The Journal Annual North East Business Review 2014: December

We look at the stories that dominated North East business news in December 2014

Mark Hatton (left) and Trevor Sherlock
Mark Hatton (left) and Trevor Sherlock

In December, professional services giant EY revealed plans to create 200 jobs at its Newcastle operations.

The big-four auditor will be moving into the second floor of its current Citygate premises on St James Boulevard, adding 200 staff over the next two years.

The new staff will be working in EY’s Personal Tax Centre, which provides tax compliance and advisory services to firms and individuals.

Once the move is complete, the firm’s Newcastle operation will span four floors, totalling 42,250 sq ft

Sage, at the Great Park, Gosforth
Sage, at the Great Park, Gosforth.
 

New Sage boss Stephen Kelly said the firm’s 6.7% rise in full-year organic operating profits to £360m represents a “great set of results”.

Mr Kelly, who joined the FTSE100 giants in November from the civil service, said the inherited results – which include increased revenues of £1,306m – were confirmation of the firm’s model and strategy.

The former government chief operating officer revealed that within the first few weeks of his new role he had taken questions from Sage staff at the firm’s Great Park headquarters in Gosforth, which he described as “jaw-dropping”.

Mr Kelly had also hosted lunch with a group of North East firms, which he said had reaffirmed his faith in Sage’s SME customer base.

The latest results showed a 5% rise in organic revenue from £1,246m to £1,306m on the back of increased software subscriptions and up-selling of support to customers.

IANMACPHOTOS.CO.UK Atom Bank chairman Anthony Thomson
Atom Bank chairman Anthony Thomson
 

Atom Bank revealed that it had raised £25m from top investors to launch its challenge to traditional high street banks.

The Durham-based challenger has attracted backing from top fund manager Neil Woodford, plus a number of North East investors.

The latest round added to Atom’s base of 40 founding investors, and will be followed with a further fundraising exercise in spring 2015, which aims to secure £100m to fund the bank’s balance sheet. Chief operating officer Edward Twiddy said the money would be used to continue recruitment and the cementing of partnerships.

Three major business surveys signalled a more positive 2015 for businesses in the North East.

The polls by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, recruitment firm Manpower and Lloyds Bank pointed to growing confidence, the likelihood of most firms increasing headcount and improving sales and profits.

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey, covering the third quarter of 2014, saw positivity throughout key indicators, though confidence in the economy was seen to be at its lowest level since quarter one of 2013.

The Employment Outlook Survey from recruitment group Manpower claimed employment prospects in the North East had hit a seven-year high while the Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking North East PMI survey showed private sector firms in the region enjoyed growth momentum in November, with business activity and new orders both increasing at the fastest rates since August.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer