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On the Cover: Garrett Bridgeman, Managing Director, Mails & Parcels, An Post

Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community.

Photography: Maxwells Photography

Editor: Colin White Contributors: Paula Bradley, Shelly Madden, Deanna O’Connor Creative Director: Jane Matthews Designer: Alan McArthur Design Assitant: James Moore Production Executive: Nicole Ennis Account Director: Shane Kelly Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon Email or write to: Better Business, Ashville Media, Unit 55, Park West Road, Park West Industrial Estate, Dublin 12, D12 X9F9. Tel: (01) 432 2200 All rights reserved. Every care has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this magazine is accurate. The publishers cannot, however, accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Reproduction by any means in whole or in part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. © Ashville Media Group 2020. All discounts, promotions and competitions contained in this magazine are run independently of Better Business. The promoter/advertiser is responsible for honouring the prize. ISSN 2009-9118 SFA is a trading name of Ibec.

I was delighted to see so many small businesses reopen in recent weeks and, while this is encouraging, I am very aware that some business owners will not reopen this summer and of the financial difficulties being experienced by many in our sector. As we navigate this unprecedented crisis, know that the SFA continues to work on behalf of the small business community to advocate for the survival of small firms and the reboot of the economy. In this edition, our Sector Spotlight delves into the success of the Irish beauty industry, we look at how the hospitality sector is fighting back post Covid-19 and meet entrepreneurs who are adding to the diversity of the workplace and society. Elsewhere in these pages you will find guidance on how to handle a grievance in the workplace and tips for remote working. Read about how the pandemic has transformed the education sector and learn about how the right financing can help your company through the crisis. We recap on our successful Covid-19 webinars and the SFA Virtual HR Conference: Managing your Business in a Post Covid-19 World. Along the way you will come across a diverse range of businesses, whose experiences may well give you a fresh take on your own venture. This magazine contains stories that inform, inspire and entertain. It showcases and celebrates the achievements of small companies, provides advice to help you in your business and keeps you up-to-date on the latest trends at home and abroad. Ireland is a nation of small businesses. Of over 271,000 businesses in the country, 99% have less than 50 employees (small) and 92% have less than 10 (micro). These companies can be seen in every city, town and village in the country and together they provide employment to half of the private sector workforce. The SFA proudly represents a diverse membership of businesses with less than 50 employees: homegrown and spanning every sector of our economy. Our members can be found in every town and every city in Ireland. We want to make Ireland the most vibrant small business community in the world – an environment that supports entrepreneurship, values small business and rewards risk takers. Better Business is the magazine of the small business community. We welcome your feedback, suggestions and ideas to or on Twitter @SFA_Irl. Sven Spollen-Behrens Director, Small Firms Association


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Big News for Small Business News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland.

Financial fortune It is vital that the SME sector is recapitalised in order to ensure the survival of firms.

Keeping an eye on climate What businesses can learn from the global pandemic of 2020 when it comes to their energy policies.

20 26 30

Sector Spotlight Innovation is the name of the game within Ireland’s blooming beauty industry.

Cover Story Garrett Bridgeman on how An Post has responded to the growth in ecommerce and online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beyond tokenism Better Business catches up with four leading entrepreneurs epitomising diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Trading Places Angela Barnes has honed her skills to become one of Europe’s mostprominent news figures.

Back to Business As Irish businesses begin to reopen and employees gradually return to the workplace, we examine the new ways of working.

36 38 47

Old fashioned values Nicola McDonnell discusses the near closure of the tourism and hospitality sector during lockdown.

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Arts and Culture With a career spanning seven decades, rock ‘n’ roll icon BP Fallon discusses a life at the apex of cool.

The Big Read In A Natural Year, Michael Fewer’s observations on ‘ordinary’ nature provide a sure source of tranquillity.

Travel The buzzing city of Kilkenny along Ireland’s Ancient East is the perfect spot to explore medieval history.


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Summer 2020  Contents

FROM TOP LEFT: Mark O’Rourke discusses the variety of financial product offerings for SMEs to navigate the current recession and ensure their survival, page 14 // Elaine McParland believes the beauty industry is one of the most negatively affected service industries of the Covid-19 pandemic, page 20 // Lily Ramirez-Foran on why more businesses should make diversity a priority, page 30 // Garrett Bridgeman comments on how the crisis has accelerated the transformation of ecommerce and online shopping, page 26


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Skills To Advance Make skills work for your business If you’re looking for ways to grow your business, talk to your local Education and Training Board about subsidised training solutions for your workforce. For more, contact your local Education and Training Board or visit

“It gave me something of value to offer staff, which helped with retention and recruitment”

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News  Updates


COVID-19 BUSINESS SUPPORTS Wondering which Government supports can help your business deal with the impact of Covid-19? Get in touch with the Business Support Centre on (01) 631 2002 or email For information on workplace health and safety please contact the Occupational Health and Safety Helpline. Tel: 1890 289 389, (01) 614 7000 or email Supports in relation to improving your Covid-19 related prevention and recovery measures in the workplace can be found by contacting the NSAI Covid-19 helpline. Tel: (01) 807 3800 or email

L-r: Philip Konopik, Ireland Country Manager, Visa; Jean McCabe, Deputy Chair of Retail Excellence; Aoibhín Garrihy, Media personality and businesswoman; Ian Talbot, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland; Marian O’Gorman, Campaign Creator & Kilkenny Design CEO; Cllr Emer Currie, Dublin West; and Sven Spollen-Behrens of the Small Firms Association.


Industry asks consumers to Champion Green

Supported by Kilkenny Design and Visa, in association with Retail Excellence, Small Firms Association and Chambers Ireland, Champion Green aims to encourage the public to shop locally in order to help businesses in the community bounce back from the impact of Covid-19. The public awareness and advertising campaign provides a digital hub of resources for businesses and service-providers to show that they are locally owned or employ locally, and to call out products and brands designed or made in Ireland. If you haven’t already done so, we ask you to please register now as an advocate of Champion Green. You can do this in less than one minute at This is not a financial pledge, just a simple personal pledge to support local business. The more people who Champion Green and pledge to keep supporting local, the sooner jobs, business and local economies will recover. The bigger the movement and the greater the awareness, the quicker consumers will understand the huge difference that spending locally makes.

ISLANDBRIDGE REBRANDS TO KEEP BUILDING BRIDGES  Dublin-based Islandbridge has recently undertaken a rebrand. There were various reasons for their rebrand, but the most compelling reason of all was to ensure that the brand spoke of their purpose.  For a brand planning and strategic development company, they shared the fear and trepidation felt by many small firms and their clients when undertaking the decision to rebrand. However, there comes a time when a rebrand is necessary for most businesses and Islandbridge felt a rebrand would carry them through to build new bridges with their clients. 

Skillnet Ireland has launched a new initiative ReBound aimed at helping Irish SME owners and managers across all sectors prepare and implement a return to work safely plan for the reopening of business. Participating companies will receive a combination of webinar training on implementing the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol and mentoring to help them create and implement a bespoke Return to Work Safely Plan. The scheme is available to 3,000 Irish SMEs and Irish enterprises are encouraged to register for the initiative through the Skillnet Ireland ReBound website available at MentorsWork is a structured support that will pair you with an experienced mentor to work with you to address the specific needs of your business. Over two online sessions, mentors will listen and provide support on the immediate challenges facing your business, and provide bespoke advice, guidance and practical recommendations. Having a mentor can change the playing field for businesses. Use MentorsWork to access structured support, specific guidance and actionable insights on the next steps needed to sustain your business in these difficult times. Register your interest at For sector-specific supports and guidance, skills and training supports and templates and checklists, visit


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O’Leary Insurances are a wholly owned, family run, independent insurance brokers operating in accordance with Brokers Ireland and The Central Bank. The O’Leary Insurance Group provides a nation-wide service and employs in excess of 220 people and specializes in all classes of Corporate and Private Insurances. The Company conducts business according to the highest professional standards of customer service and care.

We welcome all SFA Members to contact our office to discuss their Insurance requirements Contact Carman Devlin; Phone: 01 6608211 Fax: 01 6608349 E-mail: O’Leary Insurances (Dublin) Ltd., 16 Pembroke Road, Dublin 4

O’Leary Insurances (Dublin) Ltd. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland

Save money on banking, utility bills, insurance, digital marketing, merchant services and more with our new SFA Affinity scheme

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News  Updates




Aalto Bio Reagents, working with the HSE, repurposed their manufacturing and development capabilities to develop a Covid-19 lysis buffer reagent to handle samples during pre-testing. The company concepted the product during March 2020 and had it tested at the National Virus Reference Laboratory in UCD. The first batch was developed and delivered to the HSE in April 2020. The turnaround time of four weeks to meet pressured market deadlines was a first for the company. The RNA lysis buffer reagent was developed due to the unavailability of a similar reagent from other manufacturers in Europe. The volume of PCR tests being carried out for Covid-19 in Ireland, and indeed across the world at present, is such that manufacturers simply cannot produce the volume of reagents required. Aalto Bio stepped up to help the HSE in developing a reagent from scratch to alleviate some of the pressure around the Covid-19 testing. They will continue to offer assistance to address any bottlenecks that may exist in the diagnostic testing supply chain.

HERO RECRUITMENT SUPPORT WORKERS HERO Recruitment in partnership with Innopharma Education created, an initiative to support qualified engineers in the automotive and aerospace industry who are concerned about the future of their jobs in an industry in serious decline. HERO Recruitment and Innopharma Education support these engineers by showing them the opportunities available and how their skills are in demand in other sectors, like medical devices and pharma. Innopharma Education has been instrumental in bridging gaps identified in their education through their many acccredited training courses, while HERO Recruitment has been successful in securing new job opportunities and career paths for these people. To see more about what these companies are doing or listen to their podcasts, visit

“This is a drive to encourage people to do business locally, to get behind small local enterprises, and for businesses and organisations to up their support for local suppliers too. We all need to get behind Irish brands and local businesses and use local services for the sake of jobs and national prosperity.” Marian O’Gorman, Champion Green campaign creator and Kilkenny Design CEO speaking at the launch of Champion Green

“The ReBound initiative will help SME owners and managers get up-to-speed with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and implement the measures in a safe and practical manner.” Sven SpollenBehrens, Director, SFA, speaking at the Skillnet Ireland ReBound training launch.

“Open and inclusive engagement between different government departments, agencies, academia, business representatives and the small business sector in Ireland will be most important in contributing to our reboot and growth going forward.” Graham Byrne, Chair of SFA National Council, proposing the establishment of an SME Reboot Taskforce, see page 44 for more information.


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Updates  News


Conor Fennelly, CEO, LEVERIS

LEVERIS achieves milestone in digital banking technology Irish-based financial technology company LEVERIS has broken new ground in the drive to unlock the benefits of truly digital banking. The platform is entirely software-defined, based in the cloud and completely independent of legacy core banking technology. LEVERIS has effectively cut the cord binding banks and financial technology companies to complex, expensive and outdated systems. LEVERIS’ technology is already live and has enabled major financial services firm Link Group to enter the Dutch market. It is now executing loans and servicing millions of euros for three Link Group clients. “If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that the future of banking is digital,” said LEVERIS founder and CEO Conor Fennelly. “During this period, businesses and consumers have sought out digital solutions that ensure products and services are delivered safely and seamlessly. The consumer experience with banking has not always lived up to expectations. We believe technology has failed banks and, as a consequence, their customers. We aim to change that.”

Our #ThrowbackThursday is to @SFA_Irl Awards 17 weeks ago when we won the Manufacturing category and became Overall Winner. It was with pride our employees celebrated this national win for KORE, our customers and the environment.


Useful webinar brought together today by @SFA_Irl team ‘Managing your business in a Covid-19 world’ featuring Nikki Taggart, Emma Crowley, Darrell Fernandes with Sven SpollenBehrens #resilience #WorkFromHome #remoteworking #smallbusiness #championgreen #buylocal #InItTogether #CrushtheCurve



Thank you so much @

SFA_Irl @dmgmedia_Irl @irishdailymail for

August 13th 1980 marks the date that National Co-op Farm Relief Services (NCFRS), set up over 30 co-ops around Ireland. It all began with farmers helping other farmers with relief milking and FRS Network was formed to give structure to this. Over the last 40 years, FRS has diversified into other successful businesses such as fencing, training, recruitment, agri technology with Herdwatch and employability services through Turas Nua. With Peter Byrne as CEO at the helm throughout the 40 years, this is a success story of how a co-operative organisation that began deeply rooted in the farming community has evolved and diversified to service the local communities and businesses’ evolving needs over the years. The co-operative’s values of trust, integrity, customer care and innovation binds all the businesses together to achieve their collective vision to sustain, develop and grow the communities they serve every day and provide the people and services people need, when they need them. Visit for more information.

the advertisement on page 15 of today’s @irishdailymail #ShopIreland #Ireland


Our Business Development Manager, Mark O’Sullivan, spoke with @SFA_Irl Ireland to share exclusive insights and thoughts on establishing Blocworx and future plans. Take a read of his Q&A Right pointing backhand index: H0r1C7X0 #Blocworx #SFA #qanda #software #bpm #TogetherWithKORE we can make this world greener!


Pictured (l-r): Francis Fitzgerald, Chairman, FRS Network and Matt Dempsey, former Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal and Chairman of the Agricultural Trust



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Affinity scheme

Events and networking opportunities

HR and employment law advice

So, why should you join the SFA?

Business advice and support services

Access to Government

Learn more about us at Otherwise email or telephone (01) 605 1664


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ad you r







Study with us on our blended learning programme for one year and obtain two degrees, an MBA from America and MB in International Business from Ireland. Centrally located at 1 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

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Updates  News


KITCHEN WORKTOP MANUFACTURERS TOPFORM LAUNCHES HOME OFFICE FURNITURE Leveraging decades of manufacturing experience, TopForm has launched Home-Work – a range of home office furniture. The standout feature is the custom-designed and engineered Lazy Susan, which gives a floating desk feel but allows the desk to be moved 360-degrees. Custom systems allow TopForm to create a desk of any size and provide a multitude of different finishes. Customers can match their desk to their kitchen worktop and create the perfect home office with their selection of desks, chairs and storage solutions. Following a number of requests from customers to design a working solution for their employees working from home, TopForm used an accelerated design and production process during the lockdown to meet an altogether new demand.’ Check out the new range at To keep spirits up in their local community of Gort, during lockdown TopForm Managing Director Paul Glynn commissioned local artist Shona MacGillivray to create a positive message on TopForm’s building. The mural of a caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly represents the changes that the local and business community are going to encounter.

Yala had its first webinar event and brought together an expert panel of leading academics and professionals to discuss a topic that many organisations are grappling with: employee resilience and leadership in a crisis. The event was hosted by Barry Prost, Managing Partner, Yala with Dr Na Fu, Director for MSc in HRM at Trinity College, Dr Patrick Flood, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at DCU, Ms Fiona Brennan, a mental health expert and TedX speaker and Brian Crowley, COO, Broadlake, a leading Irish private equity house. The panel shared interesting insights and practical ‘take-aways’ that companies can implement to engender resilience among employees, such as the idea of ‘checking-in’ with their staff rather than ‘checking on’ them and the importance of frequent communication, compassionate leadership and creating a foundation of strong company principles.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has launched a webpage detailing guidance for employers and employees across a number of topics and contains links to new guidance released in response to remote working during Covid-19. Amid the crisis, those who could conceivably work from home have been encouraged to do so, resulting in an unprecedented instance of mass homeworking. Both employers and employees should familiarise themselves with the practicalities of short-term homeworking. The webpage details responsibility for safety, health and welfare, data protection, cybersecurity, equality and training. The webpage is available at en/what-we-do/workplace-andskills/remote-working. Further information on remote working can also be found on page 43.





Following the success of their Dawson Street location, Dublin BIC have recently launched their second venture for Space@ Dublin BIC at Molyneux House on Bride Street. Managed by Dublin BIC, Space offers an affordable office solution for entrepreneurs and startups, providing a location from where they can scale, access customers and become investor-ready. Space@DublinBIC on Bride Street is ideally located, just 650 metres and a short seven-minute walk from St Stephen’s Green. The building boasts top-floor panoramic views of Dublin city and a range of unique private office and co-working spaces to accommodate teams from two to 50 people. Molyneux House is well-serviced with convenient transport links such as Luas, bus, Dublinbikes, and is surrounded by an abundance of local amenities. To arrange a viewing, contact


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The Mobile, Portable UV-C Room Sterilizer

Helping you and your staff get back to work safely The Mobile, Portable UV-C Room Sterilizer - The MUV-X UV-C (Ultraviolet)/ Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) is a sterilization method commonly used in hospitals and medical settings to destroy airborne micro-organisms. This method of sterilization has increased due to its efficacy and ease of use. UV-C units which sterilize airborne contaminants and surfaces have traditionally been extremely expensive and impractical in smaller businesses. However, CW Applied Technology, a design and manufacturing company in Shannon, Co Clare, in collaboration with a US partner has re-engineered an existing unit which is Portable, Low Cost and Efficient. It can be used very effectively to provide UV-C Irradiation suitable for the workplace. Designed and manufactured in Shannon, Co Clare we are now taking orders for units. Our first units shipped on May 18th! Further information available at When all is said and done, our product delivers two key results – 1. Helps inactivate virus’ and kills bacterial left behind on surfaces after a clean and 2. Provides reassurance to both employees and clients that a business (be that a Hairdressers, a Physio, a General Practitioner, a Dentist, a Solicitor, a GYM operator, etc etc) is taking every step to protect their health while on their premises. For more information or to arrange a demo, please contact us at Sales support at: Mobile Tel.:+353876871295 Reception: +353 61 472221

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The Mobile, Portable The UV-C Room Sterilizer

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Updates  News


DON’T FORGET ABOUT BREXIT! The UK left the EU on January 31st 2020 under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and we are now in a transitional period until at least December 31st 2020. During this time, the UK remains part of the EU Single Market and Customs Union, so EU rules and regulations continue to apply. Whatever the shape of the future trading relationship with the UK post-transition, trading conditions with the UK will change and small businesses need to prepare for that change now. A new EU Document, ‘Getting ready for changes’, sets out a sector-by-sector overview of the main areas where there will be changes, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing EU-UK negotiations, and sets out measures that national authorities, businesses and citizens should take in order to be ready for these changes. Visit for more information.

In order to prepare, the SFA recommends the following:  n Visit  Getting Business

Brexit Ready, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website on business Brexit preparedness.

n Get your EORI number.

If you are trading in goods to or from the UK, an Economic Operators Registration Identification (EORI) is required to be entered on a customs declaration. In the post-Brexit environment, all goods movements involving the UK will require a customs declaration. To register for an EORI number visit the Revenue Online service. 

n Contact your  Local

Enterprise Offices for information on supports and initiatives available to small firms.

n Read the Currency

Risk Management guide to learn more about assessing and managing your firm’s exposure to foreign currency risk.

n Visit  the Supporting

SME tool at, which sets out the full range of government financial and other supports. 

GET FINANCIALLY READY THROUGH SOME OF THE SUPPORTS BELOW: The Brexit Loan Scheme provides affordable financing to businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit or will be in the future. The Scheme, which is delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland through commercial lenders ,will make €300m available to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees at an interest rate of 4% or less.  The Start to Plan voucher scheme (through InterTradeIreland) offers SMEs advice and guidance to help navigate their way through Brexit. The vouchers offer 100% financial supports of up to £2,000/€2,250 (inclusive of VAT) towards professional advice in relation to Brexit matters. This support can help businesses get advice on specific issues, such as the movement of labour, goods, services, customs, logistics and financial issues such as VAT and currency management.  The Trading Online Voucher Scheme offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade online.      The Technical Assistance fo Micro-Exporters (TAME) grant supports LEO clients to explore and develop new export market opportunities. This scheme is a matched funding opportunity with up to €2,500 available to eligible businesses. Under the scheme, costs incurred when investigating, researching and accessing export markets can be part-funded.  The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme aims to assist viable SMEs, which under normal lending criteria are unable to borrow from their bank, in accessing credit. The scheme operates by providing an 80% guarantee (previously 75%) to participating finance providers (currently AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank) on qualifying facilities to SMEs.  The Credit Review Office provides a simple and effective review process for small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), sole traders and farm enterprises refused credit from Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, PTSB and Ulster Bank.   Microfinance Ireland offers loan funding up to €25,000 to both new and existing small businesses in the Republic of Ireland.  

QUICKBOOKS LAUNCHES IN IRELAND FOR SMES AND ACCOUNTANTS Intuit, the global financial platform company, has announced the Irish launch of QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Accountant, the world’s largest small business platform serving seven million customers globally QuickBooks Online is software designed to solve the specific financial challenges of Irish small and medium businesses, such as cashflow, the admin burden and late payments, while QuickBooks Online Accountant is software that can help Irish accounting professionals run and grow their practice. Both were built and launched after extensive research with Irish SMEs and accounting professionals. Intuit’s research showed SMEs’ top concerns: having cashflow data in one place; being able to predict cashflow and getting paid for their work. Almost seven out of 10 of Irish SMEs say late payments are a considerable pain point when it comes to managing their business finances. “In this landscape, additional visibility and reduced paperwork are real benefits,” said Laura Kenny, Senior Sales Leader at Intuit QuickBooks. For further information on how QuickBooks can support your business, please call 1800 807 132 or visit


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Moving Online  Events

Seminar Review

VIRTUAL CONNECTIONS ALTHOUGH UNABLE TO HOST IN-PERSON EVENTS, THE SFA HAS BEEN ENGAGING WITH MEMBERS AND CLIENTS REGULARLY OVER RECENT MONTHS. Over the past few months, the SFA have hosted over 30 webinars alongside some amazing external experts. You can playback many of these past webinars on our website or YouTube channel. Here are a few of the topics and special guests that we’ve had on board that you can watch now: ■ Tony Corrigan, MD of Orbital group, sharing the best practice and secrets to

success when responding to public requests for tenders in the current climate, and how small businesses can use public contracting to not just survive but thrive. ■ David Lucas, Partner in PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes discussed preparing a successful loan application and renegotiating existing terms. ■ Since many small companies don’t have the knowledge or guidance to transform their strategies, Louise O’Connor from BetaDigital shared her strategic digital transformation knowledge. ■ Dr Michael Gillen, BipPharmaChem Ireland and Jason Our upcoming webinar Kearns of Guardian Safety discussed the practical series ‘Thinking Ahead’ application of completing risk assessments and how with Flogas Natural Gas will be kicking off in September and it can be used to a return to work plan. will cover a range of critically useful ■ Irish rugby legend and entrepreneur Jamie topics for you and your business Heaslip discussed how he managed guiding his that you don’t want to miss. For more information on our upcoming business through the crisis with SFA Director events and to book your spot, Sven Spollen-Behrens. check out

For more information, visit

The virtual HR conference, ‘Managing Your Business in a Post-Covid-19 World’, on July 7th, was a great success. There was a fantastic line-up of employment law experts discussing health and safety in the workplace, remote working and alternatives to redundancy. Darrell Fernandes of Ibec Training spoke on Covid-19 workplace protection, going over the latest public health advice and some of the suitable control measures to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 infection in the workplace. SFA Executive Emma Crowley discussed alternatives to redundancy, as employers from a wide range of sectors face financial challenges and many must now consider cost-saving measures. Lastly, the guest speaker was organisational psychologist Nikki Taggart, who talked the audience through how you can boost the resilience of yourself and your employees by improving capabilities to cope with stress and adversity. While we are all aware of the importance of health and safety following the pandemic, it is vital for employers to be aware of the psychological aspects of this unprecedented situation, as overlooking it can result in problems down the line for both employer and employee.

SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS 2021 After holding our 2020 Awards Gala behind closed doors in March (you can watch all of the video announcements on our YouTube), the SFA National Small Business Awards will be returning again in 2021 with a hybrid programme. Now, more than ever, it is more important to support and showcase small businesses in Ireland, and what better way than with our fantastic seven-month long awards programme, which has seen hundreds of incredible small Irish businesses over the years. Following event size limits and social distancing restrictions, a few of the events that we hold throughout the awards programme will be hybrid events for 2021. As we will have speakers broadcasted live from a studio with breakout sessions and networking rooms for delegates, creating an innovative space of great value for all. This new approach is something we are all very excited about, and we look forward to all of the new opportunities that come with hosting virtual events. Applications will be open following the launch in early September, so keep an eye out on our social media channels and on for updates and to learn how you can apply!

To view the list of SFA events, visit SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 13

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Feature  Finance




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a small economy, Ireland’s financial landscape is heavily influenced by global markets. As we come to terms with the impacts of Covid-19, the challenge is now to solidify our reputation as a recognised location for innovative forms of financing. A number of new players have entered the finance market over recent years. This ‘non-bank’ or alternative lending sector has grown exponentially in Ireland, with a number of lenders diversifying across term loans, invoice discounting, asset financing and merchant cash advance products. For the SME business owner, this means there is “fast and easy access to alternative funding”, according to Bibby Financial Services MD Mark O’Rourke, an invoice finance professional with over 20 years’ experience. “There’s been rapid change since I first entered the sector in the mid to late-nineties,” explains O’Rourke. “Everything back then was done manually and all transactions were paper-based. The idea of alternative lenders or fintechs was not even on the horizon. New technologies have driven the evolution of the finance sector, allowing for a range of online banking and other activities. “We now have multiple non-bank lenders who provide real choice for SMEs and other businesses that struggle to meet the banks’ criteria. This means that all SMEs have access to a wider variety of product offerings than ever before.” Traditional banks also have a significant role to play in supporting SMEs through cashflow solutions. “In the last few decades, banking has completely transformed,” says AIB’s Catherine Moroney of the changing landscape. “When I first started working in AIB, our operations were largely based around our national branch network; today we work on an opti-channel basis, letting our customers bank with us when, where and how suits them best.” The Head of Business Banking Market adds: “In terms of financing for businesses, more and more of our customers are integrating their financing with their daily banking, using digital solutions to simplify and streamline payments, such as Payzone and AIB Merchant Services. We have seen exponential growth in all of our online and digital channels, including across Google Pay, Apple Pay and contactless cards.” Business customers are increasingly using a “fuller suite of financing options”, according to Moroney. “Businesses are using a mix of facilities – including term debt or asset and commercial finance – to finance their productive assets on a more long-term basis to ease their cashflow needs, both in the short-term and longer-term, matching the life of their assets against the finance that supports their use in their business.” Linked Finance was founded as a response to the lack of choice for SMEs when looking for finance options, especially after the global financial crisis when most of the pillar banks had a reduced appetite to lend, particularly to small entrepreneurs. Head of Sales at the peer-to-peer (P2P) lender, Eileen

Finance  Feature

Devereux, believes the economic landscape has changed significantly since the Covid-19 pandemic. “Before the pandemic, there was a lot of interest from domestic and international lenders to lend to Irish businesses,” she says. “The Irish economy was an outlier in terms of GDP growth and the market was very attractive. Clearly, Covid-19 has affected this, but what has been great to see is our retail P2P investors really step up and continue to enthusiastically support businesses at this time. However, there is a concern that without Ireland introducing the sort of governmentbacked credit guarantee schemes being offered in other countries like the UK and France to give confidence, international investors will divert their lending elsewhere.” “I think the Government has provided good support,” adds Mark O’Rourke, “whether that be through salary subsidies, working capital schemes with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, or warehousing of revenue. But there is still more that can be done to help Irish businesses. I think Ibec has its finger on the pulse and I would support their main calls for the July stimulus, namely to improve the Restart Grant, improve the Credit Guarantee Scheme to include a 100% guarantee for firms with 50 or fewer employees, and to introduce a fund to help write-down debts.”


Mark O’Rourke, MD, Bibby Financial Services


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Feature  Finance

Regarding supports for small firms, Devereux states that tangible supports available to SMEs have been limited. “Currently, the supports available to SMEs were the ones that were largely in existence before Covid-19,” she says. “While expenses like the payment of rates, VAT and USC have been deferred, they’ve not gone away and there will be huge demand for liquidity to cover these costs when the time comes to pay.”

Increased flexibility Roughly 60% of SMEs had no debt before the Covid-19 pandemic emerged. Many SMEs are reluctant to take on debt, particularly as a result of something they simply had no control over. “I feel the July stimulus will be critical, but it won’t answer all the problems,” comments O’Rourke. “One important solution is invoice finance: a working capital product that helps with cashflow, but doesn’t involve taking on debt. It allows businesses to utilise their sales ledger to free-up cash from unpaid invoices and this is then repaid by their customers.” In certain respects, the funding environment is very strong for small firms in Ireland, according to Catherine Moroney. “Admittedly, when a business is ‘pre-cash flow generative’ and is seeking funding, it can be more challenging for a small business to raise funds. Irish entrepreneurs at that critical, very early funding stage often have to bootstrap and seek out family and angel investors, but banks do play their part. It is welcome that the Government continues to simplify the Employment Incentive and Investment scheme to incentivise early-stage investment in startup businesses, and this needs to continue. The Government has also launched initiatives to support businesses through both Brexit and Covid-19, many of which are available through AIB.” AIB has seen strong demand for deferred payment of loan requests, with the highest demand for these payment breaks occurring in hospitality, tourism, transport and retail subsectors, although businesses in almost all sectors availed of these payment breaks. “Even in this challenging Covid-19 and pre-Brexit environment,” says Moroney, “we have seen some really interesting requests for new funding. For example, manufacturers have pivoted into the supply of PPE equipment and businesses have begun importing and exporting in new international markets. Businesses have shown exceptional flexibility in how they have adopted their business models at speed.”

Managing cashflow While small businesses tend to be very strong operationally, many business owners do not have the time and in-house expertise to give as much attention to their financial position as they should, particularly with regard to forecasting and budgeting. “Occasionally businesses leave it late to seek additional

Catherine Moroney, Head of Business Banking Market, AIB

“WE HAVE SEEN EXPONENTIAL GROWTH IN ALL OF OUR ONLINE AND DIGITAL CHANNELS, INCLUDING ACROSS GOOGLE PAY, APPLE PAY AND CONTACTLESS CARDS.” cashflow, making it harder to get approved for credit,” says Devereux. “It’s also really important that businesses keep on top of their tax affairs and keep business accounts separate from any personal accounts.” A very common mistake is a lack of preparation when submitting an application for funding. “All funders will require some sort of financial information on the company,” says O’Rourke. “Depending on the amount involved, the type of product and who you are applying to, it will vary, but, generally, funders will want to know what the funding is for and how it will add value to the business. They will also want a sense of the business and will draw on information like up-to-date management accounts or yearend accounts. Bank statements, revenue position and proof of identity documents are also important.” He continues: “It’s important that SMEs understand how products such as invoice finance can serve as a debt-free alternative to the traditional bank overdraft.” Moroney advises firms to prepare a business plan to assist them in obtaining finance and to offer clarity on what their


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Finance  Feature

key strategic advantage is. “Banks have really good online tools to help businesses with preparing their business plans, in particular in preparing their cashflow statements,” she says. “The key for each business is to ensure that they monitor and manage their cashflow intensively throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Across Irish banks, customers can avail of payment breaks on business and personal loans, current account fee deferrals, working capital funding, and other initiatives. Businesses can talk to their creditors and agree terms for payment to keep their cashflow moving, which has been a key issue throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Recovering economy Obviously Covid-19 is going to have a lasting impact. Will the banks retrench like they did during the last recession? Or will some of the fintechs and peer-to-peer businesses operating here run into funding difficulties, as we’ve seen in the UK? While O’Rourke believes it is likely that we will see similar scenarios that have occurred in the UK play out in Ireland, he is keen to stress the value of real-life relationships. “I think this is something people appreciate even more as we come out of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Eileen Devereux, Head of Sales, Linked Finance

Technology has a fantastic ability to introduce new efficiencies in how we do business, but people still value being able to have a real conversation with a trusted financial advisor. That human touch really is invaluable and is something that lies at the heart of all our relationships with our customers.” Eileen Devereux believes open data is the game-changer we all require. “Business finance transactions are going to be instantaneous,” she says. “In the future, a cloud accounting package, for example, will have access to bank accounts and produce cashflows automatically. It will spot the need for finance, apply directly, and provide a decision in minutes. It will mean that businesses will be able to go through the full process from application to draw-down in under ten minutes. That is certainly where we plan to be as a business and where the industry will eventually end up.” O’Rourke adds: “As we move forward, I think we will also see non-bank lenders, like Bibby Financial Services, play a bigger role in how Irish SMEs fund their businesses. We have taken on a number of new clients during the lockdown and look forward to welcoming more as the economy recovers.” While not an emerging trend, the continued digitisation

“WHILE EXPENSES LIKE THE PAYMENT OF RATES, VAT AND USC HAVE BEEN DEFERRED, THEY’VE NOT GONE AWAY AND THERE WILL BE HUGE DEMAND FOR LIQUIDITY TO COVER THESE COSTS WHEN THE TIME COMES TO PAY.” and automation of processes in the finance sector continues as more businesses adopt it. Moroney states: “Businesses can easily see the efficiencies and ease of use digitisation brings to everything from transaction services, applying for and fulfilling their finance needs and using AI and data-supported applications like the AIB Brexit Ready Check and the AIB online end-to-end mortgage experience. This digital efficiency extends to bring together data sources, such as an SMEs’ banking data, which is now possible to do with open banking APIs with their accounting data.” She concludes: “Banks are also increasingly partnering with fintech suppliers to incorporate the radical new platforms and systems the latter can develop with the customer base, reach, and market expertise of the former to deliver new and exciting propositions for business customers.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 17

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Feature  Climate Change

Keeping This

eye AN




time last year, it seemed as if the climate crisis was the most pressing issue faced by the world at large. Around the globe, younger citizens took to the streets to voice their concerns for the environment they would grow up in. Older generations took note and began to tackle the issue with a never-before-seen sense of urgency. Businesses also took heed, and those pivoting to sustainable practices rose in favour. Reusable goods took over from their disposable counterparts and the war on plastic was kicked into a higher gear. Fast-forward one year and the climate crisis appears to have taken a backseat to Covid-19, the pandemic that ripped through the globe and upended our daily lives in a matter of months. An unprecedented incident, it forced us out of our bubble of familiarity and into a new existence where safety was not an afterthought: it was the only thought. Though our attention has been pulled elsewhere, the climate crisis has not gone anywhere. And these issues should remain front of mind, pandemic or no pandemic.

One Irish organisation with a keen focus on sustainability is Ibec. As a lobby group representing Irish businesses of varying sizes, the organisation campaigns for policy change, organises industry events and provides management training to members. Conor Minogue is the Senior Executive of Infrastructure, Energy and Climate Policy at Ibec. Minogue has been with the organisation for more than eight years, focusing on climate and energy issues since 2016. “My role is to ensure climate policy – in Ireland and at an EU level – delivers a low-carbon transition that is cost-effective, evidence-


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based, mindful of our energy security needs and does not leave business behind,” he explains. Through the Energy and Climate Policy Committee, Minogue works with Irish businesses to ascertain key industry concerns before representing these views to Government. In addition, he ensures that “the right supports and incentives are available to help businesses transition away from fossil fuels and improve their carbon footprint”, connecting organisations with various experts in the field. Minogue agreed that Covid-19 has been a major thorn in the side for businesses in Ireland. “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant dislocation and damage throughout the economy. And its impact will likely last for years to come.”

However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the major economic upheaval of recent times, companies have learned a new skill: adaptability. It caused serious disruption, but Ireland largely adapted to the Covid-19 situation in a relatively short period of time. Within weeks, businesses went from normal operations to a complete alternate reality. Companies that

A sustainable future

Conor Minogue, Senior Executive of Infrastructure, Energy and Climate Policy, Ibec

previously said working from home was not feasible realised that it was indeed feasible. “The crisis has revealed the capacity for businesses to adapt and innovate in very trying circumstances,” confirmed Minogue. He adds: “[It also] revealed the full extent to which our economic model remains wedded to high emissions growth, with Irish carbon emissions now projected to fall by 12% this year because of the forced slowdown. Global emissions, meanwhile, are set to experience the largest single year reduction since the end of World War II.” The overall message that companies should take from this is that effective change is not only possible, it is possible right now. Businesses adapted quickly because, quite simply, they had to. The same urgency can, and should, be applied to the climate crisis. Why wait for a completely chaotic overhaul when the situation reaches breaking point? If they haven’t already, businesses should be putting significant efforts towards their energy policies now, so that change doesn’t have to be as disruptive as that which accompanies a global pandemic. In order to efficiently take some good from the bad, they must establish a plan that is measured in its approach. As Minogue says, we need “an orderly transition that protects jobs and leaves nobody behind”. He continues: “This business resilience and flexibility will be essential as we transition to a circular, low-carbon economy. Business models will be upended, society transformed, and how we travel, use energy, design products, run factories, manage logistics, and build communities is all set to change fundamentally.”

So, how should businesses approach their individual climate policies under this new roadmap? Minogue advises organisations to put the cart before the horse when it comes to improving their energy efficiency, and focus on delivering “big gains at low cost”. He adds: “Businesses should prioritise this low-hanging fruit before embarking on large projects or investments. My advice to business is to contact the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and work with them to develop an energy plan for your business.” Whether businesses like it or not, the climate crisis is here to stay. There is no vaccine. Irreparable damage has already been done and companies must now use all available resources to at least prevent further harm. If they don’t, the potential consequences for industry – and indeed, the world itself – will be severe. Without a stable living situation, there will be no stable industry for businesses to exist in. Minogue comments: “Failure to act will see Irish businesses exposed to a growing carbon price, a continued overreliance on imported energy (from increasingly distant regions), an undermining of Ireland’s international reputation for sustainable production and a missed opportunity to increase competitiveness. Ireland will also face financial penalties from the EU for underachievement.” This warning is stark, but it will serve entrepreneurs well in the wake of Covid-19. As they embark on the road to recovery, they can now ensure they are focused on the right priorities. For Minogue and Ibec, the immediate focus is the new Government and its green agenda. He says: “While many of the commitments in the new Programme for Government are welcome, they remain uncosted and lacking in detail. We now want to work with the new administration and stakeholders through social dialogue to support the Programme’s implementation, and agree on an emissions-reduction pathway that is ambitious, cost-effective and equitable.” The path forward is clear. Though Irish businesses undoubtedly hope to leave Covid-19 firmly in the past, they can take with them a newfound sense of resilience and a portfolio full of ideas for a sustainable future. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 19

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Sector Spotlight  Beauty


Ge tti ng




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Beauty  Sector Spotlight


may only be skin deep, but the industry has experienced huge growth in recent years, with a plethora of independent brands competing within a highly competitive commercial sector. The rise of social media in Ireland is driving an ever-more pressing need to appear picture-perfect and statistics experts estimate this year’s revenue for the sector in Ireland at €822 million. Like every sector, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has taken a brutal toll, but the industry looks set to bounce back stronger than ever despite hurdles like a thriving black market and the ever-present threat of Brexit. When it comes to the beauty market, there is no age limit, explains Elaine McParland, owner of Up To My Eyes Salon and Training Academy in Co. Wicklow, “The age range of our clients is now far wider than it used to be,” she says. “Women in their 70s and 80s now have the confidence to look as good as ever and, as a result, we are busy doing semi-permanent lip colour, eyeliners and brows for this age group.”

While we all want to look our best, the treatments and products required to achieve the end result differ greatly depending on age according to McParland. “The modern Irish woman has high expectations from her beauty therapist and expects that her salon will keep up with current trends and styles. Women are constantly looking for new treatments to assist them in looking better in a natural way. To satisfy this demand, either my staff or I travel abroad at least once a year to learn a new skill or treatment. We have attended courses in countries such as Russia, Australia, Germany, Croatia, Latvia and the UK.”



Elaine McParland, owner, Up To My Eyes Salon and Training Academy

And women are not the only ones interested in looking impeccable anymore. In 2017 saw a 184% increase in demand for men’s beauticians, makeup artists and spa therapists. Irish men are no longer being stigmatised for taking an interest in their appearance and are confidently hopping on the Instagram bandwagon right next to their female counterparts. Many salons and clinics have moved away from cliché pink decor to a more streamlined monochrome palette to appeal to both sexes. You can find an array of procedures for men including Botox, fillers, CoolSculpting and even miraDry – a procedure that uses thermal energy to destroy armpit sweat glands to reduce underarm sweating. Waterford entrepreneur Marc dos Reis even created a brand of male ‘corrective cosmetics’ to hide his rosacea on Zoom calls. If you’ve heard of FUT, FUE, and micropigmentation, you’ve probably looked into the plethora of male hair restoration techniques. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 21

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Sector Spotlight  Beauty

Jo Somerville, Director, The Cosmetic Association

“AT A TIME WHEN THE PHARMACY SECTOR SHOULD BE ORDERING THEIR CHRISTMAS STOCK, THEY CANNOT GIVE THE TIME TO ATTEND TO IT. WITH CUSTOMER NUMBERS LIMITED AND A QUEUE OUTSIDE, COMBINED WITH STAFF DOING SPLIT SHIFTS, IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE BUYER TO GIVE THEIR ATTENTION TO THE REPS.” Razor-thin margins Despite all the industry’s progress over recent years, the Corona virus has hit it hard. Jo Somerville of The Cosmetic Association paints a bleak picture. “The recent pandemic has decimated business in some of our member companies.” She explains that this is partly due to the connection between the beauty sector and pharmacies in Ireland. Not only have sales been hampered by pharmacies and consumers limiting their purchasing to essential shopping only, but responding to the pandemic has also distracted purchasers from getting stock lined up for the key Christmas shopping period. According to Sommerville, “At a time when the pharmacy sector should be ordering their Christmas stock, they cannot give the time to attend to it. With customer numbers limited and

a queue outside, combined with staff doing split shifts, it’s almost impossible for the buyer to give their attention to the reps. Our trade show which is held in mid-May every year had to be cancelled altogether this year. This event usually gives buyers the opportunity to see an enormous display of products under one roof. It means that they can give buying for Christmas their full attention.” Elaine McParland agrees, “In my opinion, beauty salons are probably one of the most negatively affected service industries of this pandemic. It is quite impossible to socially distance ourselves from our clients and our work is much more ‘up close and personal’ than, for example, a hairdresser. Our premises are unlike a dentist surgery or an aesthetic clinic, which are, of course, clinical in nature.” With profit margins already razor-thin, she worries about having to increase costs to mitigate the expense of new precautions, such as reducing capacity, providing clients with PPE and employing a professional company to regularly clean the premises. She notes, “As a direct result of this Covid-19 pandemic, every salon in the nation that is serious about its clients’ and staff ’s health and safety is going to have to raise prices to maintain a sustainable business. I foresee losing a lot of business to the black market, which is already very vibrant and so unregulated.” Concerns over the black market are not new, but with the scramble to look good once the lockdown lifted there has been a surge in illegal products and services. With confusion over when salons could open and specifics over safety measures, some salons couldn’t open, some didn’t open, and some can’t afford to reopen. Those trying to get a hair appointment can expect an average waiting period of three weeks, while this can be even longer for nails and eyebrows. When you add to this the crippling unemployment in Ireland currently, the temptation to operate on the black market is high. McParland points out that previous staff members are a potential threat: “I feel our industry is not properly supported by the Government. Most of my ex-employees who are now working from home and in direct competition to me do not provide insurance for their clients, proper safety, pay VAT, and undoubtedly don’t declare all their income.” But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Historically, the beauty sector has fared better than ever during times of economic stress. A 2012 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that purchasing beauty products can be an act of empowerment during a recession. This is borne out by statistics during the last recession in Ireland, when hair salon visits rose from 760,000 in 2008 to 830,000 in 2011.  As well as this, there has also been an improvement in online technology and marketing. Chris Mitchell, Managing Director of Green Angel Irish Skincare Products, describes his company’s experience during the pandemic. “Social media has brought us closer to our customers during the pandemic. We know a lot of them by name simply through the interactions on Facebook and Instagram. It’s also helped educate our consumers on what ingredients we use and I also think a lot of people are now aware we have a full range online through our social media.” He also noted that, although brick and mortar sales were down, customers were not afraid to turn to the internet to make their purchases. “We lost 90% of our business during the pandemic, but there was a tenfold increase in online sales through our website,” he says. Mitchell believes they have learned some good lessons from the pandemic. “We diversified our business to start producing hand


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Beauty  Sector Spotlight

Green Angel founders Chris and Mary Mitchell

“SOCIAL MEDIA HAS BROUGHT US CLOSER TO OUR CUSTOMERS DURING THE PANDEMIC. WE KNOW A LOT OF THEM BY NAME SIMPLY THROUGH THE INTERACTIONS ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM.” sanitiser as a response to the huge demand during the pandemic. To do this, we had to pull all our staff into production and take over the building next door. It’s strengthened our team tremendously and when the reps head back on the road they’ll have an even deeper understanding of how our product is made and what we’re capable of.” The company also gifted 1,000 packages of hand cream and sanitiser to their cocooning clients and had the packages delivered by Meals on Wheels. Mitchell acknowledges that there have been hard times. His Green Angel company produces seaweed-based hair and skincare products, making them part of a growing trend to use natural ingredients in beauty and cosmetic production. However, it is exactly this kind of niche product that Somerville of The Cosmetic Association worries will suffer as a result of restricted access to both the retailer and consumer. She states: “One of the challenges facing the beauty business in the near future is to allow stocks be reordered and encourage customers to browse.” 

Clarity of purpose All three of our interviewees agree that the future involves moving their business increasingly online. McParland expects to see salons decreasing front of house staff and moving more of the booking process online. Somerville agrees that for the cosmetic industry in general, ordering will become more digital, but she warns that this will pose a unique challenge for the beauty sector. “Part of the character of the beauty industry is appealing to the senses of smell, touch and sight. All fragrances, for instance, have to be sampled before they will be bought. This goes for all cosmetic products.”

In the absence of trade shows like the one hosted annually by The Cosmetic Association, it will be a real challenge for new and smaller companies to get their products out there and find a niche amongst the larger, more established brands.    For now, companies seem to be focusing on the future. Somerville says The Cosmetic Association is determined to get members back to their full potential by making sure that next year’s trade show goes ahead. “The Covid-19 pandemic has knocked us to the ground, but like Irish people everywhere, we will rise again and become bigger and better than before.” Mitchell is repurposing money that would have been spent on renting space at various shows like Bloom and instead redirecting it. “We plan to redirect money we would have spent renting a space at an event into pushing the online side of our business, particularly in the UK and Europe.” But for some, the downtime during lockdown has brought about a clarity of purpose that requires a complete overhaul. McParland is one such entrepreneur who has big plans for restructuring. “I plan to have a much more streamlined business with more regulations in place for all my employees and clients. I’m going to reduce the amount of clients that come through our doors, but to increase the amount of revenue that each client generates. My intention is to make each customer feel that they are in a boutique, exclusive salon which boasts a high degree of professionalism, skill, cleanliness, attention to detail, safety and security.” Putting such a high priority on upholding industry standards and ensuring customer safety and satisfaction could be her salon’s saving grace, as customers will hopefully shun risky black market procedures in favour of guaranteed luxury. So, whilst the Irish beauty sector is a powerhouse industry, there are two major hurdles to overcome. One is the lack of enforcement and regulation around the black market, which is more serious now than ever. The second is the catastrophic hit to revenues and production caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry is in good shape to rebound, but needs to use every tool in its belt, from cultivating customer loyalty through social media to diversifying into different products and distribution lines. There is also the as-yet-unknown ramifications of Brexit to the industry, but so far it looks like sufficient precautions have been put in place to overcome any major difficulties. Entrepreneurs within the industry are now setting their eyes firmly on the key period of Christmas. To be able to recover even partially from the devastating shut down, it will have to be ‘all hands on deck’ to maximise on end of year sales. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 23

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Advice  Wise Guys





Managing Director, Guardian Safety To succeed in business, you need to keep upto-date with changing technology. If you can automate most of the repetitive jobs in your business by using workflow software, such as marketing automation, process automation and CRM automation, you can offer your clients a better service, increase efficiency and improve morale of staff by taking away the mundane jobs they do on a day-to-day basis. By doing this, your team will have more time to focus on high-value work and to give more time to your clients.



Managing Director, Activate Training and Consultancy Keep talking – if you’re in business, nothing happens unless you’re talking to people. Allocate time every day to talk to both your customers and your prospective customers. Be curious, find out about people, ask questions and listen. Don’t just call someone when you have something to sell them; call someone to see how you can help. There’s no substitute for this, so don’t take shortcuts. The more people you talk to, and the more people you help, the more successful you’ll be.


Digital TRANSFORMATION Louise O’Conor Partner, Beta Digital

Know your purpose and embrace change. I learned early on that change is the only constant; it’s how we adapt and embracing it helps to ensure success. With rapidly evolving customer demands, markets and technologies, businesses must know why they exist for their customers, have a clear strategy, and the right skills to get there. Never start with technology – it’s only the enabler. Surround yourself with diverse knowledge; collective thinking is more powerful than a single mind. Change is a journey, once you know your purpose, bring people on that journey.

There are many definitions, but there’s one thing that all great business leaders agree on, and that’s how success can only come by persevering despite failure.


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Wise Guys  Advice

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”


BUSINESS SUPPORT Valerie O’Keeffe CEO, ClarityVP Consulting

In my experience, the one major piece of advice I would give anyone would be to have the right balance of a strong ecosystem around you and self-belief – a trust in your own ability, confidence and self-worth. Having a strong mentor and other trusted advisors also helps as you take that leap forward. They can help steer you in the right direction, act as an important sounding board, and challenge you when you need to be challenged. Finally, the ability to listen and act on feedback that supports your growth trajectory can deliver results as you consistently deliver for your customers.

If you are a business leader



CEO, Eating Freely Limited Mind your connections. Don’t be afraid to ask for a coffee meeting or a short call with anyone you meet who could help or advise you on your business. Equally, it’s important to give back to others coming up behind you – have a coffee or chat with someone when requested. You never know when you might need that person, or when they might need you. You also never know who they might know. The most serendipitous opportunities have come up through long-standing connections. Always keep the channel open.

Christopher Reeve (September 25th, 1952 -October 10th, 2004)


FLOORING Vaidas Mockus Managing Director, Deco Designs

Success in business involves many factors coming together, but by far the one thing that’s been required in my 14 years’ experience is confidence. When you have confidence you can overcome any challenging situation that business throws at you. Through confidence, knowledge and relationships I’ve been able to enter the competitive flooring industry and build a stable business that provides for my family, my employees, adds value to my clients and fuels my passion for delivering topclass products and service. Without confidence, hard work and dedication, I doubt I would have gotten this far.

and you feel you have some words of wisdom to share with he small business community please email


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Cover Story  An Post


Signed, Sealed,



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Garrett Bridgeman, Managing Director, An Post Mails & Parcels

Maxwells Photography

An Post  Cover Story


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Cover Story  An Post


single biggest event of 2020 has been Covid-19 and its impact on Irish life and business. The crisis has accelerated the forces that have been driving the transformation of postal service provider An Post, particularly the growth in ecommerce and online shopping. Today, An Post is harnessing what was traditionally best about the company and its people, along with a new flexibility and responsiveness to meet the challenges facing Irish SMEs. At the same time, An Post is seeing a revival of the reliance on mail as a tangible form of connections, both in business and personal communication. “We have seen families and friends connecting through mail while spending time apart and people are seeing the value in mail as a means to make every day moments special,” explains Managing Director Garrett Bridgeman. “With more people at home, and businesses just starting to reopen, direct mail has grown in relevancy and is a crucial channel in helping SMEs get back to business. We are looking forward to building on this and helping SMEs make the most of direct mail in 2021 as a great targeted marketing channel that drives concrete results to help SMEs grow their businesses.” An Post has gone through much transformation in recent years. It has been transformed through a focus on growth in the online sector and improvements in customer experience, with new digital tools to open up the world of post to a new generation of customers. It may seem like dark days are ahead, but Irish SMEs are exemplary in their determination and we will come out of this time stronger, according to Bridgeman, who joined the company as a marketing executive in 1997.  “SMEs are so important to Ireland’s economy and are vital to kick-starting the economic recovery post-Covid. There are more than 240,000 SMEs in Ireland and many don’t have an online presence or aren’t selling their products online. We want to play a role, as best as we can, to help SMEs at this time: to help them get online, market to their customers and to be able to sell their products and conduct their business online while there are limitations in their physical stores.” There are huge opportunities for SMEs by going online at this time. “We want more local boutiques, pharmacies and independent shops using An Post to connect with their customers,” adds Bridgeman. “Your online business doesn’t need to be ultra-sophisticated. No matter what your size or ambition, An Post is here to help you.” An Post has expert local knowledge and a huge range of products that have been developed to help grow an SME business. The company set up a €1m grant offering €1,000 worth of a direct mail campaign to small firms to help them get their message out to their customers. “The response we got was really phenomenal,” admits Bridgeman. “Customers that used it were able to communicate reopening dates for their businesses, facilities for online orders and received really positive feedback from

their communities. This built a really crucial platform for SMEs when reopening and we hope to continue to support them in any way that we can.”

The right solutions In these times, consumers are at home more than ever and they are really receptive to direct mail that comes through their doors. It’s an affordable solution that outperforms digital advertising by really driving consumers to act and keeps your business top of mind, improving brand recall by 70%, according to market research company Kantar. “So much of life is cyclical, and what I am seeing now is customers reengaging with mail,” says Bridgeman. “It is so important now for customers to receive communication through mail when they cannot talk to someone in person, be that in a business or personal context. “Our services allow businesses to connect directly with customers in their locality, so it targets exactly the areas and the customers that you want. Communicating with customers through direct mail piques interest, as people see the value in receiving a tangible piece of communication. “Overall it’s an extremely powerful medium in helping get your message out and making customers curious. This is especially important for SMEs who want their business to be memorable. We have a range of solutions to suit everyone’s needs and we are here to advise people on what will work best for them.” An Post is also offering discounted prices on its Advantage Card parcel labels, and over 2,000 SMEs have signed up since the break of Covid-19. “Our Advantage Card offers reduced parcel and stamp prices, which makes facilitating ecommerce more affordable for SMEs,” says Bridgeman. “Lower postage costs means that they can keep more money in their own pockets and invest in their business. I’d encourage anyone starting out in online selling or with an established online store to contact us and we will help you to find the right solution. Our direct mail solutions not only get your message out, this addressed advertising also drives higher spend and is a great way to showcase your company’s product or service.”

World-class technology The eCommerce Support hub was established to provide SMEs with information and expert tips to help them to start trading online. With links to the Local Enterprise Offices and other SME networks, small businesses can access the best information and inspiration in just a few clicks. “SMEs can find out about different Government grants and start selling their products again,” states Bridgeman. “We update the hub regularly with information and will continue to provide support for SMEs as they plan for their return to business.” An Post has also partnered with Google to develop an SME workshop to offer training on how to sell online in a successful and sustainable way that navigates the current uncertainty.


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An Post  Cover Story

“We are working with a team of Google experts to develop a workshop that will help SMEs identify the opportunities for growth that are needed in this current climate,” explains Bridgeman. “The workshop is free of charge and is a really invaluable resource to learn about ecommerce with its growing popularity.” An Post will continue its focus on the provision of tailored delivery and returns solutions for customers, be it mail, direct mail or parcels – all supported by a network of 3,000 vehicles, including Ireland’s largest electric fleet and more than 5,000 An Post Commerce staff. Modern consumers expect their items with them as quickly as possible, and they want options. “We provide customers with six alternative delivery options,”

says Bridgeman. “If they can’t be there to receive their delivery, we will deliver it for them to a parcel locker, a safe place, an alternative address, a collection point, or on another day. We deliver nationwide, six days a week, with evening delivery also.” “We process about 35 million parcels annually. We’ve had to adapt our model with time as we shifted from a mails centric business to a parcels-focused business model. We also have made a €15m investment into world-class technology, including our new automated parcel hub, so we can confidently say that we can efficiently handle the growing needs of the ecommerce sector,” he concludes. For more information about An Post’s range of dedicated services to help grow your business, visit SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 29

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Entrepreneurs  Workplace Diversity


benefits of diversity in business have been the subject of numerous studies and are wellproven; more diverse companies consistently perform better. For example, a Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. A variety of viewpoints and experiences feeding into a company drives both creative problem-solving and empathy, and, ultimately, is better for the bottom line. Diversity encompasses gender, race and ethnicity, as well as religious and political beliefs, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and disabilities. Nurturing openness, collaboration, learning and the exchange of ideas between different people with a wide variety of life experiences creates far richer outcomes than decision-making in a homogenous echo-chamber. The most prosperous and exciting cities in the world are all melting pots of different cultures; their magic lies in their diversity. It’s becoming clear that the same applies to businesses. Making diversity a priority in your business is not without challenges – and as a small business owner you may be reading this thinking, “It’s just me, I can’t diversify myself!” However, given the worrying rise in extreme nationalist ideologies, racism and prejudice in today’s world, it is incumbent on everyone, first as a human being and secondly as a business person, to educate ourselves on what is considered offensive, and to learn about the cultures and beliefs of our employees, customers and communities, so that we can be sensitive to them, and make every effort to be truly inclusive in our dealings with others. With this in mind, we spoke to four ethnically diverse entrepreneurs about their experiences in their lives and careers and garnered their advice for other employers.


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Workplace Diversity

 Entrepreneurs


Lily Ramirez-Foran hails from Monterrey, a large industrial university city in northeast Mexico. As a student of applied linguistics, she met her Irish husband, Alan Foran, while on a study programme in Japan. It was love at first sight and eventually, Ireland became home, and after years of being homesick for real Mexican food, she set up first an online store and then a bricks and mortar shop and cookery school on Richmond Street in Dublin. Having worked for a large multinational prior to coming to Ireland, Lily has experienced the benefits of diverse teams both on a large scale, and in the microcosm of her partnership with husband Alan. Lily says: “At Picado, we all have a completely different perspective and contribute a different view in the business. That diversity makes the team more resilient and you become better by virtue of more knowledge in the team.” As a linguist, Lily is very conscious of the power of words, and made a decision to refer to herself as an immigrant, underlining that how we refer to immigrants can be a class and race issue. “Sometimes people look at me a bit shocked when I say it, but it’s true. There’s no difference between me and the person who is living in direct provision, except I have my papers and they don’t. “The language is so important. If you look in the States, it’s ‘the undocumented Irish’, while people from the Latino community are ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘illegal immigrants’.” Lily creates a lovely metaphor for diversity in terms of food, talking about how Dublin is now a much more interesting place to go out to eat, with a huge

variety of cuisines on offer. “If you look at Irish people when I came here 20 years ago, my in-laws had never eaten an avocado or ever had a mango. It was not on their radar. I think that during the Celtic Tiger, as a country we became a lot more diverse because people travelled and experienced other cultures. I think we are a richer place because of all these different influences, whether it’s Irish people coming back to live in Ireland or non-Irish people coming to settle in Ireland.” One final piece of wisdom she offers is to do some research. “You do have to make a little bit of an effort and do the research and learn a little bit about the cultures of the people you work with because it will save you an awful lot of blushes and trouble. Diversity training is a good idea if you have the budget. But if you don’t, and you’re a small business, there’s always the internet!”

Lily Ramirez-Foran, Founder, Picado Mexican


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Entrepreneurs  Workplace Diversity

KIM BERG Kim Berg is the founder of Fancy Fawn, an ethical children’s clothing brand, made using organic and regenerated materials. Kim grew up in Dublin, adopted by an Irish family. Diversity has always been part of her home life, without it ever feeling like an issue. It was only as she got older, and was subject to racial abuse for the first time, that she was ever made to feel different or other. As we talk, Kim points out that discussing ethnicity can be a minefield and recognises that people can offend without meaning to. She admits, “I don’t know what’s politically correct anymore to be honest. I’ve been given out to before for describing myself as mixed race. What am I supposed to call myself?” For a small business owner looking to educate themselves, and to formulate a strategy and language around diversity and inclusion in your company, reading around the subject can be daunting and sometimes confusing, as answers are sometimes not clear. In looking for an answer to Kim’s question, it seems that while ‘mixed’ is a term acceptable to some, it is offensive to others; ‘multiracial’ seems to be the least controversial wording, along with ‘biracial’ although that is inaccurate if someone has grandparents from three or four different countries or ethnicities. When we discuss initiatives such as hiring quotas, Kim is adamant that she doesn’t believe in tokenism, but that you can balance diversity and finding the right candidate for a job. “It’s about finding the person with the right drive. It’s nice to have an eclectic mix – it brings another point of view, a different type of education to the table. I do think that’s important, but at the end of the day it’s down to the person and how they are.” As the mother of three multiracial daughters, it is vital for Kim to be seen as a role model for female entrepreneurs. “If I am a role model I am really proud of that and I definitely do believe that you have to put yourself out there and be happy to talk about where you came from. It’s really important to be a role model and to show people a positive story. Growing up, Kim felt she always lacked a doll that looked like her, and now is thankful that there is a greater range available to her children, praising Mattel for their range of Barbies of all skin tones, embodying inspirational careers from judges to film directors. “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” she underlines. “For my daughters, I want them to know that they are from a mother that is multiracial, and I want to teach them to be kind to everybody. I think my daughters are going to grow up in a much more inclusive society and each decade it’s getting better. We’ve come on a long way and I’m so proud of Ireland for that.” Kim Berg, Founder, Fancy Fawn


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Workplace Diversity

Rohit Thakral began his career in his native India before moving to Ireland in 2003 to further his studies, with a degree in engineering in what was then known as DIT (now TU Dublin). After working with both SMEs and large corporations, he set up Target Integration to provide customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software to businesses. As an employer in the IT sector, he maintains that reaching out to a diverse workforce is not an option, it is a necessity. “When you talk to IT companies, you realise that there aren’t enough trained people in the country that can come in and do the job that we want them to do. It helps to widen the possibilities.” It’s also something he firmly believes is beneficial for everyone within the company, from a work-life perspective. “If I’m talking to the same people, my knowledge is limited. There isn’t anything to learn about. I may not enjoy my work as much. You’re not learning anything new about life, about culture, about business in general. The growth is limited and, from that perspective, it makes perfect sense to have a very mixed workforce.” This view echoes the findings of research that has found that strong diversity and inclusion policies were important for attracting millennial generation staff. Reflecting on his own assimilation into the team in one of his first jobs in Ireland, Rohit recalls that one of the team members made a huge effort to help him. “In my first organisation there was a particular gentleman who kept on helping me and guiding me with various items like phrases and the history of Ireland.” He suggests this type of unofficial mentoring could be helpful for other businesses. “It’s a buddy which is not for work, it’s a cultural buddy, someone who you could relate to, somebody who is open. Some people are very shy when they come over, they don’t want to

 Entrepreneurs

Rohit Thakral, Founder, Target Integration

admit that they don’t understand what you’re asking or what you’re saying. I was lucky to have good people around me who literally took me by the hand and said, ‘Look, let me explain this to you, what it means.’” Rohit also finds that recognising different celebrations is a wonderfully inclusive way to bring people together, while also being respectful of their beliefs and cultures. “Celebrating festivals is a good way of mixing the cultures. This is not just from an Indian context. There are a lot of companies who have American nationals and they will celebrate the 4th of July. Why not celebrate other festivals as well? Come up with ideas, get feedback from the team to see if there is a festival coming up that we, as the HR manager or the cultural manager, doesn’t know about. People are connected to their roots. Especially for people who are single and have just moved to the country, they may not have real connections to celebrate it with, if they haven’t made friends yet, so it can be good to celebrate festivals with them.”



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Entrepreneurs  Workplace Diversity

ADEOLA OGUNSINA Adeola Ogunsina is the founder and COO of Onsite Refueling, a company which brings fuel to truck fleets, rather than individual truck drivers bringing their vehicles to filling stations, thereby reducing the operational costs and saving time for the fleet owners. Born in Nigeria, Adeola’s father was in the military and his mother ran a fashion house. These two influences imbued him with traits that have stood to him well in his business career. After studying economics in university Adeola took up a job with French oil company Total. It was later, when his wife, who had studied HR in the UK, accepted a job offer from Tesco Ireland that they came to Ireland at the end of 2000. Adeola ended up becoming the first approved franchisee when Shell franchised out their Irish business and ended up running five filling stations. It was during this time the idea for his company was born. As an immigrant, he felt that he had more work to do to prove himself and his new concept. “I bent over backwards to make sure that I did everything right and that the service we provided was way above our competitors. I knew how I would be judged, not because of my service but because of myself.” “If you start a business in Ireland you have to be the sales person, the operations person, the accounts person and everything else. In my own case, the sales were a

Adeola Ogunsina, Founder and COO, On-site Refueling

bit more difficult… If you’re cold calling as a person of colour it’s very difficult. You get the resistance before you meet the person.” On-site Refueling now employs 15 people, a mix of male and female, including Irish, Indian Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Romanian, Kenyan and South African staff. He sees benefits for the team members, not just the business, from having such diversity in the workforce. “Having a diverse workforce allows people to open up more and be more friendly. It reduces cliques and friction. Everybody works together from a point of understanding that we’re in this together, with an initial acceptance that everybody is there to get the job done. It helps to build a better team.” Adeola’s advice for other business owners who want their teams to flourish is to create opportunities for them to bond. “With a multicultural team you can’t just assume that they will all go to the pub on a Friday evening to bond. The company may need to look internally to see how they can get their teams to bond. These are necessary things. Cultures are different and needs are different. “Companies need to look at diversity objectives and come up with strategies to get team-mates to understand each other better. You’re not trying to give some people different advantages, you’re just trying to do right by all.”


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Going Cashless

 Tips

Orla Bowers Senior Product Manager, AIB Merchant Services

s s e l h s a C g Goin


Covid-19 has changed many aspects of life and business. There are a lot of unknowns in the post-lockdown world, but one thing we can be certain of is that for as long as the virus remains a threat, social distancing is here to stay. This will change the way in which business-owners lay out their premises, the products and services they continue selling and how they protect their staff and their customers. And at the centre of all of these decisions is the way in which businesses continue to accept payment. Before Covid-19, the use of noncash payment methods was already on the rise, helped considerably by the convenience of contactless and mobile payments. Cash has long been recognised as an expensive way of taking payment, while the very nature of cash means it passes through many hands, making it a less attractive payment method during a pandemic. The ability to pay for goods without having to touch surfaces will undoubtedly become the preference for both merchant and consumer alike. Since the Covid-19 pandemic first impacted Ireland, the average transaction value of a contactless payment has increased and ATM use has seen a fall. The Government support of an increase to the limit on contactless payments from €30 to €50 has helped, as has a rise in mobile payment adoption. And there is more that businesses can do to influence consumers to reduce their reliance on cash.

GO EXPLICITLY CASHLESS Making a bold statement that your business only accepts card payment is not only acceptable, but may even be admirable and reassuring for customers. Many consumers are just as uneasy about handling cash as businesses are, and card is now the preferred payment method. Plus, removing cash from your environment decreases risk of theft, greatly simplifies reconciliation processes, and removes the need for trips to the bank.

USE TECH TO MINIMISE CONTACT Technology has a significant part to play in minimising contact in the payment journey. The use of mobile-based digital payment methods, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, are incredibly useful for higher value goods, as the mobile device authentication means that contactless limits do not apply. Promoting this at the point of sale will remind customers that they can pay in this way. More and more businesses are taking orders online for collection in person, meaning the consumer pays outside of the store. Solutions to enable this will become more common in the post-Covid-19 world. Not only does this minimise contact between staff and consumer, it also acts as a powerful way to shorten queues.

MOVING ONLINE It is now more necessary than ever for bricks and mortar stores to diversify the ways in which they provide their goods and services, resulting in more businesses choosing to embrace online trading. But the sometimes daunting prospect of website development, ecommerce platforms and shopping card plugins need not deter business-owners from making iterative steps towards a more online-driven business. PaybyLink, allows businesses to accept payments securely from customers through a digital payment link, meaning they can use social media platforms for promotion where a full website may not yet exist.

KEEPING AN EYE ON FRAUD If you are changing the way that you sell, it is necessary to understand the corresponding shift in potential exposure to fraud, especially when taking payments over the phone. Using 3DSecure as a means of customer authentication and establishing good practices in relation to delivery and collection services will minimise your exposure to costly chargeback and fraud events. The future payment landscape for all industries that comply with social distancing rules remains uncertain. In any scenario, there has never been a better time to consider going cashless. AIB Merchant Services offers a host of solutions to help businesses go cashless. You can find out more at SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 35

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Small Business Profile  Irish Whiskey Museum

Old fashioned Values


Irish whiskey has enjoyed a resurgence over recent times to become the fastest-growing spirit in the world. In 2013, there were only four distilleries in operation and five visitor centres on the island of Ireland. Today, there are in excess of 20 operating distilleries, with many more in the pipeline. Independent of all the whiskey distilleries in Ireland, the Irish Whiskey Museum offers visitors the opportunity to taste some of the huge selection of outstanding whiskeys on offer amidst an exclusive collection of memorabilia dating from the 1800s.

Nicola McDonnell started working at the Irish Whiskey Museum during 2015 as Sales and Marketing Manager and her wealth of experience has been key to the business since her arrival. The importance of a sound marketing strategy has become increasingly significant within the tourism industry and in her current role as General Manager, McDonnell needs to keep abreast of emerging industry trends and tourist behaviour. “Tourists to Ireland are broadly categorised into three groups, namely social energisers, the culturally curious and the great escapers,” she explains. “These categories have been defined by Fáilte Ireland as a way of more accurately targeting our visitors.” McDonnell continues: “Most visitors to Ireland display similar expectations, motivations and desires from their holiday. They want to have fun, experience new things and meet locals. They enjoy nature, local food


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Irish Whiskey Museum  Small Business Profile

and music, and many want to experience a city break, as well as a touring holiday. “The museum attracts both social energisers who want to post on social media and the culturally curious, who want to get under the skin of the local culture. Social media has played a big role and people want to take great photos of their experience to share with their friends and family.” Based in an historic building opposite the iconic gates of Trinity College on bustling Grafton Street, the premises relies greatly on passing trade. “It is very exciting operating in Dublin city centre, but our location has its own set of challenges,” says McDonnell. “Our location can be a deterrent for coach tours, which have difficulties finding parking in the city centre. Furthermore, rates are quite high and recently A-boards [outdoor signs designed to attract customers] were banned from the city centre by Dublin City Council. We’re based on the first floor of the building with no shop-front of our own, so we depend on these A-boards to catch the attention of passing trade.” Passing trade is one factor that came to an impromptu halt when the Covid-19 pandemic broke in March. The tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19 restrictions and many businesses are struggling to survive in the current climate. “We closed our business on March 13th at the start of the tourist season, and we had to lay off all of our staff,” says McDonnell. “The period around St Patrick’s Day is the biggest week of the year for us. The low season runs from November up to before St Patrick’s Day, and many businesses will survive through these months purely off the back

of the peak season. The timing of Covid-19 for the tourism business, and for many others businesses I’m sure, has had a detrimental effect.”

Roadmap to reopen Getting tourism businesses to reopen safely in line with Government public health advice has become a talking point recently as businesses employ new practices and procedures to ensure everyone stays safe. Reopening comes with many challenges, according to McDonnell. “While we were officially allowed to reopen on June 29th, there are no tourists around to make the business viable. Our business is heavily reliant on international travellers, who make up 85% of our visitors. Additionally, the current social distancing measures mean that we can only have seven or eight people on a tour, compared to the 28 we would normally have.” She adds: “However, I think the reopening guidelines are fair. The HSE and the Government have to do the right thing to protect us all.”

and so on – and an extension of the temporary wage scheme to get people back into employment.” Staff retention is another major focus for McDonnell. Every time employees walk out the door, they’re taking their institutional knowledge with them. “We have a fantastic team working at the museum and we would love to have them all back,” she admits. “We don’t want to lose the invaluable knowledge we currently have in our team. It is still too early to know what the outcome will be however, and our decision will be based on the funding we receive, if any.” Irish companies across every sector have had to adapt their offerings in the face of the pandemic. In May, McDonnell and her team started running an online event called the ‘The Whiskey Lock-in’ every Friday night – a live whiskey tasting experience hosted on Zoom and led by one of The Irish Whiskey Museum’s leading experts. “The idea was to reach out to the Irish market and create an awareness of who we are,” says McDonnell. “We have always understood the importance of the Irish market, but we generally don’t have as much time as we’d like to target the home market. We are now prioritising this right now, while we have the time.” The scale of the challenge ahead for the tourism sector cannot be overstated as businesses come to terms with the new landscape. McDonnell offers an honest appraisal of what is achievable over the coming months. “By the end of 2020, the best-case scenario is that we will hit 20% of our financial projection for the year. Looking further ahead, it’s too early to say what 2021 will look like.”

Adapting to change Covid-19 is an unprecedented challenge for the tourism sector. There are big concerns for many tourism businesses as to whether they can endure and action is required to support business survival and job retention. “There are three requirements that the industry is looking for,” explains McDonnell. “Grants to adapt our premises for social distancing, survival grants to help cover fixed costs – rent, utilities, insurance SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 37

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Trading Places  Angela Barnes




intern with Sky. “I remember walking into Sky News on my first day and being completely in awe of the place,” recalls Barnes. “The atmosphere, the people, the buzz – it was captivating.” Barnes’ drive to succeed paid off when she was offered a fulltime position with the broadcasting giant. “Sky News was the best training ground for me,” she says, “and I was lucky to work with a great bunch of people. Over ten years I worked my way up the ladder – producing, reporting, presenting and fronting shows.” As a budding reporter, Barnes understood the importance of learning from her mentors to gain an understanding of the demands of each role within the organisation. “I think it’s crucial to first work as a producer and nail writing for TV,” she says. “This gives you that newsroom experience and an understanding of the pressure producers are under. When you make the transition [to presenting] it ultimately makes you far more rounded for tackling such a fast-paced sector. Most reporters do start off locally, and I think that’s also important – it really helps when setting the foundations for good news gathering.” Her time at Sky News was primarily based in London, which Barnes describes as “a tough one to crack”.

COMMENT ATOR In the exciting world of TV, today’s major players are adapting to the many uncertainties presented by rapidly changing consumer demands and restrictions around Covid-19. TV production plays an important economic role in providing employment as the appeal for audio-visual content becomes even more widespread. However, the future of the sector is hard to predict. In this uncertain environment, competition is fierce and breaking into any realm of this cutthroat industry is no easy task, particularly for budding presenters. But for those with the conviction to stay the course, there are a huge range of opportunities and careers to pursue. Although a well-established figure at the forefront of news delivery today, like most other TV journos Angela Barnes had to earn her crust as a young intern. Today, her versatility covering politics, business, technology and sport sees her report on some of the most pressing stories of our time, both on a national and international scale. The buzz of live broadcasting resonated with a youthful Barnes during her first foray into the industry with a role as


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Angela Barnes

 Trading Places

Angela Barnes, journalist and television presenter


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Trading Places  Angela Barnes

She adds: “Once you have a foot in the door, however, it is very meritocratic. Everyone knows each other at the different TV networks in London, which is a benefit when moving around and attempting new things.” Although based in London, the opportunity to visit Dublin regularly cropped up. “One of my roles was reporting and stand-in presenting on Sky’s flagship weekly tech show, Swipe,” she explains. “The programme enabled me to work in Dublin a lot because of the thriving tech scene and it meant I could extend trips back home to my family in Donegal more often too.”

French adventure Barnes moved to freelance reporting in 2018 after being offered an opportunity in Lyon with Euronews to present a live segment every morning on well-known breakfast show, Good Morning Europe. “It was an international show with a huge audience reach,” says Barnes. “So I took the risk and went for it. A few of my Sky News friends made the transition over to France too, so it was great to have coffee companions!” She continues: “Working in France has been a really incredible experience. The work with Euronews has also allowed me to travel extensively across Europe, and, before lockdown, to Patagonia, reporting from the glaciers on climate change. Presenting on such a big show and working in an international newsroom with all the different language teams is just such a unique environment.” Barnes feels completely at home in France’s so-called ‘second city’. “Lyon is such a great location,” she says. “It’s a beautiful place and it’s easy to walk around the whole city – and the French Alps are pretty close too. There’s a great work-life balance in France; the unions are very strict about working hours, and this is a huge benefit for leading a healthier lifestyle.”

Freelance foray Barnes continues to expand her career as a presenter and correspondent and has bagged regular reporting work with ITV, Channel 5 News, CNBC, as well as continuing to freelance at Sky, fronting a show on Sky Sports called Find The Advantage and also working with the Sky Sports News teams. “The great thing about being freelance is the variety and flexibility,” she says. “I get the chance to go home to Ireland almost every month now [before Covid-19] to see my family in Kilcar, Donegal. Being established, you can also earn and work more. “The deadlines are tight and the hours are long, so you really do have to love it, as you spend a lot of time working and travelling. You also have to keep updated on the news all the time, especially as a reporter, and be equipped to talk about a topic in case you need to go live at short notice. But I find it hugely rewarding. Working with and meeting so many interesting, dynamic people from all walks of life, whilst doing something I’m really passionate about, is incredible. “But, of course, a lack of routine isn’t for everyone. It’s given me the freedom to work on a couple of other businesses I have started, which I couldn’t do whilst on a permanent contract with one company.” Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the industry and Barnes points to the number of productions she was due to work on being postponed as a testament to this.

“I think many working practices will never be the same again,” admits Barnes. “Rather than travelling, I’ve been doing a lot of the breaking news from London. I’ve been kept busy with live broadcasts and reports too. Working for a few different clients has really been key for me and I think, after the pandemic, a lot more freelancers will spread their wings more widely as an extra insurance.”

Digital demands The insuppressible march of digital technology has undoubtedly influenced the sector. Consumer habits have evolved with this digital wave and every news platform has had to adapt and find new ways to monetise content online when so much is available for free. “When I first started reporting, productions were a lot bigger,” notes Barnes of the evolution of the sector. “There seemed to be more money in the pot to produce content. Over the years, studios have become smaller, and office spaces have increased to make room for the digital revolution. “The role has really expanded and mobile journalism is a big thing now, especially during this pandemic, where we all have had to socially distance,” says Barnes of the increasing pressures on the modern professional. “As a reporter, it’s not now just a case of doing a version of your story for TV; you have to be completely multi-platform – write the analysis for the website or mobile version, do a shorter version of your report that would work for social media, offer up something different video-wise for online, and promote it on all the social media platforms.” As the reach of traditional media is increasingly under scrutiny, negativity towards reporters on social media platforms is another factor Barnes needs to contend with. “I think it’s very easy to be criticised when you’re in the public eye,” she states. “All you can do is your best and try and include all views and voices in a way that’s as balanced as possible.”

New opportunities Despite the upheaval 2020 has brought, Barnes’s schedule remains a hectic one for the remainder of the year. “I’m looking forward to working with another new client this year, ITN Productions. I’m also on standby to deliver breaking news on all things ‘royal family’ for external partners, including CNN, so I’m looking forward to working with them too. Barnes has also started chatting with agents in Ireland and claims she would consider relocating to Ireland on a permanent basis. “I’d really like to do some more broadcasting gigs in Ireland. Again, to get home more is important, so I’ll pursue that again once things are moving safely post-pandemic. “There are roles like mine in Ireland at the bigger networks, or as a correspondent for one of the international channels, but I guess there are just fewer openings and you really need to be based in Dublin for those kinds of roles. “I guess the challenge, as you’ll know, is housing. The presence of these companies means those working for them can afford to pay rent in Silicon Docks, but it makes it harder for those trying to get in. Another challenge of starting a business in Ireland is the need to think internationally very quickly, because scaling just for the Irish market really has its challenges.”


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Nutrition  Health

> Keep a diary

Over 50% of what we do on a daily basis is habit, but the rug has been pulled from underneath our feet in these extraordinary times. Healthy eating starts with the mind and may be heavily influenced by stressful events. Therefore, it is crucial to keep a food and mood diary to identify the good, the bad and the ugly if you want to improve your diet. In addition, next time you are leaving the supermarket, take a photo of your shopping trolley – it’s a great way to see exactly what you are consuming.

> Steps to avoid stress


eating in the

new normal


Fear tends to be associated with trigger foods, which contribute to increased levels of binge eating. Binge eating is literally having my cake and eating it, the whole lot and still wanting more! Processed food adds little value to a healthy you and may even be a major contributing factor to feelings of lethargy, low mood and chronic illness. While vegetables and fruit contain nearly all vitamins and minerals the body requires for supporting optimal health and wellbeing.

When I deliver my health and wellness presentations to companies, I cannot stress enough the importance of healthy eating. 60% of our brains are made up of fat, therefore, it is important to eat healthy fats to support cognitive function and mental wellbeing. 70% of our immune system is in our gut, and foods which support the gut function are critical to support our immune protecting us from sickness. Stress has been classified as the health epidemic of the 21st century, add a global pandemic and this is a lot for you to cope with. High stress levels can deplete a number of nutrients in your body. Therefore, it is important you ensure higher levels of vitamins in your diet which help build resilience against stress.

> Create an action plan

Working with employees’ feedback shows the biggest challenge in healthy eating is planning. ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’m too busy’ are common complaints. When working from home, or heading back to the office, planning is fundamental. If you want to increase energy, support mood, prevent sickness and reach optimal health and wellbeing: plan, plan and plan again. Like any project, the more you put into it, the more you get out. Don’t be hard on yourself, keep going. For more information on how I can enable you to reach your optimal health and wellbeing, contact SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 41

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HR  Grievance Procedures


It is easy to understand how misunderstandings, concerns or problems can arise in a workplace. Employers should encourage employees to raise issues or make management aware of issues at an early stage so that they can be resolved informally if possible, before those issues fester to become more serious or more entrenched. A grievance procedure is for employees to raise concerns or issues regarding matters such as their terms and conditions of employment, the work environment, decisions taken by management or working relationships with management or other staff members. Most employee complaints or concerns are capable of being resolved on an informal basis. If employee issues remain unresolved, the employee may raise their concern through the formal grievance procedure. A grievance procedure promotes resolution of matters without the need for third party intervention and promotes good working relationships. In a recent constructive dismissal case – Senior Buying Manager vs Wholesale Distributor (ADJ-00018564) – the intimidating and bullying behaviour of the office manager towards the senior buyer and the lack of intervention by the director, who was their line manager, is a costly lesson to the tune of €20,000. The complainant resigned, as they felt they had no other recourse but to leave and subsequently took a constructive dismissal case under the Unfair Dismissals Act. The initial issue arose between the senior buyer and the office manager when an organisational chart was circulated. It showed that the senior buyer reported directly to the office manager. He disputed this and sought clarification from the director, who confirmed that he did not report to the office manager. The organisational chart was not updated to reflect this inaccuracy, despite the employee reminding the director of this on many occasions.


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Grievance Procedures  HR

The employee suffered an accident and subsequently was hospitalised for nine weeks. The office manager made the decision to cease sick pay during this period without contacting the employee and with no intervention by the director. The employee requested paid time off to attend hospital appointments as part of their recovery, which was refused by the office manager, despite the employee being on a salary. The adjudicator commented in their findings that ‘this frankly appears to be capricious and vindictive’. Again, his line manager, the director, ignored the complaints on this issue. Another issue that arose was the allocation of work; he was asked to take on the tasks of a female employee going on maternity leave and he refused. The office manager threatened that his future bonuses will be impacted if he did not take on the additional duties. At this stage the complainant reached out to the director to come over from the UK and intervene. The meeting resulted in the issues being momentarily resolved, however, the situation continued to deteriorate until the senior buyer resigned.

Outcome and learnings The adjudicator in summing up the case found in favour of the senior buyer and, whilst the office manager stated that there was a grievance and disputes policy, this was never actively offered to the employee. In addition, his resignation letter and the numerous issues that arose were ignored. The adjudicator stated that, ‘the complainant made a sustained effort to make the respondent aware of what was going on” and that “the need to protect oneself from physical, emotional or reputational damage is paramount”. Adding that the “intolerable aspect of his employment was the unreasonable behaviour of the office manager, the absence of support from the director and the lack of clarity about the reporting structure”. The adjudicator found that it was reasonable for the employee to resign and subsequently awarded them €20,000. Most businesses strive to create a workplace whereby work colleagues work well together, support one another and work as a team. However, issues can arise and can, if ignored, these issues escalate and continue to fester over time. Employers should take steps the following steps: ■ Refer to and use their grievance policy or dignity in the

workplace policy. The policy and procedure should be communicated and taught to all employees. ■ Do not ignore issues, as they do not go away and can often worsen over time. ■ Deal with grievances/disputes in a clear and timely manner with all staff. ■ Provide employees with a clear course of action and timescale within which to resolve issues of concern. ■ Ensure any investigation is carried out by someone who is impartial, so that there can be no perception of bias.

A GUIDE TO REMOTE WORKING Working from home in the coming months will be a reality for a lot of people and it will continue to be a predominant feature of the Irish workplace. Many employers post Covid-19 will be offering work flexibility such as working in an office or from home as it has proved to be an efficient and positive trend. Where it will continue, employers should proactively engage and consult with those employees to identify any concerns or challenges that may have arisen. Employers should revisit or draft a new remote working policy tailored to suit this current pandemic and the situation that may exist thereafter. Realistic and achievable objectives should be set to suit each employee’s situation, availability and restrictions. A catchup between the employee and manager can be scheduled where an agenda of items can be discussed (e.g. connectivity, systems access, equipment, furniture, technology, home and work conflicts, and time management). Many businesses were successful in implementing home working by organising equipment, team meetings and revising their schedule for the annual year. Employers were required to act quickly to implement remote work arrangements. The biggest challenge with this was that there was no preparation for this drastic shift to a digital way of working. Employers should now familiarise themselves with the legal and HR considerations for remote working to avoid facing claims made by the employee. Empower yourselves and your employees to work remotely by visiting, where you can explore how to put in place remote and flexible working solutions.


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SFA Policy  Stimulus Package

stimulus STABILITY A


THE JULY STIMULUS IS CENTRED ON SUPPORTING OUR ECONOMY AND BOOSTING JOB CREATION AND JOB RETENTION EFFORTS TO THE END OF 2020. The SFA made a submission to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in advance of the July stimulus package. For small businesses to bounce back when this health crisis is over, the SFA is calling for the introduction of the following measures in the package:

Boost consumer confidence

The July stimulus package must consider and include measures aimed at restoring consumer confidence and promoting the return to normal consumer patterns. The stimulus must protect and maintain small business competitiveness and ability to grow, sustain jobs and deliver great choice and value to the consumer. One way of doing this is through the reintroduction of the 9% VAT rate for hospitality and related sectors for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021.

Improve the administration of grants

For many small businesses, the current liquidity supports will not suffice and they will need further support to shore-up cashflow, balance sheets and investment. SFA proposes to increase the Restart Grant fund to over €1bn, including a flat

rate payment of €15,000 per company to match the German and UK schemes and remove the link to the rates system which disqualifies so many smaller businesses. It is crucial to ensure that financing effectively arrives at small firms, therefore, the application and delivery process of further supports for small businesses must be more efficient and effective going forward and processing timelines should be introduced and adhered to. SFA recognises the success of Revenue’s administration of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and recommends that any new grant and supports should be administered through Revenue to ensure measures reach businesses as quickly as possible.

Enhance the suite of liquidity supports

The scale of public supports provided to address the liquidity crisis remains far behind those in most other countries. SFA proposes the introduction of a new and radically improved ‘bounce-back’ credit guarantee scheme for firms with below 50 employees, with 100% guarantees on loans, no portfolio limit and an interest rate holiday of 12 months followed by interest rates well below the eurozone average.


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Stimulus Package  SFA Policy

reduction in the government wage subsidy. SFA proposes that the future extension of the TWSS and the gradual reduction of the subsidy be discussed at the SME and State Bodies Group to be chaired jointly by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Help small businesses to trade

To ensure that small firms can continue to trade domestically and internationally, we propose the introduction of a state guarantee scheme for trade credit insurance, similar to that of other European jurisdictions, such as Germany.

Address fixed costs and debts

Introduce a fund to write down debts under the Revenue tax warehousing scheme where they threaten business viability, extend the commercial rates waiver to six months with a further six-month deferral, and introduce a binding mandatory arbitration model for disputes over commercial leases. This arbitration model should include some state burden sharing based on the recent Swedish state-aid approved model.

A tax system to support small firms

Continue the TWSS scheme

The TWSS needs to be continued to the end of October as small firms will remain significantly impacted by the continued market disruption associated with Covid-19 and the ongoing threat of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. This extension should apply to firms from all sectors of the economy and during this time the scheme should be extended to new hires and seasonal workers. From the end of August, firms who’s turnover or customer orders begin to improve and no longer meet the 25% reduction in turnover or customer orders criteria should be given six weeks to leave the scheme. From the end of October, a wound down plan should be announced that includes a gradual

In advance of Budget 2021 and the establishment of a Commission on Social Welfare and Taxation, the SFA believes immediate tax changes need to be undertaken in the July stimulus package. We recommend the introduction of a ‘borrow back tax paid’ scheme, as introduced in other EU countries such as Denmark, which has had the effect of ensuring financing arrives at small firms. Encourage lending to SMEs from the private sector through the introduction of a tax credit incentive for depositors and immediate reform of the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme (EII) criteria – to qualify there is a requirement that a company must not be an 'undertaking in difficulty' (accumulated losses exceeding the value of 50% of subscribed share capital). The impact of Covid-19 alters Ireland’s landscape and may no longer accurately reflect the underlying viability of such a company.

STATE BODIES GROUP HOLDS FIRST MEETING On July 10th, SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens attended the first meeting of the SME and State Bodies Group. The group is jointly chaired by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to coordinate the Government’s ongoing response to Covid-19 for SMEs. The meeting discussed the possible supports and interventions that Government can provide, which will have the most beneficial impact on small and medium businesses as our economy reopens. Since the beginning of the crisis, the SFA had called for the creation of such a group. Open and inclusive engagement between different Government departments, agencies, academia, business representatives and the small business sector in Ireland will be most important in contributing to our reboot and growth going forward.

To share your views on these topics or to raise any other policy concerns, contact Elizabeth Bowen, SFA Senior Executive, on (01) 605 1626 or email elizabeth.bowen


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Back Back to to Business Business & & Restructuring Restructuring  Feature





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Feature  Back to Business & Restructuring



Skillnet Ireland To help Irish businesses get back to business safely, Skillnet Ireland has launched a programme of free specialist webinar training and mentoring support.


Health and Safety Authority The Health and Safety Authority has designed measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace as the economy begins to slowly open up.


Iconic Offices Iconic Offices’ CEO Joe McGinley summarises the changing demands on health and safety in office design in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


National Standards Authority of Ireland NSAI is lending knowledge and expertise to help businesses navigate and recover from Covid-19 as quickly and safely as possible.



Covid-19 pandemic has been a transformative global event. It took the world by surprise and as the virus spread it had a huge impact on global markets. As the situation evolved, firms across Ireland bore the brunt of the severe economic implications. Unfortunately, this pandemic continues to be particularly difficult for Irish businesses, but we will learn from this crisis, just like we do with any other obstacles we have faced in the past. But, now, Irish companies are responding and adapting to ensure they survive the downturn, while at the same time positioning themselves for future growth. Step by step, we’re seeing the economy starting to come back to life. We’ve seen how agility has already enabled firms to pivot and move forward. And as we take the necessary steps in what we know will be a long journey, it is a welcome sign that we are moving in the right direction. Equally, employers have been aware that rushing a return to work without the correct safeguards in place is an unnecessary risk. Through innovative learning, Irish firms can reimagine work practices and reskill to be ready for the ‘new normal’. In this feature you’ll find advice how to evolve in accordance with Government safety guidance, while we also take a look at how the Irish business community is getting back to work and review what needs to be done to get Irish firms on road to recovery.

MyNET A monitored security system is more important than ever, according to MyNET CEO Jack Raeburn.


Lidan Designs Dan O’Brien explains his approach of maximising the use of sustainable and natural material, whilst also creating the perfect work environment.


Business Works Consulting Business Works Consultant Marina Bleahen believes disruption offers huge opportunities for individuals and companies who want to grow.

63 Arvo

Arvo have been in R&D mode during lockdown, researching revolutionary technologies to determine how it can better serve remote clients in future.


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Back to Business & Restructuring  Feature


64 Irish Society of Insolvency Practitioners

Companies need to look at restructuring their debt while retaining sufficient working capital to survive, according to Des Gibney.


With considerable experience advising businesses in commercial disputes, BHSM’s Mark Homan discusses the steps that need to be taken during the current economic downturn.


Kenny Solicitors

FOCUS ON RESTRUCTURING At this perilous time, it’s all about saving as many businesses as possible. As business owners will be all too aware, overcoming debt is no easy task at the best of times. Today, many businesses are experiencing substantial challenges and hardship as they grapple with the realities of Covid-19 and attempt to recover their losses and remain viable. During a pandemic, it’s vital to have a clear understanding of the alternative solutions that are available when entering negotiations with creditors. The current economic landscape is changing rapidly and it’s one companies are finding difficult to assess. What type of restructuring to undertake can depend on a myriad of factors and, ultimately, it’s really about what’s best for each individual business. It can involve the renegotiation of debt, new funding, changes to management or an operational reorganisation. Unprecedented situations often call for new ways of thinking. Through a community that actively helps businesses to transform and grow their businesses, Irish firms have the power to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the country. More difficult decisions lie ahead for business owners across the nation, of that there is little doubt. Coordinated solutions to restructuring will be required to efficiently navigate the financial impact of Covid-19. However, by seeking advice from industry experts on all aspects of restructuring, Irish companies can take the required steps to minimise the impacts of the pandemic.

Graham P. Kenny dispels some of the myths around legislation and explains some of the lifelines to help save your company.

69 Duff & Phelps

The world of corporate finance has been dramatically impacted, forcing Irish firms and financers to look for solutions to unexpected debt or cashflow issues.

71 PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes

As businesses reopen and begin to trade again, PKF can assist with the preparation of business plans and financial forecasts.

73 RBK

RBK prides itself in being able to adapt to changes in business, and never has that adaptability been more important than now.

75 Wilsons Auctions

Family-owned auction house Wilsons Auctions is offering invaluable support for firms when it comes to valuing and selling assets.

77 Credit Review

Credit Review’s team are experts in reviewing credit applications and restructuring proposals to help businesses through the challenges of Covid-19.

79 Fitzgerald Legal & Advisory

David Swinburne and Sinead McNamara on how the firm can provide robust practical advice and solutions as a package to clients.

80 PJ Lynch & Company

As we move into an uncertain future as many firms move into insolvency, industry expert PJ Lynch provides advice for firms fighting for survival. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 49

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Back to Business Partner Profile  Skillnet Ireland

REBOUND TO SUCCEED TO HELP IRISH SMES GET BACK TO BUSINESS SAFELY, SKILLNET IRELAND HAS LAUNCHED A PROGRAMME OF FREE SPECIALIST WEBINAR TRAINING AND ONE-TO-ONE MENTORING SUPPORT. As Irish businesses begin to reopen and employees gradually return to the workplace, many will have to adjust to the practical changes required to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Responding to the new normal will involve several steps, from implementing the Return to Work Safely Protocol, to adopting workforce management measures, and examining new ways of working. Skillnet Ireland’s ‘ReBound – Back to Business. Safely’ initiative is being offered in conjunction with industry and government partners including the Small Firms Association, Chambers Ireland, Ibec and the NSAI. The objective of the ReBound initiative is to provide practical, relevant and actionable support to adopt the official guidance, specifically aimed at SMEs. Participating companies receive a combination of webinar training to understand and apply the government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol and mentoring to help them create and implement a bespoke Return to Work Safely plan. Business owners and managers will be equipped with immediate practical and tactical actions to deploy in their business. In launching the ReBound initiative, Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnet Ireland said: “Skillnet Ireland is focused on supporting Irish SMEs as they reopen their business and begin the road to recovery. The ReBound initiative provides owners and managers with the practical tools and knowledge needed to help navigate the new protocol, whilst also mitigating business disruption. With the training and supports delivered through digital platforms, businesses nationwide can benefit from ReBound. We are delighted to be working with industry and Government on this important issue, and we urge SMEs

to avail of the fully subsidised support.” The weekly webinars, presented by Ibec, NSAI and Optima Training, will provide the latest guidance and best practice on implementing return to work protocols. Structured across three levels, with nine unique webinars repeated weekly, topics covered will include how to conduct a risk assessment, details of checklists, guides and templates required, and the appointment and responsibilities of Covid-19 response teams. Businesses taking part can sign up to as many sessions as required, to gain the help and support they need.

Process for reopening

The ReBound Mentoring Programme provides one-to-one help and guidance from an industry-relevant mentor who will support in creating and documenting a Return to Work Safely plan. All programme mentors are experts in the field of health and safety and provide


an external viewpoint to help identify previously unseen gaps and considerations in the business. Each participant is assigned an industryrelevant mentor, specifically matched to their business. The mentor covers a range of topics to support companies in developing a Return to Work Safely Plan, including how to communicate with relevant stakeholders, developing new work schedules and social distancing rules and Return to Work training plans for employees. A Return to Work Safely plan template is provided ahead of the initial online session and the business owner/manager develops a draft plan and roadmap for implementation, which is finalised with the mentor in a follow-up session. In addition, a number of the Skillnet Learning Networks are also developing sector-specific responses to the crisis in areas such as healthcare, childcare, retail, legal, manufacturing and aviation, restaurant and hospitality, food production, hair and beauty and leisure and fitness. Visit for more information. The Skillnet Ireland ReBound initiative upskills business owners and managers to take action, now. It is available to 3,000 Irish SMEs with up to 250 employees operating in the private sector that have already reopened or are in the process of reopening.

Get in touch Qualifying businesses are encouraged to register for the initiative through the Skillnet Ireland ReBound website at


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Skillnet Ireland  Back to Business Partner Profile

HOW TO GROW, COMPETE AND SUCCEED SKILLNET IRELAND CHIEF TECHNOLOGIST MARK JORDAN HIGHLIGHTS HOW SMALL FIRMS CAN FLOURISH IN RAPIDLY CHANGING MARKETS THROUGH ENTERPRISE-LED DEVELOPMENT. Recovering from a multi-month societal lockdown caused by a pandemic is a significant challenge and it’s clear that both businesses and workers will need to adapt and innovate in a postCovid environment. Developing and upskilling employees is essential for businesses to compete in a changed world and Skillnet Ireland (and its 70 Skillnet Networks) is providing support to organisations of all sizes and in all sectors to prepare for the realities of the new business landscape. Research undertaken by the agency has identified four key areas where upskilling will assist businesses to address the current challenges. These are: • Covid-19 protocols - Redesigning processes and adopting technology helps companies plan and implement new health and safety guidelines. • Business models – Leadership teams must re-examine pre-pandemic business structures and incorporate lessons learned from recent experiences when developing new strategies. • Workforce management – More remote working requires the workforce to be increasingly agile, flexible and skilled as processes adapt. Employees must also ensure their skills are transferable and less sector specific.

Mark Jordon, Chief Technologist, Skillnet Ireland

• Digital adoption – The rate of digital adoption will increase as companies appreciate the security and business continuity afforded by the cloud, ecommerce, automation and cybersecurity. In partnership with SFA, Skillnet Ireland recently launched the MentorsWork programme, which pairs businesses with expert mentors to develop action plans to address the specific needs of each organisation. Conducted virtually, this ‘bootcamp mentoring’ process provides practical support to tackle issues companies are now facing as a result of Covid-19. MentorsWork participant Gina Murphy, who owns Hugo’s restaurant in Dublin city centre, is a strong advocate for the initiative. Her business employed 26

Perfect partner Because of the disruption inflicted by this crisis, many companies in Ireland will require a level of financial and operational support on a scale never seen before. Supporting over 18,000 businesses and 70,000 trainees annually, Skillnet Ireland is the ideal partner to help Irish businesses develop a highly skilled and agile workforce in order to effectively recover-to-growth.

people prior to lockdown, however, when public health restrictions forced the doors shut, Gina had no choice but to let everyone go. She was determined to ensure Hugo’s would survive, but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. Engaging with MentorsWork, Gina completed six hours of bespoke, one-toone mentoring. Her mentor set tasks to do before each session and, using the learnings from those tasks, they created a plan and goals for her business through the temporary closure and reopening. “As a business owner, you’re supposed to be a leader,” says Gina, “but nothing prepares you to lead during a pandemic. I needed a sense-check on what I was doing, and reassurance that I was taking the right next steps.” She adds: “The help and guidance provided through MentorWorks was fantastic – the fact that someone was listening and providing practical advice that I could implement right away. I now have a plan to get my business back up and running. I’ve rehired nine staff and I hope to bring back the full team eventually.” Working with Gina, the MentorsWork mentor analysed both her business and the potential future marketplace post-Covid. Gina states: “One task was to look at how I communicate with customers. I was challenged to explore digital engagement, something I hadn’t done previously, which involved me having to rapidly upskill. Using these learnings, I was encouraged to send an email-shot to regular clients to announce our reopening date. This got 500 replies within 48 hours, many of whom made reservations right away. The advice I received is not only valuable in the short-term, but will benefit my business into the future.”


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Back to Business Partner Profile  HSA

MANAGING SAFELY AS YOU REOPEN FOR BUSINESS THE HEALTH AND SAFETY AUTHORITY HAS DESIGNED MEASURES TO HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN THE WORKPLACE AS THE ECONOMY BEGINS TO SLOWLY OPEN UP. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the greatest challenge in living memory to our businesses, the economy and the country. As workplaces have reopened, national travel restrictions lifted and people return to going about their daily business, it is vital that we do not become complacent in managing to prevent the spread of this virus. Exposure to Covid-19 may present a health risk to workers and other persons at a workplace. The Department of Health is leading the Government response in Ireland to this national public health risk and, along with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, is providing up-todate information and advice at ie/en/organisation/department-of-health. It is essential that employers and workers keep up-to-date with the latest public health advice. Employers are advised to follow this public health advice and identify and implement suitable control measures to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 infection in the workplace. They can start to do this by implementing the Return to Work Safely Protocol, available at, launched by the Government in May 2020. The Return to Work Safely Protocol is a critical component of the Government’s roadmap for reopening the economy as the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. It should be used by workplaces to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply with the Covid-19-related public health protection measures. HSA Business and Education Support Manager Joanne Harmon says: “Even if all of your people are back in the workplace, you need to ensure that you have put in place all of the requirements of the Return to Work Safely Protocol. It’s essential that employers or workers do not become complacent around preventing Covid-19.”

COVID-19 Return to Work Safely Protocol Role of Lead Worker Representative(s) The Government’s COVID-19 Return to Work Safely Protocol requires each workplace to appoint at least one Lead Worker Representative to work with the employer to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. This poster aims to help you to understand the role of a Lead Worker Representative.

What will my employer do?

What is the role of a Lead Worker Representative? • Help out with putting in place the COVID-19 control measures. • Communicate regularly with your employer, and assist in providing COVID-19 health advice to your co- workers. • Carry out regular checks that COVID-19 control measures are in place. • Keep a record of non-compliance with COVID-19 workplace controls. • Report to your employer / manager any problem areas or non-compliance. • Listen to the concerns of fellow workers and raise them with your employer. • Help keep your fellow workers up to date with the latest COVID-19 advice from Government. • Help as part of a response team in managing someone with symptoms of COVID-19 at the workplace.

Your employer will: • provide you with the information you need to carry out the role • provide you with relevant training • provide you with a COVID-19 Induction • consult with you when putting control measures in place to keep you and other workers safe • make you aware of the control measures they have put in place • tell you about any impact on or changes to emergency plans or first aid • agree a system for addressing concerns and regular communication with you.

How do I prepare for the role? • Be familiar with the Return To Work Safely Protocol and the public health recommendations. • Complete the COVID-19 return to work form and give it to your employer. • Complete the COVID-19 Induction that your employer provides. • Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 advice from Government. • Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. • Understand how to stop the virus from spreading. • Know the cleaning requirements needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Where can I get further information on preventing COVID-19 in the workplace? For Daily Updates visit:

Contact HSA on: LoCall HSA: 1890 289 389

Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19: How COVID-19 is spread: Return to Work Safely templates and checklists: Return to Work Safely Protocol:

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has prepared Covid-19 checklists and templates (available at topics/covid-19) that can help all employers and managers do just that. “The HSA checklists and templates will

Cyan 100%

Magenta 76% for a give your business a clear approach Yellow 0 Black 27% safe return to work,” adds Harmon. “They will help you to put good systems in place to manage your workplace on an ongoing basis through the pandemic.” In addition, individual sectors have


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HSA  Back to Business Partner Profile

Position Yourself Well

Visit Adjust monitor so that:

Adjust seat so that: · • •

the desk is just underneath forearms; hands, wrists and forearms are parallel to the floor; your thighs are fully supported on the chair and parallel to the floor; use a footrest if needed; your thighs, knees and back of legs are clear of surfaces.

Sit upright and all the way back in the chair. Sit facing work area. Shoulders relaxed and head naturally balanced.

developed sector-specific guidance that gives additional information for specific businesses, such as hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. Once implemented, these public health measures must be communicated to all relevant employees and others at the place of work. One of the first things to do is to prepare a Covid-19 Response Plan,

the screen is as far away as is comfortable or about an arm’s length away;

the top of screen is at or slightly below eye level.

Avoid twisting the upper body. Position the keyboard and mouse next to each other and near enough so that elbows are close to the body.

if you have not already done so. This details the level of risk associated with the workplace and work activities, the measures put in place to control the risk, as well as highlighting who is responsible for implementing these measures and monitoring that they stay in place. The template Covid-19 response plan, at the link above, will guide you through this process.

recommendations. Safety statements and risk assessments can be reviewed at It is also essential to provide Covid-19 induction training to every worker to the workplace to cover all information relating to Covid-19, as well as reminding them of their responsibilities, emergency and first aid procedures, etc. As well as an induction checklist, the Authority has developed a new online learning course entitled ‘Return to Work Safely Induction’, which is available at There are also 30 free e-learning courses available at, all of which enjoy a group management function, to allow an employer to manage the learning of a group of employees, and a certificate of completion.

Control measures

Legal responsibilities

To help with implementing the control measures, making sure they remain in place and that everybody complies with them, each workplace is also required to appoint at least one Lead Worker Representative. Strong communication and a shared collaborative approach between employers and employees is key to protect against the spreading of this virus. This is where the Lead Worker Representative comes in. Again, there is a checklist at the link above to help the appointed employee understand their role as well as a poster. An online Lead Worker Representative course is also available at Once the required control measures have been identified, every employer needs to review their risk assessments and safety statement to take account of any changes that may arise as a result of implementing the public health

Employees must be made aware of the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and they must know that if they feel unwell they must not come in to work but should seek professional healthcare advice, by contacting their doctor or the emergency services by phone The most important actions employees can take to protect themselves is to undertake frequent hand-washing, practice good respiratory etiquette and follow physical distancing guidelines. As part of this, knowing how to wash their hands properly is also essential. If there are occasions when employees must come within two metres of each other or others in the workplace, then additional measures must be put in place to minimise the risk. These measures include sneeze guards, maintaining as much physical distance as possible,

Take breaks and stand and/or move frequently

wearing face coverings and having handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser readily accessible as soon as the work task is complete. Of course, many people are still working from home. As an employer your legal responsibilities towards employees working from home are the same as for those physically in the workplace. The Authority has developed guidance to help you manage this also. Consult the Covid-19 FAQs for Employers and Employees in relation to home-working on a temporary basis available at www. Whether working from home or returning to the workplace, workers may be feeling an increased level of stress. Employers need to be mindful of this and should encourage ways to improve coping mechanisms. Employers need to be supportive and to be aware of what and how they communicate with staff. More guidance on this is available in a recent podcast by the Health and Safety Authority at covid-19/covid19_advice_for_employers_ and_employees. The website is also a useful tool that employers can use to develop strategies to encourage better practices and help alleviate workplaces stress. Employers need to be constantly vigilant for complacency creeping in in order to correct it immediately. As Joanne Harmon states: “Preventing the spread of Covid-19 in your workplace involves the cooperation of everyone at work. All of us must remain vigilant and take every practical measure to ensure we take our personal responsibilities seriously.”


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iconic Better Business Magazine julyQ2.indd 2020 final.indd 1 249872_1C_Iconic Offices_JM_BB 1

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Iconic Offices  Back to Business Partner Profile

AN ICONIC COMMUNITY ICONIC OFFICES’ CEO AND FOUNDER JOE MCGINLEY SUMMARISES THE CHANGING DEMANDS ON HEALTH AND SAFETY IN OFFICE DESIGN IN THE WAKE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. There have been many unforeseen consequences to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, but perhaps one of the most positive side effects has been a change in the physical way that we conduct business. From remote working, Zoom calls and flexible work schedules, it's clear that many companies have made a dramatic change. But as businesses begin to open up again, safety is also a key factor that needs to be taken into consideration in the new working landscape. Leading the way in this complex new world, Iconic Offices has set a high bar for protecting the health and safety of its staff and clients. The company has a portfolio of 16 buildings, including some of the most recognisable buildings in Dublin, such as The Lennox Building in Portobello and The Brickhouse in Dublin’s Silicon Docks. Its Covid-19 response action plan includes new floor layouts, adding sanitising capabilities, thermal camera checks, shifting office traffic flows and providing health packs for over 2,000 members and staff. CEO Joe McGinley says that safety has always been at the forefront of the Iconic philosophy. “Safety has always been paramount to us. A lot of work and expense has gone into bringing our offices up to top-notch standards and now we’re bringing all that knowledge into how we respond to the changing needs of clients.”

Iconic Offices has indeed been ahead of the curve when it comes to achieving high-quality standards for its buildings. Its newest office space, The Lennox Building, is the first flexible workspace in Europe to be awarded the prestigious WELL v2 certification. This global standard by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) considers ten ‘wellness’ factors such as air, water, and light, as well as larger concepts, like community and mind. McGinley acknowledges that their hard work has paid off. He says: “When we designed The Lennox Building, we made a commitment to wellness as a core part of the design, and it’s great to see all the hard work come to fruition. Receiving the official WELL certification by the IWBI, now more than ever, underpins our vision to create safer and healthier working environments for our members. There is a greater emphasis on wellbeing generally and this certification further supports Iconic Offices’ commitment in this regard. These buildings not only enhance the human experience for companies, they produce a measurable reduction of personnel costs and 83% of employees say they are more productive.” Over the last three months, the company has been busy updating its spaces with additional health and safety measures to address new concerns highlighted by the pandemic. These measures include screens at reception areas, barrier or queue systems to avoid ‘bottlenecks’, and increasing the fresh air supply and extract throughout buildings’. According to McGinley, one of the most innovative and popular improvements has been the addition of thermal imaging cameras. “The standout measure for most of our clients has

Joe McGinley, CEO and Founder, Iconic Offices

been the introduction of thermal cameras that we’ve installed,” he explains. “Now when you walk into any Iconic building you walk up to a thermal camera which instantly tells you your temperature. Anyone who has a temperature is not permitted to enter the building.” McGinley believes that these new measures are here to stay and anticipates that office building design has been permanently changed by the concerns raised during the pandemic. “Greater social distancing and density will be contributing factors in the design going forward,” he says. “I expect to see employees looking for stringent safety protocols and greater flexibility in the way that they work and for that to be a consideration for companies when renting an office space.” With certifications such as the WELL v2 under its belt, Iconic seems ideally poised to take on these new demands. For more information, visit


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Here to help.

Resources from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) are here to help your organisation through the COVID-19 pandemic, including: Workplace Protection and Improvement Guide Consolidating the practical advice available on protecting employees and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail Protection and Improvement Guide The retailer’s one-stop-shop guide to preventing, mitigating and recovering from the spread of illness. Shopping Centre Recovery and Protection Guide Guidelines for shopping centres restoring business operations following a closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance on Manufacturing and Importing PPE and Medical Devices To ensure compliance with the EU legal framework during the COVID-19 pandemic. SWiFT 19:2020 Barrier Masks for consumers - requirements A consensus-based specification for non-medical and non-PPE masks (barrier masks) for the general public. Medical Equipment Standards The COVID-19 Response Package provides access to a set of Medical Supplies Standards at no cost.

1 Swift Square, Northwood, Santry, Dublin 9, D09 A0E4 + 353 1 807 3800 NSAI and the NSAI logo are registered trademarks of NSAI.

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National Standards Authority of Ireland  Back to Business Partner Profile

FUTURE RESILIENCE NSAI IS LENDING KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE TO HELP BUSINESSES NAVIGATE AND RECOVER FROM COVID-19 AS QUICKLY AND SAFELY AS POSSIBLE. Like many businesses and organisations across the country, NSAI’s work practices have been deeply affected by the arrival of Covid-19 to our shores. In fact, very early into the crisis it became clear that not only was the organisation faced with analysing and developing new ways of working for their clients, but were also needed to assist with the national response to help businesses recover from the impact of the virus. The response resulted in the formulation of a series of key business recovery documents and protocols which have been published and widely used since April. Resources such as the Workplace Protection and Improvement guide consolidate practical guidance on how to manage business continuity during the Covid-19 pandemic, while also addressing risks to workers and the public. And, smaller retail outlets right through to large supermarkets have been referring to the Retail Protection and Improvement Guide to help them prepare to reopen their premises in a way that is safe for both employees and customers. Producing comprehensive guidance documents in such a short space of time required a huge effort, and thanks to the assistance of colleagues in agencies like the HSE, Enterprise Ireland, IDA, CCPC, as well as other stakeholders in the private sector, NSAI were able to meet the challenge. The organisation also worked with colleagues in the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to provide supporting documents to help businesses implement the mandatory Return to Work Safely Protocol which applies to all workplaces right across the economy. NSAI drafted and published guidance on manufacturing and importing PPE and medical devices, and more recently

produced specification requirements for producing barrier masks for the general public. The SWIFT 19 barrier mask specification was of particular use to companies who have repurposed their production lines to join the fight against Covid-19. Most recently NSAI published a Covid-19 Shopping Centre Recovery and Protection Guide. This document was well received by industry, as large shopping centres across the country sought to put in place measures to allow them to reopen again within safe limits. NSAI Chief Executive Officer Geraldine Larkin says: “It is gratifying to see how the knowledge and expertise of NSAI staff was mobilised so quickly, to produce guidance documents that can offer struggling businesses systematic approaches to get them back on their feet. We also put helplines and support services in place, so that people could call and speak to our staff who have a strong track record in standardisation and carrying out audits.” Larkin says the crisis has opened a new potential for NSAI to offer services that were not previously available. “Not only did we take on Covid-19related work, but we changed work practices in terms of virtual auditing. We’ve adapted our processes for example to conduct high resolution live video feeds. As a result, we can offer a more cost-effective service.” So, as things return to ‘normal’, how do you safeguard your business into the

Geraldine Larkin, Chief Executive Officer, NSAI

future? That will surely be the question on many business owners’ lips as the fog of Covid-19 slowly begins to lift. There has never been a more opportune time to start planning; the crisis has taught us that putting structures in place can give your business independence. Businesses simply can’t afford to take an improvised, reactive approach to risk. Using standards can help you to identify your risks and minimize them. Companies now thinking about recovery in the months ahead, should consider how standards and certification can offer a methodology which will ensure future resilience. NSAI has the people, knowledge and tools to support you in mitigating risk, maintaining compliance and preparing your business for future opportunities. For more information on how standards and certification can help your business, visit or phone (01) 807 3800.


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Preventing crime, rather than just recording it!

24/7Monitored MonitoredSmart Smartcamera camera CCTV. 24/7 CCTV. LiveAudio Audiowarning warningdirect directfrom fromour ourMonitoring Live Monitoring agents. agents. Superior security solution for any business. Superior security solution for any business, From Irelands newest monitoring station. From Irelands newest monitoring station. Unparalleled system support and warranty. Unparalleled system support and warranty. 249877_1C_MyNet_JM_BB Q2 .indd 1

18/08/2020 14:40

MyNET  Back to Business Partner Profile


Now is not a time for complacency. Commercial properties are now a lot more exposed due to Covid-19. With closures across so many industries, there are properties not being operated from, so there is absolutely an increased risk for business premises now. Criminals see the opportunity in every situation, and Covid-19 has definitely provided them some new opportunities. Access control is far more important now than ever for businesses trying to open their doors safely. There are a number of technological solutions we have installed to help businesses to control this. These types of systems, once professionally set up, are reliable and accurate and work in the background while the business and staff can focus on other more productive tasks.

What are the most common security problems faced by SMEs?

Break-ins are still the number one crime concern across the board, with commercial properties, in particular, at an increased risk. Security is not something people or businesses can afford to skimp on, regardless of what is taking place in the world. The biggest problem a lot of businesses have is that their security systems are not monitored. Monitored systems are becoming less expensive thanks to companies like MyNET, which is important to make them more available to businesses of all sizes.

How does MyNET prevent crime before it actually happens?

The critical thing with any security breech is speed. The most effective system is a combination of a monitored external CCTV system and monitored alarm on the property. Our monitored CCTV systems will detect an intruder almost instantly notifying our monitoring agents who confirm an intruder is on site and use the onsite live audio to deter them so that they know they are being watched live and Gardaí have been notified often before they even reach the door of the building.

What sets MyNET apart from its competitors?

Jack Raeburn, CEO, MyNET

With every business now attempting to cut costs, we are absolutely committed to offering customers the best value for money in an industry that is without doubt over-priced in a lot of areas. We can now offer business clients a complete end-to-end service, providing them with broadband, IT, security, maintenance and installations all from one point of contact. Businesses want hassle-free,

end-to-end service with one accountable provider looking after everything. Our customers know they can rely on us and that is the brand we want to continue to build moving forward. We are the first company to build a brand new monitoring station since the certification standards changed. It’s a significant asset for us moving forward and it allows us to control the quality and cost of our security services from end-to-end. None of our customers will rely on third parties in the delivery of our services, which is important for us in order to be able to stand over what we offer.

What does MyNET hope to achieve for the remainder of 2020?

The first half of 2020 has obviously been a rollercoaster with Covid-19 creating some unexpected disruption with the construction of our monitoring station, but it has grown our broadband business massively due to the work from home movement. We are very determined to grow our brand as one of Irelands trusted go to security providers for quality monitored systems. We have already secured a number of major clients in different industries which has been a great boost considering the current market turbulence. For the remainder of 2020 we have a laser focus on aggressively growing the business across the board particularly in the monitored CCTV and alarm area nationwide. We have a great team of people here now and will continue to grow our workforce, which we have already tripled since January to keep up with the growth of the company. A very exciting end to the year is definitely in store here at MyNET. For more information, visit


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Innovative design tailored to your needs • BER A Rated • Certified Near Zero Energy Building  • Passiv Level Buildings • Bespoke Design • Turnkey Solution • Modular Housing & Large Offices • Home Working Offices • Community Centre's & Amenitiy Facilities • Leisure Spaces  • Extra Space Accommodation 

TEL: 0906 630 583 / 01 901 1680 E: Find us on Facebook at Lidan Designs or visit

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Lidan Designs  Back to Business Partner Profile


As people’s lifestyles have changed dramatically in recent times, the need for additional space has never been greater, whether it’s for a home office, additional accommodation or a leisure space, such as home gym, children’s playroom, art or music studio. Lidan Designs specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of premium wood products and structures. Recognising the need for near-zero energy wood buildings, the company has created a product that maximises the use of sustainable and natural material, leveraging cutting-edge design. Director Dan O’Brien has spent 25 years working in corporate strategy, including 14 years as a management consultant, and has extensive experience in corporate finance, business development and growth strategies, research and innovation, advising companies like Microsoft, AT&T, France Telecom, Hewlett Packard, Telecom Italia, Telenor, Telstra, China Mobile, eir and Vodafone. Having travelled extensively, O’Brien, originally from the west of Ireland, jointly formed Lidan Designs to meet the

Home Office, Lidan Designs

growing need for living, business and entertainment space driven by changes to modern lifestyles. “Craftsmanship is at our core and each of our products is hand-crafted individually by our team of experienced joiners and carpenters in our custombuilt premises,” explains O’Brien. “We pride ourselves on the quality of our products and our goal is that our customers get as much satisfaction out of our products as we do making them.”

Changing workplace

The Covid-19 epidemic has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of employees working from home as many SMEs face brand new challenges. “One of the outcomes from this current crisis will be that people, and, indeed companies, will realise that working from home has many advantages,” says O’Brien. “It doesn't work in all cases, but it does in a lot more cases than has been hitherto considered. “As a provider of home offices, among other things, we have looked at this over the last few years and had many


discussions with the C-suite of large global corporates on the same. They sort of 'got it', then but I strongly suspect they will 'get it' now. The advantages are well documented, and actually, well researched by leading universities. This is 'scientific' and not just a 'gut feeling'.” He continues: “What potential home workers need to also consider is the need for separation of the working environment from the house. Remember, a separate, detached and bespoke working space is what's required for optimum remote or home working.”

Natural surroundings

Almost 80% of Lidan Design’s buildings are modularly built in its facility in Roscommon and transported to site. Apart from the natural advantages of using a modular build system, this allows the company to create sustainable jobs in the west of Ireland, while leveraging local skilled tradespeople and professions. This is a core strategy of Lidan, and it is fundamental to the business. Lidan’s work is now almost equally split between the private residential and public sector. Work to date includes sports and community centres, homes, and amenity facilities for heritage and environmentally sensitive areas where they sit seamlessly with their natural surroundings. “Our buildings offer a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to other types, particularly in the current economic climate, where cost, quality and speed of delivery is so important,” says O’Brien says. For more information, call (090) 663 0583 email, or visit


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Back to Business Partner Profile  Business Works Consulting

GROWTH DURING DISRUPTION MARINA BLEAHEN BELIEVES DISRUPTION OFFERS HUGE OPPORTUNITIES FOR INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES WHO WANT TO GROW. Brutal. That's what 2020 feels like for so many of us as leaders. It's unlike anything we've experienced before in our careers. Everyday I'm on the phone with our clients – SME owners, their senior leaders and managers. All of them are dealing with lots of change and agree this disruption has come too soon. They're trying to grow through disruption. Disruption is a virus that can destroy your team's culture and its impact is magnified with remote working.

they’re cultural. How can you make sure you’re leading in an agile way that increases speed to market? Our Agility Engine gives you a framework to use with your team to get them from ‘below the line’ to ‘above the line’ where they learn fast and move fast to deliver results.

Step 4: Accountability

Step 1: Clarity

When disruption hits, people tend to segment themselves into three groups: panic, stunned and create. It’s important to understand where you and your team are. 10% of us go into blind panic, become totally paralysed, the majority of people will be stunned. These are the 80%, who didn’t see the disruption coming, don’t know what to do, so they hunker down and await direction. Then, there are 10% of people who go into create mode. These people assess and adapt really fast. The reason so many teams become stagnant and go backwards in a time of disruption is that 90% of people are stuck in the panic and stunned groups. The lesson is to learn fast and move fast. The leader must establish the key results or expectations the team must deliver in the next 30-90 days. Redefining short-term results is where it’s at. Teams that aren't clear on what they need to prioritise or deliver on immediately rarely grow, or even survive major disruptions.

Step 2: Visibility

If your ambition is to grow during disruption, the three leadership

Marina Bleahen, CEO Business Works Training & Consulting

traits that will most dramatically impact the success or failure of your company are being more visible, more accessible and more transparent with your team. How you lead your team matters. Managing culture is the most underdeveloped and yet most critical leadership skill as teams that thrive and grow their results during disruption have cultures built for moments like this. You’ve got to ensure your team sees you communicating transparently and can gain access to you in a meaningful way.

Step 3: Agility

Disruptions punish the status quo. To successfully navigate you must be agile and innovative. Speed to market isn’t a skill, it’s a mindset. Collaboration isn’t a task, it’s a choice. Execution and urgency aren’t genetic,

The fourth step to grow through disruption is to take accountability for the results you have to deliver in the next 30-90 days and help your team take accountability by assessing their agreement and involvement with the key expectations you establish. So, what does accountability really mean and how do I know if I'm truly demonstrating it? It's a battle to not get stuck blaming everyone and everything for any dip or downward slide in results. And, yet, the only way to change our results is to choose to focus on what we control. That's a daily and often an hourly battle during massive disruptions when there's so much impacting us that we can’t control.

Step 5: Empathy

The fifth and final step to grow through disruption is to increase the amount of empathy you're demonstrating to your team. Empathy is curiosity. It's seeking to understand someone's experience from their point of view. Leaders who demonstrate empathy during disruption see accelerated performance from their team. We perform our highest levels when there is urgency and safety. Visit and find out how you can build a culture of positive accountability.


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Arvo  Back to Business Partner Profile

A POST-COVID REBOUND ARVO HAVE BEEN IN R&D MODE DURING LOCKDOWN, RESEARCHING REVOLUTIONARY TECHNOLOGIES TO DETERMINE HOW IT CAN BETTER SERVE REMOTE CLIENTS IN FUTURE. Procurement, like most functions, had a significant jolt to operations since Covid-19 broke, proving to be an incredibly challenging time for departments and individuals as global supply-chains melted under pressure from this unforeseen pandemic. “Early in the Covid crisis, procurement was called upon to support panic buying and restocking of vast amounts of PPE, and related health and safety items,” says Arvo CEO Mike McGrath. “The old purchasing adage of balancing ‘time, quality and price’ in every buying decision was thrown out the window, as typical six-week sourcing and buying decisions were completed in six hours. This resulted in reduced time for sourcing due diligence and highlighted the lack of readily available supplier data to make informed decisions quickly. This is where we expect significant Procurement changes in the years ahead, to improve supplier relationship management, specifically supplier information management.” Uncertainty is the only certainty there is at the moment, according to McGrath. “SMEs are really struggling at present with the fundamental decisions to achieve short-term and long-term objectives, such as budgeting, planning and forecasting. For many SMEs, cashflow and revenues have taken a turn for the worse, which weakens the foundation to rebuild each business.

We all live in hope that a Covid vaccine will return some normality and predictability to our personal and business lives.” There is never a bad time to reduce costs and risks within your supplychain, but post-Covid and pre-Brexit, there has never been a more important time for Irish businesses to improve efficiencies across their supply base. McGrath comments: “There are many strategic sourcing techniques to reduce costs in small business, but the most important step is to undertake a ‘spend analysis’ and know your data. This exercise will unearth immediate opportunities to reduce costs and risks within the supply-chain which will help SMEs rebound post-Covid.”

Weather the storm

Brexit has had a few false starts, but it is finally happening on January 1st 2021 when the current transition period ends. Frustratingly, the specifics of the EU-UK relationship are still unknown with many potential supply-chain risks such as regulatory divergence, customs and tariffs, immigration and the fallout from implementation specifics of the ‘Irish Protocol’. “We at Arvo have always been more concerned for businesses on the island of Ireland about the divergence of EU standards and regulations in the UK/NI,” says McGrath. “Tariffs on goods would lead to cost increases, inflation, and shortage of certain products in the


Mike McGrath, CEO, Arvo

worst-case scenario. However, the lack of alignment of non-tariff barriers will cease the delivery of some services.” SMEs need to prepare for Brexit by improving their relationships with strategic suppliers. Not all suppliers are equal and building closer relationships with strategic suppliers is of paramount importance to every SME on the island. “Undertake your research to confirm your key suppliers can weather the storm. Thereafter, confirm their suppliers can weather the storm,” states McGrath. “If specific risks are insurmountable and suppliers are not proactively engaging, sourcing alternative suppliers across Europe has to be prioritised as a viable solution to build resilience into each supply-chain. Post-Covid this is not easy, so Arvo is developing automated tools to assist all Brexit exposed businesses with this challenge.” Arvo is a boutique procurement consultancy and its practical customerled service continues to serve its client base. Any SME interested in early access to this groundbreaking platform, should email


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19/08/2020 10:15

Restructuring Partner Profile  Irish Society of Insolvency Practitioners

TRADING THROUGH THE CRISIS FOLLOWING COVID-19, MANY COMPANIES WILL NEED TO LOOK AT RESTRUCTURING THEIR DEBT, WHILE RETAINING SUFFICIENT WORKING CAPITAL TO SURVIVE, ACCORDING TO DES GIBNEY. Although there are a number of restructuring options available under Irish law, Des Gibney, Chairman of the Irish Society of Insolvency Practitioners (ISIP) says there is no one-size-fits all solution. “In an examinership, creditors approve a Scheme of Arrangement which deals with the debt owed to the creditor.” “Each situation is different but, in most cases, creditors are generally happy to continue trading with the restructured business after the examinership if they have been fairly treated. “Other options include an informal arrangement with creditors, but it needs the cooperation of all creditors to be

effective unlike examinership where one class of creditor can impose the scheme on all creditors. Companies can add credibility to their informal arrangements by appointing an Restructuring Professional to negotiate the arrangement and provide creditors with estimated outcomes under various scenarios, i.e. what a creditor would get on liquidation versus the proposed arrangement.” Lastly there is the part nine voluntary Scheme of Arrangement which requires support of 75% of creditors in value and is confirmed by the Court. The relatively high approval threshold is difficult to achieve in this type of restructuring.

Gibney comments: “In order to protect themselves from restriction or dsiqualification it is critical that Directors monitor the company’s financial position, prepare regular management accounts, hold regular board meetings and support the view that the company can trade out of a difficult situation. If in doubt as to the viability of the company, Directors should seek the advice of a restructuring professional, such actions demonstrate the Directors were aware of the financial position of the company and took steps to protect the interest of their creditors.” Des Gibney is a director with McStay Luby, Chartered Accountants, Dublin.

“Our growth and success is dependent on the growth and success of our clients.” – MARK HOMAN, Managing Partner

The Irish Society of Insolvency Practitioners, an organisation comprising of accountants and solicitors working in the insolvency profession in Ireland, was established in 2004. From a small beginning membership has grown to several hundred.

Corporate | Real Estate Banking & Financial Services Litigation & Dispute Resolution Employment & Benefits Healthcare & Life Sciences

“Our growth and success is dependent on the growth and success of our clients.” – MARK HOMAN, Managing Partner

MARK’S CONTACT DETAILS + 353 (0)1 440 8300

Corporate | Real Estate

6-7 Harcourt Terrace Banking & Financial Services Dublin 2& Dispute Resolution Litigation Employment & Benefits Healthcare & Life Sciences

ISIP has a number of objectives, including:

• • • •

Providing a forum for consideration and discussion of Insolvency matters. Promoting best practice in the area of Insolvency. Liaising with Government agencies and making recommendations on legislative reform governing Insolvency.

“Our growth and success is dependent on the growth and success of our clients.” – MARK HOMAN, Managing Partner

Promoting the study and learning of Insolvency practice. For more information about what we do, please go to our website

Expertise in Challenging Times

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Corporate | Real Estate Banking & Financial Services Litigation & Dispute Resolution Employment & Benefits Healthcare & Life Sciences

MARK’S CONTACT DET + 353 (0)1 440 830 mhoman@bhsm.i

6-7 Harcourt Terra Dublin 2

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BHSM  Restructuring Partner Profile

SEEING OUT THE CRISIS WITH CONSIDERABLE EXPERIENCE ADVISING BUSINESSES IN COMMERCIAL DISPUTES ACROSS ALL JURISDICTIONS, BHSM’S MARK HOMAN DISCUSSES THE STEPS THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN DURING THE CURRENT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. As Managing Partner of BHSM, Mark Homan heads up the Insolvency and Corporate Restructuring Department and specialises in advising liquidators, receivers, examiners, companies and lending institutions in all aspects of corporate restructuring and insolvency matters. With the continued impact of Covid-19, BHSM is assisting its clients to deal with the negative implications of the pandemic during this challenging time. “In my view, I don’t think the Irish economy has ever experienced something like this,” explains Mark. “It’s less like a recession and more like an economic shock. There’s no playbook for any of this, but if businesses fall behind in a crisis like this, it’s hard to get back.” “We have seen an increase in demand for advisory work in terms of how Covid-19 has impacted the economy and clients’ businesses,” he continues, “and this has predominantly centred around insolvency, restructuring work, employment, landlord and tenant issues and litigation work that relates to the downturn." “We advise all our clients to have a Covid-19 plan and to project cashflows into the future – really being on top of this developing situation means staying

ahead of future challenges and unanticipated events that may cause a sudden reduction in their turnover.” BHSM is available to assist businesses with any legal challenges that they may face during these difficult times. As businesses start reopening their doors as we emerge from this global pandemic, many will face the hard reality that restarting their businesses or continuing to trade is no longer an option due to insolvency. Mark Homan lays out the firm’s hopes for the immediate future. “We will continue to implore businesses to keep their business on a health check and to take the appropriate advice at the right time before matters become unrecoverable. It’s the businesses that are ahead of the curve that will survive." “We want to continue to consolidate and grow our presence in the market, despite the challenges that are thrown up by Covid-19. We’ve grown tenfold since our formation in 2012, and we wish to continue focusing on strategic hires and widening our practice base." BHSM is a full service corporate law firm with a strong depth of expertise, combining practical advice with a


Mark Homan, Managing Partner, BHSM

superb level of service. The firm works with clients across the full spectrum of sectors from fast-growing businesses and multinational companies to innovative startups and private individuals. “Key to our success is great communication and commercial awareness of our clients’ challenges and objectives,” states Mark. “We’re very hands-on and partner-led in terms of delivering that personal touch to our clients – we are fully engaged and invested in our clients’ businesses. “We like to be approachable, straightforward and efficient. We are highly meticulous, at no cost to the broader view, and we strive to achieve the best outcome for our clients.” For more information, visit or call (01) 440 8300.


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Kenny Solicitors  Restructuring Partner Profile

CALM AND CONFIDENTIAL GRAHAM P. KENNY DISPELS SOME OF THE MYTHS AROUND LEGISLATION AND EXPLAINS SOME OF THE LIFELINES TO HELP SAVE YOUR COMPANY. The Covid-19 crisis has thrown most businesses into disarray. While some very good initiatives and supports have been implemented by government, the reality is that many businesses are now simply insolvent. But there is hope. The Companies Acts present a robust arsenal for Directors in these difficult times. I am constantly disappointed by the misinformation that continually appears about these mechanisms. These are some of the common questions I am regularly asked:

What is examinership?

If your company is insolvent then you can, in specified circumstances, ask the Court to appoint an Examiner. The primary role of the Examiner is to form a Scheme of Arrangement, which generally writes down creditors debts and allows the Company to continue to trade.

How is an Examiner appointed?

Ordinarily, the company or its Directors will ask the Court to appoint an Examiner. The company is required to obtain the report of an independent accountant, which must confirm that following a restructuring, the company would have a reasonable prospect of survival.

How does the company get breathing space from Creditors? When an Examiner is appointed by the Court, an extended period of up to 100 days may be granted in which Creditors are prohibited from taking action against the company. During this time, the Examiner will endeavour to formulate a Scheme of Arrangement. No creditor can liquidate the company

during this time and all outstanding and new litigation against the company is stayed.

What exactly is a Scheme of Arrangement?

The Examiner will generally seek investment into the company and will then divide those funds amongst existing Creditors in what is known as a Scheme of Arrangement. Creditors will vote on any such proposed scheme. However, the rules allow for the imposition of the Examiner’s proposal, even where all creditors do not agree.

Can the company force a write-down of debts?

This is the fundamental attraction of examinership. If a Creditor will not voluntarily reduce their debt a company may, following the approval of the Court, compel a write-down of such debt on its creditors. As business owners are quickly realising, many creditors will not negotiate debt write-off voluntarily. Similarly, many creditors will not agree to a restructuring of such debt in realistic terms. The laws surrounding examinership are not drafted to impose further hardship on Creditors, but rather to force them to accept that the company cannot pay their debts and that the alternative is liquidation, where creditors may in many instances get nothing.

Who runs the company during examinership?

With limited exceptions, the Directors maintain their executive powers and continue to run the company as normal. The Examiner does have reporting obligations and will compile reports for the Court during the tenure of the examinership.

Graham P. Kenny, Principal Solicitor, Kenny Solicitors

Is examinership expensive? In order to qualify for examinership, the company must be insolvent. What most people fail to realise is that in almost all examinerships, external funds are paid by an investor in return for a shareholding in the company. It is the new investor monies that are used to pay both the Examiner’s expenses and a dividend to creditors. In almost all examinerships, fees and expenses are paid from new investor monies.

Is our company too small for examinership?

There is no legislative provision which precludes small companies availing of examinership and the law was even changed to permit such applications in the Circuit Court. Our team has successfully completed examinerships for large scale multinational companies and smaller firms, where investments and fees were simply tailored accordingly. For more information, visit


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GOOD GOVERNANCE. TRANSPARENCY. TRUST. Some things can’t be bought, sold or traded. Duff & Phelps can help clients tackle issues from financial difficulties and bank repayment problems to funding and working capital management. Balancing proven technical skills with deep industry expertise, we help our clients address their most complex business needs.

To discuss your requirements, contact: Declan Taite Managing Director +353 (0) 1 472 0740

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Duff & Phelps  Restructuring Partner Profile

THE LIFEBLOOD OF BUSINESS THE WORLD OF CORPORATE FINANCE HAS BEEN DRAMATICALLY IMPACTED BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, FORCING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES (SMEs), FUNDERS, AND EVERYONE IN BETWEEN TO RETHINK THEIR BUSINESS MODELS AND LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS TO UNEXPECTED DEBT OR CASHFLOW ISSUES. Duff & Phelps is a multinational financial advisory firm whose aim is to help businesses get back on their feet. The company is not your typical accountancy firm. They don’t provide audit or tax services and Managing Director Declan Taite describes how this is advantageous for clients. “The fact that we don’t do audit or tax work means we’re independent, so unlike the large accountancy firms that have audit and tax practices which may cause conflicts, we tend not to have that level of conflicts.” Taite has noticed several worrying changes in the world of corporate finance since the outbreak of Covid-19. One of the key difficulties he pinpoints is the lack of certainty SMEs and lenders face. “There is an element of uncertainty which is pervading the entire business community at the moment,” he explains. Taite points to the general slowdown in corporate finance, particularly with regards to mergers and acquisitions, coupled with the government moratorium on banks’ and private equity firms’ ability to enforce their security leading to a lag in business restructuring.


This climate of uncertainty has created several challenges for businesses, the primary one being the questions of discretionary spending and whether people will still be willing to spend once businesses reopen. “My sense is there will be a reluctance amongst a large cohort of the spending public to start frequenting businesses until there is greater clarity around the health risks. The turnover levels that businesses had enjoyed pre-Covid-19 simply will not be there post-Covid.”

Ability to pivot

Another significant challenge that Taite sees for businesses, particularly SMEs, is how they manage their cashflow once the government stimulus packages are removed. “The various support packages, particularly the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the recently introduced replacement, The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, are lifelines to SMEs at the moment. The challenge a lot of businesses will have will be the impact on working capital within those businesses once those packages are withdrawn.” These challenges will require businesses to be able to pivot and change their model to a position that’s sustainable. As an expert in corporate restructuring and debt advisory, Taite is well-informed on the options available. “The first thing I’d advise would be to make sure companies benefit from whatever support packages and grant aiding is available to them,” he says. The next step is for an honest appraisal of the company’s trading and solvency. “The technical definition of insolvency is that you're unable to pay your debts as they fall due,” he warns. If

Declan Taite, Managing Director, Duff & Phelps

there is a gap between income and debt, a business needs to look to how they can plug that gap. “Personal resources is one option,” adds Taite. “Businesses also need to engage fully with the banks in terms of extensions to things like overdrafts or term loans.” Taite acknowledges that there will be some businesses that can’t bridge the gap and will need to look at formal forms of insolvency. However, even within that, there are some forms of rescue insolvency that companies can avail of such as examinership and schemes of arrangement.  Taite’s final rejoinder is, “Cash is the lifeblood of any business. Businesses don’t typically fail because they don’t make profit, they fail because they run out of cash.”


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O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes

Right people, right place, right solutions PKF O’Connor Leddy Holmes is a full service accountancy firm and a part of PKF International, a global family of accounting and business advisory firms. Our Services Audit and Assurance


Corporate Finance

Corporate Recovery

Business Services


Our Corporate Finance Services

Mergers and Acquisitions

Debt Advisory

Due Diligence


Contact us

David Lucas Corporate Finance Partner

01 496 1444

PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes is a member firm of the PKF International Limited family of legally independent firms and does not accept any responsibility or liability for the actions or inactions of any individual member or correspondent firm or firms.

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18/08/2020 14:44

PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes  Restructuring Partner Profile

PKF: GLOBAL EXPERTISE, LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AS BUSINESSES REOPEN AND BEGIN TO TRADE AGAIN, PKF CAN ASSIST WITH THE PREPARATION OF BUSINESS PLANS AND FINANCIAL FORECASTS, WHILE CARRYING OUT AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF WORKING CAPITAL AND CASHFLOW REQUIREMENTS. Chartered accountant David Lucas has over 15 years of experience helping Irishowned businesses manage debt and achieve financing goals. As Corporate Finance Partner at PKF O’Connor Leddy Holmes, a Dublin based firm in the global network of firms present in 150 countries, Lucas specialises in assisting SMEs gain access to funding. Lucas believes that open communication is crucial at this difficult time. “From a business owner perspective, you need to be extremely well-prepared when looking for finance. Approaching the banks for lending can be painstaking and time-consuming. At PKF we work closely with clients to streamline the process by preparing an information memorandum with all the material the funders need.” There are a number of Governmental supports available for Covid-19 impacted businesses to help kick-start the economy. “Obviously, with the pandemic and lockdown, there’s been a lot of strain and stress on businesses,” explains Lucas. Lucas points to the Credit Guarantee Scheme, Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme, Future Growth Loan Scheme, Sustaining Ireland Fund, Business Restart Grant, Trading Online Voucher, Local Enterprise Offices Grants, Microfinance Ireland, and the Retail Alliance Scheme as key vehicles of support for Irish SMEs during this time. Liquidity and cashflow are key concerns for many businesses right now. “At a time like this, cashflow is critical for businesses to stay in operation,” says Lucas. “People talk about loan-to-value and property values, but at the end of the day it’s cash that repays debt. Banks are not in the business of selling businesses unless they have to, but what they want to see is the cash being generated to repay that debt.” 

David Lucas, Corporate Finance Partner, PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes

He adds: “Ensure you review how you can generate cash to repay debt and keep your business alive. Can you optimise by selling slow moving stock? Debtor management sounds obvious too, but assets can become tied up, so try and collect your debtors as quickly as possible. The longer it remains unpaid the less likely it is to collect.” Lucas views the COVID-19 warehousing provisions as an excellent opportunity for businesses: “It has been a very wellreceived benefit for companies. You can warehouse your VAT or PAYE payments and it effectively turns into an interest-free loan for 12 months and then a 3% loan for the following 12 months. I would recommend everybody should be discussing it with their accountants or advisors.” On the advisory side, PKF is committed to helping businesses prepare for the future. “We prepare business plans and financial forecasts – providing an independent review of your working capital and cashflow requirements. We also build financial models to present to potential funders or stakeholders.”

Lucas warns that in this volatile business landscape, SMEs may need to renegotiate covenants, or even a complete restructuring of debt. PKF can enable businesses to optimise their debt profile and liaise with lenders to achieve the ideal situation for their clients. “We help run a competitive process and can a facilitate SMEs to negotiate with current lenders which is vital in the current environment.” It’s important to know the different options that are available on the market, according to Lucas. “In terms of alternative lenders, they can be less onerous in terms of covenants, but they will still have policies and procedures to comply with to access funds.” He adds: “They tend to lend a little bit more than the traditional banks, but they will charge you more, so you’re paying 6 or 7% interest levels.” Lucas states that raising capital from private equity funds requires an advisor experienced in working with them. “Equity can enter as a minority or a majority stake,” he comments. “It has become very popular in the last while because these investors are not only bringing the capital, they’re also bringing experience.” Lucas reiterates the value of an experienced advisor who can negotiate with financial institutions on behalf of their clients. “Where we add a lot of value is negotiating those covenant levels. We want to try and achieve as much flexibility as we can to allow you to do what you do best.” PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes is a member of PKF International, an international network of accounting and business advisory firms. For more information, visit


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Chartered Accountants & Business Advisers

A Different Perspective....

Contact us

There are many reasons why businesses experience challenges, either on a temporary or more sustained basis.

David Gleeson Managing Partner E:

As one of Ireland’s leading business advisory and accountancy firms, we provide a wide range of Financial Planning, Cashflow Management, HR, Tax, Wealth Management, Technology, Restructuring and Recovery solutions.

Talk to the experts We have worked with many business owners and their stakeholders to provide clear and practical solutions.

Chris Ball Corporate Finance Partner E: Brendan O'Donoghue Restructuring & Insolvency Partner E: Yvonne Clarke HR Solutions Manager E:

Offices Dublin Athlone Roscommon

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T: (01) 644 0100 / (090) 6480600 W:

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RBK  Restructuring Partner Profile

ADAPTING TO CHANGE RBK PRIDES ITSELF IN BEING ABLE TO ADAPT TO CHANGES IN BUSINESS, AND NEVER HAS THAT ADAPTABILITY BEEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN NOW AS BUSINESSES BEGIN THEIR PHASED REOPENING AFTER THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. RBK is the largest branded accountancy firm in Ireland, with offices in Dublin, Athlone and Roscommon. As a significant number of SMEs are facing hardship at present, the firm has put an emphasis on offering a range of immediate actions that can address trading shocks and cashflow impacts. Managing Partner David Gleeson discusses how his firm is helping SMEs to get back to business. "What we say to our clients is that they need to make a thorough assessment of their own situation and their own market,” he explains. “It's important to remember that cash is king and they need to be very proactive in terms of addressing that. We would sit with them to help them evaluate how much cash they have, how long it will last, and what supports are available to help with that."

David Gleeson, Managing Partner, RBK

When it comes to attaining and maintaining working capital, SMEs have several options. Government grants through entities like Enterprise Ireland provide a welcome port in the storm to access funds. But Gleeson advises that at an unprecedented time such as this there are a number of additional options too. "When there is debt and a business is unable to pay it, a costeffective solution can be schemes of arrangement,” he says. “This underused system facilitates an agreement between a company and its creditors to restructure the company’s liabilities over a prescribed period. While a scheme of arrangement does not protect a company from its creditors, if approved by 75% of creditors in value, it is legally binding on the remainder.” Gleeson acknowledges that debt isn't the answer at all, but at the moment he sees it as a “necessary evil to get businesses back up and running”. RBK isn't just interested in just finding financial solutions; the firm also offers a wide range of business advices from HR, corporate recovery to technology solutions. Gleeson is keen to point out that health and safety is an important aspect to focus on at present, but that financial and logistical costs need to be taken into consideration. “Staff and customers are critical to any business and you do what you have to do to protect them,” he says. “But, of course, these measures may lead to less efficiency for businesses. When companies have experienced a decrease in sales or are operating at a decreased capacity, it's vital that they also adjust their cost base. And that's where supports such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme come into play to

reduce the cost base to allow the company to continue to operate. It is vital for some sectors that wage subsidy is continued beyond August." Gleeson believes there have been some positive aspects to the changes since the pandemic, particularly with regard to work-life balance. RBK are finding that about one-third of workers want to continue working remotely, while others want to return to the office or want the flexibility to decide for themselves. This shift towards remote working could be the saving grace of rural Ireland in Gleeson's opinion. "This perceived need that we all had to be in the middle of Dublin, that's going to be diluted now as people realise that they may be able to work from home three or four days a week. That means people could rethink decisions on where they live. In fact, in rural Ireland, recently, there's been an increase in the demand for housing. This move away from office-bound work in the capital presents savings for businesses, as they can start to consider downsizing their office space and reducing their overheads. There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that working from home is often more efficient than office-based work.” He concludes: “However the offices of the future work, staff will remain key to a successful business, and having effective HR procedures in place is an absolutely essential for businesses.” RBK has recently launched a dedicated, confidential Corporate Recovery Helpline on (01) 644 0103 to support directors, managers and owners at this difficult time. For more information, visit


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ASSETS TO VALUE OR SELL? WILSONS AUCTIONS - ASSET ADVISORY AND REMARKETING SOLUTIONS We achieve dramatic revenue returns for our customers by offering a range of remarketing options. We provide clients with the most appropriate solution for the scale and nature of the assets to be sold.

WE CAN VALUE AND SELL ALL OF THE ASSETS ABOVE AND EVERYTHING IN-BETWEEN Why use Wilsons Auctions? - Established in 1936 – over 80 years experience in the industry


Specialist departments that can re-market and sell any asset

- Our website is in the top 1% most visited website in the world


Fast and efficient method to sell in the most transparent way

Contact: Ricky Wilson BSc (Hons), RICS, SCSI, MIPAV PSRA Licence: 001527-001778 DIRECTOR / AUCTIONEER

Rebecca Wilson MA (Hons) M.N.A.V.A. PSRA Licence: 001527-001774 HEAD OF CORPORATE SERVICES

T: 01 464 2800 M: 087 286 7500 E:

M: 086 607 1561 E:

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Wilsons Auctions  Restructuring Partner Profile

RELEASING LIQUIDITY IN YOUR ASSETS FAMILY-OWNED AUCTION HOUSE WILSONS AUCTIONS IS OFFERING INVALUABLE SUPPORT FOR FIRMS WHEN IT COMES TO VALUING AND SELLING ASSETS. Wilsons Auctions are the leading provider of premium asset advisory and remarketing services across Ireland and the UK and have a reputation for providing responsive customer service and dynamic commercial solutions. Now in its 85th year, the firm has assisted customers through many different challenging trading conditions and has always made the personal customer approach the forefront of its services. Rebecca Wilson says Wilsons Auctions are pleased to offer a multi-disciplinary team of valuation, logistics, marketing and IT specialists alongside their highly experienced auction team to be able to offer tailor-made services for each client. “The pandemic impacted many businesses overnight, completely stopping many of them from carrying out any sort of trade, which of course in turn affects the cashflow into their business,” she says. “But this is something we can help with as we can provide alternative routes for businesses to generate revenue by freeing up the equity in assets. “We see so many businesses with assets sitting unused in a warehouse or yard and taking up valuable space so we would say, ‘why not sell them?’ At Wilsons Auctions we provide tailored solutions for each customer, whether they have one asset to sell or hundreds, we can walk our customers through all the services we have on offer. We can provide valuations on any asset, collection and secure storage and, when remarketing our customers assets, they can rest assured that they are receiving the best possible exposure as our website is now in the top 1% of the most-visited websites in the world.” Wilsons Auctions’ asset advisory services are utilised by a range of clients from small businesses to multinational

Rebecca Wilson, Director, Wilsons Auctions

Ricky Wilson, Director, Wilsons Auctions

blue-chip companies and from financial institutions and accountants to government bodies. The firm is dedicated to assisting everyone through this challenging time. Ricky Wilson explains: “When we say we sell everything, we mean it as we have specialist departments in vehicles, plant and machinery, including agriculture, engineering, manufacturing, land and property, aviation and marine, retail and hospitality, fine art and jewellery and, over the last few years, we have even been auctioning cryptocurrencies for government bodies. He adds: “Since the pandemic, we have had so many different companies approaching us to see if we can help

release equity in their assets, from large shops who have aged stock sitting in their warehouse to logistics companies who have trucks and trailers not being used and from multinational IT companies who have numerous laptops and other IT equipment which they are no longer using. And we are happy to initially provide valuations on assets to the company or their accountants so they can decide on their next steps.” Once the customer decides they would like to sell an asset, or assets, the process is very simple as Wilson Auctions’ dedicated team looks after everything from collection of the assets through to advertising via the best marketing medium and then selling by public auction. This is an excellent way to sell assets in today’s climate as it is fast clear and transparent. The auctions are open to everyone to bid and with modern technology purchasers can bid from anywhere in the world from the comfort of their own home. “Where a client has a number of assets, we can leave them in situ and sell them directly from the premises, again Wilsons Auctions look after the entire process,” says Rebecca. “We are seeing very strong prices for many different kinds of assets, which is why we are in contract with many government departments, main dealers, large wholesalers and manufacturers – as they see an auction as a fast and efficient remarketing method. And we understand that these are very challenging times for everyone, so all calls are held in the strictest of confidence.” For more information, visit, call (01) 464 2800 or email


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Credit where it’s due during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Considering your credit needs during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic? Having difficulty getting a business loan from your bank? Need to restructure your existing credit facilities? Established by the Minister for Finance, we are here to help. Call our helpline on 1850 211 789 or visit

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Credit Review Office  Restructuring Partner Profile

REVIEW AND REFLECT CREDIT REVIEW’S TEAM ARE EXPERTS IN REVIEWING CREDIT APPLICATIONS AND RESTRUCTURING PROPOSALS TO HELP SMES THROUGH THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19. The Covid-19 emergency has had a huge impact on small businesses in Ireland. Government supports, such as the Temporary Wage Support Scheme, grants and low cost loans and deferred taxes, have helped businesses keep going or resume activity quickly when the crisis eases. Banks have offered payment breaks to their business customers to enable a breathing space while the business owners adapt to the new environment post-Covid. All of these initiatives have greatly helped many businesses survive the initial lockdown period. But what will happen next when the payment breaks and financial supports finish up? Businesses will need ongoing funding to continue to operate. For most small businesses, the main source of funding (outside of their own cash reserves) is bank finance – typically, overdrafts, stocking and term loans or debtor finance. Business owners can ensure there is enough cash to sustain business in two ways: 1. By reducing cash outflows by carefully controlling costs and payments, including restructuring existing debt repayments. 2. By seeking additional credit from their banks and other finance providers. Borrowers and banks will need to work together to ensure successful outcomes to requests for forbearance, restructuring or new lines of credit.

Credit Review can help

The good news is that Credit Review is here to help borrowers having difficulty accessing credit from their banks – and can consider both new requests for

credit, as well as restructuring proposals. Credit Review offers a simple, effective and affordable appeals process for SME and farm businesses who have either been refused credit or have had existing facilities (up to a value of €3m) reduced or withdrawn. It also reviews restructuring proposals, where the proposal is made either by the borrower or the bank. Participating banks include AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB and Ulster Bank. Credit Review appeals are successful in 90% of the cases it supports, resulting in SME and farm businesses receiving a lending/credit solution from their bank.

What is involved?

When an application is received from a disappointed borrower, a Credit Reviewer is assigned, who contacts them to discuss their case and better understand their business. Credit Reviewers are expert credit professionals, with frontline SME and farming finance experience. After receiving information about the business (its market, management, debt and finances) from the borrower, and the bank, the Reviewer forms an opinion as to whether the business is viable and will make enough cash to pay back the loan or meet restructuring obligations. Even if the Reviewer can’t recommend the particular facility requested, they

Catherine Collins, Deputy Head, Credit Review Office

will suggest a roadmap to make future bank applications more likely to succeed. In some cases, bank funding may not be the solution – in which case the Reviewer will highlight other alternative supports that may help the borrower and the business.

Information and assistance

In addition to reviews and appeals, Credit Review provides accessible, easy to understand information notes on current credit issues on the website Get immediate assistance by calling the Credit Review helpline on 087 121 7244 For more information, visit or email


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Left to Right are Sean O’Riordan, Managing Partner with Sinead McNamara and David Swinburne, Legal and Advisory Restructuring and Insolvency Partners

Our Legal Restructuring and Insolvency practice led by Sinead McNamara provides advice to SME clients on options available to navigate through challenging times and our Advisory Restructuring and Insolvency practice is led by Chartered Accountant David Swinburne who acts as Examiner, Liquidator and Receiver. Contact Information: A: 4 High Street, Skibbereen, West Cork T: 028 21 000 A: 6 Lapps Quay, Cork, T12 XHE6 T: 021 427 9800 E: W: 249958_1C_Fitzgerald_JM_BB Q2_REV.indd 1

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Fitzgerald Legal & Advisory  Restructuring Partner Profile

A ROBUST SOLUTION DAVID SWINBURNE AND SINEAD MCNAMARA CHAT WITH BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT HOW FIRMS CAN ADAPT TO THE NEW NORMAL. Q. What are you finding are the most common problems faced by SMEs in the wake of Covid-19? DS: Covid-19 has disrupted SMEs in lots of different ways. The most immediate impact which is still an ongoing concern for businesses in cash. Certainty of cash inflows diminished overnight which in turn had a knock on impact on businesses ability to pay all its stakeholders within their usual timeframe. Remote working and the impact of Covid on the wellbeing of employees continues to be a challenge. There is little appetite for SMEs to take on additional loan facilities due to market uncertainty. Q. Is engagement and communication in this difficult time important? SMcN: Ongoing communication and transparency with all stakeholders both within and outside the business is key. The impacts of the disruption that Covid-19 has had on business life continues to change and this will be the ‘new normal’ that every business is adapting to and you need to always be communicating the impacts that evolving changes are having on your business. Q. Should firms be focusing on crisis management and business continuity plans? DS: Prior to Covid, crisis management and business continuity plans were something that very often never got the attention they truly deserved. Crisis management plans have by and large been successful, but the real challenge is the constant need to be updating continuity plans as matters continue to evolve in the longer term.

Q. What restructuring options are available to SMEs who have been hit hard by the pandemic? SMcN: An underutilised option in this country is examinership. It is often not considered as it is viewed as too expensive. We have also found that looking at the prospective outcomes of restructuring options with clients and presenting them to their stakeholders has resulted in all parties working together on a consensual informal way forward. Q. How detrimental can a lack of cash be to an SME at this time? DS: A constant review of your working capital at this time has to be a number one priority. If a lack of cash is the only topic on the agenda in a business, it can be fatal. So early engagement to assess the position and options on how you trade out of it are vital.

Sinead McNamara is a Solicitor and Head of Legal Restructuring and Insolvency at Fitzgerald Legal and Advisory and is also the Cork County Sheriff and has extensive experience acting for Examiners, Liquidators and Receivers.

Q. How vital is it that non-essential expenditure is cut back? SMcN: If it is non-essential, then it must be cut back. There is a balance to be struck here in terms of ensuring that a business allocates its cash to essential items only and there must be robust debate within a business to agree what is considered essential and non-essential. Q. What sets FitzGerald Legal & Advisory apart from its competitors? DS: What makes us different is that we have the blended skills and experience under one roof. We are in a position to provide robust practical advice and solutions as a package to clients. For more information, visit

David Swinburne is a Chartered Accountant and Head of Advisory at Fitzgerald Legal & Advisory. He holds an Insolvency practicing certificate from Chartered Accountants Ireland and is a member of the Irish Society of Insolvency Practitioners.


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Restructuring Partner Profile  PJ Lynch & Company

EXPERTISE IN AN ERA OF UNCERTAINTY AS WE MOVE INTO AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE AS MANY FIRMS MOVE INTO INSOLVENCY, INDUSTRY EXPERT PJ LYNCH PROVIDES SOME VITAL ADVICE FOR FIRMS FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL. The Covid-19 pandemic has left an indelible impact on societies around the world. People are coming to the realisation that, along with a health crisis, we also have the financial effects of a pandemic that is shattering businesses. The Covid-19 lockdown has caused a myriad of issues to businesses both large and small and it has resulted in significant financial stress to all types of business, especially to the small and medium-sized varieties. The effect on the global economy has also had a knock-on effect on Ireland and the financial implications caused by Covid-19 could result in our society being significantly damaged for the foreseeable future.

The pandemic’s effects will be widespread and sustained. It will cause a drop in economic activity, resulting in cashflow difficulties and many businesses becoming insolvent. If your company is struggling at this difficult time, it’s important to act fast. The best approach is to discuss the matter with your financial advisor, and decide if the company has the financial resources to trade out of its difficulties. If it’s clear that the business has no future, it can be placed in voluntary liquidation by a process known as a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. This process is relatively straightforward and if the entire procedure is well planned, with the directors seeking professional advice


from their accountants and guidance from a licensed insolvency practitioner. If the directors of an insolvent company are transparent and are in a position to demonstrate that the company was operated in a sincere manner, then the winding up of the company can be concluded quite quickly. If the directors of a solvent company decide not to continue to trade, the company can be wound up through a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation. For this to be effective, all admitted claims against the company must be discharged in full. For a company formed prior to the pandemic that has never traded, it is imperative that the company should not be deserted. Instead, it should be a voluntary struck off the register pursuant to the Companies Act 2014, which has increased the responsibility for directors to act in good faith. However, companies should be aware that a court liquidation is very unlikely to happen during a national crisis of this level if they are unable to trade out due to the financial impacts of the pandemic.

Supports and cooperation

There are some supports in place. By introducing the Covid-19 subsidy scheme, the Revenue Commissioners have offered welcome assistance to companies during the ongoing crisis. In addition, Revenue is prepared to consider a period of forbearance as regards payments once the returns are kept up to date under all relevant tax heads. The fast action of the Revenue Commissioners is to be commended. If your business has been impacted by Covid-19, your Local Enterprise Office can also help. Email or call (01) 707 9662 for an action plan to suit your requirements.


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Coronavirus COVID-19

Working Capital Loan Scheme

How do I apply for the Covid-19 Scheme? Check the guidelines on the SBCI website ( to assess if your business is likely to meet the eligibility criteria; If yes, complete the Eligibility Form available on the website and return it to the SBCI by email or post; The SBCI will assess the application and determine if you are eligible or not; Eligible applicants will be provided with an Eligibility Reference Number; Provide the Eligibility Reference Number - along with your updated Business Plan - to your preferred finance provider when completing your credit application; The Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme is available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.

Who can apply?

•• • Key features of the Covid-19 Scheme •• •• •• Loans can be used for ••

To be eligible, a business must meet the following criteria: Be a viable business with up to 499 employees (SMEs and Small MidCaps); Be Covid-19 impacted;

Meet the scheme criteria (Covid-19 criterion and Innovation criteria). Loan amounts of between €25,000 to €1.5m per eligible enterprise; Maximum interest rate of 4%;

Loan terms ranging from 1 year to 3 years; Loans unsecured up to €500,000;

Optional interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans; The loan amount and term is dependent on the loan purpose. Future working capital requirements; To fund innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

For further queries on the Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme and/or assistance with the Eligibility Form, please visit or call 1800 804 482.

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Feature  Back to Education



learning LANDSCAPE



Back to Education  Feature

Let’s get digital Nowhere is the post-Covid-19 future as positive or as interesting as in the realm of learning. We will come out of Covid-19 with a better understanding of digital tools and the management of online learning will be integrated into existing academic leadership structures. This post-pandemic understanding will change how educational organisations plan for the future. In these challenging times, individuals should consider investing in their education. This is the perfect opportunity to seize the moment and take an ambitious step towards a better professional future. It’s time to get digital in this rapidly changing world.



it stands, Irish educational institutions are continuing to make preparations to welcome new and returning students, while some edtech firms have continued through the pandemic with a range of online learning options. Lockdown has been an eye-opener in terms of how important education is. One certainty from the upheaval of the education system during this pandemic is the fact that digital skills are more important than ever. By remotely supporting learners through a digital offering, as well as providing more traditional teaching, a blended form of learning has become evident. As we move through the recovery phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional educational providers have made a commitment to provide engaging content, while also complying with social distancing guidelines. The new learning experience is likely to be substantially different from previous years as we all adapt to the new measures. Nevertheless, there is a range of options and information available to people who are thinking of returning to education. Online learning has shown significant growth over the last decade as the internet and education collaborate to provide people with the opportunity to gain new skills. The current pandemic has proved that it’s possible to improve our digital skills through online education. In a world post-Covid-19, there will be a dramatic shift towards lifelong learning and online learning. If Ireland is to retain its reputation as an ecosystem of tech startups, online education should be a key priority and should be central to an institution’s strategic planning. Undoubtedly, the future will be more remote and increasingly digital. Online communication is changing the way instructors and learners interact and learn and blended learning will dramatically increase with the advancement of remote teaching.

84 Olive Group

As the rise of virtual learning continues, Irish edtech company Olive Group provides a unique Irish solution to a global problem in education and training for tutors, students and education and training organisations during this challenging time.

87 UCD Smurfit Executive Development

UCD Smurfit Executive Development has for the first time been featured in the prestigious 2020 Financial Times Executive Education Rankings for both its open enrolment and customised programmes as we collectively face the defining challenge of a generation.

89 IT Sligo

In these difficult times, IT Sligo is encouraging everyone to consider investing in their education, whether that is a free short online course or a masters qualification in a specialist field. Now, more than ever, is the time to take that next step and master your ambition.

91 TU Dublin

Colin Hughes of The Graduate Business School at TU Dublin about the entrepreneurial outlook needed at this challenging time.

92 American College Dublin

Rowland Crawte explains how the College seeks to offer the best characteristics of Irish and American higher education during these unprecedented times. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 83

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Back To Education Profile  Olive Group

THE RISE OF VIRTUAL LEARNING IRISH EDTECH COMPANY OLIVE GROUP PROVIDES A UNIQUE IRISH SOLUTION TO A GLOBAL PROBLEM IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR TUTORS, STUDENTS AND EDUCATION AND TRAINING ORGANISATIONS. Online communication is changing the way instructors and learners interact and learn. Online learning has shown significant growth over the last decade as the internet and education collaborate to provide people with the opportunity to gain new skills. But up to now there are significant gaps in the delivery, and the current providers fall short of creating a User experience that ticks all the boxes. The cost of education and training in its current form in Ireland is artificially high and hugely inefficient. “We are now ready to be a market leader in this space and to disrupt based on price, features and quality,” says founder Brendan Kavanagh confidently. Irish-founded global educational tech firm Olive Group has been involved in the digital transformation of companies for the last ten years, saving up to 90% of the cost of delivering practical training for companies. Having grown a number of tech companies in the downstream retail space, Brendan Kavanagh’s passion for education resulted in the formation of the company in 2006. Today, Olive Group employs 30 direct staff in its Dublin facility, not to mention in excess of 350 people globally. “With the advent of cloud tech and video streaming, and also using AI chatbots, I wanted to create a model where any amount of education should be available 24/7,” says Kavanagh, “and that was my vision for Olive.” “We want to empower training and education institutions and individuals with software as a service platforms that are easy to onboard and navigate, for students and teachers alike, and

also have the inbuilt features to promote their businesses.” The company offers a range of education products focused on corporations, recruitment agencies, coaches, tutors and training organizations, including e-learning and virtual classroom, which has proven to improve learning retention. Olive Group has developed a platform using ground breaking tech to deliver fit-for-purpose education to suit any learning style. “From 2015 onwards we have been creating tools to educate,” says Kavanagh. “Classroom-based training is highly inefficient due to the cost and down-time involved, so we’ve invested heavily in technology and created a

feature rich solution for individuals and education and training organisations, that provide all types of learning.” The platform Kavanagh is referring to is My Virtual Tutor Platforms, an innovative software solution specialising in remote learning, upskilling and regulatory compliance. The platform is currently providing essential assistance for firms as they deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 has decimated the education and training sectors. Tutors have been trying to deliver training using broadcasting platforms like Skype and Zoom which are not learner centric and provide no candidate tracking or evidence based learner outcomes.


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Olive Group

“There’s been about two years’ worth of digital transformation in the space of a few months due to Covid-19,” says Kavanagh. “A massive amount of training organisations and educational institutions are behind on technology. Our platform allows trainee organisations to on-board and customise their own solutions. They can host their own training and also make it available on a ubiquitous basis increasing their offer to a much wider audience.” “Because we come from an education and regulatory compliance background we have been ready with solutions for SMEs struggling with the impact of the pandemic. That’s why we created an online classroom environment where training can be tailored to suit the individual’s needs.”​ In the B2C market as unemployment rises, and job hunting becomes increasingly competitive, My Virtual Tutor has advanced technology to connect candidates not only with relevant online courses but also to job opportunities that are aligned to qualifications and certifications. “Now, more than ever, is the time for people to upskill and become an agile learner,” explains Kavanagh. “Our algorithm allows companies to post jobs based on the candidate training, and it can also help individuals find jobs based on training they’ve taken. We will drive job seekers to the training organisations and tutors that use our platform to help grow their businesses.”

Ahead of the game

As we enter a new era of the revolution of online education, more and more businesses are becoming aware of the advantages of virtual learning platforms. The education technology sector is set to be worth a staggering $3 trillion in value by 2024 as an increasing number of individuals and firms register for training courses. “This type of training allows people to learn anytime, anywhere, and from any device – and Covid-19 has accelerated this further,” says Kavanagh. “Companies have found themselves in a position where they cannot train staff or

 Back To Education Profile

Brendan Kavanagh, CEO, Olive Group

communicate with clients without a virtual platform. What is unique about what we are doing is that we offer everything in one box, allowing your company to communicate directly to thousands of people on a global basis.” The global lockdown has caused major disruption in students’ learning and education. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 has paved opportunities for the growth of the e-learning sector. The rise of virtual platforms has changed the perception of learning. This is not the time for trepidation around new technology, and Brendan Kavanagh is encouraging CEOs and business-owners to embrace digital change. In line with what’s happening with data protection and GDPR, there are growing concerns about how tech giants are using personal data as consumers show a greater understanding of online privacy. “Our goal is to take on the bigger Silicon Valley corporations,” admits Kavanagh. “But they are really chasing your data, and for us, the data should

be the property of either the company or the educational institution.” Deploying training to one million users each year in the US, Australia, the Middle East and western Europe, Olive Group looks set to continue its international growth. “We consider ourselves part of the fourth industrial revolution in terms of addressing problems such as technological redundancy” says Kavanagh. “We see ourselves as being the bridge to employment, just as much as upskilling workforces, and we are passionate about working to bring the price of education down ensuring that the traditional barriers to education are eliminated. We want to transform lives and ensure that everybody can benefit from lifelong learning and much more accessible education.” “We provide everything in a one-stop solution and at a much better price than anyone one else in the world,” he concludes. Visit​to discover more about Olive Group’s low-cost online training courses that are custom built to assist SMEs during this challenging time.


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STARTS HERE APPLY NOW FOR IRELAND’S PREMIER BUSINESS QUALIFICATIONS Drive your career forward and achieve your goals in an inspiring learning environment. View the latest offerings from Smurfit Executive Development at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

Our range of accredited and short programmes will provide you with the strategic skills to drive higher performance and deliver greater results throughout your organisation and career.

3-day Short Courses

Part-time Diplomas



8th – 10th September 2020

7th September 2020



14th to 16th September 2020

8th October 2020



7th – 9th October 2020

15th October 2020



HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE? For further information, please contact Caroline Kinsella on (01) 716 8050 or email

Executive Education Ranking 2020

28th October 2020





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UCD Smurfit Executive Development

 Back To Education Profile

MOVING UP THE RANKINGS UCD SMURFIT EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT HAS FOR THE FIRST TIME BEEN FEATURED IN THE PRESTIGIOUS 2020 FINANCIAL TIMES EXECUTIVE EDUCATION RANKINGS FOR BOTH ITS OPEN ENROLMENT AND CUSTOMISED PROGRAMMES. “UCD Smurfit School has now been listed among the world’s top business education providers by the Financial Times for two decades,” says UCD’s College of Business Dean Prof. Anthony Brabazon. “This milestone comes at a time when we are seeing extraordinary changes to ‘business as usual’ as we collectively face the defining challenge of a generation. Now more than ever, investment in the development of leadership talent is essential.” “Our high ranking results across multiple categories demonstrates our commitment to delivering premium, executive level programmes,” says Smurfit Executive Development Director Helen Brophy. “We are bolstered by the breakthrough ranking of our customised programmes which have now been recognised among the world’s best. Our sustained and strategic investment in high-calibre faculty and innovative staff, growth of elite, global alliances and maintenance of prestigious accreditations have advanced our position on the global stage.”

The move up the rankings has been going on for some years, according to Brophy. “We went in at entry level and have worked our way up to 42nd,” she says. “One thing we tried to make sure of is that we don’t jump around a lot. Other courses can be quite unstable in the rankings. Our aim first was to get into the top 50 and then to improve. We got to 48 two years ago then went up to 43 and now to 42. That hasn’t been easy. There are always new entrants coming along from Latin America, Asia and Africa and the differences between placings can be very small.” That achievement puts the school in quite stellar company. “Being in the same league as the London Business School is fantastic,” says Brophy. “The credit goes to the faculty and all the team here as well as to the course participants.” Having established the open courses in the rankings it was time to look at the customised offering. “We decided to look at this last year. Our business is split 50:50 between open and customised

Helen Brophy, Director, UCD Smurfit Executive Development and Prof. Anthony Brabazon, Dean, UCD College of Business

courses but such an intensive effort goes into entering the rankings there is no point in doing it if you are going to drop considerably or even fall out after a while.” She adds: “Our first objective was to enter the rankings. From there it is to steadily work our way up to the global top 50. The way the rankings work it takes a number of years to work your way up. The hard part is getting into them.” The benefits of the rankings run much deeper than just recognition. “When we started out on the FT rankings some years ago our philosophy was not to spend time and resources unless it benefits us,” Brophy explains. “And it really has. Being ranked benchmarks us against the very best in the world. The criteria help us to look at what we do here and make sure it is world-class.” There are also benefits for clients of the customised programme. “Our clients are making very significant investments in their people and it is important that it is recognised that what they are doing is world-class. That’s an important retention mechanism for them as well.” Brophy sees the rankings as part of the overall continuous improvement system at the school. “As director, I work with my counterparts in business schools around the world to see what best in class looks like and bring that back and apply it here. We look at where executive education is going in future and where the market is going. We ask how we can make things better and try to improve continuously. It’s great to get independent validation from the FT rankings that we are doing it right.” For more information, visit executivedevelopment.


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In 2019 over 12,000 students studied online with IT Sligo, the Irish leaders in Online learning since 2002. Students choose Online Learning at IT Sligo for the range of courses, affordable fees and because it fits in with life, work and home. With 140 accredited and industry relevant qualifications to choose from, Master your Ambition with Online Learning at IT Sligo. Applications Now Open for September 2020. Download 2020/21 Online Learning Prospectus

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IT Sligo

 Back To Education Profile

LEADERS IN ONLINE EDUCATION MASTERING AMBITION AND UPSKILLING FOR THE FUTURE OF WORK ARE KEY THEMES FOR INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY SLIGO’S INNOVATIVE RANGE OF NEW PROGRAMMES. In a world post Covid-19, there will be a dramatic shift towards lifelong learning and online learning. In response to this, IT Sligo has launched a new Online Learning Prospectus for the 2020/21 academic year. With a portfolio of over 140 online programmes and 35,000 graduates over the past ten years alone, IT Sligo continues to strengthen its leadership in online learning in Ireland. Working closely with employers and employees, IT Sligo develops and delivers programmes to support upskilling in a range of areas in demand by industry, enterprise and the community. The renowned educational institution has developed over 20 new programmes for the forthcoming academic year. Examples include a new full-time online degree programme in Health and Medical Information Science, a new Work-Based Learning degree programme in Mechatronic Systems Engineering and a joint international delivery masters programme in Leadership and Advocacy in the Early Years with with one of IT Sligo's partner Institutions, Fanshawe College in Canada. IT Sligo’s mission is to advance economic, social, and environmental sustainability through education, innovation and engagement to produce graduates who are innovative, confident and capable of leading the development of the region and beyond. Consistent with this mission is IT Sligo’s continued growth and strength in online learning, placing IT Sligo in a leading position in Ireland. Professor Jacqueline McCormack, Vice-President for Online Development, commented: “In our desire to educate students to reach their full potential, we strive to respond to economic and societal challenges through delivery of excellent higher

education learning opportunities and a supportive environment with a strong focus on pastoral care of our growing student body.” With the largest cohort of online students in Ireland, IT Sligo is continuously evolving the online learning experience. The Centre for Online Learning has launched a comprehensive suite of student support services, ensuring that although students are offcampus, they can still avail of supports such as access to an Academic Writing Centre, Maths Support Centre, Learning Supports, Yeats Library and student health and wellbeing services. Launching the 2020 online recruitment campaign, Master Your Ambition, IT Sligo’s Marketing and Student Recruitment Manager, Rosie Gilleece, stated: “We recognise that online students may have previously engaged in higher education and have reached a life stage, where they have gained industry experience and want to progress in their chosen career path. With flexible, parttime courses, the online learning option offers that opportunity to upskill while maintaining work-life balance.”

Alongside a comprehensive list of online programmes, the Prospectus also shares many student success stories, highlighting personal journeys taken by IT Sligo’s online students across Ireland and the globe. In these challenging times, IT Sligo is encouraging everyone to consider investing in their education, whether that is a free short online course or a masters qualification in a specialist field. Now, more than ever, is the time to take that next step and master your ambition. For more information on IT Sligo’s Online Learning Prospectus, visit

Grow your own Engineers In September 2020, Institute of Technology Sligo will be accepting the first cohort of students onto its new, highly innovative Work-Based Degree in Engineering. Students, who have completed their Leaving Certificate, will work for three years with a suitable employer for three days a week and study online for two days per week. Lectures will be delivered online and there will be occasional attendance required at IT Sligo for laboratory work, much of which is also available online. This new course in mechatronic systems engineering addresses several challenges that engineering education has faced over the years, namely the lack of practical work experience of new graduates. The programme is aimed at automation within Ireland’s high-end manufacturing sector and has support from employers who believe that this will be a more effective way of educating engineers.

Interested employers and students should contact for more information.


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Infinite Possibilities

TU Dublin Executive MBA Challenge your thinking and transform your future with the TU Dublin Executive MBA. Designed for experienced professionals seeking to excel in leadership roles, TU Dublin's Executive MBA programme provides an engaging and supportive learning environment and a pathway to career success. ''Through the MBA, I acquired more confidence, knowledge, and a belief in my capabilities. The MBA brings together all the knowledge – you may not even realise you have stored – and provides the frameworks to succeed as a Senior Leader, thus making it a truly transformational experience.'' Barbara Skerritt, Director Data & Analytics, ICON, Dublin 2019 TU Dublin Executive MBA Graduate

e: w: Scholarships now available

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TU Dublin  Back to Education Partner Profile

GRADUATING TO SUCCESS BETTER BUSINESS CHATS WITH COLIN HUGHES, HEAD OF THE GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL AT TU DUBLIN, ABOUT OPTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES LOOKING TO EQUIP THEMSELVES WITH THE BUSINESS FRAMEWORKS AND ENTREPRENEURIAL OUTLOOK NEEDED AT THIS CHALLENGING TIME. Q. Can you tell Better Business readers about the School's offering? CH: The Graduate Business School is a leading provider of postgraduate and executive education. Our portfolio includes over 30 postgraduate programmes, with a range of customised offerings designed for leading businesses, representative bodies and industry networks. So we have an extensive portfolio of highquality programmes, many of which are unique to TU Dublin. Q. What offerings do you have that are tailored for people working full-time? CH: 800 plus postgraduate learners are studying with us on a part-time basis. We know that busy professionals need a flexible learning pathway, so we offer a range of delivery modes, including: monthly, in block delivery format; weekly, in the evenings; and blended, featuring online and oncampus delivery. We also ensure that our programmes are at the cuttingedge of business and really add value for our learners. Our industry partners and graduates not only feed into the design of our programmes, but they engage in programme delivery, expert seminars, company visits and live case studies.

Colin Hughes, Head of the Graduate Business School at TU Dublin Q. How has programme delivery changed due to Covid-19? CH: We are planning for a blended model – on-campus delivery paired with virtual learning. We have run blended programmes for about 20 years now, so we have strong expertise in online delivery. We have also invested heavily in new technology to enable live streaming of lectures for postgraduate learners who cannot attend on-campus classes.


Q. What do you think sets TU Dublin apart when it comes to business education? CH: There are a number of things. Firstly, our programmes are designed to ensure a balance between academic excellence and real-world relevance, our students learn through engaging with our experienced Faculty and expert guest speakers and by applying their learning to their own organisation and to a range of exciting projects and live case studies with leading businesses. Secondly, we work hard to ensure a very engaging learning experience where students learn a huge amount from each other – about their organisations and industries, and about how they approach leadership, strategy and problem solving. Our graduates are leaders in every field and actively engage with us to enhance the learning experience of the students who follow in their footsteps. When you join TU Dublin you are joining a really strong network which benefits you throughout your career. Q. Are your programmes recognised by accreditation bodies? CH: Yes, our programmes are recognised by leading professional bodies, such as CIPD, IMCA, ACCA, CPA, CAI, CIMA, the Marketing Institute of Ireland, etc. We are recognised by PRME as a provider of responsible management education and our Executive MBA programme is AMBAaccredited, placing us in the top 2% of global business schools. For more information about how The Graduate Business School at TU Dublin can help you take that next step in your career, visit


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Back to Education Partner Profile  American College Dublin

A STIMULATING SYLLABUS AMERICAN COLLEGE DUBLIN SEEKS TO OFFER THE BEST CHARACTERISTICS OF IRISH AND AMERICAN HIGHER EDUCATION IN AN ENVIRONMENT TAILORED TO THE NEEDS OF STUDENTS DURING THESE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES. Having grown from a single house on Merrion Square to one which occupies three buildings within walking distance of each other spread out across Dublin city centre, American College Dublin facilities have expanded to include an enlarged library, computer laboratories, student dining and recreation facilities. The College offers undergraduate and graduate degree courses in liberal arts, business and performance and its mission is to engage all students in an educational experience that is active, participative and challenging. Due to Covid-19, the College has had to evolve and adapt, while retaining its commitment to teaching that is responsive to the needs of students of varying abilities and backgrounds – actively involving students in the learning and assessment processes. “We’re lucky in that one of our selling points has always been that we use

small classes,” says Rowland Crawte, Director of Administration. “A typical lecturer-to-student ratio would be in the region of 15-1. This is useful in the sense that it was easy enough for us to switch to an online learning scenario quickly last semester.” Although Crawte sees the future of teaching moving to an online model, he stresses the importance of retaining a face-to-face element. “Going forward, we will continue to switch to a more blended learning offering, as opposed to purely online,” he says. “From September, we’ll have students alternating between in-class learning and online learning on a weekly basis. This means students will get some of the in-class experience, while we also keep everyone safe through our robust social distancing procedures.” This new outlook for the delivery of education has posed challenges that the

College has had to contend with. “The main challenge is the training of our top-class lecturers,” admits Crawte. “We have retooled our lecturers to ensure they are using innovative education methods to engage the students. “We can’t just switch to lecture delivery by only using Zoom – that doesn’t work. With online learning, you have to actually change how you’re delivering the material. You need to think about how to keep them fresh and stimulated.” As well as offering programmes accredited by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), American College Dublin is also accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education – an organisation responsible for higher education accreditation in many US states. “We are dual accredited and try to extract the best of both the Irish and US systems,” explains Crawte. “The US accreditation allows us to be a little more flexible and we are committed to providing tailored courses for students, whether they are already working in a full-time job, for example.” He continues: “We’ve also been touching on areas that other colleges have only recently put a focus on over the past 15 years, such as entrepreneurship. Internships are also a major part of our masters courses – we understand the importance of offering a real-world experience that provides invaluable experience to our students.” “Looking to the future, our focus is to hone our skills in this online delivery market, ensuring that we’re not just doing it because we have to, but because we have a commitment to excel in this new educational landscape,” concludes Crawte.


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Intuit QuickBooks  Partner Profile

QUICKEST ON THE DRAW MOVING FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT ONLINE WITH QUICKBOOKS IS A GAME-CHANGER FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, ALLOWING BUSINESS OWNERS MORE TIME TO FOCUS ON EARNING PROFIT. As Senior Sales Leader at Intuit QuickBooks, Laura Kenny’s role is to understand target customer segments, their needs and how to solve their problems. Technological advancements over the years have played a major role in influencing how accountants work today. For example, the growth of the internet brought about major opportunities in e-business and completely transformed how many businesses operate. “Now, not only does the client need to have proficient financial processes, but the accountants themselves need software programs that keep track of clients accounting information with improved efficiency,” says Laura Kenny, Senior Sales Leader at Intuit QuickBooks. The evolution of accounting technology has been tremendous with strong growth potential for the future, according to Kenny. “Accounting technology has always played a part in making the accountant’s job just a little easier,” she says, “and as our knowledge of technology increased, so has the accountant’s ability to analyse statistical values and work more efficiently. “We’re now using artificial intelligence to help our customers solve some of their biggest financial problems, such as paying taxes, organising business expenses, managing finances, paying bills, paying employees, sending invoices, and more.” Cloud computing is another more recent development which enables accountants and small businesses to permanently store data and use business applications over a remote server, enabling financial management for the business to be done anytime, anyplace and anywhere. Kenny comments: “These developments, including the more recent

must have features accountants generally deem essential. “Our software also automatically categorises transactions using machine learning in QuickBooks Online. When we applied advanced machine learning to a dataset of over a billion transactions of QBO users, we were able to optimise the accuracy of expense categorisation to 80%.”

Streamlined processes

Laura Kenny, Senior Sales Leader at Intuit QuickBooks

application of data-mining and artificial intelligence, have enhanced our ability to interpret and use data efficiently and more effectively. Equipped with more sophisticated software tools, accountants and financial managers are increasingly becoming a company’s most trusted business advisor.” “At QuickBooks we’ve worked closely with accountants and SMEs to understand the challenges that Irish businesses face,” adds Kenny. “If you ask any small business what the ‘perfect’ accounting software package should do, their answer will undoubtedly be ‘save time’.” QuickBooks helps SMEs to do just that, saving up to eight hours a month on their accounting, making it easier for them to focus on running their business. Kenny explains: “It’s extremely user-friendly, with features including automated tasks, automatic back-up, built-in reports, electronic invoicing, mobile apps, and integration with thirdparty apps. One of the big benefits for SMEs is that many accountants also use QuickBooks, as it boasts all of the

Across the world, no one has been spared the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most companies have taken advantage of new technology, like video calling applications, and QuickBooks Online is another platform for business owners to speed-up many of their work processes. “Now more than ever, businesses are looking for reassurance and confidence when it comes to online support from their suppliers and software providers,” says Kenny. “Intuit QuickBooks has invested substantial resources in order to provide its Irish-based customers with a range of online supports, so that they can optimise their use of the software.” These resources include in-software help, email support with agreed response times with the QuickBooks team of dedicated support specialists. Customers also are encouraged to use the online Community Forum, where customers can connect with other QuickBooks Online users to share experiences and best practice. “The future is digital and we’ve all had to learn that quicker than we may have expected,” Kenny concludes. “QuickBooks Online is a great way for businesses to keep up with and adapt to these quickly changing times.” For more information, call 1800 807 132 or visit


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We’re proud to support the Small Firms Association (SFA) in partnership with O’Leary Insurances to deliver market leading insurance solutions for SFA members. Our product suite includes; •Small commercial combined •Property owners •Office package/combined •Standalone public liability For more information, please contact Carman Devlin ( or call 01 660 8211.

AIG Europe S.A. is authorised by the Luxembourg Ministère des Finances and supervised by the Commissariat aux Assurances and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules.

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Environmental Protection Agency  Partner Profile

WASTE PREVENTION FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY’S GREEN ENTERPRISE: INNOVATION FOR A CIRCULAR ECONOMY FUNDING CALL OPENED FOR APPLICATIONS IN AUGUST – A FLAGSHIP INITIATIVE OF IRELAND’S NATIONAL WASTE PREVENTION PROGRAMME. Circular economy is the economy of the future – waste is prevented or reduced at each stage of the economic cycle (design, production, distribution, retail and consumption), materials are used efficiently, and the value of those materials stay in the economy for as long as possible. Waste prevention, reuse, repair, the sharing economy, avoidance of single-use products, finding new uses for by-products and high levels of recycling are all elements of a circular economy. Putting circular principles at the core of Ireland’s economic model offers the opportunity to rebuild our economy, generate new jobs and respond to climate change and is at the centre of the EU’s Green Deal, the Government’s Jobs Stimulus Plan and Climate Action Plan. A survey conducted by Ibec in association with the Environmental Protection Agency last year found that 49% of respondents acknowledged that moving to a circular economy presents a business opportunity in the long-term, however only one-in-ten companies had a specific budget in place to support circular economy initiatives and 39% said funding availability would be a major challenge.

Stimulate the economy

There are huge opportunities for Irish businesses engaged in circular economy activities to reduce waste and emissions and reduce their costs. There is also growing consumer and customer demand for less resource intensive products and services. Green Enterprise is a key support for this transformation and is tailored to

stimulate innovation for sustainable products and services. Applications are invited in the areas of food, construction and demolition, plastics and resources and raw materials. Projects that stimulate circular economy are the focus; including, but not limited to, sustainable design to prevent waste during the economic cycle, increasing the durability and recyclability of products, supporting repair and reuse activities, avoidance of single-use plastics and other single use items, new business models for sharing/ leasing products to reduce consumption and finding new uses for by-products. Funding of up to €100,000 per application is available. Green Enterprise: Innovation for a Circular Economy is an initiative of Ireland’s National Waste Prevention

Programme. The National Waste Prevention Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative, led by the Environmental Protection Agency and funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The National Waste Prevention Programme was established in 2004 and has led innovative programmes to drive waste prevention and circular economy. The programme provides tools and information to businesses, households and the public sector to influence behavioural change and support sustainable choices. For further information on the funding call 053 916 0600, visit researchandeducation/research/ epafunding/greenenterprise. Queries can be sent to


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DeCare  Partner Profile

WORKING TOWARDS WELLNESS GOING FORWARD, WELLBEING WILL PLAY A HUGE ROLE IN RECOVERY FOLLOWING COVID-19, WRITES DAVID CASEY, WELLNESS AND HEALTH PROMOTION MANAGER, DECARE. Covid-19 has been alongside us for the last few months and certain restrictive measures will continue until a vaccine becomes available. It has not only changed our lives, it has changed the world and business as we once knew it. Hand washing, coughing, sneezing, hand-shaking, social distancing and remote working have become part of the ‘new normal’. How has this affected our working lives and what toll is it taking on overall wellbeing and mental health? A survey carried out with over 7,000 participants facilitated by NUI Galway in conjunction with the Western Development Commission on remote working during Covid-19 shows that over 73% of workers would like to continue working remotely after the pandemic. This study showed that juggling homeschooling with work, along with managers’ expectations being too high, were key issues which presented from working remotely. It highlighted a rise in workloads and that remote workers were missing social interaction with colleagues and clients, impacting on mental health. The top three highlighted challenges of working remotely are: 1. Not being able to switch off from work

2. C  ollaboration and communication with colleagues and co-workers is harder 3. P  oor physical workspace

Challenging time

Communication which has lacked the human connection can be overcome as measures ease, enabling innovative social distance meetings and walking meetings in open spaces. Video-conferencing and virtual meetings have assisted workers to feel more connected. However, if overdone, evidence has shown video-conferencing can cause stress and pressure. There is a need for managers to acknowledge the challenges of managing childcare, home-schooling and work expectations. Employers are encouraged to keep social contact and break the feeling of isolation and loneliness. This can be achieved through regular communication and initiatives like virtual coffee breaks. However, managers need to strike a balance to ensure communications and check-ins are not excessive or perceived as micro-management. Businesses and managers should acknowledge, through their actions, the toll the global crisis can have on


David Casey, Wellness and Health Promotion Manager, DeCare

employees’ overall wellbeing and mental health. Although there are barriers to be overcome as we begin the journey of returning to the ‘new normal’, remote working has shown to have many positive health effects. These include no traffic and no commute, impacting positively on financial wellbeing with reduced costs of going to work and commuting. It has also shown that there is greater flexibility as to how to manage the working day. An employee wellness programme and remote wellness offerings play a key role at this challenging time in business. After all, happy, healthier workers are more present, productive and innovative. Find out more information on DeCare’s benefits and wellness services at and


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Empower your data to deliver your services more efficiently

Cut Costs

Increase Revenues

Target Services

Connect Quicker

Find out how to empower your address data w


01 705 7005

Backed by:


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GeoDirectory  Partner Profile

MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS WITH GEODIRECTORY GEODIRECTORY IS INCREASINGLY HELPING COMPANIES TO TURN DATA INTO A VALUABLE ASSET ON THE BALANCE SHEET. The subject of data is not exactly sexy, but the information it can produce can be very hot. The secret is to ensure the data you have is timely, accurate and standardised. The benefits of good data are lower costs, increasing efficiencies, higher revenues and more satisfied customers. While the benefits are great, it can be hard to see how and where to start. GeoDirectory, jointly owned by An Post and OSi, helps businesses to convert data into a profit making resource by maximising the value of their data. Services such as GeoAddressFix and GeoAddress Checked are key to achieving this. AddressFix is a do-ityourself online service that allows businesses to clean their customer data list in just minutes. It’s a simple three-step process making your list error free, ready to target your customers and deliver their needs in a prompt and precise manner. A more recent addition to the data services portfolio, GeoAddress Checked is an application programming interface (API) that’s added to your website or customer relationship management (CRM) system. It is estimated that the cost of a failed delivery can be up to €15, but once installed, the API prompts customers or staff with address options as they start to type which results in a correctly formatted version making it impossible to enter an inaccurate Irish address. An example of effective data use can be seen in Tesco home delivery. Customers register online and after entering the first line of their address and selecting their county, they are presented with a list of potential matches from which to choose. GeoDirectory captures the address selected by the customer and matches

Boost your sales with smarter data

it to a precise geocode, based on its unique directory of X, Y coordinates for every building in the Republic of Ireland. This allows Tesco to pinpoint the exact district electoral division (DED) that the customer lives in, which in turn means the company can instantly match the customer to the store closest to their home address. The geocodes generated by GeoDirectory can reveal where there is a cluster of orders in the same locality, which means these can all be delivered together, streamlining the process. In addition, Tesco uses the geocodes to help calculate the best routes for the drivers.

Analysis patterns

Another great example is Aviva, whose combined custom-built geographic

information system (GIS) software with GeoDirectory’s electronic register of unique addresses and precise locations to systematically analyse claims patterns. By overlaying other data, it was able to discover relationships and patterns that would have remained hidden using more traditional analysis techniques. Having access to accurate information allows for better data-driven decisions. The effect of getting your data to work for you is reduced costs, improved customer care and brand satisfaction, and an increase in sales and a very valuable asset on your balance sheet. For more information, please email, phone (01) 705 7005, or visit website


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Partner Profile  Fáilte Ireland

FÁILTE IRELAND: SUPPORTING IRELAND’S TOURISM & HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES AS TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES ACROSS THE COUNTRY OPEN THEIR DOORS, WE SPEAK TO THE NATIONAL TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ABOUT THE IMPACT THE CRISIS HAS HAD AND WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO REBUILD THE SECTOR POST COVID-19. “The tourism and hospitality industry essentially collapsed overnight,” says Martina Bromley, Head of Enterprise and Hospitality Development at Fáilte Ireland. “As the National Tourism Development Authority, we stepped in to provide the expert guidance urgently needed by tourism and hospitality businesses across the country and we have continued to work closely with businesses throughout the crisis to provide practical, tactical and relevant supports to help them navigate the challenges they are facing.” Fáilte Ireland’s online COVID-19 Business Support Hub was created to provide up to date information, expert advice and guidance to help tourism and hospitality businesses through the crisis. The support hub has already had 200,000 visitors with positive feedback from the industry and it will continue to be updated with the latest advice and supports as the crisis evolves according to Martina. “In the beginning, our focus was very much on business survival and we provided support on areas such as cashflow, liquidity, business closure and HR. In line with the Government’s roadmap for reopening, tourism and hospitality businesses began opening their doors from the 29th June. Our focus now is on supporting tourism and hospitality businesses to re-open safely and effectively.”

Guidelines for re-opening Fáilte Ireland published sector specific operational guidelines for the tourism industry to ensure the safe re-opening of tourism businesses. The guidelines

were developed in collaboration with industry groups, relevant State agencies, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and wider Government and provide detailed advice on the necessary systems to be implemented in order to instil public confidence and reboot business while adhering to public health advice and Government protocols.

COVID-19 Safety Charter

According to Fáilte Ireland’s latest research, almost 9 in 10 (87%) people want to ensure that the appropriate safety measures are in place if they are to consider taking a domestic break in Ireland this year. Fáilte Ireland launched the COVID-19 Safety Charter to reassure consumers that the tourism and hospitality businesses that they visit have committed to adhere to the correct safety measures and hygiene protocols. Businesses that sign up to the COVID-19 Safety Charter are entitled to display this Charter prominently within their premises and online platforms.

Martina Bromley, Head of Enterprise and Hospitality Development, Fáilte Ireland

Accredited service excellence

As businesses re-open, the way in which they operate will be significantly different. Despite this, customers should still experience the world-class welcome and service Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industry is famous for. Fáilte Ireland’s eLearning Accredited Service Excellence (ASE) programme has been refreshed to help businesses to achieve this and aims to empower staff with valuable insights and tips on giving customers a highly positive experience.

Financial recovery

Fáilte Ireland’s Financial Recovery supports provide businesses with the tools to make the best decisions for their business as they re-open. These tools include expert webinars, guides, checklists and financial templates to advise businesses on areas such as


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Fáilte Ireland  Partner Profile

managing costs, forecasting and accessing financial support from banks or other institutions.

Calculating capacity

Fáilte Ireland has created bespoke calculating capacity tools for hotels and guesthouses, restaurants and cafes, visitor attractions, activities, caravan and camping, self-catering and B&Bs to help businesses establish which parts of their business they can open effectively and the costs and revenue implications of opening at that capacity.


There will be significant changes to how businesses and their staff operate when they return to the workplace. Fáilte Ireland’s HR for Re-opening supports offer  guidance  on HR risks, the National Return to Work Safely Protocols and managing potential changes to working arrangements. 

New domestic marketing campaign - ‘Ireland, make a break for it’ The domestic market will be hugely important for Irish tourism and hospitality businesses across the country over the coming months. Fáilte Ireland recently launched a new multichannel domestic marketing campaign 'Ireland, make a break for it’ in a major drive to encourage people to take domestic

“THE DOMESTIC MARKET WILL BE HUGELY IMPORTANT FOR IRISH TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES ACROSS THE COUNTRY OVER THE COMING MONTHS.” breaks this summer and the campaign has already been met with huge success. Businesses can find out how to get involved and leverage the campaign on

Sales and marketing

Fáilte Ireland’s Sales and Marketing for Recovery suite of supports focus on the tactical aspects of sales and marketing and digital performance. These resources will help businesses to drive domestic sales and prepare to reboot, reengage with international B2B tour operators and sales agencies, and prepare for the re-opening of international markets. As Irish people start to move around the country again, Fáilte Ireland’s Driving Domestic Sales supports offer guidance on how to engage Irish consumers with compelling experiences and value for money offers that appeal to segments (including families, couples, friend groups or day visitors), as well as insights on how to optimise your website for the domestic home holiday short break and day market.

Find out more

To access these supports and the most up-to-date information, visit Fáilte Ireland’s COVID-19 business supports hub at


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Arts and Culture  BP Fallon




Sage “The world has never been like this, ever; it’s beyond comprehension.” BP FALLON


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BP Fallon  Arts and Culture

Christopher Durst


ernard Patrick Fallon’s opening remark is one that resonates for us all at the moment. But, the world inhabited by the Dubliner has always appeared somewhat curious to outsiders. An author, photographer, musician, publicist and DJ, no one in the history of Irish music can offer as interesting an insight into the inner sanctum of rock ‘n’ roll as the man simply known as BP. The first-hand experience picked up by BP over a career that spans seven decades is the stuff of fantasy. It’s a who’s who of rock royalty that features an illustrious list of protagonists: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Marc Bolan, Shane McGowan, Phil Lynott, Robert Plant, Henry McCullough and Jack White, to name but a few. The ‘purple browed Beep’ – the moniker allegedly given to BP by Marc Bolan in the T. Rex hit Telegram Sam – has been submerged in music all his life. BP cites a somewhat unlikely influence as his gateway to pop culture. “When I was 11 years old I heard a record: ‘Move it’ by Cliff Richard and The Shadows, of all people,” he explains. “But we’re talking 1959 here, and Cliff was rocking back then. It’s still a great record.” He adds: “After hearing that I decided I wanted to be in the music business. Doing what, I had no idea. I’ve only discovered that in the last ten years or so.” Luckily, he didn’t have to wait long for his introduction to the music business as the precocious 17-year-old bagged a slot on RTÉ show, Pickin’ the Pops. “I’d review records and there’d be bands playing and stuff,” explains BP. “That’s what kicked me off really. In those days, if you were on TV, you became super-famous in five minutes.” The mainstream music industry in Ireland at the time was dominated by the uniquely Irish phenomenon of the ‘showbands’, which didn’t match up with BP’s musical leanings. “In the mid-sixties, Dublin was a really rocking town with fantastic bands,” he says. “People talk about the showbands, and they were very important to the structure of Irish society, but, musically, that wasn’t my cup of tea. The bands playing in little dungeons around the city was more my sort of thing.” “I never found anything restrictive about Dublin, however, because I just simply did my own thing,” he adds of his attitude at the time. “I was never a great follower of the rules anyway, but I did want to get over to England, because that’s where it was all happening.” London’s gain was Dublin’s loss, as BP quickly began mixing with the city’s coolest characters and before long had picked up a job at The Beatles-owned Apple Records. When asked how the mysterious world of rock ‘n’ roll opened up so freely to him, BP offers a typically honest appraisal. “Just good karma, I’d like to think. You can’t plan stuff like this, you can’t design it – it either happens or it doesn’t. At that point in time London was the centre of pretty much everything in pop culture: music, fashion and photography. So that was the fountain, and I had to be where the volcano was erupting.” Every art form enjoys a period that leaves an indelible impact on the industry as a whole, and BP was at the

“THE WHOLE THING ABOUT MUSIC IS THAT IT’S A UNIFICATION, IT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER.” epicentre of a time of exceptional creativity. “I’m very lucky to have grown up when I did,” he admits, “because, at the risk of sounding ageist, we’ve probably gone through the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll.” After touring with Led Zeppelin during the band’s heyday in the 1970s, BP returned to Irish radio, this time scooping a Jacob’s Award for his 2FM show, The BP Fallon Orchestra. He also bagged work with rock juggernauts of the day, U2, DJing on their ambitious Zoo TV tour, before setting up international indie club Death Disco with Creation Records guru Alan McGee.

Behind the mic With an eclectic list of job titles across different fields of interest, it’s clear that BP had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. An accomplished photographer, BP’s status has allowed him the opportunity to photograph some of the world’s most-iconic rock stars. His first-ever solo photography exhibition, The Camera & I, featured portraits of some of music’s icons: Debbie Harry, Keith Richards, Sinead O’Connor, Willie Nelson, et al. BP describes the successful project as “a lovely surprise”, before offering a singular piece of advice for budding snappers. “One way to be a good photographer is to always have a camera,” he quips. “I fell into it and it was easy – the people around were interesting to photograph, but it was never a career move. Nothing, by and large, was ever planned out, but I’ve never been frightened to walk through a door.” Never afraid to pivot into a new sphere, BP’s current focus is his own band: BP Fallon & The Bandits. With a first album already under his belt and another soon to be released, he’s worked with renowned producer David Holmes on material, including a track that featured on the critically acclaimed TV series Killing Eve. “If someone asks me what I do now, I tell them I’m a musician,” he says. “For better or worse, I make records.” As the music industry comes to terms with restrictions around Covid-19, BP agrees that the present reality is bleak for an industry that relies heavily on its live product. “A rock ‘n’ roll gig is not meant to people standing so many feet apart,” he states. “The whole thing about music is that it’s a unification, it brings people together – not only emotionally, but physically and sometimes sexually – and it’s very hard to segregate that. “People have this idea that musicians drive around in limos, but it’s not the case. It’s very difficult to make a living if you’re in a band right now and people are really hurting. I don’t think the world will be the same again.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 103

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Motoring  Citroën C4

itroën Ireland has announced details of their new tenth generation compact hatchback, the Citroën C4 and fully electric ë-C4. The Citroën C4 was first launched as the French brand’s first compact vehicle. However, it is best known for the 2004 edition, which sold 3 million units globally and embodied Citroën’s boldness for technology. The new C4 draws on Citroën’s long and rich experience in the compact hatchback segment, which started in 1928 with the first generation C4. This was later followed by the Ami 6 and Ami 8, which were renowned for their comfort in the 1960s. The following decade saw the introduction of the GS and GSA, featuring hydropneumatic suspension. The Citroën BX was launched in the 1980s and the ZX in the early 1990s, followed by the Xsara in 1997, C4 in 2004 and first edition C4 Cactus in 2014. The new C4 marks the tenth generation of compact hatchback from Citroën and with 92 years of segment experience and a related 12.5 million compact hatchback sales globally, Citroën are promising the

French THE



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Citroën C4  Motoring

CitroEn in Ireland

As an international automotive brand at the heart of the mainstream market, Citroën has cultivated creativity since 1919. Citroën currently offers eight passenger car models in Ireland: C1, C3, C3 Aircross, C4 Cactus, Grand C4 Spacetourer, C5 Aircross, Berlingo and the Spacetourer. Also on offer is a range of commercial vehicles, including the Berlingo van (2020 Irish Van of the Year), the Dispatch and Relay.

On the inside, the C4 is modern, featuring a clean, contemporary dashboard, softly shaped door panels and supple materials throughout. The wide horizontal dashboard gives passengers a feeling of space and volume, while the chevron grain pattern on the dashboard and satin chrome (or high-gloss black) accents on the vents, steering wheel, instrument panel and cabin controls offer a comfortable cabin experience by clearly identifying useful touch-points. The short front and rear overhangs, combined with the large-diameter wheels and ground clearance, give the C4 an elevated posture to offer occupants increased visibility.

Electric feel

new C4 will offer an innovative design and style. The front end of the new C4 boasts a v-shaped lighting signature that incorporates Citroën’s new design standards and includes double-stage headlights with chrome chevrons stretched across the entire width of the vehicle. These iconic chevrons flow to the LED daytime running lights at the top and extend to the LED headlights at the bottom. The bonnet, high and horizontal, echoes the concave shape of C5 Aircross SUV and exudes an energetic and assertive attitude. The unique roof-line, combined with the sloping rear window, clearly expresses the aerodynamics of the vehicle, while the rear spoiler enhances the vitality of the body shape. This gently sloping roof and overhanging side windows is a nod to the iconic Citroën GS, but also offers a design feature that allows for a generous boot volume of 380 litres.

Space is ace The new C4 offers a choice of 31 colour combinations thanks to seven exterior colours options and five exterior colour packs. There are also six different interior choices and a host of alloy wheel options available to ensure optimal customisation.

The Citroën C4 will incorporate the Citroën Advanced Comfort programme, featuring suspension with progressive hydraulic cushions and advanced comfort seats to ensure driving comfort. The new C4 will also be paired with a wide variety of engine options, including three petrol variants: a PureTech 100 S&S six-speed manual gearbox and a PureTech 130 S&S with a choice of six-speed manual or EAT8 gearbox. There will also be two diesel engines, the BlueHDi 110 S&S 6-speed manual and BlueHDi 130 S&S EAT8. The C4 will feature all-electric drive for the first time; this ë-C4 will offer a 100kW (136hp) package with a WLTP range of 350km. This package is particularly powerful and energetic with 260Nm of torque instantly available for clean, linear acceleration of 0-100km/h in 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 150km/h. The 50kWh electric motor is high-voltage 400V Li-Ion battery and comes with an eight-year 160,000km warranty. The ë-C4 will also feature regenerative braking and a mode selector on the centre console for Eco, Normal or Sport modes. Pat Ryan, Managing Director of Citroën Ireland, comments: “The new C4 finally squares the circle in terms of finding a comfortable family hatchback that offers everyday practicality without compromising on style. The C4 is compact on the outside, but spacious on the inside. It’s also an elegant and sturdy vehicle that I believe will do extremely well here in Ireland. First models will arrive in January 2021 and we will be announcing our prices and specifications for this fantastic new compact hatch in September.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 105

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The Big Read  A Natural Year


Tranquil rhythms

This is an abridged extract from A Natural Year: The Tranquil Rhythms and Restorative Powers of Irish Nature Through the Seasons by Michael Fewer, first published by Merrion Press.


recent publication of startling statistics about the detrimental effect humankind is having on the flora and fauna of our planet has been a serious ‘wake-up’ call to all. The danger to the earth posed by human activities has been known for decades. Scientific data assembled over recent decades has provided us with solid evidence. At one time all humanity lived in intimate contact with the natural world, and aspects of nature were central themes in art and literature. In Ireland we had no industrial revolution, and so the majority of our population remained in touch with ‘the land’ well into the twentieth century. A creeping but inexorable change, however, occurred over the last half-century in the relationship between ourselves, particularly the increasing number of us who live in cities, and the natural world, with which we used to live in close harmony. Our ability to remain in touch with and be


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A Natural Year  The Big Read

Diary Day: December 27th

a part of nature as it weaves its strong, magic, cyclical spells has radically declined. Spending much of our time in the comfortable, artificial micro-climates of houses, cars or workplaces, our experience of the outside world is less and less an essential part of our lives. If we as individuals wish to have any impact in redressing the damage our civilisation has done,we must begin by reconnecting with nature. Those who do reach out to the natural world will find that many new and long-forgotten gifts await them. Nature’s beauty, to be found in the skies, in the landscape, and in its rich and varied flora and fauna, is always changing, by the hour, from morning to evening, from season to season. You don’t have to travel to Central America or Africa, helping to fill the stratosphere with pollutants, to experience it. The extraordinary and the exotic in nature can be found, for those who look carefully, even in our backyards.

For those who cannot get away to the Galapagos, Antarctica or Borneo, there are many hidden riches of the natural world to be discovered in our immediate surroundings, but only if we consciously slow down and open our eyes. Myself and my wife, Teresa, are fortunate enough to share an interest in the natural world, onto which we have two windows: our south Dublin suburban home, and our country cottage in County Waterford. Each of these places, through their gardens, nearby hillsides, parks and seashores, delight us, raise our spirits, soothe and heal, and provide a reassuring solidity to our lives. We are not naturalists. We just enjoy nature and are curious about it, and have come to realise that the more one looks, the more one sees. I wrote this book, woven around entries in my journal, to attempt to share some of the stress- relieving pleasure Teresa and I get from observations and explorations of our natural world over a 12-month period.

St Stephen’s Day was mild and sunny. It reminded me of what a wonderful climatically gentle country we live in, and of another St Stephen’s Day a couple of decades ago when I climbed with some companions, through thick cloud, to the top of one of the Dublin mountains. Imagine our delight when we emerged from the top of the clouds onto a summit basking in brilliant sunshine. It was hot, and we sat down there in our shirtsleeves as if on an island surrounded by a white sea, looking out at the islands of other nearby summits. The Irish winter can be strange. As the busyness of Christmas passes and the darkness of winter deepens, my mind turns to less than uplifting thoughts about the future of the earth on which we live. I never remember seeing so many articles and television programmes about aspects of the extinction of species, the degradation of our environment and global warming as I have during this past year. Everywhere one turns, there are photos of honey bees, butterflies and burning rainforests. And what about the millions, perhaps billions, of fellow humans who do not have the leisure time available to them to think about these things because they are scrabbling and scraping to simply survive, one day at a time. In a caring world, all these people would be catered for, but that would involve us rich westerners agreeing to lower our living standards and share our wealth, and I don’t see that happening any time soon. Nor do I see the human race’s lemming-like rush to obliteration slowing down. Perhaps only global catastrophe will bring a halt. When these kinds of thoughts invade my sense of wellbeing, I go out into the garden and watch the birds! In spite of the darkness it brings, it is at least a comforting thought that December brings not only the end of a year, but the beginning of a new year. Today I was delighted to see a curlew flying over, quite high, its long and curved beak unmistakable: it’s a bird that used to be plentiful but is currently reported as being yet another endangered species. It seems clear, however, that many people are becoming aware of the widespread dangers to our natural world, and are beginning to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. I am hopeful that next year will see our government and businesses follow suit. Can spring be far behind?


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Travel  Kilkenny

Kilkenny Arts Festival

Kilkenny Design Centre

Kilkenny Castle




Despite the health and safety restrictions around Covid-19, taking a holiday can still be safe and enjoyable. And there’s no better location in Ireland for a short city break than the historic city of Kilkenny. The city has rightfully garnered a reputation for its energetic cultural scene, a place where on any given night local musicians spontaneously appear at the corner of the bar and launch into an impromptu session. These informal jams are intrinsic to the appeal of the musical tradition and culture of storytelling of Kilkenny and, although this musical tradition has been partially curbed by the pandemic, there’s still plenty to discover in the ‘marble city’. In this rich medieval heritage home to the famous Medieval Mile, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Wander the medieval corridors and cobbled streets and drink in the vibrancy of this flourishing city, home to a thriving food culture with an abundance of top-notch restaurants ready for your custom – all of which have adapted their service to comply with safety guidelines. For some retail therapy, why not pop into one of the city’s many boutique stores, such as Kilkenny Design Centre, Jerpoint Glass, Peaches Boutique and Lorimat Jewellers. While exploring the city is undoubtedly a great escape, the majority of the county’s main attractions are also open for business, including Woodstock Gardens, Castlecomer Discovery Park


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Kilkenny  Travel


CLUB HOUSE HOTEL Situated on Patrick Street in a restored Georgian building, the Club House Hotel is just a short stroll from all of Kilkenny’s major attractions and offers off-street parking along with complimentary wifi to all its guests. As Kilkenny’s oldest hotel, this quaint location boasts 220 years of service. A stay here guarantees your shopping needs are well catered for through close proximity to a selection of stores to suit everyone’s taste. Superb food is again minutes away. Inistiogue

Kilkenny Arts Festival, Black Abbey



CROTTY’S COFFEE SHOP This gorgeous family-run coffee shop offers the perfect place to relax and unwind over a hot cup of coffee, delicious savoury snacks and freshly made cakes. Located on the pedestrianised Kieran Street in the city centre, Crotty’s is the perfect pit-stop after a day exploring the tourist attractions of Kilkenny..



BLACK ABBEY Founded in the 1220s as a home to a group of Dominican friars, Black Abbey is believed to have taken its name from the black cappa that the friars wore over their white habits during the middle ages. Among the highlights at this free-to-enter attraction are sepulchral slabs, stone carvings and sculptures, including a unique figure of the Blessed Trinity.

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and Nore Valley Park. And don’t miss the opportunity to explore Kilkenny’s stunning walking trails through the picturesque landscape the county is famous for.

Entrepreneurial spirit Kilkenny is also a renowned place for business. Its international connectivity is a key component of its success, just 70 minutes from Dublin Airport and generally wellconnected to Dublin through rail and bus services. With excellent infrastructure, Kilkenny is also a gateway to Ireland’s four other cities – Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Kilkenny is home to an array of international businesses and startup firms – think Cartoon Saloon, Glanbia and State Street – and the county is attracting an increasing number of companies due to its connectivity through a reliable fibre optic network, competitive business costs, as well as excellent amenities and entertainment facilities. For firms looking to relocate or establish operations, Kilkenny offers a wide variety of commercial property solutions suitable to a variety of businesses. Kilkenny Business and Technology Park’s infrastructure caters to both the manufacturing and international services sectors and there are also greenfield areas available for future development. Furthermore, Kilkenny’s entrepreneurial culture is supported by a dedicated Local Enterprise Office, whose aim is to support job creation, foster innovation and address the needs of existing and new investment from SMEs and multinationals. With access to a young and highly skilled talent pool, Kilkenny also boasts one of the fastest growing populations in the country. The city’s proximity to two outstanding third level facilities is another notable advantage – together Waterford IT and IT Carlow produce 3,500 graduates every year. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 109

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Travel  Kilkenny



KILKENNY RIVER COURT HOTEL Relax at the four-star Kilkenny River Court Hotel and enjoy the comforts of this newly refurbished accommodation with fine furnishings and a collection of luxurious suites. An added bonus is a superb beer garden on the banks of the River Nore with spectacular views of Kilkenny Castle. W: E: T: (056) 772 3388

St Canice’s Cathedral



Grab a hearty breakfast at The Blackberry Café, a great little spot serving up dishes using the best produce from local suppliers. The aim of this quaint café is to develop a reinvigorated local food culture and – judging by its fare – it’s certainly succeeding.

Get your cake face on! Born out of a desire to create unique, quirky and unusual cakes, pastries and desserts, Cakeface specialises in a colourful range of desserts designed to surprise. If experimental sweet treats are your thing, you’ll love the unusual flavours, ingredients and modern techniques on show here. A visit here is a treat for the eyes, as well the taste buds.


St Canice’s Cathedral and its Round Tower are an essential part of the structural heritage in the vibrant medieval city of Kilkenny. You’ll find characters from knights to shoemakers memorialised in the largest collection of burial monuments in Ireland’s second-largest Cathedral. The Round Tower on the grounds is the oldest standing structure in the city. The reward of a climb of the tower is great views of the city.


Explore Viking history and myths at Dunmore Cave and revel in the atmospherically lit chambers formed over millions of years. Marvel at nature’s calcite sculptures, stalagmites and stalactites, before re-warming your hands around a cuppa in the tea room and looking out upon the lovely countryside. 7PM | TAP YOUR FEET


The Kyteler’s Inn is a charming pub where every nook and cranny features a curiosity of some description – and a new adventure awaits around every corner. At Kyteler’s, visitors and locals alike tap feet to the rhythmic beat of the local musicians. The music on offer is distinctively Irish, but its jigs and reels cross cultural boundaries and strike a chord with the many nationalities that are present at one of the oldest inns in Ireland.

PEMBROKE KILKENNY HOTEL Pembroke Kilkenny Hotel is best-known for its central location in the shadow of Kilkenny Castle. Statham’s Bar & Restaurant.Unwind after a morning wandering the city in the Mint Spa at the Pembroke offering luxurious pampering. W: E: T: (056) 778 3500

LANGTON HOUSE HOTEL Established in 1938, Langton House Hotel offers excellent service, character and charm. With 34 bedrooms, a bar, ballroom, dining rooms, tea room, garden terrace and a general store, Langton’s has every element of your trip catered for. W: E: T: (056) 776 5133


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new campaign, Reopening with Respect, has been launched by Drinks

Ireland to encourage consumers to act




Drinks Industry  Lifestyle

respectfully when returning to pubs, bars and restaurants.  The campaign will encourage consumers to respect the guidelines set out by individual venues upon


reopening. They’ll be asked to respect the staff by being patient and cooperative and to respect each other to ensure everyone is kept safe. Both the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and the Licensed



Vintners Association (LVA) have endorsed the campaign. Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland said: “Our new Reopening with Respect campaign will highlight how we all have our part to play to ensure our favourite venues remain safe and enjoyable for all. Through simple, friendly, identifiable and welcoming language and visuals we are asking the consumer to respect the guidelines, respect the staff and respect each other. “While the ‘new normal’ may take a little getting used to, we’re confident



Walsh Whiskey has released the 2020 vintage of The Irishman Vintage Cask: a rare cask strength Irish whiskey limited to 3,500 bottles worldwide, with 750 assigned to the United States.  The Irishman Vintage Cask 2020 edition is the 12th release since it debuted in 2008, becoming the first triple-distilled cask strength Irish whiskey released in over half a century. The Irishman Vintage Cask 2020 is available in a selection of countries, including the USA, Ireland, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Poland, Russia and the UK. Each bottle is presented in an elegant wooden cask, uniquely numbered, and with a dated certificate signed by Bernard Walsh, the co-founder of Walsh Whiskey and creator of The Irishman.

that by acting respectfully, our pubs, bars and restaurants will be full of life again soon.”

NEW GUIDELINES TO PREVENT THE MARKETING OF FAKE IRISH GIN New guidance from the Food and Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to ensure that Irish gin produced and marketed here is labelled correctly has been welcomed by Drinks Ireland, which represents Ireland’s gin industry. Concerns have been raised that some products, which are similar to gin, have been marketed to appear as gin and Drinks Ireland says the new guidelines will help safeguard the industry against misleading products. The new guidance states that for a drink to be labelled as Irish gin, a certain production process must be followed. Besides water and alcohol, the only other raw materials that can be used for making gin are natural flavourings referred to as botanicals. These guidelines encompass everything from the use of place names, to the listing of allergen information, to the packaging material used. They will further support producers in complying with EU regulations.



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Profile  A Day in the Life

CUALA AND THE GANG DERMOT MALONE EXPLAINS THE DAILY CHALLENGE OF TURNING A TRADITIONAL BUSINESS ON ITS HEAD TO NOW PROVIDE A RANGE OF LOGICAL AND SAFE QUEUING SYSTEMS FOR CUSTOMERS. 8AM A bite to eat, a ‘cuppa’ and a check on my email to view orders that have come through to the website. Customer care queries are checked from 6am each morning and anything that needs my attention is passed my way, which I try to deal with before our 9am management conference call. 9AM Four of our Dermot Malone, senior management team and our marketing Sales Director, Qsafe colleague attend the virtual meeting each and Absolute Graphics morning and we run through the previous day’s orders and enquiries, and examine the qsafe. ie website and social media advertising metrics to see what is working and what needs to be tweaked. Initially we had a plan to follow and the phased reopening of the country from Covid-19 lockdown was mapped out, and this allowed us to focus on different industries at different times – we have had to be fluid with our response to all business and industry. 11AM I find doing research helps us to provide workable solutions for problems that arise with our customers in our new reality. I’m not an expert in the medical sense, but have lived, breathed and consumed all available information on Covid-19 in the past four months. This helps as we offer advice to businesses that are opening up and are trying to ensure that they put measures in place to keep staff and customers safe in their environment. 2PM Most days I meet with one or two businesses that welcome a chat with someone who has been there before in terms of providing workable solutions. I listen to how they do their business and share information on how others in similar areas are doing things. It’s a collaboration that works. 5PM Between meetings, surveys and installation, my daytime hours pass quickly and I find myself back in the office until late in the evening – catching up on paperwork and liaising with the late shift in production. 8PM I’m delighted that camogie, hurling and Gaelic football are back up and running if I do get out of the office early. I’m a coach with my club Cuala in Dalkey whenever I find the time to engage. I look forward to a time soon when Qsafe will take a back seat and Absolute Graphics will come to the fore once more. WWW.QSAFE.IE / WWW.ABSOLUTEGROUP.IE


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Employers COVID-19 supports are available at Update your risk assessments and safety statement at

Free health and safety courses at

Further Information: telephone 1890 289 389 email

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Profile for Ashville Media Group

Better Business Summer 2020  

The official publication of the SFA (Small Firms Association) of Ireland

Better Business Summer 2020  

The official publication of the SFA (Small Firms Association) of Ireland

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