Annual Review 2015 Part Two: Top honours for Stowmarket maltster Muntons

Melissa Abbott and Mary Narey of Muntons receive the EADT Business of the Year trophy from Sarah How

Melissa Abbott and Mary Narey of Muntons receive the EADT Business of the Year trophy from Sarah Howard of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce (right) and Amber Brinkley of EDF Energy. .

In the second of a two-part review of 2015, Sarah Chambers takes a look at some of the stories which made headlines in the EADT’s business pages between July and December last year.

JULY

Malt and malted ingredients company Muntons of Stowmarket claimed the top honour at the 2015 East Anglian Daily Times Business Awards. It won the overall Business of the Year title, having also been named winner of the Large Business category earlier in the evening.

Pubs and brewing group Greene King posted another year of record revenues, with sales within its key retail division topping £1billion for the first time. Group-wide revenues for the 52 weeks to May 3 totalled £1.315billion, a 1.1% increase on the reported figure for the previous year while pre-tax profits, excluding exceptional items, were 2.7% lower at £168.5million.

Family-owned garden centres company Notcutts announced the death of its former chairman,Charles Notcutt. Mr Notcutt, who was born in 1934, joined the Woodbridge-based firm in 1958 and retired exactly 50 years later in 2008, when he became non-executive president.


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The East of England witnessed the slowest rate of growth of any region or nation in Great Britain during the first three months of 2015, according to a study by the Royal Bank of Scotland group. The latest RBS NatWest Regional Growth Tracker report says the East achieved growth of just 0.2% from January to March compared with the previous three months.

Southwold-based holiday accommodation firm Suffolk Secrets announced it has just topped the 400 property mark.

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General manager George Bradley said the business had taken on nearly 20 new properties in June alone.

One of the biggest container ships in the world was officially named at a ceremony at the Port of Felixstowe. Megaship the Marchen Maersk, operated by Maersk Line on its Asia-Europe service, is capable of holding 18,000 standard containers.

Figures showed market-leading growth in passenger numbers contributed to a near- 30% increase in annual earnings at Stansted Airport. Stansted’s earnings figure for the year to March 31, which is before interest charges, taxation and depreciation, grew by 28.8% to £114.5million, boosted by a 16.1% increase in passenger numbers to 20.92m. Revenue at Stansted grew by 10.9% to £271.7m.

Staff at Ipswich-based turf maintenance machinery maker Ransomes Jacobsen marked the end of an era, with the last Ransomes Commander mower having rolled off the production line. The five-gang Commander model has been a stalwart of wide area cylinder mowing for local authorities and grounds care contractors since it was launched in 1994.

AUGUST

Independent management, design and construction consultancy Pick Everard announced it is set to expand into the aviation sector. Pick Everard, which has a base in Bury St Edmunds, has been appointed to the architectural framework panel of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which includes Stansted Airport.

Southwold-based brewer Adnams revealed plans to open a shop in Bury St Edmunds – the home of rival Suffolk brewer Greene

King – as it reported a 12% increase in profit for the first half of the year to £962,000.

A Suffolk bakery which branched out into chocolate making has achieved a top UK accolade for two of its products.

Pump Street Bakery in Orford secured maximum three-star ratings in the 2015 Great Taste Awards for both its Madagascar Milk 58% and Madagascar Criollo 74% chocolate.

Suffolk-based STC Teamwear won a three-year contract to design and supply kit to both the Oxford and Cambridge university rugby teams. The Stowmarket company, which is part of the Touchline Group, becomes the first sportswear firm to supply both Varsity teams with clothing for both on and off the pitch.

Stansted Airport recorded its highest July passenger total for seven years last month – and also saw cargo trade boosted by problems affecting the Channel Tunnel. The passenger total of 2.19million represented a 12.5% increase on the same month last year, making it the busiest July at the airport since 2008.

Holiday Parks group Fellstead, which includes two sites in Suffolk, signed a deal to sponsor snooker star Joe Perry, who would now carry the Fellstead logo on his waistcoat at tournaments around the world, and will also appear at Fellstead’s parks which include the Carlton Meres Country Park, near Saxmundham, and Carlton Manor Holiday Park at Carlton Colville near Lowestoft.

Two machines built at the Ipswich factory of Ransomes Jacobsen were delivered to the Rio Olympic Golf Course in Brazil. The Jacobsen TR3 mowers form part of a fleet of 18 Jacobsen machines which were supplied to the course under an exclusive contract.

Aldeburgh Music named Kate Morgan as retail director for Snape Maltings. The appointment came four months after Aldeburgh Music, whose concert hall forms the centrepiece of the complex, acquired the whole Snape Maltings site from the Gooderham family.

SEPTEMBER

Three senior figures resigned from roles within the Suffolk branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) following the introduction of a new regional steering group. The trio included Chris Soule, who had been chairman of the Suffolk branch for the past six years, together with vice chairman Christopher Storey and secretary Karon Sanders.

Family-run Ipswich plant hire firm Fork Rent was bought by investors who said the jobs of the 110 staff were safe and that they were keen to grow the company. Its new chief executive, Steve Corcoran, said he will be looking to expand it alongside another recent purchase, London-based firm, One Call Plant Hire, which has around 120 employees.

East Anglian care provider Kingsley Healthcare sealed a multi-million pound deal for the purchase and refurbishment of new offices in Lowestoft. Chief executive Daya Thayan said the move into the former Suffolk County Council-owned Clapham House in the town centre was a statement of the firm’s commitment to the area as it pursues a £200m-plus expansion plan to become a national brand within five years.

The employment rate in the East of England reached a new record high of 77.0% in the three months to July, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

Paul Donno, the chairman of Haverhill Chamber of Commerce was elected chairman of the panel which keeps the Bank of England in touch with the views and concerns of businesses in Suffolk. Suffolk Chamber of Commerce stages the panel meetings with the Bank of England three times a year, to keep the bank informed about the state of the local economy.

The High Commissioner for South Africa has paid a visit to Suffolk and Norfolk. His Excellency Obed Mlaba’s day-long tour was co-ordinated by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and was designed to help forge business, educational and cultural links between the eastern region and South Africa.

The “Suffolk 500” initiative was launched with the aim of securing commitments from employers around the county to recruit 500 new apprentices within the next 100 working days. It is being led by the Apprenticeships Suffolk Business Service (ASBS), working in partnership with Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Suffolk businessman David Coe received a Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his career at Coes, the family-owned retail business based in Ipswich. Mr Coe, 77, who started work at the age of three, when he began folding handkerchiefs and counting clothing coupons in the family’s original store in Norwich Road, Ipswich, picked up the award at The Drapers Independents Awards.

OCTOBER

The value of Suffolk’s tourism industry grew to £1.85bn a year, according to new figures, with the total, for the 2013 season, representing a rise of £50m over 2012. Data from an economic impact report showed that more than 38,000 people were employed in jobs relating to tourism during 2013, representing 12.3% of the county’s overall employment, or nearly one job in every eight.

More than 50 jobs were saved in Suffolk and north-west Essex following the closure of care support charity Crossroads Care East Anglia.

Ipswich-based social enterprise Leading Lives acquired the support packages previously operated by the charity in Suffolk and the Uttlesford district of Essex, with 52 staff transferring to the organisation.

Infection control company Tristel plc, based at Snailwell, near Newmarket revealed it is seeking approval to enter the US market. The firm hopes it will achieve approval for its ultrasound and wipes technologies around June 2017.

Lowestoft-based dry dock and lay-by berth operator Small & Co Marine Engineering was acquired by Britain’s largest independent ship repairer. Burgess Marine said the deal, the value of which was not disclosed, offers long-term security for the 50 employees at Small & Co, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Brian Moore and Matthew West, both directors of Ipswich-based Cloud Media Insight, became Freemen of the City of London at a ceremony held at the city’s Guildhall. They were eligible to apply for the freedom – a status which dates from 1237 – due to their long-term association with the Guild of Public Relations Practitioners.

The East of England’s position as a leading centre for offshore wind farms was being threatened by a lack of clarity on Government policy, an industry leader warned. Speaking at the RenewablesUK conference, head of the East of England Energy Zone James Gray called for action on the next round of subsidies, or Contracts for Difference.

It was confirmed that long-awaited full details of the Sizewell C nuclear power station project will be revealed early next year following the announcement of Chinese investment to develop the twin reactor. French energy giant EDF Energy signed an investment agreement with the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) to build Hinkley Point C in Somerset – but also agreed a wider partnership for the joint development of the new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk and another at Bradwell in Essex.

Anglian Water became the first UK water company to look at using 3D printing technology to make parts. In a collaboration with The Sheffield Water Centre, the firm has created a protoype for filter nozzle – a small but essential part of the water treatment process.

NOVEMBER

A new £4m ambient-temperature food cargo examination facility was officially opened at the Port of Felixstowe by Transport Minister Robert Goodwill. The 3,045 sq m building was developed to ensure vital imported products stay as fresh as possible.

Around 200 business leaders, council chiefs, and academics attended the Ipswich Vision conference to look at the progress of the town’s attempts to reshape itself.

Suffolk-based high-wire forest adventure company Go Ape was named among the winners in the 2015 National Business Awards.

Go Ape, which operates 28 tree-top courses, won the Customer Focus award, for businesses demonstrating how they strive to exceed customer expectation and deliver industry-leading standards of service.

UK Power Networks, the company responsible for operating the electricity distribution network across the East of England, warned that around 200 jobs are at risk. It said that any redundancies would be “voluntary where possible”.

The long-term future of more than 800 jobs in Suffolk and north Essex were put in doubt after plans to close nearly 140 HM Revenue & Customs offices across the country were announced. A total of 15 HMRC offices in the East of England are due to close by 2028, to be replaced by a new regional centre based at Stratford, in east London.

Potato crisp maker Fairfields teamed up with yet another food and drink producer from the region, with the launch of Adnams Ghost Ship-flavoured crisps. Fairfields, which makes all its crisps from potatoes grown on its family farm at Wormingford, near Colchester, already produced flavours including Sea Salt & Aspall Cyder.

Three Suffolk firms broke into the bi-annual Investec Mid-Market 100 list of the UK’s 100 fastest-growing midmarket private companies.

They were surfacing contractor Toppesfield from Claydon, Sanctuary Personnel, a health and social care recruitment specialist from Ipswich and equipment hire firm Fork Rent, also from Ipswich.

It was announced that more than 50 jobs are to be axed at the Haverhill site of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi. Staff were told that a majority of the work on rare disease medicines currently carried out in Haverhill is to be transferred to a site in Ireland.

DECEMBER

The Eyptian Minister of Transport, Dr Saad Mohamed Elgioshy, paid a visit to the Port of Felixstowe where held talks with executives from Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), owner of the port.

A plan to build a £45million Hampton by Hilton hotel close to the main terminal at Stansted Airport was unveiled. When completed the hotel will be the fifth on the airport site and is expected to create around 60 new jobs.

Greene King yesterday reported a “strong” first half, with the acquisition of the Spirit Pub Company contributing to a near-50% increase in turnover. Group-wide revenue for the 24 weeks to October 18 totalled £917.7million, up 49.2% on last year’s first half, with operating profit 46.1% higher at £180.2m and pre-tax profits, before exeptional items, 46.9% up at £121.3m.

The first phase of a 68-acre logistics park at the Port of Felixstowe received planning permission. Phase one of the Port of Felixstowe Logistics Park will occupy 51 acres of the site, with the remaining area to be developed under a second phase.

A Suffolk-based dog care business was among the winners at the 2015 National Pet Industry Federation Awards. Suffolk Canine Creche, from Martlesham, was named Pet Service Business of the Year at the event, held at the Crown Plaza hotel in Liverpool.

East Anglia-based broker Alan Boswell Group was named Independent Insurance Broker of the Year at the annual Insurance Times Awards. The company, which has offices in Norwich, Bury St Edmunds, Attleborough and Peterborough, was recognised for its landlord insurance, its market-leading policy for Broads boat owners and its training and apprenticeship scheme.

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