Page 1

THIS ISSUE

Issue 25 | WINTER 2015

Cover Story

business agenda

NEWSPAPER POST LIFESTYLE

The festive season is often a flurry of events, activities and things to do. Here’s how you can plan ahead to celebrate this Christmas in style.

page 21

TH

Industry frontrunners discuss the nature and meaning of gamification, and reveal how it is beginning to change traditional methods of conducting business.

page 5

Tourism MHRA CEO Andrew Agius Muscat discusses the upcoming Mediterranean Tourism Forum, and how this annual event, now in its third edition, is aiming to help unify the region’s approach to attract tourism.

anniversary 2009 2014

THE Official Business publication of the Malta business Bureau

“Making Malta an attractive place for foreign investment is not a onetime thing” – Finance Minister nomic growth. “We are trying to prioritise the problems that need to be tackled with urgency, and we have to do so whilst ensuring that Malta is living within its means; that is what our past set of Budgets aimed to achieve. But we can’t give everything to everybody at the same time.”

page 17

Business Events Showcasing Innovation Leaders and Innovation through Design initiatives.

page 25 & 26

Policy Business Agenda examines the European Commission’s efforts at simplifying the cross-border establishment of singlemember private limited liability companies across the EU.

page 41

Is the Government doing enough to secure and maintain the island’s economic growth? Finance minister Edward Scicluna tells Business Agenda that Government is addressing

the areas where Malta is weakest and most vulnerable first and foremost – an exercise, he argues, that needs to be carried out before turning its attention towards securing future eco-

Minister Scicluna is optimistic about the future of the economy and argues that “making Malta an attractive place for foreign investment is not a one-time thing,” and that while obstacles and threats will continue to face the economy, he is “confident that Malta has enough resources and talent to overcome them.”

Commenting on the nation’s economic prospects for 2016, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Anton Borg, asserts that while he acknowledges that Malta’s economy is experiencing one of the biggest crests in its history, he is concerned that the country is about to fall victim to its own success. The country’s economic boom, he explains, has given rise to a widespread climate of passivity and inaction, with not enough work being done to ensure that growth, stability and investment maintain their upward course. See full story on page 9.

The rise and rise of eCommerce Denise Borda, eCommerce analyst at the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), offers insight into the rise of eCommerce locally and across Europe, in view of the official launch of the National eCommerce Strategy (2014-2020). “eCommerce has radically transformed the way the world is doing business at every conceivable level,” Ms Borda explains. Apart from altering the practice,

timing and technology in relation to Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) commerce, it has also affected pricing, product availability, logistics and consumer behaviour. “With the growth of B2B eCommerce, we are witnessing a substantial reduction in transaction costs, improved supply chain management and reduced costs for domestic and global sourcing.”

Malta’s eCommerce Strategy, she says, “aims to support the take-up of eCommerce and the provision of eCommerce-related services by local businesses. To this end, a number of ambitious initiatives were outlined and these are being implemented across a seven-year period by Government, in collaboration with the Authority and other entities.” See full story on page 13.


2

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


3

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

editorial

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2016

Joe Tanti, Chief Executive Officer, MBB

Towards the end of October, the European Commission released its Work Programme for 2016 during an unusually low-key unveiling, seeking to build upon the mandate given to it by the electorate during the last European elections. Curiously entitled 'No time for business as usual', the Work Programme clearly conforms to President Juncker’s vision of less, yet higher quality, legislation. Despite its enigmatic title, a quick glance at the Work Programme is all that is needed in order to see that the Commission has no intention of veering its course, with the 2016 Work Programme highlighting many of the same topics that were unveiled to much fanfare during last year’s edition. The phrases “stay on course” and “steady as she goes” immediately spring to mind. The optimists might call it a sound basis from which to build upon, while the cynics amongst us might label it as uninspiring. A positive element is the way in which the Commission is moving forward with its commitment on the digital agenda. In this day and age of technological advance-

ments, the adoption of a digital market is becoming a priority for businesses and consumers alike. The Commission has seen the value of having a thriving digital market in terms of job creation and economic expansion, and has thus proposed a Digital Single Market Strategy, which would fully embrace the digital revolution. This would mean that there would be new legislative revisions and proposals in fields such as copyright and data protection, and audio-visual and media services, among others. The ultimate aim is to overcome obstacles derived from national holds on these sectors, whilst taking into consideration the cultural diversity of the Union. The Commission’s commitment towards adopting the legislative proposals under the Digital Single Market has been affirmed in its Work Programme, and this is certainly something that the MBB looks forward to, and will follow closely. Another commitment enshrined within the Work Programme is the adoption of the Single Market Strategy which aims to allow

businesses to fully utilise the single market to its full potential. The Commission has committed to proposing new measures which aim to establish new and better opportunities for entrepreneurs, as well as help smaller companies access market funding more easily. Other proposals include the improvement of the start-up business environment in the EU, while also looking to introduce a new regulatory framework on business insolvency in order to create an environment where entrepreneurship is not discouraged. The Single Market Strategy also includes forthcoming proposals on labour mobility, which will look to establish better enforcement mechanisms when it comes to social security systems and issues related to unfair and abusive conditions of workplaces. “Free movement should never be considered as social dumping,” Commission first vice-President Frans Timmermans correctly proclaimed during the unveiling. Moving away from the Single Market Strategy, the Commission is promising a mid-term

review of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU’s seven-year framework regulating its annual budget. This review will include an assessment of the effectiveness of the current spending of the EU, while looking to divert more funds towards EU priorities. In this case, the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) is expected to be the major beneficiary. When one looks at the Commission’s Work Programme holistically, one can understand that this is certainly a tricky time for the EU in general, with numerous crises relating to migration, Greece, unemployment and climate change putting the EU in precarious situations. Perhaps steadying the ship is really what is needed in order to get back to business as usual. On our part, the MBB will certainly be following developments closely, while ensuring that the Maltese business community is well represented during the forthcoming discussions on these issues. On a final note, I wish to extend my congratulations to the organisers and the participants of the Valletta Summit on Migra-

tion, which was held between Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th November 2015. Among the points agreed upon, EU and African leaders decided to adopt an action plan that is designed to address the causes of irregular migration and improve cooperation in this field, as well as prevent the illegal smuggling and trafficking of asylum seekers. Having said this, I sincerely hope that these proposals are concretely and effectively implemented by the national authorities. In the meantime, I augur our readers the very best for the festive season, and a very successful 2016, during which year the MBB will be celebrating 20 years of service to the Maltese business community.

The Malta Business Bureau would like to offer its deepest sympathies after the dreadful loss of life and appalling injuries following the atrocities committed in Paris on the 13th November. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

The Malta Business Bureau is a non-profit making organisation acting as the European-Business Advisory and Support Office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. The MBB has two offices, the Head Office in Malta and the Representation Office in Brussels. Publisher

Malta Business Bureau

Editor: Joe Tanti

Content House Group

Cornerline, Level 1,

Editorial Team: Ana Vella, Daniel Debono, Mark Seychell, Sarah Micallef, Marie-Claire Grima & Jo Caruana

Mallia Buildings

Dun Karm Street, Birkirkara, BKR 9039

Publication Sales Manager: Matthew Spiteri

Tel: 00356 2125 1719

Advertising Sales Coordinators: Lindsey Napier and Marvic Cutajar

3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju Mriehel BKR 3000

Email: info@mbb.org.mt

Tel: 00356 2132 0713

infobrussels@mbb.org.mt

Email: info@contenthouse.com.mt

www.mbb.org.mt

www.contenthouse.com.mt

Deputy Editor: Martina Said

Design: Nicholas Cutajar

Advertising Sales Executives: Kurt Cauchi

Business Agenda is the quarterly publication of the Malta Business Bureau. It is distributed to all members of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, all the members of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, and to all other leading businesses by Mailbox Distribution Services, part of Mailbox Group. Business Agenda is also distributed by the Malta Business Bureau to leading European and business institutions in Brussels.


4

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


5

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

COVER STORY

Gamifying Success

In the digital era, games have become the new norm. They are gradually breaking the barriers between work and play, and are also beginning to change traditional methods of conducting business. ANA VELLA meets with KPMG’s industry manager, Russell Mifsud and Karmafy's founder and CEO JOHN KLEPPER to better understand the new buzzword: gamification. Companies are now turning to games, or better still, game mechanics in order to motivate and engage clientele, in a new and powerful way. So what exactly is this intriguing phenomenon that is sweeping the globe? The answer is gamification – a business strategy and marketing tool that is increasingly playing a crucial role in innovatively transforming processes, economic behaviour and outcomes.

Russell Mifsud “Your business success is dependent on how well you can capture and maintain your market’s attention, in tandem with the input and enthusiasm that is derived from your internal workforce. As a result of a series of changes in technology, demographics and the economy as a whole, organisations are increasingly turning to play and games

as a way of radically reinventing themselves,” says Mr Mifsud.

social media and breakthrough technologies.”

He explains that the term ‘gamification’ is essentially a marketing tool which applies game-like elements to tasks which are otherwise not primarily game-related. Gamification is the use of a combination of primarily intrinsic rewards (that involve people at an emotional level) and extrinsic ones in order to sustain user engagement. One cannot help but wonder, what are the factors that have influenced such marketing needs and outcomes?

Mr Mifsud highlights that along with people’s abilities and competences, the digital era has also allowed gamification to evolve, therefore businesses shouldn’t be apprehensive about this new phenomenon but rather, ride the wave. So how does one even begin to apply gamified design to their business? What does it take?

“The millennial generation (those that reached adulthood by the year of the millennium and beyond) are primarily responsible for shaping the technological developments and expectations we have today. The millennial world has come to expect additional means of being rewarded and unless classic business models are adapted to meet these growing expectations, they cannot continue to thrive and innovate.” Mr Mifsud believes that today’s workforce and clientele are different to those of yesteryear – their aspirations and expectations are becoming increasingly harder to match. “Millennials are spoilt for choice, they look for instant gratification; after all, they have been brought up in an era of game consoles, rapid game development,

“The first thing to keep in mind is that gamification can be utilised for the benefit of the organisation, not just the end user. It allows you to quantify your efforts and measure your success as a result of the data collected by these game mechanics.” Mr Mifsud adds that, “gamification also generates a new kind of interest in your company which can help you reach objectives and enhance your appeal, but more importantly it can also serve as a problem solver in that it creates new and clever solutions to old problems. Naturally, it is important to first define the problem and also define your target market in order to create something for it.” A firm proponent of this phenomenon, Mr Mifsud claims that gamification helps facilitate the connection between employee motivation and company success, adding that it also changes how

we think about managing people and how we think about our own performance.

“The millennial world has come to expect additional means of being rewarded and unless classic business models are adapted to meet these growing expectations, they cannot continue to thrive and innovate.” – Russell Mifsud “International giants such as IBM, Cisco, Sony and Google are leading examples of gamified design. Of course, different levels of gamification exist in that, not all companies invest as heavily in gamification but it is safe to say that if your roll it out properly, gamification can potentially reap significant return on investment. However, unless gamification is used for the right reasons – that is, to drive business results through changes in employee and customer behaviour – it will not work.” Tying into the broad gamification buzzword is another intriguing term Mr Mifsud makes reference to: crowdsourcing.

The term combines the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’ to describe the process of getting work or funding from a crowd of people. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers – including customers. Companies are now using the internet and social media fora to invite people to participate in specific projects. Gamification and crowdsourcing also generate new reward mechanisms which go beyond the traditional tangible perks that most loyalty systems employ. With deep roots in digital gaming and crowdsourcing, one need not look farther than Sliema to find a perfect example of a gamified business approach. Founder and CEO, John Klepper introduces Karmafy – a first of its kind start-up company recently set up in Malta with one mission in mind – to bring gamification into the heart of businesses and their products. Uniquely combining a role in digital philanthropy with the motivational impact of gamification, the Karmafy team aims to have a real and tangible positive impact on the world, also known as the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. Mr Klepper explains, “we empower CSR by allowing anyone to be a philanthropist through the products and services they already use every day.”


6

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

COVER STORY Mr Klepper offers some insight on how Karmafy integrates the gamification process in its business model: “our process of combining technology and social responsibility is a means for businesses to have not only a healthy return on investment but also a socially responsible return on investment.” He continues, “gamification is at the core of what Karmafy does and as such we’ve designed our technology and gamification engine in a way that allows us to integrate easily with existing products or even internal company systems for HR, sales and customer support. For example, we can directly support and reward positive actions and achievements to empower users and employees alike. These users can then allocate their Karmafy Points to support the organisation of their choice, thus giving them control over how we distribute part of our revenues.”

John Klepper

“In today’s competitive digital landscape it’s no longer enough to simply have a good business... to have a well thought out and effective reward system built in to keep people’s attention and incentivise them to return is vital.” – John Klepper So how exactly can the Karmafy Point system be used and who can use it? Mr Klepper easily elucidates the question, “as a child, you may have skipped along the pavement on your way to school, merrily avoiding each crack, in order to turn an otherwise humdrum walk into something fun, which when you think about it, is simply how we find ways to bring gamification into our everyday lives. Karmafy Points are an easily understandable means to empower customers with what we call ‘freemium philanthropy’, which is the basis of our business model and has been developed through the team’s many years of collective experience in game design and gamification.” Mr Klepper decodes the term freemium philanthropy, explain-

ing that it means that anyone who interacts with this platform is able to have a positive impact on the world around them regardless of whether that person spends money or not. He continues, “as human beings we are naturally competitive, therefore these points are key to the process as they encourage a healthy competition amongst users to compare their scores within the context of doing good. The user's score is a reflection of how much

positive action they have helped make possible.” Karmafy’s undeniably innovative business model successfully integrates business, gamification and philanthropy into one effective platform that can be used by virtually anyone, anywhere. Mr Klepper underscores that gamification has allowed Karmafy to create two sets of customers; on one side, the businesses and their products that become Karmafy-enabled, and on the other

side, over 40 high impact philanthropic organisations for users to support. Mr Klepper concludes, “in today’s competitive digital landscape it’s no longer enough to simply have a good business. A modern business needs to be fun and engaging for its users, customers and workforce. To have a well thought out and effective reward system built in to keep people's attention and incentivise them to return is vital and ultimately a real potential boost to a company’s bottom-line.”


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

7


8

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


9

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

COVER STORY

Looking ahead: Malta’s economic outlook for 2016

Photo by www.viewingmalta.com

A new year is just around the corner and everyone is eager to ensure that the thriving Maltese economy remains on the up. Marie-Claire Grima speaks to two local influential figures in Malta’s business landscape to uncover the nation’s economic prospects for 2016. As the end of the year rolls around, Malta’s economy is in a generally robust condition. While the unfaltering backbone of tourism continues to bring in the bulk of the national income, breaking records year after year, Malta’s economy has become significantly more diversified in recent times and is seeing exceptional performance results from a number of sectors. The remote gaming industry is at the helm of these super-performers – in 2014, it was confirmed to be the second-largest contributor to the national economy, and continues to bring in 12 per cent of the GDP. Back office service providers, financial services operators and a film industry whose recurring description as ‘burgeoning’ trivialises its substantial contribution to Malta’s coffers all remained steadily successful

earners in 2015. Furthermore, the Budget for 2016 which was announced in October predicted that GDP and inflation would continue to grow after a strong year, while unemployment and the budget deficit would keep gradually shrinking. It also included a number of measures aimed at promoting business growth, including tax credits for would-

Edward Scicluna

be entrepreneurs, incentives for knowledge-transfer partnerships and financial assistance for SMEs in the manufacturing sector. Anton Borg, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry confirms that the majority of Malta’s economic sectors are doing well, fuelling the current positive business climate and producing exceptional results. “Economies move in cycles, and Malta’s economy is currently experiencing one of the biggest crests in its history,” he says. However, he is worried that Malta is about to fall victim to its own success. Its current economic boom, he argues, is giving rise to a widespread climate of passivity and inaction, with not enough work being done to ensure that growth, stability and investment maintain their upward course. Policymakers,

he says, seem more than content to believe that the situation will remain the same way without requiring any significant action to be taken on their part. “Now is the time to work hard to make sure that Malta retains its present attractiveness for local and foreign business investment, in order to ensure future growth. We weathered the 2008 financial crisis and the chaos that ensued comparatively well, thanks to strong foundations that had been laid in more prosperous times. Back then, we were surrounded by countries that were all floundering and gasping for air, while we went on with our business much the same as before. But since then, those same countries have taken measures to restore and rebuild their economies which are finally paying off. They’re getting back on their feet

“We can’t give everything to everybody at the same time. Flinging businessboosting incentives every other way and hoping that they stick to something is a waste of our resources.” – Edward Scicluna with renewed strength, far more prepared to compete than ever before.” Mr Borg says that while the Government expresses agreement with the proposals that the Chamber put forward to ensure such growth, it is often largely a question of lip service. He mentions a proposal put forward by the Chamber, for the Government to match companies’ R&D invest-


10

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

COVER STORY ment with double the sum in capital allowance – a proposal which would have the bonus benefit of allowing the level of R&D carried out in Malta to be more accurately gauged. The proposal was also backed by the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD). However, it did not so much as receive a mere acknowledgement in the Budget for 2016. “It’s very easy to nod and concur, and then sit back and do nothing,” he says. “There’s no sense of urgency being registered at higher levels at all. There are economic and fiscal strategies that we have to start sowing now so that we can reap them further down the line. If we have to perform feats of crisis management when disaster strikes, they will be ten times harder to pull off.”

Anton Borg Several recent studies prove that Mr Borg’s concerns are not unfounded. This year, Malta

placed 95th in the Ease of Doing Business Survey carried out by the World Bank Organisation, proving that despite its economic triumphs, Malta’s business environment remains bogged down by the endemic problems of endless bureaucracy and unwieldy procedures. The necessary framework and will to enforce contracts remains feeble and lacking, credit is difficult to acquire and successive governments have been dogged by accusations of corruption, nepotism and political favours. Malta was also among the lowest scorers in the European Digital City Index which measured digital business environment, entrepreneurial culture, mentoring and managerial assistance and non-digital infrastructure in 35 different European locations. While acknowledging that there are areas where Malta still lags far behind, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna offers a sharp rebuttal when challenged that the Government isn’t doing enough to secure and maintain future economic growth. “When a patient is haemorrhaging, you have to stop the blood loss before tending to any other ailment. It’s the same with the economy – we have been making it a point to address the areas where Malta is weakest and most vulnerable first and foremost.”

These issues, he says, include a lack of energy and fuel efficiency, low rates of female participation in the workforce, a cohort of graduates that was either under-skilled or whose skills did not meet current demands, bureaucracy and inconsistency across the board, and a highly overburdened infrastructural system. “These are all matters that require our immediate attention. We are trying to prioritise the problems that need to be tackled with urgency, and we have to do so whilst ensuring that Malta is living within its means; that is what our past set of Budgets aimed to achieve. But we can’t give everything to everybody at the same time. Flinging business-boosting incentives every other way and hoping that they stick to something is a waste of our resources. Instead, we’re monitoring the economy and ensuring that it grows at a steady rate, which will lead to an eventual convergence with the European average.”

investing in sectors which are still developing or stabilising. He has an ambitious vision for the next phase of Malta’s economy, an avenue which is only possible thanks to the international standard that its service sector has reached. “The high standards Malta now holds in accountancy, legal and IT fields mean that any company of any size can find itself suitably serviced if it chooses to base itself here. I imagine Malta not quite as a business hub but more as a base camp, in the mountaineering sense of the word. Politically, socially and geographically, we’re very well-positioned to serve as a safe haven for people who want to operate in more risky parts of the world especially those quite close to us, including North Africa and the Middle East. We can give these investors a safe place to return to.” He adds that there are already plans to invest in medical and tertiary education tourism over

“Now is the time to work hard to make sure that Malta retains its present attractiveness for local and foreign business investment, in order to ensure future growth.” – Anton Borg Prof Scicluna says that in order to avoid being caught in a downward spiral after the success of the past few years, Malta has to start

the next few years, sectors which will drive Malta’s economy and prevent it from running out of steam. “There’s a big demand

for these kinds of services in our region. We will be able to provide the services that destinations like London can offer, except we’re in the Mediterranean. This puts us in the advantageous position of being both closer to and more like home for these investors, offering the same level of service at a more reasonable price.” Strong medical and tertiary education tourism sectors, he says, will be able to make up for the weak points that are ever-present in the area of mainstream tourism, including the lack of activity during the off-peak months. Prof Scicluna concedes that there will always be forces beyond the nation’s control influencing the way that Malta’s economic vision plays out in 2016 and beyond, including the changing regulatory landscape within the banking industry, as well as competitor countries which, upon seeing the increasingly international investor profile Malta is drawing, feel entitled to a slice of the pie. However, he remains upbeat and optimistic. “Making Malta an attractive place for foreign investment is not a one-time thing. We cannot relax our efforts, or else we will find the tide turning against us. But while there will always be obstacles and threats to be faced, I am confident that Malta has enough resources and talent to overcome them.”


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

11


12

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


13

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

BUSINESS

The age of eCommerce Following the launch of the National eCommerce Strategy (2014-2020) at the 11th eCommerce Forum last year, Denise Borda, eCommerce Analyst at the Malta Communications Authority speaks to Sarah Micallef about the rise of eCommerce both locally and in Europe, the strategy itself, and its impact on the economy.

Despite the economic hardships in Europe and beyond, eCommerce has continued to grow at a faster rate than traditional retail channels. The main reasons behind this growth, according to Malta Communications Authority (MCA) eCommerce Analyst Denise Borda are largely the broad range of benefits it offers to consumers. “From the consumer’s perspective, the most immediate benefit is the convenience to shop anytime, anywhere. Besides, shopping online reduces the need for travel (and the costs associated with it) and one could also argue that it keeps consumers from buying unnecessary items that they would inevitably come across when shopping from stores or malls,” she explains.

Denise Borda From a business point of view, Ms Borda maintains that eCommerce empowers businesses to compete with larger players, while opening the market to national and international customers alike. “Businesses today are facing stiffer competition than ever before, forcing them to offer

discounted prices and customised delivery services,” she adds. Additionally, Ms Borda points out that the proliferation of mobile devices and increased connectivity is also a contributing factor within the eCommerce boom. “Around 50 per cent of traffic comes from smart phones and tablet devices, and this has led to an increase of mobile eCommerce. This, coupled with new mobile payment methods and greater trust of these mobile systems are increasing the take-up of eCommerce,” she continues. Meanwhile, the increase of omnichannel capabilities, that is, she explains, the ability for consumers to buy online yet select alternative channels to complete the online purchasing process, such as selecting a physical store location for collecting the product, is also fuelling an increase in eCommerce activity. Another important factor is the ever-increasing demand for highly specialised and niche products, which Ms Borda explains is due to innovative and new market disruption strategies like those adopted by eBay and Amazon. “Comparison sites enable consumers to look for the best prices at the click of a button. Disintermediation, or the elimination of middlemen, has also altered some economic activities and the surrounding social environment,” she says. Owing to these factors, Ms Borda believes that “eCommerce has radically transformed the way the world is doing business at every conceivable level.” Apart

from altering the practice, timing and technology in relation to Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) commerce, it has also affected pricing, product availability, logistics and consumer behaviour. “With the growth of B2B eCommerce, we are witnessing a substantial reduction in transaction costs, improved supply chain management and reduced costs for domestic and global sourcing,” she highlights. The fact that the digital economy has ushered in changes in the traditionally-accepted economic practices means that competition has become more aggressive than ever before, with more and more competitors entering larger markets, offering better pricevalue propositions in order to seize or increase market share. Indeed, in Ms Borda’s words, “eCommerce has facilitated the transition to, or rather, provided a lifeline in this aggressive market environment.” A further challenge that businesses are facing is the fact that mobile devices are putting connected consumers at the centre of the business community. As Ms Borda maintains, “[businesses] are now dealing with hyperconnectivity – having a presence across all retail channels. Today, every moment in a consumer’s decision journey matters. This has driven businesses to rethink their business model with the aim of adapting to changing market conditions and consumer expectations in order to remain relevant in such an environment.”

As for how the impact of eCommerce is being felt within other areas of economic activity, the eCommerce analyst asserts that digitisation has revolutionised relationships within organisations, and those between and among organisations and individuals.

hotels and rental car companies conduct their business,” she explains, maintaining that such companies have had to adapt by restructuring their sales strategies. Indeed, she continues, in many ways, eCommerce is also being shaped by, and increasingly will help to shape modern society as a whole, especially in the areas of education, health and government services.

“The use of ICT in business and marketing has enhanced productivity, encouraged greater customer participation, and enabled mass customisation, besides reducing costs,” she affirms, explaining that a number of industries, including consumer goods and retail, logistics, healthcare, automotive, banking, financial services and insurance are having to adapt to this disruption.

“SMEs need to be cognisant of the fact that Maltese consumers are increasingly relying on technology during their purchasing journey.”

Meanwhile, tourism is a major area to have been largely shaped by eCommerce. “It has changed the way travel service providers such as airline companies,

From a local perspective, I ask how the growth of eCommerce, and the popularity of online shopping among the Maltese,


14

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

BUSINESS has affected the local market. Drawing from statistics collated by the MCA throughout the last eight years, Ms Borda maintains that there have been significant changes in the use of the internet in Malta. “In 2014, 71 per cent of the population resorted to the internet mainly for communicating, researching and browsing for products/services. This is a huge leap from the 27 per cent recorded in 2006,” she highlights. Pointing to the proliferation of smart phones and tablets

amongst the Maltese population as one of the main drivers of this growth, Ms Borda believes that this is also reflected in the number of people who shop online – with slightly more than half of the population turning to the internet for purchasing goods and/or services. Having said that, Ms Borda draws attention to the fact that the Maltese tend to prefer foreign merchants to Maltese ones, with 39 per cent stating to have bought from another member state, as reported in the 2014 statistics by Eurostat.

On a local level, the rapid pace at which this digital phenomenon is accelerating is impacting in-store shopping and purchase behaviour. “Consumers’ digital behaviours and expectations are evolving faster than businesses’ abilities to deliver,” she states, and “a number of Maltese SMEs seem to be reluctant or hesitant to acknowledge the widening of this digital gap.” In fact, MCA’s research shows that local SMEs seem to underestimate the impact that the digital economy is having across

all industries. “Although 69 per cent of businesses claim to have a website, only 14 per cent were selling online in 2013. In contrast, 87 per cent of SMEs connected to the internet engage in B2B activities related to financial transactions, purchasing from suppliers and selling to their business customers. SMEs need to be cognisant of the fact that Maltese consumers are increasingly relying on technology during their purchasing journey,” she continues. Shifting to Malta’s E-Commerce Strategy (2014-2020), Ms Borda

explains that the strategy comes as a result of a collective effort of a wide-ranging stakeholder base in identifying the challenges faced by industry players and potential areas for growth and investment. “It aims to support the take-up of eCommerce and the provision of eCommerce-related services by local businesses. To this end, a number of ambitious initiatives were outlined and these are being implemented across a sevenyear period by Government, in collaboration with this Authority and other entities,” she says.

“Local SMEs that do not adapt to this new mode of doing business, may well, in the end, be out of business.” The strategy seeks to ensure that entrepreneurs have the necessary means to capitalise on opportunities brought about by eCommerce through initiatives aimed at helping industries profit from eCommerce-based business models, and achieve efficiencies through the implementation of supply chain technologies. Speaking of a number of initiatives that the Authority has embarked on this year, Ms Borda refers to a study on the adoption of eCommerce in the crafts industry, which will result in an action plan aimed at encouraging operators within this sector to capitalise on the benefits of the digital economy. Other initiatives include digital marketing sessions held with the tourism and hospitality sector, as well as with artisans within the crafts sector and SMEs from various economic sectors. The MCA is also engaged in redesigning the ‘eCommerce guides for business’, which will now be available on a dedicated website and will be integrated with the BLINK directory. Last but not least, the Authority is cooperating with Malta Enterprise on the creation of an online portal for the artisans at Ta’ Dbiegi Village, with the possibility of adding other craft operators located in Gozo. Looking towards the future in relation to eCommerce locally, Ms Borda believes that the ease with which one can do eCommerce is being reflected in the growth registered year-on-year. “The trend today is towards a new breed of consumer that is always connected and expects to shop from anywhere at any time. These consumers expect the same experience regardless of the device or channel they use. Local SMEs that do not adapt to this new mode of doing business, may well, in the end, be out of business,” she concludes.


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

15


16

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


17

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

TOURISM

Uniting the Mediterranean through tourism

Ahead of the third edition of the upcoming Mediterranean Tourism Forum on 4th December, JO CARUANA talks to MHRA CEO ANDREW AGIUS MUSCAT to discover how this annual event is helping to unify our region’s approach to attracting tourists and planting seeds of hope. We all know the old adage that there’s strength in numbers and power in working together. And yet, in the past, the Mediterranean region has so rarely worked in conjunction to create a cohesive tourism product, and one that encourages people to visit us as a whole instead of boosting internal competition. Thus, once again, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) is spearheading the Mediterranean Tourism Forum, which is now in its third edition. This initiative is all about bringing together tourism stakeholders with a specific interest in the Mediterranean region, so that they can discuss avenues for synergy. It is being fully supported by the Government of Malta and HOTREC, the European umbrella

association for hotels, restaurants and cafés.

Andrew Agius Muscat Last year, over 1,000 participants attended this event from over 30 countries and this year that number is expected to rise beyond that. This time around, the programme has been crafted around the

achieving a much-needed solution. We need, instead, to look at tourism as a seed of hope. We have put together a dynamic programme that will explore all that,” he says.

theme ‘Empowering Tomorrow’. “The idea behind this is to propagate tourism as a vehicle to instil peace and stability in the region,” says Mr Agius Muscat. “The advantages of this are very clear, as increased tourism leads to more jobs, more stability and more sustainability. Tourism also encourages locals to conserve their heritage – this can be seen as the goose that lays the golden egg, because a strong heritage product attracts many people into a country, which will in turn enhance the economy,” he says.

“The aim of this assembly is to discuss and identify actions related to the promotion and growth of sustainable Mediterranean tourism.”

Speaking on behalf of the MHRA, Mr Agius Muscat believes that this approach will continue to be a very important part of the solutions needed to solve the current challenges that the Mediterranean is facing. “Unfortunately, though, by focusing on this we are simply fire-fighting and not

Aside from the opening address by HE the President of Malta, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, the forum will also feature a number of panel discussions. The first will be on The Future of Mediterranean Tourism, and will be facilitated by Drago Bulc, a lead-

ing travel journalist from Slovenia. Other speakers will include George Saliba, the ambassador for the Union of the Mediterranean; Edward Zammit Lewis, the Maltese Minister for Tourism; Eva Stravs Podlogar, the general director of the Slovenia Tourism Organisation; Akos Niklai, deputy president of HOTREC; Mehmet Kocadon, the mayor of Bodrum in Turkey; and Salah Derradji, a senator from Algeria. “This first panel will discuss the politics of the region and the future of how this could develop,” says Mr Agius Muscat. The second panel will discuss Tourism Product Trends, and will be facilitated by Dr Andrew Azzopardi, a senior lecturer at the University of Malta. “This promises to be a very interesting portion of the day, and it will look at the strength of the Mediterranean


18

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

TOURISM product when compared to some other regions in the world,” Mr Agius Muscat continues.

Nexia, EY and Grant Thornton, while over 30 countries will participate in this assembly.”

“For instance, we will hear all about how the Caribbean has marketed itself as a region. Tourists often state that they will be going to the ‘Caribbean’, as opposed to one particular country there. Contrarily, tourists rarely say that about the Mediterranean, but instead visit particular countries. We would like to look at how the Mediterranean can become more cohesive in this respect, so as to attract people as a whole.”

This year, the Forum will also mark the launch of the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation, which will continue to drive unity for the Mediterranean tourism product throughout the year. “This Foundation has been on the cards for a while now and I am thrilled that it is finally being launched,” says Mr Agius Muscat, who explains that the Government has allocated €300,000 for the establishment of this Foundation.

“We want to propagate tourism as a vehicle to instil peace and stability in the Mediterranean.” This panel will feature experts with a wide variety of backgrounds, including Xinke Li, the co-founder of Global Tourism Leaders in China, who will be explaining trends in the Chinese travel market; Francois Pasteau, the celebrated and award-winning chef patron of L’Epi Dupin in France; Yasha Chatab, the Director of DMID in Singapore; Tim Schofield, the director of destination marketing for Trip Advisor UK; Lars Petterson, the vice president of the FIA Drag Racing Commission in Sweden; Mal-

tese hotelier Winston Zahra; Caterina Cicerone, the ambassador at large for St Lucia in the Caribbean; and Dr Teemu Moilanen, the principal lecturer at the HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences in Sweden. In the afternoon, the forum will feature an Assembly of Coun-

tries, facilitated by Dr John Vassallo, Malta Business Bureau director and strategic advisor to Microsoft. “The aim of this assembly is to discuss and identify actions related to the promotion and growth of sustainable Mediterranean tourism,” says Mr Agius Muscat. “We plan to create around 25 clear action points that

will then be compiled into a manifesto to be presented to the Maltese Prime Minister for consideration and adoption into the plan of action for when Malta will hold the Presidency of the European Union Council in 2017. This report will be compiled by the MHRA, the Malta Business Bureau, HVS, the University of Malta, Deloitte,

“It will have three main roles. Firstly, to promote dialogue and the potential of synergies in political and commercial initiatives among stakeholders with an interest in Mediterranean tourism. Secondly, to set up a centre of excellence in the Mediterranean region for tourism and hospitality education and continuous professional training in Malta. And, finally, to act as catalyst in promoting cultural, entertainment and sport events with a view to attract tourism during the shoulder months across the Mediterranean region as one destination. “Together we believe all of these aspects will help to cement the Mediterranean’s potential, not just in its individual countries but as a region,” he concludes.


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

19


20

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


21

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

LIFESTYLE

Your guide to

celebrating Christmas in style

The festive season and the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day are often a flurry of events, activities and things to do. As with any busy time, planning ahead can make all the difference between a rushed, breathless festive period and being able to relax and enjoy, as the song goes, the most wonderful time of the year. Sarah Micallef discovers ways in which you can plan ahead to truly be able to celebrate this Christmas in style. Whatever your plans and commitments this festive season (and there’s bound to be a few), planning early and preparing things in advance could make a great deal of difference when crunch time approaches. Whether it’s making the most of your holidays and taking a short break, organising your Christmas staff party or ordering corporate gifts, getting organised and tackling everything on your to-do list can make the festive season seem like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be!

you’re in an actual Christmas card. Seeing as it’s a popular time of year to travel, booking as far in advance as possible is certainly recommended, and will likely save you a pretty penny. Then it’s all about packing your warm woollies and enjoying the festive atmosphere.

PLAN YOUR STAFF EVENT

For many companies, their Christmas staff party or event is an eagerly anticipated date on TAKE A BREAK their calendar, but if you want to do something out of the ordinary If you’re lucky enough to have a this year, there’s plenty of options Christmas shutdown at work, or outside of the traditional dinner are due a few days of leave at this or drinks. time of year, the festive season is the perfect time for a short break. Danica Fava, Managing Director Following the stress of getting all at Outdoor Living Malta, which your last-minute tasks and activorganises teamwork activities, ities done, a little getaway to chill corporate activity days and teamout and recoup could be just what the doctor ordered. A few destinations are renowned for being especially lovely during the Christmas period. These include Prague, with its splendid Gothic and Baroque architecture and holiday markets; Lapland in Finland, the home of Father Christmas; Zurich, which puts on a fabulous display of 12,000 crystal lights to mark the season; Edinburgh, which boasts a holiday light show that illuminates the sky from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse; Amsterdam, for New Year’s Eve champagne and fireworks in the Nieuwmarkt or Dam squares; and fairy tale-like Provence, which will have you feeling like

building events for businesses, explains that such events promote personal breakthroughs and team cohesion, and can have far-reaching positive repercussions on a company’s workforce. “Placing teams and individuals in situations that are designed to push them outside their comfort zones and compel them to take decisions as a team by engaging their communal creativity results in better communication, higher productivity and a greater sense of belonging,” she says. With an aim to provide clients with an enjoyable, challenging and useful team event that empowers participants and enables them to work together in an exciting environment, the types of activities on offer are numerous. Boasting a portfolio of over 100 different team building activities ranging from ice breakers to high-

adrenaline outdoor activities, Outdoor Living Malta also organises events with a festive twist. “For the Christmas season, we have specifically-designed activities which include the Flat Out Sleigh Ride and our very popular Beer iChallenge. During the Beer iChallenge, teams enter into the spirit of Christmas with seasonal trivia, along with Christmasthemed photo and video challenges,” continues Ms Fava. As for the activities she would most recommend to companies during the festive season, Ms Fava maintains that since Christmas is a time of giving, a great option is activities that make a difference, raise awareness and demonstrate your corporate values in a fun and engaging way. “Some of the most popular activities of this type include Horses for Causes – a lively race night

culminating in a rocking horse race with a CSR twist; Hole in One – a golf tournament with a community focus; and Toy Factory – a Corporate Social Responsibility concept with focus on efficiency and creativity, where the toys produced will be donated to a local children’s charity, school or home,” she says. Meanwhile, if you’d like to organise a fun team event during your company’s Christmas dinner or party whilst enjoying a few drinks, Ms Fava suggests a high-energy, interactive tablet challenge. “Push It can be customised to deliver your key messages in a memorable way. And if communication and networking are what you’re after, we have Whisky Wisdom and Essence of Excellence – perfect activities to enjoy a stimulating conversation combined with a light-hearted competition.”

THINK AHEAD FOR CORPORATE GIFTS AND HAMPERS

Giving a little back come Christmas time is a great idea when it comes to fostering relationships with your clients, and mastering the art of corporate giving could make a real difference to people’s perception of your business. The great news is that setting the right tone for a company gift isn’t difficult, once you keep a few simple things in mind. First, think about the recipient and what they would like or use. Avoid the temptation of using corporate gifts as a chance to self-promote – while this may


22

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

LIFESTYLE The best of theatre season Fancy a trip to the theatre this festive season? Be it music or drama, the Manoel Theatre’s got an exciting list of upcoming events to look forward to. 27-29 November 2015 Ir-Ragel Taghna, Mizzeweg Maghna – Ray Cooney’s farce Caught in the Net, adapted to Maltese by Joe Brincat with Mario Micallef in the lead. Directed by Sean Buhagiar. 30 November-1 December 2015 Leipzig Quartet – The Leipzig Quartet will perform concerts five and six in its series of six, covering all of Beethoven’s string quartets. 4-6 December 2015 Teatru Unplugged 18 – Held annually since 1998, this unique concert consists of short acts of diverse musical genres including pop, rock and jazz. certainly be an option in some cases, don’t let it govern your decision if it’s not a good fit. Giving a gift with a little thought behind it is sure to make a more lasting impression. Once you’ve decided on the type of gift, make sure the quality is on point – this will reflect on your brand and impress the clients you’d like to impress! On the flip side, don’t overstretch your budget unless you absolutely have to – it’s best to decide how much you’re willing to spend first, as well as the best way to split the cost between clients and service providers.

Branding your gift is a great touch, but be subtle about it. Personalise your chosen gifts according to the recipient, and make the most of your company resources so as to put your best foot forward. Lastly, the presentation will speak volumes, so make sure your corporate gifts or hampers look great. Beautiful wrapping, personal touches and a handwritten note will all serve to impress the receiver all the more.

6 December 2015 Pikuzi isiefru Safra – A new Maltese play for children aged 6+. 9 December 2015 Gülsin Onay Piano Recital – One of Turkey’s leading pianists with an international career spanning 68 countries and 20 albums performs works by Bach, Bartholdy, Chopin, Saygun and Beethoven. 12 December 2015 Beethoven & Schubert: Bar-to-Bar – Violinist Klara Nazaj, cellist Akos Kertesz and pianist Joanne Camilleri (all members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra) perform Beethoven’s Trio Op.97, Archduke and Schubert’s Trio Op.100.

16-30 January 2016 Valletta International Baroque Festival 2016 – Produced and managed by Teatru Manoel, the fourth edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival has 25 different events in nine venues in Valletta. This festival incorporates an eclectic variety of music and an internationally recognised galaxy of star performers such as Jordi Savall and Philippe Herreweghe, and harpsichord wizard Mahan Esfahani. Local performers include the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and VIBE, the Valletta International Baroque Ensemble. There are also events specifically designed for children and the family. The festival ends with the popular Festival Ball at the Teatru Manoel.


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

23


24

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


25

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

BUSINESS EVENTS

Innovation Leaders

closing conference

At the closing event of the MBB’s Innovation Leaders Project, held on Friday 16th October at The Xara Lodge in Rabat, 98 managers and executives received certificates following the completion of a training programme on EU direct funds.

Shadow Minister for EU Affairs, Roberta Metsola stated "EU funds are not out of reach of small businesses and individuals here in Malta, but there is still a lot that needs to be done on a European level. I have often spoken about the need to reduce the bureau-

rience, and integrated into the Innovation Leaders Project. He stated that “through this project we wanted to go the extra mile and provide trainees with the opportunity to build a collaborative network with national and international peers, as well as a working relationship with Government and the relevant expert bodies on EU affairs.” The training was provided through the MBB’s Innovation Leaders Project, and focused on Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and Creative Europe funding streams. Apart from receiving training on what direct EU funds are and how they work, the participants were trained on how to identify business opportunities, build a project concept, identify the right funding stream, apply for direct EU funds, as well as implement and report a project.

Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Dr Ian Borg described the project as a “project that will boost sectors that can in turn generate further economic growth.” Dr Borg said this project had “benefitted from almost €125,000,” and praised MBB’s initiative for taking the lead in such an important exercise. He said that similar projects can enhance capacity building in Malta, primarily within the private sector, which can subsequently improve our country’s competitiveness in the field of EU projects’ leadership and management.

cracy involved in accessing the funding – excessive paperwork and staff costs required often deter people from even considering EU funds. We need to continue to work to make it as easy as possible for people to access the funding streams available. It is also true that SMEs and individual researchers do not have the resources available that large multinational firms do – so a onesize-fits-all approach will not work.” Itself a beneficiary of direct EU funds, MBB CEO Joe Tanti highlighted an important aspect gained through the MBB’s expe-

A wide range of project concepts have been developed by participants including projects focus-

ing on alternative transportation, medical and mental health care development, female entrepreneurship, gastronomy, audio visual development, and artistic expression, among others. Fifteen out of a total of 44 project proposals were selected and rendered eligible to participate in a Brussels Study Visit, which took place between 28th and 30th September 2015. At the closing event, MBB CEO Joe Tanti and European Projects Association representative Marco Paunovic announced that collaboration between the two entities will continue, to provide support to participating enterprises

intending to submit their proposals to the European Commission for funding. A Layman’s Guidebook on EU Direct Funds, which will be published in the coming weeks, will explain further this continued collaboration. The Innovation Leaders Project was co-financed under the European Social Fund, led by the Malta Business Bureau in partnership with the European Projects Association. For more information on the Innovation Leaders Project, contact Marija Elena Borg. T: 2125 1719; E: mborg@mbb.org.mt


26

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

BUSINESS EVENTS

Innovation through Design kick-off event

Upon recently being appointed Ambassador for the European Commission’s Design for Europe programme in Malta, the Malta Business Bureau has successfully kicked off its first design initiative with the well-attended ‘Innovation through Design’ conference held at the Palace hotel, Sliema, on 6th November.

In collaboration with the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business and the Enterprise Europe Network, the MBB brought together 140 participants from both the private and public sectors to tune into various methods of tapping innovative design concepts. The aim of this event was to encourage start-ups, SMEs and members of the public sector to add value to their products and services, and to serve as a means of increasing the reach of the Design for Europe programme in Malta. MBB President Mario Spiteri delivered the opening address, welcoming all participants and speakers, and introduced the rationale behind the design initiative expressing his hopes for the conference to inspire participants to integrate design even further in their business models, strategies and services. Mr Spiteri commented that, “although it is often underestimated, design can bring significant benefits and solutions to businesses; most importantly it opens up doors for valuable opportunities.” The event was moderated by MBB CEO Joe Tanti, who welcomed keynote speaker Dr Kamil Michlewski, brand strategy consultant at the Value Engineers, London. Dr Michlewski presented best practice case studies including that of the Danish Design Ladder which uses design as a strategy coupled with the benefits of the design approach to business and government organisations. In his presentation, Dr Michlewski highlighted the importance of deeper integration of design and designers. This tied in with his recent book, published earlier this year – Design Attitude.

Mr Tanti also welcomed Business Leaders Malta CEO, Morgan Parnis, who presented local research findings on various designrelated activities carried out by local businesses over the past 12 months, providing the audience with a better understanding of the situation on the ground and displaying areas which could be improved. A vibrant panel debate moderated by Times of Malta Assistant Editor, Vanessa Macdonald, was composed of speakers from diverse, professional backgrounds. The panellists, namely Dr Michlewski, Architect David Xuereb, CEO QP Management, Richard Mifsud, Senior Manager JP Advertising and Professor Tanya SammutBonnici, Head of the Marketing Department at the University of Malta, discussed Design Council success stories and focused on the areas of business and enterprise, public sector innovation and design and policy. Following the panel debate, Caldon Mercieca, Project Leader of the Valletta Design Cluster, demonstrated the various Design Cluster initiatives underway to support local private sectors that use design in order to help them to internationalise. Mr Mercieca also presented support measures in the making, such as mentorship and consultancy that would be provided through a programme which will involve international industry experts and specialists. In her concluding address, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Nancy Caruana reiterated the Ministry’s support for the MBB’s initiative and the importance of design for economic growth. Ms Caruana remarked, “businesses can only thrive by being leaders in the market. Being leaders in the market implies change, not for the sake of change, but for delivering a better product, a better service, to the consumer, a product or a service which is unique in the marketplace.”

The closing speech was followed by a networking lunch, offering all participants the opportunity to discuss the morning’s thoughtprovoking ideas, to forge business relations and raise their questions further with Dr Michlewski, guest speakers and the panellists. Design for Europe is the public name of the EC’s European Design Innovation Platform (EDIP).

Through this project, MBB CEO Joe Tanti will join a number of Design for Europe Ambassadors who are being appointed in each of the 28 EU member states.

For more information about the Innovation through Design initiative, contact Ana Vella. T: 2125 1719; E: avella@mbb.org.mt


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

27


28

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

Business News APPOINTMENTS

MBB Update

The Malta Business Bureau would like to congratulate the Malta Chamber, MHRA and MBB officials on their prestigious appointments.

29-30 October –

Stefano Mallia and Tony Zahra appointed on EESC

Stefano Mallia and Tony Zahra have been appointed by Government to represent employers on the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The EESC is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe’s employers, employees and civil society a formal platform to express their views on EU issues. Its opinions are presented to the main decision makers – the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament, and it therefore has a role in the EU’s legislative process. The EESC is made up of three groups which represent the different social partner groupings. As per the official structure of the EESC, the Employers’ Group (Group I), is made up of entrepreneurs and representatives of entrepreneurial associations supporting employers in industry, commerce and services.

New MBB permanent delegate in Brussels The Malta Business Bureau has nominated a new EU Affairs Manager who will be responsible for the management of its operations in Brussels. Daniel Debono will be taking care of the day-today operational management of the MBB’s Brussels office, which includes close liaison with Eurochambres, BusinessEurope and HOTREC’s secretariats to monitor and convey the necessary feedback on EU policy items discussed in their respective committees and working groups. In liaison with the Malta office, Daniel will also be steering the MBB’s lobbying strategy with the European institutions, looking at business development and identifying EU funding opportunities for the Maltese business community.

Andrew Agius Muscat re-elected on HOTREC’s Social Sectoral Dialogue Committee

Mario Spiteri elected on Eurochambres’ Budgetary Committee

On the occasion of its 71st General Assembly held at The Hague on 5th and 6th November, HOTREC, the business association representing the European hospitality industry, re-elected Andrew Agius Muscat, from the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), to its Social Sectoral Dialogue Committee.

Mario Spiteri, who is the President of the Malta Business Bureau and Council Member of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, was elected on the Eurochambres' budgetary committee. The main role of the budgetary committee is to oversee the organisation’s overall finances and present them during plenary assemblies in which all the European Chambers are represented.

Mr Agius Muscat, together with other SSD members will continue to develop the new social dialogue programme aimed at fostering youth employment, upgrading skills and competences, and developing education and training schemes for the tourism sector. The programme will be developed together with HOTREC trade-union counterpart, EFFAT and the representatives of the European Commission.

Mr Spiteri, who is also a Director on the Eurochambres Board, participated in the second edition of the Eurochambres Economic Forum, held on 15th October in Luxembourg. This particular economic forum is the biggest gathering of European, national, regional and local Chambers, and is seen as an excellent opportunity for participants to join the debate about the future of European business. Among the issues discussed during the Forum were Innovative Chamber Activities and Services, Reshaping the Chamber Business Model and SME Financing.

29

MBB EU Affairs Manager on panel at 2015 European Crowdfunding Convention in Paris MBB EU Affairs Manager Daniel Debono was invited to participate as a panellist at this year’s annual conference, organised by the European Crowdfunding Network (ECN). The panel debate discussed the impact of crowdfunding on climate change, culture and social causes. Mr Debono discussed the potential that crowdfunding has to offer in this area, particularly to attract investors that are looking for a financial return, but also to feel that they are contributing towards the environment or society. Crowdfunding is a means of democratising investment, whereby the investor personally decides to put money in a project and could see it come to fruition. Naturally, the risk of investing in start-ups remains relatively higher than other

ordinary investments, which is why the public is encouraged to diversify its personal investment portfolio as widely as possible. Mr Debono also discussed the latest developments of ZAAR Crowdfunding Malta, the island’s first rewards-based crowdfunding platform co-founded by the Malta Business Bureau and University of Malta. He explained how, in a strategic partnership with the Arts Council Malta, this platform would be offering a hybrid instrument to clients from the cultural and creative sectors. The aim of the platform is for individuals to raise projects through a blend of crowdfunding and public grants. This idea was well received and commended as a best practice for the crowdfunding industry.


30

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


31

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

FASHION TRENDS

Sophisticated winter style Winter is here, and so are the fashion trends we need to get us through the cold season. Martina Said looks into the top autumn/winter trends that will keep you warm and stylish in the coming months. The Bomber Jacket

Wayfarer Cool

Any Shade of Grey

Few fashion items have stood the test of time as successfully as this trend. Wayfarer sunglasses were etched into fashion history thanks to top eyewear brand Ray Ban, way back in the 1950s. The design and aesthetics of wayfarer sunglasses make them somewhat timeless – the look is retro but smart and modern, and they are suitable for quite literally anyone and everyone – men and women, both young and carefree as well as smart and distinguished.

The colour of choice in men’s trends this season is grey, which you might think is an obvious choice for autumn/winter collections. What’s thrown this colour into trend territory though is that it appeared in a range of outfit choices and garments, from sleek suits to shoes and training gear, and in a vast array of shades too. If you’re one to break rules, mix and match your outfit with different shades of grey from head to toe, such as charcoal trousers, gun metal shoes and a light hued sweater.

It made its debut as a piece of military uniform in the 1950s, but the bomber jacket continued to evolve with every passing decade. Trade your blazer or thick coat for a bomber jacket on the weekend, and keep your look current by avoiding an oversized option, just the way it was worn in the 90s. Opt for a well-fitting style in navy blue, black or olive green – team it with a polo-shirt and jeans for a daytime look, or with a sweater and slim trousers with suede penny loafers for the evening.

heel and statement jewellery for a night on the town.

T i m eless Stripes For the more conservative dresser, big and bold stripes are a comfortable compromise between elaborate patterns and no pattern at all. Start by selecting a simple sweater with toned down shades of grey or dark blue with black in colour block stripes. If you’re up for embracing this trend more adventurously, however, look out for sweaters or wearable jumpers that draw inspiration from different areas of the colour wheel, such as orange and blue block stripes, red and grey or green and blue.

The Jersey Dress The jersey dress is every woman’s wardrobe staple – it’s flattering, feminine and ageless too, and is possibly one of the most easily adaptable outfits to suit all occasions. Wear it to work with a chunky heel and short neck scarf, team it with cute ankle boots and a bright blouse for post-work drinks or with an elegant stiletto

out. Opt for minute and intricate designs in monochrome or similarly sombre colours – they will bring your winter look up to date, while still looking smart and professional.

Beautiful Brocade Designers have utilised lush brocade fabric this season for statement garments such as jackets, blazers and trouser suits. The look draws from the world of interiors and makes reference to fabrics and motifs typically found in an upscale and designer living room. The look is both classic and avant-garde – if you’ve bagged yourself a brocade jacket or coat, let it be the star of your outfit and team it with black trousers and a plain blouse, or whatever colours you deem matching, without taking attention off the coat.

The Classic Leather Boot Graphic Knits

Dogtooth prints have hung around in our wardrobes for long enough – it is now time to replace those items with knits and cardigans in zigzags and hexagonal prints, as seen in the coveted collections of Christopher Kane and Saint Laurent, among others. Geometric prints are modern and minimalist, and are an easy way of getting in on the trend without going all-

If you’re giving your wardrobe an extensive overhaul this season, do not forget to upgrade your shoe section too. A smart pair of shoes is a wardrobe staple, and the classic leather lace-up boot will have you breeze through your day in an effortlessly sophisticated ensemble and transition from day to night in comfort and style. Black boots will never lose their charm, but opt for a dark brown alternative for a little variety, such as this sleek pair from Nordstrom.


32

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


33

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

WINING & DINING

Il-Veduta: Unparalleled views

LEGLIGIN

As the name implies, il-Veduta is blessed with unparalleled views of two-thirds of Malta, directly overlooking the countryside and distant sea. Situated just outside the fortifications of Malta’s old capital, Mdina, the restaurant has become a household name with families looking for the perfect Sunday lunch venue. The spacious establishment is split on three levels and can cater for large groups of up to 300 people. The third floor can be used for private functions for up to 100 people. The diverse menu consists of a vast selection of delicious Mediterranean fare, with a variety of starters, pizzas, pasta and grills, all modestly priced. IlVeduta also offers a delivery service for customers to enjoy the enticing menu from the comfort of their homes. Delivery menus can be viewed on Veduta’s website.

The quaint wine bar in Strada Santa Lucia in Valletta where the good flowing wine is exalted by Chris' unique culinary delights. It's an experience not to be missed. Tucked away in a narrow street of the historical capital city, just a corner away from Manoel Theatre, there is a haven you wouldn’t expect. The worn tables in pastel colours, the trinkets and the mismatched crockery exude a familiar feeling – the place smells like a home, offering the meals that would take hours to cook, a slowness characterised by patience and above all love. Legligin started its adventure as a wine bar in one small room and years later, when an opportunity arose to expand the wine bar, Legligin was able to stretch its legs into a larger area with more tables and at long last a kitchen too. Today, Legligin is a concept wine bar and bistro. A €24 tasting menu allows you to sample a cross-section of Maltese and other Mediterranean speciality dishes. There is no à la carte menu – just sit back, relax and dishes will keep coming... the Legligin way.

Open daily 11am-11.30pm. Seating: Indoor and outdoor. Price: Under €25 (average price per person excluding drinks). Cuisine: Mediterranean, Pizza, Pasta. Il-Veduta, Is-Saqqajja, Rabat. T: 2145 4666; 2145 3656; Deliveries: T: 2145 5500; E: info@veduta.com.mt; www.veduta.com.mt

Ta’ Kris Restaurant & Maltese Bistro Book your staff party at Ta’ Kris Restaurant and Maltese Bistro, and take your pick from our varied and mouth-watering set menus this year! Set menu A Selection of dips, including bigilla, arjoli, garlic, blue cheese, salsa, warm ftira and galletti. Trio of pasta with beef ragu | salmon and cream sauce | Rustica Beef tagliata served with rocket and shavings of grana | Chicken breast stuffed with pork sausage | Rack of tender pork ribs baked in a BBQ sauce Dessert / Coffee €20.95 per person

Set menu B Maltese platter, served with bigilla, arjoli, gbejniet, Maltese sausage, sun dried tomatoes, olives, marinated beans in olive oil, garlic and parsley, pickled onions, warm ftira, kunserva and galletti | Platter of mixed antipasti, served with Maltese sausage stewed in a sweet tomato chutney, chicken vol-au-vents, rabbit spring rolls and baked stuffed mushrooms. Platters of pork cheeks | Platters of chicken legs baked in a wine jus | Platters of braised beef rib-eye | Platters of fried fish goujons Dessert / Coffee €25.75 per person

Set menu C Selection of dips, served with bigilla, arjoli, garlic, blue cheese, salsa, warm ftira and galletti. Filo pastry stuffed with shredded duck meat | Grilled prawns wrapped in bacon | Portobello mushroom served with cheese stuffing | Pasta Fresh beef rib-eye steak |Chicken breast wrapped in bacon | Trio of grilled fillets of sea bass, sea bream and gurbell | Moroccan style baked lamb shanks Dessert / Coffee €29.75 per person

Ta’ Kris Restaurant & Maltese Bistro, 80, Fawwara Lane, Sliema. T: 2133 7367; M: 9984 7713; www.takrisrestaurant.com

Opening hours Monday-Friday 1pm onwards; Saturday-Sunday 6pm onwards. 117/119, Santa Lucia Street, Valletta. For bookings call T: 2122 1699 (during openings hours) or Chris on M: 7993 2985.

Maltese Mama Maltese Mama serves authentic Maltese and Italian cuisines complemented with great service in a relaxing atmosphere. The homely feel and rustic décor add charm at Maltese Mama, giving locals and tourists alike a taste of what it’s like to grow up in a quintessentially Maltese household, eating simple but flavourful dishes. To start, patrons are offered a complimentary plate of traditional Maltese antipasti, served with fresh bread and galletti. Starters include home-made soups, octopus, scallops, clams, the speciality shellfish platter and pasta dishes such as linguine frutti di mare and pumpkin ravioli. A variety of main courses is also available, with specialities including fish and traditional Maltese dishes such as rabbit and bragjoli (beef olives). Maltese Mama, 19/2, Paceville Avenue, St Julian’s. T: 2737 7024; M: 7780 5312; E: eltonspiteri@hotmail.co.uk


34

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


35

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

LIFESTYLE CHIVAS

Goodies

Craftsmanship, generosity and a passion for travel are at the heart of the new collaboration between British luxury brands Chivas Regal and Globe-Trotter. The Chivas 12 Made for Gentlemen by Globe-Trotter limited edition gift tin houses a bottle of Chivas 12 blended Scotch whisky and showcases a vibrant tale of international travel. Inspired by the tradition of applying stickers onto one’s luggage to proudly showcase destinations visited, bespoke luggage stickers were hand-drawn by the British illustrator Andrew Davidson to celebrate iconic cities and adorn the contemporary tin design.

The Christmas gifts and hampers range is now available at Goodies with prices starting from €5.95. You can also contact Goodies Ltd to tailor your gift, including gluten-free and sugarfree gifts or hampers. Goodies Ltd, 4/5, Triq il-Mastrudaxxa, Qormi. T: 2149 7800; M: 7949 7800; E: sales@goodies.com.mt; www.goodieslimited.com; Fb: Goodies Ltd

Chivas is marketed and distributed by Farsons Beverage Imports Co. Ltd. Trade enquiry: 2381 4400.

88 rue du rhone timepieces

Le Piantagioni del Caffé

88 Rue Du Rhone timepieces are now available in Malta! Classic yet modern, stylish and full of character, the brand offers the urban consumer the elegance and finish of luxury products, conforming to the highest Swiss quality standards, but at an accessible price.

Le Piantagioni del Caffé, exclusively available at The White Sheep, is a truly exceptional coffee. Beans are grown on fair-trade plantations in the world’s best coffee-growing regions, such as Ethiopia, El Salvador, Brazil, Guatemala and India. The defined character is reflective of the rigorous selection process of the land, the botanical variety, the harvest, the shelling, drying and roasting of the bean. Le Piantagioni del Caffé is a Certified Specialised Coffee. The range comes in 1Kg bean bags, 250g ground coffee tins and 50-pod boxes, ensuring you experience a truly remarkable coffee at the office or at home.

Exclusively available at VIP stores, Sliema, T: 2134 2466; Valletta, T: 2124 9006.

Available to taste at The White Sheep, 405, Rue D’Argens, Gzira. T: 2131 5222; www.thewhitesheep.eu

Corporate Gifts Malta

BALLANTINE’S

Corporate Gifts Malta is a company that specialises in supplying a variety of corporate gifts featuring your logo or brand printed on the products. Products include lanyards, biros, notepads, stress balls, USBs, power banks and many more. Let us find the right product to increase the exposure of your brand or logo.

Ballantine’s, the world’s No 2 Scotch whisky, has today unveiled a unique range of limited edition gift packs, exclusively designed for the brand by renowned artist Leif Podhajsky. Podhajsky has created some of the most distinctive and beautiful album artworks of the last decade; music fans will instantly recognise his sonically-inspired landscapes and visually arresting imagery. Podhajsky’s work is often inspired by nature and explores themes of the natural world. He is renowned for manipulating elements of balance, symmetry and repetition to create his striking designs. Staying true to his creative origins, this collaboration allowed Podhajsky to connect with Ballantine’s by taking inspiration from the liquid itself as well as the stunning, natural landscapes of Scotland and the whisky journey, resulting in three unique and beautiful limited edition designs.

2, Luqa Briffa Street, Gzira. T: 2133 1095; M: 9949 3975; E: info@corporategiftsmalta.com; www.corporategiftsmalta.com; Fb: corporategiftsmalta

Ballantine’s is marketed and distributed by Farsons Beverage Imports Co. Ltd. Trade enquiry: 2381 4400.

The White Sheep

Hugo Boss accessories

Nobody does business lunches quite like The White Sheep. Over the past six years, The White Sheep has been entrusted to provide rather special ciabattas, salads and more, to some of the country’s top companies. All is prepared to order, using the freshest local produce and only The White Sheep’s very own quality ingredients.

Hugo Boss has launched a luxurious yet accessible gifts range. The selection includes fine writing instruments, key rings, portfolios, notepads, power banks and USBs. Prices start from just €49!

A menu is available on request at E: info@thewhitesheep.eu, or call on T: 2131 5222 for further information. www.thewhitesheep.eu

Exclusively available from VIP stores (Sliema and Valletta), Sunlab – The Point as well as select resellers. For B2B enquiries, contact Unpaused Co. Ltd on T: 2147 2798.


36

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


37

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

DESIGN Photo Courtesy of Vivendo Group

Make Your Office Work For You Our surroundings have a direct impact on our mood and health, and for the majority of us who spend at least eight hours a day at work, the office should be a place that stimulates energy and creativity. Marie-Claire Grima finds out how you can give your office space an instant boost. We spend a significant chunk of our lives at the office, so at the very least, they should be pleasant spaces to occupy and work in. However, even the most attractive and comfortable spaces can start wearing thin when you’re in them day in, day out. While some offices which have become drab and dull over the years could certainly benefit from a makeover from top to bottom, sometimes all it takes are a few tweaks to make a noticeable difference. “When clients visit you at the office, you stand to make a better first impression when the premises is aesthetically appealing. It might even make your firm stand out more in their memory,” says Jonathan Pace from Logografix. He says that the aesthetics of the office should correlate with the sort of work being done at the office. “For example, no one would expect law firms to have vibrant colours. Generally, neutral colours like black, brown, white or grey tend to indicate seriousness and dignity. On the

other hand, gaming offices prefer to use more abstract colours and creative designs to reflect the nature of their work and inspire employees. When employees need to take risks and make hard decisions, the presence of office signage could help them reflect on achieved goals and allow them to feel inspired and find their motivation.”

the noises that arise as a natural part of office life can often be distracting and irritating for anyone trying to get their work done. To counteract this, many offices could benefit from equipping their modern desks with soundmuffling screens, which help to drown out any noise which can often become distracting and irritating.

“The trend in recent years has shifted away from the idea of a cold, corporate environment and has instead moved closer to the idea of a ‘homey office’ – a place where people work, but just as importantly, where they live,” says the sales manager at Dex Workspaces. In fact, many modern offices have foregone the factory-like, cooped-up appearance of cubicles in favour of an open-plan environment, which encourages collaboration, communication and idea-sharing between colleagues. While this is by and large an improvement as it makes the employee feel less stifled and claustrophobic,

The amount of time office workers spend sitting at their desks has in recent years prompted concern for their health. As a result, some office spaces have introduced the concept of sitstand desking, which allows the occupant to alternate between sitting and standing. The option to change positions every so often has proven to be a good way of curbing the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle. The Vitra Tyde, available at Dex Workspaces, is well-suited for the office that is open to this kind of arrangement – available as an individual desk or alternatively, as a meeting table, it can

be adjusted to suit three different height brackets. ‘Hotdesking’ has also become a popular option for workspaces, especially in large offices where workers are on flexible schedules. Today, there are more resources than ever that allow efficient hotdesking – integrated software and network access make it possible for workers to gain access to the same files and resources without having to be physically present at their workstation, or even in the same office building. Besides giving workers the opportunity to mingle with different people on a daily basis, it is also an environmentally-friendly option, as it promotes paperless desktops and encourages people to cut down on clutter – nobody wants to have to haul around a sheaf of pages or chase a physical file from one desk to another! A modern office is not just one that looks the part – it also has to be healthy and ergonomically viable in the way that the desk-

tops are laid out, seating is calibrated and key office tools positioned. “Employees can develop health issues due to bad office ergonomics,” explains the sales manager at Dex Workspaces. “A condition such as chronic back pain can easily be traced back to a poorly-set up office, but there are other conditions which are not as easily diagnosed – such as stress – which have to do with the way that the office is set up and how employees interact with it.” Having a well-lit office is also an essential part of the ergonomic office – if the lighting is suitable for the space and easy to work in, it can help the employees get through the day without struggling and feeling exhausted. On the other hand, badly-lit offices can be both unpleasant and difficult to work in and detrimental to one’s health. And since it’s almost impossible to have an outdoor office, the next best thing is bringing the natural world closer


38

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

DESIGN to you. “Lately, when it comes to choosing a mural image for an office, clients are moving away from shadows and gradients, and instead are opting for landscapes which illustrate the outdoor environment,” Logografix’s Mr Pace says. Offices in Silicon Valley including the headquarters of Google and YouTube have become well known for the no-expensespared recreational facilities they offer to their staff, knowing full well that keeping the workforce happy and refreshed encourages productivity and creativity. While you don’t have to install adult-sized slides or have baby goats roaming around the office for your staff to pet, the latter part of their philosophy is worth keeping in mind. It’s important to have a designated area where the office team can stop and convene casually – whether it’s for a short informal meeting, a brainstorming session, a quick coffee, or a full lunch break. The space should be fully furnished with chairs, armchairs and tables, with free Wi-Fi available and refreshment facilities such as a coffee machine on hand. If you have the space available and if it doesn’t create too much clutter, including a few more ‘cosy’ items of furniture such as poufs, or a fun game or gadget that is in line with the employees’ personalities could be a nice touch. “You could

hang motivational quotes on the wall or have a few random posters, maybe even let the employees add a personal touch; something that makes it personal and non-work related,” says Mr Pace. An essential component of comfort is security, and there are several safety measures that can be implemented in an office space to ensure the well-being of the employees who work within. “Many business owners are investing in access control systems, with card or finger readers installed at different entrances in order to limit access to sensitive areas. Every access or failed attempt is then recorded on software with the name of the person and time of occurrence. Such readers may also be integrated with CCTV cameras and intruder alarm systems,” says Adrian Cutajar, commercial manager for Alberta Group. CCTV cameras are commonly used to deter any potential mischief and also as security against hold-ups and vandalism – but besides that, they are the most useful tool for tracking petty robberies in shops and more serious stock and cash-handling theft. “Thieves tend to target unprotected areas and statistics show an increase of theft by employees. The latest trends are online integrated security systems, placing the intruder alarm, the

access control and CCTV systems all onto one programme, allowing the user to control any or all of these systems remotely from a tablet, smart phone or computer, so that the systems can be monitored anytime, anywhere. Should the alarm go off, the user can check whether this was caused by an employee that is still inside the office who triggered the alarm by mistake or if this was triggered by a burglary. Moreover the user can use the smart phone to switch the system on and off, open a secured

door and get images from a particular camera,” Mr Cutajar says. A traditional basic intruder alarm system which gives off a signal when it detects a break-in and calls the owner and police will cost anywhere from €500 to a few thousand euro, depending on the size of the office building. A more sophisticated alarm system will set you back a few hundred euro more. “Any kind of alarm system needs to be designed and installed by professionals and maintained regularly. However, both basic intruder alarms and

more advanced systems have become very reliable nowadays. False alarms are practically nonexistent.” With so many hours of our lives spent on the job, an office that manages to tick all the boxes in terms of aesthetic appeal, health and security is one that will boost productivity, encourage creativity and foster a sense of well-being amongst those who work within its walls.


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

39


40

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


41

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

POLICY

Facilitating cross-border business in the European Union There are currently 21 million SMEs in the EU, 5.2 million of which are single-member private limited liability companies. Despite the success of the single market, obstacles in cross-border establishment still exist, hampering the full development of SMEs. MARK SEYCHELL, Senior Executive on EU Policy, examines the European Commission’s efforts at simplifying the cross-border establishment of single-member private limited liability companies across the EU. Divergent and complex national corporate rules still prove to be a hindrance, while establishing companies as subsidiaries in other EU jurisdictions involves costly legal and administrative requirements. This has resulted in only a small number of SMEs investing abroad. In 2008, the European Commission attempted to address this shortcoming in the single market with the proposed European Private Company Statute (SPE). However, despite strong support from businesses, it was never able to take off due to lack of compromise among member states and was eventually withdrawn. The European Commission nevertheless saw the potential in creating a vehicle which facilitates cross-border establishment, and went back to the drawing board. In April 2014, the Commission published its new proposal for a Single-Member Private Limited Liability Company directive. The draft directive asks member states to provide for, in their national legislation, a new national company law form, harmonised across the EU. The national company law form would be given a common name: Societas Unius Personae (SUP). The purpose of the law is to make it easier for any potential businessperson to set up singlemember private limited liability companies (or in this case, SUPs) across the EU, while ensuring that they would benefit from the same set rules across all member states. The ultimate goals of the proposal are cost reduction and the improvement of the panEuropean business environment through the simplification of procedures, which in turn will lead to new business.

“The purpose of the law is to make it easier for any potential businessperson to set up single-member private limited liability companies across the EU.” The proposal allows for a standard template of the articles of association, while providing for the registration of a SUP to be completed electronically without needing the founder to be physically present before the authorities of the member state of registration (on-condition of e-ID verification). Registration must

be completed within three working days. While such ease of registration may be attractive, there are concerns that the online registration process does not inspire much legal certainty, even if it should be on condition of e-ID verification. Some within the circles of the European Parliament are reluctant to give up the differing requirements in individual member states which offer added security. One example is where some member states require an individual to obtain a certificate from a notary which states that that individual is capable to start an enterprise. Such concerns can be alleviated if the text is amended to reflect that the

online registration process would be without prejudice to the member state's registration requirements. Concerns were also raised that intermediary companies would be eliminated from the equation with regards to company establishment, cutting a crucial part of the services economy out. However, such fears were alleviated when the Internal Market Committee in the European Parliament voted for an amendment which protects the role of intermediaries in the registration process. The proposal originally sought to allow a SUP’s main place of business to be in a different mem-

ber state than the one where the SUP would have its registered office. This issue, referred to within the European institutions as the infamous ‘split-seat’ clause was quite a controversial inclusion, as it gave rise to fears that SUPs might use this clause to circumvent representation rights and labour laws, increasing the risks of social-dumping, forum-shopping and tax evasion. In fact, the Council has deleted this article entirely from its compromise text, while the Parliament is looking to amend its text to ensure that the registered office and the main place of business must indeed be in the same member state. Such is the opposition against this clause that a good number of MEPs from the


42

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

POLICY ‘Grand Coalition’ parties have proclaimed confidently that the split-seat issue is 'dead'. Another point of controversy which is currently being discussed is an article in the Commission’s proposal which states that the SUP and its articles of association shall be governed by the national law of the member state where the SUP is registered. Sceptics singled out this article for being overly ambiguous and could also be used as a loophole for illegitimate purposes. Proponents of such con-

cerns feel that this article should be amended in order to state that the SUP would be governed by the national law of the member state of where it carries out its core economic activity. Yet, it is important to note that this article is specifically referring to the registration process of the SUP. Any operational matters would not be affected. In fact in its general approach, the Council has clarified this by stating specifically that the directive is without prejudice to national laws governing matters out-

side its scope; specifically giving examples such as labour law, posting of workers, co-determination rights, taxation, accounting, insolvency proceedings, rules against money laundering and terrorist financing. Also, the Commission has, on multiple occasions, made it very clear that the proposal only seeks to govern the registration process, and any issue relating to tax rules, social security, labour law and others are completely separate from the scope of the proposal.

Another interesting issue is that the proposal restricts member states from requiring a SUP to build legal reserves. However, there seems to be consensus from both the Council and the Parliament to allow member states to require SUPs to build legal reserves, potentially as a percentage of profit, in order to protect creditors. As added protection towards creditors, distribution of dividends to the singlemember shareholder can only be made on condition that the SUP satisfies a balance-sheet test, in order to demonstrate that after

“The Commission has, on multiple occasions, made it very clear that the proposal only seeks to govern the registration process, and any issue relating to tax rules, social security, labour law, and others are completely separate from the scope of the proposal.” the distribution, the remaining assets of the SUP will be sufficient to fully cover its liabilities. Also, a solvency statement must be provided before any distribution is made. This is an important point, as one needs to bear in mind that businesses should feel comfortable when working with companies registered as SUPs. Thus, all efforts to protect creditors that do not hinder the scope of the proposal should be considered. The proposal certainly highlights the European Commission’s commitment to streamline entrepreneurship, particularly via the relative ease of setting up a SUP. However, the proposal in its original form did raise a number of questions, including the possible legal uncertainty over owner verification and the fact that SUPs might be exploited for illicit purposes such as tax evasion. Nevertheless, the proposal was praised for its efforts at reducing bureaucracy for crossborder establishment in an environment where entrepreneurs see a market in other member states, but get discouraged due to the red tape involved. In Malta’s case, it is the MFSA that has indicated that the proposal in its current state is unlikely to increase the number of companies registering in Malta, as much of the provisions which facilitate registration are already in place. However, should the proposal become law, it will very likely help Maltese businesspeople and businesses to register companies across the EU, helping them to tap new markets. Indications are that we are likely to see Parliament and Council ensure that safeguards are included to avoid the exploitation of SUPs for illicit purposes, while also including measures that would attempt to block any circumvention of social security regimes, labour laws, tax rules and the right to representation. One can hope that this can be done without reducing the substance and goal of the proposal, which is essentially cost and administrative burden reduction. This proposal should undoubtedly be seen as a vehicle which will boost cross-border establishment and entrepreneurship in the European Union – a natural step in the continued evolution of the single market.


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

43


44

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015


45

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

business update

HSBC economist Problems sleeping? outlines the reshaping of international trade corridors Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a common and debilitating condition that can affect people at any age, although it is most prevalent from middle age onwards.

ing. But, the increasing share of trade for emerging markets is notable. In some instances, one can readily discern China’s inter-linkages with its neighbours via global value chain production,” said Lippoldt. “The examination of trade corridors shows that some countries, notably among the emerging markets, are not yet reaching their trade potential. South-south trade is growing but remains ripe for further development, provided that further trade liberalisation can be achieved,” added Lippoldt.

Douglas Lippoldt, senior trade economist at HSBC Global Research Economics team, addressing business leaders at the HSBC Malta thought leadership event.

Global trade corridors and their long-term implications and opportunities were tackled by Douglas Lippoldt, a senior trade economist at HSBC, at an exclusive HSBC Commercial Banking Business Meeting. Lippoldt spoke to the audience about the findings from his latest research ‘Trade Chart Book – The Power of Corridors’, published on 15th September 2015. “From a quick review of our findings, the extent to which trade is dominated by the big three (US, EU and China) is strik-

HSBC Commercial Banking customers received the full publication, which analyses global trade from a long-term and sectorial perspective, as well as a range of business-centric documents as part of bringing thought leadership content to clients. More information on the report via www.hsbc.com/news-and-insight/2015/ trade-corridors HSBC Malta’s Head of Commercial Banking, Michel Cordina said “Mr Lippoldt brought to Malta in-depth insight of the world’s economic state of affairs. HSBC’s global network allows it to capture emerging opportunities from around the world and to bring unrivalled insight to its customers so as to allow more informed decisions.”

In OSA the upper part of the air passage behind the tongue narrows and often blocks during sleep causing an interruption to breathing. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is characterised by loud snoring with episodes of silence. Occasional brief obstructive events are harmless and are quite common in a normal adult. Each brief awakening required to re-open the airway passage destroys the normal sleep pattern and sleep is severely disrupted. This prevents the sleeper from enjoying sufficient deep sleep to feel refreshed and energetic the next day.

Sleep Apnoea’s short to medium term symptoms include chronic fatigue, mental confusion and lower testosterone count which reduces libido and associated erectile dysfunction, but is also linked to many other serious conditions if left untreated over the long term. OSA can in fact be a contributing factor for hypertension, stroke, diabetes, heart disease and ultimately, heart failure. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the most effective and non invasive treatment offered to OSA sufferers. This therapy is designed to stop the air passage from narrowing or collapsing during sleep by acting as a splint. Contact us now on T: 2134 4345; E: admin@technoline-mt.com; www.technoline-mt.com


46

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

business update

Professional services Cleland & Souchet firm NOUV MT becomes at Portomaso part of TGS Global Malta’s leading Professional services firm NOUV MT has just joined the TGS Global network. Ranked as a top 20 international network, TGS is a dynamic global accountancy network specialising in the provision of accounting, audit, tax and commercial legal services. “NOUV MT was set up and founded in 2008 by Mark A Aquilina as a professional services firm, and today forms part of TGS Global’s network, which was a natural evolution of our company’s position and offering,” explain Mr Aquilina and Tonio Farrugia, Managing Partners at NOUV MT. Based in Malta, NOUV MT provides financial and commercial services to international and local businesses, namely high quality corporate services, tax services, audit services and highly tailored business consultancy services to its vast array of clients. “We built our services on excellence, which we believe is one of our strengths. We focus on providing excellent services regardless of what the client’s requirements are,” adds Mr Aquilina. Tonio Farrugia shares his views on the country’s repute in the field of financial services and how this has led to the expansion of the company and to an improvement in the specific service

offering. “Today Malta is sought after by a number of international companies and high net worth individuals. Our wide portfolio of foreign clients find in our company all the services they need, especially when it comes to the set-up and relocation of their business to Malta,” says Mr Farrugia.

purveyor of distinguished gifts, fine wines and more cated to a wonderful range of gifts for him, her and the home, and the first floor, dedicated to the world of quality wines, rare and premium spirits, cigars, fine foods and specialty confectionery and chocolates, most of which are exclusive to Cleland & Souchet.

He adds: “nonetheless, local business remains a central part of our operations and as we’ve been doing since our inception, we keep helping local businesses’ management to make and implement the right decisions on financial, strategic, operational, technological and organisational matters which are required for their companies’ success.” Mr Aquilina and Mr Farrugia also comment on the latest development in their organisation. “During the past few months, we’ve been accepted to form part of TGS Global, which is an important milestone for our company. TGS network is made up of independently-owned companies which share an entrepreneurial approach to their own and clients’ businesses. We feel this gives us an important competitive edge and positions us better to meet our clients’ requirements.”

Each area of the store offers an incredible selection of brands to choose from and the friendly sales team is always at hand if you are looking for advice or guidance. They are also experts at gift wrapping any gift, which makes the pleasure of giving so much greater.

From our iconic food and wine hamper collection to the vast range of exclusive brands and beautiful gifts, Cleland & Souchet is the place where you can find the right present whatever the occasion, especially at Christmas. The flagship store in Portomaso is split between the ground floor which is dedi-

We also highly recommend that you try our C&S Wine Café, for an excellent cup of coffee or a glass of your favourite wine, which offers an incredible selection of 20 wines by the glass to choose from to accompany a delightful menu of tasty dishes. The shop is open Monday-Saturday 10am7.30pm (9pm in December) and parking for patrons is free.

HUGO BOSS introduces luxury corporate gifts at affordable prices HUGO BOSS is one of the market leaders in the premium and luxury segment of the global apparel market. The company focuses on the development and the marketing of premium fashion and accessories for men and women. In a constant effort to always improve the brand, this year HUGO BOSS has just introduced a range of luxury corporate gifts at very affordable prices. The collection includes a great selection of writing instruments, stylish folders and notebooks, as well as a range of trendy accessories that includes key rings, USBs, power banks, bag hangers and umbrellas. The pens feature a high-quality finish and minimalistic details like shiny chrome, textured leather trims, embossed brand logos and sleek metal fittings – a practical range with a timeless character. Other items within the collection are pure designerstyle statements. A touch of colour is added to the range with the red, blue and white notepads and portfolios. In typical HUGO BOSS style, the corporate gifts introduced exude a sophisticated smartness and distinct, clean looks with a degree of confidence and style.

HUGO BOSS corporate gifts are exclusively available from: • VIP, Bisazza Street, Sliema. • VIP, Melita Street, Valletta. • Sunlab, The Point Shopping Mall, Tigné. • Chaucers, Baystreet Shopping Complex, St Julian’s. • Headlines, SkyParks Business Centre, MIA, Luqa. • Vascas, 21st September Avenue, Naxxar. • Pavilion Jewellers, Republic Street, Valletta. For B2B enquiries contact Unpaused Co Ltd. T: 2147 2798.


BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

47


48

BUSINESS AGENDA | WINTER 2015

Profile for Content House Group

Business agenda - Winter 2015 issue  

The Official Business Publication of the Malta Business Bureau

Business agenda - Winter 2015 issue  

The Official Business Publication of the Malta Business Bureau

Advertisement