The glamour deals on office suites and new buildings for companies in the life sciences, IT and supporting financial and professional services sectors make for good stories and crisp, clear images.
Such deals tickle the fancy of us agents and we do love to profile them. We bathe in the reflected glory of every shiny deal whether or not we’ve been involved in the specific transaction because we are part of this region’s sparkling property scene.
Meanwhile, the trading name of ‘British Steel’ has been ‘revived’. Considerations of the importance of indigenous heavy industries to the economic and military power and profile of a western democracy in the 21st Century are part of the current national debate in a way not discussed for the past 30 years. It’s not a glamorous industry and it can be a dirty business at times but whether it is vital to produce it ‘at home’ is the question many are asking.
Unglamorous but most definitely vital are two regionally-based businesses who – among a total of five trading from the eastern region – received national profile in the most recent Sunday Times and BDO Profit Track 100. Cambridgeshire-based earthworks, haulage and plant hire firm Mick George, whose HQ is in St Ives, and Maritime Group, a container company with an impressive vehicle fleet whose container logistics and distribution nerve centre is in Felixstowe, occupy the 96th and 63rd slots, respectively.
Mick George and Maritime Group made the grade in The Profit Track 100’s hit parade charts because they were identified in the ranks of the UK’s private companies with the fastest growing profits over the past three years.
While their fleets will be as spick and span as possible, these aren’t the usual shiny and glamourous businesses who dominate the regional business headlines on a day-to-day basis. But, on that very same basis, what they do is crucial.
These businesses provide the hard core network – quite literally in the case of Mick George – without which other commercial activities would flounder. Indeed, domestic lives would flounder, too, so rapacious is our appetite for goods and buildings and, well, just stuff.
In this region we have a gateway to the world through our ports and docks and to the UK’s hinterland through an improving trunk road network accessing motorway routes south, west and north. Those companies here who provide hard core commercial services are well-placed to capitalise on new and improving property facilities in the region.
Facilities such as Roxhill’s Gateway Peterborough, a 240-acre warehouse and distribution park at Junction 17 of the A1(M) or developer Building Partnership’s StowmarketEAST, which will have A14 frontage and is a 54-acre site that is part of the development of a wider area which includes a larger 195-acre commercial business park.
Only last month, developer CEG announced that plans had been submitted for a 130,000 sq ft scheme within Ipswich’s Ransomes Europark. As the first new major speculative industrial scheme in Ipswich for over a decade, CEG commented that interest in its second-hand units at the Europark had prompted it to bring this new scheme forward.
It is easy for us all – and not just the property types – to get distracted by something shiny and sanitised but we forget the knights of the road and the aggregate kings at our peril. They are the ones who keep us moving and building – and that’s hard core work.