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Magazine of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry

JULY/AUGUST 2019 ISSUE 35 £2.95

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July/August 2019 Issue 35



Sowing the seeds of innovation Devenish’s Chief Executive Richard Kennedy.

Editor: Adrienne McGill Publisher: Chris Sherry Advertising Managers: Lorraine Gill & Gerry Waddell Editorial Assistant: Kellie Burch & Joanne Harkness Email addresses: / / Websites: / Publisher: Ulster Tatler Group, 39 Boucher Road, Belfast, BT12 6UT Tel: 028 9066 3311 Printed by: W&G Baird, Antrim.



At a Glance


Appointments: 84 What is in it for your business?

News: 06 BDO’s Francis Martin receives CBE 08 UK’s first 5G service launched in Belfast 14 Recognising excellence at Belfast Telegraph Business Awards

Columnists: 18 J.P. Coleman 20 David Clements 22 Maybeth Shaw 24 Stephen McCully 102 Brendan Drain 104 Jim Fitzpatrick

Chamber Chief: 27 Update 28 World class speakers to land in Belfast for NI Chamber networking conference 30 New Names on NI Chamber Board & Council 32 Scaling for growth: Near markets 33 New market brand building 34 Learn Grow Excel conference 38 President’s Annual Lunch

Features: 10 The techy 10 12 My ambition is to... 16 Stairway to seven 46 Driving diversity - Pinsent Mason 52 Winning data - STATSports 72 The next big thing - Ulster Bank 76 Live better - Asda 80 Growth on the horizon - Alchemy

Special Section: 57 Travel

Lifestyle: 87 Business class motoring James Stinson 100 Fashion: What’s hot this summer - Joanne Harkness 103 Dine & wine Chris Rees and Andrea Mola


52 46 Cover Story 76




President’s Perspective

The importance of Diversity & Inclusivity cannot be ignored


eeping with this edition’s cover story looking at Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace, a report by McKinsey on ‘Why Diversity matters’ stated that in the United Kingdom, greater gender diversity on the senior-executive team corresponded to a performance uplift: for every 10 percent increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5 percent. The report also highlighted unequal performance of companies in the same industry and the same country, which implies that diversity is a competitive differentiator shifting market share toward more diverse companies. These are powerful facts. In the technology sector there is an issue with underrepresentation of females in the workplace. I am proud of the fact that Allstate bucks that trend and has just been awarded, for the second year, the Bronze Gender Diversity Charter Mark. Widespread adoption of the Charter Mark will make a genuine difference to diversity & workplace culture on a cross-sectorial basis and will help make the most of Northern Ireland’s talented workforce in a global, competitive economy. The wider issue is that women in general are underrepresented across the corporate pipeline and progress on that has been minimal over the years. When you look at the data, women in the workplace are roughly 50:50 at entry level, but by the time they get to the C-suite across all companies this goes down to 28% representation. We know that diversity matters – and it’s also increasingly clear that it makes sense in purely business terms, but what can you do to drive change in your organisation? Implementing a Diversity & Inclusion strategy adds real value to an organisation that wishes to seek out and support all employees – irrespective of their background, sex, race or culture.

It creates a harmonious working environment and capitalises on the very best attributes that we all bring as individuals. An inclusive working environment supports members of the LGBT+ community, advances women in the workplace, supports working Carers and encourages responsible business practice from an environmental perspective;

meaning the importance of Diversity & Inclusivity cannot be ignored.

John Healy President Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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BDO’s Francis Martin receives CBE Deloitte Fast 50 opens for entries Entries are now open for the 2019 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 programme. The awards rank Ireland’s fastest growing technology companies and recognise the indigenous technology companies that have demonstrated outstanding growth in turnover over the previous four years. The closing date for entries is 6 September 2019.

Three new partners at A&L Goodbody Corporate law firm A&L Goodbody has announced the appointment of three new partners at its Belfast office. Mark Stockdale and David Rowan have both been promoted to partner in the Corporate and M&A department, while Sam Corbett has been made a partner in the Restructuring and Insolvency team, bringing the total number of partners at the firm’s Belfast office to 16.

Connect merges with Stratagem Westminster-based public affairs and planning communications specialist, Connect, has joined with Belfast’s Stratagem. Gráinne Walsh, Stratagem’s head of consultancy since 2013, will take over the role of director from Quintin Oliver. Gráinne will lead the Stratagem team in Belfast and become a member of the Connect leadership team.

Zymplify goes global North West-based tech business, Zymplify, has opened its doors in Belfast, Manchester and Boston as part of a major expansion programme fuelled by a £1m cash injection from an experienced US investor. The firm, which has developed its own marketing automation platform, has grown from 2-22 staff in the past three years.

NI Chamber Past President Francis Martin has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to UK business. Francis is also the current President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and a Partner of BDO Northern Ireland. Francis Martin He is being recognised for his work as President of BCC, a voluntary role he has held since July 2016; his time as President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and a wide range of other charitable and business endeavours.

Glandore Celebrates First Anniversary of Belfast Office Glandore, is celebrating the first anniversary of the launch of its new co working, event space & balcony terrace at Arthur House in Belfast. Following a £1m investment last June, Glandore has welcomed a variety of new members including Ortus Secured Finance, ACA Compliance, US tech company SmashFly and one of the largest cyber security investments into Northern Ireland, Imperva. Eight new international companies have taken residence in Shane Donnelly (Ortus Secured Finance); Arthur House over the Caroline McSorley (Glandore); Roger Flynn last 12 months. (Imperva) and Nial Borthistle (Glandore).

Big 4 for OKTO Technologies Lisburn-based OKTO Technologies has been awarded four major contracts to develop and deliver its bespoke ‘smart building technologies’ to the super-prime, residential developments currently under construction in London’s West End. Worth in excess of £10.5million, the new business wins put OKTO on track to reach its £70million turnover target, and triple its workforce, by 2025. The wins also reflect OKTO’s recent expansion to include an in-house BCIA registered Building Management System (BMS) engineering team as part of its core service offering. OKTO MD Philip Dowds.


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UK’s first 5G service launched in Belfast EE has launched the roll out of 5G in Belfast, with new 5G plans and a range of six new 5G smartphones and devices. From mid-May, consumers and businesses in Belfast were able to pre-order the new devices, including smartphones from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Oppo. EE also announced a 5GEE WiFi and 5GEE home broadband with pricing and availability to follow. The new 5G Smart plans gives customers access to the UK’s first 5G network, BT Sport HD HDR, and an exclusive Gamer’s Data Pass with zero-rated data, as well as the chance to upgrade anytime, and get a device warranty for the duration of their contract. EE’s 5G network was officially switched on in Belfast on Thursday 30th May 2019. Other 5G launch cities include London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester. Suzanne Wylie, CEO of Belfast Council, said: “Digital connectivity is at the heart of our strategy for the growth of Belfast. 5G is key to making our ambitions a reality. It will drive our economy forward and enable Belfast to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution. Being one of the first 5G enabled cities in the UK is an exciting prospect for us, and will bring our businesses and citizens the best mobile connectivity in Europe. 5G connectivity ensures our city remains competitive, indigenous businesses grow and big global brands continue to build their businesses in Belfast and support our ongoing digital advancement.” Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said: “This is the UK’s 5G journey and great news for our customers that want and need the best connections. We’ve started with 5G in some of the busiest parts of the UK, the

Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive of Belfast Council with Karen Dundas, EE Victoria Square Store Manager.

widest range of 5G devices in the UK, and plans that give customers the best mobile connection and great benefits. “We’re adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network to increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most. 5G will create new experiences with augmented reality, make our customers’ lives easier, and help launch entirely new businesses that we haven’t even imagined. We’re upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable.

“Our partnerships with Google and Niantic are just the start of our commitment to work with the most innovative and exciting companies in the world to ensure that EE customers are the first to benefit from the exciting new experiences that 5G will bring.”

First BT improvement locations announced BT Group has revealed Belfast as one of the first locations that will house its workplaces of the future as part of a three-to-five-year programme. Initially announced in May 2018, BT Group is set to improve and consolidate its workplaces across the UK. Belfast is one of eight UK locations being announced today and the first to be announced in Northern Ireland. ‘The Better Workplace Programme’ will consolidate BT Group’s footprint of more than 300 locations to around 30, containing modern, future-fit buildings, including corporate offices, contact centres and specialist sites. It is the largest programme of its type in the UK. BT’s telephone exchanges will be retained by the Group. Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Ipswich (Adastral Park), London and

Manchester are the first towns and cities to be selected and will house a variety of the company’s operations. This is a clear signal that BT is committed to the whole of the UK, with locations in all four countries and their capitals. Though detailed plans of BT’s footprint in each location are still to be finalised, some existing BT buildings will be refurbished while others will see BT move into new offices. BT Group plays an important role in Northern Ireland’s economy and is responsible for generating £1 in every £120 produced in Northern Ireland, according to an independent report. It also generated £592 billion to Northern Ireland’s economy in “Gross Value Added” GVA, during the 2017/18 financial year. BT Group employs more than 3,230 people in Northern Ireland.


“The Better Workplace Programme is about bringing our people together in brilliant spaces, and transforming the way we work,” BT Group chief executive Philip Jansen said. “Revealing these eight locations is just the first step; we have dedicated teams working on identifying the best buildings to move into and which ones to redesign for the future. As a result of this programme, BT people will be housed in inspiring offices that are better for our business and better for our customers.” As announced in May 2018, BT Group will also exit its St Paul’s headquarters in London and is currently identifying a new home for the business in the capital. Further details on ‘The Better Workplace Programme’ will be revealed in due course.

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The Techy 10... Clara Killen, Group Digital Communications and Development Manager, The Odyssey Trust answers ten technology-related questions. 1. What phone do you have? iPhone 8. 2. What piece of technology could you not live without and why? Fitbit and my phone – I love to see the steps mounting up when I’m doing laps of the arena on a show day and my mobile phone is a must for work. From bringing in a new show with tens of trucks of equipment to the gig itself, it’s always important to capture and share those moments with fans. It’s always good to create a fear of missing out to encourage people to buy that last minute ticket. 3. What is your favourite app for business? This is a shameless plug but The SSE Arena, Belfast app of course. For customers attending the arena and Belfast Giants games our app is your remote control for everything you need. We were the first venue in the UK to launch an app back in 2015. You can browse and buy food, drink and merchandise and then collect items on the evening at our dedicated app collection points throughout the building. You can book tickets for our VIP suites, read the latest event news and even take a selfie. App users get exclusive competitions for tickets and special discounts on food and drink as well. For the incoming Belfast Giants season we will have even more cool features for our season ticket holders and ice hockey fans. Ticketmaster also have some really nice apps for clients that I can’t live without either. Their main client app gives you ticket sales, trends and analytics on the go and right at your fingertips. 4. And for personal use? Instagram by far. Nothing looks more amazing than a packed arena with 11,000 customers having a great time – these photos are perfect for Instagram and certainly are the best for bringing in the likes!

5. How much of your work life involves the use of technology? Almost 100%. Whether it’s social media, website and app content management, digital signage or email campaigns, the vast majority of my day is spent on some type of marketing platform. Customers expect engaging content constantly and with so many followers to keep engaged the marketing and digital teams in the arena need to be up to speed with all the latest technology and digital trends.

“I’m a big fan of Trello and Basecamp for planning and managing projects.” 6. If you could recommend one item of technology for any business what would it be? Sometimes the simplest pieces of tech are the most valuable. I’m a big fan of Trello and Basecamp for planning and managing projects. In a really fast paced industry these tools help the team to work towards tight deadlines and manage projects and tasks effectively. We are currently working on a new CRM system and I think this project will completely transform the way we plan and implement our marketing strategies going forward. It’s going to be really exciting.


7. If you could make one piece of technology disappear what would it be? Even though they are popular and I’m all for new technology it has to be VR headsets. I’m not the best with motion sickness so putting one of these on is my worst nightmare. 8. How do you keep your technology skills current? I really enjoy attending conferences and seminars on technology, particularly when it is technology within the arena business. I don’t think you need to have a huge training budget to up-skill. There are loads of free tools and webinars that marketers can avail of that help keep skills relevant. I subscribe to a lot of blogs and newsletters too – quite often I find good pieces of information within these daily updates. 9. Are you able to detox and switch off from technology completely? If so, how? As much as I try to it is difficult. Since the arena business isn’t your typical 9-5 it comes with the territory I suppose. I play sport, so thankfully the training field is one place where I simply cannot take my phone. 10. What piece of technology are you most looking forward to seeing in the future? I’m really looking forward to seeing how the social media landscape changes. I think it is only a matter of time before someone comes up with the next big Twitter or Instagram. I love how instant and engaging social media is and I think there is still room for another platform in the market. Social media is now more than simply checking in on Facebook; it has developed into a serious advertising channel. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how social and AI link to better serve customers – amazing and a little scary all at the same time.


My Ambition is to...



’ve always had an interest in IT, which initially grew from a love of computer games when I was young. I grew up in Armagh and was able to regularly visit Armagh Observatory which often held work experience events. At one such event I spoke first-hand with physicists who created their own apps for processing scientific data, and knew straightaway this was what I wanted to do.

I went on to complete a degree in Computing Science at the University of Ulster Jordanstown Campus, which cemented my interest in Software Development, thanks to the multiple modules I studied in Programming. These included Web Development which in my opinion is a discipline at the core of the profession and is one of the most intensive and rewarding. For my placement year I joined Randox, as part of the team that creates software for the company’s Evidence Evolution analyser, which runs the multiple tests Randox develop for disease diagnosis. It was the perfect opportunity to really hone the skills I had learnt during university, and I additionally learnt effective time management and professional coding best practices. I enjoyed the fast-paced work, the

collaboration with teams of other disciplines, including engineers and scientists, and being part of the development of laboratory technology to enable rapid and accurate diagnosis. It’s amazing to think that my work has contributed to the improvement of patient outcomes across the globe. My placement also increased my confidence in my programming skills and inspired the content of my final year project, which combined Web Development, Mobile App Development and Project Management. It’s no surprise therefore that I chose to join the dynamic Randox team in a full-time role when I graduated. It’s a great environment to be part of, as the dynamic and cutting-edge work makes the work really interesting and enjoyable. Since joining I have progressed to the role of Software Development Team Leader, so I manage the Development Team and work closely with other departments across the company to determine our software requirements. Currently our core work focuses on creating web-based applications for Randox Health, which is the public-facing division of the company that provides full body health checks in our clinics in Holywood, Crumlin, Liverpool and London.


I regularly take part in Careers Fairs, including at Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin, to promote careers in STEM, and specifically the Science, Engineering and IT roles available in Randox. I am also a Randox Mentor for the Northern Regional College’s Career Encode scheme, which is an ‘Earn As You Learn’ Higher Level Apprenticeship in Computing for school leavers. Randox of course continues to grow and so the company is generating increasingly large amounts of data. This offers my team the opportunity to develop applications that harness machine learning and data mining, to gain insights into patterns and trends that appear in our data. I will continue to collaborate with our Engineering and Science departments to unlock the potential for new and exciting projects that we aren’t even aware of yet. That’s what makes working in Software Development so rewarding – technology is ever-evolving and so too is the IT industry. My ambition is to consistently upskill in software development, to keep up with the continuously shifting field, and to bring the most innovative ideas and practices to my team and our company.

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Recognising Excellence Celebrating the recent achievements of NI Chamber members at this year’s Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.

AJC Group

AJC Group‘s Declan Murdock was awarded the ‘Young Business Person of the Year’ at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. He is pictured with category sponsor Direct Medics Healthcare Recruitment.

CDE Global won ‘Outstanding Business of the Year’ and ‘Excellence in Exporting Award’ at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. Presenting CDE Founder and Chairman Tony Convery with the export award is NI Chamber Chief Executive Ann McGregor.


CDE Global

SPAR won the ‘Excellence in Marketing’ award at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. Pictured are SPAR’s Sara Murphy and Brenda Mulligan with Jonathan Martindale from category sponsor Phoenix Natural Gas.

Fortress Diagnostics was the winner of ‘SME Healthcare Business of the Year’ award sponsored by Linwoods.


Fortress Diagnostics

Wilsons Auctions

Peter Johnston, Aidan Larkin and Mark Woods from Wilsons Auctions are presented with the ‘Excellence in Innovation’ award at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. Presented by Stephen Lamb, from sponsor MCL Insurance.

Lorna McAdoo and John Harrower from Version1 are presented with the Belfast Telegraph Business Award for ‘IT Company or Team of the Year’ by Declan Magee from sponsor Carson McDowell.

Outsource Solutions (NI)


Brendan Bonner, Assistant Director of Public Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement for PHA presents Eamon Bunting and Stephen Baker from Outsource Solutions (NI) with the ‘Excellence in Workplace Health and Wellbeing award’ at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.

Devenish Nutrition Executive Chairman Owen Brennan is presented with the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. Presenting the award is Ulster Bank’s Richard Donnan and Belfast Telegraph’s Sarah Little.




Stairway to Seven My seven steps for business success

Jeremy Gardiner is a Director and Founding member of Core Leadership. Having trained as a minister of religion, Jeremy worked at dealing with contentious issues between conflicting communities before moving into the area of Leadership Development. Over the last 10 years he has supported Leaders and Executive Teams to focus on creating the right conditions for business success.

1. Create

psychologically safe environments Becoming a dad of two boys has made me more aware that creating an environment of psychological safety enables them to flourish by feeling safe to take risks. This concept is relevant when it comes to team development. Google, in project Aristotle identified that their most successful teams have an environment built on psychological safety.

2. Show vulnerability

David Maister in his book ‘The Trusted Advisor’ suggests that vulnerability is key to building trust. I’ve experienced this first hand in my career when my CEO took time to share his story and his personal challenges. I trusted him wholeheartedly and committed myself to the organisation’s vision.

3. Hold your story lightly

One of the greatest challenges I faced in my career was when I had to work with paramilitary organisations. As I engaged, it became clear that my own prejudice was influencing the story I was telling myself. However, as I listened to their story, I began to ask the question, would I have made the same choices if I had walked in their shoes? This led me to challenge my own perspective and the conclusions I had made. What stories do you tell yourself and how does this impact your leadership?

4. Focus on beliefs, not behaviours

In order to change an individual’s behaviour, you need to focus on disrupting their beliefs. When working with a senior leader in a manufacturing

Jeremy Gardiner, Director, Core Leadership

company, it became evident they held a belief that stated, “I can’t push back on my director due to the position they hold.” When I asked them to disrupt this belief through a simple test, it revealed that the belief wasn’t true, which opened up an opportunity for greater ownership and increased performance.

5. Eat the elephant

There are many reasons why teams avoid dealing with underlying issues. In my experience, this often boils down to a fear of repercussions. However, when a leadership team doesn’t deal with the elephant in the room, the rest of the organisation sees it, loses trust in the senior team and questions their credibility.

6. Manage your energy

After having a stroke in April 2016 I was


forced to introduce simple practices into my daily routine to help me recuperate. These practices included, prioritising sleep, having a balanced diet and making exercise part of my daily routine. By implementing these simple practices, I have greater focus on what’s important, making sure that the best version of me shows up with my colleagues and clients.

7. Show kindness

One of the most impactful events in my life was when I was involved in physically expressing an act of kindness to a marginalised community in North Antrim. This consisted of handing out roses to parishioners as they walked out of their religious service. Their response to this simple act made me realise that small acts of kindness have a big impact and it costs very little.


J.P Coleman, Head of Treasury & Markets at Danske Bank

Exporters should be considering FX strategy amid Brexit volatility

Danske Bank’s J.P Coleman discusses managing currency risk amid ongoing Brexit negotiations.


ne of the biggest risks for anyone operating an import or export business is the risk that the value of the currency their sale or purchase is made in changes while the transaction is in progress – especially when the time between a sale or purchase being made is weeks or months. When it comes to managing currency risk, it has definitely been a tricky time for Northern Ireland’s exporters and importers in the three years since the Brexit referendum. While with the value of sterling dropped sharply after the vote and hasn’t really recovered to the same level since, that doesn’t simply mean that imported goods have become more expensive and exports from NI have become cheaper and more competitive. It’s more complex than that. It’s true that Brexit continues to loom large, but other macroeconomic factors such as the US-China trade war, uncertainty over who will become the next UK Prime Minister and concerns about some of the weaker euro economies like Italy are also creating volatility and influencing global interest rates, and therefore currency exchange rates. As we wait to see what shape the UK’s exit

deal (or no deal) from the European Union will take, it is safe to assume there will be further volatility in the pound’s value against the euro and other major currencies like the US dollar. That’s a worry for the huge number of Northern Ireland companies who receive a large percentage of their sales in euros or dollars and as the outlook has shifted, we’ve found that Danske Bank’s own customers are taking often very different approaches to currency risk. I recently visited one SME manufacturer with turnover of around £50m who has started hedging against currency volatility since the referendum. In simple terms, currency hedging is entering into a financial contract in order to protect against anticipated or unexpected changes in currency exchange rates, partly eliminating risks they encounter when doing business internationally In times of flux, it makes sense to protect cashflow and take the uncertainty we can control out of the picture by hedging against a big change in the value of a sale or purchase. And yet while some companies have a clear strategy on foreign exchange risk, others are still in wait and see mode. I know of other sizable export manufacturers recently who tend to sit with euros on the balance sheet, waiting to see if rates move a certain way, rather than deciding on a rate and converting it. That may be ok when sales are robust, but it is not a great long term strategy because exchange rates can move quickly. If we get another big market shock like Brexit, the values will fluctuate and my view is that businesses in the latter camp need to start taking a methodical, strategic view of what is important and decide how much of their revenue or costs from overseas needs to be protected. They cannot afford to wait until there is a clear direction of travel in the economy. Recent commentary from the US Federal Reserve would suggest that long term interest rates will not be rising any time soon and could in fact be cut at some point this year. The ECB’s


President Mario Draghi has also made noises about potentially cutting rates to stimulate the eurozone economy. If you’re exporting to the US or Europe what happens to their interest rates matters because they are one of the drivers of changes in exchange rates. The weaker pound has helped many Northern Ireland exporters but cuts elsewhere in the world could now impact them on the downside. To stabilise income and gain a degree of certainty, hedging is a good option and I would expect more of our customers who regularly see euros or dollars on their balance sheet to start factoring it into their strategy.

“As we wait to see what shape the UK’s exit deal (or no deal) from the European Union will take, it is safe to assume there will be further volatility in the pound’s value”

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David Clements, Client Director, Fujitsu

The state of IoT today David Clements, Client Director, NI at leading ICT company Fujitsu discusses the state of the Internet of Things (IoT) today and shares his thoughts on how companies can map their progress.


t Northern Ireland’s largest tech conference, Digital DNA 2019 held recently in Belfast, one thing was clear – digital transformation and the commercial benefits of IoT remains a hot topic and it’s no surprise considering it affects every aspect of a business including its people, its culture, its approach and its interaction with partners. If you can get digital transformation ‘right’ riches await, and most of us today are looking to technology to be the spearhead of innovation, collaboration and co-creation. One powerful way to drive competitive differentiation lies with IoT and connecting devices across networks. This web of connected objects can help companies collect powerful data in real time, anticipate service issues, preempt customer needs, transform the user experience, improve safety, reduce risks, automate operations and build better products. The biggest financial impact of IoT may be the delivery of smarter products that command a premium. As we have already seen in the home with smart locks, temperature control, lighting and so on, smart use of connected digital technology equals a chance to sell at a higher margin and to delight users. We can expect this same dynamic to be

played out in the B2B world. At Fujitsu, an area of particular focus for us is how IoT-based technology can be used to improve operational effectiveness for organisations. Initiatives include the inclusion of IoT to assist in the management of industrial assets in the utility industries, use of technology to support the management and safety of autonomous vehicles and the management of robots on industrial assembly lines. In addition, IoT-based technology helps provide a

“It’s important for businesses to recognise IoT is no longer a ‘next-generation’ technology, it has matured well beyond the testing and market education phase. ” considerable amount of data that can be used for preventative maintenance, trend analysis and overall business intelligence. It’s important for businesses to recognise IoT is no longer a ‘nextgeneration’ technology, it has matured well beyond the testing and market education phase. This was evident in our recent report ‘The State of IoT 20

Today’ which highlighted that one third of respondents are executing, one third are at their initial key areas and just one third are still in test/plan mode, with retail and transport leading the way in implementation. For those organisations both in the private and public sector who aren’t yet deploying IoT solutions, this suggests it’s time to consider the business value which can be achieved and then begin designing the new processes required and the new opportunities that can be enabled. This is not to say IoT projects are without challenges. The biggest obstacle seen by our audiences lay in networking and it can be a challenge to connect sensors over what can often be large, federated networks with a small power and thermal envelope. The variables are many: hostile weather and geographic conditions, areas with poor network coverage, staff wearing wearables indoors, outdoors, underground or on the road. Providers and customers will need to work in lockstep with network service providers expert in location services, safety and other adjacent skillsets. For organisations keen to embark on their digital transformation journey but are worried about the deployment of IoT, working with a trusted third party who is aligned with the company’s unique needs and culture is a good starting point. Speaking with peers, experts and consultants can be a valuable way to see where opportunities lie and to anticipate challenges in order to move forward. In IoT things change rapidly and it’s important your business isn’t left behind.


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Maybeth Shaw, Partner – BDO Northern Ireland

Celebrating the Success of the Top 100

Last month, BDO Northern Ireland sponsored and launched the Top 100 Locally Controlled NI Businesses in conjunction with IoD NI.

Heading up the list is Newry based company, Norbrook Holdings, which celebrates 50 years in business this year and remains a family owned business, with the family of the late Lord Ballyedmond retaining ownership. Other companies to make the Top 100 included W&R Barnett, Banner Dell, Almac Group (the only non-family owned business in the top 10), SHS Group and Henderson Group. The full list can be viewed online at The Top 100 Locally Controlled Businesses list demonstrates something we have always been sure of at BDO, that there are fantastic businesses in Northern Ireland and it is important that those companies, entrepreneurs and talent should be recognised. It also demonstrates that there is a wealth of businesses with the ambition to develop new ideas and embrace opportunities to scale up to new levels of success. At BDO we also believe that NI businesses can help each other, share in each other’s success and learn from the challenges other businesses have faced.

Family Owned Businesses form a large part of those featured on the Top 100 Locally Controlled Business list and our information shows that 79% of the Top 100 are family businesses. This tells us that family businesses in NI are performing at levels higher than expected despite the additional specific issues they face around the interaction of the family and business (family businesses make up approx. 75% of NI businesses). Angela Keery, Director and myself head up the Family Business Centre at BDO Northern Ireland and specialise in assisting Family Owned and Locally Controlled Businesses. In doing so we have developed an in-depth knowledge and the required skills needed to navigate through the complexities that many of these businesses face. For more information on how we can help, or on how to attend the various business and networking events we host throughout the year, please contact us on 02890 439009 or visit our website


hese ambitious, fast growing companies reflect the rich diversity of business in Northern Ireland, from well-established family-owned companies to dynamic new businesses who have identified new markets and customer bases to target. It will not be lost on anyone that businesses are operating in a turbulent political and economic environment, but despite the challenges of ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, the availability of skilled staff and no functioning local Executive, our businesses have shown the determination and resilience that has made them the successes they are. Indeed, 70% of the Top 100 Locally Controlled Businesses have reported growth in the past year and an increase in their profits, with profits ranging from around £2m to £49M. Sales figures for the Top 100 also grew by an average of 15% for the past year. In addition, these top businesses are providing skilled employment and supporting their local communities in numerous ways, collectively contributing £12bn in annual turnover to the local economy and employing more than 55,000 people.

BDO Director Angela Keery presents Liam Nagle, CEO of Norbrook Holdings with their winning place on the Top 100 NI Locally Controlled Business list.


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Stephen McCully, Managing Director of Power NI

Energy within a ‘New Northern Ireland’

Stephen McCully, a past president of the NI Chamber and Managing Director of Power NI discusses the energy provider’s sustained focus on business and community support and how their different programme streams are helping to make a difference across Northern Ireland.


ower NI has a strong legacy, going back over 80 years, of both providing energy solutions to businesses and individual customers and giving something back to our local communities right across Northern Ireland. Our current business and community campaigns reflect our core company values of representing energy within a ‘New Northern Ireland’ and bringing communities together. Our multiple schemes help us to reach out to many different groups in terms of age, location and size and helping us achieve our CSR aims and underpinning our business objectives. SME champion As a member of NI Chamber and a keen supporter of the ‘on the ground’ work NI Chamber does, Power NI is the SME partner for the Learn Grow Excel programme. After 15 years of competition we remain the largest supplier to the business sector with over 30,000 SMEs on our books, therefore we’re thrilled to support an excellent initiative which helps our vibrant local business community expand and continue to be at the forefront of business excellence. It dovetails perfectly with current regional business awards partnerships including in

Ballymena, Belfast, Armagh Banbridge & Craigavon and the North West, as well as our support for Women in Business and the programmes they roll out. Inspiring success and innovation are key business values for us and it’s important for Power NI to play our part in supporting future industry and commerce. Energising local communities Power NI’s Brighter Communities initiative has proved hugely successful since it launched just over a year ago with 17 very different groups helped at grass roots level. A bespoke development programme created by Power NI, its aim is to help people change and improve their locality for the better. Rolling out each month, the initiative invites people from large or small community, sporting, charity youth and all-age groups to apply for a £1000 funding grant. Social media plays a large part both in the application process and once a grant has been awarded, with groups showcasing their project journey through video and social media reports. Winners to date have included Derry/ Londonderry wheelchair basketball club, North West Wolves, Dromore charity Via Wings, Belfast-based Lagan Dragons, Banbridge and Portadown-based Sound Friends and Abbey Taekwondo all reflecting the depth, range and variety of wonderful voluntary groups and work being carried out throughout Northern Ireland. Our staff programme, ‘Helping Hands’, which to date has assisted 32 different projects, has been so successful and impactful that we wanted to replicate the referral concept for our customers and the wider public. Brighter


Communities has gone from strength to strength and we’re so pleased with its impact throughout Northern Ireland. Creative young people Other elements of Power NI’s communitydriven support has included backing for the ever popular and wonderfully lively and quirky Culture Night held in September, and youth theatre project Kids in Control at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. This academic year over 50 young people benefited from the creative learning programme thanks to Power NI. The KIC (Kids in Control) All-Ability Physical Theatre scheme brings together young people, both disabled and able-bodied, who work together under the creative leadership of Lyric Theatre mentors and facilitators and present a showcase finale performance at the South Belfast venue. Community athletes’ bursaries Working closely with Lady Mary Peters and the Mary Peters Trust she formed, Power NI this year introduced a new community initiative to provide three young sporting stars of the future each with a £2000 funding award to help each to further develop and improve their training and preparations for competitions and races in their various sporting disciplines. Power NI also supported a number of Mary Peters Trust fundraising activities, culminating in a special Titanic Belfast gala dinner to mark luminary Lady Mary’s 80th birthday. You can keep up to date with how we’re energising local communities by visiting

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The new BMW 320i M Sport Saloon delivers a driving experience perfectly equipped for business, beautifully combining exhilaration with functionality. Rest easy with innovative, practical features including the automatic tailgate, up to 480 litres of boot space and LED fog lights as standard, then take charge through the powerful BMW TwinPower 4-cylinder petrol engine. For more information, please visit or speak to your Local Business Development Manager.

SEARCH: BAVARIAN BMW Fuel economy and CO2 results for the BMW 320i M Sport Saloon: mpg (l/100km): 40.4 (7)–42.2 (6.7). CO2 emissions: 129g/km. Figures are for comparison purposes and may not reflect real-life driving results, which depend on a number of factors including the accessories fitted (post-registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load. Only compare fuel consumption and CO 2 figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedure.

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Figures are for comparison purposes and may not reflect real-life driving results which depend on a number of factors including the accessories fitted (post registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load. Only compare fuel consumption and CO2 figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedure. *Business users only. Initial rental £1,914 plus VAT at 20%. Prices exclude VAT at 20%. Prices shown are for a 36-month Contract Hire agreement, with a contract mileage of 8,000 miles annually and an excess mileage charge of 11.8 pence per mile. Applies to new vehicles ordered between 01 April 2019 and 30 June 2019 and registered by 30 September 2019 (subject to availability). At the end of your agreement you must return the vehicle and vehicle condition, excess mileage and other charges may be payable. Available subject to status to UK residents aged 18 or over. Guarantees and indemnities may be required. The amount of VAT you can reclaim depends on your business VAT status. Terms and conditions apply. Offer may be varied, withdrawn or extended at any time. Hire provided by BMW Group Corporate Finance. BMW Group Corporate Finance is a trading style of Alphabet (GB) Limited, Alphabet House, Summit Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 0FB. We commonly introduce customers to BMW Group Corporate Finance. This introduction does not amount to independent financial advice. BMW (UK) Ltd, Summit ONE, Summit Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 0FB. Registered in England and Wales 1378137. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for credit broking activities.

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02/07/2019 16:46

update Chamber Chief’s

From networking events to meetings with government ministers and in-camera dinners with leaders in business, the hectic round of activity spearheaded by NI Chamber for the benefit of members never stops. NI Chamber Chief Executive Ann McGregor gives a taste of what’s coming up and what’s taken place recently with a picture gallery over the following pages.


une has been an exceptionally busy approach to the bid process. month for NI Chamber, having hosted The team in Rio did an outstanding job a number of events ranging from our positioning Northern Ireland as a serious annual Learn Grow Excel conference contender to host the Congress in in partnership with Invest NI to our 2023 – underpinned by many important Growing Something Brilliant event with considerations such as our excellent Kevin Gaskell, the former CEO of Porsche connectivity, our burgeoning business GB and BMW. We have also visited Larne tourism industry and our award-winning for an Energy Forum event hosted by congress venue, ICC Belfast. Caterpillar and held a Scaling for Growth Finally, on behalf of the President, workshop at Fane Valley in Moira – all Board and Executive team at NI of which are covered in more detail Chamber, I would like to congratulate throughout the following pages. Francis Martin who has been appointed We have also launched our new Commander of the Order of the British events and programmes schedule for Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday the remainder of the year including Honours list for services to UK business. flagship events such as the Annual The award is a fitting recognition of Networking Conference & Business the unique voluntary contribution Showcase at St George’s Market on 18 which Francis has made to economic September and the President’s Banquet development in Northern Ireland as a at the ICC Belfast on 21 November. A previous president of NI Chamber and full list of events can be accessed via our more recently as president of the British website Chambers of Commerce. Away from events, NI Chamber along with the British Chamber of Commerce and Chambers Ireland were in Rio at the World Chambers Congress, showcasing Northern Ireland as a potential host for the conference in 2023. Held every two years Rachael McGuickin (Visit Belfast); Jonathan Ireland, (Lanyon Group); in a different region of Jaime Bennett (Conference Partners International); Catherine Toolan, the world, the World (ICC Belfast), Louise Turley (NI Chamber). Alistair Reid (Belfast City Chambers Congress Council); Ann McGregor (NI Chamber) and Gerry Lennon (Visit Belfast). provides unparalleled opportunities to connect and strengthen Over recent years Francis has ensured relations with a diverse and international that the voice of business has been group of individuals representing more represented throughout Government than 100 countries. in Northern Ireland, at Westminster The bid, if successful, could bring an and further afield. He has represented estimated economic value of £1.92m to Northern Ireland on the world stage and Northern Ireland and we were joined in continues to act as a great ambassador Rio by our strategic partners including for the region today. Invest Northern Ireland, Belfast City As we reach the half-way point of Council, Visit Belfast and ICC Belfast. 2019, there is much to both celebrate Northern Ireland’s bid to host the and look forward to. We hope that during WCC is an excellent example of the the second part of the year, as many of power of partnership, with NI Chamber you as possible will join us for some of enjoying the support and backing of the the events and programmes NI Chamber entire Chamber network across the UK is running across the province – our team and Ireland in a unique and stand-out look forward to seeing you there. 27

NEW ESSENTIAL MEMBERS Advanced Sensors Bespoke Communication CPL NI Ltd Crusaders Datactics Eco-Clean Ireland GCD Technologies Hinch Distillery Icemos Technology JEM Swim School Keyscope Millar McCall Wylie Park Electrical Services Pearse Trust International Pi comms Plastics 2000 Polaris Safety Training & Rescue Proven Lighting Limited (Lumen Stream) Renewable Energy SDG Construction Technology Share Discovery Village Tailored Image

NEW Growth Members Ashridge Hult Executive College CMD Kane Engineering Sustrans


Membership upgrades Mallon Technology (to Growth Level) *To become a member of NI Chamber join online at www. or phone the membership team on: 02890 244113.


World class speakers to land in Belfast for NI Chamber Networking Conference Vincent Harrison Managing Director of Dublin Airport and Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber.

Kenny Jacobs, Chief Marketing Officer at Ryanair and Cathy Thomson, Global Head of Customer Experience Management at Hostelworld Group will be the key-note speakers at NI Chamber’s Annual Networking Conference and Business Showcase in Belfast. Supported by headline sponsor Dublin Airport, the event on 18 September will see over 800 delegates gather in St George’s Market to hear from exemplars, share ideas and make new business connections at the largest dedicated networking event in Northern Ireland. As well as leaders from travel and tourism, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Google and local businesses including Flo Lens, Mount Charles Group and Seating Matters. Speaking about the event, Ann McGregor,

Headline Partner

Chief Executive, NI Chamber said: “Our Annual Networking conference is one of the most popular events in the Northern Ireland business calendar. This year, it will place a particular focus on sales and marketing and the future of work, along with the trends and technologies which will shape both areas of business. “We are delighted to have secured an outstanding line-up of speakers, who each have something new and valuable to offer attendees from every sector. This, combined with the business showcase, make it a mustattend event for any ambitious company.” Vincent Harrison, Managing Director, Dublin Airport added: “Dublin Airport is delighted to partner with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce Annual Networking Conference and Business Showcase. This is

Supporting Partners


our third consecutive year to be the headline sponsor and take the great opportunity this event provides for us to connect and engage with over 800 businesses across Northern Ireland. The Annual Networking Conference and Business Showcase is an unmissable networking event that brings together key speakers from across industry and trade to share their experiences and learnings.” The NI Chamber Annual Networking Conference is supported by headline sponsor Dublin Airport, along with supporting sponsors Belfast City Council, Electric Ireland and The Open University. • Places at the conference are free for NI Chamber members or £50 for non-members. To register visit www.

Manufacturing giant Caterpillar hosts latest Energy Forum Chris Morrow (NI Chamber); Stephen Martin (Caterpillar NI); Mark McClure (Caterpillar NI) and Natasha Sayee (SONI).

Manufacturing giant Caterpillar hosted the latest NI Chamber & SONI Energy Forum in its Larne facility on Tuesday 18 June 2019. The event enabled attendees to learn about Caterpillar’s energy strategy and make new connections with colleagues from across the industry – whilst experiencing an exclusive tour of the impressive facility. Speakers at the event included Caterpillar NI’s Director Mark McClure, as well as Environment Manger Stephen Martin. Bob Barbour, CEO Smart Grid Ireland and Centre for Competitiveness also addressed NI Chamber members. The forum also hosted a panel discussion chaired by Naomi McMullan, featuring Richard Rodgers, Head of Energy Group at the Department for the Economy, Kevin Shiels, Director of Retail and Consumer Protection at the Utility Regulator and Rodney Doyle, Director of Market Operations EirGrid and General Manager, SEMO.

Exploring export goals at Learn Grow Excel Conference

Key players from Northern Ireland’s export industries shared their experience of growing internationally at the ‘Learn Grow Excel’ Conference held by NI Chamber and Invest Northern Ireland on Wednesday 12 June in the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park. Over 300 firms heard from keynote speaker Ian Forrester, Head of Marketing at STATSports, who showcased how the Newry based business has become the world’s leading provider of GPS trackers for sport, providing player data to some of the most elite teams in the world. Attendees also had the opportunity to hear export success stories from firms including Tobermore, Ulster Carpets and Unicorn Hygienics. The event also provided existing and new export businesses with practical advice and support via oneto-one meetings with 30 of Invest NI’s International Trade Advisors, covering 60 countries across Europe, Americas, Asia Pacific, India, Middle East and Africa. The Learn Grow Excel Conference was supported by NI Chamber’s SME Partner Power NI, headline sponsor Ulster Carpets, as well as supporting sponsors EY and Honeycomb Jobs. Photos from the conference are included on page 34.

Alan Egner (Power NI); Steve Harper (Invest Northern Ireland), Tanya Anderson (NI Chamber), Elaine Patterson (Ulster Carpets) and Ian Forrester (STATSports).



New Names on NI Chamber Board & Council NI Chamber’s recent Annual General Meeting not only saw John Healy, Managing Director of Allstate, re-appointed as President of NI Chamber for a further year, but also the reappointment of Ian Henry (Henry Group) as Vice-President for the next 12 months along with Paul Murnaghan from BT as a new member appointed to the Board.


New Board & Council member Paul Murnaghan with NI Chamber President John Healy and Chief Executive Ann McGregor.

BOARD & COUNCIL 2019/2020 PRESIDENT Mr John Healy, Allstate Northern Ireland VICE-PRESIDENT Mr Ian Henry, Henry Group

Paul Murnaghan, NI Regional Director BT Enterprise, and Chair BT NI Paul became the Regional Director of BT Enterprise NI in January 2017 and was appointed to the role of Chair of the NI Board on behalf of BT in April 2019. Previously Head of Central and Local Government NI in 2013, Paul has fulfilled many roles since joining BT in 2004. Before joining BT, Paul held a number positions in the IT industry including BIS Beecom, 1991, moving from there to Parity and on to BIC Systems in 1998. A previous Board Member of Helm Housing, Paul is graduate of Queen’s University Belfast where he studied Electronic Engineering. Married to Zita, and father of four children, Paul is a former Irish Water polo captain and still has an active involvement in the sport.


BOARD Mr John Healy, Allstate Northern Ireland Mr Paul Murnaghan, BT Mr Owen Brennan, Devenish Group Ms Ellvena Graham OBE, ESB Group Mr Michael Kidd, EY Belfast Mr Ian Henry, Henry Group Ms Ann McGregor MBE, NI Chamber Ms Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Pinsent Masons Ms Orla Corr, The McAvoy Group Mr Richard Donnan, Ulster Bank Mr Nick Coburn, Ulster Carpets Group

NEW NI CHAMBER COUNCIL MEMBERS Gerard Armstrong, Partner, Carson McDowell

Andrew Robinson, Managing Director, Boomer Industries Ltd

Gerard is a partner in Carson McDowell’s Corporate and Projects practices, having joined the firm in 2001. He has a particular interest in the agrifood, waste and construction sectors and he has advised on a number of Northern Ireland’s most significant corporate transactions in recent years. As head of Carson McDowell’s training committee, Gerard has a particular interest in employability and investment in skills. Carson McDowell are involved in a number of initiatives designed to give future generations an insight into professional life and the opportunity for them to develop some of the key skills needed when they get there.

Andrew is Managing Director of Boomer Industries Ltd. having led a management buyout of the company in 2001. Boomer is a Specialist Plastics and Door Set manufacturer dedicated to serving a wide cross section of industry with bespoke solutions. Established in 1970 and now with almost 50 years’ experience of delivering collaborative design and manufacturing services they have built a strong reputation for performance. An Electrical Engineer by trade, Andrew was also the Commercial Manager for Bemac Electrical and General Manager for Traffic Control Systems Ltd. Andrew is currently the Chairman of Lisburn Enterprise Organisation (LEO) and a Board Member of the Centre for Competitiveness.

Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Anne Donaghy is passionate about investment, innovation, job creation and growing the economy of Mid and East Antrim, and Northern Ireland. As Chief Executive, Anne sets the strategic direction of the multi-award winning Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, with an exciting and ambitious vision for economic growth at its core. She is currently leading the creation of an ecosystem of advanced manufacturing in her borough, as well as delivering multi-million pound transformative projects through Belfast Region City Deal. Anne has also played a leading role in the now Graham Construction-led bid for a Heathrow Logistics Hub - a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create 5,000 jobs and secure £5bn for the Northern Ireland economy.

Colin Jess, Director, Social Enterprise NI Having spent over 30 years in local banking circles, Colin took up the role of Director of Social Enterprise NI in 2016, a membership organisation responsible for raising awareness of the social economy both in NI and across the globe. His background within the private sector has been welcomed into the sector as he seeks to drive the commerciality and sustainability of the social enterprise sector. Colin manages the organisation which also supports its members on their journey and has developed a significant network of stakeholders across private, public, educational and political bodies.

Nigel Walsh, Director for Commercial Banking, Ulster Bank

Killian O’Rawe, Senior Manager, Product Technology, Allstate NI Killian leads a global team delivering innovative software solutions for Allstate’s customers. Recognizing that the accelerating pace of technological change has the potential to unlock greater business value for Allstate, the technology team under Killian’s leadership has been instrumental in creating and implementing major technology transformation. It focuses on three areas: technology capabilities, delivery models and talent & recognition. Killian leads the Allstate NI Business Engagement network, engaging with other companies and trade organisations to showcase and profile the work Allstate is involved in across the province. Killian also sits on the Catalyst ‘Leadership Partner’s Board’.

John Poole, Partner, KPMG in Ireland John is a Partner in KPMG Ireland and is currently Head of KPMG’s Audit Practice in Belfast, providing assurance services to clients in both Northern Ireland and Dublin. John has 25 years’ experience in the provision of external audit services to a range of entities including publicly listed companies, multi-national groups and owner managed businesses. He has experience in a number of industries including manufacturing and construction, utilities, IT and technology, financial services and the public sector. He is also responsible for the delivery of KPMG Belfast’s internal audit services and provides accounting, transaction and other advisory services to clients of all sizes in Northern Ireland. He has particular experience in governance, risk management and the adoption of FRS 102 and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for all sizes of organisation. John also leads KPMG’s delivery of iXBRL accounts conversion services to UK and Irish companies. COUNCIL Ms Claire Reid, 4c Mr Gareth Walls, A&L Goodbody Mr John Healy, Allstate NI Mr Killian O’Rawe, Allstate NI Ms Shauna Burns, Beyond Business Travel Mr Andrew Robinson, Boomer Mr Francis Martin CBE, British Chambers of Commerce Mr Paul Murnaghan, BT Mr Jonny O’Brien, Capita Mr Gerard Armstrong, Carson McDowell Mr Andrew Coggins, CBRE Ms Hilary Griffith, Cleaver Fulton Rankin Ms Victoria Anne Davies, Danske Bank Mr Owen Brennan, Devenish Group Ms Mary Rose Burke, Dublin Chamber of Commerce Ms Ellvena Graham OBE, ESB Group Mr Gerry Carlile, Evolve CPA Mr Michael Kidd, EY Mr Mark Spence, Flynn

Mr Ian Henry, Henry Group Mr Donal Durkan, Invest NI Mr John Poole, KPMG Mr Jonathan Ireland, Lanyon Group Mr Alan Stewart, Marcon Fit Out Mr Neil Collins, Maximus Crushing & Screening Ms Nuala Jackson, Mercer Ltd Ms Anne Donaghy, Mid East Antrim Council Mr Gary Annett, MJM Group Ms Ann McGregor MBE, NI Chamber Mr Roger Henderson, NIE Networks Mr Jonathan Martindale, Phoenix Natural Gas Ms Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Pinsent Masons Mr Eddie McGoldrick, PowerOn Technologies Ltd Ms Janette Jones, PwC Mr David Watson, Ryobi Mr Gerry Kindlon, Seagate Mr Colin Jess, Social Enterprise NI Ms Natasha Sayee, SONI Ms Orla Corr, The McAvoy Group Mr Eugene Lynch, The McAvoy Group Mr Patrick Anderson, Translink


In addition to his role as Director for Commercial Banking, Nigel also has responsibility within Ulster Bank for leading on a number of the key industry sectors including Healthcare and Agriculture. He recently completed his Institute of Directors Certificate in Board Directorship, and continues his studies to become a Chartered Director. In 2018 he was invited to sit on the Board of Food NI and is an active member of same. Past experience has been gleaned from Nigel’s times working secondments to Sovereign Bank, Boston Mass. USA; Food Exporting Initiatives to new Markets with large PLC’s across China, along with regular collaboration with RBS colleagues in Scotland and England.

Mr Richard Donnan, Ulster Bank Mr Nigel Walsh, Ulster Bank Mr Nick Coburn, Ulster Carpets Group Professor Gillian Armstrong, Ulster University Business School Mr Michael Woods, Woodside Global CHIEF EXECUTIVE Ms Ann McGregor MBE HONORARY TREASURER Mr Ian Henry, Henry Group COMPANY SECRETARY Ms Ann McGregor MBE


Scaling for Growth: Near Markets NI Chamber’s Scaling for Growth programme, supported by Bank of Ireland, assists SMEs in achieving their growth strategy whether it be through sharing market knowledge, connections to chambers or companies in-market, learning from peers or introductions to funders. The support on the programme is one-to-one and bespoke to the company and their requirements in order to achieve growth.

In addition to this one-to-one support, three workshops are delivered each year focussing on the prevailing challenges faced by SMEs when seeking to grow. To date the workshops have covered: 1. Managing people as your company grows (March 2018) 2. How to devise and deliver a successful export strategy (June 2018) 3. Developing a successful digital strategy to grow your company (September 2018)

4. Understanding digital analytics (February 2019) 5. Growth into near markets – GB & ROI (June 2019) These workshops are exclusive to NI Chamber members who participate in the Scaling for Growth programme. The workshops present attendees with the opportunity to learn from successful corporates and listen to their success stories, as well as providing the opportunity to get practical answers to specific concerns facing their business.

The most recent workshop in June 2019 focused on how to enter and grow into near markets – GB & ROI – with speakers discussing the various channels to entering these markets, how to grow market share once established, and their key learning in their journey to growth. 14 companies from a range of sectors attended the workshop, hosted by Fane Valley Headquarters in Moira, to hear from speakers: 1. John McDonald, Director of Corporate Development at GRAHAM Group, a leading player in all areas of construction throughout the UK and Ireland. John shared the impressive GRAHAM story of growth of a local family business to establishing 17 regional offices in the UK and Ireland. John shared how GRAHAM successfully entered various GB regions and progressed to gain significant market share, highlighting the lessons learnt along the way. 2. Grant Gilmore, Operations Manager at InterTradeIreland, a leading organisation assisting local companies to explore new cross border markets and grow across the island of Ireland. Grant gave SMEs an insight into opportunities in the ROI and provided practical information on how to navigate the procurement system in this region. Grant shared vital information on how to identify upcoming tenders and shared the experience of the companies he has dealt with who have successfully gained a foothold in this market. 3. James Mathers, General Manager at White’s Oats, a leading and multi award winning porridge and oat cereal brand. James shared the White’s Oats story - how they successfully entered GB and ROI using both private and own label products while maintaining all operations in Northern Ireland. James also provided an insight into the evolution of the White’s brand, how this differed between regions and how the company have successfully managed a diverse supply network across multiple regions. These workshops provide the opportunity for open discussions and peer learning between participants and speakers. The SMEs benefited from listening to companies who have been

Pictured are James Mathers (White’s Oats); Fred Smyth (Bank of Ireland UK); Catriona Henry (NI Chamber); Grant Gilmore (InterTradeIreland); Tanya Anderson (NI Chamber); John McDonald (Graham Group) and Oonagh Chesney (Fane Valley).

successful in growing into GB & ROI and take key learnings back to their own company to inform their own growth strategy. InterTradeIreland provided expert procurement advice which is invaluable for companies considering ROI as a target market. As with any NI Chamber event, the workshop also provided the opportunity for delegates to make connections with peers from a range of industries which opens the doors for onward introductions and collaborations. Some of our SMEs have shared their experience of the workshop below: Ken McKee, Project Design Engineers: “The Growth into Near Markets Workshop was an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about developing an effective strategy for entry into GB & ROI and hear from those who have been successful in this growth. From the workshop I gained practical insights into how to manage this growth, for example, adapting the


GRAHAMs strategy of using current employees from Northern Ireland to run offices across the UK to ensure successful establishment. In addition to this, as we currently tender for contracts in ROI it was great to hear from InterTradeIreland to understand how to best navigate this system.” Steven Cooke, Hunter Apparel: “I really enjoyed the Growth into Near Markets workshop and the information shared was extremely beneficial for Hunter Apparel as we are seeking to expand further both in GB & ROI. It was useful to hear both from White’s Oats and GRAHAM Group on how they have rebranded their products for their expansion into near markets as branding is a key focus for Hunter Apparel. I also found the InterTradeIreland presentation to be so beneficial and the practical tools that Grant provided opens up many doors for us to seek new growth opportunities.”


New market brand building When seeking entry into new markets, the importance of branding should not be underestimated. Expansion into national and international markets can be long and tough; however when used correctly, strong branding helps create awareness for products and services across regions, resulting in a faster acceptance. When an SME is relatively unknown, the brand identity is one of the first impressions it makes on target customers and, as such, should accurately reflect its culture, values and competitive edge. An effective brand provides a springboard for establishing a strong profile in-market, which ultimately allows an SME to compete with local providers and win business. Tanya Anderson, Head of International & SME Development at NI Chamber, answers some of the key questions around how an SME should approach branding when pursuing a growth strategy and how to leverage this to build profile and secure market share.


nce an SME has established a foothold in NI, how can it build on its local brand to facilitate growth in markets further afield? Success in a local market will typically have evolved over time, possibly generations, with no conscious focus on branding. However, when looking to grow into new geographies, an SME needs to be very clear on its competitive edge and what the company actually stands for i.e. quality, innovation, reliability or tradition etc. As a starting point, a practical approach is to “get around the table” with personnel from all parts of the business to understand the defining elements of its offering from different perspectives. Companies should then talk to their key customers – what do they value? Why do they choose your product? Once this has been distilled down into a few key qualities, an SME can then start to build a brand around these. Different markets will have different cultures and competitive landscapes and, as such, it is important for a company to research the target market to understand which aspects of its brand will resonate strongest. This means that branding can be tweaked to deliver maximum impact in different markets. For this branding to be effective, it needs to be relevant to the target market, differentiate the company from its competitors and reflect its culture and vision. Can an SME build its brand with limited resources? Building a brand presence in a new market will require a level of investment, however, this need not be significant in the early days. There are a number of different ways – both through a physical presence and digital strategy – that an SME can cost effectively start to establish its brand.

In terms of a physical presence, an SME should consider: • Opening an office in the target market to establish a presence – experience has shown that this needs to be more than a simple

postal address. Successful companies tend to relocate their own staff in the first instance (who know brand, product and culture), closely followed by recruiting local sales people to tap into their network and start building profile • Being proactive and submitting tenders for work – invest time in tendering for projects, even those which appear more challenging as this will raise profile within target markets • Becoming involved in a region in a social capacity e.g. getting involved in local community projects or collaborating with other businesses on local issues. In terms of digital approach to brand awareness, this can be a cost effective approach across multiple channels with the capability to target specific audiences. The options open to an SME are numerous but the obvious one to start with is investment in a website to ensure the brand message is on point. Also using google ads and search engine optimisation to assist awareness and backing this up with content marketing such as videos, blogs and social media posts will stimulate interest in a brand. Sometimes an SME brand gains foothold in one region but may find it difficult to achieve growth in other regions using the same strategy. Why does momentum in one region / country not translate into growth into further regions? It is critically important to understand a market and which parts of a company’s brand message is most relevant – this will differ not only from country to country but also between regions i.e. some of our corporates report that some regions in GB are receptive to local salesmen / local branding whereas larger regions like London do not see this as significant. As such, many companies have subtly different branding messages and sales strategies in different regions. The effectiveness of testimonials should not be underestimated – securing work and winning advocates in new markets is a powerful way to extend brand awareness and emphasise a company’s reach. Maximising the impact of testimonials by inclusion in social media posts and marketing is a valuable way to strengthen a brand. The importance of staff representing a company’s brand is also key – staff should always be fully aware of brand messaging and the cultural values that they should represent. Finally, it is important to remember that not all markets are the correct fit for a company’s product – management should research the competitive landscape, margins and logistics of delivery. They many conclude that a particular market is not feasible and not be afraid to rule Supported by a location out and look further afield.



Learn Grow Excel Conference with Invest NI








8. 34




Over 350 delegates attended the half day event in the National Football Stadium.


Panel session with Glenn Robinson (Tobermore); Roger Pannell (Unicorn Hygienics); Stephanie Mills (Firefly) and Elaine Patterson (Ulster Carpets).


Keynot Speaker Ian Forrester (STATSports).


Alan Egner (Power NI); Steve Harper (Invest Northern Ireland), Tanya Anderson (NI Chamber), Elaine Patterson (Ulster Carpets) and Ian Forrester (STATSports).


James Vaughan (Terex GB Ltd); Isaac McElroy; (Terex GB Ltd) and Matthew Drumm (Evo-Quip Terex).


Attendees had the opportunity to make one-to-one appointments with Invest NI trade advisors.


Panel participants Alison Currie (InterTradeIreland), Tanya Anderson (NI Chamber); Steve Harper (Invest NI); Liz McCrory (UK Export Finance); Lesley Batchelor (The Institute of Export & International Trade) with host David Elliott (Lanyon Group).


Chris Morrow (NI Chamber); Steve Harper (Invest NI); Mairead Scott (Honeycomb Jobs) and Neil Gibson (EY).


Ryan Garrett and Jonathan McFetridge (Expeditors Ltd).




10. Elaine Patterson (Ulster Carpets). 11. Dedicated networking and exhibition area at the Learn Grow Excel Conference. 12. Mary Mallon (The British Council) and Seamus Connolly (Fast Engineering Ltd). 13. Guest speaker Neil Gibson from EY.


In partnership with


SME Partner

14. David Elliott (Lanyon Group).

Supported by



NI Chamber & Electric Ireland Growing Something Brilliant

Kevin Gaskell, the former CEO of major automotive brands including Porsche GB and BMW GB, was the keynote speaker at NI Chamber’s Growing Something Brilliant leadership event, in partnership with Electric Ireland, which took place at Titanic Belfast. Pictured with Kevin (left) are NI Chamber Vice-President Ian Henry (centre) and Electric Ireland’s Dermot McArdle.

Connecting for Growth with Bank of Ireland UK


1. 1.

Ann McGregor (NI Chamber); guest speaker Peter Coppinger (Teamwork) and Niall Devlin (Bank of Ireland UK).


Teamwork’s Peter Coppinger addressed 150 firms from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at the event.


Guests also heard from Aidan McGrath, Managing Director of Acumensis.




NI Chamber & BT ‘Business of Sport’ Breakfast


2. 3.


Paul Murnaghan (BT); Jonny Petrie, Dan McFarland and Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby); John Healy (NI Chamber) and Ellvena Graham (ESB Group). Almost 100 members attended the breakfast at The Great Hall, QUB. Panel session chaired by BT’s Paul Murnaghan.



Developing Your Growth Potential with FinTrU and First Trust Bank Darragh McCarthy, CEO of FinTrU reminded over 100 business leaders to be ‘unashamedly ambitious’ in the pursuit of growth. Speaking at NI Chamber’s ‘Developing Your Growth Potential’ event with First Trust Bank, Mr. McCarthy shared the story of starting what is now a globally renowned financial services company, stressing the value of developing strong networks to fuel business success. Pictured are Ann McGregor (NI Chamber); Darragh McCarthy (FinTrU) and Seamus McGuckin (First Trust Bank). 37


NI Chamber President’s Annual Lunch












Paul Murnaghan (BT); guest speaker Eddie O’Sullivan; Ann McGregor (NI Chamber); John Healy (NI Chamber); guest speaker Pat Spillane and Lord Ian Duncan.

2. Ellvena Graham and Nick Coburn. 3. Gaelic football legend Pat Spillane and former Irish national rugby team Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan interviewed by BBC’s Holly Hamilton.


4. Holly Hamilton; Pat Spillane; Tony Nicholl, Managing Director of event sponsor GMcG Chartered Accountants; John Healy (NI Chamber) and Eddie O’Sullivan. 5



Jonathan Forrester, Managing Director of event sponsor Cleaver Fulton Rankin (centre) pictured with guest speakers Pat Spillane and Eddie O’Sullivan.

6. Paige Reilly, Graham Thompson and David McEwen. 7. Holly Hamilton; Pat Spillane; Mark Hopkins, General Manager of event sponsor Dell Technologies Ireland Commercial; John Healy (NI Chamber) and Eddie O’Sullivan. 8. Robin Swann, Katrina Godfrey and Christine Robinson.


9. Petrina McAuley (NI Chamber); Holly Hamilton and Louise Turley (NI Chamber).


10. Sharon McKinley and Caroline Feeney. 11. Stephen Farry and Ann McGregor. 12. Suzanne Wylie, John Healy and Arlene Foster. 13. Jim Norris and Christina Bates. 14. Lord Mayor John Finucane welcomes guests to Belfast City Hall.


Communications Partner


15. Amanda Sistern, Paula Leather and Emma Kieran.

Drinks Reception Sponsor:

Supporting Sponsors


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Sowing the seeds of innovation FEATURE

Richard Kennedy, Devenish’s Chief Executive, discusses the company’s growth strategy and vision of becoming the world’s leading provider of integrated animal, human and environmental health solutions.





eadquartered in Belfast, and operating in more than 40 countries, Devenish has grown from a small NI trading-based company to a global agritechnology firm specialising in animal nutrition. Taking the reins of Chief Executive in 2015, Richard’s passion for farming and food is at the core of Devenish’s One Health, from Soil to Society strategy. This sees Devenish focus on developing innovative solutions for meat, milk and egg producers with the aim of better enabling them to produce safe, nutritious food that improves the health of the consumer. Driving the implementation of this strategy has been transformational for the business, taking it to new markets and demanding agility. “Devenish has grown rapidly in recent years off the back of a strong focus on innovation, research and development, as well as expansion into new markets. We have invested heavily into the business to build and grow our manufacturing capabilities as well as facilitate our mergers and acquisitions activity,” Richard says. “Last year we benefited from a major financial boost of €118 of investment for Devenish supported by €40 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in long-term funding, which has seen research, development and growth plans come to fruition. “We take great pride that EIB had the confidence to support not just the future of Devenish, but the future of the Irish agri food sector overall.” This financial injection has supported the company’s investment in Kenyan company Sidai Africa, the launch of a unique PhD programme in partnership with Queen’s University, the roll-out of multi-discipline postgraduate programmes, and the launch of the ‘HeartLand’ (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Rural development: Training network for LAND management) project. The latter is a four-year

plan which will seek to design, implement and evaluate a soil, sward and grazing farm management system that maximises a positive impact on the environment, improving

“We take great pride that EIB had the confidence to support not just the future of Devenish, but the future of the Irish agri food sector overall.” the nutritional and sensory quality of meat, and consequently improving human health. Devenish has also begun renovating Netterville, acquired in 2018, with plans to establish it as a Global Innovation Centre for the company. Netterville is situated a short distance from Dowth Hall, County Meath, the lands around which Devenish has been using for innovative work into soil management, food and farming research over the past five years.


It is clear the key to the success of Devenish has been its ability to innovate. The company spends up to 20% of its considerable annual turnover of £225m on research and development. In 1997, the focus was on establishing a specialised nutrition firm and these days it is on the ever-expanding demand for quality food. Richard explains, “In 2013 we had three manufacturing sites – we now have five facilities in the UK, four in the United States, one in Turkey and a feed mill in Uganda. We also have plans underway to build a plant in Mexico. This growth trajectory is reflective of our continued reinvestment into researching, developing and commercialising animal nutrition solutions that address the challenges facing farmers and food producers today. “Realising these goals has been made possible with the unwavering support and teamwork from our colleagues who play a hugely important role in our business as we continue to grow and evolve to the next level.” Looking forward, Richard will have the chance to showcase Devenish’s innovative work to the business community in Ireland and beyond, through his involvement in the 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards, of which he is a finalist. Speaking about the achievement, he said: “This recognition has sparked enormous pride in me but being shortlisted is not an individual achievement. Devenish is built by driven, passionate, skilled people, without whom we would not be innovating and growing at the rate we are. “Every person within Devenish demonstrates absolute excellence in their field by seizing opportunity, taking risk and going for greatness – the true definition of entrepreneurial spirit. “I look forward to sharing this journey with them and taking Devenish into its next chapter as we endeavour to be world renowned for our creativity and integrity in the field of agritechnology,” Richard concludes.

Driving Diversity


Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is moving further up the agenda in Northern Ireland’s boardrooms. Ambition spoke to Andrea McIlroy-Rose, Head of the Belfast Office at international law firm Pinsent Masons on how this is driving change across Northern Ireland plc – and if harnessed properly can add to the bottom line. Is Diversity and Inclusion good for business? Absolutely. A focus on D&I should not be viewed as a cost to business but a driver that brings many advantages. It is vital in recruiting and retaining the best talent, particularly in enticing back those who may have departed Northern Ireland, as they seek confidence that the region is a modern, progressive and inclusive economy. Productivity and retention are also boosted when people are secure in ‘bringing their whole selves’ to work. No member of staff should be reticent to share details of their personal lives or background for fear of being discriminated against. If a firm creates an environment where every person feels respected and included, you can expect them to be happier in their work and less likely to seek options elsewhere. Also having a diverse workforce means that businesses are alert to new trends and opportunities, stepping outside unconscious bias and boosting innovative thinking. How does Northern Ireland’s stance on LGBT+ rights resonate at an international level? This issue is hugely important for attracting inward investment. International firms have choices as to where they locate and are aggressively courted by competitor regions. If people have to travel to work in a Northern Ireland office, the businesses they work for should not have to explain to them that an employee’s personal relationship is not recognised and respected to the same degree when they arrive here. Businesses should be fully representative of the communities in which we live and work and there is great mutual benefit in working together to encourage positive change and progress. You were a part of the Businesses for Love Equality Campaign – was it a risk taking such a public and prominent position?

All business is about balancing risk and reward but for us keeping our head down is not an option. On LGBT+ rights we are proud to have been involved in founding many of the programmes and networks including Diversity Champions and Working With Pride. We are fortunate to benefit from an outstanding LGBT+ advocate in my colleague and employment partner, Paul Gillen. Whilst Northern Ireland has moved more slowly than other regions towards marriage equality and we recognise and respect that some clients may not share our views, more often than not we have found the opposite to be true. Businesses are embracing the power of diversity as part of their values and brand and they want to work with those who share the same views and culture. With risk comes rewards. In being named Stonewall No.1 Employer for LGBT people in the UK, the judges cited our role in Northern Ireland as a major part of their decision. How do businesses embed Diversity at the heart of their business? Buy-in and support from the leadership team is vital. Those taking steps outside their comfort zone need to be confident that the weight and the culture of the business is behind them. If the mind-set at the top sees D&I as a business advantage, as well as making the business a good place to work, then that percolates down. Also don’t be afraid to seek advice and guidance from others. No organisation has a monopoly on good ideas and there are lots of organisations operating in Northern Ireland who have great D&I initiatives and are keen to share their ideas with others. Whilst there is a competitive element to all businesses we are always delighted to work with other law firms and organisations on D&I initiatives and to swap ideas as to how best to work together.

Pinsent Masons hosts a bring your family to work day to celebrate being named one of the top ten family friendly employers in the UK.


Colleagues, family and friends at Pinsent Masons walk each year in the Lawyers with Pride Group in the Belfast Pride Parade.

In February a Belfast Telegraph survey showed just three women atop companies in the NI Top 100 – were you shocked by that? The scale of the imbalance in that survey certainly came as a surprise, but no-one can hide from the issue. At Pinsent Masons we focus on initiatives such as comprehensive mentoring programmes, gender balance training for all management roles and the removal of hidden barriers to career progression. For example, we invest heavily in our IT infrastructure as it enables better remote and true flexible and agile working, meaning that colleagues can balance work with the pressures and joys of family life. Each company and each sector must engage and examine their own progress. In law, that survey only covered our colleagues at the Bar and therefore was not fully representative of the legal profession here and the number of females in senior positions. We are now working with the Law Society to examine how to properly promote the very positive work being done within the legal profession

on gender equality and so the next time that exercise is carried out it should present a more accurate picture. Basically it should be in the best interests of all companies to create a level playing field where talented people have equal opportunities to succeed and this in turn should result in more women having senior leadership positions. Which area presents the biggest challenge in Diversity & Inclusion? That will be different for each individual organisation and when you make progress on one front it often brings others into relief. For example, Pinsent Masons has made real improvement on gender balance and female career progression based on targets and more inclusive KPIs. However success in one area makes you ambitious to identify the next challenge. As a business we were confident enough to take an honest and critical look at ourselves and recognise that on the issue of ethnicity we were not where we want to be. That’s not to say we think we are worse than any other employer, but the firm holds itself to a high standard so we are taking steps across the business to make progress in this area. Another issue is broadening the reach beyond some hot-spots, both in terms of sector and geography. On the LGBT+ front, we noticed recently that professional services, IT and the public sector were very active, but in comparison with its size and importance to the local economy, manufacturing appeared to be under-represented. In discussing this point with Manufacturing NI, they invited us to participate in their Chief Executives Summit to challenge organisations to self-examine, showing maturity and leadership. Hopefully that example can cause other sectors to think about how they engage. What are the emerging trends in D&I? D&I is continually evolving but areas we are seeing as increasingly important are those of disability and mental health & wellbeing. Pinsent Masons has signed up to the Valuable 500 campaign which seeks to place disability inclusion on the board agenda of 500 global businesses. We also recently established The Mindful Business Charter, with Barclays, and Addleshaw Goddard, which is a pioneering project for banks and their legal services providers to reach a shared agenda for supporting mental health and wellbeing. As more business leaders understand the impact of D&I, we are finding it is an excellent space in which to collaborate with clients outside the confines of the normal service or advisory relationship. It is a subject which aligns brands and strengthens relationships, and helps showcase Northern Ireland as a positive place to live and do business in. And that is the bottom line. Pinsent Masons is the No.1 employer in the UK for LGBT+ people on the Stonewall Index 2019; a Times Top 50 Place for Women to Work; and a Working Families Top 10 Employer. They also have a boutique D&I consultancy BrookGraham that specialises in the strategic management and implementation of D&I. For more information contact


Eamonn O’Kane, Niall Bradley, Deaglan Lundy and Brian Lundy.

Philip Martin, Ruth Walker, Leigh Brown and Trevor Anderson.

ASDON GROUP’S ANNUAL GOLF DAY Another great day was held at Dunmurry Golf Club for Asdon Group’s annual golf day. With 48 competitors taking part and as usual welcome refreshments served at the 10th Tee by Helen Brown and Barry Marshall. Dinner and the presentation of prizes followed in the evening. The men’s 1st prize was won by Niall O’Connor with 39pts, 2nd prize Gary Gilpin with 38pts and 3rd prize Adam Spence with 37pts. Ladies 1st prize was won by Ruth Walker and 2nd prize Julie Leonard. Gross 77 was won by William Hewitson.

Gary Gilpin, William Brown, Helen Brown and Jim Fleming.

Julia Leonard, David Longridge and Celia Worthington.

Peter McCann, Brian Keenan, Colin Dougan and James McKervill.

Gary Gilpin, William Brown and Jim Fleming.

Tom Smyth, Gary Donaldson and Niall O’Connor.


Stuart Gallagher, Ronnie Hill and Adam Spence.


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Stuart Hollinger, Michelle Wilson and Michael Johnston.

Her Majesty’s Lord-Leiutenant for County Antrim Mrs Joan Christie CVO and the team from Yelo.

YELO PRESENTED WITH A QUEEN’S AWARD FOR ENTERPRISE On 13 June Test Engineering firm Yelo from Carrickfergus were presented with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise by Mrs. Joan Christie CVO OBE Lord Lieutenant of Antrim. This award is the highest accolade that can be achieved by any UK Business and all winners are personally approved by The Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister. Yelo won it for its outstanding performance in international trade with a growth of 138% in export sales over 3 years. As well as Mrs. Christie, speeches were delivered at the event by Sammy Wilson MP and Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Maureen Morrow.

Her Majesty’s Lord-Leiutenant for County Antrim Mrs Joan Christie CVO, OBE presents The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise to Yelo MD Richard Furey.

Her Majesty’s Lord-Leiutenant for County Antrim Mrs Joan Christie CVO, OBE presents the Yelo Directors with the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise; International trade.

Dylan Burke and Mid and East Antrim Mayor Cllr Maureen Morrow.

Yelo operations director David Sinclair, Mid and East Antrim Mayor Cllr Maureen Morrow, MD Richard Furey and MLA Sammy Wilson.

Richard Furey, Shuangqi He (Chinese Consulate office) and Martin Collins (Yelo Sales and Marketing).


Sammy Wilson MLA.


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Winning data

How Newry company STATSports has gone from an idea on the side of a football pitch to a multi-million pound company which counts some of the world’s most well-known teams as clients. 52


ata is everything in all aspects of the modern, high-performance world. With accurate, timely data, performance can be tracked and tweaks made to hone processes and eek that extra inch to improve competitiveness. That’s as true in the sporting world as much as it is in business. Speak to any half-serious sportswoman or man – not just elite athletes – and you’ll find

in most a competitive edge which focuses on doing as much as possible to make sure they are as prepared as possible to win on match day. It was this realisation which set the wheels in motion for STATSports. The Newry company makes GPS tracking technology aimed at field athletes which is capable of measuring a multiple of statistics. Most obviously it can measure distance, but


that is just one of a plethora of metrics which are fed back to coaches and players alike, often in real time. Others include maximum speed, number of sprints, heat maps of on-field movement and many more. By doing so coaches can maximise their players’ output and minimize their potential for injury. As an example, the technology has the capability of telling if a player is limping, thereby


alerting the coach to an athlete who might not want to admit they are in pain. Because the information is fed back to the coach in real time, they can then be pulled out of training or competition so attention can be given, thereby avoiding more sustained injury and maximising their chance of playing again. In rugby, it can measure the impact of collisions, thereby helping players focus on their technique so as to be as competitive as possible in the tackle and scrum. All this from a small pod, worn in a vest, held between the shoulder blades and wirelessly connected to a reader on the side of the pitch. Crucially, STATSport’s technology – the APEX Pro Series – is the most accurate available and offers a unique insight for serious athletes which can’t be matched. Certainly, the company has some highprofile fans. Names such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Jueventus, Paris SaintGerman, US Soccer, the England Football Association, the Irish Rugby Football Union, England Rugby, Irish Hockey, the New York Knicks, the China Football Association and South Africa Rugby Union are just a handful of the high performance sporting organisations which use STATSports technology. In total, there are more than 1,500 on the

client list and a growing list of high profile investors. Premier League stars Alex OxladeChamberlain and Raheem Sterling, England internationals who play for Liverpool and Manchester City, recently announced their investment in the company, one which values STATSports at £200m. As well as tracking elite players, STATSports also produces a consumer product – the APEX

“The partnership has resulted in the world’s largest player data monitoring program”

Athlete Series – specifically for the growing number of amateur field sports athletes whose competitiveness is on a par with those at the upper echelons. Again, the range of metrics the product can measure and its superior accuracy set it apart from the competition. Such success is impressive and belies the company’s beginnings from a mere idea in 2007. Then a chance conversation between Alan Clarke and Sean O’Connor – previously unknown to one another – on the sidelines of a match in which their beloved Dundalk were playing led to the idea for a piece of technology which could track individual players. The rest, as they say, is history as the two went on to form STATSports and to start a revolution in measuring sporting performance which has impacted all levels of field sport. Proof the ability to analyse multiple data points could offer an edge was quick to come in the early days with the company’s first major client Leinster Rugby signing up in 2009, the year it went on to win the European Cup.


The other three Irish provinces and ultimately the Irish Rugby Football Union were quick to follow but not before some household names from other sporting arenas were added to the client list. One of the most prominent emerged last year in the form of the US Soccer Federation. The world’s largest GPS partnership, the deal with US Soccer see STATSports provide its technology to players across the U.S. Men’s, Women’s, Youth, Paralympic, Futsal and Beach National Teams, Development Academy clubs and National Women’s Soccer League. The partnership has resulted in the world’s largest player data monitoring program and is seen as a platform to identify future stars of the game. It is also the first step towards giving coaches and players across the U.S. access to the performance technology used by the top professionals and teams around the world. Meanwhile, a significant move into the Chinese market was launched at the end of 2018 with the Chinese Football Association, which sees STATSports provide its technology to all national teams within the association including its national team, women’s and youth teams. The potential in that market is easy to see given the Chinese government’s plan to have 50 million players, 70,000 pitches and 50,000 coaches in the country by 2020. Such growth means the company has had to expand accordingly. As such, it announced the creation of 237 new jobs recently and a multi-million pound investment in research and development and staff training supported by Invest Northern Ireland. The move sets STATSports up for an exciting future and will make sure its product retains it long list of unique selling points. Having revolutionised the world of performance monitoring in field sports, the company has no intention of sitting still and plans to break into new sports and further improve and expand the functionality of its technology. If the last 12 years are anything to go by, the next 12 will be another period of fast paced growth.

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68 57

TRAVEL Dara McMahon, Director of Marketing at Aer Lingus.


Dara McMahon, Director of Marketing at Aer Lingus, chats to Emma Deighan about the company’s growth over the years. Dara McMahon, Director of Marketing at Aer Lingus, says her biggest project since joining the firm in 2016 has been transforming the branding behind Ireland’s best-known airline. The process of the “refreshment” which launched this year, will take the company to a whole new level she says. “When I joined Aer Lingus much had been achieved to transform the airline. We’ve completely upgraded business class and brought in lie-flat beds, improved inflight entertainment, added WiFi on long haul and we’ve improved the food offering. The guest experience pre-flight has been improved too with technological changes including self-service bag drops at checkin,” she begins.  Those service-led additions attracted Skytrax’ Four Star rating, making Aer Lingus the only Irish airline to receive this status. It puts the airline in a prime position where it is neither low cost nor premium but accessible and with guaranteed quality.  The obvious next step was a new, refreshed look for the Aer Lingus brand says Dara; “I put together a business case to undertake a brand identity project. I was pushing against an open door because my boss was very much up for it.”   The objective of the rebrand is to make Aer Lingus a modern but more importantly an international airline. It was no easy feat and the results, some of which have yet to be unveiled, were made up of a lot of work across all areas of operations.   “Aer Lingus is a much-loved brand with a great affinity. It wasn’t broken and it’s not like anyone was screaming for change so you’re going in with a bit of trepidation,” admits Dara.  The project was thoroughly researched in Dublin, Boston, Berlin, London, New York and Paris. First to feel the cosmetic effects of the rebrand was the aircraft livery says Dara. “There was tremendous consistency in reaction and opinion to the new brand look. A shade of green, teal, adorns the tailfin with a swoosh of green on the back part of the fuselage. A brighter green shamrock sits proudly on the tailfin.” Adding to the new look is additional offerings onboard the short haul routes - a service that has been welcomed by business travellers. This includes AerSpace. It offers a guaranteed free middle seat and overhead storage, complimentary food and drink, lounge access, priority boarding, fast track security and automatic standby for earlier

flights.  “It’s a service that appeals to frequent fliers and so far the take-up has been great,” says Dara. “People are looking for more comfort and a little bit more space. It was driven by the voice of the guest and at the moment it’s going to trial on London flights and Dublin to Paris and Amsterdam.”  AerSpace isn’t the only perk for the loyal Aer Lingus guest. AerClub, which has been operating since 2016, has been giving back to those who choose to fly Aer Lingus. It is a reward service that allows members to collect Avios points not only by booking flights on Aer Lingus and its airline partners, but also on nonair purchases from a wide range of brands including retail, hotels and car hire, across Ireland, Europe and North America.  “The points are run by Avios which builds up finance for a free flight or money off. We have introduced ‘Pay with Avios’ and had €1m savings recorded. One particular guest saved €8,000 with the average saving €57.”  Its innovation and improvements like AerSpace and AerClub as well as those finer details that give Aer Lingus the reputation of “under promising but over delivering” adds Dara who says the airline has a huge overlap with Ryanair on routes but that the “better product”, “more leg room” and superior service keep it in the travelling public’s favour.   Testament to its popularity is Aer Lingus’ growth over the years. A decade ago it carried 200,000 guests across the Atlantic to New York, Boston and Chicago. Aer Lingus pilots at the launch of the airline’s new livery.


In 2018 it carried two million, ten times more. “And since 2015 we’ve doubled the amount of routes we offer and increased the frequency on existing routes,” informs Dara.  From Belfast Aer Lingus operates flights to London and in the summer season, holiday services to Faro and Malaga. It’s a market that Dara says is “very important” to the airline. “We treat our operations as the island of Ireland and Belfast is very important. Northern Ireland is home to a quarter of the island’s population. We’ve been active in Northern Ireland for a very long time and we focus a lot of our marketing there. The market there is always under review.”  Aer Lingus’ biggest offering is from Dublin where its route network is continually evolving to incorporate more and more US connections. From there it serves 15 North American destinations. And in the last 12-18 months it has added Newark, Hartford, Connecticut, Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle. It has also reinstated its LA service.   Next on the schedule is a Minneapolis flight which will kick off this summer. On the busier US flights Aer Lingus offers multiple services. The latter shows that most of the growth is transatlantic which has also given the airline good reason to invest in its fleet of aircraft.  It is soon to acquire seven new Airbus A321neo LRs. The Long Range variant type of the aircraft will allow Aer Lingus to further expand its US network. The 184seat, single aisle will also see it fly with a green conscience.


Style and Substance


Edel Doherty, Managing Director, Beyond Business Travel.


There is a reason Beyond Business Travel in Belfast has carved itself a niche in the corporate travel industry. It’s Managing Director, Edel Doherty, tells Emma Deighan that success is all about trust… and technology. “You have to do what you say you’re going to do. That way people know they can rely on you. It’s a transfer of trust and we are looking after our clients’ biggest asset; their people,” explains Edel as we discuss catering to the travel needs of many of Northern Ireland’s top companies. “People might prefer to book their own travel but I question how do you know you’re getting the best value for money? What happens at the weekends when there is an emergency and someone’s due to fly back from NYC? Or what happens if there is a terrorist incident, how do you know they’re safe? We solve all of those major issues and we are part of the biggest travel band group in the UK which brings good savings. And we have the tech that fulfils a business’ duty of care. We have an out of hours service and there is always an English speaking voice on the other side who can see the traveller profile,” she continues. It’s a sales pitch that would shift the thinking of even the most independent of traveller and one that the team at Beyond can offer with confidence, given it was born in a baptism of fire back in 2010 at the height of the recession and when the Icelandic ash cloud disrupted the travel world. “We did pick up a bit of business from that,” reveals Edel. “We had one guy in America and he was adamant that he wanted to get home. I tried to explain that he had an office there and it was best to settle himself until it lifted but he insisted he wanted to get home, so we sourced a cargo ship that would’ve taken him a week to get home. In the end he didn’t take it but it’s our job to reassure people and let them know that we will work it out on their behalf.” Edel and her team will, next year, celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary and its stellar growth. When Edel set up the firm, Beyond Business had two employees. Today there is a

team of 24 with a turnover of £16 million and a new business plan will see it “quadruple” that figure within the next four years. It has been sheer hard work that has fast-tracked Beyond Business Travel to this position. And its investment in both people and technology has seen it offer one of the most sophisticated travel services to its clients while it’s “concierge” touch provides the personal element. “We offer everything form booking a flight, a hotel, a car, airport parking, visas and help with passports. And more recently we started a conference service,” Edel says. “We are just back from organising an accounting conference in Madrid where we arranged dinner, a casino and entertainment and that’s a new area for us.” When companies want access to the details for such travel spend that’s when Beyond Business Travel’s IT savvy offering comes into play. Edel explains that clients are able to access a “full overview of spend” with a “lovely dashboard of rich data that they need to make good decisions”. “Technology and automation is playing a major part in our business and the tech we are giving our clients allows them to have full visibility and control and they have the autonomy to book when they want because not everyone is 9-5,” says Edel. That advanced tech offering is a continuous focus for Edel and the team. The speed at which travel tech is moving and the reliance on smart devices means consistent development keeps the business at the top of its game. “There is a whole generation coming through that doesn’t want the traditional business travel service. Millennials want the autonomy to book themselves. That’s why we have an online booking tool, to allow that autonomy, and it allows the


company to see what’s booked and track everything. “We’ve had to up-skill our people for that and what I’ve noticed is, all of a sudden, everyone wants it. We are driven by the demand of our travellers. “We implemented our latest technology on a major client last year and we gave them all the state-of-theart tech that’s in business travel now and they really wanted to embrace it and they came back and said it had been transformational for them.” Taking technology to a new level in the near future is a new Beyond Business Travel app that will offer “the world’s best business travel experience”. And because that will mean new skills, it will also mean new roles at Beyond. Edel says they will be “different types of roles” adding: “There is a lot of reassurance with the existing team because there will always be a need for concierge. We invest in a lot in training our staff. None of us are the finished article and I’m a big believer in lifelong learning.” And to safeguard that existing team, Edel is also a big believer in rewarding the efforts of the staff. She does this through “team month” during which everyone gets the opportunity to divulge what they love about their other team members. It also includes gifting, day trips and team building trips, the last of which was on Rathlin Island. “We value every one of our team, people are your business and we want to make everyone feel valued. They work so hard, they’re just amazing,” says Edel. “Clients are the other important element of our business so we also have Client Month when we take the time to ask our clients how we are delivering for them, we organise events and give some prizes.” Edel says that allows her and the team to “breathe life into those KPI’s and get feedback.”


Going Above and Beyond


On the Ascent Dublin Airport has set itself a target to process 98% of all passengers through its security screening area in 15 minutes or less, no mean feat considering the airport is now handling more than 100,000 passengers daily during peak season and 31.5 million passengers annually. Emma Deighan chats with Vincent Harrison, Managing Director of daa. Vincent opens up his daa app to reveal the security times at the facility’s two terminals. It’s something he keeps a close eye on given the Airport has grown 50% over a short space of time. “It can be challenging at times but it’s something that we focus on hugely,” says Vincent. Under regulation Dublin Airport’s security queue times are monitored closely and it will be subject to nasty fines should the lines breach the 30-minute mark. “We have invested in resources throughout the airport because we are conscious of the impact time has on people and we focus on the entire passenger journey,” continues Vincent. The investment towards good timekeeping extends beyond human resources, of which there are some 20,000 people making up the “small city” that is Dublin Airport. Over 3,000 of those are employed directly by daa. And even with extra staff and the help of technology, it’s still no easy task because after coming out of the recession, Dublin Airport has experienced phenomenal growth in the number of travellers, airlines and services. Vincent says the scale of operations “has fundamentally changed” since he began

working there in 2005. He became MD in 2014. “We’ve gone from over 20 million passengers to over 31 million in a relatively short space of time,” he says. “We have come out of a downturn into really rapid growth and that growth has been across the board; growth from existing customers and a whole increase in the broader base of airlines. We have 50% more passengers, but we also have 100% more airlines,” he explains. Technology is playing a key role in helping to improve the passenger experience. For example, INIS, the Irish Naturalisation Immigration Services, which has responsibility for Passport Control, has introduced new e-gates with flatbed scanners. This allows passengers to self-scan “a bit like the self-checkout in the supermarket” which helps greatly in passengers processing themselves through this area quickly. The e-gates also use facial recognition technology and are connected to national and international watch lists. It’s a technological move that keeps the queues running at a good pace. The route network from Dublin now rivals most of Europe’s major airports. Its two anchor airlines; Aer Lingus and Ryanair have provided a massive

Vincent Harrison, Managing Director of daa.


increased in routes and additional capacity to America and Europe respectively. And last year daa reached a milestone when it began its first services into Asia – to Hong Kong and Beijing with new airlines Cathay Pacific and Hainan Airlines. “Recently American Airlines started a new direct service to Dallas and WestJet launched a new service to Calgary. Aer Lingus has been a key driver of the growth to the US and it will start a new direct service to Minneapolis St Paul in July. We were delighted to add Moscow to our route network which was previously an unserved destination for us,” adds Vincent. Also fuelling the growth in destinations, particularly to the West, is the burgeoning tech scene in Ireland, namely Dublin. Vincent says the investment of US firms like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and LinkedIn has demanded new routes to places like Seattle. “They’re growing so fast and that emergence of the tech sector has been a prominent part of our growth because those workers require connectivity. “In many instances, of the people they employ, 50-90% are non-Irish nationals and they have families visiting too and that also fuels the growth.”


The airport is now standing at position 11 in the EU rankings, but that’s just a number says Vincent. “On metrics we certainly punch above our weight. Dublin is the fifth airport for transatlantic connectivity in Europe behind London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris CDG. This is partly due to our geographical advantage as intuitively you are heading in the right direction, but more importantly it is because Dublin Airport is the only capital city in Europe where passengers can clear US Customs & Border Protection here. This essentially means that once all the pre-clearance checks are done you arrive into the US as a domestic passenger so the only queue you have when you land is the taxi queue to your final destination. We now have over two million people connecting through Dublin Airport.” But it’s not all a one-way system he says: “I often describe Dublin as the perfect airport market because you’re not looking at flows of traffic in one direction, you’re also fuelling the tourism industry.” Undoubtedly that tourism is working its way up north too.

“I’m aware that, from time to time, Dublin Airport can be a topic of controversy in Northern Ireland but in our view, we see it as a huge advantage to have a range of travel options in an airport like Dublin which serves Asia, the Middle East and a range of US destinations. “For inbound tourism the records would show that more people from outside the UK travel to Northern Ireland through Dublin Airport than any other route and we see that as a huge advantage too.” According to Vincent more than two million passengers travel to and from NI via Dublin Airport every year. It’s a figure that could definitely grow more he believes. “What we found initially is that there was a lack of awareness as to the range of destinations and services offered here. People automatically thought they had to connect through Heathrow. We need to build that awareness and we very much value the relationship that we have with our NI market and will continue to do what we can to draw awareness to the choice and competitiveness on offer from Dublin Airport.” Competitiveness and an even bigger


offering are the main points of interest on daa’s agenda. As the airport continues to grow, a new runway is being constructed 1.7km to the north of the existing main runway. This runway will be completed in 2021 and following a period of commissioning it will become operational. Dublin Airport wants to invest about €1bn in much needed new capacity, mainly on the airfield bringing new boarding gate areas and aircraft parking stands.  This is part of a continuing evolution in the development of facilities and services at the airport which will celebrate 80 years in 2020. And the growth justifies the spend. “The airlines see us as a very strong market. We’re an island and for that reason we have a great desire to travel and people have a desire to travel to see us,” he says. “Irish people travel four times more often than anywhere in Europe and twice as much as the UK. It shows how important that connectivity is and if we take the numbers on a per capita basis, more than six times the population of the country comes through the airport and no other airport can say that.”


Best in Class

Country Manager for Emirates, Enda Corneille, talks to Emma Deighan about why one of world’s most forward-thinking airlines is more accessible than many may think and why NI plays an important role in sustaining and expanding on its twice daily Dublin – Dubai service. Emirates airline conjures up thoughts of luxury and a service that is usually reserved for big spending travellers; the first class and business class type of traveller. But this is an image that the airline wants to get away from, particularly when it comes to its all-Ireland customer base. “One of the challenges for Emirates is that sometimes the brand is seen as inaccessible and shiny but really, at the end of the day, it’s about value for money. Yes, we have first and business class but we are also selling into families and immigrants and we want to get that message across that it’s not just for a select few,” begins Enda. It’s a challenge given the airline has one of the best reputations in the world for flying in the lap of luxury and it is consistently improving its offering to keep it that way. “Emirates Fly Better, that’s our new strapline and we always want to be better than the last time you flew with us. We have to keep evolving and we’ve always tried to be the best and have products that others don’t have. We’ve done things when others haven’t like we had the first A380 aircraft, we were the first to put a shower onboard.” Emirates first entered the Irish market in 2012 when it began flying out of Dublin with a single daily flight to Dubai onboard an A330 aircraft. Enda continues: “Demand was strong enough to justify a larger Boeing 777, then it was full very quickly.” And in September 2014 it upped its frequency to twice daily flights using the Boeing 777 made up of eight first class suites, 42 seats in business class and 310 economy seats. “Those services allow travellers to connect with Dubai and from there, travellers can continue their luxury transit to more than 150 destinations eastbound, including Africa. “Emirates in Ireland has been a big success given it launched at a time when there was a recession and things were tough. A lot of work went into researching that service,” Enda reflects. In its years of operating its Dubai link Enda admits that competitors have come and gone “but Emirates’ continued presence gives customers certainty that the schedule is stable” he reinforces. When he joined the airline in 2014 the Irish Emirates team gained agreement from the UK to manage Northern Ireland as part of an ‘Island of Ireland’ customer base. “And that’s where we’ve seen interesting increases,” Enda continues.

“We’ve been doubling our passenger traffic every year from Northern Ireland, 25% of which is premium.” And then there’s the incoming traffic, which is undoubtedly travelling north too. Enda says Australia brings in the majority of that two-way traffic which sits at a 50:50 ratio of inbound and outbound travellers. The airline’s daily cargo service which transports 50 tonnes of cargo is also benefiting from a boost in NI custom. “In recent years we’ve sold into the air cargo market in NI and some of our biggest exports from there include aircraft seats from Bombardier. “We also transport a lot of fresh food, live animals and pharmaceuticals, you name it.” In 2015 Emirates appointed a dedicated Northern Ireland account manager to address its business and leisure division. And Lynsey Lamont, Corporate and Accounts Manager for the airline, has been working with travel industry specialists here to further grow the NI customer profile. “Our business is still very much about people which is why we have a dedicated account manager and Lynsey has made such a difference to our performance. It is a serious move to drive the market and an investment to put people on the ground,” explains Enda. “She’s our eyes and ears.” Driving NI traffic to Dublin Airport is a mission that isn’t unique for Emirates. It’s a business plan for many of the airlines operating from one of Europe’s busiest airports. Enda sees daa as a facility that complements our existing services at George Best and Belfast International airports. And he wants to shout about it. “We can absolutely grow further and the Northern Ireland customer has discovered what’s on offer from Dublin Airport. I believe it shouldn’t be seen as a threat, it complements existing infrastructure so instead of connecting over London, our job is to keep driving the business out of Dublin. “And if you’re talking about the economics of flying or time spent travelling, it’s certainly quicker to do so long haul from Dublin. It’s an hour and half down the road and with Emirates we offer a strong network of services, a modern fleet, 4500 channels of entertainment and in a world where many airlines are charging left, right and centre for everything we have no onboard charges for food or drink,” says Enda.


In total there are around 35 staff members in Emirates Ireland operation but there is “upwards of 600 Irish staff in the airline”. Most of those are cabin crew and pilots. “Again it’s about making it accessible. It brings the brand back home and on the daily flights there will always be a number of Irish crew members and almost always an Irish pilot. We also put a lot of Irish products onboard to make people comfortable,” he adds. Plans for the airline are ambitious but pending infrastructure improvements. Enda has hopes that the Dubai service can expand to three daily flights but only when the Airport completes a new runway that will enable it to do so… perhaps even bringing the A380 to Ireland. Emirates is the biggest operator of A380 aircraft to date. It’s part of its evolving nature to be the first and the best of anything in the passenger aviation industry and even recently it announced that it will launch the world’s shortest Airbus A380 flight - a 15 minute journey between Dubai and Muscat staring in July. “The A380 gives consistency in product. At the minute you fly Boeing 777 and connect in Dubai to access the A380 but wouldn’t it be great if you could travel the whole journey in it?” Asks Enda. “It’s a sense of space. It’s a very big aircraft, it’s very quiet and it’s a very smooth flight. There is plenty of space to walk around in economy and business and its lounge holds 46 people. It also has showers in first class. We see how impressed people are when they get onboard the aircraft and take photographs. Some travellers will even change their itineraries just to travel on it.” Emirates has kitted its A380 out to a standard that few other airlines can compare with. It’s a standard synonymous across its entire fleet and service offering. And it’s one that has to be consistently reviewed and upgraded. “It is a challenge because so many airlines and competitors are always copying and snapping at the heels,” admits Enda who bears in mind that with that luxurious forward-thinking image, Emirates must strive to become accessible. “Flying now is not the preserve of the few, it’s available to everyone. Children leaving school this year don’t know a world without low cost air travel so the days of putting on your best clothes to travel are gone and it’s getting that message across that Emirates is accessible.”

EMIRATES Enda Corneille, Country Manager for Emirates.


TRAVEL George Best Belfast City Airport Commercial Director, Katy Best.


From the hustle and bustle of the city centre to the titanic history of Belfast, it should come as no surprise that nearly 2.6 million passengers travelled through George Best Belfast City Airport in 2018, marking it as one of its most successful years to date. Ambition talks to the airport’s Commercial Director, Katy Best. Following another record-breaking year for Belfast, in which it was named the #1 Region to Visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet, voted the ‘Best Events Destination’ at the Conference and Incentive Travel Awards, whilst taking centre stage as the back drop of international TV shows such as Game of Thrones, the tourism industry continues to celebrate Northern Ireland as a hotspot for culture, adventure, and business enterprise. George Best Belfast City Airport is also celebrating having been named the UK and Ireland’s Most Convenient Airport in a study by The Telegraph, located just five minutes from Belfast’s City Centre and the world-class facilities it has to offer. With blue chip airline partners, Belfast City Airport offers frequent connections to a strong network of domestic locations in addition to KLM’s daily service to Amsterdam and sunshine destinations operated by Aer Lingus throughout the summer months. Katy commented: “We currently serve major UK cities including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester with 13 flights to London every day. “The frequency and timings of these flights ensures convenience for our passengers whether they are travelling for business or leisure. “As a compact, one-terminal airport, our passengers are never more than a few minutes from our car parks, checkin, boarding gates or baggage reclaim. This makes for a convenient journey whether arriving or departing.” By way of ensuring ultimate convenience for all, Belfast City Airport has introduced hidden disability lanyards and was the first airport to recognise the NOW Group’s JAM (Just a Minute) cards which notifies staff that the passenger may need some extra time. It is efforts such as these that resulted in the airport’s accessibility being rated ‘very good’ by the CAA – the highest ranking available. Last year the airport announced a £15m investment aimed at improving the passenger journey through the terminal. To date this has resulted in a


refurbished Departure Lounge and a significantly upgraded Central Security Area which slashed the average passenger processing time to just six minutes. Katy continued: “Our refurbished Security Area has been extremely well received by passengers, particularly the automatic tray return system which is used in leading airports across the world. “A reconfiguration of the Departure Lounge has resulted in 25% more food and beverage options including our new bar/restaurant, The Artisan, which showcases local produce. “Larger WH Smith and World Duty Free units now offer a much extended product range for passengers now including toiletries, make up and electrical items which is in response to customer feedback. “Also by way of response to passenger feedback was a revised portfolio of car park products which now includes our Premier Car Park and Annual Passes.” The Departure Lounge now features refurbished washrooms, 100% more customer seating and additional electrical sockets for passengers to charge their devices on the go. Belfast City Airport was recently named the most punctual airport in the UK in a recent study of CAA on time performance data for 2018. Katy continued: “Travelling can be stressful so we work very closely with all our partners to eliminate as much of this stress as possible and enable our passengers to have a hassle-free journey. “Our industry leading punctuality performance and security processing time is testament to this work which is of great benefit to passengers who choose Belfast City Airport for their journey.” With further scheduled improvements including the completion of a covered walkway from the Premier Car Park to the terminal, along with the reconfiguration of the front of house area that will improve access for taxi and coach customers, the remainder of 2019 is looking to be just as busy for the airport.




Reaching New Heights In Corporate Travel

Corporate travel firm Hannon Travel has been operating from its NI base for almost one year and so far the decision to gain a foothold in the UK has been a wise one as its NI Director Mukesh Sharma tells Emma Deighan… In just under one year Hannon Travel’s NI & GB arm has already moved into a new base in a prime spot on Belfast’s Arthur Street. It’s a change that shows Hannon Travel is here to stay but that shouldn’t surprise those in the sector as the man chosen to head its NI division has an esteemed reputation that spans back to the 1980s. Mukesh Sharma, MBE, entered the travel business here in 1982 working for his family firm, Thriftway Travel, which over the years merged with a host of other independents to finally become Selective Travel. Mukesh decided to depart the travel sector in 2016 “for good” he says, but the opportunity to front a high quality corporate travel management company’s expansion into the GB market was too good to pass by.  Eimer Hannon founded Hannon Travel 20 years ago with a base in Co Meath and the company has grown from strength to strength over the years, now managing the corporate travel for executives in the aircraft leasing, pharmaceuticals, finance, equestrian, engineering and mining sectors worldwide. “I enjoy a challenge,” Mukesh begins. “My plans when I left travel were to give something back. I had no intentions of setting up another travel company,” he confesses.  But the decision to take the role didn’t mean turning his back on those altruistic plans, for today Mukesh holds a number of positions that allow him to satisfy his social conscience. Among the list is a role at the Princes Trust and another at children’s charity Barnardos. He was also chosen as a Commissioner for Flags in NI for which he hosts discussions with political and nonpolitical representatives to put forward solutions to issues here. “It’s trying to find a common ground,” he explains.  Then there’s his rather prestigious post of Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast - a role he will hold out until he is 75 years old! And in cultural circles Mukesh is also known as the co-founder of Arts Ekta, the organisation behind the very successful Belfast Mela which has been running for 13 years. But today, when Mukesh is not giving up his free time to selfless duties, he can be found managing the growth of Hannon Travel in GB from its base in Belfast. “It’s all about raising the bar in terms of customer service and customer experience”, says Mukesh. “Not only does Hannon Travel arrange the best flights and hotels providing a stress

free journey for work, but we could be called upon for literally anything. Recent examples include making arrangements for some personal items to be flown out to a travelling client in New York, ensuring the safety of a business executive in the Far East who was staying in the zone of a terrorist attack, and managing the schedules of jockeys competing for success all over the world. These are just three examples that show how Hannon Travel is more than a travel company. It’s a firm with a real duty of care and total commitment to our customers”, says Mukesh. “Our business model is based on quality of service. It’s not a conveyor belt and each client is treated as an individual. We do not outsource any facilities nor do we use a call centre out of hours. No matter what time you call us, you’ll get a member of the Hannon Travel team. They will understand your booking and have access to your profile, your preferences and plans,” he explains. “I think that’s very important for someone who owns a company, to know that we are there and can make sure they are not put in any danger and where there may be issues we can alert them. That’s made possible because our team is notified of any incident as soon as it happens. It triggers a system to allow us to know who is there, how many clients, their names, numbers and their immediate supervisors. Or it could be more routine, we are always being called upon by clients to change flights when their work schedules change or manage missed connections and delayed flights for them.” As well as generic travel services such as transfers, accommodation, account management and travel policies, Hannon prides itself on its service to inform and educate the client.  The NI team currently stands at five experienced travel experts who can advise on anything from airport construction works that might cause delays to cultural differences in their destination of choice, backed up if necessary by a further 25 highly experienced travel colleagues based in Hannon Travel’s Irish offices.  “We have to think for our clients and make sure that when there’s movement in airports, roadworks or a terminal refurbishment we alert the person beforehand. “If you travel all the time you can be resentful about it and it’s those minor details that we offer that mean a lot to the traveller.”


The latter service has been offered from the firm’s HQ in Navan for two decades. It’s what has earned Hannon Travel “a reputation that is second to none within the corporate market”. And Mukesh courts the challenge to extend that reputation into GB as is his role here in NI. “Business people now more than ever are under huge pressure to perform and deliver and their travel arrangements should not add unnecessary tension to their job. We pre-empt, react and provide real solutions 24/7, whether you wish to make a last-minute change or are forced to do so due to weather, strikes, technical issues etc. Providing a real duty of care, saving time and ensuring safe, comfortable and efficient travel solutions is what we do,” he adds.  The reason behind Hannon’s expansion here was prompted by the impending Brexit. “It gives us a camp in both jurisdictions,” says Mukesh. “We’ve had UK clients since the company started in 1999 but we believe it’s important now to have offices in the UK and serve these clients in sterling rather than Euro. It makes the whole transaction easier.” Also making things simpler for business travellers is Hannon’s IT services that offer clients access to their travel data in concise layouts. It’s a system that is particularly beneficial to finance departments who need to evaluate spend. “We break that down for them and can offer the previous year’s spend. We can also give the client their carbon footprint,” adds Mukesh who says keeping up to date with the most sophisticated tech is a big priority for the company. “It has to interact with others and it’s important to us because without that technology the business doesn’t operate. Our online booking tool and travel apps give travellers access to our range of global fares and a facility to view their travel plans on their own device.” But we still provide the personal touch because sometimes that’s what everyone wants.” Hannon Travel is currently looking to extend its services to NI businesses with travel needs and with global partnerships on the agenda, further growth is on the horizon.  “We are one year into the UK market and our plans are to continue our growth. We have established  global partners in the travel industry, companies with a similar ethos to ours. We want to grow and are constantly looks at new ways to service our global clients.”

HANNON TRAVEL Mukesh Sharma, NI Director, Hannon Travel.


Close Brothers appoints new Regional Sales Director in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Asset Finance team.

Well-established commercial funder Close Brothers Commercial Finance has extended its reach in Northern Ireland over the last year, appointing new members of the team and lending to businesses across the country. The modern merchant bank offers invoice finance, asset finance and asset based lending solutions to firms across the island. Most recently, the Asset Finance division have promoted Emma Blair to the position of Regional Sales Director. Blair has worked in the asset finance industry for 20 years and joined Close Brothers as Broker Relationship Manager in 2013. Flexibility helps the lender stand out, she says. “Close Brothers are specialists in asset finance and our model allows us to excel – it’s not just the vehicles with four wheels and an engine that we want. We look at bespoke assets and we don’t shy away from unusual or complex deals. “I enjoy finding solutions and structuring deals that suit the needs of our customers. We have a reputation for

being able to adapt and I strongly believe that the funding and support we offer is exceptional.” In her new role, Blair will lead a team of sales managers and directors and take responsibility for the provision of asset finance to SMEs across the region. “As Regional Sales Director, I hope to help more companies in Northern Ireland, as well as ensuring our business partners continue to receive a superior service. We can provide SMEs with cash flow solutions such as leasing, hire purchase and refinance. “Our sales directors are already skilled and experienced, so I am confident that we will deliver results for SMEs in Northern Ireland. I look forward to working with my team to bolster business.” Find out more about Close Brothers’ specialist finance options today by calling Emma on +44 (0)28 9099 4884 or visiting

Emma Blair, Regional Sales Director.

Close Brothers Close Brothers is a UK merchant banking group providing lending, deposit taking, wealth management services, and securities trading. Close Brothers Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 250. Our core purpose is to help the people and businesses of Britain and Ireland thrive over the long term. To achieve this, all of our diverse, specialist businesses have a deep industry knowledge, so they can understand the challenges and opportunities that our customers and clients face. We support the unique needs of our customers and clients to ensure that they thrive, rather than simply survive, whatever the market conditions.


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The Next Big Thing As the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator prepares to welcome its 10th intake of entrepreneurs next month, Ambition takes a look at two local businesses currently enrolled on the programme. HALO HEALTHY KITCHEN


hile on maternity leave, Laura Harbinson decided to pursue her life-long dream of selfemployment. Although the appeal of fitting work around family life attracted Laura to leave her full-time role, it wasn’t the deciding factor. Laura has always had a passion for food and loved experimenting with family recipes, searching for ways to make these healthier. Her brother was in training hard in the gym and like many gym goers, consuming only chicken, broccoli and rice. Laura knew she could offer him meals which would provide the same nutritional value but allow more variety at mealtimes. She decided to take the first step into self-employment and Halo Healthy Kitchen was born. Initially, she found herself working longer and more unsociable hours than ever before but remained confident that there was a significant gap in the market for the type of service she was offering. Three years in, Laura still describes selfemployment as a rollercoaster. Learning to balance the books has been stressful, but the rewards of self-employment far outweigh the downfalls. Learning new skills, meeting new people and watching her business idea grow, has filled her with pride and she says the feeling of seeing your dreams become a reality is what drives her to keep going every day. In the beginning, Halo Healthy Kitchen was marketed at those interested in losing weight and while this continues to be an important audience, the business has evolved significantly. ‘Reinventing convenience food one meal at a time’ is now the ethos of the company as they speak to people who are time poor but motivated to eat a balanced diet. Laura’s mission is to change peoples’ perception of convenience food and prove that it doesn’t have to be high calorie and over-processed. Halo Healthy Kitchen uses only locally-sourced ingredients and delivers it straight to the customer’s door. Currently, Halo

Healthy Kitchen is the only meal prep company in Northern Ireland with an app exclusively for ordering, which greatly enhances the overall customer experience. Laura decided to take the business one step further in April this year and enrol onto the Ulster Bank Accelerator Programme

source of help and Laura hopes that one day she can mentor other young women as they start out. Although Halo Healthy Kitchen is well established now, Laura believes she is still in the infancy of her own journey. In the next five years, she hopes to become the number one

“Laura’s mission is to change peoples’ perception of convenience food.” which helps start-ups to grow and scale. Even though it’s only been a few months, Laura is enjoying the fast-paced working environment and already seeing more doors being opened to her, thanks to the strong network links the Accelerator provides. Receiving mentorship from within the industry has also been a huge


meal prep company on the island of Ireland and plans to use her time with the Accelerator programme to grow and scale to the next level. For Laura though, the biggest reward is delivering high-quality, nutritious meals to her growing customer base and helping them create better eating habits.

Kaizen Strength


eeping with the health and fitness theme is Kaizen Strength, founded and managed by Conleth McAlinden. Like Laura, Conleth is part of the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator’s current cohort, having joined in April 2018 but Conleth’s journey to entrepreneurship began a little earlier. While studying for his Aerospace Engineering degree at university, Conleth knew this wasn’t the career path that was intended for him. His final placement was particularly challenging and he realised that he needed to make a change. Around this time, Conleth became aware of a book called ‘The Elements’ by Ken Robinson and as he listened to it on his daily commute began to think more seriously about his next move. Essentially, ‘The Element’ is the point where the thing you’re really good at meets the thing you love to do. Conleth became determined to find his element and when he did, knew that this would be the career he was destined to pursue. Conleth always had a keen interest in health and fitness but as he began to scratch the surface, he found that the idea of self-

development was his true passion. Once he had completed his university studies, he began to devote more time to learning about how he could help people become the best versions of themselves. He started a successful blog on the subject of personal-development, fitness and nutrition and quickly gained hundreds of followers who valued his insights. Conleth describes this time in his life as an intensive learning period as he consumed countless books on the subjects of fitness and business. Eventually he decided to pursue his PT qualifications and started coaching a handful of clients. While everything seemed to be heading in the direction of opening the gym, looking back, Conleth doesn’t feel there was a light bulb moment where he made the decision. Instead, it was an organic process and things grew slowly, especially in the beginning. Fast forward two years and Kaizen Strength has grown enormously. Conleth now has around 70 members and having secured finance, now operates from a modern unit which he has furnished with top of the range equipment. Conleth has spent a lot of time growing the Kaizen Strength brand and this is

where being part of the accelerator programme has been of particular benefit, offering practical advice and mentorship. It’s been a challenging journey but one which he is enjoying and as he continues to evolve, so do his goals. Eventually, Conleth hopes that Kaizen Strength will have 200 members and even delve into other areas of the industry. It’s through setting goals that Conleth stays focused and learns to appreciate his rewards. Achieving goals, Conleth has discovered, is where his real passion lies and while others may think he is constantly changing the goalposts, for Conleth, this is all part of the process. Today he is learning how to market the business better and to manage his time better, which are both skills he can develop through the Accelerator programme. He still continues to place a huge emphasis on self-development and has never stopped trying to better himself by improving his knowledge. Reflective journaling plays a huge part in his own personal learning and he is still an avid reader. For Conleth, everything he reads should mould the next phase of his business journey and he is looking forward to leading Kaizen Strength into the future.

“Conleth has spent a lot of time growing the Kaizen Strength brand and this is where being part of the accelerator programme has been of particular benefit.”


Financial Planning for different Ages and Stages with Insight.Out to create positive spending and saving habits, will be of huge benefit in future decades, especially when mortgages, children, and life’s ‘curve balls’ are thrown in. • Speak to a qualified financial advisor who will create that roadmap for you and review it annually. A little effort will help to generate huge rewards. • Start saving for your future as early as possible – ideally when you first start work • Small amounts in the early years are worth more as they have a longer period to grow in value • All companies are now required to offer a workplace pension, with contributions from the business and the individual. Choose to opt in.

Named as the Best Financial Advisor in Scotland and Northern Ireland at the Women in Financial Advice Awards 2018, Jayne Gibson from Insight.Out Financial is one of the leading lights when it comes to lifetime financial planning. With the retirement age increasing and JAMs (just about managing) making up a sizeable chunk of the population, it’s time to break bad habits and embrace new ways of living, and saving, with a financial Spring clean! From advising clients in their 20s to guiding clients in retirement, here Jayne outlines some valuable financial advice regardless of what stage you’re at in life. It’s never too late to make a difference and with determination to improve your finances, and a commitment to a new financial routine, some solid planning could pay dividends in the future. Reflecting on good practice throughout the decades, Jayne’s advice is as follows: 20s | Whether having just finished University with huge loans or in the first rungs of your career, creating a lifetime financial plan is not a priority for many people in their 20s. In addition, the changing nature of work means that there’s more people self-employed, freelancing and in more fluid positions – ‘jobs for life’ are a thing of the past. Ironically, this is why it’s even more important than ever before that people have a financial roadmap. The huge pension pots that many people in their 20s would have heard about from parents are now hearsay and there’s an increasing reliance for people to create their own nest eggs for future years. Becoming a prudent saver and starting

30s | This is the decade when thoughts about retirement start to kick in and the financial freedom of your 20s seems like a long time ago. As you hit your mid to late 30s, the practicalities of reaching and preparing for a good retirement are important. It can seem difficult to manage your finances as often mortgages, childcare and everyday bills are at a premium in your 30s however with solid advice, developing a practical pension plan is the best way to navigate your finances. Finding spare cash can be a struggle but prioritise it - it’s as important as a weekend away or your TV subscriptions. Rethink your budget and stay on top of debt repayment. If you have children, it’s not just their needs right now that need to be considered, but their future requirements such as further education. If you haven’t started to plot your financial future, remember…it’s not too late! As people reach their 30s, they’ve progressed in their career, are more considered about their futures and committed to making long-term decisions. • See a Financial Advisor. They will assess your current position, outgoing and make a financial plan for your future • Make the most of your available tax allowances and are not losing out on your personal income tax allowance and child benefit. • With a plan in place look to protection to make sure it stays on track even if the unthinkable happens. 40s | Although you might still feel like you’re 20 and wonder how you’re now in your 40s, it’s really time to think about your future. You’re half way into your working life and reassessing your current financial situation, combined with where you’d like to be in the future is important.


If you have additional funds, speak to a lifetime financial planner about investments. If you’re already on the investment ladder, diversity investments and assess risks and rewards. Estate planning is a reality of life, and it’s something that should be considered in your 40s if not before. Combining estate planning with your retirement goals will give a Lifetime Financial Planner a clear outline of where you’d like to be, and they can help to ensure the steps are in place to make this a reality. • Consider your future lifestyle after retirement, and not just in terms of your finances. What are the goals, how do you see your retirement, what are your lifetime ambitions? • This is the decade when you can really make a difference to building your wealth. Aim to contribute as much as you can to pension and ISAs as these help your money work more efficiently for you • Consider annual reviews with a Lifetime Financial Planner • Make sure your plans remain well protected Five takeaways for building up a healthy pension: 1. Even the smallest amount will make a difference. Start building your savings from your first full time job 2. As your salary increases, gradually build up your contributions 3. Prioritise a pension 4. Get solid advice. Meet with a lifetime financial planner who will set in place a financial plan for your future 5. Schedule financial reviews with a qualified advisor who will be able to help keep your plans on track and help to make any adjustments needed to deal with life’s hiccups. Insight.Out Financial offers independent financial advice and is committed to upholding high professional standards. We provide lifetime financial planning, and this can include pension transfer advice, investment planning, financial and tax planning, personal protection, and business financial planning. Our aim is to help clients to understand and achieve their financial goals. Insight.Out can be contacted on 028 9590 2280 or via email: info@ The company is located at 137 - 141 Holywood Road, Belfast, BT4 3BE. Risk warning: The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and past performance is not a guide to future performance’. You may get back less than you invested as investment returns are not guaranteed.

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Live Better

With 17 busy superstores and a workforce of around 4,000 colleagues, Asda is widely recognised as an established part of Northern Ireland’s economic framework. Ambition speaks to Joe McDonald, Asda’s Senior Manager for Corporate Affairs NI about the firm’s commitment to Corporate Responsibility.


orporate Responsibility straddles everything we do in Asda,” comments Joe McDonald, Asda’s Senior Manager for Corporate Affairs NI. “That includes how we support our customers and colleagues, how we care for the environment, and how we work with our supply chain. Our aim is to operate as a responsible business in every sense of the word. We are a customer led business and in a recent survey

96% of our customers told us they want Asda to be a green retailer.” In February 2018, Roger Burnley, President and CEO of Asda launched the retailer’s ‘Plastic Unwrapped’ pledge, which saw the business make a commitment to use less packaging, increase recycling and therefore reduce Asda’s environmental footprint. “Just over a year later and we have successfully removed 6,500 tonnes of plastic


from our own brand packaging. This milestone marks a significant step towards our ongoing commitment to reducing the amount of plastic used in product packaging. “Through product innovation and redesign, we have reduced plastic in almost 1,000 individual product lines – from fresh fruit and veg to electronics and homewares – removing the equivalent weight of 600 million empty plastic bottles.”

“We have taken steps to make our packaging more recyclable. This includes changing all our fresh produce trays from black plastic to clear, as we move towards making all of our packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.” “A significant change includes the introduction of a new plastic principle embedded throughout the business, which will ensure all new packaging designs avoid the use of unnecessary plastic without impacting on food waste or shelf life. Where there is no current viable alternative to plastic, we have pledged to use the most recyclable materials made from recycled content wherever possible.” As Asda hits this first year reduction milestone, the retailer has acknowledged this is only the beginning of the journey and has committed to continuing its focus on reducing the amount of plastic used in packaging, as well as working with industry bodies and relevant organisations to share best practice and develop new ideas. For example, Asda will continue to work with packaging experts at Leeds Beckett University to look for and assess alternative packaging materials and will publish its first report later this year. Asda suppliers are also sharing best practice through the retailer’s unique online Sustain and Save Exchange platform. As well as a continued focus on reducing packaging and increasing recycling within the business, this summer, Asda’s ‘Plastic Unwrapped’ pledge will see the retailer encouraging local primary schoolchildren to

become ‘plastic investigators’ to help the fight against plastic waste. “In a tie-up with the National Schools Partnership, pupils are being invited to take part in a series of interactive activities to learn about plastic use and recycling, including a tour of their local Asda store with an Asda Community Champion, in a bid to encourage them to use less and recycle more plastic.” The teaching materials, which have been endorsed by WRAP and Leeds Beckett University, provide facts about plastic, fun activities and a poster competition for the pupils to take part in. “Educating young people about complexities of plastic pollution plays an important role in creating our sustainable future. There are plenty of public misconceptions about the issue. Therefore, it is vital to make children aware of the impact that we have on the environment and show them the positive behaviours around littering and recycling. “The poster competition, which will select regional winners as well as three overall winners, aims to encourage pupils to think innovatively about finding solutions to the problem of plastic from what they’ve learnt in class and in store on their tour visits with the Asda Community Champions” Joe concludes.

Joe McDonald, Asda’s Senior Manager for Corporate Affairs NI.

Some of the changes, which have been implemented over the last 12 months include: removing single use plastic bags from stores; swapping family chilled ready meal trays from black plastic to foil; removing the plastic wrapping from whole turnips; changing pizza bases from non-recyclable polystyrene to fully recyclable cardboard; replacing 5 million plastic bags in Asda’s bedding range with a cardboard band; taking plastic covers off over 50 million greetings cards; and removing plastic windows and film from over 1.6 million mince pies at Christmas. “In addition, we have taken steps to make our packaging more recyclable. This includes changing all our fresh produce trays from black plastic to clear, as we move towards making all of our packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.” In partnership with WRAP, Asda is also a founding member of the UK Plastics Pact, which includes a commitment that by 2025 all own brand plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable and contain 30% average recycled content.


Mivan - leading the way in interior fit-out Mivan, one of the longest established names in the land based and marine specialist fit-out sector in Northern Ireland, was acquired by the McConville family five years ago. The McConville family are well known entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland having started the MJM Group more than 35 years ago. MJM Marine is now a leading global marine outfitter. Most recently they acquired Toomebridge based architectural glass specialist - Topglass. The McConville family’s impressive property portfolio includes the former Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly and Clarence Chambers and Pearl Assurance House on Donegall Square in Belfast to name but a few. Mivan was a strategic acquisition for the family in 2014 as Mivan and MJM Marine are the two largest names in marine outfitting in Northern Ireland.

Pictured at the recent inaugural Cruise Ship Interiors Expo in Miami are representatives from Mivan with Directors and team members from sister companies - MJM Marine and Topglass.

John Cunningham joined the Mivan team as Managing Director in 2018 as part of the McConville family’s ambitious growth plans for the business. The senior management team’s mix of existing and new talent along with John’s 25 years’ experience in the construction sector, is making real waves in the industry.

John Cunningham, Managing Director, Mivan.

John explains where the growth has come from: “The McConville family acquired the business and spent time getting to know the team whilst getting an understanding of the capabilities and the growth potential of the business. When I came on board the plan was

Pictured at the inaugural Cruise Ship Interiors Expo in Miami, Florida is James Gilmore, Head of Marine, John Cunningham, Managing Director and Dean Uprichard, Business Development Director, Mivan.


very clear. We were in aggressive growth mode. Last year we announced the recruitment of 40 additional people and I am delighted to say we have now exceeded that number. “We have recently completed some exciting projects including 20 Grosvenor Square and the Langley Park Hotel in London. Over the last six months in the marine sector we have completed a number of projects in Singapore, Australia, Spain, France and Canada and we are currently working on the design and delivery of a new superyacht. One of our most prestigious clients, The World: Luxury Residences at Sea will be sailing into Belfast in July 2019. Mivan has recently completed a successful project on this ship in Cadiz and this will give our team a great opportunity to get a look at the impressive ship when it sails into port. “Mivan is well known for its continuous focus and investment in Health and Safety. This has been reinforced by our recent transition to ISO 45001 occupational health and safety and our motto ‘Think. Safety Always, Second Nature’. Mivan prides itself on its workforce with active Health & Wellbeing and Social Committees. We are investing in our people and our values which is helping us towards a programme of continuous improvement and showcasing Mivan as a great place to work.”

Mivan is an internationally renowned specialist interior fit-out company based in Antrim. Mivan has worked on signature projects throughout the world across both land and marine sectors. With in-house design, a state of the art manufacturing facility, planning, co-ordination, site management and installation capabilities, Mivan has been recognised and commended on projects around the world. Mivan offers a complete turnkey fit-out service in a broad range of sectors: Luxury Hotels & Restaurants; Prime Residential; Cruise Ship Refurbishment; Stadiums & Arenas; Offices and Museums.

excellence and innovation

Mivan Marine Ltd, Newpark, Greystone Road, Antrim, Co Antrim BT41 2QN Tel: +44 (0) 28 9448 1000 WWW.MIVAN.COM


Growth on the


In just nine months one of the latest newcomers to the tech sector here has grown at a speed even it didn’t anticipate. Here John Harkin, the man behind Alchemy Technical Services in Derry, talks to Emma Deighan about plans to quadruple his workforce, expand into Europe, and how he values his firm’s social input as much as its profit…


hen Alchemy Technology Services initiated its recruitment drive in the North West last year it set itself a target of attracting 250 staff via a contract with Invest NI over three years, but that’s only a “launch platform” says John Harkin. The quick-paced recruitment drive will be made partly possible by the Department for Economy’s Assured Skills Academy, which has so far generated John’s first batch of staff. “We’ve already had two academies at the North West Regional Colleges and we’ve recruited 100% of those students. “Academy 3 has just started and we have also fully recruited for Academy 4 beginning in September.” Alchemy has drawn in funding from the Invest NI and DfE for 14 Academies. The range of people it hopes to attract doesn’t always fall into the traditional IT degree pathway. John says those with success in not just degrees but diplomas or HNDs, or individuals who have excelled in a totally different field are all suitable candidates. “The University of Ulster’s MSc in Professional Software Development is a one year conversion course, that’s been a great source of people for us. We have taken in some people with degrees in psychology and accounting — those from different disciplines — because we are really impressed with

them,” explains John, whose journey back into the North West was somewhat serendipitous says the Derry Man. With a background that includes positions at KPMG and PwC and a career in Silicon Valley, Paris, Sydney and Singapore with some of the world’s most celebrated tech brands, John was always going to be an NI asset that could bring big potential to the local economy. “Invest NI reached out to me when I was living and working London. I had been in America before that. They talked to me about the large company I was part of and if they were interested in opening in Northern Ireland and then they were forthright and asked me if I was interested in creating employment here,” informs John. Discussions about his startup idea and the investors that would back him aroused the support of the DfE, local MPs, council members and schools and universities. “We all felt there was a common goal — to create employment here and get the support in the region that we might not see elsewhere. We were all singing off the same hymn sheet.” Alchemy’s specialism is tech in the insurance industry which has been driven by demand. John says the technology within insurance “lags behind” that in the banking sector and he and his team will be instrumental in helping it play catchup. The team at Alchemy travel the globe to

John Harkin (right) with former CEO of Invest NI, Alastair Hamilton.


integrate software for large, household names in insurance. They configure off-the-shelf software and tailor it to suit the specific needs of each business. It’s not the insurance firms themselves that are Alchemy’s main customers; its largest client is Silicon Valley-based Guidewire, a market leading software provider which offers the leading insurance industry platform. “We initially signed an associate relationship with Guidewire”, explains John. “Guidewire estimates that one in 20 associates becomes a Partner and we achieved that status very quickly.” Through partnerships like Alchemy’s with Guidewire, insurance customers will benefit from an enhanced experience when buying or renewing policies. It means modern technologies will be used on a daily basis, such as apps and web portals. “It allows companies to take new products to the market,” says John. “Multicar insurance for example, where all cars in the one household are on the same policy and that combined price might be 40% cheaper.” John describes Alchemy as an “inverted triangle structure” with him at the bottom supporting staff. “That means the sky is the

John Harkin (middle) with Jordan Cairns and Olivia Skuce, Technical Analysts from Academy 1.

“Alchemy is more than teaching tech skills. We think it should be transformative to lifestyles and we want to give our people the skills to be successful.” limit and these people can find a way to grow exponentially.” He says Alchemy is part of the journey for an individual who wants an “all-round professional career”. “Alchemy is more than teaching tech skills. We think it should be transformative to lifestyles and we want to give our people the skills to be successful. Our renumeration schemes see staff, after their first year, achieve a promotion with a 50% increase in salary as well as a bonus.” That package continues to rise through various stages labelled bronze, silver and gold. “And within two years they can be earning £40,000” adds John. Enhancing their work package further is

the addition of language studies in Magazine Street’s Foyle International Language School. This will prepare the team for expansion into the likes of France, Spain, Italy and Germany but Derry will always be the home of Alchemy’s HQ. “We want the office here in Derry to be the centre for what will be a global business with a target of 250 staff over the next few years. Clients are asking us to look at other centres across Europe in the next 18 months,” reveals John. No matter where it expands into, Alchemy’s base in Derry will always be a “win win” for everyone in the North West. “We are working in the community, with the council and others to use our people and looking


at areas that aren’t seeing the benefits of peace and aren’t seeing a massive change,” he says. “Some of the staff are working with schools and we are helping to develop skillsets and knowledge.” “We agreed to support the Millennium Forum and the Playhouse and that’s what our brand wants to be associated with. Those centres have an outreach. “And I think it’s a win win. Our employees have a story to tell about how to get on a career path but remain living in this city. They’re able to travel, broaden their horizons and be part of a wider world, but still have a base here in the community. That is what will help drive wealth and prosperity in the North West.”

CJS solution to backdated holiday pay Helping clients stay on top of holiday averaging Software by CJS Payroll makes the recent Court of Appeal ruling far less of a worry for Northern Ireland employers. Stealing the headlines of late, holiday pay has made the news since the court ruled that police holiday pay should take into account overtime and allowances. CJS Payroll, with its Belfast HQ, and their unique holiday averaging software have come to the aid of employers. Developed three years ago, directors of CJS spotted the need for this holiday averaging solution that makes it easy for users to determine correct pay. The ruling that Northern Irish employers could be liable for backdated holiday pay for up to 20 years was highlighted in the Northern Ireland press. It’s just one in a series of 1000s of staff claims lodged with trade unions across Northern Ireland and with the PSNI now facing a bill of £40 million, it’s clear why employers across Ireland are reviewing their calculations. Allan Rutherford, Head of Operations of CJS Payroll stated: “Historically, holiday pay was calculated by reference to basic salary only. However it is established that in accordance with the Working Time Regulations (NI) Allan Rutherford, 1998, employers are Head of Operations required to calculate of CJS Payroll holiday pay with reference to “normal pay”. Normal pay includes basic pay, but also overtime and allowances over a certain reference period leading up to the holiday. At CJS Payroll Ltd, we have already addressed this issue and our payroll professionals, systems and procedures are in place to correctly calculate your employees’ holiday pay over a specific period.”

For more information or to have all your questions answered, contact or call 028 90 705500.


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TOP TIPS FOR YOUR CV Whether you are focused on making your next career move or are just observing the opportunities out there, PRL Recruitment is committed to helping you find the perfect role whilst supporting you with your career development. The first step to introducing yourself to a new company is to submit your CV for any placement opportunities which interest you. Here we discuss some top tips for creating a CV to help you make your next career move. 1. Formatting your CV Make sure the format of your CV is easy to open on all computers such as a standard .doc file or a PDF. Use a layout which is simple, clear and easy to navigate. When creating your CV, ensure it is no more than two A4 pages and that content is concise, interesting and enticing. 2. What to include Key things to include are basic personal information, key skills, qualifications, experience, personal interests and details of referees.

By Glenn McCormick, Interim Recruitment Manager NI, PRL Integrated Services. 3. Tailor your CV Take time to skim through the requirements of the job you are applying for and tailor your CV to show how your experience will enable you to tackle the tasks it demands. Use similar adjectives to those used in the role requirements to highlight your suitability for the job. Also, feel free to research the company and include any extra information which you feel shows you are a good fit for the organisation. 4. Get personal In addition to highlighting your experience, include a personal statement which explains why you are the ideal candidate for the job. This can also be reflected in your cover letter.

don’t send your CV from an inappropriate personal email address as it may not be taken seriously. Also, before you hit send, make sure your CV is attached.

5. Quality If your CV contains errors, it gives recruiters the excuse to dismiss you from their candidate search. Ensure you address your CV to the correct person, and even more importantly, the right company. Spell check your CV and also get a friend or family member to read over it to ensure there are no glaring grammatical errors that may have been missed. When applying,

At PRL Recruitment, we deal with many of the top companies across the island of Ireland across every sector, which provides us with a unique knowledge of what companies are looking for in a candidate. We can help you tailor your CV and share your details with our clients to help you make that successful next step of your career journey. If you would like to find our more, please email Glenn McCormick;

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inheritance tax: does not only affect the very wealthy When someone dies, Inheritance Tax is potentially charged at 40% on their estate above a certain value. A person’s estate is basically everything they own, including property, cars, life assurance policies and other investments, as well as personal effects such as jewellery. WILL YOUR LOVED ONES BE FACED WITH A LARGE TAX BILL? Inheritance Tax is an unpopular and controversial tax, coming as it does at a time of loss and mourning; it can impact on families with even quite modest assets. However, there are legitimate ways to mitigate against this tax, so it makes sense to obtain professional financial advice and consider ways to tackle this issue sooner rather than later. MAKING PLANS TO MITIGATE AGAINST INHERITANCE TAX Dying intestate (without a Will) means that you may not be making the most of the Inheritance Tax exemption. For example, if you don’t make a Will, this might trigger an Inheritance Tax liability. MAKE A WILL -- MAKE LIFETIME GIFTS -- LEAVE A PROPORTION TO CHARITY -- SET UP A TRUST

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Sustainability matters By Terry Robb, Head of Personal Banking, Ulster Bank. Banks, as an industry, should know better than most what can happen when sustainability is seen as something to be fitted in around other tasks, or not paid the attention that it is due. If it isn’t seen as core to ‘the day job’ it becomes a burden – and that can create a culture where other behaviours and approaches to customer problems can start to go wrong. At Ulster Bank we believe that sustainability matters, not only because it’s the right thing to do for our customers, but also because it helps differentiate us to new talent joining the industry and it makes us more creative and engaged in the way we serve our communities. It makes us a better place to work and it makes us better in the work that we do for people and places across NI. There is clear evidence of this working, with social purpose and community awareness already driving change in massive, international businesses. Unilever, the consumer products company, spent years putting together their Sustainable Living Plan – looking holistically at the product supply chains and processes to understand social and environmental impacts. Recently, Unilever reported their fourth consecutive year of growth for their Sustainable Living brands – with these brands growing almost 50% faster than the rest of the business. And while it might seem that this works only

for a consumer or mass-market brand, there are many ways that corporates can get involved in this work too. As the first bank in Northern Ireland to achieve Gold Standard CORE accreditation by Business in the Community as a responsible business, we’ve recognised that our space, our people and our funding can make a difference in contributing to sustainable business practices. It’s why in recent years we’ve opened our doors to organisations like Cinemagic and Derry Creatives, allowing them to use our branches and head office for their programmes. It’s why we ran the Skills and Opportunities programme, giving away over £250,000 to organisations across NI promoting skill development and business success. We’ve continued to roll out our MoneySense programme, now the UK’s longest standing bankrun financial education programme – reaching young people from 5-18 with important messages on empowering them to build their money skills. And it’s why we invested £400,000 in bringing our best-in-class Entrepreneur Accelerator Hub in house – because we know that helping to raise the tide, and building a culture of collaboration and idea sharing, will lift everyone’s boat. The important thing about sustainability is remembering that ‘sustainable’ doesn’t mean ‘stays the same’ – you’ve got to keep iterating your plans and ideas to engage your staff. As we embark


on our annual charity fundraising initiative, One Week in June, I’m heartened by the diverse and new range of ideas that people from within the bank have come forward with to raise money for two great organisations in the form of Macmillan and Aware NI. I’m confident that this enthusiasm and energy shows how far we’ve come in making sustainable practice core to what we do.

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Shooting star!

New ProCeed is another hit from Kia, writes James Stinson Not that long ago Kia made capable, cheap but mostly dull cars that appealed to buyers who prized owning a new car first over owning something brilliant, stylish or remotely desirable. But a raft of new and refreshed model launches over the last decade has turned that reputation around. The new Stinger and latest versions of the Sportage, Rio and Ceed especially offer striking looks and decent mechanicals. Though not as cheap as they were, most models still look competitively priced.

And this latest ProCeed is another notable step in Kia’s journey to becoming a maker of desirable cars. At first glance, it’s an estatetype version of the 5-door Ceed hatch, but it’s actually a lot more than that. There’s already one of those in the range, called the Sportswagon. This is a sportier and far better looking version of that estate, what is fashionably known in motor industry marketing speak as a shooting brake. Probably the best known of the breed to date is the Mercedes CLA of the same name. There’s one parked on my street most days and I can’t help but take a peek every time I walk past. It’s not boxy like so many SUVs nor is it frumpy like an estate. And that’s a trick this new ProCeed has managed to pull off too, thanks mostly to the sloping rear roofline. Compromises have had to be made in delivering such a striking silhouette. The rear window isn’t terribly big and the roof is a little lower, which means rear passenger room and bootspace isn’t as generous as the conventional estate but not by much. There are other reasons why you might opt for this ProCeed too, with the promise of a more engaging drive to back up the aggressive looks. The suspension has been tweaked so it is firmer and it sits a little lower on the road, which makes the ProCeed more planted than less racy versions of the same family. The model range is relatively simple with just three engines and a similar number of trim levels – GT-Line, GT-Line S and GT – to choose from. GT-Line versions can be had


with either 1.4 petrol or 1.6 diesel engines (both turbocharged) and a choice of sixspeed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes. Expect real-world fuel consumption of around 50mpg for the diesel and 40mpg or thereabouts for the petrol. The 1.4 petrol is also fitted to the mid-spec GT-Line S version, while the range-topping performance orientated GT features a bigger 1.6 petrol. The smaller petrol may be perky enough for most, with a claimed 0-62mph time of around nine seconds though the torquey diesel will appeal to those who clock some serious mileage. Standard kit on entry level GT-Line versions includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and steering wheel, reversing camera, an eight-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system as well as a host of driver aids, including Lane Keeping Assist, High-Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist. Notable additions in the GT-Line S version includes 18-inch alloys, sunroof, black leather interior, powered tailgate, parking sensors and other goodies. The rear seats fold down in a 60:40 fashion on GT-Line models and 40:20:40 on GT-Line S versions. In keeping with every Kia, it also comes with a unique-in-the-UK seven-year or 100,000mile warranty. Prices start from £23,835, with the rangetopping GT version costing from £28,135. For context, entry level versions of the aforementioned Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake cost around five grand more!

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At last, an electric Audi


udi has been a bit slow to join the electric bandwagon but is hoping to catch up fast with the e-tron SUV. This new car, based loosely on the existing Q5 in size and styling at least, is the first of 12 fully electric models the marque is due to launch between now and 2025. And hopefully there’ll be cheaper models than this. Available in the UK initially in two forms – e-tron and e-tron Launch Edition – the new SUV is priced from £71,490 and £82,240 respectively. At the heart of the new car is a 95kWh battery mounted beneath the passenger compartment. It feeds two electric motors – one per axle – which jointly deliver an output of up to 300kW, facilitating 5.7-second 0–62mph acceleration, a top speed of 124mph and a driving range of up to 241 miles. Standard adaptive air suspension ensures that travel is as smooth as it is near-silent.

Charging points are positioned on both front wings. At the touch of a button, the covers for each port are propelled smoothly downwards to reveal sockets that can connect the car to a home AC electricity supply via conventional means or using a home wall box, and to fast DC charging stations at up to 150 kW, the latter enabling recharging to 80% of capacity in as little as 30 minutes.

Technology not surprisingly takes centre stage throughout the e-tron, with the latest version of Audi’s excellent MMI infotainment system, debuted in the most recent A8, getting a run out here as well. The cabin, in keeping with Audi’s reputation for producing class leading interiors, is a step up from existing all electric rivals.

Peugeot’s little Lion is back


eugeot has history when it comes to making small cars so expect this new 208 to make plenty of headlines when it arrives in showrooms this summer. The little Pug boasts an entirely new and eye catching look, a new platform and engines, plus an all-electric option for the first time. Design wise, the new 208 is well-distanced from its predecessor, adopting the same design language as the new 508. The front is defined by the pair of large LED fangs hanging off the new headlights, and overall the new model receives a much sportier looking bodykit than before. GT Line cars, like the one pictured, get flared black wheel arches – a visual nod to the 205 GTI – plus a large black spoiler on the hatch-lid. Every car boasts the new, distinctive rear end too, making use of a gloss black insert spanning the width of the tailgate. It’s a similar story in the cabin, as the 208 features a completely overhauled interior which is a far more digitalised environment than before. The range will be powered by 1.2 litre petrol motors in different states of tune and a 1.5 litre diesel. The fully-electric variant, also available at launch, will be capable of 211 miles on a single charge. And, for those longer trips, you can undertake a rapid recharge from a dedicated public terminal with 80% charged in 30 minutes, while full recharge from a wall socket takes around 8 hours. Prices are still being firmed up, but are expected to start around £14,500.


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Tomorrows Fleet – EV Growth? The sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are increasing rapidly, however the actual number sold remains small accounting for only 0.9% of the overall new car market. This is out of step with the reported interest in the technology and the simple answer seems to be that supply of BEVs cannot keep up with demand.

demand for BEVs grows rapidly. Car manufacturers are investing heavily to ensure future battery supply meets demand but, in many cases the industry is playing catch up. Metals and minerals used in rechargeable batteries include copper, graphite, cobalt, lithium and nickel. Lithium is also used in smart phone batteries, putting more pressure on demand. Price and availability will also be key to future battery production levels and costs.

Car makers are stating battery shortages as the reason for extended lead times on many models. Sourcing materials for batteries takes more time compared with internal combustion engines and this situation has been exacerbated as global

Many analysts have identified price parity with petrol or diesel models as a key moment on the road to widespread BEV adoption, but this could be several years away. However, after years of under investment in mining, materials used to make the batteries could soon be in short supply and that will cause their prices to rise. And finally, a further risk comes from the political instability of the countries that control the supply of cobalt and other minerals and whether car manufacturers could be held to ransom without having resources closer to home or jurisdictions more aligned with free trade. So, you can see that the world of EV growth is not straight forward moving into the next decade. For more information, head to:

ABL’s success continues Local insurance Broker ABL Group have completed another very successful year of continued revenue growth. The directors put this success down to their continued focus on organic growth with new clients coming on board along with providing a very customer centred service to maintain great retention rates. The company continues to invest in their most important asset which is their 120+ employees and recently announced the creation of the ABL Academy, which will ensure on-going training and development plans are provided to staff at all levels. The directors believe that this investment will continue to pay dividends. Director Gary Crabbe said “Our business is based on professional advice and client service so it`s important our staff are constantly learning and developing”. For more information, visit www.


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Action Cancer Store Challenge 2019 Check the date, Friday 25th October 2019 is when teams of local business volunteers take part in Action Cancer’s annual Store Challenge event. Across Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone you may see a local Action Cancer store burst to life as local volunteers from businesses across Northern Ireland get involved with STC2019. Last year over £68,000 was successfully raised for local cancer services after staff from companies collected donations of clothing, held fun days and helped sell stock during take over day. Over the past six years over £450,000 has been raised for children and family counselling sessions, breast screenings and health promotion services delivered at schools and workplaces across Northern Ireland. Companies involved in 2019 include Huhtamaki, BT, PKFFPM, Leaf, Computers & Clouds, Forest Feast, Choice Housing, Card Connect, Marks and Spencer and Clarity Telecom. With over fourteen local businesses and companies taking part this year Peter Lynch from Action Cancer is hoping that more awareness is raised for cancer services and the benefits that charity shops bring to the high street, “Charity shops add so much value locally, through the social impact they make by encouraging people to volunteer and to take that step back to work or by the environmental impact by recycling and reusing furniture and clothing.” Action Cancer have eighteen shops across Northern Ireland each helping to raise over one million pounds annually going towards local cancer services. Please contact if you are interested in taking up the challenge or being premium sponsor for this year’s challenge.

Agri-Awareness Initiative Returned for 2019 Members of the public got to sample real life farming as the annual Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend made a welcomed return. This Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative, principally supported by Bank of Ireland, is one of the biggest agri-awareness initiatives of its kind in Northern Ireland, with eighteen farms opening their doors to almost 20,000 people from across the province.

Richard Primrose (Bank of Ireland); George Rankin (ASDA); Cherrie Kenny (LMC NI); David Cairns (NFU Mutual) and David Brown (Ulster Farmers’ Union) launch the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend initiative.

Highlighting where our food comes from, the benefits of eating local, as well as giving visitors the chance to sample the world-class ingredients that are produced locally, every county in Northern Ireland was represented across the weekend’s activities. UFU Deputy President, David Brown said, “Now more than ever farmers need to be telling their story and this initiative proved a great way for us to engage with the public and show them the industry upclose. Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend has become an important part of our work, allowing us to reach out to the non-farming community to promote the vital work of farmers across Northern Ireland.” Bank of Ireland Agriculture Manager NI, Richard Primrose added, “It was great to see so many farms volunteering to represent their industry this year. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have such wonderful local food and drink produce and this initiative helps the general public trace their food story back to the field and farm. These dedicated farmers play an important role in the supply chain to a wider audience and we all owe them a debt of thanks for their effort and commitment.”



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Bringing Security solutions to business The CSCNI Security Event 2019 took place on Tuesday 14th May, at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Bringing together some of the biggest names in the security world, the CSCNI event was very well received by security industry professionals from across Northern Ireland and beyond. This exhibition was designed with the support of leading brands in the security industry and provided the perfect opportunity for security professionals to get together in an informal setting, offering the ideal occasion to make new connections and catch up with existing contacts. With over 35 exhibitors, the event showcased the latest solutions from a range of marketleading security companies. With the newest products and technologies available to the market on display, the theme of the event was integration and collaboration and exhibitors put on demonstrations of how CCTV and access control solutions as well as intercoms, PIDS and

video management software can work together to secure organisations and facilities. This key event for the security industry in Northern Ireland was attended by over 150 security industry professionals from across the province, from a range of sectors including manufacturing, transport, retail and commercial estates, justice and local government. Greer Parkinson, Security Director, CSCNI Ltd, said: “Having worked in security for several years, I realised that the local security industry in NI needed an event that would bring together leading suppliers and security professionals. This event was well supported by the industry, with over 35 exhibiting companies as well as the Security Institute and local training colleges, we were delighted with the number of visitors coming along.”

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Taoiseach Turns Sod On North Runway Dublin Airport were delighted to welcome An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, Shane Ross TD to officially turn the sod on North Runway earlier this year. The Taoiseach said North Runway “will allow the airport to expand, generating jobs, wealth and growth for the entire country”. Construction work for North Runway is continuing on site and the landscape of the area is changing weekly as excavation works progress. Dublin Airport’s main runway R10/28 marked its 30th Anniversary on June 21. This runway has been the workhorse of the airport since it opened in 1989 facilitating 95% of all aircraft take offs and landings. Nineteen of Dublin Airport’s 23 new routes and services in 2019 have been launched to date. The last four which includes Aer Lingus’ new long-haul route to

4c Executive: The War for Talent Hannah Macdonald, Search Consultant at Northern Ireland’s leading executive search agency 4c Executive, discusses how companies need to evolve to continue attracting and retaining talent, and how the power has shifted from the employer to the employee. Attracting and retaining talent has never been more important, yet, at the same time, it has never been more difficult. In the new world of work, the pendulum of power has swung in favour of quality candidates who are the desired catch in the sea of recruitment which employers must now fish, one with an increasingly disparate number of settlers. As working patterns continue to evolve, providing flexibility to employees in a meaningful way is fundamental to sustaining future growth in the business world. The effort to become more flexible by

companies represents the cultural shift in the business world, and this should be deemed as an intelligent response to the ever-changing demands of the workforce. We have been aware for some time that inequality in work-life balance has repercussions on job satisfaction and performance, so addressing this issue head-on can lead to positive outcomes. A further lure comes in the form of office space. There has been major redevelopment in the built environment in Northern Ireland, as both local indigenous firms and FDI companies develop more comfortable and modern office accommodation that fosters creativity and productivity and has now become conducive to attracting and retaining a talented workforce. For businesses which want to attract and retain the best, it is worth spending some time making your offer to the chosen candidate as compelling and appealing as possible.


Minneapolis/St. Paul will all commence in the coming weeks. WestJet’s new three times weekly service to Calgary and American Airlines’ new seven times weekly direct service between DallasFort Worth and Dublin Airport started the first week in June. So far this year, more than 12.3 million passengers have travelled through Dublin Airport in the first five months of the year, a 7% increase when compared to last year. Dublin Airport has welcomed an additional 764,000 passengers between January and May and the number of passengers using Dublin Airport as a hub to connect to another destination has increased by 16% this year, with almost 660,000 passengers connecting through Dublin Airport in the first five months of the year. For more information visit www.

Ciao, Northern Ireland! Ulster Orchestra welcomes new Chief Conductor Earlier this year, 35-year-old Italian, Daniele Rustioni, was appointed Chief Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra; he officially takes up the baton in September. Alongside a celebrated career as one of the most compelling opera conductors of his generation, Rustioni has been hailed by The Sunday Times as “increasingly acclaimed as a symphonic Maestro.” According to Managing Director, Richard Wigley, Rustioni has all the talent necessary to lead the Ulster Orchestra to new artistic heights, building upon the outstanding transformation begun with departing Music Director, Rafael Payere, five years ago. “I perceived a special connection with the Ulster Orchestra [when] I first set foot on the podium as a guest conductor a couple of years ago,” Rustioni said upon his appointment. “Emotion and brilliance from the musicians, combined with the Ulster Hall’s magical atmosphere, allows the sound to soar from every instrument and envelope you completely.” Ulster Orchestra invites businesses to play a role in creating that magic by joining the Orchestra’s Corporate Membership scheme – designed to engage NI’s business community, while supporting the core activities of the Orchestra. These activities include outreach programmes that engage with people across all age ranges, including some of the most disadvantaged and disenfranchised people in our communities, allowing Corporate Membership Ad.pdf 1 20/06/2019 them to ULS experience the joy of live orchestral music.


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Sync NI’s Brendan Drain

Techie Talk Time Sync NI’s Brendan Drain provides his top tips for crowdfunding.

#2: Be flexible and attentive throughout your campaign:

#1: Build a cause people can get behind:

Traditional marketing is all about getting your product in front of people’s eyes, but you can’t buy the kind of attention that a crowdfunding project needs to succeed. People need to not only see and like your product but also believe in it strongly enough to spend their money to make it happen and shoulder the risk. Organic word of mouth marketing and social media are the tools of choice here on the small scale, with larger projects benefiting from endorsements from trusted websites and newspapers.

Crowdfunding is often your first real market test of genuine interest in a product, so pay close attention to the types of questions you’re being asked. Your backers will be the greatest advocates for your business going forward, and can help identify reward tiers they might shell out more money for or ideas to extend your goals that you hadn’t considered. Every backer deserves your attention, even if it’s just a quick thank you message to start the conversation. That conversation will often lead somewhere positive, sometimes sparking questions and leading a supporter to increase their pledge amount or tell others about the campaign.

#3: Be honest about money and risk: Though you’re asking for funds from the general public or fans of your particular business, approach your crowdfunding campaign as if you were pitching to investors. Thousands of investors. They will need to see the rough budget breakdown, projected timelines, and previous experience of your team to build confidence that you know what you’re doing. They need to believe that the project is achievable and your team can be the ones to do it. Detail any risks and how you will approach them, and don’t shy away from tough questions you get asked by potential backers.

#4: Build your audience first: Many crowdfunding campaigns launch with reasonable goals but fail to gather enough support, and it’s usually down to a lack of preparation. Keep in mind that the crowdfunding platform won’t do any of the heavy lifting for you, it’s just a tool you can use to get support from your existing audience. Build at least a social media following for your business idea before launching the campaign and they will act as your seed funding to get the ball rolling. The type of customer base you need to build will also depend on what type of crowdfunding platform you will be using. A platform that allows you to offer equity in your company will appeal more to those in industry, for example, while Ulster Bank’s new Back Her Business female crowdfunding platform uses a Kickstarter style reward system aimed at the consumer market. That model is more focused on your product or service and rewards should include the product as many customers will use crowdfunding as effectively a pre-order system.


#5: Have the right type of project: The most important thing to know about crowdfunding is that not every business idea or project is well-suited to using it. Learning this early can save a lot of time running a campaign that has a very low chance of success or help you position your business to be more suitable for crowdfunding. In general, the things that do best on crowdfunding are exciting ideas that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. People are also far less likely to get behind a project if the owner could self fund it but chose not to shoulder the risk. If you can make the case that your product or service wouldn’t exist without crowd support, you’re on to a potential winner. Is this a niche product that all the big companies have abandoned because the market is too small for them? Are you way ahead of your peers but venture capitals (VCs) won’t take the risk? Is it a charitable cause that you know won’t be very profitable but that people can get behind? If so then crowdfunding may be right for you. Want to be the first to find out what’s happening in Northern Ireland’s tech scene? Stay up to date with or follow us on Twitter @syncni


Chris Rees, Head Chef at the River Room Restaurant at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, serves up Co. Antrim quail, with mustard tarragon and spring vegetables.

Dine & Wine Monkfish tail, summer vegetables, scallop and shellfish sauce Serves 4

This dish, and variations of it, are always a staple favourite on the late Spring and Summer menus of The River Room, featuring as a fish course on tasting menus and sometimes simply with scallops as a starter on the evening menu. The star of the show is really the complex sauce that brings everything together. Although this dish requires effort, the results are well worth it.


• 8 New Potatoes • Prawn or Lobster Shells • 2 500g Monkfish Tails • 4 Large Scallops with Roe • 1 Gem Lettuce • 4 Baby Courgettes • Globe Artichokes • Samphire

For the sauce:

• 1/2 Orange (peel and juice) • 1 tsp Tomato Puree • 1 Small Onion • 1 Carrot • 1 stick Celery • Star Anise • Garlic Bay Leaf • Splash of Brandy • 1 Glass White Wine • 300ml Fish Stock • 60ml Cream • 50g Butter

To make the sauce

Cut all of the vegetables into small pieces and gently cook in a heavy saucepan, along with the garlic, star anise and bay leaf, until soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree

and continue to cook for few minutes then add the wine and brandy with the orange juice and peel. At this point the roasted shells and scallop roe can be added to the sauce. Simmer for about an hour at a medium heat and pass through a fine sieve. Add the cream and whisk in the butter to create a thick sauce.

For the vegetables

I have chosen these vegetables; however, any in-season summer vegetables can be used. Peel the leaves off the artichokes then using a peeler trim into shape, scoop out the middle and poach for around 8 minutes in a little water, olive oil and lemon juice. Season and set aside. Simply cook the potatoes in salted boiling water, then with a small sharp knife remove the skins and dress with a little olive oil. Use this water to cook the courgettes for around

3 minutes depending on size. Cut the gem lettuce lengthways in 4 and wash with the samphire and set aside.

To cook the fish and assemble the dish

Season and pan fry the monkfish tails in a large hot pan with a little oil until slightly golden. Transfer to a flat tray and place in a low heated oven (80-90c) for around 5 minutes until the flesh feels slightly firm. Using the same pan, gently cook the scallops. Once cooked, place the scallops beside the monkfish on the tray. In a small saucepan with a little butter, add the vegetables and the gem lettuce and gently warm through, until the lettuce has wilted, then season to taste. Remove the fillets on the monk tail with a sharp knife by cutting along the single bone on each side, place each fillet on a plate with the scallops and dress with the vegetables. Finish with the shellfish sauce.

Need the perfect pairing?

Drinking good wine with good food is one of life’s great pleasures. The River Room Restaurant’s resident wine expert, Andrea Mola, recommends the perfect wine to accompany Head Chef Chris Rees’ delicious main course.

Wine Pairing: Reserve No. 1 Chenin Blanc Unwooded 2014 South Africa

With vineyards situated in the prime Paarl region with varying climatic zones, grapes are hand selected for the Reserve No. 1 Chenin Blanc. The cool breezes from the nearby Atlantic Ocean from the early afternoon result in cool night temperatures of 15-17 degrees Celsius. Moderate temperature differences allow vines to rest during the night. This combined with the hardy soil type leads to robust ripe fruit flavours. Deep, bright gold. Super attractive nose with waves of tropical fruits, citrus and honeysuckle backing. Rich and full in the mouth with deep flavours and crisp acidity. All in fresh, youthful mode. Guava, granadilla and some mango with lots of citrus. Flavours seem to be endless with an everlasting finish, making this wine perfect to stand against the delightful sauce in this dish. This Chenin Blanc shows an exceptional expression of the Chenin Blanc variety. The perfect balance between the prominent litchi fruit and the depth of guava flavours on the palate. The “sur lie” extended lees contact period, adds complexity and a creamy, textured mouthfeel to the wine.



Jim Fitzpatrick, Journalist and Broadcaster

Photographs by Press Eye

Jim Fitzpatrick discusses the impact a No Deal Brexit will have on the economy.

Jeremy Hunt

Boris Johnson

“It’s the economy stupid”


oth men in the running for Tory leader, and therefore likely Prime Minister, have now committed to leaving the EU with, or without, a deal by October 31st. Jeremy Hunt has even explained how he would tell businesses going under that their demise was a price worth paying for delivering Brexit. Bill Clinton’s campaign team famously coined the phrase during his run for President back in 1992 that “it’s the economy stupid” - this focus separated him from the foreign policy-focussed George Bush. Jobs and the domestic US economy was a bigger vote winner than ending the Cold War on good terms or waging a successful war in Iraq. But now the rules of politics have been upended. In 2019 in the UK, the stupid domestic economy cannot get in the way of delivering a major foreign policy objective – quitting membership of the EU by Halloween regardless of consequences. “Do or die!” is the new campaign slogan. So what are the consequences for businesses in Northern Ireland? Too many to elaborate. But let’s examine just one, highlighted by Seamus Leheny of Freight NI – the impact on fish exports from Northern Ireland. On Day 1 of No Deal, all NI fish exports to the EU must be accompanied by a Catch Certificate. At present the UK processes approximately 300 such certificates a year. No Deal will increase this to at least 200,000.

The Catch Certificate also requires transport details to be included – in modern supply chains these can change frequently, but the exporter must include them. The Certificate must then be validated and sent to the EU importer at least two hours before the fish arrives at the EU border to allow for the fish to be checked at a Border Inspection Post. Fish arriving in NI from the EU (ie Republic) will also have to be checked. Inspections on a consignment arriving in Killeel from the Republic would take place at a processing site in Killeel. Nearly all fish caught in the Republic’s

Newry, Mourne and Down council estimates that they would need to process around 60,000 Export Health Certificates a year. One business told Seamus Leheny they would need to submit around 150 a day. All fish exports leaving NI would have to depart through a designated site approved by the EU. Environmental Health Officers and vets would oversee 100% of exports. Someone will have to pay for this. Around 80-90% of NI seafood is currently sold to the EU. Essentially the extra costs and delays would jeopardise the entire industry in Northern

“Essentially the extra costs and delays would jeopardise the entire industry in Northern Ireland. This isn’t speculation.” waters currently goes north for processing. Next comes Export Health Certificates. Paperwork on this needs to be submitted via the EU TRACES system 24 hours in advance. Sending fresh fish from Northern Ireland to the Republic becomes a big problem with 24 hours notice now required.


Ireland. This isn’t speculation. The procedures for a No Deal scenario are already in place. It’s just one example of what would happen. Until it does happen many will dismiss it as project fear. Others – including potential Prime Ministers – will say it is a price worth paying.







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07/04/2017 17:34

Profile for NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Ambition Issue 35 (July/August 2019)  

Ambition Issue 35 (July/August 2019)  

Profile for nichamber