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Issue 180 June/July 2018 £2.50 Voted best Business Magazine in Ireland 2005 and Magazine of the Year for Northern Ireland

Barclays Eagle Lab

Bringing Businesses To Life Features:


Andras House… Bright Future For Hotel Group


Honeycomb… Raising The Bar For Support Professionals

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


Niall Harkin & Feargal McCormack… Accountancy’s Double Act

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For more inFormation see page 5

June/July 2018 ISSUE 180

Cover Story


Barclays Eagle Lab... Bringing Businesses To Life

IQ & Co... Financial Advice With A Feminine Spin Holywood-based financial advisers IQ & Co has hosted an exclusive event alongside Women In Business in the private dining room at top Belfast restaurant Deane’s. Guests were welcomed by Women In Business Chief Executive Roseann Kelly and treated to an excellent three-course lunch prepared under the watchful eye of restaurant proprietor Michael Deane.

The Barclays Eagle Lab in Belfast is one of a network of 16 incubator lab facilities in cities and regions all over the UK... and it’s a unique business accelerator with a number of success stories already chalked up in its relatively short life. We talk to Adrian Doran, Barclays Head of Corporate Banking in Northern Ireland, and Lisa Bailie, Ecosystem Manager at the Belfast Eagle Lab.

Caulfield Insurance… 64 Years Of Industry Experience

Hospitality Investment


Andras House... Hotel Group Gears Up For The Future The Andras House Group opened the doors to its latest hotel just last month, when the brand hew Hampton by Hilton in the centre of Belfast welcomed its first guests. Business Eye catches up with three of the group’s general managers to talk about their hotels, their aims and objectives and their hopes for the future.

Nowadays one of the best-known names in the local insurance marketplace, Caulfield Insurance has its roots in County Tyrone where it was founded by Cookstown man John Caulfield back in 1954. The company has remained independent and familyowned since an industry where big corporate groups are the norm. We catch up with Managing Director, Regina Caulfield.


Honeycomb... Boutique Agency Raises The Bar

Business Eye Editor Richard Buckley volunteers himself for one of the most intensive and comprehensive medicals on the private health marketplace, BUPA’s Health Peak Assessment. Like all BUPA checks, it’s now available at Belfast’s leading private medical facility, Kingsbridge Private Hospital on the city’s Lisburn Road.

Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean’s UK & Ireland Director, talks to Business Eye about a buoyant cruise industry, and an ever increasing popularity amongst Northern Ireland travellers, and about how his company is shaping up for a fast-growth future.

Lough Erne Resort... Lakeside Luxury For Relaxation Junkies

Finance & Management


Chartered Accountants Leaders Set Out Their Stall

We pay a visit to the magnificent Lough Erne Resort, once the temporary home of the world’s most powerful leaders, now a gem of a hotel with superb facilities, and even better food, right in the midst of Fermanagh’s lakeland. And the sunshine didn’t do any harm either!

Ken Redpath… A Career in Business Intelligence

Richard Buckley sits down to talk to the leaders of both Chartered Accountants Ulster & Chartered Accountants Ireland, Niall Harkin and Feargal McCormack, about the predominance of accountants in leading business positions across the island and beyond, and about the challenges facing business both north and south, not least the spectre of Brexit.

If there is a ‘go to’ man for business information in Northern Ireland, it would be hard to look past Ken Redpath. Now in his mid 60’s and making a valiant attempt to ease towards retirement, he finds it difficult to step away from the cut and thrust of business life here in Northern Ireland... and a Northern Ireland business community he knows more intimately than most..

Eye on Sport


Eye on Events


Moving On

Eye on Economy


Eye on Tourism


Eye on Agri Food


Eye on Telecomms


Eye on Entertainment


Eye on Motoring


Eye on Manufacturing


Eye on CSR


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Cruising… On The Crest Of A Wave

Honeycomb is a relatively new Belfast-based boutique recruitment agency and one which specialises in the provision of permanent and temporary business support professionals. Managing Director Mairead Scott talks about how her agency spotted a gap in the marketplace and has helped to raise the profile of some of the business world’s unsung heroes.



BUPA Health Peak… Executive Class Assessment

Human Resources






Photography Press Eye 45 Stockmans Way Belfast, BT9 7ET Tel: (028) 9066 9229


As we march into another summer (excuse the pun), there were some faint hopes over recent weeks that a spot of political progress might just be on the cards. But, as ever, they turned out to be nothing much more than faint hopes.


“Nigel Dodds claimed in a TV interview in Downing Street that the DUP was fighting for the best interests of Northern Ireland. But can that be true?”



he DUP leader seemed to be trying to tell us all something when she suddenly embarked on what amounted to a frenzy of reaching out. She reached out to the LGBT community, she reached out to the Muslim community, and she reached out a couple of times to the GAA, first by being pictured accepting a Fermanagh football shirt... and then attending the Fermanagh team’s Ulster Final against Donegal in Clones. What’s more, Arlene Foster dispensed with the nonsense practiced by others before her and stood respectfully for the Irish national anthem. Mind you, given that she was in County Monaghan, she didn’t have a lot of choice on that front. With all of that in mind, there were a few who reckoned that it was only a matter of time before Arlene and Michelle O’Neill were making dairy chains together on the sunsplashed hills around Parliament Buildings. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Still, it was nice to see another side to a DUP leader increasingly characterised in the UK media as a grim-faced, loudly-spoken naysayer straight out of the Rev. Ian Paisley (in his earlier days) mould. But it wasn’t long before the kind of DUP leader portrayed by Tracey Ullman in her current sketch show was back, and in harness with Nigel Dodds to meet Prime Minister Theresa May. And it seems that the DUP pair continued to play hardball with Mrs. May. Nigel Dodds claimed in a TV interview in Downing Street that the DUP was fighting for the best interests of Northern Ireland. But can that be true? Not when a clear majority of people here voted against Brexit, and when the business community in its virtual entirety can think of nothing worse that a ‘no deal’ exit from the European Union.

Richard Buckley EDITOR Irish Magazine Editor of the Year 2005

Whilst Theresa May clearly seems to favour the idea of some kind of special dispensation for Northern Ireland and Europe doesn’t seem to disagree with that notion, the DUP is the perpetual fly in the potential ointment. Mr. Dodds is right to say that there should be no border down the Irish Sea. That makes no sense, even if the border wouldn’t be a border, but would instead be a system of checks at our ports. And, as a unionist, he can’t really be criticised for insisting (as he puts it) that there is no break up of the UK economically, constitutionally or politicially. But he’s wrong, and the DUP is wrong, to insist that Northern Ireland is so firmly lashed to the rest of the UK that it sinks or swims with Britain once Brexit comes to pass. There remains a chance that Northern Ireland can be given some form of special status or special dispensation....whatever anyone chooses to call it. And it could be a special dispensation that would provide this small region with a gilt-edged opportunity to carve a very special niche for itself, and to prosper in every sense of the world. Given their unique hold over the Prime Minister and her party, the DUP really does have a chance to secure unique and beneficial deal for Northern Ireland. If the DUP throw that chance away by tying themselves (and the rest of us) to the deck of a ship that might just be about to hit some stormy waters, it’s something that we’ll all have to hold them responsible for over the years to come.

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Eye on News

BARRISTERS BOOST FOR WELCOME ORGANISATION Members of the Bar of Northern Ireland were delighted to hand over a cheque for £70,000 to the Welcome Organisation, the Bar’s chosen charity for this year. The Charity Committee worked hard to galvanise the support of Bar Members for this extremely worthy charity.


he Welcome Organisation delivers a range of support services to people who are homeless or vulnerable and at risk of homelessness services include a Drop-in Centre, Day and Night Street Outreach services and Crisis accommodation for vulnerable females. Events throughout the year included a dragon boat race, a bake sale, a visit from Santa, a Frock Swap, the annual Charity Ball at the Culloden Hotel and a relay team in the Belfast Marathon. But it was barristers taking part in an overnight sleep-out in Belfast city centre that brought home the importance of the charity most clearly. All of these events helped to raise the total of £70,000, which Sandra Moore, CEO of The Welcome Organisation

says will make a huge difference. She said: “On behalf of everyone associated with The Welcome Organisation I would like to express our sincere thanks to The Bar of Northern Ireland for their amazing support throughout 2017-2018. “We have been blown away not only by the phenomenal amount raised but also by the passion and enthusiasm shown by Bar members for The Welcome Organisation and the work we do. “The Bar’s charity committee have gone above and beyond in their efforts to raise money and increase awareness of The Welcome Organisation and homelessness issues - from the Chair serving lunch in the Drop-in Centre in June to five brave barristers spending a night on the streets

in December, to the amazing Gala Ball in March and everything in between.” She added: “The money raised will have a massive impact on the work we do and in turn on the lives of the people we help. It will allow us to continue delivering vital services in our Drop-in Centre, Street Outreach, Crisis Accommodation for Women, Floating Support service and Street Gems/Welcome Home projects. “The efforts of the Bar of NI will help us provide potentially life-saving interventions for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and for that we cannot thank Adele O’Grady and her amazing committee enough.” Adele O’Grady QC, Chair of the Bar’s Charity Committee added: “Sadly homelessness is a growing problem

in Northern Ireland. The Welcome Organisation is at the front line of trying to help those that become homeless and we are in awe of the fantastic work the staff and volunteers do every day of every year in seeking to address this problem. For that reason, the Bar Council is delighted to have supported the wonderful Welcome Organisation over the past year. “Our members really got behind the Charity and gave generously of their money and their time. No-one said no to anything! We are delighted to have raised the sum of £70,000 this year, a sum that we hope will make a difference to a local and inspirational Charity.”

Warrenpoint Port To Make £3 Million Capital Investment

T Warrenpoint Port is to invest £3 million in the purchase of a new crane and the refurbishment of two further cranes at the harbour. 6

he investment, which will significantly improve efficiency and increase capacity, forms part of a major drive to facilitate continued growth in trade at Northern Ireland’s second largest port. Clare Guinness, CEO, Warrenpoint Port commented: “We are delighted to announce this major investment in new and refurbished plant for the harbour that will enable us to maintain our already high standards of service to customers and bring us closer to our targeted growth over the coming years.” The new crane will be built and supplied by Finnish manufacturer Konecranes at its site in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Model 3 Mobile Harbor Crane, which itself will weigh 300 tonnes, will have the

capacity to lift loads up to 100 tonnes to a height of 42m above quay level. Clare added: “The new crane will significantly boost operations at Warrenpoint by allowing for the speedier loading and unloading of goods, as well as reducing downtime. “We are also investing significant capital to refurbish two of our existing cranes at the Port to ensure they will continue to serve our customers for many years to come. “The investments are being made to facilitate further growth at the Port as we gear up for trade in the post-Brexit era. “They will also strengthen our position as a catalyst for economic growth in our community as we aim to boost the prosperity of local people and businesses.” Warrenpoint Port, which last year

handled a record 3.56 million tonnes of cargo, valued at £6.2 billion, deals with a broad spectrum of goods including grain, timber, steel and cement and offers a full range of services including container and freight. Earlier this year, the Port unveiled a major 25-year growth plan which forecast a continued growth in trade following Brexit. Authorities at the Port, anticipate a significant increase in trade over the coming decades with core roll on, roll off, freight expected to rise by up to 80% by 2040. Founded more than 80 years ago, Konecranes is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heavy lifting equipment serving the manufacturing and process industries, shipyards, ports and terminals.

Eye on News

DWF Belfast Supports Tourism in Northern Ireland In recognition of its expertise in the Retail, Food & Hospitality sector, DWF Belfast has, for the first time, sponsored Tourism NI’s Northern Ireland Tourism Awards (NITA).


ith clients in the sector including James St South, Premier Inn, Shortcross Gin and Bachus Inns, Julie Galbraith Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality, DWF Belfast, commented on the company’s sponsorship of the ‘Food & Drink Experience of the Year’ category, “We are extremely proud to sponsor NITA, especially in its 40th year. Formerly C&H Jefferson, DWF Belfast has a long-standing history in Northern Ireland, which is why our support of the tourism sector is so fitting. It is a vital part of the Northern Ireland economy and to see its significant growth over the past 40 years is fantastic.”

DWF’s in house sector specialists have over 30 years’ experience working in the hospitality and retail industry, helping its clients on a range of issues including acquiring, financing, selling or building new hotels, setting up sponsorships, revising compliance and regulations as well as mitigating employee and agency worker issues. Julie added, “Huge congratulations to the finalists Walled City Brewery & Balloo Inns Limited - The Parson’s Nose, and to category winner Derry City & Strabane District Council – Slow Food Festival. The team and I were delighted to attend the awards and celebrate

the very best of local tourism.” This year’s awards, which were held on the 24th May at the Europa Hotel, the venue for the first awards ceremony forty years ago, recognised best practice, excellence and innovation by tourism and hospitality businesses across Northern Ireland.

Orla Rafferty, Jennifer O’Donnell from Derry City and Strabane District Council and Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, Mayor Derry City and Strabane District Council are pictured receiving the ‘Food & Drink Experience of the Year’ award from category sponsor Julie Galbraith Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality, DWF Belfast alongside Michele Shirlow, board member of Tourism NI.

French Asset Manager Makes First Purchase In Northern Ireland Corum Asset Management has completed the off-market acquisition of one of Belfast’s most prime retail properties, in what is the largest retail investment transaction in Northern Ireland so far this year.


0-46 Donegall Place, which is currently home to Northern Ireland’s flagship Next store and Dublin-based Eason, and extends to 67,000 sq ft, was acquired for £16.4m, which equates to a net initial yield of 7.05%. Corum Asset Management was launched in 2012 and has acquired over 101 properties in 12 European countries. Philippe Cervesi, Investment Director at Corum commented: “We are actively looking for high quality investment opportunities in all commercial sectors, including alternative investments. The

purchase of 40-46 Donegall Place is only our second in the UK and first in Northern Ireland, and we are committed to sourcing and acquiring other opportunities throughout the UK and Europe.” Nicky Finnieston, Investment Director at Belfast-based Lisney which acted on behalf of Corum, said: “We are delighted to have acquired one of Belfast’s best retail assets for Corum, in what was a quick and smooth transaction. From identifying and agreeing the deal Corum completed within one month. We look forward to working with them on other transactions

as they expand in our market.” The building is located in a prominent and strategic location on the prime retail pitch adjacent to Marks and Spencer and River Island. The prime retail pitch in Belfast has seen a real resurgence in recent years

with vacancy rates reducing from 20% in 2014 to 9.1%, below the UK average, in 2017. The completion of the new Ulster University Campus and the development of Royal Exchange is expected to further strengthen the prime retail core over the coming years.


Eye on News

£190K INVESTMENT IN SKIN CANCER RESEARCH FOR ULSTER UNIVERSITY Local businessman Dr Terry Cross OBE visited Ulster University recently 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.” Dr Terry Cross OBE commented; “I am committed to working with Ulster University to find new, innovative ways to tackle this horrible disease.

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.

“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.”

Highflying New Partnership For Selective Travel Management

S Pictured celebrating their new partnership are (l to r) Keith Graham, MD Selective Travel Management, Lisa Maltman, Business Development Manager, IoD Northern Ireland and Stephen Staerke, Business Development Manager, Selective Travel Management.


elective Travel Management, one of the UK & Ireland’s largest and most successful independent travel management companies, has just announced a travel partnership with one of the biggest names in business. Some of the major events staged annually by the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland will now be enhanced with international travel packages provided and managed by Selective Travel Management which recently earned recognition as top fast-tracked business in its sector nationally, as well as No.7 in the UK for new business wins. Announcing this latest association with the IoD, Keith Graham, Managing Director of Selective Travel Management,

said, “As a leading local business, absolutely committed to supporting the economic development of ‘Northern Ireland PLC’, we are delighted to support this superb portfolio of business growth initiatives from an organisation whose membership includes so many of our leading and most influential business leaders”. Set to benefit from the new alliance will be the Northern Ireland Young Directors’ Forum, the IoD Annual Lunch and Dinner, the Women’s Leadership Conference and the Director of the Year Awards. Kirsty McManus, Director at the IoD said, “With a vast calendar of events throughout the year, the IoD aims

to provide a variety of platforms for our members to engage with each other, network and learn best practice from other business leaders”. “These would not be possible without the support of a strong panel of business partners and we are pleased that Selective Travel Management has come on board to enhance some of our most popular events with the provision of international travel packages.” In conclusion, Keith said, “We are confident that our experience and expertise within the travel business sector will prove beneficial for IoD members and we look forward to putting our skills to work in support of local businesses in this new and creative way.”

Eye on Workspace

Innovation Factory Welcome Golf Events NI Innovation Factory (IF) are delighted to welcome their newest customer, Golf Events NI to their business hub.


ocated on the Springfield Road in Belfast, IF is a spacious business hub providing 55,000 sq.ft across four floors. IF provides affordable, flexible workspace and services, with inclusive on-site business support available to start-up and growing businesses. By offering flexible contracts companies are encouraged to grow and develop within the centre, be a part of the creative environment, and take advantage of the on-site café, meeting, and conference facilities. Golf Events NI, are the only specialist company in Northern Ireland who provide a fully bespoke Corporate and Charity golf day management service. John Ferguson, Director, Golf Events NI has been delighted with the experience at IF, “Innovation Factory was the perfect choice for us as we expand our business. It provides a supportive, collaborative environment in which a business can flourish and we

have found the resources and facilities are second to none. We looked at a pleather of options before we committed, but IF and their team really ticked our boxes .” Majella Barkley, Innovation Director at Innovation Factory, said “It is encouraging to witness how Golf Events NI are developing as the only specialist within their chosen market. Innovation Factory supports all its customers; from virtual office customers to private office spaces, guiding them to achieve innovation and growth in their target markets. It’s exciting to see Golf Events NI make use of these services and excelling in their industry.” To book a tour of Innovation Factory or make an enquiry simply go to, email info@ or call Anna McDonnell 02895 902500. To speak with Golf Events NI about your next Corporate of Charity Golf Day call 02895 902866 or email

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Eye on Economics

It May Be Summer... But Clouds Persist Frances Hill, Agent for the Bank of England in Northern Ireland, casts her eye over the economic landscape.


he snow and rain of February and March has given way to much sunnier skies in recent weeks. And many businesses here in Northern Ireland will be only too pleased to see the end of the long, cold winter. Over recent weeks, many companies have been telling us about the disruption the inclement weather caused during the first few months of the year. Those in construction were particularly hard hit as sites were deluged with successive weeks of snow and rain. Many are still catching up on work that over-ran as a result. But they weren’t the only ones affected – from shops to bus companies, farmers to hotels and restaurants – the impact was felt far and wide. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the weather features heavily in the Bank of England Agents’ latest Summary of Business Conditions agents-summary/2018/may2018 and May Inflation Report. We think the poor weather was one reason why growth in the UK economy – and some other countries, notably in northern Europe – dipped somewhat in the first three months of 2018. If that is the case, we’d expect the impact to be relatively short-lived. But it’s possible that other factors have also played a part and that underlying growth in the economy may be somewhat weaker than we had expected it to be. We won’t know that for sure until we gather more data, including the valuable evidence we collect from our business contacts here in Northern Ireland. So, for now, there is some uncertainty about how the

economy is performing. That uncertainty partly explains the decision taken by the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee this month to hold interest rates at 0.5%. Over the past few years our economy has needed interest rates to stay very low as we recovered from the global financial crisis. But things have been changing. Despite the small wobble at the start of the year, the world economy is now growing relatively robustly, supporting demand for our exports. In the UK, the share of people without a job is at its lowest level for over 40 years, and

Frances Hill.

“If the economy continues to perform as expected, it will probably be growing about as fast as it can without overheating. In that case the Monetary Policy Committee thinks we would need to raise interest rates further, reducing the amount of support we are providing to the economy.”

businesses we talk to in this region tell us they are finding it harder to recruit people. The recent NI Labour Market Report confirmed that the NI unemployment rate fell to a new record low of 3.1% and was the lowest rate across all of the UK regions. Wages are beginning to rise faster than prices again, which will increase people’s spending power. This is all good news. But the Bank’s remit, set by parliament, is to keep a watchful eye on inflation. Low and stable inflation is vital for a strong economy that supports growth and jobs. And, despite falling back somewhat recently, inflation

remains above our 2% target. If the economy continues to perform as expected, it will probably be growing about as fast as it can without overheating. In that case the Monetary Policy Committee thinks we would need to raise interest rates further, reducing the amount of support we are providing to the economy. Higher interest rates might seem a bad thing, especially if you have a lot of debt. But they are also a sign that the economy is growing and able to support higher wages. Small increases in interest rates now can also help to avoid the need for bigger ones later. The Monetary Policy Committee has said that it

expects any rate rises to be gradual and limited in nature. But the precise timing of any increases will depend on how the economy evolves in the coming months, including how households and businesses respond to developments related to Brexit. So, although we’re grateful to see the back of the rain and snow, there are still some clouds of uncertainty on the economic horizon.

Frances Hill is Agent for the Bank of England in Northern Ireland. @BoENIreland


Eye on Wealth Management

IQ & Co Hosts Women In Business Event

Holywood-based financial advisers IQ & Co has hosted an exclusive event alongside Women In Business in the private dining room at top Belfast restaurant Deane’s.


uests were welcomed by Women In Business Chief Executive Roseann Kelly and treated to an excellent threecourse lunch prepared under the watchful eye of restaurant


proprietor Michael Deane. IQ & Co partners Tanya Martin and Angela Forsythe presented some informal wealth management and pensions advice and tips throughout the event. The event was attended by successful business women who found the information on Pensions and Financial Planning very informative and beneficial. “Whilst the majority of our clients currently are male, we are working in Partnership with Women In Business to deliver a bespoke service to their members, to attract

more female clients,” says Tanya Martin of IQ & Co. Tanya and Angela, both experienced financial advisers and pension specialists, have been joined in the business by mortgage protection specialist Heather McConnaghie and by experienced financial adviser Gillian Walsh. IQ & Co. is based at a purposedesigned suite of offices in Holywood’s High Street, a confidential and welcoming centre for all of the firm’s customers. The firm is offering reduced fees for all Women In Business members, an initiative announced

at the lunchtime event. “Clients want to receive personalised advice and they want to deal with professionals who take the time to understand their circumstances and their financial needs,” adds Angela Forsythe. “We get to know our clients, their businesses and their specific requirements. “We’re an experienced team, we’re passionate about what we do and we’re very excited about the brand that we’ve created. We are very excited to continue working with Women In Business in the future’”

Eye on Wealth Management

For more information, visit


Eye on News

BUSINESS OPTIMISM DRIVES INCREASED M&A ACTIVITY IN NORTHERN IRELAND - DELOITTE Private business optimism, increased risk appetite, enhanced market liquidity, in addition to the wider uplift in macro-economic conditions, are fuelling increased deal activity for M&A and debt raising in Northern Ireland, according to Deloitte.


he M&A landscape in Northern Ireland and the funding options that are available to companies were discussed at the Deloitte Funding for Growth event which took place on Thursday, 10 May in the Merchant Hotel in Belfast. The session focused on growth strategies for Northern Irish businesses, and was attended by over 50 people including business owners, CEOs and finance executives. Peter Allen, Partner, Corporate Finance with Deloitte in Belfast commented: “The number of deals involving local

companies in the past 12 months and the number of businesses successfully attracting investment is increasing, which is very positive for the market. NI businesses are generally robust and lean organisations. They have strong routes to market and a flexible platform upon which to grow.” The current developments within the funding market and the options available were also outlined at the event by John Doddy, Partner and Head of Debt Advisory at Deloitte. John highlighted that there are an increasing number of

(L- R) Rodney Lowry, Group CEO of Lowe Rental Ltd Jim Darragh, CEO of Totalmobile, Matt McCullough, Senior Manager at Deloitte NI, Anya Cummins Partner at Deloitte and Peter Allen, Partner at Deloitte NI

funding options available to Northern Irish businesses, including senior debt, unitranche, and mezzanine type facilities. He emphasised that assessing the appropriate level and type of debt to fund both medium to long term growth objectives is critically important. Anya Cummins, Partner and Head of M&A at Deloitte, discussed the various types of equity funding options available to Northern Irish businesses. She observed that current private equity activity into Northern Ireland is very strong, and expects this to continue throughout 2018. The key drivers and attractions for PE investors, as well as the main considerations for owner managers considering raising

equity capital, was also discussed. Guest speakers on the night also included Jim Darragh, CEO of Totalmobile which is backed by UK private equity fund Lyceum Capital and Rodney Lowry, Group CEO, Lowe Rental Ltd, which has recently completed a transaction with Perwyn in a process led by the Deloitte team. Both Jim and Rodney discussed the formulation of growth strategies and their experiences of working with private equity partners in driving the growth of their businesses. The Deloitte Corporate Finance team in Northern Ireland provides support on M&A transactions, debt and capital advisory services, transaction services, restructuring services, and forensic advisory services.

Novosco Wins Seven Year Contract With Cambridge University Hospitals Belfast-headquartered managed cloud provider Novosco has been awarded the contract to manage IT infrastructure and support services for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.


he Trust runs Addenbrooke’s and The Rosie maternity hospital and is one of the largest and most digitised Trusts in the UK. CUH is one of the 16 global digital exemplar (GDE) Trusts selected by NHS England for its digital excellence and maturity. The contract, which is worth £107million over seven years, will see Novosco provide a range of services to support CUH’s award-winning eHospital digital programme and its electronic patient record system, Epic.


It adds to Novosco’s existing portfolio of health sector clients, which includes a number of UK NHS trusts. The company, which is headquartered in Belfast and has offices in Manchester and Dublin, also counts major housing associations and universities, two premier league football teams, and some of Ireland’s best-known businesses as customers. The services Novosco will be providing to CUH include installing new secure platforms for application hosting, including Epic; updating

end-user computing devices and print solutions; installing resilient and reliable networks; and delivering the technology that will enable the Trust to achieve its GDE objectives. Novosco managing director, Patrick McAliskey, says: “CUH is regarded as one of the leading lights in healthcare digital transformation in the UK and we are delighted that they have chosen Novosco to provide these vitally important IT services. We look forward to working with CUH to help them further extend their digital platform and capabilities and to help them provide even better and safer care to patients.” CUH director of digital, Dr Jag Ahluwalia, added: “We are pleased to confirm our new partnership with Novosco and look forward to working with them to

meet the next set of challenges we face in our ambitious and ongoing plan to improve healthcare through technology. The further digital development of our hospital is central to improving care for our patients and providing a better experience for our staff.”

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Eye on News

Andras Hotels completes 60-bedroom £5m extension at Holiday Inn Express Rajesh Rana with Danske Bank’s Lewis McCallan


he Queen’s Quarter, Belfastbased property, which has been owned and operated by Andras Hotels since 1996, will benefit from the Holiday Inn Express ‘New Generation’ design concept, to the new bedrooms featuring a modern and ergonomic design. The new bedroom wing extends over three floors and includes two underground car parking decks and parking at surface level. Additionally, the lobby and dining areas have also had the New Generation makeover, providing integrated design and flexible

dining. The Express Café & Bar is central to the public space innovation, making it inviting for fast tasty food or the free ‘Express Start’ cooked breakfast, which is included for every guest. Each new bedroom has stylish fresh modern decor featuring larger beds with premium bedding, increased connectivity and Smart TV, airconditioning and elegant bathrooms. The work which began in April 2017 has been completed by MSM Contracts who are also refurbishing and extending the Crowne Plaza property in Belfast for Andras Hotels, due for completion later this month. Both projects are being funded by Danske Bank. Holiday Inn Express, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), is one of the worlds’ most recognisable budget hotel brands, with 2,618

properties featuring 265,269 rooms worldwide providing the brand’s ethos of ‘Simple, Smart Travel’. Director of Andras Hotels, Rajesh Rana, said “The past number of years have seen us invest over £25million into our properties and the economy of Belfast. “Our extension at Holiday Inn Express will help meet the growing demand for mid-range hotel accommodation in the city, serviced by a corporate and leisure market who want a simple, engaging place to rest, recharge and work. It is our longest running hotel and with its global brand recognition provides consistent travellers from across the globe. “Over the past 19 years, we have fostered an excellent partner relationship with IHG, and we now operate three IHG branded hotels in

Belfast - Holiday Inn®, Belfast City Centre, Crowne Plaza Hotel at Shaw’s Bridge and here at Holiday Inn Express®. Rajesh Rana, continued: “We are in an extremely busy and exciting time for Andras Hotels. We are extending and refurbishing our Crowne Plaza which will further meet the demand for hotel accommodation in our thriving City. Lewis McCallan, Head of Relationship Management - Corporate Banking, Danske Bank said: “At Danske we are absolutely delighted to support the continued growth and success of Andras Hotels, another milestone in its journey with a market leading International brand. “The extensions to Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza will further enhance the already buoyant tourism and hospitality sector locally”.

JComms Makes Key Appointments As Business Expands In UK and Ireland PR, content and events agency JComms has made key appointments as it continues to expand its business in the UK and Ireland markets.

JComms’s new managing director, Chris Harrison, centre, with Joris Minne, left, who has been appointed Chairman, Jane Wells, Events & PR Director, and Jane Williams, right, Brand Communications Director.



hris Harrison becomes Managing Director of the Belfast-headquartered company, whilst Joris Minne has been made Chairman. This follows the appointment of Jane Williams as Brand Communications Director earlier this year. Jane Wells - one of the PR industry’s most respected figures - will hand on the role of Managing Director and become Events & PR Director as part of the changes, having been MD for 19 years. The announcement comes as the company continues to grow its blue-chip client base, which includes corporates like Ulster Bank, Almac and Harland & Wolff, consumer brands such as IKEA, Specsavers and Flybe, and technology companies such as Novosco. In the past year, JComms has grown its workforce to 14 people, expanded its dedicated digital content offering, creating a team of three people, and added new clients such as Norbrook, Cayan, Around Noon, Totalmobile and KME Steelworks. It has also grown the volume of work it does in the Republic of Ireland and GB. In addition, the company is promoting Claire McKee to Senior Consultant and Orry Robinson to Consultant in recognition of their continuing progress in delivering exceptional work for clients.

Jane Wells says: “JComms has been in business for over 40 years, providing counsel, support and advice to some of the biggest and best-known companies and organisations in the local market. In more recent years, we have also grown a hugely exciting new dimension to the company in the form of digital content services, brand communications, and work outside of Northern Ireland. Our new appointments place the company very strongly to capitalise further on opportunities in those areas and to take the business forward to another level.” Chris Harrison says: “JComms has some of the most expert people in the communications business, including consumer and corporate PR professionals, videographers, designers and digital marketers. And we are delighted to promote Claire and Orry to their new roles. Working with our team, I very much look forward to playing a leading role in driving the business forward to further success into the future.” Joris Minne says: “Our board and leadership team bring together a very strong blend of skills and experience to ensure that we have the right strategy and delivery capabilities to continue to produce leading-edge work across our client-base.”

Eye on News

GALGORM SCORES ‘HOSPITALITY HOLE-IN-ONE’ WITH GOLF CLUB RESTAURANT ACQUISITION Galgorm Resort & Spa, Northern Ireland’s leading luxury hotel and wellness destination, has acquired the bar and restaurant at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.


epresenting an investment of £600,000, the company has begun an extensive redevelopment and refurbishment exercise which will see the existing dining facilities expanded and upgraded to include a 150-seat restaurant as well as a 60-seat open air balcony terrace providing unrivalled views across the Castle grounds and golf course. The all-new restaurant is expected to open in early July and will see the creation of 50 new jobs across the food, beverage and front-of-house departments. Home to the NI Open 2018, Galgorm Castle Golf Club will attract some of the biggest names in golf this August and with the restaurant due to be open well ahead of the tournament, spectators will be treated to a food and beverage offering on par with some of the world’s leading courses. Colin Johnston, Galgorm General Manager, said; “We are delighted to announce this

acquisition as the latest addition to our portfolio. It is an exciting step in our expansion strategy and further strengthens the relationship we have with the team behind Galgorm Castle Golf Club. “Galgorm is already recognised the world over as a luxury leisure destination – in 2017 we won the title of Global Spa of the Year which is an incredible endorsement. With championship grade golfing facilities on offer and home to the NI Open, the acquisition of the bar and restaurant further consolidates that reputation.” As well as supporting its world-class leisure proposition, the move represents a further strategic enhancement of the group’s award-winning culinary offering, adding to its impressive suite of Galgorm dining options, which includes the 3AA Rosette River Room Restaurant, Gillies Bar & Restaurant and Fratelli’s in addition to its Belfast-based restaurants Fratelli’s and Café Parisienne. Colin continued; “We have paid acute attention to

Pictured L-R are Galgorm’s Executive Chef Israel Robb and General Manager Colin Johnston alongside Gary Henry Managing Director at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.

every detail of the new premises, from the interior design to the membership structure. We wanted to connect all aspects of the properties, creating a seamlessly integrated experience for guests with endless possibilities. “We have just finalised the details on a new partnership with The Country Garage BMW to offer guests a luxury BMW transfer service between the Resort and the new restaurant. We also have plans to offer a combined spa and golf membership providing a fully holistic

approach to our guest’s leisure time. “The stunning refurbishment, which will be a mix of rustic charm and luxury touches, combined with the bespoke extras and sumptuous food offering, will add a distinct and valuable new dimension for guests at Galgorm and we can’t wait to get the doors open.” Further major announcements regarding the acquisition, including the new name for the restaurant and the appointment of the Head Chef, will be revealed in due course.

New Pug Ugly bar brand to open in Belfast


leading hospitality entrepreneur who has developed a number of Belfast’s cutting-edge venues has launched an exciting new bar brand in the heart of the City. Mark Beirne is developing Pug Ugly’s in Belfast’s rapidly evolving Bedford Street on the former site of Morrison’s Bar, close to the newly opened Grand Central and Maldron Hotels. The new bar, which is set to create 40 new jobs, will cater for the growing tourism trade, young professionals and the night time economy.  Dublin based O’Donnell O’Neill Design is developing the interior which is fusing the vibrancy of a thriving city centre bar with the traditional warmth of a welcoming and confident Belfast. Along with his partner Colin Dalley, Mark Beirne is also working with Paddy Brennan, Director and Head of Commercial Markets, Lambert Smith Hampton to

secure suitable locations to position the registered Pug Ugly brand in prime sites in Derry, Dublin, Galway and Cork. The new Pug Ugly’s bar in Belfast is located close to a number of popular city centre venues first created by Mark Beirne, including Filthy McNastys, Rita’s, the Perch and the Sweet Afton. His ability to revitalise failing licensed premises and establish innovative new opportunities set him apart in the early 2000’s, with his projects including the Potthouse in Waring Street and the conversion of a bonded warehouse in Tomb Street which became Belfast’s most popular nightclub, Milk.    Colin Dalley, chef and, partner in Pug Ugly’s has worked with Beirne across a number of ventures and he has developed a bespoke food offering that reflects the diversity of the new Pug Ugly’s brand. Commenting on the project, Mark Beirne, said, “Pug Ugly’s is a brand that our team has been planning for some time

following research on consumer demands and expectations within city centre bars. However, location would always be key and when the opportunity came up to develop a building of the calibre of the former Morrison’s bar in the heart of the City, we knew we had the missing link. “Belfast is changing and with growing

tourism, a thriving night time economy and the expectation of quality food offerings throughout the day Pug Ugly’s will resonate with a diverse demographic. We are very confident in the concept and design and are excited by the opportunity of replicating the brand in other city locations”.


Eye on Cover Story

Barclays Eagle Lab Bringing Businesses To Life The Barclays Eagle Lab in Belfast is one of a network of 16 incubator lab facilities in cities and regions all over the UK, and it’s a unique business accelerator with a number of success stories already chalked up in its relatively short life. Adrian Doran, Barclays Head of Corporate Banking in Northern Ireland, and Lisa Bailie, Ecosystem Manager at the Belfast Eagle Lab, look back on a successful early life and forward to the challenges of the future.


elfast’s Eagle Lab may form part of a UK-wide network of accelerator centres, but not many of the others have such a unique building around them. The Ormeau Baths were built in the late 1880s as public baths back in the days when most houses didn’t have bathrooms of their own, with a swimming pool added in the 1900s. Since the closure of the pool, the Baths building has served as a community resource, as offices, and, for many years, as an art gallery until that too was closed. But the old building has rarely seen as much life and enthusiasm as it does these days. It’s home to 50 or so micro businesses, entrepreneurs and sole traders sharing 120 hot desks and a range of support facilities.


“We’re open around the clock with access by passcode and there are often people here at all hours,” says Lisa Bailie, who swapped a career in management with Barclays to take on the leadership role at the Baths. “It’s not unusual to see people working here late at night, through the night and right across the weekends,” she adds. “It’s certainly not a 9-5 facility, nor is it populated by people with a 9-5 mentality.” The Eagle Labs concept is one that came from the bank itself. Adrian Doran, who heads up Barclays’ Northern Ireland operations said, “Back in 2015, we looked at the idea of supporting businesses in real terms by establishing shared spaces for emerging businesses, and the Eagle Lab concept was born. “In Belfast, we had been looking for a suitable site for a new Eagle Lab in 2016. This was an important part of our strategy to grow our SME business in NI, and we wanted to make a very visible statement to the market that we were serious about becoming a major player, particularly with high growth businesses, many of which are in the technology sector. “When we met the guys behind the Ormeau Baths development, we knew it was a perfect fit for us – an iconic building in Belfast city centre which could be transformed into a cool co-working space, led by people with a strong track record in this area. We could bring our experience from the Eagle Lab network across the UK, and

together the whole package would be something unique in the city.” The Eagle Lab concept has proved popular throughout the UK and Belfast has been no exception, quickly becoming populated by small, high growth businesses, a lot of them from the tech sector, but by no means all of them. “What they do have in common is that they’re early stage businesses, often just one person and a laptop, led by people who aren’t afraid to work all hours to get their businesses up and running,” adds Doran. The Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths offers everything from hotdesking to co-working and private office options. But it’s important to note that it offers a whole lot more than a roof over heads and a place to set up a laptop. As well as the usual free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee services, those using the Barclays Eagle Labs can make use of coaching and mentoring services, regular networking events and, naturally, banking advice and assistance. Lisa Bailie leads a small but passionate team who run the Barclays Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths. “We support all of the businesses here at Ormeau Baths. My role can be anything from advising what kind of ID you need to open a Barclays business account, to setting established businesses up with mentoring, legal advice or tax guidance.” Like many shared working spaces there are different levels

of memberships at the Ormeau Avenue site. The most basic level at Ormeau Baths gives new businesses 40 hours of hot-desking space a month for £99. Those fledgling enterprises who decide to open a business account with Barclays will receive their first three months of hotdesking for free. The membership includes mentoring, networking, funding advice and attendance at the many events held on site. Lisa explained: “It doesn’t matter if a particular business here doesn’t bank with Barclays, we’re more than happy to help them. Just by having a presence here means users are more aware of what we can offer.” But banking with Barclays can and does help. Customers receive three months’ free use of the Eagle Lab. And, for those companies working across the UK, membership of Eagle Lab Belfast gives access to the wider Eagle Lab network. This brings with it a broad base of entrepreneurial experience, mentorship, specialist support and all-important reciprocal hotdesking and meeting space in cities including London, Edinburgh, Brighton and Cambridge. “What’s also important is that the people and the companies who use the Eagle Lab mix, they match, they cross fertilise and they often form lasting business relationships. It really is a place with an energy of its very own,” Lisa says. Like any centre of this kind, the Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths has a natural turnover

Eye on Cover Story

Lisa Bailie, Barclays Eagle Lab and Harvey Beilinsohn, iSensing

Neurovalens Neurovalens’ vision is to transform lives through groundbreaking technology products across a wide range of medical applications. Based in Belfast, the company prides itself on being one of the world’s leading developers of new neurostimulation technologies. Modius, its first device, manages signals in the brain that control appetite, fullness and cravings, making it easier to lose weight. It’s stated goal is to make life better one body at a time. Modius was launched in August 2017 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo and has growth rapidly from a team of three in July 2017 to over 30 by March 2018. Neurovalens spent 9 months at Eagle Labs connecting with many important people and businesses to help the team grow their ideas and product. Modius launched on Amazon UK this May and has won numerous awards including Best New Concept or Innovation at the 2018 Yahoo Sports Technology Awards, Winner Start Up of the Year at the 2018 Digital DNA Awards, 2018 Consumer Electronics Show Innovation Award, Placed 3rd at 2018 CES Last Gadget Standing, Start Up World Cup Northern Ireland Winner 2018 and received the Business Eye Small Business Awards Healthcare Business of the Year 2018. Neurovalens has now graduated the Eagle Lab and has an office to call its own.

iSensing iSensing designs, builds, operates and owns citywide sensor networks to monitor citizen behaviour and provide data used in the planning of civic services and capacity. Its systems are at work in the UK, Spain, Mexico and Brazil providing analytics and instant data access. The company was born out of a research and development project in 2013 and has already won major awards, including the Urban Solution Award at the Smart City World Congress in Barcelona. It has ambitious plans to build networks in 600 cities across the globe. “Barclays has always been very supportive of iSensing,” says founder Harvey Beilinsohn. “It really feels like they care and the service is much more than a traditional banking offering. One of the reasons we are with Barclays is to grow our business and make use of the wider Barclays network.”


Eye on Cover Story of companies. As companies succeed and grow, they’re encouraged and assisted to move out and secure more permanent accommodation. One such success story has been Neurovalens, the Belfastbased company behind the invention and development of a revolutionary weight loss headset known as Modius, the brainchild of Co. Antrim neuroscientist and Neurovalens co-founder Dr. Jason McKeown. The Modius headset is now being sold worldwide and recently secured a much sought after listing on the Amazon retail platform. Earlier this year, it made the top ten in the Last Gadget Standing awards at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which attracts 4,000 exhibitors and more than 170,000 visitors. Having started life as a twoperson operation, the company now has a team of 30 and is based in Belfast city centre.

Another Eagle Labs success story, iSensing, designs, builds and operates city-wide sensor networks generating citizen behaviour and movement data to support important urban planning decisions. The company has won international awards, and was chosen last year to represent the UK’s most innovative companies on a trade mission to Singapore and Malaysia.

“What’s also important is that the people and the companies who use the Eagle Lab mix, they match, they cross fertilise and they often form lasting business relationships. It really is a place with an energy of its very own.”

Adrian Doran, Barclays, Lisa Bailie, Dr Jason McKeown, Neurovalens.


Harvey Beilinsohn, iSensing and Lisa Bailie, Barclays Eagle Lab

Harvey Beilinsohn and Lee Omar founded the company in Liverpool but moved the business to Belfast to be part of the city’s vibrant technology community and to access its talent. Meanwhile the Eagle Lab, and Ormeau Baths itself, plays host to a steady stream of business events, many of them organised and hosted by companies and individuals who form part of the Eagle Labs community in Belfast. “The events we run can be anything from digital empowerment to collaborative innovation to workshops on GDPR or artificial intelligence,” says Lisa Baillie. “Getting the word out across communities is important too. It’s not all high-tech either: we do a lot of work sharing basic digital skills to help individuals of any age to get online and to be a bit more cyber-safe. We’ve hosted 10 charities in one week for workshops on online safety and social media. We’ve even had people come to our workshops and ask how to send a text.” “For me, meet-ups are absolutely an essential part of Lab life. There are lots of events that people have attended here and then they come back to host their own in our space. I’ve met so many people thanks to our events here and it’s great

to be in the thick of it and explain what we do here.” Adrian Doran, for his part, is pleased that Barclays’ association with the Ormeau Baths in Belfast cements the bank’s links with the small business and start-up sectors. “As a bank here in Northern Ireland, we have a very strong reputation amongst the corporates and the bigger companies in the business community. But, for us, the small business sector is just as important, and the Eagle Lab clearly shows our commitment to that sector. “A few weeks ago, we hosted 16 start ups at varying stages of development, who shared their business ideas with an audience of their peers, most of whom are in their 20s and early 30s. It’s a hugely exciting arena to be involved in, watching businesses grow and take flight. Watching companies like iSensing and others like them come through this stage is rewarding. But it is all the more inspiring when you see companies like Neurovalens outgrowing the Lab to take their product global. “The Eagle Lab is a true business ecosystem, and it has enjoyed a really successful first year. Going forward, we have every intention to grow the Lab and to help its companies grow.”

Eye on Communications

Full Fibre Is Best Much like the advice from our nutritionists, full fibre is always the way to go, especially when it comes to broadband, writes Stuart Carson. By Stuart Carson, Rainbow Communications


arlier this year, the Government announced a revolutionary scheme which is supporting its commitment to provide the whole country with access to full fibre broadband. The Gigabit Voucher Scheme provides SMEs with access to broadband speeds of up to 1000mbps with a grant of up to £3,000 towards installation costs for both Fibre to the Premises and Leased Lines. A highlight of the scheme aids multi-tenant locations such as industrial estates, shared workspaces or office blocks, with these businesses able to pool their vouchers together to bring gigabit connectivity to the whole business community. This benefits them by providing access to industry leading broadband speeds thereby improving the digital infrastructure of their community and the desirability of the area within the digital and fintech economy. This particular Government initiative comes on top of the

existing £95 million commitment as outlined in its Spring Statement, and the £150 million investment in Northern Ireland’s broadband infrastructure. This is all on top of the government’s commitment to give everyone in the UK access to high speed broadband by 2020.

Northern Ireland’s broadband network, there is the potential to boost the local economy, to a global scale, by up to £1.2bn over the coming 15 years. Having a reliable and fast internet connection gives businesses of any size the footing required to compete on both the

“With further investment within Northern Ireland’s broadband network, there is the potential to boost the local economy, to a global scale, by up to £1.2bn over the coming 15 years.”

While broadband coverage in Northern Ireland is certainly improving, unfortunately an estimated 100,000 business or private properties still do not have access to superfast broadband with areas of Fermanagh and Tyrone still being the worst impacted. With further investment within

local and international stage, while providing a solid foundation on which to take advantage of exciting new technologies. There are only 57 suppliers registered as part of this scheme across the UK, delivering full fibre broadband or a dedicated leased line, and Rainbow is one. We work with a range of Tier 1 connectivity

suppliers to ensure businesses receive the highest speeds possible at the best possible price, while assisting businesses with the full application process. To be eligible, businesses must have less than 249 employees, a turnover of less than €50m and a balance sheet under €43m. Businesses applying to the scheme should not have received over €200,000 in public grants over the last three years. For more information about this scheme, our dedicated technical sales team can answer any questions you may have.

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


From everyday collection to environmental protection Think ISL Waste Management | @ISL_Waste | @Wonderful_Waste

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Eye on Insurance

Caulfield Insurance 64 Years Of Industry Experience


Eye on Insurance Nowadays one of the bestknown names in the local insurance marketplace, Caulfield Insurance has its roots in County Tyrone where it was founded by Cookstown man John Caulfield back in 1954. The company has remained independent and family-owned since then... in an industry where big corporate groups are the norm.


think that we are a company built in a deep knowledge of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland marketplace,” says Regina Caulfield, the company current Managing Director and John Caulfield’s daughter. Caulfield Insurance remains firmly rooted in Cookstown, where it has its head office, but the company has since opened busy branches in both Draperstown and on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, where an impressive office looks after a wide range of city-based customers. “The company probably has its beginnings a bit earlier than 1954, but I spent a lot of time searching through the old documents and the oldest I could come up with was a Commercial Union cover note dating back to the 2nd of June in 1954. “He started the company in a small office in Cookstown

back then, working with two part-time office workers and growing the company from those early days.” Regina joined the company in the later 1980’s and, within a couple of years, Caulfield Insurance had moved to larger offices in Cookstown, from where it still operates. “We have a team of 30 staff working at our Cookstown headquarters and that comes as a bit of a surprise to some people. The offices are deceptively large, and it’s really only at the end of the working days, when 30 or so people are leaving that you get an idea of the numbers involved. It’s a big operation these days.”

Caulfield Insurance went on to add its second office, in Draperstown, by the end of the 1980’s, but the addition of the Belfast office came much later. “We opened here in Belfast seven years ago, and, to be honest, I wish we had made the move a lot sooner. We’ve gone from strength to strength since we moved into the city, and our total staff numbers are now touching the 50-mark,” says Regina. Caulfield Insurance might be up against some of the big names of the insurance business in a highly competitive marketplace, but it more than holds it own. Evidence points to the fact that a substantial number of customers prefer to deal with Northern Ireland-based insurance providers rather than deal with GB-based companies or arrange their insurance through the various comparison sites online. “That is down to customer service, we believe,” adds Regina. “We have a dedicated group of people in all of our offices ready to deal with existing customers and new customers, able to sort problems out for those customers, and with an in-depth knowledge of the insurance market. “The online operators, with respect, simply can’t match the

level of personal service that we can offer our customers.” Caulfield Insurance has found a specific niche for itself as a specialist in providing motor insurance to cover younger drivers. It’s new Dash Hound car insurance is aimed at newly-qualified and younger motorists and makes use of the very latest telematics technology to monitor driving habits and to encourage and reward safe driving. All it requires is for a telematics box roughly half the size of a mobile phone to be fitted to the younger driver’s vehicle. And, as a result, insurance premiums for the young driver can be kept as low as possible. It’s another example of innovation from a local company which hasn’t been slow to innovate or to punch well above its weight in a crowded insurance marketplace. “We think we’ve made the right calls over the years, and we’re looking forward to working with more and more local customers in the years to come,” Regina Caulfield says. “We’re here for our customers. We’re pleased to have them as our customers, and we’ll always do our best to look after them.”


Eye on News

YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR STARTS NEW CHAPTER AS HOLYWOOD BOUTIQUE OPENS A young entrepreneur has opened the doors to her first boutique and Chapter 35 is already set to become a must-visit destination for fashionistas hoping to pick up previously loved and yet-to-beloved clothes and accessories in Holywood.


ged just 24, Nicole Hollinger has taken a leap of faith and moved from a career in events to launch her own retail brand. As well as bringing a range of new labels to the town for the first time, the boutique will also focus on second time around casual wear, formal wear, shoes and accessories all from designer labels including Gucci, Mulberry and Tommy Hilfiger. Chapter 35 is the latest in a string of new retailers to open in the popular seaside location, further bolstering its appeal as a hub of independently owned shops, cafes and restaurants. In recent years Holywood has also attracted a wide range of digital marketing, media and communication businesses which has added to the footfall in the town, further supporting the retail and hospitality trade in the area.

Miss Hollinger, owner of Chapter 35, said: “It has always been a dream of mine to open my own clothes shop and I was so pleased to secure a unit in such a high traffic location. To see Chapter 35 finally become a reality is the result of many months of planning and hard work and I couldn’t be happier. The name of the shop represents the fact that this is a new chapter in my life and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. “I have lived in Holywood my whole life and for a long time I have known that there has been a gap in the market for a retailer which sold reasonably priced, high quality clothes and accessories specifically designed for the 20-40 age group. As a retail destination the town is a great focal point for the North Down area and I look forward to adding to the diversity of the line-up.” Miss Hollinger added: “I hope that today’s opening will only be the beginning

Aged just 24, young entrepreneur Nicole Hollinger has taken a leap of faith to begin a new chapter in her life with the launch of her first boutique today. Chapter 35 will stock previously loved and yet-to-be-loved clothes and accessories in Holywood town centre.

for Chapter 35 and I am working on launching an e-commerce website at the moment so that my customers can purchase products online in the future. We will be very active on social media, particularly revealing new brands we will be stocking, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in fashion to follow Chapter 35 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more information.”

For further information about Chapter 35, visit: Facebook: @Chapter35Holywood, Twitter: @chapter_35 and Instagram: @chapter35


T One of Belfast’s most iconic buildings has found a new lease of life as The Flatiron, offering unrivalled highspecification office space in the heart of the city centre. 28

he five-storey building on Victoria Street, home to the popular Bittles Bar, has been redeveloped by Holywood-based investor, Wirefox, who purchased it in 2016. Michael Wright, Director of Asset Management at Wirefox, said: “We are pleased to unveil a new chapter in the story of what was already one of Belfast’s most striking buildings. “The release of The Flatiron will help to satisfy demand for high specification office accommodation which continues to vastly outstrip supply. “We have significantly revitalised this important building, maximising its unique layout to create a contemporary design fit for the future, utilising the high ceilings and exposing brickwork

for a modern interior finish. As one of the world’s first ‘Flat Iron’ shaped buildings, the historical 1860s warehouse was perched on the river bank in Victorian Belfast. As the town grew around the building, into the bustling city it is today, the location has endured as the centre of commerce in the city. Savills, which acted for Wirefox in the acquisition of the building, is letting agent for the development. Simon McEvoy, Divisional Director at Savills, added: “The Flatiron offers three floors of high-grade office accommodation, each providing more than 1,600 sq ft of space. “The historic building has been finished to an exceptionally high

standard including the installation of engineered hardwood flooring and feature radiators while a restored staircase from the entrance lobby is complemented by a new five-person lift offering access to all floors. “Significant interest has already been expressed in the available leases, underlining the rarity of this opportunity to establish a base in one of the city’s most unusual landmarks.” Bittles Bar itself, which was founded in 1868 and originally called the Shakespeare due to its theatrical clientele, remains on the ground floor of The Flatiron. For more information, visit

Eyeon Manufacturing

Eye on Manufacturing


Eye on Manufacturing

Manufacturing… A Crucial Role In NI Economy L

ast month, comprehensive surveying conducted for Manufacturing NI and legal firm Tughans showed that local manufacturers were growing, creating more and better paid jobs but that failure to tackle the costs of doing business, recruitment woes and the shadow of Brexit and local political uncertainty were impacting on their plans to create more work and win more business. 72% of manufacturers described their business as currently growing whilst 55% said they expected that growth to continue in the next 12 months. 45% of firms reported an increase in staffing levels with 55% expecting to take on more workers in the next 12 months. Manufacturing NI have long called for a local, bespoke manufacturing strategy as we not only believe the sector should be cherished, but that it presents a huge opportunity to create wealth and work across Northern Ireland. Only manufacturing reaches every community, has roles for low, semi and highly skilled people and pays well. You won’t get US software houses opening up in every town and townland across NI, but you already have locally and globally significant manufacturers! We know that when manufacturing grows, the entire economy grows with it.

So, a manufacturing plan, with ambitions for the sector to be contributing 20% of GVA, would transform the communities from Belleek to Ballycastle and from Coleraine to Kilkeel. The UK Government has started with its draft Industrial Strategy, but in the absence of a NI Executive, we don’t have anyone making informed decisions to benefit the local economy, skills, rates, an energy market which works for consumers and not just energy firms and access to our Apprenticeship Levy money. Casually looking at the surveying results then you’d be mistaken to thinking our manufacturing economy is healthy so now should be the perfect time to invest for the future. However, beneath the record numbers hides a story of uncertainty and risk which makes this success insecure. Brexit looms large. Whilst we’ve benefitted from favourable FX rates for the past 18 months, our firms know you can’t build a business on the vagaries of the currency exchange, particularly as most have single figure profit margins. Worryingly, when surveyed, a post-Brexit future continues to fail to inspire business. 41% believe they are to be being negatively impacted with a further 41% are still unclear about what the future holds for them. However, only

“Only manufacturing reaches every community, has roles for low, semi and highly skilled people and pays well. You won’t get US software houses opening up in every town and townland across NI, but you already have locally and globally significant manufacturers!”

11% believed that Brexit would be positive for their business. If Brexit is to present opportunities, those promoting what the future looks like are so far failing to impress those what will make Brexit a success. The recent, overt antagonism of business won’t help the mood! We of course have unique challenges here given our history, geography and how our economy works. More of our businesses trade cross border than with the rest of the UK, but almost 60% of our external trade, by value, is with Britain and over 70% of our imports cross the Irish Sea. A Brexit Border across Ireland or between these islands would harm the economy and relationships, so it should not be accepted that a solution should be a choice of either. It is essential to focus on ways which ensure there will be no delays, hindrances, costs or over-burdening complexity which will threaten the future of businesses and jobs. A third way is possible. A way in which we can enjoy free access to both the EU and the UK markets. An agreement which positions Northern Ireland as the bridge rather than the border between the UK and the EU post-Brexit. This would finally transform for our economy by positioning Northern Ireland as one of the most attractive regions in the world in which to invest and create thousands of jobs. The DUP have secured the critically important commitment from the Prime Minister that trade between NI and GB will

be “unfettered” and in the draft legal text of the UK Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, the ‘backstop’ offers continued membership of the EU’s Customs Union and access to much of its Single Market for Northern Ireland only. We have been offered the chance to not only have our cake and eat it but make it too! Being the bridge between the UK and the EU need not undermine sincerely held views on identity and would not require any additional barriers to trade. Instead, it would present an extraordinary opportunity to create more wealth and work. It’s good to have the security of being treated the same as others, but is it not better to be different if it offers the chance to really prosper? That is a hugely attractive outcome, but are we willing to grasp the opportunity? The costs of Brexit will be borne by our manufacturing community through managing migration, origin certification, customs costs and delays and potentially tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Our estimate is that this could total £400m per year, the equivalent of 20% of profits from the sector, unless we secure a deal which works for us. With added costs and complexity coming hurtling at us, our manufacturers need to be compensated and the business environment made more cost competitive and be brave and grasp a local victory from the jaws of Brexit defeat!


Eye on Manufacturing

Mid-Ulster – At a Manufacturing Crossroads

Over 100 local businesses gathered at the First Trust Bank business briefing event to hear from the experts with Brexit, recruitment, skills challenges and lack of political leadership the key topics of discussion

Manufacturing is at a crossroads with technological disruption, skills challenges and access to talent changing the playing field for manufacturers everywhere. That is nowhere felt more than in Mid-Ulster which has become a hotbed of manufacturing excellence in recent years.


urrently manufacturing accounts for over 26% of total direct employment in the region, compared to the NI average of 11%. It is estimated that 50% of total jobs in midUlster now depend on local manufacturing with particular specialisms in materials and handling, heavy engineering, specialist joinery and food production. Companies in the area include heavy equipment manufacturers CDE Global, CDEnviro and Keystone Group in Cookstown, Strickland Ireland in Coalisland, and Specialist


Joinery Group in Maghera. Over 100 business leaders from the sector attended a recent economic briefing event in Cookstown, hosted by First Trust Bank, where they discussed the current challenges and opportunities facing the

sector. The Bank was joined by experts from the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC) and Manufacturing NI to share the latest economic data and forecasts. The ensuing discussions pointed to an appetite for future growth for the sector despite ongoing challenges, particularly in advanced manufacturing where Mid-Ulster is ranked third against the other Northern Ireland council areas while holding the number one spot for general manufacturing.

“The key question of the morning was how can the sector remain a stronghold or grow even more, set against the current myriad of challenges it faces.”

Guests heard that the sector is estimated to currently deliver c£1.67bn GVA contribution to local economy and over £710m in local wages, directly and indirectly. On average it delivers wages 22% higher than the Mid Ulster area average, which is critical to the strength of the local economy. While the impressive statistics speak for themselves and many discussed Mid-Ulster’s manufacturing strength in global markets, the event was future focused. The key question of the morning was how can the sector remain a stronghold or grow even more, set against the current myriad of challenges it faces. Of course, Brexit featured as a key talking point, with research presented by Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI showing that 3 out of 4 manufacturers believe they

Eye on Manufacturing LEFT Gareth Hetherington, Ulster University Economic Policy Centre; Tommy Traynor, First Trust Bank; Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI and Neil Bradley, Keylite Roof Windows are pictured at the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown ahead of the First Trust Bank economic brief breakfast.

BELOW Denise Glackin and Sheena Flynn from First Trust Bank (centre) are pictured with Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive, Manufacturing NI and Gareth Hetherington, Director, Ulster University Economic Policy Centre at a at a special Mid Ulster business brief event hosted by First Trust Bank at the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown.

will be worse off post-Brexit regardless of the type of deal that is done. Speaking at the briefing, First Trust Bank’s Mid-Ulster Business Centre Leader, Tommy Traynor outlined the concerns and implications of Brexit and the associated uncertainty is having: “Local businesses are contending with various geopolitical uncertainties, many of which of course are Brexit related. With the contraction of sterling, 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.” This move towards new technology and in particular automation and digitisation also featured strongly on the agenda. A subsequent Mid-Ulster Council organised event the same week saw Peter Marsh, author of ‘The New Industrial Revolution’ and former manufacturing editor at the Financial Times visit the area. He told a seminar at Specialist Joinery Group that new technologies such as advanced robotics, automation and digital fabrication would usher in the next industrial revolution and that local companies needed to innovate to ensure they continue to prosper.

“Mid Ulster’s strong manufacturing entrepreneurial base has made it more resilient than other areas to economic uncertainity.”

The skills required to sustain and grow the manufacturing sector is another issue the sector is acutely aware of. With an additional 3,000 jobs forecast by the UUEPC by 2027, alongside the highest level of business births in NI, some are worried about the pressure this will put on skills in the

manufacturing sector. Add to this the concern that Brexit may result in fewer migrant workers available to local companies and understandably the sector is keen to see to skills strategy to deliver the pipeline of talent it needs. Summarising the prospects for the sector, Tommy Traynor from

First Trust Bank added; “MidUlster’s strong manufacturing entrepreneurial base has made it more resilient than other areas to economic uncertainly, with the latest statistics reporting strong employment figures, wage growth and a high standard of living. It is important that it doesn’t however rest on its laurels and continues to invest in innovation and in skills to make it better prepared for whatever Brexit brings. Working closely with many companies in the sector, we have no doubt it will and will use this crossroads to take a new path to even greater success.”


Eye on Manufacturing

£1M Investment Brings Innovative Office Development to Newry


Newry, Mourne and Down Council Chairperson Mark Murnin cuts the ribbon to officially open Granite Exchange in Newry with Owner Jonathan McKeown and Manager Colleen O’Hare.

new shared serviced office development has opened in the heart of Newry City Centre. Following a million pound redevelopment project to the former sporting goods shop, Smyth’s, Granite Exchange will offer both serviced offices and meeting rooms from its Kildare Street base. Jonathan McKeown, Owner of Granite Exchange, commented “We wanted to create a place where the offices are of a very high specification and professional in every way so as to attract both new and existing businesses looking for a prime location in Newry. “We have completely refurbished the building. Significant investment has gone into ensuring that every room has high speed internet and wi-fi, automatic lighting, air-conditioning and key fob entry system. Whilst the building also has modern shower facilities and two fully fitted kitchens.

Our vision is to make paying for office accommodation as simple as possible so the inclusive monthly fee covers a great many items that are often over looked when an organisation has to look after a building themselves. Most expensive of which is a dedicated reception team. We look after everything so the businesses who locate here, can get on with growing their business without having to think about anything else”. Newly appointed Manager, Colleen O’Hare is very much looking forward to the challenge of bringing the vision for Granite Exchange to fruition. “As soon as anyone walks through the door of Granite Exchange they are overwhelmed by the quality of the fit-out and the professional image of the premises. I feel sure that the clients of the businesses who locate here will be similarly impressed which will have an added benefit for our residents”.

Granite Exchange has a range of furnished office sizes available from 1-3 person office suites to co-working office spaces, perfect for a team workspace or one-person use. Meeting rooms, hosting up to 10 people, are also available for hire. The first residents of Granite Exchange are Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade Limited. Their Chief-Executive, Mary Meehan explained why the Chamber chose the premises for their new home. “Granite Exchange offers Newry Chamber a city centre location in high spec, affordable, modern premises. We wish Jonathan and his team every success in securing new tenants to the centre of Newry and thank him for his continued commitment to investing in Newry”. To find out more, please visit, email colleen.ohare@granite-exchange. com or call 028 30442500.

Looking to save costs and help the environment There is significant unrealised potential in post-production materials, water, energy, process by-products, redundant materials and equipment across all industry sectors. In the natural world all resources are reused. Resource matching, also known as Industrial Symbiosis, aims to mirror this concept - in effect increasing the productivity of all available resources generating bottom line and environmental benefits. The Industrial Symbiosis Service work with all industries including; manufacturing and supply, food and drink, social enterprises, leisure, logistics, events, hospitality, aerospace and construction. By building relationships with business owners and professionals we are looking to establish and develop mutually beneficial partnerships.


209296 Industrial Symbiosis Ad June 2018_AW.indd 1

“The practitioner’s expertise has been invaluable to help us achieve an environmentally sustainable solution for our discarded resource streams. Through the Service we now have further projects that will help to improve our efficiency.” Bloc Blinds

The Industrial Symbiosis Service is operated by International Synergies NI on behalf of Invest NI . International Synergies NI Ltd T: 028 3833 3438 E:

“ The Service is a fantastic opportunity for collaborated partnerships. Being able to send on our discarded furniture knowing that it will go to people in need helps make our business sustainable as well as avoiding considerable landfill costs.” Crowne Plaza Hotel

07/06/2018 10:20

Eye on Manufacturing

NI MANUFACTURERS REVEAL POSITIVE OUTLOOK Despite high profile job losses, the most comprehensive survey of local manufacturers this year has identified a sector which is growing, putting on jobs, inflation busting pay rises and resilient in the face of power political headwinds.


he survey, conducted for Manufacturing NI and legal firm Tughans shows that the shadow of Brexit and local political uncertainty looms large and is impacting on the sector making a larger contribution to employment. The survey, which included companies from all 11 Council areas, showed that 72% of respondents described their business as currently growing whilst 55% said they expected that growth to continue in the next 12 months. 45% of firms reported an increase in staffing levels with 55% expecting to take on more workers in the next 12 months. Inflation, heavy taxation and VAT continue to challenge the sector with 60% of businesses also citing pension contributions and the Apprenticeship Levy as amongst their most prevalent concerns. Uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also revealed as a key factor in business planning. Businesses who

Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive, Manufacturing NI, Maureen Treacy, Perceptive Insight and James Donnelly, Corporate Partner, Tughans, launch the 2018 Manufacturing Survey.

export to the Republic of Ireland are particularly concerned with regard to its impact and the resultant status of the border. In general Brexit is expected to negatively impact 41% of the businesses surveyed with a further 41% still unclear about what the future holds for them post-Brexit. Only 11% believed that Brexit would be positive for their business. Planning and infrastructure, green energy and GDPR compliance are all high on the list of legislative or policy areas of concern for the sector. Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive, Manufacturing NI, says, “This is

the most comprehensive survey that has been done of the sector this year. Far from the sunset industry some may think, it shows a vibrant, successful and growing sector making a larger contribution to the economy and jobs and poised to have a bigger impact if we can provide them with the right political, economic and trading environment. There are more and better paid jobs, many reporting inflation busting pay rises, so we would encourage those thinking of a career to get into manufacturing. Whilst there is optimism for sustained growth, the survey also puts into sharp focus the many challenges faced by the sector particularly the lack of local governance. The resultant stagnation with regard to updating legislation and introducing new policies is causing problems for some businesses. Companies are also experiencing delays with getting new products off the ground and are having to shelve a number of projects until the political climate becomes more stable. The clear message from the sector is an urgent need for clarity and direction on Brexit

and on where our economy is going from a re-established NI Executive and Assembly.” James Donnelly, Corporate Partner, Tughans, adds, “It’s good news to see the level of positive performance experienced by local manufacturers with 57% of respondents recording increased sales in the last year. With the majority of surveyed businesses (83%) in recruitment mode it is a concern that skilled workers such as those with engineering and automated manufacturing skills are proving difficult to find. Another reason why this sector, as well as the Northern Ireland economy generally, needs to see local government restored.” The Manufacturing NI and Tughans NI Manufacturing Survey was carried out in May 2018 by Perceptive Insight. Respondents represented companies from across Northern Ireland including those employing up to 1000 with the majority in the 10-49 bracket. The top three manufacturing sectors who completed the survey were machinery and equipment; wood, paper products and printing; rubber, plastic and other non-metallic mineral products.


Eye on Health

Bupa Health Peak...

Business Eye Editor Richard Buckley volunteers himself for one of the most intensive and comprehensive medicals on the private health marketplace, Bupa’s Health Peak Assessment. Like all Bupa checks, it’s now available at Belfast’s leading private medical facility, Kingsbridge Private Hospital on the city’s Lisburn Road...


et’s get this out into the open right from the outset. I’m not a big fan of medicals, an aversion that probably goes back to schooldays and some rather humiliating experiences. And, like lots of others, I go into any medical check with an in-built fear that I’ll come out with something wrong with me. Bupa’s excellent Health Peak assessment couldn’t really be any further removed from the experiences of my younger days. I could park right outside the back door at the impeccable Kingsbridge Private Hospital, and I was welcomed into something more akin to an airline business


class lounge than a doctor’s waiting room. No free coffee, though, patients have to go cold turkey on the caffeine before embarking on the various tests. From then, to be honest, it was all plain sailing. All two and a half hours of it, split between a very professional Bupa nurse/health adviser and your very own private GP, with whom you get the sort of time most patients can only dream of. I ran out of questions... but no doubt some of you won’t. In a nutshell, Bupa Health Peak is designed to both identify any current health concerns and look at potential future risks... and that’s the bit we’re all interested

in. It does that through a core set of health tests and measures. The whole experience, business lounge apart, can be split into three distinct periods. First up, you talk things through in some details with your nurse/health adviser. Patients are asked to fill in a detailed online questionnaire before coming to the hospital, a questionnaire which gives you the chance to highlight in advance any health concerns or existing conditions. So the professionals at Bupa are forearmed and forewarned. Then come the standard medical tests – blood pressure, reflexes, etc, blood is taken and is analysed there and then on site. No waiting around for results to come back from a central laboratory. It’s all done at a relaxed pace with plenty of time, and opportunities, for the patient to discuss anything with the health professionals. And that, for me, was one of the real plus points of the Bupa Health Peak Assessment. Nothing is rushed, nothing is too much

trouble and it’s possible to sit back, relax and enjoy the experience. Well, apart from the fitness test, that is. But more of that shortly. When you swap rooms and head into the GP’s domain, the same relaxed pace prevails. And, when it comes to spending time with a doctor, that’s a real novelty for most of us. As well as being given a thorough examination by the doctor, including the kind of checks us men don’t like to talk about, patients get more than ample time to raise and discuss any health concerns that they might have. The doctor that I spent a good three quarters of an hour with (every Health Peak patient gets up to an hour of doctor’s time.....) was able to advise me on a range of admittedly fairly minor issues, helpfully, courteously and with no pressure on her time. Then it’s back to the nurse/ health adviser, a quick change into something more sporty or comfortable (which you’re

Eye on Health

Executive Class Assessment At New Belfast Centre

requested to bring along) and into the 30-minute fitness assessment. For someone of my age and lack of fitness, a seemingly never ending period on that implement of torture better known as an exercise bike was fairly painful. For those of you in better shape, it probably won’t be hard at all.

What makes it all the more difficult, I should add, is that you have to keep up the cycling pace with breathing apparatus over your mouth and a nose slip attached. But it’s all for a good cause, or a good result. You come away from the test either having been told that you’re as fit as a

fiddle, or that you’re less than useless on the fitness front. Or somewhere in between, of course. What you’ll certainly come away with, and this is the important bit, is an assessment of your heart health, an idea of your lung function and a general picture of where you stand on the fitness front. You’ll also be given plenty of sound advice and where you can make those important improvements. Within a couple of hours of leaving Kingsbridge Private Hospital, my comprehensive personalised medical report landed in my inbox... complete with all the results, all the details, all the nitty gritty and advice on what actions I needed to take and what improvements I should consider making to my lifestyle. And, without going into any details, I might not have come away like a proverbial butcher’s dog. But I was happy. My wife, hopefully, won’t be needing to dig out that expensive life insurance policy just yet.

For all the details, log onto For pricing please visit


Eye on Hospitality

Andras House... Hotel Group Gears Up For The Future Andras Hotels opened its latest Belfast hotel, the Hampton By Hilton in Hope Street, recently, adding to the Group’s portfolio of hotel properties around the city. Richard Buckley spoke to the men in charge at three of Andras House’s properties.

George Graham General Manager, Crowne Plaza Belfast


started my working life as an administrator in a car dealership and moved from there to a travel agency. Then I became a secretary manager at a number of local golf clubs – Scrabo, Lisburn & Kirkistown – before


moving into the hotel industry, first as a financial controller and then a general manager. I worked in the Isle of Man and the Republic before moving back to Northern Ireland. I worked at the Roe Park Resort in Limavady before coming here

18 months ago to supervise the launch of the Crowne Plaza. We are adding 33 more bedrooms to the property and that brings us up to 153 rooms. The hotel is one of the largest conference centres anywhere in Northern Ireland, and we also have one of the largest function rooms, The Grand Ballroom, able to accommodate up to 550 guests for gala events and 900 delegates for conferences. Our Laganview Suite, is a separate building, very popular for weddings and private business events. We’re currently refurbishing all of our rooms as part of a rolling programme, with an investment of £5 million and that’s on top of the refurbishments that we carried out as part of the £2 million upgrade programme to become part of the Crowne Plaza family.

So we’re well known for our big showpiece events and for our business meeting facilities, but we have a mix of different guests staying with us throughout the year as well.....a lot of business travellers, but also special event visitors and families who prefer to stay out of the city centre and to enjoy the excellent leisure facilities that we have here. Our people are crucial. Anyone can build a big impressive hotel but if you don’t have great staff in that hotel, it’s not worth very much. Our most important investment is our staff. At the start of 2019 we’ll be completing the additional rooms and our current refurbishment programme. After that, we’ll continue to do what we do best. When you’re in the hotel business, the work is never really finished...

Eye on Hospitality

Aidan Murtagh General Manager, Holiday Inn Express


started out in family owned bars in Belfast before studying hotel management at Ulster University. I began my hotel career with the old TrustHouse Forte group, working at the Conway Hotel in Dunmurry and the Shelbourne in Dublin. I went from there to Hastings Hotels, where I worked in senior management at both

the Europa and the Stormont. I’ve also worked here at the Crowne Plaza (or the Ramada, as it was then), and as Operations Director at La Mon Hotel. And I’ve been at the Holiday Inn Express for four and a half years. In my spare time, I lecture in hospitality management at Belfast Met, and I’ve completed a


’ve been in this business for more than 20 years. I started out as a trainee manager at the Strangford Arms Hotel in Newtownards, then went over to England to manage pubs and restaurants for Scottish & Newcastle. I was at the Park Avenue Hotel here in Belfast for a number of years before joining this company and working at the Ramada Plaza (now the Crowne Plaza). My first General Manager’s role was at the Marine Court Hotel in Bangor and I returned to Andras House as GM of the Ibis Hotel in Belfast city centre. The Hampton By Hilton has just opened its doors and it’s a really exciting addition to the hotel scene in Belfast. We have 178 brand new bedrooms with free wi fi and complimentary breakfast for all our guests. We also have a fitness centre on the first floor. Running with the Hampton By Hilton theme, our hotel has a Welcome Zone, a Dining Zone, A Meeting Zone and so on. The hotel has a 24-hour snack menu and comprehensive

management course which took me over to Cornell University in the United States. The Holiday Inn Express is 20 years old now, so it’s a well established three-star hotel. We’ve just completed a major investment programme at the hotel so we’ve now got 171 bedrooms as well as a number of conference rooms.

As part of the recent investment, we also refurbished our lobby area as well as the Express Cafe & Bar, which serve food and drink throughout the day. We’re primarily a bedroom product but we’re also popular for all day dining and as a meeting place for the university area of the city. Our free car parking is a bit of a draw in an area not known for ease of parking! And that’s not to mention the free breakfast and free wi-fi. In terms of guests, we have a real mix. We have a lot of corporate contracts through the week and, like most hotels in this city, we have a lot of leisure guests at the weekends, as well as sporting teams and guests using us because of our proximity to the university. We’re running at 95-97% occupancy at the moment....even with the new rooms having just come on stream. We might be a three-star hotel but we’re a very professional three-star hotel and one which has to live up to some exacting brand standards laid down by Holiday Inn Express.

Stephen Murray General Manager, Hampton By Hilton

food offering throughout the day. It’s the first Hampton By Hilton on the island of Ireland and it’s an integral part of the wider Hilton brand. We’re live on the booking site, and that gives us an enormous level of support. The brand is also important to out staff, who’ve been training on the Hilton standards of service. We have a team of close to 40 staff in place,

cross trained to work in different areas of the hotel as required. Our staff is crucial to what we’re setting out to do with the new hotel... right from our maintenance staff and housekeepers through to receptionists and food & beverage staff. Each one plays a vital role and the team ethos is crucial. We’re in the city centre and it’s obviously very competitive. We

have new hotels opening not too far away and, even within our own group, the Holiday Inn is right next door to us. But demand is there and we feel we have a strong brand name to bring to the market. We’re expecting a mix of business, leisure and tourist guests... with a lot of American guests among them. Hampton By Hilton is a big brand in the States.


Eye on Technology


The ‘Furious Four’ finalists from St Catherine’s College, Armagh receive the ‘Top NI school award’ from Conrad Simpson, Director of Cyphra.

Four students from St Catherine’s College, Armagh have been recognised for their outstanding cyber skills achievements at Buckingham Palace after reaching the final of a nationwide codebreaking challenge.


our students from St Catherine’s College, Armagh have been recognised for their outstanding cyber skills achievements at Buckingham Palace after reaching the final of a nationwide codebreaking challenge. The 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 recognised the tremendous efforts of the 10 finalist teams. 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 has given 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. Recognising the achievements of the ‘Furious Four’, Dr Irene Bell, Chair of Computing at Schools NI (CAS NI) attended a school assembly with Conrad Simpson, Cyphra and presented the pupils with the CyberFirst ‘Top NI Girls Team’ trophy. Speaking she said: “What you achieved has helped put the next generation of NI cyber and computing talent on the map. You are great ambassadors not only for your school and other girls but for raising the importance of computing and STEM led subjects for everyone”. 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.




Hospitality & Tourism

Ulster University Business School


(UUBS) is entrepreneurial and dynamic. One of the largest providers of university accredited business and management education in Britain and Ireland, we


have been delivering to the business community for over 40 years. We are in the business of creating possibilities, shaping the future of students who want to develop themselves and their businesses. Our courses of study are offered at a range of levels and delivered to give you flexibility and choice. Many programmes benefit from strong links to the professional bodies. Choose from a wide range of


To keep your knowledge and skills up to date our short courses are ideal. We can also design a programme around your organisation’s development requirements.

We are the only UK institution in the




subjects from accounting and finance, business, marketing, human resource management to management and leadership and many more. There are September and January intakes each year.


HARVARD Business School’s Microeconomics of Competitiveness Affiliate Network

Contact us to discuss how UUBS can benefit you and your organisation.

Eye on Healthcare

Maryland Healthcare A Care Centre Of Distinction If you are looking for a Nursing Care Home located, in luxury countryside surroundings with superb food and excellent staff who will look after your care needs, both medically and living comfort, look no further than Maryland Healthcare.


Eye on Healthcare


estling in the Castlereagh countryside, it was the brainchild of brother and sister Susan McCurry and Peter Marshall and their close friend and mentor Audrey Lockhead, who wanted to create an environment of quality care where they would be happy for their parents to live. In the last year the Maryland team achieved that dream and opened the doors to arguably the most luxurious and technologically advanced home from home that any of us could want. The building has been designed and finished to an extremely high standard, with 84 large ensuite bedrooms, which are twice the size of standard homes, communal areas for residents and additional physiotherapy and leisure & cinema rooms. The five-acre grounds provide an enriched environment for residents with sensory and therapeutic gardens, allotments and a livestock meadow, all of which are proven to significantly enhance physical

and mental health wellbeing. Maryland is not just a beautiful space however; what sets it apart is the dedicated care solutions, delivered through an experienced healthcare team. Audrey Lockhead, Maryland Chairperson, a registered Nurse with over 45 years experience in both private and public health services explains: “Pressure area ulcers, or as they are commonly known, bed or pressure sores are always of concern among the elderly generation or for those who have become unwell. Treatment of pressure sores is both timely and expensive and costs the NHS millions of pounds per year. As a result, the average length of stay in hospital for patients with pressure sores is 25 days. Aside from the disruption this can cause to the patient and their family, it has a direct impact on public budgets and bed availability.” Audrey continues: “On admission to Maryland all residents are assessed on their vulnerability to

developing pressure sores using the industry standard measurement tools. This means residents are assessed and assigned a score depending on their vulnerability to developing sores. For example following extensive periods in bed post-surgery, residents will be regularly reassessed for early symptoms. 100% of Maryland Healthcare Mattresses are pressure area care compliant with 66% delivering pressure relieving properties. This directly represents a significant financial investment in good practice of pressure area care, where the average for other care homes is only 25%.” In addition, to a fully and appropriately equipped care home, Maryland has a multi-disciplinary healthcare team to deliver care. Skilled nurses, healthcare supervisors, senior healthcare assistant in conjunction with ancillary housekeeping and catering staff deliver excellent healthcare standards. At any stage, every

nursing healthcare team will have an up to date overview of a resident, as the nutritional intake, medication and routine health checks are recorded on the ‘Epicare’ electronic care system platform. This helps to remove the dependency on completing extensive paperwork and increases the time that nurses and the healthcare team can spend with residents. If you are considering your own future or that of a relative or friend and want to learn more about the facilities available at Maryland Healthcare, the centre is open every Friday afternoon. The onsite management team will work with you and your family or friend if requested, to advise the right care for you and signpost you to potential funding support.

Call us on 028 90 448797 or email


Eye on Events

Harbinson Mulholland Marks Retirement Of Founding Partners Harbinson Mulholland’s retiring founding partners Jeremy Harbinson and Paul Mulholland have been honoured at a drinks reception held at Belfast’s Ormeau Baths Gallery.



he two partners are stepping down on the firm’s 20th anniversary, and the occasion has been marked at two separate events in recent weeks. A gala dinner in the Great Hall at Queen’s University marked the accountancy firm’s 20th anniversary in style, and also included farewell speeches by both Jeremy Harbinson and Paul Mulholland, as well as a number of the firm’s key clients and associates. The late June Ormeau Baths drinks reception was also attended by a variety of clients and friends of the firm and its founding partners.

Paul Mulholland and Jeremy Harbinson with Joanne Curran, AV Browne who was the firm’s first ever employee in 1998

Paul Mulholland and Jeremy Harbinson with Alan Davison, Brand Etiquette

James Fair, Fusion Antibodies with Sophie McNeice, Habinson Mulholland

Angela Craigan, Harbinson Mulholland, with Sarah Mackey and Mary Nagele, Arts & Business NI

Patrick Leonard, Harbinson Mulholland, With Fiona and John Steen, Ardgowan Advisory Ltd

Nora Tallon, Harbinson Mulholland, with Aidan Donnelly, Murlands Solicitors

Darren McDowell, Harbinson Mulholland, with Seamus and Kate Connolly, Fast Engineering Ltd

Eyeon Tourism

Eye on Tourism

Tourism Enjoys Continued Growth Across Northern Ireland With Support From Bank of Ireland UK Glance at any set of figures around the tourism sector in Northern Ireland over the last twelve months and you will see numbers rising across the board.


isitor numbers are up, tourist spending is up, hotel room numbers, particularly in Belfast, are growing at the fastest rate in the UK, and more cruise ships are expected to dock in Belfast Harbour this year than ever before. Meanwhile, Belfast will see the highest number of major conferences in the city in 2018 than in any previous year. Add to this the stellar awards local visitor attractions are achieving, such as Titanic Belfast winning the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards, and you find a sector enjoying fantastic growth with real and positive momentum. Bank of Ireland UK is working closely with its customers to help drive that sector growth. Paul McClurg, Head of Business Banking Belfast at Bank of Ireland UK commented: “We are enabling our customers to seize the growth opportunities created through the rise in visitor numbers. We’re helping them to develop and advance their business growth plans within the sector and we’re working together to provide support, advice and flexible funding options – as well as opportunities to network, meet new customers, make contacts and win contracts.” One such company is Camperco Group Limited, the Belfast based


Pictured at The Flint Hotel in Belfast is Paul McClurg, Head of Business Banking Belfast, Bank of Ireland UK, hotel co-owner Peter Ringland and Stephen Simpson Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK.

Eye on Tourism campervan business established by husband and wife Keith Charlton and Louise Corken in 2007 following a career break camper van trip Down Under. On returning home, the couple found a highly fragmented campervan rental market,identified an opportunity to develop a business in Northern Ireland – and Bunk Campers was born. Little over a decade on from starting the business, the Group includes Bunk Campers, the largest campervan rental brand with seven rental depots across the UK and Ireland; a retail division selling new and ex-rental motor homes; an e-commerce division selling motor home spare parts; and finally a manufacturing facility converting campervans to awardwinning standards for rent. In March this year, the business was acquired by Australianlisted motorhome company, Apollo Tourism and Leisure Ltd for £4.5 million - a Global plc and a giant in the industry.

provide the perfect solution to visitors who want to explore the outdoors and our beautiful landscape whether its loughs, lakes or the stunning coastline.” “Bank of Ireland UK has been very supportive throughout the growth and expansion of our business. They provided the funding facilities to enable our expansion into Scotland including asset finance to complement our strong, ambitious and compelling business plan.” “We work with the bank to manage peak funding requirements. A revolving line of credit has enabled us to grow our fleet of campervans from 20 to 200. We now rent five premises and we employ a staff of 40 as well as seasonal staff to help out in peak season. We’re now focused on expansion into Germany and to develop our network across the rest of Europe.” “We need understanding and commitment from a bank to enable us to grow like this and I am delighted we have that with Bank of Ireland UK.”

Pictured at Bunk Campers depot in Carryduff is Ursula Anderson, Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK, Paul McClurg, Head of Business Banking Belfast, Bank of Ireland UK and Bunk Campers Group Marketing Director, Louise Corken.

As part of the deal, Keith and Louise will stay on to lead the business through its next stage of development and expansion. Louise Corken, Group Marketing Director added: ”Northern Ireland is a vibrant tourism destination with so many different attractions for visitors to choose from. We

Hoteliers Peter and Ben Ringland have developed a multi – million pound business in the last ten years by refurbishing and developing serviced apartments and hotels targeted at the corporate sector. Their latest venture, The Flint on Howard Street, Belfast has just opened its doors following a 13

Pictured at Sixt Car Rental is Ian McCulla, Chairman of Sixt, Paul McClurg, Head of Business Banking Belfast, Bank of Ireland UK, David McCulla, Managing Director of Sixt and Simon Tollerton, Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK.

month building programme. The 55 suite, design-led offering is as Peter positions”a corporate hotel for people who don’t like corporates.” Each room is designed to the same high level spec and exacting standards that include a king size bed, living space, sofa and kitchenette. The duo are proud to add that all furniture is designed and made locally in Portadown and Dungannon – an important statement in supporting the wider local economy and a great source of pride in the local quality that is produced. Peter commented further: “We have seen a massive growth in demand from corporate customers in recent years but we are also capitalising on the growth in tourism too with weekend occupancy from tourists always strong.” Having supported the brothers through two previous successful ventures including the Crescent Townhouse Hotel and Town Square bar and restaurant, Bank of Ireland UK funded this latest development of the former Old Presbyterian War Memorial Building, enabling the brothers to complete renovation and fit out of the build. Peter added: “Bank of Ireland UK doesn’t simply provide our business with funding, they also provide invaluable industry expertise and insight around what’s working and what isn’t. “We have built a great rapport and great trust with the bank in recent years and we are delighted to have such a strong working relationship with them.” “We will complete phase 2 of The Flint with a 220 seater rooftop bar

this year and then we will be looking forward to the next venture.” The growth of tourism has helped Ian McCulla, Chairman of Downey Cars and David McCulla Managing Director, to diversify into car rentals under the Sixt brand, having already established a highly successful car sales business in Newtownards. With rental sites at both Belfast International and City Airports, the company has worked hard to achieve double digit growth, year on year over the last five years. Ian says: “We look after our customers – whether they are the growing number of visitors from across the world or our regular corporate clients, and as a result we enjoy a lot of repeat business.” “I have been with Bank of Ireland UK for more than twenty five years and I continue to enjoy working with an exceptional team there. When we say we’re going to do something we do it – and it’s important we have the bank’s support for our ambitious growth plans. The bank provides funding to purchase and expand our rental fleet to meet the ever greater demand and we’re currently investing £2million in developing a new 10,000 square foot car sales showroom and workshop that will be finished in February 2019.” The outlook for tourism in Northern Ireland is one of optimism and growth. With new direct flights from China into Dublin and an industry committed to making Northern Ireland a year round ‘must see’ destination Bank of Ireland UK will continue to enable its customers to thrive in this growing market.


Eye on Tourism

Cruising Hits New Heights Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean’s UK & Ireland Director, talks to Richard Buckley about a buoyant cruise industry and how his company is shaping up for a fast-growth future...


en Bouldin has plenty of statistics at his fingertips about the size and scale of Royal Caribbean, and the even bigger scale of the global cruise industry. For example, well over 100 brand new cruise ships worth close to $60 billion are scheduled to be built and delivered between now and 2026. Royal Caribbean, for its part, has 10 new vessels on order. And those new ships, along with the existing fleet, will help fuel the 63% growth that the company is confidently predicting for the next five years or so. “So if the cruise industry takes a sudden slowdown for any reason, there will be lot of free ships out there,” he jokes. “But that’s not going to happen. The growth we’ve been seeing is very


steady and it’s sustainable.” Bouldin is a regular visitor to Northern Ireland. It’s a place that’s home to a large and loyal Royal Caribbean customer base, many of them regular cruisers and members of the cruise line’s Crown & Anchor loyalty club. “Northern Ireland is a very strong market for us, and it’s a little different in that a high proportion of cruisers (90% of them) book their holidays through one or other of the very strong travel agencies based here who specialise in cruising.” Royal Caribbean offers cruise holidays worldwide, but most customers (about 60% of them) from Northern Ireland cruise first from the port of Barcelona in Spain, a couple of hours flying time from Belfast. From there they

Ben Bouldin, UK & Ireland Director, Royal Caribbean

can progress to the Caribbean and other destinations for their cruise holidays. And, according to Ben Bouldin’s statistics, a healthy 50% become repeat customers. “It’s a relatively small market but it’s one that grew by 61% from last year to this year, helped by some excellent travel agents

and also helped by the arrival in the Mediterranean of the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s brand new Symphony Of The Seas. It’s spending its maiden season cruising the Med from Barcelona... and plenty of Northern Ireland passengers are flying south to join it.”

Eye on Tourism

“People are seeing what a cruise holiday can offer and how it is so different from most land-based holidays, especially package trips to beach resorts. Cruising can offers multiple destinations, it can offer a really wide range of activities, and it can offer real relaxation at the same time.”

The Symphony Of The Seas takes cruise ship size and scale to another dimension. Some 360 metres long with a gross tonnage of 228,021, it has 18 decks, a kids water park, ice skating rink, two 43-foot rock climbing walls and a central park area with 20,000 plants. And it can carry more than 5,500 passenger along with its 2,200-strong crew. It might be the new kid on the block but, for Royal Caribbean, investment is constant. It’s also invested in a major refit of another favourite with NI-based cruisers, the Independence Of The Seas, which offers longer Mediterranean cruises departing from and returning to Southampton. And the group has continued its expansion by taking a significant stake in Silverseas Cruises, another company with a significant Northern Ireland customer base. The addition of Silverseas means that the group covers a lot of cruising bases through Royal Caribbean itself in addition to Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruise Line.

As an aside, but a potentially important one for Northern Ireland, one of Azamara’s ships, the Azamara Pursuit, is currently at Harland & Wolff in Belfast where it is undergoing a £50 million refit under the supervision of the MJM Group. Ben Bouldin reckons that more and more younger customers are discovering the merits of a cruise holiday. “We’ve all heard the old maxim that cruising is for the overfed, newly wed and almost dead. But, in reality, a lot of younger people and young families are joining us now. In fact, the average age has dropped from the mid-50’s to the early-40’s. “People are seeing what a cruise holiday can offer and how it is so different from most land-based holidays, especially package trips to beach resorts. Cruising can offers multiple destinations, it can offer a really wide range of activities, and it can offer real relaxation at the same time,” he says. It’s a formula that seems to work for a lot of people. Royal Caribbean’s customer survey

results show a really high level of satisfaction with its cruise holidays. And it continues to work on that formula. “Bigger ships like the Symphony are important, but we also look all the time at the facilities, the dining, the entertainment and the attractions that we offer on board and on our shore excursions,” says Bouldin. And it’s not just about ships and on-board facilities. Over in the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean has its own private island, Coco Cay, in the Bahamas. It’s currently spending some $200 million to transform the island into what it calls a Perfect Day resort.....including a 13-waterslide water park complete with the tallest waterslide in North America; the

Caribbean’s largest wave pool; a 1,600-foot zip line crisscrossing the island 50 feet in the air and, if that’s not enough, a helium ballon that floats up to 450 feet over Coco Cay. Cruise customers from Northern Ireland, as well as everywhere else, should be able to book cruises departing from Florida which feature Coco Cay from later next year. As a sign of ambition and confidence in a booming cruise marketplace, the Coco Cay investment is hard to ignore. For Ben Bouldin and his UK & Ireland team, it should mean more cruise bookings. But they’ll need a few more to pay for Royal Caribbean’s investment plans.


Eye on Tourism

Lough Erne Resort...

Lakeside Luxury For Relaxation Junkies By Richard Buckley


Eye on Tourism There are times when little trips just fall into place at just the right time and in just the right conditions. It doesn’t often happen like that but, when it does, it can be pretty hard to beat.


o here we were coming out of a tough few weeks punctuated by A Level exams, a random bout of illness and the death of our beloved chocolate labrador....and heading off down the M1 for a spot of R&R at a place we’d heard a lot about but had never set eyes upon. And we were doing so with the sunroof open and the car temperature gauge nudging 20 degrees. Ask anyone at the magnificent Lough Erne Resort and they’ll smile and tell you that the temperature outside doesn’t usually mean that all the available loungers on the patio outside the hotel’s Thai Spa are taken.....and not necessarily by German visitors. But whilst the sparkling weather during our short trip to Lough Erne didn’t do any harm, you get the impression that it probably doesn’t matter too much what it’s doing outside. So let’s start with a confession. We had every intention of getting out on the lakes on board a boat. We thought we might take in the amazing Marble Arch Caves. Or stretch our limbs on the Cuilcagh Mountain Park and its summit. Or potter around Enniskillen.....or maybe even visit Belleek Pottery just up the road from the hotel. But we didn’t. Once our car was safely stowed in the hotel car park later on Friday afternoon, it didn’t leave again until the following lunchtime. First the facts. The Lough Erne Resort was built as a hugely

imaginative project some 11 years ago. Whilst it has had its financial and ownership ups and downs, the location, the hotel itself and the Sir Nick Faldo-designed golf course that sits alongside it is impressive by any fact it stands up to comparison with high-end golf resorts anywhere in the world. And, of course, it achieved worldwide prominence back in 2013 when the G8 Summit was held at the hotel and there are plenty of photos about the place to prove the Barrack Obama, Angela Merkel, David Cameron et al were there. The hotel and its grounds sit on the lough shore a couple of miles outside the town of Enniskillen on the road towards Belleek. A 5-star hotel, and very obviously a 5-star hotel, it has 120 rooms, suites and lodges dotted around its grounds. But it also has a superb restaurant (more of which shortly), and a lovely Thai Spa. And while our car sat idle in the sunshine, and Cuilcagh Mountain stayed untroubled, we did squeeze in a modicum of exercise down in the spa. No treatments for us, although there’s a really wide range available for those who like that kind of thing. But we did enjoy the pool, the sauna, the steam room and the inevitable jacuzzi. Under normal circumstances, I can’t say I’m a fan of sharing fizzy baths with total strangers.....but we had this one to ourselves. Those of you who have been there before us might not have had this experience. But we were able to dry off in our bathrobes in the warm sunshine outside the spa.

Only a few of the more sun-blessed visitors to Fermanagh can say that! Pampered as we are (it’s the media thing, darling!), we stayed in the superb Dovecote Suite, one of a number of very different suites dotted around the hotel’s two floors of rooms. This one had an amazing panoramic view of the lough, the golf course and the hills beyond. It took a while to pull all of the many curtains in the morning.....but the resulting vista was truly inspiring. Oh, and it also had a sitting area, flatscreen TV, minibar, coffee machine, plenty of space and a huge bathroom with its very own twoman (or two-person, should we say) jacuzzi bath. Just in case we hadn’t had enough of that experience in the spa earlier. Call me boring, but I opted for a shower instead. This is Ireland, so the Blaney Bar is the beating heart of the hotel. Amazing in the kind of weather we had.....there’s nothing like a pint of Guinness in the sunshine looking out over that view. But warm and welcoming, I’d imagine, at any time of the year. But we’ve saved a very special word for the Lough Erne Resort’s excellent Catalina Restaurant, so called in honour of the old Catalina flying boats which were based at nearby Castle Archdale during

the Second World War and flew out from there to help protect the vital Atlantic convoys against attack by German U Boats. The Restaurant has the same stunning views as the rest of the hotel, but the food is just as stunning. The Catalina is the domain of Noel McMeel, one of Ireland’s best known celebrity chefs, and a man whose reputation just keeps on growing. Noel’s emphasis at the Lough Erne Resort is on locally-sourced products....and there are plenty of those from this part of the world. We had his amazing signature lamb dish and a fantastic rhubarb soufflé....made from rhubarb from McMeel’s own garden. And the service, right down to a personal appearance by Noel McMeel himself, was exactly as it should be. We’ve never fancied ourselves as restaurant critics. To be honest, too many places disappoint. But this wasn’t one of them. It was the best meal we’ve had for a while......accompanied by the best view. By a country mile.

For more information, visit


Eye on Tourism

VISIT BELFAST SETS A HIGHER BAR ON CITY TOURISM Visit Belfast set a new round of ambitious targets to harness the value of the city’s flourishing tourism sector.


nveiling brand new targets as part of its Business and Marketing Plans launch for the year ahead, and up to 2022, the city’s official tourism marketing agency pledged its sales and marketing-focused activities would help to deliver a combined economic return of more than half a billion pounds. For 2018-19 alone, Visit Belfast is pledging to return £130m to the city as part of a ramp up in its efforts to push the sector. Its combined target for the four years to 2022 is £546 million. Visit Belfast said its planned activities to drive higher numbers of inbound business leisure tourists in the year ahead – including an 18 percent swell in numbers arriving on cruise ships to 235,000 – would help deliver the newly-set target as it pointed its sails towards 2022 and the final year of its four-year growth strategy. It also said its aim to help double the economic value of the city’s tourism industry from out-of-state visitors by 2021 as part of Belfast City Council’s Belfast Agenda commitment remained intact as it outlined a new targeted approach to ensure delivery success. Speaking at the launch of Visit Belfast’s plans to partners and industry delegates at Titanic Hotel Belfast on Monday, Councillor Nuala McAllister welcomed the organisation’s commitment to deliver on its new and ambitious goals as she


nears the end of a successful term as Belfast’s Lord Mayor: “After a decade of investment and a focused marketing drive to promote the city as a compelling, unique and exciting destination, Belfast’s potential is fast being realised, with record visitor numbers and occupancy rates, new hotels open and planned, a yearround calendar of festivals and events and a vibrant hospitality scene that rivals some of the most popular cities in Europe. “Belfast is buzzing. You can see it and feel it and I’m delighted as First Citizen to share in the city’s excitement as we look forward to marking new progress and achieving new milestones in the years ahead.” Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister, added. Visit Belfast said an additional focus to support the development of indigenous conferences, accelerating and expanding its sales marketing activities – including the implementation of the new Belfast brand – would help to propel the city’s tourism potential further in the year ahead. Last year, Visit Belfast booked in a combined 475,000 leisure and conference bed nights, won 95 new conference events and secured a record-beating 117 cruise ship as part of its Cruise Belfast marketing partnership with Belfast Harbour. With further growth in sight, including a respective 29 percent and 18 percent uplift

Visit Belfast CEO Gerry Lennon and Chairman Howard Hastings with the city’s Lord Mayor, Nuala McAllister.

in business and leisure tourism spend, Visit Belfast said it was confident in its ability to deliver after a year in which it handled 837,000 visitor enquiries. Visit Belfast Chair, Dr Howard Hastings OBE, looked forward to a further year of tourism growth and commended the Visit Belfast team and the city’s tourism industry partners for their role in delivering collective success.  “We’re committed to doubling the economic value of tourism from out-out-state visitors and to ensuring Belfast and its citizens realise the benefits from a vibrant tourism sector which drives opportunity and ensures this city continues to grow its reputation as a truly great place in which to do business, to invest in, live in and to visit,” Dr Hastings said. “However, the real cornerstones of success remain in the hands of many others – those who meet and greet, serve and transport our visitors to those who are developing businesses, hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars and new products to support this growth. As we look forward to the year ahead, they remain critical to our success.  “Our ‘Team Belfast’ ethos and our shared vision to deliver has

never been so important.” Reporting on Visit Belfast’s key successes in 2017-18, Dr Hastings confirmed that the organisation’s contribution to the city’s tourism economy increased by 22 percent across business, leisure and cruise tourism, as well as visitor services achieving doubledigit percentage growth. Visit Belfast confirmed that for every £1 invested in its tourism, sales and marketing activities, it returned £34 to the city’s economy. By 2022, it wants this to increase to £37 from every £1 spent. Addressing delegates at the event, Visit Belfast Chief Executive, Gerry Lennon, said: “Our mission is to create and service visitors to Belfast and Northern Ireland to generate an economic benefit for the city region, creating jobs and wealth, and, as we look forward to the future with confidence, we remain acutely aware of the challenges ahead. “However, together, we remain firmly focused on achieving our goals and are always mindful that the strength of our success continues to lie in our publicprivate sector framework and from the collaborative approach which has helped us to deliver.”

Eye on Recruitment

Honeycomb...Boutique Agency Raises The Bar For Support Professionals

The Honeycomb Team: L-R Joseph O’Hagan, Laura Rea, Claire Connelly, Mairead Scott, Erin Butler, Stacey McClure and Louise Quinn.


Eye on Recruitment “Business support professionals make a lot of our businesses and public sector organisations tick. Their roles are crucial to their employers and they’re increasingly valued and paid accordingly.”


hat’s the view of Mairead Scott, Managing Director at Honeycomb, one of the newest players in the recruitment marketplace here and a boutique agency specialising in the supply of both permanent and casual support professionals. With 17 years in recruitment under her belt, Mairead moved from a senior role at MCS, Honeycomb’s parent company, to set up the new agency, “We saw a clear gap in the market for professional services and business support,” she says, explaining that the business support heading covers a multitude of professional roles....executive assistants, office managers, even director level appointments. “We started out in business in January of last year, we’ve grown our team from three to seven within that period and I think we’re definitely succeeding in elevating the support role to a much higher level. It is increasingly recognised as a crucial element in the business mix for both SME’s and much larger organisations. “A lot of our people are professionals who are trusted advisers to the executives they work with, professionals who don’t just look after the traditional business support functions, but also play a role in the strategic direction of their businesses. “They are people with certain technical skills, and these can vary, but with strong organisational skills, inter personal skills and a whole lot more besides. It sounds a bit obvious, but not every administrator is the same. They can specialise in technology, in finance, in sales... to mention a few.” Honeycomb has its office based in Belfast’s Scottish

Provident Building, from where an experienced team of seven looks after client companies and candidates alike. Senior Consultant Louise Quinn looks after permanent recruitment in finance and accounting, while Joe O’Hagan concentrates on large private sector clients such as PwC, EY and BDO.

that focus that makes us specialists in our chosen field. “Our role is simple. We have to go out and find the right talent for our business clients. We can’t pretend that it’s easy. Sometimes it can be a real challenge. But, as things stand, this is as buoyant a marketplace as I’ve known over recent years.

“A lot of our people are professionals who are trusted advisers to the executives they work with, professionals who don’t just look after the traditional business support functions, but also play a role in the strategic direction of their businesses.”

Erin Butler is Honeycomb’s Senior Industrial Specialist, honing in on engineering and manufacturing as well as FMCG and distribution. The team is completed by Claire Connolly, a specialist in technology roles, and Stacey McClurg, who looks after operational roles across a number of key business clients. “The talent very definitely exists. It’s our job to find that talent,” says Mairead. “As in any area of recruitment, you have active candidates who are out there looking for new roles, and you have passive candidates, people in jobs who aren’t out there looking for move but who might just consider it if one comes along.” To underline the fact that these are key appointments, Mairead Scott points out that professional support roles these days can command salaries of £45,000 and above. “It’s a very competitive marketplace, of course. There are other agencies doing the same kind of thing that we are, but without the dedicated focus on business support professionals. It’s

That’s despite the challenge of Brexit and other factors.” Looking to the future, Mairead Scott says that Honeycomb is on the growth trail. “Yes, we’ve got ambitious growth plans. We plan to grow our own team, and we plan to work with more organisations across the private and public sectors to help them find the business support talent that they need. “This is a people business. We’ve got the right people on board at Honeycomb....and we’re confident that we can find the right people for our clients.”


Eye on Sponsorship

Working in Partnership with the Arts The Grand Opera House is one of the most iconic and popular theatres in the UK and Ireland. With a loyal and diverse audience base, a strong commitment to bringing the arts to all communities and a well-recognised brand, the Theatre makes an ideal partner for the corporate sector.


ith over 300,000 people through the doors every year, the Grand Opera House offers unique opportunities for driving growth and reaching new audiences. Voted Northern Ireland’s Most Welcoming Theatre by the public, the Grand Opera House is a strong player in professional theatre and community engagement. Each year its extensive programme covers

musicals, opera, comedy, ballet, drama, and a host of children’s theatre. 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 recognise the contribution that the arts makes to our culture and the positive impact that it has on our society. As a company actively engaged in a

corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme to add deeper value to the communities that we serve, we are delighted to partner with the Grand Opera House and aspiring young actors from across the province in this spectacular youth theatre project. “This production has allowed over 200 young people to further develop their acting skills by being part of a major production in an iconic venue. Not only will this help the young actors develop their craft, but it has provided an opportunity for the young cast to develop life skills through meeting new people and experiencing working together as part of a wider team. “For Phoenix Natural Gas, the association with the production has been invaluable. Not only are we recognised as a major supporter of this very worthy project and first-

class production, but Phoenix has also pledged funding towards a number of bursaries for young actors from disadvantaged or lower income backgrounds, who may otherwise have never been able to take up such an opportunity. For us, being able to work with the Grand Opera House to create this added community value and meet our corporate responsibility objectives was a key driver for the partnership. We are now looking forward to a successful run of shows at the end of July and continuing our creative partnership with the Grand Opera House.”

If you are interested in partnering with the Grand Opera House, please contact Rebecca Dalzell on rdalzell@ or call 028 9027 7744.

Michael McKinstry of Phoenix Natural Gas and Ian Wilson from the Grand Opera House with ‘Dorothys’ Caroline McMichael and Holly Topping as 200 talented 10-18-year-olds prepare to follow the Yellow Brick Road onto the venue’s stage this summer after Phoenix became partners in the province’s largest youth theatre project



Eye on News

Feargal McCormack Is New Accountants President Feargal McCormack has been elected President of Chartered Accountants Ireland at its 130th Annual General Meeting in Belfast.


ddressing the Chartered Accountants Ireland AGM in Belfast today (18 May 2018), Mr McCormack highlighted the current political and economic uncertainty on the island of Ireland and expressed his view that delivering political stability is the vital factor in securing a positive economic future on the island. He said: “At present the uncertainty around Brexit and the lack of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive are very challenging. Put plainly, businesses are unlikely to make significant investment decisions in an uncertain environment. This uncertainty is putting jobs, economic growth and prosperity are at stake. “We must recognise that the one factor which will make the biggest contribution to the international competitiveness in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland is political stability. Stability should

naturally incorporate an agreement on any Brexit arrangements going forward, given the evolution of the island economy and the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. “We have recently acknowledged the 20th Anniversary of the Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement which attempted to draw a line under the past and to set a vision for the future based on partnership, equality and mutual respect. “Despite the best efforts of the Northern Ireland political parties and the British and Irish Governments, the reality is that the journey of implementation has been just a complex as Chairman of the peace negotiations, George Mitchell, envisaged they would be. “Huge progress has been made, not only in terms of lives saved, but the economic and quality of life on the island has been transformed. Therefore, we must support and

encourage our politicians to grasp the current opportunity to deliver political stability for the island of Ireland. We owe it to our, and to future generations, to ensure that political stability and mutual understanding are the norm. “Looking to the future, I am confident that Chartered Accountants Ireland will continue to be a progressive and outward-looking organisation, dynamically engaged with its many constituencies and driven by a vision, not just for itself, but for the community it serves.” Addressing his own objectives for his presidential year, Mr McCormack intimated that his overarching theme would be caring and people focused - in reality this would mean caring for members, staff, trainee students and the community. Mr McCormack, who takes over as President from Shauna Greely, is Managing Director of PKF-FPM, a

Chartered Accountancy and business consultancy practice with offices in Newry, Belfast, Dungannon, Dundalk, Mallusk and Balbriggan, Dublin. A lifelong resident of Warrenpoint, Co. Down, Mr McCormack becomes the first Northern President of Chartered Accountants Ireland to come from outside of Belfast. Chartered Accountants Ireland represents 26,500 Chartered Accountants throughout the island of Ireland and in 93 countries around the globe. It is the largest, longest established and fastest growing professional accountancy body in Ireland. At today’s AGM, Conall O’Halloran, Partner and Head of Audit Practice with KPMG, based in Dublin was elected Deputy President of Chartered Accountants Ireland. Paul Henry, Director at Osborne King, Belfast was elected Vice-President.

Henderson Foodservice expands with BD Foods acquisition

Ron Whitten, Chief Financial Officer, Henderson Group; Paul Bowe, MD of BD Foods and MD of Henderson Foodservice, Damien Barrett.


enderson Foodservice, part of the Henderson Group, one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland, has purchased County Monaghan company BD Foods. Established in 1993 by the Bowe family and located in Glaslough, Monaghan,


BD Foods (Barbarrie Duckling Limited) supplies a wide range of fresh, frozen and dry goods to the premium foodservice sector throughout the island of Ireland. Damien Barrett, Managing Director of Henderson Foodservice, said his team was delighted to welcome the staff and management saying that both companies had excellent synergy and a similar approach to business, employee relations and customer service. “The acquisition is an exciting time for us as a business. BD Foods is a terrific company with a strong reputation and like the Henderson Group, is a family run business with a positive work ethos and is a significant employer in its locality. “Our purchase of BD Foods will

strengthen our product portfolio at Henderson Foodservice specifically in the hotel and high-end restaurant business. It also presents substantial opportunities for us to increase our customer base across the island of Ireland.” The acquisition is in line with Henderson Foodservice’s future strategy and expansion which includes a £25 million investment in new facilities, staff and business development. Ron Whitten, Chief Financial Officer comments, “This exciting acquisition is a key milestone in the investment strategy for the Henderson Group that will help drive growth in new markets. We look forward to investing in the business to create product and distribution synergies that

will complement both companies.” BD Foods Managing Director Paul Bowe said, “Going forward this is an excellent move for our staff and management team and will enable the company to progress and expand more quickly and efficiently which will ultimately benefit both staff and customers. “Many of our customers started out with us over 20 years ago and are still trading with BD Foods. As part of Henderson Group we believe we can further grow those relationships and better service our customers both new and established.” Although acquired as part of Henderson Foodservice, BD Foods will operate as a stand-a-lone business Glaslough and will retain its corporate name and identity.

Eye on Media

Brexit... Getting Your Retaliation In First! By Tim McKane of NavaTalk Digital Brexit is a shambles. Even if you are pro Brexit there is no argument about that. Central to that shambles is Northern Ireland and the border with Ireland.


e have no idea what is going to happen. The solutions that are on the table are not even mixed yet let alone cooked. So here are a few questions. • If a company is currently selling to Ireland and Europe, what is the potential for damage with a new border arrangement? • What level of red tape will need to be managed if exporting outside the UK? • What is the potential impact of tariffs on business costs? • What new markets will be accessible when the UK goes independent, and how will NI companies access them? • What marketing is in place to sell to new markets? The only question I can have a bash at answering is the last one. Marketing. The new world of marketing is potentially going to help open up new markets. In Navatalk we are working closely with EuroAuctions, placing ads around the world on Facebook. Sitting in Holywood we create and target, schedule and manage campaigns in the US, Germany, Spain, Dubai, Australia, and France as well as the UK. EuroAuctions have added several new territories in the past year, and each time we support their auctions with advertising designed for the specific markets. We use translators to make sure

that we engage in both the local language and English. Ads are also placed on Google and we are about to use Linkedin. EuroAuctions is headquartered in Dromore County Tyrone, trading worldwide and marketing wherever they do business. If companies are thinking ahead for Brexit, they need to get their digital marketing in place. The decision might be to trade more within the UK. If so. select the target area, define the target audience, and get your messages out there. If it’s Australia or Singapore, you can get your marketing messages in front of people just as easily. If there is a trade

“Sitting in Holywood we create and target, schedule and manage campaigns in the US, Germany, Spain, Dubai, Australia, and France as well as the UK.” deal with Nigeria, get out there with your digital ads, looking for distributors or customers. Before you even decide on the markets to attack, digital research can tell you a lot about the opportunities. How many competitors are there, what level of interest is there, how many people are potential customers, what channels should you use? All of this can be uncovered using a number of tools.

Brexit is not going to be easy, but mitigating the difficulties by planning your marketing will give you some comfort, and it can be done before the border issue is sorted out.


Eye on Events



eading Northern Ireland law firm, Elliott Duffy Garrett, has acquired new premises at 40

Linenhall Street, Belfast. The former linen warehouse has been refurbished extensively to provide high-quality

Pictured enjoying their new offices at 40 Linenhall Street are: Front row L-R: Adrienne Brock, Managing Partner, Elliott Duffy Garrett and Richard McCaig, Osborne King. Central row from L-R: Julie-Anne Clarke, Marie-Louise Lowry, Leo Brown and Stewart Nash. Back row from L-R: Christopher Duffy, Kevin McVeigh and Brian Deeny

Adrienne Brock, Managing Partner of Elliott Duffy Garrett is pictured with Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce

office accommodation in the heart of the central business district. The first floor office, extending to some 7,500 sq. ft., will provide space for Elliott Duffy Garrett’s 45 staff and also allow for future growth. Adrienne Brock, Managing Partner of Elliott Duffy Garrett, commented:“We are very happy indeed to have moved into 40 Linenhall Street, a lovely old building in an area of the city which has a rich commercial history, and to be part of the growing business community in the Linen Quarter. This move has provided the firm with a great opportunity to invest in creating, fitting out and furnishing a new office space which provides us with a modern, efficient and pleasant working environment for our staff together with new technology and enhanced solicitor/ client facilities, ensuring that we are well equipped to deliver our services in the current and future legal market.”

Cathy Murphy, Lauretta McKeown, Sue Doherty and Naomi Lamont

Michael Wilson, Marie Coll, Eimear Coll, Julie-Anne Clarke and David Maxwell, Michael Wilson and Gareth McGleenan Carol Malcolmson pictured at the opening of the new Elliott pictured at the opening of the new Elliott Duffy Garrett Duffy Garrett offices offices at Linenhall Street


Osborne King carried out the letting on behalf of the landlord with Crothers Chartered Surveyors advising the tenant. Richard McCaig of Osborne King stated:“We are delighted to have secured Elliott Duffy Garrett as a tenant, complementing our existing tenant line-up. It is fantastic to see such a prominent local business making a significant investment in their working environment. We wish them every success in their new home”. Jan Madill of Madill Design Ltd delivered the finished space in conjunction with Roxborough Plant & Construction. The arrival of Elliott Duffy Garrett completes the letting programme of the upper floors with only 2,500 sq. ft. remaining available on the ground floor. Other tenants in the building include Upstream, Irish Secretariat, Johns Elliot, Puppet and Shopkeep.

Brian Deeny, Margo Deeny, Brian Garrett, Sir Malachy Higgins, and Alva Brangam pictured at the opening of the new Elliott Duffy Garrett offices at Linenhall Street

Ciaron Markey, Lauretta McKeown and Kevin McVeigh pictured at the opening of the new Elliott Duffy Garrett offices

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Eye on News

Pinsent Masons crowned Law Firm of the Year at The Lawyer Awards One of Northern Ireland’s largest law firms has been named Law Firm of the Year 2018 at the prestigious awards ceremony hosted by The Lawyer magazine.


ervicing major Northern Irish institutions such as Queen’s University, Allstate, and Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Pinsent Masons employ over 85 people in Belfast, with that number rising to around 110 when combined with their rapidly expanding new office in Dublin. This year’s judges – a panel of in-house general counsel, The Lawyer Hot 100 alumni and managing partners of major international firms – recognised the firm’s achievements over the past year, from continuing to be a market leader across its five key sectors, to expanding its revenue streams outside of traditional legal services through a range of innovative ‘New Law’ products. The sheer diversification of these businesses, including Vario’s flexible lawyer service, Yuzu’s ‘in-sourcing’ tool for GCs and Brook Graham’s diversity consultancy, were highly lauded. The judges also commended the firm’s desire to lead on gender diversity, with the firm one of the first in the sector to publish its gender pay gap data.

Pinsent Masons has also succeeded in raising the percentage of women in its partnership from 17 per cent to 25 per cent in five years, and four of its nine board members are female. Head of Pinsent Masons Belfast Office and Real Estate Partner, Andrea McIlroyRose said, “We are delighted to deliver this award-winning service to our Irish clients in both Belfast and Dublin. In Northern Ireland we have enjoyed working on high profile local projects including the purchase of Belfast International Airport, the £200m Gas to the West expansion, and major new Grade A office facilities for inward investors such as Allstate and Concentrix. The strength of our firm offering, and investment in technology, means we can provide our clients with outstanding service and efficiencies that are unparalleled in a regional market such as Northern Ireland.” On a global level the firm has acted on several significant deals globally in the past year, including advising Shell UK on its $3.8bn sale of North Sea assets to Chrysaor; Laing O’Rourke

on AU$955m Sydney Metro Central Station; ING and Commonwealth Bank of Australia on a pilot AI program for MiFID II; and advising Redefine International on the disposal of its German retail portfolio of 66 properties for €205m. Richard Foley, Senior Partner at Pinsent Masons, said: “Our focus at Pinsent Masons remains on how we do what we do. Our values, our culture and our responsible business programme have never been more important, and the level of engagement around those programmes both within the business, and from our client base, is at its highest

ever. We’ve expanded globally by investing in three new offices, and also invested in how we deliver legal services by prioritising how best to combine people, processes and technology to deliver legal services in a different and better way. We are living through an era of disruption with our clients, so how we behave and how bold we are prepared to be in challenging the status quo has never been more important to them. Our financial results, yearafter-year, are evidence of the benefit of investing in being an organisation that clients enjoy working with.”

NI firms losing up to £30K a year due to technology downtime The average Northern Ireland SME could be losing up to £30,000 due to failures in technology which create downtime and slow time for local businesses.


hat’s according to service-user research from IT and telecoms firm Outsource Solutions, who said tech downtime is costing local companies a minimum of £250 per IT user each year. Terry Moore, founder and CEO at Antrimheadquartered Outsource, said: “IT failures are more than just an inconvenience, they are costing local businesses financially. Without the proper support and systems in place, some of our customers could run up costs in tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds due to the damaging impact of down time. Even a slow-down in systems at the wrong time can have major consequences on productivity and output. “In addition, if you consider the potential reputational


damage and the risk of losing good staff through the frustration of poor systems when trying to do their job, the costs could be much, much more.” Following the company’s attendance at Northern Ireland’s leading technology event, Digital DNA where Terry Moore was a key note speaker, he highlighted the importance of investing in IT and for IT suppliers to be more innovative in their approach, adding: “The traditional ‘break/fix’ model of IT support simply doesn’t work in the interest of today’s businesses, so we need to take a different approach. Because of this, we are now delivering a new-to-market Fully Managed Contract (FMC), providing an agreed level of service for a fixed monthly fee. All of which ultimately protects our client’s bottom line.” Outsource was established in 2000 and now has offices in Antrim, Belfast, Cookstown, Dublin and Edinburgh. Its customers include leading names from the hospitality, engineering, legal, professional services, manufacturing, energy, financial services and food sectors.

Eye on News

Law Graduate Wins Four Exam Awards And Chooses Career With TLT


arah Mulholland, a legal graduate from Portadown in Northern Ireland, has won four awards on top of her distinction from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS) and accepted a job as a fully qualified solicitor with her training contract provider, UK law firm TLT. The awards include the Belfast Solicitors Association prize for the highest average mark in this year’s exams; the Thomasena McKinney Prize, awarded by the Law Society of Northern Ireland to the top trainee solicitor in the year; the Tughans Prize, awarded to the trainee who attains the highest standard in the Property Law and Practice Part 2 examination; and the HarteCoyleCollins Prize for attaining the highest standard in the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) course.

Mulholland graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a first class honours in Law with Politics and undertook her training contract with TLT NI in Belfast. She sat with the financial services, disputes and investigations, planning and environment, real estate and corporate teams, and has accepted a full time role as solicitor in TLT’s planning and environment team. Andrew Ryan, planning and environment partner at TLT NI, says: “Sarah is a star student and a fantastic lawyer. She has made a big impression on her teams, and we are particularly pleased that she has chosen to continue her career with us in planning and environment.” Katharine Kimber, head of TLT NI in Belfast, adds: “There is a huge amount of talent in the Belfast legal

market and Sarah has proven herself to be among the best trainees this year. It is exciting to see her passion and enthusiasm for the law and the impression she has made on her teams. We are looking forward to continuing to support Sarah in her career.” Mulholland says: “TLT offered me a great training contract and I have enjoyed working with so many leading lawyers in their field. They have been very supportive of me and invested in my training, and it has been great to work on so many interesting cases for our clients. There is a really good atmosphere at TLT, so I knew from early on that I wanted to stay.” TLT NI is a full service law firm backed by a national team of leading experts. Its focus sectors include clean energy, financial services, housing, leisure,

food and drink, public sector, retail and consumer goods and digital. The prizes were presented at the IPLS graduation ceremony on Wednesday 27 June at Whitla Hall, Queen’s University Belfast.

Local Wine School Opens First NI Franchise


ocal wine enthusiast, Seana Hackett, is toasting her new business venture ahead of bringing an exciting new concept in wine education to Northern Ireland - the Belfast Wine School – which promises a fascinating range of engaging, interactive tastings and courses for those who are keen to have fun and learn more about wine. Owned and managed by chief wine tutor, Seana Hackett, the Belfast Wine School is the 26th wine school franchise for the popular and rapidlyexpanding www.localwineschool. com – a network of wine education businesses operating across the UK, founded in 2000 in Newcastle Upon Tyne by entrepreneur Chris Powell. Originally from Derry but now living in Belfast, mum-of-three, Seana, has spent most of the year preparing to bring the first Local Wine School in Northern Ireland to fruition. The school will offer tastings at all levels from introductory evenings to 8-week courses, and Saturday wine experiences including Champagne and lunch. Food and wine matching workshops as well as unique wine tasting experiences for corporate and private clients will also feature at the school. Commenting on launching their first

wine school in Northern Ireland, Chris Powell, Founder and Managing Director of Local Wine School, comments: “Belfast’s rapidly-growing reputation for its bustling food & drink scene made it an obvious location to open a new wine school. But it was also Seana’s drive, passion and enthusiasm as well as her wealth of knowledge and local experience that convinced me this was the right choice. “Our ethos is to work with local businesses including local suppliers of great food & wine, local restaurants, and local independent wine merchants, to help promote and champion the quality of their offering.” The Belfast Wine School is totally independent and not affiliated to any retailers or producers. Wines from across the world will be carefully selected by Seana from local stockists in Belfast for all the tastings. Speaking ahead of her new venture, Seana Hackett adds: “We look forward to bringing a fresh and unpretentious approach to our wine tastings – everybody is welcome, whatever their level of knowledge. As a holder of the WSET Diploma (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) – I am also especially keen to bring these world-

Seana Hackett, chief wine tutor, Belfast Wine School

leading professional wine courses to keen enthusiasts, as well as wine professionals wishing to further their careers in this great industry. “We will also be helping to train future generations for careers in our flourishing hospitality sector – it will truly be ‘wine tasting for everyone’!” Courses at the Belfast Wine School will give hands-on, enjoyable learning through tasting sessions. The courses are designed to broaden knowledge of the world of wine, boost confidence in

selection, and most importantly offer a great, fun experience to anyone wanting to learn more about wine. The Belfast Wine School will host its first classes in October 2018, located at two popular Belfast city centre locations, The Mac and Bullitt Hotel. Tastings and courses are available to book now - For further information about Belfast Wine School, visit www. email info@ or call 028 9050 4731 / 07810 482084


Eye on CSR

Power NI- Energising Local Communities Through Its Funding Programmes P

Power NI staff member Paul Kennedy supported his local football team, 8th Old Boys through staff initiative, Helping Hands

Brighter Communities, Power NI’s new local community funding initiative has hit the ground running since it launched in April and is part of Power NI’s wider contribution to local people and their communities.

Stephen McCully, Managing Director, Power NI. ‘We appreciate each of our customers and with Brighter Communities we wanted to give back something extra to help boost local community projects’


ower NI Managing Director Stephen McCully explains, “Our staff programme ‘Helping Hands’ has been so successful and impactful that we wanted to replicate the concept for our customers and the wider public showing them how much they are part of our Power NI family. We appreciate each of our customers and wanted to give back something extra to help boost some of the fabulous community projects being run throughout Northern Ireland. “We received 249 entries in our first month which was absolutely incredible. The diversity and innovativeness of so many of the projects made judging extremely challenging. We were thrilled that our inaugural £1000 went to Olympus Girls’ Club on Belfast’s Shankill Road which operates a cross community, all ability and inclusive dance club. We’re looking forward to seeing who our winners are in future months.” Brighter Communities is a bespoke programme developed by the Power NI team to help people change and improve their locality for the better. Rolling out each month over a twelve-month period, Brighter Communities is looking for applications from small or large community, sporting, charity, youth and all age groups. Project leaders must propose a tangible concept, activity or item which can be realised or executed once the funds have been received and within an eight week timescale. Each month the winning group or organisation gets the opportunity to showcase their efforts and hard work through social media updates and reports, describing the project journey and ultimate successful actualisation. The programme’s first winner, Olympus Girls’ Club, has been an integral part of the North/West

Olympus Girls’ Club leader Shauna McKeown celebrates being Brighter Communities first winner with some of the club members

Belfast Shankill area community for 49 years and helps girls of various abilities including those with additional needs to get fit and stay active as well as improve confidence and self-esteem, develop leadership qualities and not least make new friends. The club has a membership of 240 and rehearsals take place in the Spectrum Centre. Paying tribute to Olympus Girls’ Club, Stephen McCully said, “They are such an inspirational group of young women and their energy and enthusiasm really encapsulates what our Brighter Communities Fund is all about. The Club’s rich history has impacted on their local community hugely impressing and encouraging multiple generations to pick up their dancing shoes and be part of the action.” Helping Hands, Power NI’s staff programme has been operational for several years and affords staff the opportunity to give £250 to a cause they are involved with from sports or musical teams to school PTAs or a charity they are a volunteer with. Staff can also buddy up with a colleague who is

part of the same project to provide £500 for the charity, group or organisation. Every employee can apply – all 300 of them! “It’s an excellent way for Power NI to give something back to our staff who work so hard both inside and outside the business,” explained Stephen McCully. “We’ve rewarded some incredible projects and it’s fantastic to learn about the amazing and diverse range of voluntary groups and activities our staff are involved with in their spare time. Our staff teams love the programme and have really engaged with it over the years and so many groups and charities have benefited from funding.

If you know of a community project who should be encouraged to enter Power NI’s Brighter Communities programme in the coming month check out the details on brightercommunities

Eye on Insurance

UNRATED INSURERS CONTINUE TO COST POLICY HOLDERS By Richard Willis, Managing Director, Willis Insurance and Risk Management unrated insurance markets should be avoided at all costs. It resulted in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) stepping in to pay claims totalling £16.5 million and returning premiums of roughly £10.2m last year.

supposedly in place. The least anyone should expect from their insurance provider is that they will pay out on a legitimate claim, but this is not always the case when the policy has been provided by an unrated insurer.

“The least anyone should expect from their insurance provider is that they will pay out on a legitimate claim, but this is not always the case when the policy has been provided by an unrated insurer.”

It’s often said that if something appears too good to be true, then it usually is – and that includes insurance policies.


ow-cost packages may seem an attractive proposition but before taking out cover that may appear to provide exceptional value, business-owners should first ask why it is so cheap. The answer may

be because the policy is being provided by an unrated insurer, not bound by the UK’s strict regulatory code. The collapse of Gibraltarbased Gable Insurance in 2017, perfectly exemplifies why such

However, this was only a drop in the ocean compared to the total impact of the collapse with the liquidator in the Gable case noting that in total, around £161m worth of claims are outstanding at the insurer after its bankruptcy. And the cost is not just to those firms that had sought or been provided so-called cover by the unrated firm. In its plan and budget for 2017/18 the FSCS announced that insurers were to pay a supplementary levy of £63m, which will be passed on to the customer in the form of premium increases. The Gable case was just one of the latest in a long line of failures among unrated insurers. In May, Danish-based firm Alpha Insurance also fell into bankruptcy. The collapse made headlines in the UK as more than 10,000 taxi operators and mini-cab drivers in London saw their policies cancelled as a result. While these policies were cancelled, the problems with unrated insurance can occur long beforehand when cover is

Insurers are either regulated directly by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to underwrite business in the UK or passported from other jurisdictions, which may not be subject to the same scrutiny and many of these insurers do not have a financial rating. Seeking professional guidance from a reputable broker, will assist any business owner in the process of choosing an insurance package that is suited to the needs of the company, providing peace of mind backed up by a fully regulated and rated insurer.

An independent insurance and risk management business, Willis Insurance and Risk Management works across all sectors in Northern Ireland, providing a range of insurance, wealth management, accident investigation, health and safety, and employment law services. For more information, contact 028 9032 9042 or belfast@

Eye Moving On Lough Erne Resort has added to its experienced team of senior management 1 with the strategic appointment of Justin McGreevy as Resort Operations Manager. The new role has been created to enable the leading hospitality business to further commit to its five-star guest experience and cement its ambitions to be renowned as Northern Ireland’s most luxurious Resort. Justin moves from a senior operations role at a five-star hotel in Killarney and has international experience having worked in all aspects of the hospitality industry, both at home and overseas at destinations including France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and London.

1 Justin McGreevy

2 Lynsey Elliott

3 Michael Petticrew

2 Lynsey Elliott has joined Davidson McDonnell in the role of Senior Solicitor. Lynsey has considerable experience in advising both borrowers and a wide range of financial institutions on domestic and cross-border finance transactions, and her appointment extends the firm’s offering to its clients to include a full range of legal services in the Finance sector. Dennison Commercials has announced two 3 key appointments. Michael Petticrew, who acted as Finance Director for the past 11 years, has been named Operations Director. In this new role Michael will take on operational responsibility for the four Dennison Volvo depots, alongside Dennison Bodyshop.

4 Iain McKinney

5 Rob Ireland

6 John Jenkins

4 Iain McKinney is promoted to Finance Director. Iain has worked in the finance department for Dennison Commercials Ltd since 1994. Iain’s experience and qualifications will greatly add to the diversity of the Executive Board. 5 Rob Ireland remains as Sales Director, and will continue his focus on market share sustainability and growth for new and used equipment. 6 John Jenkins remains as Managing Director, focusing on the further profitable development of all existing and potential revenue streams for the overall business.

7 Chris Love

8 Nadine Shrourou

9 Stuart Cosby

7 Chris Love has been appointed as PR Account Director at ASG & Partners. He brings with him over 15 years’ experience in communications, working with and representing SMEs to global brands in both the public and private sector. For three consecutive years, Chris was awarded CIPR NI Pride Awards for Outstanding Independent Practitioner and in 2014 was bestowed Fellowship of the CIPR going on to achieve Chartered status in 2016. 8 Neueda has appointed Nadine Shrourou as Account Manager – Capital Markets. Based in Neueda’s London office, Nadine will be managing client accounts within the capital markets team. Nadine has a wide variety of technology solutions experience within financial markets and has previously held account management roles at NYSE, ICE and SungardAS.

10 Marguerite Clarke


9 Also at Neueda, Stuart Cosby becomes Delivery Manager. Stuart is responsible for the delivery of Neueda’s digital transformation services and offerings to its public sector customers. Stuart previously held sales and management positions in Microsoft and Nortel Networks. And 10 Marguerite Clarke is appointed as Account Director. Marguerite will help enable Neueda’s public sector customers to transform the way they do business using digital solutions. Marguerite previously held management positions with Sopra Steria and Invest Northern Ireland.

Business Eye


Edition 2018

Reach a dedicated high level audience of business leaders and decision makers in Northern Ireland


usiness Eye’s annual Profit 200 Companies Survey, sponsored by Danske Bank, will be published in the August edition of Northern Ireland’s leading business magazine. Widely regarded as the trailblazer amongst the various business league tables available in the media marketplace, the Business Eye Profit 200 has always ranked companies on the all important measure of profit. Others have since followed our lead on that front. The Business Eye Profit 200 is highly rated and regularly used as a key measure of the local economy. The financial data for the annual survey is currently in preparation, and we work hard year on year to ensure that the figures included are as up to date and as relevant as possible. For Summer 2018, we will be adding another element to the Profit 200. Alongside the main

survey listing, we’ll be producing individual league tables of the top companies across a range of key sectors, including:Engineering/Manufacturing Agri Food Retail & Distribution Construction Technology

In addition to the key measure of pre-tax profit, the annual survey which runs over an entire section within Business Eye also includes turnover, the previous year’s reported figures, and employment statistics. Backed up by comment from key business leaders and analysts, the Business Eye Profit 200 special edition is one of the biggest and best magazines produced by the Business Eye team in the calendar year. Thanks to the

Profit 200 figures, this special edition also has a substantially extended shelf life and is often held as a reference guide by readers and their organisations. This special edition offers one of the best advertising and promotional opportunities of the year to reach a dedicated, high level audience of business leaders and decision makers.

To promote your business in Business Eye Profit 200 special edition, please contact Ciara Donnelly... or call (028) 90474490 Sponsored by

Eye on Analysis

Ken Redpath... A Career In Business Intelligence


Eye on Analysis If there is a ‘go to’ man for business information in Northern Ireland, it would be hard to look past Ken Redpath.


ow in his mid 60’s and making a valiant attempt to ease towards retirement, he finds it difficult to step away from the cut and thrust of business life here in Northern Ireland... and a Northern Ireland business community he knows more intimately than most. Ken continues to run Redmond Johnson, the Belfast-based credit management business he established some years ago. The trusted source of Business Eye’s annual Profit 200 league table figures, he’s been poring over company accounts for more years than he cares to remember.... with the result that he knows what he’s talking about. “I still enjoy it,” he says. “I still get a bit of a buzz out of seeing which company is filing what figures, and putting it all into some sort of perspective.” His career started in the 1970’s, but in sales rather than credit. He joined Canadian Tapes in Bangor (later to become 3M) as a sales representative for the company’s self- adhesive tapes and other products, working alongside the late Con McCall, a well known figure in rugby circles in his day and father of former Ulster player, coach and current Saracens supremo Mark McCall. “I was a sales rep in the traditional mould,” Ken remembers. “I travelled all over Ireland, selling to companies, staying in hotels, and sometimes enjoying myself a bit too much.” The all-important step into the world of debt, credit and company information came when he made the jump in January 1977 from Canadian Tapes to US-based business information giants Dun & Bradstreet. The company had closed its Belfast office at the height of the troubles but wanted to initially re-establish a small presence here. “We set up an office on Queen’s Parade in Bangor, and from there we ran a debt collection service for local companies and published

“I still enjoy it. I still get a bit of a buzz out of seeing which company is filing what figures, and putting it all into some sort of perspective.”

Stubbs Gazette,” he says. “We reported to the company’s HQ in London but, to be honest in those days, we didn’t see a lot of the managers from there. “It became a really busy office and at that stage moved larger premises in Main Street Bangor. Every company had a file, so we had plenty of paperwork stored around the place and we were I believe one of the first offices locally to invest in a fax machine. We even had a searcher based full-time at Companies House in Belfast.” After a number of years, structural changes within the Dun & Bradstreet group made Ken Redpath and his colleague Chris Hamilton review their situations. “We felt there was a gap in the market for a company which would bring real local knowledge to the debt recovery and company information sector. “So we decided to go out on our own. Rather than use our own names, we used our wives’ maiden names and Fletcher & Collins was born. Of course by that time, Dun & Bradstreet had moved to Main High Street in Bangor, so where did we open up? Queen’s Parade, of course. “Chris decided pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to work, so I used my life savings then

to buy him out. It was a risk, of course, but the company slowly worked! Coca Cola was among one of our first customers who kept faith and we found plenty more amongst firms who wanted a company who had the local knowledge with personal service. We ended up working with plenty of other big names, Guinness & Bass Ireland among them.” We decided a few years back that it was better to be based in the centre of Belfast so we moved to Centre House Chichester Street opposite the then IDB House/ NI Companies Registry , taking premises where the RAC used to be based. We even solved the question of what we would do with the shop front by opening up The Company Shop... an idea I borrowed from others I had seen in other cities. A branch of Fletcher & Collins was opened in Dublin In the 1990’s we also supplied Irish Business information to most of the well-known credit reporting credit insurance agencies in GB (excluding D&B!). The Company Shop, as its name suggests, provided company formation services to members of the accountancy/legal professions and public. It was an idea that proved successful, although now with the digital age things have changed and we

have had to adapt accordingly. Fletcher & Collins later sold out its credit reporting business to Dublin-based ICC and evolved into Ken Redpath’s current company, Redmond Johnson. Ironically ICC was sold to Dun & Bradstreet a few years later. Redmond Johnson, for its part, continues to provide debt recovery, and business information services to a range of customers in the business community here and throughout Europe as the sole Irish member of the European Collectors Association. “I’ve been working in this business now non-stop for 40 years or so, and it’s fair to say that I’ve grown to love company information and its facts and figures. “I’ve managed to get to the stage where I’m semi-retired and am also a director & shareholder with my son in an award winning web hosting company. I’m still in the office a couple of days a week, and I enjoy keeping my hand in. There’s nothing I like better than a few sets of figures to get my head around...”


Eye on Leadership

Chartered Accountants Leaders Unite To Urge Political Progress It’s one of those years when Northern accents rule the roost at Chartered Accountants Ireland and its Ulster Society at the same time. Niall Harkin, Chair of the Ulster Society, and Feargal McCormack, President of Chartered Accountants Ireland, talked to Richard Buckley about their respective roles, the challenges facing accountants and business leaders... and they’re united on the thorny question of the local political logjam.

RB – So what are your individual agendas for your periods of office? FM – I see it as a seamless transition. There are no solo runs in this job. You’re carrying on a policy which will go on after you’ve left. I see the principal role being an ambassadorial well as a chairman’s function. My core objectives are the same as the Institute’ attract the brightest and the best to this profession and to be relevant to our members. It’s a diverse membership. We’ve got 3,000 members working overseas, 49% of our trainees are female, and female membership as a whole is now over 40% where it used to be 10%. Our voice is crucial. We see it as our role to comment on public policy. And all of that fits in to an overarching role which is to make a positive contribution to the economy and the community.


NH – We’re part of the overall Institute, of course, and we have around 4,500 members here in Northern Ireland. I came in under a theme of ‘Adapt & Engage’ and there are a number of strands to that. Firstly, engagement is crucial and we see it as key to engage with political parties and leaders like the Secretary of State and her junior ministers. Our membership is broad, roughly a third in business, a third in practice and a third in public sector roles and the third sector. As Feargal says, the voice is important. As well as engaging with politicians, we’ll engage with the media and we’ll comment as we see fit. On Brexit, for instance, we’ll try to inform the debate and, as Brexit becomes a reality, we see our role as being a very important one. The skills and attributes of a chartered accountant are more relevant than ever. But the

market for recruiting talent is becoming more challenging, and that’s crucial. We have to secure the future of this profession. What makes the Ulster Society tick? We’ve got a series of committees, all of them manned by about 140 volunteers. FM – And that’s what gives us credibility. That accountants are willing to give of their time to contribute their views and inform the debate. Our views are sought....and regularly so. We’re a regular contributor to all sorts of consultation processes. RB – You mention talent. Is there a shortage of young accountants coming through? FM – We have a record membership. However, the demand for graduates and apprenticeships has never been

higher and we’re in a competitive marketplace. This profession is a lot broader than it used to be. Audit and accounts these days would account for less than 50% of activity at practicing offices. This is a talent management industry. So we need to attract and retain talent. We’re not about training accountants. We’re about training business leaders of the future. If you look at the empirical evidence, there is no better foundation than an Irish chartered accountancy qualification. Even after qualifying, the level of flexibility is phenomenal. Look at leaders of industry, of business, of sports organisations, of health services, name it. Our members are in the leadership roles. In fact, it’s worth noting that accountancy practice represents 25% of our membership on the island.

Eye on Leadership NH – It’s important that we get that message out to young people. A chartered accountancy qualification can lead to a broad range of careers. It’s not about a lifetime in audit or accounts. FM – Let’s put it like this. Irish chartered accountants are in demand around the world. We’ve got upwards of a thousand members in Australia, for example. I haven’t heard of one yet who has left here and not found a job. RB – Is your’s a more important voice than it has ever been, when we consider Brexit and other issues? NH – You could say that we’re at a crossroads. We could be living with the consequences of Brexit, and the current political stalemate, for years to come. So it is crucial that we represent the voice of our members. FM – Yes, and it is a diverse membership. Diversity might be a buzzword everywhere these days, but we’ve always embraced it, insisting that our committees are as diverse as they can be, for example, across sectors and geographies. We have a responsibility to speak up on issues, and we’re recognised for having a balanced view. But we’re

willing to make forceful comments when we think they have to be made. We don’t fudge any issues. NH – We’ve been running our members surveys for a number of years, but the strength of feeling that came through in the latest one was powerful. So we’ve been a lot more forthright in calling for political progress and an end to the logjam. Our members were very clear on it. FM – I think we led the way amongst professional organisations on Brexit. We took a view right from the start and we took the decision to appoint a full-time policy officer to concentrate on the one issue. We’ve played a central role in Belfast, London and Dublin on this issue, and we think we have credibility. I hosted an event for members in London recently and the one thing that came through there was that our members wanted us to be a voice at Westminster level. RB – Is there more concern now amongst your members than there has been in the past? NH – Yes. There’s concern about the lack of representation for Northern Ireland at the negotiating table. And there’s a lot of concern over the fact that we’re well down the road now yet there is a lack of understanding around the consequences of Brexit. No one knows what it is going to look like. RB – Once more detail comes out, you are going to play a vital role. FM – Yes, we have the skills base to play a major role in advising businesses around tax, customs and other issues. But the fundamental issue at the moment is uncertainty. And uncertainty, by its very nature, starts to eat into confidence. Businesses can take the odd bump in the road, but uncertainly can be very damaging. Look, we sometimes forget that our politicians have come a long way. Overseas, Ireland is held up as an example of what can be achieved. So we need to be a bit careful not to be too negative. But we have to encourage our politicians to reach agreement. I believe that there is a willingness

out there to reward the risk takers. Stable government in Northern Ireland can only enhance the business environment. NH – There’s no doubt that local business is very resilient. But the big investment decisions are very, very difficult with uncertainty hanging over us all. FM – To look on the bright side, maybe Brexit will become a phenomenal opportunity for us. But, until we know what it is, we can’t deal with it. NH – It came through on our survey, too. We asked about preparations, but most respondents suggested that it was hard to make preparations when we don’t know what it going to happen. FM – That’s true, but you’d be surprised how many organisations are doing a bit of Brexit-proofing without really knowing that they’re doing it. Maybe a bit less dependence on one supplier or one customer. Or moving outside of Northern Ireland. Anything to avoid being dependent on this one, small economy. They’re doing it instinctively. RB – You’re based on the border, in Newry. How do you see it from that perspective? FM – If we can get the uncertainty eliminated, we can look to a

reasonably bright future. As a location, the island of Ireland is fortunate in its talent base and its education. There will be opportunities for the next generation and the challenge for our’s is to ensure that we learn from the past and have flexible, open economy. We’re too dependent on Westminster and we can’t solve that overnight..... but we can keep making progress, being entrepreneurial and being positive. We badly need more Plc’s and we need to build on the attractive location that we have. I’m very optimistic about the future. And we need to focus on infrastructure. We can all benefit from every pound spent on infrastructure here. NH – Picking up on Feargal’s point, we can beat ourselves up a bit but we’ve got a hell of a lot going for us. There is huge potential and we could really make a difference in five years time. FM – Absolutely. We all know we can do better....and we all know that we owe it to the next generation to do just that. RB – Do the politicians listen to business? NH – I think that in Northern Ireland business hasn’t been given a high priority...but our long term success and prosperity is going to be driven by the private sector.


Eye on Tax

INHERITANCE TAX, A VOLUNTARY TAX? agricultural assets, it is important to ensure that necessary conditions are met in order to avail of these generous reliefs. Business Relief – the rate of Business Relief ranges from 50% to 100% depending on the ownership of the asset. There are a number of restrictions in relation to these assets, therefore it is important to ensure that the assets are held in the correct vehicle to optimise the relief. It is also important to ensure that all the criteria for Business Relief is met so this generous relief is not jeopardised. Agricultural Relief – may be available in respect of land and farm buildings and is similar to Business Relief. However, there have been a number of court cases in respect of this Relief, therefore it is essential that a review of assets is carried out every few years to ensure an individual will still qualify for this Relief.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “In this world nothing can be certain except Death and Taxes”. While this may be true as we all pay our fair share of tax during our lifetime, we should not have to pay tax on our assets at death.


ith careful planning Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) can be mitigated by using all available Exemptions and Reliefs. These exemptions are in addition to an individual’s Nil Rate Band (£325,000) and Residence Nil Rate Band (currently £100,000). The Residence Nil Rate Band is not available to everyone as it is restricted in respect of estates over £2,000,000. Reliefs Reliefs are available on certain assets providing the necessary conditions are met. If an individual owns any business assets or


Gifts out of Income Gifts out of income is a very generous Relief but seldom used as most individuals are unaware of it. If an individual’s income exceeds their expenditure each year then this excess is added to their capital which serves to increase the size of the estate and so in turn increases their IHT liability. However, an individual can gift this excess to other family members or friends and not increase their capital each year. For example, Anna is a 73-yearold retired teacher, her annual income after tax is £25,000, however Anna’s expenditure totals £15,000 which means £10,000 each year is being added to Anna’s capital. Anna’s other assets total £1,200,000 which means Anna’s estate already has an IHT liability. Due to Anna’s excess income, Anna is increasing her Estate’s IHT liability by £4,000 each year. However, by making gifts out of income Anna can

ensure that her estate is not added to and the IHT liability is not increasing each year. Gifts out of income is an immediate relief and as soon as the gift is made the asset leaves Anna’s Estate. Exemptions There are number of exemptions available that everyone should be making use of when possible, such exemptions are: Potential Exempt Transfers (PET) – A PET is a gift that falls out of an individual’s estate if the individual survives more than seven years from the date of gift. Individuals may consider making a PET of cash or an asset that they no longer have a use for. If gifting an asset, the individual may need to consider if Capital Gains Tax may be due. Annual Exemption – An individual can gift £3,000 per annum which will immediately be outside their estate for IHT purposes. If you do not use this exemption in one year it can carry over into the next year, but the maximum Annual Exemption anyone can use in any one year is £6,000. For example, Jane has not utilised her Annual Exemption in a number of years but gifts her niece £6,000 in the 2017/18 tax year. As Jane did not use her Annual Exemption in the 2016/17 tax year the £3,000 Annual Exemption is brought forward and Jane can use it and her Annual Exemption from the 2017/18 tax year against the gift to her niece in the 2017/18 tax year. If Jane then makes a gift of £6,000 to her nephew in the 2018/19 tax year she can only offset the Annual Exemption from the 2018/19 tax year as she has already utilised her Annual Exemption from the 2017/18 tax year. Therefore £3,000 of the gift to her nephew may fall into Jane’s IHT Estate if Jane does not survive seven years from the date of the gift. Wedding Gifts – There are a number of exempted gifts that an individual can give on the occasion of marriage or civil partnership. An individual can gift £5,000 to their

Children as a gift when the child is getting married or entering a civil partnership, £2,500 to a Grandchild and £1,000 to anyone else. The gift must be made on or shortly before the ceremony and it is not a valid gift until the ceremony takes place. Small Gift Exemption – An individual can gift up to £250 per person in any one tax year. The total gifts in a tax year to any one person cannot exceed £250 and cannot be used with any other exemptions. Spousal Exemption – any gifts made to an individual’s spouse are exempt from IHT. Restrictions may apply if the spouse is not a UK Domiciled person and, if this is the case, professional advice should be sought. Conclusion Is IHT a voluntary tax? It certainly seems so, as with careful planning it can be mitigated. IHT planning is something that has to happen over time and the earlier the planning begins the better. ASM Chartered Accountants has six offices - Belfast, Dublin, Dundalk, Dungannon, Magherafelt and Newry. The 120 strong team specialises in a range of accountancy disciplines including Audit and Accounting, Consultancy, Corporate Finance, Forensic Accounting, Hotel, Tourism and Leisure Consultancy, Internal Audit and Taxation services. They are dealing with family businesses on a daily basis and can help and advise you on what needs to be done to ensure your family business can be successfully passed to future generations. The content of this article is for information purposes only and advice particular to your circumstances should be sought from a professional advisor.

For more information, contact Leanne Hillock, Senior Tax Manager at ASM Chartered Accountants Tel: 028 9024 9222 Email: leanne.hillock@

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Eye on Events

easyJet Growth In Belfast Continues As Airline Welcomes Sixth Aircraft

Global award for new £35m Armagh Campus


asyJet has welcomed a third A320 aircraft - the sixth aircraft to be positioned at the airline’s Northern Ireland base. The 186-seat aircraft will remain based in Belfast throughout the year and joins three 156-seat Airbus A319 and two 186-seat A320 aircraft serving the airline’s customers in Northern Ireland. Due to the volume of inbound easyJet flights at Belfast International Airport, the addition of this aircraft


means that the airline offers capacity equivalent to up to 13 aircraft. easyJet has flown over 55 million passengers since it launched operations from Belfast over 18 years ago, and over 4 million passengers in FY 2017. The airline continues to be the largest carrier serving Northern Ireland, operating over 70% of flights from Belfast International Airport and almost 50% of all commercial passenger traffic across Northern Ireland.


outhern Regional College’s new £35 million campus in Armagh has been recognised with a global award – just weeks after securing regional and UK-wide awards for its innovative approach to procurement and project delivery. SRC’s Armagh campus was one of three high-profile projects shortlisted this year for the New Engineering Contract (NEC) ‘Client of the Year’ Award 2018 and was on Wednesday confirmed as the global winner in London.

Construction of the new Armagh campus, which is part of a £95 million investment by the Department for the Economy and Southern Regional College, is already underway and will open in 2020. Designed by WYG Group, it has this year already won the Northern Ireland GO Excellence in Procurement Innovation / Initiative of the Year Award before going on to win against 12 other shortlisted projects in the UK final in Manchester.

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Pictured at the official launch of the AC Hotel Belfast, General Manager Lisa Steele, Belfast Harbour Chairman, Dr David Dobbin CBE and Director of Franchise Sales, Marketing & Revenue Management for Marriott International, Deirdre O’Brien.

AC Hotel Belfast Is Officially Opened


elfast Harbour marked a new milestone in its £275 million City Quays development when it officially launched the new AC Hotel. Representing a £26 million investment by Belfast Harbour, the 188-room AC Hotel Belfast, which has brought 80 jobs and a ‘new way to hotel’ to the City, is situated in the heart of City Quays, on Belfast’s waterfront. The new hotel forms part of the £80 million invested so far by Belfast Harbour in City Quays, creating one of Belfast’s most dynamic and impressive destinations. City Quays

comprises high-end commercial offices, cafés, restaurants and new public spaces and waterside walkways. The four-star, contemporaryluxe hotel is the first Marriott in Northern Ireland and the first AC Hotels by Marriott® on the island of Ireland. It is also the first property in the international lifestyle brand’s 100+ global portfolio to feature a signature restaurant – Novelli at City Quays – which is spearheaded by Jean-Christophe Novelli and marks the multi-Michelin-starred celebrity chef’s Ireland debut.

Preparing for challenges and opportunities ahead are Brenda Morgan Chairperson, Don Wilmont, Vice Chairman and Doreen McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance.

Northern Ireland Tourism Finds Its Voice


s tourism in Northern Ireland prepares to break through the billion pound barrier, the industry has created for itself a new and united voice. The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance will provide a single, strong body to champion the industry, push tourism higher up the Government agenda, and create a more favourable climate for growth and success. Chief Executive Officer, Doreen McKenzie describes the new

organisation as ‘a much-needed and long-awaited asset for a sector which, historically, has never benefited from having a fully representative industry body to reflect its interests and provide a focal point for engagement’. The organisation’s first initiative has been a formal response, drawn up by Oxford Economics, to the Government consultation process on the issues of VAT, Air Passenger Duty (APD) and tourism in Northern Ireland.

Wilsons Auctions Wins Police Contract


ilsons Auctions, the UK and Ireland’s largest independent auction company, has been awarded a contract with an estimated value of £1 million, to manage the disposal of various items of property/surplus assets on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service. The two-year contract became effective from July 1st, with an opportunity to extend further for up to two years. The auction company will be responsible for the sale of assets including jewellery, fine art, antiques and memorabilia as well as property found in the street and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and Metropolitan

Police Service (MPS) Surplus Assets and elements of crime related property. This contract is the first major tender win of the year for Wilsons Auctions, which has branches across the UK and Ireland and highlights its continued success in winning various government and law enforcement agency contracts. Since the formation of the specialist Asset Recovery Department four years ago, the auction company works with over 40 law enforcement agencies across the UK and Ireland and in recent years has been responsible for realising in excess of £85 million worth of assets which has been returned to the public purse.


Eye on AgriFood Farms here rarely receive the recognition they deserve for their longstanding commitment to smart ideas for industries ranging from food processing to engineering, recycling and hospitality. Sam Butler looks at three recent farm-based innovations in food.

Smart Business Ideas Flourishing On Local Farms

Dean Wright of Ballylisk Cheese

Ballylisk Dairy Ballylisk Dairy in Portadown recently secured its first business outside Northern Ireland for its unique and highly rated Triple Rose cheese, a soft Brie. The farm-based dairy business, which is run by farming brothers Dean and Mark Wright in Co Armagh, has begun supplying its triple cream cheese to Heritage Cheese In London’s iconic Borough Market, which the Northern Ireland company sees as a significant breakthrough in Britain, a target market. In addition, Ballylisk, which sources fresh milk from its own grass-fed herd, has won business in Portugal from a top hotel group and has a serious inquiry from a high-profile business in Switzerland. Selling its Brie style


cheese to the Swiss would be quite an achievement for the recently launched business. Ballylisk has won widespread acclaim, including from top food critics, for its cheese and is helping to raise the profile of Northern Ireland in the creation of innovative cheeses. Ballylisk’s Dean Wright says the company is delighted to have won business abroad just a few months after the launch of the new cheese. “It’s a tremendous development for us and a great endorsement of the outstanding taste and premium quality of our cheese,” he adds. “We met Heritage Cheese during a Food NI food and drink promotion over St Patrick’s week at the market. They loved the cheese and kept in contact with us. We’ve now supplied Heritage with a significant quantity of our cheese.

“Feedback from Enrico Messora and his team at Heritage has been extremely positive and encouraging. And we appreciate the support from such a respected and discerning cheese retailer.” Uniquely, Ballylisk only processes milk produced on the family dairy farm from its award-winning herd. Ballylisk has total control over its entire operation, from ‘farm to fork’. Triple Rose is the company’s first, bespoke offering and is a triple cream cheese. This rich, decadent cheese is made from pasteurised cow’s milk with added cream. It has a white mould with its full-flavour balanced by salty, lemony notes. Further cheeses are in development. These include a semi-soft blue and a high end Brie.

Planting for a healthier future William and Leanne Donnan of Flavour First have turned their family farm, near Donaghadee in Co Down, into a leading producer of an innovative range of ready to cook meal boxes using vegetables they grow.

The new meal kits draw on the company’s successful experience in developing popular vegetable boxes with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the 16-acre farm. They founded Flavour First in 2007 to develop delivered fresh to the door veggie boxes. The enterprising couple now grow a wide range of seasonal vegetables on the 16-acre farm. They also produce seasonal fruits, especially strawberries, and provide free-range eggs from their own hens. “What the new ready to cook range does is to add further value to our successful veggie boxes delivered to customers in the greater Belfast area as well as to many parts of county Down,” says Leanne. “The new boxes contain the fresh ingredients required to prepare tasty, home-cooked vegetarian meals,” she adds. The ready to cook meal kits use ingredients from the family’s farm and are: Rainbow Chilli with Rice, North Indian Vegetable Curry, Vegetable Paella, One Pot Italian Pasta, and Asian Style Cauliflower Rice.

Eye on AgriFood The new meal kits are all hand assembled and packed fresh to order on the farm along with the veggie boxes. Each pack includes a recipe card on how best to cook the dish. They are then delivered to order. “The new range blends fresh vegetables with the sort of global flavours that people have experienced in restaurants here and on their holidays,” she continues They are also in tune with the developing trend towards plant-based and flexitarian dishes,” Leanne says. While the meals, created with the help of experienced nutritionist and educator Kim Close, are suitable for vegetarians, meat can be added if desired. “The meals are bursting with freshness, wholesomeness and outstanding taste,” Leanne adds. In addition to the fresh ingredients, the couple has focused on sustainability by using packaging that is either biodegradable or can be easily recycled. “Living and working on a family farm means sustainability is in our DNA. We are committed to eliminating waste and preserving the environment now and in the future,” she continues.

Smokin’ hot innovation from Armagh farm business An initial three-strong range of premium smoked meats has been developed for retail by a leading artisan smokehouse run by farmers Frank Foster and Martin Rafferty in Armagh. The sliced meats have been produced by Meadow Farm Quality Foods under the new Orchard Smokehouse brand and feature premium chicken, gammon and duck. All the products

Leanne and William Donnan of Flavour First with two of the ready to eat meal kits they have developed

are naturally smoked using traditional artisan techniques over beech and oak chips. Meadow Farm is a successful supplier of a very broad range of quality smoked meats for foodservice, especially highend restaurants and hotels, in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Meadow Farm and the new Orchard Smokehouse smoked meats are all free from gluten, dairy and wheat and ready to eat, hot or cold. The quality conscious Meadow Farm business, established in 2009 by Martin Rafferty, now has two separate smokers and a modern processing unit. It currently employs five people. “The decision to develop the new retail range is the result of the outstanding success of our foodservice smoked products and approaches from customers who have enjoyed them in hotels and restaurants,” says Frank, who has vast experience in food production, especially of beef and lamb with leading meat processors, the business director of Meadow Farm and Orchard Smokehouse. The new products are the outcome of extensive market research to pinpoint opportunities in the UK and Ireland.

Frank Foster of Orchard Smokehouse in Armagh

Martin, a cattle farmer, butcher and the main smoker, runs a 60 acre cattle farm. Frank also runs his own cattle farm on 50 acres near Loughgall. “The new Orchard Smokehouse brand has just been launched and has already

won business in Northern Ireland and in Dublin with specialist retailers especially top delis, a target market for our products”, Frank adds.


Eye on News

TOP BUSINESS LEADERS HONOURED BY IoD The founder of one of Northern Ireland’s most successful firms was among 11 business leaders to be honoured at the annual Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI) Director of the Year Awards sponsored by First Trust Bank.


rian Conlon, who established Newry headquartered software firm First Derivatives more than 20 years ago, building it into a £1 billion company listed on the London Stock Exchange, received the inaugural Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice. The award was made at a ceremony held in the Merchant Hotel, Belfast, where winners across 11 categories were announced, each of whom will now be considered for the UK Director of the Year Awards, taking place in London later this year. The awards seek to honour directors at private, third and public sector organisations who go above and beyond to show exceptional levels of leadership and motivation and demonstrate good corporate governance. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service received two awards, with Gary Thompson being named the Director of the Year for Inclusivity while Carmel McKinney OBE was named the Non-Executive Director of the Year. Other recipients included Denis Lynn of Finnebrogue Artisan who was awarded the Director of the Year for Innovation after he launched Naked Bacon, made without nitrates.

This year’s winners were: Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice sponsored by 4c Executive – Brian Conlon, First Derivatives Director of the Year - Global sponsored by Invest NI – Paula Kennedy Garcia, Convergys Ltd Director of the Year - NonExecutive sponsored by Deloitte – Carmel McKinney OBE, NI Fire and Rescue Service Director of the Year - Corporate Social Responsibility sponsored by IoD NI – Ray Hutchinson, Gilbert Ash Director of the Year Family Business sponsored by BDO Northern Ireland – Ashley McCulla, McCulla Ireland Director of the Year - Public/ Third Sector sponsored by Capita Managed IT Solutions – Bill Atkinson, USEL Director of the Year - New sponsored by Carson McDowell – Paddy O’Hagan, Neueda

Director of the Year - Start-Up sponsored by Ulster University Business School – Stephen McDowell, Hayward Hawk Director of the Year - Inclusivity sponsored by William J Clinton Leadership Institute at QUB – Gary Thompson, NI Fire and Rescue Service Director of the Year - Innovation sponsored by PGR Chartered Accountants – Denis Lynn, Lynn’s Country Food – Finnebrogue Artisan Director of the Year - Young Enterprise NI Alumni sponsored by Concentrix – Maria Doran, Skinny Sauce Speaking at the awards ceremony, Gordon Milligan, IoD NI Chairman, said:

“Encouraging exceptional standards of management and a commitment to good corporate governance is at the heart of the work that the IoD does in Northern Ireland. The Director of the Year Awards act as a benchmark to local organisations and showcases the immense talent and leadership of our business leaders. “I was particularly pleased to honour Brian Conlon as the first recipient of the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice. As one of Northern Ireland’s pre-eminent business leaders, Brian Conlon is credited with building one of our best-known firms, with a brand that is known globally, and providing employment for more than 4,000 people. “I’d like to congratulate all winners and those directors that were shortlisted and wish them each continued success for the future.”

Judith Totten joins a SERIOUS Board M Leading local businesswoman, Judith Totten, who was recently announced as a recipient of an MBE, is to join the board of SERIOUS PR. 78

s Totten who is founder and Managing Director of Upstream and a board member of Invest NI will serve as non-executive chair of the award-winning PR firm. She joins as SERIOUS marks its 10th year in business with news of a strategic growth plan fuelled by a wave of new business wins for a range of clients in the food, luxury brand, construction and professional services sectors. The Belfast firm, set up by former regional newspaper editor, David McCavery recently moved to new, larger city-centre premises and, next month, plans to launch a new digital

specialism aimed at assisting local companies to harness online marketing. It has doubled its full-time staff complement within the past six months and anticipates further job creation as it expands its offering to businesses throughout the UK and Ireland. As David McCavery explains Judith Totten MBE has been appointed to help steer the company through a three-year development strategy. “We have a clear vision for where we want to be by 2021 and I believe, with Judith’s extensive experience and business insight, we will successfully evolve to become a genuine go-to

communications’ consultancy. She is truly indefatigable and inspiring.” Judith Totten MBE said she believed by working together with SERIOUS she could fulfil a great passion of hers to assist SMEs in Northern Ireland. SERIOUS describes its ideal client as ambitious, with a great story to tell. Its client servicing team, led by Associate Director Dawn Hesketh, serves a diverse portfolio including Tesco NI, AG, Kestrel Foods, Outsource Solutions,Brightwater Recruitment and Lough Erne Resort. More than 60% of its fees are now delivered outside Northern Ireland for local companies.

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Eye on Motoring

Motoring with Derek Black

JAGUAR ARE ON TARGET WITH THEIR LUXURY ELECTRIC CARRIAGE! The launch, to rave reviews, of Jaguar’s first electric car marks the marriage of two modern trends - the massive swing towards SUVs at all levels of the market and the massive efforts that are currently being made to sell electric vehicles.


o the I-Pace is not a new product from Apple, but the most modern of cars from one of our most traditional companies. For decades Jaguar has stood solely for long luxury saloons. Now it is embracing both

modernity and the future. (That is, of course, if we believe that electric cars will prove to be our destiny!) There is no doubt that Jaguar has done a good job in electrifying its SUV and it is being mentioned in the same breath as Tesla. With

electric motors front and rear, driving all four wheels, this is a fast car with the equivalent of 395bhp on tap. We are talking 4.5 seconds to reach 62mph as the torque zaps in immediately with electric power. The claimed range of 298 miles on a charge is a lot further than most other electric cars. Literally stuffed with batteries under the floor, the I-Pace weighs in at over 2 tonnes. This gives a low centre of gravity and 50/50 weight distribution which makes for a fine-handling car. Off road capabilities are enhanced by lots of systems from Land Rover, including hill descent control and

adjustments for various terrains. The air suspension (optional) also helps by jacking up the ground clearance when needed. At the moment the BIK rating is 0%, but who knows what will happen when more electric cars are on the road,. Prices start from £63,495 which is not out of the way for luxury car buyers. This is one for early adopters as the future value and indeed the future tax regime is still somewhat cloudy. There can be little doubt that the I-Pace lives up to the Jaguar tradition of quality, luxury and driving appeal. How many business leaders will make the leap of faith?

HYUNDAI SCORES WITH THE FIRST ALLELECTRIC SMALL SUV! They are all pushing electric power these days but range anxiety and the sheer cost are still serious deal breakers.


n everyday model such as a Golf or a Nissan Leaf are priced on the wrong side of £30k. I suppose you could argue that you are paying upfront for almost free fuel for the next three or more years. Hyundai has an interesting proposition in their electrified Kona SUV, a sister to the Kia Stonic and claiming to be the first electric car in this popular niche. What caught my eye in the press release was the news that the Kona will be offered in two power outputs and with a claimed range of up to 300miles. (That calculated under a tougher new

formula to be introduced later in the year!) These numbers will cause some consternation in the VW and Nissan camps for their current models come nowhere near. Hyundai’s electric motor comes with either 39kWh or 64kWh outputs, the equivalent 134bhp or 201bhp. The latter will really have ‘electrifying’ performance! Another sophisticated touch is that you can select four levels of energy recapture via paddles on the steering wheel. Apparently this takes a bit of getting used to but you can use the system - instead of braking - by just flicking down through the levels. With a 0-62mph figure of 7.6 seconds the electric Kona will be rather nippy for a small SUV. Zero CO2 emissions mean a 0% BIK rating.

Prices for the Kona Electric start from £24,995 once the government’s £4,500 Plug-in Car Grant is taken into account. There are three trim levels to choose from, plus two battery and motor outputs. SE models get a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear parking sensors, a rear view camera, climate control and keyless entry. It’s powered by a 133bhp electric motor that’s paired with a 39kWh lithium-ion battery.


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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


Supplying cars and vans to the business community

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.


important questions when changing your car or van 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 do 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.

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.

9 What type of vehicle do you need and want? Most dealerships are committed to one or two manufacturers so don’t necessarily offer you much 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?

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


Is tax included in the monthly payments?

To find out the answer, visit:

Eye on Motoring

Motoring with Derek Black

Bold New Look For Dacia Duster But Still Good Value Dacia has re-skinned its bargain basement SUV giving it a more extrovert and almost brash new look.


part from this, has there been any significant changes behind the bold grille and shiny panels? Well, not really but that is to be expected. Price continues to be the Duster’s big selling point. The fact

that Renault’s Romanian wing can produce a roomy SUV based on a previous generation Clio at prices from £13K is truly remarkable. It comes with either a sleepy 1.6 petrol engine or a more capable 1.5 turbo diesel engine, so don’t expect fireworks on the road. Still, despite its old fashioned feel, the Duster is predictable to drive and reasonably comfortable over the bumps. It just about does what it says on the tin. While you get the price, you don’t get the kind of urge that the new generation small capacity turbos deliver. Or the

latest technology on the comfort and safety fronts. Indeed the starter Access trim does not even include a radio! Pay a little bit more for the Essential trim and you get some sound plus air con. The Comfort level adds alloy wheels, cruise control and electric door mirrors while the Prestige level even runs to part leather, heated front seats, rear parking camera and a 7-inch screen with sat nav. Four-wheel drive is available for those who need it. Still, one mustn’t quibble at these prices which make the mainstream

brands sound expensive. This is basic workhorse territory and that is what many business buyers will be looking for. The 110bhp 1.5 turbo diesel is rated at 64mpg on Combined Cycle. As one Dacia advert says - you do the maths. An interesting point is that resale values are stronger than you might expect. If you can put up with the dynamic abilities of a yesteryear car then the yesteryear prices will have an appeal.

IT’S A SEVEN SEATER SHOGUN, BUT NOT AS WE KNEW IT! The iconic Shogun, one of the pioneers of the serious SUV market, is being phased out by Mitsubishi. But the name lingers on in this sevenseat Shogun Sport.


hile other makers have been busy adding luxury and performance to their more ‘casual’ offerings, Mitsubishi is sticking to their brief of making a workmanlike off-road vehicle with full four-wheel drive. The Shogun Sport is based on their L200 pick-up which is great if you have a serious job to do, but less so if you are looking for refinement and drivability. With a 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine


producing 179bhp through an eightspeed automatic gearbox this is a formidable traction unit. There is plenty of torque so this is one of the most capable towing machines on the market. It can pull a braked trailer of up to 3.1 tonnes. That alone could define the market for the Shogun Sport. With good ground clearance and the latest electronic off-road systems the Shogun Sport means business on the rough stuff. The Super Select all wheel drive has hill descent control, a separate off road mode as well asa trailer start assist. The sport tag is a misnomer however, as road performance is no more than class average and handling is uninspiring. As for the bottom line, the big diesel brings the usual penalties. Fuel consumption is rated at 32mpg Combined and emissions are 227g/km which puts it in the the 37% BIK band.

Prices start from £37K on paper, reflecting the up-market slant that Mitsubishi is putting on the revamped Shogun Sport. It is well togged out with leather electric adjustable front seats, LED lights and parking sensors as stander. For a couple of grand more the top

model adds heated seats, adaptive cruise control, crash mitigation technology and 510 watt sound. You do get the feeling that there is substance to this roomy new model and this is confirmed by a five-year or 62,500 mile warranty. There’s confidence for you!


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.

T: 028 9442 7000 E:







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Business Eye June July 2018