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Issue 134 Aug/Sept 2013 £2.50 Voted best Business Magazine in Ireland 2005 and Magazine of the Year for Northern Ireland

Shortlisted Magazines Ireland Awards 2011 Business To Business Magazine of the Year

Henderson Catering To Group’s Changing Shopping Neal Kelly Habits Features: 08

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Simon Hamilton….New Minister Sets Out His Stall

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Aug/Sept 2013 ISSUE 134


Cover Story Neal Kelly... Keeping It Fresh At Henderson Group



SHS Group... On The Acquisition Trail It’s been a challenging year for the SHS Group, but most Managing Directors would give everything for figures like their’s. SHS Managing Director Michael Howard talks about progress across the multifaceted FMCG group and looks to future growth.

Changing shopping habits, busy lives and tighter budgets means that more and more of us are shopping for fewer goods more often. That’s the view of Neal Kelly, Fresh Food Director at the Henderson Group and responsible for providing a fresh food solutions to 420 convenience stores around Northern Ireland under the SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO brands.


Help At Hands For Property Debtors


Profit 200 Business Eye Profit 200 Survey, 2013 Northern Ireland’s leading survey for top business performance returns for 2013. Supported by Danske Bank, the Business Eye Profit 200 ranks the local private sector by the only measure that really matters... and that’s profit. This year’s listing serves as a comprehensive guide to the leading organisations within the local economy.

Belfast consultancy CD Fairfield Capital has carved a successful niche for itself coming to the aid of investors and property owners hit by the effects of the property crash, working with financial institutions to help dig its clients out of the mire.


Making Technology Work For You... Adopting digital technologies is vital if businesses are to compete. But, says Sinclair Stockman, Executive Director of Digital Northern Ireland 2020, the investment doesn’t have to break the bank to pay off.


A Balanced Approach Is Vital


Xperience Technology In its present form Xperience is a young company, but it has had a long pedigree in the technology sector. It can trace its history back to 1969 when three academics: Professor Fabian Monds, Jim McGowan and Bob McLaughlin formed Medical and Scientific Computer Services.

While there is a welcome feel good factor gaining momentum across many sectors of the Northern Ireland business landscape, a balanced approach must continue to be the definitive strategy. That’s the view of Trevor Annon, Chairman of the fast-growing Mount Charles Group.


Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Six top-rate Northern Ireland business leaders will line up for the top prize at October’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year gala event in Dublin.


Building Northern Ireland’s Tourism Industry


Simon Hamilton New Finance Minister Sets Out His Stall

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Tughans Law Team Builds For Future

The Northern Ireland private sector should take a more positive view of an active and supportive public sector. That’s the view of the Executive’s new Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton, who officially took over the financial reins from Sammy Wilson during the summer months.


Jeremy Fitch, Invest Northern Ireland’s Executive Director of the Business & Sector Development Group, explains how Invest NI is supporting the tourism sector.

The coming 12 months have the potential to be the most significant for some years for the Northern Ireland economy. That’s the view of Tughans Managing Partner and CBI Chairman Ian Coulter.

Eye on Events


Eye on Investment


Eye on Venues


Eye on Fleet Management


Eye on Internet


Eye on Motoring


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Eye on Hospitality

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Buckley Publications 20 Kings Road Belfast, BT5 6JJ Tel: (028) 9047 4490 Fax: (028) 9047 4495

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Vince Cable’s recent comments on the wholesale lack of funding for business available from our banks was another reminder of how bad things are on a UK-wide scale.


“The idea isn’t without merit. Government puts in its £100 million or so, and the bank then seeks a London or international banking backer willing to put in a matching amount of funding. The bank can then be run on strictly commercial grounds with a strong management team in place.”

Irish Magazine Editor of the Year 2005

Here in Northern Ireland, arguably, the situation is even worse given that we’re lumbered with at least three major banks (Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland & First Trust Bank) which have been through the wars in recent years and will take some time to recover. Ulster Bank, in particular, seems to be little short of a basket case. Whatever these banks may claim (and they do), the evidence is that they are simply not lending with any degree of seriousness to business customers in Northern Ireland. So is it perhaps time for the NI Executive to be radical? Business banks part-funded by government have been tried with some success in other parts of Europe, not least in the Republic of Ireland some years ago. So, given the Executive’s continued apparent commitment to the economy, could Stormont stretch to a substantial investment in a government-led banking initiative to fill the void left by the high street banking brands. The idea isn’t without merit. Government puts in its £100 million or so, and the bank then seeks a London or international banking backer willing to put in a matching amount of funding. The bank can then be run on strictly commercial grounds with a strong management team in place. In theory, at least, it could and should go on to become a viable commercial banking enterprise, and one which ultimately can be sold into private hands....with a tidy profit not inconceivable for its original backers. Off the wall? Maybe. And there are clearly major questions about where the initial tranche of government funding would come from, but it’s an idea well worth considering.

With the First and Deputy First Minister due to depart on their travels in the not too distant future, alongside planned trips by Arlene Foster at DETI and Michelle O’Neill at DARD, let’s hope we don’t have to listen to more tirades from the mainstream media.


Richard Buckley EDITOR

The attacks on these Ministerial trips are simply misguided. They’re not all about potential inward investment. If Northern Ireland is going to build a sustainable economy, it has to export. To do that, it has to develop international contacts, and visits by political leaders are an important part of that. It’s hard to see what the local media doesn’t understand about that.

And finally (as they say on TV news), it would be remiss not to welcome Simon Hamilton as our new Finance Minister heading up what he describes as the ‘engine room’ of the Executive. He comes across as a personable, cheerful personality and he’s a man who has made sure that he’s learnt well in his two years of ‘apprenticeship’ under Sammy Wilson’s guidance. Hamilton talks to Business Eye in a wide ranging interview in this edition, and sets out some interesting views on the economy, what Northern Ireland can achieve, and the relationship between the private and public sectors.

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Eye on FMCG



Eye on FMCG SHS Group’s Belfast headquarters will be playing a crucial role in the FMCG marketing company’s continued growth GB-wide and in export markets.


hat’s the message from the Group Managing Director Michael Howard as the Northern Ireland-based company recorded a strong performance in the first half of this year following what Michael admits was a “more challenging” 2012. But the SHS Group’s definition of ‘challenging’ – a £400 million turnover and continued if slightly reduced profit line – is one that plenty of other companies would take issue with. By its own standards, 2012 was a relatively quiet year for the Group. It made its last major brand acquisition, of the premium adult soft drink/cordials brand Bottlegreen, in 2011 and spent last year developing the main areas of its business:- drinks, agency and herbs & spices. “We had a few more issues to deal with,” says Howard. “Consumer confidence was low, and the commodity markets were challenging. Our success in building the Desperados brand also saw Heineken take it back in-house. “That’s one of the risks of agency business. Brands can come and go very quickly. That’s

why we prefer as a company to own a number of brands. It makes us a little less vulnerable.” The company owns a range of premium brands including WKD, Shloer, Bottlegreen, Merrydown, Farmlea and Maguire & Paterson matches. But it also distributes a portfolio of well-known brands such as Jordans cereals, Ryvita, Nivea, Finish & Mars Drinks. The SHS Group is also the largest own label supplier of herbs, spices and condiments and a major supplier of milk puddings in GB. Despite the challenges of 2012, Michael Howard is confident that the SHS Group is firmly on track with a good first half

to 2013 already behind it. “The warm summer weather has been great for us. A lot of our brands including Shloer, Bottlegreen and WKD sell a lot better in good it’s been a good summer for us.” It’s also been a summer marked by product development in the firm’s key brands. Shloer has launched new fruit flavours, while Bottlegreen has entered the burgeoning premium tonic marketplace with a couple of specialist tonic products. The Group has also developed a couple of spirit beers – Dead Crow and Cuvana, beers infused with spirits for the uninitiated. The Bottlegreen deal might have been the group’s last major acquisition but it won’t be the last. “If we get the right acquisition opportunity, we’ll be in the market,” Howard says simply. “And opportunities do come up. The ‘F’ and ‘M’ in FMCG aren’t there for nothing. It is always fast moving in this sector.” WKD, SHS Group’s own brand, remains a hugely important part of the picture. “It’s still a £210 million brand,” says Michael Howard. “And we’ve been investing in it with new flavours and new packaging ideas.” And Merrydown, the cider brand acquired by the Group several years ago, has also been developed in an effort to keep pace with the boom in cider sales nationally. The Group’s Herbs & Spices division, which produces a wide range of condiments and sauces

for the major supermarket groups, is in good health and has seen rapid growth in so-called wet condiments (ready made sauces). “As things stand, we’re not far off 50:50 in terms of own brands and agency brands, and we continue to work with a number of big manufacturers, not least Reckitt Benckiser, Johnson & Johnson, Jordans, Ryvita and Mars.” Michael Howard and his management team, not surprisingly, are keen watchers of retail trends. “We’ve seen the growth in convenience retailing and we’ve watched how well the convenience store operators are doing things these days,” he says. “However the market remains fiercely competitive with the continued development of the GB multiples Northern Ireland and everyone has been surprised by the huge growth of the Aldi and Lidl brands south of the border.” The SHS Group has some 700 employees across it’s offices in Belfast and Gloucester and its various production sites around the British Isles. “But our vision for the Belfast office is very clear,” Howard adds. “We see this not only as our corporate headquarters but also as a shared services centre of excellence for the Group as a whole. “It is home to our Quality Aassurance, IT, Payroll, Group Marketing and a wide range of other functions, and we’ll continue to develop its role as a backbone for the Group throughout the UK.


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Eye on News

NEW GENERAL MANAGER CHECKS IN TO CULLODEN ESTATE & SPA The Culloden Estate & Spa has announced the appointment of its new General Manager.


elen Caters, formerly General Manager at Malmaison Liverpool, hails from Northern Ireland and takes over from Stephen Meldrum who is moving to the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, Helen held roles in a range of hotels locally before moving to Liverpool and is looking forward to returning home to such a prestigious role.

“I was keen to return to Northern Ireland, but it had to be for the right hotel and with the Culloden I know I have found it. I have always admired Hastings Hotels and to be able to take up the post of General Manager at this beautiful hotel is a fantastic professional achievement for me,” Helen said. “Stephen and his team have done a fantastic job over the last number of years and the continued investment by Hastings Hotels has been a huge success and something I am looking forward to building on. “The Culloden is one of Northern Ireland’s finest hotels and continually growing in reputation around the world and this is evident in the

business it has been attracting in recent years as a growing number of guests increasingly appreciate the finer touches that a five star property can offer. I am really looking forward to taking up my new role and working with such a professional team,” Helen added.  Howard Hastings, Managing Director of Hastings Hotels said: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Helen Caters as General Manager of the Culloden Estate & Spa. Helen has a wealth of experience in the industry and I am confident she will help build on the success of the hotel and continue to ensure it remains as Northern Ireland’s premiere five-star property.”

Helen Caters with her predecessor at the Culloden, Stephen Meldrum.

CONTRACT BOOST FOR MIVAN Antrim firm Mivan has won close to £20 million worth of contracts in London and Saudi Arabia.


argest of these if the high profile Fitzroy Place project in central London, a 570,000 sq.ft. Development of upmarket apartments, penthouses and commercial office space being developed by Sir Robert McAlpine. Mivan will be providing the specialist joinery work on the development, much of it in high-spec oak. Fitzroy Place follows on from the £2 million De Vere


Gardens residential project in London’s Kensington for the same client developer. In the overseas market, Mivan has secured a £7 million contract to fit-out the Royal Suite of the new King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Described as a ‘Jewel in the Desert’, the project has been designed to create worldclass sporting facilities. This

development is seen as one of the most important projects in the history of modern construction in Saudi Arabia. The stadium is the Centrepiece of the King Abdullah Sports City development and has a capacity of 60,000. It also has a 500-person mosque within the overall scheme.

Design development and procurement has been finalised at Mivan’s Antrim & London offices. The project will be completed later this year. The client is Saudi Aramco and Mivan will be working directly for the main contractor on the project - BESIX – Al Muhaidib.



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Eye on News

Entries Close For UTV Business Eye Awards Entries to Northern Ireland’s leading business awards, the UTV Business Eye Awards with Flybe, will close on Friday, 20th September, 2013.


record-breaking total of 18 award categories will be up for grabs for this, the seventh consecutive year of the Awards. Heading the bill are the Business Personality of the Year and Company of the Year Awards, won last time around Wrightbus Managing Director Mark Nodder and the SHS Group respectively. Full category details are available on the dedicated Awards website – The UTV Business Eye Awards judging panel will meet at the end of September to make its decisions.

“Flybe is delighted to be the new overall sponsor of the UTV Business Eye Awards for the first time. Business travellers are vital to Flybe as the UK’s leading regional airline, and we’re looking forward to celebrating the very best business and individuals from Northern Ireland,” says Flybe’s Andrea Hayes. This year’s UTV Business Eye Awards in association with Flybe will take place at the Culloden Estate & Spa on the evening of Thursday, 10th October, 2013. The entry process is simple

Business Eye’s Brenda Buckley (left) is joined by Flybe’s General Manager for Market Development, Andrea Hayes (right), and UTV presenter Alison Fleming to remind local businesses that time is running out to enter the 2013 UTV Business Eye Awards with Flybe.

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Eye on Events

Amazing in Motion – The New Lexus IS launched at Charles Hurst


harles Hurst Lexus recently celebrated the launch of the New Lexus IS range at its Boucher Road showroom. Hosted by Paul Clark and entertained by David Meade, guests enjoyed light refreshments whilst taking time to appreciate the new bold styling of the Lexus IS range which includes the first full-hybrid IS, the IS 300h, together with the 2.5 litre petrol-powered IS 250. Both versions feature rear wheel drive and are available now with the Lexus’ F Sport packages at Charles Hurst Belfast.










(1) Stephanie Greene, Julie Ann Tsang, Darren Baalhan, Adrian Devitt, David Meade, Jonathon Lavery, Stephen Gilpin, Lisa Morrow. (2) David Meade, Darren Ballham. (3) Ross Graham, Lee Gathercole. (4) Dr Christopher Beirne, Dame Geraldine Keegan. (5) Lisa Morrow, Philip Sanford. (6) Charles Mitchell, Barbara Neeson. (7) Ryan and Elizabeth Yau. (8) Lee Gathercole, Julian Leigh, Adrain Devitt. (9) Paul Clark, Adrian Devitt, Eddie Fung.


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Eye on Venues

2013 Belfast World Police and Fire Games ends in a triumph

Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Lord Mayor of Belfast), John Tully (2013 WPFG Chief Executive), Tom Foster (Representative of Platinum Sponsors Fujitsu), Jacques Amestoy (an athlete from France) and Jennifer Patterson (Revenue and Business Generation Manager at Belfast Waterfront Conference Centre).

Last month, more than 7,000 athletes, family, friends and staff from 67 countries descended on Belfast, one of UK’s Top 10 best destinations, to take part in what were widely hailed as the friendliest World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) ever.


elfast’s ability to deliver major international events, plus its superb infrastructure created a competitive advantage over and above other entries from North American and European cities in securing the bid to host the third largest international multi-sport event in the world. WPFG will join a long list of global events successfully hosted by Belfast, like IAAF World Cross Country and Boxing World Championships. The Games created a great buzz throughout the city, as local people turned out to support the 6,700 athletes competing in 56 sports held at 41 venues across Northern Ireland, including one of the World’s Best Convention Centres, Belfast Waterfront.


Sitting majestically in the heart of the bustling city, Belfast Waterfront’s stunning contemporary architecture embodies a timeless elegance and an abundance of stylish flexible space, making it the perfect venue to welcome and register athletes. Northern Ireland’s only purpose-built conference centre was on top of its game, with its versatile space lined with registration booths fitted with Fujitsu technology ensuring a fast and effective registration process. Bright gallery areas with ample space for movement housed exhibition stands for both trade and sponsors. After the official registration period came to a close, the venue transformed into a sporting arena to host the spectacular body building competition followed by the indoor rowing contest.

Belfast is renowned for its warmth and therefore it comes as no surprise that the 2013 World Police and Fire Games proved to be the friendliest Games ever, a sentiment echoed by Kenneth McDonald, a member of the Irish team who set a new WPFG world record time of 6.23 minutes in indoor rowing at Belfast Waterfront, “The Games have been brilliant, very friendly, professional and well run, far superior to the New York Games. I am involved in rowing on an international level and the indoor rowing competition held at Belfast Waterfront is comparable with any international event I have competed in. Above all, everyone is very friendly and you are made to feel at home.”

John Tully, Chief Executive of 2013 WPFG said “The 2013 World Police and Fire Games have been a huge success and we are delighted that our aim to deliver the ‘friendliest’ Games ever has been achieved. All 41 venues selected have met and indeed exceeded our expectations. The Waterfront in particular has been an excellent multi-purpose location for the Games. It not only acted as the registration centre for the 7,000 athletes plus their supporters and officials but also hosted the bodybuilding and indoor rowing events. The flexibility of the facilities and the expertise and professionalism shown by the Waterfront’s staff have made a significant contribution to the overall success of the Games.” Jennifer Patterson, Revenue and Business Generation Manager at Belfast Waterfront Conference Centre added “It is a great honour and pleasure to have been part of such a spectacular world-class sporting event. This project has been 7 years in the making and it has been exciting to see years of hard work and preparation come to fruition. A winning combination of world-class conferencing facilities and the commitment of a highly experienced team together with a superb infrastructure and attractions makes Belfast a mustsee destination for the overseas business tourism market. Our forthcoming expansion plans in 2016 will enable us to facilitate even larger international events and further enhance our competitiveness as a conference destination.” Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, registered some of the competitors personally and said he was “delighted” to welcome the WPFG to the city. “Being the largest ever sporting event to take place here, the Games will deliver an economic boost for our city”. The 2013 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) came to a close on 10 August, as Belfast handed over the WPFG flag to 2015 hosts Fairfax, Virginia in the United States.

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Eye on Events

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ritish Airways’ first A380 flew into Ireland for the first time this summer, landing at Shannon in preparation for beginning long-haul flights this September. BA is due to welcome 12 A380s over the next four years, representing part of the airline’s £5


billion investment in products and services to benefit customers. During its three hour visit to Shannon, the largest aircraft in British Airways’ fleet could be seen alongside the smallest, an A318, familiar to local passengers at the aircraft that plies the Belfast City-London Heathrow route.


amona Wylie, Financial Director and Issam Horshi, Managing Director toasts the four success of the Best Western White Horse Hotel, Derry~Londonderry, after it received a four star accreditation from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. The hotel has been awarded the prestigious accreditation after completing

a £1.2m programme of investment that includes the refurbishment of its reception, restaurant, function and leisure facilities, as well as £240,000 on upgrading 25 bedrooms in terms of en-suite bathrooms, fixtures and fittings. The investment has created three new full time and two new part time employees to the hotel’s 55-strong workforce.

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Eye on Events

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irst Minister Peter Robinson has officially opened the new Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) office at 245 Upper Newtownards Road,

Ballyhackamore, Belfast. Many senior political representatives, local business leaders and retailers attended the official opening. The First Minister is pictured with NIIRTA Chief Executive, Glyn Roberts.

ransport Minister, Danny Kennedy and Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster have announced an EU investment of £5.8million to help meet the cost of 53 recently purchased Translink buses and coaches. The successful bid for EU funding is the result of inter-departmental working between the Department for Regional Development (DRD) and the Department for Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI). Matching DRD’s investment of the same amount, the funding boost was secured through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland which is administered by DETI. The two Stormont Ministers are pictured with John Trethowan, Chairman of the Translink Group of Companies, at Belfast’s Europa Bus Centre.

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Eye on News

Charities Get Mobile Donations with Barclay Communications New not-for-profit mobile phone scheme donates profits to local charities.


Left to Right - Joanne McSeveney, Head of Public Sector Development at Barclay Communications, Nicola Cowan, Rachel McCann and Margaret Haddock, Deputy Chief Executive of The Orchardville Society.

arclay Communications has pledged its support to local charities and the community with the launch of Think Local, a new mobile package that guarantees large savings and donations to local charities. Think Local is a completely not-for-profit mobile package for charities that donates profits back into the charity and into a Think Local charity fund, which Barclay Communications will use to support a different Northern Ireland based cause every year. Helping raise donations even further, Think Local also provides charities with mobile affinity deals, which they can offer to their supporters

and earn a donation on every deal a supporter signs. Joanne McSeveney, Head of Public Sector Development at Barclay Communications explains why the company has turned its focus towards the local community. “Think Local enables us to give back to the local community that helped build Barclay Communications into Northern Ireland’s leading business telecommunications provider. It’s a completely not-for-profit scheme that marks the start of our improved commitment to local charities, the community and the environment.” Margaret Haddock, Deputy Chief Executive of The

Foster Backs Rugby Tournament
 Assembly Private Secretary for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Alastair Ross joins Irish club team captains Gavin Duffy (Connacht), Johann Muller (Ulster), Leo Cullen (Leinster) and Peter O’Mahony (Munster) at the launch of the RaboDirect PRO12 2013-14 season, held at Titanic Belfast.


ourism Minister Arlene Foster (…a rugby fan and Ulster follower in common with Finance Minister Simon Hamilton) has


launched the Rabo Direct Pro 12 tournament for 2013-2014. Titanic Belfast played host to the launch for the first time, with officials and players from all 12 Irish, Welsh, Scottish & Italian teams in the city for the event. Arlene Foster said: “It is a great honour to welcome the Rabo Direct Pro12 players and officials to Belfast for the launch of the 2013-14 season, which promises to be every bit as exciting as previous years. “Ulster Rugby is

one of our iconic symbols, with the team and fans playing an important role as ambassadors for Northern Ireland, both at home and abroad. I look forward to seeing visiting fans from places as far apart as Glasgow and Treviso at the newly redeveloped Ravenhill, where they can be assured of the very best in hospitality and facilities.”
 Fresh from hosting the World Police & Fire Games, widely acknowledged as the best

Orchardville Society is a keen supporter of the new Think Local scheme. “It is great to see a local company set up a specific mobile scheme for charities. Receiving a donation is a great payback on what is such an essential cost of our business. I am delighted to note the commitment of a Local Charity Fund, which again will assist many local charities over the coming years. Well done Barclay Communications!” With Barclay Communications, Northern Ireland’s only O2 Centre of Excellence charities and their supporters will also enjoy local Account Management, free O2 to O2 calls and free calls to ten UK landline numbers.

and friendliest in history, and having hosted last year’s hugely successful Irish Open golf tournament, Northern Ireland has cemented its position as a premier location for staging international sporting events. That position will be further reinforced as we welcome the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia cycle race next year. The common thread running through these successes is our ability to deliver high-quality facilities, infrastructure and hospitality against the backdrop of Northern Ireland’s outstanding scenery. “These events show Northern Ireland in its best light and give a tremendous boost to our sports tourism sector of the wider tourist industry.”

Eye on Technology

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n 2012 TPS recognised that apart from small companies who had a need for printer repairs and servicing, larger companies often had contracts for their IT servicing, and most of these providers did not have the same expertise in printers as they had in software. TPS quickly found that IT Companies and IT Departments were keen to sub contract the printer repair work to ourselves, allowing them to concentrate on their core business activities. At present TPS represents several UK mainland companies, carrying out their warranty and non warranty work in N.I. TPS have fully trained engineers, with over 15 years experience. We repair all makes and models of Laser, Inkjet, Dotmatrix, Line and Label printers, Colour and Multifunctional devices, HP & Canon Plotters, Shredders, Copiers, Projectors and Scanners.

TPS offer a No Fix – No Fee service. Recently and with great success we have started repairing i-Pads, Laptops, i-Phones, HTC, Blackberry, Samsung & Nokia phones for Home and Business users. We see this as a huge growth area within our company. TPS own brand toner and ink cartridges offer customers savings of up to 60% against the OEM brands. We offer a 100% manufacturers warranty and replacement

should you not be happy with the quality and page yield of the cartridge. TPS Managed Print Services offer customers keen running costs with brands such as HP, Kyocera and Oki. Thinking of upgrading some or all of your current print fleet ? Why not let us show you how we can save you money with a minimum outlay. Please contact us on 028 90 600808.

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Eye on News

Terra Firma Sells Phoenix to Hastings In August Terra Firma reached an agreement to sell Phoenix Energy Holdings Limited, to Hastings’ managed fund Utilities Trust of Australia and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Pension Fund, for which Hastings manages an unlisted infrastructure mandate. Although the sale price was undisclosed, Bloomberg estimated the deal may have been for as much as £700 million, making it one of the biggest corporate deals in Northern Ireland history.


hoenix is Northern Ireland’s largest natural gas distribution and energy services company. Phoenix Natural Gas owns and operates the Greater Belfast natural gas network and is responsible for making gas available to around half the population of Northern Ireland. Guy Hands, Chairman of Terra Firma, said: “We are delighted to realise our investment in Phoenix. The success of this investment highlights the

expertise of Terra Firma in transforming asset-backed businesses in essential industries. Since we bought the company in 2005, Phoenix has doubled in size and has increased gas availability to 300,000 properties, of which some 165,000 have already connected to the network. Phoenix is well positioned for future growth, and we are confident that under Hastings’ ownership it will continue to thrive.” Andrew Day, Hastings Chief Executive, said:

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“The outlook for the use of natural gas as a clean and efficient fuel source in Northern Ireland is compelling. Phoenix continues to play an important role in bringing gas to consumers in the Greater Belfast area and we are excited to support this.” He added: “The successful transaction is a direct result of Hastings’ global operating model and reflects our increased commitment to growing our capabilities in different regions for the benefit of our investors.” Peter Dixon, Group Chief Executive, Phoenix Energy Holdings, said: “Phoenix Natural Gas, our core business, is responsible for operating and extending our gas distribution network as well as developing and supporting the wider local natural gas

Phoenix Group Chief Executive Peter Dixon.

industry in Northern Ireland. Over the past eight years, under Terra Firma’s ownership, Phoenix has invested over £100 million locally. The key ambition for Phoenix in the years ahead is to continue to grow significantly the distribution business, and attracting an investor such as Hastings into the local Northern Ireland economy will help us to meet this ambition. “Hastings sees great opportunities for growth here in Northern Ireland and in particular was attracted by Phoenix’s ambitions to continue to increase gas availability in its existing licence area, as well as to target opportunities for growth in areas that are new to Phoenix.”

NI Woman Appointed To Prestigious International Board


ebecca Di Maio from Ballymena has become the first female engineer to be appointed to a prestigious international board of directors headquartered in Florida, USA. Rebecca, who is Clinical Research Manager at HeartSine Technologies headquartered in Belfast, has been elected to the International Society for Computerized Electrocardiology (ISCE) Board. Rebecca, who is pictured holding a HeartSine defibrillator, joins the organisation which focuses on bringing together leading industry experts from around the world to study the most effective and advanced treatment of cardiac conditions.

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Eye on Cover Story

Neal Kelly at Henderson Group... Catering To Changing Shopping Habits It’s a good time to be in the convenience store business. A combination of changing shopping habits, busy lives and tighter budgets means that more and more of us are shopping for fewer goods more often... with fewer and fewer of us depending on the large-scale weekly supermarket shop.


ost people simply can’t afford to throw out a couple of bags full of unused fresh items at the end of the week before the next big shop comes in, so we’ve changed our habits. A lot more of us will buy goods on a daily basis, or for a couple of days’ worth of meals,” says Neal Kelly. Kelly is a man who knows a thing or two about shopping habits. As Fresh Food Director at the Henderson Group, he is responsible for providing fresh food to 420 convenience stores around Northern Ireland, this includes the SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO brands as well as working with the Irelandwide Henderson Foodservice catering supply operation on its fresh food offerings for Retailers He is also responsible for the suppliers who deliver an average of 85 fresh food deliveries a day that come into the Henderson Group’s vast Mallusk distribution complex. This also includes


a staggering nine million cases of products per annum going out to the Henderson Retail network. It’s a side of Henderson Group’s business which has been producing a very healthy 10% growth year on year and it’s a business which generates knock-on benefits to all corners of the Northern Ireland economy. The company sources 75% of its fresh food products locally from a wide range of suppliers across just about every food sector. “We’re very committed to working with as many local suppliers as possible. Our mission is all about freshness, quality, innovation and the kind of traceability which provides reassurance for our end consumers,” he says. Neal Kelly reckons that he has the food business in his DNA. His mother ran a bakery business and he went on to join Sainsbury’s after school, leaving Northern Ireland to work his way up through the ranks of the supermarket giant in GB. Working as a senior trader in the bakery segment, Neal decided to leave England to return to Northern Ireland in 2000. He went on to work with Musgrave Group for nine years before his career took a sharp turn into the food processing/manufacturing sector with Avondale Foods, the Craigavonbased supplier of added value salad products. “I had intended to be there for a while, but when I heard that the Henderson Group were looking for a Fresh Food Director, I had to throw my hat into the ring. The role seemed perfectly designed to both my experiences and passions,”says Kelly. “In short, I’m responsible for the management

“We’re very committed to working with as many local suppliers as possible. Our mission is all about freshness, quality, innovation and the kind of traceability which provides reassurance for our end consumers.”

Stephen Humphreys (left) and Damien Toal of ACE Belfast.


Eye on Cover Story

“The convenience sector is definitely amongst the fastest growing sectors within retail as a whole, and there is a lot more growth potential there. The ‘little and often’ approach to shopping is much more prevalent, and that means that what we do in convenience retailing is crucial.” and development of the fresh foods customer offer, working across the wider Henderson Group business,” explains Kelly, who is an active board member for Henderson Wholesale and Henderson Retail. “It is up to my team to make the right choices when it comes to products that we list and stock. We also work with our suppliers on everything from quality standards to product development and from promotions to in-store sampling! “We spend a lot of time on innovation....


looking at new product ideas, at new recipes and at new ways of doing things. “I think that our focus on innovation is reflected in the changing food offering at SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO stores here in Northern Ireland.” There’s little doubt that convenience stores and the whole concept of convenience retailing has changed beyond recognition in recent years. Stores such as SPAR stock a much wider range of products than ever before and fresh food plays a leading role. “The convenience sector is definitely amongst the fastest growing sectors within retail as a whole,” says Kelly. “With a lot more growth potential there too. The ‘little and often’ approach to shopping is much more prevalent and makes we do in convenience retailing absolutely crucial.” The term ‘fresh food’ needs some explanation. In Neal Kelly’s words, it means “everything that is perishable”. That includes chilled ready meals, sandwiches, meat, dairy, bakery, fresh fruit, vegetables, even flowers... all of these brought together make up a significant chunk of an average convenience store. The Henderson Group has made significant investments in both its fresh food team and its fresh food distribution facilities at Mallusk. “It’s a constant process of looking at new suppliers, working with existing suppliers, examining new product ideas and trying to predict what our customers will be wanting to buy in the future,” says Neal Kelly. It’s also a seasonal business. This summer’s prolonged spell of warm weather provided a significant boost in terms of footfall for the SPAR, EUROSPAR & ViVO stores. “I’m not just talking about ice creams, ice lollies and barbecue items,” he says. “Extremes of weather – either hot or cold – tend to mean that more people drop in to shop more often in convenience outlets.” Emphasising the Henderson Group’s commitment to suppliers from Northern Ireland Neal Kelly goes on to explain the increasingly more sophisticated agri-food sector. “We certainly buy into the ambitious strategy laid out for the agri-food industry here in Northern Ireland and we will continue to do our bit to support local producers.” Henderson Group’s fresh food operation forms part of a £620 million turnover locallyowned company (it remains in the ownership of the Agnew family) which has its roots back in the 1800’s. It ranks as one of the most important in the Northern Ireland economy as a whole, both in terms of its reach and impact on everyone from farmers to local retailers and in terms of the fact that it directly employs more than 2,600 people here. “This is a company which is 100% rooted here in Northern Ireland and 100% committed to Northern Ireland,” he adds. “Very few local companies have re-invested in Northern Ireland the way that we have as a group.”

Eye on Property

CD Fairfield... FINANCIAL FIRST AID FOR PROPERTY CRASH VICTIMS A Belfast company specialising in the management and re-structuring of property-related debt continues to work with clients and financial institutions throughout Northern Ireland and Great Britain.


CD Fairfield Capital, based at Mount Charles in the university area of the city, was established less than two years ago in response to the financial crisis and property crash. “The company is all about helping people who now find themselves in negative equity, or are struggling with property-related debts. The aim is help them find a way out of their debt problems by re-structuring and other means,” says Philip Davison, a director of CD Fairfield alongside Tom Cardwell and Ajay Sharma.

Philip is Managing Director of local property company Aria Property Solutions - a leading rental property specialist, Tom heads up Excel Financial Services - an independent financial advisory company and Ajay is a banking consultant – dealing with debt restructuring, interest rate swap mis-selling, banking facilities and treasury management. An experienced and highly professional team at CD Fairfield engages with the banks and lenders on behalf of the firm’s clients to formulate, propose and

Eye on Property

“The company is all about helping people who now find themselves in negative equity, or are struggling with property-related debts. The aim is simple... to help them find a way out of their debt problems.”

implement acceptable solutions to customer debt issues. “The first meeting with our team – experienced in law, financial services and property issues – is free of charge, and our fees after that are affordable and easy to understand,” says Tom. “We talk to each client in detail, go through their personal circumstances and come up with a plan of action from there.” According to Philip, the team at CD Fairfield works hard to avoid bankruptcy in every case, exploring potential solutions with lenders along the way. “Our clients represent all types of property investor, from homeowners who feel trapped in their houses by negative equity,

Philip Davison

Tom Cardwell

Ajay Sharma

investors who bought one or two buy-to-let houses, right through to much larger investors with commercial property portfolios. “What they all have in common is that they were caught unawares by a property crash triggered and magnified by a global financial crisis that no-one predicted.” In each case, the CD Fairfield team engage with the bank or lender early in the process with a view to agreeing a mutually acceptable way forward. “In our experience, the lending institutions are generally receptive to consensual, transparent & commercial proposals. It makes good business sense for them to take that attitude”, adds Ajay.

“With such intense scrutiny on banks these days, we understand that they have to be accountable for their decisions – our job at CD Fairfield is to make that easy for them.” The company certainly seems to offer a credible alternative option to indebted homeowners who may otherwise be considering bankruptcy or an IVA. When faced with such decisions, who wouldn’t want to explore the alternatives? Tom has a final word “In some cases, we’ve managed to achieve debt write-offs of 90% of total debt. That won’t happen every time, of course, but clients might be surprised by the results that can be achieved by engaging our services.”

The company counts a number of current and former property investors – both large and smaller-scale – among its clients. The CD Fairfield team has worked hard to build up a professional panel of affiliates that they can rely on to provide specialised services as required. These include chartered surveyors and estate agents across the country and expert legal back up from the likes of Belfast-based law firm MKB Law.


Eye on Digital

Making Technology Work For Your Business

Adopting digital technologies is vital if businesses are to compete. But, says Sinclair Stockman, Executive Director of Digital Northern Ireland 2020, the investment doesn’t have to break the bank to pay off.


he impact of digital technology on our lives, in terms of how we interact, socialise and do business has already been unprecedented, and there is much more to come. As individuals we have never been more digitally connected but when it comes to our businesses how are we doing? We have a cluster of digital and creative businesses in Northern Ireland operating on a global scale and taking huge leaps forward. And I’m not just talking about the IT and technology sectors, but we have world class media and post-production companies, web and design companies and as well as financial services organisations and business service companies,


which are using the digital technology and infrastructure to achieve global success. A recent report from the Federation of Small Business reinforced this impression, with 85% of small businesses identifying investment in new technologies as a key driver for business growth. The research showed that some 63 per cent said that digital technologies have a positive impact on how they communicate with existing customers and 53 per cent believe that it has helped them in targeting new customers. And while many of our companies are reaping the dividends of adopting and making better use of new technologies, allowing them to become more competitive, too many are being left behind. We at Digital Northern Ireland 2020 have spent the past year explaining to business owners across the country how important it is that they harness the latest cutting edge technologies to enable them to compete. Often I hear that given the current

economic climate business owners are hesitant to make significant investments in technology. But this is precisely the time that our businesses need to embrace and invest in new technologies to grow their target markets. Getting online, with a web presence that allows potential customers to access your services and purchase your products, need not break the bank. Yes, it does require some investment, but well executed will give access to national and global markets. Embracing the World Wide Web is only the first step for businesses in Northern Ireland. By harnessing the power of digital technology and the Internet to engage in online marketing and e-commerce, companies can not only boost their own sales but also strengthen the local economy and create new jobs. Technology and the Internet are global game-changers, which are accessible to most of our businesses to take them to the next level. This will allow you to not only

improve the efficiency of your business, but more importantly, also allow you to gain greater market reach both locally and globally. I would caution business owners though. Investment in digital technology is not a cure all. Your business needs to be addressing specific needs and rather than rushing to have the latest tools, it is about increasing your agility and ability to compete. It is about being savvy and approaching these investments in the same way you would any others in your business. Northern Ireland has a world-class digital infrastructure in place, and our talented workforce has the skills and know-how to assist with making sure that business owners make the right investments. Global businesses are choosing to locate here for these very reasons, but it is vital that our own indigenous businesses use the digital infrastructure to its fullest potential in order to not only grow your revenues but also enhance the economy as a whole.

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Eye on Tourism

Mobile Technology Tourism businesses can’t afford to ignore the mobile revolution, says Northern Ireland Tourist Board Chief Executive, Alan Clarke. It is going to shape our tourism industry over the next decade…


ust as smartphones continue to change the world we live in, mobile technology will play a big part in shaping Northern Ireland’s tourism industry over the next ten years. The industry has already gone through massive transformational change in the last 20 years in adapting to the widespread impact of the internet. But looking towards 2020, NITB believes it will have to keep moving and adapting. Advancements in mobile technology are taking place at an unprecedented rate. They are changing the way we behave, interact, work and spend our leisure time. It’s the mobile revolution. If you want to know how people will be using technology tomorrow, look at what young people are doing today. Mobile technology is central to the lives of all ‘millennials’ – those born between 1980 and 2000 – for both work and play. Prolific users of social media and highly adept at using apps to streamline their lives, millennials have been quick to adapt to technology that facilitates an ‘always on’ lifestyle. The oldest of this group will hit their late 30s by 2020 and will play an increasingly important role in the business and consumer world. NITB has identified that in the next decade we will see new trends and innovations making an impact right across the dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing of a holiday – the five phases of the traditional travel cycle. Tourism businesses will be impacted at every stage. It is already becoming more and more important for consumers


to be connected at all times during their travels. But in the future the smartphone will become the ubiquitous travel companion, giving tourists access to their passport, money, travel guides and reviews, maps, social networks and much more as mobile technology continues to develop. Mobile technology innovations will help tourists to quickly find their feet in new surroundings. For example, with the continued development of intelligent translation services the industry is already seeing tourism businesses making use of apps that allow visitors to translate signage into their native tongue. Experts predict that the technology will eventually let you translate what you hear while travelling into your native language on your smartphone. We will also see more geolocation based ‘augmented reality’ apps. Visitors will be able to look through their smartphone’s camera and see information about their current location – the nearest restaurant or train station, say. This technology has already been put in use by a handful of early adopters, the Metro in Paris being one. The mobile revolution is being driven by four overarching ‘megatrends’. The influence of millennnials is key, but the growing power of the consumer, social media’s coming of age and the mainstream adoption of 4G will also have significant parts to play at each stage of the travel cycle. We’ve seen some change in some of the stages already – for example, the influential power of social media or the rise or the

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

growing popularity of on-thego bookings. But it is the travel experience itself that will undergo the most radical change. Tourists today no longer want generic package holidays. They increasingly want bespoke, authentic travel experiences where it’s all about the depth rather than breadth. Mobile technology has reached the point where it can enhance and enrich these experiences. Innovations and trends in this area will carry on unabated. For instance, vision-based ‘augmented reality’ apps will continue to make a big impact on the travel experience at visitor attractions and destinations. Using their smartphone’s camera, visitors will be able to experience a place from a different perspective through photos, videos or sounds from the past or from a simulated reality. The Museum of London has an augmented reality app called Streetmuseum that reveals the history of the spot you are standing on. Imagine visitors to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter being able to ‘experience’ the sights and sounds from a hundred years ago. Or imagine being able to see the Giant’s Causeway being formed from volcanic rock before your very eyes. Given the growing trend

of tourists wanting to immerse themselves in the history and culture of the places they visit, apps like this will grow in popularity over the coming decade. Tourism businesses will have opportunities to capitalise on this trend and use technology to enhance their offering and, in doing so, attract and engage more visitors. The good news is that, given that the mainstream adoption of 4G will not take place for another few years, our tourism businesses still have time to shape rather than await their future. For businesses ready to take them, the mobile revolution will provide opportunities in the form of customer relationship management and enhanced consumer engagement. It is forecast that digital currency will replace cash in the next decade, for instance, giving opportunities to collect data from customers for CRM purposes. Supported by Northern Ireland’s strong ICT sector, tourism businesses are already taking positive steps in adapting and taking advantage of new technology. But it is hugely important that tourism businesses stay with the mobile revolution. The time to continue taking practical steps to embrace change is now.

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Eye on News

£12m plans for Belfast’s Scottish Mutual building unveiled


he former Scottish Mutual building opposite Belfast City Hall is to be transformed into a luxury, stylish ‘boutique’ hotel as part of a major £12 million-pound investment plan which will create more than 180 full and part-time jobs. Tullymore House Limited, the company which owns and runs the successful Galgorm Resort and Spa, said it had recently acquired the landmark building and that it had ambitious plans to sympathetically restore it to its former glory in a revamp that will provide a welcome boost to the city centre’s burgeoning tourism economy. It said that as part of the upgrade,

two bars and two restaurants were earmarked for the ground and first floor areas in the 1904 Grade B1 listed building, which straddles Bedford Street and Donegall Square, one of which would have a ‘Parisian’ theme which would incorporate an outside garden area at street level. There are also plans for a large ‘seated’ function room for more than 120 people on the second floor, which captures the magnificent views over the City Hall gardens, in addition to a further two smaller function rooms to accommodate either private dining, business events or other functions. The upper three floors in the 42,000 square foot, five-story

building will be upgraded to accommodate up to 40 hotel bedrooms and 10 serviced apartments. The hotel’s main entrance will be on Donegall Square. Colin Johnston, Project Manager, said: “This truly magnificent, iconic city centre building has all the key ingredients – location, beauty, space and heritage – for a welcome and sympathetic restoration into a luxury, boutique hotel designed to accommodate the hospitality needs of everyone in the city, from discerning tourists, local socialites, diners and businesspeople with an eye for a quality venue. “We are really delighted that we can



add real value and worth by turning this landmark building into a modern, bright and stylish venue which will sit comfortably alongside the city’s best hotels. This investment is significant for the city, it’s a vote of confidence in the prospects for the economy and it will bring a new, exciting dimension to Belfast’s hospitality offering which is backed, supported and driven by successful and experienced hoteliers.” Tullymore House Limited is planning to invest in the region of £12 million in the project and that it hoped that once plans are approved it could start work as soon as possible with the aim of completing works before the end of 2015.

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Eye on Business Personality

YOUNG BUSINESS PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH Richard Stuart, Managing Director of TGO, Ireland and Garden Escapes.

(L-R) Claire Dickson, Business Eye, Patrick McCarney, Electric Ireland, and Richard Stuart of TGO, Ireland and Garden Escapes.

At age 33, and with two highly successful companies under his belt, Richard Stuart has come a long way from the office in his spare room.


ollowing my graduation in Technology and Design at the University of Ulster, I got involved in the sport and leisure industry in Northern Ireland as a playground designer where I helped to build a leading playground equipment company. “Then in 2006 I seized the opportunity to start my own playground equipment company called Garden Escapes, which I started in my spare room and garage.” Today, Garden Escapes is one of the leading providers of outdoor play areas for schools and council, representing some of the UK top manufacturers as well and manufacturing our range of unique sound and sensory equipment. Garden Escapes are housed in a 7500 square feet purpose built office and workshop complex in Richard’s home town of Ballynahinch. “We have done very well with the children’s play and sensory side of the business, but over the past couple of years it has evolved.


“The move into outdoor gym and fitness equipment came as a natural progression. “Whilst watching the news one evening, I saw an opportunity to grow the outdoor gym market in Northern Ireland. The trend had moved to Europe from China and from there had just started to raise some interest with local authorities in the UK. “I was and still am very aware that never before has there been such a focus on health and wellbeing. “I carried out extensive research and came across a company which stood out amongst all others in the marketplace - The Great Outdoor Gym Company who are based in England” “What really appealed to us is that all of the TGO outdoor gym equipment is designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK – and are leading the way in terms of product quality and safety’” “Within a matter of months, we were sealing the deal on The Great Outdoor Gym Company,

Ireland, which would see us as the sole distributor of outdoor gym equipment across Ireland.” Just over 12 months on and TGO Ireland has 25 outdoor gyms spread across Northern Ireland with a number at early stages in the South. “Our first site was an eight piece gym in Wallace Park in Lisburn. “We carried out a launch event which saw Northern Ireland football legend Glenn Ferguson and ex-Ulster Rugby Player Bryn Cunningham test out the equipment in front of local and national media. “From this, we were inundated with calls from other councils, community groups, schools, sports clubs and universities enquiring about how we might be able to provide an outdoor gym to meet their requirements.” Richard’s role as managing director of both companies sees him deal with both new and potential customers, and focusing on how best to move the business forward in terms of strategy. ”I am lucky as the business is continuing to thrive. In the early days, as with most small business owners, I did everything from the accounts through to digging holes for the equipment.

“Although today I am more involved with the business side, I employ a full team who assist in the design and installation of the gyms. But I still don’t mind getting my hands dirty. “I try to keep a good work/life balance which is important with two young boys so I’m not like some of these workaholic entrepreneurs that you hear about, I try to keep my typical working week Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 5.30ish. Sometimes when things get busier I work a few evenings or a Saturday.” Richard feels that timing, alongside hard graft and a desire to stay ahead of trends is what has helped him thrive. “2012 was a fantastic year for The Great outdoor Gym Company. Not only did we launch our first outdoor gym in Lisburn we also secured a £385,000 contract commissioned by the South Eastern Education and Library Board. “An initial £200,000 contract secured in December 2012 for outdoor gyms within five secondary schools across Northern Ireland; Ballynahinch High School, Priory Integrated College, Glastry College, Newtownbreda High School and Laurelhill Community College. “After the success of the gyms the SEELB increased the contract which saw us install the platinum sized outdoor gyms in Down High School, Saintfield High School, Regent House, Glenola Collegiate, Lisnagarvey High School and Fort Hill College. Installed by Garden Escapes, in partnership with The Great Outdoor Gym Company, Ireland, the gyms were the first to be located in schools and the largest outdoor gyms in the country, offering pupils of all physical abilities the opportunity to further learn and practice PE outdoors, before, during and after school. “I am delighted with our success to date; however, I won’t be resting on my laurels any time soon. Our next target is the sporting sector and we are currently negotiating deals with local and national rugby and GAA clubs. They too are recognising the fantastic benefits which exercise in the great outdoors can bring to both amateur and professional athletes.”

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Eye on Economy

BALANCED APPROACH VITAL FOR ECONOMY Says Trevor Annon, Chairman, Mount Charles Group While there is a welcome feel good factor gaining momentum across many sectors of the Northern Ireland business landscape, a balanced approach must continue to be the definitive strategy.


he biggest threat to a sustained recovery is one that fails to take into account the still fragile state of our economy. The gradual rise in valuations in the housing market is being viewed as a key element of the overall confidence barometer. However that increase and the accompanying lift in sales figures has to be set against the stark fact that since 2007 the overall value of the domestic property segment has slumped by around 80 per cent. The Office for National Statistics shows that in May prices had risen by 1.9 per cent – the first month that Northern Ireland property prices had grown year-onyear since February 2008. But on the flip side of the housing price coin the average price of a UK home is £130,000, the same as back in 2005. On the broader issue of debt one of the major problem areas will be the insistence from Westminster that Stormont tackles the burgeoning public sector deficit. A detailed CBI report on the prospects for recovery in Northern Ireland makes very valid observations on this point. The key is that the Coalition Government is under pressure to re-prioritise capital over revenue expenditure. This will lead to an inevitable scaling back on a number


of projects earmarked for Northern Ireland. However, the CBI makes the argument that there are still opportunities to benefit from an annual subvention of one billion pounds. For Northern Ireland that level of core support, provided it was supplemented by private investment, offers a significant platform for economic expansion. The continued limitation of sustained investment in vital infrastructure projects is a tangible consequence of that dependency on the public sector purse – and the apparent reluctance of our politicians to confront the problem. The reality of life in Northern Ireland is that the complex issues that continue to manifest themselves as negative flashpoint confrontations on our streets have allowed attention to be diverted away from economic realities. Crucial cash injections needed to underpin public service provision will ultimately have to come from greater private sector participation in the expansion of road, water, social housing and energy networks. It is unacceptable that infrastructure assets with potential revenue generation streams are being stalled. However the realignment of public sector finances has to include the reform of the banking sector.

“The reality of life in Northern Ireland is that the complex issues that continue to manifest themselves as negative flashpoint confrontations on our streets have allowed attention to be diverted away from economic realities.” The pillars of a sustainable recovery can only be cemented by the financial services industry accepting its responsibilities. It must meet the challenge of providing relevant sources of capital. It needs to understand the day-to-day reality of cash flow survival. Ingrained debt accrued on the back of an unrealistic banking philosophy still acts as a restraint on growth. Imagination has never been in short supply in the context of local business and entrepreneurial spirit. It is vital that Government shows similar innovation to restore confidence in terms of credit access for the public and for business if our economic revival is to be credible.

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Eye on Profile


Eye on Profile

SIMON HAMILTON... NEW FINANCE MINISTER SETS OUT HIS STALL The Northern Ireland private sector should take a more positive view of an active and supportive public sector.


hat’s the view of the Executive’s new Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton, who officially took over the financial reins from Sammy Wilson during the summer months. “We have a job to do in terms of managing our public sector, and cutting expenditure where we can. But it strikes me that a strong public sector can be sold as a positive for this region,” he says. The 36-year old Comber man serves as a DUP MLA for Strangford, and he admits that he’s had plenty of time to prepare for taking over the hot seat at the Department of Finance & Personnel. “It’s well known that I was earmarked by Peter Robinson for this job two years ago, and as Sammy Wilson often put it, I’ve had a two-year apprenticeship,” Hamilton jokes. “And that has given me a chance to get to know the issues, the people and the business community.” An easy communicator with an engaging personality, Hamilton will be very different in style to the affable but often unpredictable Sammy Wilson, a man never scared of a brush with controversy. The odds are that he’ll steer a more predictable course, but he’ll be no one’s fool when it comes to the key issues. “Look, there is a lot of wariness about at the moment. No one wants to get quoted talking about green shoots until we’re absolutely certain they are there,” he says. “But I do think we’ve over the worst and moving in a much more positive direction. It’s

not going to be rapid and nor will it be universal. But I think we’ll look back on the second half of 2013 as the start of a move in the right direction. “Certainly, the key indicators seem to be pointing in the right direction at long last....some of them for the first time since 2007. That has to be encouraging. “But a challenge for us at Government level is that we have to manage the tail of the recession. Government spending has to be carefully managed and controlled, and we still have to operate within the austerity programme maintained by Westminster. That won’t be changing in the foreseeable future.” Public expenditure will be his biggest challenge. No one doubts that. Hamilton’s assessment is that it has already been ‘flattened out’, but that it could go up slightly before it heads in the downward direction. “There’s always a gap,” he says simply, “between what we have and what the people want!” He insists the the economy remains firmly at the top of the Executive’s agenda. “On a macro level, we have to keep the economy going. We’ve already done a lot as an Executive. We’ve worked hard at funding infrastructure.” By way of example, he quotes the case of Titanic Belfast and sporting venues like Ravenhill (...where he’s a regular supporter) and Casement Park. “They were brave calls, and they have and will make a big contribution to Northern Ireland,” he says. “But would we be able to make the same calls in the current climate? Probably not.” And there are other examples he’s keen to highlight. The Executive’s investment role in delivering 100% broadband coverage to Northern Ireland, and the Project Kelvin transatlantic fibre link, for instance. The new Finance Minister is

quick to pay tribute to the business community here. “There are plenty of winners out there, plenty of really successful companies,” he adds. “Look at sectors like technology, engineering and agri-food. We’ve got world beaters in our midst. And there are huge opportunities out there especially for those with an export focus. With our own economy going in the right direction, companies here can thrive and grow.” But his optimism is set against the fact that two thirds of GDP still goes on public sector spending, allied to the simple fact that the private sector here isn’t as bit as it should be. “The challenge for all of us is to continue to build an efficient and effective private sector,” says Hamilton. “I’ve looked at economies similar to Northern Ireland’s, in the Scandinavian countries for example, and one important factor is that a lot of them have a growing private sector which is partly driven by, and certainly helped by, a large but well-geared public sector. There’s no reason why that can’t be applied more and more to this region. “The public sector here is large, but it can be used as a driver and not viewed as a drag. Of course it needs reforming, but I really think it’s size and scale can be seen as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.” The Minister goes on to quote the area of public sector procurement as a direct way in which the public sector can produce tangible benefits for the private sector. “Both sectors need to work harder on procurement. To put it very simply, if the public sector needs a widget, let’s make sure that the private sector is ready to produce and supply the right kind of widget. There are genuine opportunities here for

mutual benefit, so let’s start looking more closely at the whole area.” Hamilton’s predecessor, Sammy Wilson, was no fan of the banks.... and was never slow to criticise our financial institutions. The new Minister is likely to be more circumspect. But he’s also forthright. “We have a lot to blame the banks for,” he says simply. “But we all have to learn from what happened and we have to move forward. There are mixed views out there about whether banks or lending or not, and that’s not something I can get into as Finance Minister. “But the Executive wants to encourage the availability of funding to companies here of all sizes.... through the banks and other sources of finance, including Government agencies like Invest Northern Ireland.” Hamilton also throws his personal support behind the continued campaign to deliver lower corporation tax rates for Northern Ireland. The decision was effectively kicked into touch by Prime Minister David Cameron some months ago until the latter part of 2014..... after the Scottish Referendum. “I’m definitely a supporter of the granting of devolved powers on corporation tax,” says the Minister. “We’ve done very well to attract FDI projects like Citi Group and NYSE here, and to help them grow, but there’s no doubt that an attractive tax regime would be a big help going forward. “It’s hard to see any other policy move that could beat corporation tax in terms of impact. We could be looking at the creating of a lot of jobs. “What’s more, I think the Westminster Government gets it too. They see the advantages of pushing this through. So, in common with the business leaders heading up the campaign, I remain optimistic that it will happen.”

37 CCS ad_banner_185x15mm.indd 1

26/05/2011 10:56:18

Eye on Markets

Aiming High? A look at recent moves to include AIM-listed stocks in ISAs and Junior ISAs.


he UK government has been much maligned for its failure to address the needs of small and medium sized companies throughout the financial crisis, in spite of the efforts of business secretary Vince Cable and chancellor George Osborne to kick-start this vital element of the economy, so starved of cash in the credit drought which has resulted from banks’ need to shrink their bloated and debt-ridden balance sheets. In his 2012 autumn statement however the chancellor announced a consultation on the expansion of the list of qualifying investments for stocks and shares ISAs. The aim (no pun intended) was to include shares listed on small and medium-sized enterprise equity markets. In doing so he hoped to encourage more investment in growing businesses and to extend choice for ISA investors. The consultation reached its conclusion successfully and from Monday 5 August AIM-traded shares may now be included in ISAs, including Junior ISAs. As a result, in many cases, investors will in effect have a double tax break: ISA investments are taxfree for as long as they are held in the ISA but are normally counted as part of the investor’s estate on death and may generate an inheritance tax liability, however, many (but

not all) AIM investments qualify for business property relief, which takes them out of the inheritance tax net after two years of ownership. Investors should be careful though of investing in an asset class where returns can be volatile for all the wrong reasons. AIM stocks are quite rightly regarded as higher risk than companies listed on the main market, as they are subject to less stringent listing requirements. For example, there is no requirement for a trading history or for a minimum free float (proportion of the stock available for public trading). Liquidity may also be an issue, leaving investors unable to trade quickly out of stocks should they need to and might also lead to investors nursing a loss on the shares which cannot be offset against profits elsewhere for capital gains tax purposes. Additionally, some companies, having succeeded in obtaining a quotation on the AIM market, subsequently withdraw it, leaving shareholders in a vulnerable position. Of course there is the possibility of significant gains, but also significant losses. Readers will no doubt be aware of the stock market adages ‘trees don’t grow to the sky’ or ‘elephants don’t gallop’ referring to the greater potential for smaller stocks to grow

than blue chip behemoths, but the downside can be substantial too. The Aim All-share index peaked at 2925 in January 2000, but more than 13 years later it stands at around 720 (as at 5 August 2013), still more than 75% down from the high point. In 2010 the market rose by 42% over the year, but in the second half of 2008 alone it lost almost 60%. Having said that, there are many good companies and indeed household names in the index. As with all equity investment there are risks and investors should carry out due diligence or seek qualified professional advice when selecting stocks for inclusion in any part of their portfolio, furthermore we would recommend this be used as part of a diversified investment strategy. For those who are aware of the risks and who have the ability to withstand any potential losses however, there may be an opportunity to include companies in their ISAs which have hitherto been excluded. To this extent the move meets the government’s objective of extending choice for ISA investors. Whether it will further the objective of encouraging investment in the sort of businesses which have found it hard to attract capital is another matter and for the government to decide.

Heather McHenry, Partner

This does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell investments and the value of any shares may fall as well as rise. Investments carry risk and investors may not receive back the amount invested. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of Cunningham Coates Stockbrokers. Cunningham Coates Stockbrokers is a trading name of Smith & Williamson Investment Management LLP. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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controlling energy costs. At Electric Ireland, we understand that reducing costs is essential to the success of any business. We also know that, when it comes to payment plans, one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why we offer you very competitive fixed or variable rates that take account of what your individual company needs. Formerly ESB Independent Energy, we have a long history of investing in Northern Ireland’s electricity network and are continually looking for ways to help our growing number of customers control their costs. Talk to our dedicated business team about how we can help you reduce your costs and use energy more efficiently. Call the business team today on

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Eye on Entrepreneurs

Ernst & Young NI Entrepreneur Of The Year Finalists




utomated Intelligence (AI) is a Northern Ireland based software company with a new approach to managing corporate information and data to address the pain points of technology that are currently in the market. AI drives data value by providing enterprise software solutions to reduce data costs and improve data management, efficiencies and compliance. Experienced enterprise software industry experts, Mark Godfrey and Simon Cole, founded Automated Intelligence (AI) in 2010 with an innovative idea for the


ounded in 2011 by Eleanor McEvoy, Budget Energy is shaping up to be a serious player in the Northern Ireland market, with a fresh approach to an old industry based on straight forward tariffs with no hidden charges. Having secured a license to operate within Northern Ireland in December 2010, Budget Energy quickly established operations to meet industry requirements and began supplying electricity to customers in July 2011. They supply electricity to both the domestic and commercial markets,


hoenix Natural Gas, acquired from Terra Firma this summer by the Hastings Investment Group. Since 1996, Phoenix has been successful in establishing natural gas as a brand new product to an existing market and establishing a strong and vibrant supporting industry. Through the introduction of pioneering techniques, Phoenix has gained a strong international reputation for its innovative, commercial infrastructural development in a ‘greenfield’ environment. Following the development of highly



information management market. At that point they had no staff, no product, no customers, no office and an un-established brand. AI provides user-friendly software solutions that change how organisations manage their data end-to-end through its lifecycle; improving user experience and data compliance and, most importantly in the current market, significantly reducing the cost of managing and storing data. The technology successfully meets new requirements for data management, mobile capabilities

and cloud computing models. The functionality of their products is designed to fit seamlessly in a Microsoft environment. AI have developed a large customer base with over 100,000 licences of software deployed, including 7 UK central government departments such as the HM Treasury, Department for Education, Department of Health, an extensive number of local and regional government bodies, the British Red Cross and early successes in Northern Europe with customers such as Statoil Fuel and Retail.

and since going live in the market, have acquired over 25,000 new domestic and commercial customers across the North of Ireland. Previously, consumers in Northern Ireland had two choices - Power NI and Airtricity - resulting in a staid and uncompetitive market controlled by two large companies. Budget Energy’s goal is to be cost effective, competitive and operational in real time bringing much needed consumer choice to the marketplace. Budget Energy provides “value for money” electricity to consumers through a combination

of competitive pricing and reduced overheads. They believe the consumer should have the information they need to decide on how to best manage their energy bills and, therefore, practice a no frills, common sense approach to how they operate. With a focus on recruiting locally to support the regional economy, Budget Energy currently employ 28 full time staff but hope to double this figure by mid-2014.

successful and cost effective systems that facilitated the introduction of supply competition in natural gas for the first time in Greater Belfast, Phoenix has now divested itself from its gas supply activities to concentrate on the distribution asset in Greater Belfast. Phoenix retains responsibility for the growth and development of the market to its optimum size. Economically, around 3,000 people are currently employed throughout the wider local natural gas industry, including within gas installation companies, product retailers, manufacturers, distributors,

merchants and training centres all operating in a coordinated way under the Phoenix banner. Around 250 employees are employed directly by Phoenix. Environmentally, the 160,000 plus properties in the Greater Belfast area that have installed leading edge natural gas equipment replacing more polluting fuels like oil and coal, has resulted in more than 3 million tonnes of CO2 being prevented from entering our atmosphere. For comparison, in terms of impact, this is the equivalent of removing almost 60,000 cars from Northern Ireland’s roads every year.

Eye on Entrepreneurs



eamus McKeague is Managing Director of Creagh Concrete Products Ltd, established in 1974 to manufacture concrete blocks at Creagh, Toomebridge. Since then the company has grown to become one of the largest and most innovative producers of concrete products for a diverse range of market sectors throughout Ireland and the UK. Creagh offers a wide range of concrete products from its manufacturing facilities in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland. McKeague joined Creagh in 1982 and became a part owner of the business with three of his brothers


olin Williams is the founder and Creative Director of Sixteen South Television, a leading children’s television production company that creates and produces programming for broadcasters across the globe, including BBC, Nickelodeon, US cable giant Sprout and ABC Australia. Founded in 2008, Sixteen South is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. 100% of their work is produced in Northern Ireland and 100% is made for export. They have produced over 200 episodes of premium children’s television, which are broadcast in over 100 countries, into over


artin Hamilton is Managing Director of Mash Direct, an independent, family-owned farming and food production enterprise. Hamilton had been growing and selling vegetables for over twenty year when, after careful analysis of market trends in eating habits and lifestyle patterns, he diversified his wholesale farming business to form Mash Direct Limited in County Down. Mash Direct is now an £11m company, employing 121 members of staff including Martin’s two sons, Lance and Jack. Construction has also recently commenced on a new facility which will bring the total facility size to



in 1986 with a turnover of £1m per year. By 2007, the turnover had grown to £55m. The last 4-5 years have been particularly challenging for the company as traditional markets had contracted by 75% in Ireland and 50% in the UK. In 2008, Creagh had to radically re-structure and down-size in order to survive. E By 09/10, the situation had stabilised and a strategy was implemented to provide a clear path for business growth with the potential to double the size of the business within 4-5 years. Prior to the economic downturn in 2007, Creagh’s geographical sales turnover breakdown was 70%

in Ireland and 30% in Scotland and England. In 2013, 80% of business is carried out in England and Scotland with only 20% remaining within Ireland. Creagh changed its profile from being a product supplier to a contracting company which now delivers significant sub contract packages for a wide diversity of projects. Creagh are now manufacturing in 4 locations: Newbridge near Edinburgh; Hoveringham near Nottingham; Ardboe, Co Tyrone; Toomebridge, Co. Antrim and have 3 quarries in Co Derry, Co. Tyrone and Co.Antrim supplying sand, gravel and stone to these manufacturing facilities.

300 million homes worldwide. Shows include Sesame Tree, Big City Park, Big and Small, Pajanimals and Driftwood Bay. In their short history, Sixteen South have already partnered with the biggest and most respected names in children’s entertainment around the globe, producing shows with Sesame Workshop, The Jim Henson Company and the BBC. Sixteen South is ranked among the UK’s top indie producers by Televisual and are also one of the biggest employers in the Creative Industry with each of their productions creating in the region of 55 new jobs.

Pajanimals, their fourth production is a preschool show aimed at 2-3 year olds to help young children settle down to sleep. It’s a partnership with The Jim Henson Company and the broadcaster; Sprout (an NBC channel). It was completely produced in Belfast but airs in every home in the US on Saturday mornings on NBC, across Australia on ABC, across Europe on Disney Europe and in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. It’s currently estimated to be in excess of 300 million homes and the Pajanimals publishing and product range is available across the US and Australia.

45,000 sq. ft. - increasing current capacity by a factor of four. The company uses gentle steam cooking and preparation processes to retain the taste, texture and nutritional benefits natural to every vegetable used and currently offer 32 vegetable products. The customer portfolio is split between food service, industrial ingredient manufacture and retail which, alone, represents 75% of the company’s total turnover. Their client portfolio includes almost all the major multiples and convenience store groups in the UK. Mash Direct have continued to grow and develop the UK retail market by gaining significant

additional listings over the past year, including Budgens. Listings in Ocado have also introduced them to a fast-growing online market. These listings continue the trend that has underpinned the success of the company over recent years with growth in export sales to RoI, the UK mainland, USA and UAE. Sales outside Northern Ireland have grown to over £7 million in the past 5 years – an increase of over 360%. Additionally, demand from non-retail sectors has grown from 2% in 2008 to 25% in 2012. Recent success in frozen product development now offers significant additional scope to continue this export sales growth in food service and industry.


Eye on Events

Strategic Planning Celebrates 10 Years In Business (1)


arlier this summer Holywood based Planning Consultancy, Strategic Planning was joined by fellow industry peers, clients, friends and family at The Ivory in Belfast to celebrate its 10th year in business. Since its formation in 2003, Strategic Planning has grown to become one of Northern Irelands leading planning consultancies providing expert advice across residential, energy, waste

management, electricity infrastructure, retail and commercial projects. Company Directors Richard Bowman and David Kerr, along with company founder Paul Carson also used the anniversary celebration as an opportunity to present colleague Bill Morrison with a gift as a token of their appreciation for his invaluable work with the company over the last 10 years. (1) David Kerr, Richard Bowman, Bill Morrison, Paul Carson.













(2) Tim Pentland, Beverley Stevenson, Chris Bryson. (3) Michael Denny, Richard Bowman, Russell Smith. (4) Philip Rainey, Stuart Clarke, Nick Bell. (5) Martin Kelly, James Hennessy, Andrew Haley. (6) Andrew Ryan, David Kerr, Alan Wilton. (7) John Conaghan, Nick Cullen, Adam Larkin. (8) Richard Agus, Tim Pentland. (9) Paul Carson, Paul McClurg. (10) Daniel McLaughlin, Iain Lees. (11) Karen Blair, Richard Bowman, Maria O’Loan. (12) Carol McTagagrt, Alan Shields, Claire McCarty. (13) Ryan McBirney, Steven Lennon.

42 A safe pair of hands for Tenants and Landlords Ladas House, 285-287 Castlereagh Road, Belfast, BT5 5FL • Tel: +44 (0) 28 9045 9621 •

Eye on News

AWARDS AND ACCOLADES FOR CLANDEBOYE LODGE HOTEL The four-star Clandeboye Lodge Hotel, North Down’s premier wedding venue, has won four awards in 2013 including the prestigious Customer Service Excellence Award at the recent Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.


ther award wins include an AllIreland Excellence Award from the European Foundation of Quality Management, the 2013 Hotel Reception Team of The Year and Housekeeping Awards at the recent Northern Ireland Hotel Federation Awards, as well as being nominated as one of the Top 5 Wedding Venues in Ireland by Wedding Journal readers. Pim Dalm, Managing Director of the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel comments: “The awards recognise the effort the team

Pim Dalm with some of the team from the award-winning Clandeboye Lodge Hotel.

puts in, 24 hours a day seven days a week. We employ 77 exceptional people and everyone in customer facing and support teams work towards the same goal – providing our guests with a quality experience which is second to none. I am proud to work with such an exceptional team – they set their own standards.” The Clandeboye Lodge Hotel is engaged in a continual program of investment to improve their facilities and enhance the customer experience. An additional

£250,000 is allocated for the refurbishment of the hotel’s Clanbrasserie restaurant and public areas during the first week of January 2014. Pim concluded: “Despite the challenging economic climate the hotel continues to outperform the industry average on a Northern Ireland wide basis. We believe a program of ongoing capital and skill investment is essential to maintain the standards and uphold the level of service we pride ourselves upon.”

Foster Congratulates Da Vinci’s Hotel Tourism Minister Arlene Foster has congratulated Da Vinci’s on being upgraded to a four-star hotel.


peaking during a visit to the Londonderry hotel, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “2013 has provided a real opportunity for investment and growth in the accommodation sector during the UK City of Culture – and I congratulate the management team at Da Vinci’s and their staff on achieving four-star status. “This is undoubtedly a fantastic year for Londonderry. It’s a chance to showcase to the world the wonderful people, talent, arts and cultural scene of the city, and a great platform to use the dramatic historic landscape as its canvas. 


Tourism Minister Arlene Foster is pictured at Da Vinci’s with, left, Andy O’Doherty, General Manager and Garvan O’Doherty, proprietor.

“Clearly, Londonderry’s reign as UK City of Culture has resulted in many more people visiting the city and it’s pleasing to note that the team at Da Vinci’s have embraced the opportunities this has created.

My Department, through the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, will continue to support the delivery of a quality visitor experience regarding accommodation, visitor information and customer service.”

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Eye on Technology

VITAL – Scouting for new products and technologies. VITAL Technology Scouting Initiative wants to hear from SMEs based in Northern Ireland (Outside of the greater Belfast region) that need a new product or a new innovative technology which will have the potential to grow their business. VITAL is a pioneering new €2.56 million cross-border collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Dublin City University, designed to connect SMEs with innovative ideas. VITAL is funded by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme and the relevant departments of Ireland and Northern Ireland. VITAL Project Manager Sinead Cahill, from Queen’s University’s Research and Enterprise Directorate, said: “Queen’s University is delighted to be involved in


this very exciting new initiative. VITAL recognises that not all SMEs qualify for state supported R&D schemes and acknowledges that time constraints within SMEs can often result in product development or new market exploitation being neglected. It is with this in mind that the VITAL technology scouting initiative was designed. “VITAL has the potential to make a real difference to SMEs that have found it difficult to come up with new product concepts and technology offerings for various reasons. The

VITAL technology scouting initiative will work with a small number of SMEs to evaluate their technology need. It will identify and source a solution which will have the potential to achieve top line growth and then provide assistance to fast track to market.” VITAL Project Director Kieran Fegan says “VITAL will utilise an extensive network of innovation sources to identify the best solution for participating SMEs. It will also provide expertise to guide SMEs through the process of licensing or acquiring the new technology or product and taking it to market.”

Kieran continues “There is no charge for participating in the VITAL technology scouting initiative; however if successful, there is a requirement to commit fully to the project in terms of resources, effort and time.” More information on this unique project can be viewed by going to Sinead Cahill can be contacted at Queen’s University Belfast on email and on mobile +44 (0) 79 7240 0638. Similarly Kieran Fegan can be contacted at Dundalk Institute of Technology on email and mobile +353 (0) 87 417 4681.

Eye on Energy

Unique Solutions to Reduce Business Overheads

Over the last 12 months, heat engineering specialists BS Holdings have been helping companies throughout Northern Ireland across all sectors integrate biomass technology into their business.


he company manufactures bespoke modularised wood pellet heating solutions and has experienced a significant increase in interest of their products since the Renewable Heat Incentive was launched ten months ago. This government scheme, administered by Ofgem, provides payments for the next 20 years to a business based on the renewable heat it generates. This can result in reductions in heating costs and in some cases completely removes the business overhead of heat. This innovative modularised heating system is MCS accredited and has many exceptional features including full digital and remote control. It also has the unique ability to use biomass to provide cooling to companies who require cooling for their data centres. The fact that the new boiler can be adapted to


offer heating and cooling under the RHI makes it particularly attractive for businesses who want to reduce their overheads going forward. Charles Hurst in Belfast was one of the first companies to install a BS Holdings biomass solution at their new Chrysler Jeep, Ferrari and Maserati showrooms, in a bid to significantly reduce carbon and CO2 emissions. This investment, worth £250,000 also saw the company become the first car dealership to receive the RHI here. Formerly heated by natural gas, BS Holdings designed a bespoke system for Charles Hurst featuring their 99kw boiler complete with absorption chiller, which provides both heating and cooling and has also helped reduce dependency and costs on electric air-conditioning. It is predicted that this system will save circa £30,000 in electricity

Pictured L to R: Brian Hood (BS Holdings), Gary Henry (Galgorm Castle Golf Club) & model Leanne Fleck are pictured at the NI Open Golf Challenge where BS Holdings were an official sponsor.

costs / annum 104,000kgs of co2 in cooling and a further 56,000 kgs of co2 in heating. Galgorm Castle Golf Club is the latest company to make an investment of £40,000 in one of BS Holdings 99kw biomass boilers to provide all heating and hot water requirements. The system has already reduced the club’s heating costs by 120% and will reduce its co2 admissions by an impressive 74 tonnes per year – the equivalent to over 1.6 million golf balls. Brian Hood, MD, BS Holdings comments, “Each system is engineered to meet each individual client’s requirements and is ideally optimised to 99Kw so that the client benefits from the maximum RHI payment of 6.1p per kilowatt hour of renewable heat generated.”

Partnering with brites BS Holdings’ preferred fuel provider for their systems is Fermanagh-produced brites premium quality wood pellet fuel. brites are ENplus accredited and have a high calorific value, which means they are both highly efficient and cleanly burning. It is this level of quality and reliability that makes brites the ideal partner for BS Holdings and gives customers peace of mind that they are using the best fuel for their heating system and have a genuine secure fuel supply. To find out more about how your business can embrace renewable technologies, reduce its carbon footprint and radically lower heating costs, contact BS Holdings on 028 9073 2233 or email For more information about brites visit

Eye on Food

New Head Chef Rises To Challenge Of Running ‘Hen’s Kitchen’ The Potted Hen has appointed an exciting 31-year-old chef to “rule the roost.”


elf-confessed ‘food geek’ James Neilly is enjoying the challenge of running the ‘Hen’s’ kitchen and is full of ideas for introducing innovative new dishes and adapting the lunch and dinner menus. “The Potted Hen has a huge following and is run incredibly well. My challenge is to continue serving top quality food but also to bring my particular take on food to the menu. I test all the dishes out at home and my wife is my biggest critic. Many chefs hate

Citrus Cured Salmon with Beetroot egg

cooking at home but I do it all the time – I’m a bit of a food geek. “I have new dishes using uber fresh ingredients that I am introducing to the lunch and dinner menus. The lunch menu is ideal for business diners with dishes that can be freshly prepared as quickly as possible. We know people don’t always have a lot of time for lunch so we’re making sure we give them the best choice but in a timely manner,” he said. Owners of the Potted Hen and Oregano in Newtownabbey, Dermot and Catherine Regan, say James is already bringing a fresh impetus to the restaurant. “It is great to bring someone in who has an eye for experimentation. All the guys in the kitchen are very excited to see what James will bring to the table. Our customers are really enjoying the new dishes,” Dermot said. The 31-year-old from Belfast has been working in professional kitchens since he knocked on the door of Roscoff as a raw 16-year-old. “I remember Jeanne and Paul Rankin were sitting on the famous sofa looking like rock stars. The chef at the time was Aiden Byrne, the youngest chef to win a Michelin Star, and he said I could start tomorrow if I was prepared to work very hard.”

James was soon working long hours at the beginning of a lengthy association with Paul Rankin, which saw him working in Roscoff, Cayenne and Rankin’s bakery. “I left school with no qualifications and before long Paul had made me Sous Chef in his Roscoff Restaurant.” After working for a spell at Malmaison in Belfast, he was asked by another Roscoff alumnus, Andy Rea, owner of Mourne Seafood Bar, to work at the cookery school. “I learned a lot about cooking fish and despite setting off the smoke alarms a few times, I learned what the customers expect. I also noticed that there is a big clientele that know so much about food.” The Potted Hen is located at 11 Edward Street in Belfast’s beautiful Saint Anne’s Square. The restaurant serves lunch, pre-theatre and dinner and also features a first floor dining room, with private bar, that can be hired for meetings, conferences or special occasions.

The new upstairs extension at the Potted Hen can be hired out for conferences or private functions.

New Head Chef James Neilly.

What’s New On The Menu? James has introduced new dishes that express his ideas about food. Here are a few of them: - Braised Pork Cheek with Polenta Chips and an Orange & Fennel Salad. - Cherry Valley Duck breast with crispy plum & ginger dumplings, Boulangere Potatoes and Blackberry Jam. - Sea Bream with Basil, Mint & Dill Salsa Verde and Seasonal Vegetables. - Citrus Cured Salmon with Beetroot Egg, salmon roe, crème fraiche and avocado puree.

For further information go to or ring 028 9023 4554.


Eye on Tourism

Helping To Build NI’s Tourism Offering

Jeremy Fitch, Invest Northern Ireland’s Executive Director of the Business & Sector Development Group, explains how Invest NI is supporting the tourism sector.


orthern Ireland is now firmly on the map thanks to the international media attention that it attracted during the G8 Summit. Combined with Derry~Londonderry as the UK City of Culture and on the back of a very successful Irish Open and 2012 Our Time Our Place campaign, Northern Ireland has an unprecedented opportunity on which to build its reputation as a great place to do business, and to visit. Attracting visitors is one thing, but delivering a world-class experience for them during their stay is quite another. That requires investment in improving the tourism infrastructure including accommodation and in helping


tourism businesses to become internationally competitive. Invest Northern Ireland can help support hotels and other tourist accommodation to expand through capital investment and also offer support in other areas of business development, such as efficiency, environmental issues, jobs creation and ICT. Tourism is currently worth 4.9% of Northern Ireland’s GDP and sustains over 40,000 jobs. The government’s aim is to double tourism’s contribution to the economy by 2020. That means attracting more visitors – the target is 4.5 million a year – and getting them to stay longer and spend more when they are here. Obviously the quality of the tourism accommodation on offer has a big role to play in helping to meet these targets. In the past couple of years many hotels in Northern Ireland have stepped up to the plate and invested in upgrading and expanding their facilities.

Just last month the White Horse Hotel in Londonderry announced a £240,000 investment in new facilities. The substantial investment, supported by Invest NI, will create three new jobs and is part of a larger £1.2 million redevelopment which has been ongoing at the hotel It has enabled the hotel to reposition itself and gain four-star accreditation from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. The investment completes the upgrading of 25 bedrooms in terms of en-suite bathrooms, fixtures and new lighting. It will enhance the standing of the hotel and enable it to attract guests who are looking for four-star quality standards in service, accommodation, food and leisure facilities. In addition to this investment, over the last three years we have supported the White Horse Hotel with upgrading its management information systems and with improving resource efficiency.

“The Marine Hotel is well placed to benefit from the great many visitors that come to the nearby Giant’s Causeway and Glens of Antrim as well as visitors from Scotland that use the ferry link in the summer months.” The White Horse is not the only hotel in the north-west that has invested in order to reap the benefits of increasing visitor numbers as a result of the City of Culture celebrations. We also supported an expansion by the City Hotel in Derry, which last year began work on adding 12 luxury suites on its top floor. The aim of the £500,000 investment is to attract more

Eye on Tourism

David and Michael Cadden, owners of the Enniskillen Hotel.

visitors from overseas. The addition of the luxury suites brings something new not only to the four-star hotel City Hotel, but also to the Derry market. The investment also created five new jobs and this, of course, is a direct benefit to the economy. The tourism industry has the potential to create many jobs and the government’s target is to create 10,000 additional jobs by 2020. Another four-star hotel that expanded to take advantage of Derry’s big year is the family run Beech Hill Country House Hotel. The 18th century manor house is a luxury hotel set in forested grounds. With £35,000 of support from Invest NI the hotel added four bedrooms last year. The investment was a strategic move by the owners to maximise its export potential. By upgrading its facilities it was able to generate additional sales and attract international tourists who are interested in cultural tourism and luxury accommodation. Our support has also helped to reopen the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle, in the Causeway Coast and Glens tourism hotspot. The hotel which had closed in 2010 was bought earlier this year. The new owners are planning

to invest £700,000 on the hotel, services and staff over the next few years including the reopening of its leisure facilities. Invest NI has offered support through its Jobs Fund for 26 jobs in the hotel. The Marine Hotel is well placed to benefit from the great many visitors that come to the nearby Giant’s Causeway and Glens of Antrim as well as visitors from Scotland that use the ferry link in the summer months. Its reopening is a very significant and timely boost for tourism in the Causeway Coast and Glens, among our most popular regions. The investment will also bring business opportunities to local suppliers, particularly in food and drink sector, who will be able to showcase their products to visitors to the region. Most recently of course the spotlight has been on Fermanagh. The G8 Summit has attracted attention to that beautiful lakeland area, which is a popular tourism destination, particularly for people who enjoy walking, biking and water-based activities. Tourism accommodation in that area has also benefitted from our support. Last December saw the opening of a new hotel in Enniskillen following an

£825,000 development that will create 33 jobs over the next two years. The 35-room Enniskillen Hotel was developed from the former Fort Lodge Hotel in the town with £99,000 of support from Invest NI towards the project through its Jobs Fund. Hotels are also expanding their range of facilities to attract overseas visitors. Last year we supported a £1.4 million investment by Corick House Hotel in Co Tyrone. Corick House is a 17th-century country house situated in Clogher valley. The investment has allowed it not only to add 24 double en-suite bedrooms but also a spa/leisure facility, which adds to its appeal to tourists. Corick House expects to create seven new jobs as a result of the investment. These examples focus on our support for the development or expansion of tourism accommodation businesses but we can also help with capability development. The capability dimension has been addressed in the past through free workshops covering topics such as marketing, search engine optimisation, energy and cost reduction, revenue management and up-selling. In conjunction with the Northern

Ireland Hotel Federation, we’re also helping hoteliers to develop their management skills and knowledge by participating in development and benchmarking initiatives. Our wider support is helping tourism accommodation businesses in many different ways. They have benefitted from supply chain initiatives, investment in IT, management, training, design programmes and help to increase operational efficiency. The profile of Northern Ireland as a tourist destination has never been higher and it’s essential that we help businesses to take advantage of that. Northern Ireland has a unique opportunity now to build on a very good foundation laid down by the success of the ni2012 tourism campaign, the 2013 City of Culture year, and G8. Invest NI is committed to the development of the tourism infrastructure here and to the creation of much needed employment opportunities. We also want to help ensure that tourism businesses, like any other businesses, operate in the most efficient way, deliver high quality products and services and keep focused on export markets.


Eye on Corporate Law

LAWYERS FOCUS ON GROWTH IN NI ECONOMY The coming 12 months have the potential to be the most significant for some years for the Northern Ireland economy.

L to R Back: James Donnelly, Adrian O’Connell, Ian Coulter, John-George Willis, David Jamison, Paul O’Brien. Front: Kerry McCorkell, John McGuckian, Andrew Kirke, Vicky Dummigan, Ciara Lagan (missing John Turley and Chris Diamond).


Eye on Corporate Law


hat’s the view of Ian Coulter, Managing Partner at top Belfast law firm Tughans and the current Chairman of CBI Northern Ireland. Coulter and the corporate team at Tughans, which is headed by the much respected John-George Willis, are well placed to comment on the Northern Ireland business community and its performance …. past, present and future. Not only are Tughans’ lawyers advising local companies of all sizes on a daily basis, but they’re also at the centre of a large number of the key deals which help keep the local economy on its toes. “Sector and size will be key words going forward” adds Coulter. “But one thing is clear, there are more opportunities out there than there have been for some time.” Ian Coulter and his partner James Donnelly single out Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s August statement on interest rates for special mention. Coulter says, “For Northern Ireland, Carney’s announcement is a massive boost. One of the key risks facing our economy was the chance of significant upward interest rate moves over the next couple of years, and that chance has largely been taken out of the picture. It should definitely take away some of the fear factor, and it’s important that local companies capitalise on it”. “Many of our larger companies are now doing well but therein still lies our problem, we simply don’t have enough large companies in number.” Coulter identifies key sectors such as engineering, agri-food and manufacturing, in respect of which Tughans is regarded as a market leader in terms of advising, as being those that may be in a position to exploit the increased opportunities and aim for growth by way of export. “We are seeing more capital investment strategies,” James Donnelly agrees. “More companies are in a position to invest and grow and the banks would go along with that view. Growth companies, it seems, are starting to get access to the funding that they need. It’s very positive to be able to see more capital investment programmes being put into place.” On the business front, Tughans corporate team received three new M&A instructions in the week of our interview, all of them either from local companies buying outside of Northern Ireland or from international companies buying into this region. “It is well documented that the volume of traditional M&A activity, involving local buyers and sellers purely within Northern Ireland, has been missing in recent years,”

says Donnelly. “But we’re hopeful that the cap ex activities of some companies will have a knock on effect. In addition our construction sector will hopefully see the pipeline it needs growing over the next 18 months or so and this will also have positive knock on effects.” “Restructuring remains a major area of focus for a number of businesses here as they adapt to changed market conditions and seek to become more competitive. You only need to look at the local business press in terms of international contract wins to see the positive results of well planned restructurings at some fairly visible local companies.” Increased access to venture capital funds and rising interest from funds based outside Northern Ireland, both say, continue to play an increasingly important role for Northern Irish corporates, especially as Northern Ireland’s reputation as a business region continues to grow and develop. This is an area of particular expertise for Tughans with the Corporate team having advised on the majority of venture capital deals occurring in Northern Ireland within the last 12 months.

“We are seeing more capital investment strategies. More companies are in a position to invest and grow and the banks would go along with that view. Growth companies, it seems, are starting to get access to the funding that they need. It’s very positive to be able to see more capital investment programmes being put into place.” “There has been plenty of activity in what we might call the middle tier,” adds Ian Coulter. “Some of our leading technology and hi-tech engineering companies, for example, are very active at the moment.” “So we do have plenty to be optimistic about. But there are still some realities to be faced up to. Our private sector remains far too small in proportion to the overall economy, and there are plenty of other legacy property boom issues which can’t be ignored.” “The banks need to continue to be proactive, as does the Executive and the Department of Finance & Personnel under

the new Minister, Simon Hamilton.” Under its own roof, Tughans continues to grow in line with its larger corporate customers. Two prominent corporate lawyers, Ciara Lagan and David Jamison, have recently joined the firm. They link up with a corporate team whose lawyers, including John McGuckian, John Turley, Chris Diamond and Paul O’Brien, increasingly find themselves working well outside of the Northern Ireland jurisdiction. “Our team spend a considerable amount of time working with and managing lawyers and others outside of Northern Ireland,” says Donnelly. “Within the last six months, our corporate team have managed transactions in Brazil, Italy, Poland, US, China and several other international jurisdictions.” “Brazil is a good case in point,” he says. “It has seen a lot of growth and there are big opportunities, but the challenges and the bureaucracy can be really daunting and extremely frustrating for businesses trying to enter that market.” The Tughans corporate team also boasts a specialist contracts and procurement department. Led by Adrian O’Connell, Patrick Brown and Kerry McCorkell, some of the most respected lawyers around in the field of contracts, technology and procurement, this dedicated unit can make a big difference in international business arenas. Back on the wider economy, Ian Coulter remains upbeat. “There has to be some growth from the Northern Ireland economy, and I think that there will be,” he says. “Of course it would be good to see the corporate tax devolution coming through, and it would also be good to see something done about energy prices for businesses. At present, we have the highest energy costs in Europe for large energy users with the exception of Italy,” he says. “But we also have to aim to grow the private sector without those things being sorted out. “We are on the right track but there is a long way to go.


Eye on News

AER LINGUS TAKES ULSTER RUGBY ON BOARD Ulster Rugby players, Tommy Bowe, Paddy Wallace and Paddy Jackson were on hand at George Best Belfast City Airport to help Aer Lingus unveil their new Ulster Rugby decals on both their London Heathrow and London Gatwick aircraft.


o demonstrate its commitment as Official Airline Sponsor of Ulster Rugby and support for the team, Aer Lingus will carry the proud sponsor logo for the upcoming season. The airline will continue to provide Ulster Rugby with air travel as well as supporting the development of travel and accommodation packages for Ulster supporters to away matches. Valerie Abbott, Commercial Manager of Aer Lingus NI said: “We are delighted with the success of our sponsorship deal so far and wanted to express our appreciation and support to the club and their fans, by carrying Ulster Rugby branding on our planes. “Last season provided excitement and entertainment for Ulster Rugby supporters including everyone here at our Belfast City base.

“Being part of the Ulster Rugby machine and following their major redevelopment to provide state of the art facilities for Ulster players and fans at Ravenhill, has only added to the belief that great things can be achieved this season. “We plan to push our sponsorship by deploying interactive marketing initiatives throughout the season, including flight and


holiday giveaways for Ulster fans at fixtures in the RaboDirect PRO12 League season as well as the Heineken Cup campaign.” She added: “We look forward to welcoming Ulster’s players, support team and fans on board our flights from Belfast City over the coming season and wish the team every success for 2013/14.”

UK Recovery Accelerates Leaving Northern Ireland Behind



avid Watters, Managing Partner at RSM McClure Watters, one the world’s largest networks of independent audit, tax and advisory firms, pictured with James Carson, Shredbank, Majella Murphy, RSM McClure Watters, Paul Kelly, Sepha and Brendan McGurgan, CDE Global, the companies from Northern Ireland, shortlisted in the European Business Awards. Sponsored by RSM McClure Watters, the European Business Awards recognise best practice and innovation in companies across Europe. It is the showcase of


Europe’s skills, achievements and innovation in the field of business and embraces businesses of all sizes from European countries. Past winners have included Sheffield Forgemasters International, United Kingdom, H&M, Sweden and Dell Corporation. The National Champions from Northern Ireland will be judged for a Ruban d’Honneur award in January 2014. Winners of the 2013/14 European Business Awards will then be announced at a gala awards ceremony in April 2014.

survey undertaken for Northern Ireland’s most recently established business rescue and recovery specialist, Begbies Traynor, shows companies here are more likely to be facing critical financial distress than their equivalents in the rest of the UK. The latest Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert, which monitors the financial health of “Corporate UK”, shows a four per cent increase in the number of Northern Ireland companies in critical distress. The research for the second quarter of this year shows the rest of the UK has seen a decrease in the number of companies facing financial problems. The Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert reports that 48 Northern Ireland companies faced critical problems in Quarter 1 and that this had risen in Q2 to 50 companies. Joan Houston partner at the Northern Ireland office of Begbies Traynor, with particular focus on the mid-market and SMEs, says there is room for optimism. “While the rest of the UK appears to be showing signs of stability and in some sectors and regional areas, strong

signs of recovery, we should not lose heart in Northern Ireland,” she says. Leading the recovery in Northern Ireland with significant reductions in ‘critical’ financial distress when compared with the same period last year, is Leisure (-39%), Travel & Tourism (-27%)(eg travel agents and transportation ), Sports and Recreation (-29%) and Financial Services (-29%). The sectors most dependent on consumers’ disposable income including hotels, bars & restaurants and general retail were the industries that saw some of the largest increases in ‘Critical’ distress in Northern Ireland, rising 39 per cent, 27 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.


onprofit 200

200 Sponsored by

Information supplied by the Business Information Division

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Eye on Profit200

COMPANIES FIND THE RIGHT RECIPE FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS By Robert Garrett, Head of Corporate Banking, Danske Bank


ach of the companies in this year’s Business Eye Profit 200 should be celebrated for its success. In different ways and across different sectors, they’ve generated a remarkable amount of business against what continues to be a difficult economic backdrop. Some have dominated in their markets, both at home and abroad; some have created new jobs and underpinned many hundreds more. Some have been at the forefront of the latest developments in technology, engineering and manufacturing. Nearly all of those on the list have undergone exponential growth through investment in new thinking and new markets as part of a sustainable business model. The Programme for Government cites R&D and innovation, entrepreneurship and export as some of the key drivers of sustainable economic recovery and long-term growth. The diversity of the businesses that make up this list means that


regardless of the sector, there is a blueprint for emerging companies from Northern Ireland to follow – this success helps to breed success. Yet focusing on those broad areas, like R&D or export, isn’t sufficient to create business value. There needs to be a tight strategy in place to guide the execution of their plans. The businesses here know their existing markets inside out, for example, and have been sure to maximise every possible opportunity at home - they are passionate about their business and its future growth. Some have seized the significant opportunity for growth that lies in foreign markets. Northern Ireland companies shouldn’t fear taking their business to other parts of the globe, since firms here are capable of translating their knowledge and skill sets to any international context. Each of the companies on this list will undoubtedly have a very strong relationship with

their bank. This is absolutely essential if a business is to grow to its full potential. The help and assistance provided by a bank – not just in terms of finance, but also in expertise and guidance – can play a major role in taking a business to the next level. As part of a major European banking group, we are well placed to help local companies extend their reach. With our exporting clients, one of the areas where we can help the most is in controlling risk. By working closely with our customers, we help them to manage credit risks, cashflow and deal structure to ensure that they’re not left exposed. On a personal level, it’s also easy to see why these firms have succeeded whether at home or abroad. There are some key traits that they have in common. At the top of these organisations, we see the adventurous, courageous leaders who are hungry for success and have the vision and confidence to drive that success. Supporting these people are the

the financial directors, with a tight grip on internal procedures and a detailed, in-depth knowledge of the figures. These figures, of course, are often underpinned by a strong, entrepreneurial team spanning all aspects of the business. It is also notable that many of the Profit 200 firms have non-executives on their Boards. The ‘been there, done that’ experience that can be offered by these highly skilled businessmen and women –who may have made their own mistakes in business and learned from them –proves invaluable in taking a business to new heights. From all at Danske Bank, congratulations to each of the Profit 200 companies.

Robert Garrett is head of Corporate Banking at Danske Bank and can be contacted at

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Eye on Profit200

Business Eye Profit 200 Editor’s View By Richard Buckley


n one of his first major interviews, Finance Minister Simon Hamilton talks to Business Eye this month about his priorities in the financial hot seat at Stormont. The Minister, eager to avoid any banana skins, holds back from talking directly about ‘green shoots’ of recovery. But there’s no doubt that he’s upbeat about the prospects for the macro economy here in Northern Ireland. The general consensus is that we’ve turned the corner. Or, as some would prefer to put it, that we’ve touched the bottom and are starting to head back up again. Another consensus is that any recovery will not be rapid, and that the tail of any recession can still pack something of a punch. Cliches apart, there is a lot more optimism around. The challenge now is to translate that optimism into increased business opportunities. The Business Profit 200 for 2013 sponsored by Danske Bank gives a broad picture of the Northern Ireland private sector. But a caveat must be added from the outset. The recovery which we’re all talking about

is a very recent phenomenon. The figures used to build the Business Eye Profit 200 – almost without exception – relate to the pre-recovery period. If anything, though, that makes for more interesting reading. At this time next year, we’ll be able to get a much clearer picture of which companies and which sectors are performing best. The 2013 Survey once again tracks the performance of a comprehensive range of the top private sector organisations here. Unlike other surveys of this kind, it takes profit as its key performance indicator. And, let’s be honest, any business leader will attest to the fact that profit is the figure that matter most. As the old saying goes, turnover is vanity while profit is sanity. What’s particularly encouraging is that the Top 200 has a healthy mix of companies across the economic spectrum. Take manufacturing, for example. We’ve all been told that our manufacturing sector is not what it used to be. Yet, manufacturing is extremely well represented in this year’s survey.

“The recovery which we’re all talking about is a very recent phenomenon. The figures used to build the Business Eye Profit 200 – almost without exception – relate to the pre-recovery period. If anything, though, that makes for more interesting reading...”

There are signs amidst the bald figures, too, that construction and even property was starting to awaken some time ago. Any signs of potential in that sector will be welcomed with open arms. And, as ever, there are quite a number of new entrants within the 200-strong listing this time around. From food producers like Skea Eggs of Fermanagh to cinema operators Omniplex Holdings and from textile company Bedeck to advertising group Clear Channel. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life...

Bombardier, Terex, Shrader Electronics and Almac are among the leading manufacturers in the top 10 this time around. It will come as no surprise that agri-food and drink is another clear high performer. This year’s top 20 companies includes high profile food and drink performers such as Moy Park (top on turnover in a rival survey published elsewhere this summer), Old Bushmills, SHS Group and Henderson Group.


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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)

Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)


Scottishpower Renewables (UK) Ltd








C & C Holdings (NI) Ltd








Glen Electric Ltd








Northern Ireland Electricity Ltd *








Short Brothers Plc (Bombardier)








Aes Ballylumford Ltd








Terex GB Ltd








SHS Group Ltd








Moy Park Ltd







10 Aes Kilroot Power Ltd








Almac Clinical Services Ltd








UTV Media Plc








W.& R. Barnett Ltd








Eakin Holdings Ltd








Old Bushmills Distillery Co - The Ltd








Norbrook Laboratories Ltd








John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd







18 Schrader Electronics Ltd







19 Resource Services Group Ltd







20 Almac Group Ltd






3092 * 9 months


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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)


Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

Cooneen Textiles Ltd







22 Coolkeeragh ESB Ltd







23 Lissan Coal Co Ltd







24 McAleer & Rushe Properties Ltd







25 Braidwater Holdings Ltd







26 Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd







27 Golden Vale (NI) Ltd







28 Rigel Petroleum (NI) Ltd







29 Hampden Group Ltd







30 Viridian Energy Supply Ltd














32 Clearway Disposals Ltd







33 Montupet (U.K.) Ltd







34 Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd







35 United Molasses Group Ltd







36 Irish Salt Mining & Exploration Co Ltd







37 Hilton Foods Ltd







38 Howden UK Ltd







39 Heat, Energy & Associated Tech Ltd







40 Andor Technology Plc







Mivan (UK) Ltd


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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)


Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

41 Gardrum Holdings Ltd







42 Northstone (NI) Ltd







43 Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd







44 Radius Plastics Ltd







45 Herbel Restaurants Ltd







46 Isaac Agnew (Holdings) Ltd







47 Liberty Information Technology Ltd







48 Power NI Energy Ltd







49 Hilton Meats (Retail) Ltd







50 Kingspan Environmental Ltd














52 Seagoe Technologies Ltd







53 Mantlin Ltd







54 F.P. McCann Ltd







55 Fisher Engineering Ltd







56 McAleer & Rushe Ltd







57 Alchem Plc







58 Fane Valley Group






59 Nicholls’(Fuel Oils) Ltd







60 Kelman Ltd







First Derivatives Public Ltd Co

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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)

Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

61 Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd







62 Galen Ltd







63 BHH Ltd







64 United Dairy Farmers







65 NIHG Ltd







66 Ulster Carpet Mills (Holdings) Ltd







67 BSG Civil Engineering Ltd







68 Equiniti ICS Ltd







69 Faughan Ltd







70 John Graham Holdings Ltd








John Thompson & Sons, Ltd







72 Quinn Building Products Ltd







73 Westland Horticulture Ltd







74 Airtricity Gas Supply (NI) Ltd







75 Chesapeake Belfast Ltd







76 Boxmore International Ltd







77 Linden Foods Ltd







78 Synthetic (Holdings) Ltd







79 McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd







80 Airtricity Energy Supply (N I) Ltd






13 61

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Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)


Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

81 Elite Electronic Systems Ltd







82 Tappaghan Wind Farm (N.I.) Ltd







83 Abbey Centre Ltd







84 Kilwaughter Chemical Co Ltd







85 Wrightbus Ltd







86 Lagan Construction Group Ltd







87 Capita Managed IT Solutions Ltd







88 W.F.B. Baird & Co., Ltd







89 Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd







90 Lagan Construction Ltd







91 Foyleside Ltd







92 Kainos Software Ltd







93 Lynas Foodservice Ltd







94 A.& F.A. Dundee Ltd







95 O’Hare & McGovern Ltd







96 P.K. Murphy Construction Ltd







97 Warner Chilcott UK Ltd







98 Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd







99 Carnbane House Ltd







100 T. Met Ltd







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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)

101 Huhtamaki (Lurgan) Ltd


Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)






102 Controlled Electronic Mgmt Systems Ltd 28/09/2012






103 Perfecseal Ltd







104 William Keys & Sons Ltd







105 Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland Ltd







106 Calor Gas Northern Ireland Ltd







107 Musgrave Retail Partners NI Ltd







108 LSS Ltd







109 Whitemountain Quarries Ltd







110 BI Electrical Services (NI) Ltd







111 Keystone Lintels Ltd







112 B.H.C. Ltd







113 O&S Holdings Ltd







114 Drinks Inc. Ltd







115 Prestige Underwriting Services Ltd







116 Charles Hurst Ltd







117 Downtown Radio Ltd







118 Thompson Aero Seating Ltd







119 Ballygarvey Eggs Ltd







120 Belfast International Airport Ltd






165 63

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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)


Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

121 Willstan Ltd







122 Germinal Holdings Ltd







123 Castlehill Enterprises Ltd







124 Devenish (NI) Ltd







125 Copeland Ltd







126 Highway Barrier Solutions Ltd







127 Dungannon Proteins Ltd







128 Hastings Hotels Group Ltd







129 Devenish Nutrition Ltd







130 Telestack Ltd







131 Retlan Manufacturing Ltd







132 Interpress (NI) Ltd







133 O & S Doors Ltd







134 Mill Row Ltd







135 Nicobrand Ltd







136 Tullymore House Ltd







137 TMC Dairies (N.I.) Ltd







138 Western Building Systems Ltd







139 Brett Martin Holdings Ltd







140 Delta Print And Packaging Ltd







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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)

Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

141 Maxol Oil Ltd







142 Prestige Insurance Holdings Ltd







143 Randox Laboratories Ltd







144 Glenbeigh Ltd







145 Tobermore Concrete Products Ltd







146 Action Merchants Ltd







147 Ulster Independent Clinic Ltd







148 Terumo BCT Ltd.







149 Em News Distribution (NI) Ltd







150 Quantum Hosiery Ltd







151 Agnew Commercials Ltd







152 Totalmobile Ltd







153 Omagh Minerals Ltd







154 Crockagarran Wind Farm Ltd







155 P.J. Conway Contractors Ltd







156 Abbey Insurance Brokers Ltd







157 B.P. McKeefry Ltd







158 Wine Inns Ltd







159 Fyfes Vehicle & Eng Supplies Ltd







160 Calvert Office Equipment Ltd






45 65

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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)


Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

161 John Hogg & Co, Ltd







162 O’Kane Supermarkets Ltd







163 Lagan Cement Group Ltd







164 Bulrush Horticulture Ltd







165 Patmond Energy Ltd







166 Clear Channel NI Ltd







167 R & H Hall Trading Ltd







168 Ireland Freight Services (U.K.) Ltd







169 JMW Farms Ltd







170 A.J. Power Ltd







171 North West Bookmakers Ltd







172 Total Produce Belfast Ltd







173 Frylite Ltd







174 Musgrave Distribution Ltd







175 Premier Transmission Ltd







176 Tracey Brothers Ltd







177 Cornerstone Group Ltd - The







178 Bedeck Holdings Ltd







179 Fannin (NI) Ltd







180 Regency Carpet Manufacturing Ltd







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Eye on Profit200 Information supplied by

the Company Shop Business Information Division

Company Name Year End Pre-Tax Turnover (£000) (£000)

Pre-Tax Profit previous year (£000)

Turnover No of previous year employees (£000)

181 Heron Bros. Ltd







182 Argento Contemporary Jewellery Ltd







183 Natural World Products Ltd







184 Webtech (N.I.) Ltd







185 Skea Egg Farms Ltd







186 Kildress Estates Ltd







187 H & A Holdings (NI) Ltd







188 Trench Holdings Ltd







189 W & R Barnett Trading Ltd







190 Munster Simms Engineering Ltd







191 Metal Technology Ltd







192 Westbank Business Park Ltd







193 Marlbank Ltd







194 Hilton Meats (International) 2013 Ltd







195 Decora Blind Systems Ltd







196 SSE Renewables Holdings (UK) Ltd







197 Moyola Precision Engineering Ltd







198 Omniplex Holdings (NI) Ltd







199 Delwyn Enterprises Ltd







200 Philip Russell Ltd







Eye on Infrastructure

Green Future For Northern Ireland Water Infrastructure

By Bill Gowdy, NI Water Director of Engineering Procurement


t NI Water, we have made significant progress in our Capital Works Programme, and have invested approximately £104million in our water and wastewater infrastructure in 2012-13. Significant improvements have also been made to the watermain infrastructure throughout Northern Ireland, with an impressive total of 1000km laid or renewed over the last 3 years (2010-2013). As well as this ongoing investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure, the key priorities for NI Water’s Engineering Procurement Division at the moment include ongoing flood alleviation schemes currently being developed for the South and East Belfast and South Down areas of Northern Ireland. As well as this, work will continue on our ongoing Rural Wastewater Investment Programme, with a particular emphasis on sustainable environmental solutions such as our new natural Willows Wastewater Treatment System, currently being trialled in Drumkee, Dungannon, and is now being used in Northern Ireland for the first time. We are proud to say that Northern Ireland is also a leading region within the British Isles in terms of researching, trialling and proving the concept of this environmentally sustainable technology. There are many environmental benefits for Northern Ireland through this natural technology, as willows can absorb a considerable amount of nutrient and can easily grow in our climate. This innovative new approach will not only take care of the cleaning and treatment of wastewater, but will also help to reduce NI Water’s carbon footprint. The project at Drumkee uses willows as a natural filter system (biofiltration) to clean wastewater and involves the recycling of

The NI Water Project Team, including representatives from Resourceful Organics Ltd, AFBI & NIEA

“We are proud to say that Northern Ireland is also a leading region within the British Isles in terms of researching, trialling and proving the concept of this environmentally sustainable technology.” effluent or wastewater produced from the existing Wastewater Treatment Works at Drumkee, County Tyrone, which will then be used to irrigate willow growing on neighbouring land. Providing a natural filter system, the wastewater passes through the willows and is cleansed of impurities. The willows also provide important, diverse habitats for a wide range of wildlife. We hope that this natural technology will provide NI Water with a robust reliable solution for the cleaning and treatment of wastewater in other rural areas in the future, and provide significant benefits in terms of reducing capital expenditure and our carbon footprint. This project at Drumkee Wastewater

Treatment Works is a pilot project for NI Water and may become a benchmark for other wastewater treatment plants across Northern

Ireland, particularly in rural areas. In my view, the willows project is the way forward and an excellent example of a sustainable environmental solution for wastewater treatment. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) , the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and and other stakeholders in developing this technology further.

Bill Gowdy (NI Water Director of Engineering Procurement), Sean Hogan (Chairman of NI Water), Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, & John Gilliland (Resourceful Organics Ltd)


Eye on Marketing

Winning Ideas

By Stephen Baxter-Crawford

Do competitions build brands? Competitions are increasingly being used as a social media marketing tool in a concerted effort to win over new customers, fans and advocates. Ardmore Advertising’s Stephen Baxter-Crawford says that while competitions can be highly effective, they will only work well if they are well thought-out and are part of a more strategic, wider plan.


t’s official. People in Northern Ireland like to be social online. Ofcom recently confirmed that more than half of us use the internet for social media at home, at work, and on-the-go. Thus, it’s becoming even more important for brands to use this vital medium to win over their target audience – but avoid the risks that can come with it. Whether they are on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine or Twitter, competitions or ‘giveaways’ have rapidly become a first port of call for many brands that want to build an audience, fast. But while the payback can be huge, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Stay On Target Earlier this year, Diet Coke partnered with The Heart Truth charity and launched a competition to help raise awareness of women’s health during Heart Month. Entrants were asked to share inspiring photos relating to the cause, via Twitter and Instagram, featuring the #ShowYourHeart hashtag for the chance to win a VIP invite to soughtafter Red Dress Collection fashion


show in New York. Thousands took to the web to take up the challenge, particularly after Diet Coke pledged $1for every entry registered. This was social media gold. Rather than blasting a message at the target audience, Diet Coke engaged with them, encouraging these advocates to effectively ‘own’ the campaign. However, the real win for Diet Coke was in the kudos it gained by the positive association this tie-up with the charity brought. Stay On Brand Once clear brand attributes have been established, these can often be used to overcome tough challenges when it comes to online marketing. Just as selling snow to eskimos might prove a task too big for many, selling charcoal for barbeques for Christmas must also be one of the world’s hardest sells. Not for one quick-thinking company, however. Kingsford Charcoal had long built a reputation as the reliable barbecue fuel of choice for the average US and Canadian family man. By harnessing these values in a competition, they set Twitter on fire with a ‘virtual’ hunt to find the ‘politest’ person online. It sifted through more than 100 billion tweets from both countries to find the one person that used ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, rarely cursed, and had an overall positive sentiment score. So who was this social hero? The winner was Clifford Brown of Waukesha, Wisconsin – Clifford’s ‘niceness’ score was deemed the best, with an average of over 4 positive tweets every day of the year. In reality, however, Kingsford was the big winner. With 850,000 #BeNiceGetCoal Twitter impressions

and increased brand awareness, sales rose, fending off what could yet have been another notoriously difficult season of sales. Focus on your audience While Clifford only won a year’s supply of charcoal, Kingsford had been canny, recognising an often overlooked rule. Competitions shouldn’t try to offer a prize that every social media user would want, as these entrants would unlikely engage with the brand post-competition. Instead, they managed to capture the imagination of their key audience. UK holiday firm First Choice used this to their advantage recently when aiming to draw in a younger market. They recognised that 18-25 year-olds thought constantly about finding their dream job – and what better role could there be than to become First Choice’s official Water Slide Tester? The teaser video generated 131,000 views online, 43 press items, 42 TV and radio segments, 185 online articles and, of course, an invaluable legion of new advocates. Stay Social If only things always turned out so well. Toyota, for example, earned itself the Twitter equivalent of a ‘red card,’ after its multi-million dollar Superbowl campaign. Its competition to win a Toyota Camry was intended to draw thousands of new followers. However, its efforts resulted in its account being suspended. The audience targeted was encouraged to include #CamryEffect in their tweets, which resulted in the individual being spammed with

an unsolicited automated @reply competition message. Not only was this incredibly embarrassing for the brand, but also easily avoidable – if only someone had thought to check Twitter’s guidelines. Stay Safe Playing by the rules is a good start, but having clear Terms & Conditions will really pay dividends, from ensuring that winners are not affiliated to the brand to setting geographic boundaries. Durex was left without such protection when its SOS Condoms iOS app, which promises to deliver their products whenever needed, held a competition to determine where it should market its products next. Unfortunately, the city that was nominated was a highly conservative Muslim city called ‘Batman’ which was fiercely resistant to the availability of artificial contraception. Ouch! So, do competitions build brands and create awareness? Absolutely, yes! But success lies in the midst of great ideas, solid commercial experience and a smart, effective social media strategy. Start with getting the best advice.

Stephen Baxter-Crawford is Senior Digital Content Producer at Ardmore Advertising, one of Northern Ireland’s leading creative integrated marketing agencies. He can be contacted on 028 9042 5344 or by email

Eye on News

TIME TO CELEBRATE IRELAND’S MARKETING ACHIEVEMENTS The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Ireland is calling on all businesses to enter the acclaimed CIM Ireland Marketing Excellence Awards 2013 to showcase their successful marketing campaigns.


he CIM Ireland Marketing Excellence Awards 2013, supported by Invest NI, will celebrate, recognise and reward the best marketing achievements across various industry sectors in Ireland.  The annual awards competition, now in its 14th year, provides an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the positive impact individuals and organisations have had within their particular industries. There are 17 award categories that take into account industry, campaign and individual achievements.  CIM is encouraging businesses from all sectors to enter the awards whether it is private sector, public sector or

social sector and entry is free. Winners will be recognised by CIM, the leading international professional marketing body, at a highly-anticipated awards ceremony, taking place at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on 7th November, hosted by broadcaster Claire McCollum. Chair of the Ireland board of CIM Christine Watson said, “Marketing is undergoing a revolution – a recessionary climate and a growing marketer’s tool box that includes new digital platforms, that in themselves are ever-changing, which brings both challenges as well as opportunities to our profession.  Winning a CIM Ireland Marketing Excellence Award means that you have

created results that deliver real business benefits. It is important that we celebrate these achievements, to continuously flag the positive value of marketing to both businesses and society. It’s the marketers who are on the frontline of any business, bridging the gap between customers’ needs and company offerings that need to perform, gain competitive advantage and make profit. And to those writing their submissions: create an entry that tells a story – a story of success – a story of marketing with impact and a story that your peers would go green-eyed to be able to boast about”. Dr. Vicky Kell, Director of Trade from principal sponsor Invest NI said, “The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Ireland Marketing Excellence Awards 2013 are one of the most prestigious

awards in Ireland.  It is essential that companies in Northern Ireland develop effective marketing strategies to help them access new customers and compete successfully in export markets. Previous applicants have stated going through the process of applying helps you review and validate your approach.  Winning a CIM award can help your company stand out from the competition and we would encourage companies of all sizes to enter this year’s awards”.

to Northern Ireland’s economy. We recently switched our own banking facilities to Bank of Ireland UK and with their support we have been able to invest in our business and to expand, so I am delighted other businesses will now also have that opportunity.” William Thompson, Agri Manager, Bank of Ireland UK said: “We have already committed all of the initial £50m agri-fund that we announced 18 months ago to a range of business expansion,  diversification projects and working capital needs across the

supply chain. We are pleased to be able to announce a further lending fund and over the course of the agri-show season Bank of Ireland UK staff will be on the ground across Northern Ireland to talk to producers and processors about the opportunities for growing the sector.” As well as doubling the Agri Business Fund, Bank of Ireland UK also announced a donation of £15,000 to Rural Support, the charity that supports farmers and rural families facing a range of difficulties, including those brought about by the severe weather conditions.

For more information and to register for the CIM Ireland Marketing Excellence Awards 2013 please visit

BANK OF IRELAND ANNOUNCES DOUBLING OF AGRI BUSINESS FUND Bank of Ireland UK has announced it is to double its Agri Business Fund to £100million to meet the financial needs of the growing agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.


he fund, which is open to both new and existing customers, is available to those who are involved in agri-food supply chain, ranging from primary producers, processors, retailers and other agri-food related businesses. The Bank’s announcement follows the recent launch of a strategic action plan by the Agri-Food Strategy Board


which envisages the industry’s turnover growing 60% to £7bn by 2020 with employment rising to 115,000. Ciaran McGivern, Head of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland UK, Northern Ireland said: “As the action plan recognises, the agri-food sector is a major economic driver which contributes substantially to every area of Northern Ireland. Bank of Ireland UK is determined to play its part in supporting the growth of a sector which holds so much potential and we are delighted to make these additional funds available for investment at all levels of the agri-food supply chain.” Geoffrey Stewart, who farms a large dairy herd at Magherafelt, said: “This is a very welcome announcement from Bank of Ireland UK at a time when there is growing recognition of the importance of agriculture and the agri-food sector

Suppliers of • Traffic Management Products • Personal Protective Equipment • Hand Tools • Janitorial Products • Miscellaneous Items to trade customers

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* One 5% discount can be placed on one Purchase Order per customer/company on products only (exclusive of carriage). Orders must not be amended once placed and orders are to be delivered to one address (where applicable) or collected in one package. Call off orders are excluded from this offer. Offer ends on 31st December 2013, unless otherwise terminated at the discretion of AGM Belfast Ltd.

A History of Xperience, A Future of Growth 74

Eye on Technology In its present form Xperience is a young company, but it has had a long pedigree in the technology sector. It can trace its history back to 1969 when three academics: Professor Fabian Monds, Jim McGowan and Bob McLaughlin formed Medical and Scientific Computer Services.


n the 44 years since then the company, through continuous innovation and rapid transformation, has evolved to be one of the foremost providers of IT solutions in Ireland and the UK. Speaking about its proud heritage, Iain O’Kane Managing Director, explains the many milestones en route to today’s success. “The first significant growth period for the company was 2001-2007 when it expanded its market base to include 4 sites in GB. This was a time when there was universal growth in the IT sector and developments were happening at a phenomenal rate which was a double edged sword: great for business but significant investment was required in resources and training. Following a management buyout in 2007, the company divested itself of its UK operation to its main GB competitor and undertook a strategic review of the business. Accordingly for the next 3 years Xperience’s senior management team concentrated and invested its own money developing and strengthening the Lisburn team and maximising the use of their state of the art facility in Lisburn to drive the business forward. “Since 2011 the company has embarked on an expansion programme that greatly enhances its skill set and product portfolio and confirms its position as a leader in IT development. Its broad client base benefits from its key partnerships with IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Citrix Pegasus, Exchequer and Sage in GB. “Already enjoying success through these partnerships, Xperience Group acquired Belfast based Cloud Computing specialist TCS Solutions Limited in 2011. With this acquisition came an increased focus on Cloud based technology and a number of major corporate

Xperience is supplying Quality Solicitors MKB Russell with a complete Cloud solution, as part of the practice’s significant expansion plan. Pictured is Gordon McElroy, Partner at Quality Solicitors MKB Russell and Patrick Leggett, Director of Xperience.

clients including Local Councils and Government Agencies such as Omagh District Council & PRONI. “Key to increasing our Cloud offering was the ability to provide a Belfast based Data Centre. Through the acquisition of TCS Solutions Limited, we could offer services which were going to deliver tangible results to clients. By offering clients the ability to store their data in a locally based Data Centre, we ensure fast and secure access through Northern Ireland’s high speed broadband network while alleviating concerns about important data being stored in locations outside of Northern Ireland. “In 2012, we re-entered the UK market acquiring English company DMC Software Solutions Limited based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. The transaction is part of a targeted growth campaign to build market share locally and in GB markets. DMC are the fourth largest Sage Partner in the UK and give Xperience an excellent foothold in the GB marketplace. “DMC is an award winning Software Company providing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sage Financial Software solutions to a wide range of SME’s throughout the UK. With its experience in providing financial software, Cloud solutions and a strong customer base, DMC was a great addition to the Group. Throughout 2013 we continue to expand, opening an office in Glasgow to help with growth in Microsoft Dynamics.”

“In 2012, we re-entered the UK market acquiring English company DMC Software Solutions Limited based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. The transaction is part of a targeted growth campaign to build market share locally and in GB markets. DMC are the fourth largest Sage Partner in the UK and give Xperience an excellent foothold in the GB marketplace.” So what does success look like in the future for Xperience? “Success will be determined a lot differently than in the past. It used to be based on what products or solutions we sold, or how skilled our team was. There are a whole set of drivers that will determine success going forward. As an IT company we have to get beyond the focus of what we sell or how we service and give clients a seamless experience that enables them to get their work done effectively and efficiently. It has to be simple, painless and consistent. Clients are about one thing – productivity. Although many of our clients are interested in the latest technology; they primarily care about getting the job done in the most cost effective and efficient means. We understand technology and what we need to do in the future is focus on the client’s business. For example, it’s about positioning things above and beyond technology – don’t just sell accounts systems, offer to deliver a business intelligence solution. We have a vested interest in our clients’ businesses as their successes will mirror ours, so going forward for Xperience will be about empowering

and enabling our people to be entirely focused on the client experience. We have over 22,000 users across our client base and we must ensure that our customer service is second to none; this can only be achieved by investing in the business and in our people. “Business confidence is slightly up, although I’m not totally breathing a sigh of relief! I’m optimistic but cautious, if steady growth can be maintained; the outlook may well brighten further. As a company we will continue to support small and medium sized businesses throughout Ireland and the UK. Maintaining such a large client base means we must maintain long-term partnerships that add value – this will remain at the cornerstone of our ethos. At the centre of everyday life and found in almost all industries and businesses, information technology is a huge driver of growth for everyone so it’s a very exciting business to be in.”

For further information on Xperience please contact the office on 028 9267 7533


Eye on News

MICHELLE TAKES THE REINS AT VICTORIA SQUARE Victoria Square has appointed Michelle Jackson as its new Centre Manager.


ichelle will lead the centre management team and takes responsibility for the overall strategic growth and direction of the business in conjunction with BTWShiells. Michelle started her career at House of Fraser (HOF) Manchester

in 1991 and for the past 23 years has held a number of key management positions with this retail giant. In 2000 she launched HOF Bristol with her first appointment as store manager not long after in South Wales (2001). As part of her extensive retail experience she has managed HOF

stores in Swindon and Sutton Coldfield which finally brought her back home to launch and manage HOF Belfast for the past six years. As a retailer at heart with vast experience in the industry she has the skills to help grow the business and take Victoria Square to the next level.



tena Line’s Neil Palmer celebrates with students the launch of the leading ferry company’s fantastic Students Go Free offer that will help save some much needed pounds for the start of the new university term. This great value offer which is available on all of Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes means one adult can travel from as little as £79* single and bring a car full of students for free (for travel between 30 August – 31st October, book by 30 Sept),

as well as everything needed for university life including cases of clothes, textbooks and widescreen TVs. For further information or to book, click on www.stenaline., call 08447 70 70 70 or visit your local travel agent.  Stena Line has an even more generous offer for students on its Facebook page with the chance to win free travel and a fantastic Student Survival Kit including an iPad mini! To enter go to





angor-based company, Denman International, has announced the appointment of Philip Steele as Managing Director. The company, which employs 180 people, is this year celebrating its 75th anniversary and exports its market-leading hairbrushes to 60 countries around the world. Philip (46) has been with Denman for 23 years including a year spent working at the company’s US subsidiary in Boston and two years in Japan learning the language and working with Torico Industries, Denman’s Japanese distributor. An honours graduate in marketing from the University


of Stirling, Philip began his career with FG Wilson before joining Denman International in 1990. His appointment comes after a restructuring of the company where Philip, as Managing Director will look after the day to day running of Denman, whilst John Rainey remains as chairman of the Denroy Group, and also Chairman and Managing Director of sister company Denroy Plastics.

RE-USE facility aimed at improving the environment and providing youth employment has opened at Pennyburn in Derry. The £500,000 Deny City Council project, which was jointly funded by DoE and DSD, will provide training opportunities for as many as 20 young people in joinery, furniture repair and sales as well as creating some full-time employment. Environment Minister Mark H Durkan and Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland were on hand for the opening and praised the work of all involved in the scheme.

GRAHAM Asset Management provides a tailor-made, technical and operational support service to improve the day to day running of property assets and infrastructure for public and private organisations.

Operating in the UK and Ireland the company operates in Facilities Management, Highway Maintenance, Environmental Services, Energy Management and Fire and Security markets.

GRAHAM Asset Management

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Eye on Internet

Women Laughing Alone Whilst Eating Salad Is The Thin End Of The Wedge By Gareth Dunlop, Fathom.

Nothing says “we haven’t put a moments thought into our website” like stock photography. Until recently I was sure that top of league in this perfect-white-teeth, smiling-at-gunpoint parade of farce was the call-centre girl, you know her, smiling as she took a call, doubtless from someone calling her up to congratulate her because their broadband was performing brilliantly and had just maxed out its previous download speed record, or perhaps a satellite TV customer calling to say just what good value she felt her current package was.


h how mistaken I was. There were depths of Hades as yet unplumbed, levels of fantasy as yet unreached that even a family of four playing on the beach, with a father in his mid 40s sporting a perfect six pack and a mother from a Special-K advert playing with their two children in the blistering heat of Portstewart strand at Easter time couldn’t imagine. This would make someone driving a luxury car in perfect silence through empty city streets blush; heck it would even embarrass those ladies who love nothing more than to go sky-diving and bungee jumping at a certain time each month. Ladies, and gentlemen, I introduce to you “Women laughing alone whilst eating salad”. These ladies, online at a website near you (and all huddled together at http://, are so overwhelmed at the taste explosion of dry lettuce bursting onto their taste-buds, so unconcerned at their apparent friendlessness, that they can’t help but break into spontaneous virtual-laughter at just how well everything has worked out for them. In the interests of political correctness they are available in a range of ethnic groups and classes, but they are all skinny, with perfect skin and dazzling white teeth. This clichéd nonsense as a means of communications is on its last legs, and rightly so. In its place the smart online shopper demands relevance and accuracy. Stock imagery showing people using the web gets it wrong too. The broken down


driver searching for a local garage is always much angrier and impatient than the picture suggests. The soccer fan reading the results on his mobile device is always much happier or much sadder than the image shows depending on how his team performed, and what’s more he’s in much more of a hurry. The family huddling around the computer to get a message from a loved one is less organised and more confused by the technology than the photo would have you believe. The switched-on web customer expects that you stop marketing at her and start marketing with her. This impacts many elements of your communication, but top of the list is tone of voice. That tone which once risked cliché and condescension now needs to sound realistic and direct. Clarity, once again, trumps persuasion.

Gareth Dunlop owns and runs Fathom, a user-experience consultancy which helps ambitious organisations get the most from their website and internet marketing by viewing the world from the perspective of their customers. Specialist areas include user-testing, usability and customer journey planning, web accessibility and integrated online marketing. Clients include Equality Commission, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, University of Ulster, Ogilvy, Enterprise Ireland and Irish Times Training.

“The switched-on web customer expects that you stop marketing at her and start marketing with her. This impacts many elements of your communication, but top of the list is tone of voice. That tone which once risked cliché and condescension now needs to sound realistic and direct.”


Award Categories & Criteria There will be 18 different categories for the 2013 Awards...

Employer of the Year Award SPONSORED BY

Business Personality of the Year Award SPONSORED BY

The Northern-Ireland based business personality who in the opinion of the judging panel has contributed most to the local business sector and the local economy as a whole in the last 12 months.

Company of the Year Award SPONSORED BY

The Northern Ireland-based private sector company which has made the biggest positive impact across the spectrum over the past 12 month period in the view of the judges‌ for reasons which may include business and/or employment growth, acquisitions or other deals, export achievement, etc.

SME of the Year Award SPONSORED BY

Business / Education Award

Young Business Personality of the Year SPONSORED BY

This category sets out to identify the achievements of Northern Ireland’s young (35 years old or under) entrepreneurs and business leaders, with entrants able to demonstrate clear achievement and dynamism in their chosen field.

Tourism / Hospitality Project of the Year SPONSORED BY


The small to medium-sized enterprise (up to 50 employees) which, in the opinion of the judges, can demonstrate significant business growth over the past year to 18 months across any sector of the local economy.


An award which will recognise the best of business education. The award can be for companies or public sector organisations providing education for business programmes, or for private sector organisations forging links with education bodies.

The individual project within Northern Ireland which, in the view of the panel, has done most to raise standards in the hospitality industry and to attract more tourists to the region.

The Northern Ireland company or organisation which, in the view of the judges, has done the most to create a balanced, satisfying and fulfilling working environment for its employees.

Fleet Funder of the Year SPONSORED BY

The motor manufacturer who consistently offers the best range of fleet vehicles to the business sector. Based upon BIK taxation, Co2 emissions, MPG figures, whole life costs and desirability.

Retailer of the Year SPONSORED BY

The retail organisation, ranging from international/national chains through to locally owned groups, which has made the most significant contribution to Northern Ireland, in terms of investment, innovation, expansion or growth.

enter online at Deadline for Entries – Friday 20th September 2013

Research & Development Project of the Year SPONSORED BY

Agri Food Innovation Award SPONSORED BY

The company or organisation which has demonstrated the most successful and most innovative use of online/digital technology to advance its business aims. Entrants can include organisations which have successfully adapted to online/digital from more traditional foundations as well as pure online/digital enterprises.

International Award SPONSORED BY

This award is open to organisations trading internationally from Northern Ireland, and will recognise the most important achievement/ contribution by such a company outside of Northern Ireland during the period, whether in terms of export sales, overseas expansion/ investment or acquisition.

Green Company of the Year Award SPONSORED BY

This award sets out to recognise achievement by a private sector Northern Ireland organisation towards the wider environmental cause. This may focus on a wide programme of environment measures, or one specific initiative which improves a company’s environmental contribution.

Best Use of Online Video Award

Business Consultancy of the Year Award SPONSORED BY

The Northern-Ireland based business personality who in the opinion of the judging panel has contributed most to the local business sector and the local economy as a whole in the last 12 months.

Waste Reduction Project of The Year SPONSORED BY


Online business has come a long way since its early days, and video technology now plays an important role for many organisations online. This specialist category sets out to recognise the most creative, innovative and commercially viable use of online video technology by any local organisation private or public sector.

This award provides the opportunity for both private and public sector organisations, and especially those in the hospitality industry, to gain recognition for their outstanding waste reduction initiatives. Entrants will be judged on waste reduction measures including best practice, originality, exemplarity, quality of content and focus on waste prevention as well as long-term and lasting impact including waste from landfill.

Open to companies and organisations which can show clear evidence of an innovative research and development project either on an in-house basis or on behalf of clients.

Best Digital/Online Company of The Year The company or organisation which has demonstrated the most successful and most innovative use of online/digital technology to advance its business aims. Entrants can include organisations which have successfully adapted to online/digital from more traditional foundations as well as pure online/digital enterprises.

Deal of the Year Award SPONSORED BY

This award will recognise the merger, acquisition, MBO, MBI, new start or key investment deal which, in the opinion of the judging panel, has produced benefits for the company or companies concerned as well as for the wider Northern Ireland economy.


LAST CHANCE TO ENTER Deadline for Entries: 20th September Book a table @ e-mail: Enter online at

Leaf are delighted to have been awarded


Sales 028 9089 7650

Unit 17a, Weavers Court Linfield Road Belfast, BT12 5GH

Eye on Awards

Call for Entries- The Women in Business NI Awards 2013

L – R: Eva Adams WIBNI, Valerie Gourley The Irish News, Kate Marshall WIBNI and Sharon Polson Invest Northern Ireland

The third annual Women in Business NI Awards in association with Invest Northern Ireland with a total of 11 award categories, including a brand new category recognising those in the technology sector, will be hosted at the five star Culloden Hotel on Thursday 21 November.


he awards will recognise the contribution made to the Northern Ireland economy by female business owners, those in senior management, innovators and entrepreneurs. Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive of Women in Business NI, said: “The enthusiasm for encouraging and recognising the achievements of Northern Ireland’s business women across the globe is palpable. This year’s awards have been developed from the foundation of the first two awards ceremonies


which celebrated the success of the finalists with the creation of the Women in Business NI Alumnae. It is an intimate network which stimulates real business and personal development opportunities for likeminded individuals who have made real connections with other winners. “The calibre of entries to last year’s awards was mind blowing and equally we are hopeful that 2013 will bring to the fore not only high profile business women but also hidden

gems like that of last year’s outstanding business women, Patricia Clements of Bradfor.” Once again, the Women in Business NI Awards are being hosted in association with Invest Northern Ireland. Sharon Polson, Manager, Regional Business Group, Invest NI said: “Once again we are delighted to be supporting the Women in Business NI Awards as part of Invest NI’s strategic objective to stimulate a more innovative and entrepreneurial culture in Northern Ireland. These awards help raise the profile of successful women in business who in turn inspire more women towards entrepreneurial success.” Other sponsors of the Awards include media partner the Irish News, Department of Employment and Learning, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, JCDecaux, Asda, NYSE Euronext, Ulster

Bank, Business Travel Solutions and Queen’s University. There are 11 categories open for entry - best new start up, entrepreneurship / innovation, outstanding management / leadership, best marketing campaign, best small business, best customer service, best in professional services, best young business woman of the year, advancing diversity in the work place, best exporter and the new technology category.

Entries are now open, visit for more information. Awards are open to all business women in Northern Ireland, you do not need to be a member of WIBNI to nominate or enter.

nominate today ACKNOWLEDGE • CELEBRATE • REWARD aWaRd CateGoRieS: • Award for Best New Start Up • Award for Outstanding Management / Leadership • Award for Best Small Business • Award for Advancing Diversity in the Work Place • Award for Best Exporter • Award for Entrepreneurship / Innovation • Award for Best Marketing Campaign • Award for Best Customer Service • Award for Best in Professional Services • Award for Best Young Business Woman • Award for Excellence in IT CLoSinG date: 4th October 2013. For further information, please visit Sponsors

Equality Commission FOR NORTHERN IRELAND

Media Partner

Eye on Pensions

Pension Reform Made Easy by Fiona McKee, Senior Consultant, ASM Financial Planning.

Pension Reform has arrived – don’t be fined by the Pension Regulator. The new pension law came into force back in October 2012 and many employers still feel confused about what and more importantly when they need to do something. So who is affected? All employees aged between 22 and 65 will at some point over the next 3 years be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme. They will have an option to ‘opt out’, but the key point is to encourage workers to ‘stay-in’ – to take the

opportunity to become part of their employer’s pension scheme. When does it all happen? This is currently happening! Staging dates started back in October 2012, but has now reached medium sized employers of 1,250 and less (see chart one).

CHART 1 Number of employees

Staging date

1,250 and above 250- 1,249 50 - 249 Less than 50

From 1 October 2012 From 1 October 2013 1 April 2014 – 1 April 2015 1 June 2015 – 1 April 2017

Do all employees have to be enrolled? Employees aged between 22 and 65 earning more than £9,440 p/a will be automatically enrolled. Employees between 16 and 22, or between 65 and 75, will have the right to ask to be enrolled and if they “opt in” employers must contribute. What level of contribution must employers and employees pay? From 2018 the total minimum contribution (employer and

employee) will be 8% of earnings between £5,668 and £41,450 (these amounts are linked to national insurance and tax thresholds which will be reviewed annually). The employer contribution will be 3% of earnings (earnings includes salary, overtime, bonuses, commissions and statutory sick/maternity pay.) The minimum contribution requirement will be phased in over a five year period as follows:


Minimum % that must be paid in total

Minimum % that employers must pay

Oct 2012 – Sept 2017 Oct 2017 – Sept 2018 Oct 2018 onwards

2% 5% 8%

1% 2% 3%

What do I have to do as an employee? Nothing. However, we recommend that employees read all of the communications from their employer. Employees may also require independent financial advice if they have existing pension arrangements.


What do I have to do as an employer? Firstly, you need to identify the date that the new rules apply to your business – the “staging date” (see Chart 1) Failure to comply will be costly and many large

employers who have failed to meet their responsibilities are already being investigated by the Pension Regulator and may face sizable fines. Stage 1 will be a warning, stage 2 a fixed fine of £400 and thereafter a fine per day based on the number of employees. Employers will receive a letter from the Pension Regulator 12 months before your staging date and employers must act then in order to be prepared. Next you need to review the existing pension arrangements within the business. Are they compliant? You will need guidance from an independent financial advisor on this, as it is a complex area littered with potential pitfalls. Employers can, if they wish, bring forward their staging date to tie in with other planning, budgeting or a pay review date. Many businesses will not have a pension scheme in place and Management will need assistance in establishing an effective scheme that provides value for money. Employers will need to appoint Professional Advisers to guide them through the legislation and to assist them in the selection on an appropriate Qualifying Scheme. This will require consideration on a range of factors. • Selecting the wrong scheme could result in significant excess costs.

• In some cases a business may be better to create more than one scheme. • Employers must then communicate the pension plans with employees. • Employers will also be required to register with the Pensions Regulator. • There will also be an on-going requirement for employers to keep records and monitor employee circumstances. This legislative change will become an opportunity for well-run businesses. Our advice is, use this as an opportunity to demonstrate to your staff that their hard work and commitment is valued and rewarded – choose a scheme carefully, but most importantly, seek professional advice before doing so.

To speak to Fiona or about how ASMFP can help you, email: fiona.mckee@ or call 028 9024 9222.

Because what is right for one client, is not necessarily right for another... Our advice is specifically tailored to meeting your needs and to helping you with: • • • • •

Investment & Wealth Management Tax Mitigation Retirement Planning Protection of Assets Corporate Employee Benefits

If you think we can help or you would just like to discuss our services, please contact us on 028 9045 4300 or email

Legacy Wealth Ltd. Penthouse Suite, Quay Gate House, 15 Scrabo Street, Belfast BT5 4BD, Northern Ireland Legacy Wealth is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

Eye on Investment

Investment Strategies: Identifying ShortMedium- And Long-Term Approaches To Manage Charity Portfolios Jonathan Sloan, Wealth and Investment Management, Barclays, looks at the reasons why separating working capital from longer term investments can help Charity Boards to better manage risks and returns.


n today’s volatile market environment, investment decisions are fundamentally concerned with managing risk. Charities tend to focus on preserving capital and maintaining sufficient liquidity, but to achieve this, while still generating an overall return in excess of inflation, they also need to identify, understand and manage a plethora of financial risks. The process for identifying and managing these risks is an ongoing challenge for all charities; however three simple steps can provide solid investment foundations. A typical approach to investment management often begins with the allocation of working capital, and then residual funds to a ‘long term’ balanced investment portfolio, managed by an external investment manager. The board identifies return objectives, risk tolerance/profile and operational requirements in an investment policy statement and this effectively becomes the investment manager’s mandate. By having a relatively high allocation to defensive asset classes, especially fixed income, the portfolio’s asset allocation would reflect the fact that capital preservation and sufficient liquidity are paramount. It is fair to say that many charities have adopted this approach successfully for decades, but we have seen


that it isn’t necessarily the best way to identify or manage investment risks. Investment managers are trying to realise long-term returns, yet at the same time, they need to manage short-term volatility and liquidity: chances are that neither objective will be achieved. The risks facing short and long term investments are often very different and as a result, charities should clearly separate their short- and long-term funds. Even better, a three-pronged approach, splitting out working capital (typically < 1 year), short term investments (typically 1-5 years) and long term investments (typically >5 years) will enable a board to clearly identify the risks and manage each with the appropriate risk profile and return objectives. We recommend the steps to implement this investment approach as follows: 1. Analyse budgets: Despite the challenges, charities should be planning five-year budgets. These will enable the identification of key risk areas such as income/donation projections, and planned capital project expenditure. It also lays the foundation for all investment structuring and enables the board to accurately allocate funds between working capital, short-term investments and long-term investments.

2. Develop an Investment Policy Statement (IPS): A charity IPS needs to clearly establish the objectives and parameters of each pool of capital. While the objective for the long-term portfolio might be, for example, a growth focused strategic asset allocation, the shortterm portfolio would need to address a range of different issues such as permissible fixed income instruments, counterparty exposures, liquidity requirements and interest rate risk. Each of these issues are complex and charities need to work with their investment managers to define a clear policy to mitigate risk. 3. Execute: A typical shortterm investment portfolio would include term deposits and notice accounts across a range of banks, money market funds, commercial paper, floating rate notes & short dated bonds, making direct access and administration

complicated. Charities need to ensure that their investment manager offers a long-term investment solution as well as a treasury management capability for their shortterm investment needs. There are many ways for charities to manage their investments, but identifying and managing risk should be the priority. Investment managers should concern themselves with understanding their client’s underlying financials, partner with them to develop a comprehensive and clear investment policy and provide a framework to execute both their short and long term investment requirements.

Jonathan Sloan, Private Banker, Barclays Wealth & Investment Management can be contacted on 028 90 882956 or email

Eye on Hospitality

STEPHEN FLIES INTO NEW HOTEL ROLE Stephen Redden hasn’t just added 60-odd miles to his commute to work from his home in Derry. He’s also swapped one hotel management job for a very different one, and a new set of challenges.


edden left his job as General Manager at the longestablished Everglades Hotel in Derry a few months ago to take over the reins at the newly re-named Maldron Hotel at Belfast International Airport. The Maldron, right outside the terminal building at the airport, has had a chequered history. Opened originally under the French-owned Novotel brand name, it spent a period under direct airport ownership, and went on to mature with the Park Plaza name over its front door. Eight months ago or so, it was acquired by the Dalata Hotel Group, a Dublin-based operation set up by ex-Jury’s Inn chief Pat McCann and equity investors TVC Holdings Plc. Dalata runs 11 Maldron properties around the island (plus one in Cardiff) but also owns and manages 22 other independently-named hotels around Ireland. One of its most recent acquisitions was the popular Nuremore Hotel in Monaghan. It also runs the sprawling CityWest Hotel & Conference Centre west of Dublin. Established in 2007, Dalata now has 33 hotels, 4,500 rooms and 2,500 employees on its books.


“This is Dalata’s only Northern Ireland property, but there’s no doubt that the group would like to have more hotels in Northern Ireland and it’s always on the look out for good acquisitions,” says Stephen Redden from the busy lobby of the Maldron at Belfast International. “We’re keen to increase our brand recognition north of the border.” The differences between the Everglades and his new hotel are many. The Maldron is a busy airport hotel, with the vast majority of its guests staying for one night only, many of them checking in late and/or checking out early in the morning to catch flights. “So what we’ve got to do is provide the quality offering that they’re looking for and that means a comfortable bed, a clean and wellequipped room and good locallysourced food,” says Redden. “We see it as our role to help take some of the stress out of travelling.” He’s already presided over improvements to the Maldron’s menu and food offering – in the restaurant and in the main bar – and he’s looking at other ways in which improvements to customer service can be made.

“We’ve got a very strong team here at the hotel, including some very experienced people, and we’re very confident that we can make the Maldron an even better hotel for local people and visitors travelling through the airport, and for the local community in this area.” For Northern Ireland-based travellers flying out of (and into) Belfast International, the Maldron offers well-priced packages. A one night stay for two at the hotel plus a week’s free car parking in the hotel car park costs £79 and two-week parking packages are also available. “It’s a great way to start your holiday or trip, especially if you have an early flight from the airport,” says Stephen Redden. “And the free car parking right beside the airport terminal represents very good value.”

“We’ve got a very strong team here at the hotel, including some very experienced people, and we’re very confident that we can make the Maldron an even better hotel for local people and visitors travelling through the airport, and for the local community in this area.” The Maldron Hotel has 104 bedrooms including a number of family rooms for those travelling with young children. It also has a number of meeting rooms available for business events, ideal for those meeting with incoming or outgoing passengers from the airport.

Eye on Venues

Odyssey Arena Gears Up For Another Giant Season Of Entertainment

S Clare Tarbuck.

Preparation for another Giant season of live music, sport and family shows is well underway at Odyssey Arena, Northern Ireland’s premier entertainment venue. As if welcoming global superstars such as Bruno Mars and Jessie J to the city this season isn’t big enough, it’s a whole new era for the venues ice hockey home team the Stena Line Belfast Giants.


ince purchasing the much loved local team back in February this year, The Odyssey Trust Company has proven to be the perfect owner with investment being made in the form of new digital screens streaming the game live and a new state of the art scoreboard in place. The future of the team has never been brighter and with key sponsors on board to add to the on ice entertainment making each and every Giant’s game a night to remember. “Following the huge success of the World Police and Fire Games which included a total of 50,000+ ice-hockey fans, we want to make sure fans know they can have a great time at the Stena Line Belfast Giants thanks to the investment from the Odyssey Trust,” said Belfast Giants General Manager Todd Kelman. “I’m not just talking about myself, but from the ownership, staff,

players, fans and right through to people I meet on the street, the New Era of the Giants is a huge talking point and we are more determined than ever to make this season more memorable than ever before, both on and off the ice.” From the Stena Line Belfast Giants to the world’s biggest pop stars and from Disney on Ice to the greatest comedy acts, Odyssey Arena has everything to keep their Clients entertained this season. Commercial Executive, Clare Tarbuck explains how corporate entertaining has proved a popular choice for local businesses, “At Odyssey Arena, we understand the value of corporate entertaining in the current economic climate, offering value for money to all of our customers. We have been able to provide a wide array of events which suit all tastes from high end concerts to

family shows entertaining customers and their families. With a new era ahead for the Belfast Giants we are looking forward to adding that added extra for our corporate partners and delivering a first class service that enables clients to network and enjoy a memorable experience in a relaxed environment.” Odyssey Arena and the Belfast Giants are now in their 13th year of operation and it’s looking like another eventful year ahead for the venue and home team.

For further information on annual corporate partnerships or event packages contact, Commercial Executive, Clare Tarbuck on 028 9076 6000.

Christmas Party Nights and Comedy Cracker Lunches 2013


lling out fas t! T. 028 9042 1066

All-new Mazda6



M{zd{ CX-5

ALl-NEW M{zd{ 6

Up to 67.3mpg combined CO2 emissions from just 108g/km £0 road tax for the first year†

Up to 61.4mpg combined CO2 emissions from 119g/km


£279 per month*


Lindsay Mazda

Lindsay Mazda

Market Place, Lisburn County Antrim BT28 1AN T:0843 318 3528

31 Mallusk Road, Newtownabbey County Antrim BT36 4PP T:0843 318 3481


£259 per month*

*Offer available to individuals for orders received between 01.07.2013 and 30.09.2013. Figures based on Mazda Personal Contract Hire on a non-maintenance contract hire package over 36 months and 10,000 miles per year (max). Monthly payment examples: An advance rental of £2,232.00 is payable, equal to 8 monthly payments, then 35 monthly rentals of £279 for a Mazda CX-5 2.0 165ps 2WD SE-L and £2,590.00, equal to 10 monthly payments, then 35 monthly rentals of £259 for an all-new Mazda6 2.0.Saloon 145ps SE. Rentals and excess charges are based on the current VAT rate. An excess charge of up to 11.87ppm (exc VAT) will be applied for mileage in excess of 10,000 mile p.a. Excess charges also apply if the car is not serviced and maintained in accordance with manufacturer guidelines and returned to Mazda Contract Hire in a condition commensurate with the BVRLA Fair Wear & Tear guidelines for its age and mileage. Package includes R.F.L. and Mazda Roadside Assistance. Offer subject to availability and status. UK supplied vehicles only. For full specification, details, terms and conditions contact your local retailer. Guarantee and/or indemnity may be required. Applicants must be 18 or over. Details correct at time of publication and may vary, e.g. if list price changes. Personal contract hire by ALD Automotive Ltd., trading as Mazda Contract Hire, Oakwood Park, Lodge Causeway, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 3JA. Models shown with monthly payment: all-new Mazda6 2.0 Saloon 145ps SE. OTR £19,595. Model shown features optional Soul Red Metallic paint (£660) and Mazda CX-5 2.0 165ps 2WD SE-L. OTR £21,595. Model shown features optional Pearlescent paint (£530). On the road prices include 20% VAT, number plates and 3 years’ European Roadside Assistance. Test drives subject to applicant status and availability. †On selected models only. We can introduce you to a limited number of carefully selected finance providers. We may receive a commission from them for the introduction.


fresh approach to improving fuel efficiency and lowering emissions, demonstrating it can deliver real improvements without resorting to more expensive hybrid or electric technology, and without compromising the driving dynamics. The latest version of the Mazda6 delivers CO2 emissions from as low as 108g/km – a remarkable figure which shows how a radical rethink can deliver real gains.” As well as praising Mazda’s SKYACTIV innovations, WhatCar? named the Mazda CX-5 compact SUV as Britain’s ‘Best Buy’ SUV in the under £25,000 category. Explaining its selection of the 2.2-litre, 150ps diesel CX-5 as a class winner, the influential monthly publication stated: “This really is one of the finest diesels you can buy. It has walloping low-down torque, yet is supremely flexible and happy to rev. Inside, there’s bags of room for

azda’s ability to defy convention and manufacture uniquely efficient cars has been given glowing endorsements this year by experts at Britain’s best selling car buyer’s guide, WhatCar? magazine and at the trusted CarBuyer website. Both the Mazda CX-5 compact SUV and the all-new Mazda6 on sale at Lindsay Mazda are equipped with Mazda’s innovative fuel-saving SKYACTIV technologies – the result of completely rethinking traditional engineering – and feature the Japanese brand’s new distinctive ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ styling theme. Mazda’s SKYACTIV engines, transmissions, chassis and body technologies were declared winner of the WhatCar? ‘Ultra-low-carbon’ Award for 2013. The monthly publication stated: “Mazda wins because it has taken a totally

SKYACTIV technologies means its incredibly efficient too, whether you go for the saloon or super-spacious tourer.” The all-new Mazda6 is the first mass-production Mazda model to be equipped with i-ELOOP, the company’s unique brake energy regeneration system. Fitted as standard to the majority of Mazda6 models, this innovative system can boost fuel economy by up to 10 percent. Both the Mazda CX-5 and all-new Mazda6 available from Lindsay Mazda at their Lisburn and Mallusk showrooms, offer customers a classleading combination of a rewarding drive, outstanding fuel economy, solid environmental credentials, high specification, attractive pricing, unusually low running costs and excellent residuals – making them remarkably compelling ownership propositions. For more information about all-new Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5, or to arrange a test drive, call Lindsay Mazda in Lisburn (028 9260 0200) or Mallusk (028 9084 7940)

The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results obtained through laboratory testing. These are provided for comparability purposes only and may not reflect your actual driving results.

Mazda CX-5

four tall adults, the boot is huge and the rear seats fold down easily. With low running costs, headline-grabbing mpg figures and remarkable CO2 emissions of just 119g/km – you end up with an unbeatable buy.” The latest accolade for the Mazda CX-5 follows three earlier awards – the 2012 WhatCar? Green SUV Award, the 2012 SCOTY (Scottish Car of the Year) Safety Award and Total 4x4 magazine’s 2013 4x4 of the Year Green Award. Launched in the UK at the end of January, the all-new Mazda6 has already received two awards – ‘Best Large Family Car’ for the saloon and ‘Best Estate Car’ for the Tourer – from the influential website CarBuyer, which is linked to the weekly Auto Express magazine. CarBuyer concentrates on criteria which matter in the real world: performance, comfort, reliability, practicality, value for money and running costs – helping motorists decide which car to buy. The website wrote: “The new Mazda6 has really taken the large family car sector by storm. As if its blend of style, quality and dynamism wasn’t enough, the use of clever

The official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Mazda Range: Urban 25.4 (11.1) - 55.4 (5.1). Extra Urban 45.6 (6.2) - 78.5 (3.6). Combined 35.3 (8.0) - 67.3 (4.2). CO 2 emissions (g/km) 188 - 108.

Award-winning cars at Lindsay Mazda

Powering Northern Irelandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s venture ecosystem...

Management Buyout financed by Crescent Capital II LP

Sale of Lagan Technologies Limited to Kana Software Inc.

May 2010

November 2010

Development Capital Investment in PathXL Limited

Sale of Omiino Limited to Xilinx Inc.

Sale of Maildistiller Limited to Proofpoint Inc.

March 2011

February 2012

April 2013

MBOs, MBIs, Development Capital, Venture Capital 7 Upper Crescent Belfast BT7 1NT Tel: 028 9023 3633

Crescent Capital is a trading name of Crescent Capital NI Limited, a company authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

Eye on Motoring

NEW INSIGNIA: DESIGNED TO ATTRACT, ENGINEERED WITH SUBSTANCE Since its launch in 2008, the success of Insignia has spearheaded Vauxhall’s renaissance as a leading manufacturer of high quality, stylish and advanced vehicles. New Insignia continues this trend, showcasing a host of innovation and engineering refinement that underpins Vauxhall’s increasing sales success – and with even more competitive prices.


Eye on Motoring


s an example of the classleading value for money (and the benefits of continuing development) offered by New Insignia, consider the sporty SRi hatchback with 2.0CDTi (120PS) ecoFLEX Start/ Stop engine and P11D value of just £20,494. Compared to its 130PS ecoFLEX predecessor it delivers: • Saving of £4,191 in P11D value • Higher level of standard equipment • Improved economy of extra 9mpg (Combined) • 99g/km of CO2 emissions – down from 112g/km • 14% BiK taxation – down from 17% in current tax year The lower P11D values and availability of low-emissions engines extend right across the range: good news for Company Car Drivers. As alternatives to the versatile hatchbacks, very stylish and practical Sports Tourer body styles are available, as well as a limited range of saloon models.

engine (65.7mpg Combined, 114g/km CO2) and a 2.0CDTi (195PS) BiTurbo (60.1mpg Combined, 125g/km CO2). Figures quoted for hatchback models. Vauxhall’s leadership in engine technology extends to petrol engines too with the introduction of new direct injection 1.6 litre (170PS) and 2.0 litre SIDI Turbo Start/Stop petrol engines, while the carry-over 1.8i VVT and 1.4i VVT Turbo (140PS) Start/ Stop petrol engines benefit from improved economy and emissions. IMPROVED SPECIFICATION As well as increasing the standard features available – for example, all New Insignia models now feature alloy wheels, digital radio, Bluetooth®, LED daytime running lights and an uprated CD/MP3 CD player with 4.2-inch colour monitor – we’ve simplified the line-up by introducing the new Design trim to replace the previous ES and Exclusiv.

INSPIRED DESIGN New Insignia’s inspired exterior design promotes a lower, wider and sportier appearance from both the front and the rear: New ‘eagle eye’ headlight clusters, together with LED daytime running lights and sporty front design are enhanced by a pronounced wing bar in the front grille and chrome accents in the lower valances. These are complemented by a revised rear-end with a distinctive, extended, chrome-effect wing bar that blends into the rear lights and sits above a re-styled bumper. The new facia trims and seats are tailored and textured in a choice of handpicked materials.

IMPRESSIVE TECHNOLOGY It’s not just in the powertrains that Vauxhall’s innovation shines through: when it comes to infotainment, New Insignia leads the field with its IntelliLink audio units which provide: • 8-inch colour touch-screen with personalisation feature • Effortless connection to your digital media – mobile phone or tablet • Voice recognition • SD card reader • Easy access to contacts, music files or favourite radio stations, on demand • A built-in smartphone link will enable the use of a range of popular apps1 such ase Stitcher® and TuneIn and a navigation app available from early 2014

NEW ENGINE RANGE Championing the range in terms of low CO2 outputs are the 120PS and 140PS versions of the 2.0CDTi ecoFLEX Start/ Stop diesel engines, which have emissions of just 99g/km and 76.3mpg Combined fuel economy for hatchback models, giving a range of up to 1,175 miles. These represent a considerable engineering achievement over the previous 130PS ecoFLEX unit (112g/ km and 67.3mpg, respectively) – and attract just 14%1 Benefit-in-Kind taxation, as well as substantial reductions in fuel costs and employer National Insurance Contributions. Want more performance but still keen to enjoy excellent fuel economy and minimise taxation? There’s both a 163PS variant of the ecoFLEX

The Touch R700 IntelliLink infotainment system is available for just £350 on Design, SRi, SRi VX-Line, SE and Elite models, while those who prefer a fully-featured satellite navigation system with pan-European mapping can opt for the Navi 900 IntelliLink unit. Here, a touch-pad control, with built-in handwriting recognition, speeds you through menu options. The Navi 900 is fitted as standard to all Tech Line, Design Nav, SRi Nav, SRi VX-Line Nav and Elite Nav models, or as an extra-cost option (£1,200) on SE models. All trim levels include MP3 CD player, digital radio, Bluetooth® and USB connectivity plus information displayed directly in front of the driver on a 4.2-inch colour monitor.

NEW INSIGNIA v THE RIVALS Company Car Driver Over a typical three-year ownership period, choosing a New Insignia over its immediate rivals brings significant financial rewards in terms of both lower BiK taxation and in private fuel costs, with the Vauxhall giving up to an extra 10.6 miles for every gallon purchased.

New Insignia Design Mondeo Edge Passat Bluemotion hatchback 2.0CDTi 16v hatchback 1.6TDCi Tech S saloon 1.6TDI (120PS) ecoFLEX S/S (115PS) (105PS)



£20,140 £20,715

CO2 (Combined 99g/km fuel consumption) (76.3mpg)

112g/km (65.7mpg)

114g/km (65.7mpg)

BiK Band %2

14 / 15 / 17

17 / 18 / 20

17 / 18 / 20

Total BiK Payable3 (40%)




New Insignia Company Car Driver saving3




Fleet Decision Maker Based on three year/60,000 mile term and with diesel fuel costed at 141.5p/litre2, there is clearly an overwhelming reason to choose New Insignia over its immediate rivals.

New Insignia Design Mondeo Edge Passat Bluemotion hatchback 2.0CDTi 16v hatchback 1.6TDCi Tech S saloon 1.6TDI (120PS) ecoFLEX S/S (115PS) (105PS)



£20,140 £20,715

CO2 g/km




Fuel cost (60,000 miles)




New Insignia Fuel Cost Saving




New Insignia Design Mondeo Edge Passat Bluemotion hatchback 2.0CDTi 16v hatchback 1.6TDCi Tech S saloon 1.6TDI (120PS) ecoFLEX S/S (115PS) (105PS)

Class 1A NIC




New Insignia / £342 Class 1A NIC saving


Whole Life Cost (inc. fuel and Class 1A NIC costs)




New Insignia Whole Life Cost saving




TRY SOMETHING NEW With new looks, new technology, even higher standard specifications and lower P11D values – not to mention the availability of engines with class-leading low emissions levels – the New Insignia range is evidentially impressive. But you won’t know how just how impressive until you take a test drive - call your local Vauxhall Retailer and book one now. 1 = You may incur additional costs from your operator for these services and as such we recommend that you check the data costs on your tariff. 2 = Information source:, August 2013. 2 = 2013/14/15 tax years. 3 = General Motors UK Limited does not offer tax advice and recommends that all Company Car Drivers consult their own accountant with regards to their particular tax position.


Eye on Motoring

Cars That Save YOU Money Vauxhall’s ecoFLEX models deliver a great driving experience with low CO2 emissions. Good for the planet – and your finances.


o other manufacturer offers anything like the variety of low-emissions vehicles as Vauxhall: virtually every trim level of every model (from sporty to luxurious) within our extensive range includes several ecoFLEX variants. To Company Car Drivers, lower emissions means lower rates of Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) taxation – while for Fleet Decisions Makers, there’s a very useful reduction in Class 1A National Insurance Contributions. And as a further ‘bonus’ for both user groups, low CO2 technology goes hand-in-glove with significantly improved fuel economy: a win-win situation. Continuing development has enabled Vauxhall to develop prestigious models like New Insignia with 2-litre turbo diesel engines developing up to 140PSwith CO2 emissions as low as 99g/km – the best in their class, attracting just 14% BiK in the current tax year. But BiK taxation is also based on the P11D value of the car – so Vauxhall


has introduced trim levels across its model range specifically for Company Car Drivers – Design, Design Nav and Tech Line. These give the driver all the ‘must have’ features as standard (including touch-screen satellite navigation on the New Insignia Design Nav and Tech Line models) plus a VERY competitive price tag. So what sort of savings can these models bring? Drivers – save up to £1,687 and 13.5mpg Over a typical four-year ownership period, a Company Car Driver paying tax at 40% could save up to £1,687 in Benefit-in-Kind* taxation by choosing a Vauxhall New Insignia Design Nav hatchback rather than its Ford equivalent. • New Insignia Design Nav hatchback 2.0CDTi (140PS) ecoFLEX Start/ Stop (99g/km): £4,908 total BiK • Ford Mondeo Zetec Business Edition hatchback 2.0TDCi 140PS (119g/km): £6,595 total BiK

And for those who pay for their own fuel, the Vauxhall returns 76.3mpg (Combined) versus the Ford’s 62.8mpg – a 13.5mpg advantage for the Vauxhall driver*. Fleet Decision Makers – save up to £4,503 on Whole Life Costs Here the savings offered by the Vauxhall* are not just due to the lower P11D, lower CO2 and better fuel economy, but also lower servicing, maintenance and repair costs, insurance, Vehicle Excise Duty and finance costs, when compared over a typical four year/80,000 mile term: • New Insignia Design Nav hatchback 2.0CDTi (140PS) ecoFLEX Start/Stop (99g/km): £33,648 Whole Life Cost • Ford Mondeo Zetec Business Edition hatchback 2.0TDCi 140PS (119g/ km): £38,151 Whole Life Cost In terms of fuel costs alone, based on diesel fuel at 141.5/litre, the Vauxhall offers a £1,450 potential saving*: • New Insignia Design Nav hatchback 2.0CDTi (140PS) ecoFLEX Start/Stop (76.3mpg Combined): £6,743 fuel cost • Ford Mondeo Zetec Business Edition hatchback 2.0TDCi 140PS (62.8mpg Combined): £8,193

Decision time Selecting a new company car is an important and sometimes complicated decision, from the perspective of both the driver and the Fleet Decision Maker. With this in mind, we’ve developed the Fleet Toolbox which enables you to compare the BiK taxation and Whole Life Costs of all our products against our competitor’s models. To discover more about Vauxhall ecoFLEX cars and New Insignia, visit https://www.vauxhallfleet. Then call your local Vauxhall Retailer and ask for a test drive. Then you can make your choice with your head and your heart… *Source of information:, August 2013. General Motors UK Limited does not offer tax advice and recommends that all Company Car Drivers consult their own accountant with regards to their particular tax position.

T H E F I N E S T O F F I C E S , & MEETING ROOMS ADJACENT TO BELFAST CITY HALL 7 Donegall Square West, Belfast BT1 6JH | Tel: 02890 918 200 |

Eye on News

FINANCE MINISTER OPENS NEW OFFICES AT RAINBOW COMMUNICATIONS Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has officially opened new offices at Rainbow Communications in a £250,000 private investment by Northern Ireland’s largest independent business telecoms company.


he expansion at the company’s Ballygowan Road headquarters is to house support and sales teams following the announcement that Rainbow is the only direct business partner of EE in Northern Ireland. Also unveiled was a hi-tech presentation suite which will showcase the latest in cloud and VOIP technologies. Director of Rainbow Communications, Eric Carson, who will celebrate a half century working in the

industry later this year, said: “I wish to thank the Minister for taking the time to visit and open our new offices. “The company has witnessed huge growth in our mobile offering working in partnership with EE and our expansion into Scotland has also proved a resounding success. “Our new offices will house our new data and I.T division and we expect more job creation in the coming months as cloud telephony



he Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, MP has visited UTV for a tour of its archive and studios. Michael Wilson, Managing Director, UTV said: “UTV has a wealth of amazing footage going back more than 50 years, from humorous clips of George Best passing his driving test and a very young Rory McIlory putting into his mum’s washing machine to

footage of the awful atrocities that took place here throughout ‘the Troubles’ as well as historic moments our people captured on film. “We are delighted that the Secretary of State took the time out of her busy schedule to visit our headquarters in Belfast and view many of the key events which happened in Northern Ireland as well as touring our Studios and meeting our editorial and operational staff.”

and its benefits are exploited by companies here and in Great Britain.” Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton, MLA said: “Rainbow truly is a Northern Ireland success story. It’s a company that has developed its products and services to ensure its customers benefit from the latest technologies. “Despite the economic conditions, the directors have invested for future growth, a bold step which is already paying dividends with plans for more job creation later in the year. “I wish the company continued success both home and away.” Eric Carson continued:

“Our traditional services, such as Calls and Lines, undoubtedly remain the back bone of our business, but we have now become one of the largest mobile companies in Northern Ireland providing a local, trusted service to over 5,500 business customers.” Rainbow currently employs 80 staff and offers calls and lines, mobiles, broadband, inbound, systems, VoIP, cloud telephony, data and I.T Services.

For more information on Rainbow Communications services, visit



K Sales director of MD Golf David Millsopp, model Jenny McBride, Chair of PANI Cathy Martin and John West from Charles Hurst Aston Martin are all ready to swing into action for the upcoming Publicity Association Northern Ireland (PANI) Golf Day 2013 sponsored by MD Golf. Teeing off at 1pm at Malone

Golf Club on Thursday 05 September, the event boasts some spectacular Hole-in-One Challenge prizes including a chance to win a Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe courtesy of MD Golf / Charles Hurst Aston Martin and a four-day golf holiday for two at 5* Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort in Portugal.


Our PeOPle are YOur PeOPle Business Eye Header - Moving On Page.indd 1

02/01/2013 15:41:48

Eye on Moving On

1 Annette shanks has been appointed Customer Care Manager for Vehicle Management company DFC NI Ltd. Annette has over 16 years industry experience and has been with the company for over 8 years. She will be focused on enhancing the company’s high levels of customer service.

1 Annette shanks

2 Paul Convery

3 Graham Fagan

2 Paul Convery has been appointed Head of Business Northern Ireland at BT. Under his new role, Paul will be responsible for the development and execution of BT’s strategy in the NI small and medium sized (SME) business market, reporting into Shay Walsh, managing director of BT Business. Paul joined BT in 1997 as a sales team manager and since then has advanced his career in roles across a number of business lines, including strategy & innovation manager for BT Northern Ireland, head of BT Openzone and head of BT Mobility, BT Ireland. 3 Meanwhile, Graham Fagan has been appointed Head of Innovation & Development at BT Ireland, with responsibility for leading the development of propositions for BT’s solutions business across the island of Ireland. A first class honours graduate of Trinity College Dublin, with BSc and MSc degrees in Business and Technology disciplines, Graham is also a chartered IT professional and holds a number of other leading industry accreditations e.g. certified management consultant.

4 Ciaran Barr

5 Darren Matchett

6 Toni Stevenson

4 Ciaran Barr has been appointed Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for BT’s all-island operation. Ciaran joins BT from Hyundai Capital/Hyundai Card, a joint venture of GE Capital and Hyundai Motor Company, where he was Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director, based in South Korea.  Ciaran previously held the senior roles of Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of GE Capital Restructuring Operations Group - GE Money Ireland.  5  At Lucas Love Healthcare, Darren Matchett is appointed Healthcare Manager, responsible for managing a team of Healthcare Recruitment Consultants. He has 10 years experience in the sector and specialises in the recruitment of nursing, residential and domiciliary staff. He is joined at 6 Lucas Love by Toni Stevenson who joins the team as a Healthcare Vacancy Co-Ordinator having previously works for a security company and by 7 Teresa Smyth who joins as Finance Assistant from a leading accountancy firm in Belfast.

7 Teresa Smyth

8 Lana Cairns

9 Laura McCarthy

8 Lana Cairns has been appointed Digital Communications Executive at Lighthouse Communications. Lana has extensive experience within the digital marketing industry and has worked on devising and implementing digital strategy and online communications. Colliers International has made three key 9 appointments. Laura McCarthy becomes Head of Investment. She has 13 years Retail Property Management experience and is responsible 10 for seven surveyors within her team. Gemma Horisk has been appointed Senior Surveyor of Investment Property Management. In her new role, Gemma is responsible for the management of a mixed portfolio including Retail, Business Space & Industrial properties throughout the UK. And 11 Declan Leonard joins as a Graduate Surveyor within the Investment Property Management Team at Colliers International. Declan recently graduated with a BSc (Hons) First Class Honours in Property, Investment Appraisal and Development.

10 Gemma Horisk


11 Declan Leonard

12 Neil Clarke

Moy Park has appointed two new Engineering 12 Managers. Neil Clarke joins the company from Bombardier where he had 20 years of engineering management experience, while 13 Nigel Nixon joins the team at Moy Park from Dale Farm. The company has also appointed 14 Ursula Lavery to the Moy Park Executive Board as Technical Director Europe with responsibility across Moy Park’s European business.

Our PeOPle are YOur PeOPle Business Eye Header - Moving On Page.indd 1

02/01/2013 15:41:48

Eye on Moving On

13 Nigel Nixon

14 Ursula Lavery

15 Karla McAviney

15 Karla McAviney has been appointed Brand Manager with Linwoods Health Foods, based in Armagh.  After gaining a degree in International Business Management from Manchester Metropolitan University, Karla, from Donaghcloney, gained ten years marketing experience working in various marketing roles, predominantly in businesses in the food and drinks industry in Northern Ireland.    16 Emma Gribben has been appointed Digital Marketing Executive with Linwoods Health Foods, based in Armagh.  Emma, from Armagh, brings 2½ years marketing and communications experience since graduating from the University of Ulster where she earned a first class degree in Communications, Advertising and Marketing and a postgraduate certificate in Digital Media Communication.  17 Frank Nolan, FCMA, CGMA has been appointed Deputy Chair, of CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) Ireland, the all island professional body represents 8,000 members and students across the island of Ireland. Mr. Nolan who is from Warrenpoint and is Finance Manager Operations European Beer Supply with Diageo is a former Secretary, Deputy Chair and Chair for the CIMA Northern Area.

16 Emma Gribben

17 Frank Nolan

18 Andrew Spratt

19 David Rowan

20 Ivan Waide

21 John Dugdale

22 Lisa Bryson

23 Patrick O’Hanlon

24 Sam Corbett

The Belfast office of law firm A&L Goodbody has 18 made a series of appointments. Andrew Spratt has been promoted to Associate within litigation and dispute resolution at A&L Goodbody. He specialises in employment within that department. 19 David Rowan has been promoted to Associate within mergers & acquisitions and corporate at A&L Goodbody.  He specialises in providing corporate transactional and commercial advice. He qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales before returning to Northern Ireland.   20 Ivan Waide has been promoted to Partner within the firm’s technology, intellectual property and commercial law department. Ivan has extensive experience both with Northern Ireland-based and international clients. Prior to returning to Belfast, Ivan worked for eight years at international law firms in London, Munich and New York.   21 John Dugdale has been promoted to Associate within infrastructure and construction at A&L Goodbody. In his new role, he will advise both public and private sector clients on the full spectrum of construction and engineering work, which involves the initial drafting of all of the major forms of contract, collateral warranties, bonds and ancillary documents. m   22 Lisa Bryson has been appointed as an employment and equality Associate. In her new role she will advise public and private sector clients on all aspects of employment and equality law. Lisa joins A&L Goodbody from international law firm Eversheds, where she worked for the last 10 years.   23 Patrick O’Hanlon has been appointed a Commercial Property Solicitor at A&L Goodbody.  Patrick has a particular interest in property development after spending five years working in the Construction Industry which ensured he has a job specific understanding within his chosen legal sector. Patrick previously worked for a number of years in London.   24 Sam Corbett has been promoted to Associate in restructuring and insolvency. He is adept in providing sound advice to public and private sector clients on all aspects of corporate insolvency and business recovery-related matters.


Eye on News

ARTHUR COX WINS CROWN ESTATES LEGAL WORK The Crown Estate has chosen Arthur Cox in Belfast as its legal advisor in Northern Ireland following a competitive tender process.


rthur Cox joins The Crown Estate’s leading panel of dedicated jurisdiction specific lawyers which also includes Anderson Strathern for Scotland and Hugh James for Wales. The firm’s appointment will be on a five year basis covering the majority of The Crown Estate’s activities across its £14.8 million portfolio in Northern Ireland, including its rights to license renewable energy and gas storage offshore as well as its coastal interests. The Crown Estate has been extremely active over the last year supporting renewable

energy generation off the coast of Northern Ireland. In October 2012 it announced the award of development rights for three renewable energy sites in Northern Ireland’s coastal waters. The projects, which together could deliver 800 MW of electricity, comprise an area located off the south east coast of County Down, for the development of a 600 MW offshore wind farm, and areas off the north east coast of County Antrim for two tidal stream projects each of up to 100 MW near to Torr Head and Fair Head. Providing legal advice on The Crown Estate’s involvement with these

projects, as well as existing wave and tidal sites such as those at Strangford Loch and Bellyherry Bay, will form a major part of the firm’s remit. General Counsel, Vivienne King, said: “The team at Arthur Cox possess an impressive depth of experience which will make them an invaluable partner as we progress our on-going business activities in Northern Ireland. Throughout the tender process they demonstrated a genuine understanding of the values that underpin our work. We are very much looking forward to working with them, especially on the significant

offshore energy programmes which we are supporting off Northern Ireland’s coast.” Alan Taylor, managing partner, Arthur Cox in Belfast, said; “We’re delighted to have been appointed legal advisors to The Crown Estate at such an important period in Northern Ireland’s economic development, especially given the emerging significance of the coastal energy projects currently underway and their importance to local businesses and consumers. The entire team at Arthur Cox is looking forward to making a valuable contribution to the work of The Crown Estate in Northern Ireland.

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Eye on Recruitment

Hiring Managers!! Raise your game or fail your business… Managers in charge of hiring within their organisation really need to grasp the importance of their responsibility and significantly raise their game if they are to avoid failing their business as the battle for talented people hots up and demand grows due to improved economic conditions. That’s the message from Barry Smyth, Managing Director of specialist recruitment firm MCS Group, and it seems that in many companies all is not well according to the industry expert.


hile there are many hiring managers in the local market who really ‘get it’ and grasp the nettle when it comes to identifying and delivering talent to their businesses, I continue to be amazed how many hiring managers simply don’t get it and who are ultimately costing their company talent and money by dropping the ball during the recruitment process”, says Smyth. “In the market we see a sorry state of affairs in many companies, who on the face of it are trying hard to get talent into the business but the process is failing due to hiring managers who are simply not tuned in, or in some cases competent enough, to deliver the required results”, he says. “There are a few key areas which hiring managers need to consider and reflect upon if they wish to compete effectively for talent”, explains Smyth.


“Firstly…speed! Regardless of your market or industry, good people are always in demand. Therefore if there is any delay throughout the recruitment process you risk losing the really strong candidates. Good people always have choices and if you don’t move quickly someone else will and you will lose out. Of course you’ve got your business to run and your ‘day’ job to do but recruitment is business critical so it’s important that you treat it as such. HR also need to cognisant of this when designing the recruitment process. Secondly, you need to be tuned into your market and have an awareness of what skills are out there and what you can reasonably expect when starting your recruitment drive. Too many managers expect the dream candidate when starting the recruitment process and then miss out on really talented people while they search for the impossible. As most recruitment drives do not actually result in

Barry Smyth, Managing Director of MCS Group

the ‘perfect’ hire, managers that have a more flexible outlook and a clear picture of what they really need, versus what their dream hire would be, have a much better chance of achieving a successful hire.” Thirdly, you need to focus on selling your business & the opportunity,” Smyth continues. “Unless you’re in the lucky position of having a large number of well qualified candidates from which you can easily select, then you really need to be focused on selling the organisation, the role itself and the wider opportunity that joining the business offers. It’s well known that the best candidates always have choices, so you will need to convince them that, if offered, your company is the best place for them to progress their career. Being warm, welcoming and positive throughout the selection process goes a long way. These are only a few of the

areas on which many hiring managers need to raise their game. Talent acquisition has changed and in many disciplines we see candidate led markets with the candidates now in the box seat. If you don’t react to this and operate accordingly you will lose out. Can you really afford to be left behind in the battle for talent?”

Barry Smyth is Managing Director of MCS Group, a specialist talent acquisition firm for IT, Technical & Commercial disciplines, based in Belfast. He can be contacted on 028 9023 5456 for further advice on how to become more competitive in the on-going battle for talent.

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Eye on Telecoms

Northern Ireland Leads The Way In Tablet Revolution People in Northern Ireland have an insatiable appetite for gadgets, according to Ofcom... and it’s the tablet computer we just can’t get enough of.


atest figures from the communications regulator show the number of people in Northern Ireland who own a tablet computer has trebled in the past year, with nearly one in three homes (29%) having one. Take-up was particularly high in urban areas and homes with children, according to Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report for Northern Ireland. Indeed, Northern Ireland leads the UK in tablet take-up. The surge in tablet ownership reflects the continuing rise in take-up and use of the internet. The report reveals that eight in ten households (80%) now have access to the internet, up from 73% the previous year while people in Northern Ireland are increasingly accessing the internet on their mobile phones - smartphone ownership is up by a third, to 45%, in the past year. “The rise of the tablet computer is the big story from this year’s report,” said Jonathan Rose, Ofcom’s Northern Ireland Director. “Since they were launched just a few years ago, take-up of tablets has reached nearly a third of homes in Northern Ireland. Consumers value the portability and quick access to the internet at home and on the move that these devices provide.


“This is also reflected in another sharp rise in smartphone ownership with nearly half of us owning one. “It is encouraging to see that the availability, take-up and use of most communications services in Northern Ireland are now on a par with and, in some cases, ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom,” he added. Ofcom says the rapid increase in take-up of smartphones and tablets is creating a nation of media multi taskers, transforming the traditional living room of our parents and grandparents into a digital media hub. It says families are still coming together to watch TV in the living room and that 91% of all viewing is on the main TV set - up from 88% in 2002. However an increasing array of digital media are now also vying for their attention. People are streaming videos, firing off instant messages and updating their social media status – all while watching more TV than before. Social media continues to be popular among people in Northern Ireland, with more than half (53%) accessing Facebook, Twitter and similar services online, either at home or on the move. A similar proportion (51%) say they bank online, while three in five (60%) purchase goods and services on the internet. Northern Ireland leads the way in take-up of pay TV, with twothirds (66%) of homes having Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision or paid-for top-up services (e.g. Top-Up TV), compared with 59% for the UK as a whole. New research, carried out for this year’s report, also highlights

the popularity of Republic of Ireland (RoI) TV channels in Northern Ireland. One in four people watch RTE channels (One and Two) every week, with smaller but still significant numbers watching TG4 and TV3. These services, with the exception of TV3, became more widely available in Northern Ireland after digital switchover in October 2012. In radio, Ofcom’s research shows that listeners in Northern Ireland value local content, with a far bigger share tuning into local commercial and BBC stations than in other nations. While the report generally paints a picture of Northern Ireland catching up – and in some cases overtaking – other UK nations, there are some exceptions. Digital radio ownership is lowest in Northern Ireland, at just 24% of households, compared to the UK average (41%). Ofcom research also shows that mobile users in Northern Ireland are more likely to experience problems with reception than users in other UK nations. “Many consumers still are not happy with the service they are getting with most complaints being about mobile reception,” said Jonathan Rose. “The good news is that there have been some improvements in coverage recently. This is likely to improve further over the next 18 months on the back of network sharing by the operators and government backed investment in new masts.” Elsewhere, the Ofcom report highlights how people in Northern Ireland view and use government services online.

Jonathan Rose, Ofcom Northern Ireland Director

“Social media continues to be popular among people in Northern Ireland, with more than half (53%) accessing Facebook, Twitter and similar services online, either at home or on the move. A similar proportion (51%) say they bank online, while three in five (60%) purchase goods and services on the internet.” The range of services available in Northern Ireland lags behind other UK nations but the figures suggest people would use them if more were available. Around half of the online population in Northern Ireland say they use online government services: completing tax returns, applying for benefits, or completing the Census, which is the lowest across the devolved nations and lower than the UK average (61%). But the experience of users is positive, most agreeing that these services “are more convenient” (89%), “save time” (85%) and they “prefer this method of access” (81%) – some of the highest scores across the UK.

The full report is available to view on the Ofcom website:

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Eye on News

THOMPSON’S FAMILY TEAS STRIKE GOLD Local tea company, Thompson’s Family Teas, who make Northern Ireland’s best-selling tea, Punjana, have won a record 11 Gold Stars in the prestigious Great Taste Awards 2013.


heir recently launched ‘Thompsons Signature Blend’ won double Gold and their new speciality range made a dramatic entrance, winning Double Gold with their confidently named ‘Turkish Apple ... Amazing!’. ‘Passionfruit and Orange Cocktail’, ‘Lemon Smoothie’ and ‘Organic Green Tea Pineapple’ infusions also picked up Gold. Cousins Ross and David Thompson blend the entire range of Thompson’s Family Teas

and their claim to blending the ‘Perfect Everyday Cuppa’ was further strengthened when their hero brand Punjana won another Gold Star bringing its total to 10 Gold Stars over the last six years - a feat achieved by no other tea brand in the allimportant ‘blended tea bag’ sector. Before gold is awarded, between 12 and 20 experts taste, discuss and agree on the merits of every product. For two or three stars, up to 25 judges must

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Eye on News

Michelle Hatfield of George Best Belfast City Airport with the trio of awards

Belfast City Airport Celebrates Hat-Trick Of Awards George Best Belfast City Airport is celebrating after receiving three prominent awards in just a matter of weeks for its hugely successful community and employee initiatives.


he airport has been named winner of the ‘Local Community Impact’ award at the annual Business in the Community ‘Impact Awards’, the winner of the ‘Employer of the Year’ award at the WorkForce Annual Training Awards and Highly Commended in ‘The Right Place to Work’ at the Irish News Workplace and Employment Awards. The success comes just months after the launch of the ‘George Best Belfast City Airport High Fliers Apprenticeship Scheme’, which offers young people in the greater Belfast area the chance to gain expertise and skills in a vast range of disciplines. Michelle Hatfield, Director of


HR and Corporate Responsibility at the airport, said the awards are testament to their outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility strategy: “It was an honour to be recognised by three prestigious organisations as a local business that is doing the right thing with, not only our employees, but also within the community in which we operate. “We are fully committed to supporting the local community with an emphasis on young people and schools, and have embedded corporate responsibility into mainstream business practices across the organisation. “Employees, from all levels of our business, regularly offer their time to fulfil commitments made to the community and maintain our strong relationships with local groups and schools in the area. “I am delighted that the time and support our team invests in reducing the impact of our operations on the environment, whilst supporting and encouraging

the local community, has been highlighted and rewarded.” Airport employees have invested over 2,000 salaried hours annually into community initiatives such as the Community Fund which offers community groups and projects the chance to apply for funding and has supported over 60 local initiatives since its inception in 2009. The judges of the Business in the Community ‘Local Community Impact’ award said they were: “Impressed with the strategic and innovative approach taken by George Best Belfast City Airport and believe it had been on a corporate responsibility journey, learning at every stage and putting young people at the heart of what it is trying to achieve.” Michelle Hatfield continued: “As well as winning the Business in the Community Award, we also received the top prize as ‘Employer of the Year’ at the WorkForce Annual Training Awards for recognition of our ‘High Fliers Apprenticeship Scheme’.

“The judges praised us for our comprehensive and professional programme and in particular the time and support we invest in taking our young people through their learning experience and preparing them for full time employment. “Our fantastic team invest a lot of time in providing our apprentices with a variety of tasks and projects. They are great mentors for the young people that join us at the airport and I know it is hugely rewarding for all involved.”

For further information on the airport’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and the Community Fund, which provides local community groups and projects with funding, please visit Corporate-Responsibility. The airport also operates Facebook and Twitter channels to answer any additional queries.

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Eye on Motoring Motoring with Derek Black

THE MINIVAN RETURNS BUT NOT AS WE REMEMBER IT! Take away the smokescreen that is MINI marketing and this is far from the roomiest or most practical small van on the market. Does this matter? Probably not, as we are into the touchy-feely world of image.


his is not just a van, but the first ‘premium’ van. Just the job for the posh florist or the high-end chocolatier. The small business that sees itself as a cut above the rest now has a new tool to project itself as fun and fashionable. The Clubvan takes its name from the MINI Clubman, the little ‘estate’

car that evokes memories of its timber-clad predecessor from back in the 1960s. The wood has gone, the rear windows are blanked out and the back seats removed. The twin rear doors and silly side half door on the off side remains. From the outside the Clubvan has a minimalistic look - accentuated by the white

paintwork and big black alloy wheels on my test vehicle. It catches the eye and may even look cool. Inside, however, you get the full-on MINI retro bling look. The keynote ‘soup plate’ speedometer is there in the centre of the dash with the neat little line of chrome switches below it. The rev counter is in front of the driver and they have thoughtfully put in a digital speed read-out at its centre. Now the original Minivan was

cheap and very basic. The Clubvan is the opposite - why you can even specify it with leather seats! The ‘load’ area is carpeted with a grille between it and the front seats. There is a useful lipped rubber liner to take care of spillages. My car was a Cooper D with a 110bhp turbo-diesel engine and a six speed gearbox giving everyday propulsion. It returns 72mpg Combined and emits just 103g/km. A tad pricey at £17K including VAT, it does offer a funky and fun drive.

approached the Sandero with caution. Yet it seemed a decent sized five-door compact with a useful boot, compared with the city cars at this sort of price. Mind you the interior and seats seem a bit austere by modern standards. My drive was in the 1.5-litre turbo diesel, already a very popular power unit with the French make. The 90bhp engine is no ball of fire but emissions are just 99g/km and there is the potential of 74mpg if we are to believe the Combined Cycle figure. It is therefore in the lowest company car tax bracket.

On the road the Sandero feels stable and has the reassurance of electronic stability control and traction control on all models. Brakes have ABS and emergency assist features. Prices range from that headline-grabbing £5,995 for the starter 1.2-litre petrol Access model with the desirable 1.5 turbo-diesel Ambiance coming in from £8,395 - both the most affordable cars in their class. Could this be exactly the type of simple car that people are looking for at a time of recession?

DACIA BRINGS BACK CHEAP AND CHEERFUL MOTORING Is there a market for back to basics motoring? Cars have become a bit over-adorned with all the fancy finishes and the gismos that we don’t really need when it comes to the basic business of getting from A to B.


enault is about to test this theory by offering the products of its Romanian subsidiary on the UK market at headline-catching low prices. Never heard of Dacia? Well they have been around since 1966 with the French company taking full control from 1999. The chunky Sandero hatchback

that I have been driving has recently joined the Duster SUV launched last year. Already Dacia has earned a reputation for making the ‘most affordable’ cars in their classes. The Sandero, starting from £5,995, is the lowestpriced car on the UK market. ‘If it sounds too good to be true.....‘ With this thought in my head I


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Eye on Motoring Linda Fulford Purchasing Officer and Trevor Anderson Operations Director from Belfast Harbour Commissioners took delivery of seven Kia Picantos from Uel Butler, Director of DFC NI Ltd.


el Butler explains We are delighted that against stiff competition The Belfast Harbour Commissioners chose us for their fleet requirements Downeys Kia are also to be praised on the speed and efficiency with which they delivered the Picantos and also Connswater Graphics on the great job they did on the vehicle livery. Linda Fulford commented “DFC offered us the flexibility we were looking for in a competitive, tailor-made package. Belfast Harbour Commissioners are pleased to use a locally owned company who have been serving and supporting the Northern Ireland community for over 24 years.”

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Eye on Motoring

Taking Care of Business DFC , NIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only major locally owned Vehicle Management Company, recently announced the introduction of a range of new positions for 2013.


he most immediately evident change is the promotion of Annette Shanks to the role of Customer Care Manager. Annette, who has been with the business for over eight years, will be focused on the future development and implementation of their already high quality service. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Having worked within the operations team and, more recently,the marketing

department, I know a lot about our customers and their individual needs. I am really looking forward to putting some faces to names and listening to what our customers have to say about us . We want to create an open platform for regular feedback. Despite the challenges that the past 4/5 years have brought we are still consistently delivering our unique brand of care to our customer base. Needs and priorities have changed and we have adapted the business to deliver what is needed in terms of competitive pricing and reliable service. I am very fortunate to work with a team of people who are some of the most experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated people in the industry and we are all focused on consistently

delivering the highest levels of customer care. The core values of our business will remain focussed on delivering excellent customer service and our ability to provide impartial, independent advice. We will soon be celebrating 25 years and a pleasing number of our customers have been with us since DFCs inception. We intend to follow on from our last survey with a view to listening and modifying our service. Northern Ireland, companies that deliver a bad or mediocre service will struggle to retain or grow their customer base. We, on the other hand continue to enjoy high retention levels with this in mind we intend to roll out a programme where our customers will be further recognised for their loyalty.

Annette Shanks, Customer Care Manager.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more please visit our website at or call Annette on 02890 734222

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Eye on Motoring Motoring with Derek Black

NEW OCTAVIA DOES THE SAME JOB BUT WITH MORE POLISH The Octavia already has a sterling reputation for value, quality and economy. Beloved of taxi drivers, it did the job but was just a tad dull. Enter the new model, looking a bit bolder with shades of larger Superb about its profile.


t sits on the latest VW Golf Mark VII platform and has a slightly longer wheelbase so there is more room inside with a truly big boot. This is a more modern look than before and as smart as most in today’s car parks. A big selling point is the availability of the best of VW smaller engines. These start with the admirable and surprisingly capable 1.2-litre turbo petrol in the entry level models. You can also have the much-praised 1.4litre TSI petrol but the 1.6 TDI

that I have been driving will be the choice of company buyers. This engine is surprisingly quiet for a diesel, has a fair turn of speed for everyday driving and, above all, is a fuel miser. It returns 74mpg in the official Combined Cycle test and I was more than happy to return in the hight 50s on a steady open road run . Emissions of just 99g/km of carbon dioxide keep the tax man at bay. On the road, I found the Octavia a light and easy car to drive with plenty of grip. It has just five gears

but that is all you need with this flexible engine. Other models feature six-speed manual or the excellent six-speed twin clutch DSG automatic transmission. Inside, the layout is simple but effective. Bright insets around the dash and the gearchange

lift the mood. Instruments are clear to read and there are steering wheel controls for some functions. A big touch screen is the central feature. Prices range from £15,995 for the 1.2 petrol to £23,185 for the top Elegance model with DSG auto.

There are three trims - Active, Icon and Invincible - and prices range from £22,595 to £29,295. My test car was in the top Invincible trim despite its 2-wheel drive. Little was lacking in this spec. Safety features included front, side, curtain and driver’s knee air bags, traction control, hill start and stability control.

Wipers and lights came on automatically in rain or at dusk. For company drivers who do not need to to off the road, this version of the RAV4 acquits surprisingly well. It retains butch appeal of its ilk - rugged, high-driving and with great visibility. Yet it turns in running costs as good as many family saloons. Nice one, Toyota.

THE RAV4 BECOMES A ‘RAV2’ AND IT PAYS OFF! A smart way to ‘green up’ a sports utility vehicle is to buy one with two-wheel instead of four-wheel drive. After all, many of us don’t go off the tarmac so this is a way to keep down both the purchase price and the running costs.


can report that the two-wheel drive route pays dividends on the latest RAV4. It comes with a 122bhp, 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine and a slick six-speed manual gearbox. You get admirable economy and emissions. Not many of its type can manage 57mpg on the Combined Cycle and a CO2 figure of 127g/km. It felt pleasant to drive with good road manners for its size with quite brisk performance. Acceleration to 62mph takes


around 10 seconds and top speed potential is 111mph. There is a great spread of power from low engine revs, so relaxed driving is its natural gait - hence those impressive figures. The RAV4 started life nearly 20 years ago as a soft-roader fun vehicle. It has since matured into a practical and spacious vehicle. One new feature is a hinged tailgate and this makes for easier loading. The interior is roomy and well furnished with a premium feel.

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Business Eye Aug Sept 2013  

Northern Ireland's leading business magazine