Magazine of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce
FOCUS ON North West Cluster Groups Chamber News President’s Dinner
O’NEILLS CELEBRATES 100 YEARS AND SHARES FUTURE GROWTH PLANS
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contents 6 16 18
President’s Message Chief Executive’s Update Strategic Growth Plan
Derry & Strabane District launches SGP
Young Entrepreneur takes on mobile marketing
O’Neills to celebrate its 100th birthday Kieran Kennedy, Managing Director, O’Neills
Megan Canavan, CEO, Scattr
Growth of MPA Recruitment
50 56 64 68 72
Paul McQue, Managing Director, MPR Recruitment
President’s Dinner Translink’s new Foyle Metro launched Welcome to the Chamber Gadgets for Work and Home 35
Welcome to the sixth edition of CONNECTED magazine. CONNECTED, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s full colour publication. Designed and produced by business people for business people. Distributed to businesses across the North West.
CONNECTED Magazine Editor Jackie Logan Editorial Assistant Amy McGuckian Content Editors Sinead McLaughlin Carol Kelly Production & Design Big Moo Design Advertising Mary Miller Email addresses firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Front Cover Image Courtesy of O’Neills Sportswear
Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President George Fleming Chief Executive Sinead McLaughlin Business Operations Manager Carol Kelly Membership Recruitment Officer Mary Miller Membership Services Executive Shauna Buchanan Events Manager Lorraine Allen
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of good news that can be found in the North West. Nearly three years ago this magazine set out to represent all that is good in the North West as well as be a positive voice for the many Chamber members of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. I believe CONNECTED is achieving just that! In this magazine, we are delighted to share Derry and Strabane District’s Strategic Growth Plan. Part of that plan is the desired outcome and action where the North West prospers through a strong, sustainable and competitive economy. There are many key actions but one includes the building and strengthening of clusters of industry specialism in advanced manufacturing, life and health sciences, digital, creative and cultural industries and tourism. Within these pages some of those specialisms are highlighted. I interviewed Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O’Neills International Sports Company Limited to tell their story as the company turns 100. We all know too well the story of the decline of the textile industry however O’Neills has successfully bucked the trend and it is making its mark around the globe. There is further news about the ongoing work of Seagate, a global leader in data storage solutions, the creative industries in Donegal, how the Letterkenny Institute of Technology is developing skills for the digital economy, the City of Derry Airport launching a charter to Seville, the Foyle Port announcing record operating profit and news of many local companies making their mark, not just in the North West but further afield. It is exceptionally heartening to hear all of these positive stories. As I write we still have no political leadership. I attended an event recently where it was asked directly of the politicians - where is the plan? It has become clear to me that businessmen and women are no longer waiting on a plan from our politicians, or from an Executive. As you read this magazine, you’ll note how companies are planning and looking forward, that investment and growth are continuing within the North West but I’m also going to add some caution - do not be fooled, Brexit still looms heavily and what it brings, no one really knows. Brexit may throw at us challenges that we’ve never faced before but I’m hoping that in the months and years to come I’m still writing the many positive stories of companies in the North West, after all we are a very resilient bunch. And to quote the Taoiseach who attended the President’s 60th Dinner – “The late and much missed Seamus Heaney believed that poets like Francis Ledwidge ‘faced the choices and moral challenges of their times with solitude, honesty and rare courage.’ We need to be inspired by that same spirit of honesty and rare courage. If we do, then the future here – and the future of the whole island - will be a bright one.” Enjoy the magazine!
Jackie Logan Editor
t: 028 7126 2379 w: londonderrychamber.co.uk Follow us on: Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the publisher accepts no responsibility for omissions or errors within this publication. Editorial submissions are included at the discretion of the editor. The opinions expressed in articles within this publication are not necessarily those of the Chamber. All offers, promotions and competitions appearing in Connected are the sole responsibility of the advertiser/promoting party and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce does not accept any responsibility for any representations made within them.
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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE As I approach the final weeks of my Presidency of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, I can only wonder where the year has gone! It only seems like yesterday that I was receiving the chain of Office from our past President Gavin Killeen. I have been very honoured and privileged to play a leading role with the Chamber of Commerce in the ongoing development of this city and region. My year as President has allowed me to promote, discuss and lobby for the continued commercial progression and development of the North West with people of the highest influence on this island of Ireland and beyond. I must commend John Kelpie and his team at Derry City & Strabane District Council for their efforts of promoting the region throughout the year. The recent Halloween festivities are a perfect example, now hailed as the largest Halloween party in Europe, perfectly managed and executed. As the Brexit juggernaut rumbles on, the uncertainty remains the same. We hear the ongoing discussions and reports on a daily basis; we see the effect it has on commercial life with exchange rates etc. All the European, British, Irish politicians and ministers all say we will not return to the hard borders of the past and we will continue to have the free movement of goods, services and people. Yet they can’t agree on how they are going to do it. Even though there is a perfectly good system in place already! I am the eternal optimist. I do not see a border of any kind. I only see a gateway to Europe and to Britain for the Derry/Donegal region and we all should look for the commercial opportunities that will develop. In the meantime we all have to get on with our lives, both domestically and commercially.
Despite the doom and gloom of the media on Brexit, we have many indigenous entrepreneurial businesses in the North West who are driving the commercial heart of this region onwards and upwards, both in turnover and employment on a national and international stage. Diamond Corrugated, Airporter, O’Neills Sportswear, Pakflatt and Frylite to name a few, all growing and leading the North West’s entrepreneurial spirit to success in many different walks of life. In January 2017, we moved into our new office accommodation at 16 Bishop Street and introduced the Chamber’s new Entrepreneurial Hub on the top floor of the building. This allows fledgling companies to avail of low cost city centre office space to get them started. Our first tenant has been Megan Canavan and her IT company Scattr; she has just completed her first year in business. This has been in keeping with my theme as President for 2017, growing entrepreneurship in the region and to this end the Chamber has run a number of ‘Entrepreneurship in Action’ visits, highlighting some of the region’s most successful home-grown companies, with our most recent one being with Patrick McGonagle’s company Pakflatt. This was a truly inspiring story and the 55 attendees on the day were greatly impressed. We have managed to hijack Radio Foyle on a number of occasions and my thanks to Mark Patterson for featuring and highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit of Derry on his show. Through these entrepreneurial forums, a lack of welding and fabrication skills was identified for the region’s engineering companies. The Chamber collaborated with the North West Regional College (NWRC) and has now established a Welding Academy in the NWRC and our
thanks to Leo Murphy and Nicola Curry from the NWRC and to the DCSDC for their assistance with getting this up and running. The Londonderry Chamber has always been a strong lobbyist for the educational development of the area with the growth of the university student numbers at Ulster University at Magee and the development of apprenticeships and skills at the NWRC. This is essential for the region to support the immediate needs of the existing indigenous businesses and investment companies in the area. After many years of the Chamber campaigning, we are at last seeing movement on the infrastructure to the North West with work already started on the A6 road to Belfast and there are plans to start the A5 to Dublin in early 2018. The City of Derry airport now enjoys daily return flights to London providing global connectivity and the Foyle Port continues to prosper and grow with some very exciting plans for the future with the potential of bringing cruise ships to the region.
It has been a great honour to have been President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce for 2017. I am delighted that I have shared the stage and dined with auspicious guests such as the President’s Lunch with James Nesbitt, the Leadership Dinner with Rory Best and the President’s Dinner with the Taoiseach and Peter Boyle of Argento. These were all well supported by members and friends of the Chamber; my thanks to all who donated a massive £8,188 for The President’s three charities, The Foyle Hospice, The Air Ambulance NI and the Wooden Spoon Charity. I would also like to thank the Officers in the Chamber for their support throughout the year and the hardworking Chamber staff. As I hand over to Jennifer McKeever, our incoming President, I wish her well for the coming year and my continued support for 2018 and beyond.
George Fleming George Fleming President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce
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Interest in Derry business premises on the rise Interest in buying business premises in Derry has risen substantially during the last 12 months, says a local commercial property law solicitor. Barry Donnelly, who leads the Commercial Property Division at Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors, says any increase in activity in the market can only be good news for the local economy. “We have recorded a substantial increase in enquiries from people interested in purchasing or leasing
New project to boost business A new project has been set up to help promote and stimulate business growth across Derry & Strabane Council area in conjunction with Belfast City Council. The City Start Up Programme will support the development of new businesses in both council areas that have the potential to grow and employ staff in the fashion, retail (including markets), food and tourism sectors. It is envisaged that the project will help develop the sustainability and size of the private sector within both cities. Derry & Strabane Council’s Business and Culture Committee has allocated up to £20,000 for the year long programme which will also address challenges such as high street vacancies. There is scope to extend the project for another six months beyond this.
commercial property in Derry during the last year. In a lot of cases the enquiries have been in relation to properties which have been derelict and vacant for quite some time,” Mr Donnelly explains. “There are a large number of derelict and vacant properties in the city centre area and any interest in turning those premises around is good for the local economy,” he adds. The economic downturn all but wiped out the commercial property market in Derry except for cash transactions. Mr Donnelly explains: “The market in Derry has been quiet for a number of years, mainly due to the limited availability of finance. Any property that did exchange hands did so to cash buyers. “The financial crisis offered a
Barry Donnelly, Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors.
great opportunity for people with cash to make superb value for money purchases in distress sales. “Credit is now more readily available and we are now seeing the green shoots of recovery in the market. This is a very positive story for the city because when commercial property is on the move, so too is the local economy and that can only be good news for us all.”
Mr Donnelly has significant experience in all aspects of property transactions. He has provided a wide variety of property law advice to a range of leading companies and businesses across Northern Ireland, England and Wales. He was recently appointed a partner at Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors which has been practising for 109 years and is one of the oldest legal firms in the North West.
Airporter celebrates Investors in People accreditation Airporter was among 69 organisations celebrating Investors in People (IIP) accreditation at a presentation ceremony held recently in Belfast. The company first achieved their Investors in People Standard in 2013, and achieved their Silver Accreditation this year.
to feel motivated every day to deliver our passengers to and from the city safely and punctually and to deliver great service while doing it. The Investors in People Silver Award is a credit to how our staff do that every day.”
Since 1991, Investors in People has set the standard for better people Jennifer McKeever, management. The Standard Airporter, commented; “We defines what it takes to are extremely proud on lead, support and manage behalf of our whole team of people well. Successful 40 Airporter staff. We carry accreditation against the thousands of people every Investors in People week between Derry and Standard is the sign of a the Belfast Airports, and we great employer who need everyone on our team understands that it is
Pictured receiving their Silver Award accreditation are Jennifer and Niall McKeever, Airporter with Northern Ireland IIP Board Advisor, Mark Huddleston.
people that make the difference. Organisations are judged to have achieved IIP standards based on a tried and tested methodology of leading practice and a rigorous process of assessment.
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Tech giant Kainos announces 15 new jobs for its North West site Local technology giant Kainos has recently announced the creation of 15 new high-tech jobs at its digital hub in Derry - Londonderry. Kainos, which currently employs 27 people at its North West site, is recruiting consultants to work for its WorkSmart division, advising major companies on how to implement people management and financial products. The company, which provides digital services and platforms, celebrated the fifth anniversary of its North West base with the jobs announcement. The firm’s chief executive, Brendan Mooney, said; “A workday consultant performs a role that is different to the traditional software engineer in Kainos and requires the ability to listen to others and to understand how to make digital systems meet their needs. “It’s a really interesting and varied role, with a clearly defined career path. “The success of our digital services is built on the strength of the relationship we have with our customers, and that’s what makes this role so important. “We’re proud of our achievements in the North West since opening five years ago and plan further growth over the next 12 months. This recruitment drive will support our ambitious European expansion strategy.” Kainos, which employs 1,000 people in eight offices across Europe and the USA, opened its North West office in 2012 as part of a £10m investment. The tech firm came in at number 44 in the Sunday Times Top 100 ‘Best Companies to Work For’ in 2017 - making the list for the fifth time in a row. Kainos, one of Northern Ireland’s few listed companies, is a digital services company specialising in information technology expertise for a number of clients, particularly in government, financial services and healthcare. It was established 30 years ago as a spin-out from Queen’s University in association with Fujitsu.
Mayor congratulates Council on winning prestigious social enterprise accolade Derry City and Strabane District Council has picked up a prestigious ‘highly commended’ Council of the Year award at the Social Enterprise Awards NI 2017 in the Stormont Hotel, Belfast. Mayor of Derry and Strabane Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, said: “I would like to congratulate Council staff on winning this prestigious award in recognition of the great work that is being done to promote and support social enterprises in Derry and Strabane. “The Council is engaged in a range of activities and support at all levels – from start-ups and community groups at the beginning of their social enterprise journey, to more experienced social enterprises. “This well-deserved award is testament to the hard work of Council staff – and their ongoing efforts to support local social enterprises in reaching their full potential.” Louise Breslin, Business Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, who attended the awards ceremony, said: “I was delighted to pick up this prestigious award on behalf of
Business Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Louise Breslin (centre) picking up the prestigious ‘highly commended’ Council of the Year award at the Social Enterprise Awards NI 2017.
Council and working in collaboration with our strategic partners Enterprise North West. “Council has a proven track record and ongoing commitment to creating social enterprise regeneration throughout the city and district. “Indeed, growing the local economy is Council’s number one strategic priority – and that is why we have in place a range of funded business support programmes delivered throughout the city and district – including tendering support, exploring enterprise and tailored mentoring – all of which attract participation from social enterprises. “Importantly, we see our social economy sector as vital contributors to future growth – and building a stronger economy that will benefit people throughout the city and district.”
EHA Group Half Marathon Success
Darragh McAuley presenting a cheque for £4,855 to Victoria Ross, Corporate Fundraising Officer, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke.
EHA Group is delighted to have raised £4,855 for Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke after taking part in the Waterside Half Marathon Run to Remember “Danny’s Run”. A team of 15 ran in tribute to their colleague and friend Danny McAuley who sadly passed away suddenly in May this year. Danny’s passing led to people from all levels of fitness dedicating their time and training hard over the summer for the Half Marathon in September. Well done to all involved.
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European Union invests more than £20 million in new transport hub at Waterside
North West delegation makes strong connections in Boston and Philadelphia
The new multi-modal transport hub for Derry – Londonderry has received a boost of €23.5 million (£20.5 million) from the European Union’s Interreg VA programme. The funds were announced by the Special EU Programmes Body and will be used for the creation of an ‘iconic’ transport hub for the North West, to include a new train terminus, bus stands, a ‘park and ride’ facility, a passenger waiting area, retail units and a community space. Designed to improve connectivity in the North West through the development of co-ordinated bus and rail services between Derry and Ballybofey, Carnonagh, Greencastle and Letterkenny, the project will also benefit private services operating between Derry and Cockhill, Greencastle, Moville and Galway. It will also support ‘active’ cross-border travel through the provision of bicycle parking, bicycle hire and repair services, lockers and changing facilities for cyclists, as well as a new greenway link to connect the new ‘hub’ to the existing Urban Greenway Network. Central to the work is the refurbishment of the existing Waterside Station in Derry which was purchased by Translink after being identified as the preferred site for a £26m transport hub following a public consultation carried out over three years ago. The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is the lead partner for the delivery of the project, alongside a number of other project partners, including Translink, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Sustrans, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Donegal County Council.
Announcing the €23.5 million worth of funding from the European Union towards a new cross-border transport hub for the North West are (left-right) John Glass, head of projects with Translink, Gina McIntyre, chief executive Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and Peter May, Permanent Secretary with the Department for Infrastructure.
Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive John Kelpie and Donegal County Council Chief Executive Seamus Neely taking part in a discussion about ‘Ireland’s role as America’s best friend in Europe’ at the Golden Bridges Conference in Boston.
A first ever North West Trade delegation trip to Philadelphia next summer is one of a number of positive outcomes from last week’s joint Council led trade and investment mission in North East America. The delegation, led by Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh and Leas Cathoirleach of Donegal County Council, Councillor Noel Jordan, included representatives from 15 local companies, Údaras Na Gaeltachta and senior council officers. Representatives from Ulster University, North West Regional College and Letterkenny IT also made the trip as the region presented a united front to showcase its offering for inward investment and potential export opportunity. A key element of the trip was showcasing the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation and to provide local companies with an opportunity to tie into the US market. “The mission sought to build on the ongoing positive work being carried out by the two Councils to establish strong economic development links and initiatives in the US,” explained
Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council John Kelpie. “We showcased the region as a well placed, cost competitive investment hub with high speed broadband and a young, talented and well educated workforce. “Our message was well received and the challenge now is to build on the many positive connections the Councils and travelling companies have made to deliver increased education links and export relationships between our two regions and attract more direct investment into the North West of Ireland.” Among the companies from the Derry City and Strabane District Council area in the Ireland North West delegation are AE Global (formerly Allpipe Engineering); The Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC); ActionSense Ltd; Makematic; NeuroConcise; O’Neills Irish International Sports Co Ltd; Troll Inc; and Type 40 Creative. While Aniar Cumhacht Teoranta; Algaran Teoranta; O’Donnell’s Bakery; Silver Birch Gallery; Meastoiri Domhanda Teo; Eilis Galbraith and DS Environmental Services Ltd from the Donegal County Council area also took part.
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P2P funding a ‘lifeline’ for business growth in NW The rise of peer to peer lending has transformed the fortunes of hundreds of businesses in the North West, says Derry finance expert Mark Johnston.
Stricter lending criteria applied by traditional lending institutions following the economic crisis paved the way for a fresh approach to finance in the guise of loans from captains of business. And peer to peer lending has “not only proven a lifeline but a major driver for many successful companies,” says Mr Johnston, a Business Consultant and former Commercial Manager and Business Development Manager at Ulster Bank. “The rise of peer to peer lending has certainly transformed the options available to businesses. In many cases it has facilitated the survival and growth of companies in Derry and the wider North West region. “In the past, businesses had only the banks to turn to and if they failed to meet the criteria then that was that. It may have meant stagnation, it may also have meant the end of the road.
“There are many companies which would not exist today or may have been left behind by competitors if it wasn’t for peer to peer lending.”
your business is pivotal in making finance work for your business – not least peer to peer lending which often involves higher rates of borrowing,” Mr Johnston adds.
Mr Johnston explains how peer to peer lending transformed the fortunes of one Derry firm.
“In one instance I dealt with a business which could not source finance from the banks and was Businesses can now apply “Sometimes getting a solution facing a rate of almost 10% from online for finance from peers without the right advice creates peer to peer funding. However, through a variety of providers. an even bigger problem for when the numbers were crunched, However, the rates that apply businesses further down the line. we discovered the potential to to alternative lending can be double profits very quickly by inmuch higher than finance “Ultimately, when faced with vesting in the company. One year sourced from traditional on and that business has trebled lending institutions. That’s why the need for finance, business owners must decide whether its profit while decreasing turnover many business owners turn the growth opportunity outas a result of that investment. It to professional independent advisors to help them make the weighs the price of the funding. was a good decision to proceed Making that decision requires but it was very important to make best decision for their growth. the utmost care and diligence.” sure it was the right move from the beginning.” “Getting the right advice for
AE Global Awarded Top Safety Accolade AE Global recently received a highly rated and valued safety award at the 26th Annual Occupational Irish Safety Awards ceremony in Galway. The company achieved the prestigious President’s Award in the mechanical engineering, manufacturing and assembly sector. AE Global is a mechanical and electrical contracting specialist, providing services to a range of sectors including oil, gas, pharmaceutical and textiles. Kieran A. Connor, AE Global said; “We are delighted to have won the President’s Award at the recent Occupational Irish Safety Awards. The team at AE Global
works hard to ensure the safety and quality of our people and our projects. “It is such an achievement to be recognised for our work, especially as we were in the running with so many other talented organisations. We are extremely proud of our team.” The Occupational Irish Safety Awards are run in conjunction with Northern Ireland Safety Group (NISG) and recognise how organisations manage health and safety at work. The many entrants that participate in the Awards are testament to the quality of the process and the value it brings. Ernie Spence, NISG Secretary commented; “I would like to congratulate AE Global on
Harry Galvin, NISO President, along with John Thompson, Incoming NISG Chair, and Seán Kyne T.D., Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Resources, present P.J McGee, HSE&Q Manager, AE Global with the award.
its recent success at the Awards. In 2016 the company received a distinction at the Awards and to be awarded the coveted President’s Award this year is a staggering achievement and is testament to AE Global’s commitment to safety in the workplace.”
CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S UPDATE
Chief Executive’s Update Sinead McLaughlin, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive gives a quick recap of the many events and activities that have taken place over the last six months and benefitted many of the Chamber’s members.
It is hard to believe that six months have passed and what a busy six months it has been from business breakfasts to Café Conversations to the fantastic President’s 60th Annual Dinner attended by An Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar and entrepreneur, Argento’s Peter Boyle. It never ceases to amaze me how busy Chamber life can be, as well as, how engaged the many Chamber members are. As we look to 2018 and the
many challenges it may bring we can also look to the future and see the many opportunities that are possible and with many more events planned there will be plenty of time to share your opinions, network and learn. Over the last six months some of the topics have ranged from the current economic climate to Translink’s new plans for the city and the Chamber’s Entrepreneurship in Action series, superbly championed by our President, George Fleming.
Chris Conway, CEO of Translink, joined Chamber members in The Sandwich Co, Bunker to chat about the recent changes to the railway schedules, plans for the city’s new metro service and hear how the plans for the new transport hub are developing. In addition, he discussed priorities for the public transport system in the North as a whole. I’m delighted to see such proactive engagement and forward thinking from the public sector on infrastructure in the North West. We just need more. Professor Paddy Nixon also dropped into The Sandwich Co, Bunker for a Café Conversation. He was making a return visit to give members an update on Ulster University’s strategic progress and developments in relation to the plans for a Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) and Data Analytics Centre. Likewise, it was good to hear about this positive progress.
Jennifer McKeever of Airporter speaking at the Eures employer incentive seminar
Exporting as we all know can be a key factor in the growth
of any company, so in June at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel, a private lunch, ‘Export Meet and Eat’ was held for those who had expressed an interest. Those attending met with Benchmark Strategies and Pat Bench, the council’s in market agent for cross border council’s trade and investment mission to Boston. The company was in town to meet with stakeholders and potential exporters regarding the city region’s investment proposition and help businesses understand the opportunities in the US, particularly the NE of the US. The event was kindly sponsored by Airporter. August saw an EURES employer incentive seminar where SMEs were provided with information on employment incentives and support available in the cross border regions. A range of organisations attended giving those present some very practicable and sage advice. It was held in conjunction
CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S UPDATE
with EURES Cross Border Partnership. There was also a EURES tax seminar held in October. However back in September we were privileged to visit Pakflatt (UK) Ltd and their managing director, Patrick McGonagle. Pakflatt was our third in our series of Entrepreneurship in Action site visits. This event allowed people to come together and not only learn from Pakflatt, but get involved in a supportive and informative network where the sharing of ideas, knowledge and experiences are encouraged. A great morning was had by all and we were delighted to hear how one of the North West’s great companies is succeeding globally.
Attendees at Eures seminar
September also saw a speed networking event where Paul McGahon, won two return bmi regional flights from City of Derry Airport to London Stansted Airport. The event was sponsored by City of Derry Airport and held in the Everglades Hotel.
Entrepreneurship in Action visit to Pakflatt
In October we held the auspicious President’s 60th Annual Dinner, a premier business networking event. It was truly a night to remember with our inspirational speakers, but you can read more about that event further in the magazine. November saw a marketing workshop where members were able to learn about the nuts and bolts of creating a focused digital strategy to boost business growth. There was also an absenteeism and mindfulness morning hosted by Indigo Life Coaching and Consult HR. Paul McGahon, won two return bmi regional flights from City of Derry Airport to London Stansted Airport
With other events including the Musgrave Market place
and an economic briefing there was plenty to participate in and learn from. 2018 events can be viewed at londonderrychamber.co.uk. As 2018 beckons, I wish you well in all of your business’s undertakings. The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce will continue to put the North West region to the fore in all of our work and deliberations. And in doing so we will give our members an active forum to engage, learn and share. If you wish to contact me directly, please do so at sinead@londerrychamber. co.uk.
NW CLUSTER GROUPS
Derry City & Strabane District launches inclusive Strategic Growth Plan In November 2017, Derry City & Strabane District Council launched the Strategic Growth Plan.
The Plan has been presented as a result of an extensive period of engagement with citizens, organisations and businesses and a series of action plans have now been developed which consider how the overall plan can be delivered by the new Derry City and Strabane District’s Strategic Growth Partnership set up in May 2017. We all know that the North West once led the world in the textile industry. However, the region has since repositioned itself as one of the most creative and cultural areas on this island and is now a strong global competitor in tourism, life sciences and digital and creative industries.
There is no doubt that this Plan is ambitious but it is also detailed and very significant to the North West as a whole. It is convened around a collaborative vision: Our vision is a thriving, prosperous and sustainable City and District with equality and opportunity for all. There is a tangible new confidence - a clear vision and direction within the City and District. Building on the progress made in the development and delivery of the ‘One Plan’ in Derry; and the Community Regeneration planning process in Strabane District; there is now political and civic consensus on the key social, economic and environmental
challenges and opportunities. Through mature and developed partnership working and dynamic political and civic leadership, the region is already results, outcomes and impacts focused and is poised to build on the potential that community planning presents. There is a clear understanding that success can only be achieved by ensuring that proactive policies are put in place and actions to target and effectively challenge and address inequalities, social deprivation and poverty where it exists. Within the Plan, the outcome that the Partnership seeks for the economy is; ‘We prosper through a strong, sustainable and competitive economy.’
It has a number of key actions: • Maximise job creation and investment opportunities in our City and Town Centres, regionally significant regeneration sites and rural areas. • Establish a Development Zone Pilot to mitigate the challenges and explore the opportunities arising from Brexit. • Develop more Grade A office accommodation. • Build and Strengthen clusters of Industry specialism in Advanced Manufacturing, Life and Health Sciences, Digital, Creative and Cultural Industries and Tourism. • Develop compelling business cases and support packages for Foreign Direct Investment and develop our international connections to drive growth and investment. • Secure investment into Strabane Business Park and ensure its full utilisation. • Develop a pilot Rural Community Broadband Scheme and roll out in multiple locations. • Develop incubation space and opportunities for collaborative public sector shared office space. • Provide intensive mentoring support for Entrepreneurs from under-represented groups. • Deliver business start-up programmes and development support focused on areas of high economic inactivity and rural community hubs. • Develop vibrant social economy, creative and cultural sectors through targeted support programmes.
It is clear from the Plan that in establishing a strong North West focus, Derry-Londonderry’s role has become pivotal to the health and success of the wider North West regional economy and as a net contributor to the wider economies in the North and South of Ireland. A successful Derry-Londonderry / North West City Region is critical to the
future wellbeing of everyone. As a result, a number of priority sectors has been identified which will provide the step-change required for economic development and growth. They are: • Life and Health Sciences
The North West City Region has focused on developing capability across the four key enabling technologies and processes required to capitalise on the opportunities arising from the demands across the Life and Health Sciences sector. These include the: • Cognitive Analytics Research Lab (CARL) at Ulster University
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• The Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) based at Altnagelvin Hospital Campus • The Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine • The Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) at the Ulster University at Magee • Digital Industries including Business, Professional and Financial Services Derry and Strabane has a growing, creative and dynamic Digital cluster. The area already has an established presence of large FDIs including Fujitsu, Allstate and Seagate Technologies and there is an established market in the Software and IT Services areas. Supporting the large Multi-Nationals is a wealth of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises with over 150 creative, digital content companies covering everything from specialist software development to e-learning and mobile apps. Both Higher and Further Education providers offer a wide range of digitally related courses. The area has demonstrated its capability to provide financial systems and technology to the Financial Services Industry with links to London, Dublin and the US.
Creative Industries Derry and Strabane has a cluster of companies focusing on broadcast production, digital publishing, music, games development and animation/film. Supporting this business base are Ulster University’s School of Creative Arts and Technologies and the North West Regional College’s third level qualifications in Creative Media Production. Research is also undertaken by ISRC at Magee on Serious Games and Virtual Worlds, focusing on the effective use of games and virtual worlds for STEM related education, and designing engaging games underpinned by the effective use of analytics and metrics.
Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Derry City and Strabane has a diverse and growing advanced manufacturing and engineering sector. The North West region has experience in aerospace, automotive, construction, agri-engineering and materials handling. Within these sectors the region is developing a world-class reputation for its strengths in polymers and plastics, manufacturing, precision manufacturing, aircraft seating and interiors. This is supported through the establishment of the £8m North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). CAM
will support a super cluster within Life and Health Sciences and will significantly increase the number of businesses in commercially focused research enhancing innovation and competitiveness.
Culture and Tourism Events tourism brings revenue, offers an opportunity to increase the profile of the City and District and creates a positive climate to cross-fertilise growth in other sectors. City of Derry Airport and Foyle Port provide important connectivity assets and the area has a significant ecosystem of arts, culture and heritage assets, tourist attractions and activities. In the period 2011 to 2013 Derry and Strabane witnessed an increase in visitors of almost 200% compared to a Northern Ireland wide growth of 22%. This growth has continued in the years following the City of Culture.
Strategic National and International Relationships Derry City and Strabane District has a number of strategic relationships with Belfast, Dublin, London, Europe and North East of USA and China. It also has a history of strong collaboration with neighbouring Councils and other border counties. These important connections help develop trade relationships, access investment and venture capital, develop local skills and experience in growth sectors. Derry City and Strabane District Council has copper fastened its relationship with the City of London through the development of a unique and innovative economic partnership. The City of London is dominated by the Business, Professional and Financial Services
Industry. Derry & Strabane are proactively positioning themselves to benefit from future growth outside the City of London through a focused and sustained effort to build relationships with key economic and commercial stakeholders. Further afield, the North West Region has developed deep and mutually beneficial relationships with business, government and cultural organisations in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Through annual trade missions, inward as well as outward, the Region has raised awareness of its reputation as a place to do business, live and play. North West companies have benefitted through developing export opportunities, collaborations in Research and Development and Joint Ventures. As we look to the future, Derry City and Strabane District Council has begun to focus on the East and has forged ties with the City of Dalian in China, a global financial centre, specialising in the Financial and IT Industry. To conclude, within these pages CONNECTED highlights some of those companies that are those drivers, including the City of Derry Airport, Seagate, Foyle Port and indigenous manufacturing company, O’Neills. The many partners involved in this Plan, from the statutory to the support partners, highlights the many multi-faceted aspects of it. However, it also highlights that by working together, then and only then, can the North West achieve success and ensure there is a thriving, prosperous and sustainable City and District with equality and opportunity for all. Further information on the Plan can be found at: www.growderrystrabane.com
O’NEILLS TO CELEBRATE ITS 100TH BIRTHDAY Jackie Logan, editor of CONNECTED, speaks to Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Limited, about the continued growth at their Strabane manufacturing site and their exciting plans for the future.
O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Limited is the North West’s largest manufacturing site, specialising in the design, manufacture, personalisation, and supply of performance multisportswear globally. In fact, they are the largest and leading sportswear manufacturer on the island of Ireland. Founded in 1918 in Dublin’s Chapel Street by the
entrepreneur Charles O’Neill, the company specialised in the manufacture of first footballs and hurling balls. O’Neills introduced the now standard white GAA ball through a process of entrepreneurship and innovation which has continued through to today into other sports. When Kieran Kennedy started working for O’Neills in 1979 he joined as a
stock room clerk and was one of 30 employees. Nine years later in 1988 he was appointed managing director. Since then, Kieran has steadily grown the company year on year increasing its global footprint. The entrepreneurial spirit and legacy of the founder Charles O’Neill is clearly ingrained in O’Neills DNA, which is why they have stayed ahead of the
competition. The company has continued to bring vision and quality to the production of an entire range of sportswear and accessories to multiple sports. Synonymous with Gaelic Games, O’Neills provides sportswear across Ireland. However, the company hasn’t rested on their laurels and confined their business to Ireland, Kieran and his Management Team saw the
need to grow, to export and as a result created various routes to market and for many other sports. Basically, Kieran saw the need to consistently evolve and look beyond the competition and market share to more fundamental questions of survival and sustainability in what could be a continuously changing sportswear environment. The North West’s manufacturing story is well documented but O’Neills has bucked that trend. If anything, they have responded to the massive surge in demand for sportswear with new styles, designs and innovative products. O’Neills expertise in innovation and empowering athletes to achieve their best has been introduced to rugby, soccer, athletics, cricket, boxing and many other sports across new geographical markets. With offices now in Leigh, just outside Manchester, Somerton in Somerset, Boston in the United States, Adelaide in Australia and Pau in France as well as a foothold in Bucharest, O’Neills is certainly an international company making a global impact. According to managing director Kieran Kennedy it’s the need to refocus and adapt our channel strategy, which has helped the growth of the company along with servicing their customers’ needs. “We have various routes to market. The company has five retail stores across Northern Ireland in
Belfast, Strabane, Enniskillen, Magherafelt and Newry. We also sell direct to clubs and we have a wholesale element as well as a significant online presence. All of this has ensured a continued demand for our products. “However, our customer is central to all of this and our mantra at O’Neills has been, never refuse an order and never let a customer down. If we have to work all night to deliver a customer’s order we will, but I am very privileged to have excellent staff, who are hugely committed and will ensure that the customer’s order is delivered on time, every time. “One of the key aspects that has stood us in good stead is vertical integration. We’ve expanded our business operations in different steps on the same production path, so we are supplier and distributer; effectively we own our supply chain. This allows us to quickly mobilise all departments to avail of opportunities in the market and have complete control over the manufacture of our products from start to finish.
“Our engineering and science lead fabric teams develop the best in class performance fabrics for use in a range of sportswear and leisurewear applications. In 2017 we made a £3 million investment in new knitting and dyeing machinery that are renowned for superior quality, increased capacity and versatility. This allows us to minimise the lead time and if we need to, quickly react to the demands of the customer as well as the changing fashion.” And their customers, well that’s anyone from soccer’s Wycombe Wanderers and the Democratic Republic of Congo to Ireland’s Cricket and Rugby League teams to St. Helens and City of Derry Rugby Football club, O’Neills is exceptionally proud to supply all of them, their kit. So, what are the plans for O’Neills as the centenary year nears? Kieran added, “to continue our growth. We are extremely excited about the future. There is currently a plan to build 30,000 sq. ft. in an
adjacent site and develop a state of the art, retail and e-commerce facility in 2018, here in Strabane. We have two new retail stores opening shortly in Northern Ireland and we plan to develop a retail facility in Pau in France”. “Although we will mark our 100th year in business in some fashion, or other, there is clearly still much work to be done.” The continued investment and the employment of local people in the North West is great news. The fact that there are new jobs on the horizon can only have a greater impact on the economy and the local community. In an area where there is so much uncertainty, particularly with a company that straddles the border, it is great to see such certitude. I think O’Neills will have plenty to celebrate in 2018 not just 100 years in business.
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Science is amazing!
Seagate - Data is potential Seagate is a global leader in data storage solutions in a rapidly changing world. Data has become critical to all aspects of human life over the course of the past 30 years; it has changed how we are educated and entertained, and it informs the way we experience people, business, and the wider world around us. It is the lifeblood of our rapidly growing digital existence. A recent International Data Corporation (IDC) white paper entitled Data Age 2025, sponsored by Seagate, looks at
this changing digital landscape and the critical role data plays in the future. This digital existence, as defined by the sum of all data created, captured and replicated on our planet in any given year, is growing rapidly and we call it the global datasphere. In just the past 10 years society has witnessed a vast transition from analog to digital. What the next decade will bring using the power of data is virtually limitless.
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The Data Age 2025 predictions are: • The global datasphere will grow to 163 zettabytes - that’s a trillion gigabytes and ten times the annual data created in 2016. • The average connected person anywhere in the world will interact and connect with devices nearly 4,800 times per day - basically one interaction every 18 seconds. • Nearly 20% of the data created will be critical to our daily lives with 10% hypercritical. • Nearly a quarter of the data created will be real time in nature with the majority of this linked to developments in the Internet of Things (IoT). • This flood of data will enable a new set of technologies such as machine learning, natural, language processing and artificial intelligence - data that is analysed will grow by a factor of 50 and data analysed by cognitive systems will grow by a factor of 100! • With this growth, almost 90% of all data created in the global datasphere will require some level of security. Seagate is focused on working to meet these future trends. Damien Gallagher,
Local students learning about Seagate.
Recording heads from the Springtown facility can be found in about one in four of the computer hard drives in the world today.
Executive Director, explains what this means for Seagate Springtown: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Seagate and the Springtown team. The customers for data storage are in growth with consumers, enterprise customers and cloud storage looking to store their precious memories and critical business information. For Seagate, it is no longer just about
storing information; it’s about accessing and interpreting information quickly, accurately and securely. At Seagate Springtown we’re looking to the future. “Locally, we produce more than one million recording heads per day, a tiny critical component of the Seagate Hard Drive. This means that recording heads from the Springtown facility can be found in about one in four of the computer hard drives in the world today. “We’re a leading-edge data storage research centre too with the next generation of data storage being developed right here in the City meeting the demands and opportunities of the expanding global datasphere. “Locally, Seagate employ 1,300 talented and highly skilled staff and we are the city’s largest manufacturer. We’re very proud of our staff and achievements in Springtown.”
For more information in Seagate future focus visit www.seagate.com.
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The Creative Coast – Donegal’s Creative industries initiative One of the key recommendations of the Strategic Action Plan for Creative Entrepreneurship for Donegal, an initiative of the Local Enterprise Office in Donegal, was to establish the right conditions for creative entrepreneurship in the county. The thought process was simply, when those conditions are nurtured, Creative Industries can play a hugely important role in the economy of the county. Local Enterprise Office, Donegal, has worked through its Creative Coast programme to nurture creative entrepreneurship and over the past two years, has sought to commence building niche clusters of excellence distinctive to Donegal. Groupings for Film and Digital, Fashion and Textiles and Art and Illustration were formed, with the Local Enterprise Office not only facilitating the gatherings, but also working to respond to the needs of the groups. “The Creative Coast seeks to inform people of potential opportunities and to establish the emergence of a coherent identity for Donegal’s creative sectors. It also aims to connect people across various creative sectors and to broker partnerships around creative innovation,” Head of Enterprise, Michael Tunney explained. “The cluster meetings give businesses an opportunity to network and share ideas in a sector-specific setting,
Previous Mayor, Cllr Terence Slowey and Michael Tunney along with creative entrepreneurs at the launch of creative exhibition in Letterkenny in 2017
increasing the potential for future collaboration,” he said. Indeed there have already been collaborative projects formulated as a result of the meetings, but the meetings are more than just networking events. “Earlier in 2017 we launched the findings of a survey conducted by final year marketing students at Letterkenny IT in conjunction with the Local Enterprise Office. Those results indicated that, not only were creative businesses in Donegal keen to work together and collaborate on projects to improve their chances of business success - but they would like more opportunities to learn.” In response, the Local Enterprise Office organised
a number of sector-specific training days for the cluster members, to run alongside the suite of training and services already on offer. “We have a full range of training and development programmes on offer all year round at the Local Enterprise Office, but we also commenced a programme in conjunction with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland of particular interest to the creative industries. “In addition, we also looked at examples of best practice in other countries to determine if any of those models could be adapted for use in Donegal” commented Michael. From that a new pilotprogramme called ‘Generate’ was recently launched to
foster business development and job creation in the creative and digital industries in Donegal. The creative industries had already taken the lead during the county’s Enterprise Week in March of this year and have remained to the fore in Donegal business over the past year, scooping three of the four major awards at the Donegal County Enterprise Awards. A quarter of the finalists in the County competition for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, have also come from the Creative Clusters. With a new creative-led festival in Culdaff on the first weekend of December and ongoing development of creative clusters, the creative industries are fast becoming a truly emerging force in Donegal.
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€8.5m R&D Investment creates an Advanced Manufacturing Super Cluster In September, Catalyst Inc launched the North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, a five year €8.5 million investment, as part of the EU’s INTEREG VA programme. The collaboration brings together eight companies and four academic institutions that will be delivering 15 world leading research projects as part of an Advanced Manufacturing Super Cluster, based out of the North West. These collaborative research projects have the potential to ultimately deliver global products and processes that can be licensed throughout the world with the opportunity to generate thousands of high-level jobs across the North West and eligible region. Dr Norman Apsley, CEO Catalyst Inc explained, “Advanced manufacturing is the future and in our economy we need more globally competitive products and processes. This investment enables industry to collaborate with academia at
an earlier stage while minimising their risk. The opportunity to be at the leading edge of this research will improve their competitiveness as well as the potential to create more high value jobs in the Knowledge Economy – which has a benefit for the economies of the three jurisdictions.” The companies involved - under the four main research themes of Additive Manufacture; Advanced Polymers; Nano Manufacturing and Sustainable Manufacturing - include Nu Print Technologies, Laser Prototypes Europe Ltd (LPE), Armstrong Medical, Randox, Abbott Ireland and GSK-Steifel. They will be working in collaboration with the four academic partners - Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, University of Glasgow and Sligo IT. This exciting news follows the announcement that plans have been
_ AT THE HEART OF INNOVATION IN THE NORTH WEST - State-of-the-art Facilities - Bookable meeting & event space - On-site Data Services - Flexible Tenancies - Connect Development Programmes
LET’S TALK. LET’S SHARE. LET’S CONNECT. For more details contact Eliza Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Paul Vance (Randox), Tom Walls (LPE), Professor Norman Apsley (Catalyst Inc), Dr Russell MacPherson (GSK-Steifel), Adrian O’Connor (Abbott Ireland), Gavin Killeen (Nu Print Technologies)
submitted for the next phase of development on our Fort George site in Derry/Londonderry. This will see another 50,000 square feet of business ready infrastructure available to meet the growing demand of innovation companies in the North West. Our vision is for Northern Ireland to be one of the most entrepreneurial knowledge economies in Europe by 2030, and our development in Derry/ Londonderry is an important element of achieving this vision.
LYIT Developing Skills for the Digital Economy The North West is a hub for digital and creative industries, experiencing exponential growth in the last ten years. Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) has responded to this demand by reshaping its programme offerings. Offering comprehensive training and events under its DICE (Design, Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise) section, LYIT is facilitating the creation of innovative online content. This is key as the technology sector remains extremely robust and is currently the primary engine of growth within the Irish professional jobs market.
statement but the statistics available back up his argument.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words.
Cisco reports that 69% of all internet traffic now provides video content for the end user while Youtube claims consumption increases 100% year on year. These statistics show that demand is on the increase and, inevitably with it, the ability to produce content that is of high quality and with the consumer in mind are skills that are well sought after.
A recent Forrester study by Dr James Quivey claims that one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words. It is a bold
Online content creation has become a huge growth industry worldwide. In Ireland
the digital economy makes up 6% (€12.3bn) of the country’s GDP and by 2020 is expected to reach 7.9% (€21.4bn). Harvard Business review also hailed Ireland as one of the fastest developing digital economies last year. More video is uploaded in one month than was previously created by the major US TV networks in the last 30 years. People are producing video at an alarming rate so standing out is always a priority. The average Irish internet user is exposed to 32.3 videos a month online according to a Comscore report.
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There is a strong understanding among Irish businesses that the relevance of good design is crucial to driving commercial success. Enhancing the end user experience and usability are becoming increasingly important as businesses migrate to online platforms. Skilled production and well thought out content is key to getting seen and getting heard. This can only be achieved through the teaching of a skilled workforce. The skills gap is a huge problem in Ireland as regards digital media and digital marketing according to the report “MISSING THE MARK: THE DIGITAL MARKETING SKILLS GAP IN THE USA, UK & IRELAND” published by The Digital Marketing Institute last year.
User Experience User Experience (UX) designers are in demand across the business sector with an increased focus on the end user experience with many businesses offering services and products online. UX in particular is the fastest-growing segment of Irish design and LYIT graduates will be well placed to enter the marketplace with the skills required. The Institute’s BA in Graphic & Digital Design course addresses industry needs such as user-centric research methods, participatory design techniques, concept development, prototyping, design development, problem solving, interaction testing, visual
Current courses include:
communication, user interface design and professional practice and collaboration.
Film The development of the digital film industry in the North West relies heavily on finding skilled professionals and graduates. While the industry traditionally required specialised areas to be catered for individually, this too is changing. With the onset of digital film equipment, content has become more and more in demand and fast turnaround of projects is essential. This in turn means that multi-skilled graduates and individuals are more in demand than ever. The BA in Digital Film & Video course has identified and tries to cater for these new needs. The basis of the programme is to create multi-disciplined graduates who are ready to work in both traditional
Level 6 Higher Certificate in Photography Certificate in Fashion Fundamentals Certificate in Digital Photography Certificate in Basic Web Design and Development Level 7 Bachelor of Arts in Animation Bachelor of Arts in Fashion with Promotion Bachelor of Arts in Digital Film & Video Bachelor of Arts in Graphic & Digital Design Level 8 Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Animation Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Fashion with Promotion Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Digital Film & Video Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Graphic & Digital Design Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Common Entry with Named Awards Higher Diploma in 3D Modelling & Animation Level 9 Masters by Research
and emerging work spaces. The key areas of digital film production are covered including script writing, sound and music design, production, compositing and editing. Technology is key to industry and this is reflected in the course content and equipment made available to it. An enterprise and entrepreneurship ethos is also embedded in modules at undergraduate level. The course will engage with industry throughout its development to incorporate change and stay as relevant as possible in a fastchanging sector and will engage traditional and emerging practice to cater for the needs of the industry in the area and beyond. Self-directed practice will be a key component across a number of modules with a focus on audience and market needs at the fore.
Animation Over the past number of years, IBEC reports have shown that animation has consistently been an area of growth in the Irish digital economy both in terms of employment and revenue. According to the Irish Audiovisual Federation, animation will experience strong growth in Ireland. Currently it is the largest provider of full-time employment in the Irish independent film and television sector. The BA in Animation and the Post Graduate Diploma in 3D Modelling & Animation provide the range of skills currently required by the sector. One of the greatest advantages of working within the digital sector is that you can work and seek work from anywhere. LYIT offers a wide range of courses and more information can be found at www.lyit.ie.
JOIN THE #SMARTMOVERS
NEW BUSES NEW SERVICE
clearpath finance Clearpath Finance, a new alternative lending platform, opened in Belfast in September 2016 and to date have facilitated £24 million of new business loans into the local economy. Last month they opened a new office in Manchester, and CONNECTED took the opportunity to catch up with Conor Devine MRICS who along with his business partner, Derry native, James Gibbons LLB, are the architects of this new business.
The energy market is now particularly active with wind and AD plants leading the way. We are very excited about this aspect of our business and are currently working on a number of projects particularly in the North West.
Why did you decide to launch a new lending business in Northern Ireland? Most people will know James and myself in Northern Ireland for setting up GDP Partnership, a debt advisory practice in 2010. We set it up because there was a huge problem (and still is) in our economy with property debt as a result of the banking crisis and property crash in 2007.
Clearpath Finance has also come about as a result of the global financial crisis however in a different way. One of the major issues facing the business community today is the liquidity crisis as more and more businesses struggle to access finance. This is largely down to the fact that our banks are still trying to repair their own balance sheets therefore most are not in a position to meet the demands of the business community.
What does the current landscape look like for business finance? Are there options available for SMEs outside the traditional high street banking arena? It would be fair to say that banking has been completely transformed over the last few years. In the last three years in particular, a range of new James Gibbons and Conor Devine of Clearpath Finance
funding options have come to the market place in Northern Ireland, bringing a much needed boost to SMEs and our local economy. Predominantly these come in the shape of new challenger banks, peer to peer lenders, bridging finance funders, mezzanine funders and equity funding solutions along with the most recent development of technology banks, which do 100% of their business online. This has been a most welcome and timely development, which has went some way to softening the impact of the liquidity crisis.
What different types of financing might SMEs consider? This very much depends on what the ask is from the SME, and what the funding is for, as there are now a range of options open to businesses. Recently our own business helped a logistics business with an unsecured loan of £150,000. This allowed our client to complete the purchase of a new headquarter logistics centre in Belfast. As a team we looked at the different options open to our client and decided that for a range of reasons, the unsecured option was right for that company at that particular time. Also, in May 2017, we were able to raise significant funds to allow our customer to acquire three petrol filling stations. There was a ‘loan to value’ issue on the lend with the high street bank option, so we had to structure a blend of finance that would give our customer enough capital to complete the acquisition. In the last twelve months we have also facilitated a wide variety of loans to include bridging finance, secured finance for property deals, along with smaller unsecured loans enabling clients to purchase stock, machines and equipment as well as help with cash flow. The alternative finance market is now fairly mature in Northern Ireland.
What type of companies can you lend to? We can only lend to businesses that have been trading a minimum of two to three years. In the last twelve months we have brought funding solutions to businesses in the following sectors: hospitality, FMCG, property, and manufacturing. Generally if a customer presents us with a robust business plan, with solid repayment capacity, we should be able to assist with funding.
Tell us about your green energy fund? This came about due to the good work we have been doing with businesses operating within the farming community. Last year, we were approached by a farmer, who required funding to build an AD plant. Clearpath Finance was able to assist with his request, which led to us organising funding for a wind farm in the neighbouring area. We then worked out very quickly that there was a particular need for a new Green Energy Fund in Northern Ireland as the sector is particularly active but there are not a lot of funding solutions for green developers. This led us to approaching a number of funds in the UK in the first quarter of 2017, and as a result in June of 2017, we launched our own Green Energy Fund. The initial tranche includes a fund of £30 million earmarked for green energy projects in Northern Ireland. To date we have placed £10 million. The energy market is now particularly active with wind and AD plants leading the way. We are very excited about this aspect of our business and are currently working on a number of projects particularly in the North West.
Could the government be doing more to help SMEs with finance?
I think the government could always do more to help businesses in general, but ultimately the observation I would make in terms of working in and around this space over the last twenty years would be that those businesses and business owners whom have been successful, ultimately often have a lot of similar characteristics. Stand out ones being they believe in their business passionately, they work incredibly hard, they have a product or service that adds value to the market place, and they never give up, continuing to grind it out, every single day.
What do firms need to do to successfully source new business finance? They need to have a solid business plan, a robust set of financial information, clearly have a product or service that is adding value to the marketplace, and finally a good team in place that will allow the business to grow and reach its potential.
Finally, you recently opened in Manchester, what was the rationale for that? Indeed, in October 2017 we opened a new office in Manchester City Centre, which we are very excited about. Our headquarters in Belfast allow us to service our client base across Ireland. However it was clear that if we really wanted to grow our business, the UK mainland presented an outstanding opportunity. We felt it was important we had a presence there and our funders and a number of colleagues, who have been helping us with strategy and are based in London, were also very positive about our expansion into GB. To contact Clearpath Finance, call +44 (0) 333 0042 888 or email email@example.com.
Foyle Port Announces Record Operating Profit Foyle Port has announced a record operating profit of £2.2million generated from a turnover of £8.6 million for the 2016/2017 period. The figures, published at its Annual General Meeting, shows that the operating profit uplift represents a 50% increase on last year. Now in its fifth year of consecutive growth, Foyle Port reinvests all its profits to continually improve the business and upgrade facilities. Capital investment in 2016/17 totalled £3.6million which included a state of the art tug to safeguard the future shipping operations in Lough Foyle. The Port’s average number of employees has increased to 92 over the last year. This includes permanent employees, plus a number of full time equivalent positions. In all, it represents a salary contribution of £3.2 million per annum. Foyle Port Chair, Bonnie Anley, commented: “The past year has been significant for the Port as it was the strongest financial performance in our 162-year history.” “As a trust Port, we reinvest all our profits which means that our workforce and all the wider businesses that we support benefit collectively.”
“Our sustained growth has driven more than £100m of inward investment into the North West region and our successful diversification of the business means that we are on course for further growth in the years to come.”
“We move into 2018 with great enthusiasm as our plan to develop a new cruise ship terminal continues to gain strong support from those who recognise the massive tourism potential in this part of the island of Ireland.”
“External uncertainties prevail, but our strategy has proven robust with a 25% operating margin achieved in 2016/17 demonstrating how well the wider port is performing.” Foyle Port Chief Executive, Brian McGrath added: “The Port continues to play a significant part in the business life in the North West city region and on both sides of the border. Not only have the numbers of employees increased by 20% at the Port, we sustain over 1,000 more jobs in the area.” “As a wider economic zone, our work at the port transcends politics and borders. With Brexit coming down the track, we are committed to delivering our commercial and statutory duties whatever happens. We will simply have to deal with the consequences of the future arrangements of the customs union, single market and the common travel area. Uncertainty erodes business confidence and deters investment, but we will face up to the new realities.”
Foyle Port, Chief Executive, Brian McGrath
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‘We couldn’t recommend Neil and his team enough and have already booked our event next year with the Everglades Hotel’ Gareth McCay LL.B – Ryan McBride Foundation Gala Ball May 2017
Evg Derry Chamber Ad_AW.indd 1
Super Break Launch Charter to Seville direct from City of Derry Airport Super Break, a short break specialist for over 30 years, has just launched an exclusive new charter service direct from City of Derry Airport to stunning Seville. The launch of the new chartered service by Super Break will be the first direct flight from City of Derry Airport to Seville, helping more people access the popular European destination than ever before. Starting from just £549 per person, the break will depart in March 2018 – the perfect time to see the city come alive in Spring with its colourful streets and blossoming flowers. Commercial and Marketing Manager for City of Derry Airport, Charlene Shongo stated that the airport is absolutely delighted to be working with Super Break to offer travellers from the North West this fantastic ‘Authentic Andalucian’ break to Seville, which has just been named as Lonely Planet’s number one city to visit in 2018. This Authentic Andalucian four day break to Seville will depart from City of Derry Airport on 16th March 2018 and includes return flights from your local airport, 20kg hold luggage and 5kg hand luggage per person; three nights accommodation including breakfast; transfers to and from Seville airport; Seville Discovery Ticket with 48 hour hop-on hop-off Seville City Sightseeing Tour, free walking tours; as well as entry to many of Seville’s top attractions
including Seville aquarium, Flamenco Dance Museum and Real Betis Stadium Tour Experience. There is also a fantastic full day “country to coast” excursion to the stunning countryside of Jerez and coastal city of Cadiz”. This excellent break offers travellers the opportunity to explore the sights, sounds and tastes of Seville and to fully immerse themselves in the culture that this part of Spain is renowned for. Charlene outlined that City of Derry Airport has become the airport of choice for the North West of Ireland, offering both convenience and excellent customer service and we look forward to working with Super Break to offer our customers direct air access to this popular short break destination - Seville. CoDA encourages all travellers from within our local catchment area to ‘Fly Local and Choose CoDA’. Finally Charlene stated that as these amazing short breaks will be snapped up quickly, customers should log on to www.cityofderryairport.com to avoid missing out.
Chris Hagan, Head of Propositions, Transport and Attractions for Super Break stated “We are delighted to launch our first exclusive departure from City of Derry Airport. For the first time passengers from the North West will be able to ‘fly local’ direct to Seville for a long weekend as part of our Authentic Andalucia programme with packages including a range of hotels, transfers and included excursions and experiences which allow guests to fully immerse themselves in this fascinating area of Southern Spain. The departure for four days on Friday 16th
March has been timed to coincide with St Patricks Day to allow for minimum time away from work and also a perfect excuse to celebrate in the sun. As a long time regular user of City of Derry Airport myself, commuting weekly between my home in Tamnaherin and our head office in York I look forward to working with the team at City of Derry Airport to add additional direct departures to exciting destinations throughout Europe during the course of the year …. Watch this space.” To book, visit the Super Break website or call 0800 042 0288.
Young entrepreneur takes on mobile marketing CONNECTED spoke with Megan Canavan, CEO of local new startup Scattr, about her experience as a young entrepreneur to date. Scattr’s mobile marketing application began development in April 2016 and has been used as a platform by local businesses since October 2016. Based on the childhood game ‘pass the parcel’, businesses send out parcels to mobile phones across the country containing the chance to win a prize, ‘wrapped up’ in an advertisement about that brand. Businesses are getting exposure and engagement while users are getting prizes and offers. It’s been a great first year for Scattr.
Why is now the time for your pass the parcel idea to exist? I’d the idea for quite a few years but was never brave enough to put it out into the world. At the end of my Masters I had to complete a dissertation and thought it was a great excuse to do some research and explore the world of mobile marketing. After interviewing a range of experts in the field, it became pretty clear that innovative products have a higher success rate when people can easily relate to them. So, as wild and whacky as a digital ‘pass the parcel’ might sound, the fact that customers and users alike can quickly resonate with the concept meant that there was a decent chance of the idea taking off. We hear time and time again that digital marketing has become very monotonous with little
creativity going on, so we’re really excited to be offering something completely different.
How do you find being in your role and having a team at a young age? We find that people are genuinely intrigued that we are doing something so different and getting out of our comfort zones on a daily basis, so I feel that alone gains a lot of respect. With regards to having a young team, we are the same age of our most active users so we hope that we are able to reflect their interests in bringing the app forward.
In terms of advice, have you found any resources particularly useful? We’ve had a ton of advice from a variety of different places - our own customers are very open with their thoughts and that’s a great thing! Institutions, such as the North West
Regional College, have been fantastic in supporting us, and of course direction from the Chamber from networking to the correct way to approach businesses has been invaluable as well. I’m also very lucky that my father, Padraig, has years of experience in the software and tech world in particular so if we have any tricky decisions we can call him in for advice.
Based on your experiences so far, what qualities do you think are most important when starting out in business? Being resourceful in more ways than one has definitely helped us to date. By that I mean taking what you can from every situation in every sense – learnings, advice, contacts, promotion, solutions, awareness, all while keeping the cost down! We might not always have ended up with the result or answer that we wanted, but there’s something to be taken from every experience.
What is your favourite aspect of your job? Like any job, seeing a happy customer is all you really want. We obviously love our ‘pass the parcel’ concept, but it doesn’t mean all that much until a paying customer has seen it working. We’ve had well respected businesses of both sizes tell us that they’ve seen the app generate custom, all the while having fun wrapping parcels and that was always the hope for Scattr. Keep up to date with Scattr: www.scattr.io Facebook: @scattrapp Twitter: @scattrapp Instagram: @scattr
Alan Campbell, Head of Grid Development, SONI Alan Campbell and members of SONI’s grid development and landowner engagement teams
Alan Campbell recently joined SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) as its Head of Grid Development. Alan arrives at SONI with almost 15 years’ experience in Northern Ireland’s electricity industry and in his new role will oversee the team responsible for delivering planning permission for transmission grid developments throughout the region. “I first joined ESB in 2004 after a period of time working in England and progressed through a number of senior roles before becoming manager of its Coolkeeragh Power Station in Derry/ Londonderry, a position I held until earlier this year.” explains Alan. His experience of running one of the region’s most significant power stations means he is fully aware of the challenges facing the electricity industry here, particularly in the North West and he believes it will help him deliver key projects that will support
economic growth throughout Northern Ireland. “At SONI I am lucky to be leading a team of extremely talented engineers and professional staff. Together we have a very clear understanding of the important role we play in delivering modern infrastructure that facilitates business growth and employment, and ensures we all have the electricity we need every day. When it comes to delivering new infrastructure, the proposed North South Interconnector is SONI’s priority project. The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) held its public inquiry into the planning applications for the project in February of this year and Alan is hopeful that the Department for Infrastructure will be in a position to announce a planning decision in the coming months. “We’ve had fantastic support for the North South Interconnector from the business community, including from
Londonderry Chamber members which we really appreciate. I think this is down to the proactive approach from CEO Sinead McLaughlin and her team who were very quick to understand the benefits the Interconnector will deliver and how it will help businesses in the North West to power growth and expansion” says Alan. “When in place, it will make sure we have enough electricity to meet demand in the coming years, which as things stand is not guaranteed after 2021. When looking to encourage economic growth and attract foreign direct investment, it’s essential that we have that long-term certainty. “The Interconnector will also result in savings to consumers by removing constraints on the network and allowing the full implementation of the all-island electricity market, which is designed to reduce how much we pay for electricity.”
When discussing new infrastructure projects, like the North South Interconnector and other SONI proposals which include network upgrades and providing grid connections for large scale renewable energy projects, Alan is keen to emphasise the importance of working closely with organisations such as the Londonderry Chamber. “We can’t deliver these projects on our own and it’s up to SONI to make sure people know exactly what we are doing and what the benefits will be. Therefore we’re grateful for the role that the Londonderry Chamber plays in making sure its members can see the link between the work SONI does and the positive impact it has on the economy. “It also provides us with a good platform to speak directly with businesses in the North West and to help create a better understanding of our current projects, while also taking on board their feedback as to how we can work with them going forward.” Alan and his team, alongside SONI’s external affairs division led by Natasha Sayee, is currently consulting the local community in the Garvagh area on plans to develop new infrastructure that will connect three wind farms, to the electricity grid. “Proposals like the Agivey Cluster Project are important in that we are facilitating renewable energy generation while also enabling significant economic investment. It will contribute to Northern Ireland’s target that by 2020 40% of all electricity used should be from renewables and it will help achieve greater security of supply.
Alan Campbell, Head of Grid Development NI, SONI
We’ve had fantastic support for the North South Interconnector from the business community, including from Londonderry Chamber members which we really appreciate.
“Importantly, these projects also create jobs and a demand for a range of professional services; meaning they have a positive impact for businesses and employers well beyond just the local area - and that really is at the heart of what we do at SONI.” Looking to the future, Alan says SONI will continue to work closely with the Londonderry Chamber and its members to successfully deliver modern infrastructure in Northern Ireland. “I look forward to working with Sinead and the team over the coming months as SONI continues to support the Londonderry Chamber and also to making sure we provide the safe, secure, economic and reliable supply that businesses in the North West need to power their success for years to come.”
Carol trades stock market for stock pot Former stock trader, Carol Banahan, makes no bones about her dedication to producing all-natural homemade stock and bone broth. The Dublin native has gone from stock market to stock pot – turning her back on a billion dollar stock trading role in Canada to start her own country kitchen business in the North West And her passion for food is making her business a real success in the agri-food sector. Aptly named Carol’s Stock Market to recognise both her past and present careers, the company has won both Great Taste and Blas Na hEireann awards in recent months. Far from the heated trading floors of one of Canada’s largest banks, Carol can now be found in her purpose built kitchen in Greencastle, County Donegal or the North West Regional College’s Foodovation Centre. And she has a great kitchen table story to tell over a cuppa - bone broth, of course. “I was an equity trader for 25 years in Toronto and Vancouver. I ran a very busy trading desk. Life was very different then,” she says. Carol’s often highly stressed days would start at 4am with a bedtime of 7.30pm because when managing hundreds of millions of dollars of other people’s money “you have to have your head screwed on”. “It was one of those crazy careers that you had to be extremely fit and extremely healthy to cope with. Your head had to be clear at all times. It was a time when I relied on good diet, including bone broth, and clean living to keep me firing on all cylinders.
“We would do between $50 million and $100 million in stock trades every day. Some days if we had large trades happening that would go up to $1 billion. Not too long before I retired we traded a record $1.2 billion in a single day. By the end of that day I couldn’t speak.” While living in Toronto, Carol met her husband - Derry man Neil McParland, a therapeutic radiographer. Both worked crazy hours. “After almost 20 years of trading, I wasn’t enjoying the business like I used to. I found it tougher and tougher every day, with constant fatigue and stress. We began talking about moving back to Ireland and reinventing ourselves totally. And that’s what we did, nearly four years ago.” Carol then found her real passion - food. “I have always loved stock and bone broth and have always made my own. It’s such a healthy product but I couldn’t find natural stock or bone broth anywhere in Ireland. The decision was easy. I did some market research and went back to school, completing qualifications in both cooking and nutrition in the Dublin Cookery School and the Irish Institute for Health and Nutrition in Wicklow. “I did a massive amount of work to get the business off the ground. I started off at farmer’s markets. Chef Brian McDermott was brilliant in guiding me and I became the first client at the Foodovation Centre at the North West Regional College. I’ve been there for a year now, my product has won several big awards and things have gone from strength to strength.”
Artie Clifford, Chairman Blas na hÉireann/Irish Food Awards and Donagh Murphy, Protech with Carol Banahan of Carol’s Stock Market, Chef’s Choice Award.
Carol describes homemade natural stock and bone broth as two of “life’s true elixirs”. Hailed by cancer researchers for immune system boosting benefits, she says bone broth has immense healing powers. “Bone broth is nature’s botox and max strength multivitamin,” she says. “It is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. For thousands of years, people have been boiling bones for nourishment. What happens is nutrients are extracted slowly from the bones. People think bones are a waste product. They are actually one of the most incredible forms of nourishment. “The difference between a naturally made stock and a cube is like chalk and cheese. One is so highly nutritious, the other is the opposite and full of salt. “Nutrients are unlocked in our slow-cooked beef and chicken stocks to help naturally ease digestion, bolster immunity, keep bones and joints strong and promote healthy hair, skin and nails. “Stock is healing and nourishing. That’s why it is the perfect business for me. It speaks to all my passions and my way of living and of thinking.” Carol plans to expand her product beyond Ireland.
“This new life has stresses of its own but it is incredibly rewarding. I didn’t have a sense of personal satisfaction in my last job. Yes, I was good at what I did, but now I have a lot of deep personal satisfaction that the business is growing and that I started it from the ground up. “I always wanted to start my own business. It’s humbling and you learn an awful lot. It’s been tiring but fulfilling. “I sell products all over Northern Ireland and into the south. My hope is to have the stocks and broths stocked in shops in England and North America in the future. Anything Irish, grass-fed and natural is big business and has massive potential – that’s why the agri-food business in Ireland is so huge with even greater potential. “At the moment I am working on the product myself. I eat, sleep and breath it. Carol’s Stock Market was just a simple name for my business. I wanted to give a nod to my old career. The dream and passion for me is me making it. Me with my nose hanging over the pots saying that stock’s ready, or that stock needs more. That’s why I called it Carol’s Stock Market. I want to always make it.”
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InterTradeIreland launches practical Brexit planning event for businesses • 95 per cent of businesses do not have a Brexit plan • InterTradeIreland’s ‘All Fact: No Noise’. Practical Help to Plan for Brexit events bring together an expert panel. Cross-border trade and business development body, InterTradeIreland, is urging businesses to Plan, Act and Engage to meet the challenges – and avail of the opportunities - arising from Brexit. InterTradeIreland is hosting a series of events to inform SMEs of the actions they should undertake in order to navigate Brexit. Attendees will benefit from practical workshops on the potential impact of changes in areas such as Rules of Origin; taxation, VAT, human resources and customs, as well as panel discussions featuring businesses that have started planning for Brexit. These major events are taking place across the island and details will be updated on the Body’s website http://www.intertradeireland.com/events/ IntertradeIreland’s latest All-Island Business Monitor highlights 95 per cent of local companies have no plans in place for
Brexit, and it is working to provide firms with the practical support to start preparing for different scenarios that might arise. InterTradeIreland launched its Brexit Advisory Service in May 2017. This bespoke service offers help and assistance for SMEs including a £/€2,000 Brexit Start Planning Voucher, which allows individual firms to work with an approved panel of experts to devise a tailored action plan. As well as advice on topics surrounding Brexit such as currency hedging and information on cross-border supply chains, InterTradeIreland has developed a comprehensive database of all goods traded cross-border on the island of Ireland. This covers thousands of individual product categories, and businesses can access information on possible tariffs for products, should certain customs duties be introduced.
While businesses may have experienced minimal impact due to the impending Brexit at this point, this may not always be the case and companies need to be prepared. At the events, InterTradeIreland will be discussing its recent World Trade Organisation tariff report findings, highlighting the importance of contingency planning for firms on both sides of the border to prepare for any barriers to exporting. Never has the maxim ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ ever been as relevant to SMEs as it is now. However, the good news for businesses is that InterTradeIreland can provide help and guidance on possible trading scenarios, helping to support them as information becomes available – sifting the fact from the sometimes excessive amount of information that is relayed. Over the next two years, and beyond, InterTradeIreland will continue to work with SMEs to provide the support of futureproofing and planning in the post-Brexit business landscape.
START TO PLAN FOR BREXIT Get £2,000 towards expert advice.
If your business is uncertain of how to navigate its way through Brexit, you might be eligible for InterTradeIreland’s Start to Plan Vouchers offering financial support up to £2,000 (inc. VAT). This support can help with professional advice on your business-specific needs in matters relating to Brexit, such as movement of labour, goods, services and currency management. Are you eligible? Your company must be a registered small business and your required assistance must relate to a cross-border service issue. To apply, simply download and complete the Start to Plan Voucher application form, available at: www.intertradeireland.com/brexit For more information, our Brexit Advisory Service Manager, Mark Sterritt, is on hand to help, so get in touch on +44 (0)28 3083 4122 or e-mail Mark.Sterritt@intertradeireland.com
Ulster Bank Boost Bites Roadshow By Lisa McCaul, Business Growth Enabler, Ulster Bank The smartphone has done for banking what the bicycle, the barcode and the teabag have all done in time – inventions that transformed certain industries and are now so ubiquitous, they are often taken for granted as having always been there. But unlike those more established products or services, which consumers and industries have gotten used to over time, banking is still adapting to the new order. This is particularly true in how they help small businesses – combining efficient digital services with a local face and expert knowledge. As Ulster Bank’s Business Growth
Enabler for the North of Northern Ireland, supported by my South of Northern Ireland counterpart, Cara Taylor, I think we’re well placed to bridge that gap. When we launched our Business Boost initiative, we knew that assisting local companies had to go beyond simply supporting them with banking and finance activities. We needed to provide credible help; signposting businesses to the right events where they could network with the right people, and providing learning resources to showcase best practice. This approach is supported by the research we did with over
Ulster Bank Growth Enablers Lisa McCaul and Cara Taylor.
200 small business owners and directors before launching the programme. The Ulster Bank Boost Index told us that just over 1% of our SMEs are experiencing rapid growth while less than 10% are selling outside the UK. We understand that operational concerns and the day-to-day activities of a business often take priority over implementing a growth strategy which is why we are planning to deliver a series
of workshops to help businesses take the next step. The Ulster Bank Boost Bites roadshow will travel across Northern Ireland and focus on exporting, leadership and digital growth while shining a light on local companies who have expanded beyond their initial targets. For more information on where events will take place or to register your interest, visit http://digital.ulsterbank. co.uk/business/boost.html
Mark Sterritt, InterTradeIreland Manager, Brexit Advisory Service explains impact on SMEs Brexit continues to be the gift that keeps on giving for news editors who have a seemingly insatiable appetite for all things Brexit-related as it continues to dominate traditional print and social media. In addition to the media coverage there is no shortage of opinion pieces, speculation, predictions and projections from economists, advisors, banks and other reputable sources which might lead you to think it is easy for SMEs to plan for the potential impact of Brexit on their business. But this is not proving to be the case in practice as the latest InterTradeIreland Business Monitor survey has identified that 95% of SMEs across the island of Ireland are yet
to commence planning for Brexit. There is no single reason for this, but contributing factors may be that the blanket coverage has created Brexit fatigue and also that despite the omnipresent coverage, the negotiations remain at a relatively early stage and there will not be a final outcome on the post Brexit trading environment for some time yet. InterTradeIreland have recently launched a Brexit Advisory Service and are encouraging SMEs that now is the time to Plan, Act, Engage to identify potential risks and opportunities and what actions can be taken to mitigate and maximise them. The Brexit Advisory Service offers a ‘Start to Plan’ Voucher which is 100%
funded up to £/€2,000 and provides SMEs with professional consultancy from a panel of subject matter experts on assessing exposure to potential tariffs, the practical implications of complying with Rules of Origin requirements and also tax / VAT and currency management. We have added case studies to our website of the practical benefits identified by SMEs that have commenced planning and have compiled a Glossary of Terms for the whole new language that has developed in relation to Brexit.
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BRANCH. PHONE. ONLINE. First Trust Bank is a trade mark of AIB Group (UK) p.l.c. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c.), incorporated in Northern Ireland. Registered Office 92 Ann Street, Belfast, BT1 3HH. Registered Number NI018800. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
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Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value Paul McQue, MD of MPA Recruitment talks to editor, Jackie Logan, about the changes taking place at MPA and how Mary Pat O’Kane has played a central role in the building of the company. If MPA Recruitment had a motto it probably would be this from German physicist Albert Einstein, ‘Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value’, as I talk to Paul McQue the managing director of MPA Recruitment, who has held the role since 2016, I see a man keen to talk about his people, his customers and how they add real value in everything that they do. Of course, he’s very proud of the fact that it was Mary Pat O’Kane, a County Derry native, that spent 20 years building the company and the well known brand within the recruitment sector. Her recent accolade of Business Person of the Year
at the Derry Journal and BetMcLean.com awards in September 2017 is testament to that. In 1997, MPA was set up as a multi sector agency and after the recession they developed a niche as a healthcare recruitment specialist, MPA today is the largest agency provider of staff to the sector in Northern Ireland. More recently and with added innovative technology, they’ve diversified into many other sectors including energy and hospitality and they are about to launch an executive search arm to the business, which will be headed up by Mark Canning and Leanne McQue.
MPA staff celebrating at the 20th anniversary celebrations
That has created three new jobs. Paul says; “The last year or so has been challenging, rewarding and with phenomenal growth and I’m now very excited about what the next 12 months will hold for the company. With our headquarters in Derry, we’ve offices right across Northern Ireland in Ballymena, Coleraine, Omagh, Belfast and we’ve just opened our new office in Armagh so the success story and growth behaviours will continue. “As we look to 2018, we will also be expanding into the Republic of Ireland and given that we are situated in Derry, this for us is a natural progression and one where I can see us servicing Europe and possibly further afield. My own background in Global Energy Markets is allowing us to create a further sector specialism where there is value and expertise available to our clients, indeed we are now recruiting for Senior Executive roles as far away as Qatar from our Derry HQ. Regardless of what happens with Brexit, moving into the Eurozone provides MPA with an opportunity, which we’ll use to our advantage. “I’ve been the managing director here for less than a year and a half and in that time with the fantastic support of the whole team at MPA, we’ve doubled turnover and profitability of the organisation, we did all this with the same staff. There are also many huge achievements that MPA Recruitment can be proud of. We were shortlisted for seven of the country’s largest awards and we were recently
Paul McQue, managing director, MPA
announced as one of the top 50 largest employers in Northern Ireland by the Ulster Business magazine (and Equality Commission figures) in 2017. We are also extremely proud to have been the only one of the 50 whose headquarters are based here in Derry.” MPA’s teams throughout their six offices are responsible for paying over 1200 staff with over 250 clients each week. This figure has also nearly doubled from the previous year. Paul’s approach to recruitment has seen MPA win some prestigious contracts with new clients, National Trust for one. This eight-figure revenue contract that will see MPA supply over 200 staff each day to the Trust’s Cause-
Mary Pat O’Kane, owner, MPA
way Coast portfolio. This has given the company a great incentive to continue on their exciting upward journey. “Tendering as anyone knows is difficult. But we’ve changed how we do business and introduced innovative new growth structures and recruitment technology, which has given us a leading edge in this sector. “We’ve also changed how we engage with our clients. We are open seven days a week, our weekend ‘on call’ is conducted in an MPA office and not with a member of the team on a mobile at home; this is probably a first in Northern Ireland recruitment.
“Gone are the key performance indicators and gone are the cold calls, another first for the industry here. I’ve actually banned them; no client can ever claim to be waiting on a cold call sales pitch from a recruiter. Our business, as is most, is about people and to add real value we need to be in the business community talking to our clients, existing and potential and finding where the gaps are in their business and how MPA can constantly add that value. “Of course I’d say we’ve a better service, but I’m proud to lead a superb group of extremely talented, loyal people who enjoy working with a truly diverse range of clients, some of which have been with us since the day our doors opened back in 1997. All in all, it makes for good business.” Although MPA has shown its success through a myriad of awards, including as finalist in the Irish News’s Work and Employment Awards for entrepreneurship, leadership and management as well as best healthcare company through to the best professional services in the Derry Chamber awards, Paul harks back to his employees and how it is them that provide the real industry leading value to their clients whilst making MPA an exciting long-term success story.
North-West Councils are engines for investment
By Derek McCallan, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Local Government Association
We recently hosted our annual conference and awards to review, showcase and celebrate all that is positive about local government in Northern Ireland. The Councils in the North West region celebrated their best in class status, named as winners and finalists in categories, which demonstrated community impact and improving performance. The conference took place at a crucial time as other regions in the UK are progressing ahead with plans to address forthcoming uncertainty. It is now unacceptable that we are running so far behind due to our own political paralysis and greater focus must be placed on the layer of government that can provide the solution – local government. The 11 Councils in Northern Ireland are dynamic hubs of public service delivery and economic development. Councils are so much more than the administrators of bins, births and burials. Collectively they spend around £1 billion annually in our economy with an aspiration and ambition to do much more. Economic and sustainable development can have a truly transformative effect on people and places. It is our Councils that are best positioned to understand current need and future requirements in their specific areas. Working collectively, they can significantly contribute to the prosperity of the North West and the wider Northern Ireland. The North West Councils are driving forward - with major social, business and government partners - their Community and Growth Plans focus
Derek McCallan, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Local Government Association.
on real specific needs. It’s integration in practice, not theory. On top of this, it is clear to see that within all 11 Councils, there is fervent and professional ambition to attract business from beyond Northern Ireland. As the political impasse continues, the need for local councils to play a bigger role in investment and infrastructure is growing. The collapse of the Executive and protracted talks at Stormont are starting to clearly show the crucial role that local councils play. There is now an energy and determination amongst the Councils in the North West to showcase what they have to offer to indigenous and international investors. Their energy and positive attitude is assisting them in standing out from the crowd which includes other regions across these islands.
As we move forward the Councils have a compelling proposition, but there is still more that can be done to support them. It is ludicrous that we still do not have the power of regeneration as it has a vital role in developing spaces and places that attracts entrepreneurs and enterprises with employees who want to work and live in areas that reflect their lifestyles. We don’t want to take power away; we want to have the same powers so that we are not put at a competitive disadvantage. Councils and local economies such as those in the North West are increasingly at the forefront of investment and enterprise in Northern Ireland. With the increased services, functions and responsibilities of the 11 Councils, significant global opportunities are now available to transform the local government sector and with it the communities we serve.
McAllister Group Scoops Prestigious Industry Award The leading provider of trenchless or No Dig services in the UK and Ireland, McAllister Group, is celebrating winning a prestigious award at the recent United Kingdom Society for Trenchless Technology (UKSTT) annual awards in England. The local company, with an office in Eglinton servicing the North West, won the award in the category for projects completed with a project value above £250,000 for its work at Bank Station, London. In operation for over 45 years, the McAllister Group offers a portfolio of services to industrial, commercial and residential customers across the UK and Ireland. The core business remains the inspection, maintenance and renovation of pipelines and sewers offering customers the most comprehensive and innovative solutions utilising trenchless or ‘No-Dig’ technologies such as Robotic Cutting, Ultra-Violet Cured-in-Place-Pipe (UV CIPP) and CCTV surveying. At the heart of the company’s ethos is a desire to evolve and innovate which in part explains the company’s longevity in a competitive and dynamic environment. A passion for excellence, an instinct to innovate, a desire to increase its knowledge and expertise and an outlook that seeks to predict future trends within the sector – these are the guiding principles which always frame the manner in which it transacts with existing and prospective customers. The company is proud of its longterm working relationships with
The McAllister Group’s Directors, Peter and Leo McAllister, receiving the United Kingdom Society for Trenchless Technology Large Renovation Award from football legend, Peter Shilton and UKSTT Chairman, Mathew Izzard at the recent UKSTT Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony 2017.
many companies and organisations including large Water Utility providers such as NI Water, Irish Water, Thames Water, Southern Water and transport providers such as Translink, Transport NI, Network Rail and London Underground. McAllister Group is a customer-focused firm guided by and operating to the highest standards of customer care, health and safety, quality, expertise and accreditation. Its recent award win strengthens its reputation of delivering solutions on time, on budget and drive to exceed client expectations. The company’s proposition is further strengthened by the uniqueness of offering customers new product
Your men were a great help and we will be sure to use you guys again in any future work we have. Site Manager Design, Engineering, Construction Business
innovations and new services to support their requirements. It is an exciting time at McAllister Group as the company enters a new phase of growth exploring opportunities in new markets and business segments, working closely with companies drawn from the Pharma-Care, Food & Drink/Agri-Food, Transport, Tourism/Leisure and Retail sectors. As the company approaches its 50th anniversary in 2021, it will continue to strive forward responding to the demands of customers and reacting to the dynamics of the marketplace. The McAllister Group plans to remain at the forefront of the industry as a specialist supplier of environmental services through continued investment, risk-taking, innovativeness and its ability to deliver consistently for customers.
Caldwell & Robinson’s new partner bolsters commercial niche Derry-Londonderry law firm Caldwell & Robinson has strengthened its commercial niche with the appointment of new partner, Barry Donnelly. The Tyrone native currently leads the firm’s Commercial Property Division and is the first partner to be appointed at the 109 year-old firm in more than a decade. After attending Christian Brothers Grammar School in Omagh, Mr Donnelly graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in Law and Politics. He undertook his professional examinations in the College of Law in Chester before joining the commercial property teams in two of the top 50 law firms, Cobbetts in Manchester followed by Halliwells in Liverpool. He returned to Omagh and joined Caldwell & Robinson in November 2008 where his steadfast work ethic has cultivated the commercial property department. Subsequently he was President of the DerryLondonderry Junior Chamber during 2013 City of Culture and he was ranked by Chambers UK as a ‘Leading Individual’ in 2015.
Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors partner Barry Donnelly with Senior Partners Philip Gilliland and Karen O’Leary.
Philip Gilliland, Manager Partner at Caldwell & Robinson, said the new appointment is recognition of the great experience and expertise Mr Donnelly brings to the commercial team. “Barry brings a very valuable level of expertise to the Commercial Property
Division at Caldwell & Robinson. As a key part of our team, Barry has honed his skills and rapidly gained a reputation for his specialist expertise in delivering for clients with careful precision and great efficiency. “We are delighted to welcome Barry on board as
a partner at Caldwell & Robinson. He shares our vision to continue to deliver the highest standards of service to our clients while driving the expansion of our commercial property offering in the North West and throughout Northern Ireland.”
New Appointments Section in partnership with MPA Recruitment www.mparecruitment.co.uk
Johnston Financial Solutions Limited
1. Chris Henderson
Chris Henderson has brought all the vast experience of a long and successful career in banking to Johnston Financial Solutions Limited. He joins the team following 37 years at Ulster Bank. He was formerly head of the institution’s business centres in Coleraine and DerryLondonderry.
2. Mark Canning
Mark has joined the team at MPA Recruitment as Business Manager for MPA Executive bringing over 10 years’ experience in Search & Selection. Having successfully delivered assignments to multi-national companies, SMEs and family owned businesses in multiple sectors locally, nationally and internationally, Mark will be heading up MPA’s new Executive Search business.
3. Paul Gosling
4. Cara Taylor
Paul Gosling has been appointed permanent editor of ModernGov magazine which is published by GovNet Communications and based in Manchester and London. The appointment follows Paul’s editorship of the magazine for two issues on an interim basis. Paul is also a freelance news reporter, feature writer and copywriter and is based in Derry.
As a Business Growth Enabler for Ulster Bank, Cara is responsible for developing SMEs and providing expert business advice to start-ups. Cara brings a wealth of experience to the role, having previously worked in Sales & Marketing for international companies including Energizer Wilkinson Sword, British American Tobacco and Dillion Bass. She was Business Manager at IN! Magazine for two years and has completed her MSc in Business Development and Innovation at Ulster University.
5. Lisa McCaul
As a Business Growth Enabler for Ulster Bank, Lisa is responsible for developing SMEs and providing expert business advice to start-ups. Previous to this role, Lisa spent two years as Business
Finding talent for our partners throughout the North West for over 20 years Contact Paul McQue MD MPA Tel: 028 71 360070 (M) 074 1479 3560
Executive to Ulster Bank’s Head of Business Banking NI, three years as a lending specialist and a further nine years in portfolio management with Ulster Bank. She is actively involved in both the RBS Women’s Network and Entrepreneurial Spark, the world’s largest business accelerator programme, powered by Ulster Bank and is a graduate of Ulster University.
londonderry chamber 6. Lorraine Allen
Lorraine Allen joined the Chamber of Commerce in October 2017 as Events Manager. Planning events from concept to delivery, Lorraine liaises with sponsors, venues and suppliers. Her professionalism and perfectionism in the field of events management mean that Chamber events are delivered to the highest possible standards.
Deputy Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle, pictured with Louise Breslin, programme business manager, Derry City & Strabane District Council, at the launch of the Business Boost Programme with, from left, Des Gartland, regional manager, Invest NI, Brian O’Neill, Social Enterprise Hub manager, Mary Gormley, Invest NI and on right, Simon Devlin, Full Circle Management Group. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Council supports programme to give local enterprises a Business Boost A new flagship business support and growth programme entitled Business Boost is being delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council to offer support and assistance to enterprises in the Council area that employ fewer than 50 people and have an annual turnover of less than €10m. Funded by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund through the Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme (2014-2020), Business Boost is an innovative project aimed at assisting Council to provide support
for the creation of new sustainable jobs in the area and work to strengthen the local business base by assisting businesses to become more competitive in indigenous and export markets. The programme aims to provide a range of services that will provide accessible, needs-driven business support for businesses and work to promote business growth and innovation, which have been identified as a key action within the Council’s Integrated Economic Development Strategy and the Strategic Growth Plan.
Encouraging local businesses in the Council area who are interested in growing their company to sign up to Business Boost, Louise Breslin, Business Development Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the programme is a fantastic way for local enterprises to get additional support to help them become more innovative and competitive. She said: “Business Boost is an innovative scheme aimed at assisting businesses in the local Council that are keen to strengthen their existing
business base by becoming more competitive and learn new skills. By signing up, businesses can avail of a bespoke advice and support service with up to four days of free mentoring support by industry professionals. As part of Business Boost a series of workshops and networking events will be held during the programme duration aimed at providing a range of professional support services that is tailored to suit individual business requirements. “We are working with our partners to help get the message out to the business community to sign up and take advantage of this fantastic growth opportunity that is available. To register businesses are encouraged to contact the Business Boost team at 028 71 253253 or email email@example.com.”
recruit up to 600 businesses to participate in the programme and deliver over 1300 days of mentoring and 20 workshops. Louise Breslin added that key to the success of the Business Boost programme is the development of a two way supportive relationship between locally based business support organisations and the Council to co-ordinate and support business development in a joint and collaborative manner. “We are setting up a Business Engagement Panel as part of the project that will make a real difference to successfully delivering Business Boost
across the Council area. This partnership approach will allow us to increase engagement, maximise on budget allocations and increase capacity and knowledge to ultimately boost economic growth within the local area,” she added. The first meeting of the Panel is in the coming weeks when more information will be available. Further details on Business Boost is available on the Council website at www.derrystrabane.com/ businessboost
Simon Devlin from Full Circle, a leading business advisory services company that has been appointed to deliver a series of workshops and programmes to support Business Boost, says it’s a fantastic way for businesses to not only avail of impartial business advice and mentoring but to network and meet with other local businesses, exchange ideas and find out about a range of other business development opportunities that exist. He said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Council’s Business Boost programme. It provides companies in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area with an opportunity to avail of a range of business support services that will help them to expand and grow and become more competitive in both the indigenous and export markets.” Among the key delivery actions of the Business Boost programme is to create 400 jobs,
53 Business_Boost_83x126.5mm.indd 1
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The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s President’s 60th Annual Dinner was held in the White Horse Hotel and hosted hundreds of business men and women. Sponsored by Foyle Port, Evermore Energy and Airporter the event saw not one but two exceptional keynote speakers. Peter Boyle, a true entrepreneur, who started as a local street trader and went on to build one of the largest jewellery and fashion chains, Argento, told his light hearted but inspirational story. The other speaker was An Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar. Given the current climate, which entails the uncertainty around Brexit, the endless negotiations to get the Assembly back up and running, it was good to hear how the North West is viewed from someone like the Taoiseach. Words of spirit, collaboration, in partnership are all rooted within the North West but it was good to see Mr Leo Varadkar recognise
Professor Paddy Nixon, Joe McHugh TD, Martin Fraser
that spirit, that co-operation and the hard work by all who ensure the North West is a diverse and thriving region. His speech can be read on londonderrychamber.co.uk but here is one short extract. “The City of Derry has been a leader in showing how we can work
together, knowing and understanding our history while at the same time not being prisoners of it. It is up to each generation to define its own history by dealing with the challenges and opportunities of its own time. A shared space is not a lost space and the City of Derry is to be congratulated for its efforts in this area.”
Mary Durkan and MC for the evening Barra Best
Guest speaker Peter Boyle CE & Founder of Argento
John Fleming, Doreen Fleming, Glenda Mellon and Gareth Mellon
Guests at 60th Annual President’s Dinner
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arriving at the President’s Dinner
CEO Sinead McLaughlin, President George Fleming, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar & Deputy Vice President Brian McGrath
Chamber President George Fleming and An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Niall McKeever and the Airporter team
EHA Group – Building upon experience EHA Group has had one of their busiest years to date, with current contracts totaling £82million. At present EHA are building 15 projects across Northern Ireland and the UK, right from Ballymena to Mayfair.
Choice Housing Association, Communities NI and EHA Group.
Established in 1990, EHA has grown to become a full service construction firm with over 75 staff, consistently delivering the finest properties in terms of location, quality and design. Headquartered in Eglinton with offices in Belfast and London, the business provides contracting, civil engineering and specialist joinery services including custom kitchens, bathrooms and furniture.
Hugh McNally, Development Officer, Choice Housing Association commented, “From the beginning it was clear that EHA understood Choice’s vision for the project. EHA’s Contracts Manager brought a wealth of social housing experience to the table. This experience was instrumental in the co-ordination and management of the many and varied issues that inevitably arise on a building project of this scale.”
500 homes are currently being built across Northern Ireland, completing on average one house per day. Handovers have commenced at EHA’s Belfast Road, Bangor project where 106 homes are being built. In partnership with Choice Housing Association, this development meets the diverse needs of a wide range of occupiers including older people, families and those with complex needs.
EHA’s private housing development “Huntingdon Hill” on the Barnfield Road, Derriaghy will provide 46 luxury houses. A collection of classically designed family homes which are now on sale with Ulster Property Sales www.ulsterpropertysales. co.uk
In England, projects include a £32.5 million multi-purpose refurbishment. This former department store in Plymouth is
being redeveloped into a 110 room Premier Inn hotel, 500 bed student accommodation and 7 retail units. EHA group is also refurbishing a Victorian townhouse for overseas royalty in London’s exclusive Mayfair. The Grade II listed townhouse is located in an heritage conservation area, often referred to in Oscar Wilde plays, requiring careful preservation. The fit-out includes custom furniture and a bespoke handmade kitchen, all designed and manufactured in EHA’s state of the art workshop in Eglinton. Edward Allingham, Managing Director says, “The company has really grown this year and we anticipate an even busier 2018, with a number of major projects in the pipeline.” Contact: www.ehagroup.co.uk
Building in the present... Creating the future.
WHAT WE DO: // Design & Build // Contracting // Civil Engineering // Specialist JoineryÂ EHA provides the above services across the UK in the Private Residential, Commercial and Social Housing sectors as well as building Hotel & Student Accommodation.
CONTACT: Allingham House Campsie Business Park Co. Lâ€™Derry. BT47 3XX Tees House Bishops Stortford Hertfordshire. CM23 3GW T: 028 7181 1634 W: www.ehagroup.co.uk
Translink’s smart moves delivering results for North West
Foyle Metro is the latest Translink North West development with a new-look red bus fleet and attractive timetable designed to meet the future transport needs of the city.
This Autumn a striking new city bus service hit the streets of Derry-Londonderry. ‘Foyle Metro’ is the latest major public transport development for the North West, an area which has seen investment of over £55 million in bus and rail transport improvements in recent years. The Foyle Metro launch reflects Translink’s efforts to transform public transport, providing high quality services that enable the region to thrive while
addressing the issue of congestion and air quality. With almost 80 million passenger journeys last year and an increase of over 1.5million fare-paying customers, more people across NI are choosing Translink as their first choice for travel. Passenger numbers on the DerryLondonderry Railway line alone have increased by around 7% so far this year. This growth reflects the success of Translink’s current
‘Get On Board’ Strategy that focusses on four key objectives – Operational Excellence, Customer Satisfaction, Passenger Growth and Value for Money – and supports the draft NI Executive Programme for Government outcome to increase use of public transport. Infrastructure development, product innovation and sustained vehicle investment are high on Translink’s agenda to encourage even more people in the North
West to make the smart move and get on board public transport. At a time when Derry City and Strabane District Council and Belfast City Council have joined forces to develop the ‘We are 2023’ bid to become the European Capital of Culture, Translink recognises the essential role public transport will play in delivering an impressive year-long events programme and showcasing the best of both cities.
The introduction of Foyle Metro is the latest exciting local Translink development following the Derry~Londonderry Railway Line Upgrade, new hourly rail timetable introduction and North-West Multi-Modal Transport Hub plans.
Service Investment The modern and attractive ‘Foyle Metro’ city bus service operates across 14 bus corridors on a simplified route network. It features an eye-catching new-look red bus fleet and attractive bus timetable designed to meet the future transport needs of the city. The service boosts connectivity providing a frequent, reliable, comfortable and affordable way to travel. It offers a range of enhanced links to shops, amenities, schools, hospital and airport services along with improved integration with Goldline Express and NI Railways services. As a major local employer delivering more than 270 jobs in the North West, Foyle Metro also helps secure a successful future for Translink in the area.
North West Multi-Modal Transport Hub A planning application has been submitted for a new state-of-the-art facility to serve growing numbers of passengers with an attractive gateway that connects them to greater opportunity, acting as a catalyst for regeneration and promoting active travel options. This major project recently received a welcome boost when the Special EU Programmes Body announced £20m funding, with a further £7.4m investment from the
The new North West Multi-Modal Transport Hub will be an attractive gateway connecting people to greater opportunity, acting as a regeneration catalyst and promoting active travel.
Department for Infrastructure. The project will involve the restoration and refurbishment of the existing Waterside Station into a multi-modal hub with a new train terminus. It will also feature bus stands, a ‘park & ride’ facility, passenger waiting area, bike hire, parking & repair services, retail units and community space. A new greenway link will connect the hub to the existing Urban Greenway Network. Subject to planning consent, construction could start as early as next year.
Fleet Enhancements The Foyle Metro fleet represents an investment of over £3million comprising 19 brand new buses which are more environmentally-friendly, supporting the council’s focus on air quality improvements, and a further 20 refurbished
buses to ensure the entire service is looking smart and attractive. Further fleet enhancements are planned for Goldline Express services later this year as Translink introduces 12 new double deck coaches representing an investment of almost £5 million. They will maintain service quality and reliability while also improving Translink’s environmental impact. Customers will enjoy better on-board facilities with free WiFi, USB charging points, comfortable leather seating, generous legroom, modern interior surroundings, automatic climate control and security CCTV. Translink is also scoping out potential fleet investment to increase passenger capacity on the rail network.
Additional early morning and late evening coach services between Derry~Londonderry and Belfast will be introduced at the end of November so Translink customers can now choose from more than 50 return services each day between the two cities on NI Railways and Goldline services. Forward-looking cities across the world are making transformational changes, introducing the right policies, projects and interventions to tackle congestion and implement intelligent, integrated mobility solutions with public transport at their core. These latest network developments demonstrate Translink’s commitment to keep people in the North West connected and on the move, boosting the economy and creating a healthier and greener society.
unsung hero The Everglades Hotel is one of the six, soon to be seven, prestigious Hastings Hotels with the Grand Central hotel due to open in Belfast in June 2018. The Hastings family has invested heavily in the Everglades in recent years with major refurbishments to the bedrooms, lounge, Grill Restaurant, Library Bar and the expansion of our Grand Ballroom. Catrina Myers, the Business Development Manager, explains why she has chosen her colleague, Margaret McPhillips, to be featured as our Unsung Workplace Hero. “Having over 12 years experience in the hospitality sector there is not a department Margaret could not turn her hands to. In addition to this her external commitments to the community and voluntary sector through drama and music bring much needed awareness and funding to local charities including Foyle Search and Rescue, Foyle Hospice, Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, the Alzheimer’s Society, HURT (Have Your Tomorrows), and Hands and Voices Deaf Children’s Society to name but a few. “Margaret is a valuable asset to the management team but due to her external work I feel she is well worthy of being our unsung hero.” CONNECTED met up with Margaret to find out more about her role and what motivates her.
How long have you worked at the Everglades Hotel? I first started working with Hastings in 2005.
What does your role involve? I am currently the Accounts Manager so I am responsible for calculating all the business for the hotel on a daily basis,
chasing debtors and liaising with our Head Office accounting for the weekly business. I process payments, invoices and commissions after guests check out of the hotel. Customer service is a major part of my current job role and I deal with guests, clients and event organisers daily. I love welcoming guests to our beautiful hotel and want to ensure they get the most from their stay. I am also responsible for the training of new team members and drawing up standard operating procedures. I have conducted training on topics such as customer focus, Visual One (our in-house computer system), effectiveness and efficiency, attention to detail, money awareness and general health and safety.
What is your favourite aspect of your job? I love that no two days are the same in my job. I have the pleasure of meeting and greeting new guests every day and I enjoy working at the large functions and events that we have in our recently refurbished Grand Ballroom which now seats up to 450 people for gala dinners.
What has been the highlight of your career to date? Over the past 12 years I’ve watched the Everglades Hotel develop and expand. I am responsible for putting forward applications for awards and accolades on behalf of the team, the property and individual colleagues that show promise and outstanding performance in their area of expertise. It is rewarding for me to watch as this motivates and encourages our team and instils confidence and when we are successful it is always an honour to accept awards.
What advice would you give someone starting out in their career? Work hard, be a team player, stay committed and never give up.
How would you describe to someone who has never met you? Friendly, creative and driven.
What do you like to do outside of work? I enjoy teaching with my school of speech and drama. We are a cross-community group providing eight classes throughout Derry on a weekly basis. We have held workshops on bullying, anti-social behaviour, racism, Irish and Ulster Scots traditions. We prepare students (age 4-18) for Feis and Festival competitions, complete graded examinations with the RIAMD and our budding actors star in productions each term raising thousands of pounds for local charities. I also love singing and being Chairperson of Allegri which is a cross-cultural, non-profit making organisation and, since its formation, has raised over £6000 for local charities. On top of all of the above I love nothing better than to chill out with my family!
A stunning adventure awaits on the Causeway Coastal Route It’s supposed to be about the journey, not the destination - and when you look at the Causeway Coastal Route you can see exactly what they mean. Set against a dramatic coastal backdrop, the route boasts exquisite natural landscape that will simply take your breath away. It truly is the perfect escape for you and your significant other. Think dramatic cliff edges and coastline, magnificent beaches, Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery, stunning archaeological feats and a breathtaking World Heritage Site and you’ve packaged up one of the most stunning areas on the globe. The combination certainly caught the attention of Lonely Planet, who recently named Belfast and the Causeway Coast as the number one Best Region to visit in 2018.
Thrones© - then head inland to stroll among the twining beech trees of the Dark Hedges, haunted, they say, by a spectre known as the Grey Lady. And when you tire of all the scenery, you can wind down by searching for treasures in a host of intriguing shops in the likes of Ballycastle, Portrush and Coleraine. Don’t miss out on the village of Bushmills, fast emerging as a ‘foodie’ destination - not to mention taking a tour of the world-famous Bushmills Whiskey distillery to sample the 12-year-old Single Malt Distillery Reserve which is only available there.
There’s a story to tell in every town dotted along the Causeway Coastal Route, each possessing its own charm and character, but all sharing the indigenous cordial spirit synonymous with Northern Ireland and a genuine passion for entertaining.
The evocative Old Bushmills Inn is the perfect place to relax with its gas-lit bar, roaring peat fires and secret library, or you can dine in the heart of the elements at the award-winning Harry’s Shack, which offers delectable cuisine in a beach hut on the sands of Portstewart Strand.
Well known National Trust treasures, including its most famous tourist attraction - the Giant’s Causeway, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland, are always worth a visit. There is also Mussenden Temple, a former 17th century library perched on the cliff top, high over Downhill Beach, the surrounding Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House and the idyllic Whitepark Bay.
The Causeway Coast is packed with everything from traditional bars jumping with the craic to chic night-clubs where you can dance the night away and student favourites where a night to remember is guaranteed.
You can explore the haunting caves of Cushendun or take a trip down a heart-stoppingly steep road into Ballintoy Harbour, the pretty, ancient fishing port that doubled up as the Iron Islands in Game of
spectacular [adjective] spec•tac•u•lar Describing the amazing views and fabulous food and drink that awaits, when you take a break along the Causeway Coastal Route.
And if all that revelry is a bit too much as you reach the end of your Causeway Coast journey - well, they do say the Ulster Fry is the best start to the day known to mankind. At least, you’ll never know if you don’t try.... For more information and ideas go to www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com
† Portrush, County Antrim.
Welcome to The Chamber CONNECTED is highlighting some of the Chamberâ€™s newest members. Let us introduce you to the wide range of members that the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce represents across the North West. Will your business be featured in the next edition?
Assumpta Breslin Associates provides expert mortgage advice. We help with home moving, first time buyer, buy to let, re-mortgages, self-employed mortgages, let to buy, help to buy and shared ownership. Assumpta Breslin Associates will advise you on suitable cover for both your family and mortgage related needs.
Established for over 14 years D.S. Environmental Services provide professional and certified environmental cleaning services throughout the North West of Ireland with a base near Letterkenny. Our range of drain services cover all sectors including Local Authorities, Domestic Households, Health Boards, Marine and Food.
At Taggart Homes, we build more than homes, we build communities where luxury meets convenience and neighbours are friends. Since 1989 we’ve been creating luxury homes across the country and beyond. Today we’re Northern Ireland’s premier builder of quality finished homes and developments. We are dedicated to being an innovator in the industry and are constantly focused on improving the quality of our homes.
Premium all inclusive airline serving business and leisure markets in Northern Ireland, Mainland UK and Europe. bmi regional concentrates on the services that its name suggests. We serve niche markets on domestic UK and European routes which are ideally suited to small jet operations.
Turley creates places of quality that deliver development value through the intelligent and expert application of the UK planning system. Our core strength is the promotion of all types and scales of development throughout the UK planning system for private and public sector clients.
The EHA Group is renowned as one of the UK and Ireland’s leading construction companies, dedicated to delivering high quality projects on time and to budget. Founded by Edward Allingham in 1990, EHA’s ethos is driven by the pursuit of perfection and extreme attention to detail. The EHA Group is recognised to be consistently delivering the finest properties in terms of location, quality and design.
PR Team Ltd is a public relations agency with expertise in traditional, digital and social media. We are a team of former senior journalists who can help transform your public profile online, in print or on air. Our traditional PR expertise is fused with our digital and social media know-how to ensure our clients enjoy maximum coverage across all platforms.
At JT Physiotherapy we will listen carefully to the information you provide us with and gain an in-depth insight into how the injury is affecting your daily lifestyle. We will then conduct a thorough biomechanical assessment and use a combination of medical screening tests to determine what is causing your pain or tissue damage.
Kelsius is the leading supplier of automation technology for product safety and compliance to the food services and healthcare industries. Using our world class wireless sensor technology and cloud based data hosting and processing, Kelsius systems improve product safety, ensure regulatory compliance and optimise costs associated with these activities.
At Launchpad, we build video led HR software and apps for candidate screening, hiring and assessment that help employers acquire talented employees. Our software allows HR teams and recruiters to reach candidates anywhere, anytime.
We provide vocational education and training for people aged 16 and upwards, as well as having an extensive network of employers who are committed to providing a quality training environment for all our trainees and apprentices. We are committed to providing high quality programmes of training and further education designed to enhance people’s vocational and personal development.
Blockception, founded in late 2015, is a company that creates digital assets for the popular game “Minecraft”. The company consists of environment designers, writers, voice actors and programmers from around the world.
Vogue Car Sales opened its doors June 2016, two brothers with a passion and a drive to enter the motor industry by storm. Martin and Blaine developed and grew a business from five to 60 vehicles within a short space of time. They are constantly growing and expanding with a team of eight staff now and a new showroom under construction, opening January 2018.
Grofuse is a wholly results-driven digital agency which fuses all of the expertise needed for the complete digital grow package to help businesses achieve sales goals. Grofuse is defined by its salesfocussed digital marketing, engaging PR, effective web development and stunning design.
In operation for over 45 years, we are one of the leading providers of trenchless or No Dig services in the UK and Ireland. A passion for Excellence, an instinct to innovate, a desire to increase our knowledge and expertise and an outlook that seeks to predict future trends within our sector â€“ these are the guiding principles which always frame the manner in which we transact with our existing and prospective customers.
BECOME A MEMBER The Chamber of Commerce in Derry is widely recognised as the leading voice of business in the North West. It is one of the leading Chambers on the Island of Ireland and the second largest in Northern Ireland. We have a large and active membership of over 500 businesses, and a reach of over 6,000 from the smallest SME and sole trader to the largest corporations, and institutions. The Chamber supports local business by providing unrivalled networking opportunities, promoting members commercial interests and assisting member businesses to develop new and expanded export trade potential.
benefits 1 Make new business contacts
2. Promote your business
3. Start selling globally
4. Influence local policy
To join the Chamber please visit londonderrychamber.co.uk/join-the-chamber
5. Save money
The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce –
Connecting Business North West. In the current climate, here in the North West local businesses are facing many struggles both new and familiar: The need to raise your profile, questions and concerns about Brexit, or the struggle to connect with like-minded, forward thinking business people. As a business in the North West region you need access to appropriate and relevant support for your business, you want to be discovering new business opportunities, and most importantly you want to have your voice heard. The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, with over 130 years of experience, has championed the cause of commercial, social and economic development in the North West since 1885.
A Respected Voice
Being heard by the decision makers in government requires a strong and respected voice. The Londonderry Chamber keep regular contact with MPs, MEPs, MLAs and government ministers and has developed strong links with the media. We bring business issues to the top of the political agenda through clear and concise advocacy across many areas of relevance and interest to our members and the North West region as a whole. Through lobbying and representation to government and by gathering the opinions of members, views are highlighted and expressed through a number of channels including the media, political representatives and the other relevant agencies at local, regional and national level. We bring the decision makers to you… The Londonderry Chamber has hosted a number of successful ‘In
Camera’ events with political leaders and decision makers in which our members have been able to put their questions to the MP, MLA or government representative themselves.
The Londonderry Chamber has been identified as the ‘go to’ authority on the effects of BREXIT on the North West Region. The Chamber has been actively involved in the BREXIT discussion since the beginning, and has worked, and will continue to work vigorously as the ‘Voice of the North West’ to address the many questions and concerns of the business community across the entire region.
The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is regarded as the ‘Voice of Business’ for the North West Region.
In 2017 we represented our members interests at more than 40 meetings.
Joining up and becoming a member is just the beginning of your journey with the Londonderry Chamber. Key to making the most of your membership is taking advantage of all of the great networking opportunities we will make available to you. With over 40 events per year, members have the potential to network with over 3,000 delegates across every sector and size of organisation.
Raise your Profile
With a membership of 500 businesses and extended audience of almost 5000 contacts and social media following, The Londonderry Chamber can ensure your business gets more attention both on the web and in print. The Londonderry Chamber offers you many ways to promote your business to a targeted audience. Not only will this increase your profile and visibility in the region and strengthen your brand, it should increase your sales opportunities and ultimately revenue generation.
40+ The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce organises more than 40 events per year. Events sre varied and cater to a number of diﬀerent business needs.
The All New iPhone X – is it a breath of fresh air? Some 10 years after the first iPhone was released in 2007, now defined as the future of the smartphone, the iPhone X is the newest and most expensive member of the Apple family, bringing with it significant change to the design, removing the home button to usher in a full-screen experience. After four years of recycling the design of the iPhone 6, the iPhone X is a breath of fresh air, with Apple wanting to create an iPhone that is entirely screen, one so immersive that the device itself disappears into the experience. To some extent, they have achieved this, as upon loading the new screen blazes into your eyes the second you pick up the handset. With the introduction of new OLED technology, in simpler terms means, you’re getting deeper blacks and more blinding whites, the new screen offers a beautiful display of striking colours which in turn is one of the strengths of the new product. Previously used in Samsung Galaxy, some would say that Apple was behind the game when it comes to introducing this technology. However, the company counteracts this idea by stating the fact that the technology is only good enough now to use for its phones. One of the most significant advances to the design of the
iPhone X is the removal of the iconic home button and finger print scanner, this was all to implement facial recognition. In the hands of the techsavvy reviewers FaceID is getting a tentative thumb’s up. It’s great indoors and in dark environments but put it in sunlight or under fluorescent lights and the accuracy can drop. You also need to have the sensors in the ‘sweet spot’ of your face. The camera, as it has been for years, continues to excel above all other smart phones, offering you the opportunity to take professional-level photos and videos, with all the added extras of slow motion and live photos. We have all experienced, some on numerous occasions, the fear that comes with dropping your iPhone and see it smash, and the new iPhone X will not help with this. With a glass back as well as front, it makes it all too easy to crack, therefore a phone case may be the best investment you could make.
Finally, as with all new iPhones the question as to whether it is worth the expense is a big one, it is without a doubt the best iPhone Apple have ever made, however many of the features can be found in the current iPhone 8 Plus and many other smartphones offer as equally as good of features at half the price, so it may not be worth changing immediately. The iPhone X changes the iPhone experience, but for the most part those changes are for the better. For those fearing the loss of the home button, it can be assured that it will be a distant memory 48 hours after purchase. Facial ID and gestures are better and there are more convenient ways to do basic tasks on the phone. It’s still not completely perfect, but Apple have made long strides with this product, so that’s progress. Even if you say ‘no thanks’ to the iPhone X, this is the future, so get ready for it!
So what else is new? Garmin VIRB 360 Camera For incredible 360-degree video in 4K definition this Garmin camera allows you to capture exhilarating moments from all angles as well as picking up audio from its four microphones. With the ability to shoot video for virtual reality, the Garmin VIRB 360 is known to be the best consumer-grade
360 camera currently on the market. There’s no doubt that Garmin have crammed about every possible feature into this tiny camera, the most important being its ability to submerge under water up to 33 feet, as well as producing superior image quality. Garmin’s easy-to-use mobile app, provides you with the ability to view and edit videos on the move.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Microsoft continues its winning streak with the brilliant Surface Laptop, which combines a thin and light design with powerful components. Microsoft has shown its ability to produce immaculately-designed premium devices, with a 13.5 inch screen, the Surface Laptop can give Apple devices a run for their money. Using the latest, seventh generation processors, start-up to standby is instant, booting from cold is very quick regardless of the amount of applications open. The Surface Laptop isn’t cheap, but given the premium experience, design and battery life it offers, it’s relatively good value.
Fitbit Iconic Watch Fitbit has become synonymous with fitness trackers, but now, with the company in its tenth year, it has decided to expand into a whole new market. Long rumoured, we finally have the first Fitbit smartwatch, and it’s called the Ionic. Offering similar features to expensive alternatives such as the Apple Watch 2 and Android
Wear, the Fitbit Ionic is a serious contender to be the smartwatch you choose to wear when you’re out running or hitting the gym. There are lots of positives, including strong battery life, Fitbit Pay and built-in GPS, but there’s also a lot missing, which leaves it feeling more like a fitness tracker, rather than a smartwatch in terms of features.
Motoring news New Ford Transit Centre to open in Omagh
Desmond Motors, the largest family run Ford Dealership in Northern Ireland, is opening a new Ford Transit Centre in Omagh. Opening in December on the Dromore Road, Omagh, the bespoke centre will consist of sales, service, parts and Ford rental. The new centre will be a one stop shop for all commercial vehicle needs with Ford experts on hand to advise and showcase the wide range of vehicles available. Desmond Motors is a well-established Derry company, being in business for over 50 years, and its expansion to Omagh has led to increased employees and the creation of a state of the art showroom. The key market for the new Omagh centre will be the UK and Ireland. As one of only two Ford stores in Northern Ireland and one of only two Transit Centres, Desmond Motors is the largest Used Van Centre in Ireland. Customers will receive expert advice and excellent deals. To find out more and to avail of special opening offers, check out Desmond Motors social media and website.
Alpine A110 - right-hand drive testing begins for Porsche Cayman rival
Alpine chief engineer David Twohig has revealed that development of right-hand drive A110 models is underway, with an image of a right-hand drive model’s dashboard posted to social media. The A110 can be ordered now, with right-hand-drive production set to begin in early 2018. Pricing of the highlyspecced launch edition in Europe starts at €58,500 Euros. At that price, it undercuts an equivalent Cayman by around 15 per cent. The brand also released a final official video of its A110 sports car during durability testing earlier this year, shown above. It follows the car’s dynamic debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Due on British roads in 2018, the car has been engineered to have a better power-to-weight ratio than its most accomplished rival, the Porsche Cayman, as its reborn creator bids seeks to wow buyers by making one of the most agile sports cars in the world.
BMW i8 Roadster previewed in new official video BMW has offered another official glimpse of its i8 Roadster, which will be launched alongside a facelifted version of the coupé early 2018. It’s also expected to make its official debut at the LA motor show later this month, as BMW has announced that the car is in its final stage of testing. A video posted on social media previously showed the car wearing camouflage and confirms that it will retain the dihedral doors of its hard-roof sibling. Both the Roadster and hard-top variants of BMW’s plug-in hybrid Porsche 911 rival will receive aesthetic and mechanical updates, while the starting price is expected to increase slightly. The i8 coupé currently costs from £106,310, but the facelifted model is expected to have a slight price increase. The Roadster will be priced above the coupé, so a starting price of more than £110,000 is probable.
| FORD LEASE
Contract Hire that really means business £299 +VAT per month New Ford Edge Titanium 2.0TDCI (210PS) Automatic AWD
£222 +VAT per month New Ford Transit Custom Trend 270 L1 2.0TDCI (130 PS)
*Business Users only Important information:
Examples exclude VAT and are based on 48 month non-maintained agreements. Profile £299, payment in advance of 9 monthly rentals, followed by 47 monthly rentals, with a mileage of 7,000 miles per annum. Vehicles must be returned in good condition and within agreed mileage, otherwise further charges will be incurred. Prices correct at time of going to print and are subject to change without notice. Subject to availability at a Ford Authorised UK Dealer for vehicles with finance accepted. Not available with any other promotion. Ford Lease is provided by ALD Automotive Limited, trading as Ford Lease BS16 7LB. [Dealer name] acts as a credit broker in relation to finance products and is not a lender. The corporate tax, personal tax, and VAT treatment associated with the purchase or leasing of a commercial vehicle may vary depending on your precise circumstances, relevant tax law and vehicle classification. Customers are therefore advised to seek professional advice with regard to taxation.
173 Strand Road, L’Derry
T: 028 7136 7136 www.desmondmotors.co.uk
Hyundai’s small SUV, the Kona The new Hyundai Kona small crossover will take on the likes of the Nissan Juke and the Citroen C3 Aircross and is on sale from November 2017 across Northern Ireland. It’s a handsome car, but has it got what it takes to make it in the SUV market? Hyundai’s answer to its late arrival is to make it stand out. Its new Kona compact SUV does precisely that by making a bold design statement and some effective use of colours. Oh, and some innovative use of technology aimed at making it a winner with both parents and kids.
What’s the design like? On the small side compared to the Santa Fe and Tucson, but cute and quite standout-ish with lots of personalisation options. On the outside, there’s a big hexagonal grille, stacked headlamps and some striking use of black cladding. Add in contrast detailing, short overhangs, a low roof line with roof rails as standard, and you have one of the most attractive cars in its class. It comes in four vivid colours. Inside, there isn’t that much change from its i20 sibling, apart from some dabs of matching colour to brighten things up and connect with the exterior design. Sitting as it does size-wise between/the i20 and i30 - it rides on its own platform the Kona is roomier than you might think; which will help in the fight against rivals like the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka X. Some tech has been imported from the i30 to give the Kona an added competitive edge, including an eight-inch touchscreen with sat-nav on some trim levels.
Powerplant and transmission The Kona is now on sale with just two petrol engines available so far, but a diesel is due along shortly. All the powerplants will be familiar to existing Hyundai drivers, including the 1.0 T-GDi three-cylinder petrol unit deploying 118bhp, and a 175bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit. The most fuel-efficient petrol will officially return almost 55mph.
The forthcoming 1.6 CRDi diesel will output 131bhp and will likely bump the mpg figures up into the mid 60s.
CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
There are two and four-wheel drive variants, and transmission comes in manual six-speed and seven-speed DCT dual-clutch auto guises.
Premium spec adds yet more goodies silver rear skid plate and side body mouldings, climate control with automatic defog function, a high-end KRELL premium audio system, and a wireless phone charging pad.
Trim and models Trim levels run from S to SE, Premium, Premium SE and Premium GT. There is a high level of standard safety kit and tech, with Driver Attention Alert, Hill Start Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control standard on all models.
Entry-level model Prices for S trim start at £16,195 - it comes with the lower-powered petrol engine, six speed manual ‘box, 16” alloys, plus body coloured bumpers, door handles and door mirrors, as well as a rear spoiler. Other goodies include a 5” LCD centre console display, 6 speakers, USB and AUX connections. It all adds up to a nicely-specced entry-level car served up with a significant dollop of panache for its price point. For £1,300 more, however, SE trim chucks in 17” alloys rear parking sensors and rear camera, with 7” touchscreen centre console display with Apple
Higher level trims
Premium SE (£21,195) chucks in a Head Up Display which projects relevant information directly to the driver’s line of sight. By the time you reach Premium GT at £24,995, you have the 1.6 T-GDi 177PS engine mated to a 7-speed DCT 4WD system. Technology abounds, for example the Safety Pack which includes Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition.
Who’s it for? The Kona’s styling won’t be for everyone, but it looks great and will carve out a strong niche in this growing market. Singles, young and not so young couples, and small families should all have a look. An all-electric version is reportedly on its way - which will likely increase its desirability in other key niche groups.
Xc60 The ultimate upgrade
To find out for yourself book a test drive at your local dealer.
Stanley Motor Works (SMW) Belfast 028 9068 6000 Greers of Antrim & Coleraine 028 9446 0066
Official fuel consumption for the Volvo XC60 D4 Momentum (manual) in MPG (l/100km): Urban 45.6 (6.2), Extra Urban 61.4 (4.6), Combined 53.3 (5.3). CO2 emissions 139g/km. MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results. Subject to availability on vehicles registered from 01/10/17 to 31/12/17.
THE FINAL WORD
How to grow sales by attracting the right audience online Some sage advice as Ian Cullen, content director at Grofuse writes…. Growing sales from your online presence is greatly accelerated when the people seeking the products or services you have to offer can easily find what they’re looking for.
engages your target market, you can enjoy tremendous growth in high quality sales leads.
It may seem simple logic but many businesses fall down by over complicating things.
Crafting and publishing great content, which is carefully tailored to your potential customers and then placed where they hang out online, is a proven formula for results.
By directing the right traffic to your website with content that
During initial meetings with clients, we often hear
words to the effect: “If I could only get our target market in the room, I could sell to them no problem”. Thankfully, with good digital marketing and content strategies, that is very achievable. By following some basic rules your potential clients can be funnelled into your virtual
Attracting high quality traffic
Converting website traffic
Research your customer – what they want, where they hang out etc. List the traits of your perfect customer in detail and their buyer behaviour. You may have multiple perfect customer personas. The trick is not to focus on everybody – it’s best to eliminate the customers who cause you headaches. This is about profiling your perfect customers so you can sell directly to them. This allows you to create content which engages with your exact market because if you can increase exposure to your perfect customers you will grow sales more easily.
We’ve already discussed the importance of good content in driving traffic but it is equally important in converting traffic into sales once your audience arrives at your site. Deliver the message your customer wants to hear through written and audio visual content which is designed just for them.
Create a customer persona
Package your offering accordingly Rather than simply listing products, develop them into packages which will easily appeal to your target audience. For example, if you are selling heat pumps to plumbers, they will be interested in the product features, whereas your homeowner customer will be interested in key benefits such as savings.
Drive traffic to your website There are a range of activities to drive quality traffic to your website. These include organic and paid activities. Organic activities include high traffic SEO, long tail SEO, localised SEO and organic social media marketing. Paid advertising includes Google AdWords, Google shopping, display advertising, retargeting, focused database marketing and social media marketing.
Content to convert
Calls to action Where lots of business websites fail is in not clearly directing their visitors to what they want them to do. It’s like delivering the sales pitch but forgetting to close the sale. If you are looking for a sales enquiry, ask them to contact you either via a contact form or to arrange an appointment. If it is an online sales opportunity, ensure they can easily find the ‘add to cart’ button or make a follow up enquiry. Use bright colours to make these calls to action stand out, use conversion codes when possible and connect to your analytics to measure results.
Track and test The benefit of digital marketing is that we can track everything. By looking at data to review the conversion rates of each campaign – from sales to budget we can quickly identify which campaigns deliver the strongest results and tweak them accordingly. Adding conversion codes supplied by your advertising platforms can track the success of paid
sales room where good content, which is well-placed, takes on the role of the traditional salesperson. Like any good sales pitch, effective content which engages will convert your lead into a sale. Here are a few tips from the Grofuse Digital team for CONNECTED readers.
advertising in generating a return on investment. Website data tools such as Google Analytics allow you to analyse data to find what works well and what doesn’t. This allows you to adapt strategies to deliver even stronger results. Easy access to instant and real-time data to improve performance is why digital content marketing has overtaken traditional advertising and marketing in today’s market places. Support and build relationships online Depending on your sales cycle, the initial lead may be used to begin your relationship with your potential customer. Entice them with valuable content or offers to enter their details. These can then be used in your lead generation campaigns. If you have a strong social media presence and it is managed correctly, encourage them to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter or follow your company on LinkedIn. Effective customer relationship management will build long term loyalty, encourage customers to recommend you online to friends and help you win market share over your competitors
To Conclude Growing sales online can be similar to offline. If you create your offerings around your customers, help them when you can with informative content and strong website structure, encourage them to talk about you if they have a positive experience, you will enter their hearts and their pockets.
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Published on Nov 28, 2017
Published on Nov 28, 2017
Connected Magazine is brought to you by the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. We report on the Issues affecting business in the North West o...