companies means that he will play a key role in ensuring we deliver against our vision and continue to provide the highest levels of support and cyberoffensive insight to our clients.” A chartered accountant and a graduate of the University of Nottingham, as Group Finance Director for MHR, a large UK-based provider of HR and payroll solutions, Doughty oversaw significant top and bottom-line growth and was a member of the company’s Executive Board. More recently, he worked with The FD Centre, the provider of part-time Finance Directors, where he specialised in helping organisations improve their revenues, profitability and valuation. “I’m delighted to be taking a more active role at Redscan at such an important time,” said Doughty. “Strong market demand for high-quality security services, even at such a difficult time for businesses, means I’m hugely optimistic about the future. I look forward to helping the company meet its objectives and ensuring our teams continue to receive the support they need to innovate and better protect our customers.”

New fund helps small businesses bounce back in Leicestershire

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Small businesses are getting a helping hand to bounce back, thanks to a new fund – with over £100,000 already awarded. Leicestershire County Council’s launched the £750,000 pot this summer and so far has given grants of up to £10,000 to 16 companies to help them recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses from North West Leicestershire, Hinckley and Bosworth, Charnwood, Blaby, and Oadby and Wigston in sectors covering agriculture, tourism, hospitality, creative and retail have benefitted from the match funding grant, so far. Small businesses are still being urged to apply for their share of the £750,000 Leicestershire Business Recovery Fund.

Nick Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “The initial reaction to our fund has been great. I am proud to see many small businesses in Leicestershire thinking about their future beyond the coronavirus pandemic and that their entrepreneurial spirit is still strong.It has been a difficult few months for our businesses and we’re committed to helping them get back on their feet in any way we can, so that the economy of Leicestershire can continue to grow and prosper.”
Applications can be made for grants between £2,000 and £10,000, to ensure business recovery, through projects to help the business diversify, improve skills, or new technology or equipment. All small businesses from every sector are encouraged to apply including those from the tourism, retail, agriculture, and creative sector. Businesses who apply will initially talk through their business plans with an advisor who will be able to assist with their application. There is currently no deadline for applications, but businesses should apply as soon as possible as funding will be allocated at a first come first served basis.

Flexible financial support needed for firms to rebuild revenues post-pandemic

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The results of a new poll reveal that many firms have taken on debt during the COVID-19 pandemic and now require flexible funding repayments solutions to rebuild the revenues. The poll, conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in partnership with banking group TSB, found that 42% of those surveyed said that they had accessed finance during the pandemic through government lending schemes such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) or the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). These businesses were almost evenly spread across all sectors, with manufacturing firms slightly more likely to have taken out finance. Those drawing on the schemes were overwhelmingly doing so to support critical day-to-day business operations during the pandemic. 71% said they used finance to support cashflow, 43% for overheads, 40% for paying staff and 32% for paying other debts. 64% of respondents said that the repaying of finance built up during the pandemic might have a negative impact on their business. More than one in four firms (27%) said repaying finance might mean they scale down operations and 26% said they would change their investment plans. Most concerningly, 11% – more than one in ten firms – said they might have to cease trading. Micro firms were more likely to say repaying debt may cause them to cease trading (15%) compared to non-micro firms (6%). Innovative approaches to repayment and recapitalisation may be needed to prevent thousands of firms from falling into a spiral of unsustainable debt, BCC said. The survey found that 18% of respondents said they would prefer a ‘student loan’ style scheme- where the loan becomes a contingent tax liability that is repaid on a means-tested basis – if their business was struggling to repay their loan. 16% said they would prefer a longer fixed term period to repay the loan. In contrast, just 4% said they would prefer to convert the debt into an equity stake in their business. 44% of firms surveyed said they had not attempted to access finance during the immediate crisis, but still face challenging business conditions. While 38% have seen increases in revenue from UK customers, a further 38% have seen a decrease. Half of firms (50%) said their cash reserves have slightly or significantly decreased since July 2020. Faced with this, local lockdowns and the planned withdrawal of various government support schemes in the autumn, more businesses will likely access business banking services in the coming months to support their day-to-day operations and drive the wider economic recovery. Those looking to do so overwhelmingly require a flexible business banking service, offering a mix of face-to-face and in-person capabilities. 48% of firms said they required personalised or face-to-face support. 44% said they valued digital services – like apps and websites –most highly. A further 44% said fast and easy access to capital was most important and 36% said they preferred a presence in the local community. “Over the coming months, government, regulators and banks must work together with business communities to find solutions that help firms repay coronavirus loans sustainably, and access the support and services they need at this challenging time,” said, BCC Director General Adam Marshall.

Logisitcs company lets 377,070 sq ft unit at Magna Park

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UK Commercial Property REIT Limited, managed and advised by Aberdeen Standard Investments, has fully let its 377,070 sq ft XDOCK377 logistics unit at Magna Park in Lutterworth. Armstrong Logistics has signed a 15.5-year lease. The approved UK logistics partner to ALDI, delivering around one third of the ambient goods on ALDI’s store shelves and working with over 100 of ALDI’s key suppliers across the world, already operates from another unit in Magna Park and the occupation of XDOCK377 is essential to satisfy continued growth in ALDI’s UK business. XDOCK377 is a fully refurbished Grade A cross-dock distribution warehouse. Will Fulton, Lead Manager of UKCM at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said: “This is a highly significant letting for UKCM in that it reduces the Company’s void rate by some 35% and will deliver reliable long term income to our investors from a highly reputable counter party that is the key logistics partner to one of Europe’s most prolific retail success stories.” UKCM was advised by CBRE, Savills and Burbage Realty.

Earthworks get underway at 238-acre employment park

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Winvic has been appointed by IM Properties to construct Mercia Park. The 238-acre employment park is located in north west Leicestershire, adjacent to junction 11 of the M42, and will be home to international businesses Jaguar Land Rover and DSV Group. Winvic’s £21 million civils and infrastructure contract comprises an extensive earthworks programme, where over 1 million m3 of material will be excavated and remodelled to accommodate the development plateaux and 3000m of screening bunds. Currently, a Volvo EC950 Crawler Excavator is being utilised on site to carry out a large proportion of the vast earth moving task. Additionally, 7,500m of underground drainage will be installed also by Winvic, three areas of highway improvements and footpaths throughout the park will be constructed and extensive landscaping works – including up to 30 acres of new woodland – will be undertaken. The civils and infrastructure works are due be complete in December 2021. Rob Cook, Winvic’s Director of Civils and Infrastructure, said: “Having completed some vast earthworks programmes in the last few years, Winvic’s reputation in this area is becoming ever more robust. Our clients understand that we deliver schemes of any scale in a safe, expeditious and commercially viable way. “Having worked with IM Properties on many other projects, it’s rewarding to know their team have confidence in everything we deliver; utilising the specialist trimble based machines and remodelling the plateaux intelligently to avoid disposing of excesses of material off-site illustrates our strategic outlook to design, regardless of the sector or size.” Jason Jasper UK Project Director, from IM Properties, added: “When developing a scheme of this scale, it’s important to partner with trusted suppliers who not only have the resources and skills to deliver the project, but share in our commitment to create a best in class scheme, working with the local community and creating a positive lasting legacy we can all be proud of.”

39 positive Coronavirus cases sees workplace testing deployed at Summit Park construction site

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Nottinghamshire County Council is working with partner agencies to deploy testing capacity at the Summit Park development site in Sutton-in-Ashfield to offer free COVID-19 testing to contractors and other employees who work at the site. This move comes in response to 39 positive cases being recorded at the site in the last six days. Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The Council’s public health team has been monitoring the situation at the site. In conjunction with our partners in the National Institute of Health Protection, Ashfield District Council, and the local NHS, we have stepped up our testing strategy. “Nottinghamshire County Council has been working closely with the main contracting employer at the site, Bowmer + Kirkland in order to make testing available. Bowmer + Kirkland has already put in place a high standard of on-site safety measures. By standing down the site to implement a deep clean they have demonstrated how seriously they are taking the matter and we are grateful for their cooperation. “The testing will take place from Tuesday 8 September until Thursday 10 September and will be only for all operatives at the Summit Park site. Summit Park is currently being built by main contractor Bowmer + Kirkland on behalf of development partners Sladen Estates and Peveril Securities. The site is due to become home to a new Amazon Fulfillment Centre.” Bowmer + Group Construction Director, David Scorer, said: “The health and safety of our workforce is our absolute priority and we are working closely with Nottinghamshire County Council Public Health Teams and the NHS to introduce this testing facility. “There are between 600-700 people working at the Summit Park site so we have reinforced our rigorous and effective control measures, including social distancing working practices, removal of canteen facilities, additional deep cleaning and discouraging car sharing. “Our workplace induction programmes include comprehensive COVID-19 secure guidance that everyone on site must adhere to. The testing facility will be a very welcome addition to the existing measures we have in place so we can identify any further positive cases and take action as necessary.” The testing facility at the Summit Park site is only for contractors working there.

Budgets – why you need them now more than ever and how to set them up: By Sarah Leonard, Streets Chartered Accountants

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Sarah Leonard, Director at Streets Chartered Accountants, discusses the importance of budgets and how to set them up in Sage 50, Xero and QuickBooks. We have always promoted the importance of setting budgets, but in the current economic climate they are now more important than ever. If you have applied for a COVID loan you will no doubt have been asked for a budget or forecast, but budget setting should be something you look at on a regular basis. Budgets help you keep your eye on the results, create accountability, and ensure you know how your business is doing. Budgets can also help you question why things didn’t turn out as planned or what unexpected successes occurred. Budgets can also be used to set targets for sales or restrictions for expenditure. Budgets or Forecasts? These words often get used interchangeably, but the main difference is that a budget is a plan for what you hope will happen and a forecast is what you think will happen. A budget is normally set for the year ahead and is fixed, whereas a forecast is amended as the year progresses and you have a better idea of what is happening. Consider a budget set January 2020 and how different this will look, for most businesses, compared to a forecast prepared in April 2020 as the impact of COVID-19 becomes apparent. Budgets (and forecasting) in Accounting Software The three software packages we deal with most frequently (Xero, Sage 50 and QuickBooks) all have in built budgeting options to allow you to build and track budgets, either at top level (by nominal codes) or more detailed (by departments/tracking/classes). These are designed to be used for Profit and Loss budgets which can then be compared to actuals. Some businesses like to compare their actual results to the original budget. Others like to amend the budget periodically and treat it more like a forecast of what they expect the year end results will look like. Cashflow forecasting Cashflow forecasting takes the profit and loss forecasts of a business and turns them into a projection of cashflow. This can be a complicated exercise as this requires the factoring of timing differences such as the delay between billing customers and being paid, the delay between vat on sales and bills and the actual VAT return payments to HMRC, planning for capital expenditure and future payments of corporation tax. The preparation of strong cashflow models require either dedicated cashflow software or complex excel modelling. As such, a lot of our clients turn to us to support the preparation of cashflow forecasts, which we can then update periodically as required. However, the starting position is always the same – what is your budget for the up-coming year?

Digital manufacturing facility to be created at Silverstone Park

MEPC has confirmed that a state-of-the-art digital manufacturing facility – believed to be one of the most technically advanced of its kind in Europe and serving sectors such as aerospace, automotive, defence and marine – will be created inside one of 13 new industrial properties nearing completion at Silverstone Park. The Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC) is the brainchild of high-performance engineering specialist KW Special Projects (KWSP) and will total 17,842 sq ft of manufacturing and office space. Its HQ-style building is one of seven stand-alone properties currently being constructed as part of a 258,000 sq ft development by MEPC in the Enterprise Zone at Silverstone Park which also includes a further six terraced industrial units. The DMC project has received significant funding from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP). KWSP and DMC founder and CEO Kieron Salter has also highlighted Enterprise Zone status among the key reasons for choosing Silverstone Park as a location. “It’s very attractive in terms of de-risking the project in the current climate – it enables us to manage cash flow better in these early stages and ramp up more effectively,” he commented. “We also like how MEPC is developing Silverstone Park as a hot spot for advanced technologies and attracting tech companies as a result. “As members of the Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC), we want to promote that by engaging with a future workforce – particularly young people in local schools, colleges and universities. This is an opportunity to show a younger audience that this is a cool technology that’s being applied in cool sectors like aerospace, motorsport and space.” He added: “There is also the connectivity at Silverstone Park – the M1, M40, rail networks, Milton Keynes, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. It makes it a great place.” The DMC will become the third specialist high tech facility at Silverstone Park since MEPC took over development of the business estate in 2013. Others include the UK’s only dedicated sub-contract inspection metrology facility (a collaboration between MEPC and Hexagon Manufacturing’s Intelligence division) and the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub (SSEH) which opened in autumn 2019. KWSP becomes the second company to be named by MEPC to have agreed terms on one the 13 new industrial properties – the first, Swiss-based international lifestyle drinks brand EIGHTY-ONE, was announced in July. MEPC’s Roz Bird, Commercial Director at Silverstone Park and STC Chair, said: “We are delighted to announce KWSP and the Digital Manufacturing Centre as a new occupier in one of our latest HQ-style buildings on site which form part of ‘Phase 2’ development plans at Silverstone Park. “The scale and magnitude of the Digital Manufacturing Centre is to be applauded – as is its clear desire to showcase engineering to local schoolchildren and students. This aligns perfectly with our own Inspiration for Innovation programme with local schools, in response to concerns from local employers about the skills gap.” In approving public investment for the Centre, KWSP and SEMLEP identify that the DMC will help develop new and high-value engineering opportunities for more than 100 SMEs, and is forecast to contribute £9m GVA (gross value added) over three years for the region. SEMLEP Chief Executive Hilary Chipping said: “Working with innovative businesses like KWSP to make their ideas become reality is exactly what makes the South East Midlands LEP area the successful place it is today. “This is ever more important as innovation will be at the forefront of our national response to getting back to business post lockdown and in a new trade era. SEMLEP’s investment, through the Local Growth Fund, will help local businesses to remain at the cutting edge of technology and create long-term job opportunities.”

Manufacturers call for Job Retention Scheme extension

A failure to extend the Job Retention Scheme risks putting the UK out of step with competitors and hamstringing its recovery from the pandemic, manufacturers warn. The call, made by Make UK, the manufacturer’s organisation, on the back of its latest ‘Manufacturing Monitor’ tracking survey. The survey shows strong support for the measure from industry with over 62% of companies either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the proposal. Just under 14% of companies surveyed disagreed with the proposal. Moreover, almost a quarter of companies (22.8%) of companies said they disagreed with the Government’s decision to end the Scheme and that it should be extended to critical sectors, while 17% said it should be extended to any business. A further quarter (25.9%) said it should be continued should there be further lockdowns or a second wave while almost a further fifth (17.9%) said the scheme should end but another support scheme should be put in its place. The organisation added that an extension to the scheme may help avoid a second wave of redundancies which the survey shows are in the pipeline. Over two fifths of companies (42.4%) of companies asked said that they have already made redundancies while almost a further third (30.2%) said they intend to in the next six months with just over another third of companies (35.6%) saying they may do.

Private investor snaps up Keyworth units

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Units 2, 3 and 4 Debdale Lane, Keyworth have been sold to a private investor. The purchaser will be undertaking an extensive refurbishment of the units, and will be occupying one of the units for his own business. The other two units, from 2,682ft² up to 5,868ft², will be available to rent on flexible lease terms. FHP Property Consultants have been retained as the marketing agents by the new owner. Chris Proctor of FHP Property Consultants, who brokered the deal, said: “I am firstly absolutely delighted to have completed this sale on behalf of my clients, Polly Thomas and Gerry Thomas. “Secondly, I am very excited by the proposition of these units being refurbished to provide high quality industrial space from 2,682ft² up to 5,868ft² in size. I suspect the units will be well received by the market and I look forward to bringing forward interest for our new client.”

Travis Perkins reports pre-tax loss of over £100m

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Northampton-headquartered Travis Perkins has posted loss before tax of over £100m, according to interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2020, with performance in the first half of 2020 significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company reported a loss before tax of £113m, sliding from a profit of £12m in H1 2019. Meanwhile revenue fell 20% to £2.781bn, from £3.484bn in the same period of 2019. Nick Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Throughout the pandemic, the health and safety of our colleagues and customers has been our primary concern. Customer interactions have changed significantly resulting in changes to the way we do business, from increased activity through digital channels through to alterations to our physical store formats in order to maintain safe working practices. “Although our financial performance in the first half of 2020 was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and we have had to undertake a restructuring programme in light of the challenging outlook for the Group’s end markets, we have made significant strategic and operational progress against the four strategic priorities we outlined at our full year results in March 2020. “Although considerable uncertainty around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains, the actions we have taken to adapt and innovate in our businesses mean that the Group is well placed to continue to service our customers, support our colleagues, outperform our markets and generate value for our shareholders.” In June it was revealed that the company was cutting 2,500 jobs and closing 165 branches.

Private equity firm invests in education provider

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Apiary Capital, a specialist mid-market private equity firm, has invested in Access Creative College, the specialist provider of education in the creative industries to 16-19-year olds. Apiary’s investment will allow the business to accelerate its expansion plans under the leadership of CEO Jason Beaumont. Jo Johnson, former Minister of State for Universities, has joined the board as chairman. Access delivers vocational education in the creative industries to over 3,000 students at campuses in Lincoln, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, York, Norwich and at other locations with partnership providers. Apiary’s investment will allow Access to continue to develop its existing facilities, grow enrolments at its campuses, develop new properties, and expand its apprenticeship provision with NCCI to become the number one choice for creative training in the UK. Clearwater International advised Access Creative College on its investment from Apiary Capital. The Clearwater International deal team consisted of Partner and International Head of Business Services Marcus Archer, Partner Rob Burden, Director Richard Ellis and Director Mark Maunsell. Other advisors on the transaction included DLA and Browne Jacobson. Adrian Armstrong, Founder of Access Creative College said: “We’re delighted to receive investment from Apiary Capital to support us in the next period of our development. “With Apiary, we feel we have found the right partner who shares our vision to be a true leader within education for the creative industries, and we are excited about the additional resource the investment will bring to the company. “The team at Clearwater International has done a great job in preparing us for investment and supporting us to complete the deal.” Mark Salter, Managing Partner at Apiary Capital, said: “Access has a great reputation in the further education sector, which has only been enhanced by its impressive response to the challenges caused by lockdown. Jason’s passion and vision for the business are really exciting and we are delighted to be supporting him and his team with their ambitious growth plans.” Jason Beaumont, CEO of Access Creative College, said: “The investment from Apiary is tremendously exciting for the business. “The recently-announced joint venture with NCCI means the group now offers learners the full range of further education options with courses at Levels 2, 3 and 4 plus T-Levels and apprenticeships, and we will continue to develop and expand our provision. We are passionate about ensuring our learners are prepared for their creative careers in this exciting sector.” Jo Johnson, chairman of Access Creative College, said: “The further education sector has a hugely important role to play in our education system. Access is an impressive, innovative provider, and a great example of how working closely with industry and employers can best prepare learners for careers. I am delighted to join as chairman and look forward to helping Jason and the team to realise their vision for the group.” Rob Burden, Partner at Clearwater International, said: “It has been a pleasure to advise Adrian, Jason and the shareholders on this transaction and find a great partner to support the business’s growth strategy. “Access Creative College is a highly reputable education provider in an exciting market with significant growth potential. With Apiary’s investment and support we look forward to seeing the college unlock its full potential.”

RammSanderson makes three new appointments

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Ilkeston based ecology, arboriculture and flood risk consultants, RammSanderson, is strengthening its senior management team following the appointment of two new Principal Ecologists and has also recruited a new graduate environmental consultant. Having joined RammSanderson in 2016 and 2017, Jenni Carr and Joe McLaughlin have been promoted to Principal Ecologists. Their appointments are a key part of the business growth plan and will further stabilise the services and systems that already in place. As part of their new role, Jenni and Joe will have full oversight on all projects. They will be the main point of contact internally for other RammSanderson consultants who are managing the commission, bidding and work allocation on client projects. These senior appointments will also allow the Director team to focus on growth, strengthening client relationship and business development. The firm has also taken on Rachel Cooper as a graduate Environmental Consultant. Having graduated from the University of Worcester with a degree in Environmental Science, Rachel will be working alongside both flood risk and ecology services to bolster their internal capabilities and assist the Directors in carrying out river habitat surveys and water framework directive assessments. Director Nick Sanderson said: “During lockdown the Directors were forced to refocus our passion for field work and had a lot more direct engagement with our clients and teams. Navigating this period  we have remained busy and we realised that now is the right time for us to strengthen our management team in order to continue expansion in a way that enables us to offer a personalised service to clients and ensure our internal teams are fully supported.” Oliver Ramm added: “Our team currently consists of ecologists or arboriculture consultants, so adding Rachel to the team as an environmental consultant adds yet another string to our bow.”

Trio of print companies merge

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Three print companies, including one from the East Midlands, are merging to form one large organisation. Precision Printing which has sites in London and Sunderland, Sheffield-based ProCo Print and Prime Group in Nottingham will become the Precision Proco Group, a multi-million pound operation. The merger will also include the online upload and print portal Where The Trade Buys and North East based digital solutions provider, Climb. The companies have worked together for a number of years and the time is now considered right to formalise this arrangement and combine their expertise, with the promise of “providing further values to both [their] customers’ operational marketing and wider business events.” The new group will be bringing with it more than 60 years of experience in the print industry and will be able to offer nationwide coverage for all of its many services. Gary Peeling of Precision Printing will become Group CEO, Jon Bailey, formerly of ProCo, will take on the role of COO, Jon Tolley of Prime will be Group CIO, Dominic Neary, will take the position of Group CFO having joined from Just Eat, bringing with him a wealth of experience of digital transformational businesses. Also joining the new board as chairman and merger advisor is former British Airways director, Philip Osmond. The driving force behind the move was the recognition that all of the companies shared a “combined passion to print differently for e-commerce.” Gary Peeling said: “Our customers in the main are established brands which are looking to expand their market share though innovation, or businesses re launching or developing an e-commerce brand. “This is particularly relevant in the current climate and we believe that what we can offer through this merger are unparalleled solutions for customers to do this.” Precision and ProCo will operate as Precision Proco, while Prime will retain its name with a new brand identity.