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The local staircase

A story of heritage and beauty








OFFICE trends






Jo Caruana assesses what conditions have led to Malta’s impressive business growth, and discusses whether that success can continue.




Sarah Micallef speaks to the brains behind Staircases of Malta – a joint project by architect and architectural historian Prof. Conrad Thake and talented photographer Dr Charles Paul Azzopardi.

Rebecca Anastasi speaks to four professionals 100 DESIGN TRENDS in the field to understand the most effective hiring techniques and trends. A GRAND CAFÉ WITH A CONTEMPORARY FEEL


Martina Said meets Stephanie Cassar, the designer behind the new Busy Bee café in WHY MANUFACTURING MATTERS Mriehel, to find out what inspired the design Four business leaders within the industry speak of the space and what went into its execution. to Marie-Claire Grima about the manufacturing renaissance in Malta and why it’s an exciting 118 MEET THE ARTIST time for millennial workers to climb on board. BASKING IN THE WARM GLOW OF MALTESE LIGHT



President of the Malta Chamber Frank V. Farrugia chats to Martina Said about Malta’s current climate for doing business, his two-year term as President, and his hopes for the Chamber.

Outgoing President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca speaks to Marie-Claire Grima about her commitment to social justice, the duty that businesses have to engage with corporate responsibility, and the potential for blockchain to transform the way charity organisations carry out their work.





Rebecca Anastasi speaks to Paris-based artist Ġoxwa about the mysteries of art, life A look into the figures related to manufacturing and why the island will always hold a special in Malta. place in her heart.


stablished in 1947, The Commercial Courier is the official magazine of the The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. It is the leading business magazine, having one of the best distribution channels in the sector. The publication is distributed for free to the members of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. It is also distributed with The Malta Business Weekly, as well as delivered to leading business people on the island. This issue covers the months of February/March 2019. Articles appearing in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publishers is strictly prohibited.

The Exchange, Republic Street, Valletta VLT1117 Tel: +356 2123 3873 Fax: +356 2124 5223 info@maltachamber.org.mt www.maltachamber.org.mt EDITOR

Kevin J. Borg Editorial Coordinators

Sarah Micallef Edward Bonello Publisher




Jean Mark Meli Matthew Sciriha

Content House Ltd Mallia Building, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel BKR3000

sales coordinator

Tel: +356 2132 0713 info@contenthouse.com.mt www.contenthouse.com.mt

Antoinette Micallef ant@box-design.net

Sue Ann Pisani Tel: +356 2132 0713 Design

ON THE COVER Photo from Staircases of Malta by Charles Paul Azzopardi

Malta chamber’s bronze collaborating partners FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


CC Editorial

A term that closes, a new one to look forward to Bringing the two-year term of the current Council to a close, the Chamber prepares for another electoral cycle, whereby a new President and administration will be chosen. The democratic process which is provided for by the statute of Malta’s oldest business organisation is the perfect occasion to take a look back on the past two years and appreciate some of the achievements obtained for the benefit of members.


hroughout the past two years, the Malta Chamber continued to provide its members with an ever-growing portfolio of value-added services, as well as supported Malta’s business community on a number of occasions, in a variety of issues. The Chamber continued to carry out representation work in terms of policy, in favour of a competitiveness-based sustainable economy. The Chamber also organised an increasingly ambitious number of events which were very well attended by members, as well as supported many individual cases that turned to the Chamber for help. The new term coincided with a general election process that as expected characterised several months in Malta.


This was an opportunity for the Chamber to influence policy formulation – in fact, a business manifesto, which included proposals for a more competitiveness-based economy, was presented to the main political parties ahead of the general election. The Chamber also made important pronouncements with regard to good governance and the protection of the country’s reputation, as well as the alleviation of the acute skills gap affecting the private sector. The Chamber was at the forefront to represent business in sensitive negotiations with the authorities on important issues such as minimum wage, parental sick leave, amendments to billboard regulations, public holidays compensatory measures, Driving Penalty Points System insofar as fleet owners

are concerned and the National Reform Programme. The Chamber’s efforts on the policy front continued well into 2018, as the Chamber presented a comprehensive study, complete with several recommendations, to Government about the Labour Market situation in Malta. During a presentation to the Cabinet, and eventually to the Opposition, the Chamber outlined the findings in its policy paper, and how the situation of labour shortage currently characterising the market can be addressed. The presentation was followed by a series of practical initiatives and collaborations, including with MCAST and other international partners, aimed at helping businesses identify and recruit human resources. 11

CC Editorial Moreover, the Chamber analysed a number of other challenges affecting businesses’ competitiveness and formulated policy papers and documents on workbased learning in Malta, rent laws, public holidays, updated Equality Act and Equality Commission, and feedback on a set of four HR-related legal notices which had been implemented without prior consultation and subsequently suspended until they were discussed and accepted by the social partners. The Chamber also actively participated in lengthy discussions on the Beverage Container Return System and the support of a Beverage Importers Association to defend its members’ interests. As is customary, the Chamber also articulated a position paper ahead of the annual national Budgets, namely 2018 and 2019. During this term, the Malta Chamber also took centre-stage at one of Europe’s most influential fora – BusinessEurope, hosting its highest organ, the Council of Presidents – COPRES. The Chamber welcomed Europe’s highest-level business leaders, namely the President of BusinessEurope and Presidents of other national federations such as CBI – UK, Confindustria – Italy, Medef – France, BDI – Germany. This was an excellent opportunity for Malta’s businesses to shine as they exchanged ideas with Europe’s foremost industry leaders. The latter were nothing short of impressed by Malta’s economic performance and quickly identified opportunities of collaboration. The Chamber also organised several national conferences namely ‘Start-Up Strong – Tools for Success’, ‘Beyond 2018, Strengthening Malta-UK ties’, Brexit Conference with the participation of Paul Dreschler, President of the Confederation of British Industry, the Malta-Turkey Business Forum with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Dialogue with the Prime Minister and a dialogue with Minister Christian Cardona for Manufacturing Economic Group (MEG), a Start-Up Strong Seminar, GDPR Seminar and a Blockchain conference. One event that will surely remain imprinted in the memory of members is ‘A Family Affair – Safeguarding Malta and Europe’s Beating Heart’, which was the Chamber’s flagship event celebrating its core membership on the occasion of its 170th anniversary. The event was headlined by international household names such as Ferrero, Buffa and Grimaldi, who were joined by Malta’s top business brass. The initiative however did not come to an end with the final round-up, as the Chamber established a dedicated committee in collaboration with the Family Business Office as the legacy of the same event. The committee provides a solid link between business and the authorities, supporting our members in their needs related to the family business model. 12

Also in celebration of its milestone anniversary in 2018, the Malta Chamber organised a series of events. The Summer Reception was held at the Lower Barrakka Gardens, while members were given a special message for the business community imparted by H.G. the Archbishop of Malta as he celebrated a special Mass for the occasion, in the Agostino Portelli Hall, in July. The Chamber continued to provide members with a sterling internationalisation support service through EEN. EEN in fact helped 76 Maltese companies grow internationally in the last three years. These positive results were well received and confirmed by EASME which said that 73 per cent of Maltese clients surveyed were very satisfied by this service, while 89 per cent will recommend EEN to others. Also through EEN, members participated in highly successful business delegations abroad. The Chamber President also led and participated in numerous other outgoing

delegations throughout his term in office, with the aim of exposing members to the opportunities in new and existing markets beyond our shores, as well as providing a prominent platform for their products and services. The Chamber also welcomed a number of high-level visitors to the Exchange Buildings including the Tunisian President, Indian Vice President, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and three members from the House of Lords. Elections are a bit like the new year, as they bring a term to a close but also provide for a fresh start. Reflecting on the past two years and the outgoing Presidency, it is easy to conclude that the Chamber met and exceeded all plans and expectations. I am confident that with the support of all members of this institution, we shall continue to provide Malta’s business community with the needed value-added services in favour of a competitive and sustainable economy in the years to come. cc



On the up: Business in Malta maintains growth With Malta rising more than 10 points on the Global Competitiveness Index in the last five years and thousands of businesses setting up here, the outlook has been extremely positive. Now Jo Caruana assesses what conditions have led to this growth, and discusses whether that success can continue.


he Maltese business landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years. Not only has the island jumped from 46th place to 36th place on the Global Competitiveness Index in the last five years, but the latest statistics show that there were no less than 11,621 new business births in 2017 – up from 11,127 in 2016. Talking to The Commercial Courier, Economy Minister Christian Cardona stresses that this strong economic growth did not happen by accident, but is down to the foundation of sound economic policies that have been adopted recently, and all backed by Government’s clear vision. “From inception, we set out to be businessfriendly,” he says. “This gave reassurance to businesses and entrepreneurs and they, in turn, answered with a record-breaking number of new investments. “And we are already thinking of the future. Moving forward, we will continue to look at ways to sustain this significant growth in the number of companies opening in Malta.” In this respect, he says that 2017 and 2018 were very important years. “After carrying out a thorough analysis, Government decided to focus its attention on developing the areas of medical cannabis and Distributed Ledger Technologies,” he continues. “Nowadays, we have in place the necessary legislation to enable these sectors to grow. We are already seeing a very encouraging number of companies setting up in these fields.” Echoing these positive sentiments, Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry Deputy President David Xuereb highlights that, for a number of decades, local governments have successfully designed and put in place legislative frameworks, in a number of upcoming and leading sectors, which provide a safe and competitive structure for businesses to operate in.

“Businesses in Malta know that they are operating within a very stable economic, political and social environment.” – Christian Cardona, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business 14


CC COVER STORY “The introduction of financial services in the ‘90s, as well as the ICT revolution in the new millennium, is now being followed by blockchain and AI,” he says. “All this is supported by the Companies Act, which means that businesses coming from the European mainland will find a familiar system and legal framework they are able to operate in.” “Another strong point that has led to the development of the current business environment lies in the types of companies that may be established in Malta, including foreign companies that must only register for value added tax in order to conduct business operations in our country. Adding to this, it is only fair to note that Maltese business legislation and regulatory environments are among the most proactive and businessfriendly in Europe.” “And at the centre of all that is the Malta Chamber, which makes it its mission to be vigilant with Government and propose improvements to legislation in areas which are important to businesses. This is the result of the Chamber’s strong links to the determinate sectors, through its wide membership.” Minister Cardona, meanwhile, underlines how the simplicity of setting up a business in Malta has been very positive for the island’s business growth. “Over the years, we have worked consistently to simplify the environment in which businesses operate,” he explains. “Well, here we are not saying that there is no room for further improvement but we need to clearly acknowledge that important improvements have been made. These improvements are not only related to the regulations surrounding the business environment. Businesses also have a single point of contact – Business First.” As a result of all this – and numerous other factors – there are now over 103,458 (2017 figure) businesses set up on the island, including many international entities and start-ups. Among them is Stasis – an organisation that creates the bridge between traditional finance and digital assets. “We can tokenise any asset that is available in the world today,” explains Stasis CEO, Gregory Klumov, when asked to describe the concept behind his growing entity. “What makes us different from other projects is our focus on appropriate legislation, total transparency and community-driven ecosystem creation”. “Initially, when we came up with the idea, there was no legislation in the world to appropriately classify digital assets. We worked with the Maltese Government to craft Europe’s first comprehensive, businessfriendly regulatory framework for digital assets. We then launched EURS as a fully compliant asset under the Virtual Financial Asset Act, which was passed in 2018.” FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

The company has been in Malta since 2011, so Mr Klumov explains that the team has witnessed the island’s business development first-hand. “In fact, our partners created the world’s first bitcoin fund in Malta in 2012,” he says. “All this experience has helped us understand the importance of a well-crafted legal framework for digital assets. Malta’s regulatory framework is a big advantage, compared with most other countries.” “Thus we are excited to use Malta as our home base as we continue to build a community of users across the world.

“Maltese business legislation and regulatory environments are among the most proactive and business-friendly in Europe.” – David Xuereb, Deputy President, Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry



“We worked with the Maltese Government to craft Europe’s first comprehensive, business-friendly regulatory framework for digital assets.” – Gregory Klumov, CEO, Stasis

“The island is an ideal location to set up a new business thanks to the easy administrative procedures and favourable tax credits.” – Sebastian Ripard, CEO, Fetchit


The fact that so many high-quality projects are being attracted to the island also opens up exciting partnership opportunities. We hope that Malta will remain dedicated to comprehensive, business-friendly regulation as the local cryptocurrency community continues to develop.” Simultaneously, but operating in a completely different sphere within Malta’s business community, Sebastian Ripard is one of the original founders, and CEO, of Fetchit – an on-demand courier service that seeks to provide an environmentally justified solution to Malta’s mobility problems. “We pick-up and deliver food, documents and personal items across Malta seven days a week using e-bikes, scooters and a couple of cars,” he explains. “We want to avoid people making unnecessary journeys because there are already more than enough cars on the road. We’ll take care of your errand for you using two wheels instead of four. We only use our cars for bulk orders or items that wouldn’t fit on a bike.” Even though he is local, Mr Ripard sees a vast number of benefits to setting up a business in Malta. “Apart from sunshine and beaches, the island is an ideal location to set up a new business thanks to the easy administrative procedures and favourable tax credits,” he says. And Fetchit has already enjoyed some

serious success, but looks forward to further growth. “Even though we average over 200 jobs a day, it would be great to see this number increased to 500 by the end of 2019,” he continues. “To do so, we need to continue to grow with respect to scalability. Successful businesses come from great ideas and driven entrepreneurs who can source the skills they need to realise a dream as fast and efficiently as possible. With the right support from Government, these think-tanks and incubators can develop new ideas and solutions that break the mould. We have seen that the old ways don’t work, so we need to support those who think outside of the box – or in our case outside of the traffic jam!” Another company that sees Malta as an excellent base for business is BeeWits, a project management/task management software. Its service differs from other vendors out there because it is ‘templatebased’, thus allowing businesses to create a template that is suited to their needs. “Given the nature of business and SaaS (Software as a Service) today, customers are no longer particularly interested or bothered about the location of the company providing their services,” explains BeeWits Product Manager David Attard. “This gives companies like ours the ability to offer products and services worldwide, without being restricted to our own shores.



Of course, this is an excellent opportunity for start-ups, besides bringing about its own challenges. So it’s not a specific advantage of being in Malta, but it removes the disadvantage of our physical location. “Although Malta – our home country – is a very good place to operate a business from. We have a reliable internet infrastructure that is very well-connected to mainland Europe and beyond, with legislative policies that support investment in ‘online’ industries and specific niches such as iGaming and other technology. We are also an English-speaking country, within (or close to) time zones of lucrative markets such as those of the UK, Europe and the United States, which allows us to be able to do very good business internationally.“ “That said, it would be great if proven startups were able to tap into specific funding, after they have achieved a certain level of success and possibly a proven amount of investment. This would allow these small companies to be able to enter a growth stage when they are in a very critical phase, i.e. just on the brink of success, but with limited funding to push further marketing and development. This is the point when they have a product out there from their own funding, but which requires an aggressive marketing push to take it to the next


“It would be great if proven start-ups were able to tap into specific funding, after they have achieved a certain level of success.” – David Attard, Product Manager, BeeWits level. Also, given a choice, it would be good to see Government putting as much effort into promoting local business as it does with international businesses setting up shop here.” With these stories in mind, Minister Cardona commends the success of all three businesses, and the many others like them. “Businesses in Malta know that they are operating within a very stable economic, political and social environment. This provides entrepreneurs with the necessary comfort and reassurance that their activity will not be impacted adversely.” “Given present trends, we do not envisage any significant changes in the foreseeable future. The latest projections issued by the IMF and the European Commission, in conjunction with the solid credit ratings recorded, all indicate that the Maltese economy will keep on growing at a significantly faster pace than other EU member states.” “From our end, we are aware that there is no room for complacency. We remain vigilant to identify threats that might impact us, and

are also devising the appropriate mitigation measures. At the same time, we remain on the lookout for lucrative, new opportunities that could arise in order to capitalise on them.” “We can all agree that the global economic climate is somewhat agitated – but we will do our best to ensure that these events will have a positive, rather than negative, impact on our economy,” he adds. Finally, Perit Xuereb also underlines how forecasts published by the European Commission and credit agencies show that, in the short-to-medium term, the current momentum will be maintained. “We might see new emerging segments in the economy attracting new investments and companies to Malta, especially in the fields of fintech, blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) and, eventually, Artificial Intelligence,” he says. “The motivation and energy seem to be coming from the services industry at this moment.” “It will be important that we maintain this momentum sustainably, while also strengthening our regulatory framework and institutions,” he concludes. cc



Making new business happen in Malta When companies choose to set up here in Malta, there are other businesses dedicated to making it feasible for them, as well as fast, effective and stress-free. Jo Caruana meets some of the leaders in this dynamic sector.

George Mangion - Senior Partner, PKF Malta – page 22

David Farrugia - Director, DFK Malta – page 25

Albert Cilia - Managing Director, Trident Trust Malta – page 27

Juanita Brockdorff - Partner, Tax Services, KPMG – page 27


Dean Micallef - Managing Director, Firstbridge – page 25

Hooriya Qazal - Director Malta, lecocqassociate – page 28

Cedric Mifsud - Director, Aegis Corporate Services Ltd – page 28



George Mangion Senior Partner, PKF Malta

PKF is an international organisation with over 400 offices worldwide, and operating in 150 countries across five regions. They specialise in audit and assurance, tax, advisory services and internal audit insurance. What does Malta offer international businesses when it comes to set-up, and how do you facilitate that? A recent EU report states that Malta had the second highest increase in company

formations last year, and that speaks volumes about the advantages we offer to international business. In this context, last year Malta opened the floodgates to the blockchain arena and attracted the attention of Binance – a giant cryptocurrency exchange which, together with Government, sponsored the Delta conference, which attracted over 8,000 delegates. The Regulator has since published guidelines and three laws were promulgated last year to regulate this exciting sector. This places Malta as a front-runner in a unique niche, with many international commentators labelling it as the ‘Blockchain Island’ in the Mediterranean. We welcome the initiatives by FinanceMalta, TradeMalta and the Malta Chamber to act in unison to promote our island and coordinate technical discussions with prospective investors at international fora. What unique expertise do you offer? PKF has invested several resources to promote Malta in the new sectors of fintech and blockchain business, by attending focused meetings and technical conferences in Japan, Zurich, Amsterdam and London. We also have a number of staff members that have qualified for VFA exams and, so far, this has attracted attention from a number of prospective


clients. Naturally, Malta has no banks that can offer services to crypto companies yet, so one hopes that, this year, this problem will be solved and more interest will be generated. This is in light of the fact that the Malta Gaming Authority has recently issued guidelines for iGaming companies that would like to offer betting services to players dealing in virtual currencies. How do you expect the future of international business to develop in Malta in the coming year, and beyond? There are other sectors that are anticipated to grow following the conclusion of Brexit, particularly in asset management, captive insurance and aviation. One hopes that practitioners’ efforts to attract business in this direction will be fully collaborated with Government agencies responsible for FDI. What would be your key advice to businesses setting up here? Prospective investors are faced with the complexity of EU laws, particularly following the onset of BEPS and ATID2, not to mention stricter rules involving AML, which will soon be reinforced by the fifth directive. This makes the process of choosing to move to another domicile more complex, so professional advice is certainly recommended. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


David Farrugia Director, DFK Malta

DFK Malta is a medium-sized firm established in 1990 (at that time as Farrugia, Farrugia & Co). Today it is composed of three separate entities that form part of the group of companies. It provides a full range of services including tax advisory, accountancy and consultancy, payroll services, audit and assurance, corporate advisory and support services, liquidation and dissolution services, fiduciary services (not acting as a trustee) and business advisory services.

What does Malta offer international businesses when it comes to set-up, and how do you facilitate that? Firms in our sector enjoy the benefits of a healthy financial services sector in Malta, which is subject to a regulatory and legal framework that can be described as thorough and exhaustive yet, at the same time, flexible and dynamic. For instance, fund structures and wealth management services benefit from an innovative legislative framework that is also fully compliant with EU legislation, together with an abundance of experienced professionals. Our firm tries to facilitate the process for international clients to set up their business in Malta by using the expertise and experience we gained in the close-to-30 years operating in this sector. The fact that we are a medium-sized firm also facilitates our practical approach to understanding our clients’ real needs, with clients appreciating our straightforward yet one-stop shop approach, which offers a wide range of services to businesses. What sort of growth have you seen in Malta recently? We have seen an increasing number of foreign clients seeking to set up their businesses in Malta, and other established foreign clients who are looking at Malta as an ideal platform to enhance their business overseas.

Dean Micallef

Managing Director, Firstbridge Firstbridge is a fully-fledged licenced professional services firm that is looking to redefine how professional services are delivered. All of their core service lines are primarily focused on offering a tailor-made solution by combining a traditional service offering with a modern advisory approach. With that in mind the team, regardless of the service that they are offering, is trained to look out for the key value points that can be improved by merely focusing more attention where it is needed. What does Malta offer international businesses when it comes to set-up, and how do you facilitate that? The common misconception is that Malta is just about tax efficiency and cost control, but the island and its particular economic makeup offers so much more to an international business. As a firm we like to focus on Malta’s strengths and its key service offerings as they all support business generation; specifically these would include a hardworking culture of professional employees, our English speaking population, excellent climate, our diverse population that allows for a proper understanding of product or service uptake within a contained market, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

What unique expertise do you offer? Perhaps our unique expertise can be narrowed down to understanding the real needs of family businesses and their main concerns. We can capitalise on having assisted various small- and medium-sized family businesses in Malta, and accordingly this helps us to advise clients seeking to set up a similar medium-sized or small set-up before they actually undertake their first steps. How do you expect the future of international business to develop in Malta in the coming year, and beyond? We hope that Malta will continue to capitalise on its attractiveness while, at the same time, not ignoring the threats of such a dynamic sector. Indeed, in today’s digital world, resting on one’s traditional approach is definitely not an option. Clients are being inundated with new ways of doing business, banking and trading, and I believe that we must be always vigilant while keeping abreast of the challenges that such changes are introducing to our sector. However, I believe that Malta possesses the right ingredients for its financial services sector to continue to flourish and I expect the island to remain an attractive proposition for new businesses operating in the logistics, remote gaming, maritime, aircraft servicing and support, financial services and high-value added manufacturing sectors.

the fact that we are a EU member state, our strategic geographical position between Europe and North Africa, and our constantlydeveloping legislation. What sort of growth have you seen in Malta recently? Business growth here is down to two key factors. First: technology, which has continued to radically develop the way we all do business. Technology is no longer simply isolated within the obvious specific tech industries themselves, but in each and every business sector within our modern economy, from a traditional baker to a financial institution. The second point is focused on succession. The paradigm shift in business operations has left an expectancy gap between familyrun businesses that may have been taking succession for granted, particularly when the training and modus operandi of the modern business community is so detached from the former generations. This expectancy gap has given rise to the need for a proper understanding of how a traditionally-run business operated by generation one or two is going to successfully pass onto the next generation when the next generation is thinking so differently to its predecessors. What unique expertise do you offer? Our unique approach centres around a very structured-yet-respectful approach towards

understanding a given business case, highlighting the positive factors and potential threats, identifying the required resources and, ultimately, coming up with a plan. For us it is all about drawing on experiences and applying the relevant thought processes that would or should apply in that situation. What would be your key advice to businesses setting up here? Malta has a lot to offer and the community has a lot to offer. I recommend ensuring you truly understand the potential of operating from Malta and focus on maximising your organisation’s potential. You will find that our legislation seeks to support business growth and that, more importantly, you will always find support to realise your business goals. 25


Albert Cilia

Managing Director, Trident Trust Malta Trident Trust provides corporate, trust and fund administration services globally, and the company is arguably the largest independent service provider in this area. With 40 years’ experience, they build partnerships with clients to enable them to achieve their business objectives globally. The Group opened its office in Malta in 2011, because of increasing requests from clients for Maltese structures.

and we’ve seen this across our business in general. Out of the sectors in which we operate, we’ve seen the strongest growth in our fund administration business, particularly driven by our ability to service funds domiciled internationally. We’ve also seen increasing interest from private equity players outside Europe in using Maltese SPVs in their structuring.

What does Malta offer international businesses when it comes to set-up, and how do you facilitate that? Setting up a Maltese structure is straightforward, quick and cost-effective, and Malta’s tax regime is competitive on the global stage. On satisfactory conclusion of the client acceptance process, we are happy to guarantee a Maltese company set-up within a couple of days. We are then usually in the position to provide all the services required to maintain the company in good standing and enable the client to focus on running their business.

What unique expertise do you offer? Our client base is very wide, ranging from family office clients looking at estate planning solutions, to institutional players setting up an SPV for a transaction, to asset managers looking for a recognised regulated jurisdiction. Our edge is the quality of our staff and the depth of experience accumulated across our Group over 40 years, coupled with our client-friendly approach where we adapt and tailor our service to the specific needs of each client.

What sort of growth have you seen in Malta recently? Growth in Malta as a whole remains strong

Juanita Brockdorff Partner, Tax Services, KPMG

Over the years, KPMG Malta has become a one stop shop for clients wishing to set up their business in Malta. Their diverse expertise, as well as wide portfolio of successful projects, allow the company to offer the highest-quality solutions, regardless of the scale or industry of the client.

How do you expect the future of international business to develop in Malta in the coming year, and beyond? Malta has always offered a strong general platform, and then focused on building

What do you believe Malta offers international businesses when it comes to set-up and how do you facilitate that? Malta is the place where the administration and businesses speak the same language. Building up a business-friendly environment is the priority of the administration. Many factors make Malta one of the best options for businesses: accessible and cooperative authorities, comprehensive financial legislation, the developing environment for blockchain industry and fintech companies, the widespread network of double tax treaties, and others. KPMG helps international businesses through its expertise, deep practical industry knowledge, and a constant drive to stay ahead of the curve and add value to our clients. What sort of growth have you seen in this area? Over the past few years we have seen a booming growth in the IT sector. More companies move their business operations to Malta, which was a pioneer among the EU countries to regularise the remote gaming industry and cryptocurrencies, marking it as an industry leader and an attractive hub for international business. In addition to favourable and transparent corporate taxation, Malta offers one of the lowest personal tax rates for expat employees, which, in addition to a mild Mediterranean climate, is the key reason why more and more companies relocate their teams.


solutions for specific industries. This was the case with the gaming industry and now more recently, potentially, the virtual financial asset space. With our track record of flexibility and adaptation, I expect that Malta will continue to be attuned to developments in the global business environment and develop ways of meeting new demands. Continuing evolution and development is key – if you are standing still, you are really going backwards! What would be your key advice to businesses setting up here? Get good-quality support and set up things properly from the start, so that you have a strong foundation for the long term. The sweetness of a cheap deal is usually replaced quickly by the bitter taste of a poor experience.

What unique expertise do you offer? KPMG has a diverse team with unique expertise in many industries. We are considered leaders in the banking and financial services sector in Malta. Our gaming, blockchain and DLT practices are some of the strongest in the region, meeting an ever-growing demand from the IT sector. Apart from the above, we have strong expertise in areas such as shipping and yachting, insurance and private client practice. Our portfolio of projects covers a wide range of industries and clients from the four corners of the world. How do you expect the future of international business to develop in Malta in the coming year, and beyond? Malta has been experiencing strong and consistent growth in its financial services industry, and is fast becoming the jurisdiction of choice. We foresee further growth and more foreign investment particularly in the gaming, IT and DLT industries. We expect that Malta will adhere to its dedication towards a businessfriendly approach, and new regulations will not have a negative impact on bona fide businesses. What would be your key advice to businesses setting up here? Seek professional assistance at an early stage. This will ensure that your hard work and your dreams materialise in the best imaginable outcome. 27


Hooriya Qazal

Director Malta, lecocqassociate The lecocqassociate Group consists of four international offices: lecocqassociate Geneva – a boutique law firm specialised in the niche areas of regulatory banking and corporate finance; lecocqassociate Malta – a regulatory advisory practice; lecocqassociate (DIFC) Dubai – a structuring advisory practice; and lecocqassociate (ADGM) Abu Dhabi – legal consultants. What does Malta offer international businesses when it comes to set-up, and how do you facilitate that? Over the years we have seen Malta develop strongly and rapidly into one of Europe’s

smallest but most exciting countries to invest in. The island has realised its dream to become Europe’s leading financial centre and that is thanks to its reputation in terms of stability, predictability and security – all backed by the talented labour force that is known for its strong work ethic. I believe that Malta has an excellent pro-business approach, and that it has centred its policies around this approach. The progress is visible over the years, and it has become one of the top countries in the world for attracting international business.

institutions, and these are the kinds of companies that we assist when it comes to their set-up, taking them from their earliest phases like their business plan creation, all the way to their MFSA licensing and even following through on their post-licensing obligations. Plus, the fact that we have offices in the main financial centres – including Geneva, Dubai and Abu Dhabi – means our offices can work together to provide a comparative analysis of different jurisdictions for our clients.

What sort of growth have you seen in this area? Over the last five years we have certainly seen an increase in regulatory finance. Our clients are most attracted by the profit/tax regime that is offered here, and we have seen real growth in various areas – partly when it comes to custodians, investment managers and advisers, as well as for holding companies. The new laws for cryptocurrencies are also very positive, and we expect good results to link to that.

How do you expect the future of international business to develop in Malta in the coming year, and beyond? The Maltese economy will likely continue to maintain its economic momentum or improve on it, and we should expect foreign companies to keep choosing Malta as a safe place to establish. Once the dust settles on Brexit there will also be greater and further opportunities for Malta to take on. I believe Malta to be in a prime position to win more business in the years to come.

What unique expertise do you offer? Lecocqassociate is, in itself, a Swiss boutique law firm based in Geneva, servicing companies in the banking and finance world. We are primarily focused on the structuring and restructuring of financial institutions like banks, collective investment schemes, investment managers and other regulated

What would be your key advice to businesses setting up here? Reach out to us. We are here to help. Malta is a strong jurisdiction of choice, with a proactive and leading approach to emerging aspects. Whenever you talk about setting up a regulated institution, Malta is competitive and we strongly support that.

Cedric Mifsud

Director, Aegis Corporate Services Ltd Aegis Corporate Services Ltd is a one stop shop for corporate services. We assist the client from incorporation to liquidation and the company is supported by our affiliate entities Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates and the MMPS Ltd, a payroll services company. What does Malta offer international businesses when it comes to set-up, and how do you facilitate that? Our tax-efficient corporate structure remains one of the main attractions. However, this must not be treated in isolation. Without the jurisdiction having a business-friendly attitude with a minimalist approach to bureaucracy, the attractiveness would not be sustainable. The regulators understand that the survival of our financial services industry depends on them being efficient. Malta has managed to develop an industry where authorities work hand-inhand with the service providers to strengthen the jurisdiction. This approach is reflected on the investors looking at Malta, who in turn feel reassured in investing through our jurisdiction. What sort of growth have you seen in this area? The growth has been steady in the past few 28

years. As a company we tend to focus on the maritime and aviation sectors, and both have gone from strength to strength. This despite the strong competition from other jurisdictions and spotlight thrown by the EU on certain structures. Nevertheless, we always manage to ride it out because of the dedication of the professional services providers working in sync with the authorities. What unique expertise do you offer? Our team of professionals is composed primarily of lawyers who have vast experience in corporate law. This gives our team a solid basis in providing water-tight comprehensive structures. As stated above we focus on the maritime and aviation sectors and, as a consequence, have been involved in a number of transactions involving ships, superyachts and jets. How do you expect the future of international business to develop in Malta in the coming year, and beyond? Regulation is becoming more technical and complex, thus putting more pressure on the service providers to keep up-to-speed

and enhance their human resources with competent people. Banking is also another challenge, as banks have become far more selective when it comes to the business they are ready to welcome. What would be your key advice to businesses setting up here? Seek professional help. Do not cut corners. Spending some more money in the set-up may save you a lot of money in the future. cc FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


Of economic growth, the end of a Presidency, and what lies ahead President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry Frank V. Farrugia chats to Martina Said about Malta’s current climate for doing business, his two-year term as President, and his hopes for the Chamber.


iding on the back of a strong economic performance in 2018, Frank V. Farrugia, President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, says there’s no denying the feel-good climate for doing business right now, but this has brought, and continues to bring with it, a unique set of challenges that cannot go unmentioned. “We have been saying that we are satisfied with the recent track record of economic expansion, but this in itself is creating problems within certain sectors, as while economic growth gives the impression that all sectors and industries are doing well, this is not the case,” he asserts. “Such rapid expansion is leading to a rise in operating costs. With resources being limited, prices go up, and those sectors which, according to national statistics, are growing at far lower rates than the average, such as manufacturing and retail, are having to pay a price much higher than they can afford for the resources that they need, most notably human resources. This may also hinder their future growth. Therefore, not everybody is benefitting from economic expansion in the same way.” Other pertinent problems relate to the cost of housing and its impact on wage increases, as well as increased construction and its impact on the environment. “It is quite clear that, long-term, while the good


feeling among businesses in Malta will likely remain, we have to ask, at what price?” The Chamber President is optimistic, however, that 2019 will bring with it a number of opportunities for certain sectors, primarily in the area of innovative technologies. “This is a positive development which the country needs in order to stay ahead of the curve and to develop further, but here again, there will only be a few local companies able to cope with this development,” he asserts. Moving on to Mr Farrugia’s two-year Presidency, which ends in April, he says that the past two years have been busy, but equally rewarding. “I was lucky to take on the Council of Presidents of BusinessEurope (COPRES) event in Malta soon after becoming President in 2017, which is usually hosted by the country in charge of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, which Malta was at the time. The Chamber had been working on this for around two years prior to my election, and it was a real success.” Mr Farrugia asserts that the meeting yielded many positive results, not least that a good number of the high-level attendees had never been to Malta, and got their first introduction to the islands through the Chamber. “Many delegates showed their interest to return, and some already have – among them the President of BusinessEurope at the time, Emma Marcegaglia, who is a highly-respected name

in industry,” says Mr Farrugia. “Additionally, the delegates became aware of what Malta could offer and changed their perception of the islands. Until the meeting, politically and institutionally-speaking, Malta tended to be at the bottom end of the table with BusinessEurope. Things changed when our turn for the EU Council Presidency came about. Our views became more sought-after, and we continued to make in-roads even after the Presidency was over,” he asserts. “The election of my predecessor, Anton Borg, as Vice-President of BusinessEurope in 2016 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


Photos by Alan Carville

“While economic growth gives the impression that all sectors and industries are doing well, this is not the case.”


was significant, making him the first Maltese official to occupy such a role. Our affiliation with the organisation is quite crucial – through it we’re able to really feel the pulse of business in Europe.” Another highlight from the Presidency is the Chamber’s 170th anniversary celebrations, which was commemorated with, among others, a national conference about family business late last year. Ferrero R&D Chief Briano Olivares, Buffa Founder Paolo Buffa, and Grimaldi Lines Director Eugenio

Grimaldi headlined the conference, which was also attended by local entrepreneurs or their second or third generation family members who have since taken over the business. “Following the conference, a legacy was also established, where we forged an agreement with the national Family Business Office, through which we formed a tangible link, so that family businesses can now come to the Chamber if they require support in the succession of their family business,” says Mr Farrugia. 31


“A committee was also set up with the participation of the Regulator of the Family Business Office, which will continue to research and look into new and innovative ways of helping family businesses in Malta. The event was a sell-out on the day, and many of our members have requested a repeat seminar next October, which we’re working on.” Mr Farrugia adds that the agreement reached on the increase to the minimum wage is another accomplishment for the Chamber, following long discussions and negotiations, in which the Chamber was actively involved, together with other employers’ representative organisations. The agreement stipulates that minimum wage earners would receive an increment of €3 per week following the completion of a year’s employment with the same employer, and a further €3 weekly will be added upon completion of a second year. “It was an issue that had been in negotiations for a long time,” says the President, “but which we believe was agreed upon with a positive outcome for all.” The Chamber also published a flagship policy last year to propose solutions to the current labour market challenges affecting the day-to-day operations of local businesses. “The solutions were presented to Cabinet, and included reforms to the country’s education curricula, further incentivising active ageing, skills audits, facilitation of recruitment of foreign nationals, and an international marketing campaign showcasing employment opportunities in Malta. We’re pleased to say that some of the recommendations are being taken on board.” Mr Farrugia and representatives from the Chamber attended a number of successful overseas delegations throughout the past 24 months, accompanying the President and Prime Minister of Malta, various Ministers, as well as delegations on the Chamber’s own steam. The organisation also welcomed high-level delegations to its quarters, namely a visit from the President of Tunisia for the Tunisian Business Forum, and a visit from the Vice-President of India. This March, the Chamber will be hosting the National Parliament for Enterprises which is modelled on Eurochambres’ European Parliament for Enterprises, which is held in the Brussels hemicycle, which The Chamber always participates in through high-level delegations featuring Malta’s business leaders. “Eurochambres this year is encouraging member states to organise FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

“Through COPRES, the delegates became aware of what Malta could offer and changed their perception of the islands.”

a similar event in their own parliament. We will be doing so on 13th March, with the collaboration of the speaker of the House of Representatives, and with the attendance of the President of Eurochambres.” Also in the pipeline is the launch of TechMalta, the third Public Private Partnership (PPP) between Government and the Malta Chamber, following the launch of Trade Malta and Education Malta. “Tech. MT, which was originally ICT Malta, took a

longer time to get off the ground due to the rapid developments in the innovation sector, namely in fintech, blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI),” says the President. “We proposed to widen the scope for this PPP, and the foundations have since been laid, including an established Board of Directors. In its essence, the aim of Tech.MT will be to promote Malta as a hub for innovative technologies, especially blockchain, AI and robotics.” 33


“The aim of Tech.MT will be to promote Malta as a hub for innovative technologies, especially blockchain, AI and robotics.”


Looking ahead beyond the end of his term as President, Mr Farrugia says he is satisfied with the Chamber’s achievements under his leadership, but does hope for change down the line in one key area of the Presidency. “It’s a concern that my predecessors and I have shared, that a two-year term as President of the Chamber is not long enough to achieve all the priorities you set out at the start of your term – the time is up as soon as you

start finding your feet,” he asserts. “I also believe the outgoing President should form an integral part of the new administration, to ensure a smooth handover and a continuation between one Presidency and another. In the future, the Chamber will also need to invest even more in its own human resources, to help it keep up a strong presence as the leading voice for industry, commerce, importation and services in Malta.” cc



The people’s president After five years in office, the term of President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is coming to an end. She speaks to Marie-Claire Grima about her constant commitment to social justice, the duty that businesses have to engage with corporate responsibility, and the potential for blockchain to transform the way charity organisations carry out their work.


t has been five years since Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca assumed the role of President in April 2014. A lively 55-yearold who had been active in politics since the ‘80s and who held the post of Social Policy Minister in Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s first Cabinet, President Coleiro Preca became the youngest person to assume office, and the second woman to hold the post after Agatha Barbara. Reports from the time claimed that she was initially reluctant to resign from her ministerial position, where she held the highest rating out of all serving ministers at the time. However, she quickly took to the role with gusto, with her passion for social justice fuelling the Presidency’s raison d’être and informing her unique approach to the role of Head of State. As the time comes for her to step down, it’s clear that she did it all her way. “This has been a working Presidency, and I have brought my passion to work with people into all of my endeavours,” she says. “Besides my duties as Head of State, I have facilitated a variety of initiatives which have brought together thousands of Maltese 36

people and international stakeholders. We have worked on diverse social projects which aim to empower vulnerable individuals and different communities to live more dignified lives, and to be more active and engaged. We promoted child participation, we have encouraged dialogue among the many different faith traditions in the Maltese islands, and we have created opportunities for diverse groups to raise their concerns and share their aspirations.” Her approach to the Presidency was often strikingly informal, which drew both commendations for being ‘down to earth’, as well as criticism for doing away with the gravitas that is part and parcel of the role. In fact, one of the most memorable images of President Coleiro Preca’s time in office is of her enthusiastically embracing donors during the annual fundraising marathon L-Istrina. And under her watch, the Malta Community Chest Fund, which disburses funds raised through fund-raising activities, donations, and contributions, and is the main benefactor of the marathon, has now been granted the status of foundation. “The Malta Community Chest Fund has existed for over 60 years,”

she says. “In this way, it achieved its own legal status and the transparency that it deserves.” Other achievements which she lists with pride and which were carried out during her PFWS Conference term in office include the establishment of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, which promotes and gives visibility to the concept of wellbeing, ranging from mental health to freedom from drug use. “I am pleased to say that wellbeing is now a stable part of the national agenda, and through the research and activities of the Foundation, it is being shared with stakeholders in Malta and internationally,” President Coleiro Preca says. “Furthermore, I am also proud to say that the National Cancer Platform Association, set up during my Presidency, has created important synergies between civil society activists in this essential area. In this way, NGOs are able to share good practices and support one another.” She also facilitated the establishment of the President’s Trust Foundation, a private foundation that works hand-in-hand with NGOs and businesses to help the young FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


“This has been a working Presidency, and I have brought my passion to work with people into all of my endeavours.”

members of vulnerable communities, “that fall through the gaps of our system. For example, together with the National Literacy Agency, the President’s Trust Foundation launched the first national readathon last year. We are encouraging a love for reading among thousands of children, while also nurturing a sense of solidarity. Money collected from this national readathon, together with contributions from private sector stakeholders, enabled us to purchase assistive devices for visually-impaired children.” During her term, President Coleiro Preca opened up the Presidential Palaces for public and civic events, explaining that she wanted to provide safe and respectful spaces that the public could engage with. “The palaces are a perfect example of our Maltese historical heritage, and we have given visibility to our Maltese identity by making them accessible for numerous educational and cultural initiatives and activities. We also made extensive renovations to San Anton Palace and Verdala Palace, which are a living part of our cultural and historical heritage,” she maintains. “So much of our work has focused on developing and strengthening the relationship that exists between the Presidency and the people,” she continues. “I believe that this relationship is essential, because it connects the highest Office of the Republic with the daily realities of the people of our islands. This sense of connection, and service towards others, is very important


to me because I have always been a passionate advocate for the values of social justice.” Indeed, she says she was pleasantly surprised by “how eager people from all strata of society were to share their concerns and aspirations, in the safe spaces that we have created through the good offices of the Presidency. This is a perfect example of the constitutional role of the President of the Republic, to promote active citizenship and to strengthen our democracy.” The past five years during which President Coleiro Preca served as Head of State saw Malta undergoing a rapid transformation, characterised by high rates of economic growth as well as a number of developments in various industries, including iGaming, tourism and blockchain. As President, she headed countless trade delegations that brought benefits to the Maltese business community. “It has been encouraging to

see the openness of the private sector in Malta to create partnerships with their counterparts in the countries I have visited. Malta is ideally placed, in the centre of the Euro-Mediterranean region, to make such collaborations and partnerships with other countries a reality.” Developing stronger synergies among the public sector, private sector, and civil society stakeholders, she says, is essential. “We need such partnerships and collaborations in order to take our democratic aspirations to the next level, and to ensure that sustainable peace and inclusive prosperity continue to be a priority on the national agenda.” Never straying far from her commitment to social justice, President Coleiro Preca says she believes that businesses with a sustainable and long-term vision for the future are becoming more engaged in some form or other of corporate social responsibility.



“The role of President brings a lot of responsibilities and also, some restrictions. When my term is over, I plan to continue the work I have done throughout my career and my life.”

“This is why I facilitated a platform for business to engage in CSR initiatives – the CORE Platform, to encourage such endeavours. In this way, we have created a network of Maltese businesses that are working within our communities, to take their good work further.” She is also keen on the potential that Malta’s most dynamic new industry – blockchain – has to effect change in the spheres of business as well as social good. In fact, in 2018, it was announced that the President’s Trust would be incorporating blockchain technology in the execution of its mission. “This disruptive technology is revolutionising our islands, and our world, and creating new opportunities for businesses to expand and prosper. But it can also be a way forward for organisations focused on social good, because it encourages transparency and accountability, while also empowering donors and recipients. It can be a catalyst to transform the way in which charitable organisations are created and regulated in the future, ensuring that the funds, resources and goodwill of our countries, private sector and civil society will have the most impact for most people. This is essential to put the values of social justice and social solidarity into practical action.” While she will no longer be the Head of State after 4th April, it is unlikely to be the last that the public hears of her. “The role of President brings a lot of responsibilities and also, some restrictions. When my term is over, I plan to continue the work I have done throughout my career and my life. I will keep striving to make a positive contribution in the lives of others, in all the ways that I can, by exploring new opportunities to make a difference. I look forward to being able to focus more of my time on pursuing the causes I am truly passionate about, and expanding upon the work that has been realised so far.” Among the causes for which President FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

PFWS Conference

Coleiro Preca will remain an active voice are women’s rights and gender equality. “Equality, for all of the citizens of Malta, and of our world, is a safeguard of our fundamental democratic values. We must focus our efforts to create the necessary equality, equity and inclusion, so that each and every girl and woman can be an active

participant in her community and society as a whole.” “Malta has taken many positive steps forward to include more women in the world of work and education, including policies which specifically enable women to participate in the socio-economic sector. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. These include the gender pay gap, the prevalence of gender-based violence, the lack of women in positions of political leadership, and the damaging effect of gender stereotyping, which is, unfortunately, still widespread.” As the familiar photo of President Coleiro Preca smiling broadly is taken down and Government offices, town halls and schools put up the photo of the next person in Malta’s history to take on the Presidential title, what advice would she give the person who will be stepping into her shoes? “I am sure that my successor will be able to find her or his own way, to make the role of President their own. I hope that they will keep the Presidency closely connected to the daily needs and aspirations of the people, and that my successor will continue to promote the unique character of our Maltese identity, both locally and abroad.” cc

“We must focus our efforts to create the necessary equality, equity and inclusion, so that each and every girl and woman can be an active participant in her community and society as a whole.”

Equality Conference held during the state visit by the President of Tunisia



Modern solutions for age-old issues An ageing population coupled with a labour shortage in all areas of the workforce mean that protecting employees’ well-being is very much in a company’s best interests. OK Medical CEO Paul McAlister speaks to The Commercial Courier about how the company helps businesses keep their workforce as healthy, safe and independent as possible.


“We always keep an open mind to current and future issues that clients and businesses alike are facing, to be able to provide the necessary services, equipment and know-how to assist.” 40

he term ‘ageing population’ is one which most people today are well accustomed to hearing about. The number of people aged 60 years and over has tripled since 1950, reaching 600 million in 2000 and surpassing 700 million in 2006. It is projected that the world’s combined senior and geriatric population will reach 2.1 billion by 2050. Most people understand the implications that an ageing population has on today’s world, as well as how it will inevitably affect our general way of life, economy and social system. But although scientists as well as world and business leaders in their respective fields are working to find a way to mitigate the effects of this phenomenon, the real effects will only truly be known in time. Solutions to this issue have been deliberated thoroughly, with the common consensus being that a two-part solution focused on keeping able people in work coupled with phased-in retirement, fiscal sustainability, and personal well-being, will ensure a healthier workforce for longer. That is how OK Medical CEO, Paul McAlister, is looking to approach this modern-day reality. “One of the main reasons why we look at this issue so deeply is because we as a company have also found it hard to sustain our own growth due to the constraints of available labour available,” Mr McAlister explains. “Therefore, once we identify and recruit key members to our team, we look to not only empower them FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


“If a member of staff is injured at the workplace and suffers some form of permanent injury or disability, this worker may not only add to the issue of an ageing and dwindling workforce, but may also seek financial remuneration for damages caused.”

and develop their skills, but also take care of their well-being to ensure they are happy and will remain with the company for, what we hope, is a long period of time.” Since the company was founded in early 2013, its fundamental mission has always been to offer quality products at reasonable prices, but always with an eye for customer service. “The burning question for us is always ‘how can we do the job better?’” Mr McAlister says. “We always keep an open mind to current and future issues that clients and businesses alike are facing, to be able to provide the necessary services, equipment and knowhow to assist.” As a supplier of non-pharmaceutical medical supplies, OK Medical seeks to offer a variety of out-of-the-box solutions to ensure the well-being of not only its private clientele but also of other companies. For instance, the company first set out on broadening the equipment solutions available for clients in the field of respiratory care by adding two new sectors to the business of sleep apnoea solutions aimed at offering products for people in need of continuous positive FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

airway pressure (CPAP), automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines to be able to get a better night’s sleep. OK Medical has also introduced a wide spectrum of discreet hearing solutions to offer clarity of sound to clients who make use of hearing care equipment, which may also assist them to be more focused and alert in their day-to-day life. The idea of keeping it as simple as possible also resonates in the way the company offers it services. OK Medical offers free hearing consultations in both of its retail outlets in Swatar and Paola, and has also worked with various local companies to offer free hearing tests within their own premises to help staff identify any problems and find solutions so as to mitigate the issues these may cause in later life. OK Medical also offers free consultations on a range of devices available for sleep apnoea as well as free onsite evaluation with regards to health and safety requirements for businesses to keep them in line with local legal standards. “It is worrying to see that some companies either do not even think of having a basic first aid kit installed in their premises or do

not devote time to the upkeep of already deployed supplies within their firm,” Mr McAlister remarks, going on to explain that this issue has a multitude of legal and personal implications. “Firstly, not conforming with the minimum requirement set out may cause businesses to incur financial penalties or other, harsher constraints imposed on them. Secondly, if a member of staff is injured at the workplace and suffers some form of permanent injury or disability, this worker may not only add to the issue of an ageing and dwindling workforce, but may also seek financial remuneration for damages caused.” Finally, Mr McAlister adds, having equipment such as first aid kits – as well as other life-saving equipment installed on site – may help preserve life in the event of a major incident. One such example of this is the automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable electronic device that diagnoses life-threatening irregular heartbeats, and treats them through defibrillation, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm. “AEDs are one of the key pieces of equipment which, thankfully, more people and business owners are becoming aware and conscious of,” Mr McAlister says. “It is estimated that around 27 per cent of fatalities in Europe are due to sudden cardiac arrest. Such machines, coupled with proper CPR may raise the survival rate of a person by up to 75 per cent from around 25 per cent chance of survival without an AED present.” When it comes to AEDs, OK Medical has also sought to offer a more robust package to its clients. The company not only provides the unit, but also includes proper AED storage, signage, consumables needed if the unit is deployed and hands-on training in one package. “We do not want to just sell a device and leave the client to fend for themselves – we want to offer a full package and assure the client that we are here to support them,” Mr McAlister affirms. OK Medical also provides other items that can help businesses ensure the well-being of their employees on a daily basis. “Even items which may be seen as relatively minor, such as posture chairs, seating and back cushions, as well as ergonomic working tools, may help employees work more productively for longer,” he says. “The last thing a company needs is to lose a valued member of staff due to ailments which could have been prevented through the course of their working life. OK Medical can supply your firm with the necessary items to help prevent that.” What does the future hold for OK Medical? “There are probably a thousand questions and possibilities, but as a company, we will always strive to find the best option possible,” Mr McAlister says. “We aim to leave not only an initial positive impact but a long-lasting and hopefully healthier group of people, who will be able to contribute more to society in the years to come.” cc 41


Integritas Group: Creating solid corporate structures Honest, robust and dedicated are just three of the words that come to mind when describing the services provided by Integritas Group. Here, Jo Caruana meets Founder and Managing Director Frédéric Villa to learn what it is that sets this dynamic corporate and relocation services company apart.


very year, thousands of businesses choose to set up in Malta – and often that means moving everything from bank accounts to corporate structures over to the island. As a result, these companies need to be able to work with organisations they can trust on the ground; organisations that can guide them as to the best and most effective ways to do things here in Malta. One such organisation is Integritas Group, which was founded in 2011 and built on the sturdy foundations of over 30 years’ experience in Swiss private banking and EU trusts, and with an international network of partners. Today, the Group has grown from a team of just two to 25, and it provides a range of multidisciplinary services including Citizenship by Investment (CBI), Residence by Investment (RBI), ordinary residence, trusteeship and fiduciary services to clients around the world, with a special interest in assets and business in the EU. The company also recently introduced blockchain advisory services. Integritas Founder and Managing Director Frédéric Villa gained substantial experience in the sector while working with prime banking institutions in the Swiss private banking sector in the ‘90s. In 1996, he joined Banca Commerciale Italiana in Zurich and then moved to Swiss Bank Corporation in Lugano in 1998, which later became UBS. In 2005, he moved here to Malta to set up


Mediterranean Bank, where he obtained the required Banking and Investment Services Category 2 and 4 licences, and managed the bank as CEO until September 2009. He then chose to found Integritas Group, enthused by the potential that he knew Malta had as a destination for foreign investment. “When I was still with the bank, I saw how attractive Malta was to clients eager to set up here to benefit from the highlyefficient tax structure and solid business environment,” Mr Villa explains. “So it was logical that, when I exited the bank, I set up my own structure to be able to facilitate this, using the network I had built at the time.” Thanks to his combination of knowledge on Swiss private banking, wealth management and the fact that Malta was continuing to grow at a rapid pace, Mr Villa found that there was a lot of interest when it came to setting up in Malta. “There are a number of benefits to opening a business here,” he continues. “Among them, the highly-qualified workforce, the reasonable costs for infrastructure, the approachable regulator and the fact it is an EU member state, with strong connections to non-EU countries.” Mr Villa explains that Integritas stands for integrity, with clients knowing that the company will carry out its work in an honest and trustworthy way. “There are never any hidden agendas,” he says. “We make it our business to ensure the client is happy, of course, but it’s not about initial success but



“We have extensive international awareness, but are based right here on the island too, so we have a complete view.” long-term relationships that deliver time and time again. We have clients that have been with us since the beginning, and we are happy to be able to continue to serve them.” With offices in Geneva, Dubai and Algiers, Integritas certainly brings international knowledge to the realm of doing business in Malta. “We have extensive international awareness, but are based right here on the island too, so we have a complete view. We have also grown to become of a size that is of value to the client; with a team of 25 we are strong and stable, but still very personable, and we have an excellent network of likeminded and professional partners worldwide.” Talking through the typical experience clients have when working with Integritas, Mr Villa explains that most relationships start when a company or individual is looking to set up in Malta. “Often I am introduced to new clients by one of our international partners or existing clients, and I then meet with them to discuss their objectives for the company, and the activities they will undertake. I am interested in knowing whether the company will fit the Maltese structure, and whether we need to include any other jurisdictions within that structure. “What follows is that we go through the details of the set-up, and help to decide everything about who is going to administer the set-up, and who will provide the services,” he says. Mr Villa explains that Integritas can handle the full suite of services that a company needs, including secretarial, administration, invoicing, payments, directorship and payroll, and can even provide office space within its building. “Of course, once everything is sorted and operational, we stay with the client for everything they may need, be it administration, accounting, audit or management. We are there to understand the evolution of the business, and to act accordingly. We know ours is a system that works well, and one that ensures our clients can operative effectively within the Maltese framework, and beyond.” Now, Mr Villa says that he and his team are clearly focused on growing Integritas further in the years to come. “Our structure is rock-solid, our team is professional and committed, and we are able to service nearly any size of client, regardless of their needs. We’re currently optimising that service to become even stronger, by bringing ever-more expertise into the company. Our clients know how seriously we take this work and just how robust our set-up is, and that is reflected in the type of business that we have achieved in recent years,” Mr Villa concludes. cc FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019



4 innovative hiring strategies to find the right fit for your company in 2019 Recruitment can be a minefield for companies keen to acquire – and retain – the best talent on the market. Rebecca Anastasi speaks to four professionals in the field to understand the most effective hiring techniques and trends.


ecent figures published by the National Statistics Office have continued to confirm what has long been espoused as a consequence of a buoyant economy. The report, released mid-January 2019, verified that full-time employment has increased year-on-year (by 5.5 per cent over a period of just 12 months, up until July 2018), accompanied by an analogous decline in

registered unemployment (by 18.6 per cent in December 2018, when compared to the corresponding month in 2017). While these positive indicators point to sustained levels of growth, local firms have expressed concern over the ever-decreasing pool of potential candidates available to fill essential posts. And with the number of vacancies on the market predicted to

increase, the challenges faced by companies seeking to recruit the best and the brightest are set to rise in line with competition to find the right people. But how can firms navigate the recruitment minefield, adopting a balanced approach which makes economic sense? Four professionals working within the field of human resources and recruitment strategy share their views.

“Use a professional candidate assessment system” Francina Moisa, Managing Director, Nicholls Moisa Over the past few decades, traditional recruitment methods based on newspaper job postings, internal promotions, headhunting and word-of-mouth have had various degrees of success among employers seeking personnel across diverse sectors. However, the upsurge of vacancies within the technological era may require a more innovative strategy which prioritises transparency, due diligence and ethical recruitment, according to Francina Moisa, Managing Director of Nicholls Moisa, a multidisciplinary recruitment and talent acquisition business first established in January 2016. “To effect such a strategy, we offer a unique proposition through our cutting-edge candidate assessment system, I.R.i.S, which gives our recruiters an exclusive offering to take to the market,” she explains. Indeed, I.R.i.S is a cutting-edge candidate attraction, assessment and retention tool, exclusive to Nicholls Moisa, which combines thorough psychometric testing, video interviewing, key competencies and cultural profiling and matching, to help businesses select top performers who fit their culture, business vision and strategy. When using I.R.i.S, 96 per cent of new employees are within the business 12 months on. I.R.i.S can be accessed from any device, giving global businesses flexibility and accessibility at their fingertips.“ By means of this system, Ms Moisa stresses, the recruitment agency is able to encourage their consultants to “really disrupt the current hiring model in the market” to the benefit of their clients, which come from fields as diverse as financial services, law, iGaming and the C-Level industry, among others. The firm’s participation in events such as the Career Workshop at SIGMA and the Malta Blockchain Summit, among others, also helps them develop tailor-made and bespoke talent acquisition solutions which “are delivered in a FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

business advisory style manner,” in line with its drive to “innovate and ultimately excel in everything we do,” Ms Moisa says. This strategy is complemented by a great deal of flexibility, the Managing Director continues, emphasising that its success lies in the support the firm gives to its recruitment consultants, stressing that “if someone has an idea, they will be listened to and supported all the way to bring that to fruition.” Indeed, talent acquisition is essential for the agency itself, Ms Moisa underlines. “As our client portfolio continues to grow, it’s imperative for us to continuously develop our employees and attract new ones,

who are focused on becoming experts in their chosen field and service clients beyond the traditional recruitment approach,” she states. For finding the right talent, Ms Moisa asserts, is pivotal, whatever the firm or sector. “We are always looking for ways to not only differentiate ourselves in the market, but to truly add value to our clients through our advisory services, and to achieve this, we support and coach our employees, trusting them to make their own decisions. In this regard, ideas are not only welcomed, but encouraged and implemented throughout the business,” Ms Moisa underlines.

“We support and coach our employees, trusting them to make their own decisions. In this regard, ideas are not only welcomed, but encouraged and implemented throughout the business.” 45


“Adopt innovative technologies, maintain accurate data and prioritise the human element” Ben Pace Lehner, Director, Broadwing Recruitment Technology is also at the forefront of the approach adopted by Broadwing Recruitment. According to Director Ben Pace Lehner, the current employment landscape, characterised by increased competition over diminishing resources, calls for more stringent and imaginative methodologies. “The lack of resources means that recruiters need to be smart in their strategies and they need to utilise their time in the best way possible,” he says. Cutting-edge developments, such as the use of AI-driven technology, are useful in this regard since they allow time to be utilised “effectively and efficiently when matching candidates to active roles.” Indeed, this attitude is at the heart of Broadwing’s approach to recruitment, which possesses a “commitment to providing an agile and effective service to its clients and candidates alike,” marrying the innovative with the personal, according to the Director. “We utilise a cutting-edge recruitment portal, world-renowned CRM, and a team of professional recruiters to identify unparalleled, highly-qualified individuals across all of our disciplines,” he explains when describing how the year-old company, 46

which caters to sectors as diverse as hospitality, financial services, as well as legal and sales, embodies this philosophy. Moreover, the appropriate – and careful – use of data is central to the company’s methodology. Last year’s GDPR deadline, Mr Pace Lehner stresses, allowed the firm to up their game, giving it the “opportunity to dissect, document and optimise all our processes and stored data.” This approach also allows recruiters “to focus on screening candidates and ensuring compatibility with the hiring company’s culture,” allowing them to focus on the communication process “in order to accurately assess and record the expectations of both parties,” he explains. Mr Pace Lehner continuously underlines the importance of using these modern techniques with face-to-face communication, marrying technology with the “human element” at each step of the process. “Although technology plays a vital role in the modern world that we live in, recruitment is ultimately about people. By utilising thoroughly trained recruiters we are able to offer a personal approach, matching candidates not only by their skills and experience but also their personality and

“We utilise a cutting-edge recruitment portal, worldrenowned CRM, and a team of professional recruiters to identify unparalleled, highlyqualified individuals across all of our disciplines.”

cultural fit. These expert recruiters are also able to offer support, guidance and motivation to struggling candidates while ensuring that no good candidates are missed out on by the AI algorithms,” he explains. “We also leverage our international network of recruitment partners to find overseas jobs for our candidates and fill the local skills gap through the relocation of foreign nationals to Malta. We believe this Safe Landing Programme is essential in today’s market and allows us to truly offer a personal approach, helping individuals settle into a new job in Malta as quickly as possible while attracting job-seekers from a larger and much more diverse talent pool,” he concludes. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


“Utilised data analytics enable us to carry out a more accurate narrowing of the most suitable talent for a particular role.”

“Adopt a holistic, and individual, approach to recruitment” George Tabone, Recruitment Manager, Konnekt While recruitment firms are constantly seeking alternative methodologies to attract talent, a gamut of techniques must be employed to ensure success, according to George Tabone, Recruitment Manager from Konnekt, one of the island’s largest recruitment firms, who stressed the need for firms to “adopt a holistic, and individual, approach to recruitment.” This includes — but is not limited to — the development of a diverse range of initiatives and advanced technology, ranging from machine learning to affiliated brands which provide support to both candidates and clients to make betterinformed choices. Indeed, Konnekt employs such a comprehensive approach utilising the latest technology while also integrating more traditional media, as they still hold sway. One of the processes undertaken is the analysis and segmentation of big data, which provides valuable insights into the journeys of job-seekers, Mr Tabone notes. “Utilised data analytics enable us to carry out a more accurate narrowing of the most suitable talent for a particular role,” he says, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

while also going on to specify that this analysis starts from the point of candidates beginning their job search — via a search engine or social media — to the time when they submit their application. “We innovate and implement technology, a truly disruptive factor nowadays, utilising it for staying consistently efficient. However, efficiency comes out of both working hard and working smart, which we both adopt in order to remain successful in matching the right candidate to their respective employer, working both ways,” the Recruitment Manager states. And, these methodologies have reaped their rewards for the company, Mr Tabone says. Indeed, the firm’s recruitment strategies have seen its operations grow from a two-person team in 2007, to “Malta’s largest recruitment solutions outfit,” specialising in finance, iGaming, IT and legal, as well as all generalist roles in various industries. “Recruitment for us is always a priority. We make efforts for providing an impeccable service to each client and

candidate. Being a leading player in the recruitment industry, we strive to ensure our people have the same passion and endorse the same values Konnekt was built on,” Mr Tabone notes. “Our primary aim is to provide potential employers with all the relevant information they might need in order to be truly effective in their sector. At the same time, we are here to help them in recruiting the right talent to grow their respective businesses, keeping our core values in mind, the ones Konnekt was founded upon. These values include integrity, dedication and result-orientation — all of which remain at the forefront of our daily operations,” Mr Tabone continues. This approach enables Konnekt to be more “grown-up” in their approach, the Recruitment Manager states, particularly “when considering where resources are utilised to attract candidates with a higher potential for placement.” To this effect, one must consider, not only “the required qualifications, skills and experience but also the best cultural fit and personality traits,” Mr Tabone concludes. 49


“Live your brand values and truly engage people” Joseph Farrugia, Director, StreetHR

“My advice to employers is to avoid embarking only on cosmetic employer branding solutions, but rather dig deeper and ensure the firm’s brand image and core values are transferred to all levels of employees.”

Employees are attracted to a firm for a multitude of reasons but, frequently, it has less to do with money than with the core principles practiced by the organisation, such as the implementation of familyfriendly measures, and a company culture which respects each individual on both a personal and a professional basis. “A firm should live according to its brand values, coupled with best HR practices that translate into positive relationships, attracting candidates based on tangible experiences and word of mouth,” says Joseph Farrugia, Director of StreetHR, an 50

HR and Recruitment Services firm founded in 2015, aiming “to provide a differentiated level of HR services in Malta.” This approach, according to Mr Farrugia, translates into a recruitment style which ensures the propagation of “core values and principles which truly engage people and businesses.” In other words, HR best practices must be adopted in order to ensure a company is able to attract the best talent, encourage them to commit to the firm, as well as encourage engagement and retention, the Director explains. “Recruitment is, indeed, only a small part

of a bigger picture and related priorities should be spread and complemented by a number of other practices within the organisation,” he underlines. Furthermore, taking an integrated perspective is vitally important in today’s market, in which recruitment is a priority – as well as “an interesting challenge” – for any firm operating in Malta, Mr Farrugia continues. “My advice to employers is to avoid embarking only on cosmetic employer branding solutions, but rather dig deeper and ensure the firm’s brand image and core values are transferred to all levels of employees. Whatever the company’s strategic direction, vision or business model, it all starts by respecting people and by applying the right leadership styles to value and empower people in taking their organisations to new levels of performance,” he explains. Indeed, StreetHR’s approach is to encourage human resource professionals, as well as business executives, to operate strategically “by placing the employee as the heart of business success,” Mr Farrugia asserts. To achieve this, the agency provides HR consultancy and outsourcing, tailor-made training and coaching solutions, as well as specialised recruitment services, to aid firms in dealing with this, sometimes, tricky terrain. “I don’t think it is news to state that recruitment has become an abusive instrument where people are just seen and presented in forms of sales value and revenue potential. Therefore, being professional and valuing people creates a reputation which transforms into talent attraction to the brand itself,” he concludes. cc FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


Style Review


04. Bright tailoring

Beat those winter blues and herald the coming of spring with colour and verve. Rebecca Anastasi runs us through the latest fashion trends, as the cold begins to thaw. 01. Bows Add a little femininity to your workwear wardrobe by sporting a subtle bow on your ensemble, whether the detail is flouted on a jacket, dress or jumpsuit. But, don’t go overboard – too many and you risk looking as saccharine sweet as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

The coming of brighter weather calls for vivid tones and cheery dispositions, the one very often leading to the other. Steer grey clouds away with rich-coloured suits in shades from intense purple and radiant red to lively green and dramatic yellow. If you’re not feeling that brave, a lilac two-piece might be just the ticket.


05. Head-to-toe neutrals

Don’t put your coats and boots away – winter is not over yet! And the Chelsea boot, with styles designed for both men and women, will keep you looking hip until the first rays of spring sunshine. This smart shoe, crafted in suede or leather in myriad tones and shades, is a must-have, whatever your day-to-day looks like.

03. Tuxedo styling Couturiers all around the world have racked it up a notch when it comes to smart tailoring, and the mother-of-all evening suits, the tuxedo, has strutted down catwalks from New York, and Paris to London. Whether as a tux dress or deconstructed – with elements recalling the iconic shape – this dusky trend will make you feel like a million dollars (or euros!).

06. The printed silk scarf Having garnered popularity over the decades among the over-50 demographic, the printed silk scarf is making inroads with the younger crowd, who look to past trends for inspiration. Polka-dot patterns, ‘70s inspired motifs and ethnic designs are seeing the proud sartorial trend enter the mainstream in 2019. cc

Ted Baker



Crockett and Jones

02. Chelsea boots

For a more casual – and infinitely more subtle – look, head-to-toe neutrals evince a pure, organic appearance, apt for any day you have planned, whether at work or play. The focus here is on the materials: cotton, wool, corduroy or even leather act in unison to create a classy alternative to the ubiquitous jean-and-jumper ensemble.


Massimo Dutti





LK Bennett



Tech Trends

03. 5G phones

With the New Year in full swing, top tech gadgets for this season are coming in hard and fast. Jillian Mallia has the low-down. 01. Amazon Echo


The second generation of Amazon’s Echo can respond to voice commands, play your music, read your audiobooks, report weather forecasts, break down the news, and so much more. The Echo has seven built-in microphones designed to hear your voice commands from anywhere in the room, so you’ll be asking the Echo all sorts of questions in no time!

02. Skullcandy Vert Bluetooth earbuds With a lot of competition on the market, Skullcandy is looking to set itself apart from the countless other wireless Bluetooth earbuds, and here’s their attempt. Their new Vert Bluetooth earbuds not only have the regular functions of wireless buds but are also designed to be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. They’re also the ideal device for athletes to use outdoors, all the while helping them to be aware of their surroundings.


5G phones will be able to tap into incredibly fast speeds and low latency, allowing users to live-stream in ultra-high-definition and/ or 3D videos. Various phones of this type are planned to be released this year, including China’s Huawei, OnePlus and Xiaomi models, as well as a possible Samsung phone, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest models!

04. WiTricity wireless charger Charging your phone wirelessly is very much yesterday’s news. But what if you could charge your laptop and earphones wirelessly too? The WiTricity wireless charger is perfect for on-the-go users to use with minimum fuss. Using conductive charging, you’ll be able to charge your devices quickly and efficiently, no wires attached.

05. Ecovacs Deebot 711 The iRobot Roomba was a hit last year, but the Deebot is here to impress, and at half the price. In spite of its similar appearance to other robot vacs, the Ecovacs Deebot is a strong performer, with more features under its hood than most. The Deebot even connects to Alexa and can be started just by simply commanding it to. It doesn’t get any better than that! cc

03. digitaltrends.com


04. witricity.com





CC business

Using our social security system to attract business Much has been said about foreign workers contributing to the national pension. This has stirred a controversial debate, which I will not enter the merits of. Instead I will try to shed some light on the advantages of our social security system which service providers like myself are using to attract business to our jurisdiction.

Malta has served as an international centre for maritime and shipping industries since time immemorial. The passage of time proved that it has only got stronger in this sector, offering numerous benefits to all those involved in the maritime industry. Such benefits are evident when it comes to the social security regulations applicable to seafarers in Malta. In operating under a European Union flag, ships registered in Malta lead to advantages such as: 1. The obligation for residents of the EU/ EEA/Switzerland working under a Maltese flag-ship to be registered in the social security system of Malta;

2. A European Health Insurance Card offered to those insured in Malta and an S1 form supplied to those residing in a member state other than Malta; 3. Unemployment benefits in the seafarer’s country of residence, enjoyed in virtue of a U1 form; 4. Pension secured at a rate of benefit reflecting the length of the claimant’s insurance in their scheme paid by any EU, EEA state and Switzerland. Such benefits are enjoyed in virtue of the international and regional frameworks applied in Malta. Following its accession to the EU, Malta sought to implement Regulation EC/883/2004 wherein the rules regulating social security applicable

to seafarers became more streamlined. Although seafarers and employers are required to pay contributions in the vessel’s flag state, whenever seafarers are remunerated by an ‘undertaking’ in the same member state where they reside, then the legislation of the member state of residence shall apply. In the past, Malta required seafarers working on a Maltese flag-ship to also reside in Malta. This requirement was however done away with as it was deemed to go against the concept of the freedom of movement of persons embraced in the EU. Malta now offers non-residents of the EU/ EEA/Switzerland working under a Maltese flag-ship, the possibility to opt for the social security system of their non-EU/EEA/ Switzerland country of residence. Conversely, under this regulation, seafarers who are residents of the EU/ EEA/Switzerland must necessarily be 56


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Manoel Island Yacht Marina - Photo by viewingmalta.com - Renata Apanaviciene

insured in that EU flag state in terms of its respective laws. The only exception for EU/ EEA/Switzerland residents lies in the case where the employer and employee reside in the same member state, provided that the seafarer is affiliated in that state for social security. This is always subject to the main principle that seafarers can only be subject to the social security system of one member state. The benefits which a person insured in Malta enjoys include a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If a person resides in a member state other than Malta, he may benefit from an S1 form upon presentation of the salary slips showing the contributions. Those insured in Malta may also claim unemployment benefits in their country of residence, by making a request. The process of obtaining insurance in Malta is in fact a very simple one. A registration application must be made for FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

each employee so as to obtain a social security number, wherein the employer is simply required to apply for a ‘PE number’ and an income tax number (under an ‘inactive’ status if a foreign company), whether based in Malta or otherwise. This enables them to carry out the monthly returns. Contributions are then calculated based on a percentage of the weekly salary if the latter does not exceed the threshold of €438.54. Once the weekly salary goes over such threshold, then a fixed sum of contributions is to be paid. Given that the level of salaries earned by yacht crewmembers generally exceeds this threshold, then contributions are capped at €43.85 both for the employer and employee, resulting in a total contribution of €87.70. One must ultimately add €1.32 contribution for maternity fund. When it comes to pensions, the Regulation introduced the concept of the portability

of rights. This means that if a person has worked for more than one year in two or more of any EU/EEA states or in Switzerland, then the Regulation requires that the contributions paid in each of these states be taken into account proportionally to the length of insurance periods in such states. For instance, if from a total of 40 years, a person spent 20 years working in Malta, 15 years in Italy and five years in the United Kingdom, then this person should get a pension of not less than 20/40 years of the theoretical amount from Malta, 15/40 from Italy and 5/40 from the UK. All these states will work out the full theoretical rate of pension as if the person worked the whole 40 years there. Malta ensures that Regulation EC/883/2004 applies to all ships registered under its flag, whereby returns and payments are made mandatory. Naturally this is applicable provided that crewmembers working on such ships are actually registered with and covered by Malta’s social security system. When one compares what is offered by Malta in comparison with other maritime jurisdictions, it results that Malta has a very accessible social security contribution. A maximum payment of €438 per month is very reassuring for employers of seafarers and makes the Maltese jurisdiction very competitive. Therefore, when owners come to decide where to flag their vessel, the national insurance contributions have become a determining factor. This has seen an increase in registrations, not only because of the low threshold for contributions, but also because of the certainty that the jurisdiction offers to the employer and the employee. Having said this, one has to also point out the lack of clarity and direction the international maritime industry has in relation to social security contributions of seafarers. There is the misconception that no social security should be paid in Malta. This is combined by the wrong assumption that when employing seafarers on a Maltese flagged vessel through an offshore company, one does not need to pay social security contributions. These assertions within the maritime industry are harmful and lead to Malta losing out on attracting the business to Malta. I am of the opinion that Malta, through Transport Malta and the Ministry of Social Affairs, should go out there and promote the jurisdiction and assist with providing clarity. There are a lot of good service providers out there giving the right advice, however if these people have the backing of the Government they will then be in a better position to bring more business to Malta. cc Cedric Mifsud is a Partner of Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates and a Director of Malta Maritime Payroll Services Limited. 57

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Holistic HR services – The three pillars By Joseph Farrugia

LEGO® Serious Play®, also used during StreetHR training activities, is simply using LEGO® bricks to ‘build’ different concepts such as identity, innovation, leadership and explore new solutions by allowing participants to think using their hands.

I was recently invited to a high-level business networking event overseas and was looking forward to meeting up with the hosts as I have huge respect for their reputation. It got even more exciting when I received a personal email from the event organiser, just two days before the event, asking me to make sure to dedicate some time to a personal chat to share some interesting ideas over a drink. I replied immediately to gladly accept this offer,


Strategic Added Value

C-Level Management


Human Resources

Finance, Banking and Compliance

Administrative and Technical Positions




From Left to Right: Karl Grech, Maria Azzopardi, Joseph Farrugia, Antoaneta Basarbolieva, Therese Cardona, Jacqueline Cassar, Kim Spiteri

but soon realised that I was replying to a coded ‘machine’. A similar email was (as later confirmed) also sent to some other counterparts who attended this event. On the one hand, I admired their use of technology and the leverage that its good use can generate; on the other hand I felt that we are now losing that human touch, that deep connection that only people to people can generate. Wearing my StreetHR Director’s hat I kept reflecting on our core services (Recruitment, Training and HR Consultancy, hence the three pillars) and on how this event can provide insights or lessons back to the business. With regard to our Recruitment arm I admit, I was confused between the two opposing poles – yes technology is key (and yes, we have invested in this hugely to automate key processes) but can it ever replace that human, professional and consultative support that jobseekers expect from recruiters? I believe the answer is ‘no’. Mix this with a ‘sales agent’ interaction type of recruiter and the recipe is everything but professional recruitment. Not if the objective is to support and to guide people in taking courageous steps in their careers that will impact their lives and that of those around them. Not if one truly cares for the employers’ (business) needs and their success. My advice to all those looking for the next step in their careers, is to make sure that you do so in a planned way by also knowing with whom you are dealing, especially if using an agency. Get to know who is behind you and the knowledge or expertise of the recruitment agent and/or his or her background in the HR field. Also make

sure that you choose your next employer carefully (not just focusing on the role). Check that your values match the culture you are after and give weight to your natural preferences. Do you enjoy meeting people? Are you meticulous? Innovative? Are you energised by deadlines? Do you prefer working alone? Exploring these answers will give you more insight when choosing your move as unfortunately most recruitment is done on eligibility only (i.e. experience, qualifications or knowledge) without taking into consideration the wider dimension of the human being. At StreetHR, our interaction with employers to whom we also provide HR Consultancy (or outsourcing services) and/or Training Services, gives us the opportunity to get to know companies at a deeper level. We can feel and appreciate their unique characteristics, management style, culture and business model, as well as their challenges. This makes it more practical for us to then serve as a bridge with our jobseekers and to truly wear an advisory hat when supporting and consulting people in choosing their next step. We can keep going, but surely this makes the HR world as interesting as it can be! No machine or sales agent can take over the value-added touch that a professional human being can give when providing ‘human’ related value-added services. This is what we stand for and we believe that our three service pillars can provide an edge in this regard. cc Joseph Farrugia is Founder and Director of StreetHR and can be reached at joseph@streethr.com.mt 59

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Catching up with Contactless Payments In an age when speed has become the new mantra, when those extra seconds of waiting can ruin the customer experience, fast payment systems have become the expected commodity. Financial institutions are playing an instrumental role in this age of digital transformation by providing businesses with fast, contactless payments.

Bank of Valletta is at the forefront of this technology and is migrating its international debit card and credit card product suite to contactless. Contactless cards are perfect for small purchases and provide advantages to businesses of all shapes and sizes, and their customers. The concept is very simple, customers just tap their contactless card over the EPOS machine and payment is carried out. The tap-and-go process takes only a few seconds, making it infinitely faster than chip cards, cash or cheques. It eliminates the need to swipe or insert the card, obtain the customer signature, check the signature against identity documents or entering PINs. It helps to relieve cash points and reduce queues and waiting times. Transactions are secure and there is a lower risk of card loss since the card is retained by the customer throughout the transaction. For transactions beyond the set limit (€20 for BOV Visa and BOV Cashlink Visa, and €25 for BOV Mastercard), customers can still tap their card but need to enter their PIN for security reasons. Nonetheless, businesses benefit from a faster transaction over the traditional insert or swipe modes. Customers have the peace of mind that transactions without PIN are minor, yet secure. Customers can keep track of their transactions through their BOV Internet Banking or BOV Mobile Application. Training merchants’ customer-facing staff about the use of contactless cards is crucial. It is pointless for a business to adopt these payment systems but then its staff members do not know how to use such cards. The process is very simple: · Transaction amount is entered and green button pressed · Cardholder taps card · Payment is effected (if amount transaction is within contactless limit, payment is confirmed by a bleep and chit is issued. If it is beyond this limit, cardholder keys in PIN.) Contactless payments provide an opportunity businesses cannot afford


Merchant Contactless Acceptance Guidelines

1. Ask if card is contactless 2. Enter transaction amount 3. Press GREEN button

4. Ask cardholder to tap card

5. Listen for a beep 6. Follow instructions on screen SIMPLE | SWIFT | SECURE

to ignore. With diminishing tolerance for waiting times and a more technologically intuitive customer base, tap-and-go payment systems will become the expected norm in Malta. With the BOV Contactless Cards, a business can enhance its customer journey, providing a frictionless and seamless buying experience. Bank of Valletta offers a myriad of fast and secure payment solutions such as wireless card payment terminals, cash-register integration to card payment terminal, online payments, mobile payments, direct debits, electronic credit transfers and e-commerce. cc

If you are a business owner and would like to find out more about tailored payment solutions, speak to your Relationship Manager, visit any BOV Branch or drop us an email at customercare@bov.com. Terms and Conditions apply. Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company regulated by the MFSA and is licensed to carry out the business of banking in terms of the Banking Act (Cap. 371 of the Laws of Malta).



NEWS Events & Initiatives

01. Rent White Paper discussed with Chamber members During a consultation meeting open to members of the Malta Chamber to discuss the ‘Renting as a Housing Alternative’ White Paper with Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes and his technical team, Malta Chamber Deputy President David Xuereb highlighted that the feedback being prepared by the Malta Chamber aims to strike a delicate balance between the interests of the landlords and of the tenants. Perit Xuereb noted that the Chamber’s vast interests and representation will ensure that such a balanced approach is indeed reflected in its proposals. Members present gained insight into Government’s vision for the sector through a presentation delivered by Dr Kurt Xerri, Legal Advisor on the White Paper, and also had the opportunity to provide feedback directly to the policy-makers. The meeting was notably productive as a number of innovative ideas were wellreceived by Mr Galdes and his team.

President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia, numerous members of the Cabinet, members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as Malta’s foremost exponents of the business community.

03. Malta Chamber organises information session on VAT and FSS end-of-year online submissions As part of its outreach with its members, the Chamber organised an information session on the recent introduction of

online submission of VAT returns and of FSS end-of-year online submissions for employers employing 10 or more employees. The session which was well attended by numerous accounting professionals and company representatives, included a team of experts from the CfR, namely Andrew Buhagiar, Efrem Debono, Noel Agius and Victor Bugeja, to explain the changes in greater detail. The session was chaired by Andre Fenech, Head of Policy Development. Those present were given information on the new mandatory requirement for online submission of VAT returns for sole proprietors employing 10 or more employees as well as for all companies. The speakers

02. Chamber hosts annual Christmas drinks The Malta Chamber hosted its annual Christmas reception at its iconic premises, the Exchange Buildings in Republic Street, on 5th December. The event was attended by H.E. the



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also showed in great detail how to access the system and make use of the new online system. The CfR representatives also demonstrated the procedure to follow to fill in the FSS end-of-year online submissions which applies to employers employing 10 or more employees.

04. Chamber participates in national conference on disability in the workplace The Malta Chamber participated in ‘Yes for Everybody’, a national conference organised by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability. Policy Head Andre Fenech and Policy Executive Nigel Mifsud led workshops on the theme of ‘Disability in the modern workplace’, placing a specific focus on career development and progression, the future of work and how technology can enable more people to enter the workforce. The Chamber officials highlighted the ever-changing work environment, brought about by the advent of increasingly cutting-edge technologies which are changing the face of existing industries, as well as by the introduction of new ones such as AI and blockchain. These changes were offering new and previously unavailable opportunities for persons with different abilities, to join the workforce and contribute to the country’s economy. The number of disabled persons registering for work saw a very sharp dip in recent months, with the latest figures (published in September 2018) claiming that only 46 persons with a disability were looking for work. This was a significant improvement on the 244 registered in the previous year. This meant that the various initiatives taken by all parties involved, no less the persons with disability themselves, were bearing the desired fruit.

05. Malta Business Bureau hosts Investing in Energy closing conference The Malta Business Bureau (MBB) hosted the Investing in Energy closing conference at the Malta Life Sciences Park, San Gwann earlier this month. Minister Joe Mizzi presented three local businesses with certificates of excellence recognising their commitment towards the energy efficiency of their operations, namely Malta International Airport, Retail International Group and Elepac Ltd. Malta International Airport and Elepac Ltd were recognised as the two latest signatories of the Energy Efficiency Partner Initiative, with 66

02. the latter being the first SME signatory. Retail International Group was also recognised for having undergone an energy audit as part of the project. The audit then represented the basis of Retail International Group’s investment in the energy performance of its Marks and Spencer outlets in Valletta. Crucially, it managed to adhere to international brand standards, while still becoming more energy efficient. In his opening address, MBB President Simon De Cesare said “to me as a business owner, energy efficiency is not just about reducing utility bills but also about the best placed effort. To generate additional profit, businesses typically would have to increase turnover. However, the most efficient way to improve profit is to stop wasting money and reduce your costs.” The Investing in Energy Project is run by the Malta Business Bureau in partnership with The Energy and Water Agency and The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, with co-financing from the Regulator for Energy and Water Services and the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business.

06. Chamber teams up with MCAST and leading Sicilian company to help businesses recruit personnel As part of its efforts to mitigate the growing labour shortages and skills gap being experienced in the Maltese economy, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, in collaboration with MCAST Gateway to Industry organised an information session addressed by S.I.A. Imprese, a Sicilian company with a vast network of Sicilian and Italian skilled human resources looking for opportunities in Malta. The aim of the three-way collaboration is to link members of the Chamber with a vast database of potential employees and to fill in any skills gaps through tailor-made short courses delivered by MCAST. The session

was held on Wednesday 12th December at the Malta Chamber’s Exchange Buildings. Opening the session, Malta Chamber Director General Kevin J. Borg elaborated on the Chamber’s efforts to seek effective solutions for members facing acute labour shortages as a result of the thriving performances being experienced across the economy. He noted how numerous FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

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03. companies have gone to great lengths and costs in order to recruit workers from third countries, sometimes even outside of the European continent, but few have considered the potential of Malta’s closest neighbouring region. By collaborating with local companies that seek to recruit skilled Italian workers through S.I.A. Imprese, MCAST will design tailor-made short courses to bridge any education and qualification lacunae candidates may have, in order to fulfil the role in a local company effectively.

07. Beverage Importers and Distributors Association to be set up

for Green Public Procurement in Malta, Malta Chamber Deputy President David Xuereb said that public procurement was no longer simply an administrative process to purchase goods and services, but could be seen as an important tool to help reach strategic goals, including resource efficiency objectives. Perit Xuereb said that in recent years, Malta had experienced significant efforts through numerous projects and various incentives aimed at enhancing the country’s efficiency and sustainability when it came to public procurement. Some of these projects have even changed the way we live and the way we do business. “However, despite the notable efforts of the past years, Malta remains quite some

way off from where it should be in terms of efficiency and sustainability-related targets. Therefore, as we continue to strive towards these targets, it must be stressed that everyone, whether public or private, whether a large company or a single individual has to play a role,” Mr Xuereb said.

09. Subsidiarity prevails in the outcome of negotiations on Work-Life Balance Directive The Malta Business Bureau (MBB), the EU research and advisory arm of the Malta Chamber and MHRA, has lobbied actively in Brussels in the past months on its parent organisations’ behalf, in order to reduce

Malta Chamber is setting up a Beverage Importers, Distributors and Wholesalers Association to assist companies involved in the sector, by providing them with solutions during the implementation of the new mandatory BCRS system. All beverage importers, distributors and wholesalers will be obliged at law to form part of this system and contribute directly. During 2018, the Government imposed the introduction and implementation of a new Beverage Container Refund Scheme (BCRS), a system which would oblige all producers, importers and retailers of certain beverages to take responsibility of the beverage containers they are putting on the market. For this reason, the private sector has joined forces in the last year to come up with an operational system at the least possible cost. The system will be rolled out towards the end of this year.

08. Members attend information session about green public procurement Members of the Malta Chamber attended an information session organised in collaboration with the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change about green public procurement. Opening an Information and Consultation Session on the Second National Action Plan FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

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the impact on business operators of the implementation of the proposed Work-Life Balance Directive being discussed at EU level. In a press release, the three organisations said that they strongly support the objectives of promoting equality, increasing female participation in the labour market and a healthy work-life balance. “This is also reflected in the various EU projects the MBB undertook in previous years. The MBB however maintains that work-life balance initiatives should not increase the cost burden on companies that would otherwise impact their competitiveness and ability to create more jobs,” the statement said. The MBB said that in view of the compromise agreement by the EU institutions today, while cautious on the objectives of the directive itself, it welcomed the compromise deal that will allow member states to determine the level of remuneration for employees for parental leave and carers leave in their own labour market, rather than this being set by the EU. The directive also determines that paternity leave will be paid at the level of sick leave of the respective member state.

10. Damage control in Brussels mitigates Directive’s impact In a statement to the media, the Malta Chamber said that it had played a crucial role in the mitigation of the full impact of the Work-Life Balance Directive. Through the Malta Business Bureau (MBB), the Malta Chamber was a key active player during the consultation process linked to the same directive, both locally and more importantly at a European level. The MBB, which is a daughter organisation of the Chamber and the MHRA, prepared an extensive dossier with the aim of mitigating the potential impacts of the proposal on European businesses, especially SMEs. This document was submitted to the European institutions and followed upon extensively. The press release said that it was in part thanks to the active lobbying and advocacy work of the MBB in the past 18 months, that the full impact was mitigated. This was done through several fora including BusinessEurope, Eurochambres and directly with the dossier’s European Parliament rapporteur MEP David Casa. “The MBB office in Brussels liaised with national Chambers of Austria and Luxembourg with a view to find common ground on how to oppose the one-size-fits-all scenario, which would have been detrimental to employers in small countries,” the statement said. 70


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11. Chamber focuses on employee attendance in HR workshop Managing employee attendance by maximising engagement and productivity is a priority for all employers, more so in the present labour market characterised by significant shortages. To this end, the Malta Chamber’s HR Committee has, during the past year, focused its efforts on educating Malta Chamber members on how to manage employee attendance. On 29th January, the Committee held a workshop aimed at equipping managers with the skills to carry out return to work interviews. Return to work interviews have been proven to be an effective practice that helps to increase employee attendance and engagement. Such interviews demonstrate to employees that the employer notices their absences and gives the manager an opportunity to identify possibly underlying causes of frequent non-attendance. The workshop commenced with a brief introduction of the Committee’s role by Catherine Calleja, Chairperson of the HR Committee, who also set the scene as to why the Committee agreed to organise training on return to work interviews and how it seeks to continue enhancing the skills of member HR managers.

12. WES TRADE, a Malta Chamber member, partners with global players to provide solutions to aviation industry WES TRADE Ltd, a member of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, has teamed up with global players FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

12. such as Airbus, to study the use of systems such as drones for future air transport. “Today we are witnessing a company, WES TRADE Ltd, which is cleverly deploying resources at its disposal, to come up with and provide solutions for the evergrowing aircraft industry. This initiative is laudable on its own steam – when such a company, however, also happens to be an upstanding member of our Chamber, we feel all the more proud,” said Frank V. Farrugia who was addressing the launch of the project in Cagliari, Italy. The press conference was also

addressed by the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, and WES TRADE Chief Executive, Alessio Bucaioni. Mr Farrugia said that in an age of economic growth, the Malta Chamber cannot simply stop at being proud of its members. “We, in fact, exist to support ambitious and daring businesses whether they are Malteseowned, internationally-owned or partnerships that are a result of the combination of the two. Our interest is to act as a one-stop shop, offering a portfolio of services that supports and sustains all Malta-based businesses in their daily needs,” he said. 73


NEWS Internationalisation

01. Malta Chamber and US embassy in Malta promote trade opportunities “Our effort to bring our two nations closer and promote business collaboration will undoubtedly result in a prosperous future not only for the businesses communities but also for the people of both countries,” said Frank V. Farrugia, during a seminar on business and investment opportunities in the United States of America, organised jointly by the Malta Chamber, the US Embassy in Malta and AmCham Malta. In his address, Mr Farrugia remarked that improving the international correspondent banking relations will go a long way to facilitate business between the two countries. He remarked that correspondent banks are necessary for commercial transactions with foreign companies and also for local banks to trade in the dollar. “A practical and transparent solution needs to be found to ensure that companies can transact easily between our two countries,” he said.

02. EEN helped 76 Maltese companies grow internationally in the last three years One in every eight business participants who took part in B2B events organised by the Maltese Consortium within the EEN (Enterprise Europe Network) managed to grow their business internationally. This emerged from impact statistics published by the Maltese Consortium within the network, registered by ambitious Maltese entrepreneurs who made use of the services over the last three years. Over these years, 2,500 Malta-based business representatives participated in 50 seminars organised by the network locally, contributing towards 970 policy feedback recommendations.

The Consortium was also well positioned to provide 300 advisory services to Maltabased entrepreneurs and additionally answered 500 general enquiries. The majority of the latter consisted of individual client support towards tapping EU funding, innovation business practices and access to international procurement. Reacting to the results, Lino Mintoff, who represents the Malta Chamber on the EEN Consortium said “we are satisfied with the outcome of our work which generated a very positive reputation for the network locally. We constantly push ourselves to turn activity results into outcomes which generate a positive impact on clients’ businesses because ultimately that is the purpose of work.”

03. President urges Malta and Turkey to collaborate on Mediterranean tourism President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said that Malta and Turkey had the potential to work together, to ensure that the Mediterranean remains a top destination for visitors from all over the world. Addressing a tourism forum organised by the Malta Tourism Authority and the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation in Istanbul, and supported by the Malta Chamber of Commerce, as part of her engagements during a state visit in Turkey, President Coleiro Preca said that Malta and Turkey were best placed in the region to explore possibilities of collaboration, “because we are also very well connected” – with Turkish Airlines being a global connector and Air Malta being a Euro-Mediterranean connector. “We should not perceive each other as competitors in the region. We are not, due to our individual uniqueness. I believe that collaborating in this sector can bring to both our countries, and our region, a substantial

increase of visitors from other regions of the world,” President Coleiro Preca stated. She added that the tourism sectors of both Malta and Turkey were built on the authentic values of their respective identities, which include the celebration of the two countries’ diversity, the richness of the Mediterranean heritage, and the commitment to provide top quality hospitality.

04. A commitment to consolidate the relationship between Malta and Tunisia Welcoming H.E. Beji Caid Essebsi, the Head of State of the Republic of Tunisia, to the Chamber, Malta Chamber President Frank V. Farrugia said that the Business Forum, the third in a span of 14 months, was another clear testimony of the commitment to consolidate the healthy relationship between Malta and Tunisia, and to provide tangible opportunities for the respective business communities. The Business Forum which was hosted by the Malta Chamber, formed part of a state visit to Malta by the President of Tunisia. “Our bilateral ties give us an incentive to engage and explore deeper reciprocal commercial cooperation in manufacturing, logistics, aviation, maritime and several other sectors. Such conviction derives from our history of strong collaboration in Mediterranean affairs and regional cooperation. Improving our trade relations will go a long way in achieving a healthier environment and economic prosperity in the region,” said Mr Farrugia. The Business Forum brought together more than 50 business persons from Malta and Tunisia in a successful meeting of ideas and collaboration. The event was attended by H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and officials from the Tunisian Embassy in Malta and UTICA, who helped with the organisation of the event. cc

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Why manufacturing matters Manufacturing used to be one of Malta’s most prominent and valuable industries, but a combination of factors – including widespread public stigma and poorly-managed industrial zones – led to it inevitably taking a backseat to other, more media-friendly sectors. Four business leaders within the industry speak to Marie-Claire Grima about the manufacturing renaissance in Malta and why it’s an exciting time for millennial workers to climb on board.


ver the past two decades, Malta has become a magnet for new industries and economic sectors, including iGaming, financial services and blockchain. While these have expanded and diversified the economy, and given a definite boost to Malta’s GDP, they’ve also had the unintended effect of overshadowing some of the industries which have hitherto been pillars of Malta’s economy, but which are perhaps less visible to the public eye – including manufacturing. “The manufacturing industry in Malta has always been and continues to be – even in this challenging environment – one of the country’s most important economic sectors,” says Patrick Cachia, Chairman of the Manufacturing and other Industries Economic Group within the Malta Chamber. “It is now well into its sixth decade as a major economic sector in Malta and continues to attract investment, employ a significant FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

portion of Malta’s labour market – accounting for roughly 13 per cent of all private sector employment – and contribute to a majority of our island’s exports.” “Even though statistics may show a decline in the sector’s contribution to GDP, this does not necessarily mean that the manufacturing sector’s contribution in real terms is declining,” says Anton Borg, Managing Director of JB Plastics. “Employment in freight companies, where the work is mainly generated by the manufacturing sector, is normally classified under services. Another example would be the banking sector, again classified as services, where a substantial number of employees are processing transactions related to the manufacturing sector. Not to mention, of course, the foreign income generated by the manufacturing sector. All of this makes the manufacturing sector an

important part of our island’s economic landscape.” Mr Cachia says that while the industry initially started in Malta solely for the fiscal benefits and the ready availability of low-cost labour, it has developed in leaps and bounds over the years. “It is now a largely high-valueadded sector built on technical processes, innovation and advanced machinery, enabled by the fact that the sector’s workers have painstakingly established a strong, worldrenowned reputation in precision, reliability and dedication.” “The manufacturing industry in Malta has evolved substantially over the last 20 years,” says Mr Borg. “It was always very wise of Maltese governments, including the current one, to safeguard this sector, even when times were challenging and when entire sections of it had to be rethought and re-purposed to fit Malta’s growing economy. 77


“It is a big misconception for anyone to think that a country can do without its manufacturing sector.” – Anton Borg, Managing Director, JB Plastics

This has shown to be even more true in the context of negative experiences in other EU countries that unwillingly surrendered their industrial flagship companies to more profitable jurisdictions. This led the EU to launch an industrial renaissance campaign in an effort to breathe new life into this important sector. It is a big misconception for anyone to think that a country can do without its manufacturing sector.” The manufacturing industry that survives today is characterised by companies that were committed to remaining in Malta, in spite of all the setbacks,” adds Marisa Xuereb, Managing Director of Raesch Quarz (Malta) Ltd. “They are companies that have invested heavily in equipment and in their people over the years, companies that have withstood economic downturns, and emerged stronger because of their foresight and resilience. There are no short-term ventures in manufacturing that hire dozens of people today to fire them a few months later because the market went the other way. Due to the substantial investment involved, manufacturing companies set up for the long haul. That is why jobs in manufacturing tend to be more stable and provide a backbone for an economy that is increasingly more dependent on sectors which are by their very nature more volatile.” So what does Malta’s manufacturing sector strategy consist of? “Through Malta Enterprise, which has been active in the promotion of investment for over 50 years now, Malta focuses its manufacturing strategy on five pillars,” says William Wait, Chairman of Malta Enterprise. “Namely, the attraction of new FDI investment; ensuring that the existing FDI remains in Malta and grows; supporting small and medium enterprises mainly through Business First; supporting the larger Maltese-owned entities to keep growing in Malta and be more aggressive in export markets; and looking at new industries such as life sciences activities, and the production of medical cannabis.” “I am pleased to state that we have had positive news on all fronts with this strategy, and as Malta’s economy is growing, manufacturing has remained present. Through these pillars, there are endless interesting opportunities in various areas whether it’s in manufacturing of car switchgear, toys, food, packaging, repairs and maintenance of aeroplanes, engineering, building of machines, production of medicines and much more.” 78

Despite the opportunities present in the manufacturing field, it’s clear that the industry suffers from a serious image problem, with none of the glamour of iGaming, the prestige of financial services, nor the excitement of the tourism industry. “A job in the manufacturing sector does not seem attractive to the millennials who have or will soon graduate from their studies. This is the generation born in the digital era, to whom a job in the manufacturing sector sends a vision of the traditional machine operator with dirty hands wearing a boiler suit,” says Mr Borg. “Of course, there are machine operators, but with ever-changing technologies, so do the responsibilities of the machine operator. The low labour manufacturing sector has all but disappeared and the sector is moving more and more

toward introducing robotics, and within a few years, there will be more processes that will incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI).” “For a number of decades, industrial areas were left to deteriorate and become highly unattractive areas where people freely dumped their rubbish,” Ms Xuereb continues. “Technical education was wiped out of secondary education, leaving those who had more of an aptitude for skills than for academics to come out of compulsory education empty-handed. Some of these youngsters still found their way into manufacturing and were trained on the job, gradually improving their prospects, but in the process, jobs in manufacturing became synonymous with youngsters who failed at everything else. This approach made it harder for local manufacturing companies FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


“There are not too many of the traditional machine operator jobs where you press a button every few seconds left. Those kinds of processes have been largely automated.” – Marisa Xuereb, Managing Director, Raesch Quarz (Malta) Ltd

to absorb more advanced technology at a quick pace and for the country as a whole to be attractive to new, cutting-edge manufacturing FDIs.” “As wages increase, the availability of a skilled workforce becomes imperative for attracting foreign investment. Most of the jobs available in manufacturing today require people who are able to think, able to handle sophisticated machinery, able to learn, and willing to upgrade their skills with the advancement of technology. There are not too many of the traditional machine operator jobs where you press a button every few seconds left. Those kinds of processes have been largely automated. There is no point in paying higher wages to workers who are not technically competent.” Consequently, the hiring crisis across all sectors in Malta has hit the industry particularly hard. “We do not simply have skills shortages, which can be at least partially mitigated by retraining, but we have supply shortages across all sectors and at all levels. This is partly due to demographics, but mostly due to the accelerated pace

of economic growth and how it is being fuelled,” Ms Xuereb explains. “A substantial portion of the growth is coming through the property sector, with rental incomes growing at a much faster rate than wages. This induces a shift of resources out of the labour market and into real estate and property development, which in turn entices labour from other sectors to work in construction. This generates a cascade of shortages and high labour turnover, as employees are presented with more frequent opportunities to change job and employers try to bridge

“Manufacturing operations offer exposure to all areas of a business, such as logistics, purchasing, HR, finance, production, engineering, R&D, testing, quality assurance, and sales and marketing.” – Patrick Cachia, Chairman of the Manufacturing and other Industries Economic Group, Malta Chamber FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019



“The most important skill that is required is the ability to adapt to change and to be willing to open oneself to continuous learning and embracing new challenges with passion.” – William Wait, Chairman, Malta Enterprise

the gaps by importing foreign labour, which is often even more predisposed to changing job at every opportunity. It becomes very much like a game of musical chairs.” The severity of the situation prompted the Manufacturing and other Industries Economic Group within the Malta Chamber to take action. “In collaboration with Malta Enterprise, we will shortly be launching a promotional campaign showcasing the numerous rewarding and successful career paths followed by individuals from all walks of life in Malta’s manufacturing industry. This will serve to remedy the misconceptions of both young individuals deciding on their career paths, as well as their parents who often have an influence on their children’s choices,” Mr Cachia says. “Through representation in the Manufacturing Economic Group within the Malta Chamber, the industry will maintain constant two-way communication with the Minister for the Economy, as well as authorities and bodies such as Malta Enterprise, Malta Industrial Parks, the University of Malta and MCAST, among others. Such two-way communication serves to safeguard and enhance the sector’s competitiveness, which is of primary importance above all else.” Additionally, manufacturing companies forming part of the Malta Chamber of Commerce are supporting numerous education institutions by offering placements and other forms of exposure 82

to career opportunities in manufacturing. “Participants, who range from Form 2 students to adults in their early 20s, always have very positive feedback about their experiences and often highlight the fact that industry is in fact vibrant, highly technologybased and very interesting overall,” Mr Cachia continues. “The forthcoming ‘Make It’ campaign will include lots of insight and useful information on careers in manufacturing, as well as opportunities for work-based learning and other exposure initiatives.” Mr Cachia highlights some of the lesser-known benefits that working in manufacturing can provide, including competitive salaries and the possibility of sponsorships for continuous learning and development. “There is also the possibility of shift work grants, as well as added flexibility in an individual’s private life when compared to nine-to-five office jobs,” he details. “Manufacturing operations offer exposure to all areas of a business, such as logistics, purchasing, HR, finance, production, engineering, R&D, testing, quality assurance, and sales and marketing. It is at the forefront of technological developments and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of R&D, innovation and engineering. And in this small local market, manufacturing operations are largely focused on export, meaning manufacturing companies also offer many opportunities to travel for market research and business development purposes.”

“Corporations are investing millions in modern factories in which the latest technologies are being introduced,” Mr Wait adds. “With this ‘revolution’, the opportunities being offered by manufacturing entities are increasing and today include vacancies for engineers, finance specialists, designers, marketing professionals, scientists, technicians and much more. In fact, the factory of the future will employ more professionals and fewer operators. The perception is changing and will continue to change. All those involved in the manufacturing industry need to understand that they are competing in a very tough employees’ market and therefore need to ensure that they give the best possible conditions to those they wish to hire. Also, they need to ensure that they keep the message live and loud in the marketplace that manufacturing offers long-term, wellpaying jobs.” “Manufacturing offers the opportunity to move within the same organisation whilst learning and growing, both in terms of knowledge, but also in terms of income. The most important skill that is required is the ability to adapt to change and to be willing to open oneself to continuous learning and embracing new challenges with passion. If one wants a rewarding, long-term career, then manufacturing is surely an industry one needs to explore and understand better. The opportunities are varied and endless,” he concludes. cc FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019



â‚Ź815.7 million

The gross value added (GVA) manufacturing provided to Malta.

2,167 24,098

The number of nonMaltese EU nationals that work in manufacturing, quarrying and utilities.

The number of people employed in manufacturing in Malta.



The percentage of GVA provided by manufacturing in Malta.

17,493 â‚Ź30.2

The number of men who work in manufacturing, both full-time and part-time.



The number of people who work in food manufacturing, the manufacturing sector in Malta which employs the largest proportion of people.

The social contributions paid by employers in manufacturing.


The number of thirdcountry nationals that work in manufacturing, quarrying and utilities.


The number of women who work in manufacturing, both full-time and part-time.

The number of registered manufacturing units in Malta.


Sources: NSO, Jobsplus

Source: Malta International Airport FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


Source: Gozo In Figures, National Statistics Office, Malta

The number of people who work in the manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products in Malta, the smallest of the local manufacturing sectors.


Firstbridge: Bridging goals and financial requirements From simple back office assistance and payroll services to far more complex and far-reaching corporate support, Firstbridge has secured its position as a leader in its sector. Here Jo Caruana meets the company’s Head of Accountancy, Adrian Sciberras, to discover exactly what it is that makes this firm stand out so proudly.


etting the right financial advice can literally be the make or break for businesses with a need to know. Whether you are setting up a start-up or planning to expand your operations, helpful and unbiased solutions will give you the confidence to take those steps, and make a success of them. And integrity matters more than anything. Firstbridge is a company that specialises in this valuable type of financial corporate support. Originally established in 2005, the company has since grown to comprise a versatile team of experts that provide a range of financial services to an array of businesses and organisations. “For us it’s all about helping people to bridge the gap between their financial requirements and their goals,” explains Adrian Sciberras, the company’s Head of Accountancy. “Whether they are operating as individuals, as a startup, or even if they are more established, our in-house experts – all of whom come from different areas of financial management – will study their case from a holistic perspective so as to offer a tailor-made solution to suit their specific needs. We can help regardless of the scale of their business or the nature of their commercial activity.” Mr Sciberras explains that it is this focus on individuality that really sets Firstbridge apart in the competitive financial landscape. “We have the expertise to analyse each case from various financial perspectives, and then offer a highly personalised service that adapts to our client’s set-up at a pace that is most effective. We then work through all the technical


formalities so as to allow them to focus on their other business priorities.” The company also has years of experience in managing business activity across a wide range of industries, and can assist with a complete range of professional services. “Our services span accountancy, payroll and backoffice support, as well as the more complex services of incorporation, financial advisory, taxation support, administration, VAT and corporate services,” Mr Sciberras continues. “No two projects are alike. Our client needs are unique to the situation in which they operate. Nonetheless, all our services are based on strong corporate values and a conscience that drives our business conduct, irrespective of the nature of the job.” Stressing this point, he explains that the firm is still administered by the very people who built it from the ground up, so sound values remain the key building blocks for its success. “Working through these values has achieved results, not just for us but also for our clients and the industries within which they operate. And that is important to us,” he says. Asked specifically about what Firstbridge does to set itself apart, Mr Sciberras talks through the company’s dedication to cultivating business success among local and foreign entities that are undergoing commercial activity – regardless of their size and the sector they are in. “I would say that technical competence is really the hallmark of our profession,” he continues. “Our team is made up of qualified experts who continuously undergo professional training in the various aspects of their job. In light of the ever-changing regulatory and legislative environment in which we operate, this is of paramount importance in order for us to offer the best technical advice for our clients’ business decisions. “We conduct our business with ultimate corporate governance, displaying professionalism in all that we do. We have a strong network and enjoy a highlyesteemed reputation that has been built upon years of positive results through ethical professionalism. We are not the sort of company to compromise on quality; we give our clients the peace of mind that, with us on board, they are sure to conduct their business ethically and with integrity.” FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

“We give our clients the peace of mind that, with us on board, they are sure to conduct their business ethically and with integrity.” FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

Photos by Alan Carville

CC CASE STUDY On top of all that, Mr Sciberras also stresses the importance of confidentiality within Firstbridge, especially given how much trust their clients place in them. “Any information provided to us is respected with utmost discretion and will only be used to help us to draw up a full picture of any one project, which in turn will enable us to provide our clients with the best service that they rightfully deserve. “We pride ourselves on being entirely approachable and adaptable to any given set-up. Our team’s flexibility enables us to jump on board with our clients’ projects quickly, so that we can identify their personal requirements and provide the best solutions for their business – whatever those solutions might be.” Modern techniques and the use of the latest technology are also at the heart of the Firstbridge offering. While traditional accountants have had to spend more time on communication (collecting data from clients, collating and certifying, as opposed to giving back more meaningful advice), modern tech is providing a new route. “Now we are aiming to shift that, with less time spent on collecting, certifying and collating data, thus allowing the team to spend more time on giving advice and being more proactive – but while still keeping the same, high quality,” Mr Sciberras says. And this is certainly an approach that has been reflected in Firstbridge’s achievements. 2018 was a fantastic year for the company, and the team was able to guide a number of its clients from losses in 2017 to profits in 2018. “We are also pleased to be associated with a number of new organisations that have scaled up much faster than they would have under other circumstances. I believe it is our collaborative approach that allows our clients to better understand their own number figure performance, and that gives them the vision and tools to run a more successful business. These success stories are exactly what we are all about and what we take pride in being a part of.” Looking ahead, 2019 shows no signs of slowing down and is set to be an even bigger year for Firstbridge, in which the company will continue to build on its success so far, while taking its investment in digital tools to a new level that will further allow its clients to better understand their financial situation. “This, in turn, will allow us to red flag and pinpoint matters earlier than we have done in the past, and simultaneously anticipate room for improvement, and for the growth of our clients. “Beyond that, we will be spearheading a number of social initiatives that will allow our team – both individually and as a whole – to give back to the community. Altogether, we believe this will be a strategy that will enable us to reach out to more people than ever, and to provide a full suite of professional services to match the needs and wants of the business community – and Malta – at large.” cc 87


Sparkasse opens Dublin branch after being granted Ireland licence Sparkasse Bank Malta plc has recently been granted a licence to provide depository services to funds established in Ireland and has opened a branch in Dublin, with the aim of tapping into the jurisdiction’s substantial fund sector, which is one of the world’s best-performing.

Managing Director Paul Mifsud explains that the bank’s licence will enable it to prioritise “actively seeking new business from Ireland, which boasts a fund sector north of €3 trillion, compared to Malta’s €9 billion.” Ireland’s competitive market is characterised by the strong presence of behemoths in the industry, with more likely to base themselves in the Irish capital once Britain leaves the European Union. “The establishment of our branch in Dublin is a positive addition to our product offering, for our customers and for staff in general,” Mr Mifsud continues. “We believe new opportunities will arise as the branch gathers repute and business in Ireland. Moreover, the new branch, which will be centrally located, shall feature as a direct business line within the bank’s organisational structure and will be considered as a direct profit centre.” The decision to open depository functions in Ireland was taken in 2017, according to the Managing Director, in order “to explore


the possibility of emulating the bank’s local model in other jurisdictions which lend themselves to international business and the fund sector.” “Ireland was a natural choice for the bank due to its membership of the EU and its English-speaking environment. The bank had already established relationships and contacts with several service providers in Ireland which made the move and the decision all the more feasible,” Mr Mifsud explains. Acquiring a licence in Ireland did not come without its challenges. Mr Mifsud notes the strict policies and processes the bank had to adhere to, the rigorous criteria it needed to meet, as well as internal governance matters which had to be addressed to secure and embed the branch well into the bank’s governance. “Fortunately, Sparkasse was able to rely on a great team of experts assisting it, as well as the regulators, both local and in Ireland, who were extremely responsive,” Mr Mifsud says. Moving forward, the team in Ireland – entrusted with the management of relationships, depository functions and the outlet – includes professionals with years of experience. Donncha Morrissey, who joined in August from CITI Bank, will be the Head of Branch, while Eileen McCarroll has joined as Head of Depository from financial services technology solutions provider SS&C. Recruitment for other roles and responsibilities is still ongoing, with the plan to offer new work opportunities in Dublin to staff currently working locally. “This will be conducive to knowledge-sharing, culturespreading and staff retention within the firm,” Mr Mifsud emphasises. This expansion in operations comes off the back of “the strongest year on record both in terms of revenues and profitability” for Sparkasse Bank Malta, the Managing Director asserts. He credits the development of “a business model focusing on customer service and seamless connectivity between banking, investment and custody services” for some of the bank’s increase in revenue, as well as its having “built on its strengths” throughout the financial year. “As a result, today, Sparkasse Bank is the second-largest noncore domestic bank on the island. The bank has built its business

in Malta organically since its establishment in 2000 and is a significant player in the custody and depository space. We have achieved all this by being clear in our vision and focused on our core services,” he states. This was no small feat, according to the Managing Director, due to the increasing challenges faced by the banking sector. “Ever since the financial crisis, the banking environment has been, and will remain, a very challenging one within which to operate.” In his view, this is due to international regulatory changes, such as the implementation of the new MiFID II legislative framework; the PSD2 Directive, which regulates payment services and payment service providers throughout the European Union, resulting in infrastructural IT challenges; and GDPR, which has forced firms to rethink the way they collect and use data. “All these – and many more – were introduced within the same year and FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


required a high level of resources to fulfil,” Mr Mifsud asserts. Other issues continue to affect the bank, including the “heightened requirement in governance standards and additional regulatory reporting” as well as “the prolonged period of negative interest rates in the euro zone” which, in his opinion, “will drive banks to re-think their revenue model.” However, while these challenges will “continue to prevail in the foreseeable future,” forcing a review of “risk appetites and the alignment of customer data bases and service offerings,” Mr Mifsud is optimistic. He emphasises that 2018’s confident results were “a trend we wish to sustain in the coming years as we continue to focus on our core model and competences” and he underlines the potential for further sustainable growth. Indeed, the bank’s priorities in 2019 reflect this, and have been put into place FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

This expansion in operations comes off the back of “the strongest year on record both in terms of revenues and profitability” for Sparkasse Bank Malta.

in order to “strengthen the business in Malta by continuing to support the fund industry and corporate service providers locally,” Mr Mifsud explains. He underlines the bank’s commitment to investing in human resources, IT infrastructure and new technologies to ensure that it is able to carry out its functions efficiently. “The bank’s priority, in this respect, is to make sure that it has robust and sufficient resources at all times to support its business and regulatory obligations,” he stresses. With Brexit on the horizon, Mr Mifsud emphasises that while the UK’s departure from the bloc might have an impact on asset managers seeking passporting rights into

Britain, and British professionals who provide services to local structures, the bank “is well-placed” for it and, indeed sees potential advantages for the new branch in Ireland. “Sparkasse’s counterparts are mainly situated within continental Europe, and the bank will now also be focusing on broadening relationships in Ireland,” he specifies. Concluding, Mr Mifsud ties the strength of the bank’s future success to Malta’s healthy economy, expressing his faith in Malta’s ability to maintain buoyancy in the markets. “A strong economy must be realised in a prolonged and sustainable manner. The country has to preserve its business appeal from a cost-value perspective and kudos.” cc 89


Arete: End-to-end laboratory support From the provision of the smallest test tube to the creation of fully-equipped laboratories, Arete Solutions can provide it all – even working hand-in-hand with their sister organisation Specto to correctly dispose of laboratory waste. Company Director Francis Micallef tells Jo Caruana how it’s done.


ome companies offer their clients one, very specific, service within their chain of requirements. Perhaps supplying a piece of equipment, or helping them with sales and marketing. Not Arete though. On the contrary, Arete was designed specifically to take its clients from start to finish – by offering a solution that guides them through every step of the laboratory design and implementation process, and even going that one step further to assist them in dealing with the difficult task of disposing of their chemicals and waste when they are done with them.

Arete Founder and Managing Director Francis Micallef created the company with that very need in mind. He set it up in 2011, when he already had over 16 years’ background in the sector. Today, the company is run by a dedicated team of six professionals with over 60 years’ of industry and management experience between them, and it has offices in Balzan and a warehouse in the Mriehel Industrial Zone. “We supply everything a laboratory could ever need,” Mr Micallef explains. “With the exception of a small number of very highlevel items that require 24-hour back-up, we can provide everything from the smallest test tube to full laboratory solutions. This includes glassware, consumables, microbiology supplies, analytical chemicals, personal protective equipment, media and cultures, disposables – practically anything that a lab could need.” Mr Micallef says that the company works across a number of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, life sciences, clinical, food and beverage, and education. “Pharma is, of course, a huge sector for us,” he continues. “And the growth of that industry on the island meant huge change for the laboratory supplies sector here in the last 15 years. Along with labs involved in research and development, it created a demand for speed, documentation and quality from us as services providers, and we have stepped up by streamlining ourselves and meeting those needs.” Originally named after the Greek word for ‘the pursuit of excellence’, Mr Micallef explains that Arete was also built on the idea of continuous improvement. “I am driven by turning problems into opportunities,” he says. “We do not stop at commercial action.

We believe in providing a value-added service that even starts with our quick response time on quotations: in 92 per cent of cases we are able to provide the client with an offer within 48 hours.” “We have also developed software to give our major clients regular updates on the status of their order. It was a huge investment but it enables us to inform them about where their order is on a regular basis. This, in turn, enables them to schedule their analysis, which is so important for them as they cannot afford to have idle resources.”

“We believe in providing a value-added service that even starts with our quick response time on quotations.” 90



Photos by Alan Carville

Meanwhile, in parallel with all that, Arete provides a series of services that are closely linked to these activities. Its sister company, Specto Ltd, provides consultancy and technical advice in a range of support areas, including occupational health and safety, the handling of chemicals, dangerous goods safety advice, and waste and environmental issues. “Specto also provides clients with the ethical waste disposal of pharmaceutical, laboratory and other hazardous waste via a permit we have with the Environment and Resources Authority,” Mr Micallef says. “Through it, wastes are packaged, exported and eventually disposed of in authorised facilities in the EU. As a result, we can literally offer a complete FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

service in chemicals from supply to disposal – it’s a unique service in Malta, and all available under one roof.” And there have been numerous clients that have taken Arete up on the offer to guide them from start to finish. “We assist them every step of the way, from choosing the right chemical and then safely transporting it here to Malta, to its safe storage in their lab, its proper use with all the due respect to its hazardous nature and, finally, its safe disposal,” says Emma Micallef, Arete’s Marketing Manager. “We believe in building up our clients’ competences, to enable them to gain the knowledge they need to develop and grow.” And now, Arete will be taking another

unique step, with a move into the educational arena. “Education is a natural focus of our line of work and we are working on something very special to bring to the market in the months to come,” Mr Micallef continues. “In the meantime, we’re 100 per cent focused on maintaining and further securing our strong reputation in the sector, and to ensuring our clients receive the elevated service that they have come to expect from us. We anticipate big changes in the laboratory sector in the years to come, and believe we are ready to not only raise the bar but to set the standard for this fascinating and dynamic sector.” cc 91


Empowering employees to affect positive change Employees’ mental health is crucial to ensuring sustainable success for any organisation, according to Sharon Cusens, founder of Spring Coaching. Here, she talks to Rebecca Anastasi about investing in lifeskills and her programmes’ bottom-up approach to driving productivity.


ccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people across the world suffer from depression, many of whom are crippled by anxiety and related illnesses. Indeed, a recent study led by the agency estimated that this costs the global economy a trillion US dollars a year and urged businesses to look beyond the bottom line and recognise the adverse effects fostered by a working environment which does not prioritise the psychological well-being of its employees. To this end, the study encouraged the implementation of actions which promote mental health in the workplace and, thus, improve productivity. “Mental health is the silent destroyer in the workforce,” states Sharon Cusens, a change management consultant, and the Director of Spring Productions International, an enterprise operating Spring Coaching, “an academy for inner excellence”, which provides programmes giving employees a crash course in selfmanagement skills through “an innovative emotional navigational system”. According to the founder, “the emotional and mental wellbeing of employees must become a priority for all businesses” since, if staff feels happy and empowered, productivity and satisfaction will increase. “It’s a win-win situation,” she underlines, going on to emphasise the importance of a “bottom-up” approach in ensuring corporate success across the board. She describes psychological balance as key to mitigating against the risks of “reduced productivity, insurance costs and increased absences” since “mental disorders are the top reason for not going to work.” By identifying


the problem, she explains, whether this is “stress at the workplace, lack of sleep, or something more personal”, and by addressing the resultant issues, the individual is better able to handle “daily challenges more creatively and efficiently, as well as shape the future courageously.” Indeed, the programmes offered by Spring Coaching aim to tackle these issues, Ms Cusens asserts. “I am a psychology graduate and I wanted to simplify what I had learnt and pass it on to others so that they can, effectively, be their own coach and transform their personal and professional lives positively. So, our programmes coach self-management skills, empowerment and mental resilience, and we also encourage people to become the change if they cannot alter the situation. This is particularly the case in life-challenging circumstances, when you simply need to learn how to cope so as not to be engulfed by anxiety and trauma,” she specifies. Launched four years’ ago, initially as a five-day retreat mainly catering to the German market, the EU-funded Spring Coaching has since grown, and is now being introduced locally, intending to aid organisations fulfil their Corporate Social Responsibility targets. Such duty-of-care is recognised as a priority in the local economy and is being actively encouraged by means of tax rebates with the precise figure dependant on the number of employees on the firm’s payroll. The academy’s three coaching programmes, led by the founder as well as “an educational psychologist and several life coaches”, add up to 15 hours of coaching. The first, referred to as Positive Change, pushes attendees to open

their eyes to “their emotional mechanism”, enabling them to master life challenges and to “let a new inner strength grow”, encouraging a life which is “stable, powerful and relaxed again”, Ms Cusens explains. Following these sessions, participants will be aware of how to bring positive change in their lives, effectively becoming their own coach, Ms Cusens continues. The other two programmes follow the same pattern: New Momentum outlines the importance of “practising a new mental fitness”, encouraging participants to “elevate themselves to inner strength, develop their passion for work and their personal life substantially”, while Inner Excellence reiterates the importance of “maximising your full potential” by helping “to restore your inner compass, to renew your inner excellence, mental strength and authentic personality in a short time.” These can all be done through individual sessions or in a group, Ms Cusens continues, but they all have the same common goal: to affect positive change within the individual and, by FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


“Our programmes coach self-management skills, empowerment and mental resilience, and we encourage people to become the change if they cannot alter the situation.” Photos by Alan Carville

extension, to companies themselves. Central to all three programmes is the approach, which Ms Cusens describes as a “humane and humorous type of coaching”, utilising tools such as film clips, games and the book, A Universal Language: The Language of the Soul, to aid “in igniting self-empowerment and reaching higher levels of awareness,” she says. “The book is essentially a proof of the workshops we give. It consists of a healing story inspired by my work with people I have coached. This allows anyone from 7 to 99 to manifest their thoughts and feelings, and tune into this winning mind-set,” Ms Cusens continues. The book was created in collaboration with children dealing with divorce, she explains, but emphasises that it allows young and old alike to confront the difficulties life may throw at them, saying that “it’s very safe and it also brings a smile to your face.” The intention is to develop this into a series, with nine other stories in the pipeline, but all of which will target a healing and selfempowerment process, according to the FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

Spring Coaching Founder. “We want to encourage participants to move forward and our methodology is in line with that. We refer to it as our ‘onion in the kitchen’ and, just as an onion can be fried, baked, steamed or even eaten raw, elevating different dishes, our approaches can be adapted to different perspectives and needs, talking to people coming from different starting points in their lives,” Ms Cusens explains. Moreover, the programmes can be tailor-made, and Ms Cusens strives to bring her professional skills as a former strategic planner – a role in which she oversaw the operations of a 55-strong orthopaedic centre in Germany – to bear on ensuring quality. “And, if an individual actually needs more intense work, then we refer them to a psychotherapist, so we strive to offer a holistic service,” she underlines. Indeed, the emphasis, throughout, is on building sustainable mental stability, coaching how to cope with change and adaptability, by using an innovative approach which “combines modern psychology,

traditional life philosophy and new ways inspired by the healing arts.” It also aims to efficiently target modern ailments, such as stress, trauma and burnout, thus “reigniting the spark needed to achieve your full potential,” Ms Cusens says. The Founder’s personal experience also enables her to prioritise the human element in all interactions and within the workshops, she continues. “I started this since I was going through a life-challenging situation myself and I decided to change myself in order to meet the demands of what circumstance had thrown at me. A lot of people were inspired, and I decided to put what I had learnt into a professional package.” Finally, she also emphasises the importance of motivation on behalf of all participants. “What doesn’t grow, dies! We’re looking for people who are driven to empower themselves. There has to be intrinsic motivation. Otherwise, it just won’t work. We plant the seed within participants but then it’s up to each individual to water it and make it grow,” she smiles. cc 93


Going up? Celebrating the heritage and beauty behind the staircases of Malta Staircases can be so much more than a means of going up or down, as is evidenced within the recently released Staircases of Malta – a joint project by architect and architectural historian Prof. Conrad Thake and talented photographer Dr Charles Paul Azzopardi. Sarah Micallef speaks to the brains behind the publication, which is already being considered a collector’s item.




Photos by Charles Paul Azzopardi


rof. Thake and I have a welloiled symbiosis by now,” says Dr Charles Paul Azzopardi when asked about how the concept behind Staircases of Malta came about, referring to their initial publication, the sold-out Portals of Valletta. “After having documented the doors of Valletta, we decided to tackle staircases in all their forms and shapes for this new publication,” he maintains. And so it came to be: Staircases of Malta celebrates the rich diversity of stairs and staircases in Malta through a series of striking images and expert commentary FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

spanning the arc of time from the Megalithic temples to the Baroque staircases of the palaces of the Order of St John, as well as staircases in British colonial-period buildings all the way to contemporary, modern staircases. Naturally, this begs the question, why staircases? “Staircases have a particular

mantra in the photographic scene, as they provide innate opportunities to shoot patterns, whorls and spirals which are aesthetically pleasing,” Dr Azzopardi maintains, adding that since he chooses to work almost exclusively in black and white, patterns and textures are “the sine qua non of a captivating image for the viewer.”

“Staircases have a particular mantra in the photographic scene, as they provide innate opportunities to shoot patterns, whorls and spirals which are aesthetically pleasing.” - Dr Charles Paul Azzopardi 95


“We tried to capture the ethos and spirit of the staircase within the Maltese context.” - Prof. Conrad Thake

For him, this makes the choice of staircases a natural consequence of seeking to document a disappearing or oft-overlooked architectural feature which is frequently taken for granted as simply a vehicle for moving in a three-dimensional space. Staircases also can tell us a lot about the local architectural scene. Citing the fact that staircases have featured since antiquity, Prof. Conrad Thake points to two aspects that are particularly fascinating. “The first is the fact that our forefathers demonstrated so much ingenuity in constructing so many different forms of stairs, but all basically constructed in local globigerina limestone, that is until more recent times when other modern materials – particularly steel and glass – started to feature in the design and construction of staircases,” he explains. He goes on to note the vastness of the spectrum of different types of staircases, from the simple cantilevered steps along the external wall of a traditional Maltese farmhouse to the domestic staircases design bir-raġġ and the spiral garigor stairs leading to the roof, among others. The other aspect he mentions is a social and symbolic one, that is, how perceptions towards the staircase have changed over time. “During the early days of the Order of St John, staircases in public buildings like auberges were modest and placed discreetly out of immediate sight, however during the 18th century, staircases became central FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

features in local architecture, monumental and scenographic in their appearance as, for example, the grand staircase of the Auberge de Castille, that of the Bibliotheca and the most theatrical of them all, that of the palazzo that used to house the former Museum of Fine Arts,” he asserts. Staircases are not just utilitarian architectural elements, Prof. Thake goes on to explain, but rather also embody symbolic and aspirational aspects which reflect the time in which they were conceived. “In the volume Staircases of Malta, we tried to capture that ethos and spirit of the staircase within the Maltese context,” he says. From a photographic point of view, I ask Dr Azzopardi what it is about staircases that is most exciting, to which he likens the experience of photographing them to a journey. “Staircases are imbued with an inherent ability to enthral, being object vessels commensurate with a journey, with a beginning and an end; in the same way, photographing such a project is a journey in itself, both artistically and personally,” he explains. We go on to discuss the process of putting Staircases of Malta together – a task, I gather, which is no mean feat. “The process starts with a master list of all sites to be featured, arranging consent for the sites to be photographed, and then the staircases being methodically photographed and documented, taking into consideration the directionality

“Staircases are imbued with an inherent ability to enthral, being object vessels commensurate with a journey… in the same way, photographing such a project is a journey in itself.” - Dr Charles Paul Azzopardi 97


and quality of light falling upon them,” the photographer maintains. The end result, Dr Azzopardi reveals, was about 500 images which were meticulously narrowed down to 185 images that eventually graced the pages of the final publication. And with such an array of staircases spanning such a vast period of time featured within the book, there are bound to be a few that stood out on a personal level. For Dr Azzopardi, it’s that of the ex-Fine Arts Museum building in Valletta – a striking choice that comes as no surprise. Meanwhile, Prof. Thake asserts that the staircases featured within the book are all noteworthy in terms of both their visual and aesthetic qualities, but also for the manner in which they were built. “The helicoidal spiral staircase at Verdala Palace, designed and constructed by Girolamo Cassar, is not only a visual delight to behold, but a marvellous work of construction in masonry

and stereotomy. As fascinating are the grand monumental Baroque-era staircases designed by local architect Andrea Belli, imposing, theatrical and scenographic in their form,” he expounds, identifying Belli as the consummate master of the grand Baroque staircase locally, having designed that of the Auberge de Castille, that of the former Museum of Fine Arts and that within the Augustinian Priory in Rabat. “I also have a personal preference for the way Emanuele Luigi Galizia designed the open masonry staircase leading to the summit of the Addolorata Cemetery,” he continues, calling it “a veritable tourde-force.” Finally, he lists a number of open spaces or streets in Valletta that are “basically staircases”, including St Lucia Street and the fan-shaped public stairs in East Street, stating that “even in our contemporary times, the staircase continues to be an element worthy of innovation and

“The helicoidal spiral staircase at Verdala Palace, designed and constructed by Girolamo Cassar, is not only a visual delight to behold, but a marvellous work of construction in masonry and stereotomy.” - Prof. Conrad Thake


creativity in the composition of exciting and dynamic spaces.” And as the publication nears two months since its release, it looks set to go down the same path of the pair’s previous book, Portals of Valletta, which sold out within two months of release. Asked what he feels it is about the collection which prompts such a reaction from the general public, Dr Azzopardi believes it is down to “the particular feeling evoked by black and white photography of architecture, which is disappearing at an alarming and seemingly unstoppable rate.” And with Staircases of Malta well on its way to becoming the definitive tome documenting staircases in Maltese architecture, what’s next for the dynamic team that is Prof. Conrad Thake and Dr Charles Paul Azzopardi? “Further projects related to architecture and documenting this precious heritage are in the pipeline,” Dr Azzopardi assures me, “with at least two publications planned for this year and another two slotted in for next year.” We can’t wait to see what the historian and photographer duo tackle next. cc



A grand café with a contemporary feel Martina Said meets Architect Stephanie Cassar, the designer behind the new Busy Bee café in Mriehel, to find out what inspired the design of the space, what went into its execution, and how it gave the much-loved local brand a new lease of life.


rom the moment the new Busy Bee café in Mriehel opened its doors last November, it was a runaway success. The new establishment attracted customers from all over the island, who flocked to the industrial town to sample the delicious fare the brand is so renowned for. But customers weren’t just blown away by the confectioneries – the design of the café, the style of which is completely different to the beloved original Msida café, is integral to the experience, and brings something to Mriehel which wasn’t there before. I meet Architect Stephanie Cassar, the 100

architectural designer behind the design of the elegant space, who says that from the outset, the café was a fundamental part of the Busy Bee factory premises. “The company wanted to complement the production side of its business, which has now relocated entirely from Msida to Mriehel, with premises which would serve as a link with clients and customers, while also tapping into the lack of similar catering establishments in the area.” The café needed to tick many boxes – it had to be suitable for drop-ins looking to sit at a table as well as for customers picking

up catering orders, and it also needed to represent Busy Bee, which has been in business for over 80 years. “Busy Bee has developed over many years, and this project needed to represent where Busy Bee is now and how it’s grown. The design of the café includes references to the brand’s roots, but also gives it a completely new lease of life.” The new café boasts a contemporary design with classical references, inspired by the grand European cafés seen in Paris, Milan and London. “The fact that the building has a high ceiling, there’s a good volume of space and it’s well-lit with natural light, aided FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019


Photos by Alan Carville

this vision, but we also had to balance that out from a design perspective with the fact that it’s located in Mriehel, on the outskirts of an industrial estate, not in a grand city such as Valletta,” says Stephanie. “Additionally, besides being aesthetically pleasing, the space had to be functional and practical, particularly the bar area. There was a lot of professional input from the client’s end for the layout of the bar, but the end result was very faithful to the initial aesthetic of the visuals we had prepared for this project.” In keeping with the café’s location, Stephanie says attention was paid to coming up with a design concept which upgraded the brand’s image, but which wasn’t too refined. “We opted for exposed services on the ceiling, for instance, which gave the space an unrefined look and feel, but it worked really well with the luxurious materials chosen, such as the marble floor and columns, and actually made them stand out even more,” she asserts. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

“The design of the café includes references to the brand’s roots, but also gives it a completely new lease of life.”



“The same can be said for the tables at the café, all of which are authentic, artisanal bistro tables sourced from France, made by a manufacturer that supplies Parisian brasseries and bistros. They’re the kind of tables you’d see French boulevards and streets lined with, and again strike the right balance between appearing refined yet subtle.” The colour scheme was inspired by the company’s own branding, with a few added twists. The predominantly neutral palette can be seen through the colour chosen for the marble floor tiles as well as all the joinery, custom-made in an open-veined stained oak. “We also added touches of brass to the space, through the tables, the display furniture, the sink in the restroom, as well as the in-laid brass details in the counters – brass details were a key element to achieving the look and feel of a grand European café.” A prominent colour used throughout is grey, which Stephanie says was a key choice for bringing everything together. “The aim was to ground everything with a darker, more subtle colour, so although we opted for brass details, white Calcutta marble on the columns and orange for the upholstery, everything is balanced out by grey,” she explains. “Interestingly, our initial idea for the floor was to have a wood herringbone floor, but this is where communication with the FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

client comes in. We reviewed the practicality of it and also the feel we wanted to get from the design, and it wasn’t the right fit. We then opted for dark marble with a brushed rather than polished finish, which is more practical for daily use and easier to maintain, but also has a more elevated feel to it.” Other colours used, for instance for the upholstered bench adjacent to the restroom, were chosen to complement the neutral palette, as well as the marble, brass and orange upholstery on the stools. “Other features which can’t go unmentioned are the light fittings, which were sourced specifically for this project – particularly the chandeliers, which are probably my favourite detail in the space.” The eye-catching chandeliers, which feature a metal tubular structure for the frame fitted with glass blocks, were designed by Spanish industrial design pioneer Miguel Milá, who originally conceived the idea for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic stadium. The predecessors of this concept are the traditional ironwork luminaries used to hold up candles, typically seen in medieval palaces and cathedrals. “The chandeliers, although quite grand with their sturdy metal structure and glass blocks, also have an industrial and unrefined edge to them, which fit in perfectly with the space,” says Stephanie.

“All the tables are authentic artisanal bistro tables sourced from France, made by a manufacturer that supplies Parisian brasseries and bistros.”



“One of the greatest challenges of this project was time, but with everyone’s commitment, we made it just in time.” “We also installed a number of bespoke mirrors with a smoky effect throughout the café, which create reflections, making it more dynamic, as someone sitting in the corner of the café can observe what’s going on at the bar, while simultaneously adding to the feeling of a large space. The hexagonal wall mirrors also somewhat mimic the Busy Bee logo – the honeycomb shape – without being too literal.” Cleverly woven into the design of the café is the display area, located at the furthest wall opposite the main entrance, which features Busy Bee’s own products interlaced with beautiful objets d’art in a laid-back set-up. “We didn’t want the display to appear commercial, the kind you’d find in a supermarket, but rather, it had to appear homely, where beautiful pieces sit alongside the brand’s very own items. We added frames with old photographs relating to Busy Bee’s history to the display, a sort of trip down memory lane, thereby also creating a link to the past, which is where it all started. The café is not a new start, it’s a continuation.” Work on the design concept of the café began at the end of 2017, while works on site began in June 2018 and were completed by the following November, right before the rush of the festive season. Stephanie says that, although finishing touches were being made until opening day, the successful completion of the project would not have been possible without the can-do attitude of the entire team involved. “It’s one thing having a good design, but it’s another getting it done, and that takes a good team of people, as well as the client who trusts in you and the contractors to pull one rope,” she explains. “In fact, one of the greatest challenges of this project was time, but with everyone’s commitment, we made it just in time.”


Another challenge Stephanie highlights was that of ensuring that the space, which on plan appeared as one long area, didn’t end up looking like a never-ending corridor. “After the configuration of the bar area was established, we turned to the central area, which we treated differently to the rest of the space,” she explains. “The idea was to break up the length with planters and high tables, so that upon entering, it doesn’t all look the same. There’s also a mix of round and square tables – the section adjacent to the restrooms features a bench and square tables which can easily be joined together to

accommodate large groups. This is another instance of reality, rather than design, dictating how best to use the space.” In keeping with the client’s wishes to make the bar area stand out, Stephanie decided to extend the soffit over the bar only, leaving the rest of the ceiling with exposed services, in order to frame the bar, and give it the importance it deserves. Moreover, the marble-clad pillars along the bar feature cornices, whereas those in the seating area don’t, adding further detail to this section of the space. “A lot of attention to detail was given to the bar area, including, for instance, the wallpaper along the counter behind the bar. Wallpaper in that area is prone to splashes, but in order to accommodate the design concept of having wallpaper there, we covered it with glass to prevent it from soiling – making it aesthetically pleasing but also practical.” Despite the challenges, Stephanie asserts that the project brought with it many rewards, the greatest one being that she had the client’s trust from the get-go, which led to a smooth and faithful interpretation of the original visuals she had created for the café. “Additionally, seeing the café come to life from those original visuals, filled with people from all over the island, is incredible. There was no doubt that it would be a success, with such a well-established company behind it, but perhaps none of us had foreseen just how successful it would be.” cc FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

Office Trends

As office design moves towards an increasingly eco-friendly and flexible approach, Martina Said explores the trends that are expected to be top of the class in 2019. 01. Concentration spaces As office layouts continue to veer towards open-plan, there’s been a surge in demand for quiet spaces often referred to as concentration spaces, devoid of noise and distraction. Besides small pods or private rooms for taking phone calls or working in peace, concentration spaces include library-style areas which demand a slower pace of work with minimal distraction.

02. Colour Neutral colours will be taking a backseat in office design for now, as colour is used more freely to reflect the personality of a company or brand. From furniture to wallpaper to wall paint, strong and bright colours are being used to make a space pop to great effect.

03. Technology Technology is evolving at a much faster rate than we can keep up with, but the way we work must do so too, particularly to accommodate the new wave of young recruits entering the labour market who expect certain technological standards at the office. It also makes a workspace far less cluttered and far more efficient.



04. Flexible furniture The idea behind a flexible office space, and therefore lightweight and flexible furniture, is that the items and objects that employees use from day to day can move around with them. And the premise behind this is to get employees to move around, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and all the health issues that come with it.

05. More natural light Eco-conscious design has been at the centre of modern office planning for some time, but there’s an increased yearning for natural light, which not only reduces energy consumption in an office, but also has a wealth of health benefits, not least a drop in stress levels. It also complements the use of greenery in office spaces which has spiked in popularity in recent years.


Matthew Millman via The Architects Newspaper

06. Third spaces The third space is that area in the office which is not a work area but not entirely recreational either – but can be both and neither at the same time. It’s aimed at making more efficient use of space while giving employees the flexibility to use it for whatever they please – be it a video conference, a coffee break in between meetings, or an informal chat with a member of the team. cc


Merit Interiors








CC make the headlines

Award-winning HSBCnet internet banking for businesses revamped HSBC Malta has over the past few months been rolling out a better user experience through its award-winning internet banking for business customers, HSBCnet. The focus will be to introduce a customer friendly interface and functions that are designed to offer efficiency, convenience and control. HSBCnet helps businesses stay in control of their everyday banking needs such as payment of bills and salaries, transferring funds and viewing account balances at any time and from anywhere around the globe. The intuitive design means that customers can access all their accounts in one place, including both HSBC and non-HSBC accounts in Malta or overseas, and manage balances and transactions 24 hours a day. Other notable options include the ability to set up

The complete ERP solution for a multi-brand distribution business Direct Store Delivery (DSD) refers to an essential distribution method that includes route and truck load planning, route sales and delivery, merchandising, mobile intelligence, inventory control and route accounting. DSD is essential for companies that distribute Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) to other businesses.


euro and foreign-currency payments, and manage trade activity. “HSBC is continually investing in technology and by adding new capabilities such as the new user interface to HSBCnet, we are counting on increasing convenience for our customers and helping them move to new cashless payment methods,” explains Steve Zarb, Head of Global Liquidity and Cash Management in Malta. HSBCnet is designed to grow with the needs of businesses by providing important features such as viewing recent transactions, making domestic payments or completing more complex transactions from global accounts using real-time foreign exchange (FX) rates – all from one, secure platform. Further to account management, HSBCnet provides a number of data and reporting tools. Users are able to generate and view financial reports online or import files to their in-house systems for reconciliation. HSBCnet Get Rate allows users to view and instantly book foreign exchange rates for priority payments and inter-account transfers. The entire range of functions on the HSBCnet website is similarly available on the HSBCnet Mobile app which also features the latest in mobile innovations such as TouchID and FaceID. “Being part of the HSBC Group, HSBC Bank Malta can offer its commercial

The key to growth and sustainability for distributors is to provide better customer satisfaction through speedy and effective route management, without increasing costs. They need to optimise resources, improve their invoice-to-cash cycle, and at the same time reduce operating costs per route. The optimal Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can help companies reduce errors, payment disputes and administrative costs. Expected benefits include increased revenue, larger orders, faster and more accurate delivery, accelerated cash flow, smarter inventory management, improved customer loyalty, better performing sales and delivery reps, and reduced administrative costs. Manage the quote-to-cash cycle with a modern ERP system Distributors of any size face many of the same challenges, including rapidly changing customer demands, complex product inventories and fluctuations in the supply chain. To overcome these issues, forwardlooking companies are implementing a single ERP solution that integrates and automates the entire quote-to-cash cycle. A modern ERP system for distributors provides tools to help manage sales ordering, pricing, shipping, sourcing and billing – letting you streamline your business processes so all your information is in one secure location.

customers the cutting-edge technology that is enjoyed by major companies across the world through a system that can deliver direct efficiencies to our customers’ finance operations,” continues Michel Cordina, Head of Commercial Banking. cc HSBCnet is available to all HSBC Malta Commercial Banking customers. More information can be had on T: 2380 8000; business.hsbc.com.mt/HSBCnet.

With accurate, real-time information available, situations requiring attention can be identified early and addressed quickly. Drive competitive advantage with a flexible field sales platform Integrate your field sales, distribution logistics, inventory management, invoicing and payment collection. Enable your sales reps with access to relevant information quickly and efficiently – eliminate the errors that come with pen-andpaper order entry or legacy software. Provide your field staff with mobile access to all customer, product and sales information while on the road. Enable your sales reps to sell more with account-specific pricing for individual customers, based on what you know about customer preferences and order history. Give discounts and cross-sell and up-sell promotions for different customers. Allow your field reps to use any Android or iOS device – including offline functionality, so that they can access data and information from any location. cc For more information on how Computime Software can help you optimise your distribution operation, increase customer satisfaction and unearth new sales opportunities for field staff, email info@computimesoftware.com or visit www.computimesoftware.com/acumatica-erp. 109

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Calamatta Cuschieri completes 20 capital market transactions over the last four years Over the past years, Calamatta Cuschieri has helped various businesses grow and thrive by assisting them in raising funds or listing through the Capital Markets. In fact, over the last four years, the Calamatta Cuschieri Capital Markets team have been involved in 20 transactions by both local and international companies. Calamatta Cuschieri’s roles included that of Sponsoring Broker, Corporate Advisor or even Manager and Agent to transactions that ranged from issuing of bonds, takeovers or dematerialisation, listing and agent forming part of a capital markets transaction. These companies are varied in size and in the sectors they operate in, and range from

Four Ways Spektrum increases Employee Engagement Workforce management software simplifies the life of a Human Resources department by automating everyday tasks. In today’s multifaceted environment, HR should spend less time concerned with mundane tasks like scheduling and rosters, and more time fostering an improved work environment. Spektrum, the Workforce Management application from AIS Software, handles employee punching, attendances, schedules and rosters to reduce your company’s operating

real estate, hospitality and manufacturing to pharmaceutical and the retail sector. Darin Pace, Head of Capital Markets explains that “Calamatta Cuschieri’s Capital Markets team assists local and international clients with all types of corporate market transactions and related services. Our capital markets team has built up the relevant experience through the completion of a number of diverse deals over the last couple of years.” He adds that the Capital Markets offering includes main market, prospects multilateral-trading facility (MTF) as well as the Institutional Financial Securities Market (IFSM) – all operated via the Malta Stock Exchange (MSE). The main market is the official list of the MSE and equities, funds and bonds can be listed on this list. Prospects MTF provides financing for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and through this vehicle, such companies can raise capital by issuing bonds or shares. The IFSM is specifically designed for the institutional investors and is regulated by the MSE under the Wholesale Securities Market listing rules. Calamatta Cuschieri’s Capital Markets team offers various services which include IPO and bond issues, corporate advisory for Prospects MTF, listing agency for IFSM, agency services, as well as acting

costs whilst increasing efficiency. But how can Spektrum actually improve employee engagement? 1. Reduced Employee Complaints Workforce management software allows organisations to automate timekeeping, attendance and payroll functions. It also serves to reduce mistakes in attendance and wage calculations. HR professionals know that pay errors quickly lead to a de-motivated and unhappy workforce. Spektrum transfers the responsibility of accurate time punches onto the employees themselves, thus reducing errors and worker complaints. 2. Easier Workload for HR Personnel Workforce management software should be simple to use and deliver effective results. Spektrum reduces the burden on HR personnel by handling shifts, schedules, rosters and employee absences from a single application. Spektrum’s reporting features allow easy calculation of overtime periods, hours worked and detailed breakdown of employee absences. 3. Eliminate Fraudulent Behaviour and Tardiness Fraudulent behaviour in a working environment can lead to employee morale and engagement to sink. Workforce management software should link directly to Time and


as sponsors for the listing of funds on the official list of the MSE. Looking ahead, Darin Pace says that “2019 promises to be a record year for Calamatta Cuschieri Capital Markets team with a good number of transactions expected to take place during the course of the year.” cc For more information contact the team on T: 2568 8688; E: capitalmarkets@cc.com. mt; www.cc.com.mt/capitalmarkets Calamatta Cuschieri Investment Services Ltd. Is licensed by the Malta Financial Services Authority. Member of the Malta Stock Exchange.

Attendance devices to ensure accurate information of time in and out recording. Spektrum links directly with a variety of Biometric Time and Attendance devices, thereby eliminating time fraud and buddy punching. 4. Give Employee Access to Information Directly Spektrum features a self-service portal which allows managers and employees to view attendance information, schedules, rosters and balances. Spektrum is a cloud-based solution, providing access to information in real-time, thereby increasing engagement and reducing overheads. Spektrum is available anytime, anywhere via any web browser. Spektrum Scheduling and Rostering, for complete T&A Join the growing number of organisations that are using Spektrum to meet their Time and Attendance needs. Companies in the hospitality, manufacturing, retail and public sector are already seeing the benefits of reduced costs and improved workflow. Extend the efficiency of your business with Spektrum Workforce Management. cc AIS Software BLB903, Bulebel Industrial Estate, Zejtun. T: 2180 3350; E: sales@ais.com.mt FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

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Adore More Ltd management team visits San Rafael Factory in Spain The management of Adore More has recently embarked on a production-process knowledge visit at the company’s main supplier of doors, the Puertas San Rafael factory in Spain. The visit to Spain allowed the team to review the production process of the company’s interior doors from start to finish. Meetings were also held with management and staff to discuss the company’s specific requirements and Puertas San Rafael’s future plans. Puertas San Rafael has recently launched its 2018 catalogue, moving from solely producing internal doors to also supplying a wider Deco range. The new Deco collection includes walk-in wardrobes, wooden wall panelling, wallpaper, the production of tables in real timber and branded internal door handles.

The new catalysts for creativity By Edwin Attard Do we even need the printed page? Aren’t pixels enough? Is printing dead? What role should printing fulfil in the future? Ricoh is working to answer this question by seamlessly integrating innovative printing techniques into everyday life. In applied-printing technology, there are dramatic new applications in the use of 3D printing technologies, especially for items such as cell tissue, bones and electronic components. Now 3D printing dramatically reduces the lead time and cost for these items. This is especially applicable to the field of biomedical engineering, where Ricoh is reimagining the future of regenerative medicine – making it a reality rather than science fiction. Imagine repairing a patient’s injury with fresh human tissue or replacing a damaged heart with a perfect replica – one that was printed using technology similar to an office inkjet printer. Ricoh sees its technology as FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

“At Adore More we firmly believe in becoming highly knowledgeable about each product we supply and install. This visit enables us to further enhance our technical knowledge on the vast array of internal and external doors we supply, whilst also strengthening our relations with our supplier,” says Director Kenneth Fenech. During their stay in Spain, the team had the opportunity to network with the Puertas San Rafael directors as well as to participate in in-house product training to further enhance

contributing to the production of functional, transplantable 3D organs and it is dedicated to making this a reality. The technology already exists to bioprint layers of living human cells, and Ricoh has successfully collaborated with Osaka University in Japan to create 3D pulsating cardiac tissue. Printing living tissue is not without significant challenges. Ricoh needed to modify the nozzle of the common inkjet printer to provide special conditions allowing cells to be printed like ink and in layers. In addition, the inkjet heads needed to eject the cells without using heat or other potentially damaging methods, and the cells had to be positioned into layers. Nevertheless, Ricoh was able to develop and combine these central technologies into working cells, and it is now working on improving the precision of the cell-dispensing mechanism so that fully functional organs can one day become a reality. “The concept of bioprinting at first seemed extremely challenging,” says tissue engineering expert Waka Lin. “But seeing the fast progress of 3D printing in general, printing cells is a promising idea whose time has come.” Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces by inspiring the creative class and bringing value to them with new ways of printing. cc

their technical knowledge and insight. As a major outcome of this visit, the company will be investing in a redesign of its internal doors section of the Mosta showroom, bringing the space in line with San Rafael’s new products and showroom. cc To find out more about the range of doors offered at Adore More Ltd, contact us on T: 2145 6560/2145 6570; E: sales@adoremore.eu or visit the showroom in Mosta.

Edwin Attard is SG Solutions Ltd Business Development Manager – Office Automation. www.sgsolutions.com.mt


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Are companies becoming more virtual? Is ‘remote work’ considered an innovative perk, a competitive advantage? Richard Branson ‘… likes to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen...’ Organisations are increasingly seeing the benefits that remote work can offer. The modern workplace is no longer defined as a standard Monday to Friday nine-tofive-hour job, as employees expect greater flexibility and the chance to work wherever and whenever they want. Considering that we are currently working within a very tight labour market with the increasing need for high-quality work, organisations that offer remote working options are finding themselves ahead of competition as they are able to tap into significantly wider talent pools. Employees are increasingly seeking opportunities which offer family-friendly

Growing your business through digital transformation Digital transformation is a fundamental rethinking of customer experience, business models and operations. It’s about finding new ways to deliver value, generate revenue and improve efficiency – and companies are adopting innovative technologies to do it. Many breakthrough technologies today like AI, blockchain and IoT are reaching an acceptable maturity, and are becoming more affordable and accessible. But we also have a general reshaping of our traditional business models, as companies are relying more on consumer feedback to develop and shape future products. According to the SAP 2018 report on digital transformation, “all businesses will eventually need to reinvent themselves in the digital age. Some industries are already under intense pressure to transforms their business models, whilst others are starting 114

options as well as a healthier work-life balance. Remote work options offer this as well as provide work environments which are more productive and reduce the daily commute to work. Local surveys indicate that Maltese employees are giving importance to flexible working options, therefore local companies that offer remote work options are at a better advantage as they are able to tap into this wider talent pool. Ten years ago, Dell started to introduce a more flexible work culture and today they have a wide variety of flexible work arrangements for their team members to choose from. This has not only resulted in significant financial savings to the company and an overall healthier culture but also environmental benefits, with a great reduction of the carbon footprint as well as reducing approximately 7,400 cars off the road each year.

Of course, remote work does not happen overnight and needs to be implemented thoughtfully and mindfully as it is a change in culture and mindset. There are obviously some job positions which do not fall within the scope of remote work due to the nature of the job, however there are many positions that are adaptable to remote work. In order for organisations to implement remote work, among other things, the correct remote working policies need to be in place as well as any IT requirements to sustain this work environment. cc If you are interested in learning more about remote work and discussing how this can be implemented at the workplace, FHRD is organising a seminar on remote work on Wednesday 27th March at the Hilton. For more info contact FHRD on E: events@fhrd.org; T: 2131 3550; W: www.fhrd.org.

with incremental process innovations. And, as change is an everyday reality for all business, many CEOs believe that the changes coming in the next three years will outdo the changes of the last 50.” Many companies struggle with digital transformation, as even the simplest questions like “how do I start?” can remain unanswered. This is exactly where DataTech is adding value. DataTech is a technology focused consulting company present in six countries. Since its inception in 2003 DataTech has become a household name in Malta and Libya for SAP enterprise and performance-based products implementation projects. Today DataTech services some of the most demanding organisations, providing unrivalled digital transformation consultancy based on SAP digital transformation platform. DataTech enables its clients to reimagine their business and enable digital transformation by providing a combination of best market products and consultancy excellence. cc Whether you are a micro business or an enterprise organisation, we can support. If you would like to know more about how digital transformation can help grow your business, contact us on T: 2203 0333; E: info@datatech.com.mt to schedule an appointment with no obligation. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

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2019 will give way to a mild slowdown in the world economy, according to MAPFRE economic research MAPFRE Middlesea and MAPFRE MSV Life in collaboration with The Maltese-Spanish Chamber of Commerce held a Business Breakfast to discuss the recently published study on the 2019 Economic and Industry Outlook. The event was opened by H.E. The Ambassador of Spain and the keynote speaker was Gonzalo de Cadenas-Santiago, Director of Economic and Financial Research at MAPFRE Economic Research. According to the research, the global economy could grow by 3.3 per cent this year, three tenths less than what was expected to be recorded for 2018. The year will be marked by a slowdown

Corinthia chefs win awards at major uk culinary competition The luxury hotel’s award-winning chefs once again received international recognition for their superb culinary skills. Chefs from the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa’s award-winning kitchen brigade have scored top positions in several categories at the Birmingham Salon Culinaire 2019 in the UK. As the UK’s largest and most prestigious chef competition of 2019, the Salon Culinaire is world-renowned for showcasing the finest talent in the industry. At this year’s event, which took place on 22nd and 23rd January, the eight participating Corinthia Palace chefs overtook entries from a number of countries to receive the sought-after awards. “We are very proud of our chefs, who more than rose to the challenge of competing at a very high level against international chefs of an equally exceptional standard,” says the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa’s Executive Head Chef Stefan Hogan. “Having proved themselves yet again as being some of FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

in the global economy, an adjustment that will nevertheless be smooth and orderly. This is one of the main forecasts included in the 2019 Economic and Industry Outlook report prepared by MAPFRE Economic Research and published by Fundación MAPFRE. Business Breakfast key panelists Kenneth Farrugia, David G. Curmi and Wilfred Kenely discussed the repercussions of the forecasts in the local scenario together with H.E. the Spanish Ambassador and the keynote speaker. Felipe Navarro, MAPFRE Middlesea CEO, moderated the panel. “The closing of 2018 clearly marks the beginning of the ‘path of gradual slowdown’ that we have been anticipating since the end of 2017,” according to Gonzalo de CadenasSantiago. In 2019, a fall in the contribution to global growth from developed markets (which will grow at below 2 per cent) and a greater contribution from emerging markets (which will see growth of between 4 and 5 per cent) is expected, supported by foreseeably better global financial conditions. It was stated that although an international slowdown is forecast, the expectations for Malta are that the economy will continue to experience strong levels of growth. Such growth may also present more opportunities for investment. At the Business Breakfast it was further highlighted that, even though there are likely to be more

the world’s finest chefs, they are ready to continue to excel within the Corinthia Palace restaurants, creating mouth-watering, awardwinning cuisine for our guests in Malta.” At the Salon Culinaire, Reuben Borg was first runner up in both the Silver Lamb and Silver Tilda Young Chef categories, while he also won the silver for filleting of seabass and trout, and bronze in creating an avocadobased starter. Johan Saliba was awarded the best in class for the Silver Lamb dish and was the bronze second runner up in the Tilda Young Chef category. Mark Tabone was presented with the bronze in Best End of Lamb Butchery, and he also received a merit in the Vegan Challenge. Ryan Buhagiar earned a merit in the Open Chicken (essential cuisine) awards category, while Alvin Vassallo won the merit for Perfect Pasta. Ian Deguara won merits in both the Amuse Bouche and Open Pasta categories, and Owen Bonello received the silver in Butchery for Sauté of Chicken and the bronze in Open Pasta. Daniel Busuttil was awarded the best in class silver in Perfect Pasta, the silver for his Oriental Dish, and the silver in Butchery for Sauté of Chicken. Mr Busuttil also recently won one of only three Mentor Nomination Awards at the IIHM International Young Chef Olympiad 2019 in Kolkata. Based on specific criteria including

opportunities for organisational financial growth, there is a risk that the latter may not remain such in the long run due to changes in local tax schemes or different market supervisory structures at European level. For better diversification, the Maltese economy has the opportunity to invest more in research, development and innovation not only by the public sector but with a sound contribution from the private sector as well, and reach the European commitments for 2020. cc

The eight Corinthia Palace chefs who participated in the Birmingham Salon Culinaire 2019

drive, ambition, the ability to overcome obstacles and dedication to the trade, the three award-winners were selected from 50 international applicants based on a written submission from a Mentor – in Mr Busuttil’s case, Corinthia Palace Executive Sous Chef Jonathan Zammit – and following a detailed interview process by a panel of judges. Alongside Mr Busuttil, the other two Mentor Nomination Awards went to candidates from Canada and Scotland. While in India, Chef Hogan was asked to form part of a panel of internationallyrecognised chefs, which included professionals from Canada, the UK, Hong Kong, India and Italy. Throughout the competition, the chefs were divided into technical and tasting judges (blind tasting), and Chef Hogan joined the tasting panel in the Knockout Stage in Delhi, and was also one of the tasting judges for the Final Challenge in Kolkata. cc 117

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Basking in the warm glow of Maltese light When she left Malta at the age of 19, Paris-based artist Ġoxwa didn’t realise the rich Mediterranean texture of home would follow her. Rebecca Anastasi speaks to the successful painter about the mysteries of art, life and why the island will always hold a special place in her heart.


’m often asked, ‘where is this light in your paintings coming from?’ and I always tell them ‘Malta. It’s coming from home.’” Ġoxwa may have lived abroad for most of her life, but the Valletta-bred painter has never forgotten her roots. Her artworks – vibrant compositions reflecting an almost elemental, mythical girlhood – are imbued with the tone and consistency of this spot in the Mediterranean. “I actually sometimes wonder why I was born there, for even though I don’t live on the island any more, it speaks to me when I’m alone,” she tells me during a Skype call which is brimming with warmth, anecdotes and personal memories. Ġoxwa describes her relationship with Malta as akin to a “spiritual force”, and she has spent years asking questions to try and understand the unique idiosyncrasies of her ties to the land which had a central role in her formation. “Why did I come through these people? What does this mean? This is what I ask, and painting is like a friend who is trying to give you answers,” she smiles, going on to describe her technique as one of

exploration into these emotions. The shifting tones of light – particularly that of the Mediterranean – is what inspires her process, which is imbued with a physicality echoing the sculptural quality of Malta’s limestone walls, as well as influences from other cultures. “When I first started experimenting, I didn’t know if it was right or wrong, but it felt good. I was fascinated by Russian icons – and they were all made using wax. I didn’t want that fluid movement in the painting, I wanted to have something very static. I grew up in Valletta, so I have lived within those steady walls. I wanted the painting to have that steadiness, to move only when people are looking at it, so I create paintings as if I’m building a sculpture, in wax,” she explains. This wax, which “can be very thick”, is mixed with carefully selected shades and laid onto the canvas using “everything I can get,” she asserts, specifying that she works with “a knife more than with brushes” as she builds her composition. Yet, this technique is in constant flux, evolving slowly, as she discovers new colours and new methods. “I

“It’s a voice which speaks to you when you are alone, when you leave your country and your family. It’s almost a call to go back home, but you cannot, and this is where my painting started to have something to say.”



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Sleeping Girl - 130x162 cm - oil and wax on canvas

cannot say I woke up one day and that was it, nothing changed. I discover new things every day. It’s the colours, the medium and the tools which are in flux. It’s definitely a process,” she continues. This sense of exploration is particularly central to Ġoxwa’s use of colour, and she believes that artists “need to discover colour by sitting in nature and observing everything around them carefully.” And it was this very sensibility – one characterised by adventure and curiosity – FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

which led her to the artform in the first place. “When I was a child, I didn’t have the slightest idea I was going to be a painter and an artist, even though I loved to draw. I expected to become a wife and a mother, as was usual. But, one day, when I was four or five years’ old, I walked into a room in a monastery and saw a nun painting the Madonna. The smell of the actual paint had drawn me there, but I remember feeling shocked when I saw this woman and her work. The emotion was so powerful, I had to leave.”

Despite the force of the experience, Ġoxwa did not venture into painting immediately. Rather, “many things pulled her out of the island”, and she moved to London, fell in love, and later settled in Boston, while professionally venturing into the theatre world. “When I went to Boston, I checked out the art and theatre schools, but I thought theatre would be a good place to be since the medium allows you to find your voice. Since I was away from home, I felt the need for that.” 119

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Pigeon - 130x97cm - oil and wax on canvas

“I’m very fascinated by old walls, old doors – and I really hope they don’t disappear in Malta! You can see something of the past through these spaces, and there’s something very poetic about them.” And even though she continued to draw – it was, she says, “her best friend” over the years – she committed to the stage, was granted scholarships for her studies and worked with the American Repertoire Theatre. But as time progressed, a voice started to whisper a different way of life. “For some reason, there were these thoughts – a silent language – which took over in quiet moments and which were having more control. This is an important voice for an artist. It’s a voice which speaks to you when you are alone, when you leave your country and your family. It’s almost a call to go back home, but you cannot, and this is where my painting started to have something to say,” Ġoxwa explains. She had, in the meantime, moved to Virginia on an artist residence and scholarship called VCCA and this longing for home, which expressed itself in her innermost thoughts, changed everything. “The light in Virginia was very similar to that in Malta and I found a language in that. It started to remind me of my childhood. The place brought out all these memories – of being brought up within the walls of Valletta, of imagining the ghosts in that town – and it is at that point that I started to bring up my pictures,” she says. A scholarship in Paris followed, and her work was welcomed with enthusiasm and accolade, leading onto private commissions and even work for the Grand Palais, where her painting Behind the Door – a duck-egg and yellow composition of a young girl in front of a weathered wooden aperture – was displayed in one of the 140 galleries which make up the artworld behemoth. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

Variation of Flowers - 100x100cm - oil and wax on canvas

Behind The Door - 146x114cm - oil and wax on canvas


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Milly’s World - 97x130cm - oil and wax on canvas

And this piece, she says, shows many of the characteristics of her work. “I’m very fascinated by old walls, old doors – and I really hope they don’t disappear in Malta! You can see something of the past through these spaces, and there’s something very poetic about them,” she explains. Today, she still lives in Paris where she works as a full-time artist. She also exhibits all around the world, from New York at the Hugo Fine Arts Galerie to China, and, of course, Paris at the Galerie Felli. “I now have art dealers working for me; I accept individual commissions but most of my work has recently been for exhibitions,” she explains. A worldly approach can be seen in her paintings, cognisant of the events which form public opinion and those which have elicited strong emotional responses. Millie’s World, for example, echoes the tragic photographs of the young Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, whose body washed up on Greece’s shore. “I wanted to say that children should be dreaming, not dying. That is also why I used similar colours to the images broadcast of the tragic Syrian boy to show this parallel. Both are laying down on a beach by the Mediterranean Sea, but Milly’s lips are slightly open to show she is breathing and dreaming, and she is dressed like a princess, while the boy’s clothes were lifeless.” The effect is, indeed, surreal in many respects, navigating the fine line between fact and imagination. And this overlap between the real with the imaginary fills the canvas of all her paintings depicting girlhood, allowing her “to see something of my own past”. Her work After the Dance, Sophia’s Choice and Sleeping Girl, where Ġoxwa’s images play with the innocence and humanity of growing up, epitomise this 122

approach. “These are the images which come out and, I guess, they give a home to a humanity I can identify with,” she says. But if Ġoxwa’s past is firmly tied to this rock in the Mediterranean, what does her future hold? “I just finished a big show for a gallery in New York and I am also working for one in Palm Beach, Miami. I always create new work for these exhibitions, so they take quite a bit of time to prepare for,” she says. Throughout, however, her motivation remains to “give people some kind of visual hope”, the hope of an exciting future, looked at from the perspective of childlike innocence. cc

The Wind - 195x97cm - oil and wax on canvas

“I now have art dealers working for me; I accept individual commissions but most of my work has recently been for exhibitions.”

For more information on the artist and her work, visit goxwa.com

Hidden Island - 97x130 cm - oil and wax on canvas FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019

Profile for Content House Group

The Commercial Courier February/March 2019  

The official publication of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

The Commercial Courier February/March 2019  

The official publication of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.