S U P P O R T I N G E N T R E P R E N E U R S | VA L U I N G S M A L L B U S I N E S S | R E WA R D I N G R I S K TA K E R S | W I N T E R 2 0 2 0
BETTER BUSINESS WINTER 2020
HOW TO CONQUER IRELAND’S CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
IRELAND’S NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY
CISCO’S SHANE HERATY ON EMPOWERING SMALL FIRMS WITH THE RIGHT DIGITAL TOOLS
WHY DRIVING BETTER SAVES MONEY
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“The course is tailored to the needs of our business”
Skills to Advance Highly subsidised Supervisory Management training ₀ To help team leaders and supervisors meet the business challenges of Covid-19 ₀ To upskill in people management, digital and remote working Contact your local Education and Training Board or visit skillstoadvance.ie
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WELCOME WINTER 2020
BETTER BUSINESS WINTER 2020
HOW TO CONQUER IRELAND’S CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
IRELAND’S NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY
CISCO’S SHANE HERATY ON EMPOWERING SMALL FIRMS WITH THE RIGHT DIGITAL TOOLS
WHY DRIVING BETTER SAVES MONEY
On the cover: Shane Heraty, Regional Director, Cisco, Ireland and Scotland Photography: Jason Clarke Photography
Editor: Denise Maguire Creative Director: Jane Matthews Designers: Alan McArthur Design Assitant: James Moore Production Executive: Nicole Ennis Account Director: Shane Kelly Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon Email: email@example.com 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.
Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community. 2020 has been a tough year for all of us but it has been a very difficult year for entrepreneurs and owner-managers. While 2021 already looks brighter with plans in place for the roll-out of a vaccine, the end of the transition period and the management of a new trading relationship with the UK will bring obstacles and challenges for smaller firms. In 2021, the SFA will remain focused on preparing members for the opportunities and risks to their businesses. As 2020 has drawn to a close, this issue looks at some of the main business trends of the year. Our sector spotlight looks at how the night-time economy has struggled in the past nine months. The HR pages provide a guide to remote working and effective performance management. We also look at the economic forecast that will underpin the year ahead. Elsewhere in these pages you will find top tips on being financially ready for 2021 and we sit down with Caroline Ashe, Commercial Director at Kore Insulation, to hear about the company’s success, challenges in the industry and operating during a pandemic. We are also delighted to announce the finalists of the SFA National Small Business Awards. 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 266,400 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SFA_Irl. Sven Spollen-Behrens Director, Small Firms Association
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CONTENTS WINTER 2020
04 10 16
Big News for Small Business News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland.
Year in Review Despite its unprecedented status, the SFA hosted numerous successful events throughout 2020.
Restructuring We chat to Declan de Lacy about the restructuring options open to small businesses in financial distress.
18 24 28 Sector Spotlight Better Business talks to providers within the night-time economy.
Cover Story Embracing the power of digital with Shane Heraty, Cisco’s new Regional Director for Ireland and Scotland.
Entrepreneurs Providers of digital solutions to the construction industry are transforming the way projects are designed and built.
Trading Places RTÉ’s Washington correspondent Brian O’Donovan on what it’s like being front and centre of the most controversial US elections of all time.
Arts and Culture Stuart Clark from Hot Press talks about Ireland’s vibrant music scene and the musicians that have inspired him.
The Big Read In A Promised Land, Barack Obama shares a behind-the-scenes look at his first term in the White House.
Travel Make a break for the sunny south-east and discover the medieval city of Waterford.
34 38 56
Small Business Profile Denise Maguire chats to Caroline Ashe, Commercial Director at KORE Insulation, about becoming a key supplier to Ireland’s construction industry.
60 62 64
Motoring Technology to manage driver risk is helping businesses save money and become compliant.
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Winter 2020 Contents
FROM TOP LEFT: Caryna Camerino, the owner of Camerino Bakery, awarded the ‘Highly Commended’ award at the 2020 SFA National Small Business Awards, page 10 // Shane Heraty, Cisco’s new Regional Director for Ireland and Scotland, on the importance of embracing the power of digital, page 24 // Caroline Ashe, Commercial Director at KORE Insulation, talks about becoming a key supplier to the construction industry, page 34 // Brian O’Donovan chats about swapping Lucan for Washington, page 38
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1ST MAY 2021 NEW DATE FOR CHANGES TO NON-DOMESTIC TARIFF FRAMEWORK
Further information is also available online including a detailed Q&A and case studies. Customers who may be experiencing billing or payment difficulties can contact their dedicated business team on 1850 778 778.
SFA MEMBERS IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS SOME NEWS TO SHARE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE FEATURED IN THE NEXT EDITION OF BETTER BUSINESS, CONTACT ELIZBETH BOWEN ON (01) 605 1626 OR EMAIL ELIZABETH.BOWEN@ SFA.IE.
A new non-domestic tariff framework for Irish Water’s business customers is to go live on the 1 May 2021. The decision to confirm the new date for implementation has been taken by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Irish Water. The changes were due to go live on 1 May 2020 but were deferred in March this year due to the considerable uncertainty for businesses under the essential Government public health guidelines. Since the beginning of this crisis, SFA sought a delay in the introduction of the new framework and is encouraged to see our recommendation of delaying the framework by one year has been embraced. To check the impact of the new charges on your future bills visit the Irish water website to use their online calculator tool.
BIG NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Green Friday 2020
Champion Green supported by Kilkenny Design and Visa, as well as SFA, Retail Excellence and Chambers Ireland, called on all adults in Ireland to click local and spend an extra €50 last November. Such a spend would result in a much needed €180 million boost to the economy. Having established last year’s successful Green Friday shopping campaign, this year, due to the closure of non-essential shops, the ‘Support Local’ movement was asking consumers to choose online shopping and services from local businesses. The Christmas celebrations can add a major economic impetus to the country, to small businesses and help maintain jobs. During the Christmas period, Champion Green encouraged consumers to start earlier and focus on buying Irish and supporting all types of small businesses online. New Revolut data shows that 39% of all online spending by Irish users on Green Friday went to Irish websites while 61% went to international retailers.
NEW INTERFLOW LOGISTICS SOLUTION FOR A SAFER EVENT ENVIRONMENT Interflow Logistics have developed new innovative solutions to help exhibitors work in a safer and more controlled event environment. Interflow Logistics want to step up at a time when industry faces enormous challenges and help firms back to business. Their new innovative solutions allow for the delivery of cargo without attending the stand, a robotic pallet wrapping service and a live virtual help desk to assist customers. Using geo location technology, they aim to reduce venue congestion and increase site safety. Interflow Logistics have also increased their capabilities recently, with a particular focus on custom-related activities and the impact of Brexit. Through extensive staff training and expanded customer services, they can now ensure uninterrupted delivery of cargo and smooth custom clearance for products moving between Ireland and the UK. To learn more about their services, visit interflow.ie.
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TOP TWEETS @TheAgileExec
-We are excited and delighted, to share with you that The Agile Executive has been short-listed as a Finalist in the @SFA_Irl ‘s SFA National Small Business Awards 2021 - the Emerging Business category! #SFAAwards2021
As winners of SFA’s 2020 Awards, we are proud to support
#MentorsWork programme. This programme offers FREE interactive, practical workshops & mentoring to support SME’s in the challenging times of 2020.
62% of small businesses still have an intention to invest in their business and keep it growing according to @SFA_Irl Small Business Sentiment Survey
“Legacy systems are innovation stoppers that limit the ability of banks to operate in an agile fashion.” Our founder Conor Fennelly chatted to @SFA_Irl Better Business magazine about challenging legacy systems to simplify the world of #banking
NEW BOOK OUT BY DR. CELINE MULLINS Dr. Celine Mullins, CEO and founder of Adaptas, is a psychologist and coach with a passionate interest in habit change. The first book in her ‘Maximising Brain Series’, ‘Our Learning Brain’ was published by Oak Tree Press in Autumn 2019 (Successstore.com). The book focuses on helping people to become more aware of typical things at play in the brain when encountering and managing learning and habit change. Celine is now delighted to announce that her second book in this series is due to be published in the coming weeks. This book – ‘Developing Learning Habits’ – builds on the concepts introduced in ‘Our Learning Brain’ and takes the reader through a seven-step process for maximising their chances of success with embedding new learning and habit change. A workbook to accompany the book, along with an online learning programme, is close to the final release stage on the Adaptas website (www.adaptastraining.com).
2020 MARKS 20 YEARS IN BUSINESS FOR .IE The company that manages Ireland’s unique online address .ie is celebrating 20 years in business. In that time, .IE has enabled businesses across Ireland to thrive online, providing a trusted pathway to the internet. The company has seen an increased focus on online trading this year because of Covid-19, with many Irish SMEs adapting quickly. There has been a 39% year-on-year increase in .ie registrations in the period of April – October 2020. This move online aligns with an increased desire by consumers to support local. It is important that when a consumer is shopping online, they can identify an Irish website so that they can click local and buy local. The .ie domain is the most trusted domain in Ireland, with 77% of Irish consumers preferring a .ie website when buying. Unlock the power of the internet for your business with a uniquely Irish .ie identity and online address. Visit www.weare.ie for more information.
Dr. Celine Mullins, CEO and founder, Adaptas
IRISH FIRM WOODCO SIGNS EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY CONTRACT
Woodco has announced the commencement of an ambitious smart sanitation project in South Africa. The project follows the successful completion of a feasibility study funded by the European Space Agency and supported by the Toilet Board Coalition. Under the “Space for Sanitation” project, Woodco will develop a smart sanitation management platform that harnesses the latest in Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence technologies and that incorporates spacebased technologies that deliver earth observation, satellite communications and Global Navigation Satellite System capabilities. The main goal of the “Space for Sanitation” project is to provide an early warning system for likely outbreaks of disease. By combining the data streams from a wide variety of terrestrial and space-based sensing technologies, the platform will deliver actionable insights including new insights not readily available from any single source. As an example, the system can monitor the impact of illegal dumping of faecal sludge in water courses, the flow of waste and its interaction with the local environment and local populations. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 5
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AALTO BIO REAGENTS SHOWCASES HOW SMALL FIRMS ARE ESSENTIAL IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19
Dublin’s Aalto Bio Reagents has announced the availability of its first mouse monoclonal antibody against SARSCoV-2 nucleocapsid protein which they expect will be a game changer globally. These five clones were developed for use in a variety of assays including Western blot, ELISA and lateral flow for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in plasma, serum or saliva. There are a number of rapid tests on the market at the moment that are using the currently available monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19 antigen detection, however there seems to be concerns over the accuracy of these tests, specifically when testing asymptomatic people. To ensure the highest accuracy in these tests, it is essential to use highestquality raw materials which Aalto Bio have delivered with this new Covid-19 mab. To date, there have been over 48 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide, including over one million deaths. It is evident that early and accurate detection is necessary to help prevent the spread of this virus and to reduce the rate of these everincreasing numbers.
COVID Contact the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Business Support Call Centre for information on the government supports available to businesses and enterprises affected by COVID-19. Tel: +353 1 631 2002 Email: infobusinesssupport @dbei.gov.ie
GALLAGHER’S BAKERY REPOSITIONS BRAND
Patrick O’Sullivan, CEO, Gallagher’s Bakery
Donegal-based Gallagher’s Bakery is looking to shake-up the packaged bread industry with the launch of a new range of everyday handcrafted sourdough bread products. The launch of the Gallagher’s Bakehouse range brings innovation to a €518 million bakery category which has seen little growth in recent years. The Ardara-based business, which employs more than 300 people, is changing its brand positioning and offering in line with consumer demand for tastier, more nutritious products which contribute to a healthier lifestyle. The new products deliver on health benefits – such as being a good source of/ high in fibre which is good for gut health – with one of the products high in Vitamin D3 which is important for building and keeping strong bones. Sourdough is generally rich in prebiotics, which complement good gut health and enhance the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Gallagher’s Bakery has a track record of innovation in the retail bakery sector. Its sister brand, Promise Gluten Free, has become the number one gluten free bakery brand in Ireland since its re-launch in 2019, while also successfully launching the brand in international markets.
“The response to the awards programme serves as a reminder that Irish small companies are resilient, putting their best foot forward and seeking recognition for their efforts.” Sue O’Neill, Chair of the SFA National Small Business Awards Judging Panel
“The introduction of the new Microﬁnance Ireland Brexit Business Loan will allow small ﬁrms whose turnover already is or is likely to fall 15% or more or if the business has a short term cashﬂow need as a result of Brexit, to take preparatory action for what could be some very difﬁcult weeks and months ahead.” Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director, SFA
“As we move towards 2021, we are advising small business owners to review their ﬁnancial positions considering both Brexit and possible rolling Covid-related restrictions.” SFA Chair, Graham Byrne.
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BREXIT Caroline Ashe, Commercial Director, KORE Insulation
Marina Bleahen, founder and Managing Director, Business Works
Rohit Thakral, founder, Target Integration
SFA NATIONAL COUNCIL WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS
LEVERIS Dublin Team
LEVERIS CHOSEN BY CZECH BANK ČESKÁ SPOŘITELNA TO TRANSFORM ITS BANKING TECHNOLOGY LEVERIS, an Irish banking technology company with its software development teams based in Prague, Brno and Minsk, has been chosen by Česká spořitelna, the Czech Republic’s largest bank, as partner for the transformation of its IT infrastructure. The cooperation involves generating a blueprint for developing new software, a new database and general infrastructure, as well as training Česká spořitelna employees on how to deploy and operate a modular banking system. While the digital transformation project will enable Česká spořitelna to continue setting trends within the banking sector, the ultimate winner will be the end customer. The development of a new modular system will see Česká spořitelna launch products even faster, operate in real-time, respond to customer needs and manage it all at a much-reduced cost. “This project represents a really strong endorsement of LEVERIS and presents a great opportunity for Česká spořitelna to transform its digital offering in the Czech market,” said Conor Fennelly, founder and CEO of LEVERIS. “Right now, we are forming more partnerships with major banks and organisations to boost their ability to better serve digital-savvy banking customers now and in the future.” The LEVERIS appointment comes just months after the company launched LEVERIS Digital Bank, a platform that comes pre-integrated with all the essential banking services you need to run a digital bank.
FOOD & DRINK
SFA is delighted to announce the election of Caroline Ashe, Commercial Director for KORE Insulation, Marina Bleahen, founder and Managing Director of Business Works and Rohit Thakral, founder of Target Integration to the SFA National Council, at the SFA AGM on 26th November 2020. AJ Noonan, Carol Ann Casey and Andrea Linehan leave the Council following the end their terms. At the AGM, former SFA National Council Chair AJ Noonan’s outstanding dedication to the SFA National Council, SFA members and the wider small business community was recognised. Under his Chairmanship the first edition of this magazine was published.
Supports remain available to help your business manage the new trading arrangements with the UK from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Visit Getting Business Brexit Ready to view the many supports and resources available to your business.
SPECIAL STATUS OF IRISH CREAM & IRISH WHISKEY RECOGNISED IN CHINA
In November, the European Council approved the Agreement on the Protection of Geographical Indications between the European Union and China. A geographical indication is a distinctive sign used to identify a product whose quality, reputation or other characteristics relate to its geographical origin. The Agreement will see over 100 EU GI’s including two Irish GI’s – Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream – granted a high level of protection on the Chinese market. Likewise, the Agreement will also see 100 Chinese GI’s including Wuyuan Green Tea and Panjin Rice protected in the EU. The Agreement is expected to enter into force at the start of 2021. The Chinese market is a high-growth potential market for European food and drinks. In 2019, Ireland exported over €5 million worth of alcoholic beverages to China, with Irish Whiskey accounting for 22.5% of these exports.
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Updates ď€Ş News
STAGE SET FOR STRONG ECONOMIC REBOUND OLIVER MANGAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST AT AIB, GIVES HIS TAKE ON HOW THE ECONOMY WILL FARE IN 2021 AND BEYOND.
conomic forecasting in 2020 has been like trying to shoot a fast moving target. As soon as your forecasts are locked in, the elusive target moves again. The autumn global economic forecasts published by the IMF and OECD were overtaken within weeks by unfolding events. A second wave of the coronavirus took hold in many developed economies in October and November, resulting in the re-imposition of restrictions on activity, with many European countries going back into lockdown. As a result, the economic recovery staged by the world economy in the third quarter of 2020 was stopped
in its tracks, with many countries likely experiencing a double-dip recession in the fourth quarter. The virus is also proving persistent, which means that many of the economic restrictions imposed in the fourth quarter are expected to extend well into the New Year. Hence, we have seen growth forecasts for 2020 and 2021 revised down. The Bank of England recently cut its 2020 UK GDP forecast from -9.5% to -11%, while lowering the projected size of the rebound in growth in 2021. However, the month of November saw encouraging news from a number of pharmaceutical companies that have developed what appear to be highly effective vaccines. Granted, there is still much uncertainty about these vaccines. There are questions about whether they
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will be effective among the most vulnerable groups of the population in particular the elderly, how long will immunity last and indeed, if other companies will also be able to produce successful vaccines, boosting the available supplies. In addition, it is likely to be mid2021 or later before vaccines become available to the wider population. Despite all these uncertainties, the news on vaccines is seen as very positive for the world economy as reflected in the fact that it has driven global stock markets significantly higher. It should allow restrictions on activity to be lifted more quickly over the course of 2021, helping a strong, sustained recovery to take root during the course of the year. It still needs to be borne in mind however, that we have seen a very deep and severe global recession in 2020, which is likely to leave scarring effects as well as accelerate structural changes that could inhibit
Oliver Mangan, Chief Economist, AIB
“DESPITE ALL THESE UNCERTAINTIES, THE NEWS ON VACCINES IS SEEN AS VERY POSITIVE FOR THE WORLD ECONOMY AS REFLECTED IN THE FACT THAT IT HAS DRIVEN GLOBAL STOCK MARKETS SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER. IT SHOULD ALLOW RESTRICTIONS ON ACTIVITY TO BE LIFTED MORE QUICKLY OVER THE COURSE OF 2021, HELPING A STRONG, SUSTAINED RECOVERY TO TAKE ROOT DURING THE COURSE OF THE YEAR.” the recovery in activity. Scarring effects include rising numbers of business failures and bad debts, permanent job losses, lower labour force participation rates, inefficient uses of resources as well as long-term damage to confidence. Structural changes that will impact negatively on parts of the economy include a shift to remote working, lower levels of international trade and travel, as well as a fall-off in in-store shopping. There have been some business casualties already and more are likely and it will take some sectors years to recover from the collapse in demand they experienced in 2020. Central banks have indicated that they will keep monetary policy very accommodative over the next number of years to support the recover in activity. Indeed, central banks delivered further policy easing measures as 2020 drew to a close in response to the hit to activity from the second wave of the virus. Meantime, governments will also need to maintain supports for businesses and households through what is proving to be a very challenging winter. Furthermore, they should not be in any rush to tighten fiscal policy over the next couple of years to bring budgets back into balance as this could endanger a recovery.
A factor that could provide considerable fuel for the recovery is an unwinding of the enormous build-up in private sector savings in 2020. A lot of this is forced saving due to constraints on household consumption as well as a postponement of investment decisions by businesses. These savings can be expected to be run down as restrictions on economic activity and gradually lifted with the roll out of vaccines. The IMF sees advanced economies growing by around 4% in 2021 after contracting by 6% in 2020. Thus, it is still likely to be 2022 before we see a full recovery from the 2020 recession. However, the news of a vaccine means there is now increased confidence about such a recovery, with every possibility that it will continue in 2022 and 2023. Finally, a note of caution needs to be struck on Brexit and the UK’s departure from the EU Single Market and Customs Union at the end of 2020. This will increase the cost of doing business with Great Britain for both importers and exporters, regardless of whether a trade deal is agreed or not between the EU and UK. Impacted firms need to be well prepared for this major change to trade in 2021 to help minimise the disruption to their businesses. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 9
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Year in Review News
A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER DESPITE ITS UNPRECEDENTED STATUS, THE SFA HOSTED NUMEROUS SUCCESSFUL EVENTS THROUGHOUT 2020. This year has presented us all with many different obstacles, including when it comes to all of the incredible networking and educational events the SFA hosts throughout the year. Thanks to all of the virtual platforms available, the SFA has still had a successful and busy 2020. Here’s a look back on the year: n Business Connect 6 February 2020
On 6 February 2020, the SFA brought 350 small and large businesses together at Business Connect in the Aviva Stadium. This annual marketplace event provides a platform for small businesses to learn how they can win contracts with larger companies and how to position themselves correctly to deliver value. Delegates heard from heads of procurement on what they look for in partners and small companies provided insights on how to win big contracts as well as organisations and agencies that can provide support for collaboration. There was also an interactive session with renowned leadership, motivational speaker and mentalist David Meade who showed delegates how to influence to win business. n SFA National Small Business Awards Gala 12 March 2020
The 16th annual SFA National Small Business Awards Gala took place behind closed doors as a virtual event on March 12. Celebrating the best small businesses in Ireland, KORE Insulation was announced the overall winner along with nine category winners. Although last minute arrangements had to be made to hold the gala virtually, there was a fantastic social media response from our finalists and winners. A full list of 2020 winners can be found at www.sfa.ie/Awards n Launch of 2021 Awards 14 September 2020
In September, we launched the 17th annual SFA National Small Business Awards with the help of An Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings. We are delighted to have announced our Finalists for the 2021 Awards programme, and you can find the full list of companies on www.sfa.ie/Awards n Webinars and Virtual Seminars
Thanks to all of the virtual platforms available, we have been able to continue to host a great deal of educational webinars, such as all of our Brexit sessions and B2B Virtual Networking Event. You can view some of these past webinars on our website at www.sfa.ie/Events Make sure to keep an eye on our schedule of SFA events at www.sfa.ie/ events and keep up with us on Twitter @SFA_Irl 10 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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News ï€© Year in Review
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY 2021 n 11 February Business Connect n 11 March SFA National Small Business Awards Gala n Early September Launch of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2022 n 12 November SFA Annual Lunch n 9 December SFA Christmas Members Evening
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Applying for finance
k c a b g n i c Boun
AIB BUSINESS BANKING PROVIDES SOME ADVICE ON HOW BUSINESSES SHOULD GO ABOUT APPLYING FOR FINANCE. The ability to bounce back from this pandemic requires calling on all the resources available to businesses – be that using the talent and determination of owners and employees, accessing stateprovided training, guides and grant aid, or reviewing business finances to drive efficiency and cost savings. We know that
TALK TO US
SFA members have worked hard to use a combination of these and other approaches to keep on trading through this period. One avenue that SMEs may consider is applying for finance. This can be a daunting prospect for many business owners. Thankfully, there are a variety of resources available to firms of all sizes that
Before you start preparing any application for finance, talk to your bank. With AIB, you can do this at a local branch or over the phone on 1890 47 88 33. We will guide you and outline the information we may need from you to support your application.
WORK OUT CASHFLOW PROJECTIONS
Realistic cashflow projections will help you accurately understand your businesses position and what can be achieved. A cashflow projection will also help us assess your application.
If you are unsure of something about the application process or don’t fully understand any aspect of the loan or the steps involved, just ask us. We are here to help.
PREPARE A BUSINESS PLAN
The next thing to do is to prepare a business plan. No one knows your business better than you do. Try to present a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your business and the opportunities and challenges you are likely to face in the future – “your business story”. We have a template to help you outline your plans. You’ll find a helpful Business Plan Template to download at www.aib.ie/businessplan or you may wish to prepare your own business plan.
can ease your concerns and answer the questions you may have. For a range of useful information and tools, check out www.aib.ie/business and click on the help and guidance tab. In the meantime, here are some general tips when applying for a business loan:
TALK TO YOUR ADVISORS
In addition to your bank, it can be good to talk about your plans with your accountant, tax advisor or business mentor to help you clarify your thoughts and business needs.
SEND US YOUR DOCUMENTS
In addition to the business plan, the financial information from supporting documents will help us to understand the nature of your business, future prospects and its long-term viability. Annual accounts, confirmation of tax affairs, details of any security you are offering and other documents may need to be provided.
One finance option currently available to viable Covid impacted businesses is the government-backed Credit Guarantee Scheme, which has keenly priced loans between €10,000 and €1,000,000. You can find out all you need to know about it at www.aib.ie/sbci. We have developed an end to end online journey to facilitate businesses that want to apply, in addition to the traditional avenues of completing an application in branch or over the phone. Broadly speaking, the Credit Guarantee Scheme loan can be used for working capital requirements, investment purposes, or a combination of both. And remember, we are here to support you with your application. We want to back you, because we back brave. #BackedByAIB
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Help Finance Finance Supports
IS AT HAND
FINANCIAL READINESS IS KEY TO SURVIVAL IN 2021 AND BEYOND. BETTER BUSINESS EXAMINES THE COVID-RELATED SCHEMES AND SUPPORTS AVAILABLE TO SMALL FIRMS AND ASKS SFA CHAIR GRAHAM BYRNE WHY SUSTAINABILITY SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF THEIR BUSINESS PLANS.
mall and medium-sized companies are vital to the Irish economy and will play a central role in the country’s economic recovery. So said Ed Sibley, Deputy Governor at the Central Bank of Ireland, at a recently-held Small Firms Association webinar. He spoke about the difficult environment that small firms have been operating in throughout 2020 and the expectation that lenders provide individually-tailored supports, including interim supports where the impact is likely to be temporary and other more permanent solutions where appropriate. Businesses that don’t have an existing banking relationship or have greater indebtedness face greater challenges, as do companies whose insurance policies don’t cover business disruption caused by Covid-19. The Central Bank has estimated that gross operating losses in the SME sector for the nine month period to year-end are between €10.3 and €11.7 billion. Mr Sibley stressed that payment breaks and supports have provided immediate relief to small firms, with over 11,000 SME borrowers or 21% of outstanding Irish SME loans still on an active payment break in early October. One such support is the Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) which had been due to close at the end of 2020 but will now stay open until the end of June 2021. From a rates and flexibility point of view, most financial experts agree that the CGS is an attractive scheme for small firms. The challenge lies around how small businesses are accessing it. Graham Byrne, CEO at Flender Ireland and SFA Chair, says take-up of the scheme has been relatively low. “There has been quite a low level of applications
in draw down from the €2 billion facility. That tells you two critical things. One is that small firms are still unsure whether to take on further debt as Covid extends into 2021 and creates further uncertainty. Brexit is also adding to that uncertainty. Once small firms are faced with uncertainty, they are less likely to take on debt schemes due to their experience of the credit crash in 2008 and 2009. The second thing is that even though there is a demand to take on the debt, there aren’t enough distribution channels to reach small businesses.” Only three banks and a couple of non-bank lenders are authorised to distribute the SBCI-backed initiative although Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has stated that additional non-bank lenders, including Credit Unions, will be coming onboard in the coming months. “That extension of the scheme will certainly help as I feel the CGS needs to be promoted a lot better. More education about the scheme should also be pushed out into the marketplace through intermediate groups like accountancy and advisory firms to give people the confidence to apply.” Other supports available to businesses include the Working Capital Loan scheme. “That has been more successful because the term of the loans have been longer so people can take on the debt for a longer period of time. The rates are also cheaper than what you might get from a high street bank for a small business.” The most important schemes and initiatives that are actually working for small firms aren’t just the PUP employment support but also the cash grants schemes and rates and tax warehousing. They may not be directly related to finance but they have given businesses sufficient room to be able to survive. “If I was to name a key policy that would enable small firms to survive, it would be the
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Finance Supports Finance
Boosting small businesses Here are just some of the supports available to small ﬁrms: ■ Microﬁnance Ireland Covid-19 Business Loan – Loans from €5,000 to €25,000 are available to microenterprises that meet the eligibility criteria for the Covid-19 loan. Interest rate of 5.5% APR applies but if you apply through your Local Enterprise Ofﬁce you can avail of the lower rate of 4.5% APR. There are zero repayments and 0% APR for the ﬁrst six months and you can apply for a rebate on interest for months 7-12 provided all repayments have been made. ■ Local Enterprise Ofﬁces have many other supports and services as part of their Covid response including courses, Trading Online Vouchers and mentoring. ■ Credit Guarantee Scheme – Loans available to SMEs borrowing from €10,000 to a maximum of €1,000,000 for terms of three months up to ﬁve and a half years. Available from banks and other non-bank lenders. ■ The Sustaining Enterprise Fund – Eligible applicants are manufacturing and internationally traded service companies with 10 or more full-time people on their payroll on the 29th of February 2020 who have seen a 15% reduction in actual or projected turnover/proﬁt, or a signiﬁcant increase in costs due to Covid. Available funding will comprise of both repayable and nonrepayable supports. ■ Enterprise Support Grant – Covid-19 support for microenterprises. Restart grant of up to €1,000 for those not liable for commercial rates. ■ Restart Grant Plus – Extra support is being provided for enterprises that could not access the original grant scheme, including rateable sports businesses and trading charity shops. Non-rated B&Bs will be eligible for a grant payment of €4,000. ■ The Irish Business Design Challenge is a competition with a prize fund of €50,000 inviting micro, small and medium Irish businesses to enter by sharing their experiences of business during Covid. They will proﬁle a company’s story of redesigns and pivots, giving then the chance to win €15,000 as the ﬁrst prize for each category and €2,000 for the runner-up in each category.
Graham Byrne, SFA Chair
continuation of the cash grant scheme. I would urge small firms to avail of all the schemes and supports available to them.” A lack of competition within the lending community is a cause for concern, says Graham. “I think there’s some worry out there regarding the institutional non-bank lending providers. The fear is that there’s not enough competition, both in the non-bank and bank lending space. The contraction of institutional banks isn’t helping either.” Without that competition, there’s very little room for banks to compete on price flexibility or product innovation. “What we are hearing from our members at the moment is that if you’re a customer with a particular bank, you can’t borrow outside of that bank. That’s not giving businesses enough flexibility.” Businesses preparing to operate in 2021 need to ensure they have a viable business plan at the ready that takes on board all of the challenges they’re likely to meet during the year. Understanding how the business has adapted in 2020 and how it can further adapt to ensure sustainability is crucial, says Graham. “Businesses need to position themselves as a sustainable entity rather than something that’s going to be growing in 2021. What you need to do is get clarity, engage with your accountant or advisor and make sure that your planning is around sustainability and survival because the challenge of what we had in 2020 is going to continue into 2021. Businesses will need all the tools available to them in order to maintain their sustainability.” Small firms are advised to investigate every single grant and initiative available. “There are also a number of initiatives through the likes of the Skillnet platform that are there to enable and help small businesses to create more sophistication in their business. They could mean the diﬀerence between a business surviving or not.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 15
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Finance Finance Restructuring
The Section 449-455 Scheme No criteria that a company must satisfy before proposing this scheme
rebuild A &
BETTER BUSINESS TALKS TO DECLAN DE LACY AT PKF O’CONNOR, LEDDY & HOLMES ABOUT THE RESTRUCTURING OPTIONS OPEN TO SMALL BUSINESSES IN FINANCIAL DISTRESS.
ccording to the latest insolvency statistics published by Deloitte, the total number of corporate insolvencies recorded at the end of September 2020 stood at 431. In the same period the year before, 439 corporate insolvencies were recorded. That’s only a marginal decrease of 1.8% and while you might expect the numbers to be higher for 2020, the role that the government has played in supporting struggling companies shouldn’t be overlooked. Without state-backed initiatives the numbers would be much higher, according to Deloitte partner for Financial Advisory David Van Dessel. However, it’s expected that the Covid-19 crisis will extend into 2021 and possibly beyond the limits of creditor forbearance and state supports. The Central Bank’s Financial Stability Notes released in September stated that the identification of financial distress in SMEs doesn’t necessarily lead to liquidation. Many of these firms may be viable over the medium term but to arrive there, current financial supports won’t be enough. In many cases, these firms will renegotiate and restructure debts with creditors or enter examinership or receivership and will continue
as a going concern. In only a subset of such cases is liquidation the outcome. So what’s the best option for a small firm in financial distress? The best course of action is dependent on a firm’s individual needs and the extent of its financial difficulties but it’s widely agreed that examinership is off the table for small businesses. “Examinership allows larger businesses to write down historical debts and to renegotiate onerous leases. However, the process rarely costs less than €100,000, putting it outside the reach of more than 250,000 small businesses,” said Declan de Lacy, Director - Advisory & Restructuring at PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes. Examinership may not be an option for small firms but that doesn’t mean that formal debt restructuring is out of the question entirely. Companies Act 2014 provides two alternative restructuring mechanisms, says Declan, that are less complicated, less costly and provide small firms with an opportunity to continue operating. These mechanisms are the schemes of arrangement provided for by Sections 449-455 and Section 676 of Companies Act 2014. Neither mechanism is well known or widely used, even though they have existed in one form or another for more than 50 years. “Although only
Identify the separate classes of proposed affected creditors ie preferential creditors, secured creditors, trade creditors etc A meeting of each category of creditor must be convened to consider the proposed arrangement A ‘scheme circular’ must be prepared, in which the company sets out details of the proposed arrangement and how each class of creditor will be affected
Optional Application to the Court for an order giving it protection from existing and new proceedings An arrangement becomes binding on all of a company’s creditors if a majority of at least 50% by number and 75% by value of the creditors represented at each class meeting vote in favour Application to the Court for an order sanctioning the scheme
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a small number of these types of schemes have been arranged, they still happen from time to time and they can be made to work. The difficulty with them is that they don’t have a mechanism for dealing with leases and that’s perhaps why they’re used infrequently.” Another reason may be the position that Revenue has adopted. “In its tax collection manual, Revenue indicates that it generally won’t be agreeable to any proposal unless it includes a provision that the taxes get paid in full. That’s notwithstanding the fact that Companies Act 2014 specifically provided that public bodies including Revenue could agree to any scheme that involved a write-down.” Both schemes provide mechanisms by which a company may propose an arrangement in which the amounts due to creditors are either written off, deferred or otherwise compromised. If the requisite majority of creditors approve the arrangement, it can then become binding on all creditors. Creditors need to be offered some quid pro quo to induce them to accept the proposals; this could be the introduction of new funds to partially reduce creditor balances or future payments linked to trading results. These mechanisms could be the answer for a lot of small businesses, says Declan. “I think trade creditors in particular are likely to recognise that for the most part, companies that run into difficulty have done so through no fault of their own and it’s simply a case of adverse circumstances. We would expect there to be quite a bit of sympathy from trade creditors who will likely act in their own interest. If all your customers go into liquidation, then your own business is in difficulty.” Although, as mentioned above, neither scheme provides a mechanism by which onerous leases may be disclaimed, Declan believes landlords will have to take a practical view. “If they don’t want wholesale vacancy, they need to do deals with their tenants. If a tenant is doing deals with all other stakeholders, I think they will feel the pain is being shared.” An advantage of a scheme of arrangement over an examinership is that a company’s directors can start the process without going to the High Court. That means the schemes can be implemented for a fraction of the cost of an examinership. “Another advantage of a scheme of arrangement is that the company does not automatically go into liquidation if a scheme is proposed, but not approved.” Declan’s advice to a small business seeking further information about these schemes is to approach an accountant with experience in this area. “This is a specialised area that’s categorised as insolvency works so a company must employ the services of an accountant with an insolvency practicing cert. There are very few insolvency practitioners with any experience or knowledge of these schemes as they’re so rare. It’s important to find someone with previous experience.”
Declan de Lacy, Director - Advisory & Restructuring, PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes
The Section 676 Scheme Any company that is either being, or is about to be, wound-up may propose this scheme of arrangement No requirement to distinguish separate classes of creditors or to obtain separate approval from each class An arrangement approved by the requisite majority of creditors becomes binding without the need to be sanctioned by the Court Major disadvantage of this arrangement is that it must be approved by 75% by number and value of all of the company’s creditors and not only by 75% of those represented at the meeting where it is considered
“IT WOULD BE OUR ADVICE THAT IF YOU’RE GOING TO INVEST ADDITIONAL MONEY INTO YOUR OWN INSOLVENT COMPANY, YOU ALSO ASK YOUR CREDITORS TO CONTRIBUTE BY WAY OF TAKING A WRITE-DOWN IN A SCHEME OF ARRANGEMENT. There’s light at the end of the tunnel for firms who find themselves in financial distress, says Declan. The crucial point is not to wait until you’re down to your last euro and have nothing to offer your creditors. “It’s far better to try and negotiate one of these schemes at the earliest possible stage rather than leaving it until you have no alternative.” Quite often, small businesses will look to their own personal resources to try and shore up the company. “It would be our advice that if you’re going to invest additional money into your own insolvent company, you also ask your creditors to contribute by way of taking a write-down in a scheme of arrangement.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 17
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Sector Spotlight ï€ª Night-Time Night-Time Economy Economy
BETTER BUSINESS EXAMINES THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY AND SPEAKS TO TWO SMALL FIRMS THAT ARE ADAPTING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF A CHANGING INDUSTRY.
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November 2020, Ibec made a submission to the Night-Time Economy Task Force entitled “Reimagining & rebooting the night-time economy”. In it, the association talked about how long-term restrictions in the night-time economy would completely change the environment in which its businesses operate and how it’s never been more important for Government and local authorities to work with business and the various stakeholders in getting the night-time economy opened back up. This would, says the association, facilitate businesses to operate safely and importantly, to encourage people to visit, shop, eat, drink, to socialise or for entertainment. As to when concerts, conferences, sports and large-scale events will return remains unknown but there’s no doubt that businesses require ongoing support to overcome the current crisis. Ibec’s key recommendations for a thriving night-time economy are:
n Develop a common understanding of the
night-time economy: The starting point to transforming the nighttime economy is defining the range of activities between 6pm and 6am, employment and businesses involved. These include cultural and leisure activities, activities which support nighttime cultural and leisure activities, 24-hour health and personal social services and activities which support wider social and economic activities. n Experiences must be less taxing:
Unlike most businesses, key parts of the nighttime economy pay commercial rates based on expected turnover, which does not account for premises that are closed or those operating at reduced capacity. Government should extend the commercial rates waiver scheme to 12 months and adjust the valuation process to ensure hospitality businesses pay a fairer share of local business taxation over the coming years. n Reduce red tape:
State-imposed costs on the experience economy must be tackled and the alcohol licensing regime overhauled. It should be streamlined to allow staggered trading hours and to encourage more diversity in premises types. A new approach to events and markets should be developed. This should be based on consistent, predictable and simplified licensing procedures, a constructive approach to risk management and incorporating short-term and long-term economic benefits into the decision-making process. In the short-term, local authorities have a key role in ensuring planning and regulations to support the sector’s recovery such as conserving core aspects of the night-time economy during this challenging period. Fees and local charges should be waived. n A vision for the night-time economy: Ibec Reboot & Reimagine Campaign
Each local authority must have their own vision for the night-time economy which rethinks the use of public space, reimagines
underutilised spaces, develops a register of creative assets, connects to creative and cultural strategies, engages the community and amends the urban design policy to incorporate the needs of the night-time economy into the plan-making process. n Establish the position of a Night Mayor or
Night-time Economy Advisor: Each of the five metropolitan cities should have a dedicated night-time economy advisor to coordinate the development and delivery of a vision to develop the city-region’s nightlife, making it stronger, safer, better-connected and an even more attractive destination. n Revitalise and reimagine town centres:
Introduce a new Resilience and Recovery Fund, managed by the local authorities, to support immediate priorities of town and urban centres during reopening and recovery phase, in addition to the creation of a competitive €200 million annual “town growth fund” to support the revitalisation of town centres. n The National Development Plan 2021–27:
Prioritise immediate investment in supporting infrastructure such as late-night transport provision, leisure and tourism infrastructure including new visitor experience development, upgrading of existing attractions and sites, visitor awareness and accessibility. n Provide for enhanced tourism promotion for a
sustainable recovery: Grow domestic tourism through continued promotion of staycation, short-stay and day-trip opportunities and double overseas tourism marketing, targeting international visitors in the higher spending source markets and segments. Development of a new short-stay, conferences, events, markets and other local visitor attractions strategy. In addition, thematic promotional campaigns should be expanded and new areas added. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 19
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Sector Spotlight Night-Time Economy
Hospitality has been one of the sectors hit the hardest by the pandemic. Although “wet” pubs remain closed, bars and pubs that serve food have opened their doors once again. Paris Texas in Kilkenny would be well known for its live music offering but with the Failte Ireland guidelines clearly stating that no loud or live music is permitted in pubs, it’s staying quiet for now. “We would have had live music seven nights a week which wasn’t particularly loud but we must abide by the guidelines. However hard a year we’ve had, people in the entertainment business have had a tougher one,” said Pat Crotty, owner of Paris Texas. Significant investment has gone into screens, foot openers and sanitising stations while a full-time cleaner has also been employed at the bar. “Every door handle, chair, surface and toilet is cleaned and when they get to the back door, they turn around and start again. We’ve also invested in machinery that cleans the air in a single pass. That was a significant expense but the first order of business is to make sure staff and customers feel safe.” The Government’s decision to keep “wet” pubs closed late last year sent shockwaves through the industry. “On one level I can understand it but on another, I can’t. With enforcement, pubs could finally reopen but we’re told that guards don’t want to go down that route.”
In December 2019, a new bar opened at Paris Texas. “We had only just finished paying the capital costs on that at the end of February last year so the cupboard was definitely bare when we closed down for the first time in 2020. Financially, we had to be very careful. When we closed for the second time, we were well organised as were all our suppliers.” In 2020, Paris Texas was closed for 23 weeks out of 52. “Turnover will certainly be down. Even if we had the best possible four weeks over Christmas, it wouldn’t make up for that loss of revenue. We were closed for every bank holiday except for August and that’s the only one in Kilkenny that doesn’t have a festival. We lost out on the Roots Festival, Cat Laughs, Savour, Kilkenomics etc, all the events that bring people to the city and makes it a more attractive offering.” Like hospitality, the events industry has been severely affected by the pandemic. It’s a sector, says Eventhaus MD Garret Buckley, that’s misunderstood rather than forgotten. “When you mentioned the word ‘event’, people were thinking mass gatherings and social events. It took us a long time to explain that what we are doing is facilitating buyers and sellers. At one stage, I could only allow six people into the RDS which is the largest venue in the country. When you look at retail and the amount of
Pat Crotty, owner, Paris Texas
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people permitted into the larger stores, it’s not a level playing field.” In 2020, Eventhaus cancelled 10 shows including the likes of Bloom and Catex. Across the board, approximately 500 trade fairs and exhibitions were cancelled or postponed around the country. “The effect that those cancellations would have had on small businesses, who haven’t had that reach-out to potential customers, is massive. Small firms that don’t have a showroom and can’t do webinars or online sales rely on trade fairs, it’s how they generate sales leads.” The Irish Exhibition Organisers Association (IEOA), of which Garret is chair, recently met with Robert Troy, Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment at the RDS to call for the recommencement of trade fairs and exhibitions in 2021. The call was made as the IEOA launched its Covid-19 protocols, as well as on foot of Government clarity about the operation of trade fairs and exhibitions under Levels 1 and 2 of Covid-19 Government guidelines. These IEOA-drafted protocols will be in place to ensure best practice health and safety standards are delivered once trade fairs and exhibitions kick off again. Minister Troy has been the one person fighting the industry’s case in Government, says Garret.
“WHEN YOU MENTIONED THE WORD ‘EVENT’, PEOPLE WERE THINKING MASS GATHERINGS AND SOCIAL EVENTS. IT TOOK US A LONG TIME TO EXPLAIN THAT WHAT WE ARE DOING IS FACILITATING BUYERS AND SELLERS. ” “He has been so supportive and we’ve had several meetings with him. It would appear that the CRSS isn’t applicable to exhibition organisers and that’s something he’s working on changing. The RDS, which is the largest supplier to us and all our members, has also been hugely supportive. They’ve shown that a relationship between customer and supplier really can work in times of crisis.” Ongoing uncertainty makes it very difficult to schedule events for 2021. “Whether those events actually happen in the early part of the year depends on what level the country will be in. Trade fairs and business exhibitions typically require several months lead-in so that’s another challenge.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 21
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Advice Wise Guys
SIX INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHARE ONE PERSONAL NUGGET OF ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS.
Commercial Gordon Naughton CEO, Tactive Commercial Advice
My advice for both new and existing businesses would be to ensure you provide a product or service within your area of expertise and continue to work on broadening that expertise. It’s important not to avoid getting help when you need it. Be passionate about what you do, treat everyone well and with respect and focus on measured growth. At the moment, the word ‘measured’ really can’t be over-emphasised. You can’t just plunge into something; consideration and a degree of thought is required for every new venture.
Insurance Mary White
Practice Manager, Hayes McGrath If you want to succeed in business, you must differentiate yourself but looking like an idiot is probably what stops a lot of people from putting themselves out there. Whether you succeed or fail, you’ll feel either the shock and surprise of success or the shock and sadness of failure. Both have very much the same emotional impact on a person. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s much harder to achieve stellar success. It’s worth the risk of always putting yourself out there.
Books Emma-Jane Leeson CEO, Johnny Magory Business
Listen to your customers. That’s what’s helped us get through 2020. We listened to our customer base and were quick to adapt from a social media point of view. All of our followers wanted activities to do both outside and inside and so we provided that. A big change for us this year was providing online courses and we also brought out a new book. Again, that was all about listening to what our customers were looking for and providing them with solutions.
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
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”
Publishing Emer Cleary CEO, Emu Ink
Be real. Don’t be afraid to tell your story and to talk from experience, even when you are starting out and you feel like you don’t have enough. Sharing your journey will no doubt resonate with plenty of people and therefore be helpful. Remember, everything that happens – the highs and the lows – are all part of it. At Emu Ink we say, “that will be part of the book someday” and considering the business we’re in, we had better make good on that!
If you are a business leader
Social finance Donal Traynor
Group Chief Executive, Community Finance Ireland So much in business links back to your ability to engage with people, to really hear what they are saying. It can be a natural default to try to dominate a relationship, to always have your end goal front and centre. More often than not, when you take the time to genuinely understand where potential partners or prospective clients are coming from, you will be most equipped to tailor what it is you have, to best suit their needs. Make their language yours.
Coco Chanel, Fashion designer and businesswoman (1883 – 1971)
IT Raj Gosal
MD, Computerology Invest in networking and build strong connections with clients in the early stages of your business. This will lead to long-term and trusted relationships with clients. If they feel they have a personal rapport with you and are completely confident in the quality of your work, they will keep coming back. Maintain those personal connections as your business grows. Make sure you remain available to clients for check-in calls, informal catch-ups or most importantly, for times when they’re experiencing a crisis and need high-level advice.
and you feel you have some words of wisdom to share with he small business community please email email@example.com
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Cover Story Cisco
THE RIGHT DIGITAL SOLUTIONS CAN EMPOWER A BUSINESS AND RIGHT NOW, THAT’S SOMETHING MOST FIRMS COULD DO WITH. SHANE HERATY, CISCO’S NEW REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR IRELAND AND SCOTLAND, TALKS TO BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY TO STAY RELEVANT.
power digital the
been an interesting 10 years for Shane Heraty, Cisco’s new Regional Director for Ireland and Scotland. He’s just returned from Qatar where he spent the past decade in a variety of roles across different regions, the most recent being Country Director for Cisco Qatar. Qatar is a country that has ambitions to become a centre of excellence for healthcare, education and sport and with plans to host the World Cup in 2022, it’s likely those ambitions will be met. Cisco is providing its technology to all eight stadiums that have been built for the event, which promises to be the most connected World Cup of all time. The past 10 years have been an exciting, fast-paced chapter in Shane’s life and career; he and his wife arrived to the Middle East in 2010 with one daughter and came back to Ireland a few months ago with two. He has experienced and relished all the regional and cultural diversity that Qatar has to offer; by the time he was finishing up in his role there, there were 16 different nationalities in an office of 70 people. That sense of multiculturalism and learning how others do business is one of the many takeaways he’s brought back to his new role as Regional Director for Ireland and Scotland.
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Cisco ï€ª Cover Story
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Shane Heraty, Regional Director for Ireland and Scotland, Cisco
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Cover Story Cisco
Shane Heraty, Regional Director for Ireland and Scotland, Cisco
In his new role Shane is responsible for driving Cisco’s inclusive digital strategy, keeping customers’ data secure and essentially transforming how people access technology. Right now at Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT, networking and cybersecurity solutions, the emphasis is very much on how the right digital solutions can empower businesses and small firms in particular. “We’re entering the next phase of the pandemic at the moment and going into what will be very much a hybrid environment. For small businesses to weather the current economic uncertainty, it’s crucial that they understand how best to leverage technology to ensure their customers can access their business securely and safely. When customers visit their applications or websites, it’s about making sure they have that superior experience to encourage repeat business,” said Shane. There is, he says, a global accelerated need for digitisation across all markets and segments and that need is being reflected equally in Ireland. “What I see now is every organisation, irrespective of size, segment or market, really embracing technology to remain competitive and relevant to their customers and to ensure business continuity and resilience.” Towards the end of 2019, Cisco took a detailed look at the global SME sector and realised it had a unique set of needs. The company developed and launched Cisco Designed, a dedicated portfolio made up of simple, reliable and secure solutions that cater to the needs of the SME sector. “Over half of SMEs don’t have an IT dedicated individual within their organisation. It’s critical that they can access the technology easily and securely but also when they switch it on, it works. That’s what we provide. These solutions are cloud based so you can scale up and down as you like using a pay as you use model which makes it very suited to small business. It means we can offer all of the advantages of our enterprise class solution to our small business customers. We can help SMEs become more profitable by reaching new markets, selling more, improving efficiency and reducing costs.” The Cisco Designed portfolio includes a number of cloud solutions like Webex (collaboration), Meraki (networking) and Duo (security). “What’s brilliant about these cloud-based solutions are that they all support remote working, are easy to deploy, manage and access and all businesses can access free trials; no strings attached.” The follow-up support is equally important. “We continuously offer refresh programmes and updates so all customers remain fully up to date. We’re also working with our partner ecosystem in Ireland to deliver more managed and hosted services so SMEs can take advantage of our technology through this managed element.”
Building Resilience Priorities for businesses during the pandemic have shifted, says Shane. “When Covid hit, the priority was business continuity; keeping the lights on, keeping staff working from home and ensuring businesses continued to transact. At that time, I’m sure the majority of businesses expected to return to a more normal environment in two or three months. Now, I see the response collectively moving towards a more long-term view in how we respond to it and building resilience within a business.” That longterm view should, says Shane, take into account the experience of every interaction within a business. “In the long-term, it’s not good enough to just have your employees connected; they need the right tools to be productive and equally accessible to their customers, suppliers and partners.” A recent survey conducted by Cisco found that over 90% of workers are uncomfortable about returning to the office in the short-term, while 53% of companies are planning to optimise their office footprint. “That’s why it’s important to provide employees with an enhanced remote working experience. That will be key in two areas – for staff retention but also for new staff acquisition.” If a company with which you compete is offering a superior remote working experience, that could spell trouble says Shane. “It’s likely that staff will be attracted to it. it will become a differentiator
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Cisco Cover Story
in attracting top talent.” Technology is key when it comes to building resilience within your business, says Shane. “If your application or digital front is not delivering a premium experience, people are likely to move onto the next storefront. We’re in a time of diminished brand loyalty; recent data shows that 60% of millennials are at best brand neutral, so that first interaction is key. It’s important that small firms embrace that end-to-end digital experience as it can translate into a significant competitive advantage that will, ultimately, be sustainable.”
Education and reskilling Companies that don’t embrace the digital experience could face significant challenges and much of that, says Shane, is down to skills gaps. Four out of five Irish workers require basic or moderate IT skills in their role and 25% of the Irish workforce identify as having existing skills gaps. “These people are looking for opportunities to re-train and this is where vendors like Cisco and our partners come in. We’re uniquely positioned to support the SME sector when it comes to taking advantage of the digital opportunity.” Cisco has a global commitment to positively impact the lives of a billion citizens and part of that commitment is around reskilling and education. The company has invested in several initiatives, one of which is the Network Academy which to date has supported almost 2.5 million students internationally in accessing Cisco content and certifications. “We have a number of those Academies in place with universities and government sectors in Ireland. We’re also part of the P-TECH initiative with IBM in supporting school age children to access technology and we’re involved in lots of informal programmes that focus on access in local schools, mentoring
students and new start-ups.” Right now, Cisco is looking at how best to support furloughed workers in relation to reskilling. “We want to help them identify areas of the technology industry that might best suit them to take advantage of the new trades and areas that will emerge post-pandemic.” With our current hybrid workforce and the need to support remote working, distance learning and the reskilling of employees, technology and the digitisation of society has really come to the fore. “It’s no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a necessity, not just for companies but for nations to remain competitive.”
Supports Cisco Capital, the finance division within the company, offers customers a range of flexible programmes, some of which have been developed in direct response to Covid. “We want our customers to be able to consume technology in a manner that best suits their organisation.” At its baseline, Cisco Capital offers customers 0% finance. “They can also pay quarterly over a defined period and with the pandemic in mind, we’ve introduced delayed payment plans where firms don’t have to pay for the first six months.” Cisco is committed to driving the most trusted customer experience in the industry. An inclusive digital strategy can, says Shane, inspire new possibilities. “It’s really important to me that our digital society is an inclusive one but more importantly, accessible to all as well. Solutions which had previously only been for large companies are now being scaled down and available for small businesses. We’re focused on empowering our customers, partners and teams. There are so many opportunities for small businesses in technology right now; I’m excited to be part of that journey.”
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W PROVIDERS OF DIGITAL SOLUTIONS TO THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY ARE TRANSFORMING THE WAY PROJECTS ARE DESIGNED AND BUILT.
hen it comes to digital adoption, Ireland’s construction industry has come a long way. Once considered a traditional “bricks and mortar” sector and one very much resistant to change, a growing number of construction companies are developing digital strategies to improve productivity and profitability and facilitate improved safety on sites. In 2019, a survey conducted by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) found that almost three out of four building firms felt technology was improving productivity while another 54% said they had invested in new technologies in the past 12 months. It’s clear that the future of construction is digital and it’s likely that for a lot of firms, site closures will have speeded up that realisation. As Tom Parlon, CIF Director General, said: We have to aim for a future where technology supports human initiative and creativity to generate new innovative construction. A tech-enabled construction industry isn’t far off in the future. We simply must adopt the technologies of tomorrow, today, to solve the major challenges we face.” In this issue of Better Business, our four interviewees are helping construction firms adopt those technologies in a smart, cost-efficient way.
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AddJust, a Clare-based startup that has developed a cloud solution for digital contracts, is the brainchild of Padraig Neylon, a Quantity Surveyor with 15 years’ experience in the industry. It was set up in 2017 and promises to makes information easily accessible, giving clients and project managers insights into budgets and payments and allowing orders to be easily changed. Padraig recognised a gap in the sector when it came to finding a system that would simply and practically help manage contracts. “There are a few systems out there that are targeted towards the mega projects but there’s nothing available
PADRAIG NEYLON (L) AND MICHAEL KELLY
for medium sized contracts. So I decided to do it myself.” With the help of his uncle, Michael Kelly, Padraig started to work on a userfriendly solution that would help avoid projects going past deadline or going over budget. The biggest issue, he says, was the huge amount of paperwork associated with every project. “Contracts are usually anything from a 12 to a 100 page document. Part of the reason why they’re not read or implemented properly is that rafts of paper aren’t the most efficient way of administering a contract because ultimately, contracts are a set of workflows for when certain events happen.” Software is best suited to managing those workflows and removing the heavy admin and transfer of data over and back from people’s hard drives. “We wanted to make all that data actually speak to something so we could produce reports which would feed into an information system which would in turn give us insights into projects and across portfolios.” Investment for AddJust came from Enterprise Ireland, Clare Local Development Company, NDRC and private investors and in 2017, two products were launched. “One is for contract management based around monthly operator frameworks called TermPay and the other is for managing capital works projects (AddJust).” Dublin City Council and Clare County Council are on board and Padraig is hoping his solutions will be rolled out across the country to allow local authorities better manage their social housing stock. A new tender management module has just been added to the contract management system which will, says Padraig, allow contractors to price on the system and carry out tender reports and analysis automatically. Last September Padraig also launched Big Work, a solution for the domestic sector that’s proving popular with architects. Pre-Covid, Padraig was ready to sign contracts with firms in the private sector. “They got put on hold but thankfully, they’re all back on the table again. In the public sector, we’re in an excellent position to align ourselves with the current mood of the local authorities which is focused on the benefits digital systems can bring.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 29
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Ciaran Brennan and his brother Niall ran their own successful construction company in Australia before returning to Dublin in 2018 and setting up LiveCosts. The aim of the software is to provide companies with an efficient and easy way of managing project costs. With their own building firm in Perth, trying to understand their project finance issues was a challenge. “We would have Excel on one side and an accounting software on the other. We couldn’t manage costs using those two systems and we couldn’t find anything that would solve that problem for us. So we decided to build our own solution and once we implemented that new system, we started to see the business move.” After returning to Dublin, it took the brothers a year before deciding to set up LiveCosts for the Irish market. That year was spent researching how to make LiveCosts as easy to use as possible. “It just plugs into the user’s existing account software so it couldn’t be simpler.” Solutions from LiveCosts have proved particularly useful to construction firms this year. “There are two things we do that are of interest to companies in this Covid era. Quite a lot of companies got caught out by not being able to access their financial systems during lockdown so our cloud-based technology bypasses that problem. We also give clear visibility as to whether their projects are making money or not.” One of the biggest trends Ciaran has noticed this year is a shift to online procurement. “With Covid, we’re seeing changes around how we buy and procure materials. Now, suppliers and contractors want to be connected digitally and as of next year, we’ll be in a position to facilitate those transactions between contractor and supplier.” LiveCosts is currently being used by large-scale contractors and commercial sub-contractors in Ireland. “I would say we manage over €14 million worth of new projects and we do about half a million worth of costs between contractors and suppliers. It’s also being used by firms in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.” The biggest advantage with the app, says Ciaran, is that it instantly informs the user where money is being lost or won in real time. “From running my own company, I know that the one thing a business owner will lose sleep over is not knowing where they stand financially. The LiveCosts software gives users clarity around how healthy their finances are.”
“THE BIGGEST ADVANTAGE WITH THE APP IS THAT IT INSTANTLY INFORMS THE USER WHERE MONEY IS BEING LOST OR WON IN REAL TIME.”
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ROB FOX A major challenge to getting a project off the ground is finding suitable subcontractors and obtaining the necessary compliance documentation from them. Having encountered these challenges for years, civil engineer Rob Fox decided to do something about it. “In 2017, I set up Site Passport. It’s a digital platform that enables all parties to capture real-time data across supply chain deployment, performance and compliance. Essentially, it transforms the way main contractors, developers and property managers discover, evaluate, onboard and audit their supply chain.” It also provides sub-contractors and suppliers with a powerful suite of services to manage their reputation and satisfy ever-increasing compliance demands around Building Control (BCAR), health and safety, quality assurance and sustainability. This year has prompted contractors to give more consideration to digital technology, says Rob. “Contractors aren’t traditionally the biggest adopters of tech but the challenges of 2020 have made it more relevant to them. People are definitely more engaged with construction technology than maybe they were 12 months ago.” In March of this year, Rob and the team were all set to close a funding round to aid expansion into the UK and possibly into Europe and Australia. “Covid put a stop to that but we’re on the NDRC venture capital accelerator programme and we’ll be opening our
investment round again in January.” Site Passport has also just launched its latest range of services, based on customers’ needs around procurement and compliance for the supply chain. “In construction, 80% of the value of any construction project is outsourced to sub-contractors. For main contractors, they’re dealing with hundreds if not thousands of sub-contractors so the biggest challenge is that every one of those sub-contractors has to provide information to validate their competency and compliance. The main contractor really struggles with that. The solution that we’re now providing is helping them capture that information from the subbie,
categorise and analyse it to make sure they’re suitable for the job.” Next year is all about integrating with other complementary tech solutions companies that operate both in Ireland and abroad. “Our customers have asked us to integrate with the systems they’re already using so we’ll be working on making that happen next year. Although we deal mainly with contractors, we’ve also started working with property owners and managers who employ sub-contractors and suppliers to manage properties. Another new avenue of growth for us is working with real estate companies. Things look very promising for 2021.”
“OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE ASKED US TO INTEGRATE WITH THE SYSTEMS THAT THEY’RE ALREADY USING SO WE’LL BE WORKING ON MAKING THAT HAPPEN NEXT YEAR.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 31
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JOHN KYNE John Kyne came up with the idea of launching a platform that allows construction firms host their very own ‘Amazon’ after working with John Sisk & Son. “In 2016, I worked with Sisk on the launch of its e-Commerce system. It worked quite well; Sisk was getting next day delivery for some of its job sites in Dublin which would be unheard of in the industry. But it didn’t work that well in other ways. There were things I would have done differently to make it more accessible and easier to use. That’s when I decided to branch out on my own and create Prockure,” he said. Prockure allows building contractors to host their own internal e-Commerce system. When an item is purchased, the PO data that’s created syncs with all major construction ERP/accounting systems with API functionality like COINS, SAP, Oracle, Sage and QuickBooks. It means that buyers like quantity surveyors and site agents can place orders from their phones or desktops without ever needing to raise a requisition again. John’s aim was to make it really easy to use. “It eliminates all of that unnecessary and time-wasting data entry and makes the whole process smooth and hassle free.” John has partnered with most of the construction suppliers in Ireland so chances are, if a construction firm needs a particular item, he’s got it. “Some contractors might prefer certain suppliers and they’re welcome to bring them on board. Prockure is all about meeting the contractors’ needs in as easy a manner as possible.” The Prockure platform ensures orders also get to site much quicker. “The traditional requisition system can be time-consuming. It can take three or four days for a requisition to be processed. With us, it’s instant. Orders will get to site faster, allowing firms to reallocate staff where necessary. With Prockure, unnecessary admin work is a thing of the past.” Although the construction industry can be slow to implement new forms of technology, the response to Prockure has been positive and that’s down to how easy the platform is to use, says John. “That ease of use means construction firms are happy to come on board. I’m optimistic about Prockure and I think a lot of firms are about to realise the benefits of the system.”
“ORDERS WILL GET TO SITE FASTER, ALLOWING FIRMS TO REALLOCATE STAFF TO OTHER PROJECTS. WITH PROCKURE, UNNECESSARY ADMIN WORK IS A THING OF THE PAST.”
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Congratulations to all finalists. We would like to congratulate all of the following companies who have succeeded as finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2021. All category winners and the overall winner will be presented with their awards at the SFA Awards Gala Ceremony in March 2021. FOOD AND DRINK
INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR
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Atlantic Treasures Dromod Boxty Goatsbridge Fish Processors John Stone Fine Foods Killowen Farm Walsh’s Bakehouse
OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS • Ancient Organics and Permaculture • Child Paths • Funky Monkey Foods • GLAM DOLL • Miena’s Handmade Nougat • The Irish Biltong Company
Bevcraft Group ChektAhora CogniKids DentalOrg Intouch.com Whelehans Pharmacy
Adam and Friends Bevcraft Group Mahon Windows N & E Precision Engineering Timbertrove Topform
EXPORTER OF THE YEAR
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Adams & Butler Axis Ballymun IMS Marketing Mezzo Music Academy Stella Novus Whelehans Pharmacy
Adam and Friends Equine MediRecord John Stone Fine Foods Kora Healthcare Miena’s Handmade Nougat Topform
EMERGING NEW BUSINESS
• Ancient Organics and Permaculture • Atlantic Treasures • BNRG Renewables • EcoFriendly Cups • M & C Hybrid Energy • Nutrient Recovery to Generate Electricity
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Kiltimagh Park Hotel M & C Hybrid Energy Michael’s Mount Merrion Pale Blue Dot® Recruitment SYS Wealth and Financial Planners
Learn Chinese Plus OSENG The Agile Executive The Johnny Magory Company Wholesome Kitchens
sfa.ie/awards #SFAAwards2021 PRESENTED BY
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Small Business Profile Kore Insulation Insulation
VALUES DENISE MAGUIRE CHATS TO CAROLINE ASHE, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR AT KORE INSULATION, ABOUT WINNING BIG AT THE SFA SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS AND BECOMING A KEY SUPPLIER TO IRELAND’S CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY.
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Kore Insulation Small Business Profile
Congratulations on being named overall winner at the 2020 SFA National Small Business Awards. What do you attribute the win to? CA: I think one of the primary reasons we were considered worthy winners was our ability to demonstrate our long-term sustainable improvements. When myself and Noel Brady took over the company in 2013, we set out ambitious growth targets along with overall operations improvements and expansion plans. We were able to prove that we met those targets and as an Irish manufacturer, we’ve upped our game when it comes to delivering best in class, bespoke insulation solutions to the construction industry. What were some of those growth targets? CA: In 2013, we could see we had capacity so our main focus was on growing both our sales and our brand and on increasing marketing activities across the island of Ireland. That meant hiring really talented people. At that time, digital marketing was coming to the fore so we focused in on that. We also realised that in order to build a reputable brand, you need to be able to back it up with international standards. We had already achieved the 9001 ISO quality management system so we decided to introduce the health and safety international standard along with the environmental standard. We set out to be the first company in Ireland to achieve the new 2015 quality management systems standard and we achieved that. Did you invest in the production side? CA: Yes, once we started to see results with sales and marketing we replaced old machinery and doubled the size of the factory. Production started to keep up with growth so we kicked off another cycle of increasing our sales team. We liken our cycles of growth to a pendulum moving back and forth; when the sales team see results they move the pendulum back to production who say, well we’re coping so we’ll pass it back to you. Right now, we have further growth plans in the pipeline in relation to the size of the factory and we’re looking at machine automation and digital transformation for our production. In terms of recruitment, we see our technical team expanding in 2021 as well. Across the two divisions, we’ll need eight to 10 new hires.
Caroline Ashe, Commercial Director, KORE Insulation
Have the standards you achieved made a difference? CA: A huge difference. A good example would be one of our leading products, the KORE Insulated Foundation System, which is a new innovative product to the construction industry. We received NSAI certification for that this year and it’s beginning to explode in the market. Once you receive this certification, it means your product is legitimised in the marketplace. When we began pitching our products to the larger construction companies a few years ago, we were constantly being asked about Homebond and NSAI certification. Achieving those standards is a lengthy process; from the time we applied we were nearly two years waiting on approval. The industry is rightly cautious though and will only work with innovative products that stand up to the highest level of scrutiny that the Irish Agrement Board gives a product. Until you have that certification, you’re not going to make the inroads that you want to make. You mentioned the construction industry is reacting positively to the Insulated Foundation System. How does it differ to similar products on the market? CA: It’s a product that replaces traditional strip foundation for the residential market. Initially, we were pitching the product to the homeowner as it’s got excellent thermal bridging properties which is important when it comes to complying with Part L of the Building Regulations. It was only when we got to site that we realised the system also brings advantages to onsite construction activities. Essentially, it allows for a faster install of foundations. With this product, you don’t have that big ‘muck off ’ task where SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 35
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Small Business Profile Kore Insulation
The construction industry can be slow to adapt to new innovations. How did it react to KORE products when they first hit the market? CA: Once we got certification, it was a lot easier. When it comes to software systems and digital transformation, I think the industry can be quite slow but we are seeing a shift. We’re finding that quite a lot of the larger construction companies have innovation teams. We’re being introduced to heads of innovation in these firms that have recognised a massive trend towards factory-built construction and modern methods of construction. We don’t have an issue getting a meeting to talk to these companies about new products, we just need to have the certification to get onto their sites. a huge amount of clay has to be removed and trenches have to be dug. That then removes the need for large machines to take away or store clay which is a massive cost saving to our customers. The more we sell, the more we’re learning about the additional benefits our customers are finding with the product. How important is R&D at KORE? CA: Having new products come on line is really important for a growing company. The more new products you add to your range, the quicker and more sustained your growth. A while back, we participated in an InterTradeIreland programme called Fusion which allowed us to hire a full-time graduate for our R&D team. Thanks to the work being done by that person and collaboration betweeen all sides of the business, we’ll soon have a full complement of products to offer our growing customer base. Our customers like doing business with us so we’re hoping to offer them a greater product range so they don’t have to go elsewhere. What percentage of your sales are exported? CA: I would say 85% of our customers are on the island of Ireland and 15% of our sales go
to the UK. Brexit will of course affect our UK sales and for us, the big issue will be around logistics. The extended lead times and the paperwork around customs will present us with new challenges. I believe we’ll get to a place where our systems will automate these transactions but it will be an additional cost to the business and to our customers in the UK. Unfortunately, that seems to be unavoidable. How did the shutdown of construction sites earlier this year affect the company? CA: We closed for six weeks and kept staff on the wages scheme. We looked at how we could engage with our customers that might be working from home and might have the time to investigate our products. We also started to deliver online seminars and had over 300 participants engage with us. I think you need to pivot in those situations and be able to adapt; customer engagement and building on relationships was important during those few weeks.
What’s the company ethos at KORE? CA: It’s all about ease of doing business. Our customer promise is to deliver the exact product to the exact specification to the exact site at the exact time, every time. That may seem like a very simple promise but it involves every single person in our organisation contributing to the customers’ needs. It’s really important that our customers get their product when they need it on site; we’re just one part of their supply chain. If one element is not delivered, how many phone calls will the foreman have to make to change their arrangements? The quality of our product is a given so it comes down to the quality of the customer experience and that’s where we stand out. What differentiates KORE from similar suppliers to the construction industry? CA: Definitely our team. They believe in what we’re trying to do - bring something different to the marketplace. We have huge pride in being an Irish manufacturer and supplying the Irish construction industry. We focus on overall team performance as opposed to individual performance so if there’s a person on the team lacking a bit of energy or motivation for even a short period, the team will carry that person through. Performance is based on the collective team and I believe that’s one of the key reasons we continue to grow as a company.
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Trading Places Brian O’Donovan O’Donovan
thick IN THE
RTÉ’S WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT BRIAN O’DONOVAN CHATS TO DENISE MAGUIRE ABOUT SWAPPING LUCAN FOR WASHINGTON AND WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING FRONT AND CENTRE OF THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL US ELECTIONS OF ALL TIME 38 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS BUSINESS
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For some people, being in the right place at the right time is the secret to their success. Brian O’Donovan has certainly found himself smack bang in the middle of stories that have resonated around the world but it’s his talent as a broadcaster and reporter rather than geographical coincidence that has shaped his career. As Washington correspondent for RTÉ News, Brian is a familiar figure to the Irish public. His daily reports on the evening news can, he says, be dictated by a tweet that morning. It’s never boring and that’s how he likes it. Brian’s career began in Cork’s Red FM after he applied for two different weekend jobs at the station. He got the newsreader role and never heard back about the weekend DJ one. In 2005, he moved to TV3 and stayed there for 10 years, gaining experience as a general news reporter and documentary maker. “Towards the end of my time there, I became their finance correspondent. This was 2010 so with the crash, the bailout and the IMF, it was a very exciting time to be a business reporter,” said Brian. At the start of 2018, he took over from Caitríona Perry as Washington correspondent for RTÉ News. At that stage, Donald Trump was a year into his Presidency. “We knew from the campaign that he was like no other politician; he was outrageous and controversial and the first year of his presidency continued in the same vein. I knew I’d be very busy!” Brian told his wife he had gotten the job in the US on the evening of the Late Late Toy Show in 2017. Just after Christmas, he was to arrive in Washington and start pretty much straight away. “I remember there was a really bad blizzard all up the eastern coast of the US that night. My flight was New York with a connection to Washington but my connection got cancelled so I ended up stuck in JFK for ages. Luckily my wife and two kids weren’t with me yet, they were due to follow me over in six months. I arrived bleary-eyed to DC at about 5am and I have this memory of coming out of Union Station and immediately seeing Capitol Building. After a horrible 24 hours of travel and blizzards and delays, it was a cool sight to see.”
Brian O’Donovan, Washington correspondent, RTÉ
“I ARRIVED BLEARY-EYED TO DC AT ABOUT 5AM AND I HAVE THIS MEMORY OF COMING OUT OF UNION STATION AND IMMEDIATELY SEEING CAPITOL BUILDING. AFTER A HORRIBLE 24 HOURS OF TRAVEL AND BLIZZARDS AND DELAYS, IT WAS A COOL SIGHT TO SEE.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 39
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Trading Places Brian O’Donovan
Brian and his family swapped Lucan for Washington and quickly settled into family life. Schools are still closed so his two daughters are learning virtually from home. “My wife Joanna has taken a four year sabbatical from being a primary schoolteacher in Adamstown in Lucan so the girls are lucky in that they have a fulltime teacher at home.” Colleagues involved in the role before Caitríona would tell Brian that a President like Barack Obama was very quiet; no day to day news would be coming out of the White House. “That’s definitely not the case with Donald Trump. You’re kept on your toes and you never know what’s going to happen next. I always say my day can be dictated by a tweet.” For the month of November (and into December), US election fever gripped the
Brian O’Donovan, Washington correspondent, RTÉ
“IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF WASHINGTON WHEN THE ELECTIONS ARE ON AS IT’S A VERY DEMOCRATIC CITY. YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO MEET YOUR REPUBLICAN AND TRUMP SUPPORTERS. ” world. Has the exhaustion gotten to him yet? “The election itself is such a great buzz, you pull an all-nighter for that. This one was different; normally an election is decided on the night but we knew that this one wouldn’t be. There were amazing scenes outside the White House on the Saturday with people running around and celebrating when Biden was projected to be the winner. It calmed down a bit so I had a day or two to unwind. When it’s a big story like this one, there’s an adrenalin rush and you just get on with it. I’ll sleep when it’s over!” Covid restrictions have meant working from home since March. That changed early summer with the killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis. “Suddenly we had this huge story that we had to get out and cover. Myself and my cameraman Murray emerged from home confinement for those stories throughout the summer, which was really defined as a summer of protests.” Covid meant doing things a bit differently; long boom poles for microphones were used, along with face masks. The pandemic also affected the elections, with much smaller conventions,
virtual events and online rallies. It added to what was already a very unusual year, says Brian. “It’s important to be able to get out of Washington when the elections are on as it’s a very democratic city. You want to be able to meet your Republican and Trump supporters. What’s great about Washington is that you don’t have to go too far to experience the more rural areas. Only an hour away and you’re in rural Pennsylvania or West Virginia and you’ll get a very different view than what you’d get in a big city.” Since the start of his career, Brian has covered a number of world events. Aside from Donald Trump, is there a particular story that has made an impression on him? “When I was in TV3, I was sent to Rome to cover the election of Pope Francis. It was a very different, interesting story to cover. I remember I arrived at the Vatican and met the press officer, who was a priest. I asked him, what’s the timeline of events, when do we expect to have a result from the conclave? He looked at me for a moment and then said, whenever the holy spirit tells them. We all work to deadlines and everything is scheduled so to be waiting on an answer from the holy spirit was very unusual.” Brian and his family have one more year in Washington before his four year posting ends. At this early stage, he doesn’t know what his new role in Dublin will be but it’s likely that a prominent position within RTÉ is on the cards. With President-elect Biden about to take office and Donald Trump still refusing to concede (at the time of writing), it’s looking like Brian has another busy, exciting 12 months or so ahead of him. “We’re looking forward to coming back to Ireland but we’ll miss Washington. I realise how lucky I am with my career. It’s a great gig and if you love what you do, it never feels like work. ”
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Wellbeing Health Health
Get Strategic About Wellbeing
AS 2021 SETS IN, THE STRANGE VERSION OF THE WORKPLACE THAT MANY OF US HAVE HAD TO ADAPT TO DURING COVID-19 REMAINS. FOR BUSINESSES IT’S ESSENTIAL THAT EMPLOYEE WELLBEING ALSO REMAINS A TOP PRIORITY, WRITES SOPHIE MORAN.
Ibec’s HR Update (October 2020) survey found that in managing the impact of Covid-19, many employers invested in employee wellbeing (60%). Prior to that, the Ibec Wellbeing Barometer survey (August 2020) found that in 61% of organisations, there is strong support for wellbeing and yet far lower numbers have a wellbeing strategy (31%) or specific budget (27%) in place. Without adequate infrastructure in place to manage wellbeing into the future – dedicated time, funds and prioritisation – the longevity of the great efforts made during 2020 could be at risk upon a return to the office. Consider embedding wellbeing as a fundamental element of your corporate strategy and see what a difference this can make come December 2021.
Core values and principles
As we prepare to winter it out (pandemic style), there are some practices that companies can adopt to help instil a culture of wellbeing into 2021 and beyond. These five key ideas will help set the foundation for a positive workplace culture
> Bring people together
> Space to breathe
> Provide Help and Support
Ensure open, honest, and consistent communication from leaders. Keeping employees in the loop about any plans that might affect them is essential. Your reassurance and transparency will cultivate trust and help minimise stress directly related to ever-changing conditions.
Be mindful of your employees’ day and promote good diary management. Your team may be juggling a lot more during the pandemic. Consider promoting practices to give time back to your team like limiting back-to back meetings, blocking off time in the diary and flexible work hours.
> Lead by example
Model healthy behaviours and promote worklife balance. Managers and leaders can share what they do during the day to keep on top of wellbeing – going for a walk or logging off on-time and give employees permission to follow suit.
Boost engagement and connection through coordinated wellbeing campaigns. A companywide step-challenge will get people talking and walking and encourage some healthy competition. Virtual quizzes, cook-alongs and coffee mornings also work. Communicate these activities, give allocated time to them and engage with them.
Review and communicate resources and policies on mental health and wellbeing. Ensure your mental health and wellbeing policies and procedures are robust and current. Ensure the available support is widely known to staff – mention it at meetings, advertise it on intranet boards and most importantly, enable managers to refer to it when it is most needed. Sophie Moran, KeepWell Mark Programme Manager, has been with Ibec since 2016. She oversees the delivery and promotion of the KeepWell workplace wellbeing accreditation, a founding member of the programme. Sophie holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Workplace Wellness from Trinity College Dublin (2020).
The KeepWell Mark The KeepWell Mark is a framework, providing businesses with a set of health and wellbeing standards, that are achieved through promotion of wellbeing in the workplace. For more information, please visit www.thekeepwellmark.ie
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SFA HR Performance Management
Maximum RESULTS YEAR-ROUND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES CAN GREATLY IMPROVE AN EMPLOYEE’S ABILITY TO DO THEIR JOB TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY.
Performance Management is a strategic management technique that links business objectives and strategies to individual goals, actions, performance appraisal and rewards through a defined process. It should exist in businesses to support, develop and empower employees to do their work to the best of their ability. Employee performance should be managed throughout the year with regular communication and feedback to the employee. This communication can recognise and acknowledge good performance, identify areas of weakness which may need to be addressed and facilitate the coaching of employees to achieve better outputs. Performance management should not be a tick box exercise but should be used as an ideal opportunity to understand what
motivates or concerns your employees in the workplace. This engagement will allow you to give direction on how you want your business to grow and the part they play in that journey. Managers should make a conscious effort to provide feedback on issues such as ability to complete agreed tasks in a timely and efficient manner and capacity to lead a team during a project. While formal feedback sessions are often the preferred option, managers should be directing and coaching staff on a regular basis in a more informal manner to achieve best outcomes. The performance appraisal is a mechanism to formally review what has worked well in the year, scope out areas for improvement or development and work together to map out what can be achieved in the year ahead. It is important to sit down with employees
to agree and revise objectives. This will ensure a common understanding of what is expected of the manager and employee in terms of contribution to the achievement of overall business goals. Equally, it is a great opportunity to set goals that are in line with their company’s needs and steer the employee in the right direction by reviewing their performance, talking about their skills/career development and their ability to display the company’s values. It is critical that agreed tasks can be properly and fairly evaluated and measured (e.g. Improve sales for the next quarter by 5% on the last quarter). This will not only facilitate consistent feedback where there is good performance, but also identify and adequately address where there is poor performance. The limitation of annual reviews, apart from its time-consumption, is an emphasis primarily on reward for good performance and reprimands for poor performance at the end of the year. It holds the employee accountable once a year for past performance at the expense of potentially addressing and improving performance sooner. In contrast, regular conversations about performance and development shifts the focus from individual past performance to empowering employees in a timely fashion to achieve their full potential. Managers need to know how and when to deliver feedback to their employees. Likewise, they need to understand the importance of soliciting feedback; doing so will improve and enhance your performance management processes. With end of year appraisals looming, it is important to make the most of these meetings to ensure that they are valuable and constructive for both the employer and employee. It is crucial that managers do not abandon performance management for the rest of the year and that they adopt year-round check-in meetings combined with frequent real-time feedback with the aim of improving performance on an ongoing basis. Continuous feedback and formal appraisals should work harmoniously with one another to successfully manage employee’s performance. If you have a concern about Performance Management, you can contact Emma on 01 6051668 or at email@example.com or visit our HR and Employment Law section on www.sfa.ie
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Remote Working and Employee Well-being ď€Š SFA HR
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH WFH With remote working here to stay, Better Business takes a look at why itâ€™s important for businesses to implement strategies that help employees best manage their working day.
As millions of employees around the world have had to make a sudden and unprecedented shift to remote work amid the coronavirus pandemic, many might find themselves working longer hours to demonstrate their commitment and productivity. As a result, many struggle to adjust to the changed work environment and in particular, setting boundaries. This new workplace has deprived employees of the normal face-to-face engagement as they are unable to spontaneously pop into a colleagueâ€™s office, chat at the watercooler or enjoy lunch in the canteen. Employees have had to adapt from the familiar forms of communication through nonverbal cues (i.e. gestures, body position, tone) to cyber and virtual interaction (i.e. emails, webcams, earphones), making relationships and collaboration difficult. So how are employees supposed to leave their work at the door if they are not going out the door? It appears a level of remote working is here to stay and consequently, it is critical that businesses develop and promote strategies to help employees best manage their working day. To overcome communication and time management challenges, managers should support the use of video
calls over telephone calls and encourage shorter meetings. This should enable more social engagement and facilitate improved collaboration. It is important that employees block out time on their calendar to schedule when they are not available for meetings, so that they can control how much virtual communication they have each day and facilitate the completion of other tasks. It is imperative that employees set boundaries. While flexibility is important, there should be a clear start and end to the day. If time is saved on not having the daily commute, it should not be the norm that the employee fills this time with work. Likewise, while the employee may feel more productive eating lunch at the computer, not having proper downtime as a matter of course will ultimately impact on wellbeing and output. A simple midday stroll or some family time is not only good for your health and wellbeing, but also allows you to recharge and maintain perspective. Pre and post work physical activity is also recommended. This could again include a walk, some sporting or exercise event, gardening etc, all of which would provide clear distinction between work and leisure. It is acknowledged that in certain sectors of business, remote working across the entire workforce may not be an option due to the type of work involved. This may result in certain teams or individuals within teams being facilitated to work remotely. However, the clear benefits of remote working arrangements have now become evident. Challenges, nonetheless, exist for the employer and employee to ensure that benefits are maximised and that health and welfare issues are recognised and addressed. How effectively your business prepares for and adapts to the changing work environment will be critical to its success.
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SFA Policy Online Trading
IN ALL FAIRNESS WE TAKE A LOOK AT NEW RULES THAT ARE SET TO IMPROVE THE FAIRNESS OF TRADING PRACTICES ON ONLINE PLATFORMS.
European Regulations on platform-to-business relations (P2B Regulation) came into effect in Ireland on the 24th July 2020. The purpose of the P2B Regulations is to provide a set of rules which create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment for smaller businesses and traders on online platforms. P2B Regulations apply to the entire online platform economy – approximately 7,000 online platforms or marketplaces operating in the EU which include world giants as well as very small start-ups.
Why it matters Platforms offer unparalleled efficiencies in access to cross-border markets and are crucial for millions of successful firms. While the gateway position of online platforms enables them to organise
SMALL BUSINESSES WILL PARTICULARLY BENEFIT IMMEDIATELY FROM: A ban on certain unfair practices No more sudden, unexplained account suspensions – with the new rules, digital platforms can no longer suspend or terminate a seller's account without clear reasons and possibilities to appeal. The platform will also have to reinstate sellers if a suspension was made in error. Plain and intelligible terms and advance notice for changes – terms and conditions must be easily available and provided in plain and intelligible language. When changing these terms and conditions, at least 15 days prior notice needs to be given to allow companies to adapt their business to these changes. Longer notice periods apply if the changes require complex adaptions.
Greater transparency in online platforms Transparent ranking – marketplaces and search engines need to disclose the main parameters they use to rank goods and services on their site, to help sellers understand how to optimise their presence. The rules aim to help sellers without allowing gaming of the ranking system.
Mandatory disclosure for a range of business practices – some online platforms not only provide the marketplace but are also sellers on the same marketplace at the same time. According to the new transparency rules, platforms must exhaustively disclose any advantage they may give to their own products over others. They must also disclose what data they collect, how they use it and how such data is shared with other business partners they have. Where personal data is concerned, the rules of the GDPR apply.
New avenues for dispute resolution Today sellers are often left stranded with no ways to appeal or resolve complaints when problems arise. This will change with the new rules. All platforms must set up an internal complaint-handling system to assist business users. Only the smallest platforms in terms of head count or turnover will be exempt from this obligation. Platforms will have to provide businesses with more options to resolve a potential problem through mediators.
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Digital Strategy SFA Policy
European Regulations on platform-tobusiness (P2B Regulation) came into effect in Ireland on the 24th July 2020. The purpose of the P2B Regulations is to provide a set of rules which create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment for smaller businesses and traders on online platforms. P2B Regulations apply to the entire online economy P2B Regulation has beenplatform introduced under–the approximately platforms or EU’s digital strategy 7,000 whichonline aims to make the digitalmarketplaces transformation work for people and operating in the EU which businesses, towell achieve its small target of includewhile worldhelping giants as as very a climate-neutral start-ups. Europe by 2050. There are
THE EU DIGITAL STRATEGY
many new opportunities for small businesses in a digitalised society:
Why it matters
Platforms offer unparalleled efficiencies
millions of users, it also opens up the possibility of unilateral trading practices that are harmful and against which no effective redress is available for the businesses using these platforms. Both can directly harm businesses and undermine the innovation potential of platforms. According to a Eurobarometer survey, almost half (42%) of small and medium companies in the EU said they use online marketplaces to sell their products and services. An impact assessment carried out by the Commission showed that nearly 50% of European businesses operating on platforms experience problems. Some 38% of problems regarding contractual relations remain unsolved and 26% are solved but with difficulties. Around €1.27-2.35 billion are lost directly in sales as a result.
This will help resolve more issues out of court, saving businesses time and money.
Enforcement In Ireland, the CCPC is the body responsible for monitoring compliance with the P2B Regulation and has the right to act before the courts to stop any noncompliance by an online provider. Under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014, the CCPC can carry out an investigation into any suspected breach of the P2B Regulation. Should an online platform be found to have breached these provisions, the CCPC can issue Compliance Notices or begin criminal proceedings. In addition, the Regulation requires that the CCPC establishes and maintains a register of unlawful acts that have been subject of an order before the Circuit Court or the High Court. For more information regarding these obligations, please visit www.ccpc.ie.
nA ccess to high-quality industrial data in access to cross-border markets and are nB etter framework for doing business online crucial for millions ofpurpose successful firms. nC ompetition rules fit for While the gateway position of online n I nvesting in people and infrastructure platforms enables them to organise nS upporting SMEs to use Artificial Intelligence
millions of users, it also opens up the
As part of this strategy, the EUtrading is proposing a possibility of unilateral practices new Digital Services package, the legal that are harmfulAct and againstas which framework for digital services has been no effective redress is available for the unchanged sinceusing the adoption of the Both can businesses these platforms. e-Commerce Directive in 2000. The new Digital directly harm businesses and undermine Services Act package should modernise the the innovation potential of platforms. current legal framework for digital services by According to a Eurobarometer survey, means of two main pillars:
almost half (42%) of small and medium in the EU propose said theyclear use online n T hecompanies Commission would rules marketplaces to sell their products framing the responsibilities of digitaland services services.the Anrisks impact assessment to address faced by theircarried users and to protect their rights. The ahead legal obligations out by the Commission showed would a modern systembusinesses of thatensure nearly 50% of European cooperation supervision of platforms operating for on the platforms experience andproblems. guaranteeSome effective enforcement. 38% of problems regarding contractual relations remain unsolved and n T he Digital Services Act package would 26% are solved but with difficulties. Around propose ex ante rules covering large online €1.27-2.35 billion are lost directly in sales as platforms acting as gatekeepers, which now result. set athe rules of the game for their users and
their competitors. The initiative should ensure that those platforms behave fairly and can be challenged by new entrants and existing competitors, so that consumers have the widestFor choice the Singleregarding Market remains moreand information these competitive andplease openvisit to innovations. obligations, www.ccpc.ie.
The EU is currently consulting on the introduction of a Digital Services Act package. The SFA is working closely with our colleagues in Ibec on these proposals and will continue to update members and the small business community on the EU’s progress to strengthen digital services and foster competitiveness of the European online environment.
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Official Irish Labels For a
Uniquely Irish Recycling System For the
Conscious Irish Consumer Help your customers help the environment Apply for your free Irish Recycling Labels now
To find out more contact us on www.mywaste.ie
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MyWaste Partner Profile
MANAGING WASTE MADE EASY PRODUCERS AND MANUFACTURERS ARE BEING ENCOURAGED TO APPLY FOR THE NEW IRISH RECYCLING INFORMATION LABELS FROM MYWASTE.IE Ireland now has its own Government approved, unique, easily identifiable, recycling label system designed specifically for the Irish waste management system. This new labelling system is answering consumer demand for clear instructions on how to dispose of packaging properly within the distinctly Irish system.
“THE NEW IRISH LABELLING SYSTEM DOES THIS IN A CLEAR EASY TO UNDERSTAND WAY. THE PACKAGING LABELS, WHICH INCLUDE THREE DISTINGUISHABLE RECYCLING SYMBOLS, ARE USED TO GUIDE IRISH CITIZENS TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES WHEN DISPOSING OF THEIR WASTE.” mywaste.ie, Ireland’s official guide to managing waste, is encouraging producers and manufacturers to apply these free, Irish recycling information labels to all packaging thereby assisting the consumer in their shopping and waste management habits.
Declan Breen from my waste. ie explains that the majority of householders are keen to manage their waste, reduce packaging and recycle properly. “For example more and more householders are availing of a kerb side waste collection service as people become more and more aware of the environmental and financial benefits of managing waste properly.” Many consumers are also consciously shopping locally as small to medium sized companies base their business model on sustainability and the circular economy. However, despite people’s best efforts packaging often ends up in the wrong bin as the incorrect recycling guidance for the Irish waste management system is on the packaging. This leads to recyclable waste being contaminate every year, thereby negatively affecting Ireland’s recycling rate. So why is this happening and how do we help the majority of householders and consumers who want to manage their waste properly and support sustainability? Mr Breen said: “Much of the confusion comes from the recycling labels already on products which do not refer specifically to the Irish market. In Ireland, waste management operates differently than it does across Europe – most packaging materials accepted at the kerbside or at Civic Amenity Centres are exported for recycling or disposal. It is therefore important that consumers searching for information about how to dispose of their packaging are given the information applicable to Ireland. “The new Irish labelling system does this in a clear easy to understand way. The packaging labels, which include three distinguishable recycling symbols, are used to guide Irish citizens to make the right choices when disposing of their waste.”
The first symbol
Is applied to packaging which can be sorted, baled and shipped for recycling, once it is disposed of correctly. Labels with this symbol will further indicate if the item can be recycled through the household waste segregation system, at a bring bank or civic amenity.
The second symbol
Applies to items which might require more specific direction for consumers and this can be found very quickly online through the mywaste.ie checking system.
The third symbol Indicates that the packaging cannot currently be recycled through
Ireland’s waste management system. Irish small to medium size businesses are very conscious of the environment and their environmental footprint, with many opting for minimal and recyclable packaging, thereby allowing them to green their supply chain. This labelling system will greatly encourage their customers to dispose of any packaging correctly and raise awareness of the role small businesses play in supporting both the economy and the environment. To learn more about the new recycling label system and to apply for your free labels see www.mywaste.ie SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 47
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Seventy years later, the mission remains as relevant as ever.
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We sell or else.
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Ogilvy Partner Profile
WE SELL OR ELSE CREATED FOR THE SME MARKET, OGILVY ENTERPRISE DELIVERS BESPOKE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS COMPRISING CONSULTING, BRANDING, CHANNEL PLANNING AND COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT. Ogilvy is a communications agency, founded by David Ogilvy in 1948 in New York City. The former chef, door-to-door salesman, MI6 operative and market researcher had no advertising experience before he started his agency with a staff of two and no clients. The company was founded on the simple but reassuring idea that the function of advertising is to sell products. An idea encapsulated (as all good advertising ideas) in four words: We sell or else. Today, this mission continues to inspire the work of 132 offices in 83 countries around the world, including Dublin. The proposition is simple. If our work does not succeed in selling our clients’ products, then we have no business being in business. While the mission has not changed in the seven decades since Ogilvy was founded, almost every other aspect of the business has. In short, the ecosystem of selling has transformed in ways that were simply unimaginable in 1948. The two primary drivers of this transformation – how we talk to consumers and how we sell to consumers – began with the advent
Jane Gregory, Managing Director, Ogilvy Dublin
of digital technology before being rapidly accelerated by Covid-19. Barely a year ago, marketing practitioners were still grappling with the impact of emerging technology on the business. The age of social media had utterly transformed the role that brands play in the lives of consumers, forcing marketers to rethink and
“AMIDST ALL THIS DISRUPTION, WE CLING TO ONE SIMPLE MISSION – THAT WE WORK IN THE BUSINESS OF SELLING AND THAT’S NOT ABOUT CREATING GLOSSY AND EXPENSIVE CAMPAIGNS.”
reshape every aspect of their engagement strategies. There were more brands and subbrands, more geographies, more channels and more messages than ever before. Just when we got used to new ways of talking to consumers, the rules changed again. While the era of Covid-19 has forced us to reposition how we talk to our consumers, it has fundamentally accelerated the need to sell to them in different ways. It is hard to imagine that only one year ago, less than one third of Irish SMEs were e-commerce enabled. Amidst all this disruption, we cling to one simple mission – that we work in the business of selling and that’s not about creating glossy and expensive campaigns. It’s about demystifying the process of building brands to sell products for our clients. ■ It’s about starting with a clear view of the growth ambition and the consumers who will generate that growth. ■ It’s about understanding the role of our brand and how it needs to connect emotionally with our consumers. ■ It’s about building new paths to purchase and creating connected brand experiences on that journey. ■ And finally, it’s about finding new ways to talk to consumers through relevant and emotionally engaging content. Today, all businesses need to be enterprising in their approach, including advertising and marketing. That’s why Ogilvy Dublin has launched a new practice – Ogilvy Enterprise – specifically designed for the SME market to deliver bespoke business solutions comprising consulting, branding, channel planning and communications development. Seventy years later, the mission remains as relevant as ever. We sell or else. www.ogilvy.ie
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Partner Profile SBCI
SUPPORTING IRISH BUSINESSES THROUGH COVID-19 AND BREXIT SUPPORT SCHEMES FROM THE SBCI ARE HELPING SMES FUTUREPROOF THEIR BUSINESS AS WE HEAD INTO 2021. During 2020, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) has continued to evolve its business model and support Irish SMEs in protecting, adapting, innovating and growing their businesses. The support and assistance offered via the SBCI’s loan products and risk sharing schemes has helped Irish businesses to face the double challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit, in what has been a turbulent year overall. The SBCI continues to supply lowcost liquidity into the SME finance market through its many non-bank partners which includes Bibby Financial Services, Capitaflow, FEXCO, Finance Ireland and SME Finance & Leasing. Through these partners, SMEs can access funding that may otherwise not be available to them. The Bibby “Trade Finance Product” for example, created with SBCI funding, allows SMEs to buy and sell goods before they need to pay for them. This allows them to source new suppliers more easily, which is of significant benefit given the challenges Covid-19 and Brexit are presenting to businesses. In the area of risk-sharing where an 80% guarantee is provided to participating on-lenders (currently AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank), the SBCI has further enhanced its offerings. 2020 has seen the launch of both the Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme and the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, a further €500 million expansion of the Future Growth Loan Scheme and the extension of the Covid-19 Working Capital and Brexit Loan Schemes up to the end of 2021. The Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme and the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme are specifically
designed to support businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. The Future Growth Loan Scheme however, supports not only the
Nick Ashmore, CEO of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland
“FROM THE 1ST OF JANUARY 2021, WHAT HAS UNTIL NOW BEEN ONLY A SCENARIO, WILL BECOME A REALITY. FOR THIS REASON, THE BREXIT LOAN SCHEME HAS BEEN EXTENDED UP TO THE END OF 2021.”
development of strategic responses to the changing business conditions brought about by Covid-19 and by Brexit, but also allows businesses focus on their long-term investment requirements. Based on the feedback received from SMEs, the SBCI has also changed this long-term scheme making it even more attractive and accessible. It now provides funding from €25,000 up to €3 million over a seven to 10-year period at a very competitive interest rate to eligible businesses, including those in the primary agriculture (farming) and seafood sectors (fishing), with loans up to €500,000 being unsecured. Although Covid-19 has been the main talking point of the year, Brexit cannot be forgotten. From the 1st of January 2021, what has until now been only a scenario, will become a reality. For this reason, the Brexit Loan Scheme has been extended up to the end of 2021, to allow eligible SMEs to finance the changes they may need to make in order to adapt and react to Brexit. These may include the need to purchase additional stock or acquire new storage facilities, explore new markets, look for new suppliers, or diversify production. The scheme offers lending of up to €1.5 million over a three-year period, unsecured up to €500,000 at a fixed rate of 4% and has capacity to deal with an expected upturn in demand in the coming months. The challenges that 2020 have posed are unprecedented, but the resources put at the disposal of businesses to help them overcome this difficult time and get back on track again have been equally unprecedented. The first step towards 2021 starts here. For more information, visit www.sbci.gov.ie
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NSAI Partner Profile
WHY CERTIFICATION MATTERS ACHIEVING NSAI CERTIFICATION PUTS COMPANIES A STEP AHEAD OF THEIR COMPETITORS AND IN LIGHT OF BREXIT, THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BECOME CERTIFIED TO AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL. This year hundreds of Irish organisations worked with the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) to become certified to a host of international, European and Irish standards. They join more than 4,000 organisations before them who are already NSAI-certified across the country and further afield in Europe and and globally to EN, ISO and I.S. Standards. In an increasingly competitive and globalised marketplace, standards can play a vital role in the overall success of an enterprise. They offer the tools to be able to define complex concepts such as quality management in a way that is easy to grasp and implement. Standards can be used to fine-tune performance and manage business risks while operating in more efficient and sustainable ways. They have also proven potential to help build customer confidence in products and services and can help organisations to meet regulatory requirements, reduce costs and gain access to international markets. International management system certification has been awarded this year to companies and organisations right across the public, private and SME sectors and include quality management, occupational health and safety management, environmental management, safety management, energy management and more. This year has been especially challenging due to the Covid-19 crisis. NSAI Chief Executive Officer, Geraldine Larkin, said: “ The situation meant that we could no longer conduct audits on site and instead had to quickly change our work practices to offer virtual auditing. For example,
we’ve adapted our processes to conduct high resolution live video feeds. As a result, we can offer a more effective service.” Management system certification is becoming the expected norm for international trade as well as for inward investment. It is fast becoming a requirement when applying for tenders in other European countries and can be essential when trying to maintain your existing position in a supply chain. Being certified at an international level has arguably never been more important. The global trade order is changing, with protectionist policies being considered by some countries and inevitable changes which will be brought about by Brexit, including more checks and more administrative
procedures at the border between the UK and the EU. Irish organisations need certainty and as a member of the international certification body network IQNet, we believe that NSAI is the best way to gain it.
The range of management systems offered by NSAI include: • Quality Management (ISO 9001) • Environmental Management (ISO 14001) • Occupational Health and Safety Management (ISO 45001) • Information Security (ISO 27001) • Energy Management (ISO 50001)
If you are interested in certification and would like to receive a quotation from NSAI, visit us at nsai.ie SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 51
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When a child loses their home, they lose their entire world. There are almost 4,000 children homeless in Ireland. Donate now.
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Quadient Ireland Partner Profile
IMPROVE CASH FLOW BY DIGITISING ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE PROCESSES YAYPAY BY QUADIENT IRELAND ALLOWS FOR INCREASED CASHFLOW AND HAPPIER EMPLOYEES. Cash is the lifeblood of business – no one can afford long delays between products or services being delivered and payments being received. Reducing Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is a key goal for many businesses, but achieving it comes down to more than just the will of customers to settle debts. In this article exploring Accounts Receivable (AR), we take a look at how digitisation can improve cash flow. There are many elements to the invoicing process. Hold-ups and inefficiencies at any stage can cause delays, frustration and customer dissatisfaction. Luckily there’s a new solution on the market that allows you to increase cashflow and develop happier employees as a result of reduced manual data entry, while accelerating collections of invoices by up to 34%.
Manual invoices need to be compiled, addressed and issued. Next, customers need to receive statements and bills in the ways that suit them. Then, it must be simple and straightforward for them to take action – they need to be able to get in touch with the right person in the right way – and finally, make payment conveniently. Often information sits with a number of different people on both the supply and customer side. As well as that manual processing is time consuming and error prone. Improving operations From creation through distribution and follow-up to payment, if customers choose electronic billing, a centralised and digital AR process can improve cash flow by reducing DSO. A single AR management platform brings all information into one place, automates manual tasks and enables clear and
timely customer communications. Customers self-serve with convenient access to invoices 24/7, and the capability to make payment through a portal.
reduced manual labour and accelerated collections of invoices by up to 34%. The platform gives you the time to plan and information to act. Ultimately, you get paid faster.
YayPay by Quadient is a new Accounts Receivable automation software from communication specialists Quadient Ireland. The platform is a SaaSbased predictive and automated AR management solution that helps financial teams perform better, manage receivables more efficiently and get payments from clients quicker. By integrating with your existing ERP, CRM, accounting and billing systems, YayPay combines real-time accounts receivables, analytics and payment predictions to help businesses increase cash flow. With the automation of manual effort, Yaypay offers you a 3x improvement in team efficiency and productivity. Benefits include increased cash flow from faster payments, happier employees from
YayPay gives you strategic insight, providing real-time reporting with powerful dashboards that put all of your AR data and communications in one place, so your team can make smart decisions and Intelligently allocate resources to the right customers. Users can avail of alerts, analytics, payment predictions and automated Communication Workflows and an Integrated Payment Portal to allow your clients to instantly pay online. Take a look at YayPay by Quadient Ireland, an automated AR management platform. Call Quadient today on 01 625 0900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on www.quadient.ie SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 53
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DeCare SFA partnership Ad Print.qxp_Layout 1 20/10/2020 12:25 Page 1
Specialists in Dental and Vision Benefits
Our Mission Empower people to improve their oral, optical & general health over a lifetime DeCare is Ireland's only specialist dental, vision and wellness benefit provider.
FIND OUT MORE: corporate.decare.ie
DeCare Dental Insurance Ireland DAC trading as DeCare, DeCare Dental & DeCare Vision is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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DeCare Dental Insurance Ireland Ltd Partner Profile
STRIVING FOR HAPPY, HEALTHIER LIVES COMPANIES MUST CONTINUE TO RECOGNISE THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH IN 2021. With 2020’s global pandemic, workplace wellness saw many challenges. Companies and organisations had to move and adapt quickly to form a remote support network and wellness adapted to an online format to support staff’s overall mental health and wellbeing. Mental health and the stigma around mental health was put centre stage during this global pandemic; in relation to talking about our mental health, Covid-19 called out ‘the elephant in the room’. Throughout 2020, our society’s mental health was compromised in an alarming way. Organisational change around stigma and self-stigma was made as companies engaged employees on the topic of mental health. Many organisations were able to signpost a pathway of referral workforce. The wealth of your business in the form of EAP programs, mental depends on the health of your workers. health first aiders and training line It’s often easy to broadly speak about managers to have the conversation of what employers should do by simply “Are you ok?” Mental health difficulties saying “they need to make things better affected 1 in 1 in 2020 as everyone was for employees” and leave it at that. compromised by this global pandemic. However, that does not actually provide Resilience in teams and managers was practical advice for employers who want demonstrated throughout the to make a difference. Reducing year as businesses had stigma, staff engagement to adapt, change and and mental health innovate quickly. training are key Looking elements that towards 2021, small business it is important can offer. One that mental of the most health does important not fall by the things when wayside in it comes to comparison to promoting physical health. good mental They should be health is the need treated with the same to develop strong duty of care. A healthy, interpersonal skills and happy workforce is a the ability to bring these David Casey, Wellness Health Promotion Manager, Decare productive and engaged skills to your employees.
Wellness predictions for 2021 include the national Covid-19 vaccine program and mental health being top priority. Remote wellness is here to stay but a blended work environment of remote and office will be the way forward as wellness continues to play a huge role in our recovery. The “human connection” will be stronger than before and a more integrated environment of human and digital will be phased out throughout 2021 as we navigate the new normal. Employee engagement in 2020 faced its challenges with a sea of digital remote messages and 2021 predictions see the human “in person” contact returning stronger than before. DeCare offer benefits, training and wellness programmes that help create “Happier Healthier Lives”. These programmes help sustain a healthy work culture that educates, motivates and empowers employees to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviours. Find out more at wellness.decare.ie and www.decaredental.ie SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 55
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Arts and Culture Stuart Clark
DENISE MAGUIRE CAUGHT UP WITH STUART CLARK FROM HOT PRESS TO TALK ABOUT IRELAND’S VIBRANT MUSIC SCENE AND THE MUSICIANS THAT HAVE INSPIRED HIM.
It’s always inspiring to talk to someone who’s passionate about what they do
and there’s no-one more passionate than Stuart Clark, Deputy Editor of Hot Press.
Over the course of his career, he’s interviewed all the greats including his heroes (David Bowie, Joe Strummer and Lemmy) and has helped expose lesser known Irish artists to a wider national audience through his work on the magazine and through other media platforms. From pirate radio ships off the coast of Israel to Radio Limerick 95FM, Stuart’s colourful career matches that of any famous singer he’s interviewed over the years. A self-confessed Surrey boy who moved to posh Kent and then onto London, Stuart’s pirate radio career began in fields and tower blocks before moving to boats. He spent some time on The Voice of Peace, an offshore pirate radio station that began broadcasting in 1973 off the coast of Tel Aviv. His dream, he says, was to make it onto Radio Caroline, the first pirate radio station outside UK territorial waters. “They said to me, we like what you do but we’re not sure what you’d be like on a boat in the North Sea in force 10 or 11 gales. So I did six months on The Voice of Peace and was then able to set sail on Caroline,” he says. He did one tour of duty aboard the ship which lasted two and a half months. It was, he says, an amazing and over-aweing experience. “There was nothing to do apart from radio seven days a week. Ronan O’Rahilly who founded Radio Caroline passed away earlier this year. In my mind, he’s the greatest unsung hero of British and Irish radio.” After Caroline, Stuart spent some time on a radio station in Italy. It was also around this time when his writing career began. “Bit by bit I started having pieces featured in different publications including Hot Press. I lived in Limerick for a while before moving to Dublin Landmark issues of Hot Press
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Arts and Culture
“THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO APART FROM RADIO SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. RONAN O’RAHILLY WHO FOUNDED RADIO CAROLINE PASSED AWAY EARLIER THIS YEAR. IN MY MIND, HE’S THE GREATEST UNSUNG HERO OF BRITISH AND IRISH RADIO.”
Stuart Clark, Deputy Editor, Hot Press
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Arts and Culture Stuart Clark
Billie Eilish and Stuart Clark
and joining Hot Press about 16 years ago.” Media platforms have, he says, become more specialised and niche but Hot Press has managed to maintain its broad remit. “One minute you could be talking about Fontaines DC, the next you could be sitting down with the President or campaigning for sensible drug policy. I like that variety as a journalist and it’s a privilege to have it.” The idea that people consume their news in soundbites isn’t one that Stuart subscribes to. “I think we sometimes underestimate the intelligence of people. There’s nothing wrong with including a smart, thoughtprovoking 4000 word interview or article. The most recent issue features a powerful story written by Denise Chaila who has some important things to say about Black Lives Matter and the US. it’s absolutely worth those 5000 words.” Hot Press had always been published every two weeks but it recently moved to a monthly format. Sales are up, says Stuart, and mail order has made a surprise return. From a business point of view, issues with flip covers have performed very well, with newsagents double racking with both covers. A series of landmark issues featuring the likes of Rory Gallagher, U2 and Van Morrision have sold particularly well. “We also have a YouTube channel so to celebrate Van Morrison’s 75th birthday, we asked 75 artists to cover Van songs. Artists used to be a bit wary of doing things off the cuff but with Covid,
the rules have changed a bit and they’re being more spontaneous. One of the best performances was Andrea Corr covering ‘Moondance’ on a banjo from her bedroom.” Dublin rapper Malaki’s cover of ‘Someone Like You’ went viral upon release. “Van loved it so much that he actually gave him a songwriting credit so every time that particular version is played, he’ll get good chunk of the royalty. That was important; Malaki is a young independent musician with no income at the moment because there are no gigs so to be recognised in that way was great.” The saying goes that through adversity comes great creativity. Lockdown has, says Stuart, produced a huge amount of music, predominantly from solo artists. Denise Chaila, for example, has come to the fore over the past few months thanks to appearances on RTE’s Songs from an Empty Room and The Late Late Show. “You also have someone like CMAT who’s been doing stuff from her bedroom. She would much rather be out there doing gigs but here was someone who wondered, how do I take a negative and turn it into a positive. Even The Rolling Stones have been doing stuff on Zoom and wouldn’t be a band known for their spontaneity. Bono stayed up all night writing a song and just belted it out on the piano. You’d never normally see Bono that vulnerable and raw. From the new artists right through to the old established names, people have been thinking outside the box.” Stuart’s musical awakening came with seeing David Bowie perform ‘Starman’ on Top of the Pops. A love of The Clash and the Sex Pistols followed. Is there a decade that he prefers more than others? “The day I say it was better in - insert previous decade - take me out and shoot me. As a man of senior years, it’s always a relief when I hear something new and go, I really love that. Your musical awakening is always going
to be indelibly stamped on you. I was the right age in the 70’s to fall in love with David Bowie. Life for me had been black and white and then with Bowie singing Starman on TV, suddenly it was in full technicolour.” The rise of digital and online platforms like Spotify have cause a seismic shift within the music industry. The jury is out on Spotify says Stuart, who believes it just doesn’t work for smaller artists. What has been interesting in recent years is the emergence of platforms like Bandcamp, where artists can create their own digital store to promote and sell their music and merchandise. “You have artists like Luka Bloom who just refuse to go down the digital route. He did it recently the oldfashioned way; he set up a record label in his living room and mail ordered out physical copies of his new album. He’ll get to keep a tenner an album or something rather than getting a miniscule amount.” The industry needs to take a long hard look at Spotify and how it renumerates artists. “The maths don’t work in terms of what the artists gets back. It’s interesting to see artists doing concerts at the moment, making some money and supporting their crew at the same time. There are bits and pieces happening but they’re no substitute for crowds at gigs.” The one thing Stuart likes about getting older is that he doesn’t care what’s hip anymore. “If you had been in my house last week, I went from Fontaines to Motorhead to Shirley Bassey. It has been such a great joy to see a band like Fontaines DC breaking through into the UK and US charts.” It’s a tough industry to break into, says Stuart, with many bands not quitting the day job for quite a long time. “Five or six years ago you’d rarely do an interview with someone who’d say, I’ll have to bow out of work to talk to you. Now, you hear that all the time and it’s quite surprising.” Lockdown has shown how central music is to people’s lives, says Stuart. He hopes that means the public will place more monetary value on music, whether that means buying a ticket to a gig (when we’re allowed go to gigs again), or a wavy hand or a t-shirt. “People rely on and draw strength from music. Lockdown has proved that and I hope that when the music industry is allowed get going again, the general public will show their appreciation. Music changed my life and I know that’s the case for lots of people.”
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Food and Drinks Industry Lifestyle
BUSHMILLS EXPERT AWARDED FOR ‘OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION’ Helen Mulholland, Master Blender for Bushmills Irish Whiskey, has been recognised by Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey Association at its Chairman
Winedown on Dublin’s Montague Street
Awards for her outstanding contribution to the development of the Irish whiskey industry. She’s also the first woman to receive the Chairman’s Award which recognises the people, distilleries and
Maeve O’Malley, the woman behind Dublin
industry partners that have made an outstanding
cheesy café, Meltdown, has opened a new
contribution to the development of the Irish
wine bar on Montague Street in Dublin
whiskey industry and category. In 2018, Derry native
city centre. The new venue offers food
Helen also became the first woman to be inducted
and wine with relaxed service in a space
into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame.
Helen Mulholland, Master Blender, Bushmills Irish Whiskey
filled with contemporary Irish art. Several women have been involved in the opening of Winedown; Chef Maeve Walsh curated the menu, Nadine Savage carried out the interior design, DJ Tara Stewart created the playlist and Meltdown stalwart Sarah Maloney designed the branding. Nichola Hughes created the wine list, Fattiburke painted an original mural that greets you as you enter the space and Kate Dillon is keeping fans up to date on social media. www.meltdown.ie/winedown
THE DEAN CORK OPENS ITS DOORS The rebel county’s newest hotel, The Dean Cork, is now open for business. The new seven storey building has been designed by Irish firm Wilson Architecture and forms part of the new Horgan’s Quay development, located close to Kent Station overlooking the River Lee. Sophie’s restaurant, located on the hotel’s 6th floor,
about BETTER BUSINESS PROVIDES THE INSIDE TRACK ON WHAT’S HAPPENING IN IRELAND’S FOOD AND DRINK SECTORS.
boasts panoramic views of Cork, from the River Lee to the city skyline. For bookings, email email@example.com or phone (01) 533 7777.
SEAFOOD SUPPERS @HOME
iall Sabongi of Sustainable Seafood Ireland & Klaw Restaurants and two
THE NUMBER OF DISTILLERIES IN IRELAND IN 2019, COMPARED TO JUST FOUR IN 2010
Michelin star winning chef, Mickael Viljanen, have devised a weekly
menu of delicious dishes that they love, delivered to your door, nationwide. All the ingredients are prepped and ready to use. Follow the simple instructions to cook and assemble and dinner is on the table in no time. Order your Seafood Supper @Home here: www.sustainableseafood.ie/seafoodsuppers-at-home/
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TECHNOLOGY TO MANAGE DRIVER RISK IS HELPING BUSINESSES SAVE MONEY AND BECOME COMPLIANT. DENISE MAGUIRE CHATS TO RON MCNAMARA, CEO AT DRIVERFOCUS, TO FIND OUT HOW FIRMS CAN REDUCE THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH DRIVING FOR WORK
DriverFocus was set up in 2007 by Ron McNamara with the aim of providing businesses with digital tools to manage driver risk. Called ALLY, the platform is based around the concept that IoT and cloud technology can positively improve the lives of staff who drive for work, while reducing significant costs and improving compliance. The idea for the business came to Ron while he was working at BT Ireland. With about 100,000 employees driving for work in the UK, managing driver risk was something they took seriously. “BT Ireland used cloud-based tools to scientifically identify who was most at risk and why and then intervened with the appropriate supports. Essentially, they were using data to reduce risk.” After analysing the Irish market, Ron found that the businesses who were proactive about managing risk took action by providing driver training to staff, a measure that didn’t make sense to Ron. “It’s logistically challenging and from a cost point of view, it’s illogical. Research has shown that driver training makes sense intuitively to people so it follows that driver training or retraining doesn’t work and at the recent Driving for Work conference, Professor Desmond O’Neill was speaking to that very point.”
Ron McNamara, CEO, DriverFocus
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So how can companies and small firms in particular reduce the costs associated with driving for work? “I strongly feel that there’s an often overlooked opportunity around business costs when it comes to driving. Within that, there are some costs you can’t do much about but there are other costs that can easily amount to several hundred euro per vehicle per year, that businesses are leaving on the table.” Driver behaviour is one of those costs that’s addressed by ALLY, a small plug that fits into the 12v charger in a car. For example, an individual might be under pressure to make or take calls or could be time constrained. These behaviours can be hard to pin down but contribute to the overall costs to the company. “DriverFocus allows businesses to put some metrics on how much they’re paying for fuel and to identify if an employee is driving in an aggressive or anxious manner. Evidence shows that drivers who are calm use less fuel and are much less likely to be involved in a crash.” With the system, managers receive an early warning alert if people are driving unsafely or erratically. “That allows for a conversation with the employee which is hugely powerful. Nobody wants to be called in by the boss for a stern talk.” Driver behaviour is improved by incentive programmes, setting goals and giving continuous feedback, says Ron. It’s also affected by social influence – by managers and even peers. “We’ve put all that into a technology solution that delivers real and sustainable business benefits.” Research has shown that mileage claimed by staff can be only 80-85% accurate. “If you’re audited by Revenue, BIK is one of the first things that they ask about. I have come across businesses with 40 company cars who have had to pay in excess of €100,000 because their records weren’t good enough.” The ability to track and analyse activities or behaviours that businesses may never have considered previously is at the heart of DriverFocus. Companies using the technology have often been prompted by a bad crash and the subsequent business disruption an accident can cause. “Some businesses might also be finding it difficult to get insurance. We have a number of clients who have been using our online and IoT tools to measure driver behaviour and reward drivers who are doing the right thing. if you want to manage driver risk and be compliant, the technology is out there to achieve it.” For an outlay of less than €100 per annum, clients can expect to see lower costs associated with admin, insurance, fuel and crashes while showing better compliance with Revenue tax rules or duty-of-care. Investing in a road safety programme can also reduce a company’s at-fault crash rate by 50% or more. DriverFocus has gained traction in the US where insurance companies have gotten on board. Ron would like to see the same buy-in from insurance firms here in Ireland. “Change comes slowly in business but I think what would accelerate that change is if insurance companies said we want business that will result in less claims. Over the next few months, we will be able to evidence what’s happening in the US and then ask, why aren’t insurance companies doing something similar here?” Insurance companies may not be directly giving discounts to companies that use technology to manage driver risk says Ron, but that discount will accrue over time as what you pay for insurance depends on the number of claims you have. Ron and the team at DriverFocus are gearing up for a busy 2021. A revamp of its website will allow small firms in particular to see what’s on offer and buy online. “We provide a 30 day free trial of our system and we also make it easier by offering a 12 month contract. For small firms dealing with the challenges of Covid, using a cost-saving technology to manage driver risk really is a no-brainer.”
CASE STUDY: TURNING THE CORNER ON CRASHES 2015 wasn’t a good year on the road for the sales team at Sales Cosmetics Limited (SCL). A series of collisions involving SCL’s company cars resulted in significant uninsured cost to the business along with a subsequent increase in fleet insurance. SCL’s insurance broker recommended a mobile telematics app from DriverFocus to monitor driving behaviour and reduce risk exposure. The first week of 2016 saw SCL commence a three-month trial of ALLY across its team of 10 salespeople. Users reported finding the app easy to setup and that it helped increase their awareness of how they were driving. Similarly, SCL’s office manager could now access a dashboard showing each driver’s colour-coded, safe driving score, how this changed over time and key events such as harsh braking, accelerations and speeding. ALLY reports were also used to give relevant and supportive feedback to the sales team in person, at monthly meetings and via email.
2016 saw zero at-fault collisions and this has continued to date. Part of this is recognising that driving risk has not gone away, so SCL management continues to discuss driving for work topics, behaviour and good practices at every opportunity. A review of the effect of ALLY on business operations over the period of almost five years found costsavings resulting from reductions in fuel-use, servicing, maintenance items such as tyres, insurance payments along with other crashrelated expenses (such as staff downtime). The bottom-line in financial terms shows a sizable return on investment in ALLY of 920%.
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The Big Read A Promised Land
This is an extract from A Promised Land, by Barack Obama, published by Viking.
AMERICA’S FORMER COMMANDER-INCHIEF SHARES A BEHIND-THESCENES LOOK AT HIS CHILDHOOD AND FIRST TERM IN THE WHITE HOUSE.
Of all the rooms and halls and landmarks that make up the White House and its grounds, it was the West Colonnade that I loved best.
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For eight years that walkway would frame my day, a minutelong, open-air commute from home to office and back again. It was where each morning I felt the first slap of winter wind or pulse of summer heat; the place where I’d gather my thoughts, ticking through the meetings that lay ahead, preparing arguments for skeptical members of Congress or anxious constituents, girding myself for this decision or that slow-rolling crisis. In the earliest days of the White House, the executive offices and the First Family’s residence fit under one roof, and the West Colonnade was little more than a path to the horse stables. But when Teddy Roosevelt came into office, he determined that a single building couldn’t accommodate a modern staff, six boisterous children and his sanity. He
A Promised Land The Big Read
ordered construction of what would become the West Wing and Oval Office and over decades and successive presidencies, the colonnade’s current configuration emerged: a bracket to the Rose Garden north and west—the thick wall on the north side, mute and unadorned save for high half-moon windows; the stately white columns on the west side, like an honor guard assuring safe passage. As a general rule, I’m a slow walker— a Hawaiian walk, Michelle likes to say, sometimes with a hint of impatience. I walked differently, though, on the colonnade, conscious of the history that had been made there and those who had preceded me. My stride got longer, my steps a bit brisker, my footfall on stone echoed by the Secret Service detail trailing me a few yards back. When I reached the ramp at the end of the colonnade (a legacy of FDR and his wheelchair— I picture him smiling, chin out, cigarette holder clenched tight in his teeth as he strains to roll up the incline), I’d wave at the uniformed guard just inside the glass-paned door. Sometimes the guard would be holding back a surprised flock of visitors. If I had time, I would shake their hands and ask where they were from. Usually, though, I just turned left, following the outer wall of the Cabinet Room and slipping into the side door by the Oval Office, where I greeted my personal staff, grabbed my schedule and a cup of hot tea and started the business of the day. Several times a week, I would step out onto the colonnade to find the groundskeepers, all employees of the National Park Service, working in the Rose Garden. They were older men, mostly, dressed in green khaki uniforms, sometimes matched with a floppy hat to block the sun, or a bulky coat against the cold. If I wasn’t running late, I might stop to compliment them on the fresh plantings or ask about the damage done by the previous night’s storm and they’d explain their work with quiet pride. They were men of few words; even with one another they made their points with a gesture or a nod, each of them focused on his individual task but all of them moving with synchronized grace. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 63
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r owe Reginald’s T
WATERFORD Ireland’s oldest city MAKE A BREAK FOR THE SUNNY SOUTH-EAST AND DISCOVER THE MEDIEVAL CITY OF WATERFORD.
For most, Covid-19 means a clamp-down on international travel so trips around Ireland have become the norm. For something a bit different, Ireland’s oldest city is a great option for those who are after amazing history, unique culture and spectacular scenery. Waterford, located in Ireland’s “sunny south-east”, offers visitors a wealth of attractions, ranging from the ancient to the ultra-modern. Popular day trips include the Viking Museum, Bishop’s Palace and Waterford Crystal. That’s not to mention the county’s beautiful beaches, the world class Corrie lakes in the Comeragh mountains and the Towers loop walk in Ballysaggartmore. A more recent addition to the tourist trail is the Waterford Greenway, a stunning off-road track which takes travellers along the old rail route from Waterford to the coastal town of Dungarvan. Unusually enough, Waterford is also known for being the starting point of Ryanair’s first flight, a 14-seat Embraer Bandeirante turboprop aircraft flying between Waterford and Gatwick Airport.
Working in...Waterford A new workplace initiative in West Waterford has made working in the county that bit easier. The West Waterford Smart Workplace Locations scheme will see new office developments in Lismore, Cappoquin, Villierstown and Tallow. The €3 million plan is backed by the Irish Local Development Network, through the Waterford Leader Partnership, along with Waterford City and County Council and the philanthropic Tomar Trust, forming the Blackwater Valley Economic Development Zone. One of the aims of the project is to stop the “drain” of talent away from the local areas towards the bigger towns and cities within and outside the region, as well as attracting new businesses into the region. The hope is that these smart working developments and offices within the four villages can create highly-connected zones where people can work in an attractive environment for both employer and employee, closer to home. According to the Irish Local Development Network, the clustering of the four facilities provides client companies with up to 6,000 potential employees, rather than a few hundred, while all four locations are community-owned.
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WHERE TO EAT:
CULTURE VIKING MUSEUM Parts of the city’s ancient walls still remain and within is Reginald’s Tower, a 10th-century Viking-era landmark and Ireland’s oldest civic building. It has been in continuous use for over 800 years. Re-built by the Anglo Normans in the 12th century, it now houses a special exhibition on the Vikings in Waterford.
MOMO RESTAURANT WATERFORD An ideal venue for either lunch or dinner in Waterford city. For lunch, they offer a wide range of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, as well as gluten free and dairy free options. All products are locally sourced where possible and customers can choose to dine in or take their lunch away. W: www.momorestaurant.ie
THE GRANARY CAFÉ, WATERFORD CITY Housed in a quay-side granary, the Granary Café has been wowing customers with its mix of salads, mains and desserts since 2006. The café’s outdoor seating is also perfect for sipping a tasty brew on those sunny days. W: www.granarycafe.ie
CULTURE MEDIEVAL MUSEUM The only building in Ireland to incorporate two medieval chambers - the 13th-century Choristers’ Hall and the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault this museum houses a diverse array of artifacts, from pottery and wine-jugs to armory and jewelry. One of the more remarkable finds in the Museum is a hat belonging to King Henry VIII which was a gift to the Mayor of Waterford, William Wyse, in 1536.
THE TANNERY, DUNGARVAN Owned and run by Paul and Marie Flynn since 1997, this award-winning dining experience is all about great food and an engaging atmosphere. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, the gorgeous scenery of Dungarvan harbour will only add to the charm. Medieval Museum
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CLIFF HOUSE HOTEL Located atop a cliff in Ardmore, Co Waterford, the Cliff House Hotel is a luxurious five-star hotel with sea-facing rooms and private balconies. Its awardwinning restaurant, House, attracts foodies from all over the world. W: www.cliffhousehotel.ie T: 024 87800 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
CULTURE WATERFORD CRYSTAL Today, Waterford is known for Waterford Crystal, a legacy of the city’s former glassmaking industry. Visitors to the Waterford Crystal visitor centre in the Viking Quarter can enjoy a guided tour to see the factory’s skilled artisans at work. Here you can watch as crystal powder is transformed into liquid at 1,400 degrees Celsius and admire finished works ranging from golf trophies created for celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, as well as sculptured artwork including Viking helmets, harps, eagles, gramophones, pianos and violins.
WATERFORD CASTLE HOTEL & GOLF RESORT Located on a private island, Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort is just 10 minutes from Waterford city. This 16th century hotel is the perfect place to escape for a luxury weekend. W: www.waterfordcastleresort.com T: 051 878 203 E: email@example.com
CULTURE THE BISHOP’S PALACE
The Bishop’s Palace
An elegant neoclassical palace built in 1743, this is a multifloor repository of paintings, crystal, porcelain and furniture spanning the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Among the collection’s diverse highlights viewed after climbing a gleaming wooden staircase are gilded wood-framed mirrors featuring dragons from an era when Chinese-related furnishings were in fashion and a pair of “hucklebuck” dancing shoes, reflecting the successful Irish showband craze of the 1960s that featured top Waterford groups.
FAITHLEGG HOUSE HOTEL Just six miles from Waterford city, Faithlegg House Hotel & Golf Resort is a haven of relaxation. From its luxury accommodations to the beautiful views of the Suir river, it’s a great location for a stay in Waterford. W: www.faithlegg.com T: 051 382000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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a baby in Find out what your business can do by partnering with Trócaire: Sinéad Christian, Company Giving Officer T: 01 654 9149 E: email@example.com
www.trocaire.org Photo: John Byrne,Owner Maynooth Bookshop, Trócaire Supporter. Charity Reg. No. CHY 5883
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Profile A Day in the Life
THE MATTRESS MAN THE MAN BEHIND IRELAND’S MOST FAMOUS MATTRESS EMPORIUM TALKS US THROUGH A TYPICAL DAY. 6.45AM I live in Clontarf so in normal times, I’d go to Insomnia on Vernon Avenue, have some breakfast and read the Irish Independent. ‘Mattress Mick’ was born 10 years ago and came about after the recession. It’s a character that has struck a chord with the public. People know me; they ask for selfies on the street. 8AM We have a branch in Pearse Street and another in Coolock, where I’m based. I’m in work by 8am. We have deliveries every day and our online sales are also growing. A lot of people don’t believe I actually exist so it’s a big plus when they see me there. I’ve found marketing to be an extremely effective tool. At one stage I had a taxi business and rather than sell the cars, I branded them yellow and red and parked them all over Dublin. When IKEA opened, we put up a sign saying ‘It’s a great IDEA’, using the IKEA font. It only lasted about 24 hours before we got a cease and desist letter. 1PM I’m not a great lunch eater, I’d have a sandwich and soup from Centra or sometimes a McDonald’s. Then it’s back to work. It’s important that we promote Irishmade mattresses. I’m conscious that the people who supported me when I was in trouble were Irish. I consider beds to be essential products so we do a lot of work with the HSE and homeless people. I was involved with the occupation of Apollo House back in 2016. It was a real eye-opener. 5PM In winter, we close at 5pm and in the summer, it’s 6pm. After work, I’ll call Michael Flynn into my store on Pearse Street and aka Mattress Mick in the good times, I’d go for a pint in Davy Byrnes or The Bailey. I’m not a big sports person but I love conversation and I’m missing that. Rather than open new branches, I give other retailers a licence to trade as Mattress Mick. I hope to have 15 of these shops around the country. My advice to young people is to never be afraid to try something and don’t be put off going forward. You may fail but you’re not a failure. WWW.MATTRESSMICK.IE
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2020 is over. Letâ€™s look to the future. Smart, safe, sustainable travel for your company. free-now.com/ie/business
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The official publication of the SFA (Small Firms Association)