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Issue 178 Apr/May 2018 £2.50 Voted best Business Magazine in Ireland 2005 and Magazine of the Year for Northern Ireland

Translink’s Chris Conway... Designing A Transport Future Features:


Niki MacCorquodale… Diageo’s Beer Pioneer


Rebecca Wilson… Driving Auction Business Forward

For more inFormation see page 5

T i Tan ic v en u es B e l fasT ti ta n i c Ve n u e s Be l fa s t.c o m


Heather MacLachlan… National Trust’s Business Edge

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For more inFormation see page 5

April/May 2018 ISSUE 178

Cover Story


Translink’s Chris Conway… Plotting A Transport Future


Harbinson Mulholland Hosts Family Business Forum Harbinson Mulholland has hosted the latest Family Business Forum event at Belfast’s Europa Hotel, with guest speakers including Gareth Loye of Mascott Construction, Mairead Mackle of Homecare Independent Living & Ricky Martin from Skunkworks.

New multi-million pound transport hubs in both Belfast and Derry, the arrival of the generation Glider service, improvements on the BelfastDublin line and a range of refurbishments around the country. They’re all on the agenda for Translink Chief Executive Chris Conway.

EasyJet Brings New Generation Neo To Belfast

Drinks Industry


Niki MacCorquodale… Living The Dream At Diageo

EasyJet, the largest operator at Belfast International Airport, has unveiled the new generation, environmentally friendly Airbus Neo, gradually being introduced to all of the airline’s bases.

Business Eye First Trust Bank Small Business Awards The entries are in, the judging process has been completed and the shortlists have been published. The stage is now set for the 2018 BEFTA’s, which take place on Thursday, 31st May, at the Crowne Plaza Belfast.

Niki MacCorquodale has the kind of job most beer drinkers dream about. The Magherafelt native who now lives in Belfast is Head of Beer Innovation for Diageo Europe, splitting her time between Belfast, St. James’s Gate in Dublin and Diageo’s London marketing headquarters.

Corporate Social Responsibility… No Longer A Luxury

Law & Lawyers


Eileen Ewing… Law Society President Targets Young Lawyers

Corporate social responsibility is no longer a bolt-on for most Northern Ireland companies. With the CSR pace set by the bigger organisations, more and more companies have bought into the concept, helping charities, their communities and their employees at the same time.

The agri food industry has been the shining star of the Northern Ireland economy over recent years, but there’s no doubt that it’s facing up to an uncertain future. Quite how Brexit is going to impact isn’t clear, in the same way that Brexit itself isn’t clear, but the local industry has to prepare for whatever the future might deliver.

Family Business


Rebecca Wilson… Key Role At Fast-Growing Firm Rebecca Wilson is the only female auctioneer at the Wilsons Auctions group, but the daughter of company chairman Ian Wilson has a much wider role in the management and future direction of an ambitious and fast-growing business.

Heather MacLachlan… A Job With A View Heather MacLachlan is Regional Director of the National Trust here in Northern Ireland….a job that entails looking after 290 staff in low seasion, upwards of 500 in the summer months, 2,500 volunteers, a £17 million budget, 46 miles of coastline. And that’s not to mention a spectacular range of properties.

Marco Pierre Drops In To Belfast Restaurant Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has made a visit to the Belfast steak restaurant that bears his name, meeting regular customers and fans during his day at Belfast’s Park Avenue Hotel.

Eye on Energy


Eye on Manufacturing


Moving On


Eye on Finance


Eye on Events


Eye on Motoring


Eye on Utilities


Eye on Telecomms


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Agri Food NI… Success Goes On

Eileen Ewing, the current President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, is an experienced solicitor committed to furthering the aims of the lawyers’ representative body. But she’s also keen to use her experience to get the positive messages out to younger lawyers.





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It’s all gone very quiet here in Northern Ireland. All hope has officially gone, it seems, on the restoration of devolved government at Stormont, despite the odd squeak of optimism from the Secretary of State.


“The British Government tries to give the impression that it knows what it’s doing, but it seems blindingly obvious to anyone with a modicum of sense that it really has no idea.”



ut the same Secretary of State doesn’t seem to have any intention of bringing in any form of direct rule. So we’re left in a kind of semi-permanent limbo. Not the best backdrop for any kind of sustained economic growth. Not that it’s the fault of Karen Bradley, even though she doesn’t seem to like being here very often. There’s only so much that Westminster’s envoy can do. Meanwhile, our local politicians are increasingly caught up in one issue and one issue only – Brexit. And, given the enormity of what might happen around these parts, that’s hardly surprising. What is the reaction from business here? Simple. There only is one reaction, and that’s to get on with the job. It’s an attitude that our politicians don’t understand and certainly don’t subscribe to. But think about this for a moment or two. Where could we have been? We could have had an Executive and Assembly up and running on hill. We could have been working towards a devolved corporation tax regime... or just about to introduce it. We could have been positioning Northern Ireland into a unique – and potentially lucrative – position as Brexit approaches. Unfortunately, we’re not. But, to return to our opening line, hasn’t it all gone eerily quiet. Michel Barnier’s recent visit apart, there hasn’t been very much happening around these parts. Were it not for the visits of Barnier and David Davis, and a long-running trial and resulting furore surrounding a couple of rugby players... journalists around here might have been scraping the bottom of the news barrel.

Richard Buckley EDITOR Irish Magazine Editor of the Year 2005

And, at the time of writing, they have been. With no local politics and not a lot happening on the Brexit front, the local news just hasn’t been local news. It’s all going to change, of course. Brexit is progressing down the tracks and the shenanigans surrounding Michel Barnier’s recent visit showed once again that it really is the only show in town. The British Government tries to give the impression that it knows what it’s doing, but it seems blindingly obvious to anyone with a modicum of sense that it really has no idea. The UK is so split down the middle by Brexit that it’s hard to see how anything can return to where it once was. And the same goes for Northern Ireland. In effect, we’ve become the same as Britain. On one hand are those who would do anything to avoid the Brexit nightmare. On the other are those who appear to be smiling as they march relentlessly towards the precipice. You wouldn’t be able to guess what side we’re on by reading that. Would you? As a footnote, Michel Barnier’s visit was rather telling. His two-day trip was highly professional, slick and well-handled in comparision with David Davis’ ham-fisted visit to the border the week before. Everyone wanted to talk to the Frenchman... or almost everyone. The pro-Brexit DUP, though, were left out in the cold. A metaphor for the future? Maybe... just maybe.

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Eye on News Dr. Terry Cross Backs University Cancer Research Local businessman Dr Terry Cross OBE visited Ulster University today to witness the impact of his continued investment in skin cancer research.


he former Delta Packaging Chairman has donated £190,000 to Ulster University to develop the David Cross Research Fund in memory of his son who tragically died at the age of 33 from malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Northern Ireland with up to 4,000 people presenting as newly diagnosed each year. 15,400 new skin cancer cases are diagnosed in the UK every year with between 2 to 3 million cases reported globally. The David Cross Research Fund was established in 2015 and supports the development of innovative approaches to diagnose and treat skin cancer. The programme of research led by Ulster University Professor Tara Moore, alongside her colleagues in Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, aims to help early diagnosis

of skin cancer and develop a more personalised approach to treatment. Tara Moore Ulster University Professor of Personalised Medicine commented; “Using the generous donation from Dr Terry Cross OBE, Ulster University has formed a global network of collaborators with expertise for establishing new and innovative approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. “We are identifying novel targets for therapy based on the activities of a network of regulatory proteins, known as nuclear receptors, that can be applied to both the diagnosis and management of skin cancer. We are currently focused upon three main nuclear receptors that dictate the degree of aggressiveness of the tumour and its likelihood to become invasive. This is an exciting focus for our research with respect to new treatments and potential for identifying those patients with primary tumours at risk for recurrence.”

L-R: Dr Patricia Rodriguez Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, Tara Moore Ulster University Professor of Personalised Medicine, Caroline Armstrong Ulster University Head of Fundraising, Dr Terry Cross OBE and Dr Paul Thompson Biomedical Sciences Research Institute.

Dr Terry Cross OBE commented; “I am committed to working with Ulster University to find new, innovative ways to tackle this horrible disease. “I want to use my son’s unfortunate fatal experience to help other people and the David Cross Research Fund through Ulster University has committed to making a significant, durable contribution to society and can ensure that together we can transform the lives of skin cancer sufferers. “It is increasingly important for people like me to support the high impact work

of our universities, enhancing existing work to create a lasting impact. It has been a very worthwhile, and rewarding, experience and I am very happy with the impact made from my investment. Professor Moore commented; “As we progress with this research we aim to develop a detailed biological and biochemical diagnostic profile of the skin cancer each patient has and in doing so be in a position to predict more specific novel treatments to be used alongside existing therapeutics, in a personalised medicine approach.”

David Meade Entertains Malone Lodge Guests Malone Lodge Hotel recently played host to a Customer Appreciation Night; an event which focused on reinforcing relationships with the hotel’s corporate partners thanking them for their continued business and loyalty over the last year.


s the hotel landscape in Northern Ireland is moving into a time of unprecedented growth, General Manager Lisa

O’Shea outlined some of the upcoming plans for Malone Lodge. “We have recently unveiled 10 of our newly refurbished bedrooms and

will continue this work over the next few months. Further developments include an additional 27 bedrooms and expansion of our Knife & Fork restaurant and event space.” Guests enjoyed a drinks reception and buffet before being treated to a show by renowned mentalist, David Meade. With his quick wit and clever tricks, David wowed


with his repertoire of mind-reading abilities. The evening also included a tour of the renovated rooms and a raffle draw was also held with afternoon tea, dinner and overnight stays up for grabs.

Eye on News

£10.7 Million Profits For Progressive Progressive Building Society maintained its strong financial position in 2017 with pre-tax profits of £10.7 million.


ast year Northern Ireland’s largest locally owned financial institution helped over 1,000 people buy their home and almost 600 to build a new home, with overall new mortgage lending of £200million. In 2017 Progressive created nine new jobs throughout the year bringing its employment number to 176 people across its 12 Northern Ireland branches and head office. Darina Armstrong, Chief Executive of Progressive Building Society commented, “Our commitment to serving our Members in communities across Northern Ireland is the bedrock of our business and has seen us

maintain a strong financial position for many years. This approach, together with experienced staff across our 12 branches enabled us to grow our mortgage assets, while saving Members benefitted from rates equal to or above the Bank of England’s base rate throughout the year. “In 2017 we invested in our IT infrastructure and continued to focus on the development of our staff to ensure we offer our Members an exemplary customer experience. Our strong presence in local communities across Northern Ireland has seen us support a range of CSR initiatives and last year over £91,000 was donated to charities,

benefitting 57 organisations and further enhancing and enriching the towns in which we operate. “Economically there have been challenges for the local economy, primarily driven by the political uncertainty created by Brexit and the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, however the Northern Ireland economy has remained resilient. Unemployment is now at a ten year low, and with inflation falling and wages starting to rise property prices in Northern Ireland remain more affordable than many other regions across the UK. Our partnership with the Ulster University’s Northern Ireland Quarterly House price

Darina Armstrong, Chief Executive of Progressive Building Society

index provides the most up to date analysis of the housing market. It outlines that there is continued confidence amongst estate agents and the wider industry and with affordability and sustainable growth, the outlook is positive for Northern Ireland’s housing market in 2018 and beyond.”

“Dream” Growth For Local Serviced Apartment Provider Leading serviced apartment provider, Dream Apartments, has completed a deal which sees them adding a further 30 Belfast apartments to their extensive portfolio and creating 15 new jobs.

Aimée Scullion Front of House Manager is pictured with Tom Smyth, Managing Director of Dream Apartments.


wned and operated by local businessman, Tom Smyth, the luxury accommodation provider has gone from strengthto-strength since launching in 2017 with 85 fully serviced apartments currently operating in the city, 50 in Liverpool with a further 50 opening in June 2018. Employing over 70 people across the UK, Dream Apartments also operates in Newcastle, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and São Paulo Brazil. The newly acquired Belfast apartments are located within the Sanford development on the Queens Bridge and will open in Spring 2019. Speaking about the new deal, Tom Smyth, Managing Director of Dream Apartments said: “I am delighted that Dream Apartments has had great success in our first year and that we are able to meet the demand for short

and long-term accommodation in Belfast and beyond. “The new development which will feature both one and twobedroom properties will offer a unique accommodation solution to the Belfast corporate markets. “I first encountered the serviced apartment sector whilst working in Dubai, where I fell in love with the concept. “Upon my return to Belfast, I saw a gap in the market for a serviced apartment offering to serve the growing Northern Irish tourism scene. “In June 2017 I launched Dream Apartments, and I’m incredibly proud of the growth we have experienced in our first year. We operate over 250 properties worldwide. “The buoyant corporate market and our ability to provide high-end, private, serviced accommodation

in a prime location in Belfast close to the central business district, airports, main arterial routes and the buzzing city centre has allowed us to continue to grow quickly.” “The fact that Belfast is the third fastest-growing office market in the world means that the corporate market is also particularly strong and one which is set to grow further. The new Waterfront Hall is a mere stone’s throw away from our properties providing the perfect place to stay for visiting delegates.” “The relocation market is also a strong growth area for us and we are delighted to welcome families and individuals who are setting up home in Northern Ireland and need a base in the short-term. Tom concluded: “The serviced apartment industry in Northern Ireland is still in its infancy and has so much potential and demand. I am immensely proud of our growth and to be recognised at the 2017 World Travel Awards as the Leading Serviced Apartment provider in Northern Ireland is the icing on the cake.”


Eye on News

RECORD YEAR FOR TITANIC BELFAST Titanic Belfast has experienced its busiest year to date (17/18) welcoming 841,563 visitors, a year-onyear increase of 13%.


he world-leading attraction, which was identified as one of Tourism Northern Ireland’s signature projects to enhance Northern Ireland’s tourism offering, smashed its 2012 record numbers by 4%. The announcement follows its sixth birthday and comes on the back of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, when significant focus was placed on Northern Ireland’s tourist renaissance. Since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, overnight stays in Belfast have more than tripled from 500,000 a year to over 1.5 million and tourism spending has risen to £334m from £84m. Titanic Belfast has had a key role to play in this. Judith Owens, Titanic Belfast’s Chief Executive, commented, “Over the past six years, Titanic Belfast has proved to be a shining example of how a significant tourism investment, public and private, combined with passion and belief can be a catalyst for economic growth and help positively position a destination on the worldwide stage.” “Since we opened in 2012, we have continued to go from strength to strength, having now welcomed over 4.4 million visitors from over

Tourism NI’s Chief Executive John McGrillen is pictured alongside Titanic Belfast’s Chief Executive, Judith Owens and crew who have been working at the world-leading tourist attraction since opening in 2012, as it celebrates its busiest year to date.

145 different countries. 2017/18 has been a very strong year for us, with a 13% increase in visitors year on year. Now over 85% of our visitors are coming from outside Northern Ireland and 1 in 5 people are now visiting Ireland because of Titanic Belfast. We, alongside Belfast and Northern Ireland, are firmly on the global tourism map and we have plenty more to give.” John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism NI, said “At Tourism NI, we are

proud of the key role we played in the development of Titanic Belfast. It has been a catalyst for wider economic growth in Belfast and has truly changed Northern Ireland’s tourism footprint.” The tourist attraction, which in its first five years, generated £160 million in additional tourism spend for the Northern Ireland economy, is gearing up for a busy 2018/19. It has recently opened a new hospitality space, Hickson’s Point, and has recruited 70

new positions ahead of the summer. Its business tourism has also blossomed, having hosted over 2,000 business and leisure events including Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee lunch, G8 Summit Reception, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, The World Police & Fire Games International Conference, World Conference of Credit Unions, Giro D’Italia and MTV Sounds. For more information, visit

Accountancy Accolade The Danske Bank Accountancy Award was recently presented to Katrina Wall at Danske Bank’s headquarters in Belfast. Katrina, who is an Audit Senior at Deloitte, was awarded the annual prize for achieving the highest marks in Northern Ireland in the 2017 Institute of Chartered Accountants Ireland (ICAI) Final Admitting Examination. Katrina is pictured receiving her award from Danske Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, Stephen Matchett. 8

Eye on News

POWER NI SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON COMMUNITY FUNDING Power NI is bringing a new energy to communities and groups throughout Northern Ireland with the launch of its brand new local funding initiative, Brighter Communities.  


orthern Ireland’s leading energy supplier is making £1000 available each month to community groups and individuals to help people implement innovative and creative projects which will change and improve their local community for the better.     Brighter Communities will roll out monthly over a 12 month period and initial applications for April should be received by 30th April and the initial winning submission, will be revealed by 4th May. The Power NI Brighter Communities programme is seeking applications from small or large community, sporting, charity, youth and all age groups who

can propose a tangible project, activity or item which can be realised or executed once the funds have been received and within an 8-week timescale. Each month the winning group or organisation will get the opportunity to showcase their efforts and hard work through social media updates and reports outlining the project journey and ultimate successful actualisation.    To check out criteria terms and conditions and to make a submission, potential applicants can access information on the Power NI website www. Power NI Managing Director Stephen McCully said: “We hope our new programme will spark an assortment of fantastic and creative ideas which can be realised through people working together and achieving their goals with the support of some cash from the Power NI Brighter Communities Fund.  “By delivering a Northern Ireland wide programme we aim to support people in

Launching Power NI’s new Brighter Communities programme is Managing Director Stephen McCully and Senior Sponsorship and Events Executive Gemma-Louise Bond

towns and villages across a diverse range of areas helping them to inspire others and create a brighter future for everyone.” Full details of all criteria can be accessed online, but in summary applicants making a submission on behalf of an

organisation or charity, must be over 18 and all groups should be based in Northern Ireland and have no political links. Funding will be awarded only to tangible projects and cannot be used for overall running costs or overheads.

New Chair For Chartered Accountants Niall Harkin has been elected Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society at its 111th Annual General Meeting in Belfast.


he Ulster Society represents 4,500 local Chartered Accountants and is a district society of Chartered Accountants Ireland, the largest and oldest professional accountancy body in Ireland. Mr Harkin, who takes over as Chair from Pamela McCreedy, is Head of Organisational Development, Corporate & Business Banking with Danske Bank with whom he has worked since 2009. Addressing the Society’s AGM, he said: “The year ahead is a crucial one for Northern Ireland. It is a year in which the UK will leave the EU, bringing both significant challenges and opportunities. “The Ulster Society has an important role to play in terms of providing an effective voice for local business. At this time of political uncertainty, it is vital that we adapt and engage with government and other key influencers to ensure that our members’ voice is heard.


“We will also draw upon the ability, experience and expertise within our membership to provide guidance for the local business community as the realities of Brexit unfold. In the year ahead we will work to bring a greater understanding of the impacts

and complexities of new trading arrangements. “We will do all we can to ensure that local business can both survive and thrive in the new relationship between Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the EU. I know that our membership will embrace the challenges and I look forward to leading the Ulster Society in the year ahead.” During his first speech as Chairman, Mr Harkin also said that he would seek to encourage a new generation to the profession by showcasing the value of Chartered Accountancy skills and training and by highlighting the varied career paths offered by the qualification. Prior to joining Danske Bank, Mr Harkin held the role of Finance Director with Resource Services Group and worked in the Corporate Finance department of Deloitte. Mr Harkin trained as a Chartered Accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Before becoming Vice Chair of the Ulster Society in 2017, Mr Harkin served as Honorary Secretary of the Society and has been an active member of the Society’s Committees since 2009. Away from the office, Mr Harkin is married with two children and is a keen golfer who enjoys running and boxing to keep fit.

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Eye on News

SUPREME COURT PRESIDENT OPENS RESOLUTION CENTRE Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has officially opened the Bar Council of Northern Ireland’s Resolution Centre as part of the Supreme Court’s historic visit to Belfast.


he Resolution Centre has been established by the Bar of Northern Ireland to cater for a different and emerging need where the conditions lend themselves towards pursuing resolution by means of out-of-court mediation and arbitration. The Resolution Centre is therefore a venue within the local Belfast market for skilled mediators and arbitrators to use their specific set of core skills to assist parties in arriving at alternative resolution options. Its facilities include private, acoustically sealed rooms; state of the art Wi-Fi, telephone and video conferencing; flexible opening hours; catering and dedicated staff and services to assist clients to resolve matters by means of alternative dispute resolution. In addition to handling commercial disputes, The Resolution Centre is therefore available for handling private cases including divorce and family law and in certain situations may be the most appropriate option

as it may offer a more timely and cost-effective solution with the added advantages of preserving the privacy and relationships of those involved. Speaking at the official opening, Lady Hale said: “I congratulate the Bar of Northern Ireland for creating The Resolution Centre to cater for those circumstances where an opportunity exists for disputes to be properly settled by means of alternative dispute resolution. The venue has been specifically designed to support the resolution process and to create the potential for skilled mediators and arbitrators to find solutions for the parties involved. I wish The Resolution Centre every success for the future.” Liam McCollum QC, Chairman of the Bar of Northern Ireland said: “The creation of The Resolution Centre is good news for both local and prospective international clients as it provides another addition to the advantages that the jurisdiction can already offer to them. Clients already

Former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland Lord Kerr, Supreme Court President Lady Hale, Sarah Ramsey Vice Chair of the Bar of Northern Ireland.

have direct access to a wide network of skilled local solicitors and the ability to engage the Bar’s existing expertise in providing trusted and independent advice and representation in court alongside the significantly lower cost of commercial litigation in Northern Ireland compared to other locations. The Bar of Northern Ireland are very grateful to the justices of the Supreme Court for visiting the centre and are honoured

that Lady Hale has officially opened the centre as part of the Supreme Court’s historic visit to Belfast.”

Further details on the facilities and services available at The Resolution Centre can be found at

Mace Puts Its Heart Into Raising £88,400 For Local Charity Local charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke celebrates with MACE – one of NI’s largest networks of convenience stores - as the retailer hands over £88,400 to the charity.


n its second year of corporate partnership, MACE staff and customers have raised the money across a number of fundraising events including a sponsored cycle from Northern Ireland to Italy, known as ‘Home to Rome’, a ‘Wake up Walk’ at Stormont as well as numerous coffee mornings and ‘Red days’ in store. Pictured is Tom


Kinnier, Sales Manager at Mace with (L-R) Declan Cunnane, NICHS Chief Executive, Jackie Trainor, Fundraising and Communications Director, Sinead Lynch, NICHS Corporate Fundraising Manager, Diane Anthony Assistant Brand Manager Mace, Richard Mayne, Head of Wholesale, Musgrave NI and Jenny Ervine, Assistant Brand Manager Mace.

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Eye on News

New Board for Dispute Resolution Service


ne of Northern Ireland’s leading mediation providers has announced the election of a new chair, vice chair and Board to oversee its future direction. The Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) is the only mediation provider based in Northern Ireland to have received the accreditation from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) as a certified ADR provider for consumer disputes. Brian Speers, solicitor was elected as the new Chair of the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) at its Annual General Meeting of the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) which was held on Thursday 19th April 2018 at Law Society House in Belfast to elect a new Chair, Vice Chair and Board members. Those attending the AGM voted Brian Speers as Chair, Alva Brangam QC as Vice Chair and a new DRS Board to include; Teresa Johnstone, James O Brien, Gareth Jones, Michael Bready, Drusilla Hawthorne, Rosalind Dunlop and Kevin Neary. The new Board will consider the future direction of the Dispute Resolution Service and the strategy required to promote the DRS to practitioners and clients in Northern Ireland and further afield. Commenting the new Chair of the DRS, Mr Brian Speers said: “I am delighted to have been elected Chair and look forward to working with colleagues to promote the DRS to practitioners

Mr Brian Speers, new Chair of the DRS, Eileen Ewing, President of the Law Society and Alva Brangam QC new Vice Chair of DRS.

and to ensure the DRS is the preferred choice for consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland”. The President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, Eileen Ewing said: “The Law Society remains proud that the DRS and its membership

continues to be drawn from both parts of the legal profession in Northern Ireland. I am confident that today’s AGM, the new board and the strategy which will be put in place to promote the DRS to practitioners provides the right direction to take.”

TLT Celebrates Three Nominations at Legal Business Awards TLT celebrated three nominations at the Legal Business Awards 2018 for Energy Team of the Year, Technology Team of the Year and National Law Firm of the Year.


espite fierce competition, TLT also took home the ‘Highly commended’ award for National Law Firm of the Year, in recognition of its continued strong growth and expansion. TLT reported 4% growth in revenue to £74.6m in 2017, marking its fifth year of consecutive growth, while the top line has grown by around 50% since 2013. TLT’s energy and renewables team is widely regarded as a specialist in the market, advising


a range of clients on some of the biggest and most ground breaking clean energy projects in the UK. The firm has acted on 40% of successful projects in the National Grid Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) auction, noticeably the buyer of the 20MW Broxburn energy storage plant in Scotland, one of the first largescale energy storage projects. As a digitally-minded law firm, TLT was also recognised for its launch of TLT LegalSifter – a combined intelligence solution for contract negotiation that sifts a contract in a minute or two and presents users with in-built legal advice from TLT’s expert commercial lawyers, enabling contracts to be reviewed and negotiated with greater speed, quality and value.

Katherine Kimber, Head of TLT in Northern Ireland

The awards were announced at a glittering ceremony in London’s Grosvenor House

Hotel on Park Lane, hosted by BBC presenter Mariella Frostrup and attended by 900 people.

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Eye on Events

Family Business Forum Meets In Belfast The latest in Harbinson Mulholland’s successful Family Business Forum events took place recently at the Europa Hotel, Belfast, where the audience heard from a range of speakers, including Gareth Loye of multi-award winning M&M Contractors, Mairead Mackle of the Home Care Independent Living Group and Ricky Martin of Coleraine surfboard manufacturers Skunkworks. Pictured at the Europa Hotel event were.... David McMaster (Staff Nursing), Mark Coleman


Gordon Milligan, Darren McDowell

Garvan Rice (The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn), Eric Reid (Fruitfield Service Station)

Angela Craigan, Gareth Loye (M&M Contractors)

Celine McLarnon (ISL Waste Management), Julie Brown (Mount Charles), Mairead Mackle

Daniel McIlroy (RTU), Roger Wilson (Roger Wilson Architectural Design)

Jeremy Harbinson, Eric Reid (Fruitfield Service Station), Paul Mulholland

Bradley McKinstry, Patrick Leonard, Darren McKinstry (McKinstry Skip Hire)

Ricky Martin, John McKee, Richard Buckley

Clare McCarrison (HM), Molly and Seamus Connolly (Fast Engineering)


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Eye on Cover Story

Translink’s Chris Conway... Designing A Transport Future Chris Conway’s calm demeanour belies the fact that, in business terms, he’s well used to spinning a few plates at the same time.


n the space of an hour-long interview, Conway covers the granting of planning permission for the new Derry/ Londonderry transport hub, the approaching arrival of the new Belfast Rapid Transit Glider bus service on Belfast’s streets, railway station refurbishments, and the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise service amongst other topics. And, from a seat in the cafe at Europa Buscentre/Great Victoria Street Station, he also talks about Translink’s big future focus at the moment... the multi-million Weavers Cross bus and rail transport hub being developed on the site of the current stations. “It isn’t just a transport hub. We look at it as a transport-led regeneration project that will provide a range of benefits to the community and help revive this part of the city centre,” he says. The £175 million development is or was one of the flagship projects of the NI Programme for Government, and funding for Weavers Cross is already in place....and therefore won’t be affected by the lack of an Executive at Stormont. It’s a £175 million development in its own right, but will form part of a wider regeneration


programme that’s likely to cost £200 million, a large proportion of that coming from private sector investment. “We’re working our way through the planning and design stages. This is a process that involves significant stakeholder engagement with local communities, civic and statutory bodies,” Chris Conway adds. Weavers Cross, when completed in four or five years time, will be a lot more than a modern combined bus & rail hub. It will have a substantial commercial element, with shops, restaurants and cafes all built in alongside apartments and plenty of much-needed office space in to what Chris Conway describes as a ‘master plan’ for the area... from Great Victoria Street through to Sandy Row. “Our approach right from the outset has been that Weavers Cross has to make commercial sense. So we have to get that element, and the mix, right from the initial stages.” Translink’s Enterprise rail service linking Belfast with Dublin (operated as a joint venture with Irish Rail) will arrive and depart from the new station when it opens, and that Dublin connection could play a part in attracting commercial investment – and office tenants – to the development. At the same time, both Translink and Irish Rail are on record as saying that they’d like to aim for an hourly service and an improvement in journey times on the key inter-city route.

When the cross-border train does move away from Central Station, currently being revamped and re-named as Lanyon Place, it will become an urban railway station serving the growing number of office developments in that part of the city. Back at Great Victoria Street, the current combined bus and rail station has a footfall of some 10 million passengers every year, a number that is expected to grow rapidly once the new station is up and running. The Belfast development is being mirrored in Derry/ Londonderry, where planning permission was finally granted recently for the £27 million transformation of the existing railway station on the city’s Waterside into a transport hub. “It will be a multi-modal transport hub which will retain the historic station building but serve as the terminus for the Belfast-Derry rail service as well as a cycling hub and cross border bus services” says the Translink CEO. “And, like the new Belfast hub, it will include passenger facilities, a cafe and other commercial opportunities. “What’s more, it will be linked to the Cityside and to the Foyle Street bus station on the other side of the river, and like the Belfast hub, it will be fully integrated with the cycle network and to local landmarks like Ebrington Square.” Chris Conway’s vision is to create a state of the art public transport network for Northern Ireland, and that means looking


Eye on Cover Story

“Across our network, we carried 81 million passengers last year and that total reflects significant growth right across rail and bus services.”

at the NI Railways network, at local Ulsterbus and Goldline bus services, at cross-border routes, and at the Metro bus network serving Belfast. Translink has made significant progress over recent years, irrespective of the flagship transport hub developments in both Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. Passenger numbers on NI Railways have risen from a starting point of five million to 15 million, and Metro journey numbers are also on a steady upward track. “We’ve worked hard to improve


the buses on our Metro routes and the overall passenger experience,” Conway says. And the same goes for NI Railways, its trains and stations, and for Ulsterbus. Next up for a substantial refurbishment is Portrush railway time for the town hosting the British Open Golf tournament in the summer of 2019. A visible sign of Translink’s continued investment in its services are the striking new vehicles providing the dedicated round-the-clock Airport service between Belfast city centre and Belfast International Airport.

Another will be September’s arrival of the Belfast Rapid Transit Glider bus on Belfast’s streets. Initially, the ultra-modern Glider will run across the city from Dundonald in the east through to the city centre and out to Colin Glen in West Belfast. They will also operate into the Titanic Quarter. “The way we like to describe BRT and Glider is that it has all the features of a tram but it runs on rubber tyres,” says Chris Conway. But it will be very different from standard Metro buses... with wide opening doorways, wi fi and USB ports, and a system whereby tickets have to be bought before boarding. Residents in some parts of Belfast will have noticed the installation of brand new halts complete with payment facilities and validators to serve the Glider when it arrives. In fact, ticketing is another area of focus for Chris Conway and the Translink team. The company has worked hard to encourage passengers to move towards online ticketing and multi-journey cards. “Ticketing is all about the customer,” Chris Conway adds. “It’s all about making travel as easy and as convenient as possible. Of course we’re going to see more off-board ticketing,

but it will probably be a while before we can move away from our drivers carrying cash... much as we’d like to do so.” “Across our network, we carried 81 million passengers last year and that total reflects significant growth right across rail and bus services. “But what’s vital is that we continue to look at the future of public transport here in Northern Ireland and at how it can be developed and improved.” Much further down the line, Chris Conway talks about the concept of Mobility As A Service (or MaaS). In short, it means a shift away from personallyowned modes of transport towards mobility solutions that are provided as a service....but all working through a single unified app or gateway and available on a pay as you go basis. “So we would be looking at a unified rail and bus network combined with pay as you use car hire and bicycle hire for the users. It’s a concept that is already being put into use in a number of cities worldwide.” MaaS is one for the future. In the meantime, will the future of public transport here spell the end of the endearing Northern Ireland habit of thanking the bus driver? Let’s hope not.

Eye on Travel

EasyJet Showcases Airbus A320Neo At Belfast International easyJet, Europe’s leading airline has showcased its brand new Airbus A320neo at Belfast International Airport.


he Neo brings significant environmental and operational benefits – up to 15 percent savings in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, and a reduced noise footprint of 50 percent on take-off and landing phase. Crucially, this means the quieter aircraft minimises its noise impact on local communities. easyJet is the largest airline serving Northern Ireland, operating over 70% of flights from Belfast International Airport and almost 50% of all commercial passenger traffic across Northern Ireland. The airline is excited to be introducing the Neo to some of these routes this year, as the airline’s fleet of A320neo aircraft increases. Since 2000 easyJet has reduced its carbon emissions per passenger, per kilometre by over 32%. Its current target is a 10% reduction from its financial year 2016 performance by 2022, which would be a 38% improvement from 2000. Ali Gayward, easyJet UK Country Manager, said: “We are very pleased to have continued to deliver a reduction in the amount of CO2 we emit and look forward to reaching our target of 77 grams by 2020. By using modern Airbus aircraft and flying them efficiently we have reduced the carbon impact of our flights by a third since 2000. “We are delighted to be showcasing our new Airbus A320neo in Belfast. As the largest airline at Belfast International Airport last year we carried over four million passengers and we’re committed to finding ways to increase efficiency, for example by incentivising higher load factors as well as the use of modern and efficient aircraft like the Airbus A320neo. “The A320neo is also 50% quieter during take-off and landing, which is hugely important to easyJet as it minimises our

impact on the local community. “Next summer, easyJet will also introduce the 235-seat A321neo which will enable easyJet to continue to deliver growth in slot constrained airports and deliver a further improvement in CO2 per passenger kilometre.” Graham Keddie, managing director, Belfast International Airport, said: “We are delighted to partner with easyJet to showcase the revolutionary A320neo aircraft. We are committed to using the latest technology in the airport and also working with our airlines to minimise any environmental issues that may have an impact on the local community. “Utilising this aircraft on routes to and from Belfast underlines easyJet’s commitment to this market. As the biggest airline in Northern Ireland they play a huge part in our role as the gateway to Northern Ireland.” easyJet’s biggest impact on the environment is its fuel consumption and the associated carbon emissions and that is why the airline is currently working on several projects with the aim of continuing to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. The arrival of the new environmentally friendly Airbus is the first step in a strategy which could lead to easyJet operating the very first fully electric-powered aircraft. In September easyJet announced that it was providing an airline operator’s perspective to Wright Electric which is developing a commercial passenger plane that runs on electric batteries. The collaboration will support their goal for short haul flights to be operated by all-electric planes within 10 years. And easyJet is working with Safran Landing Systems to trial e-taxi hydrogen fuel cell technology in the coming months in what will be a revolutionary zero emissions taxiing system for its aircraft.

Due to the high frequency and short sector lengths of easyJet’s operations, around 4% of the airline’s total fuel consumed annually is used when the airline’s aircraft are taxiing. Once applied across its fleet of 272 aircraft, this technology could save around 55,000 tonnes of fuel and associated CO2 emissions per year. Trials will take place next year at Toulouse Airport.

Ali Gayward, easyJet UK Country Manager, with Richard Buckley, Editor of Business Eye.


Eye on Energy

Working Towards A UK & Ireland Energy Future I stress this remains the case. We remain absolutely committed to our investment plans to deliver around £6bn of investment in the period 2016-2020. In Northern Ireland, we have developed plans for what could be the largest wind farm in Northern Ireland in Doraville, at 139MW. We await a planning decision on that project. In the Irish Sea, we plan to expand the existing Arklow Bank Wind Park off the Wicklow coast from 24MW to a minimum 520MW by 2021.

In terms of electricity interconnection, the Moyle and East West interconnectors give Ireland and the UK the flexibility to take advantage of lower prices and optimise management of renewable generation. The interconnectors provide additional comfort that security of supply can be maintained in case of emergencies. The flow over these interconnectors must be maintained. It is clear that we depend on each other to meet our collective energy needs. Therefore, it will be important that any future agreements allow collaboration to continue. Thirdly, the UK and Irish Governments should provide certainty to the energy industry by recommitting to the policy instruments that can deliver upon their

“It is clear that we depend on each other to meet our collective energy needs. Therefore, it will be important that any future agreements allow collaboration to continue.”

In February, SSE Ireland Managing Director Stephen Wheeler addressed a Seminar of the Future of the UK-Ireland Energy Relationship in London, jointly hosted by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and Energy UK. Here, Stephen outlines how it makes sense for the UK and Ireland to retain a close relationship on energy, regardless of the wider UK-EU relationship.


s both sides of the negotiations around the UK withdrawal from the EU move forward into the next phase of discussions in the coming months, it is a timely to reaffirm the importance of the UK-Ireland energy relationship, and crucially the all island market for Northern Ireland and Ireland. Continuing the positive dialogue on the future UK and Ireland Energy relationship is hugely important in securing the optimal outcome for all concerned. SSE is the largest energy company whose revenues are derived solely from the UK and Ireland. That means we are intractably invested in the UK and Ireland continuing a successful and collaborative relationship after the UK formally leaves the EU. For SSE Ireland, we are committed to playing our full part in a positive


continuing dialogue around the future UK and Ireland Energy relationship. In such uncertain political times, that conversation is hugely important in securing the optimal outcome for all concerned. SSE is involved in all stages of the energy supply chain; the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity, and in the production, storage, distribution and supply of gas, and in other energy services. We are the largest developer and operator of renewable energy in the UK and in Ireland as well as the foremost developer of offshore wind in UK and Irish waters. We said prior to the referendum that regardless of the result it would not present an immediate risk to how we serve our customers or our investment levels. It is important that

In the midst of change, for SSE the way forward is in some ways quite simple. Managing political and regulatory change is part of our role as an energy company. Our priority is to provide the energy people need in a reliable and sustainable way. Brexit does not change this priority, nor does it dampen our ambitions to play a leading role in delivering the UK and Ireland’s energy and climate goals. As Brexit conversations continue, we have three key priorities that we will want to see at the centre of political discussions. Firstly, the Single Electricity Market on the island of Ireland should be maintained and the Integrated Single Electricity Market Project should be completed. The SEM has been a success. It has improved competition and has optimised the achievement of renewable targets. Secondly, energy security must be maintained through a new, comprehensive and collaborative energy relationship between the EU and the UK. Approximately 88% of Ireland’s energy needs are imported, with 40% of the gas it uses coming from the UK. The UK produces gas and imports over its interconnectors with other EU member states and Norway, as well as importing liquefied natural gas from further afield. It will therefore be mutually beneficial for the UK to continue to participate in EU security of gas supply arrangements post-Brexit.

respective energy and climate goals. Both the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive have committed to achieving 40% of electricity consumption from renewable generation by 2020 while in the UK, the Government has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 57% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. In the EU too, the Clean Energy Package is progressing and we hope will contain new ambitious energy targets for all Member States. We should build upon the exciting progress we are making in renewables. Brexit will, understandably, take up a great deal of the Government’s capacity and attention, but it should not lose sight and miss the opportunities presented by falling costs of both onshore and offshore wind. Energy customers want prices to be fair, and the UK and Ireland require cost-effective investment in energy infrastructure to decarbonise their economies and maintain security of supply. We will continue to work within the new policy paradigm to deliver this. As Brexit proceeds these overarching aims should allow us to continue to make positive progress in future, in whatever political landscape lies ahead.

Eye on Drinks Industry


Eye on Drinks Industry

Niki MacCorquodale.. Living The Dream At Diageo Niki MacCorquodale has the kind of job title plenty of beer drinkers would love to have. The Magherafelt native who now lives in Belfast is Head of Beer Innovation for Diageo Europe, splitting her time between Belfast, St. James’s Gate in Dublin and Diageo’s London marketing headquarters.


ack in 2015, she won industry recognition for being an integral part of the Diageo team that brought Hop House 13 to the mainstream beer marketplace. Brewed in Dublin, it has gone on to be a major success for the company. And it’s one that Niki hopes can be repeated by the latest new beer product that she’s been instrumental in launching. Rockshore is a light and refreshing tasting lager launched just in time for the summer season. The youngest of four girls growing up in Magherafelt, Niki says that she was never one for conventional routes. “My first job was with Red Bull and I went on from there to join the team at C&C, with whom I ended up working in London,” she says. Niki joined Diageo in their London Headquarters and after four years in the capital city, she headed home – along with her new husband – to join the innovation team at St James’s Gate. “I was delighted to get the chance to come to Diageo. When you’re in or around the drinks industry, Diageo is the company that you want to work for. She found the history, heritage and global popularity of many of the Diageo brands very appealing and wanted to help secure and grow their futures. “They say that innovation is the

purest form of marketing,” Niki adds. “Certainly, it blends together creativity, and leadership....and it can be really rewarding. Especially when, as with Hop House 13, you get the chance to see a new product really taking off and being embraced by consumers.” “It’s a little counter-intuitive but I think I’m best out of my comfort zone. The challenge of not immediately knowing the answer keeps me curious and lights a fire in me. “And we really do start with a blank sheet of’s not just a figure of speech,” she adds. “With Rockshore, we started from scratch and decided that we wanted to create a light and refreshing tasting Irish lager that offered something unique and relevant to Irish consumers. “We look at the beer market and we talk to our customers and consumers. We work really closely with the brewers to home in on styles, on colours, on specific flavours....and it’s a process that can take a couple of months, or it can take a whole lot longer than that. Product innovators, especially in the drinks industry, are fond of their marketing-speak. And Niki MacCorquodale is no exception. Rockshore, she explains, is inspired by great times on the West Coast of Ireland with mates. Probably not something that will pop into the

mind of the average customer on his or her way to the bar.....but it’s easy to understand what she means. “It’s certainly the lightest and most refreshing tasting lager that we’ve ever brewed, and it’s one that the team is really pleased with. Upwards of 100 people must have been involved in Rockshore’s development at some stage or another. “With any product, we work hand in hand with the brewers. That’s an absolutely vital partnership, especially at the early stages of the development process. But we’ll also engage with the marketing teams and quite a number of others as we go along. “I sometimes think that it’s a bit like being an entrepreneur......but being a product entrepreneur with the backing of one of the world’s biggest drinks companies.” Does she find herself watching what everyone else is buying any time she is in a pub? “I suppose I do. I’m a bit obsessive about our products and the success of those products. Hop House has just been amazing for us and every time I see someone ordering

a pint, it gives me a warm glow.” Diageo has sold some 50 million pints of Hop House 13 globally since its launch back in 2015. Introduced originally in Ireland, it’s now on sale across Great Britain, in Canada and in Australia. “We would love to see Rockshore achieving that kind of success. It’s off to a phenomenal start – long may it continue. With so much innovation there really has never been a more exciting time to work in beer and now we’re heading into the summer, which is a good time for beer sales, so we’re optimistic about what the future holds,” Niki smiles. It probably goes without saying, but Niki is also proud to be a woman in a business that – quite a few years ago – would have been dominated by men. “It’s certainly not like that in our organisation, Diageo leads the way when it comes to gender equality” she says. “We’ve got plenty of women in just about every role..... from roles like mine through to some of our best brewers on the team at St. James’s Gate in Dublin. And that’s not going to change.”


Eye on Funding

Does BREXIT spell EXIT for your Funder? George Osborne is famously quoted as saying, “BREXIT is for the rich – they can afford a recession …”


think it is fair to say that we are all weary of the word ‘uncertainty’ and yet how can any of us speak with any significant confidence regarding the potential impact of BREXIT on NI business? We can all discuss and debate, and some might say pontificate, about possible scenarios and outcomes and as a ‘remainer’ I could easily talk myself into a black hole of doom and gloom. Nobody wants another recession for sure so we have to try to focus on the future which we can influence, for we definitely cannot change the past. There is no doubt that the potential issues with finding and retaining talent, trade tariffs, hard border fears and currency fluctuations on top of the sheer stress of building and growing a business in a competitive economy like NI could be demoralising and all are a huge distraction . Every day, we see negative headlines – be they regarding global economic, humanitarian or social crises or locally in terms of Stormont, budget constraints and of course, the border after BREXIT. We hear of Banks and other financial institutions, locally and globally, starting to do risk reviews and assessments regarding their ability to support local business post BREXIT and the potential impact of leaving Europe on their


customer’s performance trends. But – the reality is – life goes on and we have to get our heads down and keep innovating, driving growth, flying the flag for our businesses locally, nationally and across the globe. And thankfully – we are.

funding solution for their supply chain. We could easily take the view that we are better to stick to our core business which is safe and predictable during this period of – wait for it – uncertainty. But that is not what we do in Upstream. We listen, we react and we deliver.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” When we talk to our clients and meet with their advisers, the mood music is changing and the clouds of doubt are being replaced with that typical NI resilience. Maybe its boredom, maybe its sheer bloody mindedness, but whatever it is, our corporate finance colleagues are reporting record breaking activity, our legal practices are exceptionally busy with positive deal flow and Invest NI is maintaining its global position as a phenomenal Business Development organisation by bringing new and exciting opportunities to NI whilst supporting impressive numbers of indigenous SMEs to succeed. Upstream has long taken the view that adversity brings opportunity and we have been listening to our clients and advisers who have been asking for a

When we started this business back in 2011 – it was counter intuitive. We launched a new finance business when everyone else was ‘battening down the hatches’ in the face of a global banking crisis. And we have done it again! Upstream Trade Finance is now live and we are funding supply chain, raw materials and finished goods at a time when other funders are doing BREXIT ‘risk reviews’. NI business owners deserve a funder who can look at their end to end needs, from supplier to buyer. Upstream now provides a seamless solution to settle supplier payments. Our clients can now avail of a combination of facilities, tailored to match their operating cycles which critically matches their buying patterns. We state that our new Trade Finance products allow our clients to buy “bigger,

better, further and faster” – but what does that really mean? Put simply, Upstream Trade Finance will allow you to buy in bulk (bigger), pay up front, early or just within terms (better), buy direct from the manufacturer, wherever he may be, without distributor or agent costs (further) and seamlessly, with confidence (faster). The facility can be used on an ad hoc basis to match seasonal needs for example, or perhaps only when there is an opportunity to buy at a special price or for a one off contract – and the facility stands alone from Bank lines so it will not impinge on security or pre-existing relationships. So to answer my opening question – BREXIT should not spell EXIT for your funder – and certainly not if you count Upstream as a partner in your growth plans. We are here to stay and we are committed to NI SMEs. And guess what? Of that I am certain!

Judith Totten, Managing Director Upstream Working Capital Ltd Suite B , Ground Floor 40 Linenhall Street, Belfast BT2 8BA Office : 02890 999450


Will your bank exit along with Brexit? With the UK’s exit from the European Union comes uncertainty in lending for businesses. What are the chances of your bank amending your lending (downward) as we approach Brexit? At Upstream, we are committed to supporting local businesses, bringing certainty in an uncertain world. Talk to us about your growth plans and funding needs for today and well into the future. Upstream. Never Mainstream.

Invoice Finance Trade Finance Credit Management Services Asset Finance Advisory T 028 9099 9450

Eye on Law

Eileen Ewing... Law Society President on the importance of building for the future! Eileen Ewing isn’t what you expect the President of the Law Society to be when you first meet her. Her disarming smile and personable way immediately puts you at ease as we sit down to discuss her Presidency of the Law Society and her hopes for the future of the solicitor profession in Northern Ireland.


Eye on Law


s one of Northern Ireland’s leading female criminal and family lawyers there are few challenges that she has not faced during her long legal career in family and criminal practice. Indeed few could dispute her tenacity as evidenced in her career history. Born in Oxfordshire where her father was stationed with the RAF, a young Eileen returned to Northern Ireland with her family in 1969 and started work as a clerical officer with the firm of Patterson Taylor in Belfast city centre. Within a couple of years, she was among the small number of women doing criminal court work in Northern Ireland before deciding to take the articled apprenticeship route into qualifying as a solicitor. Post qualification, Eileen worked for Richard Monteith Solicitors, at Holmes & Moffett and latterly in the firm of Thompson Crooks, based on Belfast’s Shankill Road. These days she balances life as full time family and criminal law solicitor with her role as President of the Law Society. Yet as we begin our chat it becomes clear that there is a certain selflessness about her and her focus which is very much on building the solicitor profession and meeting the challenges and realising the opportunities which lie ahead. When asked why she joined the Council of the Law Society of Northern Ireland she replied; “It just seemed like the right thing to do! I’ve been a member of the Law Society for a long time, but it’s fair to say that I started to take more of an interest eight or nine years ago when someone suggested that I stand for Council and that’s what I did and I’ve stayed involved ever since. I’ve learned a lot in that time not least when I was Junior VicePresident which showed me how busy the President’s role was. It really is a big commitment.... particularly the number of engagements, meetings and representations at home and in other jurisdiction’s in which you must chair or represent the Society’s members. ”. She mentions some of the challenges facing the legal profession and businesses in Northern Ireland not least the big ticket issues such as Brexit, GDPR and cyber-crime to name but a few.

As President of the professional body for solicitors, she highlights the fast-approaching GDPR legislation in May 2018 which she says has huge implications for solicitors and law firms. “The Law Society is mindful of the impact of GDPR on our firms and members and we have been working to make available training events and information so that they are prepared and responsive to GDPR and all that it entails,” she says. “Like many other professions, solicitors and firms are being asked on a daily basis for their advice and legal services by clients and businesses, and therefore it makes it all the more important that our members are fully up to date when it comes to data protection.” On the issue of Brexit she says; “The problem facing law firms is the same for just about everyone else, in that we really don’t know at this stage what shape Brexit is going to take.” “As President I’m conscious of the real tangible issues that Brexit raises for our members practicing in border areas like Newry, Derry/ Londonderry and Enniskillen but the Society is being as proactive as it can in laying the groundwork of engagement with MEP’s, MP’s and MLA’s to ensure that the voice of our members and their concerns are heard and responded to”. The third big challenge that Eileen Ewing identifies is cyber-crime, an issue affecting law firms in common with most other businesses. “There is no doubt that cyber-crime is a major threat to both solicitors and their clients. We’re working hard taking a proactive approach, working with our members, learning from our members and their clients, and making sure that we are raising awareness by spreading the word about the very latest threats and developments.” She recognises the need for solicitors to be responsive to the times we are living in and she makes a point of mentioning the pervasiveness of social media, and the risks and opportunities that social media now presents. One of her goals in office she explains is to actively promote the solicitor profession and the new areas of law which our members offer advice on to the widest of audiences.

She cites the Law Society’s mediation service, the Dispute Resolution Service as an example which she says is an effective and lower-cost means of resolving disputes which otherwise may go to court. It’s obvious from the discussion that she is passionate about the importance of the profession and its value and contribution to clients, community and businesses in Northern Ireland. As an experienced solicitor she is all too aware of the need to help shape and define the next generation of solicitors coming through. “One of the salient features of the solicitor profession in Northern Ireland is its collegiality, support and mentoring amongst colleagues at all tiers of the profession. That cascading of professionalism, legal knowledge and expertise to the next generation remains very important in maintaining and building the legal profession of tomorrow.” she says. As President, Eileen devotes time from her schedule to act as a mentor for the Northern Ireland Young Solicitors Association. “It’s important that young solicitors have a sense of worth. A solicitor has a very important role to play in communities. In practices all over Northern Ireland, solicitors become advisers, friends, and

confidantes to their clients.....they’re not just legal advisers. There is a lot of unseen pro bono work that goes in law firms all over the country.” Perhaps not surprisingly, she is delighted to see a high proportion of women among the new young solicitors joining the Society each year. “I can remember the days when there were remarkably few women solicitors around this city,” says Eileen. There is still progress to be made, but we have come a long way. There are plenty of women solicitors and partners in the legal profession and I am delighted that we have an increasing number of women appointed at all levels to the judiciary in Northern Ireland. Asked about the future Eileen Ewing says that she’s confident and optimistic. “As a practising and experienced solicitor I’m in the golden years of my career. What’s important for me now is that I give something back to a profession which has given me a very fulfilling career. I remain committed to building for the future and putting in place the next generation of solicitors”. Despite all of the challenges which lie ahead the salient point is that our community and local business see the inherent value in their local solicitor”.


NI Water: Vital infrastructure for Agri-food success Northern Ireland’s Agri-food sector competes with the best in the world. It’s one of our most successful and ambitious exporters, growing worldwide and now with food and drink enjoyed in more than 80 countries. Water is a direct ingredient into many products and with the global population growing from 2.5bn in 1950 to 9.5bn by 2050 we recognise Northern Ireland’s Agri-food opportunity and the vital role for NI Water - after all the world’s population needs to be fed!

Water services

23 Water treatment works

24 Impounding reservoirs

370 Service


335 Pumping


850,000 Households and businesses

26,800km of water mains 570m Litres per day

Waste water services 680k

Households and businesses

Pumping 1,300 stations

1,030 Wastewater

treatment works

60 Sludge management


340m Litres per day

15,800km of sewers

Eye on Management


Eye on Management

Rebecca Wilson...

Key Role In Fast-Growing Wilsons Auctions Northern Ireland has more than its fair share of family businesses, and they don’t come much more family-orientated than Wilsons Auctions, nowadays one of the biggest auction operators in the British Isles.


ounded by William Wilson in 1936 as an auction house for agricultural machinery, the firm developed and grew rapidly under the leadership of his son Ian Wilson and continues to see growth with the acquisition last year of Newport Auctions. The Wilson name continues to the third generation with Ian Wilson’s two sons, Ricky & Gareth, and daughter Rebecca all in leadership roles across the business. Rebecca Wilson is the company’s Head of Corporate Services and also keeps busy as its only female auctioneer, regularly taking up the gavel on rostrums across the group. She’s been involved in the business since coming in for work experience in her school days, but joined full-time back in 2007 after graduating with a Masters from university in Scotland and spending some time travelling. “My first role was to set up a corporate services department at our Dublin branch, we had a successful corporate services department in our Northern Ireland operations but it was the right time to move this into the Republic

of Ireland,” Rebecca says. The new department soon found itself being extremely busy working on behalf of insolvency practitioners, financial institutions, solicitor and others, handling everything from vehicles, plant machinery and office equipment to a wide range of other items being put under the hammer.

assets,” says Rebecca Wilson. “We continually strive to provide a second to none service for our clients when providing everything from valuations and collections to secure storage through to the re-marketing of those goods” “I base myself in our Dublin branch but I regularly travel all over the British Isles these days. It’s my job to co-ordinate the team who look after corporate services at our different bases.” Since she joined the company back in 2007, Wilsons Auctions has effectively more than doubled in size and scale, opening new centres and acquiring existing auction businesses in Great Britain.

“In the past auctions have been considered quite a male-dominated industry, but Wilsons Auctions is very much changing that trend. We have a very strong female team within the business and I’m determined to start getting them on the rostrum.” Rebecca then took on an allIreland role in Corporate Services and not long after became the Head of Corporate Services across the group, dealing with insolvency and finance cases and government contracts across the business. The Wilsons Auctions group covers Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and has recently expanded into Europe. “We look after the re-marketing of an extremely wide variety of

“So we now have a workforce of around 400 people, but there is still a really strong family business feel to the company. Even members of staff who’ve joined us through acquisition seem to find it easy to buy into the Wilsons Auctions ethos and way of doing things. “We conduct around 50 live auctions and timed online auctions each week at our different centres and, behind the actual auctions, there is a

lot of other work happening including valuations, logistics, preparatory and of course the off-site auctions we conduct across the UK and Ireland.” Rebecca Wilson might be the only female auctioneer in the group as things stand, but she reckons that will change in the not too distant future. “In the past auctions have been considered quite a male-dominated industry, but Wilsons Auctions is very much changing that trend. We have a very strong female team within the business and I’m determined to start getting them on the rostrum.” Wilsons Auctions has won a series of government contracts to provide re-marketing for a wide spectrum of assets, including on behalf of the Home Office, HMRC and a number of UK police forces. “The diversity of the goods that we sell by auction is important to us; it means that we can provide a complete re-marketing facility to all of our clients and any asset you can think of we have more than likely sold. We have sold everything from Olympic medal winning horses, aircraft, and yachts, gold bullion to properties across Europe, supercars and high-end jewellery.” Rebecca concluded, “As the company grows, myself along with our strong management team and highly experienced staff, are very excited about taking Wilsons Auctions to the next level of expansion.”


Eye on Accountancy

A Practical Approach To Insolvency Insolvency practitioner Fiona Fearon of ASM Chartered Accountants talks about her role… Typical working day: As a working mother of three young boys I usually feel like I have completed a day’s work before even arriving at the office! Due to the nature of my work I can honestly say that no two days are the same. Usually the day starts off with a review of my diary lines from my case management system to ensure all statutory deadlines are being met. I could be drafting Individual Voluntary Arrangement Proposals, corresponding with the Official Receiver in respect of Bankruptcy cases, meeting with people who are experiencing financial difficulty, corresponding with creditors including HMRC, corresponding with various professionals such as solicitors and estate agents.

Which sector are your clients mainly from? I would say it’s the farming sector that is suffering the most right now. Smaller owner/managed businesses are also feeling the pressure. Then there are the property investors that can no longer weather the storm and are left with properties in negative equity. A very prevalent issue now for Northern Ireland’s fragile economy is Brexit. I have no doubt that NI will suffer more than any other UK region when we finally leave the European Union on 29th March 2019, a contributing factor being the withdrawal of EU funding. There is also the issue of tariffs being imposed on exports to the EU.

What is your specialism? I specialise in personal insolvency which involves advising individuals on their financial difficulties and offering feasible options to help remedy their problems. These remedies may be in the form of either informal or formal options. The Official Receiver may appoint me in bankruptcy cases, in these instances I am an Officer of the Court acting on behalf of the bankrupt’s creditors.


If a person finds themselves “insolvent” what are their options? First and foremost, do not bury your head in the sand, there are always options available. However, the longer you put off dealing with your debts the likelihood is that you will restrict your options. There are various options available depending on each set of circumstances, the level of debt and level of income. Non formal options; These are the cheapest options with the least disruption to the debtor and his/her family. Approaching your creditors at the onset to agree a non formal debt payment plan can relieve immediate pressure, in some instances you may find creditors may write off a certain element of the debt. The payment plan of course must be adhered to and no further credit given. In some circumstances informal options are not applicable, formal options then would have to be considered; Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) In some circumstances an IVA is more appropriate, it is a legally binding agreement between you and your creditors to repay all or part of the debt either by monthly instalments, a one off lump sum payments or on the condition of a certain asset being realised. The IVA can last for up to five years and only covers unsecured debts. It should be noted that an IVA is a heavyweight financial document, failure to adhere to the terms may lead to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy This is often seen as the final option and may be made on the petition of either the creditor or the debtor. An application is made to Court and if approved the debtor is adjudicated bankrupt. All assets then vest in the Official Receiver, who may appoint a Trustee in Bankruptcy to realise the assets for the benefit of the bankruptcy

Fiona Fearon, Insolvency Practitioner – Individuals

creditors. It should be noted that bankruptcy does place restrictions on the debtor, e.g., you can’t borrow more than £500 without advising the lender you’re bankrupt, you are not permitted to act as a director of a company, etc.

How do you help a person in this situation? Financial difficulty is clearly a stressful time for those who are experiencing it. Financial distress may occur in some circumstances due to factors which are out of our control, family illness for example. A face to face meeting with the individual I find is best at the onset, this enables me to gather all the facts in relation to the level of debt and income/assets available and assess all options. Doing so also helps the debtor to see things more clearly. I am here to find a way forward, that financial difficulty can happen to the very best of us and that there are options available. The main worry for an individual experiencing financial difficulty is the

worry that their home may be at risk, this area would be discussed. After investigating all the circumstances, I would then assess which option is best suited to the debtor.

What measures can a person take to ensure they avoid insolvency? Insolvency happens for a variety of reasons, but in general, live within your budget, properly assess risks when making financial decisions, don’t rely on false hopes and most importantly, don’t ignore it, deal with it sooner rather than later.

For further information or advice please contact Fiona Fearon ASM CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS Tele: 028 3026 9933 Email:


Eye on Awards


Award Categories & Criteria

There are fourteen categories for the awards this year... AGRIFOOD BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD


Northern Ireland’s leading small business operating in the agri food sector, to include food and drink producers, farm-based enterprises and companies providing products and services to the agri-food industry here.

Open to companies operating in any business sector, this award will go to the organisation which best illustrates the most effective use of innovation through investment in innovative practices, leading edge products and/or services to contribute to overall business success.


CUSTOMER FOCUS AWARD Our judging panel will single out the local small business which most effectively brings to life best practice in customer service across all of its operations. The judges will look for clear evidence of customer satisfaction. SPONSORED BY

HEALTHCARE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD Another specialist category, aimed at small business enterprises in the healthcare field here in Northern Ireland. This category is open to all business-led healthcare related organisations including opticians, dental practices and enterprises such as care homes for the elderly. SPONSORED BY


HOSPITALITY & TOURISM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD EXPORTER OF THE YEAR A special category aimed directly at Northern Ireland’s growing number of small tourism and hospitality-related business enterprises, including pubs, restaurants, cafes, smaller hotels, tourism activity businesses and transport and travel providers. SPONSORED BY

An award which will recognise the top achieving exporting company from Northern Ireland’s small business community, recognising sales achievement in all markets outside of Northern Ireland itself, including both the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. SPONSORED BY


MANUFACTURING BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD A category open to all small businesses engaged directly in the manufacture of products for sale in Northern Ireland and in export markets. The judges will look for evidence of research and development and innovation in manufacturing. SPONSORED BY

SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING AWARD Open to companies in all sectors of the local business community, this award sets out to recognise and showcase the organisation which best uses marketing – including advertising, PR or the strategic use of digital platforms and social media - to enhance business performance across the board. SPONSORED BY

Eye on Awards

Book your table now at Northern Ireland’s only small business awards event The Business Eye First Trust Bank Small Business Awards take place on the evening of Thursday, 31st May, at Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. Now in their fourth successful year, the Small Business Awards set out to recognise outstanding achievement by Northern Ireland-based companies across 14 key categories.

To reserve your table please call us on 90474490 or contact





Despite smaller budgets, corporate responsibility plays a role for small businesses in Northern Ireland. This special award will recognise the best example of how small businesses here can help to make a difference in the communities they serve..

This award will recognise a leading player from Northern Ireland’s traditionally strong independentlyowned retail sector. The category is open to locally-owned retail businesses, including both single site retailers and independent retail groups who meet the overall Small Business Awards critera, ie 50 employeers or less. The judging panel will look for evidence of innovation, strong business performance and both customer focus and customer satisfaction.

A new addition to the line-up for 2018, the Family Business of the Year category is open to all businesses (less than 50 employees) which remain in family ownership and are based here in Northern Ireland.

The small business enterprise of 50 employees or less which, in the opinion of the judges, exemplifies best practice and achievement across the board. Entries for the this premier award category can be made directly and winning entries in all other categories will also be considered.



TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD This award is open to all small businesses based in Northern Ireland who provide products and/ or services in the wider technology field, including IT services, software development, technology product innovation and consultancy.



START-UP BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD This award will recognise Northern Ireland’s most promising start-up enterprise. The award will go to a young company of one year old or less since establishment which, in the view of the judging panel, best illustrates what can be achieved by start-up businesses across any sector here in Northern Ireland.





**Ask in branch or call 0345 6005 925*** for details. Exclusions apply.


Lending criteria, terms and conditions apply. Credit facilities are subject to repayment capacity and financial status and are not available to persons under 18 years of age. Security may be required.We aim to provide a decision within 48 hours upon receipt of all required information (48hrs excludes Sat., Sun. & Bank Holidays) to fully assess and process each lending application. First Trust Bank is a trade mark of AIB Group (UK) p.l.c. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c.), incorporated in Northern Ireland. Registered Office 92 Ann Street, Belfast BT1 3HH. Registered Number NI018800. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. *Sampled on 75 cases from 11.4.16 to 3.6.16. ***Call charges may vary please refer to your service provider.


onCorporate Social Responsibility


Eye on CSR

Pictured with Ana Wilkinson, Corporate Fundraising Manager at Friends of the Cancer Centre (seated left) and Carol Malcolmson, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland (seated right) are members of the BDO CSR committee who helped raised over £21,000 for the charity over the 2 year partnership.

BDO Northern Ireland Sets New Record For Charitable Giving In April, business advisory firm, BDO Northern Ireland set a new benchmark for its charitable giving with a programme that raised more than £21,000 for Friends of the Cancer Centre.


he two-year charitable partnership has been a deeply personal journey for the firm’s staff as the relationship started after the charity provided life-saving and life-changing support to team members directly affected by cancer. “Friends of the Cancer Centre was nominated and chosen by our people because its work is very close to their hearts,” says Carol Malcolmson, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland, “that has been a powerful motivator for all of us.” That close connection undoubtedly helped push individuals and teams well beyond their comfort zones. The


many activities organised by the firm included dragon boat races; mountain hikes; sky dives and mud runs. For the more conservative; Halloween fancy dress, coffee mornings, dress down days, street collections, special client events and family occasions ensured there was something for every comfort level. In total more than 160 staff answered the call and smashed the previous record of £16,000, which was set in 2015. Beyond generating cash for the charity, each month BDO Northern Ireland team members volunteered time and professional services at the charity to assist with a range of financial

and administrative responsibilities. “Active corporate citizenship is a big part of our ethos and culture from our partners down to support staff,” says Carol. “It’s a serious part of what we do.” Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been in the DNA of the Belfast office since it was established more than 25 years ago. The founding partners recognised the opportunity to energise the business and promptly set up a CSR Committee that has endured to this day and continues to unite colleagues. “We’ve been pleased with the way our teams have come together to generously combine their skills, time and energies,” explains Carol. “Sometimes that’s personal time, sometimes it’s business time. We want to involve as many people as possible across the organisation and make it part of a shared goal that everyone can contribute towards and enjoy.”

According to Carol, staff buy-in and sense of ownership of activities has been a critical feature of the firm’s approach, led from the top of the business. “All of the Partners are very supportive in terms of time and financial resources. We have a responsibility to make a positive difference in the communities where we work and it is important for us that we help causes that matter to our people in every way we can. Even the smallest of efforts can help change lives for the better. We take great pride in what we’ve achieved with Friends of the Cancer Centre.”

To contact Friends of the Cancer Centre telephone: 028 9069 9393 or email: info@

Eye on CSR

Diageo… A Cast Iron Community Commitment

Diageo is the world’s leading premium drinks business bringing consumers a collection of beverage alcohol brands including Guinness, Harp, Baileys, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Tanqueray.


ur distilleries, breweries and production facilities are at the very heart of the communities in which we work, and we have a responsibility to create shared value – for our shareholders, our people, and for the wider society that enables our business to flourish and grow. As one of Northern Ireland’s major exporters in the food and beverage sector, Diageo is committed to the future economic prosperity of Northern Ireland. This goes hand in hand with our commitment to contribute to the company’s performance ambition to create the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products company in the world. Diageo’s Sustainability & Responsibility Strategy encompasses the actions we take

to provide leadership in Alcohol in Society, to help build thriving communities and to reduce our environmental impact. It is through our committed work in these areas that Diageo Northern Ireland was named Responsible Company of the Year 2016/17 by Business in the Community and has recently been re-accredited with CORE – the Responsible Business Standard. We are committed to helping reduce alcohol related harm in society through our own programmes and through partnership and collaboration with others. Diageo’s schools theatre education programme ‘Smashed’ has been delivered to 97 post primary schools across Northern Ireland - covering all the Education Authority areas –

and has reached over 13,500 year 8 & 9 pupils in the last two years. The associated teaching materials are linked to the NI curriculum and have been endorsed by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA). Diageo is also a sponsor of the PSNI funded RADAR facility (Risk Avoidance Danger Awareness Resource), which aims to help raise awareness of the risks associated with underage drinking. We are committed to helping build thriving communities by empowering the people within our value network. The Diageo Bar Academy programme is all about helping to train bar staff. The programme includes in-depth discussions around draught beer and best practice, the world of spirits and the huge opportunities available to trade in terms of business opportunities. Diageo NI’s charity partner is The Orchardville Society, a local charity helping young people with learning disabilities to get the experience to find work. It’s not just about fundraising but about how we can both help each other, whether

through doing mock interviews with service users or providing employees with autism awareness training. We are committed to helping reduce environmental impact by working with our partners to support local, sustainable and responsible sourcing. Diageo Ireland has Bord Bia Origin Green status showing a proven and measured commitment to sustainability. The Baileys facility at Mallusk has achieved ISO 14001 accreditation in environmental management systems and 80% of Baileys’ ingredients and materials are sourced from local suppliers. Jorge Lopes, Country Director of Diageo Northern Ireland, said: “Sustainability and responsibility are integral to our business and we’re very proud of all our employees in Northern Ireland who play their part day in, day out. ‘Doing the right thing’ underpins our ambition to deliver a first class performance and build our reputation as a company that is trusted and respected by our customers, the consumers who chose our products and by our many other stakeholders.”


Eye on CSR

Henderson Group... Community Focus Across The Network As one of the biggest employers in Northern Ireland, Henderson Group, owners of the SPAR, EUROSPAR, VIVO, VIVOXTRA and ViVO Essentials brands here ensure they’re not just looking out for their employees through various initiatives, but that community is at the heart of all they do.

Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing, Henderson Group.


rom charity fundraising to the installation of potentially life-saving defibrillators, Henderson Group ensures their responsibilities as a large organisation look out for their people, their place and the planet. Here, Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing, talks of the company’s meaningful partnerships that grow, year on year. “Throughout all of our brands is a string that ties us to our communities; whether it’s a EUROSPAR supermarket in Ballymoney, or a SPAR store on a forecourt in Clough, our ethos is to be part of the community. “Henderson’s CSR strategy forms three strands; People, Place, Planet. This allows us to ensure we’re focusing on training and developing our employees,


supporting the local communities where we trade with charitable initiatives and community benefits and that we’re also driving sustainable business practices.” Over the years, Henderson brands, staff and local communities have raised millions of pounds for local charities including Cancer Fund for Children, for which they have raised £865,000 thanks to the successful partnership with EUROSPAR and VIVOXTRA which has been running for seven years. “This is one of our most successful partnerships to date. The brands work together so well as they share the same value of local people providing for local people, there is a real sense of pride between our EUROSPAR and VIVOXTRA employees and the charity” says Bronagh.

Bronagh continued; “SPAR also established a partnership with Marie Curie in 2017, and we have just completed our second Great Daffodil Appeal with them. We also held Blooming Great Tea Parties across 80 stores in 2017, which raised over £30,000 in just four hours. “This will help pay for essential equipment for people living with a terminal illness to be at home and will help provide more Marie Curie nurses who provide invaluable care throughout the country.” SPAR is in one more community across Northern Ireland that you might not find on your typical map; the RADAR (Risk Avoidance and Danger Awareness Resource) village in Belfast. “RADAR is a facility for children and young people where they can experience and learn about everything from road safety to drug and alcohol awareness. It is a purpose-built village with a bank, roads, train and bus station and of course, a SPAR store. “Within our store, children and young people learn about portion sizes, and what makes a healthy, balanced meal. Over 30,000 school pupils have benefitted from the Food Standard Agency’s Eatwell Guide within our store, using

our products to build their own plate of food. It’s vital that they learn what is healthy and balanced at this age, so they can help influence their own family’s shopping baskets.” All branded stores also reach local schoolchildren thanks to the sponsorship of annual sports days; “We provide sports kits

SPAR is a key partner at the learning and safety facility, RADAR NI

Eye on CSR

Marie Curie is SPAR’s charity partner, raising almost £88,000 since 2017

Bronagh launches the annual Tearfund initiative with Paul Francis and Sarah Travers

Bronagh spearheaded the Heart of our Community campaign to get over 300 defibrillators installed outside stores across NI EUROSPAR supports Cancer Fund for Children, raising £865,000 since 2011

which include number bibs (just like the real athletes), finishing tapes, medals, banners, and local stores will also ensure healthy snacks and water are provided to keep energy up on the day. These are all activities which highlight our ongoing support of sport and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”

This can also be seen within SPAR’s support of running events such as the SPAR Craic 10K and the Omagh Half Marathon. “Our mission is to get more people moving and to strive to live healthy lifestyles, which also forms part of our ‘Heart of our Community’ campaign to install over 300

defibrillators outside stores throughout Northern Ireland.” The initiative has seen 215 AED (Automated External Defibrillator) devices installed so far, providing 24hour public access should someone in the community suffer a sudden cardiac arrest. Bronagh finished; “This is one of the most important projects we’ve undertaken with our retailers. We have conducted CPR

training for our store managers and independent retailers at conferences and trained 1,500 visitors to the Balmoral Show last year in CPR and the use of an AED. It is imperative that we train up as many people as possible with this life saving skill.” “We will continue to implement lifesaving and life changing initiatives in every community across Northern Ireland to make a real difference.”


Eye on CSR

Joe O’Neill CEO, Belfast Harbour


eing a good Corporate Citizen is one of Belfast Harbour’s core values along with Integrity, Respect and Sustainability – we also continually strive to make Belfast Harbour a rewarding place to work. Given these objectives, Corporate Responsibility (CR) is an integral business activity. Belfast Harbour is known for many things - cruise ships, cargo and urban regeneration projects such as City Quays or Titanic Quarter. However, we doesn’t just invest in quays and offices; our ethos is also to invest in our community. As such, we contribute 1%

of operating profit to our CR programme - underlining just how important CR is to us and how it is supported and valued by senior management and the Belfast Harbour Board. Our CR programme is focussed on four areas - Young People, the Community, Creative Culture and the Environment. This helps ensure that we have a positive impact, not just economically, but also socially. Apart from helping us achieve core business objectives, the breadth of the initiatives we support also has a direct benefit across a wide

spectrum of society. During 2017, for instance, we supported more than 35 initiatives working with 25 organisations. We’ve also helped our employees support causes close to their hearts. Together we have had a direct and positive impact upon thousands of people, helping make Belfast Harbour an organisation that our employees take pride in. We will continue this commitment, supporting people to have a valuable impact on their communities and the economy. Those are benefits you can’t put a price on.

Kevin Kingston Chief Executive at Danske Bank


t Danske Bank, corporate responsibility is integrated in our core business. By running a sound, responsible bank we are able to play a fundamental role in driving Northern Ireland’s economic growth through lending to people and to businesses. But being a responsible business is about much more than that. “It is about impactful, innovative initiatives in every area of the business, from programmes to help fuel growth for small businesses and start-ups, to dementia-awareness


training for our employees. “It’s about mobilising our 1,400 colleagues and leveraging our strengths to make a real difference. Today, 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland are affected by mental ill health. This is a fundamental challenge in our society. But we believe we can help address the issue for future generations through our strategic partnership with Action Mental Health. “We’re raising money for Healthy Me, a mental health promotion programme delivered in primary schools. Last year, together with our customers, we raised more

than £70,000, benefitting over 1,450 children and 450 teachers. Fundraising is just one part of this partnership, which also includes volunteering, employee wellbeing initiatives and education and awareness. It’s this strategic approach that will help us leave a lasting legacy after the partnership has ended. “This is just one example of how being a responsible business helps us make more possible for our customers, our employees, our stakeholders and for society.”

Eye on CSR

Garret Kavanagh Acting Managing Director of NI Networks at BT


T has made a long term commitment to build a culture of tech literacy for the next generation. That means helping young people grow up with the tech know- how they need to step into the jobs of the future and shape an inclusive society that works for them. For young people starting work today, the reality is that every job is a tech job. Those who don’t have tech know- how will get left behind. That’s where BT’s Work Ready programme comes in. It gives 16 – 24 year olds skills development and hands on experience of jobs powered by technology. And through our partnership with the Rio Ferdinand

Foundation and Active Communities Network, we’re reaching into the heart of communities that need this support the most. We launched our Work Ready programme in Northern Ireland two years ago with programmes running in Derry~Londonderry, Enniskillen and Belfast. More than 120 young people have been through the programme with over 60% going on into jobs or back into education. Take Peter Lynch, who recently took part in a Work Ready placement. He told us that his work placement was a great opportunity to find out how things work and get an idea of what it’s like to be a BT engineer. He

said he got to spend time working alongside a really experienced engineer as well as improving his CV and practising interview skills. Our work placement programme is helping young people experience working days in a variety of settings. It gives them an idea of what to expect in the workplace, but also allows them to think about the sort of job they’d be interested in doing. For more information on the BT Work Ready programme visit: www.

Belfast teenager Peter Lynch gets a tour of the City Exchange with transmission support engineer Tommy Rainey as part of BT’s work placement programme.

Carol Malcolmson Partner BDO Northern Ireland


t BDO Northern Ireland, active corporate citizenship is a big part of our ethos and culture from our partners down to support staff and it’s a serious part of what we do. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been in the DNA of BDO Northern Ireland since it was established more than 25 years ago. The founding partners recognised the opportunity to energise the business and promptly set up a CSR Committee

that has endured to this day and continues to unite colleagues. We’ve been delighted that a benefit of our CSR activities has been watching the way our teams come together to generously combine their skills, time and energies. Sometimes that’s personal time, sometimes it’s business time but at the heart of it we want to involve as many people as possible across the organisation and make it part of a shared goal that everyone can contribute

towards and enjoy. Testament to that is the recent announcement of our fundraising record being broken by successfully raising over £21,000 for Friends of the Cancer Centre over the last 2 years. We, as a local business, have a responsibility to make a positive difference in the community where we work and it is important for us that we help causes that matter to our people in every way we can.”


Eye on CSR

Catriona Gibson Managing Partner at Arthur Cox


s a major force for growth at the heart of the local market, Arthur Cox places great importance on our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme. “CSR is a vital part of the firm’s strategic plan, and this has significantly enhanced the major contribution Arthur Cox is making to the local community. Indeed, it is very much in our DNA and permeates throughout all levels of the business, with our eponymous founder, Arthur Cox, personally involved in missionary work in Africa. “That African connection is one that we are proud to

continue to this day through our annual Zambia Project. Each summer the firm sends a team of our trainee lawyers to the region to provide practical support to communities there. “Closer to home, Arthur Cox is as committed as ever to driving our initiatives forward and delivering very tangible benefits for the organisations we work with. “We have a strong relationship with Business in the Community, with our Chairman Alan Taylor sitting on the charity’s Board. Through BiTC, we have provided a broad range of initiatives in areas as diverse as school literacy programmes in

Belfast through to third sector business advice in conjunction with Northern Ireland councils. “Arthur Cox staff at all levels are fully engaged with the CSR programme and, just last month, a team of lawyers took part in the ‘Big Shops Showdown’, taking over a Cancer Focus NI shop for the day to help raise funds and increase sales for the charity. “Acting in a responsible manner is an integral part of the ethos at Arthur Cox, and we will continue to lead by example by displaying our total commitment to positively impacting people’s lives, communities and environments, locally and internationally.”

Michelle Hatfield Director of Corporate Services at Belfast City Airport


ontributing to our local community is central to the ethos of Belfast City Airport’s business. As a key economic and tourism driver for Northern Ireland, and one of the biggest employers in east Belfast, it is vital that we play a significant role in the community we serve. “We have a hugely-successful Corporate Responsibility (CR) strategy which is driven by listening – listening to the local community and our staff to ensure that the work we are carrying out is having a meaningful and long-lasting impact. “That strategy has been developed to ensure we are acting responsibly in all areas of our business, focusing


on our four core strands of People, Environment, Community and Education. “The main vehicle through which we deliver our Community Commitment Plan is our Community Fund, through which we have provided £350,000 of support to over 120 projects, including sports clubs, arts initiatives, schools and environmental schemes. “We have a strong emphasis on young people and helping them realise their ambitions by presenting them with opportunities and experiences they may not have otherwise had. “The feedback we have received is that our CR strategy is hugely effective, and this has been further endorsed by the

airport winning a number of industry and peer group awards. “As well as the major benefits which we have delivered for the organisations we work with, there have also been tangible benefits for our business. Exceptionally high levels of staff engagement in the programme have resulted in low staff turnover and absence rates, as well as providing staff with a real sense of purpose – something which sits at the heart of our core values. “Looking ahead, our highlymotivated workforce will remain passionate and fully committed to continuing to make a real difference in our local community and across Northern Ireland.”

Eye on CSR

SRI – THE EVOLUTION OF SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING financial crisis, and increasing concerns over data protection and security breaches represent issues not typically addressed by traditional investment analysis. The evolution of SRI has spawned an array of new disciplines and an accompanying selection of phrases to describe them. The boundaries are blurred between these disciplines and are not universally agreed. Responsible investing can mean different things to different investors. Terms such as ethical investing, impact investing, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) or SRI are often used interchangeably. However, we believe that subtle differences exist across this spectrum and the following definitions outline our interpretation of those differences between each:

Keith Williamson, Investment Analyst, Davy Private Clients

Socially responsible investing (SRI), or ethical investing, is not a new phenomenon. Its origins can be traced back over many centuries.


arly examples include religious groups refusing to invest in, or boycotting, businesses associated with the slave trade or various wars. As far back as 1758, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) outlawed its members from investing in the slave trade and since then some investors have been applying similar values to their investment principles. Although ethical investing’s roots are firmly founded in the strategies favoured by charities and religious groups, today SRI is not simply about excluding controversial industries like alcohol, tobacco, weapons or gambling, but now extends to identifying good corporate, environmental and social practices amongst other areas. Over recent decades, changes in societal attitudes towards a range of issues including climate change, tobacco, human rights, gun laws, and the environment, have meant that SRI is one of the fastest areas of growth in the investment industry today. Changing societal norms has led to a massive increase in the amount of money invested in socially responsible investing (SRI) strategies. The growing focus among world leaders on climate change, the heightened corporate regulation following the global

Ethical Investing - This typically precludes investment in certain industries on grounds of moral or ethical values. It may exclude, but is not limited to, alcohol, tobacco, weapons, gambling or adult content. Ethical investing may also screen out companies associated with animal testing or human rights abuses. Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) - SRI focuses on identifying investment opportunities that are considered more responsible than their peers. It may involve assessing companies under the ESG criteria, in areas defined by the United Nations (UN) Global Compact - human rights, labour rights, environment and anti-corruption - or some other responsible criteria. SRI investors may not always apply ethical exclusion criteria but it would be unusual for a truly responsible fund to invest in any controversial industries. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) - ESG describes the three pillars under which investment opportunities are assessed to encapsulate the most material topics in responsible investing. ESG analysis may form a single phase of the overall investment process, or it may be a core component integrated into all steps and embedded in the investor’s philosophy. The business factors that might be considered include high carbon emissions or poor waste management which may result in costly fines, while weak labour standards and poor employee engagement will likely result in expenses from staff turnover. On the flipside, companies that invest in energy efficiency will reduce long term costs and investing in staff training can drive innovation and competitive advantage. At the governance level, history has taught us that board composition and accounting practices are huge factors in corporate bankruptcies. Sustainable Investing - Sustainable investing targets investments with better environmental practices and lower carbon footprint relative to peers. This strategy typically avoids non-renewable energy industries

such as oil & gas exploration or mining, and may focus entirely on highly sustainable practices such as wind energy, electric vehicles or efficient waste management. The latest movements in this sector seek to avoid exposure to fossil fuels entirely. Impact Investing - The primary intention of impact investing is to generate a measurable social or environmental benefit. The expectation to earn a return is still present, but the societal impact is usually of greater importance than with typical SRI. Religious Values - Also referred to as Catholic Values or Biblical Values. This is similar to ethical investing but usually applies stricter exclusion screens. For example, this may disqualify companies that participate in or have any involvement with abortion or contraception. Engagement - Engagement or active ownership is an additional measure employed by some socially responsible investors. The investor uses their shareholder voting rights, provides external advice, or otherwise engages with a company in order to help steer or improve its corporate responsibility. In summary, SRI can be a complex area, and unfortunately there is a myriad of jargon to grapple with - SRI, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and impact investing are all different variations of ethical investing around the same central theme. A simple way to think about it is that SRI can help align your personal values with how your capital is allocated. Improvements in data techniques mean that investment managers can now assess how good or bad a company is at dealing with a range of ethical issues. The key question for investors is, do you need to sacrifice returns to do the right thing? While there may be times when this approach does impact returns, there is some recent evidence to suggest it can actually boost a portfolio’s performance. The information contained in this document is not a recommendation or investment research and is classified as a marketing communication in accordance with the European Union (Markets in Financial Instruments) Regulations 2017. [Davy Private Clients is a division of J & E Davy.] J&E Davy, trading as Davy, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Davy is a member of Euronext Dublin and the London Stock Exchange. In the UK, Davy is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland and authorised and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our authorisation and regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request. Warning: Past performance is not a reliable guide to future performance. The value of your investment may go down as well as up. These products may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.


Eye on CSR

BDO Northern Ireland Announce New Sponsorship With Ulster Hockey Youth

Business advisory firm, BDO Northern Ireland has announced a new sponsorship deal with Ulster Hockey’s youth division.

Laura Jackson (L), Partner at BDO Northern Ireland announces BDO’s support of the Ulster Hockey McCloy and Pearson Cup competitions and Indoor Hockey at the finals day of the 2018 Pearson Cup with Jill Poots, Chief Executive of Ulster Hockey (middle) and Joan McCloy (right).


he three-year deal includes the prestigious schools competitions the McCloy Cup (girls’ competition) and the Pearson Cup (boys’ competition) which sees up to 200 schools across the region taking part. The partnership was announced following the final of this years’ Pearson Cup, which took place on Friday 20th April at Stormont Playball and welcomed more than 300 spectators. This has followed a busy week for Ulster Hockey Youth, with the McCloy Cup taking place on Wednesday 18th April between Armstrong P.S and Seagoe P.S attracting another impressive audience. BDO Northern Ireland’s partnership will also include the Indoor Hockey schedule, including their Under 15 and 18 competitions, with more than 40 clubs taking part.


Ulster Hockey have 250 youth teams throughout NI, with 200 affiliated primary schools and 80 affiliated secondary schools and continue to grow in popularity. Their aim for their youth development is to ensure it is widely available and the structures are in place to allow the sport to develop in the coming years. Laura Jackson, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland said: “Hockey is a leading sport in Northern Ireland and its participation in schools is growing rapidly. It is important to support this growth so that as many young people throughout the region have the opportunity to participate. BDO Northern Ireland are proud to become a partner organisation in aiming to achieve this vision.

“Many of our international players, men and women have started their careers playing in their respective school competitions. This grassroots development provided them with the platform for continued participation throughout their school life and beyond. We are pleased to be able to play our part in nurturing our young talent and maybe one day we will see them on the international stage”. Jill Poots, Chief Executive of Ulster Hockey commented, “We are delighted to have BDO Northern Ireland as sponsor of both our McCloy Cup and Pearson Cup competitions. The McCloy and Pearson Cup have been a long standing part of the Ulster Hockey youth programme with the McCloy Cup in its 29th year and the Pearson cup in its 42nd year

respectively. The partnership with BDO Northern Ireland we hope will also be the start of a long relationship and it’s great to see the support and encouragement of the development of youth sport in our communities from local businesses.” BDO Northern Ireland is an award-winning accountancy practice that employs more than 170 people in Northern Ireland and provides professional services to more than 1,000 local companies. This new partnership will allow Ulster Hockey to grow their primary schools competitions, attracting more kids and making it more accessible to schools across Northern Ireland.  It will also help improve facilities and allow them to hire more resources to support the growth in the sport.

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Eye on Manufacturing

Manufacturing a partnership... ... that lasts! Orla McGerr Corporate Manager, First Trust Bank

importing is more expensive; a pinch being felt all the more by manufacturers who are also dealing with rising input costs. This too is adding impetus to local businesses to invest in new technology and processes to drive efficiency, innovation and automation to keep costs down long-term. As well as currency fluctuations and technology trends, manufacturers are keeping a close watch on what new trade deals could fall out from

“Well-regarded nationally and internationally, Northern Ireland has a proud manufacturing history, famed for among other things, our ship building heritage, linen, aircraft and tractor manufacturing, as well as food production.


esponsible for one in four of all jobs in our economy and £9.9 billion GVA around a third of the economy – it is a stand-out industry, one vital to our economic prospects. The manufacturing sector however is at something of a crossroads. The fourth industrial revolution or ‘Industry 4.0’, which refers to the evolution of data exchange in manufacturing technology and the advent of smart factories, is changing the playing field for manufacturers as businesses begin to rely on the Internet of Things and


“The fourth industrial revolution is changing the playing field for manufacturers.” connected devices as much as people. Against this backdrop, businesses are contending with various geopolitical uncertainties, many of which of course are Brexit related. With the contraction of sterling,

“Access to sufficient working capital is vital for manufacturers who are modernising their operations to become more progressive and competitive.” Brexit negotiations. A key cog in the pinwheel of success for our manufacturing sector is its ability to grow outwards into new markets in Europe and further afield. According to our research however uncertainty around Brexit is putting expansion plans on hold for many businesses. The latest wave of our AIB Brexit Sentiment Index reveals that 2 out of 3 businesses in NI that had preBrexit investment plans have either reviewed, postponed or cancelled those plans. I’ve no doubt that the absence of political leadership and a functioning NI Assembly is not helping business confidence in already challenging times. Where there are challenges however, there is also opportunity. Progressive and specialist manufacturing is on the up as more

and more local operators invest in their products and services. We are grateful to our customers Keylite Roof Windows, Quad-X and Northern Hydraulics for using this platform to share their insights in this regard. When reading their stories, it’s clear that two key investment strands underpin their forwarding planning – a commitment to investment in innovation and investment in talent. It is this focus that we at the Bank are keen to emulate and promote. Our support of progressive manufacturing includes backing for investment in plant processes, technology and training. Access to sufficient working capital is also vital for manufacturers who are modernising their operations to become more competitive. We have evolved our own offering in light of industry trends and offer financial support for a wide range of assets, not just traditional hardware equipment but for the associated software programmes that also deliver value. Likewise, invoicing should be flexible to fit within your bespoke business needs. We adapt a partnership approach with our customers - getting to know their objectives and long-term plans. It’s an approach that has stood us in good stead and we have a proud history of delivering funding solutions that support manufacturers who are seeking to refinance, investing in expansion or making acquisitions. This partnership approach also means we can provide the financial structure that gives you the liquidity to grow and adapt to market changes.” Orla McGerr is Corporate Manager at First Trust Bank and leads the bank’s manufacturing team, supporting business growth for companies right across the sector.

Eye on Manufacturing Seamus Morris Northern Hydraulics Ltd

Embedding Innovation Across Technology And Operations Northern Hydraulics Ltd, based in Dungannon, was established by Seamus Morris in 1988 to manufacture high quality precision cylinders for use in all types of hydraulic equipment across a range of industries including quarrying, materials handling, waste and recycling, and agriculture.


s a young man I embarked on my Precision Engineer Apprenticeship, passionate about engineering and hoping to gain practical hands on experience in the sector. I formed Northern Hydraulics in 1988 as a one-man operation with the express aim of producing high quality hydraulic cylinders. Today the company has 80 employees on our custom designed factory site here in Coalisland, in what is a centralised location which gives us access to local air and seaports, lowering the cost of doing business abroad. We have grown in every respect since the early stages of the company, making steady progress along a difficult learning curve and 2018 is an important milestone for us as we celebrate 30 years in business. Our vision is to ensure our place as the leading manufacturer of precision hydraulic cylinders both domestically and abroad. About 50% of our business currently takes place in the UK and Ireland, a further 20% in Europe and 30% across the Atlantic in the US. Increasingly we are experiencing a surge in demand from our home market as UK companies are sourcing product from within the UK. We fill more

than 125,000 orders each year for precision hydraulic cylinders. We have always believed in innovation, whether in technology or in operations. For example, we were the first manufacturing company in Mid Ulster to introduce shift working about 20 years ago. In the last five years this has become the norm. Northern Hydraulics also acquired their first robot about 17 years ago and we have worked hard to develop our internal robotics ever since. Our most recent investment is in ‘Lights Out Automation’, which means the robotics work when there is no one in the factory. We want to pick up on the hours we are missing over the weekends and holidays and we hope to see an enormous return on this investment. The technology of today enables us to utilise our high value equipment to its fullest extent and our automated cylinder manufacturing systems let us offer consistently high-quality products at increased production rates. I believe what also sets us apart is our commitment to excellent customer service. We place great importance on meeting the needs of our customers at every stage of design and production, enabling us to meet and exceed the unique

needs of our diverse clientele. This approach continues through our ongoing customer support for small and large enterprises alike. We do have concerns about talent availability which may be exacerbated by Brexit. There are a high number of European engineers employed in the NI manufacturing sector but due to the uncertainty of the economic and political climate, the supply has dried up as talented engineers are choosing to return to their home countries to work. There is a real fear around what Brexit will mean for people working in the sector, currently Northern Hydraulics employs 70% local and 30% foreign nationals, but in some manufacturing companies this statistic would be reversed. The uncertainty of what lies ahead could create real problems for manufacturing and indeed many other sectors in Northern Ireland. The solution to the challenge of recruitment in the industry, I believe, is to expose young people to the opportunities in the manufacturing sector at a much younger age. Young people today are encouraged through their school to pursue third level education, often without being presented with the vast range of other opportunities, schemes

and apprenticeships available to them. This responsibility also lies with the businesses within the sector to better promote themselves, which often we aren’t good at because we don’t know how to sell ourselves in a way that speaks to a younger generation. Our team at Northern Hydraulics is our most valuable asset and we are keen to protect and enhance it. After 30 years in business we are still as committed as ever to inspiring leadership, providing multidisciplinary training and a forward-focus on continuous development and innovation. My goal is to create a culture of empowerment in our workforce, where excellence is recognised and rewarded. We plan to do this through our 2020 action plan which focuses on learning and development and building stronger internal communication networks.”


Eye on Manufacturing Neil Bradley Financial Controller, Keylite Roof Windows

Key to Success? Spotting Opportunities When the Sun Shines Operating in a global market that is estimated to be worth £2 billion a year, Cookstown based Keylite Roof Windows is known as a trailblazer in the roof window industry – racking up a plethora of national, trade and supplier awards for their product development, innovation and service. Neil Bradley, an experienced Financial Controller who has been with the company for the past six years, talks to us about the firm’s success factors and what’s on the horizon for this growing exporter.


ince joining Keylite, I have seen the business grow on average by 20% yearon-year. Even through the recession and now with Brexit looming, the company continues to perform well able to navigate the financial, trading and competitive pressures facing businesses, particularly those in the manufacturing sector. Today we have over 400 members of staff working across three locations – Cookstown in Co Tyrone, Swadlincote in England, and our manufacturing plant in Poland – to design and manufacture a full range of roof windows, flashings, electric operation kits, loft ladders, blinds and accessories. Reflecting on the traits that have stood us in good stead, I would say a focus on innovation, investment and added-value is what opens the most doors – or windows should I say! – to us. For example, one project I have been heavily involved with is the implementation and roll-out of a new resource planning (ERP) system which has been instrumental in helping modernise and improve information management across not just Keylite, but indeed the other companies within the Keystone Group. Some of the more


traditional sectors like manufacturing can perhaps have a reputation for resistance to change, or wary of the up-front costs or perceived risks of investing in technology - but I’m of the firm belief it needs to be a top agenda item for businesses today. Now our sales team, production and operation managers are armed with the most up-to-date figures and trends when meeting with customers or planning production or inventory levels. From a trading point of view, Brexit hasn’t had any impact on the business and we continue to see steady sales growth. Our market share also continues to increase in our core markets, Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We are also growing sales into other existing and new markets, such as Germany, France, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. However, from a financial point of view, Brexit has resulted in weakening of the Sterling currency, which has impacted our bottom line, as a high percentage of our turnover is in the form of Sterling receivables, but a significant amount of our payables are in Euro, U.S. Dollar or Polish Zloty. At the present time,

there is relatively subdued consumer confidence, which means people are less likely to invest in home renovations, which is something we are very mindful of when approaching our forward planning. This too is where our focus on innovation, investment and added-value products and service come into play. We see huge potential in the German, French, Australian and U.S. markets and have developed our product range to suit the different house styles and climates in these countries. While it can be difficult to gain traction in new markets, our sales team is helped by the fact that many of our products are award-winning. For example, the product we have launched most recently – the Polar PVC Roof Window - has helped us win the Construction News Specialists ‘Innovation of the Year’ Award, ‘Best Brand New Product’ Housebuilder Award, as well as the ‘Construction Product of the Year’ Award from the Irish Construction Industry. This product is ideally suited to the European market as it combines innovative design with the latest in material technology and precision manufacturing. Our customers also appreciate the added-

value extras that we incorporate into our products that provide extra performance but with no extra cost, whereas other roof windows on the market may require the use of additional cost accessories to achieve the same performance as Keylite. While the sun might be shining on the roof window industry, it isn’t of course without its challenges. The labour market is incredibly competitive and along with our peers in the manufacturing sector, a key business focus for us is on attracting and retaining talent. We continue to keep a watch on consumer confidence, the housing market, as well as currency fluctuations and it pays to have the right banking partners to help you plan for these times. We have significant expansion and investment strategies in place, including plans to build a new production facility in Poland, but some of these are currently on hold while we await more clarity on Brexit. Our R&D team however are still focused on innovation – we’re currently patenting a number of new innovations that give extra performance to windows – and look forward to bringing these to existing and new markets in the year ahead.”

Eye on Manufacturing Sean Blaney Quad-X

Building Strength In Niche Markets Quad-X, is a Ballymena based manufacturer of machinery and accessories for the quad bike and agricultural market, owned and managed by Sean Blaney. From humble beginnings in 1993, the firm has since burst onto the manufacturing scene with their engineering innovations and unrivalled expertise in the design and development of agricultural machinery and all terrain vehicles.


uad-X is headquartered at our family farm in Ahoghill and was born 25 years ago from a love of off road motorbikes and ATVs. The first products in the Quad-X range were designed, developed and launched when I was a manufacturing student at the University of Ulster. Growing up on a farm helped instil in me an understanding and appreciation of the challenges, and at times dangers, presented by agricultural work. My aim was to make life easier for those working the land, so, with fresh eyes I looked at the machinery and equipment we had and how it could be adapted to better fulfil its purpose. What began with creating and adapting the mechanism of trailers and sprayers, expanded into a larger range of tractor machinery and ATV parts. When we first started repairing quad bikes, we were one of very few players in Northern Ireland, which made it difficult to source engine parts to carry out basic repairs. To overcome this, we began by sourcing second hand machines, eventually evolving from repairs to a quad dealership. It was then that

we identified gaps in the market that other manufactures were not fulfilling and with our experience in servicing and selling quad bikes, we developed an engine and began designing and manufacturing our own BLANEY range of ATVs, kids quads and motocross bikes. When we developed our first quad bike we were reviewed by independent European bodies and awarded the title of best built kids’ quad, against the four leading Japanese companies. Through regular attendance at European trade shows, we developed a large dealer network not only in UK and Ireland, but also throughout Northern Europe. We continue to invest in R&D to meet growing demand from export markets and are proud to be the only manufacturer of Quads in Europe. Most manufacturers have evolved over decades whereas we were a new and relatively small player in a global market. We strategically selected markets where there is an extensive number of players, in terms of our agricultural products. That means we are not competing with other small businesses, but are going up against global multinational

corporations, in a David and Goliath situation. But as the story goes, we are nimble and can move quickly to seize opportunities because we have the resources and expertise to make things happen. We do what the big players aren’t doing and in niche markets, that is our strength. Innovation is at the centre of everything we do at Quad-X, we are inventors at heart. Whilst many businesses are fighting to keep ahead of their competitors, we are able to explore completely new product lines and inventions. We are experiencing unprecedented demand for our products due to their unique design features and operating efficiencies for end users. Currently in our niche business we are the market leader so to maintain that foothold our R&D expenditure is high. As a business bursting with ideas and opportunities, we currently have more products developed than we can sell. Our biggest challenge is finding people with the right skills and mindset to help turn our ideas into marketable products to help us achieve our ambitious business goals. When working in a small tight knit

team, everyone is enthusiastic and motivated but as the company grows, we have to work harder to maintain that high level of commitment and drive. We put the training and development of our staff as a key business objective, identifying the need for an educational programme as part of our strategic development. We introduced a specialist HR talent development office which has paid dividends. We take on work experience students, university placements and apprentice schemes to cultivate and identify skills in young people and grow our now 36 strong team. Along the way there have of course been bumps on the road. With the outbreak of foot and mouth for example, we were in the early stages of our business and everything was at a standstill, where we couldn’t deliver products to meet customer demand. As a business we had to deal with the crisis and learned some important lessons. Our strategy ever since has always been one of caution and calculated risk assessment. This approach also applies to our view of Brexit, where we say, ‘Bring it on!’. Luckily for us we now have a wide range of products in a variety of sectors in a number of foreign markets. Overall, we maintain an optimistic outlook and will have the advantage of some foresight to strategically plan for what is to come from Brexit. It may be more difficult for us to export to Europe but conversely it will also be more difficult for Europe to import to the UK which means we will have more protection and opportunity in our home market. In life, our experience has shown that those who are apprehensive create opportunities for those brave enough to seize them. We are finding that people within our sector are holding back whilst we are confidently soldiering on. We will continue to take on projects that stretch our current capabilities and will strive to take quantum leaps in our technical development to make the impossible, possible.”


Eye on Communications

Rainbow Celebrates 20 Years Of Business Success Northern Ireland’s largest independent provider of telecom services, Rainbow Communications, is celebrating 20 years at the forefront of innovation and growth, throughout April 2018.


ounded in 1998 by Eric Carson and Martin Hamill as TSI Ireland, the company rebranded three years later as Rainbow Telecom to reflect the broad spectrum of products and services offered. Now, with over 10,000 customers across Northern Ireland alone, and with offices in Belfast, Dublin and Glasgow,

CASE STUDY Toals Bookmakers A family run business since being established in 1932, Toals Bookmakers first opened in Ballymena, rapidly progressing in size and currently boasting 50 locations throughout all six counties of Northern Ireland. Toals has been a client of Rainbow Communications since the UTV Connect internet business was acquired by Rainbow in 2014. The bookmaker required a telecom supplier that could continue to provide its shops with a strong and reliable internet connection in order to keep the business running smoothly and successfully. Since coming onboard with Rainbow, Toals has expanded on the services they required to include a VoIP phone system throughout the company’s Head Office, which is currently in the process of being expanding across the entire shop network. Rainbow provides the company’s


Rainbow Communications can count almost half of NI’s Top 200 companies as key clients. Following an announcement last year of a £1 million investment across customer service and engineering teams, Rainbow continues to expand and develop its product and service offering to its loyal customer base throughout Ireland and the UK.

VoIP, MPLS - replacing legacy internet connections - and mobile phone services, as there is a requirement that all their services are active for much of the working day, and as such access to support is available when required. Lauren Toal, Director at Toals, said; “Toals has been keen to maintain the working relationship largely due to Rainbow being a local company. The fact they are so easy to deal with has also been pivotal to our ongoing and successful partnership. “Rainbow’s wide portfolio of services that we can use is unrivalled and having used other providers in the past, Rainbow is by far the best we have come across in the market to date. “Our business is continually evolving and we aim to make the most of any new technology available that can and will benefit our patrons and staff.” Rainbow continues to supply the telecommunications needs and requirements for Toals, its 50 locations and 262 staff members, in addition to the Telephone Betting Service which is open seven days a week. For more information on the company visit

Pictured are Rainbow founders and co-directors Martin Hamill (left) and Eric Carson (right) with Sales and Marketing Director Stuart Carson (centre).

Eyeon Agri Food

Eye on AgriFood

Small Food Firms Innovate For Success In Britain Food and drink manufacturing in Northern Ireland is now a dynamic industry driven increasingly by companies focused on new market opportunities in Britain and further afield. Sam Butler looks at some of the most exciting new products especially by smaller businesses.

Food NI chief executive Michele Shirlow


inning new business – even servicing existing customers - in such a challenging and global industry as food and drink processing has become is challenging especially for the smaller companies which are now the backbone of manufacturing here. While smaller enterprises tend to be more flexible than many of bigger competitors in a fast moving industry driven by the exacting requirements of multiple retailers, challenges such a brand development, strategic sales and marketing, logistics, funding and ensuring payment can be substantial for all sizes of companies. The achievements of focused events such as Year of Food and Drink 2016, the Food NI Pavilion at the RUAS Show in Balmoral Park and initiatives in Britain taken by Food NI with Tourism NI, Tourism Ireland and Invest NI are enhancing the confidence and professionalism of the smaller companies in particular. “What we are seeing increasingly is a sharper focus on new product development aimed at vibrant markets especially in Great Britain and the Republic


of Ireland, still our two most important markets,” says Food NI chief executive Michele Shirlow. “Our strategic focus is on Britain because the business opportunities for all our companies, both large and small, there are immense. We want to strengthen our penetration of this market especially in advance of Brexit. “It’s essential that our companies, especially smaller enterprises, are able to meet the threats that could be posed by increasing food imports from beyond the British Isles,” adds Mrs Shirlow. Food NI has already organised a series of successful food events in Britain including the first-ever Northern Ireland presence at the iconic Borough Market and pavilions at Speciality and Fine Food in London and BBC Good Food in Birmingham. It’s keen

“Our strategic focus is on Britain because the business opportunities for all our companies, both large and small, there are immense.”

to do a great deal more in Britain but needs – and certainly deserves - additional funding resources. Bord Bia, for instance, the Republic of Ireland’s energetic and imaginative food promotion is already investing heavily to protect and develop business in Britain and is working with smaller companies in particular to provide a vast arrange of opportunities to build significant sales there. Here are some of the interesting developments from smaller food and drink processors in Northern Ireland...

Belfast Ginger Ale, Bangor It’s not generally known that ginger ale was first created in Northern Ireland back in the 19th century. In 1825, a small chemist business that also made lemonade came up with the original recipe for ginger ale. It was produced by chemist Dr Thomas Cantrell for Grattan and Company from an artesian spring at Cromac Wells. It was subsequently produced by Ross and Co and then a chemist in Toronto, John McLaughlin, developed a Belfast Style Ginger Ale in 1890 that led to Canada Dry. Now Wayne Adair, the founder of Papas Minerals, a craft lemonade business in Bangor that’s renowned for its traditional cordials such as elderflower and non-alcoholic ginger wine. Wayne had always wanted to revive the heritage of ginger ale production and spent many years researching the history of the non-alcoholic ale. He subsequently formed Longbridge Drinks to turn a recipe for the ale he had developed into a commercial beverage. Why Longbridge? “I chose this as the brand for the ale to reflect its history. The river Lagan was spanned by The Long Bridge from the 17th century, a structure which collapsed on a number of occasions before it was eventually replaced by The Queen’s Bridge opened by Queen Victoria opened in 1849. “In keeping with the original Belfast style of ginger ale my product is slightly darker than other varieties,” Wayne continues. “This comes from the combination of natural ginger flavour and lime juice that would have been used traditionally many years ago. This ensures a subtle flavour and heat, coupled with a fine aroma,” he explains. The main ingredients are carbonated water, sugar, lime juice from concentrate, extract of ginger, ginger flavour and natural caramel.

Eye on AgriFood

Kilnasaggart Mead, Armagh The Vikings are said to have quaffed mead from their helmets and enormous cow horns while plundering settlements around the inlets that subsequently became known as Strangford and Carlingford. And Celtic monks also had a taste for the stuff. Brawls at Tudor banquets were fuelled by it. Characters on the fantasy TV series Game of Thrones have been seen drinking it from battered goblets. Mead, honey wine, is probably Ireland’s oldest alcoholic beverage. It’s now being given a new lease of life in Northern Ireland

by Thomas O’Hagan, a medical researcher turned drink innovator, who has set up a small production plant on the family farm near Jonesborough in Co Armagh. The new mead, Northern Ireland’s first in many generations, is the outcome of research over two years to develop a recipe for a beverage once popular in Ireland. “We use traditional wine-making techniques to produce small batches of premium mead, by fermentation of raw unprocessed honey. It’s kept for between four and six weeks before being bottled. Our mead is bottled

medium-sweet to sweet, still and with an alcohol content of 14 percent,” he says. “Making wine from honey is one of the oldest ways to make alcohol in Ireland and was once used during wedding celebrations – hence the term honeymoon. Married couples were given a moon’s (month’s) supply of mead. It was believed back then that the potion enhanced virility and fertility. “Our fermented mead starts life by dissolving honey in water and introducing our yeast and white grape juice, which under a watchful eye produces a pleasantly sweet and rich wine that’s probably best used along with desserts and cheese. The mead is fermented slowly over four months to develop its distinctively fuller flavour,” he adds. The wine, he continues, is being brewed on small batches and named Kilnasaggart Mead in honour of Celtic and monastic traditions. The artisan operation is located close to Kilnasaggart, the site of an ancient monastery and Ireland’s oldest surviving Christian monument, an inscribed stone dedicated to St Peter that dates from the 8th century AD.

ready meals such as lasagne, stews, sauces and soups, that are suitable for all diets throughout the burgeoning weight-loss industry. All the products contain less than three percent fat and are also free from oil, dairy, gluten, allergens and have no added sugar. Ingredients for the products are mostly sourced from local suppliers. A low salt bacon has been developed by Sean in his commitment to the creation of healthier

foods. He dry-cures the bacon rubbing it by hand with salt and then uses a unique technique he has pioneered to remove the salt. “While people here love their bacon, especially at breakfast and in sandwiches and baps, there is a growing concern about salt content and pressure on producers to reduce its use in food products. Our bacon is 50 percent lower in salt than the lowest currently on the market,” he continues.

Oh So Lean, Kilkeel Sean Morgan was so concerned about teenage son Connor’s struggle to lose weight that he decided to take matters into his own hands. A butcher by trade, Sean decided to make the low-fat burgers and sausages that Connor wanted to enjoy with his mates. And it as a decision that lead directly to a successful small food business. Oh So Lean, the enterprise Sean, from Kilkeel, established in 2011, has since racked up a host of all-Ireland awards for premium low-fat foods. And Connor, now 28, has shed six stones and has seen his waistline quickly shrink to 30 from 46 inches. Sean, a father of two, subsequently saw a business opportunity by offering shoppers quality meat and other delicious products which are also low in fat. “I realised that not everyone can be bothered searching for low-fat meats in particular and then making burgers, sausages and other dishes,” he continues. “I was then working as a butcher in retail and also saw a growing demand from shoppers for much leaner meat.” Oh So Lean has now created a range of around 30 products, including popular

Natural Umber, Dungannon Natural Umber in Dungannon has launched an organic apple cider vinegar, completely different to any other on the market. Fermented differently to the rest, Natural Umber has all of the same health benefits, but retains the natural sweetness of apples. Natural Umber was developed by Michael Mackle, whose family have over 50 years’ experience producing apple products. “After seeing the benefits of apple cider vinegar myself, I knew there had to be a better way of creating it,” Mr Mackle says. “Apple cider vinegar always tasted so bitter, but apples are sweet! Which is why we spent years developing Natural Umber. We’re delighted with the unique flavour and look forward to bringing Natural Umber to many more kitchen tables,” he adds. Since launching in late January, the company says, Natural Umber has proven popular with the health industry. Demand is soaring as more customers discover this delicious vinegar and the word spreads online. Apple cider vinegar has traditionally been seen as an unpleasant but vitally beneficial drink. Many people believe it can lower cholesterol, aid weight loss, relieve acid reflux, ease symptoms of arthritis, gout and many more.


Eye on AgriFood

Elaine Dobson and Jack Dobson of Tahlia Leathers in Moira

Food Pioneer Fashions New Career Sam Butler talked to Jack Dobson, co-founder of Dunbia, about his latest business venture.


ack Dobson, who co-founded Northern Irish meat processor Dunbia, is now using his vast experience in selecting and curing animal hides for a brand new business that’s focused on fashion. Along with his daughter-in-law Elaine Dobson, Mr Dobson has launched a premium, contemporary leather fashion brand Tahlia Leather following extensive market research to identify opportunities for new leather fashion garments. The garments were launched recently at the big Pure Fashion Show in London. Already Jack and Elaine have secured listings for Tahlia’s distinctive range of leather jackets, coats, handbags and accessories to several leading boutiques in Northern Ireland. And a range of men’s distinctive leather garments is being developed. Tahlia’s online boutique has also secured orders from customers in the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and further afield. In


addition, they have launched a stylish fashion studio in Moira, which offers a bespoke service where customers can avail of a very personal buying experience. Tahlia is a further example of Mr Dobson’s strategic focus on researching, innovating and investing in businesses with the potential for fast growth. He acknowledges that the glitzy fashion world is a “different direction” for him. “While I haven’t been involved much in women’s fashion before I know how to run a successful business and about leather, the basic raw material involved in Tahlia,” he adds. “The leathers used in the garments are carefully selected by me from my knowledge of the meat industry, farming and especially curing techniques used worldwide in the production of very best leathers,” he adds. He’s travelled the world and knows where to find the production skills now underpinning Tahlia. The enterprising business can now

count on an established and proven supply chain for quality lambskins, in particular, from Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. Why Tahlia as a brand? Elaine Dobson explains: “We chose Tahlia as it is Hebrew for ‘morning dew’ or ‘lambkin’. Our brand is inspired by the ephemeral beauty of nature, especially of the Northern Irish countryside, and we try to capture that beauty in our premium quality leather that is sourced locally. “We’ve created Tahlia as an ethical enterprise that’s committed to the environment, treats suppliers, business contacts and customers with respect and is concerned to ensure the very best animal welfare and production methods.” Elaine, originally from Henley in Oxfordshire, has a successful background in garment retailing and management, a great eye for contemporary style as well as professionalism and expertise in essential disciplines such as design, quality and marketing. “The hides which we source from the UK and Ireland are cured in Turkey because the skills readily available there are the best

in Europe. We then work with our designers to create original garments using the best quality leathers and other fabrics, especially for lining, to ensure premium quality garments that will excite and capture the imagination of customers. “Attention to detail is vitally important to us because we want customers to value the Tahlia brand and the quality and design creativity of our garments. Every garment is carefully checked by us to ensure it meets our specifications and exacting requirements. We are focused on creating and developing a fashion house, a distinctive brand and exceptional garments that will produce tangible benefits for the local economy,” Elaine adds. Jack Dobson formed Dunbia with brother Jim in 1983 and created Northern Ireland’s biggest meat processor and one of the biggest in the UK and Ireland. It developed sales in almost 20 export markets. Jack was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the industry category in the 2015 awards. In May 2017, Dunbia agreed a strategic partnership with Dawn Meats in the Republic.

Eye on AgriFood

Making Sense From Your Senses Whilst Goldilocks might have appeared fussy when eating her porridge, her sensory reaction is typical of why between 80 and 90 per cent of all new food products are withdrawn from the market within six months of launch.


oo sweet or plain, too coarse or smooth, the wrong smell or too noisy to crunch are all reasons why consumers reject foods. Sensory analysis is an increasingly important skill to enable the food industry to comprehensively improve its products including eating quality, marketing, packaging and visual appeal. On April 13th the Ulster University Business School’s Agri-Food Business Development Centre though its Food and Consumer Testing Suite (FACTS) is hosting an event when three of the UK’s leading UK experts in sensory analysis and a US expert on food marketing will share best practice. Also topping the bill is a world leading

pâtissière whose work has been exhibited at the Tate Gallery. FACTS director Dr Amy Burns explains, “Every sense is involved in our experience of food and drink. When consumers say they like a food product and that it tastes nice there’s a lot more going on as well. Texture is important. Even sound is important.” “This one-day course will introduce attendees to the concept of sensory tasting and innovation focusing specifically on how to gain competitive advantage through innovation. It will cover food trends, developing innovative products, sensory analysis, packaging analysis and exporting products in foreign markets. The second half of the course will include a

Former Michelin-starred chef Graham Mairs demonstrating innovation through a creative chocolate workshop.

chocolate innovation workshop.” Dr Lynsey Hollywood, AgriFood Development Centre Manager added, “We are delighted to welcome some of the world’s experts to our Belfast campus for this unique event. Professor Grainne Allen, Marks & Spencer; Ciara Rafferty, Mintel; Simon Harrop, Brand Sense Academy and Philadelphia based Professor Tom Kennedy, will line up alongside former Michelin-starred chef Graham Mairs who will demonstrate innovation through a creative chocolate workshop.” “This is fantastic opportunity

for our local food producers to see at first hand how to develop their skills in sensory analysis. Embracing these skills will potentially save significant monies by helping assure the success of new products when they are launched on the market.”

For further information, or to register for this course, visist :


Eye on AgriFood

The Food Heartland Forum A Recipe for Business Success

Among Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s award wins in 2017 were five industry awards for the many Food Heartland initiatives. Pictured: Roger Wilson, Chief Executive ABC Council; Lord Mayor Alderman Gareth Wilson; and Councillor Joe Nelson, Chair of Economic Development and Regeneration Committee.

The Food Heartland Forum - developed in collaboration with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (ABC Council), local producers and key industry ambassadors - aims to promote, support and cultivate the thriving agri-food sector in the area.


ith an abundance of award winning local food and drink producers and a region that now boasts three of Northern Ireland’s four PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) products, namely Armagh Bramley Apples,


Lough Neagh Eels and more recently Lough Neagh Pollon fish - the borough is well and truly established as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland. What is more, 2017 proved to be a bumper year for the Food Heartland initiative picking up

the Best Food Story, Roots to Market and Highly Commended Destination Delicious at the Northern Ireland Food and Drinks Awards, as well as securing the Best Enterprise Initiative by a Council and Best Local Authority Community Planning Initiative at the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) Awards. Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Gareth Wilson commented: “It is great to see the Food Heartland initiative grow from

strength to strength and receive the recognition it so richly deserves. Our borough is home to some of the finest produce and restaurants in the region and it is wonderful to have the Food Heartland Forum specifically dedicated to raising awareness and promoting the hospitality offering in this area. “With the agri-food sector remaining a significant priority for council along with our exciting plans to boost its growth and diversification – the Food Heartland’s success story is set to continue.”

Eye on AgriFood

Guest speakers at the recent Food Heartland Forum event from left: Paul Birch, Food NI; Kerry Curran, InterTradeIreland; Charles Campion, Food Writer; Nicola Wilson, ABC Council Head of Department: Economic Development; and Alistair Bell, Irish Black Butter.

Inspiring Innovation Holding its first meeting of 2018, the Food Heartland Forum recently gathered at Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre to focus on innovation and diversification within the agri-food sector. Special guest, food critic and writer, Charles Campion along with fellow guest speakers Kerry Curran, InterTradeIreland; Alaistair Bell, Irish Black Butter and representatives of Food NI were welcomed to the borough. Forum members benefited from the expertise and knowledge of guest speakers, who explored themes on product diversification, emerging trends in food production and the need for versatility as a positive response to the uncertainty presented by Brexit. In addition, case studies from producers helped to highlight the importance of research and development in identifying market trends and developing innovative quality products to boost business growth.

Showcasing Quality Producers and Creators With the 2018 Balmoral Show just around the corner, there is an exciting addition to the Food Pavilion this year with the all

Husband and wife team Kerrie and Deane Weir of Weir’s Organic Raw Milk, Tandragee received high praise at last year’s Balmoral Show picking up Best Overall Food and Drink Product.

new Food Heartland Tasting Theatre supported by council. For a few short days, this area will become home to the borough’s quality creators and passionate producers, where they will proudly showcase the high quality food and drink from the area and share everything about what makes our local food heritage so unique. “There is something for everyone at the Food Heartland Tasting Theatre, with a packed timetable of activity over four days, it’s a must-see on your visit to the

Show,” commented Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Gareth Wilson. Celebrating its 150th anniversary, the Balmoral Show 2018 will be taking place from 16 to 19 May, with visitor numbers expected to exceed tens of thousands.

Joining the Food Heartland Forum Meeting once a quarter, the Food Heartland Forum provides the perfect platform

for businesses to network and keep up to date with what’s happening in the borough and further afield - and what’s more membership is completely free.

If you are an agri-food business based in the borough and would like to join the Food Heartland Forum, please go to: www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.


Eye on Tourism

Heather McLachlan... A Job With A View Whichever of her organisation’s sites Heather McLachlan chooses to visit or work from, the view is pretty much guaranteed to be special.


eather is Regional Director of the National Trust here in Northern Ireland, a job that entails looking after 290 staff in low season, upwards of 500 during the summer months, 2,500 volunteers, a £17 million budget, 46 miles of Northern Ireland’s coastline and a wide variety of properties from vast stately homes, too much smaller individual hidden gems. She’s based at the Trust’s Northern Ireland head office at the beautiful Rowallane Garden in Saintfield, Co. Down, but we meet at one of the organisation’s Belfast properties, the restored Belmont Tower in the east of the city. “I like to move around and visit as many of our places, as often as I can. In this job, that’s not much of a hardship with so many stunning houses and dramatic landscapes to choose from,” she smiles. Heather McLachlan started working life in retail with the old THF Duty


Free business in England before moving back to Northern Ireland to re-focus her career to work in the voluntary sector. She worked for Bryson House, the Simon Community and for Corrymeela before seizing on her growing environment interests. “It’s something I developed a bit of passion for on the back of a couple of foreign trips some years ago, so when this job came up I really felt that I was meant for it....” says Heather. Divided into seven different regions, the National Trust in Northern Ireland, Wales and England is also headed up by a woman from Northern Ireland. Hilary McGrady is a former Regional Director for Northern Ireland and Wales who spent three years as the Trust’s Director of Operations before landing the job of Director General. Both women face many of the same challenges, but on different scales. It’s

not hard to imagine the scale of the bill for the upkeep of historic properties like Mount Stewart, Castle Coole and Castle Ward, to name but three. “The challenge, to put it in a nutshell, is to balance the day-to-day maintenance and conservation needs of our places with the needs and expectations of the 4.5 million people who visit every year. We are a conservation charity, and the care and management of our places for their long-term future is paramount.” “At the same time, we’re also a retailer of significant size. We’re retailers of food and drink, gift items and a range of other products. Wherever possible we source from local suppliers and in the case of the Giant’s Causeway we support and promote the artisans we work with to an international audience. That’s good for them and good for Northern Ireland. “Most of all though, we see ourselves as purveyors of happiness. People visit

us for many reasons …because they want the opportunity to see or be in a beautiful place, their love of nature or just to enjoy themselves whether on their own or with friends and family.” The Giant’s Causeway on the North Coast, complete with its award-winning Visitor Centre, ranks – and by some distance – as the busiest National Trust site in Northern Ireland, or anywhere in the National Trust for that matter. Last year, well over a million visitors included it in their itinerary. Other busy sites include Mount Stewart, with over 217,000 visitors, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. “We’ve benefitted from the big upsurge in international visitors to Northern Ireland over the past few years, and we see most evidence of that at the Causeway and elsewhere on the North Coast,” says Heather. “I often think that our strong point

Eye on Tourism is that we offer our visitors, whether they’re members, locals or tourists, a really high-quality outdoor experience, even though in past years we might have been more well -known for our big house experiences.”

access rights in Northern Ireland this could open up a huge opportunity for people here, giving them a chance to experience and value our unique and visually stunning coastline.” Another less public statistic is that

“I often think that our strong point is that we offer our visitors, whether they’re members, locals or tourists, a really high-quality outdoor experience, even though in past years we might have been more well -known for our big house experiences.”

It’s a lesser known fact that the National Trust is responsible for some 22% of Northern Irish coastline including the spectacular White Park Bay in the north, over 50% of Strangford Lough, Murlough National Nature Reserve in the south east and hidden gems like the re-created Kearney Village on the Ards Peninsula. “We believe access and protection of our coast and coastline is so important,” continues Heather. “We have a huge ambition over the next ten years to connect up a network of paths around the whole of the Northern Ireland coast. With limited walking

80 tenant farmers farm on National Trust lands around Northern Ireland. This is also an organisation with more than its fair share of experts.....specialists in just about every area of conservation and industrial heritage. The extraordinary levels of expertise were charted a couple of years ago when UTV filmed the £8 million restoration of Mount Stewart for a series entitled ‘The Big House....Reborn’. “In our regional office we have 34 acknowledged experts in different areas ranging from archaeology to ceramics, land management to textiles” adds Heather McLachlan. “And, if we don’t have someone here with the skills

needed, you can be sure that the Trust will have someone in another region – it’s a fantastic pool of resources.” The Northern Ireland Regional Director recognises that relevance is always going to be a challenge. “With such a youthful population in Northern Ireland we have to work hard to make sure what we do is relevant to families and young people. It is important to us to be as relevant to as many people here as possible.” The Trust has some 85,000 members here, which seems like a healthy total in today’s environment. And that figure has been on the rise over recent years, another encouraging sign. “Our relevance has been helped by the tourism boom here, and the fact that our properties have been put on the global map through their use as filming locations for big screen and television productions.” Castle Ward at Strangford in Co. Down was one of the major locations for Game of Thrones, while the recent BBC production of the Wilkie Collins novel The Woman In White was filmed almost entirely in Northern Ireland, with Florence Court in Co. Fermanagh one of its main locations. So what are the major challenges facing Heather McLachlan and the National Trust here in Northern Ireland? “Brexit is definitely one,” she says.

“A big percentage of the legislation protecting the environment comes from Europe. But it’s also in our interest to have a seamless border. We get a lot of visitors coming here via the Republic and nature knows no border. “A Stormont administration in place would also make our job easier in getting the right outcomes for nature and heritage. We all miss having local Ministers to champion and lead for what we need for Northern Ireland in the Brexit deal. “Another big focus is the development of sustainable tourism,” she continues. “We need a Northern Ireland Tourism Strategy in place and all departments working together to manage the growing numbers of visitors to Northern Ireland in a sustainable way. “We need a joined-up, strategic approach to ensure we have the right road, traffic, accommodation and hospitality services in place so any visitors, whether they come to National Trust places or others, have an exceptional experience every time. For me and my team that means constantly balancing the delivery of a great visitor experience, with ensuring the ongoing integrity of the places in our custodianship, so that future generations can enjoy them and benefit from them in the future as much as we do today.”


Eye on Events Critically acclaimed chef and restauranteur Marco Pierre White visited Belfast recently to host a special lunch and a book signing.

Steakhouse Success…


Amanda Savage and Corina Wheatley

Christopher and Kiera Worsford


Leanne Gray and Maurice Kitchen

Jo Douglas and Andi Lewis

arco welcomed guests to the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill at the Park Avenue Hotel in east Belfast while visiting one of his most popular outlets where over 50,000 guests have dined since opening just over two years ago. Mandy Patrick, Managing Director of the Park Avenue Hotel says it is always a pleasure to welcome Marco to Belfast; “Marco has a great relationship with all the team here at the hotel and restaurant, it’s been great to see him again. Marco regularly checks in with Eddie Patrick, our head chef, who he personally trained to ensure the highest levels of cooking and standards throughout the restaurant. “He worked the room like the professional that he is, talking about the new menu, as well as taking photographs with guests and signing copies of one of his cookbooks for each guest, compliments of the Park Avenue Hotel.” Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill opened its first and only outlet in Northern Ireland in the four-star Park Avenue Hotel in October 2015. Since then, over 50,000 diners have enjoyed the restaurant and continue to head east for the unique experience. The restaurant has attracted foodies seeking succulent steaks sourced from Rodgers Meats in Gilnahirk, and classic French dishes to tickle their taste buds, as well as contemporary cocktails, exclusive Marco Pierre White Wine and a great atmosphere. Mandy also commented that the Marco Pierre White brand is to expand here in Northern Ireland, with the introduction of bespoke weddings at the Park Avenue Hotel; “We’re looking forward to bringing White Weddings by Marco Pierre White to the Park Avenue Hotel, where couples can experience the buzz and atmosphere of the Steakhouse Bar & Grill alongside impeccable dishes and attention to detail on their special day.”

Eye on Philanthropy

Philanthropy Fortnight Explores The Process Of Giving Leaving a legacy after death is one of the themes running through the celebration, with speakers including Jess Dornan Lynas, the founder of, an online resource that enables people to share memories of their loved ones. Jess will be speaking about her experiences at an event organised by the organisation Will to Give, which is working to encourage more charitable giving through wills. The ‘Death Café’ event takes place at Belmont Tower on May 19.

Highlights of Philanthropy Fortnight include: • Community Foundation events include Seeing is Believing which is an opportunity to understand the issues faced by our communities and the impact of your support and donations; Charity Champions in Action – a crowd funding event with four charities pitching for funds; and an event for Professional Advisors.

Lauri McCusker (Fermanagh Trust); Paula Reynolds (Belfast Charitable Society); Rachel Leitch (Community Foundation of Northern Ireland); Kate Livingston (Arts and Business NI) and Eimear McCooey (Will to Give) look ahead to Philanthropy Fortnight, the annual celebration of charitable giving, which runs from May 14-25.

Businesses and individuals should be more strategic when they give to charity in order to make their donations go further and help more people.


hilanthropy Fortnight, Northern Ireland’s sixth annual celebration of charitable giving, will be held from May 14-25 to explore the many ways to contribute to causes and make a difference to society. “The people of Northern Ireland are well known for being among the most generous in Ireland and the United Kingdom yet we are spontaneous in our giving, often responding to an emotional response or a request from a friend. With Philanthropy Fortnight we want to encourage

a strategic approach to charitable giving,” explained Siofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy at the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. “The programme of events celebrates our proud culture of philanthropy and how donors and charities can work together to make an impact within a particular cause and find, secure and sustain the long term resources needed. This is so at a time when Government funding, which we are very dependent on in Northern Ireland, is continuing to be reduced. We hope that this year’s programme will help stimulate debate and look at how charities and their supporters can meet the challenges together and attract the finances, skills and time they need.” Philanthropy Fortnight involves close collaboration between a range of partner organisations including the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, Belfast Charitable Society, Arts & Business, Will to Give and the Fermanagh Trust.

• Fermanagh Trust and the Fisher Foundation will be celebrating local philanthropy and volunteers willing to help the disadvantaged throughout the world. This will include presentation of bursary awards to the young people who will be carrying out voluntary work overseas. • Arts & Business NI will hold a special event about fundraising from arts audiences. At this event Kath Russell, Director of Development at the Hallé Concerts Society will be sharing how the Manchester-based orchestra fundraises from its networks. • The Barbour Fund, which was created by Hilden District Nursing Trust and Belfast Charitable Society to recognise hundreds of years of philanthropic works delivered by these historic organisations, is holding an event to celebrate its recent grants. In the past year it has supported older people’s activities, skills development projects and individuals who are trying to improve their lives.

For more information about Philanthropy Fortnight visit


Celebrating life, every day, everywhere


Eye on Events

Selling Ireland To China Aoife McVeigh, Visit Belfast; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Olga Wang, Embassy of China in Ireland; and James Kenny, Tourism Ireland, at the briefing for Tourism Ireland’s 2018 China sales mission. Pic – Shane O’Neill Photography.


ourism Ireland’s biggest ever sales mission to China has taken place. A delegation of 29 senior representatives from 24 tourism enterprises from around the island of Ireland took part in the targeted mission


to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong – to grow our share of this rapidly-growing tourism market. Northern Ireland companies participating include Hastings Hotels, Titanic Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, Stena Line and Visit Belfast.

Bishop’s Gate Hotel Chefs Lee Laverty, Paul Sharkey and Iain Archer celebrate success.

AA Rosette Success For Bishop’s Gate


erry’s Bishop’s Gate Hotel has been given a coveted Rosette Award for the dining experience in The Gown restaurant. Welconing the achievement Ciaran O’Neill, Managing Director, Bishop’s Gate Hotel says: “This is a huge accolade for an independently run boutique hotel and restaurant, which only opened its doors

in 2016. It is wonderful that we are now getting recognised for the quality of the food offering. We have a committed team of talented chefs in the hotel. A Rosette is awarded for the quality of the restaurant, the service provided and the standard and presentation of the food. Less than 10% of restaurants in the UK have a Rosette Award.”

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere


Eye on Events


Glow Aesthetics Launches At The Spa At Culloden


achel Lyness, manager of The Spa at Culloden was joined by Emma Kennedy, director of Glow Aesthetics at the launch of the latest clinic to join the 5-star hotel’s Medi-Spa which offers the latest in specialised beauty and wellness treatments. Glow Aesthetics promises to bring a skincare revolution

combining cutting edge technology with the award-winning Texoane Cosmeceuticals. Using injectable and non-injectable technologies, treatments available include dermal fillers, anti-wrinkle injections, skin boosters, dermaplaning and the vampire facial which is favoured by celebrities including Kim Kardashian.


he Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast, has officially been awarded a five star rating by the AA, recognising its excellence in hospitality. The news of the five-star rating was announced as the hotel nears completion of a second £2million investment to upgrade rooms and increase capacity at its premises on Great Victoria Street - bringing the total invested in the premises since 2016 to £4million. The luxury hotel, which opened in 2009, was awarded five stars in

November 2016 under the Tourism NI accommodation grading scheme, so the coveted AA award marks another significant milestone for the hotel. Cian Landers, General Manager of the Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast, commented: “The accreditation is testament to the efforts of the fantastic team we have here and the comments from the inspector show that the staff in all areas of the hotel made this possible. We are thrilled to have been recognised as an AA five-star rated hotel and will display our plaque with pride.”

Phoenix Backs Youth Theatre As 200 talented 10-18 year olds prepare to follow the yellow brick road onto the Grand Opera House stage this summer, Phoenix Natural Gas has been announced as partner of Northern Ireland’s largest youth theatre project.


ver 300 young people auditioned for roles in the two-week project that will culminate in five performances of The Wizard of Oz, one of the most popular musicals of all time, from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 July 2018. The aim of the Summer Youth Project is to offer young people the chance to develop

their skills in acting, singing and dancing, as well as to build confidence and make new friends. Michael McKinstry, Phoenix Natural Gas Chief Executive Officer said, “Phoenix Natural Gas has been a long standing supporter of the arts in Northern Ireland and we are delighted to partner with the Grand Opera House and aspiring young actors from across the province in this large youth theatre project. “The Grand Opera House is a fantastic venue for young actors to experience performing in as part of a major production and Phoenix Natural Gas is very proud to support the show. We look forward to a strong and creative partnership together.” Pictured:- Michael McKinstry, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Natural Gas, Caroline McMichael as Dorothy, Holly Topping as Dorothy and Ian Wilson, Chief Executive of the Grand Opera House.


Eye on Family Business

The Importance Of Impartial Advice When Running A Family Business

Andrew (right) and Gary Irwin.

Andrew Irwin is the joint managing director of Bedeck, a luxury bed/bath linen retailer. Bedeck has been in the family since 1951, making Andrew, and his brother Gary, the third generation of Irwins to run the business.


ith only limited management experience, Andrew was thrown in at the deep end when asked to return from his gap-year early to join the family business. My grandfather started Bedeck as a linen handkerchief manufacturer in the 50s. When I entered the business with my brother 29 years ago, we knew we would need to take one or two risks so that the business would be able to evolve and move with the times. Since taking over, we’ve developed into a 14-brand strong multi-channel retailer. Despite our evolution, we’ve worked hard to maintain a small, family-run feel to our business. It’s an incredibly important part of our company culture. Preserving the family ethos of our business has allowed us to


remain agile in our approach as well as in the overall decisionmaking process. We are not held back by challenging management structures or complex chains of command. By remaining nimble and allowing familial-like qualities to flourish, we have been able to initiate change quickly. This has helped us keep our feet on the ground so we’re able to engage with everyone who works at Bedeck; whether they’ve been with us for 60 years or 6 weeks. Having led Bedeck for nearly three decades, you have to accept that you continually need new thinking and new skill to add to the business. Bringing new talent into the business has certainly helped us to inject fresh thinking and ideas. But when you’re looking to make some difficult decisions, it is equally important

to seek advice from sources independent to you and your business - basically anyone devoid of bias, who can help you think through challenges and formulate the right approach. As the saying goes, ‘no man is an island.’ Working side by side with your family every day, it’s easy to find yourself looking inwardly rather than at the bigger picture. This can lead to blind spots that only someone completely impartial might identify. The ability to access impartial advice is absolutely vital when you’re running a small family business. For all the benefits that come from working with your family, it’s easy to let emotion creep into the decision-making process. By listening to the advice of a thirdparty, the likelihood of unconscious bias forming part of the decisionmaking process decreases, allowing issues to be effectively resolved. For a small business like mine it can be difficult to know where to turn for credible counsel that is completely independent. I came across peer group mentoring organisation Vistage a little over two years ago. Vistage brings together small groups of business leaders facing similar challenges and problems and encourages them to work through operational and personal business challenges in monthly sessions. Sessions are organised and run by a Chair, typically a former CEO, who has faced similar challenges in their career to the ones we are facing now. All business leaders have their own challenges and it’s tempting to see these as being entirely unique to your own position. But when you start talking to others, you quickly see common ground. Being part of a community of like-minded businesses who can lean on each other for support and advice has been an absolute revelation, allowing me to air issues openly and confidentially; and listen to advice from people who have been there before. By sharing stories and being

willing to listening to the challenges of others, you are able to share learnings and apply them to your organisation as necessary. Keeping in regular touch with an outside resource is also crucial to allow for the sharing and development of new ideas. It is a motherly ‘tough love’ approach, forcing leaders into a slightly more uncomfortable position in making them accountable to others in a way they might not always be at work. At times, all that is really needed is time away from your computer to focus on leading a team more effectively. Ultimately mentorship sessions allow for the time and space to reflect. It’s true that many of the issues we discuss as groups start as operational. But often the root of these issues can lie in something personal. As business leaders we all have personal lives, which more often than not can have an effect on the way we lead. When there is little distinction between family and work life it can be increasingly difficult to operate objectively. Factors such as health and wellbeing quickly get overlooked when you’re searching for answers. Having attended monthly group mentorship sessions with my group for some time now, I see can speak to the value of placing personal well-being side-byside professional well-being. Running any business can be an isolating task and running a small family business can be equally as solitary from the ‘outside world’. I now know that this need not be the case. I’ve heard people describe Vistage in a number of different ways. Some call it ‘the board you can’t afford’ while others describe it as ‘therapy for CEOs.’ I think both of these descriptions have some merit to them. Being part of a community working together to help one another has helped me overcome the personal as well as operational challenges that go hand in hand with running a family business. Ultimately it has helped me become a better, more reflective leader.

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Eye on Communications

Connectivity is key for every business, regardless of shape, size or scope. Whether a multi-national with thousands of customers, staff and stakeholders, or a sole proprietor dog-grooming service with a local and loyal clientele, it is vital to remain connected. By Stuart Carson, Rainbow Communications

Keeping Connected, and Protected A

t Rainbow, we know how important connectivity is, whether as Northern Ireland’s largest independent provider of communications services, or as a proudly family-owned and operated business celebrating 20 years of success in 2018, we can provide the complete telecom solution to benefit your business. Whilst some businesses only require a traditional telephone line and good internet connectivity in the office. Once out of the office these businesses become dependent on their business mobile handset, not only for calls, but for emails and diary management. Yet through one inexpensive change any SME can provide a huge boost to its business connections, and ultimately potential for growth. A fibre broadband enables you to build your phone network by utilising VoIP and unifying your communications capabilities. This enables costs to be lowered while increasing productivity and importantly allowing calls to the office landline to be answered by a mobile device.


This provides peace of mind for both clients and management, as these add-ons provide more message options, while offering access to files on their mobiles and portable devices. In addition to voice call development, this new technology also permits video conferencing to take place from anywhere with an internet connection, your kids in the background notwithstanding!

monitored and managed. We work on a daily basis to ensure IT systems and networks are secure from costly cyber-attacks and are continually reinforcing the message that preparation is key. Preparation helps minimise the risk of hacking or other attacks by staying one step ahead of the plethora of worms, viruses, ransomware and other potential infections circulating the globe.

“Cyber fraud is becoming more prevalent and sophisticated so login details, mobile handsets, laptops, tablets, servers and phone systems all need to be secure and securely monitored and managed.” Understandably, any introductions or updates to a company’s systems must be underpinned by the appropriate cyber security measures. Cyber fraud is becoming more prevalent and sophisticated so login details, mobile handsets, laptops, tablets, servers and phone systems all need to be secure and securely

While Northern Ireland appears better prepared, it certainly isn’t immune, so precautionary measures certainly shouldn’t be the occasional tasks many mistake them for, as lower-profile criminals go for lower-profile companies and every location is now within reach. Companies across Northern Ireland need to be vigilant as

hackers strengthen their resolve. Many have already experienced the fallout of poor preparation, making it acutely important to put in place the right measures that will protect your company and your reputation. The looming threat of hackers on a mission to steal your information or hold you to ransom is real. As a local business, Rainbow understands the requirements of the Northern Ireland business community. Central to this is that no two SMEs are the same and that neither are their communication requirements. For this reason, Rainbow can provide a wide range of products and services to ensure all telecom solutions and strategies are tailored to each client.

Stuart Carson is Sales and Marketing Director at Rainbow Communications, Northern Ireland’s largest independent telecom provider. For more information on its full range of services, including bespoke solutions, visit

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Eye Moving On

1 Claire Hamilton

2 Ashley Dalzell

3 Claire Best

1 Claire Hamilton has joined Holywood-based creative communications agency, Clearbox, as PR Manager. The New York native recently relocated to Northern Ireland and has worked in Washington D.C. and London in the technology sector. 2 Also at Clearbox, Ashley Dalzell becomes Senior Project Manager. Ashley has experience working on marketing and event teams for retail outlets and brands across Northern Ireland and 3 Ireland. Claire Best has been appointed to the Board of Directors at Clearbox. Claire has played a key part in the growth of Clearbox for more than three years and joins Directors Anna Morris and John Megaughin on the board. 4 And Danielle Hibbert has been appointed Project Director. As Project Director, Danielle will lead her team from Clearbox’s new offices in Yorkshire, the agency’s first base outside of Northern Ireland. 5 Patricia Murtagh has been appointed as Business Development Manager for Hastings Europa Hotel and the new Grand Central Hotel. Patricia has over 15 years’ experience in business development and consultancy roles for blue chip market leading companies.


4 Danielle Hibbert

5 Patricia Murtagh

6 David McPherson

7 Chris Hawthorne

8 Phil Grace

9 Craig Brown

Eir Business NI has made three new 6 appointments. David McPherson becomes Customer Care Manager, joining eir Business from logistics firm DPD where he was responsible for 7 the service desk function. Chris Hawthorne is appointed as a Service Desk Analyst, joining from NI Water where was Legal Team Coordinator. 8 And Phil Grace becomes Project Manager, moving from Xerox where he held a similar role. Ardmore Advertising has made five key 9 appointments. Craig Brown joins Ardmore as Media Manager from GroupM, a global media investment management company based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Eye Moving On

10 Ed Henderson

11 Carole Callender

12 Aidan Harbinson

10 Ed Henderson has been appointed Planning Director. He joins the company from a digital planning role and has worked on clients such 11 as eBay, Nissan, Diageo and TK Maxx. Carole Callender comes to Ardmore Advertising in the new bespoke role of Talent Director. Carole will lead on HR matters, including resource expansion, training and development 12 programmes and talent sourcing. Aidan Harbinson is appointed as Senior Digital Project Manager. He joins the company with over 9 years’ experience in providing clients 13 with digital strategies. Paul James joins the team at Ardmore Advertising with 13 years’ experience in advertising and marketing. He comes to the company from CDE Global, where he held the role of Global Brand Manager. 14 Templeton Robinson has appointed Judith Gilchrist as Area Director for North Down. Based in the company’s flagship Holywood branch, Judith, a specialist in residential sales, valuations and new homes, has been with Templeton Robinson for almost 20 years and is qualified and accredited under the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers (IPAV).

13 Paul James

14 Judith Gilchrist

15 David Wilson

Johnsons Solicitors has made three new 15 appointments. David Wilson joins as a Partner specialising in commercial property and telecoms. He will help lead the Johnsons’ Commercial 16 Property team. Shane Garvey joins the firm as a Solicitor specialising in defence insurance litigation and based in Johnsons’ Dublin office, 17 while Sarah McFarland becomes a Paralegal, with emphasis on property, litigation, telecoms, boundary disputes and professional negligence. 18 Emma Kieran joins Clarendon Executive as a Consultant, supporting clients in finding the best candidates for business-critical roles. With five years specialist experience in the executive search industry, Emma works with many of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies delivering key appointments at Executive and Board level.

16 Shane Garvey

17 Sarah McFarland

18 Emma Kieran


Eye Moving On 19 Kevin Hegarty has been appointed as an Associate at O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors. He deals with healthcare and personal injury litigation for clients both North and South. 20 Also at O’Reilly Stewart, Nicholas Nolan is appointed as a Solicitor. He will advise clients in all areas of commercial property. 21 Craig Routledge has joined Cunningham Coates as a Senior Consultant – Financial Planning. Craig is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Investment and Securities Institute and a post graduate of Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh and Strathclyde University, Glasgow. He joins Cunningham Coates after a 13 year financial services career at Danske Bank.

19 Kevin Hegarty

20 Nicholas Nolan

21 Craig Routledge

Law firm A&L Goodbody has appointed three 22 new solicitors. Eimear Digney trained with the firm and joins the Litigation & Dispute 23 Resolutions team; Jonathan Simpson becomes part of the Employment & Incentives team 24 while Victoria Taylor joins the Finance unit to advise both clients and lending institutions. 25 Lisa Trainor has been appointed as QEBCIS Manager for luxury fit-out specialist, Portview. Formerly a Site Manager for Lagan Construction, Lisa brings with her five years of invaluable experience in the healthcare, education and commercial sectors managing multimillion pound projects.

22 Eimear Digney

23 Jonathan Simpson

24 Victoria Taylor

26 Also at Portview, Glenn Chambers has been appointed as Health & Safety Manager. Formerly an SHE Manager for one of Northern Ireland’s largest contractors, Glenn brings 20 years of practical, hands-on experience from across the construction, civil engineering and manufacturing sectors. Law firm TLT has promoted Belfast banking 27 & restructuring lawyer Anna Vangrove to partner as part of its 2018 promotion round. Anna’s promotion follows the recent arrival of corporate partner Andrew Jennings from Arthur Cox, which has strengthened the firm’s full service offering in NI. Anna is part of a six-strong round of partner promotions across the firm’s UK offices. Belfast based real 28 estate lawyer Michael Wilson will also be promoted to associate with NI dual qualified pensions lawyer Chris Crighton making partner based at the firm’s headquarters in Bristol.

25 Lisa Trainor

28 Michael Wilson


26 Glenn Chambers

27 Anna Vangrove

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Eye on News

CYBER-SAVVY ARMAGH GIRLS BREAK NEW GROUND Four students from St Catherine’s College, Armagh are embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Buckingham Palace after reaching the final of a nationwide codebreaking challenge.


he 2018 CyberFirst Girls Competition saw girls aged 12-13 test their sleuthing skills and technological mettle against a series of head-scratching challenges set by masterminds from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ. The Armagh team known as ‘The Furious Four’ had previously seen off over 1,200 other teams before making it as the only NI team in the grand final of 10 teams held in Manchester. The surprise invitation from The Duke of York to Buckingham Palace will recognise the tremendous efforts of all the finalists. The challenges at the grand final tested the girls’ problem-solving and technological skills as they tracked down a cybercriminal to help decrypt the files of a vlogging ransomware victim, and find hidden clues in the room for points. Later, the teams pitched their findings to a panel featuring BBC broadcast journalist Steph McGovern, Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Skills and Growth, and Nicky Hudson, NCSC Director for Communications. Speaking about getting involved in the competition,


Head teacher of ICT at St Catherine’s College, Armagh Caroline Pereira-Lynch said: “Our school ethos is about opening up all opportunities for girls and this competition gave us a unique and practical insight into the cyber security industry and helped us learn more about it. We were delighted to make it to the finals as the girls were so eager and worked incredibly hard. To be the top NI school and get a special invitation to Buckingham Palace gives the girls a great sense of achievement.” Now in its second year, 4,500 girls entered this year’s CyberFirst Girls competition, which aims to knock down some of the barriers that have resulted in women being so worryingly under-represented in cyber security, where only one in

ten of the workforce is female. Local cyber security company, Cyphra has been working closely with NCSC to get more schools and young people from NI involved in the CyberFirst competitions. Speaking about this year’s participation, Director Conrad Simpson said: “The CyberFirst competitions are an important step in giving students an insight into this exciting dynamic industry sector which currently has a skills shortage and can offer a very interesting career pathway. Cyphra are committed to identifying, nurturing and helping start careers in cybersecurity. The girls from St Catherine’s College, Armagh along with all the other schools who entered the competition are trailblazers and I’ve no doubt we will see some of

them lead the way as future cyberists. It also shows the value of growing future talent and diversity in the cyber sector.” The competition has seen a highly positive take up on its return, with a 52% rise in the number of schools who registered teams to compete this year. The girls also received individual sponsored prizes from Cyphra at the assembly. The overall UK winners of CyberFirst 2018 were the Church of England Piggott School in Berkshire who received £1,000 towards their school’s IT equipment. NCSC have recently published the dates for their CyberFirst free summer courses. Anyone interested in more information on these should contact or visit the NCSC website.

Is it true that, the less miles I put on the car, the less I pay?

To find out the answer, visit:

Eye on Motoring

Motoring with Derek Black

IT’S THE BEST LOOKING FOCUS EVER BUT CAN IT STAY AHEAD? The fourth generation Focus has arrived but with nothing like the fanfare that greeted the first one. That was a game changer that soon established itself as the most dynamic of the family hatches. The newest one has to be seen as an evolution rather than a revolution.


o what has Ford done to its big seller? Quite a lot actually in terms of styling, engineering and technology. With a new grille and slim lamps, this is the best-looking Focus to date. Inside has been improved too and there are significant changes under the skin.

Chief of these is a new engine line-up claimed to be up to 15% more efficient. Gone is the longserving 1.6-litre petrol donkey, replaced by a new 1.5-litre Eco Boost with 148bhp or 180bhp. This complements the 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol engine which continues as before.

There is a new 1.5-litre turbo diesel as well, claimed to return more than 70mpg Combined. There are outputs of 94bhp, 103bhp or 118bhp from this downsized unit making it one of Ford’s most fuel efficient engines. The larger 2.0-litre turbo diesel gets a power boost and economy gains as well. The sporting ST model gets either a 247bhp petrol or a 183bhp turbo diesel engine while the flagship RS boasts a 349bhp turbocharged 2.3-litre petrol turbine. Whatever the engine the Focus still majors on its fine handling responses. It is still a good car to drive but rivals, notably the latest

Golf and SEAT Leon are now as good if not slightly better. A stiffer front end should make the Focus handle better than before. Inside, the dash looks simple and sharper with new controls and a much better 8-inch screen. Items such as hill start, air con. and cruise control now pop up on relatively modest trim levels. List prices start from £16,235 but choice of engine is crucial and there some ‘old’ engines carried over at the lower price points. The new 1.5 TDCI in Zebec trim makes a good choice for the business buyer. It goes on sale in July when BIK details will become available.

KIA OFFERS SMALLER ENGINES IN ITS HANDSOME STINGER Kia hit the headlines with the launch of its 3.3-litre petrol powered Stinger. A rear-driven executive saloon, it won praise for its balance and performance. But is the ambitious Korean company really in a position to take on BMW, Mercedes and Audi?


e are reaching reality check time with the addition of the ‘cooking’ 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engine options. Everyone loves a V6 as a driving machine but how do the everyday options fare? Will they fall short of the standards

expected of a ‘premium’ saloon? It was bound to be a bit of an anticlimax. The 2.0-litre turbopetrol version has a touch of the get-up-and-go with 244 PS but doesn’t quite perform or sound as luscious as the superb 365PS V6. Mind you its 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds is not to be sneezed at. Of course, neither of the petrol cars is going to go down well with the tax man or the company accountant. Combined mpg is 35mpg for the 2.0-litre and 28mpg for the V6. Emissions of 181g/km and 225g/km put them firmly on the naughty seat with both getting a BIK rating of 37%. Such is the

price of sheer driving pleasure! So we turn to the 2.2 turbo diesel for economy. It looks a mite more promising with 50mpg Combined and 154g/km putting it into the 34% BIK bracket. Sadly, though, this diesel is well behind the Germans in terms of both performance and refinement. There is work to be done here! Time will tell if the Stinger can go to the top of the class as other

Kia models have done. But it is an impressive car with handsome looks and a lot of equipment. How will it fare on the acid test of any car - depreciation? Kia is certainly not giving them away as yet but the prices undercut the establishment models. The 2.0 T petrol cars are listed from circa £32K with the diesel from just over £37K with the V6 flagship at £40,535.


Eye on Motoring


We’ve put together 10 important questions to ask yourself when looking for that new car, van or addition to your fleet to help with the decision making process.

1 Who am I dealing with? Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. DFC have been in the contract hire/leasing and vehicle management business since 1989. Over 85% of their customers renew with them 2 How does the funding work? You may have your own funding lines with your bank but why use this up? DFC use major European funders who give the most competitive funding rates 3 How do I know I’m getting a good deal? DFC and their business partners purchase over 50000 vehicles every year. This means that DFC can offer some of the most competitive business and personal contract hire rentals available in the fleet market. 4 How much are you willing to pay upfront? How much are you willing to put down to get on the road? Hire purchase and PCP tend to require a higher deposit whereas most lease agreements have a lower deposit. We at DFC understand cash is the heartbeat to any business therefore we want to get you on the road as easy as possible so you can spend the money you save to grow your business instead. We believe in long-term relationships. 5 How much are you willing to pay monthly? It’s unlikely you’ll buy a vehicle in one payment, and if

you do it will most likely be through a loan therefore you’ll have to pay the loan back in monthly instalments including interest. Leasing can have lower monthly payments compared to loans. Why? With contract hire you only pay for the depreciation of the car. 6. How much driving are you doing? If you’re doing high mileage it might seem worthwhile buying outright through a car loan or hire purchase, but wait a second. With higher mileage, depreciation accelerates and ultimately you have a much lower residual value. Therefore, you could end up paying more in the long term if you buy. 7. How are you using the vehicle? Is the vehicle for personal or business use? If a lease is for business a proportion of the cost can be deducted from your taxes. Interest on car loans however isn’t deductible. 8. How long you want the vehicle for? If you want a drive a new vehicle every few years leasing is a convenient option for you. At the end of your lease you simply return your vehicle. You can then start with another brand new one. 9. What type of vehicle do you need and want? What type of car or van do you need? What do you want? Most dealerships are committed to one or two manufacturers so don’t necessarily offer you much

Local Company Local People Local Service

choice. Whereas, DFC is Northern Ireland’s largest independent vehicle management company which means we can source you any make or model you want. 10. Do you want to reduce running costs? It’s brilliant getting a great offer, but does it mean much if you’re still spending a fortune on running costs? Have you thought about using vehicle tracking technology or in other words telematics? DFC has an exclusive partnership with RAC Telematics which means you can access powerful tracking technology on top of your contract agreement. Through telematics you could save up to 15% on fuel through more efficient driving and reduced idling time or you could save up to 50% on accidents and breakdowns by promoting better driving behaviour to name a few benefits.

If you’re interested in leasing any make or model get a FREE, no obligation quote today call us on 02890 734222 or if this has got you asking questions about contract hire, fleet management, telematics or buying contact us on or call 02890 734222

DFC is Northern Ireland’s only major independent locally owned Vehicle Management Company. For over 25 years DFC have supplied, funded and managed cars and vans. We are confident we can provide a cost effective solution for your business or individual needs.

Call us today for more information on our car and van offers on 028 9073 4222 or email



Eye on Motoring

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Eye on Motoring

Motoring with Derek Black

PEUGEOT ADDS STYLE AND DRIVABILITY TO ITS BIG SUV As SUVs become more mainstream, each brand faces the challenge of making their offering stand out from the crowd. Big and boxy is no longer enough to guarantee sales in this increasingly competitive market sector.


eugeot is certainly on message with the latest version of its flagship 5008 for it carries over the swish and stylish looks of the smaller 3008. As it is French it is a tad softer than the new flotilla of SUVs spawned by the VW group over the last year. Yet it is still a good machine to drive and has an edge on comfort. This seven-seater carry-all is perhaps more aimed toward the

family buyer -and if you use the extra two seats you lose one of its more business oriented pluses - a big cube of a boot that can accommodate more than its obvious rivals. Still it is flexible enough to cover business and family demands - a French touch? This is a car that is well suited to those who have to drive all day. It responds well and the ride is supple on all but the worst surfaces. Inside

it has an individual character with the Peugeot small steering wheel and digital display. This layout works better on the 5008 than on smaller cars as the wheel does not obscure the instrument. What’s this - a 1.2-litre petrol engine in a hefty wagon? The 130PS three-cylinder unit is a revelation. It can hustle an unloaded 5008 up to 62mph in under 11 seconds and claims 55mpg on the Combined Cycle. This will be tricky to replicate in real-time driving but gets you into the 24% BIK

bracket with emissions of 117g/km. For the ultimate economy there are several diesel options with varying power outputs from 1.5 to 2.0 litres. The less powerful versions claim up to 68mpg combined and are rated at 25% BIK. If you need more pulling power then the 150PS 2.0 litre is rated at 61mpg combined and is in the 27% bracket. All round, the 5008 is impressive and challenges the premium bracket with prices from £25K to £33K (before discount)

more expensive GTI brigade the Swift Sport makes a convincing rather warm hatch that won’t break the bank. Inside its not as plush as some but the red-rimmed dials add a sense of urgency. Standard equipment levels are almost lavish. The package includes satellite navigation, Android auto, Apple car play, keyless entry, parking sensors,

climate control and LED headlamps. There is a lot of safety gear as well such as radar cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane assist and even a driver drowsiness warning system. Starting from £17,999 on the price list, the Swift sport is up in price from before but it still offers a lot of fun driving for less than the hotter and pricier hatches.

SUZUKI’S AFFORDABLE SPORTS HATCH GETS A BOOST - AND MORE! Suzuki has added a new Sport version to its latest Swift range. Even without the bright yellow paintwork, you are going to notice this one with its dominant new grille and eye-catching lines. Can there be as much substance as there is style?


ell, it has the much-admired 1.4-litre Boosterjet petrol engine for a start. This has already been seen in the larger Vitara S but it works even more impressively in the smaller car. True, it offers a modest 138bhp but its effect is enhanced by two factors. The clever compact turbo built into the cylinder head gives the Swift a lot more torque than before so it seems to react more instantly to the throttle. Add to this the weight that has been


shaved from the latest car, and you get rather enjoyable zest. This is more fun to drive than its 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds would suggest. Attitude is what the Swift Sport is about. An engine that just begs to be revved through the sharpacting six-speed manual gearbox. If you are not in a particular hurry then the reserves of torque let you hang onto the higher ratios. A useful compromise for everyday driving. While it is not up there with the


NITEC DELIVERS NI’S PREMIER TECHNOLOGY PARTNER At Nitec, we work closely with our customers to ensure their IT needs are managed to a gold standard. Indeed, we’re so confident in our abilities that we offer a 30-day rolling contract. Compare that to the multi-year contract a lot of other firms will tie you into. So why not get YOUR relationship with Nitec rolling - get in touch with us now.

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Business Eye April May 2018  
Business Eye April May 2018