A land of opportunity

November 5, 2019

Chris McCourt, corporate finance partner at Armstrong Watson accountants, business and financial advisers, reflects on the optimism in the region – despite ongoing uncertainty around Brexit

Without doubt, the North East of England is a fantastic place to live and work and it’s why last year Armstrong Watson accountants, business and financial advisers decided to expand its presence in the region, building on the success of our well-established office in Hexham by opening a new office in the centre of Newcastle.

And when I was approached to join the team to grow the new office, as corporate finance partner, I jumped at the chance.

It was an opportunity to join a business that shares my vision of the potential, the creativity and innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit of our region.

Armstrong Watson recognised these opportunities, which could also help our clients thrive in what are undeniably uncertain economic times.

While we are yet to learn the outcome of Brexit, Armstrong Watson is confident that there will be plentiful opportunities for growth. Indeed, it’s clear when looking around the skylines of our major urban areas, or by reading the local press, that there are symbols of development, renewal and optimism across the North East.

On Wearside, we have the new crossing over the River Wear, which opened a year ago, and developments such as THE BEAM
on the former Vaux site and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park. There has also been further investment by businesses such as Lear Corporation, which decided to extend its research and development facilities in Sunderland, and Clearly Drinks, which has invested in its plant since receiving private equity support for a management buy-out in 2017.

Durham is getting in on the act too with a 20-year plan for the redevelopment of the current County Hall at Aykley Heads into a business park, and the recent conversion of Old Shire Hall to a hotel. Businesses such as the insurance technology innovators Honcho Markets and innovative fabrication and machining business Dyer Engineering have also received investment to support growth from the Finance Durham Fund.

In Tyneside and Northumberland, development continues with the ongoing transformation of the former Newcastle Breweries site with the Helix development, and we can see the change that has taken place behind Central Station in Newcastle, with the mix of office and leisure development as part of the Stephenson Quarter.

Businesses such as electric powertrain experts Avid Technology, in Cramlington, have also been supported by significant investment injected into their growth plans, and Newcastle-based healthy eating chain The Naked Deli has bucked the national trend in its sector and has started to expand their business outside of our region.

It seems to me that across our region, owner- managed businesses are focused on opportunity, whatever happens with Brexit.

I am fortunate that, at Armstrong Watson, I get to meet business owners and directors who want to talk about the future – from how to access finance to support growth, through to finding the right path for the future ownership of their business. Maybe this gives me a slightly rose- tinted view on the economic confidence of our region’s businesses. I don’t think it does, though – do you?

Armstrong Watson LLP
0191 434 0830

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