Small businesses in North East could face crisis in six months

Representatives of small businesses in the north east of England have warned the government that they could be facing a major crisis in just six months if essential costs keep rising.

The Federation of Small Businesses' North East regional organiser, David Longstaff, said rising inflation and unprecedented fuel costs were threatening the whole economy of the region. He said a fuel price stabilizer should urgently be put in plac... Continue Reading

Remaining pubs to be sold as Cougar Leisure enters administration

Pub and music venue owner, Cougar Leisure, has fallen into administration despite a last ditch attempt to sell off some of its assets.

Last June, the Chorley-based company sold off 11 of its pubs and bars through Christie & Co, including the Townhouse pub located in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, to North-east based pub operator Wear Inns, as well as pubs in Romford, Liverpool and Edinburgh.

Following financial difficulti... Continue Reading

Banks 'nearing agreement' to improve lending to SMEs

A quartet of the biggest banks in the country are moving closer to an agreement with the government to lend up to £180 million to small businesses in 2011.

The agreement, known as 'Project Merlin,' is aiming to secure a commitment from banks to ensure improved lending to small and medium-sized businesses.

HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays are the banks involved in the talks, which could culmi... Continue Reading

Business sale prompts huge windfalls for employees

Employees of pioneering Scottish micro-screen company, Forth Dimension Displays, have landed windfalls averaging £20,000 after the company was sold for £7 million to US-based LCD developer, Kopin.

The company had established an exemplary international reputation for its high-resolution screens and simulation technology. They signed a landmark deal last year with the US Army to provide simulator training helmets for helicopter pilo... Continue Reading

Acquisition strengthens Acal's electronics division

Technology and electronics firm Acal has strengthened its electronics division with the acquisition of a provider of electronic communications and fibre optic components.

Acal, which specialises in supplying wireless LAN equipment, web servers, magnetics and satellite communication systems, has acquired CompoTron from BW Holding.

CompoTron, which supplied its goods to the European industrial electronic markets, was pu... Continue Reading

Hotdog firm acquired out of administration

Following its administration late last year, hotdog manufacturer Westler Foods has been acquired by a new company.

The Malton, Yorkshire-based business - which produced food products in canned and pouched form for brands including Chesswood, BigMex, Westlers and Multi Menu - originally fell into administration due to a funding gap linked to its pension scheme.

Howard Smith and Mark Firmin of KPMG's restructuring p... Continue Reading

Pub sale restrictions to be reviewed

A legal loophole that allows breweries to prevent the re-opening of pubs they have sold off is to be reviewed by the government.

Communities and Local Government Minister, Bob Neill, announced the review into the 'restrictive covenants' after groups of supporters of local pubs claimed that large breweries were using them to limit competition.

He said that changes to the restrictive covenants would allow local ... Continue Reading

Carlisle hotel up for sale

One of Carlisle's best-known hotels has come onto the market after a gym and leisure facility based there was closed down last year.

The Cumbria Park Hotel, located on Scotland Road in Stanwix, is one of the Best Western chain of hotels. Described as 'a well presented city centre hotel', The three-star Cumbria Park Hotel comprises 53 bedrooms, restaurant and lounge bar, event and function rooms and landscaped gardens a... Continue Reading

M&A activity predicted to grow this year, says KPMG

The number of mergers and acquisitions looks set to rise over the coming months as businesses aim to restart their growth plans in 2011, according to a corporate finance expert.

Head of corporate finance at KPMG's Leeds office, Christian Mayo, said that deals of 'a strategic nature, to facilitate growth,' would dominate in 2011, with volumes increasing even further towards 2012.

"I expect 2011 to be the ye... Continue Reading

SMEs planning to grow businesses next year as confidence rises

Confidence among small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners appears to be growing, following research which revealed that a quarter plan to hire more staff in 2011.

Orange surveyed more than 2,000 SME owners and discovered that 26 per cent of them had plans in place to hire more employees than they had done this year.

Alongside plans to grow their businesses with staff acquisitions, many owners reported that they f... Continue Reading

Public sector procurement open to SMEs

The Government has announced that it is opening up public sector procurement contracts to small and medium-sized enterprises and a survey has found that over 50 per cent of SMEs intend to bid for such contracts.

The survey was carried out by online business marketplace and found that
SMEs voiced some concern that bigger players will win the most lucrative contracts.

SMEs are sometimes seen to hav... Continue Reading

Changes could allow SMEs to bid for more public sector work

Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to bid for increasing amounts of public sector work following changes to government procurement rules.

Originally rolled out in 2003, the two-tier procurement code was a disincentive for small businesses to bid for government contracts. This was because the salary and conditions of employees taken on by private firms who then take over public-sector contracts. would be matched to the fo... Continue Reading

Investor considers acquisition of Powerfuel assets

A company financially backed by a US-based private equity firm is considering acquiring the assets of collapsed mining company Powerfuel.

Powerfuel, the UK's most advanced clean coal company and the owner of Hatfield Colliery, fell into administration last week after being unable to plug a large funding gap. The firm needed to raise £635 million to pay for the construction of the country’s first clean coal plant, but was una... Continue Reading

Rise in SMEs for sale expected by FPB

A representative from the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has said the organisation expects to see a rise in the number of businesses put up for sale as times continue to be tough for smaller businesses.

The FPB spokesman, Phil McCabe, said small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were still likely to struggle as the economic recovery has failed to pick up any particular speed and draconian austerity measures have already started t... Continue Reading

Floating bar, restaurant and tourist attraction up for sale

The Dixie Queen, the Thames-berthed mock paddle steamer which doubles as a restaurant, bar and tourist attraction, is up for sale.

The boat, which is a replica of a 19th-century Mississippi paddle steamer, is based at Butler's Wharf Pier in London and offers dining, private events and tourist trips. It is for sale for offers over £2.6 million.

The Dixie Queen has been moored on the Thames for the last ten years, s... Continue Reading