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Irish logistics firm making marks in Europe InBusiness Q1 2013





Irish and British trade relations

Credit Reviewer John Trethowan on how his office is helping SMEs access credit

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03 08

Business News Movers & Shakers


Job Creation


Austere Measures As Ireland enters the fifth year of its austerity cycle, Marie Hunt of CBRE Ireland documents the austerity measures taken by Government to date.




A Partnership in the Clouds


Microsoft Ireland and Chambers Ireland have joined forces to help SMEs to ‘Work Smart’.

29 30

Trade Ties Bind



The trade relationship between Britain and Ireland is more important than ever before, as Colm Gorey reports.


Lending a Helping Hand Credit Reviewer John Trethowan speaks to Joseph O’Connor about how his office is helping SMEs access credit.



Motoring InBusiness Motoring Editor Tony Toner found the new Skoda Octavia both sublime and ridiculous.


Book Review Conor Forrest reviews the explosive and revealing biography of Michael Fingleton, the man behind Irish Nationwide Building Society – Ireland’s worst bank.


Travel Joseph O’Connor visited Belgrade and discovered there is a lot more to the Serbian capital than remnants of a recent war.

Chamber Update News and opinion from Chambers Ireland, Ireland’s largest business network.


The Last Word Conor Forrest talks to Bord Bia Chief Executive Aidan Cotter about the importance of sustainability in Irish industry.

Freight Footprint Family-run logistics firm, Reynolds Logistics, has been making its mark in Europe, as Joseph O’Connor writes.



InBusiness Editors' Choice Awards The Irish Law Awards The Digital Media Awards


Gadgets InBusiness takes a look at some of the most useful and eyecatching gadgets on the market.



Working from Home Brendan Hanratty examines the benefits of working from home and the health and safety measures which should be in place to make it work for both parties.


editor (ashville media Group): Joseph O’Connor editorial assistant (chambers Ireland): Amy Woods commercial editor (ashville media Group): Conor Forrest editorial contributors: Conor Forrest, Colm Gorey, Brendan Hanratty, Marie Hunt, Jessie Lea, Tony Toner. Design and Layout: Edel Quinn advert Design: Alan McArthur Photography: Production manager: Len Wilson Sales Director: Paul Clemenson managing Director: Diarmaid Lennon Printed by: W & G Baird Published by: Ashville Media Group, Old Stone Building, Blackhall Green, Dublin 7 Tel: +353 1 432 2200, Fax: +353 1 676 7100, Email:, Web: On behalf of: chambers Ireland, 3rd floor, Newmount house, 22 - 24 lower mount street, dublin 2 tel: +353 1 400 4300, fax: +353 1 661 2811, email:, web: all articles © ashville media Group 2012. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher. opinion and comments expressed herein are not necessarily those of ashville media or chambers Ireland. IssN 20093934_00_02

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business news A round up of all the news from the world of Irish business.

SagE IrELand launches facebook app for small businesses

S Audi Brand Ambassadors Rob Kearney and Kathryn Thomas.

audi launches premium rEwardS PrOgraMME


udi Ireland has announced the launch of its new premium online customer rewards programme, Exclusive to Audi drivers across the country, this programme offers bespoke rewards and tailored treats to its members. Audi brand ambassadors and Audi drivers, Rob Kearney and Kathryn Thomas launched the exciting new online service. will allow customers check, store and update their Audi’s service history and provide a useful online reminder facility that will let customers know when their Audi is due for its annual service and allow members to set prompts for when their NCT, insurance and motor tax are due for renewal. Throughout the year, members will have the chance to enter exclusive competitions to win tickets to shows in the O2 and the Bord Gáis Energy

Theatre, passes to Imaginosity Children’s Museum, as well as the chance to win an Audi Sports Car driving experience. Audi Ireland has also partnered with top retailers such as Louis Copeland, Dell and Marks & Spencer to offer members discounts and promotions across fashion, travel, leisure and entertainment sectors. Orna Conway, General Manager of Product and Marketing at Audi Ireland commented: “ will enable us to directly communicate with our 72,000 Audi drivers across the country and establish even stronger links between the Audi brand and our customers.” “This new rewards programme will also provide us with invaluable insights into the lifestyle interests of our customers which in turn will help us bring our brand proposition of ‘surprise and delight’ to life through tailored rewards.”

age Ireland has launched its new Facebook app, which allows start-ups and small businesses to sign up for its online accounts and payroll service, Sage One, through the social network. Designed for business owners that have no previous accounting experience, Sage One is safe, affordable and easy to use. Sage One is also offering a free onemonth trial so users can experience the benefits of working in the cloud before paying for the software. In addition, any users that sign up through Facebook will be entered into a competition to win Sage One free for a year. Commenting on the launch of the app, Avril McArdle, Digital and Marketing Manager with Sage Ireland, said, “The new app allows Sage Ireland to reach start-ups that are managing their own business pages on Facebook. Sage has a long-standing record of engaging with business owners through innovative and resultsdriven social media. One of our first Facebook apps, ‘What’s In the Sage Cloud this Christmas’, which launched in December 2011, increased the Sage Ireland Facebook fan page by over 2,500 fans over a three-week period. An analysis of the app’s sign-ups found that 43 per cent were business owners while the remaining were influencers or decision makers that worked in a business. InBusiness | Q1 2013 3

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business news

Lero expands international research programme with UTRC Ireland


ero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, has been awarded an international contract with United Technologies Research Centre Ireland (UTRC Ireland), based in Cork. Lero will apply its expertise in adaptive security and privacy software systems to United Technologies Research Centre’s global leadership in the design

of intelligent buildings. This is the second research and development contract Lero has won with UTRC Ireland. Cork is one of two international R&D centres operated by UTRC, which is headquartered in East Hartford, Connecticut in the U.S., with an office in Berkeley, California, and another R&D centre in Shanghai, China.

Menouer Boubekeur of United Technologies Research Centre Ireland and Professor Bashar Nuseibeh of Lero.

Let’s Operate launches new IT calculator

for SMEs


et’s Operate, the Irish owned hosted desktop provider, has launched a new Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator which allows SMEs to compare the actual cost of their current traditional IT with that of implementing cloud computing. The TCO tool may be accessed on the Let’s Operate website ( or through its channel partners. “It may be hearsay to say it, but cloud vendors could be over selling cloud computing and hosted desktop on the basis of operational cost savings alone,” commented David Owens, Managing Director, Let’s Operate. “The cost analysis must go deeper than this which is what our TCO calculator is designed to do. It

UTRC delivers advanced technologies and research to the businesses of United Technologies (UTC) which provides a broad range of high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building systems industries. The research programme will explore new ways to implement building access with systems that can adapt to changing circumstances or personnel. The activities at Lero will be headed by Professor Bashar Nuseibeh, who was recently awarded a €2.5m European Research Council grant for work on adaptive security and privacy with particular focus on mobile and cloud applications. “This second agreement with Lero follows on from the success of our initial programme last year. Having that software research expertise on our doorstep enhances our research capabilities out of Cork,” commented John Milton-Benoit, General Manager of UTRC Ireland. “Security is a key element of smart buildings and our goal is to develop systems that can adapt based on the personnel and assets involved.”

analyses capital expenditure, operational Calculator’ is available free through its expenditure and opportunity cost for partners or can be accessed at www. individual firms.” It was developed by a team He added, “It is true that with hosted led by Owens who is a former lecturer in desktop you don’t have to replace ageing Quantitative Methods and Statistics. servers, pay for expensive software It allows SMEs and channel partner licenses or hardware upfront and you do customers to compare the actual cost enjoy the huge productivity benefit of of traditional IT to hosted desktop. It anytime anywhere access. However, actual automatically generates detailed five year operational costs may or may not be lower forecasted cashflows, comparing the total and in my view hosted desktop should not cost of deploying a traditional on-premise be sold on the basis of operational cost IT infrastructure with that of hosted savings alone.” desktop. These detailed cashflows are He said that the new TCO calculator broken down into capital, operational and allows companies, who may be thinking opportunity costs. about cloud adoption, to do the maths before taking the plunge. “It is a great tool to present to managing and finance directors to make sure that the business case stacks up.” Let’s Operate’s ‘Total Cost of Ownership David Owens, Managing Director, Let’s Operate.

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business news

Restored Hearing seeking to raise €500,000 for R&D activities


estored Hearing (www., a company established by physics students from University College Dublin and the University of Edinburgh, is preparing to launch a series of clinical trials in Edinburgh to see if its ‘sound therapy’ for temporary tinnitus can be used to treat a more serious permanent ‘ringing in the ears’. The company, an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up, is currently seeking to raise a €500,000 investment. The money will be used to develop the long term strategy for Restored Hearing’s research and development aspirations into a cure for permanent tinnitus and for the development and sales of the

company’s hearing protection products. Restored Hearing, an award winner on the NovaUCD 2010 Start-Up Programme (Campus Company Development Programme), has developed a sound therapy that can cure temporary tinnitus in 99 per cent of cases. Temporary tinnitus, or ‘ringing in the ears’, can be caused by exposure to loud music or working in a noisy environment. Ringing in the ears can last for several days and cause the sufferer severe irritation and discomfort. Restored Hearing began life as a secondary school project in 2007 at the Ursuline College in Sligo. Pupils Rhona Togher and Eimear O’Carroll,

eircom Launches eMobile for Business


reland ’s largest telecommunications company, eircom Group, has announced the launch of eMobile for Business. eMobile is a comprehensive mobile service designed to fully address the requirements of Irish businesses – from SMEs to corporates and the public sector. The launch of eMobile for business brings together, for the first time, a fully integrated fixed and mobile service for Irish businesses that not only provides greater value but will improve the overall service experience. eMobile has a range of highly competitive plans which helps businesses to manage their costs more effectively. Built on Ireland ’s largest telecommunications network, eMobile provides business customers with unrivalled performance. The proposition includes free access to over 1,800 eircom WiFiHub hotspots and will leverage its investment in fibre and 4G.

Commenting on the launch, Ronan Kneafsey, Managing Director, eircom Business, said “What really stands

together with Physics teacher, Anthony Carolan, set about finding a solution to the problem of temporary tinnitus. The students won a prize at the 2009 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition with their research. Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise & Commercialisation said, “I am delighted to see that Restored Hearing, a UCD start-up award winner, is continuing with its commercial development and is seeking to close a funding round to further develop its product offerings.” He added, “It is great to see an Irish start-up, established by talented undergraduate Irish students, establishing key links outside of Ireland, in this case with the University of Edinburgh.”

out with eMobile is the unrivalled quality of service and support we provide to our business customers, in addition to the comprehensive suite of services we already offer businesses in Ireland. We’re offering cost control and flexibility, which is a major requirement for businesses regardless of whether they are an SME, a large corporate or a public sector body.”

Ronan Kneafsey, Managing Director, eircom Business with Fergal Kinane, IT Manager, A|Wear. A|Wear has signed up as an eMobile Business customer. InBusiness | Q1 2013 5

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business news

Research project to digitally capture unique skills in Gaelic and Basque Games


major European technology project to preserve, promote and develop culturally important sports has been developed in Ireland through a unique collaboration between scientists, sporting bodies, cultural organisations and athletes. The project was launched by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD at Croke Park, Dublin. Re-Play is a €2million research project funded by EU Framework Programme 7 (FP7) and involves topclass scientists from Ireland, Spain, UK, Switzerland and Greece. Their collaborative work will capture the styles of play and skills unique to Gaelic and Basque Games and develop 3D interactive

software that will be used to educate future generations about these culturally significant sports. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD said: “The Re-Play project is an excellent example of the cultural impact that science can have. Sport is deeply ingrained in Ireland’s cultural heritage and this important project will help us preserve, promote and increase participation in our traditional games for future generations.” Minister Bruton added, “This project is also another excellent example of how we can leverage additional non-exchequer funding to Ireland arising from Government’s investment in excellent scientists through Science Foundation Ireland.”

The project’s Scientific and Technical Co-ordinator is Professor Noel O’Connor of CLARITY: Centre for Sensor Web Technologies, a partnership between UCD, DCU and Tyndall National Institute and funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Re-Play will initially focus on two families of traditional sports, Gaelic and Basque that are integral to the fabric of their communities and have remained popular in spite of the competition from other more widespread sports. Re-Play will study the bio-mechanics and unique skills base of Gaelic football, Hurling and Basque Poleta. The project brings together eight participants from five countries across Europe including Vicomtech-IK4 and Eusko Jaurlaritza from Spain, Vicon Motion and IN2 Search from the UK, CLARITY and the GAA from Ireland, the University of Geneva, Switzerland and the Centre for Research and Technology, Hellas in Greece.



ith the peak summer travel season fast approaching, Cork Airport has unveiled its exciting summer schedule. More than two million seats are available from Cork to more than 50 destinations across the UK and Europe for summer 2013. That’s almost four seats for every man, woman and child in Cork city and county. Ryanair recently added a further six routes to those already announced before Christmas for its popular summer 2013 schedule including Milan, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Girona, La Rochelle and Pisa. These are in addition to the five extra scheduled services by Ryanair this summer to Gdansk, Krakow, Vilnius, Warsaw and Wroclaw. Ryanair’s eleven routes alone will mean an additional 130,000 seats from Cork Airport this summer, compared with the same period last year. The end result is the availability of a total of 717,000 seats with the low cost carrier. Commenting on Cork Airport’s summer schedule announcement, Airport Director Niall MacCarthy said: “We have worked very closely with our airline and tour operator partners since

Cork Airport staff launches its new summer schedule

last summer to ensure we can offer an expansive array of destinations and additional services this summer. The availability of two million seats from Cork Airport this summer is testament to the strong demand from this catchment area on both business and leisure routes during the peak summer season. Airlines and tour operators always try to match supply to demand

and this is very evident in today’s announcement," he added. In a related development, Aer Lingus will operate daily services to Faro and Malaga this summer, as well as increasing the frequency on its service to Barcelona from three to four times a week. This means Aer Lingus will provide 1.1 million seats from Cork Airport this summer.

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Business news

Recognising Responsibility The tenth Annual Corporate Social Responsibility Awards have been launched.


ast March, Chambers Ireland announced that nominations for the 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards are open. Now in their tenth year, the Awards were launched by Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia, run in association with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, partnered by Business in the Community Ireland and kindly sponsored by BAM. The launch was kindly hosted by O2, winner of last year’s award for Outstanding Achievement in CSR. Speaking at the event, Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive said, “A lot has changed since the introduction of these awards ten years ago. However, what has made them so successful isn’t what has changed but what has stayed the same: the consistently high quality of the entries and the commitment of the Irish business community to the values of corporate social responsibility.” Tina Roche, Business in the Community Ireland Chief Executive continued, “A strong reputation is the most valuable asset a business can have. How you manage risk to your reputation is vital and a strong and robust corporate responsibility strategy can give clear guidance on policy and procedure gaps particularly in areas of supply chain and external stakeholders. Each year in these awards we see how companies are enhancing and improving their CR strategies and making them an integral part of how companies do business. These awards champion this practice which is integral to Ireland’s business reputation.” “Sustainability and CSR are core to BAM’s culture and we are again delighted to be involved with

(l-r) Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia; Ian Talbot, Chief Executive, Chambers Ireland; Tina Roche, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland; Tony Hanway, CEO, Telefónica Ireland and Theo Cullinane, Chief Executive, BAM Contractors.

Chambers Ireland to sponsor the CSR Awards, particularly in 2013, the tenth anniversary of the initiative. The awards both highlight and celebrate the positive impact that socially responsible organisations have on all aspects of the communities in which they operate,” said Theo Cullinane, BAM Chief Executive. Tony Hanway, CEO of Telefónica Ireland, operator of the O2 brand and winner of the 2012 Outstanding Achievement in CSR Award said, “We were delighted to be awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility Award last year. For us it represented the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication by the company and all our employees to CSR over the years. In particular, we were delighted with the external recognition

of our Think Big programme which we run in conjunction with Headstrong to promote positive mental health among young people in their local communities. The awards are of huge importance as they really shine a positive light on corporate responsibility and provide a vital showcase opportunity for all the excellent CSR work that is taking place in Ireland”. Award categories include Excellence in Environment, Community (divided into Charity, Volunteering and Community Programme), Workplace, Marketplace, International CSR, CSR Communication, Best SME and the overall Outstanding Achievement in CSR Award. For further information or to apply please visit www.csrawards. ie. The closing date for nominations is Thursday 25th April 2013. InBusiness | Q1 2013 7

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Movers & shakers | News

Movers & Shakers New appointments in the business community nationwide. Bolger is also qualified as a nonpracticing solicitor in England and Wales and as an attorney at law in New York.

Laura Bolger

and education clients. Prior to joining Corporate Reputations, Quinn spent ten years with one of Ireland’s leading PR consultancies, Gibney Communications, most recently as a Senior Account Director. Well known and respected in the Irish PR industry, Quinn was recently elected by his peers as President of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) for a two year term and also serves as both non-executive Director of the PRII and its sister organisation, the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA).



Laura Bolger has joined AB Wolfe & Co as a solicitor where she will be working exclusively in the area of debt collection. Formerly with Lavelle Coleman, Bolger has widespread experience in obtaining judgements in all jurisdictions ranging from the District Court to the Commercial Court. She also has extensive experience in the enforcement of judgments including registering judgments and instructing the sheriff, registering judgment mortgages on property and obtaining orders for sale. Bolger, who qualified as a solicitor in Ireland in 2010, has acted for a wide range of clients, including financial institutions, government agencies, management companies, landlords and SMEs. She holds a Bachelor of Corporate Law and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from National University of Ireland, Galway, and a Postgraduate Diploma in International Financial Services Law from University College Dublin (UCD).

Niall Quinn

NIALL QUINN CORPORATE REPUTATIONS Leading public relations consultancy, Corporate Reputations, has announced that the recently elected president of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII), Niall Quinn, has joined the company as Deputy Managing Director. Quinn is one of Ireland’s principal corporate and financial public relations advisors and in addition to his role as Corporate Reputation’s Deputy Managing Director he will lead the company’s Corporate Division. Having started his career with Ernst & Young’s Corporate Tax division, Quinn combines an understanding of financial and legal issues with 15 years’ experience devising and implementing internal and external communications strategies for financial, state sector, professional and regulatory bodies as well as healthcare

Audi Ireland has announced the appointment of Christian Gussen as the new head of Audi Ireland. Effective mid April 2013, Christian Gussen will take over from Andrew Doyle, who has moved to take up the position of Managing Director of Audi Australia. Doyle has been in the role for two years. Gussen has over 15 years of experience with the Audi brand, working with Audi AG in Sales Planning, Sales Distribution and as Sales Manager for Europe before moving to Audi Italy, where he has been the Head of Remarketing and Dealer Network Quality, Head of Service and most recently, Head of Marketing. Audi Ireland is currently investing €80 million in the Irish market through the new Audi Dealer Network. Gussen will be responsible for the continuing implementation of this €80 million long-term retail development plan. Michael Renz, Head of Sales Europe

Looking to add to your management team? Look no further than The Panel. Accountancy • Financial Services • Insurance • Banking • Funds • Legal • IT 8 Q1 2013 | InBusiness

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Movers & shakers | News Audi AG, said, “Ireland is an important market for Audi in Europe and is an integral part in the strategy to become the number one prestige car brand by 2015. Christian Gussen brings a wealth of experience with the Audi brand to his new role and we know he has the drive and ambition to succeed.”

excellent track record in marketing, having previously held executive roles at Moran and Bewley’s Hotels. This experience, combined with her passion for the ever-changing social media sphere, means O’Donovan will provide an invaluable insight to H+A’s expert social media offering.

Gareth Mullins

Dara O'Donovan

Ronan Whelan



Dara O’Donovan has been appointed head of the social media department at H+A Marketing + PR making her responsible for the provision of social media services to a wide range of diverse clients. In her new role as head of the social media division, the UCD Michael Smurfit Business School graduate will lead a team of community managers in the development of H+A Marketing + PR’s online communications strategy, having already spent the past two years establishing a solid social media branch in the company. The dynamic, Cork-born professional marketeer and social media specialist brings a youthful energy to the role by using social media to expand clients’ business, some of whom include health insurer Laya Healthcare, Ford, and drinks giant Corona. O’Donovan has an

Ronan Whelan has recently been appointed Head of Sales at Laya Healthcare. In his new role, Whelan will lead a team of over sixty people in the development of Laya Healthcare’s market share of corporate and individual membership. Whelan will also provide commercial and strategic support to the executive team in continuing to build national awareness of Laya Healthcare as Ireland’s second largest health insurance brand. Whelan has an excellent track record in enterprise sales having worked as Head of Corporate and Government Sales at Telefonica O2 Ireland for the last number of years. He also holds a Management Degree from the College of Marketing & Design.

GARETH MULLINS MARKER HOTEL The newly opened Marker Hotel in

Grand Canal Square, Docklands, has announced the appointment of Gareth Mullins as Executive Chef. Mullins will be responsible for all menu design and food preparation in the hotel’s five kitchens which cover the brasserie, the rooftop garden, the cocktail bar, the lobby lounge, and room service. Mullins has over 16 years’ experience cooking in five star hotels in Ireland and Australia. He spent the last seven years in the Merrion Hotel, where he was Head Chef in The Cellar Restaurant & Bar. During his tenure at The Cellar, the restaurant received two AA rosettes and the bar was recommended in the Michelin Guide. Before that, Mullins spent five years in Sydney, Australia, where he worked as Head Chef at the W Hotel and as Senior Chef de Partie in the Radisson Plaza Hotel. Mullins qualified from DIT Cathal Brugha Street in 1999. Commenting on the appointment, Charlie Sheil, General Manager, said: “Gareth brings a wealth of culinary experience from top-class establishments around the world. His menus include wholesome and locally sourced Irish cuisine with world influences and his creativity and attention to detail will ensure a unique food experience for our guests and diners.”

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job creation | News

Job Creation InBusiness highlights some of the companies that are expanding operations and generating new employment opportunities around the country. ZURICH INSURANCE GROUP Zurich Ireland has announced the establishment of two IT hubs in Dublin which will see the creation of 112 hi-tech jobs. Zurich already has its European general insurance headquarters located here and employs more than 1,000 people in Ireland. One of the hubs will support the company’s IT service management capabilities and the other will support cyber security management and data protection. Recruitment for the jobs, which will go to senior IT specialists, management and graduates, has begun and the company said it selected Ireland as the skills are here. Speaking at the jobs announcement, IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O’Leary said: “Ireland was chosen for this innovative investment due to the success of Zurich’s existing operations here and for our IT and cyber security talent, skills and research capability, including the Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Investigation Centre at UCD”.

PensionSource PensionSource, the Irish owned financial services company, is to create 23 jobs in Ireland over the next three years in an initiative backed by Enterprise Ireland. Details of the expansion were announced by Minister for Small Business, John Perry T.D., at the launch of the Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start UpShowcase. PensionSource, which was established in 2009 by industry veteran and former CEO of Hibernian Insurance Group, Adrian Daly, has invested€x1.5m in a cloud based platform which allows financial advisers to handle client pension schemes more cost effectively. The company has opened an office in London to cater for what it says is a rapidly changing pensions environment

in the UK. PensionSource, which has already signed a number of partners in the UK, provides pensions advisers and their clients with access to over 16 different fund managers representing over 200 funds on a single platform. It also provides streamlined pensions administration which can be accessed by independent financial advisers, their clients and staff, through the cloud.

MACE Retail chain MACE has announced plans to add 100 new shops to its network in the next three years. The move could create more than 1,200 new jobs nationwide. The company said its new retail strategy targets 100 new stores, and will see a focus on Irish suppliers as it works on a 20 per cent growth in MACE ownbrand products. MACE is Ireland’s oldest convenience brand, and opened its first store in 1960. It currently has 240 stores across the country. Commenting on the announcement, Willie O’Byrne, Managing Director of BWG Foods, operators of MACE, said: “In 2012 we bucked the industry trend by opening 28 new stores, and our new retail strategy is designed to harness that momentum, leading to the creation of more than of 1,200 new jobs in towns and villages right across the country.”

ESB INTERNATIONAL ESB International is to create 80 new jobs as part of its latest expansion plan. The company will recruit the engineering and technical professionals in Dublin over the next five years, in response to growing demand for their engineering services. The new employees could then be posted overseas, as the company expands into the Middle East, Turkey and South

Africa, where they have secured new contracts. Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte welcomed the announcement, calling the positions high quality, exportorientated jobs targeting over twenty key international markets.

eBay Hiring is starting immediately for 450 jobs at eBay in Dundalk. The jobs will be created gradually over three years, but 110 new staff are required now. eBay owns PayPal, which recently announced that they were setting up a European base in Dundalk. The two companies currently employ over 2,300 at their facilities in Dundalk and Blanchardstown in Dublin. The Senior Director of Customer Experience at eBay, Gary Hagel, said up to 110 of the 450 customer service jobs announced will be filled in Dundalk by the end of the year. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Richard Bruton said the news was great for Dundalk, and for Ireland. "They are quality jobs and they show an economy in transition," he said. "Ireland has undertaken a very difficult change, but that change is now happening. Last year the IDA had its best year in a decade and we're growing our exports to record levels."

Guidewire Software Guidewire Software, a global provider of software solutions to the general insurance industry, is to create 75 new positions in 2013 to add to the existing 50 employees already employed at its Global Services and Regional Development Centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Guidewire Software was founded in 2001 in Silicon Valley and has grown to become a market leader in the provision of core system software for the global general insurance industry. Guidewire established its Dublin location in July 2011. The significant expansion in Ireland will make Guidewire Ireland the largest office outside of the US and will bring to 125 the number of people the company expects to employ in Ireland. The extra staff will provide consultancy support and additional product development resources to support some of Guidewire’s customers which now span 16 countries and four continents.

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cloud technology | feature

A partnership in the clouds Microsoft and Chambers Ireland partner to help Irish SMEs to ‘Work Smart’.


icrosoft Ireland and Chambers Ireland have joined forces to help SMEs realise the benefits of technology and the opportunity of moving to the cloud. Microsoft Ireland has announced the launch of a nationwide initiative with chambers around the country to help SMEs understand more about cloud technology and its advantages. This forms part of a broader initiative from Microsoft called 'Work Smart', which was developed based on feedback from customers that would like to use technology to become more competitive and productive, but don't know how to do this. As part of the programme, and in partnership with Chambers Ireland, Microsoft is running an educational road show designed to help small businesses understand more about the cloud and the benefits it can bring. The road show brings together the local chamber, the local specialist Microsoft cloud partner and the local customer whose business is already gaining from using the cloud. The goal of these events is to demystify cloud technology for small businesses and show how Microsoft productivity tools like Office 365 and Dynamics allow SMEs, especially smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, to collaborate anywhere, any time and in a secure way so that they can spend more time growing their businesses. "With Chambers Ireland we have a unique opportunity to reach out nationally and bring expert advice and guidance through our Professional Partner Network," said Martin Cullen, Director of Microsoft's small and medium business group in Ireland. "SMEs are overloaded with

Dundalk Chamber members with their info pack from the event

information, but by bringing expert technology and advice to where these businesses operate we believe that we can help Irish SMEs to evaluate whether cloud is a real option for them and can significantly reduce costs and increase productivity and growth." Chambers Ireland chief executive Ian Talbot added: "Technology is something that can be of great benefit to small

business, particularly in the current climate. We are delighted to partner with Microsoft and use our national reach to help SMEs understand that embracing the cloud can not only improve their productivity but have a real impact on their bottom line." The events took place in Drogheda, Clonmel, Dublin, Limerick, Mullingar, Ennis, Cork Region, Wexford and Dundalk.

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cLOud TEcHnOLOgy | feature

Clonmel event speakers with Clonmel Chamber CEO Brian Cleary Clonmel Chamber Event

Denis Meade, Microsoft

Dundalk Chamber Event

Denis Meade with Dundalk Chamber member

Paddy Malone, Dundalk Chamber President


Ennis Chamber Event

The Work Smart programme is designed to help smaller businesses in Ireland to gain a significant competitive advantage by getting more out of technology. The programme will show that by properly leveraging technology, either by doing more with the technology they already have or by implementing new technologies, business owners can become more productive, compete more effectively and grow their business. The Work Smart programme consists of an online resource which contains valuable content to help SMEs up-skill, a Work Smart LinkedIn Group where people can share information and post questions, a monthly informational newsletter and a series of workshops, events and online tutorials which are all free of charge. InBusiness | Q1 2013 13

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See what your local Chamber has to offer

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and progressive business services

Cavan Dundalk Castlebar Carrick-on-Shannon Westport Drogheda Ballyhaunis Longford Kells Claremorris Navan Mullingar Fingal Dublin Athlone South Dublin Dublin Galway Tullamore North Kildare Dun Laoghaire Bray Newbridge Laois Wicklow Roscrea Ennis Nenagh Carlow Arklow Shannon Thurles Kilkenny Limerick

and representative group. We invite you to join us 16th–20th September 2013 as Chambers across Ireland host a series of events to showcase why you should join your local Chamber.



Waterford Dungarvan


West Cork

Cork Cobh

Enniscorthy New Ross Wexford


To find out more about events happening near you, visit:

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British Irish Chamber | feature

Trade ties bind Since the formation of the state, Ireland has always maintained a close relationship politically, socially and financially with its nearest neighbour, the United Kingdom. Now, with many businesses trying to find their way out of financial straits, the trade relationship between the two countries is as important as ever. Colm Gorey reports.


ineteen-seventy-three was a pivotal year for both Ireland and Britain as their acceptance into the European Union (EU) changed not just their position in Europe as a whole, but how the two countries engaged in trade, business and finance. Previously, trade and finance between the two nations had remained tightly interconnected, with Ireland importing many goods from Britain as well as exporting high-quality agricultural products to its neighbour. With membership of the EU however, came

further opportunity for both countries to trade with other European nations. Recent figures released by the Central Statistics Office show that over the last two years, despite a marginal dip, imports and exports between Ireland and Britain remain tightly knit. However, what is clear is that Ireland still relies heavily on Britain for its goods, especially when you consider the number of UK-based stores – such as Tesco and Marks and Spencer’s – that have established themselves here. In January 2013, 26 per cent of Irish

exports went to Britain, down from 28 per cent the year previous. Meanwhile, British exports to Ireland accounted for a massive 47 per cent of Ireland’s imports, down from 51 per cent for the same period in 2012.

A change of focus While trade relations between Ireland and Britain have remained strong despite political tensions in the past, what is most interesting about the current focus is how it has shifted from the traditional areas of agriculture and InBusiness | Q1 2013 15

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British Irish Chamber | feature food products to other more high-tech industries. In January 2012, 44 per cent of our total exports to Britain were comprised of ‘chemical and related products’, while in January 2013, this fell slightly to 37 per cent of our overall exports to our nearest neighbour. With the country facing its current economic challenges, organisations like the British Irish Chamber of Commerce are hoping to encourage greater cross-border co-operation which can in turn contribute to an economic recovery for both nations. With this in mind, the recent British Irish Chamber Spring Lunch, held on March 11th, welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the event in Whitehall, London for what was hoped would build stronger links between companies and organisations from both sides of the Irish Sea. In his speech addressing the attendees, the Taoiseach described how the leaders of both governments were hoping to continue the strong relationship between the two countries for the foreseeable future. He stated: “Prime Minister Cameron and I agreed a jointstatement on the future of British-Irish relations for the decade to come. That was an all-encompassing statement. It set out our commitment to work together, as partners, in a range of international fora, including within the European Union in order to meet the challenges facing us, be they national or global. We have been engaged on that agenda ever since and today we will take stock of progress and will look at what more we can do together. At the heart of the joint statement was a recognition of the importance of the economic relationship between Britain and Ireland, and our shared determination to deepening and growing that relationship. Ireland is a trading nation. Trade is our life’s blood and Britain is our largest trading partner.” Steve Aiken is the CEO of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and he believes that events like the one held in March are vital for forming strong cross-border links between companies and encouraging the growth of trade: “The reason we had this lunch was to highlight to our members and to people who are joining the Chamber

Steve Aiken, CEO, British Irish Chamber of Commerce.

“Ireland is a trading nation. Trade is our life’s blood and Britain is our largest trading partner.” of the importance of that business peace. We were very honoured to have An Taoiseach Enda Kenny come and talk about the importance of the British-Irish relationship in a business community and in particular sectors like energy, looking to agri-business and any other sectors that continue to grow and develop. We were also very privileged to have Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers,

who talked about the importance of north, south, east and west in multidimensional trade, particularly to support Northern Ireland as we move further along from the Good Friday Agreement and look to the future.”

Energy to succeed Ireland has traditionally been largely reliant on Britain for its energy needs since the formation of the state.

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British Irish Chamber | feature “The economic turmoil has left a number of European countries, including Ireland, on the verge of bankruptcy. With the serious instability currently found in Cyprus, questions are being raised across the continent as to whether the union has the strength to outlive the crisis.” However, with a greater drive towards energy independence for environmental and economic reasons, the Irish government has begun to examine harnessing the energy from something we have in abundance - wind energy. With this in mind, a memorandum of understanding has been agreed between Minister for Communications Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, TD, and the UK Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey, who have committed to working closely together to secure economic benefits for both countries through trade in renewable energy. This will not only loosen our total reliance on fossil fuels from Britain, but could also create thousands of jobs in the process. The Industrial Development Authority of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland have estimated that employment creation arising from a 3,000MW project is expected to be in the order of 3,000 to 6,000 jobs in the construction phase, with the actual number dependent on the construction schedule to 2020. There would also be additional jobs created in the ongoing maintenance of turbines over a 20-year operating life. Further employment opportunities could also arise in both countries from the manufacture of turbines, cables, and other technology. Aiken believes the agreement will play a significant role in both Ireland and Britain’s future growth, not just in the energy sector, but in others as well: “We see particularly in the renewable energy sector, Ireland feeding considerably into the British market but enabling that as a method of building supply-sided opportunities on the island of Ireland as well. Also on top of that we’re focusing on areas of agriculture, arts, sports and tourism. There’s a whole raft of things we can be working closer together in and those can be of mutual benefit to

everyone on these islands, particularly for business as well. We’re here for our members’ business interests as well which they see as central to what we’re trying to do.”

The European decision Despite the enormous benefits that the European Union has brought Britain and Ireland, never has there been a greater challenge to the strength of the union than the latest financial crisis. The economic turmoil has left a number of European countries, including Ireland, on the verge of bankruptcy. With the serious instability currently found in Cyprus, questions are being raised across the continent as to whether the union has the strength to outlive the crisis. Britain has been the most vocal of the EU nations with a number of ministers calling for a withdrawal of membership. In fact, in January of this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that there will be a referendum held in 2017 to decide whether they will stay or leave the EU. For the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, the importance of the EU in creating a continuing and strong relationship between the two countries can not be overstated. If this was to happen, major obstacles to trade between Ireland and Britain could arise which Aiken believes would not be in the interest of Ireland or Britain. “The last time we checked, 95 per cent of our members said very clearly that we should remain in a single European market and we strongly support this,” Aiken says. “Both for Britain and Ireland, if we didn’t have the EU, can you think of the number of bilateral agreements we would have to look at and the sort of changes we would have to introduce and new legislation we would have to bring in? It’s mindboggling. We recently, as a chamber,

tried to map out the intra-EU legislature process that is currently involved. If Britain and Ireland were not part of the EU, how many would there be? We stopped counting after we reached 20 and we’d be there all day looking at those sorts of things. That’s one of the things we are making quite clear, it’s important not just for Britain’s sake, but for Britain and Ireland’s sake and for our joint business.”

Continued success Any future worries aside, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has proven to be a highly successful means of creating stronger business links between the two nations since its foundation in May 2011. New links are still being created on a regular basis and during their many conferences and lunches held throughout the year. This, Aiken believes, is a testament to the connections that have been developed in Britain for the Irish companies looking to establish a foothold there: “We work very closely with UK Trade & Investment, Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Development Authority, Bord Bia, Invest Northern Ireland, the Welsh government, the Scottish government and the English government. We are able to connect people from different regions, we can act as an honest broker if they want to discuss business opportunities in a given area and we are also very strong in the agri-business sector, banking and regulation, energy, culture, tourism, distribution, construction and retail. One of our companies was trying very hard to get into Wales and talk specifically with the Welsh government. At our conference we were able to get the CEO to talk directly to the Welsh minister. From that there has been a significant amount of investment opportunity. That’s something that the Chamber has been very good at and we continue to grow.” With a greater emphasis being placed by both governments on cross-border cooperation in terms of trade and finance, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has grown year-on-year to introduce over 200 new members. With events being held on a regular basis, everyone involved with the chamber is always on the go trying to find the next big initiative to bring success to both nations in the future. InBusiness | Q1 2013 17

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Business Excellence Recognised InBusiness event proves a success among the Irish business community.

Pat Freeman of Kingspan and his award for Company of the Year.

List of Winners


awardS 2012

 


he inaugural InBusiness Editors’ Choice Awards took place on December 12th 2012, at the Hibernian Club, Stephens Green. These awards, run in association with Chambers Ireland, honour outstanding achievement in the Irish business community and the winners were selected on the broad criteria of growth, profile of business, range of services and customer care. With 16 categories, the awards provide a rare opportunity to gather together representatives from a wide-variety of business sectors.

     

Business Airline of the Year: Emirates Best Tourist Attraction: Waterford Crystal Visitor’s Centre Best International Marketing  Initiative: Tourism Ireland Best Healthcare Specialist: Home Instead Best Financial App: Danske Bank Executive Car of the Year: Lexus Best Accountancy Software for SMEs: Big Red Book Best Business School:

       

Kemmy Business School usinesswoman of the Year: B PayPal’s Louise Phelan Best Services to SMEs:  Eircom Manufacturer of the Year:  Intel B est in Financial Services: Friends First Exporter of the Year: Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard Best in International Logistics: DHL Express Businessman of the Year: Paddy Power’s Patrick Kennedy Company of the Year: Kingspan

18 Q1 2013 | InBusiness

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26/03/2013 17:42 09/04/2013 10:24:02

john trethowan | cover story

Lending a helping hand John Trethowan, Head of the Credit Review Office, speaks to Joseph O’Connor about the work his office is carrying out to help SMEs access credit from banks, and how its message is now being received.


elfast native John Trethowan is no stranger to tackling turmoil in the banking sector. In 1998 he was given the task of sorting out the mess at National Irish Bank following allegations of overcharging of customers and the emergence of various other malpractices in the bank. After much of his career spent as a Northern Bank employee, and a one-year stint as president of the Institute of Bankers in 2006, Trethowan had planned to retire. However, he was called back to head the Credit Review Office the weekend before the Budget in 2009. Established as part of the December 2009 Budget, the Credit Review Office was set up to review refusals of credit by banks to SMEs seeking loans under e500,000. Located in the same building as Enterprise Ireland in East Point Business Park, Dublin, it is a surprisingly small setup. It occupies a handful of desks and one office room, but despite its modest manpower and limited resources, the Office is providing a crucial service for small and medium businesses in an environment where credit is a scarce resource. Perhaps its biggest challenge now is making itself known to SMEs which are in need of a helping hand.

Lending Concerns There have been a lot of concerns about the reluctance of banks to lend to businesses since the beginning of the economic crisis. The Credit Review Office was established in response to these concerns. It conducts the lending review process - accepting applications from SMEs, sole traders and small and

medium-sized farm enterprises that have had their application for credit refused or reduced, and feel that the bank’s decision is unjustified. The Office will, on application from the borrower, carry out an independent and impartial review of the bank’s decision. The review process operates after the borrower has unsuccessfully appealed through the bank’s own internal appeals process. At present, the participating banks are those engaged with the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA): Allied Irish Banks (AIB), Bank of Ireland, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), EBS Building Society and Irish Nationwide Building Society. In practice, the two main banks actively lending to the SME sector and covered by the legislation are AIB and Bank of Ireland. Both banks have set up appeals units on foot of the establishment of the Office. Other banks may opt to enter the review process voluntarily but so far, three years on, none have done so.

Appeals To date, the office has received 250 requests for appeals from SMEs and in more than 50 per cent of these cases, the SME or farmer has been supported, and the bank requested to provide funding. These figures are a clear indication that banks are not meeting the needs of the more challenged parts of the SME sector. Trethowan believes

it is particularly the micro side of the SME market that requires more help from banks when submitting their loan application. “They go into the bank and if they haven’t got their argument or their case well made, they tend not to get through the system,” he explains. “I don’t think the banks are doing enough to help at the front end. Rather than just providing an order-taking exercise or putting something down on the computer and sending it to head office, frontline bank staff need to be working with the business to see if they can make a deal and support the businesses, many of which are longstanding bank clients. Now whether or not that is the lack of experience with the person at the front end or bank policy, I don’t know, but certainly we feel that more could be done to help make the case for some small businesses.” There is a popular misconception that it is simply about banks not wanting to lend, but part of the reason for the high number of SMEs being refused credit is the banks’ inability to or lack of interest in scratching beneath the surface of a given company’s application. Trethowan outlines the difference in the Office’s approach. “We have upheld about 55 per cent of the appeals that come to us using experienced bankers as reviewers who are looking for a deal to try and make this work and who can perhaps spend a bit more

“The Office will, on application from the borrower, carry out an independent and impartial review of the bank’s decision.”

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john trethowan | cover story more time than a bank can on an SME application. Our reviewers are not constrained by bank lending policies but are ‘solution seekers’ for credit challenges. If we think the borrower is viable and can repay the loan, we will recommend it. If not, we will try to suggest how the borrower can strengthen their business case, perhaps with mentoring from a source such as the local County Enterprise Board, or get funding elsewhere, such as from Microfinance Ireland.”

Market Feedback The core mission of the Credit Review Office is to ensure that the credit system is operating effectively for small and mediumsized enterprises, including sole traders and farm enterprises. To this end, Trethowan and his team are constantly seeking feedback on issues and blockages to SMEs getting credit. For example, at the end of November, Ireland joined in EU-wide celebrations of 20 years in the open European market, by holding a conference themed ‘SMEs working in Europe’, which was attended by SMEs, trade bodies and government departments. As part of this conference Trethowan chaired a workshop on ‘Access to Credit’ which allowed SMEs to discuss their experiences in trying to access credit. The feedback highlighted the poor experience SMEs have when seeking credit from their banks. The overall view was that it was not a customer orientated experience, but rather a ‘remote’ process, with decisions being made by a centralised headoffice credit department based on information passed on by the local relationship manager. Trethowan has since written to the CEOs of the three main banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank) to outline the difficulties reported in this workshop. Trethowan outlines some recent measures being taken: “AIB have done something in the last few months, decentralising the credit process by giving delegated loan approval limits to local managers again and it will be interesting to see how that works.”

John Trethowan, Head of Credit Review Office

Sending the Right Message Last February, Trethowan appeared before an Oireachtas Committee where Committee Chairman Ciarán Lynch highlighted a report by Mazars, which said Ireland had the second highest level of credit refusals for SMEs in the European Union. This report is the one making all the headlines regarding loan refusals, but Trethowan is eager to point out how such reports do not reveal the bigger picture. He says people tend to use snapshot reports in the media without real context. He comments: “If you look at the countries that are clustered around Ireland in terms of credit refusal rates – Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy – these countries have all required bailouts or suffered from economic

crises. So you have to take it into perspective here. You know Germany is not sitting beside Ireland in those tables. It’s going to take time and effort by Irish banks and SMEs to try to get out of this. So to me, the tables are not that surprising and it reflects the state of the European economy.” Such snapshots do not help the Office’s cause, making it appear that their work in getting banks to lend is falling short. More important is how it can use the media to inform SMEs about the service it provides if a loan application has been refused. As part of the Department of Finance Survey on Lending Demand released every six months, a question is asked: ‘Are you aware of the Credit Review Office?’ The latest survey revealed that awareness InBusiness | Q1 2013 21

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jOHn TrETHOwan | cover story

NEW APPLICATION FOR CREDIT Once you have determined that bank funding is the best type of funding for your business follow the steps below:

PREPARE Business Plan

Prepare your business plan. Get help from a professional advisor, accountant or from a Government Agency.


Ensure it demonstrates viability or capacity to repay the loan over a given period. Use a standard business plan template. These are widely available online. Include all back up documentation and any third party validation.

FORMAL Written Application

Make a formal written application to your bank using a standard application form.

Application APPROVED by bank?



CREDIT GRANTED NO SECURITY? Ask your bank to put you forward for the Credit Guarantee Scheme. For futher info. visit

Alternatively, apply for Microfinance Ireland Scheme. For further information visit

Internal APPEAL

Seek an internal appeal within pillar banks and Ulster Bank. If unsuccessful: For pillar bank application less than 500k made by SME’s, see step 6.

Independent REVIEW

Seek an independent review by the Credit Review Office.

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jOHn TrETHOwan | cover story “Most business in Ireland is transacted on a basis of a relationship and trust, and there appears to be a mood of regret among SMEs about the passing of traditional relationshipbanking on which Irish banking was founded and thrived.” levels were approximately 75 per cent among SMEs surveyed, as opposed to the results of the first survey which were just short of sixty per cent. Trethowan reflects on this increase. “Some of the trade organisations were complaining that nobody knew who we were or what we did. Over half of our budget is spent on media promotion. We do a lot of radio advertising to promote the brand of the Credit Review Office to get the service out there and encourage people to use it, because this is borrower-driven. I can only provide a service, but people have to come to us.” He continues: “In addition to buying media coverage, we also issue quarterly reports which generate media coverage, and raise awareness of our services. Recently, we started putting endorsements from borrowers who we have helped, to show the experiences they have had with us and the outcomes of that. If you go on to our website, www.creditreview. ie, you see the reports all there. The last three have had borrower endorsements, and the media picked up on that. It has helped to put some sort of human face on what we do, and show examples as well.” Trethowan highlights the importance of making these case studies available to the public: “People identify with stories from people in their own business sector, or local area. The borrowers have all volunteered to put their names out there, and in fact the publicity has helped raise the profile of some of the businesses themselves. In the current one, we actually have an endorsement from someone who we declined, who we couldn’t help. We did our best and they came back to comment on the service they received, but they decided not to proceed with the project. It’s good to get nice feedback from somebody who you haven’t been able to help.” One story that did make the headlines recently concerned how the Credit Review Office has helped companies safeguard

1,100 jobs as a result of appeals being upheld. The number of jobs that can be protected is always a consideration of the Office when reviewing an appeal. “About €14 million of credit has been advanced on the appeals that we have upheld. We always ask about the number of jobs involved, and at the moment that’s over 1,100,” says Trethowan. “Now those won’t all have been saved or preserved, but it would be up around 900 to 1,000. If you announced 1,000 new jobs I’d imagine it would be warmly welcomed. When we are dealing with a case and there are a lot of jobs involved, we will do everything we possibly can to protect them,” he adds. In addition to media coverage, Trethowan and his team are always available to attend or address business groups holding meetings or events, both to raise awareness of the Office and gather useful feedback on access to funding. “Last year we did a roadshow to the regions with the Department of Finance and the Minister for Small Business, and we have met many of the Chambers groups and members over the last three years,” says Trethowan.

OFFICE POWERS One of the shortcomings of the Credit Review Office’s powers is the fact it only deals with the banks participating in the NAMA scheme. However, following the establishment of the Credit Review Office, Ulster Bank put in place an internal appeals mechanism similar to that in the pillar banks, and worked with the Credit Review Office to set it up, but they are not a part of the formal Office review process. It is worth noting that before the existence of the Credit Review Office, there was no internal or external appeals process for disappointed SMEs refused finance. The Office’s enthusiasm to work with banks which are not covered by NAMA is undoubtedly a positive sign for the SME sector. In addition, a recent report commissioned by the

Department of Finance and carried out by Grant Thornton, made a number of recommendations, including that the number of participating banks should be expanded, and that the Office should be empowered to review the banks' internal appeals processes.

MORE TO BE DONE The main findings of the Office’s latest quarterly report are that banks need to be more responsive to their SME customers, and that the current bank lending process is one which neither the SME nor the banker appear to enjoy at present. Most business in Ireland was transacted on a basis of a relationship and trust, and there appears to be a mood of regret among SMEs about the passing of traditional relationshipbanking on which Irish banking was founded and thrived. The report also finds that in many of the cases examined by the Credit Review Office, more could be done to help the SME access credit by the banks beyond getting the data into their systems. In many instances when the Office engages directly with the borrower it gets important new information that has not been sought by the bank. This may be due to the lack of experience on the part of the bank official dealing with the credit request or due to the bank not proactively seeking information beyond what is provided by the customer. With the above challenges still ahead, Trethowan is sure he will not be out of a job any time soon and that the Credit Review Office will continue to serve a purpose. “I am anticipating that we are going to get more demand because I think the appetite for credit is going to rise from SMEs, given that they may see the need to increase working capital for higher levels of economic activity from domestic demand or they may start to think about investing into capital projects.” He adds some optimism to his forecast: “I think we have the chance to see a recovery, a realistic chance for the first time since I have been in this job in four years and that is going to bring us some challenges to make sure we get people supported to realise the opportunities which will come with that. I think that it will be a challenge for the banks and for SMEs as well, and that’s why we’re here to help.” InBusiness | Q1 2013 23

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Delivering fuels safely and efficiently to service stations, airport depots and commercial customers in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Head Office: Reynolds Logistics 2011 Orchard Avenue, Citywest Business Campus, Dublin 24, Ireland. Tel: +353 1 424 2300. Email:

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Reynolds Logistics | feature CHAMBERS IRELAND | chamber week

Family firm to build on European success Following Reynolds Logistics’ prestigious European award win last year, Joseph O’ Connor looks at the humble company’s recipe for success and the part its family brand name has played.


here are not many Irish companies that can claim to possess a business model considered an example to their European peers. One that can is Dublin-based freight logistics company Reynolds Logistics. Last year, the company was named European Transport Company of the Year, an award which recognises the achievements of the finest road transport operations throughout the continent. With a rich history and a valued family name, the company, which is now in its third generation, looks set to go from strength to strength. Founded 85 years ago when it started as a road materials business, Reynolds

Logistics is headed up by Andrew Reynolds as CEO, employs 260 people and has an annual turnover of €35m. It is the largest transporter of fuel products in Ireland today. With origins based in the delivery of aggregates and bitumen products for road building, it was Joe Reynolds, former CEO and present chairman, who moved the business into the transportation field and the supply of petroleum and oil products. With two main operating bases in Dublin and in Ellesmere Port in the UK, the company manages 11 sites throughout the UK and Ireland and boasts a 150-strong fleet. Andrew took over as CEO from his father Joe in 2008, and has managed to put his own stamp on the company

since then. “My father was more of an entrepreneur. As the company has grown, I have tried to bring more of a structure to it to help it grow further. When a small business grows, there comes a time when you need to start looking at how you ready it for the next stage,” says Andrew.

Contract It turns out that the company was indeed ready for that next stage. In the same week it was announced as European Transport Company of the Year, Reynolds Logistics beat a host of blue chip international companies to secure a €50m plus contract with Topaz Energy over a five year period. Andrew says it proves that Irish InBusiness | Q1 2013 25

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CHAMBERS IRELAND | chamber week Reynolds Logistics | feature companies can compete on a scale with big European competitors, and he takes satisfaction in keeping business at home. He says, “We think it is probably one of the largest logistics contracts awarded in Ireland over the last few years. So from a company perspective, it’s a great achievement and it shows we can compete with the largest international companies. On that particular contract we were the only Irish company in the final shake-up.” Securing such prestigious awards and lucrative contracts is by no means down to luck. The business, which continues to have a strong Reynolds family involvement in day-to-day management, maintains its core focus on customer care, as well as safety and the environment. It has not lost a contract since 1980 and winning awards is not a new experience. Reynolds Logistics is a former winner of the Fleet Transport Irish Haulier of the Year and Silver Award recipient in the European Transport Company of the Year in 2009. According to Andrew, the company sets very high standards. “We see ourselves as being a safe pair of

hands. We do what’s right. We operate to the correct standards. We’ll drive all the efficiencies we can but we still operate the right way. We are not going to take any chances. No shortcuts, the correct standards and we feel that that’s very important for our customers. Our customers are all blue-chip multinational type customers and they don’t want to be associated with anything that is less than perfect.”

Safety Safety is an area that is not taken lightly by the Reynolds Group. As a transporter of volatile and hazardous liquids, safety in operations is of paramount importance at the company, with a safety culture maintained throughout the organisation that involves continuous improvement in critical areas such as planning, targeting, control and monitoring. Their dedication to safety is highlighted by the company’s initiative ‘Drive 2 Zero’, a programme lauded by big names in the business such as Mercedes-Benz. The initiative endorses the vision of ‘no harm to people’ and

“My father was more of an entrepreneur. As the company has grown, I have tried to bring more of a structure to it to help it grow further. When a small business grows, there comes a time when you need to start looking at how you ready for the next stage.”

Andrew Reynolds, Chief Executive, Reynolds Logistics.

minimal impact on the environment. As part of a review of the company’s safety vision and safety policy, it works towards incident-free operations and a goal of no harm to environment from product spillages, while also setting out a series of ‘golden rules’ that cannot be broken under any circumstances by staff. Chairman Joe Reynolds outlines the importance they place in safety. “The thing we have always done from a very early stage is to have a big drive and a big issue about health and safety, and training. So we are operating to very high standards, standards that are higher than are required by law. We have our own in-house trainers, a whole range of health and safety programmes, and staff motivation and staff involvement. I’d say we are well ahead of the game in those areas and that has also been key to the success in building the company. With the types of clients we have, you can’t run the business on a wing and a prayer. You can’t fudge it. You’re either doing it right or you’re not."

Carbon footprint Assessing the company’s impact on the environment is important to Reynolds Logistics, with fuel consumption as its main area of focus. The company is currently working with the Department of Transport and other stakeholders in looking at the possible introduction of a longer vehicle on Irish roads. The general conclusion from a range of international studies is that that the introduction of longer heavier vehicles (LHVs) in appropriate circumstances generates step-change increases in the efficiency of the movement of goods by road, and reductions in congestion, energy use, fuel cost and environmental emissions from transport. The introduction of these vehicles can also have a net beneficial effect of road safety, as well as reduce the degradation through wear of road pavement structures. Andrew states that the company has reduced its fuel consumption by around ten per cent over the past five years. He says a move to introduce these new vehicles would build on those figures. “It is a longer heavier vehicle in European terminology but

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Reynolds Logistics | feature CHAMBERS IRELAND | chamber week we try to stay away from those words because they frighten people a bit. It is essentially a longer vehicle that can carry more product, thereby reducing the amount of trips needed, therefore reducing the environmental impact. Now that Ireland has a very good road infrastructure, particularly from main points to main points, we feel that it is now a good opportunity for Ireland to try this sort of concept out. In certain circumstances, two of those types of vehicles will do the equivalent work of three normal vehicles.” He also believes it could have a positive effect for the wider economy. “That type of vehicle can also be used for lots of other transports, and from an export point of view it can carry the equivalent of one and a half containers. There are benefits for the wider Irish economy if we can prove that the system works as well.”

The company brand Despite the success of Reynolds Logistics, the company does not advertise and does not involve itself in much promotion. That is not to say that the company is not aware of its brand and the importance of its family name. Joe Reynolds believes the reputation of a company’s brand is becoming a more important area all the time. He makes an interesting analogy between the fuel industry and the agri-food sector, in light of the recent horsemeat controversy. “When you see what is happening in the food industry at the moment. Look at these great brands. Every time these brands are being devalued by the actions of subcontractors and suppliers. So the complexity of the supply chain is not always fully appreciated and understood. The negative effect that suppliers or contractors can have on people’s brand is absolutely immense.” He continues: “There is clear evidence of fraud in the food business and there is also fraud in the fuel business, in terms of fuel laundering. So I think that for major clients to have a safe pair of hands is to handle their supply chain without risk to their reputation. I think it’s a growing area and I think it is something you are going to hear more about over the next couple of years.” When it comes to having a family

name as the company’s profile, Reynolds has a powerful marketing tool at its disposal. One benefit it holds is allowing the customer to know they can get right to the top of the company quite easily. This is an advantage that a number of its competitors in the European market would not possess. Joe says: “Any of our customers can ring Andrew or me any day. So if you needed a decision on principle or on capital or whatever, you can get right to the decision maker, whereas decisions made by a lot of our competitors would be at a committee level.” Joe also highlights how having the family name at the forefront of the business makes those at the heart of it strive for excellence. “I think it also personalises the business, and because of that you have an emotional investment or an investment of pride. You know if this was ABC Logistics you just mightn’t have the same pride in that as one that carries your own name.”

The road ahead Reynolds Logistics has enjoyed outstanding and consistent growth since its formation. Today, it is universally recognised as the leader in its field and its sphere of operations has since expanded to the UK and Europe. But the company is not content to sit back and enjoy its latest accolades. On the contrary, it shows no signs of

future complacency. Andrew says: “We aim to keep growing the company. We want to move forward. Our aim over the next four or five years is to maybe add around 50 per cent new business.” Meanwhile, Joe believes the company’s recent fortunes are as a result of its staff and the management team Andrew has put in place. He also sees opportunity to expand further in the near future. “Andrew has put together a good management team that is 'doing the business' and also continuing to grow the business. So it’s not just that they’re maintaining the position, but they are actually growing,” he says. Reflecting on what the prestigious European award means for the company, Joe Reynolds does not get carried away. “I suppose the European award is the icing on the cake, it is the final verification of what you are doing. We don’t have a queue of customers rushing to offer us more money for our services but that’s not the point of it. It is recognition from somebody coming in from the outside. The judges in this award were the editors of all the major transport magazines in Europe, so they are guys that know the business and you’re not going to pull the wool over their eyes. Anybody can produce a flashy Powerpoint presentation, but when the audience knows the topic inside out, you have to make sure your Powerpoint is based on reality.” InBusiness | Q1 2013 27

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Law professionals to be honoured Finalists announced for Danske Bank Irish Law Awards 2013.


he finalists have been announced for the 2013 Danske Bank Irish Law Awards. Now in its second year, the Danske Bank-sponsored Irish Law Awards provide an opportunity for those working at the forefront of the Irish legal profession to be recognised alongside their European and international peers. The awards acknowledge excellence and recognise the outstanding achievements and exemplary practices of leading law firms, legal practitioners and in-house legal teams across the country. The finalists cover 22 categories from more than 100 law practices across Ireland. This year saw almost 300 nominations in categories such as Regional Law Firms of the Year, Sole Practitioner of the Year and the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. There were in excess of 25 different firms/lawyers nominated for both the Law Firm Innovation of the Year and Pro Bono & Public Interest Team/ Lawyer of the Year categories this year, making hard work for the panel of judges. The finalists were selected by an adjudication panel comprised of 25 leading national and international legal experts, headed by Chairman Dr. Eamonn Hall. Dr Hall is principal of E.G. Hall & Co, former chairman of the Law Reporting Council for Ireland and currently a board member of the Irish Centre for European Law and member of the Governing Council of the Faculty of Notaries Public in Ireland. The Danske Bank Irish Law Awards will take place on Friday May 3rd in the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin, and will be hosted by leading current

Garvan Callan of Dankse Bank and Dr Eamonn G. Hall, chairman of the Danske Bank Irish Law Awards judging panel.

affairs broadcaster, Miriam O’Callaghan. Commenting on their partnership with the Irish Law Awards, Terry Browne, Country Manager, at Danske Bank said: “We’re delighted to once again be associated with the Irish Law Awards. Just as these awards are about achieving excellence in the legal profession, Danske Bank strives to achieve excellence in banking technology, advisory services and products. Today’s shortlisted finalists are evidence of the exemplary quality and professionalism in the Irish legal profession and we are delighted to be able to again recognise the wealth of talent that exists in this country. I’d like to wish all of the finalists the very best of luck and I look forward to the awards event in May.” Tracey Carney, Event Director stated: “The inaugural Irish Law Awards was a

huge success last year and was the first of its kind in Ireland. The event has grown exponentially since then and this year we are delighted to have the support of Danske Bank in partnering with us in recognising excellence within the legal sector. The standard this year was exceptionally high.” The Irish Law Awards identify, honour and publicise outstanding performances of the great practitioners, law firms, academics, legal executives, students and legal personnel of Ireland who have achieved excellence in law in the period from January 1st 2012 to December 31st 2012. 2013 will be the second year of this prestigious event. For a full list of categories and finalists please visit the Awards website at www. InBusiness | Q1 2013 29

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Trailblazing the way to a digital world Digital Marketing Institute scoops inaugural award at the 2013 Samsung Digital Media Awards.

Anthony Quigley and Ian Dodson of the Digital Marketing Institute.


he Digital Marketing Institute has won the inaugural Trailblazer Award at the Samsung Digital Media Awards (DMA). The award, which was presented to directors Ian Dodson and Anthony Quigley, recognises the organisation’s contribution to showcasing Ireland on the international digital stage. Recent international deals in India, South Africa and Malaysia worth a combined total of €8 million, see the Digital Marketing Institute bring its digital media courses to thousands of students across these regions. The award, which was bestowed by a jury of digital media industry experts in Ireland, rounded off an excellent night for the company with many of the organisations that lecture on its courses winning awards, as well as those now employing former students. These included Wolfgang Digital, Cybercom, Radical, Bluecube, RMG, Daracreative

and Mindshare. Tracey Carney, Event Director of the Digital Media Awards, stated: “The Digital Marketing Institute has led the way in educating professionals in the field of digital marketing, ensuring career growth and competitiveness in a global jobs sector. The 2013 Samsung Digital Media Awards are delighted to mark the company’s success in its global reach, which further secures Ireland’s reputation as a global digital media hub.” The key deals that helped secure the organisation’s success include: • An agreement with NIIT, India’s largest IT training initiative to bring digital marketing to over 25,000 students within three years, worth €3 million. • Education of 3,000 students in South Africa in partnership with the SA Institute and Vega School of Brand Leadership worth a further €3 million.

• A partnership deal with Specialist Knowledge Centre, Malaysia to bring certification programmes to the entire ASEAN region worth €2 million over three years. Commenting on the award, Ian Dodson, CEO of the Digital Marketing Institute said: “To be awarded the title of digital trailblazers from the industry is a real honour as we strive to innovate and push the boundaries when it comes to not only our own company’s ambitions, but also the digital sector. As a country we really are punching above our weight when it comes to tech and digital development. Not only have some of the largest organisations from this sector chosen Ireland to locate their headquarters but our own homegrown businesses continue to inspire, demonstrating enormous talent in the digital arena.” The award ceremony, which took place at the Convention Centre, Dublin, was attended by the leading companies in the digital field. A record number of entries were received this year demonstrating how critical the medium of digital has become to all organisations from SMEs, NGOs and multinationals.

Digital Marketing Institute Founded in Dublin, Ireland in 2008, the Digital Marketing Institute is the global certification and education body for the digital marketing industry. The organisation works closely with global digital industry players to define the skills and qualifications required to thrive in this rapidly growing industry. The Digital Marketing Institute has partner operations in Europe, Middle East, Africa, North America and Asia.

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DHL Express Ireland | IB SURVEY

Tips of the Trade Caroline Cannon, Brand, Communications and Marketing Manager of DHL Express Ireland, offers advice on how to best expand your business internationally.


ver the last number of years, Ireland’s dependence on international trade has been well publicised. Despite the Irish economy continuing to struggle in 2012, exports of goods and services surged by five per cent, to a record high of a183bn. Trading outside Ireland has many advantages and can open up new markets and growth potential, particularly for SMEs, but it can seem overwhelming for those unfamiliar with the process. Whether you’re an SME taking your first steps on the international ladder, already shipping internationally, or simply want to learn more about international trade, here are a few top tips that can help your business expand beyond Irish shores:

DO YOUR RESEARCH If you’re thinking of trading overseas, the first step should always be to research and understand the countries where you plan to do business. You should familiarise yourself with how trade is conducted - from different business practices to cultures, customs and currencies. You should assess the competition, local tastes and how all of these factors could impact your business relationships.

DEVELOP YOUR LOGISTICS STRATEGY The practicality of moving shipments across oceans and continents is inherently more complex than moving shipments domestically. Taking the time to establish a clear and effective export or import strategy is the key to trading successfully. Working with an established logistics partner, like DHL Express, who have experience in your markets; can help facilitate international trade while

providing all the guidance and support that’s needed.

KNOW YOUR COSTS AND FINANCIAL RISKS Trading internationally is no different to trading at home in that there are various start-up costs that you need to consider. Exporting can be financially demanding; careful planning is required to ensure that working capital is in place at every stage as extra costs such as transport, duties and insurance need to be considered. Waiting for commissions, orders and payments may also take longer internationally than in Ireland and you need to be aware of fluctuations in exchange rates.

NAVIGATE CUSTOMS The complex maze of different international custom regulations and requirements should never be underestimated, even when exporting to a country you’ve dealt with before. Customs regulations vary from country to country and unfortunately one size doesn’t fit all. These regulations can be a challenge to understand but it’s your duty to know them. Finally, working with a reliable and efficient logistics company like DHL Express, can provide an allinclusive end-to-end service, which takes the stress out of the equation.

PAY ATTENTION TO PACKAGING & LABELLING Whatever your delivery needs, your packages need to be correctly packaged to reach their destination safely. It is important to consider how packaging can affect your shipping costs and the weight of the package. Always ensure the right sized box is used to protect your products without wasted dimensional

Caroline Cannon, Brand, Communications and Marketing Manager of DHL Express Ireland

weight. Finally, it is critical to pay special attention to clearly labelling and valuing your merchandise.

Final Thought Before beginning any journey there is always a lot to consider. No matter what size your business is, the opportunities and growth potential in international trade are critical to the long-term growth and success of your company. Partnering with a global transport company like DHL Express offers companies easy access to worldwide markets for your goods, combined with knowledge and expertise in all aspects of international shipping requirements, which support businesses looking to trade internationally and businesses currently trading in overseas markets. Simply follow these top tips and benefit from the opportunities and growth potential of international trade, enabling your business to grow and prosper on a global level. InBusiness | Q1 2013 33

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Law Society of Ireland | IB SURVEY

A law course not only for Legal practitioners An exciting opportunity to participate in a Law Society course.


he Law Society Diploma Programme has been providing high quality diploma and certificate courses for over a decade. The primary aim of the Diploma Programme is to provide high quality, relevant course content that meets the needs of professionals in a changing and competitive market. The majority of its courses are primarily aimed at solicitors. However, certain courses are open to suitably qualified non-lawyers such as the Diploma in Employment Law or the Certificate in Intellectual Property Rights Management. These courses are practical in nature and will give participants an

advances in the form of blended learning courses, webcasting and mobile devices such as iPads, providing new ways for the profession to access the courses. Mr Murphy also points out that technology plays an important role in course delivery. “The Diploma Programme has been a leading provider in offering webcasting across all its courses. iPads have been integrated into the very fabric of a number of their courses. The Diploma Programme uses the iPads as an educational, as well as a professional tool. For those unfamiliar with the technology, iPad clinics are provided free to students registered on our courses, where the student can have a oneto-one tutorial with an iPad expert.”

insight into the legal issues surrounding the particular topic. Simon Murphy, chairman of the Education Committee at the Law Society of Ireland explains: “The Law Society Diploma Programme’s main objective is to provide top quality legal courses to solicitors. However, many non-legal professionals require a basic knowledge of certain areas of law and we recognise that we are in a perfect position to offer such courses.” Over the last number of years, as well as establishing new and appealing diploma courses, the Diploma Programme has made significant information and communication technology (ICT)

“These courses are practical in nature and will give participants an insight into the legal issues surrounding the particular topic.”

For further information, you should visit the Diploma Programme website at

Diploma Programme Get the competitive edge with a Law Society course

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Diploma in Technology Law (new) (incl iPad Mini 16GB)

Saturday 13 April


Diploma in Commercial Litigation

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Certificate in Intellectual Property Rights Management (intensive one week course)

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(*) Fees quoted are for solicitors. Non-legal personnel are subject to an application process and supplemental fee. (**) Reduced fee of €900 for Skillnet members

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01 672 4802

20/03/2013 10:54

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working from home | feature

Working from home can work for you Brendan Hanratty, Health and Safety Specialist with Peninsula Business Services, looks at the benefits of working from home and the health and safety measures which should be in place to make it work for both parties.


orking from home is now more common than ever. Over the last decade there has been a steady rise in the number of people who permanently work for their employer from their own home, rather than the office. There are many reasons for the increasing popularity of this method of work. One is that workers can agree flexible hours with their employers to fit more conveniently around childcare and home life in general. Another reason is that by carrying out work from home, employees can avoid the delays and subsequent stress caused by rush hour travel, no longer having to spend time commuting to and from their workplace, time that can often be more profitably used working. Also, by working alone at home, many employees believe they are less prone to catching contagious ailments thereby needing less time off work during the year. They also feel they experience less daily distractions by working alone. While many companies have embraced the introduction of home working, others are reluctant to enter into the process. One reason for this more cautious attitude among employers is that they believe it may be difficult to protect and monitor the health and safety of home-based workers, as their legal duties in this regard still extend

to employees working away from the workplace. Some employers believe that there are more health and safety hazards in the home than there may be in the office but, in reality, there are probably an equal amount, and they are mainly of the same nature as those found in the office – for example, the possibility of slips, trips and falls and work-related upper limb disorders will be present in both environments. Home working can be an efficient and profitable exercise for both employee and employer with the health and safety of the worker being easily and effectively managed by considering the following methods of monitoring: Before an employee embarks on home working, it is essential to carry out an assessment of their proposed working area to assess the employee’s new working space. This can be undertaken by a competent person within the company, who would visit the employee’s home to carry out the assessment. Alternatively, and the more likely option, is for the employee to carry out an annual self-assessment, following appropriate guidance with the Line Manager checking the form and discussing the results. ChamberSafe can provide a template ‘Home Working Viability Checklist’ to ensure that you cover the bases needed. It is important that the worker has an

“It is important that the worker has an area in the home designated strictly to their work and where there are space constraints.”

Brendan Hanratty, Health and Safety Specialist , Peninsula Business Services

area in the home designated strictly to their work and where there are space constraints – a ‘foldaway’ desk with a slatted cover which can be pulled down and locked at the end of the working day could be provided. This will help to keep the equipment away from children and pets and help the worker further separate their working area from leisure activities and home life. Several manufacturers offer “office in a box” workstations that are suitable. The equipment used, i.e. chair, desk, keyboard etc. should be examined to ensure that, while it does not legally have to be of any particular ‘officeapproved’ standard, it should all still be ergonomically sound for the particular InBusiness | Q1 2013 35

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wOrKIng FrOM HOME | feature

worker. The use of ‘self-assessment’ questions to be answered by the employee, in written form, may be helpful in ensuring the workstation is right for them and will not present any physical hazards. The assessor should ensure the surrounding area is free from slip and trip hazards, and that any wires are taped down if they present a trip hazard. Laptops experience significant and prolonged use in home working, but they can present hazards beyond those associated with desktop computers. It is difficult to be prescriptive about this; many people prefer working on their laptops and are reluctant to have a large desktop computer permanently on display in the home. Research and official guidance suggest that it is not advisable to work all day on a laptop, as the size of the keyboard and the position of the screen in relation to the eyes are not as ideal as those associated with PC monitors. From an ergonomic perspective, prolonged use of a laptop is not advisable. Employers should, as a minimum, insist on separate keyboards, screens and mice. Remember also that home workers often bring their laptops into their employers’ premises and, if this is an absolute necessity, they should be carried in an inconspicuous

bag that can be worn comfortably on the shoulder. The electrical components of a home worker’s house are sometimes an area of concern for many employers, as they are not subject to the same testing requirements as an office building, but this can be tackled easily during the home assessment by ensuring that plugs are correctly wired, cables are covered and undamaged, circuit breakers are fitted to multi-plug sockets etc. and requesting that work equipment is entirely switched off at the end of the working day. The home worker can be trained in carrying out a basic visual check on their electrical equipment, which can then be supplemented by a formal visual inspection by a competent person at the intervals required for different components. Lighting can also be looked at by the assessor and, if needed, extra or more suitable lighting could be placed in the area. After the initial assessment, the employee should be able to start work as soon as conditions have been deemed suitable by both the assessor and the employee. The employee can assess their home working area at yearly intervals after the initial one. With these measures in place, an employee’s health and safety during

home working can be effectively monitored and the employer can be assured that the employee has adequate safety systems in their place of work.

CHAMBERSAFE COMMENT Employers should be aware that they have a duty to ensure the safety of their workers, whether they work from home or within their main office, and that by devoting the same level of health and safety assistance and assessment for both, they will achieve safe working environments for both groups. It should not be considered as a costly burden to support home working, as the only real extra outlay should be the travelling costs incurred to the home worker’s residence by the assessor. However, it should be noted that these travelling costs can easily be justified and offset by the savings achieved in not having to provide this worker with the office space, the welfare facilities, the lighting and the heating to complete their work tasks. Therefore, employers who successfully tackle home working and embrace the concept can often see a marked reduction in their overall operating costs, making good business sense. If you have a query about home workers or flexible working please contact ChamberSafe on 1890 252 923.

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European Payment Index 2013

What is it? Since 1998 Intrum Justitia - Europe’s leading provider of Credit Management Services - has been carrying out a written and on-line survey across 25 European countries as well as in other countries outside Europe on an annual basis involving several thousand companies, college professors, eminent economists, government finance departments and academics. The results of the survey are published in the European Payment Index Report.

Why is this important to you? If you currently export or are intending to export, then this is a critically important event for you. This event is about facts and stats to help you avoid the risks associated with exporting into Europe. The event will include speakers from major multinationals, industry associations and Intrum Justitia experts.

When is it? Date:

Friday 24th May 2013

Venue: Havelock Area, Aviva Stadium Time:

9.30am to 2.00pm

This is an invitation only event. Please contact Niamh Ward on 01 869 2203 or for further details.

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CBRE | case study

Ireland: A case study on austerity O

ver the last number of years, as has been well documented internationally, the Irish economy experienced the most significant correction in its history. Having been the poster boy of Europe for much of the last decade, boasting almost full employment and average rates of economic growth of more than six per cent per annum for a period, the Irish economy came crashing down spectacularly in 2007. A debt-fuelled property boom came to a very abrupt end following the global banking crash

and the fortunes of the Irish economy changed very quickly. The sharp decline in construction-related activity, which had been the mainstay of employment in the Irish economy from 20022007 had a very significant impact on employment in the economy, with the rate of unemployment in Ireland increasing to its current rate of approximately 14.5 per cent. In September 2008, the Irish Government feared that a run on the banks was imminent and made the decision to guarantee all deposits and

“There are now some signs of improvement emerging which suggest that some of the difficult decisions made by the Government are starting to bear fruit.”

liabilities in Irish domestic banks. This resulted in capital injections into the domestic banking sector of approximately €70bn and the nationalisation of the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (the specialist property-lender formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank) as well as several other smaller banks. Loans to the construction sector were a particular impediment to the Irish banks and in December 2009, the Government announced the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). This entity, which was envisaged would operate as a 'bad bank', effectively moved troubled development loans off the books of the Irish banks with a view to enabling these banks to resume lending. While many suggest that NAMA has done little to improve liquidity in the Irish banking system, to date, NAMA has acquired 11,000 loans at a nominal (original) value of €72.3bn, with an aggregate haircut on these transfers of 58 per cent. In November 2010, as the cost of funding on international markets became unaffordable for Ireland, the Irish Government was forced to seek assistance from the EU and the IMF. An €85bn assistance package comprising funds from the European Financial Stability Fund, the European Financial Stability Mechanism, the International Monetary Fund and Ireland’s own cash reserves was put in place. The Irish Government then embarked on a fouryear National Recovery Plan in order to achieve a total €15bn correction in


As Ireland enters the fifth year of its austerity cycle, Marie Hunt, Executive Director of CBRE Ireland, documents the measures taken by Government to date.

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CBRE | case study the public finances. This has brought about tax increases, welfare and benefit reductions and other measures to increase efficiency in the public sector. A property tax which is currently being implemented will have further financial implications for Ireland’s hard-pressed citizens, many of who have high levels of personal debt and are suffering negative equity, following a more than 50 per cent deterioration in property prices since 2007. Although Irish citizens have had to endure severe austerity, they have for the most part been accepting of the measures implanted by Government in order to restore the public finances with very little rioting or public opposition in comparison with countries such as Greece for example. There is now an acceptance that the financial plans the Government have put in place to reduce the Government deficit to below three per cent of GDP by 2015 are on track. The Troika of the IMF, the EU and the ECB have now conducted nine quarterly reviews of Ireland’s progress and in their most recent review concluded that the Irish Government was on track to achieve its fiscal, financial and structural goals. Austerity measures undertaken throughout the last number of Budgets have severely impacted on domestic demand, which has contracted in each of the last five years (2007 to 2012). Private consumption, Government consumption and public investment continue to fall while fiscal consolidation, high unemployment and household deleveraging are all impacting on consumer spending in the domestic economy. Ireland’s GDP declined during the years 2008 to 2010. However, having been the first country to accept a bailout and enter a regime of austerity, there are now some signs of improvement emerging which suggest that some of the difficult decisions made by Government are starting to bear fruit. GDP growth

of 1.5 per cent is anticipated in 2013 following modest growth in Irish economic performance in both 2011 and 2012. Confidence in the Irish economy’s ability to emerge from its current crisis is building as evidenced by sentiment and some key economic indicators. Five-year government bond yields have improved in recent months to around three per cent - a vast improvement on the double digit yields attaching to Irish bonds at the peak of the downturn. The ratings agency Fitch recently upgraded the country’s outlook from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’; transactional activity in the property sector has improved in the last 12 months and consumer spending has improved year-on-year. However, much of the growth being experienced in the Irish economy is directly related to strong export performance with the domestic economy remaining challenged. The rate of unemployment remains stubbornly high and is likely to decline at a very slow pace. However, it is encouraging that while many countries across Europe are struggling to prevent a serious contraction in job numbers in their wealth-creating sectors, Ireland is experiencing growth with net job gains achieved in the last number of years, undoubtedly fuelled by Ireland’s rate of corporate tax of 12.5 per cent and the very significant improvement in competitiveness that has been the by-product of the economic crash since 2007. In summary, Ireland is now entering the fifth year of its austerity cycle and measures introduced are starting to have an impact; however recovery will be very slow. Although there is still a long way to go, Ireland may relinquish its position as the country with the biggest budget deficit in the Euro area in 2013. Investor confidence and sentiment towards Ireland has improved measurably over the last 12 months in particular. If the injection of liquidity directly into Eurozone banks by the ESM can be 2012









Unemployment Rate





Debt to GDP Ratio





applied retrospectively to Ireland, it could lower the country’s debt to GDP ratio to a more sustainable level and help the Irish economy to recover at an ever faster pace. Submission to the Group on Economic Policy (GEP) of the International Chamber of Commerce, Paris.

Marie Hunt, Executive Director, CBRE Ireland

Marie Hunt Marie Hunt is a chartered surveyor who 18 years ago established the research department at property consultants CBRE Ireland, which is now regarded as one of the most authoritative sources of property information in the Irish market. A regular commentator in the Irish media on property and economic matters, Marie produces a range of property market publications and carries out specialist consultancy work on behalf of a broad range of institutional, private and public sector clients. Marie was recently selected by Chambers Ireland to represent Ireland on the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Group on Economic Policy (GEP). The role of this GEP group is to advise the Chairmanship and Executive Board of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce on macro-economic issues as they affect the global economy. The GEP has a particular role to play in helping shape ICC’s ongoing input on macroeconomic issues into the G20 process. Marie recently presented this article to the ICC group outlining how Ireland has dealt with austerity.

Source: Department of Finance

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Chamber Update News and opinion from Chambers Ireland, Ireland’s Largest Business Network.

42. Chamber News

A round up of all the news and events from Chamber networks nationwide.

45. Embracing Equality

The Equality Authority and Chambers Ireland have teamed up to recognise diversity in the business community.

46. A New Advance in Trade Finance

Jessie Lea explains how the Bank Payment Obligation product provides an attractive alternative to settlement in international trade finance.

47. Chamber Week Preview Involvement with a local Chamber can have a hugely beneficial impact on businesses. Chamber Week highlights everything that is positive about Irish business.

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chamber news

Chamber Catch-Up A round up of all the news and events from Chamber networks nationwide.

Dublin and Ennis receive prestigious Purple Flag Award


ublin City’s Creative Quarter and Dame District have joined the town of Ennis in County Clare as the first places in the Republic of Ireland to receive the prestigious, international Purple Flag award. Similar to the Blue Flag given to our finest beaches and the Green Flag that flies in our most eco-friendly schools, the Purple Flag is an accreditation scheme that honours excellence in the appeal and management of a town or city centre area between the hours of 5pm and 5am. Purple Flag centres offer the highest quality in shopping, dining, pubs and entertainment ensuring a visitor has all they need for a great evening out. The award is bestowed by the Association of Town Centre Management. Dublin’s Creative Quarter and Dame District, along with Ennis, are the first Irish centres to receive this distinction in the Republic of Ireland, following locations like London’s Covent Garden, Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and Liverpool City Centre in achieving this coveted award. The Purple Flag accreditation required excellence in the area of five criteria. The town centre that receives the award must score highly in wellbeing (safety and

cleanliness), movement (traffic flow and public transport), broad appeal (appeal for people of all ages and interests), place (vitality and cultural stimulation), and policy envelope (clear aim). The final criterion is the most important – policy and planning. A Purple Flag designated centre must have a clear sense of purpose and a plan for continued success. Dublin’s Creative Quarter, Dame District and Ennis fitted all five criteria perfectly and exemplify what it means to be a Purple Flag honouree. A key part of the success of both the Dublin and Ennis applications for this award was the partnership approach taken by both locations. Dublin City Business Improvement District, who led the Dublin application, worked closely with the Gardaí, Fáilte Ireland and Dublin City Council on the Dublin application, while Ennis saw a partnership of Ennis Town Council, Promote Ennis, Shannon Development, Ennis Gardaí and the business community represented by Ennis Chamber and Ennis taxis. All groups are committed to the future development of their respective Purple Flag areas to sustain the award standard achieved.

Raising of the Purple Flag, Mayor of Ennis Peter Considine, Shannon Development Tourism Executive Siobhan King, Superintendant Peter Duff, Chair of Promote Ennis Brian O'Neill.

Calls for Government to Outsource Passport Processing


hambers Ireland has called on the Government to implement business process outsourcing, particularly in areas such as passport processing. The call came following a presentation made by Chambers Ireland to the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade last February outlining how the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can play a role in Ireland’s recovery. Speaking on the issue, Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, said: “We have always supported business process outsourcing and this could be particularly effective in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Considerable savings can be made, not only from the wages bill, but also from reduced training costs, lower levels of investment in new technologies and lower consultancy bills, through outsourcing of passport processing. The existing structure cannot cope with demand at peak times and outsourcing this function will provide increased flexibility and efficiency.” Other issues addressed in the presentation included the prioritising of target countries that are commercially important to Ireland, the clear definition of roles and responsibility among Government Departments, and using the opportunity of St. Patrick’s Day to support trade.

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Export Support Programme open for recruitment many years; however there are still many who want to expand their markets and need some extra support to take the first steps. The ‘Gateways to Growth: Supply, Buy, Network’ programme might just be the right starting point. Letterkenny Chamber President John Watson and Vice The Chambers President Gerard Grant pictured with Toni Forrester, of Commerce Project Manager. in Letterkenny, Dundalk and Northern Ireland are usinesses are always on the look currently working in partnership with out for new customers and new the COMET councils to deliver this markets and for a border county new cross border initiative. The project there is an immediate, untapped market has been awarded funding from the right on the doorstep. Many companies European Union’s Regional Development across the border counties have been Fund through INTERREG IVA working on a cross border basis for Programme, managed by the Special EU


Making Business Better


oing things differently can make our businesses better’, was one of the inspiring ideas which came from a business seminar hosted by Sheridan Insurances in conjunction with Cavan Chamber of Commerce last March. The event

was attended by business people from throughout the North East. Entitled ‘Innovation - The Key to Success in the Economic Recovery’, the seminar was aimed at encouraging more positivity and innovation in the SME sector. The keynote speakers were Alan Kavanagh,

Dermot Prendergast, Source, Sean Gallagher, Entrepreneur, Miriam Sheridan, Sheridan Insurances and Alan Kavanagh, Aviva Health Executive.

Programmes Body (SEUPB). Gateways to Growth will bring together over 300 SMEs from across the border regions of Donegal, Louth, Monaghan, Leitrim, Sligo and Cavan, as well as Northern Ireland at two large scale ‘Meet the Buyer’ events. The programme is aimed at SMEs from a range of sectors giving them the opportunity to meet and sell to potential private sector buying organisations while also developing the skills to assist in securing business in new markets. Cllr Jenny Palmer, Chair of the COMET INTERREG Partnership commented, “We are delighted to have secured funding for the Gateways to Growth project and we would encourage businesses to avail of this exciting cross border initiative which will enhance the export capability of SME’s and encourage trade between companies from Northern Ireland and the cross border regions of the Republic of Ireland.” To apply, small businesses just need to go register online at www. and then complete an application form, or for more information contact Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce on 074 9124866.

Aviva Health Executive and Sean Gallagher, Entrepreneur, Business Writer and formerly a Dragon on the successful TV show Dragon’s Den. Benny Sheridan was the MC for the event. “The idea behind the seminar was to encourage people to be more positive and innovative in their businesses”, said Sheridan. “To basically accept the dramatic changes in the economy and find better ways of doing business.” At the event, Sean Gallagher encouraged SMEs to become more positive and proactive and less fearful of failure. In his question and answer session, Gallagher gave the audience golden nuggets of advice. He encouraged them to take inspiration from the success of others, to ask for help and to pro-actively promote their business by networking and becoming involved in the local community. He told the audience not to sit out the recession but to follow Muhammad Ali’s advice: “Don’t count the days, make the days count.” InBusiness | Q1 2013 43

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Conversation in Letterkenny

Jim McGuinness, Donegal Manager being interviewed by Chris Ashmore, Letterkenny Post.


etterkenny Chamber continued its current “In Conversation” series with a fascinating evening with Jim McGuinness, Manager of the All Ireland Champions Donegal Football team. Last September when the team won the 2012 title there was a huge sense of pride and confidence in the county as a whole and Donegal people from across the globe celebrated the victory. Letterkenny Chamber hosted “In Conversation with Jim McGuinness” attracting businesses

from across the region to hear a lively and engaging interview. A successful sportsman himself Jim has used his expertise as a sports psychologist and master tactician to develop highly successful players and a winning team. While he mentioned the system, he would not be drawn on the detail. However he talked articulately about his journey and career to date and his methods for motivating the team. John Watson, President of Letterkenny

Benefits of HR highlighted at Shannon Chamber Forum

Helen Downes, chief executive, Shannon Chamber and Professor Paddy Gunnigle, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick (centre) at the Shannon Chamber HR Forum meeting in AerCap, Shannon.


he importance of the human resources function within companies was highlighted at a recent Shannon Chamber HR Forum meeting held in AerCap, Westpark, Shannon. Addressing HR managers at the event, Professor Paddy Gunnigle, Professor of Business Studies at the

University of Limerick, said: “The human resources function within companies, particularly MNCs, is playing a key role in delivering organisational responses to the global financial crisis.” “Hard metric evaluation of HR’s contribution is resulting in

Chamber said after the event, “The effect of getting to the final in 2012 and winning the title was phenomenal, giving everyone a lift, making us all proud to be from Donegal. The positivity in the room during and after this event showed how belief in yourself and your employees can lead to success.” The evening rounded off with Jim and the Sam Maguire cup posing for photographs with members of the audience.

rationalisation and a re-configuration of HR delivery within companies, and an increase in shared service provision,” Mr Gunnigle added. With over twenty in-company HR practitioners now members of the HR Forum, the quarterly meetings have evolved into a practical mechanism for shared discussion and problem solving among HR practitioners in the Shannon area. Mairead Hogan, HR manager with Zimmer highlighted the benefits of the forum: “The HR forum provides an arena to share best practices and see how organisations in the region tackle problems similar to ours. It provides a network of local HR professionals who can share ideas and benchmark information. The legal and professional updates are especially useful to keep abreast of developments and or upcoming changes.” The Shannon Chamber HR forum is open to in-company HR practitioners.

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EquaLITy auTHOrITy | chamBers IrelaNd

Embracing Equality The Equality Authority and Chambers Ireland have teamed up to recognise diversity in the business community. CASE STUDY: MINORITY ETHNIC BUSINESSES


n the last quarter of 2012, the Equality Authority and the Chamber Network co-operated on an initiative to make Chamber membership more inclusive and representative of the Irish business community. “The composition of the Irish business community has changed significantly over the last number of years, and we were interested to see how this has been reflected in the membership of Chambers,” said Mark O’Mahoney, Products Manager with Chambers Ireland. “Rising numbers of female business owners, immigrant entrepreneurs, and a new phenomenon of ‘older entrepreneurs’ who have left industries like construction to set up new companies, have all changed the profile of the business community in cities and towns across Ireland. We felt it was important that Chambers be aware of these changes in order to continue to serve local business needs.” A two stage process involving a membership survey and interviews with the chief executives of Chambers gave an interesting insight into the challenges facing Chambers, but there was also a recognition of the opportunities

presented by diversity in the community. “The project illustrated an interest and commitment among local Chambers of Commerce who participated to address equality and diversity issues,” said Deirdre Toomey of the Equality Authority. “Despite the current economic challenges there was a recognition that a lot can be done to promote equality and diversity. In fact it was highlighted that there is a strong link between equality and diversity aims and the need for Chambers of Commerce and its members to attract new members. An inclusive, dynamic membership which takes into account equality and diversity also supports businesses and the development of local economies.” The final project report has proved to be a useful tool for Chambers, and contains advice and case studies on initiatives that can be undertaken to diversify their membership base. If your Chamber would like a copy, please email Chambers Ireland at

The ethnic diversity of Irish businesses has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. A study by Thomas Cooney (2008, DIT) shows that in 2008, minority ethnic business ownership comprises about 13 per cent of the business population, a figure that may well have increased in the meantime. His study also indicates that such businesses tend to be small in scale, young in age, concentrated in the domestically traded services sectors and operating at the margins of mainstream economic activity. One of the concerns raised in the Cooney report which is of particular relevance to this study, is that minority ethnic firms are unlikely to engage with mainstream agencies and support providers and hence may not receive the development support they need. Barriers to take-up of support include identifying and reaching these businesses, inappropriateness of product oriented approaches, and lack of trust and confidence in those delivering support services. He notes that while many of the support needs of minority ethnic businesses are common to the majority counterpart SMEs, there are specific characteristics of minority ethnic businesses that need to be addressed and these include language, religious gender and age dimensions that have implications for how support is to be delivered effectively. Thanks to Siobhan Phillips, Research & Evaluation for her expertise and input on this project.

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icc | Chambers Ireland

A new advance in trade finance Jessie Lea of Chambers Ireland, the Irish National Committee of the ICC, explains how the Bank Payment Obligation product provides an attractive alternative method of settlement in international trade finance.


he International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) have joined forces to create a new trade finance product called the Bank Payment Obligation (BPO). SWIFT, which provides financial messaging to thousands of companies in over two hundred countries, believes that trade finance is a vital banking service that supports the world’s economy. The ICC agrees with this standpoint and trusts that with the implementation of this new programme of rules and standards, banks will be better able to provide financing that is in synch with today’s modern technology.

Why BPO? There are many attributes that make the BPO attractive for those searching for an alternative means of settlement in international trade. Traditionally, trade financing involves manual processing, which is a time consuming and complicated process. BPO seeks to provide automatic letters of credit which will better benefit the companies. Likewise, banks will also be able to offer a greater array of services in trade finance which will particularly help their corporate clients.

Purpose Open accounts often fail to produce access to transaction data to banks. This inhibits their ability to follow events in the physical supply chain. With BPO combined with ISO 20022 messaging standards, banks are given access to pertinent data, records, and reports, which gives those banks the ability to provide finance and

payment services as well as improve risk management capabilities. The BPO additionally introduces automation and better efficiency to the supply chain management process. Unlike checking documents manually, data matching is much simpler because there is no subjectivity. The data simply matches or it doesn’t. The cornerstone of BPO is the implementation of support in interoperability between participating banks. This aspect allows different banks to work together to reach out globally to the trade market, and to provide a better range of supply chains to customers. BPOs can also be used as collateral. If a proposition for pre-shipment financing is made based upon an approved purchase order or in the case of post-shipment an approved invoice, the BPO can be used as a method of assuring payment amongst the banks involved.

Be Part of the Change Many global companies have already begun investing in the BPO project. If questioning how BPO could help your company, look at some of the benefits for specific players such as importers, exporters, and individual banks. For importers, BPO is safer than prepayment because the buyer does not have to pay before receiving the title to the purchase. It facilitates financing for the buyer which creates extended payables. BPO also strengthens the relationships between customer and seller which helps to secure the supply chain. Business opportunities are able to be expanded, which increases competitiveness in foreign markets. Buyers can structure payments based upon their own best interests, make confirmations of good shipment well in advance of the goods’ arrival, and negotiate better terms and conditions not only for now but for the future as

well. BPO most importantly protects the buyer since the bank pays only when the seller complies with the specific terms along with producing the required data. It increases convenience of trade and therefore reduces costs. For exporters, BPO is quite simply an assurance of payment. There is access to flexible shipping finance both pre and post-shipment, and the credit risk is conveyed from the buyer to the bank. BPO reduces the risk of a buyer cancelling and changing orders. Like the importation perks, the export buyer can establish a delivery system which best meets the needs and requirements of the buyer in his own convenience. With the BPO, the bank bears any and all responsibility for any oversights, and it can be introduced at any part of the transaction. Automated processing speeds up settlement and financing. Banks can greatly benefit from BPO by receiving low risk business, productive use of capital, source of commission and fee income, automated solutions and lower operating costs. BPO helps to strengthen the core relationships amongst banks. It also meets the market requirement for banks to work together more on risk and client on-boarding.

Join In The ICC Banking Commission is amongst the leading rule-making bodies for the banking industry in the world. They produce universally accepted rules and guidelines for international banking practice. This includes letters of credit and bank-to-bank reimbursement. Their rules on documentary credits are the most successful privately drafted rules for world trade ever developed. The common aim of SWIFT and ICC is to facilitate international trade finance and level the playing field in trade finance practices. Adopting the BPO policy will allow banks and companies to work towards this common goal.

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CHamber week

Action-packed week in store for Chambers Involvement with a local Chamber can have a hugely beneficial impact on businesses. Chamber Week highlights everything that is positive about Irish business. What are the benefits of joining your chamber?

Clonmel event


he third annual Chamber Week runs from the 16th - 20th of September. Every chamber in the country is currently planning events which will feature during the week. New members will get the opportunity to see how a chamber works and how chamber membership can improve the potential of your business. As part of the week, businesses, regardless of whether they are Chamber members or not, will be given the opportunity to attend networking events, seminars and information evenings where they can gain a better understanding of how being part of a Chambers can benefit their business. According to Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, being involved with a local Chamber can really impact positively on a company’s bottom line. “In these tough economic times, more and more businesses are working closely with Chambers around the country to drive their success.” This year we will be collaborating with the Northern Ireland Chamber for the first time during Chamber Week to make this an all island initiative. We are also co-coordinating local chamber representatives to feature on local radio stations during the week to discuss the events they are running.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Opportunity to recruit new customers and suppliers Networking with your fellow business people Training and education Business promotion Community Involvement Business advice Support to help your business develop Tapping into a extensive business knowledge and experience base Discounted business services Becoming part of a joined up national business movement Access to a directory of members Representation for your interests directly with Government We work to reduce the cost of rates, taxes and doing business Support for the development of vital local infrastructure

Dublin Chamber members at a recent event InBusiness | Q1 2013 47

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CHamber week

Panel of speakers at policy Q & A in Clonmel

Chamber Membership


ork Chamber uses Chamber Week as a means of raising awareness of the benefits of being a member of their local Chamber. “We want businesses to get to know their Chamber by telling people what Cork Chamber can deliver,” Barbara-Anne Richardson, Director of Membership Development and Services Manager at Cork Chamber explains. Richardson says it is a great opportunity to use the week to “target new members by showcasing what Cork Chamber can offer and to re-engage with existing ones.” She adds: “Chamber Week is an opportunity for Chambers, throughout

Ireland, to really highlight how we help support individual business and the economic growth of the entire region. It’s a great way to show what the Cork Chamber is all about.” There's no need to wait to join your local Chamber. Being part of a Chamber has a number of benefits for your business. Why not join now and reap the benefits all year. To find your nearest Chamber, log on to or to find out more about Chamber Week, log on to For further information about Chamber Week contact james.kiernan@chambers. ie or phone: 01 4004300.

Having trouble with finding new business? Attend one of the following successful Chambers events nationwide:

• Recruitment Events • Enterprise Events • Networking • Top 10 Sales Tips • Corporate Site Visits • Mentoring

Supporting local business


hief Executive of Clonmel Chamber, Brian Cleary, says Chamber Week has been a resounding success each year and they are looking forward to organising more events again this year. "This year will be every bit as interesting and exciting as the previous two years. One of the standout events that we have planned for 2013 Chamber Week is 'The Gathering of Chambers'. We will be meeting with 80 members of the

largest Chamber in Canada for a joint networking event in County Tipperary. We hope that members of both Chambers will be able to find common ground to develop business relationships at this unique event.”

Dungarvan Chamber Business after hours networking

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Look no further than The Panel. The Panel is a wholly Irish owned boutique recruitment consultancy. We are celebrating 25 years in business this year. Our Partners are both very wellknown and exceptionally well networked in their respective fields of expertise.

o t g n i Look r u o y o t d d a t n e m e manag ? m a e t

If you are adding to your management team, doesn’t it make sense to talk to the people who know the candidates you want, personally?

Finance Directors/ Heads of Finance

Executive Roles – Financial Services/Funds

Executive Roles – Banking/Treasury

Paul McArdle Joint Managing Partner E: T: (01) 637 7041

Anne Keys Joint Managing Partner E: T: (01) 637 7088

Alan Bluett Partner E: T: (01) 637 7086

Interim & Permanent

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Executive Roles – IT/PMO/Project Managers

Executive Roles – Legal/HR

Fergal Keys Partner E: T: (01) 637 7060

Sarah Kelly Partner E: T: (01) 637 7071

Interim & Permanent

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Horizon Furniture | IB SURVEY

A Bright Horizon Horizon Furniture is a vibrant furniture design and manufacture practice based in Cork City. We believe in cool, calm, elegant and practical design manufactured to the highest standards in our studio. We work for home, commercial and corporate customers with an eye for style and quality.


ergal O’ Leary started Horizon Furniture in 2008 after working in the trade for ten years with a German furniture maker. Prior to that, he played music professionally around Europe. Fergal’s interests in art, architecture, sculpture and music have led to a design process that is like playing jazz – where freedom of expression is key to imagination. His designs have a European flavour, a certain transparency and a subtlety that lingers. Fergal says: If you come to a fork in the road - take it." Our Maryjane chair – a hit at London Design Festival 2012 – was, according to House and Home, the top Irish product design of 2012, and the Maryjane chair and our modular treeshelving system are now stocked in Arnott’s in Dublin. To celebrate the Irish presidency of the EU, we have several pieces on display at the EU headquarters in Brussels. Over our five short years, Horizon Furniture has produced high-quality furniture for top businesses. Recent work includes: oratory furniture, Marymount Hospice, Curraheen, reception furniture, Donnybrook physio, retail fit-out, Ballycotton Seafood, Glanmire breakout furniture, international computer firm restaurant tables, Farmgate and English market. We work with top architects, realising their vision with our skill but we also provide a complete in-house design and manufacture service. We like to be easy and efficient to deal with, with great ideas and energy invested in every project." Find us at 34 Tramore Commercial Park, Tramore Road, Cork T: (0)21 4313313 M: (0)87 6362088 E:

“We work with top architects, realising their vision with our skill but we also provide a complete in-house design and manufacture service.“

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Eversheds | IB SURVEY

Blueprint For Success Eversheds’ M&A benchmarking blueprint can help you to measure the potential success of your future deal. focused on those issues which were found to be key in the M&A Report, namely the due diligence and integration phases of deals. A sample benchmarking report can also be sent to you for your information. You will see that the report provides data on a number of questions on these topics broken down by industry sector, jurisdiction and company and legal team size. Use of the tool is free; it takes only two to three minutes to fill in the online questionnaire.

Client Benefits


n October 2012, Eversheds released the first comprehensive study on mergers and acquisitions post-deal integration, titled ‘The M&A Blueprint: Inception to Integration,’ based on research conducted between May and July 2012. The M&A Report has received fantastic feedback – the key messages that due diligence and integration planning are central to successful M&A resounded strongly with many deal teams. Through an online and telephone survey, quantitative responses were collected from 306 individual experts about their experiences of recent cross-border M&A transactions. In addition, Eversheds and RSG Consulting conducted long-form interviews both face-to-face and over the telephone with 128 general counsel, senior M&A lawyers, chief finance officers or c-suite executives responsible for the legal aspects of crossborder M&A transactions. The online benchmarking tool uses some of the 30,000 data points collected in the research for the M&A Report

to provide data which is specific to the client’s sector, jurisdiction, company and legal team size. The online tool, which is now being used to keep the research data up to date, will allow legal teams to see how their approach to the due diligence and integration phases of a deal compares to that of their comparator companies and allows Eversheds to provide real time M&A market updates. The organisation believes that they are the first law firm to provide such an innovative online tool.

How to use the benchmarking tooL The tool is easy to use. Clients who access the website can answer questions on their own company and its approach to the due diligence and integration phases of transactions. Following the submission of their own details, a personalised benchmarking report is sent by email to them. The benchmarking report is

The benchmarking tool gives Eversheds a natural opportunity to follow-up with contacts who were sent the M&A report. This allows Eversheds the opportunity to follow up with potential new clients across all sector groups and practices. Use of the online tool to keep this data up to date also ensures that clients are able to access to most relevant and current information, and allows Eversheds to provide real-time M&A market updates. The anonymity of respondents is always preserved in accordance with market research standards.

Who will find it useful? Principally, global counsel, legal teams, MDs, FDs, CEOs and generally anyone else involved in cross border M&A activity. The initial data collection included respondents from 41 different countries, representing 22 of the 24 main industry groups, while respondents in the study have worked on over 3000 cross border deals – ensuring a wealth of collective information and experience is available. For more information, please contact David O’Beirne, Head of Corporate Group, Eversheds on 01 6644200. InBusiness | Q1 2013 51

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Xanadu Consultancy | IB SURVEY


In Excellence CTO Mark Brosnan explains why Xanadu Consultancy is strides ahead of the competition in the provision of software and hardware solutions.


ased in Cork but with offices in London, Xanadu Consultancy was launched in 2011 and currently employs over 40 people in its southern Irish base. Providing software development, operational support and consultancy services to companies, predominantly those involved in the online gaming sector, Xanadu has assembled an extensively experienced cross-discipline team. Amongst their impressive list of clients is, one of the world’s leading betting exchanges. Xanadu Consultancy is responsible for the ongoing maintenance and development of Matchbook’s real-time systems, which process hundreds of thousands of real-time transactions each day. Matchbook can also claim to have played its role in Xanadu’s emergence, as Mark Brosnan, Chief Technology Officer and a computer science graduate from UCC, explains. “I met a number of investors in Cork who were setting up a service company for the Matchbook betting exchange, and they brought me in, in 2004,” he says. “ The previous company I had been working for had been both servicing Matchbook’s platform development needs from its inception,

Esme O’Flynn, Business Analyst and Mark Brosnan, Chief Technology Officer, Xanadu Consultancy.

this company managed a number of outsourced and offshore software development companies to build and services many different components of the Matchbook Betting Platform.”

“We look at what types of applications they are currently running and then we design the solution and build it from start to finish.”

Solutions To Problems Xanadu offers a wide range of services in both hardware and software formats – from java development to security and information management to QA and testing services on both business to customer and business to business platforms. “Essentially what we do is full end-to-end development,” says Brosnan. “Online gambling companies approach us with a problem and we look at their needs and propose a solution. We look at what

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Xanadu Consultancy | IB SURVEY cog in the machine that is agile software “What Xanadu has – and that is quite unique development. An emphasis is placed on a – is a lot of domain expertise in the gambling number of things – having fun, enjoying challenges and focusing on results as sector, but we are also extremely experienced part of the company’s culture. And the success of such an approach is clear. at building highly resilient, highly scalable and highly redundant environments and maintaining, Customer Service For Brosnan and Xanadu alike, success managing and enhancing those thereafter.” is measured not merely by customers types of applications they are currently running and then we design the solution and build it from start to finish. We have business analyst, project management and UX departments and once we are happy with our solution, we build both the hardware infrastructure and the software solution after engaging with our development engineers. That’s done in close collaboration with the clients.”

Agile Response Part of what makes Xanadu unique is their specially devised development process – a modified form of agile software development, where solutions evolve through collaboration and which promotes evolutionary development, a time-boxed approach and rapid and flexible response to change. “The reason we have this approach is that it allows us to interact with our end user and our customers very early in the process,” explains Brosnan. “We build the software in four cycles throughout the year, each cycle is broken down into four different sprints. We work in four week sprints. During that four week sprint, the objective would be to develop a piece of functionality, prototype or demo, and we interact with the client at the end of that sprint. At the start and end of each sprint we build the software, interact, get feedback, change the direction if necessary – it’s agile because we can change direction quickly. At the end of three sprints,we release a piece of software for our clients. That works well from our perspective as java development engineers, infrastructural engineers and for our QA process. Our business analysts deal quite regularly with the client during those sprints.”

Unique Expertise Running such a time orientated process requires expertise, something Xanadu is certainly not in short supply of. The

staff profile at the company is quite senior, with a number of seasoned java development engineers, UI engineers and others involved at all levels of the business, including infrastructure and application support. Who you have working for you is important, but expertise in the field is just as big an issue. “When we’re building, we have a lot of experience in dealing with a number of the online regulatory authorities and we build a lot of our software to comply with online gambling regulatory authorities with the different licensees our clients would be dealing with,” says Brosnan. “What Xanadu has – and that is quite unique – is a lot of domain expertise in the gambling sector, but we are also extremely experienced at building highly resilient, highly scalable and highly redundant environments and maintaining, managing and enhancing those thereafter.”

Philosophy Operational excellence is of huge importance, as Xanadu strives to create the best solutions for their clients and the company prides itself on clear communication, vision, decisiveness, integrity and doing business with an open and transparent approach. A pervading philosophy runs throughout the company aiming to instill and encourage a good work ethic among the people who work there. Xanadu understands the importance of teamwork, and encourages employees to both support one another, despite their differing roles – also an essential

expressing their gratitude for an excellent experience; repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations reveal the extent of their stature within the field. “We pride ourselves on our interaction with the client – we’re a very client-focused company in terms of the functionality we’re building and from a non-functional perspective as well. Our customer base is continually growing. The core clients we have are increasing the workload continuously – we’ve gone from four staff to 45 in an 18 month period – that has been driven by requests and requirements from our customers.” Xanadu’s work, Brosnan concludes, is what enhances their reputation in their field, and attracts new customers to avail of the services they provide. “What we’ve found is that we have a lot of international customers that are finding their way to us, for very specific products and to solve very specific problems. Without any marketing push and without any sales team, the demand for our services has grown. That’s down to the reputation we have in the industry.” “The one thing that we’re very proud of here is the culture that we’ve built,” Brosnan continues. “There is a culture of innovation and we’re engaging with a number of universities and a number of institutions in terms of building new products. Essentially, what we like to do is not only solve problems that customers have, but propose solutions for products which would enhance the services they already offer. And I think that is a very unique strength at Xanadu,” Brosnan finishes.

“We pride ourselves on our interaction with the client – we’re a very client-focused company in terms of the functionality we’re building and from a non-functional perspective as well.” InBusiness | Q1 2013 53

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CoCreate | IB SURVEY



CoCreate Studio is an innovative work environment for creative freelancers to share workspace and co–create projects, yet remain independent, explains Hubert Szyperski.


OCREATE is a co–working, progressive work environment dedicated to freelancing designers, developers, web designers, programmers, video artists, game developers and more. We’re dedicated to sharing workspace, developing ideas and co-creating – yet we still remain independent. Our main objective is to produce cutting edge commercial work along with innovative and creative non-commercial projects in the areas of artistic projects, creative applications, education, personal development and idea incubation.

Coworking While you might think that working in a space with several other people working on different projects for different industries is akin to carrying your work into a busy and noisy coffee shop, research by Deskmag – the coworking magazine – tells a different story. Nearly three quarters of those polled by the magazine recently noted they were able to focus better and over half said they were better able to complete their tasks on time. Whereas at one stage in the not too distant past, flexible working was a quirk used by the few, nowadays it has become a way of life with the flexibility to work your way leading to greater work productivity and job satisfaction. Across the water, MindMetre Research conducted a study in the US which revealed that 64 per cent of US employees felt happier in their jobs today compared to two years ago because of this increased flexibility.

Benefits for clients Clients working with us are getting all the benefits of working with a freelancer (value, individual approach, innovation) but can enjoy organised structure, support and the security offered by an agency. People who attend our workshops (web design, graphics, SEO) will be taught by practicing professionals.

Our People Benefits For Freelancers Working in such an environment gives freelancers the opportunity to improve their skills and learn new ones. Sharing their knowledge and motivation is part of the everyday collaboration. Additionally, by working in teams, they can take on bigger jobs than they would be able to as individuals and can offer their clients package deals. Taking only one part in a much bigger project means each of them can easily work on many projects at the same time. Each participant is also obliged to produce some non– commercial art work, either solo or in collaboration, with other members. For a monthly fixed price they get 24/7 access, a boardroom, internet access and free coffee. And, most importantly, they work with smart, interesting, creative, talented and driven people.

There are currently six people working full time at CoCreate. We have Benni who specialises in web design and UI; Hubert in web development and UX; Brian in music and branding, Melanie in print design, Peter in photography and Brian in internet research. We also collaborate remotely with developers abroad. Lots of their skills are overlapping which makes it very useful when things get busy. We still have space to accommodate more people. Each potential participant has to go through an interview process. We obviously look for skills and experience but also for passion, the will to learn and desire for self–improvement. We’re always happy to meet new freelancers and share our passion with them or collaborate on new and unique ideas. For more information, telephone +353 1 818 2039, email or simply visit

“We’re dedicated to sharing workspace, developing ideas and co-creating – yet we still remain independent.”

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Unlock the benefits of cloud computing With eircom Cloud for Business In a fast changing world eircom is committed to keeping customers one step ahead. Built in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), eircom Cloud for Business gives businesses the ability to store, process and manage applications and data through secure and scalable IT infrastructure solutions. Our expertise means we can simplify and manage your move to the cloud. And because our cloud model is based on usage it provides businesses with more cost effective management and control of IT services. It’s a more agile, more efficient way of working that evolves as your business evolves whilst allowing key staff access data from wherever they want, whenever they like.

To unlock the benefits of cloud computing visit or email

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06/03/2013 16:41

What’s on your

You’re not alone When it comes to coping

Forums, group support, 1to1 counselling, iphone enabled Turn2me Advert half page.indd 2

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09/04/2013 10:45:22


Job Scammers

Will Take Anyone’s Money Individuals and businesses alike should be wary of cybercriminals looking to make a quick profit, writes Urban Schrott of ESET Ireland.


SET Ireland has observed in recent months that cybercriminals are working particularly hard on exploiting the misfortune of those worst hit by the economic situation, with the same immoral cynicism they apply when promoting fake charities or fraudulent donations during natural disasters. Official-looking emails equipped with company logotypes and addresses are circulating, offering everything from easy and affordable loans, offers to work from home for an online enterprise, to completing financial transactions and taking a cut for yourself; all topics specifically aimed at those that are having trouble with regular income, whether they are unemployed individuals or struggling businesses.

The Catch Even if they sound promising enough and will claim to provide the receiver with something – either a loan, a job or a transaction fee, most of these offers will sooner or later require the victim to pay some advance fee or provide some delicate personal data, such as bank account or credit card numbers. It’s all too common for such offers to turn out to be some form of advance fee fraud or a poorly paid work-from-home job. However, sometimes the job offered actually involves participating in money laundering as a money mule, though oddly enough, that’s never the job title

likely to find that sooner or later they will attract the attention of the police and be left holding the bag, with their bank account closed and their assets frozen, at least until it can be sorted out as to what proportion of those assets have been acquired through involvement in money laundering. The sad thing is that the victim may honestly believe he is doing legitimate work for a legitimate company. Of course, that doesn’t mean the scammer won’t demand some sort of advance fee in order to get a little extra profit, and, in fact, we see advance fee fraud versions that are probably more interested in scamming the recipient than in real money laundering. Example of a scam email.

– that’s more likely to be something like ‘financial assistant’ or even ‘financial director’. Unfortunately, it’s possible for a naive victim to believe they’re working for a legitimate company and not realise that they’re breaking the law until the police 'come a-knocking'.

Money Mules Money mule solicitation is the sort of ‘job offer’ by which someone out of work might be particularly vulnerable to being conned. And in fact, the victim may actually make some money out of the deal. But it’s still bad news for someone who takes up the offer who is

“Needless to say, the golden rule ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ should be applied rather vigorously to most, if not all, such emails.”

Untraceable How does the scam part usually work then? The victim receives an uncovered cheque or other counterfeit proof of payment to themselves, while they are expected to forward on their actual funds immediately. By the time they get confirmation, they didn’t actually receive anything from the scammers and that the cheque or other proof of payment is worthless. They have already parted with their own money via the untraceable Western Union and the scammers walk away with a hefty profit. Needless to say, the golden rule ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ should be applied rather vigorously to most, if not all, such emails. The only goal of the cybercriminal is to make money. Any offers they make, any promises or good deals they offer, all serve their main purpose – to get to some of your money and make it theirs. Please see for more info.

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IT Misuse A quarter of Irish employees browse for other employment on their current job computers.


ecause Safetica Ireland – the provider of employee monitoring software – is ever-curious about the work habits of Irish employees, it has commissioned a survey from Amárach Research which asked over 500 Irish employees if they have done any of the following:

behaviour, only 14 per cent of females do so. A demographic breakdown highlights other interesting things too. In the tough employment market it is often a lot more difficult for those over 40 years old to get a job, while those under 30 seem to enjoy a certain advantage with employers. But

“Responsible companies would be wise to take steps to implement security policies which would prevent excessive abuse of company computers by employees.” Stolen Property

Worrying Results The results are rather surprising and they do not show Irish employees as the most dependable in this respect – particularly the nearly one in four people who browse for other employment while they should be actually doing work for the company currently paying their wages and reveals a certain trend which many employers might consider quite concerning. An additional telling detail is that while 29 per cent of males engage in this

the study shows that it is in the age groups of 15-24 and 25-34 where 62 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, acknowledged their use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter during work hours, while only 14 per cent of those above 45 years old admitted such behaviour. Similar results are also to be found in the categories of mailing or taking company files home – younger male employees do so up to three times more often than their female and older colleagues.

Lastly, while the figure of one per cent of people who have lost or seen their company laptops, mobiles and other devices stolen may seem small –one in 100 employees having experienced this – that figure still corresponds to thousands of lost or stolen company laptops, mobiles and other devices in total. And with the possibility of these devices being used to store sensitive company data, the possibility of criminal abuse of such data is greatly increased. In light of these findings, responsible companies would be wise to take steps to implement security policies which would prevent excessive abuse of company computers by employees, as well as adequately protect company data so that, in case their devices get lost or stolen, the company doesn’t suffer the possibly serious consequences of sensitive data loss. Sometimes, even a set of clearly communicated rules within a company can make all the difference; many of the issues revealed by our survey are most likely not the result of malicious intent, but by lack of clear guidelines and the company’s insufficient approach to their integrity and data security. For more information, visit InBusiness | Q1 2013 57

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Volkswagen | IB SURVEY


means business

Two generations on from when its predecessor first went on the market, the Volkswagen Crafter is still a firm favourite among premium companies.


he Volkswagen Crafter arrived in its latest form in late 2011 offering improved efficiency with lower fuel consumption, emissions and running costs, plus higher payloads. It was distinguished by a revised frontal design which brings it in line with the latest styling of the Volkswagen Caddy, Transporter and Amarok. The Crafter is the largest model in the Volkswagen panel van range, but also available as a chassis cab or double cab, passenger carrying window van, or as the base for a range of official conversions, including tipper, dropside and Luton bodies. It is also used for other applications, such as minibus or refrigerated units, which are available via Volkswagen approved converters. The improved efficiency of the new Crafter range is in large part thanks to its completely revised engine range. A Volkswagen four-cylinder, 2.0-litre common rail TDI engine has replaced the previous five-cylinder, 2.5-litre BlueTDI unit to deliver better fuel economy with lower emissions and running costs. The new 2.0-litre TDI is already proven in other models across the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles range, but has been specifically tuned for the new Crafter to deliver more torque at lower engine speeds to give it more pulling power and reduce engine wear and tear. The 2.0-litre TDI exceeds the current Euro V emissions standards to reach EEV (Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicles) status as standard. BlueMotion Technology modifications are available across nearly all the engine range to offer further reductions in fuel consumption and emissions from 199 g/km.

The Crafter panel van range offers: • Short, medium and long wheelbases – plus Maxi with extra 400 mm length • Four-load compartment lengths from 2,600mm to 4,700mm • Three roof heights – normal, high and super-high • Three GVWs (Gross Vehicle Weight) of 3,000, 3,500 or 5,000kg • Load volumes from 7.5m³ to 17m³ • Load lengths from 2600 to 4700mm • Payloads from 1,044 to 2,693kg The Crafter’s spacious cabin is ergonomically designed for comfortable and safe driving. Comfort features include a dash-mounted gear lever, excellent storage space, dual passenger seat and a driver’s seat with height, reach and rake adjustment. Safety features include a driver’s airbag fitted

as standard, full height steel bulkhead, plus load adjusting ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme), ABS, TCS (Traction Control System) and automatic hazard lights activation under emergency braking. The original Crafter made its world public debut at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on Tuesday 25 April 2006. Following two generations of its predecessor, the LT – the first of which came into existence over 35 years ago – the Crafter went on sale in Ireland in late 2006. It is Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ third best-selling model range in Ireland. The Volkswagen Crafter is the choice of many premium companies and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is particularly pleased to announce that they have just secured a deal to supply DHL with a large order of vehicles.

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worth talking about A tax regime for Real Estate Investment Trusts is expected to reinvigorate the commercial property market in Ireland, as Jim Clery, Tax Partner with KPMG writes.


s announced in Budget 2013, the Finance Bill contains provisions for the introduction of a tax regime for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) with immediate effect. This is a welcome development which provides a significant, collective investment ownership structure at a time when Irish real estate is attracting considerable investor interest. Provided the REIT meets the various conditions of the legislation, the REIT will not be liable to corporate tax on income and capital gains arising from its property rental business. However, the tax exemption at REIT level is lost for profits on the sale of property which have been redeveloped and sold within 3 years. Profits from the non property rental business, if any, are subject to normal taxes.

Qualification In order to qualify for the REIT tax regime, a REIT must be resident solely in Ireland and be incorporated under the Irish Companies Acts. It must also be a listed quoted company which is traded on an EU stock exchange, and have only one class of ordinary shares. It must also not be a close company. A REIT must derive at least 75 per cent of its profits from the carrying on of a property rental business. Such business must consist of at least three properties, no one of which must be more than 40 per cent of the total. It is also required to maintain a 1.25:1 ratio of income to financing costs and distribute at least 85 per cent of its income for each accounting period by way of dividend to its shareholders (income does not include capital gains). As well as maintaining a loan-to-value

Jim Clery, Tax Partner, KPMG.

ratio below 50 per cent, it must operate a 75 per cent minimum ‘good assets’ ratio.

Legislation The legislation is loosely based on the UK REIT legislation. However, many of the difficulties experienced in the UK have been recognised in the Irish version. The legislation is also written from the perspective of a new company becoming a REIT although it is possible for an existing company to convert into a REIT.

In the case of a company converting into a REIT, it will be deemed for capital gains tax purposes to have sold its assets on the day of conversion and will be liable to Irish capital gains tax on any inherent gains up to that point. This means that a REIT cannot be used to eliminate inherent capital gains but, other than that, there is no specific conversion charge on becoming a REIT. The transfer of shares will be liable to normal stamp duty at one per cent. Irish individual resident shareholders in a REIT will be liable to income tax on income distributions from the REIT at marginal rates plus USC and PRSI as though the dividend was Case IV income. Such investors will be liable to capital gains tax at a rate of 33 per cent on a disposal of shares in the REIT. Non-resident investors will not be liable to Irish capital gains tax in Ireland because the REIT is a public listed company. In relation to dividends, it is intended that the REIT will apply dividend withholding tax at the rate of 20 per cent from income distributions to non residents. This is progressive legislation which could satisfy investor interest in playing the Irish recovery story without having to commit to a single asset purchase. It certainly has the potential to breathe more life into the Irish commercial property market.

“In the case of a company converting into a REIT, it will be deemed for capital gains tax purposes to have sold its assets on the day of conversion and will be liable to Irish capital gains tax on any inherent gains up to that point.“ InBusiness | Q1 2013 59

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eircom Business | IB SURVEY

A match made in cloud Ronan Kneafsey, Managing Director of eircom Business, tells InBusiness how its partnership with Amazon Web Services is allowing them to tailor cloud based services to suit their customers’ needs.


aving led the eircom Business Division through several significant transformations, Ronan Kneafsey is well positioned to comment on the changes at Ireland’s largest telecommunications provider, which has moved with considerable dynamism over the past decade to being one of the largest ICT service providers to businesses in Ireland. As a result of their recently announced partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), eircom are well positioned to continue expansion, particularly in the cloud services sector. “There have been a lot of major changes in how eircom operates over the last decade,” says Kneafsey. “We were largely a pure communications provider but now we do much more than that; managed services and IT solutions are now well established and growing parts of our portfolio. We have grown our data business significantly over the last five years, to the extent that we are now the largest Irish provider of data centre services to the cloud industry in Ireland, largely to global providers,” he adds. The whole issue of cloud hosting and cloud based IT services is one that has been a very lively discussion over recent years. The technology is in place but there hasn’t yet been massive

acceleration in the Irish market in terms of how it was embraced by business. Kneafsey believes this is now changing as businesses begin to realise what cloud based solutions can offer in terms of tangible cost savings, business agility and flexibity. “We believe that the cloud is a compelling solution for business. It gives firms of all sizes the opportunity to reduce capital expenditure and internal costs associated with in-house IT infrastructure and staff. It enables customers to pay only for what they use, allowing them to increase capacity during busy times and then reduce during off-peak periods. So cloud makes sense from a financial and operations point of view,” he says. In the world of providing cloud based solutions, AWS is the clear market leader with at least 60 per cent of global market share. “It’s a partnership with a global player that we believe will bring significant benefits to our customers,” says Kneafsey. “With the AWS platform embedded in our secure network we can offer customers cloud based services tailored to meet their specific purposes in a highly secure environment, fully supported by our dedicated business service organisation. Also, our professional services team help customers manage the transition of their

“We were largely a communications provider but now we do much more than that; managed services and IT solutions are now well established and growing parts of our portfolio.“

Ronan Kneafsey, Managing Director of eircom Business.

in-house systems to the cloud.” eircom has implemented a new framework for service management for all their business services - this has enabled them to secure the coveted ISO 20000 accreditation. They currently have over 100,000 business customers in Ireland and Kneafsey says they are looking forward to securing significant Infrastructure as a Service market share from this base, and then continuing to grow and expand it, with opportunities also existing in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. To find out more about eircom’s cloud based solution email

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Intrum Justitia | IB SURVEY

Intrum Justitia:

Managing Your Credit With more than 90,000 clients worldwide, Intrum Justitia aim to facilitate business and help create sound economies while ensuring the survival of SMEs across the world affected by late payment.


round 99 per cent of Irish businesses are SMEs, with the figure for mainland Europe hovering around the same point, and the vast majority of these are affected by late payments. Across the EU, many SMEs have faced substantial losses and closure waiting for payment from debtors. Paying suppliers late is a common practice across the continent, despite the adoption of Directive 2000/35/EC which came into effect in August 2002. Small and medium business are particularly vulnerable to this culture, which constitutes a substantial obstacle both to the free movement of goods and services in the single market, and to market competition. “Late payments can be seriously detrimental to cash flow,” explains Mark Ridout, Managing Director Ireland for Intrum Justitia, which offers domestic and international debt collection, domestic and international sales ledger services, purchased debt and domestic and international legal debt collection. “Contracts are agreed based on payments arriving in good time. Late payments eat into margin and can ultimately destabilise any company. Some of our bigger exporting clients have their own resources in terms of skill sets and languages but even they sometimes need temporary support.

Smaller clients rely on us totally for this service. The solution requires us to send reminder notices and make calls in the name of the client and in the native language very early after the invoice is due to be paid.” In addition to debt collection and credit management services, Intrum Justitia also offers professional advice for businesses seeking protection against payment risks. “We offer advice and we often run seminars on international credit management best practice,” says Ridout. Intrum Justitia are also behind the European Payment Index (EPI), a written survey on 28 European countries conducted each year, involving several thousand companies. The report captures and compares international trends and provides companies with a reliable basis for decision making and effective benchmarks and is the ‘go to’ document for any company currently, or thinking about, trading internationally. “Our seminar on May 24th will include eminent speakers from major multinationals and industry associations such as the Irish Exporters Association. This is to launch the 2013 European Payment Index and will include an overview of the most important facts and stats for exporters,” Ridout explains. Despite the often complicated process

“Late payments can be seriously detrimental to cash flow. Contracts are agreed based on payments arriving in good time. Late payments eat into margin and can ultimately destabilise any company.“

Mark Ridout, Managing Director Ireland, Intrum Justitia.

of debt collection on a worldwide basis, Intrum Justitia’s credit management professionals have the required in-depth understanding of both the complexity and the importance of tracking and managing customer’s payment processes. On the other side, dealing with debtors can often be a delicate process too. “For clients trading internationally, native speakers with the appropriate skills is critical. All of our agents are trained and work in specific sectors. Apart from regular training, we use call recording to monitor performance and any agent falling below the required standard will go through a retraining process. Our clients have made us the largest credit management company in Europe and number one in Ireland,” Ridout finishes. “This is a fact both management and staff are very proud of.” InBusiness | Q1 2013 61

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eMobile | IB SURVEY

Making the right connection At a time when businesses are under pressure to get the best value, manage budgets and maintain high service levels, David Walsh, Director of SME with eircom Business, explains why choosing the right mobile communications partner is crucial.


ircom has a proven track record of delivering first class communication solutions and services to businesses and we are acutely aware of the challenges these businesses face on a daily basis. Managing costs is crucial and the ability to have a clear picture of expenditure is essential when making purchasing decisions. Our mobile phone service, eMobile, has been a trusted choice in the consumer and SME market since its launch in 2009. We know that value is fundamental when it comes to choosing a communications provider and we have developed and tailored our mobile plans to give businesses the cost control they need.

Flexible It may be a cliché but it’s true to say that no two businesses are the same. Each one has very different needs when it comes to the communications services they require. Flexibility is a big part of business today. We know this and we appreciate the significance it plays for each business’ bottom line. eMobile doesn’t just provide 'off the shelf ' mobile plans – a key differentiator for us is our ability to tailor our mobile plans to suit the individual requirements of our business customers.

Another key factor for businesses when choosing a communications provider is the ability to always be connected or contactable. The flexibility to check your email and work files while on the go is part and parcel of everyday life – we live in an 'always on' business world and the ability to respond to a customer query in real time makes all the difference to our business customers.

Coverage We’re continuing to invest heavily in our infrastructure. Our mobile network offers 99 per cent population coverage in Ireland and we will roll out 4G services later this year to ensure our customers will be able to avail of the latest advances in technology. Our nationwide eircom WiFiHub hotspots give our customers the ability to access free WiFi right across the country. We’re committed to building Ireland’s largest WiFi network and we are already well underway with over 1,800 WiFiHub hotspots in place in key locations for business such as at Dublin Airport, Irish Rail and Dart Stations as well as petrol stations and cafes across the country. We genuinely believe we have designed a mobile service that works smarter for business, giving our customers the

“We genuinely believe we have designed a mobile service that works smarter for business, giving our customers the complete benefit of eircom’s expertise and scale.”

David Walsh, Director of SME with eircom Business.

complete benefit of eircom’s expertise and scale. We continue to work hard to ensure that if you’re an eMobile customer you’re genuinely getting the best support and flexibility you need from your communications services. For further information on our eMobile business services please visit

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Big Red Cloud | IB SURVEY

Why Put Your Accounts in the Cloud? Big Red Cloud strives to take the hassle out of accounting and offers customers simplicity, support and the highest standards in online accounting software.


f all the software packages on the market, accounts software is probably the most suitable to be hosted in the Cloud. The key benefits of the Cloud are security and accessibility. These two benefits are exactly what a small business needs for their accounting software.

Keeping On Top Small business owners need access to figures such as debtors and creditors in order to monitor and run their business successfully. By having a Cloud based accounting application such as big red cloud, a business owner can keep up to date and on top of key financial information from practically any device, at anytime from anywhere. In addition with big red cloud the business owner can give access ‘free’ to their accountant; this means the owner has peace of mind knowing their accountant is keeping an eye on the figures on a more regular basis and discussions on financial information for the business are real– time. This ensures a business owner can plan, manage and drive his/her business more efficiently and effectively.

Safe and Secure At a very affordable a25 plus vat per month, no business could place their financial data in a more secure environment than on big red cloud. Hosted on the highly secure and robust Microsoft Azure Platform, millions of euros have been invested by Microsoft to ensure that all data stored in their data centres is secure, backed up and available 24/7. With big red cloud, business owners have the added benefit of knowing that they will always be

Marc O’Dwyer, CEO, Big Red Book.

on the latest version and are virus free. With requirements like the new SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) coming into place in February 2014, users will automatically receive any updates as part of their monthly subscription. In addition we are constantly adding new functionality like BI (Business Intelligence) reporting tools. We released a BI tool called the Book Enquiry in February which users get free of charge. This is an invaluable tool for business owners and their accountants to analyse a company’s data in order to make key financial decisions for the business moving forward.

Flexibility Whether you are starting a new business, or run a successful business but have an existing accounts package confined to the office, it is time to change. In addition to the above points, a cloud based accounting system such as big red cloud gives flexibility both from an access

point of view and from a place of work perspective. You no longer need to be tied to the office to access key financial information and neither do your staff have to be office based. This results in cost savings. On–premise software can carry expensive on–going annual maintenance and with the ability to import from other accounting packages, the transition is made very easy and will ultimately save the business money. As a recent winner of the Chambers Ireland ‘best Accounting software for Small Businesses,’ big red cloud, with its full functionality and feature rich content (unlike ‘one’ competitors’ offering), has to be a serious consideration if you plan to move your accounts to the cloud. Big red cloud have three payment options; monthly, annually or three yearly and with the latter you get a free 7” tablet. There is also a 30 day free trial, this is a full working copy of big red cloud and is available on InBusiness | Q1 2013 63

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it's game on at Topaz! Topaz has launched its exciting new customer rewards scheme, PLAY or PARK, explains Paul Candon, Director of Marketing and Corporate Affairs.


he watchword at the heart of the Topaz brand since it launched on the Irish market five years ago has been ‘that’s better’. When the company began looking at ways of rewarding its loyal customers in 2013, the brief was to come up with something different, something that would excite and engage them. Above all else it had to be fun and it had to reward customers in a tangible way. After extensive consultation and research Topaz created ‘PLAY or PARK’, a new loyalty game launched in February with a huge advertising campaign across all media, as well as at over 120 of the company’s participating sites. The initiative has been hugely well received, with over 50,000 customers registering in the first four weeks. Paul Candon, Director of Marketing and Corporate Affairs, said the company wanted a game changer and he firmly believes that is what they have. “Customers who engage with some loyalty programmes take a while to see their rewards and often don’t participate to the level that companies want them to, but a loyalty game which rewards customers for participating – that’s better! In fact we believe that PLAY or PARK is the first loyalty programme to use an ongoing game mechanic in a retail environment, in Europe,” Candon said. With ‘PLAY or PARK’ customers collect points which enable them to PLAY for an experience of a lifetime prize every month –or they can choose to PARK them for another experience they’d prefer the following month. Candon said Topaz customers wanted a loyalty game which transforms the

mundane chore of re-fuelling into a life changing experience. “One day you are filling the car under a grey Irish sky, a month later you are dancing in an underwater night club in the Maldives, in New York with three friends and y8,000 spending money or even filling your brand new car with John Williams, Paul Candon and Neil O'Leary of Topaz free fuel for a year! But even if you don’t win one of these hundred points earns you one PLAY, amazing experiences of a lifetime there four hundred two PLAYS and so on. will be a Topaz Treat for everyone All players with 200 points or more will each month they play. This might be a receive an email, app or text message on complimentary car wash or a coffee and the 25th of the month outlining what pastry of your choice. It’s just our way the prize is and asking them if they of saying thank you for being a loyal want to PLAY. Every month that you customer,” Candon said. PLAY you are eligible for a Topaz Treat. To play, all you have to do is get a digital Alternatively you can choose to PARK game tag on your mobile phone by your points and look ahead to next downloading the Topaz app. Alternatively month’s game. Winners will be notified you can pick up a game tag at your local on the 1st of the month and all players participating Topaz site, activate it by will be notified about the Topaz Treat. scanning and then register to PLAY by There is also a very important charity filling in an application form or by going element to the game where players online at Once you’ve can opt once a quarter to play for a done that you just need to scan your tag donation to a local charity of their or phone every time you make an eligible choice. Topaz will match all donations purchase at participating Topaz sites or to its charity partner Aware. “At Topaz get a delivery of home heating oil from we know it is all about enhancing the company. Customers will get one the customer experience and PLAY point for every litre of fuel they purchase or PARK will ensure that 2013 is and four points for every euro spent in a rewarding year for all our loyal a Topaz Express or Topaz Restore. Two customers,” Candon concluded.

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the inBusiness Boss-Word! Please send all completed entries to InBusiness Magazine, Ashville Media Group, Old Stone Building, Blackhall Green, Dublin 7 to arrive no later than June 30th 2013. The first correct entry drawn will win a fabulous hamper courtesy of Hampers & Co.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Terms and conditions apply.



4. Employee reassignment or lay-offs at company (8) 5. Deal enabling third party to sell products owned by supplier (9) 7. Prediction of the value of a variable in a statistical study (8) 8. Graphic showing stages or steps in any process (9) 10. Levels of management within a business (9) 11. Decrease in value of assets through age or deterioration (12) 12. Route a product follows from producer to consumer (12) 14. Interest rate that is not fixed (8, 4) 15. Reduction in the fixed rate during currency exchanges (11) 19. Someone skilled at keeping business records (10) 20. That which is owed (4)

1. Marketing goods sent directly to consumer through mail (6, 4) 2. A market in which supply and demand are unregulated (4, 6) 3. Government policy of regulating money through taxation (6) 4. Reduction in the general level of prices sustained over a period (9) 6. Purchases of foreign goods and services (6) 8. Product or service given away as part of a promotion (7) 9. Very rapid growth in rate of inflation (14) 13. A mutual fund that takes considerable risks (5) 16. Amount of money remaining in an account (7) 17. Persistent rise in general price level of goods (9) 18. Cost of borrowing (8)

Tel: 061 202116 | |




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Motoring | Lifestyle

Reason for existence InBusiness Motoring Editor Tony Toner found the new Skoda Octavia both sublime and ridiculous.

Prices range from €18,995 to €27,995.


t is a car that impressed from the day it rolled onto our streets in 1998, finding space in over 40,000 Irish driveways thereafter. For me, it has been honest from the off, giving the customer a great blend of space, good engines, solid build, reliability and the important factors of initial cost and good residual value. Indeed, the ŠKODA Octavia had me at ‘Hello’! Its importance within the expanded Skoda range is reflected in the fact that the Octavia makes up 60 per cent of total Skoda sales - so no pressure then on getting this new third generation model right from the off. It will be offered with three different specifications, Active, Ambition or Elegance; a transmission choice of manual or automatic and a five engine propulsion menu of the latest low emission TSI petrol engines, as well as common rail diesel engines with Stop Start technology (except the petrol 1.2TSI 86bhp version). The best bits prices start from r18,995. Confusion has always shadowed people’s idea of where Octavia’s competition lies, with many comparing it to cars outside its segment. Very often compared to cars in the next segment,

Mondeo, Insignia, Passat, i40 and Avensis, the Octavia actually sits in the same segment as Ford’s Focus, Opel’s Astra, Toyota’s Corolla, Kia’s cee’d, VW’s Golf, Hyundai’s i30 and Seat Leon. If the penny hadn’t dropped before, you now get the true perspective of this car’s ‘raison d'être’. This latest Octavia manages to be 100kg lighter and offers more space than the former, being 90mm longer and 45mm wider - the wheelbase has been increased by 108mm, giving it an interior length of 1,782mm, increased knee room (73mm) and more rear headroom (980mm), not forgetting the Skoda’s bragging right factor of a boot with 590 litres – ridiculous! Carrying a Five Star Euro NCAP rating, the Octavia comes with up to nine airbags, Electronic Stability Control and a plethora

of other standard active/passive safety systems, plus a range of optional safety enhancements that would require you going to ‘Night Tech’. Speaking of Tech, the four infotainment units of Swing, Bolero, Amundsen and top of the range Columbus will undoubtedly satisfy the basic and the nerd in any house. My initial impression of the Octavia was how understated it looked. Alloy wheels are fitted on all models with the exception of the entry Active model. My test car was the Ambition which was sitting on smart 16”ers. In keeping with the car's spatial heritage, I gathered three substantial friends and took to the roads of North Kildare for an introductory test drive. Immediately, the space dominated the conversation, with each of us impressed by not having to effectively ‘man-hug’ en route. Fitted with 225 section tyres there was slight road noise intrusion, but not enough to hinder the conversation within. The fit, finish and function of all within is excellent. Those choosing the high-end Columbus infotainment unit need never leave the driveway for entertainment. Overall the new Octavia is a seriously good option for anyone looking for a car in the dual segments as outlined earlier. It is very hard to fault in any area and will undoubtedly add to its fan base with this new model.

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Motoring | LIfEStYLE

Street smart and clever in the country The new Volvo V40 R-Design is making a statement.

Prices, not including Delivery and Related Charges, start at €30,095, with my test car costing €32,421 with added extras.


ast year, in its basic clothes, it was in my top three favourite cars. The Volvo V40 which I shared some tarmac with had the D3, 2-litre, 5-cylinder turbodiesel and was seriously good company in the city and the back roads – definitely a car that I would not get fed up driving. Added to its good driving dynamics, you get fit and finish of high quality, wrapped in the Volvo’s blanket of safety, as only they can do and it is simply hard to fault. The V40 range is very important to Volvo, Sweden’s only carmaker since the demise of Saab. Under the new ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, its footsteps going forward have to be well thought out and secure. The V40 range replaces the S40 and V50 and enters the Compact Premium segment against established players who don’t give up their ground too easily. Volvo’s safety development systems are legendary and in the V40 they once again extend their kudos by making it the first car in the world with an under-

bonnet pedestrian airbag. It also comes with Volvo’s City Safety low-speed crash avoidance system as standard and should you have the ‘yo-yos’ you can opt for the Driver Support Pack, with full-speed collision warning and crash avoidance system, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blindspot monitoring, road sign information and driver alertness monitoring systems. Seven airbags also feature. Having a bump in one of these would take some explaining! Now in their efforts to widen their appeal, particularly to the younger customer, Volvo have added some street attitude to the V40 via their R-Design, giving it external enhancements to the grill, diffuser and wing mirrors, which are finished in silk metal. It sits on 17” rims, the front bumper gets lowered, its LED daytime running lights now sit vertical, it gets R-Design twin exhausts and resplendent in Rebel Blue paint, my D2 was impossible to ignore – this is a statement car. Inside, the leather seats are R-Design

embossed and offer good support. Those in the sculpted rear need to be smaller than my six-foot plus frame to find comfort and room. The driver also gets an R-Design logo on the steering wheel, an illuminated glass gear lever and an aluminium-effect stripe running down the floating centre console. Overall the ambience within is excellent with its own unmistakable identity. Customers can choose a variety of engines right up to the licence trembling 250bhp, 5-cylinder T5. My car housed the very sensible D2, 1.6 litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with 113bhp, the engine of choice in the V40 range. CO2 emissions of 94g/km place the V40 R-Design in Band A2, with an annual road tax demand of €180. While it lacks the sheer grunt of the D3 (2-litre, 5 cylinder), it is smooth and versatile, offering fuel consumption averaging 5.3 litres/100km during my mixed drive through the city and out through the wilds of Kildare and Wicklow. Overall the V40 R-Design manages to state its case on the street, without taking away driver and passenger comfort. Its compact design will suit those in the market for a premium compact executive car that is subtle, refined and capable.

quICk sPeC: engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo diesel transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive Power: 113bhp torque: 270Nm Co2: 94g/km equipment: 17-inch alloys, leather upholstery, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, sports leather seats, sat-nav InBusiness | Q1 2013 67

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Motoring | Lifestyle

Love at sixth sight The new Mazda 6 is beautiful to the core.

Prices range from €28,745 to €38,395.


nly those in need of serious optical enhancement will find anything wrong with the street profile of Mazda’s all new 6. Having drooled over its concept at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, it is now here in the flesh, ready to boogie down our boreens and backstreets, with the same level of competency as it has on the motorway. With its introductory 2.0 litre petrol model priced from t28,745, (excluding metallic paint and delivery charges) and the Diesel Sport Saloon available from r31,795, Mazda Ireland have great hopes that the external beauty of their latest model will be enough to attract new customers. The 6 will be available in Saloon or Tourer body styles. My test drive was a 6-speed manual, 150bhp, 2.2

litre Diesel Tourer. Internally, all is welcoming; from the tactile steering wheel to the soft-touch cockpit materials and the satin chrome and black piano glossed inserts. All combine to give a premium ambience. Drivers will find their exact deportment through the multi-adjustable seating and steering, with the cockpit and centre consul controls clear and well laid out. Having had a fondness for the original Mazda 6’s driving dynamics, I was keen to see if Mazda had carried its DNA into this new model. Given that there are many cars offering a plethora of toys and a fit ‘n’ finish of similar quality, I always look for those that deliver on the road. I like cars that converse with me, tell me how things are going, what they like and don’t like, especially those that can competently deal with our own challenging domestic road network. I was delighted during my launch drive to find that this new Mazda 6 is full of chat, which was much appreciated, as the flow of road rivers in rural Wicklow was spectacularly dangerous. The ride quality is very good, offering reassurance and sure-

footedness, all the while leaving those inside free to converse without being jarred or rattled. Free of the back roads, the new 6 covered the motorway miles with ease. Road noise was not intrusive and the road-feel was excellent. The 2.2 diesel is subtly capable of dismissing tarmac with the aid of its 380Nm of torque. Standard safety features on diesel models include Smart City Brake Support, Hill Hold Assist, and Dynamic Stability Control. Customers can choose from four new body colours – Soul Red Metallic, Blue Reflex Mica, Meteor Grey Mica and Jet Black Mica. The expected bestsellers here will be the Sport Model in both the Saloon and Tourer format, where the standard toys include: 17” Alloy wheels, 5.8” touch screen multimedia audio system, climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth, front and rear parking sensors and Smart City Brake Support. Euro for euro, Mazda’s new 6 delivers space and grace in this very competitive segment, against the none too shy players of Mondeo, Avensis, Insignia, i40, Optima, Accord and Passat. It undoubtedly has a premium feel and its on-road manners are impeccable. This is a must-drive car for anyone buying in this segment. I’m in love again.

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Motoring | Lifestyle

New Range Rover Demands Respect The latest offering from Land Rover is a lap of luxury.


n the road and in the muck, the previous Range Rover model has been doing what it does since 2002, so it was due a change. As the vehicle that epitomises success and luxury, the Range Rover was seen on our nation’s streets in copious amounts during the good times. Launched over 40 years ago, this high-rise luxury SUV has seen it all, the good and the bad, coming through it as sure-footed as it is when tackling almost any terrain. Hitched to a horsebox or gliding to The Ritz, the Range Rover has been equally adept at both, even if many of its owners never venture further than the grass margin in their off-road exploits. Having had the experience of going into the giggle weeds with it, I can vouch for its capability to scale, wade and descend, all while its Hunterwellied occupants are cosseted in the ambience of plush carpets, fine leather and walnut veneer.

Range Rover designs were charged with making the best better, changing everything but losing nothing of the heritage, and importantly, keeping the profile that has made the Range Rover identifiable around the world. Visually, the new Range Rover carries all the design cues that fly its distinctive flag. The front end is ‘Evoque-ative’, with its slim headlight cluster, the profile is authentically Range Rover, and the side window line helps in not making it look so square. Now, it is still a substantial vehicle, being over two metres wide and five metres long, its all aluminium body, (a first for a 4X4), is some 420kg lighter, (equivalent to the weight of five adults), than the previous, so its 2,200 plus kilogrammes does demand respect. Those sharing the close company of the new Range Rover will find a massive reduction in buttons on the consoles, the new design clean, wonderfully

So, Range werebetween So, New RangeRover Roverdesigners prices range €119,355 and €179,175.

laid out and finished in a way that can only be described as exemplary. Akin to the Jaguar, gear selection is via a cool circular pop-up dial. Possessing a longer wheelbase, rear seat passengers get 11cms more in legroom and with its lower seating and wider doors, access is far more diplomatic. Standard rear seat layout is a bench affair, with those who choose the Executive Class option getting two individual rear seats that recline further, complete with massage function. Aficionados will nod approvingly at the retention of the split tailgate, which now opens and closes electrically. And yes, the boot is huge! With its weight loss, the new Range Rover gets the TDV6 used in the Discovery and the Range Rover Sport. Quiet and smooth and helped by its 258bhp and 600Nm of torque, this engine can boogie along quite tastily. The SDV8, which is 200kg heavier, is also on the menu and has 700Nm of pulling power for them with the need. Those who like the horizon to slap them in the gob can opt for 5.0litre super-charged petrol V8, whose 510 horses are ready to play at the flick of the throttle. Sensibility returns next year when a diesel hybrid version will be launched. The Range Rover is simply unique. In its fourth generation it has raised its game once again, offering luxury, refinement and all-terrain ability that is unmatched by anything else. For those who can – they should. For the rest of us – we patiently await those six numbers, because for certain, this is justifiably one of the world’s best luxury vehicles and you know you would if you could. InBusiness | Q1 2013 69

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The Panel | IB SURVEY

Executive Recruitment Writing an executive job specification can sometimes be a difficult task. Paul McArdle, Managing Partner at The Panel, imparts some of his 25 years of experience and shows you how a well–worded specification can both save time and, more importantly, make sure you get the right candidate.


elow is a template job specification for an executive hire, in this example it is related to hiring a Finance Director. This template can be tailored to hire other disciplines. It is very important that the job specification is agreed between all stakeholders, so you are all working off the same page, in the literal sense!

TEMPLATE EXECUTIVE JOB SPECIFICATION: Position: Finance Director (EMEA) Company: ABC plc ( ABC plc is a FMCG company with a number of leading food brands throughout EMEA. It is the market leader for biscuits and savoury snacks in many of our markets, trading under well-known brand names. It is a UK quoted plc and employs 500 people in EMEA and 850 people globally. 2011 turnover in EMEA was a321m. Reporting Lines: The Finance Director (EMEA) role reports to the CEO (EMEA), the EMEA board and the plc board. There are five direct reports – Head of Finance, Head of IT, Finance Manager, FP&A Manager and a PA.  Responsibilities: Finance: • Overall responsibility for all aspects of the finance function. • Overall responsibility for integrity and timeliness of financial and management reporting. • Representing finance at board level. • Management of finance team. • Management of professional relationships – audit, tax legal etc… Banking: • Managing EMEA banking relationships. • Ongoing liaison with Group Treasurer.

Strategic: • Expected to contribute at board level on all aspects of company strategy. • Manage implementation of strategic decisions effectively. Acquisitions/Growth: • Manage M&A function from target identification to integration. • Manage disposals as appropriate. • Point of contact for corporate finance/ investor relations related issues externally. • Identify and project manage most efficient funding structures. Commercial: • Work with Heads of function (Sales, Marketing, Operations etc…) on commercial issues. • Provide input into pricing decisions, support tenders to the multiples etc… • Assess competitors. Operational: • Ongoing identification of efficiencies. • Work closely with Head of Operations on different projects, business support. • Overall responsibility for the IT function. Projects: • Ad-hoc project work.  Candidate Profile Professional: • Qualified Big 4 trained ACA with Finance Director experience in a plc or multinational environment. • FMCG/retail sector experience a distinct advantage. • Strong track record of delivery in M&A.

• Board level experience a pre-requisite. • Likely to have a minimum of 15 years pqe. • Has had responsibility for IT function. Personal: • Driven personality. • Strong team ethic. • Leads and motivates people. Package: • Attractive base salary. • Executive bonus system. • Executive pension. • Health insurance for family. • Car allowance. • Share awards/share options. • 24 days holidays. • Further education grants.  Other information: • The role is based in our head office in Northumberland Road. • There is about 20 per cent international travel in Europe with some to the Middle East and Africa. • Our modern offices are non–smoking. • Core working hours are 8am to 6pm with an hour for lunch. • The role is a replacement role as the last CFO has been promoted to CEO.  Competencies • Strong analytical skills. • Excellent time management. • Excellent team work. • Use initiative and self-motivated. • Flexible. • Excellent attention to detail. • Strong communication skills. • Business acumen.

The Panel has recruited at executive level for 25 years. Our partners specialise in different areas across finance, banking, legal, financial services and all aspects of IT recruitment. For a confidential chat, please call Paul McArdle, Managing Partner, on 01 6377041 or email Paul at 70 Q1 2013 | InBusiness

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Book review | Lifestyle

Fingers – The Man Behind The Money Conor Forrest reviews the explosive and revealing biography of Michael Fingleton, the man behind Irish Nationwide Building Society – Ireland’s worst bank.


t would become known as one of a cohort of toxic Irish banks, sharing a dubious honour with Anglo-Irish Bank, which began to grow exponentially during the 1990s. During this period, it threw unsecured money left, right and centre at a small group of property developers who were driven mad by the huge sums of money flooding into the country from French and German banks. But when the property bubble was pricked and everything came crashing down, the true extent of such folly was revealed, and the Irish taxpayer was left to pick up the pieces to the tune of €5.4 billion.

The Tragic Story Central to this tragic story is Michael Fingleton. ‘Fingers – The Man Who Brought Down Irish Nationwide And Cost Us €5.4BN’ follows the toxic trail of Fingleton, known as ‘Fingers’, who ruled Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) for four decades with an iron fist. A man who loved power and mingling with the powerful, he was more worried about fattening the society in the short term than ensuring its long term survival. Authors Tom Lyons, deputy business editor with The Sunday Independent and Richard Curran, business journalist and broadcaster, chart Fingleton’s business life, from his early beginnings working for a charity in Nigeria to the peak of his career as one of Ireland’s most powerful and influential moneylenders. They detail how he handed over billions to property developers on the strength of their word, all the while examining his close group of friends, his lavish lifestyle, and how nobody – in either politics or among

those people whose job it was to regulate rogue lenders – shouted stop, and how one man’s unrivalled and unchecked ambition has greatly helped in bringing the country to ruin. Born in Tubercurry, Co Sligo, the son of a local Garda, he studied in UCD, Trinity and King’s Inn and spent a number of years working across a broad range of organisations which included Allied Irish Finance, the Dairy Disposal Agency and aid agency Concern. When he first joined the then Irish Independent

“A man who loved power and mingling with the powerful, he was more worried about fattening the society in the short term than ensuring its long term survival.”

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Book review | Lifestyle society, described by accountant Michael Flynn as ‘terrifying.’


Richard Curran

Building Society in 1971, it was a completely different landscape to the society which would become such a major player on the Irish banking scene thirty years later – the building society made a profit of just €12,000 in his first year in charge. But over the years, Fingleton began to put his own personal stamp on the institution as he began to realise his vision – changing the name to Irish Nationwide, and spreading tendrils right across the whole of Ireland. A man who constantly sought power, and to mix with the powerful, Fingleton created a network of connections across construction and politics, and lent billions of borrowed money to this small cabal of associates as they pursued get rich quick property schemes across Europe and beyond. By 2007, 30 property developers accounted for roughly half of the society’s €12.4 billion loan book; Seán Dunne owed €131.4 million, Gerry Gannon had an exposure of €137.4 million while Sean Mulryan of Ballymore Properties owed the society a massive €265 million. “Relative to its size, Irish Nationwide is the worst bank in the country,” says Tom Lyons, co-author of the book. “It has many hidden secrets which even five years into the financial crisis, remained hidden from the public, despite the citizens of Ireland being asked to pick up the €5.4 billion for the society’s collapse. ‘Fingers’ reveals for the first time the story of what happened inside Irish Nationwide.” One of the main revelations in the book revolves around the first publication of the Ernst and Young report into the

Fingleton comes across as a somewhat complex character, larger than life, a man who worked hard for charity during the 1960s, consolidating Concern into a well run organisation before he joined the Irish Independent Building Society in 1971 and began to work his way to the top. “Michael Fingleton is a fascinating and intriguing character,” Lyons says. “A self-made man, he was a rogue banker who was capable of being generous to his friends and ruthless against those who crossed him. He knew everyone in politics, business and the media and ‘Fingers’ teases out these many colourful connections.” Throughout the book we see a man completely confident in his own belief, desperate to become one of Ireland’s powerful men, with a society and a board which seemed happy to keep him in charge with all of the power, as long as the figures kept increasing exponentially. But while those in his good books benefited from being around him, whether through the influence he exerted, or his ability to fast track loans numbering into the millions, he could show a darker side too, and while property developers were often given years in which to pay back their debts, the ordinary borrower was constantly hassled and harangued, with exorbitant interest rates the norm, and arrears which drastically piled up.

Who Watches The Watchmen? The book also examines the second part to Irish Nationwide’s downfall – the role of the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator and those in government at the time, and how despite the warning signs, and organisations such as KPMG highlighting the society’s many flaws, nobody made any real effort to put a stop to the madness. “The fact that the Central Bank knew from the year 2000 on that Irish Nationwide was careering out of control is one of the most unbelievable things covered in ‘Fingers’. It knew in extensive detail that Fingleton and a small bunch of cronies were growing the society in a reckless and uncontrolled manner but did not stop it,” says Lyons. “The book explores why

“The book shows how the Central Bank seemed afraid to take him on – such was his power and connections.” the Central Bank did nothing despite mounting evidence year after year that Michael Fingleton was ignoring the rules and doing whatever he wanted. The book shows how the Central Bank seemed afraid to take him on – such was his power and connections.” While for a long time, the major topic of debate was Anglo Irish Bank – the subject of many reports and stories and investigations – Lyons and Curran present a highly insightful and damning first look into the real story behind Ireland’s worst bank. “The fact that so little had been written about Irish Nationwide relative to, say, Anglo Irish Bank really sparked our interest,” says Lyons. “We knew that really seriously wrong things had gone on inside the society, yet none of these things had leaked into the public. We wanted to publish these new findings and try to force the state to finally take action against the people who allowed the society become a property lending casino.” Lyons and Curran ably lead the reader through the minefield of details, constructing a detailed, vivid, and often frightening insight into life inside Ireland’s worst bank. ‘Fingers – The Man Who Brought Down Irish Nationwide And Cost Us €5.4BN’ is published by Gill & Macmillan, available from any good bookshop for €16.99

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TRAVEL | Lifestyle

Night Traffic, Belgrade

Making the grade A

s I approached the passport control desk at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade I felt a sense of trepidation. Before travelling, I had heard stories of people being refused entry into Serbia for holding a passport which contained a Kosovan immigration stamp. This actually relates to travellers entering Serbia from Kosovo overland who wish to leave Serbia through a different border. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence, which was declared in 2008. Nonetheless, it was enough reason to feel a hint of anxiety given my passport sported a stamp from

Pristina in 2012. Luckily, it turned out to be a paranoid assertion, as I was greeted with a Serbian smile, albeit tentative, and the sound of my passport being stamped in Cyrillic letters. Having previously visited other countries which made up former Yugoslavia – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo (Slovenia being the other) – I was eager to see another side of the story in relation to the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. On learning about atrocities that occurred it was easy to view the Serbs as the ‘villains’, despite the obvious

fact that violence was not restricted to one side and that it was carried out by a minority. I wanted to remain as apolitical as possible during my visit, and after meeting the new generation of Serbia’s capital, any prejudice I could have held was soon left behind at the customs desk.

The White City Belgrade, or ‘Beograd’ as it is known locally, means the 'White City’. The Turks named it this when they first arrived in the 16th century. Today, when you arrive in Belgrade you might wonder why it is


Joseph O’Connor visited Belgrade and discovered there is a lot more to the Serbian capital than remnants of a recent war.

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TRAVEL | Lifestyle not known as the ‘Grey City’. Large parts of the city centre have old communist and industrial-style buildings, doing much to dishearten the first-time visitor. However, this stereotypical Eastern-bloc greyness is deceptive. If you scratch beneath the surface another tale can be told; one of a rich history and heritage. The Celts, Romans, Austro-Hungarians and Turks were all here and the city’s location has been both a blessing and a curse, with civilisations, cultures and religions having mixed, collided and clashed in the past. The city is perched at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The citadel of Kalemegdan overlooks the junction. With the once strategic site providing clear views in all directions, it is no wonder that it was occupied and defended at the first opportunity throughout its history. The site has been preserved extremely well and you could spend a whole afternoon just wandering around the area taking in the various museums, monuments and views. The park surrounding the fortress is just as impressive. It remains a popular location for the locals, as elderly men sit and ponder over their next chess move, young couples embrace on park benches and schoolchildren play football on the grass. The Turks referred to it as the ‘Hill for Meditating’, and seeing the laid-back mood in the vicinity, the name seems quite apt.

The Orthodox Celts One advantage of visiting Belgrade is how convenient it is to take most of the city’s attractions in by foot. Many of its appealing landmarks lie within ‘Stari Grad’ (Old City). One of the activities I signed up for was a free city walking tour. For the second time in two days, I met a Belgradian who was taking a local tour in order to gain an insight into the opportunities available in the tourism sector. Stefan, who must have been no more than 21, greeted me with a handshake as we waited for our guide to round up any straggling tourists. His eyes lit up when I told him I am from Ireland. It is not often you meet a Serb in Ireland, but young Stefan had spent two years living in Portlaoise where he completed his Leaving Certificate. His mother, an engineer, was employed there for that period.

In his excitement of discovering our common bond, he asked me if I knew who the Orthodox Celts were. I said I was aware that the Celts were once present in what is now Serbia, but wasn’t aware of any Orthodox connection. He responded with laughter and explained that the Orthodox Celts were a Serbian band that plays Irish folk music combined with modern rock. I quickly backtracked on my historical slip-up and told him I wasn’t aware of such a group. Stefan described how they are one of the most popular contemporary bands in Serbia and through their music have generated amongst young Serbs a deep affection and interest in Ireland. He even purports to use the story of him having resided in Ireland as an excellent chat-up line with Serbian women. I duly took note. Stefan was eager to find out how I had travelled to Belgrade and why. His grand plan was to establish a tour company in Belgrade which would bring local people on holidays to Ireland, arranging their full itinerary. I was very surprised to hear of his idea and it gave me some insight into the young blood in the city that was eager to get Serbia back on the map. It also made me think of a potential market that Fáilte Ireland had not yet tapped into.

the 1999 NATO bombings of Belgrade which were deployed to oust former leader Slobodan Miloševic. For various political reasons, these buildings have been left untouched since the air raids. Visitors to Belgrade expecting to find a bomb-damaged, war-ravaged city will be disappointed, but this evidence of its turbulent past is well worth a look. You can also opt for the ‘Belgrade under Belgrade’ tour, which provides a fascinating insight into the underground tunnels built beneath the city during the Roman, Austrian, Turkish and Serbian periods.

Bohemian Belgrade One district well worth a visit is the tiny bohemian enclave of Skadarlija, also known as the Bohemian Quarter. This part of the city was first settled in the 1830s by Roma who lived in the abandoned trenches in front of Belgrade’s defensive walls, which were replaced by more modern buildings in the middle of the 20th century. The district’s main street, Skadarska Street, became a focus for the city’s bohemian life by the turn of the 20th century, with many of Belgrade’s artists, actors,

Communist Past Like a lot of cities in the Balkans region, Belgrade has a rich history, albeit a chequered one. An excellent way of taking a crash course in Belgrade’s recent past is by signing up to one of the communist tours of the city. These tours will take you to ‘The House of Flowers’ mausoleum where former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito is buried. There is some ambivalence among locals towards the former dictator who led Yugoslavia between 1943 and 1980. Tito’s admirers claim that it was his political genius and strong personality that glued Yugoslavia together for so long. His critics declare it was through manipulation and political repression. Our tour’s visit to the mausoleum was a somewhat muted affair as the six of us were the only ones present. According to my guide, there is no longer a guard of honour and it does not receive the silent, awestruck lines of pilgrims that it used to. During the communist tours, you are also shown buildings damaged by

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TRAVEL | Lifestyle

Nightlife Perhaps one of the most synonymous attributes of Belgrade is its insomniac nature. Arriving in the city on a Monday night, I couldn’t help but notice how vibrant the streets were and wondered if all these people had jobs to go to in the morning. Even if they hadn’t, the locals still knew how to have a good time. Belgrade undoubtedly has some of the best nightlife on offer in Europe, ranging from jazz clubs in old printing factories to party boats moored along the Sava and Danube. The nightlife is spread throughout the city. Much of the activity during the summer takes place on boats and rafts (splavovi). Other pockets of nightlife lie closer to the Old Town, with one area being referred to as ‘Silicone Valley’, a long street of fancy cafés, bars and clubs that has become highly fashionable over the past few years. Whatever your taste in nightlife, Belgrade will deliver. During any stay in Belgrade, be it in a bar or at someone’s home, you are likely to be offered a courtesy shot of Rakija.

Kalemegdan Fortress, Belgrade

Unfortunately, mine came during a midday walking tour; one which took place not many hours after an evening spent consuming far too many local Jelen beers. Rakija is a spirit normally made from grapes which tends to be used as a generic term in Serbia for any sort of strong liquor. It is a popular home-distilled spirit, which ranges from palatably fruity to downright rocket fuel. I chose to down a couple of shots during my visit for fear of causing any offence. In some circumstances it is better to just offend.

Attracting Tourists While not the most obvious choice of destinations for anyone seeking a getaway in Europe, Belgrade has a lot to offer. There are no direct flights from Dublin so it will feel a little off the beaten track to many. But as Serbia affirms its ambition to join the European Union, future membership will undoubtedly make its capital much more accessible to its European neighbours. With much of

its population being made up of young, energetic and enthusiastic people, coupled with the announcement that Belgrade is in contention for European Capital of Culture in 2020, the city’s tourism sector will likely flourish in the near future, once the Serbian government doesn’t drag its feet on promoting its capital. Perhaps if Stefan’s plans for a tour company bringing Serbs to Ireland come to fruition, plenty of Irish holiday-goers will be enticed to travel in the opposite direction. They won’t be disappointed by a European capital that certainly makes the grade.

Travel briefs: Joseph travelled to Belgrade via Charleroi Airport. He flew Dublin to Charleroi with Ryanair and Charleroi to Belgrade with Wizz Air. The cost of four flights was €150 including taxes and charges. He stayed at the Manga Hostel. Visit For further information on the tours visit


writers and musicians making it their home. While it is probably the closest thing the Serbian capital has to a ‘tourist trap’, it still manages to conjure up the atmosphere of bygone times with traditional restaurants lining the narrow cobbled street. The locals like to compare the area to that of Montmartre in Paris. While the comparison appears rather far-fetched, there is great potential for tourism here. The end section of the street is mostly occupied by a brewery that belonged to a distinguished Belgrade family before World War II. It was here that a renowned local beer was produced using spring water below the street. The brewery is now derelict, with plans in place to demolish most of the complex. My local guide Zeljko explained how there was much opposition against plans to build a shopping centre in the area. He outlined to me his hope to organise a drinking tour for visitors along the street where tourists could sample local brews whilst being given an historical account of the area. It made me think of how the city could have flourished (or gone into disrepair!) with the influx of Celtic Tiger-style stag weekends some years ago, had such tours existed.

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gadgets | Lifestyle

Go Go Gadgets InBusiness takes a look at some of the most useful and eye catching gadgets on the market. Microsoft Surface RT While consumers in the US are getting their hands on the Windows Pro version, Irish customers are finally experiencing the Microsoft Surface RT tablet, with prices starting at €479 for the tablet alone or €579 if you want the touch cover included. Light and yet robust, it is classily designed and visually appealing and with the kick stand out and the keyboard attached, you’ve suddenly got a laptop or notebook. At 10.6”, the Surface RT is longer than the iPad and other similar tablets, and its big screen is perfect for reading internet pages or documents. Inside the user finds – behind the new and slick home page, which features a roundup of applications present on the tablet – the same familiar Windows desktop we all know and like (‘love’ is perhaps too strong of a word), with the ribbon along the bottom. The start button has jumped outside the screen and now resides as a physical button on the bottom of the tablet’s face. For students or businesspeople looking for a portable accessory on which they can continue their work, the Surface RT comes equipped as standard with built-in Office apps; Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Note – each elegantly laid out and easy to use, exactly as you would find them on a regular desktop or laptop, while the USB port makes document transfer a welcome prospect. Though the app collection isn’t quite as vast as the offering from Microsoft’s fierce competitor, Apple, this is a small quibble and the Surface RT remains the choice for those looking for a mobile complement to their laptop or PC. Handy for those used to the Windows layout and looking for a stylish and premium tablet with the potential for creation.

ChargeCard Smartphones are wonderful creations. There’s no denying that. Even NASA is planning to launch smartphone satellites into orbit as part of their PhoneSat project which aims at lowering the cost of their satellites – most off the shelf smartphones now come equipped with capabilities comparable to spacecraft, including fast processors and GPS capabilities. It has to be said – they’re quite impressive creations. Unfortunately, with all of this technology crammed into such a small space, battery life is still quite limited, as that particular branch of technology has yet to catch up. Carrying a USB charger around in your pocket is a little awkward – if you even manage to find the cable and untangle it from your headphones and a dozen other wires in the first place. Enter ChargeCard – a USB cable thin enough to fit into either your pocket or your wallet. In the shape of a business card and only three times the thickness of a credit card, the ChargeCard features a foldout USB arm. Simply plug one end into a USB port and the edge mounted connector into your iPhone or Android, and you’re ready to go. Utilising USB 2.0, the ChargeCard also works as a data transfer cable, allowing you to tether internet and transfer photos or videos while your phone charges. Any USB port will work – laptops, gaming consoles, TVs and cars. The ChargeCard costs $25 (€20) including international shipping and is available from Amazon.

The Surface RT can be found on Microsoft’s online store or at from €479.

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gadgets | Lifestyle

Jawbone UP Wristband

Bicio GoRide Bike Mount for iPhone

Health is wealth, or so they say. Healthy lifestyles are the new thing, and we’re constantly bombarded with warnings about how the (wrong) food we eat is going to kill us slowly from inside, or how a little extra insulation is the sign of impending death. To help you achieve the perfectly healthy lifestyle is Jawbone’s UP wristband which tracks your movement and your sleep in the background. Designed to fit seamlessly into your life, the bracelet is strong and flexible to cope with active lifestyles. Features include sleep, food, movement and mood tracking, an idle alert to let you know when you’ve been sitting down for too long, an alarm and a ten day battery lifespan. The UP bracelet is compatible with iPhone and a wide range of Android devices, and the accompanying app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play, through which you can see all of your data, and figure out just where it is you have been going wrong.

Many of us will have been there at some point – you’re cycling along, enjoying the nice warm day and the scenery flashing by. The only sound is the whistling of the wind going past your ears. And then that little crash which means your phone has fallen out of your pocket and is now lying in several pieces across the road in your wake. This handy little gadget, with its base tightly secured to your bike frame via cable ties, holds your iPhone securely, either horizontally or vertically. The case slots easily in and out of the base, and can be used as an everyday protective carry case. It’s handy for keeping in touch with the outside world while you’re out cycling around, and if you use your two wheeled machine to keep fit, you can also use it in tandem with your iPhone to provide a handy way of tracking your progress as you ride with biking apps.

UP is available from the Jawbone online store for $129.99 (€101).

The GoRide Bike Mount costs around $29.99 (€23) from

Doro PhoneEasy 612 For some people, smartphones aren’t the easiest of devices to use, with small screens and even smaller text, and touchscreen buttons which aren’t always the most responsive. And while for many people, they want a phone on which they can surf the web, check their email and plot a route from Dublin to Belfast, all while firing an angry bird from a slingshot. For others, all they want from a phone is the ability to make a call, receive a text, or perhaps take the odd picture or two. Stylish and durable, the Doro PhoneEasy 612 is a clamshell phone designed for the segment of the market with poor eyesight or hearing, and with limited dexterity in their fingers. The phone itself is quite solid, and its rubber coating makes it easier for those who have problems with their grip. With an easy to use camera, a large display with adjustable text and extra loud and clear sound, the phone has a clear display with easily identifiable characters on sharp black and colour displays. For hearing aid users, the PhoneEasy is rated M3/T3 or higher, meaning it will work with most types of hearing aids. The PhoneEasy also has a handy emergency feature – up to five people on an emergency list will receive a text at the push of a button. The first gets a voice call, and if there is no answer, the phone moves onto the next on the list, and so on. It also holds In Case of Emergency (ICE) information – the handset can store info such as your name, date of birth, GP info, allergy information and much more. The PhoneEasy is available from Carphone Warehouse on pay as you go from €89.99 or from O2 for €79.

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the last word

A Sustainable Vision Conor Forrest talks to Bord Bia Chief Executive Aidan Cotter about the importance of sustainability in Irish industry.


s the world looks to increase and expand food production by 70 per cent over the course of the next four decades, complemented by a reduction of a similar number in greenhouse gas emissions, we are seeing reductions in the rates of growth concerning agricultural productivity, climate change and unpredictable weather conditions. Sustainability is becoming a major issue as surging demand and new resource challenges present a major stumbling block. According to the World Wildlife Fund, mankind is using up one-and-a-half times the rate the planet can sustain, which should give cause for concern as the global population is set to increase by more than two billion by 2050.

The Cause A myriad of organisations, both commercial and not-for-profit, have taken up the cause of sustainability. The Rio+20 Conference of June last year was the largest sustainable development conference ever organised by the UN, while organisations such as Greenpeace and Worldwatch ensure that their vision for a sustainable world doesn’t simply fade into the background. More

Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive of Bord Bia.

important perhaps, for the vision’s survival, is that major corporations have answered the call. Walmart, in its 2012 Global Sustainability Report, documented steps which the company will follow to become more sustainable and responsible and has asserted its aim to sell products which sustain both people and environment. Retail giant Marks and Spencer launched Plan A in January 2007, setting out 100 commitments to achieve over the course of the following five years, and extended the plan to 180 commitments by 2015. Their ultimate aim sees the organisation become the world’s largest sustainable major retailer.

“This is the only such sustainability programme in the world that operates on a national basis Sustainable Pedigree and that commits to The infrastructure and pedigree is actively measuring and already in place here in Ireland, to some degree. Our climate is temperate and reducing the carbon the rich and green countryside is perfect for farming. Figures released by the footprint of each EU Commission have highlighted how producer.” Ireland’s dairy industry had the lowest

carbon footprint in Europe alongside Austria, while the beef industry is among the top five performing member states. This highlights the natural advantages of Ireland’s grass based production systems. In 2002, Nestlé, Unilever and Danone created the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) platform – a food industry initiative dedicated to supporting sustainable agriculture worldwide. The SAI Platform today has more than 40 members, including the Irish food board, Bord Bia. Bord Bia’s efforts originally began in 2011 with the introduction of carbon footprint monitoring for all Bord Bia Quality Assured beef farms in Ireland – 32,000 farms representing around 75 per cent of the country’s beef production. “Each week we measure the carbon footprint of over 500 new farms around Ireland – looking at energy usage, water, environmental impact, etc. This is the only such sustainability programme in the world that operates on a national basis and that commits to actively InBusiness | Q1 2013 79

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the last word “It is our custodianship of those ‘green credentials’ and resources that offer perhaps the greatest potential yet to set us apart, show the world what Irish food and drink stands for, and enhance the value of our industry.” measuring and reducing the carbon footprint of each producer,” says Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia. With international companies and organisations plunging time and resources into sustainability projects, Bord Bia recognised the need for Irish businesses and industry to follow suit, resulting in Origin Green, a voluntary sustainability programme for Irish food manufacturers and processors. “We believe Ireland can become a world leader in terms of sustainably produced food,” says Cotter. “We have the natural advantage in terms of grass-based production.” The need for sustainable and openly produced food, verified by a food standards agency was brought into the open by the recent horsemeat crisis, which threatened the name of Irish produce not only across Europe, but worldwide. “Throughout the issue, Bord Bia and its network of international offices worked closely with exporters to brief and reassure customers, where needed, across all key export markets. No issues or concerns were reported by trade buyers.” says Cotter. “In addition, the consumer research, commissioned by Bord Bia, following the discovery of equine DNA, shows the incident has not damaged public confidence in Ireland’s food industry. The study reveals a marginal reduction in trust among consumers – primarily because the problem was not uncovered before products went on sale. Interestingly, few consumers noted that the issue came to light not because of low standards in the food industry, but because of the high standard of checks carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).”

Membership Membership of the Origin Green initiative allows participating businesses to place sustainability right at the heart of their operation – not just an extra

plan that is followed, but one which is incorporated fully in the organisation, and which influences everything from top to bottom. Irish businesses will have the opportunity to draw from the accumulated knowledge of a group of their peers, a network which will grow and prosper as sustainable practices grow and strengthen across the country. “With Origin Green, Ireland’s food and drink industry can now effectively begin to add proof and commitment to its sustainability claims, and provide the evidence that retailers and food service providers around the world are seeking,” Cotter says. To ensure that Origin Green is successful in achieving its aims, Bord Bia have been undertaking a number of steps since its launch including – international trade advertising, participating in international trade fairs with the Origin Green stand, placement of Origin Green ambassadors in key export markets and hosted media visits to showcase Ireland’s green potential.

Business Benefits Drawing on the ISEAL Alliance’s Code of Good Practice, a global association for sustainability standards, Bord Bia has designed a sustainability charter. Each participating firm (the scheme is voluntary) creates a five-year plan; identifying relevant areas, setting timelines and targets, and following independent verification and acceptance files, and an annual report. Businesses undergoing the accreditation process can securely upload their plan documentation online, and data will be collected and analysed by Bord Bia to assess whether established targets have been reached, while the assessment of a satisfactory process will be undertaken by a third party – global verification and certification company SGS. “Over 225 Irish food and drink companies, representing in excess of 70 per cent of our exports, have registered for Origin Green,” says Cotter. “The companies hail

Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive of Bord Bia.

from all of the industry’s key sectors, including dairy, meat, seafood and beverages. We encourage all of our client companies to apply online.” For businesses, the advantages don’t just come in the form of leaving a more sustainable country for future generations. Sustainability means reduced costs and a better bottom line. For example, Marks and Spencer invested £200 million in its 2007 sustainability programme. By 2010, the company had covered that initial outlay, and made savings of a further £50 million net benefit. As the world’s business community begins a shift towards a sustainable outlook, multinationals will begin to seek out suppliers with similar concerns and practices. Meanwhile, in terms of lending, banking institutions can be more open to financing sustainable investments – the savings accrued act as a guarantee that the loan will be repaid. Looking forward, Cotter is confident that the Origin Green initiative and the drive towards sustainable practices in Ireland will be successful if they are vigorously pursued. Cotter concludes: “Successful countries – just like successful companies – have to differentiate themselves from their competitors. It is our custodianship of those ‘green credentials’ and resources that offer perhaps the greatest potential yet to set us apart, show the world what Irish food and drink stands for, and enhance the value of our industry.”

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Irish logistics firm making marks in Europe InBusiness Q1 2013





Irish and British trade relations

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