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CLOUD CALLING, MADE EASY. visit rainbowcomms.com or call 0800 018 8082

for the answer to every call. Issue 154 T&C’s apply. Sept/Oct 2015 £2.50 Voted best Business Magazine in Ireland 2005 and Magazine of the Year for Northern Ireland

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

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Legal 500 ....Top Lawyers Named In Latest Survey

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2015 UTV Business Eye Awards in association with Flybe

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Contents

titanicbelfast.com Sept/Oct 2015 ISSUE 154

Manufacturing Sector

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Manufacturing in NI... Challenges & Opportunities

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Rainbow’s Eric Carson... Half A Century On

Rainbow Communications founder Eric Carson has reached a milestone that few people reach... 50 years of working life celebrated earlier in September. He takes a look back at his career and talks about the impressive growth of Rainbow in the hotly-contested telecommunications sector.

Business Eye joins forces with Manufacturing Northern Ireland and BT to take a first-hand look at our manufacturing sector and its state of health in the company of the representatives of some key manufacturing industry employers at a round table discussion event held at Belfast’s Stormont Hotel.

Legal 500... Northern Ireland’s Top Law Firms

Tourism

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Passion For The Job... Tourism NI’s John McGrillen

The publication of the Legal 500 survey for 2015 has showcased the names of the top law firms and leading individual lawyers across a range of specialist sectors for another year. In a 10page special report, we look at the top firms and lawyers serving the business marketplace here in Northern Ireland.

UTV Business Eye Awards 2015

John McGrillen might be brand new in his role at Tourism Northern Ireland’s Chief Executive but it’s clear that he’s a man with a passion for the job and for the continued development of tourism here in Northern Ireland. Working with Tourism NI’s new Chairman, Terence Brannigan, he’ll be playing a key role in a new era for the region.

Now that summer is over, it’s not long until the 2015 UTV Business Eye Awards in association with Flybe. Closing date for entries is Thursday 23rd October, and the awards will be presented on Thursday, 26th November, at the Culloden Estate & Spa.

Cross Border Trade... Boom Times

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Cover Story Powerhouse... Generating Revenue For Business

InterTrade Ireland CEO Thomas Hunter McGowan talks about the cross border trade agency’s new and pragmatic approach to trade development and now more and more local companies are taking the first and obvious steps towards export marketplaces.

Setting New Standards In The Care Industry

Powerhouse Generation is leading the field here in Northern Ireland in the fast-emerging DSU (Demand Site Unit) marketplace, offering local large energy users the opportunity to gain revenue by signing up to conserve electricity when called upon to do so. We meet the Powerhouse team of Richard Watson, Sam Thompson & Sam Alexander.

Aspen Ireland and its sister company Healthcare Ireland might just rank as one – or is it two – of the hidden gems of the Northern Ireland business scene. Established by Gilbert Yates, senior, and now run by his son of the same name, it’s a construction and development firm with an eye to opportunities in the care sector.

Eurospar... A Retail Success Story

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SME Sector SMEs... The Way Ahead An influential panel talks about how Northern Ireland’s SMEs are recovering from the financial crisis and how they’re coping with challenges on the political, recruitment and other fronts. Views from the Ulster University’s Professor Marie McHugh & Kirsty McManus, Richard Gray (Carson McDowell), Patrick Leonard (Harbinson Mulholland) & Judith Totten (Keys Commercial Finance).

Regulars

Specials

As more and more consumers ditch the big weekly shop for more frequent visits to smaller retail outlets, it’s boom time for the Eurospar brand as it builds on its network of small supermarket outlets serving communities across Northern Ireland. We catch up with Henderson Group Retail Director, Mark McCammond.

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Jack Dobson... A True Entrepreneur

One of the Northern Ireland finalists in this year’s EY Entrepeneur of the Year, Jack Dobson of Dunbia is a man with a large-scale entrepreneurial story to tell. His firm started life as a butchery shop in Dungannon and has grown to become Europe’s largest lamb meat processor, a 14-site operation and the employer of some 4,000 people.

Eye on Education

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Eye on Banking

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Eye on Giving

Eye on Tax

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Eye on Leadership

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Eye on Moving On

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Global Markets

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Eye on Planning

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Eye on Motoring

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Eye on Communications

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Eye on Manufacturing

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Buckley Publications 20 Kings Road Belfast, BT5 6JJ Tel: (028) 9047 4490 Fax: (028) 9047 4495 www.businesseye.co.uk

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Editor Richard Buckley Commercial Director Brenda Buckley

Business Development Manager Ciara Donnelly

Design Hexagon Tel: (028) 9047 2210 www.hexagondesign.com

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

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So here we are again... During the summer months, we were a tad concerned about how the Assembly & Executive was going to get around the welfare issue... and whether a full-blown political row could ensue.

Comment

“The L/Derry Chamber of Commerce spoke out recently in no nonsense terms and that is to be welcomed. The others need to follow suit, and they need to do it sooner rather than later.”

Sponsored by

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Richard Buckley EDITOR Irish Magazine Editor of the Year 2005

ittle did we know. Circumstances since then have brought the whole shooting match (….for want of a better phrase) crashing down. Now we’re back in that strange twilight zone of talks about talks. It’s one of the talents we have here in Northern Ireland that we don’t talk about too much... our innate ability to turn the clock back. Politics is rarely the talk of the business community around these parts. We tend to get on with day to day business, and we’re all a bit weary when it comes to local politics in any case. But this time it’s different. On an anecdotal level, we’ve yet to meet anyone in the business community who agrees with what two Unionist leaders have done. Yes, we had a couple of deeply regrettable killings. But it looks very much as though the killings were used as a convenient excuse to jump out of the power-sharing administration. The reasons, and the party politics, are simply not worth dwelling on. What Nesbitt and Robinson fail to grasp is that no one is particularly interested in their party political games. And it would be hard to find anyone who thinks that having revolving Ministers, nonexistent Ministers and various other delaying tactics is a good idea for Northern Ireland. Business has been speaking with one voice. We want to see working, effective, decisionmaking government up at Stormont. Decisions are not being made, the economy can and will be affected and there is a real chance that potential inward investment projects could look elsewhere. But are we really speaking with one voice? We’ve mentioned this before but the main business organisations have been noticeable by their absence from the debate.

The CBI’s Nigel Smyth, to give him his credit, has popped up a few times. But, generally speaking, business organisations like the CBI, IoD and Chamber of Commerce are too hung up on cosying up to local Ministers (or ex-Ministers) when they should be shouting from the rooftops that Northern Ireland’s devolved administration should be doing the job that it was elected to do. The L/Derry Chamber of Commerce spoke out recently in no nonsense terms and that is to be welcomed. The others need to follow suit, and they need to do it sooner rather than later. There’s a real and present danger that we’re letting this slip away. That we’re so familiar with talks about talks and that kind of political limbo that we accept it and – in true Northern Ireland fashion – get on with it. One suspects though that it’s a bit different this time around. We’re not going to let them get away with it... are we?


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Eye on News

Flogas Celebrates 1,000th Natural Gas Connection in Northern Ireland Flogas marked its 1,000th commercial natural gas connection in Northern Ireland with a touch of Hollywood glamour as the Movie House cinema chain signed up two of its branches to Flogas Natural Gas. The Movie House cinemas in Cityside Belfast and Coleraine will now be using Flogas natural gas for heating.

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ffering discounts of up to 10% cheaper than its nearest rival, the Flogas natural gas offer has been an unqualified success since its launch and is now available to all commercial customers on the natural gas pipeline throughout Northern Ireland. John Rooney, managing director of Flogas, said, “We continue to receive an enthusiastic response from customers across Northern Ireland over our arrival into the commercial natural gas market. They are pleased to see real competition and choice being offered in relation to both prices and customer service levels. Achieving 1,000 connections so

soon following our launch shows that there is a real demand for a quality natural gas offering that is highly competitive. “ Hugh Brown, general manager, Movie House Cinemas NI, said, “We’re open seven days a week, at least 12 hours a day, and it’s important that our cinemas are just the right temperature so that our customers are comfortable while they relax and enjoy a great trip to the movies. We’re always looking for ways to control this overhead but it has to be from a reliable provider. Along with the discount package, it was the Flogas track record that helped to seal the deal.” Flogas Natural Gas is a leading

Pictured at the announcement that the Movie House Cinemas in Belfast and Coleraine have signed up to Flogas Natural Gas are (l/r), Paul Ruegg, marketing executive, Flogas with Hugh Brown, general manager, Movie House Cinemas and Paul Crosbie, senior sales consultant, Flogas natural gas.

supplier of natural gas to the commercial and residential sectors in Ireland. It already serves thousands of business enterprises located on the natural gas pipeline in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford, including McDonalds Restaurants and the Musgrave Group as well as the Radisson and Jury Hotel chains. Since entering the Northern Ireland natural gas market, notable signings have included the Potted Hen restaurant, AM:PM,

Rascals Day Nurseries and a range of other businesses across a number of commercial sectors. Flogas has an established track record in the LPG sector in Northern Ireland since 1979 in the commercial, leisure, catering, industrial and residential sectors. The expansion into Natural Gas for commercial customers has brought additional benefits to its existing customer base and opened up new business opportunities for the company.

Wedding Belles Take Centre Stage In Bangor Bangor’s first ever Wedding Belles event last Friday evening 11 September was a phenomenal success, with over 80 local women of all ages getting their wedding frocks back on to support local children living with cancer.

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he initiative was organised by Bangor mum Cherith Titterington who was astonished at the level of interest and enthusiasm in the concept. “I lost my dad to cancer recently and wanted to do something positive to raise funds for other families experiencing the horror

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of a cancer diagnosis. After coming across my long-forgotten wedding dress at the back of the wardrobe, the idea came that perhaps a few girls would also be keen to put their dresses on again, and feel fantastic on a night out, for a good cause. So I invited some close friends to haul their dresses out of the attic for an unusual way of fundraising for young people whose lives have been blighted by cancer. The evening was sponsored to the tune of £1000 by Bank of Ireland UK’s Give Together matched funding commitment, which supports community fundraising activity involving

Wedding Belles 2015 was officially launched by Bank of Ireland UK Bangor Branch Manager Leigh Curran who sponsored the event, and the Mayor of North Down & Ards Council, Alderman Alan Graham.

Bank Staff. This donation married with the cash raised by the brides means NI Cancer Fund for Children will receive in excess of £2400.”


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Eye on News

Ambassadors Lead The Way At Belfast City Airport George Best Belfast City Airport has launched an Ambassador Scheme aimed at further enhancing the experience of the 2.5 million passengers that travel through the airport each year.

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number of Airport Ambassadors will be placed throughout the terminal to provide passengers with assistance and help additional to that already available at the airport. The volunteers, who can be easily spotted thanks to their distinctive Belfast City Airport Ambassador uniform, have been trained to identify, approach and assist those who could use an extra pair of hands. To date this has included helping a mother carry her young child and cabin baggage to check in and through security; reuniting passengers with personal items left on board the plane; accompanying nervous or first time flyers as they check in, move through security and go through security. Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport, said:

“Whilst we have privately invested more than £15 million into our facilities and infrastructure within the last number of years and launched social media channels to update and facilitate passenger queries, we identified an opportunity to further improve the physical assistance available to our passengers within the terminal. “The Airport Ambassador Scheme allows us to lend passengers an extra pair of hands and it has so far made a huge difference to our passengers, whether it be a young mother travelling alone with children, or a nervous passenger who requires some reassurance and company. “Through their careers, many of our volunteering Ambassadors have previous experience in working with the public and customer care with several being fluent in sign

Chief Executive Brian Ambrose with two of Belfast City Airport’s Ambassadors

language which is has been invaluable to passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing. “As they are not assigned a specific duty or tied to a desk, our Ambassadors are fully mobile which allows them to move right through the terminal with a passenger. “Even for frequent flyers, travelling can be a daunting experience and our aim is to eradicate as much of that stress as possible by ensuring a smooth, quick journey through the airport for all of our passengers whether they are travelling for business or leisure. “Further enhancing the passenger experience is consistently on our agenda and I am delighted with the introduction of the scheme, and the benefits it presents for our customers.”

After an initial call for volunteers on social media, the airport received a huge response from local residents of all ages keen to volunteer throughout the week. Following the relevant checks and training, there are now more than ten Airport Ambassadors on site at peak times to help both arriving and departing passengers.

For more information about becoming an Airport Ambassador please contact the airport via www.belfastcityairport.com

Katherine James Appointed To Colleges Board

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atherine James is Head of Small Business at Danske Bank and she has been appointed as an Independent Board Member to Colleges Northern Ireland. She is responsible within Danske Bank for the leadership and management of the Business Plus team and for delivering cash management services to

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small business and agribusiness customers. Katherine has 30 years’ commercial experience and 20 years experience within senior management roles at Danske Bank, National Australia Group and Bank of New Zealand. Prior to joining Danske Bank, Katherine was Sales and Marketing Director with Cantrell and Cochrane Ltd. In 1994

Katherine was appointed Head of Marketing with Northern Bank, then part of National Australia Bank Group. Katherine graduated with a B.Sc. Honours in Geography and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing). From Northern Ireland, Katherine is married to Harry, living in Holywood with their 3 sons.


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BTnet Leased Line makes perfect business sense. Eye on Round Table

MANUFACTURING IN NORTHERN IRELAND... Business Eye joined forces with umbrella group Manufacturing Northern Ireland and sponsors BT for a wide-ranging round table discussion event held at Belfast’s Stormont Hotel... looking at the Assembly impasse, Northern Ireland as an industrial location, our leading edge communications infrastructure, energy and finance (amongst other subjects). Chaired by Business Eye’s Richard Buckley, the Round Table participants were:-

Maureen McLoughlin, Operations Director at Diamond Corrugated Case in Derry

Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI and former Derry City Centre Manager

Richard Irwin of RA Irwin, soft furnishing and window blind manufacturers in Portadown

Paul Convery, Head of BT Business in Northern Ireland

Declan Billington, Managing Director of Thompson Animal Feeds and former CBI NI Chairman

Seamus McKeague, Managing Director of Creagh Concrete, market leaders in the precast industry

Sorcha Eastwood, HR Officer, Interface, Craigavon, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of carpet tiles

RB – The obvious starting point is to ask you how damaging a lack of government here is to manufacturing and business in general?

over which there is a better tax regime, lower energy costs and more stable government.

DB – We’re in the agri sector so we’ve got plenty of challenges and the worry is that these can’t be addressed when there’s no local government. If the Northern Ireland chair at big agri meetings is vacant, who’s fighting our corner for us? Then there’s corporation tax. You’ve got to wonder how many businesses are out there thinking of investing in Northern Ireland... and then deciding to go elsewhere. The fact is that we’ll go into hibernation without our elected politicians and we could stagnate.

MM – We all work locally, regionally and then globally. As business leaders, we can’t wake up one morning and say that we’re not doing it because we don’t like the context. Apart from anything else, there are issues to be tackled by government, around skills, around universities amongst others. Devolved government for us as a region is hugely important. If it slips away, there is no doubt that we will suffer.

RI - It’s the uncertainty in the short term and then it’s the long-term damage that we have to consider. As businesses, we start to look at what the alternatives are. Factories elsewhere, for example. We’re not so far away from a border

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A GOOD PLACE FOR BUSINESS?

SM – When we hit tough times in business, we have to find a way through. We have to look at where we want to get to, and how we’re going to do it. The politicians have to do the same thing. And it is disappointing that it’s not up and running and I think it does have a bit of a demoralising effect all round.


Stay connected with a dedicated, fast, data network. bt.com/networking Eye on Round Table

SK – Every business around this table has suffered a crisis. But as leaders, we take control. Nothing beats local politicians making local decisions for the local economy. Whatever we might think of the effectiveness of the Assembly, having local politicians making decisions is always preferable to having a set of direct rule ministers making calls on our behalf. So they need to find a way just as businesses have to find a way. PC – Northern Ireland has a great product and I’d hope that the politicians see themselves as our sales people on the local and global stage. DB – I’m not sure that they fully appreciate the consequences of their actions. For the man and woman on the street, this comes down to whether their kids are going to have salaries or dole cheques to live on. Fundamentally, they can create an economy which attracts businesses or they can create an economy which relies on handouts from London. RB – Do we do enough, do we say enough as business people?

SK – I think the business community has been vocal. We run the risk of sounding as though we need a government for business alone. But what we want is an effective government. DB – There is also the point that business needs to be apolitical when it comes to this debate. So we walk a very difficult line in trying to move everyone forward. It is very challenging. Also, there are tough choices that have to be made and there is bit of adversity towards making tough choices here in Northern Ireland. SE – We’ve lurched from crisis to crisis in political terms, as Theresa Villers said recently, but the economy here has achieved a lot at the same time. We’ve reinvigorated parts of it, and we’ve got a lot to lose now. The stakes are higher. When our European CEO comes here, he’s impressed by the fact that he can have such accessibility to elected representatives. SM – It should be about the big picture. If this all collapses, we could go back a very long way. If the politicians

can’t change and deal with reality, then they become irrelevant... and that makes us all irrelevant. After that, it’s the thugs who become the relevant ones. We need statesmen. PC – There is a lack of clarity on what their shared goal is. MM – They said it was the economy, but it clearly isn’t. Seamus is right about needing statesmen, but we also have ageing political leaders. Is there anyone coming up behind? SE – I was there for a while but decided to get out of local politics because I couldn’t see the structures to make a lasting change. So I shifted my focus to business and making a difference that way. I’m sad to have to say it, but I’m glad I made the decision I did. I think I’m delivering positive outcomes for young people through business. SK – Maybe there’s something to that. There’s evidence that nothing builds peace quicker than a job.... having to get up in the morning and go to work. So the Assembly’s first priority should be job creation.

RI – Absolutely, increased prosperity helped to end the troubles here. A rising tide lifted all of the boats. We tend to forget sometimes the amount of good that business can do. Entrepreneurship can deliver real jobs and bring people out of poverty. SM - And we can’t forget the fact that there are lots of other countries out there doing business. Northern Ireland needs to get its act together because there’s a big world out there and it’s highly competitive. There are plenty of people ready to eat our lunch. DB – It is worth taking a step back to before we had a devolved Assembly.... when the DUP and Sinn Fein wouldn’t even share the same room. More difficult decisions had to be taken then than need to be taken now. And the reason they put the economy at No. 1 was that it was the only platform they could share... they all wanted to be seen to create a better future. So I’d ask them to take a step back and remember why they decided to come together in the first place. The alternative worries me.....if politics isn’t working, you’re left with a vacuum.

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BTnet Leased Line makes perfect business sense. Eye on Round Table RI – It’s about articulating a vision. There has to be a vision. A better shared future can be created through the economy. RB – Can we leave politics behind and move on to manufacturing. Let’s assume we’re living in a functional environment. Is Northern Ireland a good place to manufacture and what would make it a better location? SK – Let me set the scene. This is a good manufacturing economy employing 80,000 people and producing £19 billion worth of sales each year. Manufacturing is spread right across Northern Ireland. For example, more than 27% of all jobs in Mid Ulster are in manufacturing. So the local economy is dependent on this sector. If we set the target for Northern Ireland at 20%, we could transform the region. But some of the work that has to go in is down to government. MM – It is a great place to manufacture. We’ve got plenty of good people and I think we’ve got a good temperament for manufacturing. We’ve looked at hopping over the border for fiscal reasons but we’ve always stayed in Northern Ireland. SM – Of course it’s a good place to do business. It’s great to employ people in your own communities. We’re trying to open a new plant over in England at the moment and it’s not so easy when you don’t know the area you’re working in and you don’t have the contacts. So this is a good place to be.

RI – I came back here from London and what struck me was that we don’t appreciate what we’ve got in terms of quality of life. And Maureen is right about the temperament of the people here. A lot of people think that manufacturing is worthwhile work... it’s in the local culture. SE – We’re in the Upper Bann area too and there’s no doubt that there is a rich heritage in terms of textile production. What’s not always appreciated is that manufacturing work can be well paid and rewarding. We’ve a great retention rate and I think that’s because people find it fulfilling. RB – Does or did government do enough to encourage manufacturing? What would your shopping list be? DB – Skills are what everyone is looking for. So one of our biggest natural assets is our people.... there’s no doubt about that. That’s also the main reason why this is still a good place to manufacture. But our success has been despite policy rather than because of policy. I’ve been involved in lobbying for quite a while and we seem to have been fighting a battle on energy and on bureaucracy for ever. But if you want to ask how government can be more supportive, just look across the border. No one is going to post the Irish Government any cheques....they have to make their own economy work. They created a tax system to attract business, they invested in skills and, if a business needs support, they don’t put ten roadblocks in the way.

MM – We work well with Invest NI but, as businesses, we have to fit their model. In the South, the agencies are much more dynamic and ask what they can do for business. SK – We have a very short list which we put to Jonathan Bell when he was still Minister. We want a manufacturing strategy for Northern Ireland. The component parts of that are outside the control of businesses. We want to secure industrial de-rating for the long term, and that’s a big risk if the Assembly falls. Then there are energy costs, and no one knows much more about that than Declan. We are the third or fourth most expensive energy market in Europe. The third thing is to ensure that there is proper investment in skills. RB – What about energy costs, Declan? Has there been any progress? DB – One of the risks of an Assembly fall is that our energy costs could get worse. Right now, per megawatt, there’s a £16 gap between here and the South. And remember, the actual cost of generation north and south is the same to start with. So why do we pay such a premium? A lot of it is policy cost around renewables. So policy decisions are adding costs to businesses here. Policy decisions in the South make businesses more competitive.

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SK – We have achieved something on the energy front. We worked very hard on lobbying to get across a sense of the pain that large energy users feel, and as a result of that, £150 million of cost will be coming out of the market next year. That’s a direct result of lobbying and of the politicians engaging. DB – Conversely to that, if the politicians aren’t engaging, we could be crippled by the one size fits all policy which comes out of London. RB – Can we touch on communications? The government has invested in the telecommunications network here. How important is having the right communications infrastructure? RI – One thing is for sure. When communications don’t work, it causes mayhem. Nowadays, I suppose we take it for granted. DB – Infrastructure is important for business already here and for businesses coming here. And we’re talking these days about global communications. It’s vital not to be left on the fringes. SK – Data is playing a much more central role in manufacturing these days. Problems, for example, can be sorted out remotely nowadays where they used to mean an engineer flying in from another part of Europe and then flying back out again.


Stay connected with a dedicated, fast, data network. bt.com/networking Eye on Round Table PC – It’s all about the ease and speed of communications. We’re very proud of BT’s investment in Northern Ireland’s fibre infrastructure. We’re ahead of all the other regions in GB, and the UK is ahead of Europe, so we’re well placed. In today’s fast moving world, having a fit-for-purpose network has never been more important. In manufacturing, down time costs serious money as we know that you can’t replace the manufacturing time that is lost if your system goes down. Dealing with the explosive demand for data both now and in the future means that companies need technologies that span traditional fixed and mobile networks. When you’re investing in new technology, you want to ensure that it will suit your needs and help improve your business by connecting your employees working across multiple offices in Northern Ireland, the UK and even globally with the most reliant, efficient and cost effective data and communications solutions. At BT, we offer data enabled services that you can rely on, giving you 100% peace of mind. We’ve got data solutions to suit specialised business needs including our BT Net, leased line service for businesses dependent on the internet. BT Net provides customers with the ability to upload and download information without having to compete for bandwidth, helping businesses to achieve the ultimate internet performance, resulting in increased productivity and reliability for running critical applications online.

DB – It also allows expansion of employment opportunities outside of the cities. I know of engineers who can be in Omagh solving problems in Belfast or much further afield at two o’clock in the morning. The world is moving forward and we need the infrastructure to be up there. I’d go as far as to say that what’s been done with fibre here is the right way to invest in an infrastructure and what’s been done in electricity is the wrong way to do it. It’s being built piecemeal and it’s costing companies a fortune even to get connected.

PC – I was talking to a guy in Derry recently who designs his products there, transmits to the West Coast of America and can compete with New York design houses doing the same thing. His electronic packages get to California quicker than those coming from New York, in fact. And he has the much lower costs of operating from Northern Ireland. A lot of this is down to innovation. Last year, BT spent £502 million on innovation and we have 14,000 engineers working solely on R&D at Adastral Park in Ipswich.

MM – I couldn’t agree more. We’re on the verge of moving to high voltage power and they’re not making it easy for us. This is a great location but there are disadvantages.....and energy is definitely one of them.

RI – We’ve spent a lot of time talking about three utilities – communications, energy and government. And only one of them is working well.

RB – We talk about energy prices being high, but communications costs have come down, haven’t they? PC – They’ve come down dramatically over recent years and they’ll continue to come down. That’s down to the investment and foresight. What we’re seeing now are organisations building up networks for data use and then starting to put voice across them. And when it comes to data management, you don’t need to have your experts on any particular site. Workforces can flexibly work from remote locations. MM – Not only are the costs coming down but the sophistication of networks means that other business costs are coming down. We can save on remote staff, we can save on travel and that’s just two examples.

RB – I’d like to touch on two more areas. The first of these are skills and people. Do we have a good supply of quality people? SK – I think there are a couple of things broken as we see it. Manufacturing is seen as a twilight part of the economy and that shouldn’t be the case. That filters down into families and we end up with young people leaving schools aiming to follow very traditional careers. Becoming an engineer and working in an international manufacturing business is just as valuable and worthwhile. So we need to keep working on linkages between industry and our schools and colleges. It’s worth remembering that where talent is is where capital flows to.... SE – We need to start the process as early as we can. That means talking to DENI and DEL about shaping the curriculum. We’ve put a lot of hard work into redressing the gender balance, but we do need to do more work around putting ourselves out there as employers of choice. It’s possible to start out in manufacturing and end up in a global role. The real opportunities are fantastic. That’s a message we have to get across to those who think along more traditional lines when it comes to careers.

more than a junior solicitor. And these are good, sustainable jobs. The average manufacturing pay sits at £508 per week gross and that’s before any overtime. DB – We’re exporting our talent pool by restricting how many young people can go to university here in Northern Ireland.....and driving them across to England & Scotland. It’s madness. Then there is the question of automation. Careers in manufacturing are more often about operating and managing the automated processes. The supply chain needs to mirror those requirements. SE – And there are strong practical arguments too. Go straight into engineering from school and you can be earning good money while your counterparts are still racking up the debts at university..... and those who come out the other end don’t necessarily end up doing better in the long run. They come out and start in a graduate role at £14k or £15k. MM – There are no major engineering training workshops left in the North West, so it is difficult for us to get the trained people we need locally. But we are seeing an increased sophistication among the people we see coming in. Whatever job we recruit for, we manage to find someone..... someone in the area or someone who wants to return to the area. RB – Briefly, on the finance front, are the banks back in the game? SK – They say that they are, and I’ve talked to a few wanting to develop links with the manufacturing sector. MM – We’re going through an investment stage and we’ve had a very positive experience. But there is a bit more red tape about, it has to be said. The banks are a lot more diligent than they once were. It’s a bit more difficult to get through the process.

SK – We helped establish a welding academy at SDC Trailers and I find it fascinating that, after six weeks, they can earn

13


Eye on Tourism

JOHN McGRILLEN... A PASSION FOR THE TOURISM TOP JOB

When Alan Clarke announced that he was taking his leave from the Chief Executive’s job at what used to be called the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, there was plenty of speculation about who his successor would be.

S

o, when John McGrillen’s name emerged as the successful candidate at the re-named Tourism Northern Ireland, it came as a surprise to a few people. But, given McGrillen’s cast iron public sector experience, it probably shouldn’t have. He took over the role on the 1st of July after a period which saw David Thomson holding the fort in the Chief Executive’s office. And, in one of his first major interviews since his appointment, it’s clear why the multi-faceted board at Tourism NI thought that he was the man to take the organisation into a new era. McGrillen comes across as a lot more than a safe pair of hands, well trained in the ways of the Northern Ireland public sector. On the contrary, he talks like a man with a passion for the tourism challenge and a man prepared to take a risk or two, even annoy a few people here and there, to push the tourism agenda forward. “It was always a role that I was attracted to,” he says simply. “Yes, I had a lot of conversations with a wide range of people before I decided to go in this direction. But there is so much that can be done in this job that it’s hard not to get excited about it.” He came to Tourism Northern Ireland from Belfast City Council where he was part of the top team as Director of Development, a wide-ranging role that included heading up the City Council’s tourism function. Prior to that, he was Chief Executive at Down District Council (now merged with Newry & Mourne), another role with a strong tourism aspect to it.

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And it’s worth emphasising that he served on the Board of the NI Tourist Board for six years until 2008. “So I’m not coming at this role from a totally different sector or from a totally different region. I think I’ve always had a good idea of what it’s all about,” he smiles. Getting down to brass tacks, McGrillen is clear about the major challenges of the role. “The most crucial one is funding,” he says. “We have to be able to work with what we have and make the very best use of our resources.” The past number of years under Alan Clarke has seen a concentration on the development of tourism here around a number of signature projects – the likes of Titanic Belfast, Derry’s Walls and the Causeway Coast & Glens, including the new Casueway Visitor Centre. McGrillen hints at a new direction. “We’ve now got a very strong product base, I think,” he says. “And we have to maximise the benefits that can come from the investments that we have made on the ground. As a tourism body, we have to work with the industry to drive the benefits. There are some 7,000 businesses here in Northern Ireland engaged in tourism in some shape or form. That’s a really big constituency. “So you can see why it is vital that we support those businesses and that we’re more client focused, but I think we can do that, and I also think that we’ve got some significant knowledge and expertise within these walls.” Given his past, McGrillen knows a thing or two about Northern Ireland’s local councils, and he’s

quick to welcome the fact that the 11 so-called ‘super councils’ are settling into their new roles. “I think we’re already seeing evidence that they’re going to be more strategic in their thinking,” he adds. “They have a broader role in both economic development and tourism and it’s important that they get on with the job.” The new Chief Executive says that he’s already been looking at how Failte Ireland does things south of the border. It has a strongly regional approach to tourism development with a lot of its people working out in the regions. “For us, that would mean transforming our operating model, so it would take time. But I do see a lot of merit in the regional concentration that is applied in the Republic. “We also have to make full use of the digital platforms available to us. Tourists are increasingly relying on digital platforms when it comes to planning and making the most of each and every trip they make.


Eye on Tourism

“Tourists these days tend to buy two elements in advance....their travel and their accommodation. They do the rest when they get to where they’re going. “So we’ve got to be right up there with the leaders in the field when it comes to digital delivery. It’s not just sensible, it’s essential.” Tourism industry watchers have highlighted the fact that Northern Ireland has been working without a Tourism Strategy since 2007.....and a lot has changed since then. “The Minister is committed to developing a new strategy. We need to look at how we do this, and it is definitely a priority for me in this role. We need to talk about who owns it and how it works. Works will begin on this over the coming weeks and we want to move it forward quickly in preparation – hopefully – for any new Programme for Government.”

That, of course, is providing a Stormont administration is in place to consider a new Programme for Government..... but that’s another story. Whilst he says that the tourism product here has come a long way, it’s clear that John McGrillen has already been looking closely at the way Northern Ireland’s tourism businesses treat their customers. “In some ways, we do it very well. In others, we could do the basics a lot better. So we’ve got to keep looking at what we’re doing, comparing it to how others are doing it, and constantly trying to improve and sharpen up.” Where we’re doing particularly well, it seems, is with city break visitors and with those of a cultural bent. The 18-35’s who come to Belfast do so because of its increasingly sophisticated music and pub scene.

“We’re all aware that we need more hotel beds in Belfast so there’s no doubt that recent announcements on that front are very welcome. “And with the opening early next year of the extended Belfast Waterfront, we need to make sure we have the beds to cope with what we hope will be an upsurge in business tourists. “So we’ve got a lot of different challenges to face, but that’s against a background of great potential for tourism here in Northern Ireland.” At the tail end of the summer season this year, one particular Saturday saw two cruise ships docked in Belfast Port. The ship’s passengers were in evidence all over the city..... despite the fact that statistics show that a third of them don’t bother to get off the boat ! This year will see 76,000 cruise ship passengers coming into Belfast. What would previous tourism chiefs here have done for that kind of figure.....?

15


Eye on Events

Charles Hurst reveals new Aston Martin luxury showroom

Charles Hurst Group, Northern Ireland’s biggest car retailer, has revealed its brand new, state-of-the-art car showroom designed exclusively for luxury brand Aston Martin.

T

he major investment, of almost £1 million made by the company adds an additional seven new jobs at the Boucher Road-based dealership. Officially opened by Aston Martin Regional Director, UK and South Africa, Marcus Blake, the news comes as Aston Martin prepares to take centre stage with the upcoming premiere of Spectre, the latest instalment in the James Bond franchise. The Aston Martin DB10, designed and built exclusively for the film, was unveiled for the first time at the launch of the new showroom. Charles Hurst – the only car retailer on the island of Ireland licensed to offer this elite brand – has constructed a bespoke, high-tech new retail unit to exacting standards for this sought-after

marque, featuring floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a unique luxury interior. Customers will have access to exclusive services such as the “Atelier”, an intimate environment where customers are invited to use their creativity and imagination to tailor their new vehicle to their own specification. Charles Hurst Group is Northern Ireland’s largest car retailer. A division of Lookers plc, one of the UK’s principal automotive retail and distribution groups, Charles Hurst covers 20 franchises across seven sites, offering customers across Ireland the most comprehensive choice of new and used vehicles, parts and servicing. Founded in 1911, its headquarters are located in Belfast on a 20-acre site, making it the largest automotive retail park in Europe.

The new Aston Martin DB9

(l-r) Richard Gould & Marcus Blake (l-r) John West, Alan Watson, Harold Hassard, Maurice Hassard and Nelson Todd

(l-r) Sophie McCormick, Ivan Ford & Bryony Gambier-Christy

16


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Eye on Education

Queen’s University Belfast PPRC uses Connected to help 493K take control of rotational moulding About the Company 493K has been providing solutions for the rotational moulding industry since 2003 and offers a range of ancillary products and rotomoulding-specific consultancy services to help companies cut scrap rates, reduce cycle times and improve process optimisation to demonstrably increase profits.

es and colleges have invested ounds in facilities, equipment ialist staff and businesses can rich resource. But the benefits not one way. Engaging with pens the academia gaze, and o the curriculum and through to the students themselves.”

“Our role is simple,” says Lynn ughton. “We can ease the way inesses in Northern Ireland to our colleges and universities. an make contact directly with of our staff. We’ll then work to es with the right academic or ort staff. It’s as simple as that.”

limit in terms of projects. We h such a diverse range....from ration between two partners, aling with material testing or roto -typing, through to more rm complex research projects multiple partners on both the business and academic sides.”

nt to engage more with SMEs businesses who have little or nce of working with a college ty. We want companies of all rom all sectors to avail of this me, and that includes not-forprofit and social enterprises.”

Commenting on the project, 493K Managing Director Dr Gareth McDowell, said “It was great to have PPRC input and reassurance of the validity of the investigation. The work done in the PPRC will stand us in very good stead in further developing the prototype to a working product.”

CONTACT DETAILS: Knowledge Provider Name: Polymer Processing Research Centre, School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast. Contact: Dr Paul Hanna Tel: 028 9097 4696 Email: p.r.hanna@qub.ac.uk

About the Case At 493K there is a dedication to provide the best solutions to meet all future challenges with inventive and efficient products and the company recently used an Innovation Voucher from Invest NI to access the facilities and expertise in the PPRC to carryout trials of a new temperature monitoring device being developed for the rotational moulding industry. The work undertaken at QUB involved installing and running and investigating the outputs from 3 different prototypes of a new device on a rotational moulding machine in PPRC.

Delivering university and college expertise to the Northern Ireland business community

About the Knowledge Provider Since 1996 the PPRC at Queen’s University Belfast has been working with industrial and academic partners across the world in the development of new processes and innovative products. Connected is herestaff to encourage, ease and increase potential knowledge exchange The team of research carry out projects between academia and industry, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises oflinks varying duration and complexity from short (SMEs). The aim of Connected is to develop interaction and stimulate innovation to term, industrially funded, consultancy to longer benefit Northern Ireland companies and Northern Ireland’s economy. term work including EU, Innovate UK, Invest NI, and InterTradeIreland funded Research & Funded by the Department for Employment and Learning, Connected is a clear Development and Technology Transfer projects.

sign that the further and higher education sectors in Northern Ireland are ready and willing to offer their vast pool of expertise, knowledge, research capability The facilities include to industrial scale and the community at large. andCentre’s world-class facilities businesses

moulding and extrusion processing equipment supported by analytical laboratories Our colleges and universities areequipped only tootokeen to welcome new businesses through undertake studies on morphology, micro-structure, their doors, whether they are looking for knowledge and expertise, specialist skills or equipment resources. Working with universities and colleges provides businesses process control,and rheology and physical properties.

of all sizes and stages of development with access to numerous expertise, skills and specialist The Resultsfacilities on your doorstep. As a result of comparative studies carried For further information on the diverse range of support services available please visit our website out on three prototypes at 493K www.connected.ni.org or PPRC, contact us by emailing Lynn.connaughton@collegesni.ac.uk speeded up follow the decision making@ConnectedNI process or you can us on twitter in reaching the optimum solution.

Colleges Northern Ireland 39 Stockmans Way, Belfast BT9 7ET 028 9068 2296

18


Eye on Communications

Northern Ireland businesses to benefit from new All-Ireland and European tariff Joanne McSeveney, Head of Corporate and Public Sector Services at Barclay Communications explains how the new All-Ireland and European tariff that the company has launched in partnership with O2 will make life easier, increase productivity and reduce costs for their Northern Ireland customers. How will this new tariff benefit Northern Ireland businesses? Cross-border roaming charges no longer need to be a concern, as new and existing customers that reside in Northern Ireland will be able to use their mobile devices as if they were at home, when in the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe without incurring additional charges. The new tariff will also effectively end the problem of inadvertent roaming, experienced by some of our customers based in border areas, such as Newry, Strabane and Castlederg. Businesses operating in these areas have been particularly affected by inadvertent roaming over the years, when their mobile phones accidentally connect to a mast in the Republic of Ireland and their domestic calls are then billed as international calls. What exactly is included in the new tariff? The tariff includes: standard calls from the UK to Europe; standard calls to European numbers while roaming; calls to voicemail while roaming in Europe; standard texts in Europe and standard data in Europe. Is this tariff only available to Barclay Communications’ customers? The tariff is currently only available to Barclay Communications’ Northern Ireland customers.

How does this tariff differ from other All-Ireland options on the market? This tariff differs from other network offerings as it includes the whole of the EU, not just All-Ireland. There are also no additional charges on top of your monthly tariff, making it more cost-effective. It gives our Northern Ireland customers great value and complete control over their mobile usage whilst in the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe.

keeping their bills low, while still being able to use their mobiles and tablets freely in the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe.

For more information on the new All-Ireland & European tariff contact 02890 960366 or info@barclaycomms.com quoting EUbiz.

How have your customers responded to the launch of the new tariff? As a company we have lobbied relentlessly for the past five years on behalf of our customers to make this happen and we are thrilled to now be able to offer this new tariff. The response has been extremely positive, as customers look forward to reduced costs and increased productivity while doing business throughout Ireland and across Europe. Previously, 20% of a customer’s bill could have been spent on roaming calls. The new tariff not only gives our customers the opportunity to reduce their costs, it also gives them the security of

19


Eye on Cover Story

Powerhouse... GENERATING REVENUE FOR BUSINESS The energy industry always will be a complex business... it’s technically challenging, it’s dominated by large organisations and it’s well fenced off by regulations and the kind of bureaucracy that puts newcomers. off the idea of trying to break in.

A

gainst that background, it’s taken a while for the Demand Site Unit (DSU) marketplace to swing into action in Northern Ireland. But one Northern Ireland-based organisation is up and running in the new NI DSU market serving the Single Electricity Marketplace on the island of Ireland. Currently based in Magheralin and with a 24/7 control room, Powerhouse Generation is now in a position to offer commercial and industrial customers access to this Northern Ireland DSU market, similar to their already successful ROI DSU business. Powerhouse MD Sam Thompson and his two colleagues – Chairman Richard Watson and Technical Director Sam Alexander – secured their NI licence recently and the Powerhouse operation in Northern Ireland officially started earlier this month, with an initial 40 or so customers on board. “We are already building steadily on that initial customer base as more and more business customers understand the concept of participating within a Demand Site Unit in the single electricity marketplace and start to see the financial benefits.” Sam Thompson comes to Powerhouse Generation from a varied background in business within Northern Ireland as does the similarly experienced Richard Watson. Sam Alexander, for his part, brings an impressive electricity industry CV to the table. He was headhunted from within the electrical utility industry to head up the technical side of Powerhouse. So what’s a DSU and how can local companies get in on the action?

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A Demand Site Unit comprises of a site or collection of sites which can provide electricity demand reduction to the Transmission System Operator (TSO). A DSU aggregator such as Powerhouse is a third party company which specialises in demand management and co-ordinates the demand reduction of individual sites when called upon to do so by the TSO. In Northern Ireland’s case, the transmission system operator is SONI whilst its parent company EirGrid is the TSO for the Republic of Ireland. Both are responsible for the operation of the high voltage electricity system. “In effect, our customers agree to become part of a Demand Site Unit. That means that, in the event that they are called to reduce demand, they will temporarily switch off non-essential power or reduce demand on the grid by switching on their standby generators. In each case, we’re talking about a maximum of two hours power usage reduction,” Sam Alexander explains. DSU is part of a tool kit available to the TSO to help them maintain a stable and efficient power system. So what’s the deal for business who sign up to a DSU Scheme? “In exchange for making your business site available for demand reduction businesses receive capacity payments. To qualify for payment, businesses have to agree to be available and capable to reduce their demand for up to two hours,” says Sam Alexander. “And those payments, in the case of very large users, can reach close to €250,000 per annum.” Sam Thompson points out that Powerhouse and its DSU customers effectively become a key player in the electricity grid in Ireland. “We now participate in the SEM alongside the power stations, the aggregators and others who feed into the grid,” he says. “We’re now licensed by the Electricity Regulator here in the North and by the Commission for Electricity Regulation in the Republic....both organisations regulate the power system management and operation.”


Eye on Cover Story

(L-R) Richard Watson, Sam Thompson & Sam Alexander

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Eye on Cover Story

“In exchange for making your business site available for demand reduction businesses receive capacity payments. To qualify for payment, businesses have to agree to be available and capable to reduce their demand for up to two hours. And those payments, in the case of very large users, can reach close to €250,000 per annum.”

“And customers also have the reassurance that this is a highly regulated and licensed business opportunity.....there really is no catch. DSU has been operating successfully for some time within the USA and Europe.” Customer’s sites are linked electronically to the Powerhouse Generation control room, from where the DSU operation is controlled. There’s also a strong environmental element to the DSU concept, one which has been welcomed by government ministers in the UK and Republic of Ireland. “The DSU Scheme when called upon means that power is conserved, avoiding the need for more power to be generated from the Grid,” explains Sam Alexander. “So there are clear green credentials.” While the concept is in its early days here in Northern Ireland, and seeks the support only of large business users, it’s entirely likely that DSU participation will open up for SME’s and even residential electricity customers going forward.....as it has in other countries. But that’s one for the future. For now, the DSU Scheme concept is ready and waiting for more Northern Ireland businesses to get involved.

POWERHOUSE GENERATION The Courtyard, 62a Drumnabreeze Road, Magheralin, Co Armagh BT67 0RH Tel: 028 92 612612 info@powerhousegeneration.com www.powerhousegeneration.com

Powerhouse’s customer base, in a nutshell, includes any large user of electricity – and it ranges from hospitals and hotels to a wide range of manufacturing plants. Most will have embedded generators and all will have the ability to switch off or delay processes and reduce consumption with 60 minutes notice. “In broad terms, we’re talking about sites with an average demand upwards of 100 kilowatts of electricity,” says Sam Thompson.

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“DSU schemes, in simple terms, have been developed to help system operators to operate and maintain a stable network,” adds Sam Alexander. “A big advantage for our customers,” says Sam Thompson, “is that it is easy for them to get involved. Providing they are of the right size and scale, we will do the rest. We’ll come and talk to them, we’ll survey their site, and we’ll install all of the necessary technology. It’s a painless process for them and one which requires no capital outlay from them.


Eye on Tax

MOVING THE TAX GOAL POSTS FOR SMEs By Richard Holley, Corporate Tax Partner, Harbinson Mulholland

We are often reminded that large international companies look for stability in a tax system when deciding where to locate their operations. The argument is that a stable tax regime will provide the certainty these companies need in planning for the future. But what of SMEs, often family businesses, who equally have to decide on structures and plan for the future?

I

n determining the structure for a family business for a number of years there have been tax considerations that point towards incorporation. Back in 2005 and 2006 there was a starting corporation tax rate of 0% on taxable profits up to £10,000 and then a reduced rate on taxable profits up to £50,000. More recently there has been Capital Gains Tax Entrepreneurs’ Relief with scope to sell goodwill to newly incorporated companies and pay tax at 10% and in some cases also to achieve the added benefit of corporation tax relief on the write off of the goodwill by the new company. Not least among the tax attractions of incorporation was the ability to take dividends from the new company. Tax advisers produced detailed calculations comparing the tax efficiency of bonuses and dividends and taking into account the need to avoid corporation tax at the expensive marginal rate. This has gone now and the decision to take dividends had become easier with falling corporation tax rates and rising employer’s national insurance rates on salary/bonus. We even have a single corporation tax rate now. So far so good but the 0% starting rate did not last for long. Also, with effect from 3 December 2014 there were changes to the tax position on incorporation so that CGT Entrepreneurs’ Relief was no

Marginal (top) rate of income tax Tax band

Basic rate

Higher rate

Additional rate

Effective dividend tax rate now

0%

25%

30.55%

Post 5 April 2016

7.5%

32.5%

38.1%

longer available to the proprietors of the former unincorporated business and also tax relief was not available on the write off of the goodwill in the new company. We then had the recent Summer Budget, which amongst other significant measures, announced changes to the taxation of dividends with effect from the start of the next fiscal year, 6 April 2016. The current position is that all UK dividends are paid with a notional 10% tax credit so for every £1,000 of dividend income received it is assumed that £111 in tax has already been paid (the total dividend is therefore £1,111). For this reason basic rate taxpayers had no further tax liability on dividends received. This tax credit will be scrapped with effect from April 2016 so that in future all dividends will be treated as gross (i.e. untaxed) income. The one piece of good news is that a £5,000 tax free dividend allowance will be introduced. These changes do seem to be aimed at SMEs, often family companies, who

pay a small salary which is intended to preserve the entitlement to state pension and a larger dividend. Whilst it is likely that dividends will remain advantageous, companies in this position will need to review their remuneration strategy prior to the end of the current fiscal year. It will also be interesting to see whether the dividend changes along with changes in the tax treatment of CGT and goodwill slow down the rush to incorporate. The recent changes will impact family companies significantly.

For more information you can contact Richard directly – rholley@harbinson-mulholland.com or 028 9044 5100.

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Eye on Telecoms

RAINBOW’S ERIC CARSON... HALF A CENTURY AND STILL BUILDING Eric Carson reached a milestone earlier this month that not too many people reach.

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he Chairman of Rainbow Communications notched up a full 50 years of working life on the 13th of September. It has been half a century since Eric turned up for his first day of work at Belfast company Telephone Rentals back in 1965. Today he runs Northern Ireland’s largest

independent telecoms and IT company, Rainbow Communications, employing over 100 people and supporting 10,000 business customers throughout the UK and Ireland. And he still has the odd souvenir of those early working days, courtesy of his late father who, like many of his generation, liked to keep those family milestones safely tucked away for posterity. A letter from his General Manager at Telephone Rentals from 1969 addressed to his father tells of his ‘pleasing’ progress and advises his father that his pay was about to increase to a heady £17 per week.

Eric Carson, Chairman of Rainbow Communications

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“The letter was sent out to my father 13 days before I was due to get married,” smiles Eric. “They did things differently back in those days.” They certainly did... and it extended a lot further than the fine art of letter writing. Eric Carson also keeps an old Dictograph phone handset, a heavy and clumsy looking piece of kit that was common in offices back in the 1960’s. Inside the heavy casing – and here’s the thing – everything was mechanical. Carson, a native of Armagh, started working life with Telephone Rentals as an apprentice engineer on the princely sum of four pounds and 16 shillings a week... working on the internal

phone systems that the company sold to its business customers. He went on to spend more than 30 years with the company working at its head office in London’s Knightsbridge and at its Dublin operation before returning to Belfast and becoming Chief Engineer and then the firm’s General Manager, the first from an engineering background to make it to the top job. But times had started to change in the telephone industry....as it was known in those days. Telephone Rentals found itself swallowed up by Mercury Communications in 1990, one of the first genuine challengers to British Telecom’s monopoly. Mercury, in turn, later became part of the global giant Cable & Wireless. Eric Carson and Mercury part company in 1995 and he started working alongside Martin Hamill, a colleague he’d met during his Mercury days. The pair could see opportunities for offering cut-price calls to hardpressed business customers. “Initially, we could do that by using a Smartbox system that annoyed a lot of people in the establishment around here,” he remembers. “It was one of the very first times that business consumers had a choice... so it was very significant. “We worked with various network suppliers at the time and we worked hard to produce the lower prices that our customers were looking for.” By 1998, the Smartbox technology was no longer needed, Martin Hamill


Eye on Telecoms

Martin Hamill, Eric Carson and Stuart Carson leading Rainbow forward for another ’50 years’.

had left his job at Cable & Wireless and the two became partners in a new venture – Rainbow Telecom. At the same time, Eric Carson was General Manager for Orange in Northern Ireland.....back in the days when the mobile phone network invested heavily in its regions. Rainbow Telecom started life with a team of five people based at Dundonald Enterprise Centre on the outskirts of Belfast. Nowadays, by way of comparison, Rainbow Communications (Telecom isn’t a word that’s used much any more....) is a £13 million operation with close to 100 staff with its headquarters on the Ballygowan Road outside Belfast. “We’re very proud of our growth over the years, and we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve financed that growth and development ourselves, right up to the acquisition of the UTV Connect business from UTV Media Plc last summer.”

He agrees that it’s a price-driven business these days and a highly competitive one. “There are one-man bands and small discounters out there that customers can go to. So what we have to offer is consistency and a really high level of customer service. That’s the key differentiator.” Rainbow Telecom might have started out as a provider of lines and calls but these days, it’s products and services span IT, mobiles, broadband and vehicle tracking. And it’s rapidly expanding the number of customers it is migrating onto IP (internet protocol) for their communications across the board. “For us, it’s about being competitive, looking after our customers and it’s about staying local. That’s still a very important factor.” Eric Carson and Martin Hamill still share an office at Rainbow’s Crossnacreevy headquarters. It’s been an enduring – and fruitful – business partnership. “We’ve said often enough that we

spend more time with each other than we do with our wives,” smiles Eric Carson. That said, a new tier of senior managers is emerging. Carson’s son Stuart is the company’s Sales & Marketing Director, while Noreen Longley and Uel McCrea are the Directors of Finance & Personnel and Customer Care & Operations respectively. “But both Martin and I are involved on a day to day basis,” says Eric. “In a nutshell, you could say that we set the strategic direction and we rely on the others to deliver on that.” Stuart Carson has inherited his father’s passion for the business. “We’re supporting a bit more than 10,000 customers from this building,” he says. “And that includes 40% of the Top 200 Companies here in Northern Ireland. We’re supplying them with a carrier grade product when it comes to our packages. “We’re recruiting all the time, and we’re currently looking for

people to head up our relatively new operations in both Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. “And we’ve been appointed as one of only eight direct partners for EE around the UK, which is a big deal for us and for our mobile customers. Outside of the business environment, Rainbow inherited a couple of thousand residential customers from UTV and could move into that space going forward..... although it’s a major undertaking. And this is a company which has maintained strong roots in the community. It remains firmly in family ownership, it’s based entirely in Northern Ireland and it’s not shy when it comes to community involvement. On the sporting front, Rainbow is best known as the main sponsor of Armagh GAA, and it has also backed Down Royal Racecourse (where one of the suites bears its name), the Mary Peters Trust and Mid Ulster Ladies Football Club.

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Bringing Quality Software To Law Firms In Northern Ireland When it comes to software geared for the legal marketplace, there are few more experienced professionals around than Jimmy Scullion.

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eneral Manager for Advanced Legal in Ireland, Jimmy has spent a number of years developing software for law firms and he’s built up an extensive network of contacts in the legal world north and south of the border. Advanced Legal is part of Advanced Computer Software Group and offers a comprehensive range of OPSIS and AlphaLaw software solutions to the legal sector, including law firms, barristers and in-house legal departments. Its products include practice management software, workflow solutions, document management, time recording and legal accounts. Advanced can also offer solutions which are tailored to specific areas within the law. The company was founded almost 30 years ago, has current revenues of £130 million and some 60,000 customers. It’s also been recognised for four years running in the Sunday Times ranking of the UK’s fastest-growing companies. And it is currently expanding its business interests across Ireland. Jimmy Scullion admits that law firms have to face investment decisions like any other business. But he emphasises the point that professional legal software can be a fruitful investment for any practice. “Advanced Legal is the only major company in the legal software marketplace with a full-

time presence in Northern Ireland, which is vitally important to our customers. Being part of a bigger group gives us access to more diverse resources and means we will be able to deliver a better level of service to our existing and future clients.” Scullion comments. “We are seeing increasing numbers of legal firms in Northern Ireland embrace technology in areas such as case management, workflow and client self-service. In doing so, these firms are able to meet customer demands and stay ahead of the competition.” adds Scullion. “Our solutions allow firms to automate repetitive processes, cutting time spent on tasks, increase accuracy and identity bottlenecks.

levels of customer care. “ALB acts as the hub for any law firm,” explains Scullion. “It comes with an easy to use interface, a Microsoft look and feel, and can make every aspect of practice and case management easier for our clients. This means they can concentrate on completing the legal work while the software takes the strain off administration, which is a vital benefit in today’s resource restricted environment.” The technology behind the products is being developed continuously. Mobile time recording – allowing lawyers to record chargeable time while out of the office – is just one example.

“Our Overvu software makes life much easier for managers. At a glance, they can see all work in progress including new cases, debts and key figures and statistics. They can also access historical data, to use as the basis for their forward planning.” “Firms are also using software systems to manage critical dates, create shared calendars and to make documents avilable practice-wide.” For example, Advanced have recently implemented their next generation ALB case management system into Belfast law firm Millar McCall Wylie LLP legal. Their decision to adopt Advanced’s new system and also deploy it on the Cloud is part of a continuous improvement strategy built around leading edge practice management and delivering consistent high

Advanced also offers digital signature technology, an innovative solution, enabling clients to sign urgent legal documents online, eliminating the need to physically post documents and thereby saving time and costs. “Our role is to understand the challenges faced by law firms when it comes to managing cases, running their practices, charging time and looking after accounts. We invest considerable amounts of time into making sure that we understand the business

needs and the challenges they face.” says Scullion Advanced Legal’s suite of products also allows senior partners and practice managers to view management information in real-time. “Our Overvu software makes life much easier for managers.” Continues Scullion. “At a glance, they can see all work in progress including new cases, debts and key figures and statistics. They can also access historical data, to use as the basis for their forward planning.” The software addresses the real presence of risk too, something that all law firms have to come to terms with as part of their daily business. Firms can reduce their exposure to risk by implementing money laundering checks and controls and managing critical dates. Case review procedures can be easily managed and case documents can be made available throughout the practice and to clients if desired. Looking at the wider legal marketplace, Jimmy Scullion is optimistic. “As we emerge from the economic downturn, I think that Irish law firms have gained confidence in the past year. There is more merger and acquisition activity in the marketplace and more firms are looking outside their local markets for growth.” “As a leading IT provider, we take the improvement of business processes for our legal clients seriously. Progressive law firms are already investing in quality software, and those that aren’t risk being left behind. It’s as simple as that.” concludes Scullion.

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Eye on Legal 500

LEGAL 500... NORTHERN IRELAND, A PLACE APART It’s a sign of the domestic times that Legal 500’s Regional Overview for Northern Ireland contained in its 2015 Report is dominated by politics...and the sticky matter of local politics at that.

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The Legal 500 authors start by reminding their GB-based readership that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, that it has 19 MP’s at Westminster, but that it

also has (nominally at least) its own Executive and Assembly operating under part devolution. Importantly for the sector under review, it also has its own distinct legal system.


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Eye on Legal 500 Here’s Legal 500’s view of Northern Ireland:At the time of writing, a political dispute is threatening to derail the Stormont House Agreement, and potentially even jeopardise the future of the power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland. Even if a fullblown collapse is averted, it nevertheless shows how far the province has to go before it can permanently govern itself without requiring outside intervention. With a GDP that trails the rest of the United Kingdom, and a widening prosperity gap, the Northern Ireland executive is bracing itself for the implementation of long-delayed public sector spending cuts. Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, the province has thus far escaped the worst effects of austerity. Even the Stormont House agreement was finalised only when the United Kingdom agreed to a financial package intended to protect Northern Ireland from the harshest effects of the cuts Sales of distressed real estate loan portfolios have driven activity for law firms in the banking

and finance, insolvency and commercial property areas. In 2014, NAMA, the entity set up to take on bad debts of Irish banks, completed the highprofile sale of its Northern Ireland real estate loan book to Cerberus for more than £1bn as part of an accelerated wind-down plan, while Ulster Bank embarked on its own phased disposal plan. The commercial property market experienced a notable increase in investmentsin Northern Irish assets by international funds and mainland UK investors, while the trend for retailers entering the Northern Irish market for the first time continued apace. The energy sector was also the subject of several sizeable transactions, including Platina Partners acquiring Slieve Rushen, and Bord Gáis Éireann selling its energy business. Standout firms in Northern Ireland include two with historical origins in Dublin, Arthur Cox and A&L Goodbody, in addition to indigenous firms such as Tughans, Carson McDowell LLP and Cleaver Fulton Rankin. Another active player is Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP, which benefits from the firm’s capabilities across the

United Kingdom and globally. Other Londonheadquartered firms, including Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Allen & Overy LLP, have a presence in Northern Ireland, but only to support their United Kingdom operations, rather than compete with the local market.

The Legal 500 Regional Heavyweights TIER 1 A&L Goodbody Arthur Cox Carson McDowell LLP Cleaver Fulton Rankin Tughans TIER 2 Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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Eye on Legal 500

LEGAL 500... The Leading Individuals Banking and finance

Neasa Quigley, Carson McDowell LLP

IT and Telecoms

Tom Adair, Carson McDowell LLP

Peter Stafford, A&L Goodbody

Paul McBride, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Angus Creed, John McKee Solicitors

Alan Taylor, Arthur Cox

Adrian O’Connell, Tughans

Stephen Cross, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Mark Thompson, A&L Goodbody

Avril McCammon, John McKee Solicitors

John-George Willis, Tughans

Kieran McGarrigle, Arthur Cox

Insolvency and Corporate Recovery Jeanette Donohoe, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Sinead McGrath, Carson McDowell LLP

Dispute Resolution

John Gordon, Napier and Sons

Kevin McVeigh, Elliott Duffy Garrett

Sam Beckett, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

John Kearns, Mills Selig

Fearghal O’Loan, Tughans

Brendan Fox, A&L Goodbody

Kieran McGarrigle, Arthur Cox

Catriona Gibson, Arthur Cox

Toby McMurray, Tughans

Commercial property

Gareth Jones, C & H Jefferson

Michael Neill, A&L Goodbody

Phyllis Agnew, Tughans

David Kirkpatrick, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Kathryn Collie, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Declan Magee, Carson McDowell LLP

Intellectual Property

Jeremy Hill, Carson McDowell LLP

Michael McCord, Tughans

Paul McBride, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Jim Houston, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Paul Spring, Mills Selig

Paul Spring, Mills Selig

Peter McCall, Millar McCall Wylie LLP

Amanda Wylie, Kennedys

Alan Taylor, Arthur Cox

Tracey Schofield, Tughans

EU and Competition

Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate

Mark Tinman, C & H Jefferson

Michaela Diver, A&L Goodbody

Neil Bleakley, Carson McDowell LLP

Rowan White, Arthur Cox

Dorit McCann, Carson McDowell LLP

Michael Graham, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Construction

Employment

Planning and Environment

Sam Beckett, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Anna Beggan, Tughans

Karen Blair, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Michael McCord, Tughans

Adam Brett, Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors

Gary McGhee, Carson McDowell LLP

Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Pinsent Masons Belfast

Rosemary Connolly, Rosemary Connolly Solicitors

John Mills, Tughans

Corporate and M&A

Beverley Jones, Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors

Project Finance and PFI

Orlagh O’Neill, Carson McDowell LLP

Adrian Eakin, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Alan Bissett, Arthur Cox

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Michael Johnston, Carson McDowell LLP

Stephen Cross, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Energy

Richard Gray, Carson McDowell LLP

Alan Bissett, Arthur Cox

Michael Johnston, Carson McDowell LLP

Stephen Cross, Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Paul McBride, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Richard Murphy, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Kevin McVeigh, Elliott Duffy Garrett

Mark Thompson, A&L Goodbody

Mark Thompson, A&L Goodbody


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Eye on Legal 500

LEGAL 500... Specialists At The Top Of Their Game Never mind the broad brush approach, who are the top-performing Northern Ireland lawyers by specialisation according to the 2015 Legal 500 survey? Business Eye take a closer look at the top firms sector by sector: Corporate & Commercial

Employment

Dispute Resolution

TIER 1

TIER 1

TIER 1

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast

Jones Cassidy Brett

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Tughans

Pinsent Masons Belfast

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

TIER 2

Tughans

Tughans

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

TIER 2

TIER 2

Millar McCall Wylie

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

C&H Jefferson

Mills Selig

Elliott Duffy Garrett

Elliott Duffy Garrett

TIER 3

Rosemary Connolly Solicitors

John McKee Solicitors

C&H Jefferson

Thompsons NI Solicitors

Johnsons Solicitors

Elliott Duffy Garrett

TIER 3

Kennedys

John McKee Solicitors

John McKee Solicitors

McKinty & Wright

Johnsons Solicitors

McCartan Turkington Breen

Millar McCall Wylie

Millar McCall Wylie

Mills Selig

Mills Selig

TIER 3

Project Finance & PFI TIER 1

McCartan Turkington Breen

Arthur Cox

Energy

Napier & Sons

Pinsent Masons Belfast

TIER 1

TLT

TIER 2

A&L Goodbody

Thompsons NI Solicitors

Carson McDowell

Arthur Cox

Tughans

Carson McDowell

TIER 3

Pinsent Masons Belfast

A&L Goodbody

TIER 2 Cleaver Fulton Rankin Mills Selig TLT

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Eye on Legal 500

LEGAL 500... Specialists At The Top Of Their Game Insolvency & Corporate Recovery

Banking & Finance

Planning & Environmental

TIER 1

TIER 1

TIER 1

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody

Carson McDowell

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox

TIER 2

TIER 2

Carson McDowell

Arthur Cox

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

John McKee Solicitors

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

John McKee Solicitors

TIER 2

Tughans

Napier & Sons

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

TIER 3

Tughans

Tughans

A&L Goodbody

TIER 3

TIER 3

Pinsent Masons Belfast

C&H Jefferson

C&H Jefferson

TLT

Carson McDowell

Elliott Duffy Garrett

TIER 4

Millar McCall Wylie

Intellectual Property

Elliott Duffy Garrett

Pinsent Masons Belfast

TIER 1

Millar McCall Wylie

TLT

A&L Goodbody

Mills Selig Technology, Media & Telecoms

Carson McDowell

TIER 1

Pinsent Masons Belfast

Commercial Property

Arthur Cox

Tughans

TIER 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

TIER 2

A&L Goodbody

Pinsent Masons Belfast

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Arthur Cox

Tughans

Forde Campbell LLC

Carson McDowell

TIER 2

TIER 3

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

A&L Goodbody

Mills Selig

Tughans

Carson McDowell

TIER 2

Forde Campbell LLC

Pinsent Masons Belfast

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Arthur Cox

Construction

C&H Jefferson

TIER 1

Elliott Duffy Garrett

A&L Goodbody

Millar McCall Wylie

Arthur Cox

Pinsent Masons Belfast

Carson McDowell

TIER 3

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

John McKee Solicitors

Pinsent Masons Belfast

McCartan Turkington Breen

TIER 2

Mills Selig

Tughans


BELFAST

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DUBLIN

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NEW YORK

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SILICON VALLEY

Excellence means clear guidance Whatever your business trajectory, it is essential to have confident, commerciallyfocussed guidance to help you on your course. That’s why local businesses and multinationals alike trust Arthur Cox for our advice, our reputation and our sound judgement. With Arthur Cox you can always expect excellence.

To speak to one of our team, call us on: +44 28 9023 0007 www.arthurcox.com

Expect Excellence.


Eye on Legal 500

How To Weather The Health And Safety ‘Perfect Storm’ Chris Ritchie, Dispute Resolution Partner at leading law firm Arthur Cox, warns companies about the increasing importance of ensuring they are fully compliant with health and safety law.

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check on the current climate surrounding the issue of workplace health and safety reveals a potential ‘perfect storm’ brewing which, if ignored, could have severe consequences for individual directors and their companies. Public interest is on the rise, demanding that companies and individuals be held to account in the criminal courts for their health and safety record following death or injury in the workplace. Enforcement In addition, companies cannot fail to have noticed the increased scrutiny by the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI). This organisation is displaying an increased willingness to recommend prosecution of companies when inspection or investigation reveals breaches to have been committed. The attitude of the courts is similarly reflective, witness the rising level of fines for such breaches, stretching into the hundreds of thousands of pounds where a fatality is concerned. It is vital to recognise that prosecution of these offences can also be brought against individual managers and directors of companies, attracting fines and, in appropriate cases, prison sentences. There has been a substantial rise in enforcement action taken against such individuals in recent years, which should serve as a stark warning to all involved in management, even if not specifically named as directors.

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Chris Ritchie, Dispute Resolution Partner at leading law firm Arthur Cox, insists a comprehensive collective effort is required to manage the health and safety of a company and comply with the letter and spirit of the law

Naming and shaming Added to the very real possibility of fines and prison sentences is the HSENI’s ‘naming and shaming’ policy, which sees all organisations and individuals convicted of health and safety offences published in the organisation’s annual report. Where appropriate, enforcing authorities are also directed by the HSENI to seek disqualification of directors with convictions for offences carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ disqualification in the lower courts and up to 15 years in the higher courts. This information is readily available to the public and, more importantly, potential investors and public procurement decisionmakers. The very obvious threat which this poses to business reputation and future growth hardly requires to be spelt out. Guidance So, what can companies and individual directors do to make sure they are fully compliant? The guidance document produced by the Institute of Directors NI in conjunction with the HSENI

(available online at: http://www. hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg417. pdf) is an ideal starting point. It establishes a benchmark for boards and directors which, if adhered to, will greatly improve the prospects of demonstrating compliance. Remember that actions speak louder than words. The best and most detailed set of written safety policies and procedures are totally worthless unless they are fully resourced, rigorously implemented and kept under regular review. Board level involvement and commitment is imperative if an organisation is to successfully implement high levels of health and safety management. Directors must ensure they are kept informed on a regular basis about performance levels and the appointment of a health and safety director - at board level - can be an effective way of achieving this. Review It is also imperative that proper procedures of audit and review are carried out to ensure that ‘blind spots’ have not developed – for example, due to advancements

in technology or changes to legislation. An external organisation is often best placed to carry out a review, a service with which Arthur Cox can assist its corporate clients. When a company is charged with health and safety breaches, it will naturally wish representation by a firm in which it places its absolute trust. It is important that companies realise they can make representations to their broker or insurer that their preferred firm acts for them when ‘the storm’ hits. Ultimately, companies must remember that responsibility for health and safety does not stop with a health and safety director or a computer system. A comprehensive collective effort is required to manage the health and safety of a company and comply with the letter and spirit of the law.

The health and safety team at Arthur Cox is well positioned to advise on how to ensure you are fully compliant with workplace health and safety law. Call +44 28 9023 0007 for further information.


LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Eye on xxx BASED ON SUCCESS A&L Goodbody is one of the leading law firms across the island of Ireland. The Firm provides clients and advisors with the highest quality legal service through award-winning innovation and market leadership. We look forward to playing our part in the future growth of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies. To find out how the A&L Goodbody team can assist your business, please contact: Mark Thompson, Head of Belfast Office, A&L Goodbody 42/46 Fountain Street, Belfast BT1 5EF E: mthompson@algoodbody.com T: +44 28 9031 4466

No.1 M&A Law Firm in Northern Ireland 2012, 2013 & 2014

DUBLIN

BELFAST

LONDON

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European Law Firm of the Year

SAN FRANCISCO

Corporate Law Firm of The Year in Northern Ireland 2013 & 2014

PALO ALTO 35


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Eye on Legal 500

Senior NI EU legislator welcomes new Belfast to Brussels legal link

International law firm Pinsent Masons new opening in Brussels has been welcomed by one of Northern Ireland’s most senior legislators, Jim Nicholson MEP.

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he region’s only full service international law firm took the opportunity to brief Mr. Nicholson on their expansion when he visited their Belfast office last week. The firm’s presence at the centre of EU policy and decision-making will

enable lawyers from across Pinsent Masons’ pan-European practice to more-closely monitor developments in relation to the constitutional future of the European Union, and offer clients the latest perspectives on the issues likely to affect them. One of the key figures in the expansion is Belfast-based Stuart Cairns, who heads up the firm’s UK procurement practice, much of whose work is dominated by EU legislation. Stuart Cairns said, “With two offices opening in Australia and now Brussels coming online, it demonstrates the levels of international investment we are offering to the Northern Ireland market. Representing over a third of the Top 100 NI businesses we know the challenges they face in navigating through EU regulation everyday. Developing a practice in Brussels means we can deliver seamless servicing for those having to engage at this level. “Jim is widely recognised as one

of the European Parliament’s most senior representatives, and having met him in Brussels recently we were delighted he accepted the invitation to visit the Belfast office to learn more about our work.” A senior team took the opportunity to brief him on key issues influenced by European policy-making including Procurement, Energy, Employment, and Regulatory & Compliance. Welcoming the announcement Jim Nicholson MEP said, “I am pleased to see Pinsent Masons bringing their services to the heart of Europe. Having represented Northern Ireland for more than 25 years i know only too well how daunting local businesses and other groups can find EU law. Now having our own point of access directly from Belfast to Brussels, i hope it helps local organisations demystify the European legal system and remove any real or perceived obstacles to economic growth in the region.”

A&L Goodbody Calls For ‘Bold Ideas’ From University Students

LOCK DOWN ON CYBER CRIME: Pictured at the launch of A&L Goodbody’s ‘Bold Ideas Student Innovation Award’ competition are A&L Goodbody trainees Tanya Surgeon, Arianna Marano and David Tubman.

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s the world becomes more digitally connected, how can society protect itself from cyber-risks? That is the question being put to university students across

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Ireland – north and south – as part of corporate law firm A&L Goodbody’s ‘Bold Ideas Student Innovation Award’ competition, which was launched today. At the launch, the firm also announced

its intention to recruit approximately 40 graduate positions over the coming months as part of its Trainee Solicitor Recruitment Programme. Now in its fourth year, ‘Bold Ideas’ recognises the most innovative ideas from either undergraduate or postgraduate students at Northern Ireland and ROI universities. This year, students from all disciplines have been asked to identify specific cyber risks facing society and to develop comprehensive solutions to help address those risks. Speaking at the launch of the competition, Mark Thompson, Head of A&L Goodbody’s Northern Ireland office, commented: “Bold Ideas is designed to encourage the enthusiasm and creativity of the next generation of professionals and give them a platform to identify and express their views on issues we face in modern society.” He continues: “Cyber risk has become

a part of daily life in the technological age. As cybercrime continues to become more sophisticated, and prevalent, society must remain vigilant to potential threats and take the necessary precautions.” The first prize winner of the competition will receive €3,000 in cash and an internship at one of A&L Goodbody’s office locations (Dublin, Belfast, London, New York or San Francisco) including travel and accommodation. The Firm will also make a cash donation on the winner’s behalf to a charity of their choice. Runners up will receive an iPad mini. The closing date for entries to Bold Ideas is Friday, 13 November 2015 and the winner will be announced at a special awards ceremony on Thursday, 3 December 2015. For more information, or to apply, simply log on to www. algoodbody.com/boldideasaward.


Eye on Legal 500

Gerard Small, Partner – Commercial Property and Private Client, John McKee.

LEGAL 500 ACCOLADE FOR JOHN McKEE FINANCE TEAM It didn’t come as any surprise to Alison Reid and the Banking & Finance team at John McKee Solicitors that the team was named in the coveted top tier of Belfast law firms specialising in banking and finance.

“W

e’ve worked hard and in a planned way to establish ourselves as one of the top teams for banking and finance in Northern Ireland, and the hard work has paid off,” says Alison Reid. “We were delighted to see our name in the top tier. It’s an important seal of approval, and one which will reinforce our credentials not just in the local marketplace, but also outside of Northern Ireland, among those looking for legal counsel here.” Alison Reid trained as a solicitor with John McKee and has been with the Belfast and London-based firm for 12 years. Now a Partner at the firm, she specialises in banking and finance as well as insolvency and business restructuring.

“We work with all of the main banks serving the Northern Ireland marketplace and also across the UK and Ireland. That includes Ulster Bank, Danske Bank, Bank of Ireland, First Trust Bank, and Santander and we’ve built up significant knowledge base, expertise and experience in the banking and finance law arena,” says Alison Reid. “Over the past few years, the practice has been working on a lot of transactions for the various banks. For a period, the focus shifted towards enforcement work, but now we’re seeing a larger volume of loan activity and transactions coming through as the market normalises once again.” Her comments reflect how the wider market has changed through

Alison Reid, Partner – Banking & Finance and Restructuring & Insolvency, John McKee.

the years of the financial crisis and out into recovery mode. “So the banks are beginning to lend again, there is once again an appetite for borrowing, but it is fair to say that the banks are more stringent in the way that they are processing and managing that lending. Times have changed, and that’s also reflected in the legal work that John McKee finds itself managing My colleagues are more and more frequently involved in cross jurisdictional lending and our multi-jurisdictional lawyers are key to those deals” We are excited about the market potential that creates for us and we are approaching these opportunities in a focused manner. In addition to its Tier 1 ranking in the banking and finance section of this year’s Legal 500, John McKee had two of its senior lawyers named among the Leading Individuals in the sector – Avril McCammon and Angus Creed taking their places in an eight-strong banking and finance legal elite list. Outside of banking and finance, John McKee was listed in Tier 2 of three other legal sectors – Dispute Resolution, Insolvency & Corporate Recovery and Private Client (Tax, Trust & Probate). Alison’s fellow partner, Gerard Small, heads up John McKee’s Commercial Property team as well as the Private Client team within the firm.

“It’s an area which has become more active for us over recent years,” he says. “We’ve been instructed in several large-scale projects for a range of clients, and it’s an area where our cross-jurisdictional qualified lawyers are a real strength and advantage for us as a firm. “The commercial property sector is starting to grow once again, but within a different and more stringent lending model. Finance is becoming available from the banks, and there is no doubt that development and construction activity is returning. “The retail environment is improving but the landscape here has also changed remarkably and we’re seeing increased interests in lettings from hospitality operators. There are challenges around Grade A office accommodation and a shortage of prime retail units, but the market is looking more buoyant. The recent initiative from InvestNI has seen over £43 million of loan applications to develop Grade A office accommodation in Northern Ireland so demand is obviously there.” “We take a problem-solving approach to all of our work especially to clients in commercial property given the changes within that sector. We add value at every stage and always have the strategic interests of our clients as our primary focus in every aspect of what we do. ”

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Eye on News

Arthur Cox Strengthens Partnership Team Newly-appointed Partners at leading law firm Arthur Cox, (L-R) Matthew Howse and William Curry, are congratulated by Alan Taylor, Managing Partner of Arthur Cox Northern Ireland.

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atthew Howse, a Partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, joined Arthur Cox in 2010 and has recently advised on some of the largest, high-profile, contentious cases in Northern Ireland. William Curry, a Partner in the Corporate and Commercial Department, has been with

Arthur Cox for almost a decade and advises both public and private sector bodies. With more than 100 Partners, Arthur Cox is Ireland’s largest law firm and the newest Partner appointments further strengthen its offering in the north where it is regarded as one of the foremost Corporate and Commercial practices.

ULSTER RUGBY BEEFS UP RED MEAT MEALS WITH DUNBIA Jack Dobson Dunbia Executive Director (l) and Matthew Dobson Dunbia MD, serve up beef dishes to Ulster Rugby players Andrew Trimble, Robbie Diack and Roger Wilson.

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he partnership will see the Ulster team enjoy Dunbia-supplied red meat three times a week as part of their carefully planned diets. Announcing the partnership, Matthew Dobson, Managing Director, Dunbia commented: “Dunbia is proud to Stand Up For The Ulster Men by supplying quality red meat to the team. Ulster captain, Rory Best has been a brand ambassador for

Dunbia for two years and we see this new partnership as a further opportunity to develop and grow our relationship with Ulster Rugby to our mutual benefit. We hope that by incorporating Dunbia’s red meat in the Ulster team’s menu plans, we have the recipe for a successful season.” Phil Polack, Ulster Rugby Business Development Manager, welcomed the partnership with Dunbia: “Ulster Rugby

Leading agri-food company, Dunbia, has teamed up with Ulster Rugby to supply quality red meat to the team’s players and coaches. is delighted to establish a partnership with Dunbia. Providing a nutritional, balanced diet to our squad is a key part of ensuring our ongoing success and it is vital that the food they eat is of the highest possible standard. Dunbia is one of the leading red meat processors in the UK with a reputation for uncompromising quality and standards. We look forward to working

with Dunbia and hope the partnership will bring success to both parties.” Head-quartered in Dungannon, Dunbia is one of the leading red meat processors in Europe, procuring cattle, sheep and pigs across the UK and supplying butchers, retailers and wholesalers across the world. Over the course of the season, Dunbia will be active on Twitter. Stay up to date by following @dunbiagroup.

INNOVATION AT ITS BEST! Celebrating, rewarding and recognising excellence was the order of the day at the Travel Media Awards 2015 held recently in Dublin.

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elebrating, rewarding and recognising excellence was the order of the day at the Travel Media Awards 2015 held recently in Dublin. Collecting top accolade for ‘Innovator of the Year’, recognised as one of the most prestigious categories in the hotly contested Awards, was Selective Travel Management, part of the World Travel Centre Group, and one of the fastest growing independent Corporate Travel Management companies in the sector. The Ireland-wide organisation which has a

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client portfolio stretching across Ireland and the UK earned the accolade in recognition of an outstanding performance in staff training and empowerment backed by a policy of ongoing investment in state of the art technology. Mukesh Sharma, Managing Director of World Travel Centre’s Northern Ireland operation headquartered in Belfast, was understandably delighted at this latest kudos which follows several notable award wins across the year. He said: “It is a great honour for Selective Travel Management and World Travel Centre to have been recognised for this award by key players in the Ireland-wide travel sector. We particularly relish recognition from people who are acknowledged experts in the field of travel and very much ‘at the top of their game’.

Celebrating their latest success are (left to right) Aidan Coghaln, MD of World Travel Centre Group, Keith Graham, Management Operations Director Selective Travel Management and Mukesh Sharma, MD, Selective Travel Management, World Travel Centre’s NI operation.


Eye on Global Markets

Don’t Ignore Today... But Focus On Tomorrow 2015 has been a year of woes with many predicting the end of the easy ride which began in 2009, the year Quantative Easing was introduced. So far this year we have had falling energy prices, a potential Greek exit, political uncertainty in the run up to the UK Election and now the widely debated hard landing in China that might be a soft one.

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here are few events that divide history into two, when it becomes the before and the after. In the investment world the global financial crisis has got be one of those events. Since 2009 we have hardly been able to look at historical data for trends and market cycles, all bets have been off as the markets followed the free money. The US first, then UK, then Japan, now Europe and even China in the cloak and dagger style we have come to accept. It is only reasonable as the status quo begins to unwind reaction events will lead to volatility. Try to filter out the noise and it is still an interesting journey ahead. It is difficult not to be affected by your own regional outlook, in Northern Ireland we still have an overreliance on the public sector so for many of us real wages have not particularly improved and our housing market is still well below the highs of 2008 albeit improving. Therefore how we feel and what the reality is can be very different. The UK has all the makings of a recovering economy. A stable government committed to supporting businesses and structural reform committed to eliminating the budget deficit

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Jamesina Doble, Director, Investment Management, Johnston Campbell.

by 2019/20, although painful this creates an environment for businesses to plan and grow. With the best guidance in the world, its unlikely interest rates will increase in the near term and inflation should tick up toward target now we are benefiting from the lower energy and food costs. There is no doubt that some areas of the market look overvalued, those strong quality companies, the expensive defensives, but all the economic data points toward a good environment for equities. Companies need to be able to truly grow their bottom line earnings and early stage recovery will always have some set backs, but then we have had these before. Remember the European Crisis in 2011, the fiscal cliff, taper tantrum, the ending of US QE, the oil price shock…the list goes on. It will not be time that ends the bull market, only the economic cycle can do that. All eyes again are on the US, the will they won’t they debate

on interest rates rages on. The economy has all the stability signs (low unemployment, strengthening currency and wage inflation) that the September meeting should have produced a yes vote but it seems that the Chinese put a stop to that or was it the IMF? For the first time Central Bankers are not just focusing on their inflation targets, they like to tinker in markets too. It’s hard to see how the status quo will change. Equities still look supported and even at expensive prices the dividend yield is still better than the returns in cash. Performance will not be the same as the ‘free money’ years, China is giving us far too much a headache for that, but if you can weather the setbacks and be patient you will still be rewarded. Markets will always continue to react badly to any newsflow that could indicate a global recession is on the way, you cannot ignore the short term but it is healthy to remain focused on the longer term.

“The UK has all the makings of a recovering economy. A stable government committed to supporting businesses and structural reform committed to eliminating the budget deficit by 2019/20, although painful this creates an environment for businesses to plan and grow.”

Johnston Campbell 8 Cromac Place, Belfast BT7 2JB Tel: 028 9022 1010 Fax: 028 9022 1011 www.johnstoncampbell.com


2015 Deadline for Entries – Friday 23rd October 2015


Award Categories & Criteria There will be 16 different categories for the 2015 Awards... SME of the Year Award

Research & Development Project of the Year

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

The small to medium-sized enterprise (up to 100 employees) which, in the opinion of the judges, can demonstrate significant business growth over the past year to 18 months across any sector of the local economy.

Green Company of the Year Award

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

International Award SPONSORED BY

Best Digital/Online Company of The Year

Agri Food Innovation Award SPONSORED BY

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

Foreign Direct Investment Project of the Year SPONSORED BY

A new award category reflecting the strength and growth of the Northern Ireland agri-food and food processing sectors. The awards sets out to recognise the organisation which can demonstrate outstanding innovation in a sector where innovation is crucial to business sector. This can apply to new product innovation, innovation in manufacturing process or innovation in product marketing. Evidence of commerical success or commercial potential as a resuilt of innovation should be demonstrated.

SPONSORED BY

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

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

A new category for the UTV Business Eye Awards 2015 recognising the recent foreign direct investment project which, in the opinion of the judging panel, has brought the most benefit, in terms of employment or other relevant factors, to the wider Northern Ireland economy and business community

Business / Education Award SPONSORED BY

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


enter online at utvawards.businesseye.co.uk Deadline for Entries – Friday 23rd October 2015

Fast Growth Business of the Year

Business Personality of the Year Award

Company of the Year Award

Tourism / Hospitality Project of the Year

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

The Northern Ireland-based business of any size which can demonstrate a substantial growth in sales/turnover and/ or employment levels over the past 12-18 months.

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

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

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

Lifetime Achievement Award

Young Business Personality of the Year

SPONSORED BY

The Lifetime Achievement Award will honour a leading personality from the wider Northern Ireland business community who has made a significant and lasting contribution to business and the economy in the region.

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

Employer of the Year Award

Most Innovative Company of the Year SPONSORED BY

SPONSORED BY

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

With innovation at the heart of many NI-based enterprises, this award sets out to recognise the organisation which, in the view of the judges, exemplifies best practice in product and/ or service innovation.

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Follow the Northern Ireland Finalists

NEW SERIES Starts Monday 21st September 2015


Pictured launching the event: Lorraine Bell, GPS Colour Graphics, Darren McDowell Harbinson Mulholland, Kirsty McManus, Ulster University Business School and Stephen Stewart, Mervyn Stewart Skoda.

Family Businesses To Take Centre Stage on 20th October A unique event to celebrate the success of local family businesses brought to you by Ulster University Business School in partnership with Harbinson Mulholland. Local businesses and international experts will be sharing their stories, with presentations from:

Our panel of experts will be discussing some of those challenges and include:

• William Barnett, Chief Executive at W&R Barnett, a fourth generation business and one of NI ‘s most successful companies.

• Stephen Stewart, Mervyn Stewart Skoda, a Belfast based family business now in their 6th decade.

• Vincent Carton, Managing Director at Manor Farm, representing the 8th generation working in one of Ireland’s oldest family companies. • Andrew Keyt, President of the Family Business Network in North America, Family Business Strategist and third generation business owner. Guests will also experience a unique performance from Real Learning Ltd, who will be staging a series of dramatizations, demonstrating some current challenges facing family businesses.

• Lorraine Bell, GPS Colour Graphics, who recently celebrated 100 years of her family business. • Patrick Leonard, Partner, Harbinson Mulholland, who has been advising family businesses for over 25 years. Businesses attending will also be able to take advantage of an advice Signposting session, offered by the SME Centre, Harbinson Mulholland and Invest NI. To reserve a place for your family business, please email Chelsea Brennan: cs.brennan@ulster.ac.uk

W5, SSE Arena, Belfast 7.45am – 11.30am


CROSS BORDER BODY BUSIER THAN EVER A combination of the end of recession, a fast-growing Irish economy and a distinct rise in cross-border business means that InterTradeIreland is busier than ever.

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Eye on Cross Border Trade

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hat’s the assessment of Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO at the cross-border trade body and a man who’s now been in the top job at InterTradeIreland’s Newry headquarters since 2012 when he succeeded Liam Nellis. “Demand is definitely increasing for the services we’re offering,” he says. “More and more companies want to get involved, and we have a very strong pipeline of SMEs looking to avail of our key supports. We are often over-subscribed.” Hunter McGowan emphasises that InterTradeIreland has radically changed the way that it operates. “We’ve move to a much more holistic offering and distilled down what we do into three main pillars of support – intelligence, funding and contacts.” he says. “InterTradeIreland works with companies on both sides of the border, mainly small businesses who are ambitious and looking to grow and that are primarily based in the manufacturing and tradeable services industries. “Larger, more established companies don’t need the type of help we’re offering, or they shouldn’t at least....” “It’s a well known fact that companies that innovate are three times more likely to grow and companies that export do fare better than their non-exporting counterparts. That’s where we come in as an organisation. The obvious first step to export is cross-border trade within the island,North to South and South to North. “There are no language barriers and no culture barriers in dealing with our closest neighbours, however cross border trade isn’t without its challenges for newcomers....currency and VAT amongst them. We’re here to help companies with those first steps and to provide the advice and support that they need. A great starting point is our free Simple Guide to Cross-Border Business that can be downloaded from our website. It gives small businesses practical advice on a range of areas such as setting up an office crossborder, dealing with Tax and VAT and trading in a different currency.” InterTradeIreland also offers funding and support through

a range of programmes to help companies grow their businesses. Elevate specifically helps micro businesses to enter the crossborder market with a package of support worth £5k of consultancy to help create a cross-border sales development plan. Acumen helps small businesses source and part funds the right people and expertise to help target the cross-border market and increase sales. Fusion is an innovation support package towards product development and process improvement that provides financial support, university links and specialist graduate expertise. Challenge is another innovation support programme which provides businesses with a proven, reliable, and repeatable innovation process to bring ideas to market and with less cost. “We have a rigorous selection process in place to make sure that we are able to work with the right companies at the right time and have adapted our supports to suit the marketplace. This is evident when we created the Elevate Programme to specifically cater for the mico-business sector given research feedback we received where there was a high demand for small business support with less than ten employees. A native of Cork, Thomas Hunter McGowan has a strong

mix of private and public sector experience in his own background. A chartered management accountant and chartered company secretary, he spent his early career in local government before launching and running his own company for 20 years. Swansea Cork Ferries ran a successful link between Ireland and Wales before Hunter McGowan called the operations to a halt in 2007....hit by a combination of spiralling fuel costs and a dwindling freight business. He returned to local government in Kildare and headed up a Local Government Efficiency Review Group in the Republic before taking on the InterTradeIreland role. He commutes from his home in Dublin to Newry on days when he’s based in InterTrade’s main offices. InterTradeIreland works closely with the key universities in Ireland including Queen’s University and the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, to provide opportunities for graduates within companies, and to provide the companies with additional resources. Graduates can work with local companies on innovation projects under the auspices of one of InterTradeIreland’s key support programmes and a high proportion (80%) end up securing full-time jobs with the companies they work with.

“Cross-border trade is our core business, if you like, but we’re very strong on innovation too. Product development is a very important part of what we do at InterTradeIreland. You can’t have sustainable cross-border trade without good products.....” The agency also provides practical help with tendering and public sector procurement. It runs award winning -2-Tender’ training workshops regularly for business owners and managers who want to learn how to tender successfully. That practical help is supported by a regular series of Meet The Buyer events, both North and South of the border, bringing together key public sector buyers with small businesses. One was held this summer at the Ramada Plaza Hotel outside Belfast and another takes place shortly in October at the CityWest Hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. “With the recent changes in the Public Procurement landscape, we’ve developed a system of aggregation when it comes to big public sector contracts whereby companies can avail of advice and assistance to forma consortia to tender collectively for larger-scale contracts.” The organisation has even launched a new public procurement app, which notifies companies of tenders in Northern

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Eye on Cross Border Trade

Ireland, Ireland and the UK. InterTradeIreland also provides wide-ranging advice on funding and alternative sources of finance. “Research shows that the vast majority of companies both North and South fund their working capital by bank overdraft. “We work to introduce them to mezzanine finance, to equity finance options, to the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN).... amongst other sources. And we’ve worked alongside Grant Thornton to deliver a series of seminars to small businesses on the options for financing business growth.” InterTradeIreland runs the annual All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition aimed at early stage and new start companies with equity requirements. The competition has a €280,000 total cash prize fund for its regional and national winners. “It’s a competition that we’ve learnt a lot from over the years and one which turns up some fantastic small business success stories,”

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says Hunter McGowan. “They also learn a lot from the process....even if they don’t win as they learn how to become investor-ready, to hone their business plan and to pitch more effectively. And that’s something that stands them in good stead going forward.” InterTradeIreland’s relationship with businesses differs from that of other business development agencies. “We don’t have ‘client’ companies. We work with a wide range of companies and we provide the help and assistance that they need....and then they move on. It’s a modus operandi that has worked very well for us.” On the intelligence front, InterTradIreland’s quarterly Business Monitor is the largest and most comprehensive business survey on the island....taking in the view of more than 750 SME owner managers from all over the island.. It differs from other surveys by feeding directly from telephone interviews across a range of sectors, and it tracks areas

such as sales, employment and business outlook. “It also identifies problem areas and it identifies needs,” says Hunter McGowan. “So it’s a very useful exercise from our perspective and an exercise that makes a positive contribution to the cross-border business sector.” InterTradeIreland works closely with Invest NI in Northern Ireland and Enterprise Ireland in the Republic of Irelandand works closely with both political set-ups and economies which – despite the fact that they share one island – could hardly be more different at times. “Yes, that can be a challenge,” says Hunter McGowan. “That’s why it’s important that a body like ours is here to help companies and to provide practical assistance and advice on an all island-basis, we are unique in that regard.” He sees potential in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative. With €80 billion in funding promised, it is Europe’s flagship initiative

aimed at securing the continent’s competitiveness, driving economic growth and creating jobs. “It’s important that this region gets as much out of Horizon 2020 as it can. We have an all-Island steering body up and running and we’ve set an ambitious drawdown target of €175 million.” The organisation’s own finances are always a matter of concern to Hunter McGowan and his senior colleagues. InterTradeIreland might be busier than ever, its programmes might be over subscribed.... but this doesn’t guarantee a continued level of funding from governments North and South. “But we’re confident that the work that we do on a day to day basis supporting local small businesses and the results that we help them achieve both in terms of creating and sustaining jobs, innovating, selling cross-border and creating growth and economic prosperity put us in a strong position for continued support.”


Eye on Communications

Coral Environmental cleans up with WorkPal

Susan McBrien and Michael Gray of Coral Environmental with Karl Rainey, WorkPal Development Manager

Michael Gray and Susan McBrien of indoor environmental consultancy, Coral Environmental explain how WorkPal, Barclay Communications’ mobile workflow management solution has transformed their business and enhanced the service they offer to their clients. Coral Environmental Working across all sectors throughout the UK and Ireland, Coral Environmental has over 20 years’ experience in providing a number of services from complete Legionella Management and Water Treatment to Asbestos surveying and Air Quality assessments. Barclay Communications and WorkPal Barclay Communications has over 18 years’ experience in business communications and is recognised as a local expert in mobile, landline, IT, web design and more recently software development with WorkPal, their flagship solution for mobile workflow management, reporting, tracking and invoicing.

“WorkPal has made us more professional and efficient; it is the single best investment that we have made as a company to date.” Coral Environmental’s Job Management Challenges Michael explains, “We were drowning in paperwork and a huge amount of time was being spent on administration, so much so that we needed to recruit another administrator. Our paper based system and job management

process was not as professional or efficient as it could have been. Our field workers travel the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland and effectively, they could travel for up to two weeks before having the opportunity to come into the Belfast office to hand over paperwork, specifically job sheets. As a result, jobs were not being processed quickly enough, which meant that invoices were not being sent out promptly. The reporting that we were able to provide to clients was also limited. Job ownership, accountability and traceability were also additional issues of concern.” Barclay Communications approached Coral Environmental offering a more effective job management system that would be easy to manage, save time, increase efficiency and professionalism and eliminate the chance of error.

a great deal of administration time. WorkPal has sped up our workflow management process, enabling us to process jobs faster, thus allowing for quicker invoicing. Our field workers are now spending more time on the road and less time in the office looking after paperwork. With real-time readings of where our field workers are, we are also able to plan our jobs more effectively. The flexibility with WorkPal is great as we are able to tailor the system to meet our specific requirements. Our staff love how WorkPal saves them time and is so easy to use. Our customers love it too, as now we can present all their information in one tidy document and they don’t have to go searching for information. What our customers receive now is night and day compared to what they got before WorkPal. ”

The WorkPal Solution Barclay Communications supplied Coral Environmental, with WorkPal, their end-to-end job management system, which they also opted to integrate into their accountancy package, QuickBooks. WorkPal now enables Coral Environmental to send job details to a field worker’s mobile app, which they use on-site to complete documentation, take pictures, capture clients’ signatures and more. Once a job is completed, all the information is synced back to the office, invoices can be generated, job histories are created and recurring work is automatically scheduled.

Impact and ROI of WorkPal Michael explains, “WorkPal has made us more professional and efficient; it is the single best investment that we have made as a company to date. In the first year alone we have saved £15k-£20k from not needing to recruit an additional member of staff. It is also starting to generate extra revenue for us now, as with job sheet recommendations we are now able to quote much more. I cannot recommend WorkPal enough.”

Benefits of moving to WorkPal Susan comments, “We were excited about what WorkPal could do for us, but thought it would be laborious and difficult to implement, with endless hours of data entry. On the contrary, moving to WorkPal was a smooth process, practically seamless. We have now gone almost completely paperless, which has freed up

For more info on WorkPal, visit: www.yourworkpal.com or call 028 9096 0366

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Eye on Banking

L-R: Aaron Ennis, Shaun McAnee, Azem Hanif and Lewis McCallan.

Supporting Ambition… Danske Bank’s head of corporate banking, Shaun McAnee, has a simple three strand philosophy that he applies to the bank’s work with some of Northern Ireland’s leading businesses.

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eliver for your customers; deliver results; manage your risk. It is a formula he has lived by throughout a career that has taken in management positions in banking, finance, sales and project management. It is a career that began with his first role as a junior official at the bank and which eventually brought him ‘back home’ to Danske in 2012 as head of Specialist Business, looking after product lines such as cash management, invoice finance, trade finance, asset

finance and export finance. Shaun says the team is seeing a gradual increase in demand for working capital facilities across its broad client base as confidence returns to the economy. But he expects this demand to rise further in the year ahead as the appetite for growth filters through to all parts of the business community. “We want to support businesses here to grow, to invest in new premises, to buy new equipment and make acquisitions. We’re servicing companies


Eye on Banking at the top end of every sector of the economy from construction to agrifood manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and social housing, and there is a quiet optimism in many of those sectors. “There are still challenges in the economy but we are confident that our existing customer base, which has been built up significantly over the last seven years, will demonstrate increased appetite for growth heading into 2016.” Danske’s corporate business is made up of three teams: strategic & property, headed by Azem Hanif; trading businesses, led by Lewis McCallan; and an acquisition team led by Aaron Ennis. The teams work closely together and the range of projects in which they have played an integral role over the past year, is proof of the breadth of their expertise and experience. The Corporate Trading team headed by senior corporate banking manager Lewis McCallan, works with many of the largest indigenous NI business owners supporting their strategic growth aspirations. The team played a crucial role in helping Crumlin-based Randox Laboratories realise its vision of creating a world leading medical diagnostics manufacturing facility in Antrim, supporting its plans for a £161m ‘state of the art’ manufacturing and R&D facility, to be known as the Randox Science Park, at the site of the old Massereene Army base in Antrim town. Another company whose business is 100% export led and supported by the trading team is Conexpo, which supplies stone and aggregates used in high value civil engineering projects around Europe. In terms of the hospitality sector the team was recently involved in supporting the £1.5m refurbishment of Andras House’s flagship Ramada Plaza hotel. Mr McCallan said: “The multi disciplined team we have affords us the opportunity to work collaboratively across a range of business and geographical sectors. As the NI economy re balances, the trading team has the skill sets to support innovative and ambitious plans for local and export focus business. Aaron Ennis, senior corporate acquisition manager at Danske Bank, leads the team responsible for bringing new corporate customers to Danske Bank from other financial institutions. Since its inception in 2007, the team has seen huge success in attracting new corporate customers for the bank and 2015 has seen a marked increase in the number of large businesses moving their banking business to Danske Bank. One such example is Inspired Business Investments, one of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies by turnover. The

business owns and operates five Mercedes truck and van franchises in both Northern Ireland and the South East of England. Having previously been multi-banked, management selected Danske as its new sole banking partner in order to best position the business for growth in the coming years. Danske Bank has since provided full systems integration covering cash management, invoice finance and asset finance. The Acquisition team also works on M&A activity, a prime example of which is Dungannon-based gardening product manufacturer Westland Horticulture, which Danske Bank supported recently in its acquisition of English company William Sinclair. The acquisition was one of the most significant deals so far this year by a Northern Ireland company, but with confidence now returning to the economy the team is anticipating the number of M&A transactions to accelerate in the year ahead. Social housing and commercial property markets have proven a successful arena for the third main area of the corporate team, with Danske Bank finding increased appetite for lending

“With that strong reputation and a returning confidence in the wider business community we believe there is no shortage of opportunity for us to support our existing customers and win new customers who are keen to tap into the support we can provide.”

Danske’s contribution to a £35m finance facility agreed with Northern Ireland’s largest housing association, Choice. Danske Bank is once again active in the commercial property market confirming in recent weeks that it has provided finance for a significant office block in Liverpool. Azem’s team also look after the bank’s relationships with large multi-national corporate clients and the public sector. Following a competitive tender exercise, Danske Bank has retained the business of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and also works with five of the so-called super councils as well as a number of large organisations such as the NI Housing Executive and NI Water. The Corporate Banking team has a broad client base and Shaun McAnee says that reflects the extensive range of expertise in the bank, as well as the strong positioning the Danske brand has achieved. “We’re confident our corporate customers receive a premium service which comes down to both the quality of our people and our capabilities in key areas such as IT and cash management. The functionality of our IT system makes it easy for customers and the fact it is so user friendly is a big selling point,” he says. “With that strong reputation and a returning confidence in the wider business community we believe there is no shortage of opportunity for us to support our existing customers and win new customers who are keen to tap into the support we can provide.”

on both sides of the Irish Sea. Senior corporate banking manager Azem Hanif, who leads Danske’s Strategic & Property team, said: “We are committed to the social housing sector in Northern Ireland and increasingly in England and we now see some attractive opportunities in the commercial property market both in Northern Ireland and in GB.” The bank recently agreed a £30m loan facility with Irwell Valley Housing Association in Greater Manchester, one of its first major housing association deals in England. The long term finance agreement follows hot on the heels of

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Eye on Healthcare

Setting New Standards In Care Industry

Aspen Ireland and its sister company Healthcare Ireland might just rank as one – or is it two – of the hidden gems of the Northern Ireland business scene.

Gilbert Yates, Managing Director, Aspen Ireland.

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he company has relatively humble roots as a small family-run building firm established in the mid 1970’s by Gilbert Yates, senior, but Gilbert Yates junior who took over the family construction business in 1994, developed a successful insurance restoration company and property development company and is now the force behind the expanding nursing home enterprise. But just this summer, it unveiled an 82-bed nursing home, Bradley Manor, in Belfast’s Crumlin Road area which ranks as one of Northern Ireland’s very first 5-star plus facilities of its kind. “Bradley Manor offers the kind of comfort and facilities that sets new standards in the nursing home sector,” says Gilbert Yates, junior, Managing Director of both Aspen and Healthcare Ireland Ltd. “It’s a facility that we are hugely proud of, and the reaction from residents, their families and other visitors has been very encouraging. “It raises the bar for others to follow,

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and we’re confident that it is just the start of exciting times for our group of companies. Our plan is to develop and build more nursing homes in Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland to a similar standard to Bradley Manor.” Nursing homes are a relatively new departure for Aspen & Healthcare Ireland, a deliberate and well planned diversification into a market where Gilbert Yates and his team could see clear business opportunities. Since Aspen left its general construction roots behind and moved into the specialist nursing home sector, it has built facilities across Northern Ireland and in GB for a number of other major healthcare groups. “What we aim to do now is to establish a new gold standard of care based on the 5-star plus facilities on offer at Bradley Manor in Belfast.” These include first-class healthcare facilities, motion detection systems, a dedicated chef and kitchen team and a senior management team including care,

housekeeping and clinical specialists. Having built nursing homes for others, it was a logical step for Aspen Ireland to move into nursing home operations and management via Healthcare Ireland. Success has been rapid, and the company has been nominated in the Most Outstanding Healthcare Development category at the UK Care Awards, due to be held in London in November. “While we were developing care home facilities for other groups, we saw a clear need for higher levels of accommodation and care, and for a much higher standard of living for residents. “So we brought together a professional multi-disciplinary team that was able to take these ideas, roll out a business model and then deliver the kind of professional, high quality operations that we expect at this level. “Our target now is a network of 12 homes across Northern Ireland under the Healthcare Ireland banner, and we have


Eye on Healthcare

Head Office (L-R): Gilbert Yates (Managing Director); Ashleigh Mawhinney; Leanna Oliver; Gilbert Yates (senior); Sarah Magee; Patrick MacMahon

“What we aim to do now is to establish a new gold standard of care based on the 5-star plus facilities on offer at Bradley Manor in Belfast. These include first-class healthcare facilities, motion detection systems, a dedicated chef and kitchen team and a senior management team including care, housekeeping and clinical specialists.”

also secured our first two sites in Dublin, one in the north of the city and the other in the south with a total of 280 beds across both of the planned homes.” These developments will also create hundreds of jobs in both parts of Ireland as well as securing construction jobs in the process. Aspen Ireland has been named in the Belfast Business Top 50 for 2015 by Aisling Events, the organisers of the annual Top 50 celebration. This year’s Belfast Top 50 event takes place at Titanic Belfast on Friday, 9th October, and forms part of the programme of Belfast Homecoming events. The guest speaker at the event is Humsa Yousaf, SNP MSP and the Scottish Government’s Minister of Europe and International Relations.

(L-R): Amanda Mitchell (Operations Director); Gilbert Yates (Managing Director); Mary Stevenson (Clinical Lead); David Steele (Deputy Home Manager); Karen Fleming (Human Resources)

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Eye on Tax

Summer Budget 2015: Changes For Small Business The Tax Advantage in taking payment as a dividend is to be wiped out for many as the Dividend Tax Credit will be replaced by a new tax-free Dividend Allowance.

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he Dividend Allowance means that you won’t have to pay tax on the first £5,000 of your dividend income, no matter what nondividend income you have. The allowance is available to anyone who has dividend income. Headline rates of dividend tax are also changing. You’ll pay tax on any dividends you receive over £5,000 at the following rates:

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Example 1 “I have a non-dividend income of £6,500, and a dividend income of £12,000 from shares outside of an ISA” With a Personal Allowance of £11,000, £4,500 of the dividends are under the threshold for tax. A further £5,000 comes within the Dividend Allowance, leaving tax to pay at Basic Rate (7.5%) on £2,500.

• 7.5% on dividend income within the basic rate band • 32.5% on dividend income within the higher rate band • 38.1% on dividend income within the additional rate band

Example 2 “I have a non-dividend income of £20,000, and receive dividends of £6,000 outside of an ISA” You won’t need to pay tax on the first £5,000 of dividends due to the Dividend Allowance, but will pay tax on £1,000 of dividends at 7.5%.

This simpler system will mean that only those with significant dividend income will pay more tax. If you’re an investor with modest income from shares, you’ll see either a tax cut or no change in the amount of tax you owe. Dividends received by pension funds that are currently exempt from tax, and dividends received on shares held in an Individual Savings Account (ISA), will continue to be tax free. Dividends within your allowance will still count towards your basic or higher rate bands, and may therefore affect the rate of tax that you pay on dividends you receive in excess of the £5,000 allowance. The way the allowance will work in different situations is demonstrated in the examples below.

Tax-motivated incorporation The point at which incorporation starts to deliver significant tax savings has clearly gone up. It looks as if incorporation at earnings even as high as £30,000 will now deliver a very marginal benefit. The advantage of incorporation has been that much of the income could be received as a tax-free dividend. Of that £30,000 approximately £20,000 could be taken as dividend (using the personal allowance to cover salary). Now that £20,000 will create additional tax of £1,125 (£15,000 x 7.5%). That is a significant increase whereas, broadly speaking, the self-employed will see little change. Additional tax at that level would make incorporation much less attractive. For those who are already

Roy Creelman, McIlveen Howard Chartered Accountants

incorporated, there will be different considerations. Some will be happy to operate in corporate form – indeed their particular industry may not allow them any other option – but others may start to wonder whether it is time to dis-incorporate. Collection of Class 2 NICs from 2015/16 onwards. The collection of Class 2 NICs will be through Self-Assessment (SA) so that the self-employed can pay their income tax and Class 2 and Class 4 NICs together through one process. This will start from the 2015-16 tax year onwards. The existing six monthly bills and current direct debit payments will both cease during 2015. They will automatically cancel the customer’s DD following their last payment in July. A Budget Payment Plan (BPP) will be available to all SA customers providing they are up to date with their payments. The liability for Class 2 NICs will no longer be automatic. From 2015-16 onwards the self-employed will report their liability through their SA. Those that report a profit below a new Small Profits Threshold (SPT) (£5,965 for 2015-16) will not be liable for Class 2 NICs, but they will be given the option

to pay it voluntarily to protect their entitlement to contributory benefits. They will also be informed of the potential impact of choosing not to pay voluntary NIC. This change to the way Class 2 NICs is collected will mean that the self-employed will no longer have to apply for a Self-employed Exception Certificate (SEE) from 2015-16 onwards. Those with low profits or profits below the SPT, who do not wish to pay Class 2 NICs, will not be liable automatically for Class 2 NICs and therefore will not have to seek exception. Those that are self-employed and also have Class 1 NICs to consider (they are on PAYE and self-employed) will no longer have to apply for Deferment of their Class 2 NICs as liability for Class 2 will not be assessed until after the end of the relevant tax year.

If you would like to discuss how these changes may affect your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Contact Roy Creelman at roy@mhlca.co.uk or phone 02890471734


Eye on Hospitality

Simple Approach Underpins Newforge’s Success Sam Butler talks to John Mathers, chef/ owner of the award winning Newforge Country House in Magheralin, Co Armagh.

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ohn Mathers has racked up an impressive series of Irish hospitality awards for the boutique hotel, Newforge Country House, he runs with wife Lou in Magheralin, near Moira. Newforge was acclaimed Georgina Campbell’s ‘Best Country House In Ireland’, ‘Best Country House Breakfast’ and ‘Irish Breakfast National Winner’, Good Food Ireland’s ‘Culinary Haven of the Year’, the Restaurants Association of Ireland’s ‘Best Hotel Restaurant in Ulster’, Licensed, Catering News ‘Guesthouse of the Year’ ‘Country House of the Year’, all in 2014 In addition, the small hotel is listed in Ireland’s highly influential Blue Book of Irish Country Houses, Historic Hotels and Restaurants this year, with the likes of the famed Ballymaloe House and Castle Leslie, both based in the Republic of Ireland. John credits Newforge’s success to simple approach to hospitality. “I believe that if you do something you love, then no matter how hard you work it will always feel worthwhile. I am reminded how lucky I am that my work is a genuine passion when I hear others dreading Monday mornings and feeling unsatisfied with what they do. I never do,” he says. It’s a philosophy that he carries into the kitchen he runs at Newforge. “I prefer simple dishes that use the best seasonal ingredients and are well-cooked. We’re lucky at Newforge to be able to source fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit from our own grounds. Eggs come from our free-range hens. We use the best ingredients and keep it simple. “We are also able to source superb ingredients from local suppliers like Peter Hannan, our beef merchant, breakfast pork sausages from Maddens in Lurgan, Abernethy Butter from Dromara, seafood from Ewing’s and Keenan’s, both in Belfast, and traditional Irish breads – apart from wheatens which I bake to a unique recipe - from Moira Bakery. Cheese suppliers include Mike Thomson’s Young Buck blue from Newtownards. There’s no reason to try to complicate dishes when there’s such outstandingly flavoured and wholesome ingredients available locally. Lou also uses soft fruit from the garden for delicious handmade desserts and is also responsible for the hotel’s ‘front of house’

activities. The bar includes local favourites such as Shortcross Gin from Crossgar, RubyBlue vodka from Lisburn and McGrath’s Ales from Lurgan. There’s a selection of fine wines. Food is at the heart of Newforge House experience. “We set out to offer outstanding food in tranquil and relaxing surroundings, a home from home based on exceptional hospitality.” It offers light, airy rooms with contemporary comforts, superb views of mature gardens and the surrounding Co. Armagh countryside. John had always been interesting in cooking and aspired to run a restaurant in his early twenties. His first job as a chef was in the old Carngrove Hotel in Portadown. He then worked at the Yellow Door restaurant in Gilford, Co.Armagh, owned and run by Roisin Hendron and Simon Dougan. I learned a great deal there. It was a great restaurant, with a really good team. Absolutely everything was prepared from scratch, and Roisin and

Simon were always there working twice as hard as everyone else. I learned a huge amount from my time there,” he remembers. A decade ago, he achieved his aspiration when the family decided to turn their Georgian home, Newforge, into a high-end country house with six stylish bedrooms and offering a superb breakfast and exceptional evening meal menu. All the meals are prepared by John and the menus developed with Lou. It’s a real family business committed to family values. It took the enterprising couple two years to transform the distinctive Georgian family home into a luxury establishment that still maintained its distinctive exterior. The stylish dining room can also been transformed as an ideal venue for a variety of events that can seat up to 22 people in conference or seminar layout. It can also accommodate 35 for buffet receptions and is proving popular for weddings and other events.

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Eye on Leadership

LEADERSHIP... IT COMES FROM WITHIN It might not have the handiest name in town but the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University’s Riddel Hall has carved out a significant reputation for itself within a few short years of setting up shop.

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t’s done that on the back of its open courses for business professionals....the likes of the Business Leaders Programme, Emerging Leaders Programme, Sales Leadership Programme and programmes specific to board leadership and financial management. But it’s enhanced its reputation by going ‘on the road’, bringing its highly flexible approach to business education to client organisations (in both the private and public sectors) in the form of bespoke programmes. Ask almost any of the Institute’s alumni about their personal impressions and one thing comes through. The Leadership Institute’s programmes are more about participation, personalities and shared experiences than they are about lectures and classroom learning. “We don’t really do lectures in the way that other parts of the university do,” says Anne Phillipson, one of the Programme Directors at the organisation’s impressive Riddel Hall complex. “That’s because there is no pre-set check list and no recipe for the perfect leader. In fact, ask 50 people about the leader they admire most and you’ll get 50 different answers. “Leaders are alldifferent, all unique –it’s about being true to yourself and finding your own leadership approach. Often, we find that it’s all about developing confidence, about letting people see how good they are at what they do.”

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Her counterpart as Programme Director, Davy McAlinden, agrees, “The big thing can be what happens outside of the classroom environment. Each programme contains an element where we provide 360-degree feedback......it can be a chastening experience but it’s also a really productive one. “We look at how a participant can contribute best to the wider business or organisation looking outside of his or her current role. A key part of what we do is to encourage people to look at the organisation in a more strategic and much broader way. “Most importantly, our programme are different for the reason that we don’t lecture to our participants. We know that our participants have a wealth of experience, and our job is to draw that experience out rather than trying to fill them up with information.” Typically, the Leadership Institute’s open courses held at Riddel Hall attract a mix of private and public sector participants. “And that’s turned out to be a very good thing,” says Anne Philipson. “There can be reluctance from private sector participants at first, but when they start to engage with their public sector colleagues, they find that they can learn a lot from each other. In effect it works really well.” Both Phillipson and McAlinden are non-academics.....which might help explain their very practical approach to business education.

Anne Phillipson

Davy McAlinden trained as a chartered accountant with PwC and worked with the Northern Ireland Assembly before joining the Leadership Institute. A native of Canada, Anne Phillipson held a senior executive position in a large retail organisation in her home country before re-locating to Northern Ireland where she also worked with PwC. Since its inception several years ago, the Leadership Institute hasn’t limited its growth to the confines of Northern Ireland. Programmes have been

delivered for clients in the USA and Germany and a trip to India is next on the overseas agenda. Closer to home, Anne Phillipson recently delivered a programme on site for some 60 staff at Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council. “When it comes to bespoke programmes, we take a very clear approach,” she says. “We sit down with the client and we take as long as is necessary to understand exactly what they’re trying to achieve and what their hopes and expectations are. If


Eye on Leadership there is pain in the business, we need to understand where it is. That’s vital to delivering the right programme in the right way....the outcomes must match the needs. “So preparation is the key. The actual training is the easy bit.......” The Leadership Institute’s current line-up of open programmes at Riddel Hall include:• Emerging Leaders Programme • Business Leaders Programme • Sales Leadership Programme • Leading Effective Boards • Finance for NonFinancial Managers In the case of the flagship Business Leader and Emerging Leader Programmes, participants’ time commitment will be a total of 6-10 days or so away from their own businesses...but with a spot of reading and preparation required in their own time. “Each of our open courses is over subscribed and it’s been like that for quite some time,” adds Davy McAlinden. On the Emerging Leaders Programme, the Leadership Institute has just ‘graduated’ its tenth successful cohort. “Our programmes are all about people, that’s the bottom line. Participants engage with other participants, we act as facilitators more often that not, and everyone gains a lot more through the sense of openness and the strong emphasis on discussion. “They can be challenging experiences, of course. The 360-degree feedback is as good a case in point as any. But they’re all about change and an examination of how people can look closely at what they contribute to their organisation. “It’s a bit of a personal journey for all of those who take part...... but we haven’t heard from anyone who regrets it so far!”

Davy McAlinden

For full details of all Leadership Institute programmes, visit www.leadershipinstitute.co.uk

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We’re great researchers Discovering pioneering solutions 100% of our biomedical research environment is judged as world-leading*.

*Source: Research Excellence Framework 2014

We’re great business partners Helping companies work smarter We are one of the top 10 most entrepreneurial universities in the UK*.

*Source: HESA Higher Education Business & Community Interaction Survey

Shaping the future ulster.ac.uk/goingplaces


We’re great achievers

Aiming for the top and getting there We are one of the world’s top 100 young universities according to Times Higher Education.

We’re great networkers Making our courses relevant to the world of work

Over 90% of our graduates find themselves in work or further study six months after leaving.

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Eye on Retail

EUROSPAR... NORTHERN IRELAND’S FAST GROWING RETAIL BRAND

At a time when many supermarket chains are reducing their store numbers, EUROSPAR ranks as Northern Ireland’s fastest-growing brand....by a distance.

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“W

e’re looking at 7% annual growth and that shows no signs of slowing up,” says Mark McCammond, Retail Director at Henderson Group and the man leading the 76 SPAR and EUROSPAR outlets owned and operated by the company itself. The Group also supplies a network of more than 350 outlets run by independent retailers. McCammond looks after the running of the company-owned

estate and also works alongside Henderson Group’s Sales & Marketing Director Paddy Doody on the Ulster Guild of SPAR, made up of key directors and retailers from the network. “EUROSPAR has been here as a brand for 15 years,” he explains. “But it has seen rapid expansion in the last 12 months or so with the opening of nine new stores across Northern Ireland. The first two EUROSPARs opened in Bangor and Warrenpoint in 2000 and since

then the Group has expanded in line with changes in consumer shopping behaviour. “With the EUROSPAR brand, we’re talking about shops between 5,000 sq. ft and 10,000 sq.ft....small supermarkets rather than convenience stores, in other words,” says Mark McCammond. “These are outlets with 6,000 or 7,000 product lines rather than the 3,000 which would normally be stocked in a SPAR convenience store.


Eye on Retail

“But, like smaller SPARs, they are very much communitybased. They’re not in out of town shopping centres. Instead they are in the towns, villages and suburbs that they serve. They’ve got parking right outside the door and typically they will have butchers, bakers, post offices and other facilities located within them.” Smaller supermarkets, in national terms, have been something of a retail graveyard. Consider the fares of Somerfield, Kwik Save and Gateway in GB as well as the fact that Co-Op has closed down the majority of its supermarket operations to concentrate on convenience stores. “In our advertising campaign, we call EUROSPARs super easy supermarkets and I like to say that they do what it says on the tin......,” McCammond continues. “They’ve got the products that local people need, and they don’t have to hike around a 40,000 sq.ft supermarket to find them.” Mark McCammond reckons that the format fits very well

into the Northern Ireland retail space. The local marketplace has seen a distinct shift towards convenience shopping while the old weekly shopping trip to a larger supermarket continues to decline in popularity. “Our formula is one of local goods, local people and local stores, and it’s one that works very well for us,” he says. “And it’s backed by some substantial international expertise. What not everyone knows is that SPAR is a recognised brand name in 40 countries worldwide and there are some 12,000 stores in operation. On the Northern Ireland front, Henderson Group and SPAR’s major milestone in the past year was the highly successful launch of the ‘enjoy local’ range, 126 (and counting.....) different items produced by 22 different Northern Ireland suppliers and sold in all SPAR and EUROSPAR outlets locally. “Over 75% of the fresh products on our shelves are sourced on the island of Ireland,” he emphasises.

“Shoppers here are increasingly shopping often for less, dropping into their local SPAR or EUROSPAR to pick up what they need for dinner that night, for example. Our challenge is to make sure that they get the choice they want and that they get their items at the right price.” New EUROSPARs have opened in the past year in Dundonald, Belfast, Ballymoney, Crossmaglen, Richhill, Banbridge, Lisnaskea and Kilkeel. Between eight and twelve more are earmarked for the coming year when EUROSPAR will pass its landmark 50th store opening in Northern Ireland. “We’ll continue to grow the SPAR and EUROSPAR network by extending current stores, by building new ones and by acquiring existing sites,” says Mark McCammond. “All of them are and will be firmly rooted in their communities. Our stores get involved with local charities, they help local people and they employ local people. They’re part of the fabric of local life, in other words.”

“Shoppers here are increasingly shopping often for less, dropping into their local SPAR or EUROSPAR to pick up what they need for dinner that night, for example. Our challenge is to make sure that they get the choice they want and that they get their items at the right price.”

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Eye on News

Titanic appetites click on Cast & Crew Hungry workers and visitors to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter can now pre-order their food throughout the day at Cast & Crew, thanks to a new online service.

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rom breakfast to burgers, the best locally produced food is just a click away for customers who can even choose their preferred pick-up time. The new service is the brainchild of Niall McKenna, head chef at the James Street South group which also includes Hadksis, the Bar + Grill and the Cookery School, who says the new app will allow customers to maximize their breakfast, lunch and dinner times. “We are delighted to be able to offer this pre-order service for our customers, many of whom are incredibly busy during the working day. This will cut out any waiting time and involves simply browsing our menus, choosing your favourite dish, with payment at the end of the process. “We are committed to providing the best locally produced food to our customers, and now we can make sure they can simply click

and collect their best-loved Cast & Crew goodies to take away with them, without having to wait.” Nestled in the shadow of Samson and Goliath, Cast & Crew opened in May this year and has wowed diners with its relaxed dining, extensive menu of locally supplied products and outdoor charcoal pit which is being used year-round and will be burning into the night on the last Friday of every month for a payday party - everything from succulent chicken wings to tasty burgers are on offer for an end of the month feast.

For more information on the pre-order service go to www.castandcrewbelfast.co.uk

Phoenix appoints Ardmore Advertising

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hoenix Natural Gas has appointed Ardmore Advertising as its lead marketing and communications partner following a competitive tender and pitch process. Ardmore, Northern Ireland’s largest integrated communications agency, will develop and deliver creative advertising solutions and deliver comprehensive media planning and buying services. Ardmore was chosen to support the company in continuing to develop its brand and assist in raising the number of new connections annually. As one of the region’s most successful agencies, with a specialist team of more than 50, Ardmore delivers advertising, marketing, design and digital solutions to many internationally-recognised brands, including Stena Line, Visit Belfast, Charles Hurst, Translink, Dale Farm, Subway and Argento. Connected globally through its membership of Worldwide Partners

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Inc. (WPI), a global Top 10 marketing communications network of fullservice agencies, Ardmore was recently awarded ‘Perfect Partner’ status for its progressive and innovative approach as a member. Alistair Pollock, Business Development Director, Phoenix Natural Gas said: “Our company is about to reach an important milestone in its development and we are delighted to be working with Ardmore Advertising, which has demonstrated creativity, experience and strategic thinking. We are very excited about the next phase of our growth in developing natural gas networks across Northern Ireland.” John Keane, Managing Director, Ardmore Advertising, said: “Phoenix Natural Gas is an iconic and exciting brand and we look forward to working closely with the Phoenix team in the years ahead to proactively deliver creative, integrated advertising

and marketing solutions to support its continued growth in Northern Ireland.” Multi award-winning Ardmore was last year recognised as the Agency of the Year at the Chartered Institute

of Marketing’s Excellence Awards, shortly after the agency scooped seven awards across several major categories at the Publicity Association of Northern Ireland’s annual gala awards.

Pictured at Ardmore House are (from L-R) Ardmore Media Director Mark Irwin, Phoenix Chief Executive Alistair Pollock, Ardmore Account Manager Theresa Hannon and Ardmore Deputy Creative Director Colin Maguire.”


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Eye on Round Table

SME’s in Northern Ireland... Challenges & Opportunities Participants

Patrick Leonard, Partner, Harbinson Mulholland Chartered Accountants

Richard Gray, Partner & Head of Corporate, Carson McDowell Solicitors

Kirsty McManus, Director, SME Centre, Ulster University Business School

Business Eye partnered with the SME Centre at Ulster University Business School for a round table discussion looking at the state of health of Northern Ireland’s SME sector and at the challenges facing SME’s here going forward. Chaired by Business Eye’s Richard Buckley, the result was a lively and wide ranging discussion looking at the SME challenge from a number of different perspectives... RB – I don’t want to dwell on politics but the obvious question to ask you what the effect on businesses here will be if the Stormont administration can’t be restored? JT – I think it’s about confidence. SME’s tend to get on with life but this is having an effect. My fear is that investments will be put on hold while there is uncertainty, and some might pull down the shutters. That has an effect on all of us as advisers, financiers and others.

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PL – I couldn’t agree more. The one thing that we’ve all seen returning is confidence. But it can be a fragile thing. Lots of things can impact on it.... the Greek crisis, exchange rates for example. This could dent confidence. RG – We’ve already had calls from potential external investors, asking what it means for them. And, on the legislative front, there’s uncertainty too. For example,

Judith Totten, Managing Director, Keys Commercial Finance

Professor Marie McHugh, Dean of Ulster University’s Business School

companies in the renewables sector aren’t sure what the impact on the regulatory regime would be.

look elsewhere. At the Republic, for example, where corporation tax is lower as things stand.

KM – There is enough instability globally at the moment. What our economy doesn’t need is instability at home. We need to challenge our politicians and our business organisations need to represent their members and say that this is not acceptable. It wouldn’t be acceptable in business to have fantasy budgets or to resign if you don’t like who you’re working with.

RG – Another area of concern is the effect this could have on our young people Will they hang around in a Northern Ireland with no political progress. We could be facing another brain drain.

MM – If we don’t have confidence in ourselves and our own region, that will impact on FDI opportunities. So it is a serious situation. JT – Yes, and we have to remember that these FDI projects are by their nature mobile. They can and will

MM – It’s a real danger. On FDI, one of the things that attracts companies is our talent pool. It’s a poor reflection on us if we can’t govern ourselves effectively and provide a good place to live and work for our young people. KM – It was interesting that Tim Martin of JD Wetherspoon made the headlines but I’ll come back to what I was saying. Our business organisations must represent. That’s what their members are paying them to do.


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Eye on Round Table

JT – And I think we also need them to come together as a single voice. I’m not sure they are doing that. Northern Ireland is too small a place for so many different business organisations. MM – It’s a very valid point. Kirsty ran an event not too long ago under the auspices of the SME Centre and it was the first time in Northern Ireland that the business organisations had been brought together to debate and discuss key issues that affect business and the economy. They would be much stronger offering one voice. RG – Business does tend to get on with it. During the darker periods, we all got on with it. Business here tends to succeed despite our politicians rather than because of them. JT – Definitely. Businesses don’t have much confidence in Stormont, and it’s become humorous. That’s not how it should be. RB – Were they doing a reasonable job before the current problems cropped up? PL – From a client perspective, I can’t think of too many positives. The only one thing that I could see people getting excited about was corporation tax. I even heard from commercial property agents that they had an increase in enquiries from outside Northern Ireland as a result of what was being planned.

MM – I have always been struck by the disconnect between the departments. Take DEL and DETI, for example. Invest NI as part of DETI has been very successful out there selling Northern Ireland. But then you look at funding cuts endured by DEL and passed on to the HE sector. On one hand, you’re selling Northern Ireland based partly on its skills while, on the other, the Department responsible for facilitating the development of those skills through our universities is being cut. PL – So we’re cutting back on funding for skills, and we’ve no Grade A office space available. It’s not a great piece of joined up thinking, is it? JT – I think it’s a case of drifting back to silo thinking. In business, we can’t do that. We’ve got to look at the wider picture and we have to work with others. I might work with clients of Patrick’s or Richard’s. We have to work collaboratively so why can’t they? It is frustrating. There was a positive beginning but it could be tumbling down. KM – Corporation tax was a good example of how we could work together. We were all on the same page. But it’s not working any more. The university sector is a good example. Young people with three ‘B’s in the A Levels are being forced to go to England....and they don’t come back.

RG – And we’ve reached a low point when we have one government department suing another government department. What kind of signal does that send to the outside world? KM – I have to say that some parts of government have done a good job. Invest NI is a good case in point and Stephen Farry at DEL and some of his initiatives deserves commendation. But politics and electioneering is now in play. JT – Then, without getting into the detail, there is a lot of negativity around the whole NAMA affair. It doesn’t give a good impression of the business culture here, let’s say. RG – With all of that in mind, is a locallyelected legislature still preferable to direct rule? I’ve heard some business people saying that a return to direct rule might not be such a bad thing because there will be some decisions made. But I don’t think that would be in the long term interests of Northern Ireland. JT – There would also be a fear that it could push us back towards the DUP v Sinn Fein Orange v Green scenario. That’s not where we want to go. Some say that it couldn’t be worse, but it could be. MM – Direct rule Ministers fly in and out. At least the current Ministers have local knowledge. They will attempt to make decisions in the best interests of a region that they know.

RB – Let’s move away from politics and into business. Is confidence returning to the SME marketplace and has it been returning for a while? JT – From my perspective, companies here do get on with it. But our figures are on the rise. Companies are borrowing more money. Some sectors are doing well, others not so well. PL – There is a much more positive feel around the place. I’m having a lot more happy conversations than I had 18 months ago. I do a lot of work in the construction sector. There is a much more positive atmosphere than there was a year ago. RG – We have definitely seen an upturn in the level of transactions we’re working on at a corporate level. There was a lot of pent-up activity and once the right sentiment returned deals were done. And, as an SME ourselves, we’ve grown by roughly 20% in the last two years. That’s a reflection of the fact that our clients are busier. MM – There is an air of growing confidence. Strong sectors are the drivers, sectors like the health sciences. Take, for example, a company like Randox which is performing very well. Similarly, tourism and hospitality are very strong. Having two Michelin-starred restaurants is a real triumph for the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland. It’s a fantastic

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Eye on Round Table achievement and the outcome of a lot of hard work by Michael Deane and his team and the team at Ox. JT – There is a need to support startups and micro businesses, and the new local councils will have a role to play with their enhanced responsibilities. RG – Has there been an over concentration on big ticket FDI? JT – There has been an over emphasis on coverage of FDI, perhaps. There is a lot more that goes on in Invest NI behind closed doors and doesn’t get the coverage. The media loves a good inward investment story. We do have to be careful to avoid brass plating.....and to concentrate on creating long-term jobs here. PL – There isn’t much support for start-ups, it has to be said. I’ve direct experience of that recently with my daughter starting her own internet business. RB – Have we ever really filled the gap left by LEDU? KM – I think the system is too focused on job creation. We can’t expect startups to create jobs instantly but outside of supporting job creating there isn’t a lot of help and assistance available to these companies. So the recently announced Ulster Bank eSpark business hatchery initiative, where they are going to help 80 or so start-ups, has to be welcomed. It’s a really good programme. MM – On the subject of self employment, all of our graduate students at Ulster spend a period of time in business on placement during the third year of go out to business in their third

year of their studies. Increasingly, many of our students are using that year to set up their own businesses rather than go out to work for others. It’s a very positive trend. RG – It’s all part of Northern Ireland re-discovering entrepreneurship and building a culture of entrepreneurship. JT – And failure should not be a dirty word. But I think our attitude to that has changed....a least a bit. PL – Helped by the fact that there have been some very high profile failures.... KM – I don’t think we’ve got to where the Americans are yet, though. Or Tech City UK, where they hold ‘wakes’ for businesses that have failed, putting the collateral into a box and talking about the life of the business and where it went wrong to ensure that we learn the valuable lessons of failure. MM – I was at the launch of the ‘Growing Your Small Business’ report recently at Stormont, and one of the points made was the importance of our schools encouraging young people to take business-related degrees rather than feeling that to be successful they must do medicine or law. RB – Can we move on to finance. Are the banks back in the game.... are they supporting business? JT – Yes, they’re open for business again. But they have re-calibrated the system and they’re going through a more formal business process like they did 20 or 30 years ago. So businesses are having to adapt to that and prepare a little better. Maybe there is a bit of over positivity in the banking marketplace.

PL – I think the appetite has returned. We’re seeing clients borrowing money and it’s not too torturous a process. And the fact that banks are lending gives business in general a bit of confidence boost. RG – I would agree. We are seeing a lot more activity. It’s interesting, though, that the SME sector has managed to move away from a historic reliance on bank debt. The financial crisis has forced businesses to look at a broader range of possibilities. RB – So are we looking at other sources of finance? JT – There is lots of money out there. You just have to be prepared to look. And you also have to be prepared to pay a little bit more to get what you’re looking for. But I think SME’s these days are prepared to do that. My only fear is that the banks will get into a price war once again. That’s not good for anyone. KM – It’s important that we make sure everyone knows about alternative sources of finance. Alongside Carson McDowell, we’re working on a guide to finance sources for SME’s. I think that there are gaps at the lower end. But knowledge and education, we think, is vital. MM – Absolutely. Through our SME Centre at Ulster, we’re working to establish small business finance clinics in different locations to enhance awareness. JT – It’s important the business owners know where to go to, that its not negative to ask for help and that if someone says no, there is an alternative. PL – I’ve dealt with the Growth Loan Fund a few times and it seems to be very successful. In between VC and traditional bank finance it slots in very well. JT – It has been very successful. But it is mezzanine funding and there was some scepticism around the cost when it was first launched. RG – The thinking behind the funding guide we’re working on is that businesses need to understand what funding options are out there and what type of funding is appropriate to the stage their business is at, what sector it is in and what they’re trying to achieve. Some tech businesses, for instance, aren’t

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going to tick the boxes for the banks..... so we’re seeing people looking at a range of equity finance options as well as crowd funding in its various guises. JT – There is also much more acceptance these days that it’s OK to dilute the ownership of your business. Historically, company owners here didn’t want to give away part of their business. Now they see that they’re not really giving away anything. They’re selling a stake. RB – What about people? Do we really have a great supply of people here? MM – We constantly hear about a shortage of IT graduates. There is also significant demand for people with accounting qualifications. But in Northern Ireland through our school system we have to encourage more students to enrol in accounting courses. There is a real challenge for us to produce sufficient graduates with the right skills to meet the demands of business. PL – My concern would be that, when they say there is a demand, where are these people ultimately going? Are they joining the first flight out on Monday and Friday evening flight home brigade? MM – It’s an interesting one. Chartered Accountants Ireland are looking at the whole area of professional accounting education at present. A lot of good accounting graduates coming out of university are being snapped up by the Big Four and a lot of them end up getting on those Monday morning flights. That can lead to problems for smaller accountancy practices getting access to sufficient accounting graduates to meet their needs. JT – We need to keep making our indigenous businesses as attractive as we can. The same applies in the legal sector where we have the big international firms in town. RG – It is an interesting development and one which has been positive for the local economy. It certainly creates competition in the talent pool. But it’s not for everyone and interestingly we are also seeing a secondary churn with lawyers coming back out into local practices looking to build client relationships more directly. PL – In both accountancy and law, there is a lot more movement in the marketplace and that does lead to upward pressure on salaries.


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23/09/2015 14:57

Eye on Round Table RG – We do have an anomalous situation on employment in general. We’ve got IT saying they can’t fill their jobs and accountancy saying the same. Yet, we still have a core of people without the skills and training to exploit the opportunities which exist have 6% unemployment. Couldn’t we be bold and set ourselves the goal of full employment? Maybe it is possible. JT – And it’s clearly not a job snobbery thing. We’re not asking people to go and work in a mundane minimum wage environment. We’re talking about good jobs, so there is clearly some form of disconnect here. MM – It goes back to what happens in schools. Careers teachers are very influential in the decisions taken by our young people . Also I would say it’s really important that employers get involved with universities in designing degree programmes. This helps ensure that the content of our degree programmes is fit for purpose and facilitates the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills that are directly related to business need. PL – The environment that the employers are working in is changing so rapidly that contact between business and universities has to be an ongoing thing. MM – Another example is the DEL Higher Level Apprenticeship Programme. As part of this at Ulster University Business School, we have worked very closely with Deloitte in the design of a degree programme to meet its business needs. The new Bright Start Programme has just been launched and we need to see more of this sort of thing. PL – That should also extend to schools. My son studied ICT at school and it was bordering on the farcical. He was being taught ICT skills that were ten years out of date. JT – Careers teachers were mentioned earlier and I am concerned about the quality of careers advice that school children are being offered. They are teachers of other subjects at the end of the day...and part time careers advisers.

RG – But we’re talking here about young people who have choices. The elephant in the room in Northern Ireland is the high level of under-achievement – and the reality that many of our young people don’t have those choices. We need to address that fact. PL – And, with respect to our hosts, third level education isn’t everything. If I had to pick the five most successful businesses I’ve come across in my career, I don’t think any of the business leaders involved would have a third level qualification. What they have is vision, drive and commitment. KM – I read somewhere that a one percentage point increase in leadership and management skills would account for a 25% increase in labour or a 65% increase in capital. We’ve had a major focus on the STEM subjects, but we’ve missed the whole management and leadership piece. MM – One of the things that is going on at the moment (though our Economic Policy Centre at the Business School) is a piece of work for DEL on a skills barometer. Through this we are looking at future skills requirements; it will be fascinating to see what comes out of that. KM – What is important is that every careers teacher in the schools sector will have access to this skills barometer and be able to see where the demand lies.....where the jobs are. RB – What are the key challenges for SME’s going forward? PL – New technology. Social media. Is traditional marketing becoming a dinosaur? Technology is moving so fast. KM – Cyber security is a major issue for a lot of businesses these days. Europe and a possible EU Referendum is another concern. And then there’s a much more traditional worry..... cash flow and late payment. RG – I think we’ve mentioned a lot of local challenges already, and there is always something that can be done locally. Externally, factors like exchange rates are real issues for a lot of export-focused client companies....as well as the slowdonw in emerging markets but there isn’t much they can do about them.

JT – Businesses here are no longer competing with the guy down the road, they’re competing globally. That is a really big challenge. Distance management can become an issues. You’re so busy managing elsewhere that you take your eye off the ball at home. PL – But technology makes it all a lot easier. Skype, for example, means that people don’t have to jump on and off planes all the time. JT – The one concern around technology is when it comes to moving money around. There are very real security concerns and then there is the speed, or lack of it. It can still take weeks for some international transfers to clear. PL – We’ve had direct experience of some very scary cyber security situations in recent times...and I think a lot of people have concerns about that. RB – Let me ask you one final question. If you had to ask for one thing from Government, what would it be?

JT – Corporation tax. There are so many business owners who could benefit from it, and that’s without mentioning FDI and the feel good factor around it. RG – I agree. More broadly, I’d like to see business really being at the top of the government’s agenda rather than them paying lip service to it, recognising that so many things we all want for our children and our society depend on a strong economy. PL – I share Judith’s goal. I’d love to see what corporation tax could do. You can’t help but look south of the border and see what has been achieved. RG – But the Republic’s success is built on the sort of alignment of policy that we’ve been talking about. They recognised a long time ago that a young, mobile, well educated workforce was part of it. They could see that planning and development authorities had to work together. And lower corporation tax is obviously part of it too.

KM – It would have to be a genuine joined up approach to the economy and business here....maybe via one dedicated small business body. MM – I think I’d go for more funding for higher education so that we can produce and provide more graduates for the economy here in Northern Ireland.

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Eye on People

Experience Counts... The 4c Approach To Recruitment With over 15 years’ experience in the Northern Ireland recruitment industry, Ruth McDonald joined 4c Executive Search as a Search Consultant in February 2015. She tells Business Eye more about her role at 4c…

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started my career in recruitment at Diamond Recruitment Group, which was founded by 4c’s Managing Director and Principal Search Consultant, Gary Irvine – so in a sense I have gone full circle and arrived back where I feel I very much belong. I have held a number of senior roles in the recruitment industry over the past 15 years and the strong experience gained in these roles have proved invaluable in my first few months at 4c. The 4c approach to executive search and selection The pool of candidates into which we search tends to be made up of a key set of ‘groupings’. Whilst the ‘active’ jobs seekers will actively be seeking a career move, the ‘passive’ job seekers will be happy in their current position but will be keeping an eye out for better opportunities. The ‘inactive’ candidate, however, will be more settled with no desire or reason to move on from where they are. It is with this ‘inactive’ group that executive search proves particularly valuable - these people will often be the best in the market but will not be registered with recruitment firms or looking at job opportunities. Every assignment is very different and requires a fresh approach. Some clients will opt to go down the route of 100 per cent search and some will opt for 100 per cent advertised selection. Most will decide on a combination of the two, however, and this is the approach we recommend – since it covers off all of the potential candidate groupings.

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The client Since joining 4c I have worked on a large portfolio of assignments across a diverse mix of appointments, from Chief Executive to Functional Managers, and for a wide range of clients from Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies as well as public sector or third sector organisations. Our clients tend to be companies seeking to appoint talent at a very senior level to fill business-critical roles within their organisations. They expect to be presented with candidates of the highest calibre, so we put a lot of effort into really understanding the role and getting to know their organisation and its culture before actively searching for candidates. We want to ensure that we only introduce people who are the best fit for the client’s organisation, to make sure there is that “match” from both the client and the candidate perspective. The candidate It is imperative that the candidate has both confidence and trust in a search consultant – not only that their application is in confidence but also that the consultant has their career and best interests at heart. We build strong relationships with each of our candidates and work closely with them to guide them through the process and to represent them with our clients. Quite often our candidates will become our clients and which leads to 2nd and 3rd generation assignments.

For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is when a candidate, who is ‘inactive’ and unaware of the opportunity until we contact them, ends up being appointed to a fantastic new role that they otherwise wouldn’t have known about without 4c. The 4c team We are a very experienced and growing team of eight people, each of whom is a specialist in their own right. We draw on one another’s strengths and areas of expertise and every member of the team has an integral part to play in ensuring that both the client and the candidate enjoy a first-class experience. We want to do it right every time and the results speak for themselves. We have 100% success rate to date, which is otherwise unheard of in the executive search industry where the average is significantly lower. Now going into our third year, we plan to continue growing the company and ensuring that 4c maintains its position as the first stop for executive search in Northern Ireland.

“We are a very experienced and growing team of eight people, each of whom is a specialist in their own right. We draw on one another’s strengths and areas of expertise and every member of the team has an integral part to play in ensuring that both the client and the candidate enjoy a first-class experience.”

To contact Ruth at 4c Executive Search, please email ruth@4cexecutive. com or call 028 9055 8120.


Eye on Leadership

BUSINESS LEADERS JOIN FORCES TO GENERATE STRATEGY FOR GROWTH

with Tony O’Neill, Deputy Chief Executive, Dunbia

At Leadership Summit are (from left) Professor Patrick Johnston, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast, Anne Clydesdale, Director of the William J Clinton Leadership Institute, Linda Brown, Director of the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI) and Alan Taylor, Managing Partner of leading law firm and event sponsors Arthur Cox

with Sophie Grenville & Harry Lloyd, What If Innovation – Conference facilitators

with Sir John Elvidge, of The Carnegie Trust

with Nicola Millard , BT Futurologist

with Chris Browne, COO Thomson Airways

Some of Northern Ireland’s most respected and influential leaders in the private and social enterprise sectors gathered at Riddel Hall for the Strategic Leadership Summit, hosted by the Institute of Directors (Northern Ireland) and the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University.

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ponsored by leading law firm Arthur Cox, the aim of the energetic event was to generate a strategy which will help change leadership culture in Northern Ireland and contribute to shaping the Assembly’s next Programme for Government. The recommendations from the Summit will be published and used to engage with politicians and leaders from the private, public and third sectors.

Sponsor – Arthur Cox, keynote speakers, QUB, William J Clinton Leadership & IOD representatives with conference facilitators – What If Innovation

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Eye on Planning

Planning: Understanding Pre-Application Community Consultation With Planning Powers devolved to the new 11 Super-Councils from the 1st April this year, Strategic Planning’s David Kerr says the scale of change is not just a challenge for Councillors, Planning officials and communities – it has also presented a major learning curve for industry professionals, investors and applicants.

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e took a call recently asking us to price planning work for a major development. The caller said, ‘We need to get a Planning Consultancy on board quickly to keep us right. We want to submit the application in five or six weeks.’ We queried the size of the scheme. It crossed the threshold under the new Planning law and qualifies as a major application. Had they commenced the statutory pre-application

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consultation process, we asked? No. Well, we informed them, you can’t submit the application for at least 12 weeks. Many people don’t fully appreciate or understand the new statutory Planning requirements around community consultation for major applications. They don’t understand the timescales and underestimate the level of professionalism required in the preparation of the applications. There is still a perception out there that community

consultation and political engagement is an optional extra – a bit of a public relations exercise that is priced into a scheme if the budget allows. Well that is how it may have appeared to some in the past, but it is not the case today. At the heart of Planning reform in Northern Ireland and the transfer of planning powers to Councils has been the political motivation to ensure local communities and elected representatives are at the centre of the consultation and decision making process respectively. The 11 Super-Councils are now responsible for creating their own Development Plans. Councillors are decision-takers on planning applications, rather than consultees. The luxury of Planning Committee membership with no responsibility has gone! Arguably most important for developers, is the clear statutory emphasis now placed

on professionally managed and transparent community and stakeholder engagement. This is good for Planning. As a business we have championed this pre-application pro-active consultation approach for years. It has been our USP and it is now enshrined in law. The new Planning legislation means that all major planning applications submitted after 1st July 2015 must include a statutory pre-application community consultation process, leading to the submission of a Pre-Application Community Consultation Report alongside the formal planning application. At least twelve weeks before submission of the planning application, the applicant is required to provide the planning authority with a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN). Along with other details of the proposal, this must include details of the pre-application community consultation proposed to be undertaken by the applicant. When the PAN is issued, the planning authority will have up to 21 days to confirm if it accepts the proposed pre-application community consultation plan, or if it feels it should be extended to


Eye on Planning

include additional stakeholders or other consultation methods. When this is agreed, the applicant can then fully carry-out the community consultation. Subsequently, formal submission of the planning application must include a detailed Pre-application Community Consultation (PACC) Report. This report must demonstrate the consultation has been meaningful and show how stakeholder feedback has been considered in the design and development of the proposal. If the report is deficient, the Council has the power to refuse to determine the application. The trigger for requiring a Pre-Application Community Consultation (PACC) process is the ‘major application’ threshold. The definition of a major application is explained in detail in the Planning Development Management Regulations NI 2015. Some of the key threshold points are set out below:

• Housing: 50 units; site area 2 hectares (or more) • Retail/leisure: 1000sqm gross f/space; 1 hectare site area (or more) • Business/Industry: 5000sqm gross f/space; 1 hectare site area (or more) • Power Lines: 33kV (or larger) overhead line (for more than one customer) • Energy generation: 5MW onshore or more • Waste: Disposal of +25,000 tonnes/yr; incineration exceeding 100t/day • Pipelines: 400mm diameter, 20km or more for gas, oil, chemicals • Extraction: Petroleum +250t/day; 250,000 cubic metres/day for gas Strategic Planning has managed planning applications and consultation programmes for some of Northern Ireland’s most high-profile developments, including the £120m Lisanelly

Shared Educational Campus in Omagh, which involved extensive pre-application community consultation. As well as communities, effective engagement with elected representatives is also a key aspect of successful pre-app consultation. This now requires a much more structured approach than before. Councillors who sit on the relevant planning committees are governed by a new code of conduct, which has significant implications for how they are lobbied. Applicants and agents with proposals of all sizes need to be aware of these issues or seek advice before contacting Councillors. The key message here is that the new requirements for community consultation mean it is no longer an optional add-on for major applications. To ensure projects are delivered on time and without costly delays, it has to be managed professionally and within the new boundaries of the codes of conduct and practice.

David Kerr is Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement at Planning Consultants www.strategicplanning.uk.com E: davidkerr@ strategicplanning.uk.com T:@davidwkerr Wk: 028 9042 5222

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Eye on Manufacturing

BOMBARDIER’S GAVIN CAMPBELL... ADVANCING THE CAUSE OF MANUFACTURING

Gavin Campbell is quick to brush away any interviewer concerns about the complexity of his subject matter.

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t’s true. People can be very wary of R&D and subjects like advanced manufacturing and materials,” he says. “But, at the end of the day, it’s about making products that are attractive and products that work. It’s business. “Advanced manufacturing is also all about cost. The costs faced by businesses in Northern Ireland are a challenge....high energy costs, European labour costs and, in our case here at Bombardier, we’re sending our finished products 3,000 miles to our biggest customer, our parent company in North America.” In common with others in technology and manufacturing here, Campbell is conscious of Northern Ireland’s industrial heritage. It would be difficult for him to avoid it, working at a plant that has built some iconic aircraft and next door to the Harland & Wolff shipyard site. “I think it does count for a lot,” he says. “We’re used to having industry around us in Belfast, we’re naturally creative and the people here are well suited for manufacturing jobs. Other companies here have shown that, and relatively new ventures like the NI Science Park are great examples of the creativity and innovation that we have around here.

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“Whether it’s software or shipbuilding, I think we’ve shown through the years that we have the ingenuity here in Northern Ireland. “Look at the entrepreneurs we’ve had and still have – William Wright up in Ballymena, Tom Eakin, FG Wilson to name just a few.” Gavin Campbell is talking at NIACE, (the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre) the impressive new 3,700 sq.ft facility next door to Bombardier’s main entrance on Airport Road. Officially opened in January 2012, it’s an industry-led university-hosted centre for research and development around advanced engineering and advanced materials technology, particularly in the area of composites. It’s home to 120 research and development staff at any one time. “Both Queen’s and Ulster Universities are involved here and we’re working alongside a growing range of different companies based in Northern Ireland, from the big industrial names like Bombardier, Wrightbus, Denroy Plastics and BE Aerospace through to smaller companies such as CCP Gransden and Datum Design.


Eye on Manufacturing “This centre is a very tangible outworking of what Matrix, the NI Science & Industry Panel, has set out to do. It’s all about promoting technology, driving technology and increasing investment in technology. “And, while it might seem obvious to say it, technology really does need a lot of research and development. It needs workshops, it needs facilities, it needs people to test and to build...and it can all be a little bit speculative sometimes. But that’s the nature of the beast, and that’s where entrepreneurial spirit and drive comes in.” Gavin Campbell will be playing his part in the forthcoming Matrix study into advanced materials and manufacturing in Northern Ireland, following on seven years after the last study of its kind. “A lot can happen in seven years and a lot has happened in the past seven years,” he says. “The aero sector has the stated ambition of growing revenues to NI to £2 billion within the next ten years, and aims to increase high value employment to 12,000 in the same period. It’s a formidable target.” He has been with Short Brothers Plc and Bombardier Aerospace for 30 years since graduating in mechanical engineering from the University of Ulster. Outside of his role at the plant, he’s a visiting Professor in the Faculty of Computing & Engineering at Ulster University and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He’s played an important role in the development and current manufacture in Belfast of the highly advanced composite wings for Bombardier’s new generation C Series aircraft. “Talking of timescale, the aircraft have been a long time in development but they’ll still be flying in 25 to 30 years’ time, and the design will be around for 50-60 years. For those in other industries here in Northern Ireland, things are very different. A piece of software or an app can be obsolete in a matter of months. In some ways, that’s one of the challenges facing organisations like Matrix and the NI Science Park.

“In our industry, it can be better to take longer on R&D. The C Series is a very good example of that. As a result, we’re beating the brochure. Both the CS100 and CS300 are turning out to be more fuel efficient, quieter and with a better range than we’d promised in the sales literature....and that’s according to our customers.” The C Series aircraft wing isn’t just manufactured in a highly advanced assembly plant in Belfast. It was also researched and developed here. “So it is a really good example of how advanced materials and composites are being used by industry here in Northern Ireland. Another shining example is the new generation London bus which was designed and developed by Wrightbus in Ballymena.” Gavin Campbell, like many of his counterparts in engineering and manufacturing, stresses the importance of working hard to encourage young people to consider careers at the sharp end of engineering. “It goes further back than our universities and FE colleges right into our schools. That’s where we need to be encouraging pupils to look at careers in industry here. It’s vital that we have the right people coming through. “What we also need to see is a continued flow of spin-out companies coming out of our

universities and colleges. I think we underestimate how many jobs are being created from these companies being set up. We really can’t encourage it enough.....” The recently published NISP Connect report on the Knowledge Economy here showed that Northern Ireland has maintained its position as the 2nd fastest growing KE region in the UK. A total of 410 start-ups were created in KE in the past year, KE salaries are 50% higher than other sectors on average, 85% of products and services are exported and it’s currently estimated that 10% of the NI economy is driven by KE. “So it couldn’t be much more important,” says Campbell. “It shows that we’re still entrepreneurs and we’re still creating. “It’s not traditional manufacturing of the kind that Shorts did 25 years ago and Harland & Wolff did a hundred years ago, but it’s technology for today. And that’s crucial. It is the way that we are going to re-industrialise Northern Ireland.” On the more traditional manufacturing front, Gavin Campbell singles out the impressive cluster of quarrying and materials handling equipment manufacturers in County Tyrone for special mention.....the ‘sons and daughters of Powerscreen’

as one commentator described the cluster recently. “It’s very impressive what they’ve achieved in Tyrone and we’re talking about companies which might have their roots in shaping metals and welding but which have moved on to embrace advanced manufacturing techniques. “Advanced manufacturing is more than simply the sum total of the labour and the parts that go into it. It’s a lot more than that... it adds value, it drives prices up and it impacts on the bottom line for the company concerned.” Matrix, he says, has an important role to play in driving forward the advanced manufacturing agenda in Northern Ireland, in shaping DETI policy and the next Programme for Government and its contents. “We need to look at skills and the flow of people into industry going forward, and we also need to focus on where we stand internationally and at how our departments and agencies can all work together to the best effect. “We have creativity, we have an entrepreneurial spirit and what is being achieved in the knowledge economy shows that we’re on the right track.”

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New thinking about energy

www.electricireland.com LoCall 0845 309 8138

Eye on Electric Ireland Top Performer Of The Month

L-R Brenda Buckley of Business Eye, Barry Smyth of MCS and Alan Cunningham of Electric Ireland.

BARRY SMYTH...

DRIVING GROWTH IN RECRUITMENT When it comes to competitive business sectors, the recruitment industry might just be up there with the best of them.

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o to succeed not just in establishing a new presence but to grow and prosper in a well-populated marketplace needs more than a bit of business acumen, experience and determination. Barry Smyth, already an experienced operator in the recruitment business, set up his own company, MCS, back in 2008. As he says with a wry smile, it was precisely when credit crunch turned into recession and an American firm called Lehman Brothers collapsed. The rest, as they say, is history. From early days as a niche IT recruitment firm in small Belfast offices, MCS has grown to cover IT, banking & finance and technical & engineering

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from impressive city centre offices in Linenhall Street and with a team that has grown from two to 20 over the seven-year interim period. Barry Smyth had been in the business for 16 years, with the Grafton group for most of that time as a specialist recruitment consultant, and for a spell with executive specialists Clarendon. “Executive recruitment, truth be told, wasn’t for me and I wanted to get back to specialist recruitment and to the IT sector in particular. So I took the plunge. Looking back, it wasn’t the best piece of timing.....but it’s worked out well, hasn’t it?” He and his wife Louise, who joined the business from a senior role with Grafton in 2014, are on something of a crusade to offer a new level of ethics and professionalism in an industry sector not always well known for those qualities. “We’re only too aware that it’s the ethics, the professionalism and the customer service that have been missing in this industry, or parts of it at least, over the years,” says Barry Smyth. “They’re all elements that we set out right from the start to concentrate on.

“I always thought that three key elements were missing all too often in this business,” he says. “They were ethics, quality and delivery....and we took it as our mission to embrace all three of them.” As the recession years drew to a close, IT was the first sector to bounce back.....good news for Barry Smyth and his team at MCS, a team which concentrates on recruitment for the IT and banking and finance sectors. Barry Smyth and MCS have to deal with plenty of issues in the industry, not least the prevalence of temp specialists in the wider recruitment industry as well as the drift towards RPO....recruitment process outsourcing. But MCS, he says, prefers to concentrate on a clearly defined role as a specialist recruitment agency, concentrating on the business sectors that it knows and understands. “Understanding is crucial,” he says. “It’s a message that I emphasise all the time with our people here at MCS.

They have to work hard to understand our customers, their businesses and what those businesses need from their recruitment partner. “Once they are able to do that, recruitment consultancy is a great career. But you have to have that level of understanding to be able to do it well. It’s that kind of knowledge amongst our people that sets MCS apart as a business.” But there are other key differentiating factors. Barry Smyth tells the story of a potential US-based inward investor talking to him and pointing out that he needed long-term hires and not just short-term personnel solutions. “He was surprised when I was able to give him statistics on how many of our candidates turned out to be long-term hires for our customers.” He’s convinced that the market is as good now as it has been for a while. “I think there are opportunities for a lot of people out there. There are plenty of good fits and every chance of finding the right people for the right roles.” MCS, clearly, is a business that is all about people. “The delivery channels have changed over the years,” says Barry Smyth. “Gone are the days when Friday’s evening paper was the main marketplace for job vacancies. Nowadays, we have online recruitment sites, we have LinkedIn and we have other networks. “We’ve even heard of candidates being chosen on the basis of online CV selection tools, which ‘funnel’ CV’s which have the right buzzwords into one box....and rejects others automatically. Does that make any sense? “At the end of the day, people like to deal with people, and that’s particularly true here in Northern Ireland.


The business world on your doorstep...

Eye on Business Destinations

DESTINATION MANCHESTER

Manchester is a magnetic city that brims with energy and delights visitors and locals alike with its ever evolving cultural scene and fantastic dining, drinking and entertainment spots. As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution the city is packed with history, heritage and fantastic architecture and is now one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in the UK.

Meetings and conference venues The city’s meetings and conferencing success is largely the result of heavy investment in the area known as Petersfield, an area of historic importance for Manchester - St Peter’s Field, as the quarter was known in the 1800s, has always been the city’s primary meeting point. Today, the area is home to the city’s flagship conference venue, the former train station Manchester Central, with over 2,500 hotel beds within a five minute walk. Where to stay Manchester is packed with fantastic hotels, including several new openings that have been quick to impress. Luxurious and quirky in equal measure, Hotel Gotham is housed in a former bank and rooms have subtle hints of Batman about them. Hotel Football is one for the sports fans, complete with a rooftop pitch to play on and an in house Café Football serving fantastic food that’s themed around the ‘beautiful game’. Overlooking Manchester’s new arts venue, HOME, INNSIDE by Melia opened in May 2015, perfectly located for culture vultures. Top attractions One of the most exciting British cities to visit outside of London, marvellous Manchester is a melting pot of culture and is fast making its mark as a top tourist destination. The ever-changing city has seen a lot of redevelopment over the last two decades, overcoming industrial decline to become one of the most cosmopolitan conurbations in Britain. Affectionately

labelled the ‘Capital of the North’, Manchester is well served by an ultra-efficient public transport network and boasts a myriad of magnetisms. You’re spoiled for ways to spend your time here, from performances at the dynamic Lowry arts complex to popular cultural attractions like the Museum of Science and Industry. A sporting haven with not one, but two top flight football teams on its books, Manchester has plenty to offer even the most active person. This city is also home to the colossal Etihad Stadium that, when not hosting world-class sporting events, often sees the world-class musicians playing sell out shows. Restaurants At the top end of the price bracket, The French at the Midland Hotel is a fab place to treat yourself. Head chef Simon Rogan (whose Cumbria restaurant L’Enclume holds two Michelin stars) produces creative, seasonal dishes and you can take your pick between 6 courses for £65 or 10 for £85. Aiden Byrne’s Manchester House is another top-class, high end restaurant, with adventurous dishes and a buzzy atmosphere in trendy Spinningfields. Also buzzing, and also in Spinningfields, is Hawksmoor: located in an atmospheric Victorian courthouse, it has a meatheavy menu and promises the best steaks in town. Key business contacts • MIDAS is Manchester’s inward investment agency helping to businesses to relocate in the region: info@midas.org.uk | +44 (0) 161 237 4470 • Manchester Chamber of Commerce: info@

gmchamber.co.uk | +44 (0)161 393 4321 • Visit Manchester, the agency organising conferences in the city: conference@ visitmanchester.com | +44 (0)161 238 4597 • Visit Manchester website: www.visitmanchester.com Travel Flybe currently offers a choice of up to 7 flights daily from George Best Belfast City Airport to Manchester Airport. Departing Belfast at 07.00 and with the last returning flight at 20.20, business travellers can avail of a full day’s work. Manchester also continues to be an important hub airport for Flybe offering Northern Ireland passengers seamless and convenient onward connections to European and long-haul destinations. Lead-in fares for a single journey from George Best Belfast City Airport to Manchester start at £39.99* including taxes and charges. For more information log onto www.Flybe.com. Located close to two major motorways, the M56 and the M6, this busy international hub boasts excellent transport links to both the city centre and surrounding towns. The station at Manchester Airport allows easy travel to more than 100 destinations across the UK. *applies for travel up to 26.03.16.

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Eye on Finance

ASM Launches Cross-Border Seminar Series T

his month sees awardwinning firm ASM Chartered Accountants kick-start a seminar series aimed at providing SMEs interested in growing their cross border trade with practical financial advice. The eight-seminar series, known as the Cross Border Bureau, is being delivered in partnership with InterTradeIreland and will now travel across the North and South of Ireland over the coming weeks.

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The remainder of the free seminars will be in Enniskillen (7 October), Dundalk (8 October), Dungannon (22 October) and

Londonderry (5 November) at which delegates will be addressed by keynote speakers from ASM and InterTradeIreland.

Richard Blakeman (ASM) / Leanne Hillock (ASM) / Janet Toal (InterTrade Ireland) / Caroline Keenan (ASM)

Rachael Woods ASM / Ronan McGirk ASM / Catriona Gorham ASM

Rachael Woods (ASM) / Adrian Patton (ASM) / Neil McConkey (Santander)

Clare Tolan (First Trust) / Michael Williams (ASM) / Gemma Payne / Larry Murphy (First Trust Bank)

Brian Clerk (ASM) / Tim Colhoun (Camseng International Food Distributors)

Cathy Kennedy (ASM) / Trish Casement (Trackers Ltd) / Rachael Woods (ASM)

Trish Casement (Trackers Ltd) / Michael Nixon (ASM)

Caroline Keenan ASM / John Hannaway - Hannaway CA

Jill Sinclair (A&L Goodbody) / Michael O’Hare (ASM)


Eye on Agri Food

Going Back In Time For New Flavours Sam Butler talked to pioneering Enniskillen butcher Pat O’Doherty about his focus on novel foods that are attracting global acclaim.

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e’s given gourmands in Ireland and abroad award winning Fermanagh Black Bacon and Traditional Fermanagh Corned Beef, created unique foods for local events and is now raising the profile of black puddings through Ireland’s only festival for the traditional sausage. It’s a colourful event that’s been centred on his hometown of Enniskillen. This focus on innovative tastes for foodies has won Pat O’Doherty, managing director of O’Doherty’s Fine Meats on Enniskillen’s Belmore Street, international acclaim. He regularly entertains food writers and top chefs from Europe, the US, Canada and even Australia at his butchery/deli business. His high-end deli and the pigs he rears on a remote island in Lough Erne are now a magnet for food lovers from around the world. He’s also been voted the UK’s Butcher of the Year and gained a clutch of awards for his burgers, sausages and steaks. His Black Bacon has even been used as an ice cream flavour! Fame certainly doesn’t faze the affable Pat O’Doherty. He’s to be found around-theclock in the shop, welcoming existing customers and treating newcomers like long-lost friends. He’s time for shoppers wishing to find out about his vast range of meats and seeking advice on how to cook everything from pork burgers to kangaroo steaks. But O’Doherty’s recent focus has been on black puddings and the festival he launched in 2013 to showcase a product

that’s been around for centuries and is to be found virtually everywhere in the world. It’s a development of his longstanding interest in the history of food especially beef and bacon, a fascination that has led him to spend hours in the library archives. This has resulted in the revival of two products steeped in history – Fermanagh Black Bacon, a dry-cured bacon with spices that’s based on a technique dating back generations, and Traditional Fermanagh Corned Beef. The corned beef dates back to the time when Ireland supplied the food throughout Europe. Ireland’s only Black Pudding Festival is now being backed by hotels and restaurants around Fermanagh as an important tourism attraction. He’s even created Oscar Wilde meat pies for the recent festival for the renowned author. O’Doherty speaks with the authority of someone who has studied the history of the black pudding, a type of blood sausage generally made from pork blood and oatmeal. Other parts of the world, he points out, celebrate the pudding that probably originated in Asia. This year he marked the Asian contribution by drawing spicy sausages from China and Korea. “As long as animals have been slaughtered to provide food, blood sausages like black pudding have been in existence. Each nation has its own ingredients. The Spanish version is based on paprika and garlic, while

Pat O’Doherty, managing director of O’Doherty’s Fine Meats in Enniskillen.

some South America puddings include chocolate and orange. “In Britain, black pudding is considered a delicacy in the Black Country, Stornoway and the North West, especially in Lancashire, and sometimes in Greater Manchester, where it is traditionally boiled and served with malt vinegar out of paper wrapping.” His research found the very first reference to the black pudding in 800 BC, when it was mentioned in Homer’s classic saga ‘The Odyssey’. Homer famously described the way people felt then about black puddings and wrote: As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted. In the Odyssey, Homer had his champion get into a fight “around the sausage” for a prize of a stomach stuffed with pig blood and fat. He has also chronicled the history of corned beef. A study of ancient annals led O’Doherty to conclude that the first reference in Ireland to corned beef was during the 12th century in a poem, the Vision of MacConglinne, in which salted or corned beef is described as a delicacy used to purge ‘the demon of gluttony’.

“As long as animals have been slaughtered to provide food, blood sausages like black pudding have been in existence. Each nation has its own ingredients. The Spanish version is based on paprika and garlic, while some South America puddings include chocolate and orange.” Corned beef became an essential part of Irish culture. “It was the vast requirement for corned beef in England that spurred the increased production of it in Ireland,” he says. Corned beef from Ireland was subsequently found on vessels in the Caribbean involved in the slave trade. Corned beef, he adds, is “simply fresh beef which has been treated with salts, herbs and spices to extend its shelf life and create excellent tasting beef”. It was created either by immersing in a bath of local herbs and spices such as juniper and elderflower berries or by using dry rub techniques.

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Eye on Accountancy

No more Hiding in the Shadows!! In addition to extending the time allowed for the DETI to take action against directors, the main changes are summarised below: • The new provisions will mean that a director’s conduct in companies registered outside of NI can be taken into account here. This is obviously particularly significant for directors of Republic of Ireland companies who may have had difficulties with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in Dublin.

By Ian Finnegan, director, ASM Chartered Accountants, Newry and Dundalk.

In this article, leading accountancy practice, ASM Chartered Accountants, which has six offices in Newry, Dundalk, Dublin, Dungannon, Magherafelt, Dublin and Belfast, outline the imminent changes to the law surrounding director disqualifications, in a bid to better educate affected individuals and their businesses.

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an Finnegan, Licensed Insolvency Practitioner and director at ASM, Newry commented: Change is afoot in the law on director disqualifications. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act which obtained Royal Assent on 26 March 2015 will bring some very significant changes for directors of insolvent limited

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companies. The New Act will apply in NI with the director disqualifications provisions coming into effect on 1 October 2015. Currently the main piece of legislation dealing with directors’ conduct is The Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002. The new Act will widen the scope of the law and make the consequences of falling foul of it potentially more painful.

• There are new provisions aimed at stopping the appointment of “puppet” directors. This is the practice of companies appointing “named” directors, for example, spouses, where the original directors are either bankrupt or subject to Disqualification Orders or Undertakings but still effectively in control of the company. The new provisions will apply to individuals under whose influence, instruction or direction the “named” directors act. Penalties can be imposed on those deemed to be controlling the company and also on the named directors. • Finally and perhaps most significantly the new Act gives the DETI the power to hit disqualified persons where it hurts the most, their pockets. Where a person is subject to a disqualification order or a disqualification undertaking and that persons conduct has caused loss to a creditor or a group of creditors the DETI will be able to apply to the High Court for a Compensation Order against that person. The Compensation Order is potentially a massive weapon in the war on rogue directors for whom a disqualification is

seen as nothing more than a rap on the knuckles, now they face the prospect of also have to pay financial compensation to the creditors. However it will also cause potential difficulty for all directors of insolvent companies. It is envisaged these orders will be provable in bankruptcy and could therefore see directors made bankrupt for the debts of an insolvent company where up to now they have been able to walk away. Effectively the benefits of limited liability will only be available to those deemed to have acted properly.

ASM Snapshot Since its launch in 1995, ASM has grown rapidly and today stands as one of the largest accounting and management consultancy firms in Ireland, with offices in Belfast, Dublin, Dundalk, Dungannon, Magherafelt and Newry. The firm, employing 160 people, specialises in a range of accountancy disciplines that include: corporate finance, audit and accounting, internal audit, consultancy services, taxation, hotels, tourism and leisure, insolvency and forensic accounting.

For further information on this topic or for one-to-one consultancy contact Ian Finnegan, ASM Newry on 028 3026 9933 or email ian.finnegan@asmnewry.com. A full range of ASM’s services can be viewed here: www.asmaccountants.com


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Eye on Entrepreneurs

JACK DOBSON...

Dunbia Founder On Entreneurship One of Northern Ireland’s finalists in this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year competition is a gentleman who – along with his brother – has grown a company to the size and scale that most of the other contestants can only dream about.

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Rory Best & Jack Dobson with the 6 Nations Cup at the Clogher Show, Ballygawley playing fields.

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hether it wins Jack Dobson of Dunbia the coveted award in Dublin on 22nd October is another matter. That’s up to the 12-strong judging panel led by CPL Resources’ Anne Heraty and including the redoubtable Denis O’Brien, an Irish business legend if ever there was one. One thing is for sure. Jack Dobson’s tale of entrepreneurship is hard to beat. He left school in Dungannon in 1966 aged 15 to work with his cattle trader father and the pair went on to invest in their first lorry a couple of years later for the princely sum of £995. “The dealer wanted £1,000 but I held out for the bargain.....” Dobson smiles. His brother Jim left his previous job at Moygashel Linen Mills to join the cattle business at a time when freezer centres selling meat were springing up around the country. The Dobsons first major step into the meat business was when they opened their own butcher’s shop at Moygashel in 1976. Jack Dobson was always the man with an eye on the quality of the meat. It’s something that has stayed with him to this day. “I still look at meat the way I’ve always looked at meat. It’s something I’ve had a passion for through all of the years. There’s nothing I dislike more than a badly butchered piece of meat....” He thinks much the same way about his working life. “I don’t look upon it as work. Never have done. I love what we do, and I don’t love it any less now than when I first started. It’s been hard work on many occasions, I’ve had the odd sleepless night in the early days and the various crises that hit this industry....but I’ve always loved it.”


Eye on Entrepreneurs

Where it all began...

Jack & Jim Dobson of Dunbia, with Peter Robinson First Minister (centre)

The Dobson family business, already loosely called Dungannon Meats (which many local people still call it these days....), continued a steady expansion through the 70’s and into the 1980’s. The three family members were buying up to 70 or 80 cattle a week, sending them to a local abattoir, then hanging and butchering them for sale to their customers. “It got to the stage where we had no choice but to invest in our own plant to kill and process the animals,” Jack Dobson says. He tells the story of approaching his bank branch manager in Dungannon. “When I told him that I was looking for a million pounds, he nearly choked. But, to be fair to him, he went back to Head Office after it was declined the first time and got it approved.” Arguably, it might just be one of the best £1 million loans the bank has ever rubber stamped. Dunbia today has a €1 billion turnover, 4,000 employees and 12 plants spread from Northern Ireland into the Republic and Great Britain. It ranks as the largest lamb processor in Europe, as well as the Continent’s third larger processor of beef. To do that, Dunbia plants process 1.8 million sheep, 750,000 pigs and 350,000 beef cattle every year. “We never had a business plan,” Jack Dobson admits. “We might have scribbled the odd

plan down on a sheet of paper between us but, for us, growth has been about opportunities..... seeing opportunities and then taking opportunities. If we thought something would work, we wouldn’t hang around.... we’d just get on with it. Back to the growth story, and once the Dungannon Meats factory was built in 1986 at Granville outside Dungannon (where the company is still based), the next step was to develop the big retail customers. And that’s exactly what happened. “We started selling to Marks & Spencer, to Tesco and then to Sainsbury’s....but as time went on we became key suppliers to Sainsbury’s and we’ve been major suppliers to them ever since. It’s a long-term relationship we’re very proud of.” The company went on to build a second dedicated retail factory at Granville in 1993. But the development period hasn’t been without its black moments. Back in 1996, for instance, when the BSE crisis struck the farming industry here and in Britain. The BSE crisis behind it, Dungannon Meats continued on the growth track.....deciding for the first time to look outside of its Northern Ireland heartland. A plant at Clitheroe in Lancashire opened its doors in 1998, and a

major Welsh lamb plant followed. Both were acquisitions of existing meat processing businesses, and the acquisition route has been used by the company on numerous occasions since then. Today’s Dunbia Group (the company was renamed in 2006.... Dun is left over from Dungannon Meats while bia is Irish for food) has locations from the North of Scotland (Elgin) to the East Midlands (Mansfield), Wales, a couple of locations in the Republic of Ireland and a pork processing operation in Ballymena. Back in 2007, Dunbia suffered another major setback. “Sainsbury’s decided that they went to source 100% of their beef from one supplier in Ireland. It was between us another large meat processor and we came in second. We had been supplying 30% of Sainsbury’s beef but it accounted for 70% of our business. It wasn’t easy coming in on a Monday to learn that 70% of your business had gone... “We could cry about it or we could start working to replace the business. Within a short time, we had started supplying Co-Op, Iceland and Asda. We acquired the old Stevensons pig plant in Ballymena and stepped up pig production there, and we bought a pig plant in Mansfield in England. “Today, we’re back where we used to be as far as Sainsbury’s is concerned. It took us a while and a bit of tenacity to get back there....but we did it.” Dunbia produces some 900 tonnes of product from its plant in Dungannon each week, with a further 500 tonnes coming out of its English plants and 300 from Wales. It is a firm that does everything on the animal processing front – slaughtering, boning, butchering and packing ready for supermarket shelves.

It’s a lesser known fact that Dunbia sheep skins are used in the production of Ugg boots. “Margins are tight in this business. They’re being squeezed all the time as competition between the supermarkets continues. It means we’ve got to be competitive and keep a close eye on our costs through the production cycle,” says Jack Dobson. “We’ve also got a big wages bill and major costs like energy to think about. “Of course we’ll continue to look for opportunities,” he says of the future. Dunbia remains a solidly family-owned company with no thoughts of that status changing in the foreseeable future at least. It has a Board of Directors chaired by Lord Mawhinney, the former Conservative MP and Northern Ireland Minister, Brian Mawhinney. “I still enjoy being here and doing business. As I’ve said before, it’s all about passion. When I go on holiday, my wife tells me off for studying the meat in the supermarket. It’s not really work for me, you see.” Jack Dobson also likes nothing better than to meet up and chat with the farmers who’ve been supplying Dungannon Meats and then Dunbia through the years. “I’d say I know 95% of the farmers who supply us around here, and it’s always good to catch up with them.....” UTV is screening a six-part series on the build up to the final of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2015. The series, meeting all 24 finalists from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is being shown at 8.00 pm each Monday evening between now and 22nd October. The EY Entrepeneur of the Year Final takes place at the Citywest Hotel near Dublin on Thursday, 22nd October, and the winner will go on to represent Ireland at the 2016 world final in Monte Carlo.

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Eye on Eye on Giving

MAKING TIME FOR PHILANTHROPY... Leigh Yeaman, Investment Director, Investec Wealth & Investment, member of IoD. What are your thoughts, in general, on charitable giving? I grew up in a family where we regularly supported a variety of causes in a very traditional way such as taking part in sponsored walks or collecting jars full of 20ps to donate to a specific cause. My husband and I try to encourage our own children with the same spirit. We love to see them coming home having discovered a particular charity which has inspired them to contribute. They become very excited as they try to think of a new fundraising idea to gain support for the cause. Is your giving personal or corporate or a combination of both? My giving is a combination of both; on a personal level it is in relation to organisations or causes that have impacted upon my family and friends. I’m also fortunate to work for a company whose core values include contributing to society, valuing diversity and respecting others. Investec places a huge importance on charities and supporting charitable initiatives. We have Social Investment champions in every office, who organise local volunteering activities and fundraising events, and everyone is given two days leave a year to volunteer gaining many valuable skills and memorable experiences in the process. The Give as You Earn payroll giving facility also enables donations directly from salaries to charities of choice. How do you give to charity: monetarily, your own time as a volunteer or your specialist skills? On a personal level I give monetarily to my own personal charities and I’m also on the Board of Directors at Rathgael Gymnastics & Tumbling Club, which is a charitable organisation whose focus is on encouraging kids to be active and healthy. What types of causes do you favour and why? As a mum of three girls I tend to favour causes that support children and young people in general. I like to support causes helping families in difficultly, or aiding education and encouraging kids in a healthy lifestyle. I tend

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to lean towards sports as the benefits are well known, such as, reducing health risks, building confidence in children and young people, and also improving their social skills. Are there specific charities or causes that you give to regularly? How do you choose which to support? At Investec we focus on empowering communities through education and entrepreneurship and also on supporting meaningful activities that either produce positive impact or prolong life on our planet. For example, ‘Team Green’ was set up when a group of colleagues in the Specialist Bank who were passionate about the environment got together. The Team is made up of volunteers from across the business and has a representative in each regional office including Belfast; on a personal level, I donate to charities such as Women’s Aid, Wave, Odette Cancer Clinic and Think Pink for Breast Cancer and I also like to select specific causes during the year that come to the attention of our family. Do you believe that companies and individuals have a duty to help others? If yes, why? Yes – I think that there is a duty to contribute and to be willing to help out where you can; everyone needs help sometimes. It is important to me and it is important to Investec Wealth & Investment and I believe that Northern Ireland benefits from a strong culture of charitable giving both from a personal and corporate level, and I hope that this continues. What is your message to business people who may be thinking about becoming more involved in strategic philanthropy? Business people make strategic plans as a matter of course e.g. for their businesses, for their retirement, for their financial affairs and investments, and philanthropy is no different. Apply the same logic and assess what or where you want to invest, consider what the impact of your investment will be and what you hope to achieve over your chosen time horizon. Modern day philanthropy is dynamic with many opportunities to get involved.

Giving Northern Ireland was set up to champion Philanthropy. Why do you think it is important that there is an organisation that helps businesses and individuals think more strategically about giving? Businesses and individuals, when asked, are often happy to contribute, however, when it comes to initiating philanthropic ventures many find it difficult to set the time aside to gather the information they need or may be unsure where to start. Giving Northern Ireland is an innovative organisation that fills this niche raising the profile of philanthropy, getting people talking and thinking strategically. It is surprising what can come from a quick cup of coffee and a chat...


Eye on Conferencing & Events

BUSINESS TOURISM Belfast and Northern Ireland are poised for even greater growth and investment, says Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast.

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he importance of business tourism and the delivery of successful conferences and events to Belfast and Northern Ireland’s economic growth cannot be overstated. The average business traveller tends to spend up to three times as much as a holidaymaker, thereby making this sector a lucrative market to target. As well as providing an important revenue source for many of our hotels and venues across Belfast and Northern Ireland which cater for such large events, this activity sustains and grows tourism businesses throughout the year and particularly outside the traditional summer season. Conferences, exhibitions, incentive travel and corporate hospitality already account for a growing share of total inbound tourism to Belfast and Northern Ireland and they are key in our mission to drive not only visitor numbers but vital tourism spend over the years ahead. Directly and indirectly, the sector supports the development of our hotel, conference and events infrastructure, as well as our hospitality offer and choice. It facilitates the development of inward investment, intelligence exchange and productive networking while presenting the opportunity to demonstrate at a national and international level our areas of expertise and success.

We can already see how our success is generating further investment. Titanic Belfast has firmly established itself as one of the world’s best visitor attractions and has helped in establishing the city as a world class business destination. The new £29.5m expanded and enhanced Belfast Waterfront, which opens next year, is already in high demand – and its increased capacity means the city can cope with bigger events than ever before. Against this, there are many new hotel developments underway, and in planning, which will support this growth, while the many new restaurants, bars, cafes and attractions being added will help to promote our wider offer. As an emerging, competitive business and conference destination, Belfast has many advantages – not least the warmth of our welcome and our passion to exceed expectations. Of course, we face challenges in a highly-competitive, international marketplace and, to remain ahead of the race, we must remain competitive and continue to provide a good balance and mix of highquality facilities & services.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast.

with optimism, increased investment and an appreciation and confidence that we can succeed in competing against some of the best conference destinations in the world. Given the growing recognition and support for the importance of the sector, as well as the ongoing public and private investment, Belfast and Northern Ireland’s business tourism industry will continue to lead the way towards sustainable tourism growth that tangibly supports wider economic and tourism goals while providing new and exciting career opportunities.

“The average business traveller tends to spend up to three times as much as a holidaymaker, thereby making this sector a lucrative market to target.” Following Belfast and Northern Ireland’s success in showcasing our ability to host large-scale global events – such as this year’s MoneyConf conference – our local conference and events sector is thriving

From supporting 17,000 jobs within the tourism economy, to enabling investment in infrastructure, transport services and leisure and cultural facilities, a growing tourism industry ultimately benefits

us all, and Visit Belfast will continue to work closely with the industry to achieve the targets set locally and nationally. Namely, we aim to double tourism spend within the next five years, bring a visitor mix that fills hotel rooms throughout the week and drives business to our hospitality sector. The complex and multi-faceted nature of the tourism economy requires productive synergy between public and private sectors to provide optimum conditions for growth and to build on the achievements made and the momentum we have achieved together. The priority now is to continue our focus and energy and raise Belfast’s tourism economy to a higher level. Working together, we have made great strides in both attracting and delivering visitors to Belfast and the outlook remains bright.

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Eye on Conferencing & Events

Couple Drive Development Of Unique Events Venue W

hen Gavin Mackie met his wife to be he was living in Devon running an engineering company (engineering seems to run in the Mackie family!) and she had just won Media 30 under 30 in the UK. Little did they envisage that 10 years on they would have set up one of the most highly regarded Events venues in Northern Ireland at Gavin’s family home – Larchfield Estate, combining family life with a successful business that they run off their doorstep. Sarah says – ‘ Little did I suspect when I first met Gavin that this is what we would end up doing, but I can genuinely say I wouldn’t change a thing. We set up Larchfield as an events venue shortly after our own wedding here in 2007 and have seen the company grow

to employing 18 people and hosting over 110 events a year. Initially we did everything ourselves (and I mean everything!) but now have a truly superb team who help us with all aspects of the events, from the planning team to the cleaners, the support staff on the night through to those who move chairs and tables for quick turn arounds.” Gavin adds ‘I always knew that I wanted to come back to Larchfield and was just lucky that Sarah agreed! I think we are even luckier that we are managing to get Larchfield to pay its way and that we can live and work together as a couple, although we do tend to manage different areas, I think it would be fair to say that building projects, forestry, farming and renewables wouldn’t be the highest on Sarah’s list, but it is always good to have

a partner whose opinion you trust to bounce ideas off. Mind you it does mean that we often ‘talk shop’ out of hours!’ Prior to the handover of the house and estate in 2007 Larchfield was mostly kept private and was a loss making (farming) business, losing about £150K pa. Over the past 7 years this has been turned around dramatically, with the hard work of Gavin and Sarah and their team. c £1M has been invested back into the business with projects such as the conversion of the old carriage rooms into onsite accommodation for overnight guests, biomass boilers and PVC installation, car parking, reroofing of the stable building which burnt down in the 1980s, replanting of woodland and wildflower areas, rebuilding the Estate walls and re

cobbling the stunning courtyards which date from the 1800’s to name a few. And the future? Gavin and Sarah have recently expanded the award winning on site events team again with a view to growing the events business and other projects further. As Gavin explains ‘ We know that the demand is there and feel that with a larger team we are even better equipped to work with our clients to deliver superb events. Both Sarah and I pride ourselves in delivering superb quality and want to keep the Larchfield brand associated with this.”

www.larchfieldestate.co.uk events@larchfieldestate.co.uk 02892 638025

Corporate Venue Invests Another £200,000 Brimming with character this stunning venue is owned and run by Gavin and Sarah Mackie, who took on the country estate in 2007. The private estate now hosts over 100 events a year and employs 18 people - with a dedicated events team to help with planning and organisation. Continual investment has made it the go to place offering a truly memorable day for companies organising summer BBQs, Gala Awards or Christmas parties. The latest project is a £200K Orangery building which links into the rustic barn, a perfect reception area or breakout space. Situated just off the M1 Larchfield Estate is 20 minutes from Belfast or 1hr 15 from Dublin. Larchfield boasts incredible facilities cobbled courtyards, 4 acre paddock (ideal for team building), walled gardens, stables and a modernised rustic barn comprising of adjoining bar area, dancefloor room and spacious orangery entrance. This multi award winning venue can cater for small away days (with stunning converted cottages and rooms onsite) through to large corporate BBQ’s and product launches - seating in the main barn is limited to 364 for conference style. From post event surveys: 100% of respondents would recommend us and 96% of respondents felt that Larchfield offered fair to excellent value for money ‘By far the best venue in Northern Ireland’ • ‘Everything went so seamlessly with no stress for us’ • ‘The staff were excellent, always approachable, very helpful and enthusiastic. They had inspirational ideas. I do not think I could find fault!’ • ‘Larchfield offers something different from the normal - a great setting, easily accessible but with an exclusive feel, with all the facilities needed - a hassle-free and well-priced event.’ Danske Bank • ‘It was one of the best Christmas parties we ever had. Your help throughout the organising of the event was priceless. The venue was transformed into a Christmas wonderland and it was so different from the typical Christmas party.’ Ernst & Young LLP Belfast • ‘The location was great with access from the M1 and the venue was perfect’ Bank Of Ireland

375 Upper Ballynahinch Road, Lisburn BT27 6XL • E-mail: events@larchfieldestate.co.uk (028) 9263 8025 • www.larchfieldestate.co.uk/conferences-events-parties 86


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Eye on Conferencing & Events

DALATA HOTEL GROUP INVESTS IN CENTRAL BELFAST HOTEL Dalata Hotel Group has signalled its intention to expand its footprint in Northern Ireland by announcing the opening of Clayton Hotel Belfast on the city’s Ormeau Avenue.

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he largest hotel operator in Ireland with 13 hotels across the UK and Ireland under the Clayton Hotels brand by the end of 2015 in locations including Galway, Dublin and Manchester after purchasing a portfolio of properties from Bewley’s Hotels and Moran Hotels. Among the properties acquired was the Holiday Inn on Ormeau Avenue. Clayton Hotels is a 4 star brand with a focus on the corporate market – the principal distinction between Clayton Hotels and the more family orientated sister hotel group – Maldron Hotels. The company is investing €27m in the redevelopment and upgrade of both brands across the island. The acquisition of Clayton Hotel Belfast, a modern, city centre based property with excellent conferencing facilities, is part of Dalata’s strategy to assemble a portfolio of high quality hotels in key city locations. The company intends to embark on an extensive refurbishment project at the hotel.

“The investment by Dalata Hotel Group is a real vote of confidence in Belfast’s economic prospects and the resurgence of Northern Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sectors.” The hotel will also be investing in staff training and development to bring a peoplefocused service experience to customers under its ‘your stay, your way’ approach. Pat McCann, founder and chief executive officer of the Dalata Hotel Group PLC said: “It’s an exciting time for the Dalata team. Our strategy is to leverage the group’s core asset management, hotel operation and development capabilities to grow the business. It is fantastic to see this coming to life with the launch and forthcoming roll out of Clayton Hotels across Ireland and the UK.” Stephen Redden, general manager of the Clayton Hotel Belfast, said: “The investment by Dalata Hotel Group is a real

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Ann McGregor of the NI Chamber of Commerce: Lindsay Hall of Visit Belfast with Stephen Reddan, General Manager of the Clayton Hotel, Belfast.

vote of confidence in Belfast’s economic prospects and the resurgence of Northern Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sectors. “Dalata Hotel Group is aiming to be in key cities in the UK and Ireland and considers Belfast to be a vital location in their growth strategy. Even with the recent announcements about plans for new hotels there is the feeling that there is still a need for capacity in the area and the sector has room for significant

growth. We are entering the market at a particularly competitive time but we are confident that Clayton Hotel Belfast will bring a new and welcome personality to the hospitality sector,” he added. “We will be bringing a quirkier offering to the hotel market, with a renewed focus on food and a takeaway style room service and we will be working closely with the corporate market to bring them impressive conferencing and meeting facilities.”


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Eye on Conferencing & Events And with a ceiling height of 9m to stage the most elaborate of productions, clients are sure to be dazzled by the spectacular set up, superb food and service that’s second to none. The adjacent Hall 2 covers a clear span space of 700m2 leading onto an exterior terrace with unrestricted river views. It is suitable for an array of events with a capacity of 800 theatre style or up to 450 dinner guests.

Elevating Northern Ireland’s best onto the world stage

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hen it comes to helping elevate Northern Ireland’s best onto the world stage, Belfast Waterfront’s new world class conference centre opening in May 2016 provides the perfect platform for leaders and innovators who seek to showcase their achievements and aspire to connect with industry peers around the world. By doubling the size of its event space, Belfast Waterfront will be able to offer even more choice and greater flexibility than before. A brand new event experience awaits... The new 7,000m2 conference centre promises to deliver a

brand new event experience for up to 4,600 guests. Awe inspiring flexible spaces, stunning riverside views and quality local cuisine will create the perfect event environment for professionals to share experiences and knowledge as well as celebrate successes. Fitted to a high specification, the stunning riverside venue will engage and excite guests as well as make your event the envy of the industry. Business leaders will be able to deliver powerful and compelling presentations to audiences which extend far beyond the venue. Being located in the heart of a ‘Super-Connected

City’, means reaching a global audience couldn’t be easier. The 2,000-seat auditorium will remain the centrepiece of the new venue, however it will be bolstered by 2 interconnecting multipurpose halls in total measuring over 2,500m2, 3 larger meeting rooms each accommodating up to 200 delegates and a dedicated riverside entrance leading to a bright, spacious 660m2 reception area.

 At 1,805m2, Hall 1 is ideal for large scale exhibitions and events seating up to 2,000 theatre style or it can be sub-divided into four smaller spaces. Alternatively, this stylish space can also be transformed into a stunning venue for up to 1,000 dinner guests.

Perfect for both large and small events The new multipurpose halls greatly enhance the venue’s capacity to host large scale events, but equally these spaces can be subdivided into a variety of configurations ideal for smaller, more intimate business meetings and events. From a small business meeting for 10 individuals to large-scale events for 2,000+, the new Belfast Waterfront offers endless possibilities for local businesses. Behind this award winning venue is an exceptional team who strive to deliver events which exceed client expectations. The team’s breadth of experience speaks for itself - from playing host to many of the city’s high profile events, including two US presidential visits, to delivering business functions and conferences for prestigious local clients. Belfast Waterfront has received many industry accolades since it opened 1997 and an investment of £29.5m, funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, will ensure that it takes its place as one of the best conference centres in the world. If you’re looking to propel your business onto a world stage or to treat your clients to an event with a difference, there is only one place to be in 2016 and beyond – Belfast Waterfront. Enjoy a virtual journey around the venue’s new and existing facilities with Belfast Waterfront’s 3d flythrough at www.waterfront.co.uk or to book your event email conference@waterfront.co.uk or call 028 9033 4400.

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Eye on Conferencing & Events

Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre arrives in style

This month sees Belfast’s biggest hotel group, Andras Hotels, officially open the doors of their new Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre, combining stylish décor with prime accessibility and free Wi-Fi throughout.

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he hotel, located on Hope Street, just off Great Victoria Street, is the result of a £2.5 million upgrade of the former Days Hotel, and has a dedicated focus on serving Belfast burgeoning corporate market. Supported by HSBC, the project has seen the entire hotel refitted and furnished in a contemporary, up-market style, befitting with the Holiday Inn brand. The new look includes the use of rich colours, stylish fabrics, creative lighting and textures, to give an overall luxury, upmarket feel, created by international designer Janine Powell from Hampton Design. The first stage of the project has seen all 250 bedrooms refurbished, with new carpets, curtains, pocketsprung beds, state-of-the art televisions, safes, ironing centre and stylish furniture. The public

areas now feature a remodelled lobby, which boasts a library area with feature fireplace, a new bar and reception. A new restaurant concept, The Oakwood Grill, offers a New England-style cuisine and the Holiday Inn will provide 24-hour room service. The hotel also benefits from a new dry gym, with range of cardio-vascular, free weights and multi-gym equipment. The updated meetings and conference room, which benefits from natural light has a 60 person capacity and free WiFi throughout the entire property. Phase two of the project, is due for completion in early 2016, and will see all guest bathrooms completely refitted and full airconditioning provided to each room. Rajesh Rana, director of Andras Hotels commented: “We are absolutely delighted to

be opening our doors of the Holiday Inn in the heart of Belfast city. “We have and will continue to invest heavily in this City Centre property to bring it up to the exacting standards guests expect in a Holiday Inn and the £2.5 million investment has seen the property utterly transformed. Rajesh concluded: “At 250 bedrooms, our prime location, the quality and size of the Holiday Inn, along with its international recognition will be a great benefit to business travellers and indeed to Visit Belfast when selling Belfast as a conference venue”. The Holiday Inn is owned and operated by Andras Hotels, who also own the 3-star Holiday Inn Express in Belfast’s University Street. The new Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre is located at 40 Hope

Street, Belfast BT12 5EE Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre and is adjacent to the city’s main transport interchange and close M1 & M2 network. Secure 24 hour parking is available adjacent to the hotel at a discounted rate. With George Best Belfast City Airport only 5 miles away, Great Victoria Train & Bus Station a few minutes’ walk from the hotel and Belfast Central Station close by it is easy to travel to and from the City.

For bookings visit www.holidayinn.com/belfast

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Eye on Conferencing & Events

Titanic Exhibition Centre Launches

This month marked the opening of Belfast’s newest and biggest Exhibition Centre in Titanic Quarter.

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he new 6,000 square metre Titanic Exhibition Centre, which will be utilised as a venue for local, national and international exhibitions, community and sporting events for up to 3,000 people, as well as large-scale banquets and conferences for 2,500 delegates, opened its doors for business. The 5,000 square metre exhibition space, with a 50 metre inner span and 14 height, as well as a 1,000 square metre reception area with office and catering facilities, enables event organisers to utilise the space to its full potential and customise the venue to their specific needs. With close proximity and strong road, rail and air access to the rest of Belfast, ample outdoor exhibition space and over 2,000 car parking spaces, the venue has already secured major shows that are expected to attract over 20,000 visitors and approximately 1,400 exhibitors. To date, these include the Holiday Word Show, SelfBuild & Improve Your Home Show, IFEX Exhibition, Love Your Home and MCM Comic Con.

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“We believe that the new, versatile facility, will continue to attract business locally and expand the business nationally and internationally, as well as increase the size and scale of events that can be hosted in Belfast.”

With Titanic Belfast assuming responsibility for the sales and management responsibility, Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast, Tim Husbands MBE, commented at the official opening, “The opening of the Titanic Exhibition Centre strengthens Belfast’s offering as a leading global event and exhibition destination. “As Belfast aims to increase its

leisure and business tourism reach, the Titanic Exhibition Centre adds significantly to Belfast’s business tourism portfolio. It complements the facilities at the Waterfront Hall and the Odyssey’s SSE Arena, enabling the city to provide a mix of inter-changeable and flexible venues for a broad range of events and organisations on a local, national and international scale. “We believe that the new, versatile facility, will continue to attract business locally and expand the business nationally and internationally, as well as increase the size and scale of events that can be hosted in Belfast.” The Titanic Exhibition Centre is being managed and marketed by a team with considerable experience in the conference and exhibition industry. It will be offered for stand-alone exhibitions, conferences and banquets or in conjunction with world-class facilities at Titanic Belfast which have hosted over 1,000 events, from 50 – 2,000 guests, since opening in 2012, as well as the SS Nomadic.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive, Visit Belfast said: “Investment in our tourism infrastructure is vital in our efforts to drive visitor numbers to Belfast and meet the City’s aspiration of doubling tourism spend by 2020. The development of another versatile events space provides more and more reasons for a wide range of audiences and sectors to choose Belfast, thereby ensuring that Belfast maintains its position as a leading events and exhibitions destination.” John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI said: “The Titanic Exhibition Centre will help to put Belfast firmly on the map as a top-class destination for a wide range of shows and events. In so doing it will bring more visitors to the city and provide greater benefits for the whole Northern Ireland economy.”

For more information on Titanic Exhibition Centre, visit www.titanicexhibitioncentre.com


Superb conference & events facilities in the heart of Belfast city centre

Formals • Gala Dinners • Exhibitions • Private parties Complimentary WiFi • Flexible conference rates You might be looking for the perfect venue for training, a client presentation or a team building session. Or perhaps you just need a wellequipped space for that last minute meeting. The answer is Clayton Hotel Belfast, where they take care of your every need. Clayton Hotel Belfast is a state-of-the-art meeting venue featuring 9 flexible rooms on a dedicated floor and also the Olympic Ballroom. Each room has built-in HD AV equipment and climate control with the majority of the room offering natural daylight. The experienced Event Planners will help attend to every little detail along the way.

Call today: Clayton Hotel Belfast, 22 Ormeau Avenue, Belfast, BT2 8HS +44 28 9032 8511 info.belfast@claytonhotels.com claytonhotelbelfast.com


Eye on Conferencing & Events

Meetings & Events in the heart of Northern Ireland!

When planning an event or meeting, one of the most important aspects is Location, Location, and Location.

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ou may have to consider that delegates will be travelling from different regions of Northern Ireland to attend your event. When considering a venue, then look no further than Maldron Hotel Belfast. Located in the heart of Northern Ireland, only a two-minute walk from Belfast International Airport and just 20 minutes outside Belfast. The Maldron Hotel Belfast the perfect location for your next meeting or event! Easily accessible from the M1 & M2, making Maldron Hotel Belfast, the ideal meeting point for any regional

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businesses. Maldron Hotel Belfast is perfectly located for corporate meetings when you are bringing people together from different parts of the region or even from further afield. Avoid the traffic and parking issues of Belfast City Centre with stressfree access to Maldron Hotel Belfast. All conference guests can avail of complimentary Parking and WiFi. At the Maldron Hotel Belfast you will find there is a conference room to suit any event or budget! The hotel offers 10 impressive conference rooms with capacity for up to 250 delegates. Each suite can be tailored for any event such as training, product launches, networking, interview or exhibitions. Maldron Hotel Belfast is renowned for high standards, outstanding service and a keen eye for detail.

So think of Maldron Hotel Belfast when you are planning your next meeting and take advantage of our great facilities. Our conference team offers a highly personalised approach to meetings and events, trained to offer you a tailored and professional service. Contact them with your meeting requirements and will provide a bespoke quote to match your needs. Or visit our website maldronhotelbelfast.com Contact 02894 457000 or email conferences. belfast@maldronhotels.com.


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Eye on Events

Florence Flings Open Doors To The New SSE Arena N

orthern Ireland’s premier entertainment venue reopened its doors after a £3million refurbishment and name change. The SSE Arena, Belfast has undergone improvements including new modern seating, free WiFi and the introduction of a new SSE Arena App which allows guests to buy merchandise and order drinks from their seats. SSE Airtricity welcomed friends and customers to help celebrate the launch of the new Arena. Guests were given exclusive access to the venue’s West Suite which boasts the best view in the house, as well as the SSE Rewards Lounge situated a short distance from the stage. The SSE Energisers team ensured everyone got the full SSE Arena experience and had a fantastic night. The SSE Arena, Belfast will host world class events and entertainment including One Direction and U2 tours, along with a unique arena experience for people across Northern Ireland. SSE Airtricity customers will get exclusive pre-sale ticketing and access to the customer lounge by registering with sserewards.com.

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(1) Pamela Ballantine was thrilled to arrive at the newly refurbished SSE Arena, Belfast. (2) A team of SSE Energisers, on hand to help fans, were a new addition to the SSE Arena. (3) More SSE Energisers were on hand to capture snaps from the night. (4) Richard Buckley, Brenda Buckley and Gary McDonald enjoy the SSE Rewards Lounge. (5) Bara Best, Pamela Ballantine and James Hughes got a first look at the new SSE Rewards lounge. (6) SSE Energisers were snap-happy gathering fans pics before Florence and the Machine took to the stage.

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Eye on Events

Reeve’s Son Supports Blind And Paralysed Superhero Mark Pollock As He Becomes ‘ElectriRx’ Man Mark Pollock is the first person in the world with chronic complete paralysis to regain enough voluntary control to actively take steps in a robotic exoskeleton, a team of UCLA scientists has announced in the Iron ‘ElectriRx’ Man research just published.

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ays Matthew Reeve, son of paralysed superhero Christopher Reeve, and champion of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation: “My father would have been extremely proud of Mark’s work to fast-track a cure for paralysis. His use of his own injury to help further progress in the science for the benefit of all is certainly reminiscent of my dad. “Mark’s instinct to explore the boundaries of spinal cord injury, and there to encourage new medical science and technology collaborations could one day be the key that unlocks the cure for paralysis, changing the lives of

the millions of paralysed people around the world and those who support and love them.” Adds Matthew: “The Reeve Foundation is very proud to have been involved in the UCLA research project with Mark. I would encourage everyone to take part in a Run in the Dark event near them on the 11th November to support the work of this superhero; he is an incredible individual able to persevere and endure and is helping to make the world a better place.” Run in the Dark will attract over 25,000 people from all over the world and this year will take place on Wednesday 11th November at 8.00pm. There are five official locations for the 5km or 10km runs: Belfast: London; Manchester; Dublin and Cork; as well as more than 45 pop-up events on six continents from Sydney to San Francisco. The funds raised by the Mark Pollock Trust and Run in the Dark have been critical to the success of the research. Through Run in the Dark and its other initiatives, the Mark Pollock Trust aims to raise a further £4,000,000 over the next five years to continue fast-tracking a cure for paralysis. Says 39-year-old Mark, a Commonwealth Games medalist and South Pole adventurer: “During the collaborative research trials combining electrical

stimulation of my spinal cord, a drug super-charging my nervous system and walking thousands of steps in my robotic exoskeleton, my heart rate hit 138 beats per minute. This is an aerobic training zone, a rate I haven’t even come close to since being paralysed while walking in the robot alone, without the electrical stimulation intervention. That was a very exciting and emotional moment for me, having spent my whole adult life before breaking my back as an athlete. Stepping with the stimulation, and having my heart rate increase, along with the awareness of my legs under me was addictive. Now, I want to push this further.” Continues Mark: “A paralysis cure is possible. We all need to do what Christopher Reeve asked us to do ten years ago – work faster and harder. Hopefully people will understand why I believe it’s possible, why every person who enters the Run in the Dark, who fundraises, is part of fast-tracking that cure, not just for me but for paralysed people around the world.” UCLA’s groundbreaking research was published on the 1st September 2015 by the IEEE, the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, the world’s largest society of biomedical engineers*. The lead scientist, who also worked with Reeve,

Professor Reggie Edgerton, UCLA, states: “The data showed that Pollock was actively flexing his left knee and raising his left leg and that during and after the electrical stimulation, he was able to voluntarily assist the robot during stepping; it wasn’t just the robotic device doing the work.” Professor Edgerton enthuses: “What we are seeing right now in the field of spinal cord research is a surge of momentum with new directions and approaches to remind the spine of its potential even years after an injury..

Run in the Dark: To enter visit www.runinthedark.org Official events UK & Ireland: Belfast (£22), Dublin and Cork (€29) or for London and Manchester (£24.95) Worldwide Pop Up Events: Those who sign up for one of the 45 Pop Up events worldwide from Sydney to San Francisco before 31st October, along with their entry will receive a flashing armband and limited edition Life Style Sports Run in the Dark branded headgear. www.facebook.com/ runinthedarkofficial Twitter - @theruninthedark

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Eye on Interiors

Space to suit In today’s business environment, it’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about evolved practices without discussing collaboration.

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ore than ever, companies are seeing the potential in working in community, embracing the idea that their employees and teams will work more effectively and be more innovative if they’re empowered to work together. But what Is Collaboration, exactly? By definition, collaboration is simply the act of working with someone else to create something. In business, that definition gets expanded to imply that the product of collaboration creates value that wasn’t there before. How do we collaborate? Collaboration is a natural part of the human psyche, we strive for connections in every aspect of our lives, through social media, sports, night-life, and the desire for family. However, we tell

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ourselves to switch off these in-built aspirations in the working environment. More often than not we find that what businesses really need is community, and from that, collaboration, staff happiness and increased productivity can flourish. In order to create an environment where we can collaborate, we must simply make room for it. Knowing your context is important, and two practical examples to show this are within two very different sectors; technology and law/insurance. A Technology Company; • Tends to continually work on hot-button items. • Designers and engineers need to be able to quickly swarm an area - Mobility and flexibility are key to spaces. • Rarely have time for formal meetings

• Need flexible spaces with moveable furniture and useable surface. A Law/Insurance Company; • Still need areas for focus work and formal/traditional conference rooms for meetings. • Must maintain a professional aesthetic to attract and keep high-value clients. • Employees should be encouraged to break out of their office regularly to socialize and refresh their batteries. Time to think. In recent years, the working environment has removed people from individual offices or cubicles and placed them in to large open plan areas. Today’s workers have now lost their ability and time to think while in the office. As employees disengage, businesses suffer as well. In

truth, regardless of the job, or industry, everyone needs time to process information, research and investigate. Creating spaces and a culture that encourages flexible working – that is, working in different ways, in different areas – can help to increase staff morale, loyalty to the company and their desire to work harder. For more information on how to implement a collaborative culture in your work environment, contact Innov8 Office Interiors on 028 9023 8180 or find them at innov8office.com


Workspace Innovation

Collaboration vs. Community Collaboration is a natural part of the human psyche, we strive for connections in every other aspect of our lives, through social media, sports, night-life, and the desire for family. However, we tell ourselves to switch off these in-built aspirations in the working environment. More often than not we find that what businesses really need is community, and from that, collaboration, staff happiness and increased productivity can flourish. In order to create an environment where we can be community, we must simply make room for it.

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1-3 Glenmachan Street Belfast BT12 6JB T +44 (0) 28 9023 8180

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Eye on News

Architects Mark 15 Years In Northern Ireland HLM celebrated 15 years in Northern Ireland and 50 years since its foundation with a special event on board the SS Nomadic in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

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he company, with offices in Belfast city centre, provides architecture, landscape and urban design, interiors and environmental design to the commercial and public sectors in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and GB. HLM has grown significantly in Northern Ireland within the last year and now employs 15 people. Major projects secured in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland include two projects for the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board in Dublin, the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service Logistics Support Centre in Belfast and ongoing projects with the Western Health & Social Care Trust. The Northern Ireland office is one of six HLM offices across the UK, which also has an additional two overseas. Karl Ruddle, Associate Director for HLM

said: “We have seen the industry go from strength to strength over a difficult period and we’re proud to share in that growth and celebrate 15 years of success. We have strong relationships across the region and our local clients benefit from national and international best practice and combined experience of our 200-strong team. “Our growth in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in key areas including architecture, landscape and urban design, interiors and environmental design is undoubtedly due to the strength of our team.” Guests from the public and private sector as well as professionals from across the construction industry were invited to the SS Nomadic to celebrate HLM’s success, where they were served drinks and canapés on board and were able to enjoy the history and atmosphere of this special venue.

Karl Ruddle and Joanne Bell of HLM Architects at SS Nomadic

SOLMATIX TAKES EURO TITLE T Solmatix has been named National Champion for Northern Ireland in The European Business Awards sponsored by RSM, a prestigious competition supported by businesses leaders, academics, media and political representatives from across Europe.

he European Business Awards, now in its ninth year, engaged with over 32,000 business from 33 European countries this year and over 700 companies from across Europe have been named today as National Champions; going through to the second phase of the competition. David Watters, Managing Partner of RSM McClure Watters, the country member of RSM International said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Solmatix have been chosen as the best businesses in Europe and will represent Northern Ireland in the European Business Awards. This showcases the amazing talent and business success this country has and we wish them all the best for the next round.” Adrian Tripp, CEO of the European Business Awards said: “Congratulations to the companies that have been selected to represent their country as National Champions, they play an important part in creating a stronger business community.” Details of the winners can be found at www.businessawardseurope.com The next round requires the National

Champions to make a presentation video, telling their unique story and explaining their business success. The judges will view all of the National Champions’ videos, and award the best of this group the coveted ‘Ruban d’Honneur’ status. Ruban d’Honneur recipients will then go on to be part of the grand final in 2016. Separately, the National Champion videos will be made public on the European Business Awards website www.businessawardseurope. com as part of a two stage public vote, which will decide the ‘National Public Champions’ for each country. Last year over 170,000 votes were cast as companies from across Europe were publicly supported by their clients, staff and peers, as well as the general public. Supported since their inception by lead sponsor and promoter RSM, the seventh largest audit, tax and advisory network worldwide with a major presence across Europe, the European Business Awards was up to support the development of a stronger and more successful business community throughout Europe.

Richard Bell, managing director of Solmatix and his wife, Norah-Anne Bell, finance director of Solmatix, (standing) are joined by Clare Galloway and Richard Gardiner of RSM McClure Watters.

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Eye on Moving On

1 Jill Smyth joins Fujitsu as Technical Services Manager, responsible for the Unix technical services teams. She moves from The Henderson Group where she held the position of Service Delivery Manager for its Business Delivery Team. With over 20 years’ experience, she has an in-depth knowledge of service delivery, team management and responding to customer needs. 2 Kristin Jameson has been appointed Brand Development Manager at Heavenly Tasty Organics, the Tyrone-based baby food company. She has extensive marketing experience in the FMCG and financial services sectors including posts with Autoline Insurance, Bewleys and the Henderson Group.

1 Jill Smyth

4 Peter Layland

2 Kristin Jameson

5 Richard Campbell

3 Geoff Thompson

6 Chris Marks

3 Geoff Thompson has been appointed Partner at Fetherston Clements Estate Agents. He was previously Senior Valuer at the agency. He has been working within the industry for the past 12 years. New tech start-up Sortsy has made a series of 4 appointments. Co Founder Peter Leyland will oversee the rollout of the app to ensure product evolution and growth, while fellow Co Founder 5 Richard Campbell will manage day to day product development and management. The pair 6 are joined by Chris Marks and Peter Drysdale, 7 both of whom are appointed as Software Developers, designing, building and testing user 8 interfaces. Emma Galbraith becomes Project 9 Co-Ordinator at Sortsy, while Lauren White joins the team at Marketing Assistant. Finally, 10 Stephen O’Donnell has been appointed as Sortsy’s Product Implementation Manager to sell the app’s Business to Business services by demonstrating how Sortsy can provide vital benefits to small businesses. Belfast law firm Carson McDowell has made 11 five key appointments. Hugh McGrattan has joined Carson McDowell as partner and head of the firm’s professional indemnity team. He was previously partner in another leading Belfast firm for over 20 years, and specialises in Professional Indemnity and Defendants’ litigation, acting on behalf of insurers and a range of professionals.

7 Peter Drysdale

8 Emma Galbraith

9 Lauren White

12 Naomi Gaston has joined the Banking and Finance team at Carson McDowell as an Associate in 2015 from her most recent position as Senior Associate in an international law firm. She advises all aspects of non-contentious banking and restructuring including secured and unsecured lending, acquisitions and refinancing. 13 Una Mackle is appointed to the Commercial Litigation Team at Carson McDowell as a Solicitor. Una works in defending professional indemnity claims on behalf of solicitors, architects, valuers, engineers, accountants and other professionals and their insurers.

10 Stephen O’Donnell

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11 Hugh McGrattan

12 Naomi Gaston


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Eye on Moving On

14 Eileen Moughan has become a Legal Consultant in the Corporate Team at Carson McDowell LLP. Eileen is originally from New Zealand and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2011. 15 Enya McKenna becomes part of the Healthcare team at Carson McDowell also as a Solicitor. She acts for a number of Medical Defence Organisations representing the interests of medical practitioners in Clinical Negligence claims.

13 Una Mackle

14 Eileen Moughan

15 Enya McKenna

16 Mark Sterling has been appointed Senior Client Manager at Lighthouse Communications. A former journalist, Mark has more than six years’ experience of delivering successful corporate, consumer and crisis management campaigns on behalf of high profile clients. Joining him as Client Executive at Lighthouse 17 Communications is Flora Delargy. With experience in professional services and corporate finance Flora will be implementing PR and communication strategies for clients such as George Best Belfast City Airport, Donnelly Group, Grant Thornton, Lisney and Omexom. 18 Ian Wolfendale has joined Jumpstart, the R&D tax relief specialists, and will look after clients in Northern Ireland as Client Engagement Manager. He was formerly a Business Development Manager with Insider Publications.

16 Mark Sterling

19 Kevin O’Neill

17 Flora Delargy

20 Philip McCoubrey

18 Ian Wolfendale

21 Dr Jonathan Heggarty

Oakleaf Contracts (Europe) has appointed 19 Kevin O’Neill and Philip McCoubrey as 20 Directors. Oakleaf is now one of the UK and Ireland’s leading specialist dry wall partition and ceiling contractors, with offices in Northern Ireland, Dublin and London. Founded in 2000, Oakleaf is now one of the UK and Ireland’s leading specialist drywall contractors with a blue chip repeat customer base. Kevin is a Quantity Surveyor who joined the company six years ago and played a leading role in the company’s work on Dublin Airport’s T2 project, while Philip has been with Oakleaf for 16 years, latterly as Contracts Manager. 21 Dr Jonathan Heggarty has been appointed Director of Curriculum of Belfast Met. Jonathan joins the Chief Executive team and is responsible for leading and managing the delivery of the College’s curriculum to maximise student recruitment, retention and achievement, including curriculum planning and implementation. Jonathan has been a part of Belfast Met since 2007 and was formerly Head of School for Electronic and Computing Technologies. 22 Kim McCourt has been appointed as Forensic and Investigation Services Manager at Grant Thornton Northern Ireland. Kim has extensive experience conducting financial and non-financial investigations and drafting expert witness testimony. 23 Emma Brannigan has been appointed as Associate Director at Grant Thornton Northern Ireland. Emma has extensive experience working with clients across a vast range of industries including media, manufacturing, software and internet related services.

22 Kim McCourt

23 Emma Brannigan

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Eye on Events

Going the Distance Since 1685 Down Royal Celebrating 330 Years in Business It’s a landmark year for Northern Ireland’s leading racecourse as Down Royal celebrates more than three centuries of sporting and social excellence as well as making an unrivalled multi-million pound contribution to the local rural economy and sustaining the horse racing industry here.

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ot many Northern Ireland organisations can trace their roots back to the 17th century, and few make claim to the level of ongoing support to businesses and tourism here that Down Royal is committed to. It may be unrecognizable from the days of what was then known as the Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders in 1685, but its dedication to backing regional industry is now more evident than ever.

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Following an extensive redevelopment programme, the County Down venue now boasts world-class facilities marking a return to form for the site in terms of the sheer numbers of attendees who enjoy an unrivalled hospitality offering, while watching world class racing. Legendary meat supplier Peter Hannan is now supplying his famous dry aged beef to hungry horseracing fans with some five thousand servings of prime fillet served up each year, and all produce is sourced as a testament to the “field to fork” ethos. Catering specialists Hamilton & Kirk employ some 160 staff for each raceday serving up a locally sourced menu. Company chief Willie Jack says the commitment to supporting Northern Ireland producers means they can guarantee quality. “We have some of the best produce available on our doorsteps so it make sense for us to work with local suppliers,

and in doing so making a vital contribution to an economy that is constantly facing challenges. From the thousands of Portavogie prawns to the three and a half thousand chicken breasts served annually at Down Royal we’re supporting Northern Ireland producers in the best possible way. “The Peter Hannan meat has been a huge bonus for guests across the Down Royal hospitality offering, with the short horn burgers proving particularly popular with racegoers and its innovative concepts like the Punters Pack, a real understanding of what guests want, that are positioning Down Royal as a world class day out. While fine dining and hospitality goes a long way to making Race Days a calendar event for a hugely diverse section of society here, it’s the racing which has and always will be the mainstay of Down Royal, according to General Manager Mike Todd.


Eye on Events

“Our number one priority is the quality of racing, which has attracted Cheltenham Gold Cup winners and Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winners to the County Down venue. We have millions of people across the UK and beyond watching our races on Channel4 and at the Races, and the JN Wine Champion Chase is recognised as being one of the best National Hunt Races on the Island of Ireland as well as being the first grade one steeplechase of the National Hunt season in the British Isles. “Many of the horses and jockeys that go on to achieve national victories have been part of the Down Royal landscape, and we like to think we’re part of the success story of horses like Kauto Star and Jezki, who provided the legendary AP McCoy with his last winner at Down Royal.

“There are enormous amounts of money being won by Northern Ireland based trainers, a fact that’s hugely significant when you remember that our rural infrastructure doesn’t enjoy the same level support as counterparts in GB or the Republic of Ireland.” Indeed NI based yards have scooped approximately £5.8 million over the past five seasons, money that keeps the horse racing industry here, and the rural economy, alive. It’s a race that is ongoing in the face of a number of threats, but one that the wider NI racegoing public and economy, hope will run for at least another 330 years.

DOWN ROYAL BY NUM BERS

£5,816,2 19 Prize M oney w by top on 14 N.I. based tr over pa ainers st five season s

638

Numbe r of St aff employ ed by Do wn Ro on a m yal ajor ra ce day

41

equiva lent Fu lltime Jobs ov er the space of year

4 Tonn es Amount of Coun ty Antr Spuds ea im ten each year at Dow n Roya l

3,000

12,000

Bottle s of Win consum e ed at Do wn Ro over th yal e past ye ar

50,000

Numbe r of Pint s of Be purcha er sed du ring a year at Dow n Roya l

5,000

Prime dr y Aged Beef Fillet se rved an nually at Dow n Roya l

3,500

Chicke n Brea sts served up to co rporat guests e annual ly

Bottle s of Ch ampagn served e every ye ar in Dow n Roya l

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Eye on Fleet Management

Introducing MiSalarySacrifice Ogilvie Fleet manage cars for organisations large and small. And for employees we’re also pioneering an easier and more cost effective way to run a car. Other companies do similar things but what makes us special and different is the way we go about our business. We believe in the power of simplicity. Born out of a strong desire to simplify the lives of our customers. The thread that runs through our customer services ethic backed up by our attention to detail. Simple takes hard work. That’s one of the reasons we created MiSalarySacrifice (MiSS). A simple but efficient salary sacrifice car scheme.

1. Save approximately £300 in net employer NI contribution per car per year. Although the employer’s National Insurance Contribution (NIC) is still payable on the provision of a car to the employee, this is typically substantially less than the employer NIC that would have been paid on the salary being sacrificed, resulting in a financial saving of several hundred pounds over the term of a vehicle contract for the employer.

MiSalarySacrifice A salary sacrifice scheme lets employees give up part of their salary (under the terms and conditions of their employment) in return for the employer’s agreement to provide them with a non-cash benefit – in this case a car. It’s a tax efficient way for organisations to provide employees with a brand new, fully insured and maintained car for typically 3 years at a cost lower than they could achieve in the retail market. Whilst a salary sacrifice car scheme may not be suitable in every instance, here are 5 great reasons why you should consider one for your organisation.

With typical employee take up rates of 3% per annum we are literally saving our customers £100,000’s across the 3 year term of the scheme. 2. Attract and retain great staff. A salary sacrifice car scheme is a high end benefit and with motoring costs rising all the time, a scheme like this will always be an attractive part of an employee’s benefits package. It means you’ll be able to attract and retain high calibre employees and offer a highly

valued benefit in an evolving competitive employment market. 3. A benefit that saves your employees an average of £70 per month! In times of low or no pay awards and tight financial constraints for all, this is a staff benefit that saves the employee between 30.6% and 62% depending on their tax rate and whether they are contracted out of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme. On top of that, employees also enjoy fleet discounts, corporate finance rates and VAT efficiencies unavailable on a personal lease arrangement. 4. Fully supported by Ogilvie Fleet. The salary sacrifice car scheme is fully supported by Ogilvie with an automated online system, minimal administration, regular review meetings, excellent customer service and a robust implementation process with bespoke marketing all provided for the duration of the scheme.

www.ogilvie-fleet.co.uk Ogilvie Fleet, Quay Gate House, 15 Scrabo Street, Belfast BT5 4BD Tel: 028 9045 0800 Email: fleet-ni@ogilvie.co.uk 106

Ogilvie have relationships with the majority of employee benefit providers and consultants which also enables us to offer customers a single sign on facility. With a large number of schemes in place in both private and public sectors, Ogilvie also have the experience to work with you and understand the best early termination protection for your organisation and your employees. 5. Supporting the green agenda. We can tailor a scheme to your exact requirements and have many schemes where all vehicles available are as low as sub 120g/km CO2. This means that your employees are driving ‘greener’ cars and are reducing the CO2 of home to work and business mileage as well as helping to mitigate duty of care legislation. Fuel efficient vehicles can also be much more cost effective typically a further £50 per month saving your employees more money.


MiSalarySacrifice Worry free motoring

Get a brand new, fully maintained and insured car for a fixed monthly cost through your salary www.misalarysacrifice.co.uk 0330 333 1283 help@ogilvie.co.uk


Eye on Fitness

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Eye on Fitness

PHYSIO LED PILATES FOR EVERYONE It’s taken the world of the rich and famous by storm but you don’t have to be Kate Winslet or Rory McIlroy to do Pilates.

F

rom its brand new base in the east of the city, Belfast Pilates clinic offers a physiotherapy-led approach that nearly anyone can use to improve their physical well-being. Belfast Pilates has been established by Gillian Duggan and Sonia McCay. From their former base, the girls ran popular pilates classes since 2007. However the pair have more than 30 years of combined physiotherapy experience as well as being fully certified APPI (Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute) instructors. Belfast Pilates has just opened fantastic new premises at 1a Madison Avenue East on the main Holywood Road (close to Holywood Arches). The new clinic boasts two full-size Pilates studios and a number of fullyequipped physiotherapy treatment rooms. “Our classes are specifically designed with the rehabilitation of back and postural problems in mind. We have small groups and are very different to gym based classes,” explains Gillian. In fact, Gillian and Sonia gained such a reputation for applying Pilates to treat back problems that Paul Nolan, the Belfastbased consultant orthopaedic and spinal

surgeon, regularly refers patients to them. Mr Nolan is one of the UK’s leading specialists in the spinal surgery field. “Paul Nolan will refer patients to us for Pilates treatment following surgery, and he’ll also refer those for whom he thinks surgery is not the right option.” Mr Nolan, who also attends classes at Belfast Pilates, says “I believe that Physio led Pilates forms an integral part of the rehabilitation of low back pain and I have referred many of my patients to Gillian and Sonia over the years with great results!” Pilates, for the as yet uninitiated, is a combination of strength, mobility and stretching exercises all performed on a mat. Good postural alignment and core stability are the basis of all the exercises....which explains why it’s crucial to have the right instruction and someone on hand to ensure that exercises are being performed correctly. “Once a basic knowledge has been gained, beginners start to feel stronger and they are able to achieve much better posture,” says Gillian. “Many of them then choose to progress to intermediate level where they can start to work with some equipment... and the sky’s the limit after that.” Although some find their way to Belfast Pilates via medical referral, no referral is needed. It’s a simple matter of getting in touch with the team:“Everyone we work with has a one-to-one physio consultation with one of us before we embark on any physical work. That’s whether they are referred to us for medical reasons or if they simply sign up for one of our group classes. “We offer a range of day time and evening classes and one to one appointment times throughout the week. We’ve got 26 classes a week in action at the moment at our new studios,” adds Sonia. Belfast Pilates can tailor classes to a wide range of specific rehabilitation. That includes Pilates for runners, rugby players, cyclists and others, pre-ski Pilates programmes, ante and post-natal pilates and a mum and baby class. And two classes for Pilates for children are just about to start.

Belfast Pilates, 1a Madison Avenue East Holywood Road, Belfast BT4 1PG www.belfastpilates.co.uk gillian@belfastpilates.co.uk sonia@belfastpilates.co.uk

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Eye on Motoring

Motoring with Derek Black dbmotoring@btinternet.com

A SUPERCAR IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING THAT’S THE NEW AUDI RS3! The latest Audi RS3 Sportback is the most powerful hot hatch you can buy at the moment and yet it is practical enough to use for everyday transport. Could it tempt some bosses out of their Porsches and Ferraris?

Y

es, it really is that quick. You can catapult to 62mph in 4.3 seconds and peak at 174mph if you can find a derestricted autobahn. That’s if you go for the delimited option otherwise it is capped at 155mph! The sound and the fury comes from a 2.5-litre turbo-charged five-cylinder engine that turns out 362bhp. There is loads of torque too so you get instant reaction to the throttle at practically all speeds. The glorious tunes played through the optional sports exhaust are wondrous and a

reminder that this is a development of the original 2.2 five-cylinder quattro engine of rally fame. All that oomph is kept under control by quattro four-wheel drive, fat tyres, a 7-speed twin clutch auto box, all the latest electronics and beefed-up brakes. There seems to be loads of grip and the car feels better than before with a touch of rear wheel bias worked into the system. With a drive select system you can set the car to dynamic or comfort for everyday roads. In this mode the RS3 feels more

comfortable than you would expect. And the Sportback offers the practicality of a decent boot and space for four. Not cheap, however, at a starting price of £39,955 that can quickly escalate well into the 40s if you dip into the tempting options

list. For its performance the combined consumption target of almost 35mpg is decent - nearest I got was 30mpg. Emissions of 189g/km are less impressive. Overall, this is a great driver’s car with great abilities and a touch of practicality…

SEAT GIVES THE LEON ST ESTATE SOME X-FACTOR! Does this raised and four-wheel drive version of the SEAT Leon estate take them into Audi territory? It may not have the glamour and the prestige badge but it certainly delivers a practical and lower priced alternative.

I

wasn’t sure what to expect from a model called Xperience but soon caught on that it was a cross-over vehicle that could do a bit more than the other Leon models. It employs the latest version of Haldex clutch all-wheel drive system, familiar around the VW group, that drives the front wheels most of the

time but can divert 50% to the rear when things get slippy. At its heart is the excellent 2.0-litre turbo diesel, with outputs of 148bhp or 181bhp. Both versions return the same set-piece consumption figures of 57mpg combined and emissions of 129g/km. These are hard to beat in a roomy estate with all-wheel drive and are in the 23% BIK bracket.

This is a competent machine to drive though there is a little more roll due to its extra height. It is biased towards comfort with softer suspension that absorbs the bumps. The engine delivers good grunt from low speeds and is relaxed on motorway cruising. The SE model has all the modern kit that we now expect but you need to move up to the SE Tech model to get sat nav.

While it does not have the gloss of an Audi interior the Leon has practically everything you need and a very useful boot area and I was pleased to find a spacesaver spare tyre underneath. With manual transmission the 150 version of the X-perience is priced at a keen £24,370. The more powerful SE Technology 180 flagship comes with twin-clutch automatic transmission for £28,870.

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Eye on Motoring

DFC Introduces New Total Care Package DFC have now introduced the new Total Care Package meaning that all customers can now lease a brand new vehicle that comes fully maintained and insured for the entire duration of the contract. It offers a complete, hassle free and cost effective approach to customers’ vehicle needs, saving time and money. DFC can now remove the uncertainty, surrounding customers’ insurance costs by providing a fixed monthly rental for the duration of the vehicle lease. This means that customers’ will no longer have to shop the market every year to find the best price. Customers can have a fixed insurance price at the beginning of their contract meaning that their only cost for the vehicle lease will be fuel. It also means that all vehicle costs are kept in one place providing

ease of management of your vehicle. This enhanced package is referred to as DFC Total Care and is a bundle of services combined into one package. Services included are; • Contract Hire • Third Party Liability (TPL) cover • Own damage protection including glass • Guaranteed maintenance • Breakdown • Accident Management

With this new Total care package it means that customers will know exactly what their monthly payments will be, making budgeting much more simple, and in turn making it easier to manage cash flow. This package is available for all customers who meet the following criteria; • Held a full EU licence for over 2 years

• Have no more than 6 points • Are over the age of 23 • No older than 67

To find out more about how a DFC Total Care Package can benefit you or to request your personal quotation please call us on 028 9073 4222 or email sales@dfcbelfast.co.uk

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Eye on Motoring

Motoring with Derek Black dbmotoring@btinternet.com

HOT HATCHES AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE THEY’RE MUCH BETTER! It is amazing how far the hot hatch has come in terms of performance, handling and, yes, refinement. This one is good for 143mph flat out so it could hold its own on a track.

this potent little package? In lieu of space you get a more exciting drive yet quite polished too. Working that small engine hard means you get punished by just 37mpg on the combined cycle and emissions of 174g/km putting it in the 29% tax band. Starting from £17.995 it undercuts its obvious rivals. There is a £2400 performance pack further sharpening the Corsa VXR for track work.

Whole Life Costs – 3 years / 60,000 miles1 B

A

New Corsa 1.3CDTi 95PS Design 5dr

B

Fiesta 1.5 TDCi 95PS Style ECOnetic 5dr

C

Polo 1.4 TDI 75PS SE 5dr

C

A

£20,621

Love to beat the competition Love the tiny whole life costs Love the huge spec Love award-winning New Corsa

of the wrist. There is new rear suspension giving a balanced feel on the bends. This, and the fat tyres, make for plenty of grip. Inside, things are kept simple and practical with clear dials and easy to find controls, The car feels roomier than before and has a reasonable boot for its class. For a pocket rocket I found it was pleasantly civilised. So who fancies downsizing from their executive saloon to

£20,855

larger sports hatches. It makes the earlier generation of sports midgets seem almost lukewarm. Admittedly, it did jar a bit over bad surfaces though the figurehugging front seats took the edge off this. Things get a lot better on smoother surfaces. The latest Corsa VXR has been refined over the generations and I really enjoyed driving it day after day. Behind this behaviour are some significant developments. The new six-speed gearbox gives fast changes at a short flick

£ 18,932

D

riving the wee Corsa VXR was not as nervejangling as I might have expected. True, the suspension is set on the firm side to favour handling rather than comfort, but the overall experience was quite stimulating. This is a car that just wants to get up and go. The 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine is a proper little turbine turning out a surprising 202bhp. It can reach 62mph from rest in a mere 6.7 seconds which is rather serious for its size. This is on par with many

New Corsa Design vs Ford Fiesta Style vs VW Polo SE Standard specification

New Corsa

Fiesta

Polo

Heated windscreen

Cruise control

Bluetooth

Digital radio

Touch-screen audio system

Front fog lights

LED daytime running lights

®

VAUXHALL FLEET

Call 0870 010 0651 | visit www.vauxhall.co.uk/fleet

Official Government Test Environmental Data. Fuel consumption figures mpg (litres/100km) and CO 2 emissions (g/km). New Corsa range: Urban 35.3 (8.0)-83.1 (3.4), Extra-urban 57.6 (4.9) – 94.2 (3.0), Combined 47.1 (6.0) – 91.1 (3.1). CO 2 emissions 139-82g/km. Official EU-regulated test data are provided for comparison purposes and actual performance will depend on driving style, road conditions and other non-technical factors. 1 = Whole Life Costs (3 years/60,000 miles) based on independently supplied data by CAP (September 2015). All figures quoted correct at time of publication (September 2015). Images shown for illustrative purposes only and may feature options at extra cost.

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Profile for Buckley Publications

Business Eye Sept Oct 2015  

Business Eye Sept Oct 2015  

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