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FEBRUARY 2013 Price £2.30 (23.75)


Off to a flying start FEBRUARY 2013

Valerie Abbott on Aer Lingus’ move to Belfast City Airport and its plans for Heathrow, Gatwick and beyond. ISSN 1363-2507

9 771363 250005



What’s inside... 14


Volume 25 No.2


features 14 - Interview – Aer Lingus 18 - Viscount Awards 20 - Interview – Patricia Clements


36 - David Meade 68 - Interview – Chris Horn 70 - BITC Awards Launch 72 - Arts & Business Awards

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT 24 - Planning Reform 26 - Alternative Heat 28 - John Simpson 30 - Carrier Bag Levy 32 - Analysis – Renewables

40 48

INSURANCE & RISK 40 - Business Continuity 42 - Dickson Insurance 44 - Gender Equality 46 - Fire Risk 48 - Reputational Risk

SECURITY 52 - Interview – INEQE 56 - Opinion – Stratagem


RECRUITMENT & TRAINING 62 - Workforce Mobility 64 - Diamond Recruitment 66 - Interview – Momentum




6 - Dispatch 38 - Technology 75 - Motoring 82 - Appointments 84 - Photocall 90 - Lifestyles 98 - People In Business















Is the transfer window open?


or football clubs, January is the month of the dreaded transfer window. This year Premier League clubs spent about £120m in the window, twice what was spent last year, with some £35m being spent on deadline day. Recession, what recession? One on-off transfer saga that made the headlines was that of West Brom’s Peter Odewingie. The want-away striker drove to London on deadline day without his club’s permission, even showing up at the front door of Queen’s Park Rangers only to be told he wasn’t allowed to make the move. The player ill-advisedly took to Twitter to voice his frustration. In response, one joker tweeted: “Hey, I just drove here, and this is crazy, I’m Odemwingie, so sign me maybe,” sung to the tune of that irritating ear-worm hit from last year. In the real world there is no transfer window, but as is traditional at the start of a new year, lots of people will have decided that now is the time to make a career move to something bigger and better.

But what if there are no jobs to go to? Or if the job you are going to might not be secure? There have been lots of cases of people taking new positions only to find out months later they are being made redundant (perhaps the equivalent of your new club getting relegated if we’re pushing the football analogy). In this edition we look at the issue of workplace mobility and what it will take to make people confident enough to make a move in these uncertain times rather than just sit tight. It is no surprise that people are nervous about taking on new challenges. The new Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index – the closest thing we have to a measurement for GDP in Northern Ireland – showed that economic activity has been on a downward trend since 2007, falling in 16 of the last 21 quarters. That shrinkage of more than 10% indicates a deeper and more prolonged downturn that the rest of the UK and our recovery has also been weaker. But, before getting too caught up in the

dismal numbers, the new series did show economic activity has risen slightly in three of the last four quarters. One sector where there are still jobs is I.T. and digital and in this issue we also look at projections the industry will need 20,000 new workers in the next few years – growth that would make a real economic difference. It is a sector where competition for the best talent is fierce so re-training of those in the current skills pool with transferable experience is likely to play a big part in meeting the needs of employers. Let’s hope enough people in industries which are struggling will see it as a potentially attractive career switch and put out their own ‘Call me, maybe’ pleas.

Editor: Symon Ross Manager: Sonia Armstrong Deputy Manager: Sylvie Brando Advertising Executive: Stuart Hackney Art Editor: Stuart Gray Production Manager: Catherine Mercer Cover Photography: Richard Trainor Publisher: James & Gladys Greer

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Northern Ireland Science Park in UK top five


he Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter has become one of the Top 5 science parks in the UK inside ten years, it has been revealed. The success of the Science Park in the decade since it opened was recognised with a visit by HRH The Duke of York, who met with board members, toured the facilities and officially opened ‘The Here and Now: Innovation in Northern Ireland’, a mobile travelling showcase of the best local innovation and technology. NISP, with 115 tenants and a 1,900-strong commercial community across 75 acres, outperformed its peer group of 78 science parks across a wide range of benchmarks. It contributes £80m in wages to the NI economy, has facilitated £10m risk capital pa, mobilised 1,000 business volunteers and 110 Business Angels to help 800 new starts, and showcased to 100 plus school visits and 60,000 visitors per annum. NISP Chairman Frank Hewitt said: “Government, through the Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland, recognises that innovation is vital to unlocking future economic growth. “This presents us with a vision focused on making Northern Ireland the ideal location from which to run an innovative business or undertake research which will give homegrown products and services a market edge, nationally and internationally. “However, the building of an effective regional innovation economy cannot happen without the proactive engagement and collaboration commitment of the universities, the FE colleges, the business community – and, of course, the Northern Ireland Science Park. “The Science Park has a unique role to play


in this scenario. We are the only UK park with a Euro Zone border, a remit to help build an all-island economy, and an enviable track record of working with specialised organisations like MATRIX and InterTradeIreland.” NISP have just completed new building Concourse 2, which is 55,000 sq ft, and have all the statutory approvals in place for Concourse 3.

Tenant companies range from 1 person 1 desk on a monthly deal, to single company whole building on a 15 year lease – and any number of combinations in between. New arrivals include Kana, Novosco, Dot Retailer, Dell and Automated Intelligence, while IBM have doubled space and moved their most recent acquisition Q1 Labs onto Park, and Autonomy has been acquired by HP. The next goal is the North West Regional Science Park in Derry-Londonderry, which comprises a 50,000 sq ft science park facility at Fort George and a 20,000 sq ft extension to the Co-Lab facility at Letterkenny Institute of Technology with an estimated added value to the local economy of £4m and 285 jobs. The Science Park is currently undertaking a 5-year Corporate Plan with the aim of making a positive and pronounced difference to the Northern Ireland economy by 2020. To do so, the senior team are directing their energies towards growing NISP’s business service offerings to attract a spread of tenants who will bring foreign investment to locally derived technologies.

BIG BREAKFAST: Sales and distribution company GM Marketing Ireland Ltd has made a stirring start to 2013 with an exciting new partnership with cereal giant Nestlé Cereals. The Belfast-based company has teamed up with Nestlé to grow visibility and availability of their brands in Northern Ireland for the benefit of both retailers and consumers. Pictured are GM Marketing Managing Director Gerard McAdorey and Commercial Director Malcolm Newbigging.


CLOUD NINE: Tibus, the digital infrastructure company owned by UTV Media, has been awarded a place on the G-Cloud Procurement Framework, a cross-government purchasing contract whose focus is on enabling government departments, local authorities and the wider public sector to embrace cloud-based ICT services.The G Cloud Programme allows any UK public sector organisation to buy directly from Framework suppliers – like Tibus – without having to go through a separate procurement process for each individual ICT need. Andrew Maybin, Network Services Director at Tibus (pictured) said: “The total value of annual public sector ICT procurement in the UK is £9bn per annum. Being named as one of a select number of suppliers in both Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in this new Government programme allows Tibus to bring 16 years’ experience in building and delivering first-class Cloud solutions to a wider market.”



LEGAL MINDS Leading international law firm Allen & Overy is to create up to 67 new high quality jobs in Belfast. The new jobs will be located at its existing Support and Legal Services Centre in Belfast which supports the delivery of legal services to the firm’s global clients. The company said it was ahead of its recruitment plans developed in 2011. Of the 67 new jobs, 43 will be created in Northern Ireland as a result of role transfers from its US and European offices. The remaining 24 posts will be created as a result of natural growth in Belfast in the next three years.

FAST-FOOD JOBS McDonald’s is set to create 100 new jobs in Northern Ireland throughout 2013, as part of a nationwide commitment to create 2,500 new positions across the UK by the end of the year. In 2012, McDonald’s exceeded its pledge to create 2,500 by an additional 1,000, bringing its current total UK workforce to 91,000. McDonald’s has 26 restaurants in Northern Ireland, employing over 2,000 people.

US FIRM ARRIVES US-based company Oxford Consulting Group (OCG) Inc is to establish a 33 person development centre in Belfast, its first operation outside of the US. OCG is a leading information technology consulting firm specialising in services and solutions for supply chain management, business to business integration, and IT staffing. Invest NI has offered it £330,000 of assistance.

Jobs boost for Co Tyrone


here was positive news on the jobs front for Co Tyrone last month as a number of companies in the region’s traditionally strong manufacturing sector announced plans for expansion. Some 200 new roles could be created by Dungannon-based EDGE Innovate, DMAC Engineering and Blackrock Manufacturing, both from Coalisland. EDGE Innovate is undertaking a £3.4m expansion, creating 84 new jobs from skilled shop floor operatives to Design Engineers and International Sales and Marketing Personnel. The company is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of a range of equipment used in the recycling, materials handling and quarrying industries. DMAC Engineering Ltd announced an expansion plan which could create 80 plus new jobs over the next three years. DMAC, one of Northern Ireland’s leading fabrication and metal steel-forming engineering companies, said it planned to invest £2m for the next three years. It has invested £2m in cutting-edge laser machines and IT systems in the past two years, increasing its workforce from 45 to 70 in that time. The company’s ambitious growth plans require a purpose-built factory to be constructed in Coalisland, which still requires planning approval. Blackrock Manufacturing Ltd is a new company that has been set up in Coalisland by Pat O’Neill, founder of Powerscreen. The new engineering company will initially make track frames and supply parts to manufacturers in the earth-moving and demolition/recycling equipment markets, and will then develop its own line of excavator buckets and hitches. Invest NI has offered a total of £229,000 of Jobs Fund support for the 38 jobs and for export marketing activity in Europe and the US.

AXIOM COMMITS Axiom, the legal sector’s leading new model firm, will be expanding its Centre of Excellence in Belfast by opening a new 3,000 square foot office and having up to an additional 30-40 quality jobs in place in the first half of this year, bringing the new facility to capacity at that time. The new positions are expected to contribute almost £4m a year to the local economy.

PRECISE INVESTMENT Craigavon company JW Kane Precision Engineering is undertaking a major investment that will create 30 high quality jobs. The company is investing £6.57m in a number of business development activities to advance its technical, management, finance, marketing and skills capabilities. The company currently employs 55 staff manufacturing high precision machined components for a number of high profile clients including Bombardier, Thales and BE Aerospace.


AWARDS SEASON:The search is on to find the best and brightest businesses in Lisburn for the Lisburn City Business Awards 2013.The awards were launched by Alderman Jim Dillon, chair of Lisburn City Council’s Economic Development Committee and representatives of the sponsors including Belinda O’Neill from Bank of Ireland and Rodney Dowling JP from Lisburn City Centre Management. Entries can be submitted online at


SAFE PAIR OF HANDS: David Gavaghan,Titanic Quarter Chief Executive, has been announced as the new Chair of ARENA Network – the environmental arm of Business in the Community.The role was passed to Gavaghan by Peter Dixon, Chief Executive of Phoenix Natural Gas. ARENA Network brings companies together to share ideas, best practice and make a positive difference. “In my day job at Titanic Quarter I am involved with many businesses from a wide variety of sectors. I understand that no matter what the business is we have a common objective – to make our world sustainable and develop a legacy for the next generation, doing our utmost to preserve our natural resources and habitats. That’s why I am so passionate about my new role at ARENA Network,” said Gavaghan. For more information, visit



MATERIAL CONTRACT Magheralin company Bedeck has secured a £5m deal to produce a leading UK apparel brand, under licence. The deal will see the firm launch an exclusive lifestyle collection for British fashion brand Joules – one of the fastest growing labels in the UK market. Bedeck’s range of brands are sold to a large number of UK retailers including Selfridges, Fenwick’s and John Lewis, as well as its own stores.

DEPOT DELIGHT Northern Ireland business Bunk Campers is celebrating another year of growth with the launch of three new campervan hire depots in 2013. The depots in Glasgow, Prestwick and South East England will be complemented with the launch of a new company website. With an established market presence from their depots in Belfast, Dublin and Edinburgh, Bunk Campers have grown to be one of the UK and Ireland’s largest campervan hire companies.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT Construction of a new leisure complex in Craigavon to be developed by J H Turkington & Sons Ltd will soon get underway. Craigavon Entertainment Village will be located on 3.5 acres of land close to the Rushmere Centre between Lurgan and Portadown. The developers have been granted full planning permission for a cinema, five restaurants and one retail unit. Osborne King is handling the lettings for the scheme, which has Omniplex Cinemas as its anchor tenant.

eircom puts down GB marker


reland’s largest Darren Lemon with telecommunications Alasdair McDonnell, MP. company, eircom, has launched its key services into the GB marketplace. The Irish company, which has been trading successfully in Northern Ireland for four years, made the announcement to an audience of MPs, senior business people and the IT industry at a reception in the Members’ Dining Room at the House of Commons. Darren Lemon, General Manager, eircom UK said: “The launch of our services into the GB market is a natural progression for eircom. We began operating in Northern Ireland in 2009 and have built an excellent reputation for both our products and our service delivery in that time. “We have completed a £2m investment in the expansion of our network in GB to date and this is already allowing us to provide seamless connectivity between companies who trade on either side of the Irish Sea. Now we’re going one step further, offering bespoke communications solutions including managed network services, enterprise voice and unified communications across GB.” Lemon said that while it was a competitive market, eircom sees huge potential for growth and will continue to invest in the GB market as part of its long term strategy. “Global economic conditions in the last few years have highlighted the importance of the trading links between Great Britain and Ireland. Exports between the two countries remain high and currently run at €1bn per week,” he said. In late 2012, eircom UK was selected by the Cabinet Office as one of 12 companies who will build a world class Public Service Network across the UK. The company posted profits of £3.6m in the last financial year.

INDIA DEAL Award winning Belfast-based architects Hall Black Douglas has won a significant design contract in India for a 180 bed Community Healthcare Complex. Through a joint venture with locally-based architects Studio 55, HBD bid successfully for the business. HBD and Studio 55 have secured the tender from Paranjape Schemes (Construction), to design state-of-the-art assisted living accommodation at Pune, near Mumbai.

AFRICA COVERED Maghera-based Cunningham Covers has secured new business in Africa and the Middle East totalling over £500,000 following a range of support from Invest Northern Ireland. Cunningham Covers is a market leader in advanced textile solutions and sells a range of covers, tarpaulins and canopies to customers all over the world.

10 FEBRUARY 2013

LUCKY NUMBER 13: Management Month Champions Peter Ellis from BeingOnline, Teresa Campbell of FPM and Symon Ross from Ulster Business help launch a series of 13 free business and management masterclasses taking place during February 2013. For more information or to book your free place at the events visit

Challenge v Opportunity By John Henning, Head of Agricultural Relations, Danske Bank

Belfast Harbour sees 11% rise in trade


elfast Harbour has reported that trade handled by the Port during 2012 rose to a record 19.6m tonnes, up 11% on the previous year. The growth was driven primarily by an improved performance in the Bulk and Roll-On / Roll-Off (freight vehicle) sectors. A record 4.6 million tonnes of Dry Bulk was handled, a jump of 16%. This included two million tonnes of grain and animal feeds, the highest tonnages ever recorded by the Harbour in this sector. An additional 600,000 tonnes of coal was also handled, reflecting recent investments by the Harbour in deep-water facilities which have enabled it to handle coal imports for AES’s power station at Kilroot. Coal imports are now in excess of 1m tonnes for the first time since 1996. Major investments by Belfast Harbour and Stena Line in new terminals on both sides of the Irish Sea, plus new superfast ferries, have significantly enhanced the competitiveness of the Belfast – Cairnryan route, the Harbour said. This, coupled with a record performance on the Belfast – Heysham route, helped drive the number of freight vehicles passing through the Port to 432,000, up 21% since 2011. Commenting on the figures, Roy Adair, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, commented: “It’s greatly encouraging for Belfast Harbour to once again be able to report such a positive set of trade figures. Growth across a number of sectors reaffirms Belfast’s position as one of the most efficient ports in these islands and helps benchmark the Harbour’s ongoing contribution to the Northern Ireland economy. “Long-term investments by the Harbour and by key Port Users such as Stena Line have delivered significant benefits to the regional economy. It is particularly pleasing that the RollOn / Roll-Off traffic has performed so strongly in what is one of the most competitive sectors in the port industry. ”


he agri-food industry is a vitally important component of the Northern Ireland economy. Over the past number of years, this industry has seen dramatic swings in commodity prices and input costs along with exchange rate fluctuations, presenting those in the industry with significant challenges. In 2012 farm incomes fell significantly with Total Income from Farming down 50 per cent to £143m despite Gross Output again exceeding £1.7bn. All of the normal challenges facing the industry were compounded by unfavourable weather throughout the summer which impacted negatively on both livestock and arable farming. Despite this there are some signs that the longer-term outlook for the farming and wider agri-industry is promising. The products and ideas that are being developed in Northern Ireland can be exported across the world to meet the demands of emerging markets and population growth which is expected to exceed 9bn by 2050. The sector is a hotbed of innovation in Northern Ireland, and development of new products and processes will be important in making sure that businesses here can help meet rising global food demand. Continued investment in R&D and knowledge transfer can also help farmers play their part in sustaining a competitive advantage for NI Agriculture plc. Many of the challenges that face the agri-sector in the year ahead are familiar – CAP reform, budgetary pressures, retailer power and industry succession are all high on the agenda. The best way for these to be met is through partnership, innovation and knowledge transfer. A collaborative approach to tackling the sectors’ challenges, with government and the agri-industry working together, will underpin sustainability in the sector. The key challenge for all those working in the agri-industry in Northern Ireland is to create a sector that is robust, reliable and capable of continuing to make a substantial contribution to our economic recovery. With increased globalisation and our experience we can continue to punch above our weight in global terms – it’s crucial that we press home this advantage and continue to generate sustainable growth in Northern Ireland.

To talk to us about how we might support your exporting ambitions, you can email me on or telephone 028 9004 5000

FEBRUARY 2013 11


Martin and Declan McCloskey.

Western wins new contract


onstruction firm Western has won two significant new contracts in the education and health sectors, setting up 2013 to be its strongest year yet. The company has announced a €9m contract to build three new schools in Cork later this year, and has also been named preferred bidder for a major new hospital building in Drogheda, Co Louth in a project worth €11m. The announcement follows Education Minister John O’Dowd’s approval of funding for 22 new school building projects in Northern Ireland expected to be worth £220m in total.  Western chief executive Martin McCloskey said: “This announcement is a strong boost for the local construction sector. Western has had a successful 2012 and projections for 2013 are very strong. Having picked up a substantial number of new contract wins in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, it is great to see major public sector infrastructure investment now planned in Northern Ireland.” These latest wins bring Western’s order book for the year ahead to £33m. The company has bucked the downward trend in the construction industry in recent times, growing its turnover from £11m to £26m between 2011 and 2012, and is on target to grow that figure to £35m in 2013.  Western attributes its success to building on its expertise in the education and health sectors, as well as moving into new sectors including retail and leisure. The company is due to complete the construction of a £3.4m supermarket project in Coalisland, Co Tyrone next month, and is currently exploring further opportunities to increase its portfolio of work in the retail sector.

12 FEBRUARY 2013

Ogilvie Fleet project £3.5m investment


gilvie Ogilvie’s Gordon Stephen and Fleet Ltd, Regional Manager Jim Humphreys. one of the UK’s largest fleet management companies, has announced its expansion in Northern Ireland with four new senior level recruits and projections of 100% growth within three years. Headquartered in Stirling, with operating bases in Sheffield, Birmingham and most recently Belfast, Ogilvie Fleet is part of the Ogilvie Group, a £175m turnover privately owned business employing over 400 people. Gordon Stephen, Managing Director, Ogilvie said: “We’ve been testing the Northern Ireland market for some months and have decided that the time is now right to formally commit and invest in our business here. We have seen how savvy business people are in Northern Ireland recognising the cost efficiencies and convenience delivered by professional and transparent car leasing. As such the Northern Ireland market has huge potential for us. Towards delivering our goals we have appointed four new staff to join the existing team. We are also actively looking for larger premises in Belfast which we believe will be more convenient for customers and suppliers alike.” Nationally Ogilvie Fleet has almost 11,000 vehicles under contract putting them in the top twenty fleet management companies in the UK.  Gordon Stephen added: “By 2016 we project a total investment here of £3.5m. This investment in Belfast will not only be reflected in jobs, premises, and marketing spend, but will also be seen in the significant income generated through vehicle purchase and the establishment of local servicing and maintenance contracts. Given the nature of the contract hire business which generally only sees a return on investment after three years this expansion in Northern Ireland demonstrates that we are here for the long haul.” POWER PLAY: Carson McDowell has boosted its energy practice with the appointment of Seán MacCann as a lawyer within its energy and renewables team. He is pictured with Neasa Quigley who heads up the energy and renewables team at the firm. Carson McDowell has been appointed to advise First Flight Wind, the successful bidder of Northern Ireland’s only offshore 600 mw wind project.


14 FEBRUARY 2013


Flight and the


Five years after first setting up in Belfast and following its decision to switch airports last year, Ulster Business spoke to Aer Lingus Commercial Manager Valerie Abbott to find out what’s next for the airline.


er Lingus certainly raised a few eyebrows last year when it decided to move its operations in Northern Ireland to George Best Belfast City Airport. The Irish flag carrier had for four years maintained a base at Belfast International Airport but a change in its strategy to focus on its connections into London prompted a commercial decision to switch to the airport it felt gave the best access to both the business and leisure markets. As well as the three flights a day to the UK’s main hub Heathrow, the carrier also used the move to launch three daily rotations to the capital’s second airport, London Gatwick, and European flights are set to commence in March. Valerie Abbott, the airline’s Commercial Manager for Northern Ireland, says that the performance of its core services in the first three months has validated the decision to move. “From a business perspective it is the airport of choice and we are seeing good growth in terms of corporate business in the traffic we’re getting from the City Airport compared to when we were at the International, particularly on Heathrow,” she told Ulster Business. “The early indications are that business travel, whether it be from the large corporates or the SME market, is growing and we’re very pleased by that.” Some 100 jobs were created by the £100m investment Aer Lingus made in Northern Ireland and the scale and size of its presence here is set to grow following the change of base. “There was a perception that we had reduced flights, but actually there are now more flights than there used to be. We’ve increased the number of flights and number of seats so we’re providing more capacity to this marketplace than ever before. It is really about frequency not routes,” said Valerie. UNIQUE POSITION Appointing Valerie has in itself been seen in the industry as a vote of confidence in Northern Ireland by the company. She is Aer Lingus’ only commercial manager for a specific region,

something Valerie says shows its commitment to Belfast and the whole north of Ireland. “For us it is about viewing NI as a standalone market, not just an offshoot of Dublin. My role is unique as commercial manager for NI. We don’t have other people in that role in other markets because we don’t have bases like this elsewhere. So it is important to us to ensure we are commercially successful here in NI,” she said. Of course Valerie is not new to the Northern Ireland travel sector. She has wide-ranging experience in the airline and travel industries and has been a key member of the Aer Lingus commercial team since 2007 having worked in a variety of roles including Sales Manager Ireland and Business Manager Europe for Tour Operators and Online Travel Agents. Prior to joining Aer Lingus, Valerie worked as Sales Manager Ireland for Travelport, and worked in both Dublin and Belfast as Sales Manager Ireland for BMI. “I’ve been a cross border worker for a long time. I’ve lived here all my life and been working in Dublin since 1998, travelling up and down between Dublin and Belfast during that time,” she explained. “It has been a fantastic time to come back and I’ve enjoyed it so far. It has been hard work, its tough, people have high targets, we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball no matter how good things are, but I am enjoying it.” In a crowded market where it is competing with BA, easyjet and FlyBe, Valerie believes Aer Lingus already has a strong foothold. She keeps a desk in the operations office in the airport and gets regular reports from the airline’s captains and cabin crew on passenger feedback. “Our research tells us that our passengers view us as a very professional airline, that we care about our passengers, and that we’re value for money,” she said. “We have very low and competitive fares out there, but I think travellers are more sophisticated than that, even on a short route like Belfast to London.” INCREASED FREQUENCY Aer Lingus has dismissed suggestions it will

ultimately do some kind of deal with BA on the Heathrow route. In fact, CEO Christoph Mueller is on record as saying that the company would like to increase the number of flights to the London hub if the opportunity arose. “It is always a possibility,” says Valerie. “We’ve doubled our capacity from Belfast to London between Heathrow and Gatwick, and we’re increasing that in summer, with another flight to Gatwick six days a week. “The focus for us is on having that capacity to ‘destination London’ and within that we obviously look at Heathrow separately because they serve different markets. Heathrow has huge point to point traffic but is also significant in terms of connectivity to the rest of the world, both into and out of NI. Any additional flights would take that into consideration. It is in consideration but the issue is as much to do with available slots as it is our desire.” More immediately, Valerie says her company thinks there is a demand for increase capacity to Gatwick, and an opportunity for Northern Ireland to look at connecting to the rest of the world through other airports, not just Heathrow. She notes that KLM for many years operated a quite successful service from Belfast to Amsterdam, which suggests it could be done. “There are a couple of obvious premier airports that could be considered, the likes of Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris. We already deliver a lot of traffic to them from Dublin, so it is in the realm of the possible, not the impossible. It is an opportunity Northern Ireland is still lacking in terms of connectivity.” INTERNATIONAL AMBITION In what was a huge year for tourism, Aer Lingus saw its 2012 move to the City Airport as a big opportunity to firmly establish itself for this push into international travel from Belfast. The link to Heathrow and its huge network of onward connections was a factor, but direct flights to Europe remain a big part of the airline’s plans in Northern Ireland. “Once we are established that gives us a stepping stone to establish international >>>

FEBRUARY 2013 15


Valerie Abbott with some of Aer Lingus’ tourism awards

routes from the City Airport, which isn’t a new concept but it is something that has been underdeveloped at City Airport. I think that’s really exciting,” explains Valerie. Aer Lingus flies Airbus 319 aircraft from Belfast, meaning it can reach major European and Mediterranean destinations from City Airport. This summer it will fly seven times weekly to Malaga, six times weekly to Faro, and is launching a twice weekly service to Palma. “People will always find money from somewhere to have a break. There’s been a lot of focus on staycations but I guess the advantage of Malaga and Faro is that there are still a lot of second homes and holiday homes out there and what we’ve found is that people who own those homes are intending to use them more themselves or for family and friends,” explains Valerie. “The Costa Del Sol, Algarve and Majorca are among the top Northern Ireland holiday destinations, so it is not by chance we have chosen to fly there. But it is important that we choose these operations carefully because they have to be successful for us in order to build on that moving forward. Our medium to long term

strategy is to develop the network from Belfast City Airport.” While it sees ongoing potential in the sunshine holiday market, Aer Lingus believes there’s also opportunity to tap into a big inbound tourism market. “The likes of Germany would be worth considering, but only if there was support. It would need a coming together of minds, with real backing from tourism bodies and Invest NI needed to make it successful through partnership,” Valerie adds. Tourism chiefs are understandably nervous about the negative image of Northern Ireland which has been beamed around the world following the protests connected to the flying of the Union flag in Belfast. It is a problem Aer Lingus would like to see resolved quickly, agrees Valerie. “In travel terms we’re talking about, not so much long term impact, but people who are planning their holidays for later in 2013 and even 2014, not just individuals but tour operators, conferences, meetings. For anyone who is planning those kinds of meetings, perhaps even into 2014, what’s happening now

“We’ve increased the number of flights and number of seats so we’re providing more capacity to this marketplace than ever before.” 16 FEBRUARY 2013

will influence their decisions,” she said. “If we think it is not going to matter then we’re fooling ourselves. It is very unfortunate and I would absolutely hope we can overcome the current situation very, very quickly. We cannot allow this to escalate any further. It is not irreparable but it has to happen sooner rather than later.”

Aer Lingus flights from Belfast • 3 return flights daily between George Best Belfast City Airport and London Heathrow (21 flights per week). • 4 return flights daily between George Best Belfast City Airport and London Gatwick, except Saturday when there will be 3 flights (27 flights per week) from 31 March. • 6 flights weekly between George Best Belfast City Airport and Malaga (except Tuesdays). • 7 flights weekly between George Best Belfast City Airport and Faro. • 2 flights weekly between George Best Belfast City Airport and Palma (Tuesday and Saturday) starting 2 April until end of October.


Northern Ireland businesses urged to enter 2013 Viscount Awards

Aer Lingus and Ulster Business are now inviting entries from companies of all sizes for this year’s Aer Lingus Viscount Awards, which celebrate business partnerships between GB and NI.


orthern Ireland-based companies have been encouraged to enter the Aer Lingus Viscount Awards by two of the leading business figures who will sit on this year’s judging panel. Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, and Tracy Meharg, managing director of innovation at Invest Northern Ireland, said the awards are in line with their organisation’s goals of encouraging more local firms to export and win business in other markets. From the inception of the Viscount Awards the emphasis of the competition has always been on recognising those businesses which are generating enduring and lucrative economic ties between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Nominations are being invited in seven categories: Company of the Year (small, medium and large categories); Entrepreneur of the Year; Most Innovative Company; Best Exporter of the Year; and the Aer Lingus Viscount Award for Overall Excellence. Tracy Meharg notes that Invest NI is putting a lot of investment into the GB market, with specialists in food and construction now employed in its London office to help companies tender for contracts. “These awards fit with our agenda in that they look closely at the link between Northern

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Ireland and Great Britain. We are selling more to GB than the rest of our other export markets and it is important we retain those sales while getting into some of the other growing markets,” she said. Of Northern Ireland’s £16.6bn of manufacturing sales some £7.6bn goes to GB, which is 46% of the total. Even since the recession, that has grown from 42% five years ago. Of that total the sector which does best in GB is food and drink, which accounts for about half of the total, Tracy points out. “GB is our first closest market, with the same currency, but it is also a very competitive market. We want to get more companies to look at GB opportunities because if you can sell into GB then you should be able to sell into other markets,” she added. “Transport links between NI and GB are essential. Regular services to both Heathrow and Gatwick, having that diversity and frequency of connections, are very important to the business community and also to the many global companies who are potential inward investors or have offices there, such as Allen & Overy and Citi,” she said. It is a theme which Ann McGregor picks up on, noting that the NICC last year commissioned research into the need for Northern Ireland to have improved air connectivity.

The NICC research showed UK companies had a 30% chance of converting prospects into sales without a face-to-face meeting, but that rate jumped to 45% with a face-to-face meeting. “Aviation is not only used to import and export high value or process critical goods, but it is also crucial in developing relationships with overseas customers,” said Ann. “Aviation links with London help businesses to reach those international markets.” Ann also encouraged businesses to consider entering the awards, noting that recent wins by the NICC team have had a very positive impact on the organisation. “When you win an award for what you do it gives you a sense of pride that you’ve achieved something over your peers and it’s very good PR for a company. If you’re tendering or trying to attract a new customer an award of this nature maybe gives you some added credibility,” she said. “It is great for raising your profile and good for the team and staff to get an endorsement of the fact that they are doing a good job,” she added. “The difference with the Aer Lingus Viscount Awards and why we like it is because the event is tied in with the benefits of export.” Entries to the awards can be completed online through a simple form that can be found at

A taste of home

In Northern Ireland, we really do have some of the best food in the world...and you’ll find it at Lidl. From salad growers to beef farmers and from cheese makers to bakers, Lidl works with people who understand the care and attention to detail that makes food taste great. Behind every perfect carrot and fresh portion of meat you find at Lidl is an individual who has made a choice to be the best. We have brought together a selection of our suppliers to showcase the excellent quality Northern Irish produce you will find in your local Lidl store. Some have been with us since the very beginning in 1999 and today we work with more than 40 local suppliers, many of them household names. We constantly seek out the most passionate Northern Irish suppliers. These are people who care as much as we do about ensuring that when you shop with us, you always get a great ‘taste of home’. A taste of home

Meet some of our local suppliers in our ‘A taste of home’ brochure.

Available in your local Lidl store now!

NI Taste of Home

CL.idml 1 17/01/2013 09:01

NI Brochure_Ulster Business_210x297mm.indd 1 21/01/2013 12:48


Bradfor boss has got it covered Named recently as the Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year by networking organisation Women in Business, Patricia Clements says a hands on approach has been key to the growth of her business.


t is surprising how many successful entrepreneurs start on the path to business success straight from school. One such local entrepreneur is Patricia Clements, the founder and managing director of Rostrevor-based aircraft seat cover maker Bradfor Ltd. Patricia started her career in textiles at the age of 15 and in the late 1980s formed a fashion partnership in Rathfriland which created locallymade tailored garments that were worn by celebrities like Joan Collins. But, as it became increasingly difficult for a Northern Ireland-based clothing business to compete with much cheaper locations such as China, she decided the time was right to use her skills elsewhere. “The fashion industry was going downhill in Northern Ireland, and a lot of it was going out to foreign countries to be made. We had to make a lot of our people redundant because we couldn’t compete. In my area there wasn’t a lot of work around. I had two young sons at the time and didn’t fancy travelling to Belfast every day. So I found another option,” Patricia told Ulster Business. In 1996, after hearing aircraft seat manufacturer B/E Aerospace in nearby Kilkeel were having some issues making seat covers in-house, Patricia approached their Managing Director to offer her services. She was given a three month trial, rented premises and went from there. Bradfor started with six people, all of whom came from a fashion background. But with lots of experience with different types of stitching machinery, Patricia was able to invest time in training. “It was a big change to get people trained in the handling of different materials. The fashion industry, particularly with ladies fashions, can be quite fine materials. So it took a fair bit of training and time, but we were quite small so I had the time to do it,” she explained. “It worked out that we were able to make covers faster than they could, so they were delighted,” she added. Bradfor now employs almost 100 staff and supplies to major airlines across the world

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Patricia Clements with her Women In Business award

through B/E Aerospace, also working for its core client’s sister companies in the UK mainland and in North Carolina in the US. “One of our main strengths is that we’re always on time with deliveries. To me that is a big thing for customers and if you fall down on that, it is almost worse than being one or two pennies dearer than the competitor. The quality of your product and being on time is a big thing in the aviation industry,” said Patricia. “B/E Aerospace is an American company and they get a lot of things made in the US and China. It is possible to compete, but it’s tight, so you have to be on top of it all the time and you have to be hands on. I do keep my overheads down and run a very small management team.” Patricia advises aspiring entrepreneurs that growing a business requires resilience and passion for what you are doing. “You have to be mentally very tough and determined to succeed. But the main thing is

wanting to do it. In my case I wanted to work, I’ve been working since I was 14, and I didn’t want to be at home all day, even though I had two children. I wanted to have my own life as well. Then it was just a case of being strong enough to get over all the potholes,” she said. “You also have to have a good workforce. I think if you’re hands on and working with your workforce they will be loyal to you.” Unlike many people in business, Patricia is not getting carried away in her aspirations for Bradfor, believing that growing too fast could ultimately be disastrous. “The company at the moment is at a size where I would like to keep it. It is a comfortable size for me to run the way I want to run it. If I try to get it any bigger then my overheads would go up and then you’re asking if you can still compete,” she said. “In five or 10 years I would like to think that we are still here going as we’re going and maintaining the company as it is.”


BlackBerry 10 arrives in style Robin Brown from Connect Telecom reviews the brand new BlackBerry 10, an operating system available on the new Z10 and Q10 devices that BlackBerry hopes will challenge Samsung and Apple in the competitive smart phone market.


he eagerly awaited BlackBerry 10 launched at the end of January, and here at Connect Telecom we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the new platform. At first glance, the device seems to bear a resemblance to an iPhone 5, but once we got under the hood of the new operating system, BlackBerry 10 showed it has plenty of unique features. User Experience First of all, the new user experience is radically different to any previous BlackBerry device and any other smartphone on the market today. It’s smooth and easy with simple navigation between the merged home screen, app list, active frames (where personalised apps update in real-time) and BlackBerry Hub, a unified inbox which centralises all of your messaging and social communications feeds: email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Messenger. Easy functions such as launching the camera from the lock screen to take a quick snapshot, to being able to view all notifications and unread messages from the same lock screen enhance usability even further. The main home screen is also totally re-vamped, using ‘Active Frames’ that provide an overview of your most recently used apps, which remain updated in real-time.

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The home screen also includes a shortcut bar, with quick links to the phone, search and camera applications – allowing you to quickly jump to these regularly used features. The new device is very gesture-driven, allowing you to perform some slick, one-handed operations such as unlocking the phone by sliding your thumb up the screen and swiping from right to left will take you to the app list. There’s a pleasant fading animation or what BlackBerry calls ‘Flow.’ As you flick between pages you’ll see the previous pages fade away to the side of the screen, to be replaced by the new page. This really comes to life when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen – this minimises the current app/screen you’re viewing and shows new notifications down the left hand side, including new emails, BBMs, texts and social media notifications. Work and Play Swipe down on the home screen or the app grid and you’ll see Personal and Work buttons that let you switch between the two BlackBerry Balance modes. In Personal, you can install any apps you want, send any email, save any file, working in a partition that’s encrypted for privacy but not locked down in any way. If you use your BlackBerry for work though, you’ll also have a Work partition that’s also encrypted but completely separate and can be locked down by the company to ensure that any sensitive or confidential information is kept totally secure. Enhancements • BlackBerry World has also had a complete overhaul and will be a one-stop shop not just for apps but also for music, video, games and much more. • BlackBerry has also kept its famous QWERTY keypad with its incredibly intuitive touchscreen offering. There are also some clever auto-correct and next-word suggestion functions as well as multi-lingual prediction. • The BlackBerry browser has also had a refresh

for BlackBerry 10, bringing it in line with the minimalist style of current offerings on other devices. In all, we think the new features on BlackBerry 10 focus heavily on getting things done. If the features are backed up with an appealing selection of smartphones and an improved BlackBerry World, then the smartphone market may be about to become even more competitive. For further information contact Connect Telecom on tel: 0800 058 2855, email: or visit our website:

Energy & Environment

Sponsored by

Environment Minister Alex Attwood, pictured with Gary Connolly the Northern ENERGY &ofWASTE Ireland Renewables Industry Group, wants to introduce new planning legislation.

The best laid plans... Environment Minister Alex Attwood has made a series of decisions on key projects and plans to introduce new, simpler planning regulations. But does the proposed Bill strike the right balance between economic and environmental concerns? Stephen McVey reports.


nvironment minister Alex Attwood has introduced a new planning Bill which he says will simplify the process in Northern Ireland. However, final approval is being withheld by leading figures in planning and environmental protection, with concerns over whether the bill and the decisions taken so far are striking the right balance between economic and environmental considerations. Minister Attwood has regularly said he wants to make planning more efficient and accountable. “Since becoming Environment Minister, ensuring we provide a much better, more speedy and decisive planning service has been a top priority for me. Planning as a vehicle for strengthening our economy, without compromising on protecting the environment is also a key driver for me,” he said. The big decisions he has taken to date on economically important Article 31 projects have divided opinion. Rose Energy’s planned chicken litter power station and the long delayed John Lewis at Sprucefield were rejected, while planning was granted for the much anticipated

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Royal Exchange development, the police and fire training complex at Desertcreat and a golf resort on the north Antrim coast. The primary aim of Minister Attwood’s Bill is to reproduce key provisions in the Planning Act 2011 to allow his Department to speed up reforms prior to the transfer of planning powers to local government in 2015. Dr Roisin Willmott, head of the Royal Town Planning Institiute (RTPI) Northern Ireland believes there are a lot of positives to be taken from the new legislation: “What’s important is that any changes to the planning system are in place in time for local government reform, so that when new councils come in, they aren’t tackling more changes. It will make sure things are as prepared as well as they can be in the time scale.” Promotion of economic development is a key part of the Bill, which asks local planning authorities to give regard to any economic advantages or disadvantages likely to result from granting or refusing planning permission. James Orr, Director of Friends of the Earth NI, believes the Bill is flawed. “On the face of it, all of us agree planning

should help economic development there’s no question about that, but what this provision is saying in regards to economic advantages and disadvantages means a brand new principle of planning law is introduced. We think this legislative provision will introduce complete and utter chaos in the planning system,” he said. However, Richard Bowman, Director of planning at the consultancy practice Strategic Planning thinks a forthright consideration of economic factors is necessary. “It’s not an unusual policy to adopt,” he said. “I was reading about energy policy in England and their attitude is that if something is needed and is useful to the economy you can’t bake a cake without breaking a few eggs. Something has to give.” He adds: “If the economy is the key thing that is going to drive you, then the environment has to compromise to a degree. I’m certainly not a proponent of chopping down every tree I see around me, I’m a great believer in the environment. But there are times when the environmental lobby takes the biscuit really. Certainly at the minute the economy is slightly more important.”


An attempt to emphasise the economic factors in planning decisions, was previously attempted in the draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 24 ‘Economic Considerations’. This was issued for public consultation in January 2011 by the then Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, but was quickly dropped by Minister Attwood. James Orr believes a new way of operating within the planning system will cause an array of problems. “You can foresee a situation where major retail developers compete with each other so one says they will create 200 jobs and then the other says they’ll create 250 jobs. You’re in the business of analysing individual’s aspirations for economic advantage or disadvantage. “What we’ll find is this new Bill is PPS 24 by stealth and it’s actually much more serious because we’ll end up in endless litigation because of these issues. In other words people are going to go through the courts more and more to fight these cases,” he said With variable options, there is no concrete way of predicting which one will provide the greatest economic benefit. Orr sees the planning feud over the proposed golf course near to the Giant’s Causeway as a fitting example: “The National Trust could say protecting the setting

of the Giant’s Causeway world heritage site is a really important economic driver for that area, which it is as it’s part of a micro-economy of the north Antrim coast. Alistair Hanna the developer could well say in this particular case “I’m going to create a £100m development that will be of significant benefit to the economy.” Northern Ireland’s planning system has been regarded as a hindrance to the economy, with many high profile applications being drawn out over a number of years. Galantas, a gold mining company in County Tyrone, is one of Strategic Planning’s clients, who are suffering from delays in the current planning system. Richard Bowman believes something needs to be done to improve efficiency in the planning structure. “We were brought in a year or two ago to help out Galantas and as a result of the judicial review challenge it really pushed up the necessity to get the underground mine approved very very quickly, as all the various planning blunders resulted in people losing their jobs. “We have been pushing and shoving to try and get the thing over the line and there really hasn’t been the drive from the statutory bodies in planning. They just go along at their slow pace. The upshot of it is, I’m managing a client

at the minute who is regularly saying to me ‘I’m going to throw the towel in’, and I’m spending my time trying to talk him around,” he said. Roisin Willmott gives an example of the different factors that play their part in planning. “I think the planning system is being burdened with lots of other things to take account of – the European Habitat Directive is a big one, protecting European threatened species or ecosystems. It’s the planning system that has to do that, its required to help out with all sorts of different things, that’s kind of slowed it down slightly,” she said. Richard Bowman hopes the major Article 31 applications can be completed: “Planning is a very difficult balancing act. There are lobbies from all sides shouting at them – ‘think of the economy, think of the environment’ but I have faith that when the economy improves that a lot these schemes will to go through a lot more smoothly.” James Orr, on the other hand, predicts a steady dismantling of the planning system until it all grinds to a halt in appeals and legal challenges. He said: “If this goes through, it means Northern Ireland is not just open for business as the Minister said, it means Northern Ireland is up for sale.”

John Lewis withdraws Sprucefield applications


etail group John Lewis has withdrawn its plans for a department store at the Sprucefield shopping complex near Lisburn following a controversial decision to limit further development in the area to “bulky goods”, like furniture. The consortium behind the plans, which included 19 retail units, were to go before the Planning Appeals Commission in March but said uncertainty over planning meant they “cannot proceed to inquiry”. Reaction to the announcement was mixed. Richard Bowman from consultancy Strategic Planning said: “The problem goes back to there not being an up to date regional policy on retail in place because draft PPS5 that was produced a number of years ago has been constantly in the courts. However, when you’ve got a major retailer like John Lewis who wants to come to Northern Ireland and say ‘Look it’s either Sprucefield or it’s Dublin, they really ought to be bending over backwards to get them in. And it’s not like we are pushing the boundaries. They are not looking for a green field site out in the countryside. They are looking for a site within an existing defined regional shopping centre.” But NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts urged John Lewis to give serious thought to an alternative town centre site for its store that would support regeneration. “We have always strongly supported John Lewis locating a store in a town or city centre site as opposed to an unsustainable out of town location. Northern Ireland has not only the highest town centre shop vacancy rate in the UK, but twice the national average of nearly 1 in 4 shops empty.” James Orr from Friends of the Earth added: “Whether you think John Lewis is a good idea or not it has been held up for 12 years by the courts and economic considerations have been a big issue here. All this flies in the face of what a planning system is supposed to be, should a particular piece of land get approval for this or that and the characteristics of the applicant should be irrelevant really.”

FEBRUARY 2013 25


General Manager Eamon Clarke with MD Connell McMullan.

The innovative Energy Cabin.

Burning ambition Alternative Heat is a small family-owned firm that has earned a reputation for innovation in renewable solutions and secured a number of high profile export contracts and awards.


stablished in 2004, the company (supported by Invest NI) designed and developed a unique biomass cabin to provide a ‘plug in’ solution to switching to biomass fuel. The innovative Energy Cabin was the focus of a major export contract with the Scottish Highlands Council last year valued at £3m. The new contract created five new jobs bringing the number employed by the firm at its Castlewellan design and production facility to 25 staff. Managing Director Connell McMullan explains: “The market in Scotland is a few years ahead of Northern Ireland due to a very well established ‘green energy’ policy backed by a 20 year government grant scheme which has been operating for a number of years. “A similar scheme for Northern Ireland businesses was recently announced by Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a 20 year payment scheme, designed to encourage Northern Ireland businesses to make the switch to renewable energy sources. “As it’s quite recent, there is still some education needed around how RHI works,

26 FEBRUARY 2013

however, having witnessed the way businesses embrace incentives in the UK and Scotland, we expect to see the Northern Ireland market grow considerably in the next two to five years,” Connell adds.* Alternative Heat’s innovative Energy Cabin houses a biomass boiler, integral pellet fuel store and all mechanical and electrical fittings, ready for connection on site. The cabin is craned into place and simply connected to the existing heating system to reduce heating costs without the need to make any alternations to the building, heating system or plant room and it can be finished to blend in with the existing built environment. The innovative energy cabin is MCS certified – an essential requirement to claim the RHI payment. Biomass is ideally suited to large offices, schools, manufacturing plant, care homes, council and leisure facilities and poultry farms – any business that has high heating and hot water demands. Biomass Energy Cabins have been embraced by the public and private sector alike and recent major contracts delivered by Alternative Heat include: Enniskillen Lodge Hotel; Radisson

Blu Hotel, Letterkenny; Seaforth Lodge Nursing Home; Magherafelt Leisure Centre; Loughbrickland Social Housing Development; Colaiste Choilm Primary School, Tullamore and the Skanios Centre, East Belfast, among others. “Renewable energy systems are proven to offer saving of 20-30%* to businesses on heating bills, they will reduce future carbon taxes and the RHI payment means even quicker payback periods. The carbon trust also offer a range of interest free loans to help make the switch easier. “In a climate of recession, when rising energy costs are crippling businesses, this is the time to find out what renewable energy can offer and that is where we can provide expert guidance,” adds Connell. *The RHI scheme guarantees an annual return (on all the energy produced using renewable sources) to the company of 12-14% payable quarterly for 20 years. *20-30 % savings compared to LPG or Oil fired systems. For more information contact Alternative Heat tel: +44 (0)28 4377 0700; email: or visit our website: for more information and detailed case studies.


Natural Gas: the ÂŁ200m infrastructure investment plan John Simpson looks into how plans to extend the natural gas network into the West of the province might work following the announcement last month that the Executive has agreed to back the project.


Gas supplies may reach Omagh and other towns in the West

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ithin the next three years natural gas supplies may reach Enniskillen, Omagh, Dungannon, Cookstown, Magherafelt and Strabane, under new proposals. That is provided that the Utility Regulator can devise an acceptable licence agreement, so that there will be competitive bids to build the necessary pipeline and distribution networks. The NI Executive has agreed financially to support the main network investment with a subvention of up to ÂŁ32m, comparable to the original Government support for the transmission investment in the Belfast area. If these licences - for both the transmission and distribution of natural gas - are successfully developed, then every large urban area in Northern Ireland will have access to gas. In addition, if there is a contract to supply a large user, the network may even extend to Derrylin in Co Fermanagh. The irony of the evolving supply network is that gas for towns in Northern Ireland is likely to be through a network stretching back to Islandmagee and into Scotland whilst, at the same time, natural gas will be piped ashore in Mayo (from the Corrib field) and supplied across the centre of the island towards Dublin. There are no known plans to link the gas networks north and south, in contrast to the emerging, but frustrated, necessity for such a link in the electricity grids. Expectations until recently have been that on an all-island basis there would be agreement on CAG (Common Arrangements for Gas). In a technical stand-off relating to the availability and cost of the gas pipelines to Dublin from Scotland, these expectations are currently in suspense. This technical disagreement will need to be resolved if the geological evidence confirms that there are safely exploitable gas supplies in both Leitrim and Fermanagh. For Northern Ireland, the commercial assessments point to a viable gas supply extension to the six new urban areas. The licence agreement, now being prepared, will set the critical terms of its delivery and the way in which tariffs are to be regulated. All bids


will be required to demonstrate that the bidder can meet the necessary installation standards. The test then becomes to determine, on a comparable agreed objective basis, which will deliver the best long-term results for customers. The extended supply network will use a system which postalises gas transmission and, separately, gas distribution charges. The possibility is that rather than have differing postalised distribution charges, the Regulator will seek official approval for a standard distribution charge for all six locations. The application of postalisation principles raises a further decision on whether the postalisation of transmission charges should be simply for the six new destinations or should be standard across the Northern Ireland network. Whilst there is a marginal risk that a NI-wide charge will fractionally raise the charge in the Belfast area, the adjustment would be so small that the principle is likely to be adopted and acceptable. With the acceptance of a pricing system that is partially based on standard postalisation delivery charges along with stated common technical standards, the Regulator will need to assess the merits of different bids to build the extended pipeline, supply gas, and meet any specific service conditions. There is an expectation that there will be several interested bidders for the licence with the extended contractual commitments over a fairly long period. Tentative conversations point to possible interest in the transmission business by Phoenix Natural Gas, Firmus and Mutual Energy. In addition, conceivably, exploratory conversations may be initiated by companies currently operating outside Northern Ireland. Phoenix Natural Gas has a range of even wider ambitions. It is also interested in the business opportunities to bring gas to east and south Co Down, including Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Crossgar, as well as Hillsborough, Saintfield and Whitehead. Another possible development is that Phoenix acknowledges that it has an interest in bidding to buy Firmus, the Northern Ireland subsidiary of Bord Gais. In discussion, Phoenix believe that there would be a strategic benefit in terms of efficiency if Northern Ireland had just one gas network operator which, presumably would be regulated in terms of the prospective return on capital for that operator. In the Phoenix model, alongside the ‘monopoly’ operator, the force of competition would be in the form of permitting competitive market based bids for the local distribution of gas. That idea may not be the preferred model for the Regulator. The Regulator may, on the basis of earlier comments, have a preference for

a licence to a single distribution company at least for an appreciable early number of years. Critical to this choice, there must be sufficient incentive for a distribution company to be prepared to build and pay the capital outlay costs for such a service whether for each town or collectively for the six towns now being connected. If the competition for the main investment in the transmission network (the main pipelines) is on a commercially level playing field, Phoenix may be expected to submit a bid. One caveat may be relevant. The Phoenix companies are said to be for sale as the Kellen Group shareholders move to raise capital for other purposes. New owners might review these ambitions. Market prospects are also relevant in any attempt to assess the commercial interest of Firmus, indirect subsidiary of Bord Gais, in further investment. Bord Gais has been reported as being interested in selling Firmus. That, in turn, may influence a decision on making a bid for a large increase in investment here. Another local group with a possible interest in the new licences is Mutual Energy. It already owns the transmission infrastructure from Larne to Belfast. To finance the capital investment in the extended transmission pipeline, Mutual Energy may be able to raise capital at advantageous rates if the distribution licence is designed to underpin the revenue expectations of the expanded business. The business plan expectations of Phoenix and Mutual may differ. The draft licence

conditions may exert a critical influence on the eventual outcome. There will be a careful reading of the draft terms of licence when they are published for consultation (as may happen as this article is in print). Then the response of potential bidders will give some indication of any fears of contentious preferences by the Regulator. If the Regulator is considering a non-conventional model for financing of the project, this will call for clear explanations and justification of any departure from recent practice. Northern Ireland now has an expectation that belatedly the natural gas network will serve all the main urban centres. The policy debate is about the link between incentivisation of investors and securing acceptable regulation. The debate on the proposed licence conditions, and the final decisions reached, will be critically important to gas customers and potential investors. Extending the gas network to the West, including Enniskillen and Omagh, is a major commitment of possibly up to ÂŁ200m by private sector investors. This commitment draws no inferences about whether, in the next decade, supplies of shale gas may be assessed to be commercially and environmentally attractive. Then, the flow of gas might reverse from Fermanagh, or Leitrim, towards the east of the island. With a degree of commercial logic, the two Governments on this island may eventually be persuaded that an all-island gas network is becoming necessary.

FEBRUARY 2013 29


Levy is not retailers’ bag


orthern Ireland Retail Consortium Director Aodhán Connolly comments: “Our member retailers have long been at the forefront of making it easier for consumers to be environmentally friendly when shopping, from giving away reusable bags to rewarding re-use and providing facilities to recycle carrier bags in store. So, as responsible retailers, they understand the Environment Minister’s desire to cut single-use bag numbers. It’s something we’ve been working on successfully for years. Certainly, we’re grateful for some of the common sense exemptions the Minister and the Department have included in the Act. For example, allowing free bags for privacy reasons with pharmacy items and for health and safety reasons with hot food and drink on the go. But this Act will be costly for retailers. The length of time it’s taken to reach Royal Assent means, in practice, retailers only have six weeks to train thousands of staff and not the months they would have liked. This levy will take up time at the tills, especially during the early months, which will affect retailers, both small and large, and their customers. And, even though a light touch, central billing approach to the administration of this levy has been taken, it still places a burden on retailers at a time when economic pressures continue to mount in Northern Ireland. I’m also concerned customers aren’t clear about what the levy funds will be used for. Some are seeing this simply as a ‘bag tax’. And, beyond unspecified environmental projects within the DOE, the people paying the charge in Northern Ireland don’t know where the proceeds will be going. By contrast in Wales the money goes to communitynominated environmental projects meaning the consumer can directly see the benefits. This transparency promotes a greater goodwill towards the levy.”

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Would you like a bag? It has sparked heated debate about its merits since first being suggested in 2011, but what will the new carrier bag levy actually mean.


ast month the NI Assembly passed further legislation which will introduce a levy on single use carrier bags in Northern Ireland from 8th April 2013. The Carrier Bag levy will be a statutory requirement for retailers and businesses in Northern Ireland to charge at least 5p for each new single use carrier bag they supply to customers. Around 250 million carrier bags are used in Northern Ireland every year and the levy is intended to reduce environmental damage by cutting the number of bags used. Experience elsewhere has shown that introducing a levy is a very successful way of substantially cutting bag usage. The levy will apply to the majority of new single use carrier bags, regardless of the material from which the bag is made (the levy applies to bags made from plastic, paper or other natural materials). There will be some exemptions – mainly on the grounds of patient confidentiality, hygiene and food safety, and when a bag is essential to protect goods or consumers, for example when taking away hot food or beverages. Some small bags will also be exempt, and the levy will not apply when a carrier bag is being reused. The Department of the Environment advises that to avoid paying the levy altogether, people should always bring their own bags when the

go shopping. “Whether it’s a ‘bag for life’, a canvas bag, or just an ordinary plastic carrier bag, you’ll be helping the environment by reducing waste that ends up in landfill, and using less virgin raw material. You’ll also be reducing the carbon that’s used up when bags are being manufactured. Make sure the bags you reuse are clean and in a good state of repair. Bags that are worn, damaged, or contaminated with food should be recycled at carrier bag recycling points, and long life reusable bags should be cleaned frequently,” the department said. Under this new legislation retailers and businesses will be required to transfer the revenue they collect from the levy to the DOE on a quarterly basis. The levy will be administered by the DOE’s Carrier Bag Levy Team and money raised will be used to help fund environmental programmes and activities. Retailers and businesses will be able to register online from March 2013 and make online returns and payments from July 2013, when the first return is due. DOE says its Carrier Bag Levy Team will be writing again to all retailers and businesses distributing new single use carrier bags in early March giving full details on how they should register. More information can be found at www.


Renewable Energy: are the 2020 targets achievable? The Northern Ireland Government set itself a target of 12% renewable generation by 2012 which has been reached. This is a major success. But as we look ahead to 2020 and the far more ambitious target of 40% renewable generation, the challenge seems far greater, writes Andrew Ryan, partner at Tughans Solicitors.


ravel around Northern Ireland and you cannot fail to see the physical evidence of the Region’s push for renewable generation, mostly in the form of wind farms and the increasingly common single turbines dotted across the countryside. Wind is only part of the ongoing story of renewables in NI; anaerobic digestion, hydro, biomass and solar are becoming increasingly prevalent and this is likely to continue. However, in many ways the challenge has just begun. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry, in its [2009] Strategic Energy Framework document set a target for Northern Ireland of 40% renewable generation by 2020. This target is achievable, but a number of barriers exist and Northern Ireland will need to pull off a stunning feat of co-ordination between the government, regulated industry and the private sector to hit that target. Obtaining planning permission, particularly for major renewables development remains a source of delay and frustration for developers. Despite recent rises in planning application fees, the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service still suffers from a lack of resources, and responses from vital consultees, such as Natural Heritage and Roads Service can be slow. Wind farms remain the most significant contributors to the 2020 target. As more sites become developed, the remainder inevitably become more challenging in terms of visual impact or other constraints such as impacts on peat-land or other habitats. The DOE’s planning policy for renewable development “PPS 18” is undoubtedly permissive, but the decision makers are forced to weigh up the economic and broader environmental benefits of wind energy against, for example the subjective visual impacts and potential noise impacts. One person’s graceful windmill is another’s eyesore and noise nuisance. If the 40% target is to be reached, the decision makers (and indeed the public) will have to accept a much higher number of turbines in the landscape. The signs are, generally, that DOE planning is starting to take a more permissive approach, but the level of public objection to renewable schemes is increasing. It is only a matter of time before more major renewable projects are challenged in the courts.

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Andrew Ryan

Connection to the electricity distribution grid is another source of delay and cost. Wind energy is a problem because of the distance of the ideal upland sites from the high-voltage transmission grid and the intermittency of generation. However, other more predictable generation sources such as anaerobic digestion, hydro or solar may still be some distance from the required connection or close to existing lines that are beyond the required capacity. Costs charged by NIE for applying for and obtaining grid connection can be prohibitive but under the present system all prospective developers are entirely dependent upon NIE for a connection. NIE, as operator of the NI distribution and transmission grid, is also responsible for upgrading the system with the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the 40% target. A major element of this – the North-South Interconnector – has already hit major delays in the planning system, so a large question mark remains over the timescales and deliverability of the other parts of the network upgrade required. There is also uncertainty over projects likely to be commissioned after April 2017. Currently, renewables projects receive relatively generous incentive payments through the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation. The tradable “ROC” certificates allocated for electricity produced by qualifying renewable generators provide both a valuable payback for investment

but also a level of predictability of income over 20 years. This gives funders the certainty required to make the substantial investment decisions necessary for major renewables projects. From April 2017 any major project newly connected to the grid will fall under a new regime of “Feed in Tariffs” coupled to “Contracts for Difference”. In very simple terms these “FIT-CfDs” will provide a variable level of payback dependent upon the prevailing electricity price. It seems unlikely that these will offer as reliable an incentive as the current ROC payments and in development timescales 2017 is now not that far off. Whether funders will be attracted to projects going on-grid beyond 2017 but requiring funds relatively soon remains to be seen. What is urgently required is more clarity from Government on how the FIT-CfDs will work and what likely levels of payback will be. If this does not happen, funding for projects beyond 2017 may stall and this may severely impact on reaching the 40% target. NIE and the Utilities Regulator are ultimately responsible for agreeing the upgrades for the NI electricity grid. The DOE decides on and implements planning policy which impacts both on renewables development but also the pace of major infrastructure upgrade projects. DETI sets the renewables targets and determines the level of incentives through ROCs and FIT-CfDs. The current, fragmented system is simply not fit for purpose to deliver the generation or network capacity in a reasonable timeframe. There is still time to make Northern Ireland a world-class exemplar for renewables and there is no lack of will amongst developers, funders, technology providers and their respective advisors to hit – if not exceed – the 2020 target. Without doubt the NI Government has responded to the challenge to meet the 2012 target and that is to be congratulated. However, if we are to hit the 40% target in less than seven years, a quantum shift in policy and speed of response is required across NI Government. There is still time, but is there genuinely the will in government to get the job done? Andrew Ryan is partner and head of the Energy team at Tughans Solicitors. The team advises developers, funders and technology providers for renewable projects at all scales across Northern Ireland.

Banking on local energy

Frances Hill, Bank of England Agent, Northern Ireland; Sir Mervyn King, Governor, Bank of England; Ian Coulter, CBI Northern Ireland Chairman and Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director, Airtricity.


irtricity, Northern Ireland’s second largest and fastest growing energy utility, supported the recent CBI Northern Ireland mid-winter dinner, which provided the setting for the final regional address by Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England. Over 500 people attended the event at Titanic Belfast, where Sir Mervyn delivered an in-depth analysis on current economic conditions locally and globally. CBI Northern Ireland President Ian Coulter also spoke and outlined the region’s economic priorities. Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director, Airtricity said: “I have seen the huge benefits that Airtricity’s competitive drive is bringing to Northern Ireland consumers and the economy. As well as being the country’s No.1 supplier for domestic gas and electricity to around 300,000 customers, we are now the largest single supplier to Northern Ireland’s public and private business sectors. We’re providing real choice, value and service to consumers, communities and organisations across the country.”

David Sterling, DETI; Rotha Johnston, NIE; Sir Peter Gregson, Queen’s University Belfast and David Manning, Corporate Affairs Director, SSE Ireland.

34 FEBRUARY 2013

John Collison NAMA; Ronnie Hanna, NAMA; Simon Hamilton MLA and Mark Ennis, Chairman, SSE Ireland.

Glen Crumley, Henderson Group; Andrew Greer, Airtricity Corporate Sales Manager and John Simpson.

Quintin Oliver, Stratagem; Stephen Farry MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning and Nigel Smyth, CBI.

Terence Brannigan, Maze Long Kesh Development Corporation; Mark Ennis, SSE Ireland and Len O’Hagan, Chairman, Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

Davy Elliot, AES; Mark Miller, AES and Janice Hagan, AES.

Jim McCall, Four Seasons Healthcare; Neil Cairns, BE Aerospace; Gordon Craig, Johnston Printing Ltd and John Rainey, Denroy.

Sir George Bain; Ian Sheppard, Bank of Ireland and Mark Ennis, Chairman, SSE Ireland.

Paul Cooley, General Manager, SSE Renewables; Paul Haran, SSE and Stephen Wheeler, Airtricity.

Symon Ross, Ulster Business; David Manning, SSE Ireland; Colletta Smith, BBC; John Simpson and Brendan Mulgrew, MW Advocate.

Brian Ambrose, George Best Belfast City Airport; Ian Coulter, CBI Northern Ireland; Len O’Hagan, Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Gregory S Burton, US Consul General.

FEBRUARY 2013 35


Getting more out of yourself and others is easier, and cheaper, than you think, says David Meade.

Rallying the troops Sometimes find it difficult to motivate your team? Ever wondered why two people in your organisation that have the same manager and same job can perform dramatically differently? Ever wished you knew exactly what makes your people tick? In his second article for Ulster Business, David explores how simple and reliable scientific techniques can be used to motivate your entire team to achieve more than you – and they – ever thought possible.

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n the last year I’ve worked in seven countries with nearly thirty different international organisations from sectors that include retail, IT, logistics, finance, banking, and manufacturing. You’d be forgiven for thinking that, as clients, they bear no resemblance to one another. I thought so too, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. One client has 257,000 employees, and another just 12. But one question unites every single organisation I’ve ever dealt with – how can I motivate my teams and the individuals within them? In an increasingly competitive commercial climate, an organisation’s ability to effectively motivate their troops has become an essential competency. Without trying to sound too clichéd, motivation really is the oxygen of a successful organisation. Traditional corporate wisdom tells us that cash is king, and without a hefty salary and bonus package our operation will underperform. The truth, though, is much simpler, and often doesn’t cost a single penny. So forget about McGregor’s X and Y Theory, Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory or McClelland’s Motivation Theory. The truth about getting more from your team is much simpler. COURT IS IN SESSION One of my favourite pieces of research into performance and motivation involved ten professional ballerinas. Invited to a basketball court, they were informed that they would be taking part in a study that investigates how their skills in movement and dance would transfer to the court. A ‘coach’ observed all ten players shooting hoops, and divided them into two groups of five, placing all the naturally strong players together in one group, and the weaker in the other. The stronger group was told they had a natural flair for the game, showing poise, accuracy, and confidence. The weaker team was told that the coach didn’t feel confident that they possessed the key skills required to succeed on the court. The former team was applauded for their professionalism, their promise, and their ability to draw on their skills as performers. The latter team was offered damp gratitude for turning up and told that their performance was in some cases ‘shocking’. The teams were then separated to test their performance. What they didn’t realise, though, was that the experimenters could care less about their natural talent or lack thereof, and that the ‘coach’ had never played a game of basketball or even shot a hoop in his life. In fact, the teams were divided entirely at random and the experiment was to test the impact of encouragement on groups and individuals. With two minutes on the clock, the teams battled it out to see who achieved the highest score. The results were staggering. The team that were told they had a natural flair for the game achieved nearly 30% more hoops than their counterparts. That’s without

“THE MEASURE OF A GREAT ORGANISATION IS NOT IN HOW THEY LEAD THEIR HIGHEST PERFORMERS, BUT HOW THEY DEVELOP AND MOTIVATE, AND INSPIRE THEIR LOWEST ACHIEVERS.” any financial incentive, bonus package, or complex system of reward. They had stellar performance because they believed they would achieve stellar performance. More importantly, repeat experiments showed that the team who perceived themselves to be weaker tried almost half as many times to score. COINING IT Last year I gathered forty students to test a lesser known phenomenon. Inviting students to place two of their own coins (one silver, one copper) on the table in front of them. They were each given a pendulum before listening to a 30 minute presentation on how – as a result of the nature of the atom alignment in the differing metals – a pendulum swings in a straight line as it’s held over a silver coin, and in a circle over a copper coin. They were shown six different videos from previous experiments where the pendulum movements were demonstrated over differing coins, before being invited to try it out themselves. As expected, when given the opportunity to try it out with their own coins, the pendulum performed exactly as they had been told it would for over 90% of participants. Holding it in their outstretched hands, it swung in a straight line over the silver, and in a circle over the copper. It even worked when we had them cover the coins with a piece of card to obscure them from view. Participants were taken to the edge of the room and given the opportunity to share their reactions on camera. All were impressed, and one individual even commented: “I’ve seen a documentary on this – it’s incredible!” What they didn’t realise is that the phenomenon does not exist. The entire 30 minute presentation was a work of fiction, and the six videos were of me wearing different jumpers and with my head cut out of shot. So what was going on? The participants had no reason to believe that the phenomenon wouldn’t occur. They had seen a raft of supposedly credible evidence and had been spoken to with authority by someone who really seemed to know what they were talking about. They believed it would happen and it did. BACK IN THE OFFICE The corporate implications of these findings are

huge. When your teams and individuals believe that they ‘can’ do something, their likelihood of making significant strides towards actually achieving that goal increases exponentially. This is, of course, not to say that their sales will double overnight by just believing it, but the evidence shows that their effort increases, they are more engaged, they try harder, and they believe in what they are doing much more passionately. These impressive results can be achieved using words only, and all without a financial cost to the manager or company. There is one cost, though; ego. It takes an exceptionally strong and confident manager to tell an individual who they know is consistently underperforming that you believe in them, that you know they can achieve their potential, and that you want them to do so. It feels easier, and less socially awkward, to just let them get on with things as they are and hope that they improve on their own – or worse still move on. The measure of a great organisation is not in how they lead their highest performers, but how they develop, motivate, and inspire their lowest achievers. The ball’s in your court. You can do it. I know you can.

About David David is a researcher and lecturer in international business with one of Ireland’s leading Universities, whose personal interests have always focused on aspects of popular psychology, consumer behaviour, and choice. He’s driven by a passion for understanding how and why we think the way we do. David has become a sought after international speaker and corporate advisor in the USA and Europe with a reputation for an innovative style that forces audiences to think critically about the challenges around them. In this series of articles for Ulster Business, he’ll cultivate a wide range of cutting edge research in management and leadership to help you achieve peak performance. Find out more about David’s work on and follow him on twitter @davidmeadelive

FEBRUARY 2013 37


JAR Technologies to BETA launch new solution

“How do you like them apples?”



elfast-based WAN emulation development company JAR Technologies is set to launch its new product offering iLoad and is providing companies with the opportunity to take part in free BETA testing. iLoad is a highly scalable performance testing tool delivered from the cloud, its primary focus is on testing Web 2.0 sites and modern web based applications. It is a zero installation service and JAR says it is the first of its kind. Wipro Technologies – a leading information and technology outsourcing company located in India – will become the first prime BETA tester for iLoad when it launches this month. Wipro will aid JAR with the technical advancement of the product through providing feedback to its developers, outlining their experiences of the software when using it to run website load tests for a wide range of their client base. In order to provide the most innovative solution to the UK market, JAR Technologies is offering any Northern Ireland based organisations that need to load test a website, the opportunity to use its iLoad free of charge for BETA Testing. Built from the ground up to satisfy the testing requirements of modern web-based systems, iLoad allows each virtual user to follow a script to create complex testing scenarios. iLoad is the latest product from JAR technologies, who have enjoyed significant worldwide success for their Shamrock range of WAN Emulation devices exporting into global markets including Switzerland, China and Japan. As a result the Company has secured additional investment to facilitate its continued high growth and product development. Speaking about the Company’s success Heidi Nicolls, Business Development Manager of JAR Technologies (above) said: “2012 was a great year for JAR, having secured a number of key strategic partnerships with large firms including Netcor, Emitec and STEP Electronics to bring our Shamrock range to markets in EMEA and APAC. We are confident that the launch of iLoad this year will help us build on this success and establish JAR Technologies as one of the innovative leaders in the cloud testing market.” For more information please visit

38 FEBRUARY 2013

or years, the business world has belonged to Windows. As recently as 2008, technology research firm Forrester Research was telling companies that Windows PCs were the only machines they needed to worry about. Macs were a non-issue – but not anymore. Today, organisations are openly accepting and deploying Macs on their networks. What’s more, Forrester Research has reversed course on its previous claim that the enterprise was no place for Macs, and is advising businesses to prepare for the coming Mac invasion, as more employees call on their employers to let them use Macs on the job. Macs are gaining a foothold in the enterprise thanks to superior industrial design, fewer security headaches, and built-in Exchange support. But it’s also because iPad and iPhone users want to pair their devices with other Apple products. When people buy an iPad, it’s common for them to start considering a Mac next. With an increase in sales and requests by employees to use MacBooks on a company’s corporate network, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies are necessary. Just two years ago, requests to use Macs at work mostly originated from creative teams, but now the same corporations are fielding requests from all departments. Executives, road warriors, sales reps, highly paid people, and high performers are the ones that have increased [the demand for Macs in the workplace] and we think that’s important. Still, many corporations are woefully underprepared. The cloud is one place you wouldn’t expect compatibility between operating systems to be an issue. But that isn’t always the case. Take, for example, Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based enterprise productivity solution that allows employees to collaborate on projects online. While the web-based component of Office 365, known as Office Web Apps, is Mac-compatible, the offline component, Office Pro Plus, is not. It may seem like a given, but before bringing Macs into any organisation you’ll want to have at least one person on staff who has a comprehensive knowledge of the Mac environment. Having just a handful of Mac users won’t require you to bring in a specialist, though. Kyle suggests that the typical IT technician-to-machine ratio is between 20 to 1 and 40 to 1. That means that the average organization would need somewhere between 20 and 30 Macs before it can justifiably hire someone to provide support or outsource this aspect of their support. Leaf are the principal members of the ACN, (Apple Consultants Network) in Northern Ireland. The Apple Consultants Network features a community of professional service providers and consultants that specialise in Apple and third-party solutions. Members like Leaf have certified professionals, fluent in multi-platform solutions, and deliver on-site technology services and support. Kyle Johnston is Sales Manager of Leaf and can be contacted on 028 9089 7650.

Insurance & Risk


I predict a riot... Disruption caused by the Loyalist flag protests has highlighted the need for organisations of all sizes to have business continuity plans in place to minimise any impact. But just where should businesses start?


he on-going flag protests over the flying of the Union flag at Belfast’s City Hall have led to significant disruption and some damage over the past few months which shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Traders and business leaders have warned of the negative impact this has had on the city centre economy, with their pleas so far largely falling on deaf ears. The road-blocks and street protests being localised in certain areas has meant the majority of people have managed to go about

their normal business. But companies and organisations located close to the parts of Belfast where trouble has flared have been concerned that any escalation in the situation could cause them serious disruption. To minimise the impact of flag riots – or indeed any other potential interruption to day-to-day operations – businesses are advised to have some form of business continuity plan in place. Rupert Johnston, director at Emergency Planning Solutions, says putting a plan in place

“It would be common sense for any business owner to work out, what do I rely on, how do I protect it, what do I do if it’s not there?” 40 FEBRUARY 2013

need not be a complex or daunting experience. “People should always plan for the impact of a disruption, not for the cause. For example if you can’t get into your premises, it doesn’t matter if it is because of protests, or the Occupy Movement being in your lobby, or because there’s flooding. If you’ve lost your premises you’ve lost your premises,” he said. “In some cases the plan can be relatively straightforward – if an office can lift and move with internet connectivity they are fine. Then there are other cases where you have key machinery that is nailed to the floor and you can’t move, which is not as straightforward. But the logic of planning is the same as is the process you go through to understand what is the most critical thing to them and how they are going to protect it in the case of disruption.” Business continuity planning is, of course, not new. Public sector organisations and larger private sector companies have long been doing it, particularly where they have an international


“there is a substantial section of the business community that has been doing this for a while and an equally substantial section who are waking up to it.”

corporate parent company. But with the increasing interconnectivity of global supply chains and a perceived rise in the frequency of extreme weather events and political unrest, there has been a renewed focus on the subject. “Increasingly companies who may not previously have thought they needed to do this, are being required by primes in the supply chain to demonstrate that they have something in place,” said Johnston. “Because the prime might have been affected by a supplier in Thailand, then if a supplier in Belfast wants to supply them they’ve got to abide by the same rules. It is not something that is new, there is a substantial section of the business community that has been doing this for a while and an equally substantial section who are waking up to it and choosing to, or are having to, take it extremely seriously,” he added. Though it makes sense for all businesses, planning for business continuity also fits with the wider economic goal of ramping up exports from Northern Ireland. “For a small local business, their plans will be a lot more straightforward than someone who is

connected globally. But these days if you want to supply those big global industries, the chances are they are going to ask you to prove that you are resilient and you have measures in place,” added Rupert Johnston. Of course, many SMEs will not have much idea how to start planning, but, the EPS director said every plan should centre around key criteria. “What is at the heart of business continuity is for a company to understand and focus on what is most critical to them. It is for them to determine how to judge criticality – is it financial impact, is it reputation. Then they would look at how to protect those things through a process of risk assessment and work out what they do if they lose them. How long can they tolerate being without these things and make sure they have plans in place so they don’t reach a point where it is utterly intolerable,” he explained. “It might be for some businesses the odd member of staff not being able to get in doesn’t cause them a disruption. But for smaller businesses there might be one person that knows how to do a key process and if they can’t get to work it is a disruption,” added Johnston. “It would be common sense for any business owner to work out, what do I rely on, how do I protect it, what do I do if it’s not there? That can be as simple as two owners of a coffee shop sitting down one afternoon to work it out or if you’re in a very complex supply chain with many different suppliers you rely on it becomes more involved.” Rupert Johnston said that he has noticed an urgency about business continuity with some clients as many local firms are having to demonstrate their capability in a short space of time, looking both up and down their supply chain. Although the big risk in 2013 is perceived to be cyber security and malicious acts of interference, he doesn’t necessarily think technology is always the top thing organisations should be worrying about. “The thing that people are most concerned about is disruption to their information, their data and their ability to communicate. But when we work with companies and drill into what they rely on the most it’s the things they wouldn’t normally have thought about. We’ve only got one of those engineering tools and it takes three months to get a new one; there’s only one guy that knows how to operate it; if

we lost it the whole operation would grind to a halt. Sometimes the things that are critical are different to what people imagine.”

Are you insured?


s some of the street protests over the Union flag turn to rioting, many people in affected areas have wondered if they are insured for any damage caused. It was a question that may stem from the London riots last summer, after which it emerged that in England, damage for riots was covered not by insurers, but through a police compensation fund. That compensation fund doesn’t apply in Northern Ireland, but it appears that, in the majority of cases, losses arising from riots will be covered in most standard insurance policies. The Compensation Agency’s Guide to Criminal Damage, which can be found at states that claims may include the cost of repairs or reinstatement of property; damage to stock and contents; consequential losses such as the loss of profits or rental of alternative accommodation; and damage to vehicles. However, there is one grey area, which the Association of British Insurers and British Insurance Brokers Association were not able to give a clear answer on. The guide states: “In Northern Ireland commercial property is generally not covered by insurance companies for loss arising from criminal damage. However this is not the case for domestic property and contents. Therefore if the damaged property is domestic and insured a claim should be made on the relevant insurance company as well as the Agency. Normally in these circumstances the insurance company makes payments to the applicant based on the insurance cover provided and compensation awards are paid by the Agency to the insurers.”  For anyone concerned that they are not covered, the best advice would be to call your insurer.

FEBRUARY 2013 41


A proactive approach to insurance Ashley Dickson of Dickson & Co believes his firm combines personal service with corporate expertise.


usiness never sits still. New opportunities and threats are constantly emerging and rather than being reactive, a good insurance programme can give a business the confidence it needs to make the best of opportunities, and the protection it needs from potential threats. In recent years businesses have dealt with an increased risk of bad debt; where firms are exporting to emerging markets such as West Africa there have been a number of reported incidents of kidnap and ransom; and closer to home we have saw businesses affected by public protests and disturbance. Looking ahead businesses need to think about the opportunities and exposures created by electronic trading and trading on the web – what if your data is lost, corrupted or misused? There is also an increasing trend within the workforce to hold employers responsible for non-traditional injuries such as stress, and a growing culture of individual accountability on directors and managers. All of these risks are not covered under ‘standard’ insurance policies, but cover may be available if required. As with Health & Safety, the key is to identify the risks and assess their potential impact. In addition to the financial risk management provided by insurance, a business can also gain protection from a sound business continuity plan and advice on practical risk management. Dickson & Co is an independent local insurance broker which has been servicing local businesses and individuals across the province for over 20 years. We currently trade from six office locations – Omagh, Belfast, Cookstown, Newry, Newtownstewart and Dungannon. These offices are staffed by over 45 trained professional staff and offer commercial and

42 FEBRUARY 2013

personal insurance products for their customers. Advice is also available on Health & Safety and Risk Management. By employing and developing local staff from across the province, we have been successful in combining the local personal service of a traditional insurance broker, with the buying power and expertise associated with large corporate insurance brokers. Our aim is to maintain that personal touch and personal accountability to our clients, which we feel is becoming more important and valuable during

challenging times. We strongly believe that faceto-face contact is crucial to ensure businesses get the service and confidence they deserve. In 2010, the company joined the Willis Commercial Network as one of three local firms making up a network of over 80 independent insurance brokers across the UK. This alliance has enhanced our relationship with UK insurers and has allowed us to place international insurance cover for clients within African and Asian countries where local legislation dictates cover has to be placed locally in the state. Our experience in commercial insurance reflects the diversity of local business and includes all types of business from Leisure and Retail, to Agri-Food, Engineering, Manufacturing, Professionals, Haulage, Motor Trade, Renewable Energy and Construction. It has been our pleasure to watch many of our clients grow and become market leaders in their own fields. As we continue to grow, our challenge is to continue to develop and match their needs in an ever changing business landscape. We have recently relocated our Belfast office to premises on the Lisburn Road, to give us a base for growth. In the next 12 months we have plans to further develop our Cookstown, Newry and Omagh offices to enhance facilities and our local footprint.

“rather than being reactive, a good insurance programme can give a business the confidence it needs to make the best of opportunities.”

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We make it our business to make sure your business is properly covered.

insurance brokers working to exceed our customers expectations Omagh t: 028 8225 1241 Belfast t: 028 9066 6641 Newtownstewart t: 028 8166 2002 Dungannon t: 028 8772 6082 Newry t: 028 3026 5447 Cookstown t: 028 8676 2048

we know our business, we’d like to know yours


Level playing field, or a bumpy road? A ruling at the end of last year means that insurance companies can no longer use gender to help determine premiums. What impact is this likely to have on drivers, and has it led to a more innovative approach from insurers?


n December 21, 2012 a European Court of Justice decision made it no longer possible to take gender into account when setting insurance prices. Previously, the system allowed insurers to price differently for female drivers, who generally paid less for their car insurance because statistics have long shown that women were a lower risk when it came to accidents. The Association of British Insurers has said that young men will likely benefit from the largest average decrease in premiums – paying up to 10% less – while young females could experience the largest average increase – potentially paying up to 25% more. As the figures are worked out during 2013, it is expected that young women under the age of 40 will be hardest hit as it is this group that has historically enjoyed substantially lower rates than their male counterparts. So the younger you are, the bigger the jump in insurance costs is likely to be. Caroline Currie, Sales Director for Newry

headquartered broker Autoline Insurance Group, believes the ruling will have a significant impact locally, especially on young female drivers. “This new ruling is going to greatly impact the insurance market for buyers so it is vital the public understands what it means to them. We would urge young women in particular, to look again at their car insurance before their next renewal as their premiums are likely to increase. Male drivers on the other hand may see premiums fall once it comes into effect,” she said. Having used gender as part of the claims analysis on which premiums are largely based for so long, the European ruling has forced insurance brokers and underwriters to start thinking outside the box. For many that has meant a focus on solutions that incorporate telematics – systems which monitor and track a person’s driving style, speed and safety to create a risk profile of them as a driver. Such systems, whether housed in black boxes inside a vehicle,

“This new ruling is going to greatly impact the insurance market for buyers so it is vital the public understandS what it means to them.” 44 FEBRUARY 2013

within a sat-nav or even as a smart phone app, create an individual profile which could potentially lead to an even fairer deal for good drivers. Autoline has been working on a campaign to minimise the impact of the decision on car insurance premiums and the broker was the first in Europe to launch a phone app that monitors how you drive. “This system called ‘Telematics’ has the potential to be a real money saver, particularly for younger drivers, male and female. Rather than going on the assumption that all young or new drivers are reckless and a danger on the roads, they allow the motorist to prove themselves by having their driving monitored, regularly check and improve their score and by doing so, drive more safely and save on their policy,” explains Caroline Currie. “A number of insurers have allowed substantial discounts for drivers who have the app and further discounts are available for good driving scores. Each driver has access to their score through their customer portal and drivers are given hints and tips on how to improve their score.” Caroline added: “The gender ruling has attracted widespread criticism, however it may not be a bad thing in the long-term as alternatives like Telematics enables insurers to more accurately calculate appropriate insurance premiums, and for the first time the driver can influence the premium they pay by the way they drive.”

Allianz - looking straight ahead Peter Kilcullen looks at what 2013 holds for the insurance giant.


hroughout 2011 and 2012 we all saw the impact on the insurance sector of a concentration of catastrophic events around the world; the Japanese Tsunami, the New Zealand earthquakes, the Thailand floods and most recently Hurricane Sandy, which is anticipated to cost $25bn. However, as we move into 2013, here at Allianz we are approaching the year ahead with positive optimism. Globally, Allianz is a strong, financially secure and diversified organisation across Life, Property & Casualty and Asset Management. Here in Northern Ireland, that translates into a commitment to continuity, long-term stability and support to both business and local communities. Via our Arts & Business and GAA sponsorships, we aim to give back to communities in a real way. The Allianz brand is well respected and signifies ‘security and trust’. This brand trust and corporate reputation becomes all the more critical when we consider the recent controversies ensuing from the past selling of Payment Protection Insurance. Global trends however continue to challenge the insurance industry: • Weather catastrophes are becoming more prevalent and the impact of global warming has become more predictable and costly from a reinsurance perspective. Not only is this having a detrimental impact on local environments but more particularly, affordable protection can no longer be provided in certain areas with an experience of foreseeable flooding events. • Investment returns from de-risked portfolios will continue to moderate towards more normalised low single digit levels. A ‘back to basics’ reliance on underwriting results will become more the norm. • Regulation is constantly changing and of paramount importance from a consumer protection and ‘treating customers fairly’ perspective. EU influence has become more apparent following the recent implementation of the Gender ruling which impacted car insurance premiums. The next significant development is Solvency II which will ensure capital adequacy and sustainability which is to be welcomed. • Technology in this fast moving world is constantly changing with consumers seeking more flexible access to insurance solutions. Online sales continue to increase as consumer confidence grows. We are beginning to see the introduction of ‘Usage Based Insurance’ products i.e. Telematics where consumers may opt for ‘Pay as you Go’ or ‘Pay as you Drive’ car insurance propositions. • Finally, the recessionary impact and economic

Peter Kilcullen, Associate Director Commercial Sales Allianz plc.

down-turn has manifested in more claims as consumers adjust to less disposable income. Not surprisingly, fraud is on the increase and detection is paramount to ensure that we continue to deliver competitive premiums for the greater good. As a long established local insurer, we continue to follow the fortunes of our customers and our primary focus during these challenging times is to retain their valuable custom and to win new customers. Allianz actively trades with local broker partners to ensure that we deliver a customer value and service proposition appropriate to their individual business mix. Our local team of experienced insurance professsionals help make that happen by reviewing loyalty, advocacy and areas which may require innovation or adaptation. In this way, we believe, our customer service delivery becomes a progressive process with positive experience being the underlying currency. We have always believed that, in an industry that stands or falls on its reputation ‘to put things right’ it is sometimes necessary to walk in our customers’ shoes, an ethos that is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s competitive landscape. As a business we like to believe that we talk to people, not just another business,

and consequently we embed customer values into all our business planning activities and goals. Ultimately, we believe that when we deal with any company, regardless of size, we are really dealing with the people who make up its constituent parts. The better we get to know them and they us, the richer and more rewarding the relationship becomes for both parties. Now more than ever we understand that we have to move beyond the mere battleground of price and that customer experience is the new currency in business. Despite the increasing commoditisation of many insurance products, the perils of becoming remote from the customer are well documented. It is relationships not transactions that count. This year we aim to incrementally build upon our positive customer experience and our current customer loyalty. We believe in delivering exemplary customer propositions and building strong relationships. We are confident in our products, service and distribution so we can view the competitive landscape as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and be the insurer of choice. In the end the proposition we ascribe to is a straightforward one – we listen to our customers to learn from them, we collaborate with them and in so doing work together towards a successful shared future.

Peter Kilcullen is Associate Director Commercial Sales at Allianz plc. Peter can be contacted on 028 9089 5600 or email:


Taking the risk out of fire assessment Maurice Boyd, managing director of commercial insurance brokers and risk advisors Abbey Bond Lovis, delivers a timely reminder to employers about their responsibilities when it comes to managing fire risk.


he law has changed recently and unfortunately some employers are unaware of their legal obligations in relation to the management of fire risk. The new fire regime means that the old practice of issuing fire certificates for premises has ceased. As a result, all non-domestic premises used for business (including voluntary organisations) are required to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment for the areas over which they have control. Most fires are preventable by using a risk assessment approach. The “responsible person” for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access (“relevant premises”) can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures. The identity of this person depends on the level of control held, usually applying to landlords, owners or employers, but also to tenants with contractual maintenance responsibilities. If you have not carried out a Fire Risk Assessment you may be in breach of the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010. That matters because the absence of an appropriate Fire Risk Assessment could result in enforcement action and possibly even closure of a premises. The “responsible person” is tasked with arranging a risk assessment, identifying possible fire risks and dealing with them. The “responsible person” can appoint another competent person to carry out the risk assessment but it is still the “responsible person” who is accountable by law. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO? Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise. Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire. To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, for example, sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and flammable substances, and the people who may be at risk. Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the

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Maurice Boyd

“The absence of an appropriate Fire Risk Assessment could result in enforcement action and possibly even closure of a premises.” risks and manage them. Also consider how you will protect people if there is a fire. • Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart • Avoid accidental fires, eg make sure heaters cannot be knocked over • Ensure good housekeeping at all times, e.g. avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn • Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, eg installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells • Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for extinguishing a fire quickly

• Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times • Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills. In shared premises, you should co-ordinate emergency premises with other building tenants, and where possible establish a joint emergency procedure • Review and update your risk assessment regularly Remember that Fire Risk Assessments must be carried out by a competent person with adequate technical knowledge of the fire risks.

Insurance Brokers & Risk Advisors

We stand on our own 200 feet

When it comes to providing independent advice on corporate insurance and risk management, we take pride in our ability to stand on our own two feet, (well, 200 to be precise). With 100 experts on the ground, we are the largest locally owned and operated corporate insurance expert in Northern Ireland. So you can trust us to bring you precisely the right advice and service for your business. Year after year.

For further information contact Maurice Boyd, Managing Director Direct Dial 028 9332 5031 Tel 028 9335 0015


Marketing the ingredients for success As the recent furore surrounding the horse meat found in burgers showed, it is crucial that brands in the food sector manage the risks associated with supplier provenance, writes Michele Filippi.


he speed and nature of the information circulating around the discovery of horse meat in certain beef burger value brands sold here highlights the communications challenges facing organisations who are coming under intense scrutiny from consumers who can wield the power of social media to share experiences, opinions, and ideas. This can have potentially serious repercussions for brand and corporate reputations. The pressure placed on Starbucks over its payment of UK corporate tax also shows how consumers are increasingly focusing in on business practices and will reject brands that they do not believe meet their expectations. The food & drink sector is perhaps one of the most sensitive to this kind of behaviour. Recent research into public attitudes to farming contains useful insights for the local food and drink sector wishing to build trust and belief in its produce. The first insight identified by the Oxford Conference report, Food Provenance, has been brought into sharp focus by the beef burger issue. It has identified ‘a growing number of consumers who want to know where food comes from, how it is produced, and how far it has travelled’.

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Food consumption is increasingly becoming an expression of citizenship, and food is increasingly being ‘sold with a story’, the report concludes. According to the report the issues driving ‘food citizenship’ or ‘ethical consumption’ relate to: Personal responsibility, hence, concerns about food safety and health; Social justice and human rights, including the imperative to feed a growing population and concerns about impacts of production on working conditions/fair-trade; Environmental responsibility, including the impacts of production practices on climate change, biodiversity and animal welfare, and ethics. Sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices are therefore of interest to consumers and it would be expected that their prominence within the corporate social responsibility agendas of retailers and food

companies will continue to grow. As well as satisfying ethical concerns, some consumers are looking for closer Food Connections and more direct communication with producers and production as their interest in quality and environmental and/or animalwelfare increases. Both ‘relationship’ and ‘reconnection’ with consumers will depend on well planned two-way communication. Northern Ireland as a food manufacturer and supplier has many strengths on which to leverage these trends. The interest in provenance (local, green, ethical) presents opportunities for Northern Irish products to differentiate by building belief in the authenticity and credentials of their brands or the raw ingredients they supply. Northern Ireland’s weather and natural resources offer a sustainable model especially for grassland livestock based food products. As a result, the region is a major supplier of red meat, poultry and dairy products through companies such as Moy Park, now Northern Ireland’s biggest private sector business which sells around £1bn annually, red meat leaders Dunbia, Linden Foods and Foyle Foods, and Dale Farm, which has operations in Cumbria and Scotland. The NI Food & Drink Association’s (NIFDA) ‘Appetite for Growth’ Report published last year has already identified the province’s potential for competitive advantage. Its analysis will now feed into the muchawaited Food & Drink Strategy to be brought forward by DETI in the Spring. It is expected to become a central plank of the Executive’s drive to rebalance the economy by unlocking export-led growth. Both the Scottish and Irish governments are already out of the starter blocks, with the latter’s food promotion agency, Bord Bia, recently reporting a €2bn increase in exports over the last three years to reach and exceed €9bn for the first time. With the agri-food industry assigned Priority One status in the Programme for Government and the NYFDA estimating the industry here has the potential to build an additional 15,000 local jobs by 2020, there is much at stake. In an age of unprecedented consumer demand for transparency, strategic communication management and marketing capability at sector and organisation level will become a crucial enabler of these growth goals. Michele Filippi is a Belfast-based PR Consultant and committee member of the Marketing Institute of Ireland Northern Ireland Branch as well as the Guild of Agricultural Journalists.

“food consumption is becoming an expression of citizenship, and food is increasingly being sold with a story.”


Close Brothers help Motis map out success strategy L-R: Patrick Hutley, David McComb and Harry Parkinson.


hen it comes to knowing how best to drive forward a company in challenging times David McComb and Patrick Hutley of Motis Ireland Limited have never been afraid to put their foot firmly on the accelerator. Back in 2002 David and Patrick took the decision to found Motis Ireland Limited as a specialist shipping company. Based in Newry, Motis started off life as the preferred supplier for the P&O line, providing shipping services from the United Kingdom to the Continent. From an initial five employees it has enjoyed spectacular growth and is now recognised as one of the most progressive shipping companies in Europe, covering more than 500 international freight routes and open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is that type of commitment to serving the needs of the customer and recognising that there can be no shortcuts in terms of quality that attracted Motis to the package of financial services on offer from Close Brothers Commercial Finance. David and Patrick both agreed that when they first established a working financial relationship with Close Brothers six years ago, the single most important factor was that they could offer a package of tailored solutions that from the outset really worked for the business. The flexibility of the financial deals on offer from Close Brothers, and their willingness to take the time to understand the particular complexities of the European shipping and transportation industry provided us with a sense of reassurance they found invaluable.

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“We work in a sector where time pressures and deadlines being met over a wide spectrum of logistical issues are the norm,” said David. “Motis is a company that revolves around a team ethic, one that is inter-dependent on having the right back-up at the right time and capable of being delivered with the minimum of fuss. “They are the same qualities that Close Brothers deliver for us on a daily basis.” David and Patrick make the point that there is a comfortable reassurance factor with Close Brothers that has helped cement the relationship over the years. “The key factor for us in deciding to go with Close Brothers is that we simply required a bespoke, uncomplicated funding package built around our debtor ledger,” said Patrick. “The tailored invoice finance package that Close Brothers devised for us including an online management system meaning that there is minimum paperwork, allowing us to focus our attention on other areas of the business. “The bottom line for us as a business was that we now have instant access to cash that allows us to get on with the day-to-day running of our business without worrying about our cash flow.” Both David and Patrick agree the relationship between Close Brothers and the Newry company has been enhanced by the on the ground expertise and understanding of local issues by Harry Parkinson’s team which has been vital in the continuing expansion of Motis. “With any progressive company the setting of targets, and being determined to achieve those targets, is always going to be a crucial component. “Being able, however, to realise those goals

is ultimately going to be dependent on having the necessary resources, human and financial to maintain business generation momentum. “Close Brothers does not work within narrow restrictive channels with hundreds of obstacles that get in the way of a smooth access to our working capital. “Equally as Close Brothers Commercial Finance operates a quick and straightforward dual currency programme in relation to both Sterling and the Euro on a daily basis, it is another significant plus factor. It all adds up to making business life easier,” David said. Close Brothers boss Harry Parkinson sums up his organisation’s approach in concise terms. “We are business people who take pride in understanding the requirements of business people. “Our philosophy is built around taking time to analyse the specific needs of each client. We then tailor those demands by a process of careful evaluation of all the elements in the company. “There is no such thing as a one size fits all for any business when it comes down to drawing up the right package. The implementation of a stark black and white approach is not one that we work to.” From the perspective of Motis the business route map ahead is one that has clearly defined consolidation and ultimately, expansion objectives, as Patrick explains. “We always set the highest possible benchmark in the context of the development of the service to our client base. “The support and expertise of Close Brothers will continue to be a crucial component in our strategy.”



Safe and Secure Security and risk management consultancy is a competitive field, but you’d have to go some way to find one as credible and cutting edge as Belfast-based Ineqe, writes Symon Ross.

Jim Gamble


t is not unusual for ex-senior police officers to start their own consultancies after retiring, using their experience to advise clients on aspects risk management and security. But the three directors of Belfast-based consultancy Ineqe Group – the name a combination of innovative and unique – aspire to make their business different from those run of the mill advisors. Jim Gamble, Bill Woodside and Gary White formed the company 18 months ago and have seen it go from strength to strength – which perhaps should not be a surprise given their unrivalled experience in key areas of policing, hi-tech crime and security. CEO Gamble brings over thirty years experience from the world of protective services, counter terrorism, hi-tech crime prevention and child protection. He was the founding Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and the Association of Chief Police Officers lead on Child Protection and Child Trafficking. Woodside is a specialist in risk mitigation, with extensive global experience in business

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continuity and emergency planning, crisis management, security and training. Immediate past President of the European Association of Air and Seaports he has designed and managed some of the largest simulated training exercises in the UK and training modules for emergency services in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Most recently retired from the PSNI, Gary White is regarded as one of the most experienced conflict management practitioners in Europe. In addition to commanding many of the most challenging and serious incidents of disorder in Northern Ireland, he has helped to inform UK National policy development and provided assistance to a number of International police services. The consultancy covers four key disciplines: criminal justice reform, risk management and protective services provision; child protection, including specialist support on education, internet safety and child trafficking; technical security solutions; and the Ineqe Safe and Secure Academy, which provides accredited training on risk. “We think the blend is different and we see

ourselves as one of the first hybrid businesses of this kind,” said Jim Gamble. “We began as a traditional boutique consultancy dealing with criminal justice reform, working with clients abroad to help them build their own competence and capacity. But we want to go beyond that. “What we’re doing is trying to help clients identify, mitigate and manage risk, and we do that by providing a diverse range of tools.” REPUTATION From its offices on Upper Crescent in Belfast, there’s nothing to suggest Ineqe’s old police, security or child protection ties or what they do, save for a solitary framed letter from Bill Gates praising Gamble’s work protecting children on the Internet. It is reminder of the connections Gamble has access to from his time on CEOP, which included a board of senior executives from tech giants like Microsoft. The reputation of all three partners stretches beyond Northern Ireland, meaning as much as 80% of Ineqe’s business comes from outside


example if you look at the pressure on schools and the risk to reputation if you’re unable to manage safety and security in that environment,” he added. “The one thing that is universal to everyone is that your brand is very important. If your brand is damaged it is very hard to recover. And if your brand is damaged because you’ve failed to protect the young or vulnerable, you’re basically finished.” The development of Apps around its own platform is already feeding into the consultancy work Ineqe does overseas, enabling it to take training programmes established in one jurisdiction and adapt it for another. Gary White says that, while he was initially a bit sceptical about using technology in some markets, many developing countries actually have advanced IT infrastructure, easily available Wifi and huge numbers of people with access to smart phones. “In a lot of the work we’ve done overseas, one of things people are looking for is, when you go, what are you going to leave behind? This is relatively cheap technology and it remains on your technical platform probably for the same price you’d have a police person in country for an extra week,” he said.

the province which has allowed it to tap into support from Invest NI. But Gary notes that while their police reputation is often what gets them in the door, they are working to create a strong company brand and reputation which they can trade on in the years ahead. “We’ve got lots of work because people come looking for one of the three of us. However what we’ve slowly but surely started to do is build the company alliance with different organisations like PAXT (NI) and e-com. So we might be involved in winning the contract and carrying out the initial scoping, but our aim is always to match the best qualified associates against the clients needs.” Ineqe has 10 full time staff in Belfast but over 100 registered associates providing expertise across the board. “It took us all 30 years to build the credibility and trust in our own names. It has taken us 18 month to establish the credibility of the company and that will continue,” added Gary. CONSULTANCY Ineqe’s consultancy business covers everything from traditional risk management to training programmes on community policing, police service reform and conflict resolution. Gary says clients in many countries often don’t have the experience of working under the sort of scrutiny that exists in Northern Ireland, or of dealing with disorder in a context where people are trying to kill you. “That’s where Northern Ireland experience is relatively unique and attractive. That extreme operational environment police here worked in, and also the extreme levels of scrutiny,” he said. “Northern Ireland is a big story across the world because it is a society coming out of conflict and simultaneously it had a huge police reform programme. I was in Kyrgyzstan two weeks ago talking about police reform and one of the hooks is that I understand what they are experiencing. The last 12-14 years of my service I lived through a massive reform programme.” The networks which Ineqe’s directors have built up in their careers have so far led to work in some far flung corners of the world. “The background the three of us have provides us with a certain set of skills and I would like to think a degree of a reputation and also a network. We are involved in a range of projects at the moment in places like Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Nigeria – there is a lot going on in developing countries,” said Gary. “Because of the background and the networks the three of us had, there was a massive opportunity for us to use that to its full. What that has started to do now is inform other arms of the business.” TECHNOLOGY Perhaps where Ineqe most differs from traditional security consultancies is in the way it has embraced technology.

Drawing on Gamble’s experience in CEOP around child protection as well as the team’s knowledge of risk management, communication and behavioural science, the company has begun developing its own e-learning platform and Apps. It recently built a free App for Children and Family Across Borders (Cfab), funded by Comic Relief, which provided a condensed training course to help police and security personnel at the London Olympics to identify the signs that a child or vulnerable adult may have been the victim of trafficking. Another project developed in-house, and now on iTunes, is an App which helps parents make their iPhone safe for their children – from setting a pass code to enabling alerts when the internet or social media is used outside of set parameters. The decision to develop Apps was taken in light of the increasing trend towards applicationbased learning, and because communicating a credible message through an App is cheap and accessible to greater numbers of people. “We’re moving from client service provision to product creation,” says Gamble. “While we will continue to develop and build as a consultancy, we’re also going to move more into product creation, because that’s the best way for us to share our knowledge.” The firm has hired young programmers who ‘live and breathe’ this technology and combined this with the directors’ strategic experience. “The latter part of my career has all been about technology, its growth and the opportunities that come with it, but also the risks and how you mitigate them,” said Gamble. “We think there is a market for this. For

ACADEMY The focus on e-learning, apps and social media also links into what Ineqe calls its Safe and Secure Academy (ISAS). Initially, Ineqe provided training courses and seminars but has now decided to work in partnership with the likes of Queen’s University to deliver relevant courses endorsed by the Institute of Leadership and Management that do more than just inform. For example, on March 21 in partnership with Queen’s Unversity Management School, Ineqe will be running an accredited event on using social media in a crisis with leading experts from academia, twitter, the police and social media diagnosticians. “For us it is about the credibility of providing risk management products that bring with them the best experience and the best people but actually integrate that with social media to make that relevant and credible today. We then distil that into learning products that are accredited; products that leave you feeling better empowered to manage risk,” said Gamble. “In some spaces you have people who understand technology; in others you have people who are good because they have stood on the ground and commanded a number of police or security assets to deal with a difficult situation; and there are other people who talk at conferences very effectively and raise awareness. We want to blend all of that in the products we build and the services we provide. That’s where we are different. What it also gives us is a broader economic platform to work from because we’re not simply on one area of technology, training or consultancy.” Follow ineqe on twitter @ineqegroup.

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Can Belfast’s flag protests be successfully managed? Quintin Oliver of Strategem gives his view on how the conflict over flags and the potential threat that has been raised might be addressed.


many religious denominations to list, two residual paramilitary movements (UDA and UVF, apparently decommissioned but still active in recruitment, training and organisation; with the latter fractured internally); meanwhile I have been struck by the smugness of Republicanism: ‘We have done the work in ‘our’ community – they never did’.

and-wringing is rarely an effective response to any event. It certainly hasn’t helped to manage or even begin to address the crisis of Loyalism across Northern Ireland, now entering its second quarter. Platitudes, so often the bedfellow of this type of angst, tend not to cut through the mire of the current conflict, focussed on East Belfast. However, some rigorous analysis may help us understand what can be achieved, if society so desires.

Five reasons to be cheerful: 1. Any movement that can mobilise hundreds of young people to take to the streets, night after night, before and after the end of year break, in all weathers, including sleet and snow, must enjoy a motive force, a passion and an energy of which many other campaigns would be deeply jealous. 2. While there is genuine fear about the impact of the protest on the peace process, no-one suggests we are returning to armed insurrection or guerrilla warfare; the conditions have changed and the context has altered utterly. 3. Northern Ireland currently demonstrates a political stability, tending to gridlock; this means that the current challenges are more likely part of an evolving realignment within wider unionism, rather than questioning or undermining the post-Good Friday Agreement status quo. 4. If one accepts that the protest at least began as a kind of spontaneous expression of alienation, sparked by the City Council’s decision to restrict the flag-flying days, the later involvement and influence of former paramilitaries from both main Loyalist organisations could be construed as positive on the ground, however incongruous it felt to see them not just recognised, but welcomed by mainstream Unionism; ‘they haven’t gone away’, but nor have they escalated or used the protest as an excuse to ramp up targeting, bombings and assassinations. 5. Whilst the protest has been sustained and broadened, the civic response – first #operationsitin and latterly the phenomenal #BackinBelfast – shows how the politicians have first been blind-sided by angry workers disrupted in homeward travel, then trumped by the small shopkeepers and publicans eager to erect a framework around the gut reaction just to ‘do

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4. Leadership has collapsed – it is not enough to cry out for it, bemoan its absence, or blame your opponent for not showing it. Understand the dynamics. The Orange Order, organised religion, mass membership trade unionism and unionist political parties have all but disappeared, leaving, as one Councillor observed, ‘Sky TV, the flute band and Rangers Football Club’. something!’ Tremendous bottom-up, creative action again showing with the political support of the very parties who had given succour to the protestors, that the political class was way behind the curve of the grassroots, on both sides of the protest! Five reasons to be less than cheerful: 1. Northern Ireland – even typing that term reminds how even the name of our place remains contested – remains deeply divided; not just between ‘Orange’ and ‘Green’, but perhaps more so between those ‘in’ the mainstream (jobs, good housing, average income, reasonable life chances) and those left behind in the manifestly ‘two-speed society’. We still live apart (90%), educate separately (94%), play different sports, go to different arts events and worship apart (100%).

5. Civic leadership and the hitherto vibrant community infrastructure has all but absented itself from the field of play, whether through apprehension about retaliation or from the effects of enthusiastically administered austerity. Where are the local champions, the third sector, the social partners, the community giants and the role models to whom people look up?

2. We all knew this was coming; not, as many now wrongly claim, in the run-up to the Council vote but over the past five years, since devolution was restored in 2007. All the data showed it (growing poverty and joblessness), all the evidence on inequality proved it (remember Dawn Purvis’s report on protestant underachievement at school, especially amongst young boys in 2011?) and even casual observers noticed it, as they drove through East Belfast feeling fearful and guilty.

So what is to be done? First, politicians must work together, and not just within unionism and nationalism – voters recognise the need, respect it and respond to it. Second, the defence of democracy against attack from the mob requires a much higher profile and energy. Third, an effective, human-rights based policing response is perfectly legitimate. Fourth, the independent judiciary must be defended. Fifth, the social partnership model that has worked at regional level, between employers (CBI), workers (ICTU) and the voluntary sector (NICVA) needs refreshed and replicated at local level, with power, resources and status. Sixth, we must draw support, hope and learning from international beacons of success. Seventh, we need to deal with the past and eighth, share our space, leading to the ninth, celebrating our successes, diversity and powersharing model, culminating in ten, a confident society at ease with its past, eager for a better future.

3. Unionism especially, but also Loyalism, remains fragmented – five definable political parties (DUP, UUP, TUV, UKIP, PUP), too

Quintin Oliver runs an international conflict resolution partnership.

A taste of home S

ince Lidl first arrived to Northern Ireland 13 years ago, the retailer has successfully adapted to a changing and challenging marketplace and significantly grown its base of local Northern Irish suppliers. Some of these have been with the company since 1999 and today Lidl works with more than 40 suppliers, many of them household names such as Irwin’s Bakery in Portadown and Glens of Antrim Potatoes. They constantly seek out the most passionate Northern Irish suppliers and products that show the best that Northern Ireland has to offer. In the heart of County Tyrone Elaine Willis and the dedicated team at Linden Foods in Dungannon understand that without the local farming community they could not achieve their goals. In creating the ‘Deluxe’ range for Lidl they implement the Linden Livestock programme, an initiative that ensures local farmers can supply Linden Foods with exactly what they need – quality Northern Irish Hereford beef for an increasingly discerning local market. For over 30 years the company has been working with Northern Irish farmers in the pursuit of excellence. Elaine explains: “The end result of the special relationship we have with our local farmers is a 28 day-matured steak on the shelves at a great price.”

Elaine Willis, Linden Foods, Co. Tyrone

Lidl is proud to support the growth of its local suppliers and as one of Europe’s fastest growing retailers, has opened the doors to other European markets. Recently Fivemiletown Creamery in Tyrone and Linden Foods in Dungannon started exporting products to the Republic of Ireland, the UK and Europe, so that Lidl customers far beyond Northern Ireland can enjoy a wealth of Northern Irish produce. Caitriona McCarry of Lidl Northern Ireland says: “Lidl has worked hard to source products from numerous local suppliers and we have developed strong relationships with producers ensuring a truly mutually beneficial relationship. These are people who care as much as we do about ensuring that when our customers shop with us, they always get a great ‘taste of home’.”

“We all like to know where our food comes from and in Northern Ireland, with its rich farmland, there’s an abundance of fine food producers. We stock the freshest, best quality local produce on our shelves and in turn local suppliers have a growing retailer as a valued customer.” Caitriona continues: “We are proud of our role as a major contributor to the Northern Irish economy. We strive to continue to source and support the finest Northern Irish producers, and in doing so bringing you the best of local produce at the prices that we have become famous for.” To meet some of the local suppliers working with Lidl, pick up a free copy of ‘A taste of home’ brochure now available in your local Lidl store.

“The end result of the special relationship we have with our local farmers is a 28 day-matured steak on the shelves at a great price.” Elaine Willis, Linden Foods, Co. Tyrone

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New Northern Ireland Environment Agency Chief Executive, Terry A’Hern congratulates Raymond Coulter and Marian McGreevy from the Henderson Group for achieving Quintile One this year in the Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey, with the ARENA Network Chair Peter Dixon.

Henderson Group receives top environmental accolade T

he Henderson Group has received a top ‘green’ accolade from Business in the Community’s ARENA Network by achieving Quintile One status at this year’s 14th Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey Results Launch. The Survey, carried out by ARENA Network and supported by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, annually assesses top businesses in Northern Ireland for environmental management, performance and assurance. Environment Minister Alex Attwood commended all participants for their leadership and achievement saying: “This year the ARENA Network Survey has produced a high average score with the top performing sectors being those that have the greatest potential to impact the environment. It shows that participants are taking appropriate measures in order to reduce their environmental impacts and improve their efficiency. “The ARENA Network Survey is an important measure for businesses and public sector organisations as they develop a stronger economy. ARENA Network continues every year in its efforts to encourage companies to take part in benchmarking and realise

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true business benefits. I commend all of the participants for their positive contribution to good environmental stewardship and their commitment to reducing environmental impacts and managing resources efficiently.” Stepping down from Chair of ARENA Network after five years, Phoenix Chief Peter Dixon, added: “As Chair of ARENA Network, I’m delighted to have witnessed the continued commitment and leadership from Northern Ireland’s leading responsible businesses to the environmental agenda. “For those companies who are already taking the environment seriously, I would encourage them to keep up their good work. For those not yet involved, I would urge them to get in touch with the ARENA Network team and discover the benefits for themselves.”

The top results (in order of scoring) were achieved by: Belfast Harbour, Seagate Technology (Ireland), Bombardier Aerospace, Clarehill Plastics Ltd, John Graham (Dromore) Ltd, Larne Borough Council, Banbridge District Council, Farrans (Construction) Ltd, IKEA Belfast, Royal Mail, BT, Northern Ireland Assembly and Translink. David Gavaghan, Chief Executive, Titanic Quarter was revealed as the new Chair of the ARENA Network at the event and Fleet Financial was announced as the Survey’s new private sector sponsor for 2013. To find out who else participated and how they scored, visit Please e-mail rosie.barnett@ at the ARENA Network if you are interested in taking part next year.

“For those companies who are already taking the environment seriously, I would encourage them to keep up their good work.”

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WAITING GAME: Around 70 people attended a recent event organised by Business in the Community’s Citywide Employers’ Forum, which aims to help those who are long-term unemployed to find jobs. But is the fear of moving jobs in a fragile economy restricting the number of jobs that become available?

Time to make your move? With the economic situation here still grim and stories of people starting new jobs only to be made redundant months later, what will it take to give people who are in employment the confidence to move jobs. Amanda Poole spoke to three experts for their view.


he weak economy evident since 2008 has resulted in fewer job vacancies emerging and insecurity among workers across the UK and Ireland. Workforce mobility in Northern Ireland has, as a result, been stifled by concerns around the economic uncertainty, planned cuts to our large public sector, and firms hoarding labour. There is still a certain amount of natural churn in the diminished jobs market. But while young people with limited commitments and over-skilled workers with a desire for progression are more likely to change jobs, anecdotal evidence suggests there has been little movement by public sector employees, as the benefits they enjoy can rarely be matched by the private sector. According to the latest government figures the number of people claiming unemploymentrelated benefits in Northern Ireland grew by 500 in December to 65,200.

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While the claimant count has grown, the unemployment rate, fell to 7.9% during September to November last year, representing a fall of 0.1 percentage points on the previous quarter, but an increase of 1.1 percentage points on a year earlier. Danske Bank UK’s chief economist Angela McGowan doesn’t believe 2013 will be the year people gain the confidence to move jobs en masse, but says there will be growth in Northern Ireland in a number of sectors. “Confidence around voluntary mobility will only come when the labour market improves along with a period of sustained economic growth. Involuntary mobility however might increase during 2013 due to weak economic growth and firms continuing to downsize,” she said. “Growth sectors this year will include manufacturing – particularly those sub-sectors of manufacturing that are operating in export markets.

“Other sectors include: ICT, business services, digital media, life sciences, transport and agrifood. 2013 should also be a good year for Northern Ireland’s tourist industry, assuming political tensions are not allowed to disrupt plans for this sector,” the economist added. The largely grim economic outlook and regular stories of people starting new jobs only to be made redundant a few months later, means most people are choosing to stay in their current roles. Stronger economic growth at global and national levels will be needed to give them confidence to move, said McGowan. “Currently the Danske Bank Consumer Confidence Survey data suggests that confidence around job security has improved only very marginally over the quarter; although the improvement is larger on a year by year comparison,” she added. “The improvement has largely been driven by a decline in the proportion of people who


believe that their job security will deteriorate – as opposed to seeing any big improvement in the proportion of people who are optimistic about their job security.” Dr Trevor Morrow from the University of Ulster’s Department of International Business at Magee campus is less positive, saying the outlook for 2013 is bleak. “A lot of organisations are still at the point of cutting rather then growing,” he said. “People are looking to keep in budget or cut their budget. There have been lots of big rounds of redundancies and I think that will continue in 2013.” The UU academic said he believes the vast majority of employees have “survivor’s syndrome” where they have survived cutbacks, or austerity in the public sector, and won’t explore moving until there is serious evidence of stability. “The vast majority of employees over the last few years have survived cuts and are riding it out,” Dr Morrow said. “Lots of employees are not looking to move or investigate other opportunities as there is a lot of uncertainty.” Dr Morrow said it is an extremely difficult labour market for graduates and they are increasingly leaving Northern Ireland to go to countries such as Australia, Canada and the US, because of a lack of job opportunities here. “For University of Ulster and Queen’s students and those at Irish universities, young people made the decision to stay at home to study,” he said. “They made a strong commitment to stay in their home economy but the reality is the opportunities are not there. The Northern Ireland labour market is Belfast centric.” Dr Morrow further explained: “Graduates

have to decide to move from the north west, the coast, Fermanagh and Tyrone or commute. Employers are very aware employees will be prepared to travel. “For example, I live near Randalstown but work in the north west and I see people getting buses every 15 minutes going where jobs are in the public sector and civil service.” Dr Morrow believes that while the labour market is problematic there are lots of other socio-economic problems influencing people’s confidence, such as the ongoing issues with the housing market. “Housing is unstable so concerns about changing things up and relocating are real,” he said. “The biggest fear is the potential risk of moving for promotion and then finding out the company is not stable and could be downsized. People are sticking with their current employer and employers know that,” he added. “In the last two to three years, for the first time in 20 years, employers have the vast majority of the power in the employment relationship. They know people will work harder with fewer resources and for lower wages.” The UU expert notes that mobility of employees has always been a potential risk for employers, because if you train and develop someone in a vibrant labour market they can move quickly. “Certainly the HR professionals and business owners I speak to say that is less of a factor now,” he added. “People are staying far longer than perhaps they want to and organisations are getting flatter. Also there is no guarantee when people

come to retirement age they will retire, as they can’t afford to do it, and that creates fewer opportunities in the labour market.” Neal Lucas, managing director of Neal Lucas Recruitment, which specialises in filling senior executive roles, said that over each of the last four years there has been a series of two or three spikes, as confidence has returned to the market at different periods. “A sales manager wants to become a sales director, so there is only a certain amount of time before people will want to move and have to move,” Lucas said. “Regardless of new jobs being created, the biggest area of the market is natural job market churn. A sales or HR manager moves on and a role is created and that creates a chain of vacancies, as people want to move on in their lives and take the next step up.” The recruitment expert said it’s not all doom and gloom, as he has noticed a flurry of activity and some return of confidence to the market in recent weeks. He attributes this to it being the start of the year, the time when people traditionally re-evaluate their careers. “This time last year was tough because there was all the chat about double dipping. But we are now experiencing our best time since the business was formed,” said Lucas. “People talk about there being lots of applicants for jobs, and that may be true, but quantity isn’t always an indication of quality. Our applicant pool might be bigger, but our short-lists have been shorter,” he added. “People are not necessarily putting themselves out there, so we go into businesses and talk to people. We have been able to attract people who are in and out of work by presenting opportunities in the right way.”

GROWTH FORMULA: Diagnostics company Randox Laboratories has revealed that it hired 338 new staff in 2012, more than 200 of them in Northern Ireland. The Crumlin-based business also said it intends to keep growing in 2013 thanks to increased demand from around the world for its products, with 31 new employees joining in January alone. Of the total 2012 intake, 83 were research and development, 103 were sales and marketing, 137 were manufacturing and 65 were recruited for administration. The company now has over 1,000 employees. Dr Peter FitzGerald CBE, Managing Director of Randox said: “Our strategy for growth includes increasing sales in existing markets, finding new distribution partners in new markets and becoming the first choice manufacturer for quality controls and reagents in the world. We are continually developing new innovative products for laboratory medicine that will help detect diseases earlier and more accurately than is being done at the moment.”

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Attracting Talent Getting more skilled people to return to Northern Ireland will be essential to the future of our local economy, believes Donna Parker, Regional Manager of Diamond Recruitment.


f you talk to anyone about rebalancing the economy in Northern Ireland, they will most likely mention exports. You’ll hear that exports are pivotal to future growth and prosperity; however, in one sense an element of our exporting is holding us back. This is a curious export industry that has the potential to subdue the economy here. The main issue is that Northern Ireland is exporting our top talent to the rest of the world. We all know the high-profile examples of local artists and sportsmen who have made Northern Ireland that bit more noticeable on the world stage, but what’s less frequently examined is our contribution to the work forces of international business culture. Recent PwC research found that 88% of Irish graduates would like to work abroad. This could result in a talent deficit which is harmful to businesses here. Figures released last year showed that over 2000 18-24 year olds left Northern Ireland from 2010-2011, and it’s reasonable to assume that they were amongst some of our best and brightest, capable of finding opportunities abroad. Unfortunately, the next generation might fly the nest and never come back, which doesn’t seem right, especially when our economy could be benefitting from their dynamism and entrepreneurial flair. At Christmas, Diamond Recruitment carried out a research exercise at Belfast City Airport. This was targeted at professionals who were arriving back home for the holidays. We set up a candidate attraction piece, in order to get to grips with the situation and understand what made these people leave and more importantly, what would make them come back. The results were extremely interesting and highlighted some important challenges to be overcome by businesses here. Many individuals didn’t know of the

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opportunities that were available in Northern Ireland. In the IT industry specifically, two Fortune 500 companies have recently set up development offices outside of the United States, creating exciting new possibilities for IT professionals. Northern Ireland industry as a whole has a wealth of positions available across a number of levels, some offering six figure salaries that people did not know existed in the local market place. Northern Ireland plc is now a player in the world market, with companies such as Herbert Smith and Allen&Overy in the legal sector offering hundreds of new jobs and ensuring that people no longer need to move to other European capitals for better opportunities. In order for firms to think about attracting top talent, they’ve got to consider the following factors that retain the best candidates. 1) Cost of living: It’s important that firms show the ancillary benefits of life in Northern Ireland. The cost of living, for example, is considerably less than other parts of the UK and house prices are down considerably from their bubble inflated peak. Add into that the fact that the

two local airports put you right on the doorstep of Europe and a position in Northern Ireland becomes very appealing. 2) Retention: One of the main inhibitors of business growth is being unable to find the right people, with the right experience, at the right time. Yet many of our graduates move to take up positions right across the rest of the UK and EU because they can see the opportunities for advancement more clearly. Outlining clearly how you can offer graduates a career, rather than just a job, is more effective in the long run in grooming your business for expansion. 3) Opportunity knocks: Northern Ireland’s economy is predominantly made-up of small businesses, however with the larger players now based in Northern Ireland this provides a dynamic mix and a wealth of opportunity for the would-be-want-aways. Donna Parker, Regional Manager of Diamond Recruitment. Diamond Recruitment Group currently provide permanent, temporary and contract recruitment solutions across a range of industry sectors.



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Source Code: Getting young children interested in programming through programmes such as the CoderDojo will be crucial to creating a capable workforce in future. The initiative backed by Hays, Belfast Met and Momentum gives children the chance to learn to code and create. Back row, from left are: Hays Business Director Roisin Bryne, Momentum Skills Manager Michael Noble and CoderDojo organiser Peter Doherty. Young coders pictured front row, from left are: James Heggarty, Ben Heggarty and Meggan Johnston. Events to get more mentors on board will be held on March 1st and 2nd at Belfast Met.

In with the I.T. Crowd

A new report has suggested that another 20,000 jobs could be created in Northern Ireland’s digital sector over the next five years. Symon Ross takes a closer look at the Momentum Manifesto and asks the organisation’s chairman what needs to happen to make that target a reality.


quick look on any of the job websites, newspaper sections or even billboards around Belfast is enough to tell you that those who opted for a career in IT have made a good choice. Unlike many of the traditional sectors which have struggled in recent years – construction, manufacturing, retail – the tech industry has gone from strength to strength thanks both to growth from indigenous companies and the ongoing arrival of international investors. The Government has rightly patted itself on the back over the fact that global brands such as Citi, NYSE, CME, Liberty IT and Allstate continue to expand their operations in Northern Ireland. And with home-grown firms such as First Derivatives, Aepona, Kainos and Kana also in

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growth mode and an increasing number of digital start-ups, the industry would seem to be in rude health. But according to industry body Momentum, sustaining the current boom and growing the industry to the point where it will make a really significant contribution to the economy, still requires more work. In its recently released manifesto, Momentum argues that reaching a target of 50,000 people employed in the sector by 2017 (from around 28,000 currently) will require the industry, education bodies and Government to come together like never before. The manifesto’s raison d’etre, says Momentum, is to ensure Northern Ireland is ready to reap the rewards of the digital revolution by helping

innovators turn good ideas into global businesses, quickly and sustainably. There is no shortage of good ideas in Northern Ireland’s digital sector, but few have turned into global businesses, yet. There are some notable success stories of course, but just as many have failed to get off the ground because their innovative ideas have not been harnessed or guided in the right way. The reasons for targeting digital business as a growth sector are obvious. Server workloads are growing at 10% per year, network bandwidth demand is growing at 35% a year and storage capacity is growing at 50% a year. In the last minute alone there were more than two million Google searches, over a quarter of a million Facebook logins and more than 200 million


emails sent. In short, it is a huge growth area. According to a 2011 report by e-skills UK the digital industry in Northern Ireland generates turnover of more than £1.4bn a year – a figure that is probably far greater in early 2013. But if everyone knows that we live in an increasingly digital world then it seems obvious that Northern Ireland will not be alone in its ambitions to become a digital hub. Rob McConnell, chairman of Momentum, says that is even more reason to act now, in a co-ordinated effort between industry, education and government to carve out a niche for ourselves, to make I.T. careers more attractive to youngsters and to make concessions such as reduced university fees to bolster the sector. “There was a study funded by DEL and the ICT Skills Task Force that said there was a need for over 50,000 people working in the sector by 2017. Today we have 28,000. When you break it down it is 4,000 jobs a year. In the South they are talking about a 6,000-7,000 jobs a year, in Scotland they are talking about 10,000. So when you look at it relative to the regions that sit around us, that are somewhat competitive with us, it is certainly realistic. It does sound like a big number but I think while it will be do-able,” he said. “As an employer myself (at SQS) I know I have open roles and could hire people in double digits. And when it comes to some of the opportunities at Citi, NYSE, CME and Allstate, annually there’s a combined need to employ thousands of people.” Maintaining that demand will be essential, but so too will supplying enough high quality employees to the sector. A skills shortage has already been acknowledged by the DEL Minister Stephen Farry, who formed the ICT Skills Action

“by the end of this year we have got to be in a confident position in terms of what it is we offer here. if we dilly dally we’re dead in the water.” Group and Government has launched several initiatives to try to address the gap. These include the Software Testers Academy, a higher level ICT Apprenticeships programme, the Bring IT On campaign and Coder Dojo coding classes in schools and an extra 100 places on Masters courses. Those initiatives would appear to be paying dividends, with a 44% increase in applicants to computing courses in Northern Ireland registered from 2008 to 2011, compared with a UK average of 26%. But to meet the needs of employers in the near term will require some re-skilling in the existing experienced workforce, said the Momentum chairman. “You have lots of very smart people working in those sectors and industries that are potentially in decline. You’ve got architects, accountants, retail managers who can work with people and communicate. We’ve got to pan for gold in other sectors and find nuggets that we can put through reskilling and accelerated training programmes to bring them into the industry,” he said. “To date we have been focused on getting more graduates, taking more non-IT graduates into conversion courses and apprenticeships. But a lot of that is earlier in the skills supply chain. We

Rob McConnell and Ian Graham of Momentum launch the Momentum Manifesto with Minister Stephen Farry

need to be operating at both ends of that chain,” he added. “One of the big ticket themes I am looking at at the moment is wage inflation. We could very quickly make the region uncompetitive if we continue to chase the same pool of people. That’s why the skills agenda is paramount and why there has to be out of the box thinking.” Momentum’s manifesto highlights Northern Ireland’s strength in the capital markets space, as well as in telecoms and embedded systems. McConnell is of the view that this strength should be the basis or the core asset of the digital sector here, adding that international acquisitions along the lines of Equiniti’s purchase of ICS and Kana’s swoop for Lagan Technology, will likely be the driving force in the growth of the industry. At the same time McConnell believes we should not lose sight of the potential of creative businesses operating in media, animation and gaming. In terms of where the digital sector is going McConnell points to research by Gartner around what it calls the Nexus of Forces, a number of interdependent trends in the industry globally: cloud, mobile, social interaction and big data. A lot of sectors are embracing those trends but don’t really understand them. “We’re witnessing a digital revolution like we have never seen before. There’s never been a time of change like this,” said McConnell. “There is an unprecedented opportunity for any region that can stand up and take it.” To grab hold of that opportunity with both hands the Momentum chairman believes the province needs to have a national strategy in the same way that technology powerhouses like India have. Momentum is calling on the Executive to bring together the main stakeholders in the sector to hold a Digital Summit in the next few months, leading to the setting up of a Digital Strategy Board. “We’re saying to Government that, like agri-food, digital needs to be at the forefront of Government policy. They need to listen to industry and put policy in place to help it flourish,” he explained. “By the end of this year we have got to be in a confident position in terms of what it is we offer in this region and what we’re focusing on. If we dilly dally we’re dead in the water.”

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Aiming to accelerate development of Northern Ireland’s technology sector are Steve Orr, Director of NISP CONNECT; Dr Chris Horn, the new Chair of the CONNECT programme; and Norman Apsley, CEO of the NI Science Park.

Tech star joins NISP CONNECT The NI Science Park’s NISP CONNECT programme has brought in one of Ireland’s most successful technology entrepreneurs as its new Chairman. Symon Ross spoke with Chris Horn about what he hopes to achieve.


ublin-based entrepreneur Chris Horn is a man with unrivalled experience when it comes to taking a start-up tech company global. It is something of a coup then that he has agreed to become Chair of NISP CONNECT, the NI Science Park-based programme which fosters entrepreneurship by accelerating the growth of promising technologies and early stage companies. Dr Horn is the current chairman of tech firms Sophia Search, Cloudsmith and Gridstore, but is best known as the co-founder and former Chair of IONA Technologies PLC, the Irish technology company which listed on the Nasdaq in the late 1990s in a $137m IPO and sold to a US firm in 2008 for $162m. It was through his role advising Sophia Search, the semantic tagging and enterprise search company spun out from the University of Ulster, which Horn became aware of NISP CONNECT. The programme organises the successful 25k Awards, as well as the VC Forum, Frameworks, the Knowledge Economy Index report, Enterprise Forum, Generation Innovation and the US-NI Mentorship Programme. However, as a former board member of UU Tech, the body for spinout companies at the University of Ulster, Horn had long been impressed by the technology coming out of Northern Ireland. “My sense is, and it’s easy for me to say this as an outsider, that the hi-tech community is

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probably where we were here in Dublin maybe 10 or 15 years ago. There are some really good people, some really great engineering, but not a lot of international commercialisation experience in terms of sales and marketing channels, and not many well developed personal networks,” he told Ulster Business. “The tech industry really revolves around personal networks, particularly in Silicon Valley. Every single person is trying to meet more people and grow their network every day and that culture has spread a little bit to Dublin. We need to bring it into Northern Ireland to build those networks,” added Horn. Creating an environment where entrepreneurs are encouraged to build companies, exit and then reinvest their time and finances into new companies, is crucial to growing a vibrant tech sector, says NISP CONNECT’s new chairman. “You have to move away from the culture of lifestyle companies to fast growing companies that you sell and then move on to another one, and another one. It makes the whole investment process work because people can get their return and reinvest in the next one. It also inspires the next generation of middle managers who see founders making their exit and think, well if he can do it, why can’t I?” he said. “I don’t think there is a lack of ambition. Certainly there are a lot of people in Belfast who are keen to grow their companies internationally. It is more that there are not that many people who have actually done it and therefore the

experience level is not as developed. By helping founders and CEOs with networking in the States I hope I can help companies grow faster.” There is, he thinks, potential to replicate the way the South built its tech sector, with the emergence of strong indigenous companies and strong multi-nationals, alongside good Government support. “My general feeling is that government is there to build the environment but at the end of the day entrepreneurs have to make it happen. One thing Government can do is use their procurement budget. Most companies don’t want grants, they want customers so that when they go to Boston or New York or wherever they can show they actually have people using their products,” said Horn. With the likes of Sophia raising money in Silicon Valley, Horn thinks interest from the US in Northern Ireland, and the amount of risk capital available, will increase this year. However, he’s not sure whether any of the Science Park’s companies are yet ready to follow IONA’s lead with a Nasdaq listing. “To be seen as a global player in the tech sector, Nasdaq is kind of a coming of age. It is at that point you are seen as a grown up. Fortune 1000 companies are generally wary of dealing with private companies when they can’t see quarterly results and the transparency that comes with a US listing. My sense is that there are not too many companies in Belfast that I’ve personally seen who are there yet.”


Launching the 2013 Northern Ireland Impact Awards for responsible business are (front) Kieran Harding, Business in the Community and Charlotte Elliott, Asda – last year’s NI Responsible Company of the Year. Also pictured (L-R) are: Mark Miller, AES; Tracey Meharg, Invest NI; Gordon Milligan, Translink; Sonia Armstrong, Ulster Business; Ken McKervey from overall Awards sponsor, Electric Ireland; Angeline Sloan, firmus energy; Alan Taylor, Arthur Cox; Andrew Brammer, Allen & Overy and Brendan Miskelly, PwC.

Responsible businesses urged to enter 2013 NI Impact Awards B usiness in the Community has launched the call for entries to its 2013 Northern Ireland Impact Awards for responsible business. Sponsored by Electric Ireland and in association with Ulster Business magazine, the annual awards, now in their eighth year, will see Northern Ireland firms battle it out for the coveted title of NI Responsible Company of the Year amongst other more specific awards. This year’s award categories are:

• • • • • • • • • •

NI Responsible Company of the Year Environmental Improvement Business and Biodiversity Employer of Choice Local Community Impact Education Partner Most Responsible Small Business Sustained Impact Community Leader – by nomination. Mark Pollock Award for Hope – by nomination.

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Business in the Community NI Chair Roy Adair, said: “If ever there was a time for business to shout about what it’s doing right, it is now. Businesses in Northern Ireland face huge challenges, but so many of them continue, not only to do the right thing, but to stretch themselves to do what they do better and exceed expectation. “Business in the Community exists to help businesses find, create and develop ways in which they can demonstrate their responsible actions towards their people, the planet and the places in which they operate.” “Our remit is to encourage companies from all sectors to be a force for good and reap the benefits from doing so,” he added. “These awards celebrate those companies and individuals doing just that. I encourage all businesses to put themselves forward for recognition and to inspire other companies by sharing their stories.” Ken McKervey of awards sponsor, Electric Ireland commented: “Acting responsibly is at the heart of Electric Ireland and we are delighted to sponsor these awards for our fourth year. We

believe that our involvement will help inspire others and encourage them to continue in their efforts to do more for the people who work for them and for the communities in which they are based. “We know times are difficult right now for many companies, but by working together and acting responsibility we will see business grow and networks strengthen. As we go through 2013, let’s learn from one another, give where we can and ultimately strengthen our economy. I wish every company entering much success and I look forward to meeting the winners at the Gala Dinner in June at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.” Northern Ireland winners of Business in the Community’s UK Responsible Business Awards (Big Ticks), which are open for entries until 1 March 2011, will also be recognised at this gala event. Applications can be made online at Entries close on Thursday 28 March with the gala awards ceremony taking place at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast on Thursday 6 June.

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How responsible is your company? How has your business performed this year? Is corporate responsibility on your boardroom agenda and how are you acting with your PEOPLE, the PLANET and the PLACES in which you operate? Inspiring case studies of previous winners are available online at NI Responsible Company of the Year – sponsored by ASDA For the company that best demonstrates its commitment to responsible business practice, with positive impacts across its people, the planet and the places where it operates. In 2012, Asda demonstrated excellence through a focus on Working Life, Greener Life, Community Life and Healthier Life campaigns. It picked up this award in addition to winning Employer of Choice. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT – sponsored by Translink For the organisation that best demonstrates significant improvements in resource management, leading to reduced environmental impact and greater sustainability. With an excellent stakeholder communications campaign engaging students and staff across all the University’s sites, Queen’s made significant impact on reducing its environmental impacts to be our clear category winner in 2012. BUSINESS & BIODIVERSITY – sponsored by AES ** NEW for 2013 ** For the organisation that best demonstrates significant commitment and contribution to protecting and enhancing biodiversity in Northern Ireland through an initiative or its activities. EMPLOYER OF CHOICE – sponsored by Arthur Cox For the organisation that best demonstrates excellence in motivating and developing employees in an inclusive workplace which offers opportunities for all. Asda so impressed our judges with its engagement of and investment in employees that some of our judges in 2012 wanted to apply for a job with the company. LOCAL COMMUNITY IMPACT – sponsored by firmus energy For organisations that demonstrate a positive impact on local communities by working to address local issues and invest people, resources, time, finance and expertise in improving people’s lives. With almost 90% of its employees actively involved in its community investment programme and events covering and supporting groups in communities right across Northern Ireland, Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland was a strong winner in 2012. EDUCATION PARTNER – sponsored by Allen & Overy For the organisation that best demonstrates how its actions have helped raise the aspirations and achievements of young people (aged 4-19) through a solid business education partnership. Greiner Packaging impressed the judges in 2012 with its approach to business education partnerships which help to grow future employees for the company from an early stage and support them through a solid apprenticeship programme. MOST RESPONSIBLE SMALL BUSINESS – sponsored by Electric Ireland For organisations with fewer than 50 employees, demonstrating a sustainable and responsible approach to doing business, which benefits their stakeholders and wider society. North West print company Nuprint won this award in 2012 for its investment in and partnerships with local schools to help improve the employability of young people and its ethical sourcing and waste minimisation practices. SUSTAINED IMPACT – sponsored by Invest NI For the organisation that best demonstrates significant social impact during the past decade with a specific longterm partnership or an ongoing programme of responsible activity. Musgrave Retail Partners NI was a clear winner in this category in 2012 for its long-term partnership with Action Cancer, which has resulted in an investment of over £3m over 10 years, as well as getting cancer prevention messages out to over 460,000 people of all ages. COMMUNITY LEADER – sponsored by Danske Bank ** NOMINATION AWARD ** For an individual from the voluntary and community sector who has excelled in their engagement and partnership with the business sector for the benefit of society. 2012 winner Annie Armstrong, Manager of the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership in west Belfast, was nominated by South Eastern H&SC Trust and won because of her leadership role in bringing together partners from all sectors to address difficult social issues in one of the most deprived wards in Northern Ireland. MARK POLLOCK AWARD FOR HOPE – sponsored by PwC ** NOMINATION AWARD ** For an individual who makes a valuable contribution to society and who inspires others with their attitude, determination and positivity in the face of adversity. Noleen Adair, founder of the Pretty ‘n’ Pink Breast Cancer charity won the judges’ hearts in this new award for 2012 due to her boundless commitment to raising awareness of and funds for cancer prevention since 2007. Northern Ireland winners of Business in the Community’s UK Big Tick Awards (which are open for entries until 1 March) will also be recognised at the gala event in Belfast on 6 June. For more information visit or call 028 9046 0606.

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Celebrating commerce & culture imagination of Sticky Fingers, Pumpkin Pick was born. A new event where the farmers worked with artists on the design of a corn field that grew into a magical maze with fairies, witches and plenty of pumpkins! Allianz Arts & Business NI Cultural Branding Award WINNER: Osborne King & Cahoots NI Talking heads and levitating women dazzled Belfast shoppers in Window Stopping, a unique collaboration between Cahoots NI and property consultants Osborne King. With vacant retail spaces an on-going problem across the country, Osborne King were keen to harness the positive energy and creativity of the arts, key elements they believe are essential to stimulate future economic growth.

performance for both cultural and private sector companies. I commend all the organisations that entered and congratulate all our winners on their fantastic achievements.”

Allianz Arts & Business NI Sustained Partnership Award WINNER: Ulster Bank Ltd & Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s For Ulster Bank the partnership is a key driver in delivering its commitments to customers, staff and community through a range of incentive initiatives that support the bank’s relationship management programmes via the creation of the Arts Ambassador roles, the free Community Ticket and ‘Give a day’ volunteering schemes.

Allianz Arts & Business NI Community Award WINNER: Alderside Farm & Sticky Fingers Early Years Arts A touch of magic and passion transformed a corn field nestled in the heart of Co Armagh into a magical theatre space in this unique and creative collaboration. With the enthusiasm of the farmers of Alderside Farm and the

Allianz Arts & Business NI Young People Award WINNER: KPMG & Royal Ulster Academy ‘One day in the life of ’ This innovative photography project was aimed at Primary 7 pupils with each school group taking part in a guided tour of the RUA’s Annual Exhibition at the Ulster Museum. This was followed by a series of workshops, after which

(Front row) L-R: Dr Wendy Austin MBE; Martin Bradley MBE, Chair, Culture Company 2013; Kevin Campbell, Mayor, Derry~Londonderry; Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Culture Company; Philip Gilliland, President of The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce; Bob Collins, Chairman, Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, Chair, Arts & Business NI. (Back row) L-R: Karen Orchin, JTI; Rosalie Flanagan, Permanent Secretary, DCAL; Mary Trainor-Nagele, Arts & Business NI and Paul McCann, Allianz.


rts & Business NI celebrated in style at the Millennium Forum in Derry~Londonderry as nine businesses, two individuals and one esteemed arts organisation celebrated their success at the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2013. The Awards showcased examples of excellence and the delivery of tangible business benefits with winning partnerships coming from across the spectrum of Northern Ireland’s business and arts sectors. The evening was peppered with amazing entertainment curated in conjunction with the CultureTECH Festival. The night started with VJ Tone, an interactive piece from Derry Productions and guests enjoyed entertainment from Replay Theatre Company, Kwamena Daniels and an installation through a unique collaboration from Figure of 8 and DSNT. Presenting the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards, Paul McCann of Allianz, congratulated the partnerships and all the winners saying: “Every partnership between business and culture reflects competencies, capabilities and creativity that can enrich society and drive the business agenda. All of tonight’s very worthy nominations and winners feature dynamic partnerships which prove yet again the power of artistic business solutions in delivering engagement and economic advantage.” Recognising the success of all the partnerships, Mary Trainor-Nagele, Chief Executive of Arts & Business Northern Ireland, commented: “These Awards showcase the power of creativity to transform business, to fire the imagination and to help drive business

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Young People Award (L-R): Paul McCann, Allianz; Arthur O’Brien, KPMG; Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, Chair, Arts & Business NI; Colin Davidson, RUA; Mary Trainor-Nagele, Arts & Business NI and Bob Collins, Chairman, Arts Council of Northern Ireland.


amount of energy, drive and focus. He grasped the key challenges facing the festival immediately and helped implement new Governance guidelines and assumed a key role within a newly formed Fundraising Sub Committee. Chris was elected Chair of the Board at the June 2012 AGM – a perfect match!

Business of the Year Award (L-R): Paul McCann, Allianz; Rhonda Gibson, Danske Bank and Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, Chair, Arts & Business NI.

every child received their own disposable camera and a simple brief: go out and take photographs of your area, friends and family – the places and people you call home. The four winning images were given pride of place at the entrance wall to the show. Allianz Arts & Business NI Employee Engagement Award WINNER: Acapple Construction/Generator Films/The Boyd Partnership/Patton & Music Theatre 4 Youth (Ireland) On the hunt for a performance venue in 2011 Music Theatre 4 Youth (Ireland) were introduced to May Street Church. However, performing without a stage meant the show just couldn’t go on. Fortunately help was at hand from a group of local businesses, who worked together to transform the church into a fantastic performance venue. Employees were involved from sharing their professional skills to engaging with the young cast members and attending the production itself.

Allianz Arts & Business NI Arts Individual of the Year Award WINNER: Ailbe Beirne, Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company Ailbe has been instrumental in making a substantial capital project happen for the company. From next year Echo Echo will have their own home for the first time since the inception of the company over 21 years ago. It will also be Northern Ireland’s only centre dedicated to dance and movement. Ailbe has continually worked over and above the call of duty, working under great pressure of deadlines alongside developing all other aspects of the company. Allianz Arts & Business NI Business Individual of the Year Award WINNER: Chris McCreery, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Upon joining the Board of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Chris brought a huge

Allianz Arts & Business NI Business of the Year Award WINNER: Danske Bank This year Danske Bank has continued to build on its legacy through arts partnerships that have been carefully chosen on merit and timeliness in relation to business strategy and brand fit. Initiatives included working with Cahoots NI ‘Lights, Camera, Math ’a’ Magic’ which helps to enliven the numeracy topic for Key Stage 2 pupils. Danske Bank Scholarships and Academies prepare students for entering the world of work using theatre techniques to teach interview skills. Furthermore two of 20 scholarships offered by the Bank this year included a six month paid internship at the Lyric Theatre through Arts & Business NI funding. Arts Award WINNER: Cahoots NI Cahoots NI is a professional children’s touring theatre company based in Belfast. The company concentrates on the visual potential of theatre and capitalises upon the age-old popularity of magic and illusion as an essential ingredient in the art of entertaining. The past year has been hugely successful for Cahoots NI in terms of its business relationships. A huge thank you to Moira-based artist, Michelle Stephens who designed and created the beautiful award pieces for the 2013 Awards. These Awards pieces were supported by JTI. With special thanks also to: JTI, Diageo, Harrison Photography, Nicholson & Bass, Sort Design and Everglades Hotel. A&B NI’s principal funder is the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Find Arts & Business NI at Tel: 028 9073 5150 Email: Website: Facebook: Arts & Business NI Twitter: @arts_businessni

The Arts & Business NI Awards are sponsored by Allianz.

Arts Award (L-R): Victoria Vetesse and Marianne Crossle, Cahoots NI; Paul McCann, Allianz; Gillian Mee, Cahoots NI; Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, Chair, Arts & Business NI; Paul McEneaney, Cahoots NI; Bob Collins, Chairman, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Mary Trainor-Nagele, Arts & Business NI.

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The new Pavilions at the King’s Hall


ocated in Belfast, the King’s Hall Pavilions is a unique exhibition and events venue. This new state of the art structure offers an awe-inspiring 5,000 square metres of flexible indoor event space that can be sub-divided to host events of varying sizes at the King’s Hall Complex. Since the Pavilions opened visitors have enjoyed a bright spacious venue when attending a number of high profile events including the Belfast Championship Dog Show, the Wedding Journal Show, the Improve your Home Show with many more exciting events to come including the Adelaide Motorcycle Festival. When speaking about the decision to develop the venue Libby Clarke, Chairman of the King’s Hall Exhibition & Conference Centre board said: “To enable the organisation to grow and develop we have made the strategic decision to locate the Pavilions at the Complex. This is especially significant due to the current economic environment. The feedback from organisers and the response from the public have been very positive. This gives us the confidence to move forward with the corporate objectives of the organisation.” Speaking about the new Pavilions, Edmund Hourican, Holiday World said: “This year we hosted the annual Holiday World Show in the brand new purpose built King’s Hall Pavilions in the heart of South Belfast. The Pavilions are a fantastic venue and the new surroundings brought freshness and vitality to the Show.” The Pavilions are conveniently located adjacent to a spacious car park and a show jumping arena of 12,000 square metres. This allows the venue to be a flexible indoor and outdoor event venue, which allows organisers to hire space according to their requirements. As an added bonus, organisers that run events at the Complex can take advantage of a range of complementary promotions for their event from a dedicated page on the King’s Hall Complex website to outdoor event listings. The King’s Hall Pavilions have enhanced and transformed the 32-acre site into a complete exhibition, conference and entertainments complex of significant national scale. For more information on the Pavilions and upcoming events please visit

Give your business brain a rest and test your musical expertise


f you’ve survived the January blues and are gearing your brain up for spring, then Action for Children’s ‘Never Mind The Business’ quiz on Thursday 28 March is a must for you! You can take a night out from budgets, deadlines, targets, strategies and test your music knowledge against some of Northern Ireland’s business leaders. And you don’t even have to dress up for the occasion! It’s strictly a ‘dress down’ jeans and tshirt affair! With only five tables left, booking early is essential for the event at the Ramada Plaza Belfast, and as well as the opportunity to win the title of ‘Never Mind the Business Champions’ you can bid for singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s signed guitar! The generous donation came after Ed played to a sold out audience in Belfast. His guitar will go to the highest bidder at a live auction on the night but Action for Children has already been inundated with bids – and you can bid too by contacting Dawn McCormick at Aurora Events – tel 028 9268 9631 or email Helen Quigley, Action for Children Northern Ireland partnership fundraising manager, said: “I am overwhelmed that Ed Sheeran chose to donate a signed guitar to us. The monies raised from the auction, of what I can only imagine to be a highly sought after piece of history in the making amongst his fans, will make a real difference to children in our community who need our help.” If you don’t win the guitar, you won’t be too disappointed as you could always be in with a chance to win one of the fantastic prizes which have been donated. From a fourball at Gleneagles to a stay in Malmaison, Liverpool; The Gibson Hotel in Dublin; Newcastle’s Slieve Donard or concert tickets from The Odyssey – there’s something for everyone up for grabs! If you think you and your colleagues have what it takes to join Northern Ireland’s business elite and battle it out be crowned 2013 winners, contact Dawn McCormick at Aurora Events – tel 028 9268 9631 or email You can also log onto the website and click on Northern Ireland for further information. Tables are priced at £750.00 plus VAT per table of ten. Action for Children Northern Ireland works with almost 5,000 children.

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Helen Quigley of Action for Children admires the guitar signed and donated by singer Ed Sheeran which is being auctioned to raise funds for the charity.

Executive Motoring By Pat Burns

Sponsored by Extra comes as standard


Renault refreshes Mégane range


he Renault Mégane has undergone a number of small styling changes to freshen up the model’s original lines. Most importantly, these modifications mirror the attention that has been paid to quality, an area which Renault sees as a priority. This new Megane is a much nicer car to drive than the previous model and will prove a hit with customers. It has a much better build quality and feel than some Renaults have had over the past few years. A new entry-level Expression+, priced from £16,275 includes Bluetooth, USB and upgraded audio system on top of 16” alloys, air conditioning and front fog lights. Three new Renault engines, all featuring Stop & Start technology, are the 1.2 TCe 115 petrol, 1.5 dCi 110 and the 1.6 dCi 130, all boasting impressive performance, economy and emission figures. The 1.2 TCe 115 offers a diesel-rivaling 53.3 mpg (combined cycle) - a theoretical 700 miles on a single tank allied to 119g/km CO2. The 1.5 dCi 110 gives class-leading 80.7 mpg and emits only 90 g/km CO2. Lastly, the 1.6 dCi 130, at the world’s most powerful and frugal diesel engine of its size, also takes its bow in the Mégane, with 70.6 mpg and 104g/km CO2 emissions. The resurgence in petrol engines is an interesting development, the TCe 115 is the first Renault petrol engine to feature direct fuel injection and turbocharging for fuel-efficient performance. Another innovation in the new Megane is the Visio System which assists the driver’s night-time vision thanks to two key functions, a lane departure warning system and automatic high/low beam headlights. A Lane departure warning system has also been added to the Mégane. If lane markings are crossed without the indicators having been being activated, visible and audible warnings are automatically activated. It works by the camera fitted to the windscreen below the rear view mirror, sensing if the vehicle has involuntarily changed lanes, most likely due to drowsiness or a drop in driver vigilance, and a major cause of accidents, especially on motorways. Elsewhere, Mégane 2012 continues to pack the technologies that have contributed to the model’s success. All radios are now equipped with Bluetooth hands-free telephony, Hill Start Assist prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when pulling away on a slope, while lane change indicators warn other motorists when the driver is about to change lanes by flashing three times following a simple flick of the indicator stalk. To assist parking manoeuvres, a rear parking camera provides a precise image of the vehicle’s immediate surroundings and depicts its trajectory to help drivers adjust their line. Last but not least, the dual-zone automatic climate control is now equipped with a sensor which monitors cabin air quality and automatically activates the air-recycling mode whenever necessary.

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A class act


ercedes-Benz has opened up a whole new chapter in the premium compact segment with the new A-Class, a completely new model that offers Mercedes motoring at a similar price to the volume selling hatchbacks. With five model lines starting from £18,945, aggressive styling, engines ranging from 109hp to 211hp and emissions from just 98g of CO2/ km, the new A-Class really does meet the likes of the Ford Focus head on. The new A-Class is a sporty looking hatchback that attracts attention and is great to drive. Mercedes is also confident the residual value will hold up much better than the opposition. The range starts with the A 180 BlueEfficiency petrol, priced at £18,945, is available with a six-speed manual gearbox and includes comfort suspension; fabric upholstery; and Audio 20 CD/radio with 5.8” colour display; MP3, WMA and AAC-compatible; aux-in socket; USB port and Bluetooth. Building upon the A 180, the SE model, which starts from £20,125, offers 10-spoke alloy wheels; sports seats, leather steering wheel and Audio 20. The SE is available as both A 180 BlueEfficiency petrol (122hp) and A 180 CDI BlueEfficiency, with the diesel variant offering 109hp and from 98g CO2/km – the first Mercedes-Benz to emit below 100 g/km CO2 emissions. The diesel model returns 74.3mpg on

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the official combined cycle. The Sport model gives a choice of four BlueEfficiency engine options: A 180 petrol (122hp), A 200 petrol (156hp), A 180 CDI diesel (109hp), and A 200 CDI diesel (136hp). The A 200 CDI reaches 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and returns 65.7mpg with CO2 emissions of just 114 g/km when twinned with the 7G-DCT automatic transmission. Designed to look more dynamic than the SE, the Sport, starting from £21,240, offers twin exhaust pipes and 17” bi-colour five-twin spoke alloy wheels. The Sport model is fitted with comfort suspension, as well as cruise control with Speedtronic, and comes with rain sensors and interior ambient lighting. To confirm the sporting credentials of the new A-Class, Mercedes-Benz has also introduced two AMG-inspired modes to complete the range: AMG Sport and Engineered by AMG. The AMG Sport, from £23,445, includes the Dynamic Handling Package with sports suspension; perforated disc brakes and cruise control with Speedtronic, as well as AMG bodystyling; 18” AMG five-spoke alloy wheels. Engineered by AMG Completing the new A-Class model range is the Engineered by AMG model, which includes a Diamond grille; AMG sports suspension; red brake calipers; 18” AMG twin-spoke alloy

wheels, and changes to the ESP characteristics. The Engineered by AMG model also features bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights; red trim parts in the front and rear bumpers; privacy glass; red seat belts and air vent rings; and wheel arch and floor mats with Sport badges. At the same time the A-Class reinforces that safety is the priority for MercedesBenz. In addition to ESP, Active Bonnet and Adaptive Brake with Hill-Start Assist, standard specification includes the radar-based Collision Prevention system, which can reduce the risk of nose-to-tail collisions, or minimise their effects. Also included as standard is Attention Assist: a system developed by Mercedes-Benz to monitor driver behaviour and warn of signs of tiredness. It is primarily based on steering wheel movements, since this is the first thing that becomes erratic when a driver is getting tired. For the first time, Mercedes-Benz has integrated the Apple iPhone comprehensively in to the new A-Class, including SIRI compatibility. The Drive Kit Plus, available as an option across all models, will enable drivers to access all the key content from their iPhone through the in-vehicle display, controlled via the centre armrest. The system, accessed via a special Mercedes-Benz app, allows users to send pre-determined messages, select music tracks and access social media.


Cee’d grows into a Sportswagon


he Kia success story continues and the latest model from the Korean manufacturer is the new Cee’d Sportswagon. The Cee’d SW has been one of Kia’s leading models in the fleet market, and last year it outsold the hatchback among business users. The Cee’d Sportswagon is only available here with turbodiesel engines. The entry-level 89bhp 1.4 CRDi engine develops 220Nm of torque from just 1500rpm, while the 126bhp 1.6 CRDi raises the torque output to 260Nm from only 1900rpm. Both transmissions, including the automatic offered with the 1.6-litre engine, are six-speed units, while manual-gearbox models are fitted with Kia’s Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) fuel-saving, emissionsreducing engine stop/start technology. As a result the 1.4-litre cee’d Sportswagon is capable of 67.3mpg and has CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km, which means a Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) taxation rate of 15 per cent. Manual 1.6-litre versions, with CO2 emissions of 116g/km, fall into the 17 per cent BIK band, with combined economy of 64.2mpg. With prices starting at £16,895 the new Cee’d Sportswagon will be an inexpensive car to run for business motorists as well as private consumers.

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Rapid rise to the top


koda is riding high at the minute, with record sales recorded in both the UK and around the world. With the launch of the new Rapid, Skoda is sure to have another record breaking year in 2013. The Rapid offers great space for five adults, high specification and is a great car to drive. It is also the first production Skoda to feature the brand’s new design styling. Four petrol and one diesel engine are available in the Rapid range, mated to five or six-speed manual transmissions or a seven-speed automatic DSG. The Rapid offers great value for money and low running costs with CO2 emissions starting from 114g/km of CO2 (on the 1.6-litre TDI CR 105PS) and insurance ratings starting as low as 7E (for the 1.2-litre 75PS). With Benefit in Kind (BIK) ratings from only 14%, the Rapid is expected to provide a boost to the brand’s rapidly expanding fleet sales.

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On-the-road pricing starts from £12,900 for the Rapid 1.2-litre 75PS in entry level S trim, rising to £17,850 for the Rapid 1.6 TDI CR 105PS in flagship Elegance grade. The Škoda Rapid comes with a high level of standard equipment. Every model gets remote central locking, curtain airbags, daytime running lights, rake/reach-adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat and electric front windows. SE trim adds 15-inch alloy wheels, body coloured door mirrors and handles, air-conditioning, Maxi-dot trip computer, MDI (Multi Device Interface), a leather steering wheel and Bluetooth connectivity. Buyers opting for range-topping Elegance models benefit from 16-inch alloys, cornering front fog lamps, cruise control, heightadjustable passenger seat, rear electric windows, chrome interior detailing and a four spoke

multi-functional steering wheel. Ulster Business readers of a certain age may remember the last Skoda to wear the Rapid badge – a two-door coupe with a rear-engine, rear-drive layout, the last Rapid arrived in 1982, powered by a modest 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine. Today, the 1982 Rapid is considered to be a collectors’ item, with values rising considerably over recent years. With just 48 still on the road in the UK, its status as a future classic is assured. The first Škoda to wear the Rapid badge was actually launched in 1935. Back then the Rapid was introduced as a mid-range car, between the entry-level Popular and Superb. It was designed around what was then an extremely modern platform that featured a centre tubular chassis and rear swing half axles. The original Rapid was a very successful car, its modern successor looks set to follow suit.





Neil Devlin has recently been appointed General Manager of Hastings Everglades Hotel. Neil has over eleven years experience within the hotel sector in NI and the USA. He will begin his new position overlooking the running of the hotel throughout what promises to a very busy year for Derry/ Londonderry City of Culture. Alex Megarry has been appointed Marketing Executive at Phoenix Natural Gas. Alex joins from Down Royal Racecourse, having also previously held a marketing position at the NI Cancer Fund for Children. She is a graduate of Liverpool John Moores University. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland has announced that Keith Morrison will succeed Jim Keyes as Chief Executive. He was previously the Director of Food, Farm and Rural Policy in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and has also worked in the Police Authority and DOE.




Former NYSE Euronext executive Danny Moore has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Options, which provides private financial cloud services platforms to the exchange, banking and investment communities. In his new role Danny will be responsible for leading the firm’s day-to-day global operations. James Perry has been appointed Chairman of Ulster Supported Employment Ltd. In his role as Chairman he will manage and provide leadership to the Board of Directors. He is currently a non-executive Director of Ballymena Academy and a Council Member of Northern Ireland Social Care Council. Country Range Group has welcomed Damien Barrett, managing director of Henderson Foodservice, to its board. Damien joined Henderson Foodservice eight years ago as commercial director and was promoted to managing director five years ago.




John Coey has been appointed as a Design Engineer at Powerteam. John’s previous experience includes working as the principal engineer with EPS Environmental Engineering, specialising in the design, development and manufacture of MCC electrical works systems. Jonathan Gibson has joined Powerteam as a Financial Accountant. Jonathan has previously worked as a senior financial analyst with Bombardier Aerospace. In his new role with Powerteam he will manage internal and external financial reporting and budgeting. Martin Mulholland has been appointed Tendering Engineer at Powerteam. Martin has 12 years experience as an industrial electrician working on major projects throughout Ireland and the UK. In his new role he will be responsible for preparing tender submissions for substations, wind farms and OHL contracts as well as working with major electricity market players.

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Geraldine McAteer has been re-appointed as a board member of the Strategic Investment Board. Ms McAteer, who is Chief Executive of the West Belfast Partnership, has served on the board since 2009. Her new term will run until October 2015.



prof. gerard parr



barry kelly

coleen o’neill

laura slevin

noel rooney

Allstate NI’s Managing Director Bro McFerran has also been re-appointed to the Strategic Investment Board. A past president of the NI Chamber of Commerce and non-executive director of Danske Bank, he is also entering his second term on the SIB board. University of Ulster academic Professor Gerard Parr has been invited onto the Strategic Advisory Team of the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, a UK Government Committee which identifies priorities for research and early career science training funding. Professor Parr is the only representative from Northern Ireland serving on the committee. 

ASM Chartered Accountants has appointed Leanne Hillock to the role of Tax Manager at ASM Belfast. Leanne’s main remit is to run the tax department on a day to day basis and assist the tax director. She has considerable experience in dealing with taxation issues of Owner Managed Businesses, High Net Worth Individuals and Trusts and Estates. Catherine McClelland has been appointed as the Business Services Manager for Ortus, responsible for leading her team in the delivery of an integrated support service to both new start up companies and existing businesses aiming to expand and/or enter new markets. Barry Kelly has been appointed as the Franchise Services Manager for Franchising NI, where he will facilitate the growth of successful, indigenous businesses, across Northern Ireland. Prior to joining Franchising NI he was Head of Franchisee Recruitment & Property Acquisition at the Streat.

Coleen O’Neill has been appointed as Bookings Co-ordinator for Flex Language Services, where she is the first point of contact for all Flex clients who wish to book Interpreter or Translator services. Colleen joins Flex from HCL Technologies where she spent nine years in different roles. Laura Slevin has been appointed as the Business Development Manager for Flex Language Services where she will be focusing on driving new business for Flex. Previously, Laura worked as a Global Business Manager for Randox Laboratories for six years in a business management role. Noel Rooney has been appointed as Fire Risk Assessor for Fire Risk NI, where he will play an integral role in the ongoing business development of the company. Noel joins Fire Risk NI from Hampton Estates, where he was a property manager.

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1. Independent production company Televisionary:NI has ‘struck gold’ with a commission from UTV to make a series of programmes exploring local archaeology and heritage. Pictured are Jeremy Hibbard, creative director, Televisionary:NI; Michael Wilson, UTV’s managing director of Television; Richard Williams, chief executive, Northern Ireland Screen; and Rita FitzGerald, presenter of Ulster Unearthed.


2. is now working in partnership with Captain Courier to deliver items across Belfast at majorly discounted rates. Pictured is Paul Stewart, managing director of and Robert Ferguson of Captain Courier.


3. David Gavaghan, CEO of Titanic Quarter, welcomes Paul Crowe, Managing Director of Todd Architects and Planners, which has relocated its Belfast offices to Titanic House. The move is the latest stage in Titanic Quarter’s plans to transform the original Harland & Wolff headquarters into a business centre.

4. Keith Shiells and Simon Brien have announced that BTWShiells and BTWCairns will combine and be known simply as BTWShiells, employing over 100 people within its commercial and residential team.

5. One of Ireland’s top marketing and communications agencies, ASG Ltd, has announced a new business partnership with leading London digital innovator Minute Steak. Launching their new partnership are Gemma Haggarty, MD, Minute Steak; Colin Anderson, Chairman, ASG; Ollie Bishop, CEO, Steak Group; and ASG CEO Seamas McKenna.

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6. The search is on for Northern Ireland’s top food and drink success stories following the launch of the 12th Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association’s (NIFDA) Awards. Pictured are Ian Jordan, Director of Corporate Banking at sponsor Ulster Bank; Nick Price of Nick’s Warehouse and Michael Bell of NIFDA.




7. Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau has outlined industryled plans for a major integrated marketing and communications activity aimed at driving footfall and boosting overnight stays in Belfast. Launching the plan were Gemma Bell from Diageo, Stephen Magorrian of Botanic Inns and Gerry Lennon of BVCB.

8. Sir Paul Judge recently delivered a keynote lecture on globalisation to a 200-strong audience at the University of Ulster’s Belfast Campus. He is pictured with Dean of the Ulster Business School Prof Marie McHugh.



9. Gary McKeown has been elected as the new Northern Ireland Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He is pictured with past presidents Gillian Sheilds and Joanne Sweeney.

10. Phoenix Premium Drinks in association with Asahi Beer UK hosted the first ever Northern Ireland heat of the Asahi Rising Stars Cocktail Competition in the Merchant Hotel. Pictured are Niall McMullan, MD Phoenix Premium Drinks, David Mullholland The Apartment, Christian Hamilton, GM Asahi Beer UK.

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11. Announcing that Ulster Bank will sponsor this year’s Balmoral Show and getting ready to make the big move together to Balmoral Park in May are Ian Jordan, Ulster Bank, and John Bamber, RUAS President.

12. Getting the haggis ready for Burns Night and a partnership with LINC Scotland is Alan Watts, Director of Halo, the business angel network. To mark the occasion down at NI Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, Alan wore the Titanic Tartan.




13. Exploristics, the Belfast-based specialist in statistical and data analytics, has been assisted by Invest NI to win business worth around £200,000 from US industry leaders. Moira Burke from Exploristics is pictured with Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director.

14 14. Lough & Quay Estate Agents and The Ivory Restaurant, based in Victoria Street, has teamed up to provide their clients with added value by offering each of the restaurants customers £50 to spend in The Ivory if they register their house for Sale or Let their property with Lough & Quay.

15. SPAR’s HR Director Sam Davidson is under the watchful eye of Martin Howell from Business in the Community and Volunteer Now’s CEO Wendy Osborne. Business in the Community and Volunteer Now are organising Be a Saint Day on 15 March, where organisations across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to release their staff for the day to volunteer at community projects.

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16. Robert Kennedy, NI operations director for Caterpillar, announces that FG Wilson (Engineering) Limited has changed its name to Caterpillar (NI) Limited.


17. Pictured at the launch of TechXplore are Mark Bennett, CME Group; Ann McGregor, NI Chamber of Commerce; Emma Hunt, , Mills Selig and Carl Whyte, MW Advocate. TechXplore will see the widest range of tech experts assemble on 28 February at Riddel Hall.


18. Northern Ireland’s biggest taxi company, Value Cabs, has launched a new mobile App which will make it easier for thousands of its customers to book their trip and keep track of its location.


19. Maydown Precision Engineering will create new jobs in the next four years to respond to growing demand for its services, thanks to a £500,000 loan from the £50m Growth Loan Fund. Sean Phelan, Managing Director is pictured with Alastair Hamilton from Invest NI and Paul Millar of WhiteRock Capital Partners.


20. Jason Kennedy, CEO, Grafton Employment Group with Zara Magowan, Recruitment Specialist with Allen & Overy and Clark McIlroy, Managing Director of LMI Foods at the recent Breakfast at the Boat seminar on ‘Recruiting in the Digital Era’.

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21. Employment Minister Stephen Farry helped launch i3 – a new business initiative from Southern Regional College designed to foster innovation and support growth in local companies. He is pictured with chef Chris Bell from Galgorm, Brian Doran CEO of SRC and Claire Byrne, Head of Business Development at SRC.  

22. Greens Pizza will create 25 new jobs when it opens new premises on the Upper Newtownards Road. Business partners Manus McConn and William Clark opened their first restaurant in 1995 on the Lisburn Road and the pair decided the location in bustling Ballyhackamore was perfect for Greens.



23. Energy Minister Arlene Foster officially opened Calor Gas’ newly refurbished office in Belfast. Pictured with the Minister are Michael Kossack, Calor CEO and Kevin Donnelly, Calor Sales Director.

24. Howard Hastings of Hastings Hotels was joined by Bob Colhoun from Bob Colhoun Tomatoes, Jilly Dougan from Hannan Meats and Stephen McKenna from McKenna Mushrooms at the launch of the Who Made My Breakfast? booklet at the Stormont Hotel.

25. Clare Doran, HR Manager of Powerteam congratulates eight graduate Lineworkers who underwent training at ESB Networks, the company responsible for Ireland’s electricity network.

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To London... Moscow... and beyond Ali Gayward, easyJet Head of Northern Ireland

This year marks easyJet’s 15th year of flying from Belfast International Airport – and as Northern Ireland’s largest airline it now offers passengers 23 direct routes from Belfast, including a choice of four London airports – Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Southend. There is no doubt that the London offering is strong and, with the opportunity to fly with easyJet to one London airport and return from another, there are unrivalled benefits. And the benefits extend beyond London. easyJet’s recent award of the rights to fly between London Gatwick and its 100th destination, Moscow, means that Northern Ireland passengers will now be able to enjoy affordable travel to the Russian capital via London Gatwick. The first easyJet flight from London Gatwick to Moscow is scheduled to take off on Monday 18 March this year. Ali Gayward, easyJet Head of Northern Ireland, said: “London Gatwick to Moscow is a landmark service for easyJet, not only because it represents our 100th route from the airport, but also because Moscow is such a key business and economic centre for Europe. “easyJet is committed to making travel easy and affordable for all, and adding further capacity to key

business destinations is a sign of our ongoing commitment. We have recently increased our flights between Belfast and London Gatwick and I’m delighted that, via London Gatwick, Northern Ireland passengers can also enjoy affordable travel to destinations such as Morocco, Sicily, Tallinn, Cyprus and Crete, as well as a range of important business centres including Zurich, Milan, Luxembourg and Madrid. “We appreciate Northern Ireland’s geographical location and, in my capacity as Head of easyJet in the region, I work hard to ensure that we are not only delivering the right frequencies on our direct routes from Belfast International Airport, but we are also providing access, via our existing network, to emerging and established global markets. “This works both ways as we are also enabling those markets to come to Northern Ireland, bringing investment and inbound tourism direct to the region.” Uel Hoey, business development director at Belfast International Airport, said: “London is the principal market from Belfast International Airport and there is no doubt that London Gatwick opens up an affordable gateway to markets that were previously difficult to access. “An airline with easyJet’s reputation,

network and market position in Europe greatly benefits local businesses pushing for investment and international trade. The recent announcement of Moscow and Luxembourg, alongside the existing extensive route options from Gatwick, offers Northern Ireland an excellent chance to secure inbound investment.” From 18 March an easyJet flight will depart London Gatwick at 07:00 and arrive at Moscow Domededovo Airport at 13:50, with the return flight departing Moscow Domededovo at 14:30 and arriving into London Gatwick at 15:40. Then from 15 April there will be additional daily flights, departing London Gatwick at 14:10 and arriving into Moscow Domededovo at 21:00, returning at 21:40 and arriving into London Gatwick at 22:50. Flight prices start from £47.49 one way. Flights between the two cities will operate once a day from 18 March increasing to twice daily from 15 April. Summer: Travellers looking to book their summer flights, accommodation and transfers in one go can find a wide range of flexible and affordable breaks from all easyJet airports on the easyJet Holidays website – – or by calling 0843 104 1000.


The last game of the season Foodies with a passion for cooking should get themselves along to one of the classes currently being run at the James Street South Cookery School, writes Vivek Tohani.


ith the days getting longer, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than to attend a game cookery master class in the assured hands of Niall McKenna at James Street South Cookery School. When I arrived I was very excited as I do love my game but am a bit wary of how to cook it! Niall soon put me and nine other intrepid foodies at ease. He had a fantastic menu lined up, with Quail, Pigeon, Pheasant and Venison on offer. He demonstrated how to prepare the birds - the finer points of butchery - before we all had a go. Then we started the cooking process. First, the birds’ legs and wings were cooked in a vegetable and red wine sauce which would become the “Jus”, before starting the oven roasting process. Paramount to the whole procedure was the sealing of the birds in a pan with the new in thing, “rape seed oil”. This oil, which can now be purchased in all major supermarkets, is fabulous because it has a very high burning point, tastes great and is also healthy. Once the birds were sealed they rested whilst we got on with making the Venison Pithivier. There was definitely a French theme running through the menu, and these techniques were very intriguing, as previously I had only ever cooked game Indian style. Pithivier is basically


cooked potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks, thyme, rosemary and garlic all minced with cooked venison onto a round sphere golf ball in size. This is then placed into a puff pastry “sandwich” rather akin to ravioli. The edges are then crimped and egg washed before being cooked in the oven. The puff pastry was made in the restaurant but Niall assured me that all the supermarkets had very good puff pastry. A wee tip here is not to buy puff pastry which is very yellow in colour because it will have had food colouring added to it. Our class started at 10am and before we knew it, it was nearly 12.30 and time to start plating up. There was an absolute mountain of food and I did feel guilty about having to tuck into this glorious feast without my wife, so I decided to take home the pheasant to share. Niall is a brilliant chef and demonstrates his methods very clearly. He was always willing to answer any questions and share pearls of wisdom when it came to techniques. He has had a good grounding in cooking, starting off with Paul Rankin in Roscoff before moving on to work in London. Since deciding to come back to Belfast he has never looked back and is an absolute asset to the chef culture here in Belfast. His talent and passion can be seen right through all of James Street South Cookery School, Bar and Grill and Restaurant.

Ulster Business /February 2013

Alas it was a great pity we had to depart as all 10 of us could have stayed to eat and drink all afternoon, and Niall was great craic.

The cookery school has different classes running and can accommodate a maximum of 10 people per class. Please check the web site for more details. The Restaurant and Bar/Grill are also open.

LIFESTYLE technology

The Gadget Guide Technology journalist Adam Maguire reviews some recently released and soon to be available gadgets.



okia has launched the next iteration of its flagship Lumia smartphone range as it continues in its attempts to return to former glories. With a 4.5” screen and the choice of brightly-coloured casings it is clear that the Lumia 920 is not designed to be a shrinking violet. Boasting the kind of build-quality that Nokia is still renowned for and a relatively polished operating system – Windows Phone 8 – it certainly holds its own against the rivals, barring perhaps app selection. What Nokia hopes will make it stand out, however, is its 8.7mp camera, combined with a Carl Zeiss lens and Nokia’s own ‘PureView’ technology. Users resigned to blurry smartphone pictures and dull night time shots will certainly get a nice surprise when they get to use this killer combo, and it could be the thing that ultimately draws the world’s Instagram and Facebook addicts back to Nokia’s side.

luetooth used to be the preserve of hands-free kits and data transfers but as phones get better and technology gets cheaper it is now breaking into the music scene. For a device that seems magical in its ability to do almost anything wirelessly (nowadays including charging), the smartphone suddenly gets dragged back to reality when it comes to playing music. However Novero’s Tour headphones offer a more modern alternative, allowing you to sync them with your device via Bluetooth and listen to music sans-cable. Set-up is easy – turn it on, find it in your Bluetooth settings and ‘pair’ – and all the various audio controls you need are at your fingertips. The device also has a mic, meaning you can take calls through them, and they fold up neatly to make them unobtrusive when not in use. In terms of downsides, the quality of the earpieces could be better as they often get distorted at high volumes. Bluetooth is not going to offer the absolute best quality for audiophiles either, but then again if you are that choosy it is probably best to avoid mp3s and iPhones altogether.



The Nokia Lumia 920 is available on a number of networks on a contract.

Novero Tour headphones are available on mymemory. for £49.99



anon tends to be slow out of the traps when it comes to adding trend-friendly features to its cameras, tending to resist the urge to throw out a novelty product just for the sake of it. To some degree that is what makes the Powershot N such an interesting prospect. The camera is a compact – almost square – device that allows users to send pictures wirelessly to social networks, smartphones and computers. Of course it promises to do a good job at being a camera, too. It has a 12.1mp lens, 8-times optical zoom, a hinged viewing screen and a miniscule form factor. The only question is whether people would be bothered taking pictures on a camera to send to their phone when they can just cut out the middleman and do it directly already.

ne of the shining lights of the recent crowd-funding trend, where people seek small donations from large numbers of people to help make their idea a reality, the Pebble Smartwatch is finally taking orders from the general public. The device is sold as a ‘watch built for the 21st Century’ and in effect links up what is on your wrist with what is in your pocket. Connecting to an iPhone or Android phone over Bluetooth, the Pebble can do things like vibrate when you have an incoming call or message. In such eventualities, the watch face will display caller ID details or let you read the text message. You can also use it as a remote for the music playing on your phone, or even as a way of tracking your exercise routine.



Pebble can be preordered from for $150

The Canon Powershot N will be released in April at an RRP of £269

February 2013 / Ulster Business



Michael Barr, CTO, JamPot Technologies How often do you travel, where to and why? The USA is a trip I make around four times per year and I would usually make a trip to London every month. The trips involve visiting clients, trade shows for our app building product, and attending developer conferences. What are the three things you couldn’t do without when travelling on business? My iPad or Microsoft Surface, decent earphones for the plane, and a trailing socket with 4-6 plugs (we have LOTS of kit needing charged!). Have you found a good way to work on the move? The Microsoft Surface is becoming a real laptop replacement and I always find the Business Lounge is essential for lengthy layovers. I use Skype a lot for communicating with the office and I use online tools for remote working – Google Apps, JIRA, SVN. What would be your top tips for anyone embarking on a job that involves travel? I would definitely advise purchasing a Business Lounge pass which covers multiple airports. If possible, leave 24 hours after arriving at your destination before vital meetings when travelling long-haul, as jet-lag can take unexpected twists! Have you worked out a way to avoid jet lag? Stay awake until the appropriate time at your destination, even if that means you are awake for 20 or 30 plus hours – you’ll feel better over the next few days. What do you enjoy most about work travel and what are your pet hates? I love long haul flights! There are no phones ringing and no emails to answer. It’s a great chance to concentrate or relax. I don’t like expensive and tasteless airport food. Best and worst airline you’ve flown with? United is usually reliable and reasonably comfortable. Obviously Ryan Air is the worst, but Aer Lingus seem to be reducing leg room on trans-Atlantic flights (and I’m only 5’ 7’’!!!). What location have you been most pleasantly surprised by/disappointed by? I loved Austin, Texas. It was much more liberal and fun-loving than expected. Seattle was too much like Northern Ireland regarding the rainfall! What do you look for in a good hotel when away on business? WiFi is essential, but I carry everything else so the only business facility I occasionally require is a printer. A decent restaurant, open late is hard to find as I often end up very late back at the hotel needing fed! A swimming pool is a great luxury. Where are you off to next? The USA next month. I am meeting with a client in Chicago before jetting across to San Francisco to join the marketing team as we launch TheAppBuilder Enterprise Edition at a major trade show.

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Business Books THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE By Caspian Woods (Pearson) These are the rules of business that demand to broken, the ones where the perceived wisdom may no longer be the right way, and a new direction is a more reliable route to success. 100 popular business conventions are profiled, challenged and proven false before a fresh approach is given. Often laugh-out-loud funny, witty it’s also deadly serious as it seeks to deliver powerful, effective bite-size advice that will make a real difference. WINNER TAKES ALL By Dambisa Moyo (Penguin) Our planet’s resources are running out. The media bombards us with constant warnings of impending shortages of fossil fuels, minerals, arable land, and water and the political Armageddon that will result as insatiable global demand far outstrips supply. But how true is this picture? Dambisa Moyo cuts through the misconceptions and noise surrounding resource scarcity with a penetrating analysis of what really is at stake. Examining the operations of commodity markets and the geopolitical shifts they have triggered, she reveals the hard facts behind the insatiable global demand for economic growth. TO SELL IS HUMAN By Daniel H Pink (Canongate) We’re all in sales now. Each day millions of people earn their keep by convincing someone else to make a purchase. Each and every one of us spends time trying to persuade others to part with resources – money, time, attention – though most of the time we don’t realise we’re doing it. Parents sell their kids on going to bed. Spouses sell their partners on mowing the lawn or putting the cat out. We sell our bosses on giving us more money and more time off. In this new book, Dan Pink explores the ways in which we can all improve our sales skills, in every area of our lives and identifies the three personal qualities and four essential skills necessary to move people.

All titles are available at easons. To win copies of the featured books go the Ulster Business facebook page.


Gold star for City Airport on service


eorge Best Belfast City Airport has been recognised and rewarded for its Service Excellence at the Ireland Excellence Awards. The bestowment of the prestigious Gold Star accolade, which is independently validated by the Centre for Competitiveness and recognises organisations that have demonstrated excellence in their overall business performance, follows a rigorous examination process of service standards at the airport, which is based just minutes from Belfast city centre. The airport’s Landside Operations Manager, Judith Davis, attended the Northern Ireland Quality Awards ceremony in Titanic Belfast to receive the award. She commented: “Achieving ‘Gold Star’ status is a fantastic and well deserved honour for Belfast City Airport. “Customer satisfaction is very important to us and improving the passenger experience through the airport is an area we continually place a particularly strong focus on. “The process to achieve Gold Star Service Excellence was thorough. The service provided in all areas of the airport was examined in meticulous detail based on international quality standards. “Our employees are very aware of customer needs & requirements in the airport, and undergo regular training to ensure all Service requirements on site are not only met, but exceeded at all levels. “As one of East Belfast’s largest employers with approximately 1,500 staff on site, I am delighted that the hard work and dedication of our employees has not only been recognised, but rewarded.” 2013 marks the airport’s 30th anniversary and will see the airport continue to work with long term partners, flybe and Citywing and new arrivals, British Airways and Aer Lingus. Judith continued: “More than £15m has been invested by our owners in improving airport infrastructure over the last four years. This includes our new £1.7m arrivals area that will provide statutory agencies with improved facilities to process international passengers when Aer Lingus begins direct flights to Palma, Malaga and Faro in March of this year.

Premier Inn welcomed to Derry-Londonderry


eading figures including Mark Durkan MP and the Mayor of Derry-Londonderry have helped to officially open the new Premier Inn and Brewer’s Fayre restaurant in the city, welcoming the new development as an important boost to the North West’s hospitality and tourism sector. The much-anticipated 60 bedroom hotel, which also features a 200 seat Brewers Fayre family pub restaurant, is located at Crescent Link in the Waterside area of the city and is the seventh hotel to be opened by Whitbread PLC in Northern Ireland. Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “The new Premier Inn is a firstclass hotel which represents a major investment in Derry as well as a much-needed boost for local employment. “Derry has a huge opportunity with this year’s City of Culture celebrations and I can only commend the Conway Group and Premier Inn’s contribution to making our city a welcome place to stay for both international and domestic travellers alike. “Tourism is vital to our local economy and growth and will play a big role in our city’s future success. Cathy Hopkins, cluster general manager for Premier Inn Northern Ireland and Adam “I am sure that the new Premier Inn will be looking after Harris, team leader, Premier Inn Derry-Londonderry are joined by Chivalrous Gent businesses and tourists from across the world for many years to performers to celebrate the official opening of the new 60 bed Premier Inn hotel. come.” Mayor of Derry-Londonderry, Councillor Kevin Campbell added: “With the City of Culture year now upon us the city has gleaned a significant amount of interest both locally and abroad. The arrival of Premier Inn adds another established and affordable option for the influx of people we are set to welcome in 2013 and subsequent years.  “Not only is the hotel providing a boost to the local hospitality and tourism sector, the £6m development represents significant investment into the local economy generating 60 jobs and creating new employment opportunities.”

FEBRUARY 2013 93


Sign up for the Belfast City Marathon


usinesses across Northern Ireland are being urged to sign up for the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon 2013 on May Bank Holiday (May 6) to help raise vital funds for local cancer patients and their families. Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is the official charity for this year’s marathon, which will be the largest fundraiser the 43-year-old charity has ever undertaken. It urgently needs as many people as possible to help by taking part in the marathon, relay event, wheelchair marathon, fun run or walk. Around 100 volunteers are also needed to help run the flagship event. As well raising much-need funds for Cancer Focus, it is a fantastic community event and a wonderful opportunity to highlight all that is good about Northern Ireland. Completing a marathon is a real Olympic silver medalists and Cancer Focus ambassadors Peter and Richard Chambers check out the ManVan with achievement for employees and each Anne Thompson and Gerry McElwee, Cancer Focus. year runners experience a true sense of fulfilment as they cross the finishing line. The relay is also an excellent team building motivator for organisations, as well as being great craic, and the fun run and walk gives busy workers time to enjoy a special day out with their families. Cancer Focus, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, has ring-fenced the money raised through marathon sponsorship for its Men’s Health Campaign. The cash will help provide a wide range of services including a helpline, family support, counselling, stop smoking clinics and Quick Fit projects in workplaces, art and creative writing therapies, walking groups, a choir and life-coaching. One of the charity’s most important weapons in the battle against cancer is the ManVan, a mobile unit which brings health checks to hard to reach men – some of whom have not seen a GP in 20 years - at farmers’ markets, sports clubs and workplaces in rural areas. In order to provide these essential services Cancer Focus, Northern Ireland’s leading local cancer charity, relies heavily on the public to help it find £3.5m annually. Joyce Savage, Head of Appeals and Marketing, said: ”It’s easy to forget that almost as many men are diagnosed each year with prostate cancer as women are with breast cancer. In fact, nearly 6,000 men get all kinds of cancer each year. Cancer Focus is using the marathon to turn the spotlight on our colleagues, husbands, brothers, sons, partners and friends. The charity is calling on the community at large to man up to male cancers and help tackle them together. Our work is a huge support to so many people but we need your help.” If you’re up for the challenge then register by logging on to”


Holywood golfer Rory McIlroy has signed a multiyear agreement with US brand Nike in what is thought to be one of the biggest sports sponsorship deals in history. The exact details of the sponsorship may never be revealed, but it has been reported to be worth around $100m (£62m) to $125m (£77m) over five years. McIlroy now represents the “Swoosh” in clubs, ball, footwear, glove, apparel, headwear and accessories. “I chose Nike for a number of reasons,” said Rory. “It’s a company and a brand that really resonates with me. It’s young. It’s athletic. It’s innovative. They are committed to being the best, as am I. Signing with Nike is another step towards living out my dream.” Cindy Davis, President of Nike Golf, added: “Rory is an extraodinary athlete who creates enormous excitment with his on-course performace while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere... He is the epitome of a Nike Athlete, and he is joining our team during the most exciting time in Nike Golf ’s history. We are looking forward to partnering with him to take his remarkable career to the next level.”

94 FEBRUARY 2013

Business Diary March 2013





5 March

The Art of Business Organiser: Women in Business NI

TBC Cost: £30.00

For more information and booking details visit

8 March 08.45 - 15.30

IoD NI Women’s Leadership Conference Sponsored by Vodafone NI

Ramada Plaza, Belfast BT8 7XP

Lorraine Corry on 028 9068 3224 or visit

11 March 12.00 – 14.00

IoD NI New Members’ Launch

IoD Northern Ireland, Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5EE

Lorraine Corry on 028 9068 3224 or visit

12 March 09.15 – 16.30

Core Export Knowledge Workshop – Targeting Your Export Markets Organiser: Invest NI

Ramada Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast Cost: £75.00 +VAT per person

Rowan Geddes on 028 9069 8066 or email:

13 March 09.15 – 10.30

IoD NI: Applying for Public Appointments

CPANI, Belfast BT4 3SB

Lorraine Corry on 028 9068 3224 or visit

14 March 09.00 – 11.00

Intro Networking Event Organiser: NI Chamber of Commerce

South Eastern Regional College, Lisburn Campus, Castle Street, Lisburn Members: FREE Non-Members: FREE

For more information and booking details visit

14 March 10.00 – 12.00

Social Media and the Employment Relationship

LRA Head Office, Belfast BT1 2LG Cost: FREE

Alan Wilson on 028 9033 7424 or email:

20-21 March

SustainEx 2013 Organiser: 4 Square Media

Ramada Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast

Golda Burrows on 028 9268 8888 or email:

21 March 08.00 - 10.30

Back to Back People Series: Networking & Bite Sized HR

The Park Inn, Belfast Members: FREE Non-Members: £25 +VAT

For more information and booking details visit

If you would like to promote an event or conference please contact Stuart Hackney (



96 FEBRUARY 2013

18 Boucher Way, Belfast BT12 6RE

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People in Business What do you consider your best business decision or idea?

This year we designed and developed a website specifically for Gas Safe Registered installation companies registered with Phoenix. The Northern Ireland Natural Gas Association website has added a completely new dimension to our communications with these companies.

Who or what has been your biggest influence or inspiration?

I try to take inspiration from a variety of different figures within the business world and outside it. I have recently taken a keen interest in the business life of Jack Welch, the former Chief Executive of General Electric in the USA. A gentleman who started his career as a junior in the company only to become its youngest ever CEO in 1981. During his time at the helm of the business its value increased by around 4000%.

Do you have any “golden rules” ?


NAME: Jonathan Martindale JOB TITLE: Business Development Manager COMPANY: Phoenix Natural Gas FAMILY: Married to Christina, with a son called Jack (4) INTERESTS: Making home improvements, following Donaghadee Rugby

Club and Norwich City Football Club and eating out.

What is your current role?

I am responsible for managing all domestic sales and for trade development. There are around 3,000 people employed in the wider gas industry. This includes several hundred heating installation companies. A main and shared objective is getting people connected on to the natural gas network. Currently Phoenix has made gas available to around 300,000 properties in the Greater Belfast area.

What was your first paying job?

Working as a barman for local broadcaster Trevor ‘Big T’ Campbell and his late wife Linda Jayne when they owned the Dunallen Hotel in my hometown of Donaghadee.

What do you like most about your current role?

I love to see newly qualified companies and individuals joining the gas industry. In

particular using their natural ability along with some of the promotional tools that are available to them as they establish themselves as self-employed, accomplished business people in their own right.

Are you switched on 24 hours or is there a time when you switch your phone off?

To meet challenges head on and honestly. I believe you should not be fearful of challenging things, as long as you do so in a respectful manner.

What is your most hated business expression or cliché?

Businesses who promote ‘Free Quotations Offered’ as a benefit. It should always be seen as a privilege that prospective customers want to talk to you.

What’s the most treasured possession in your office?

It may surprise a few people, but despite developments in technology I still find real value in my Business Card File. I always try to make the very most of every opportunity to meet new people and am often able to refer back to this file to progress initiatives.

I choose to remain available 24/7. I would rather know of any developments in real time and also because the gas industry does not work standard business hours. Essentially we are a 24/7 business.

What are you currently reading?

Has your personal life suffered because of your career?

What advice would you give to the 18-year-old you?

Quite the opposite – during the week I rarely see the family in the morning and often miss dinnertime but when I am at home I can switch off satisfied that the working day has received my entire commitment.

I have been reading quite a bit recently about the history of Ireland. I am trying to make up for a lack of attention paid in history class at school.

I think when you start off in business you can be keen to please everyone. Once you realise that’s not always possible you learn how effective it can be to trust your instincts and stand by your decisions – perhaps that only comes with experience.

That’s about the only answer you won’t get from Agnew Fleet Manager. From reduced paperwork to bespoke reporting – we have the solution.

Want to know how to save time, money and take control of managing your fleet? Then Agnew Fleet Manager is the answer. It brings everything you need together – all at the touch of a button. Pair this with our competitive rentals and find out how Agnew Corporate is the complete fleet solution. Call us on: 028 9038 6600 Take control today - we’d be happy to give you a full demonstration of how Agnew Fleet Manager could benefit you.

18 Boucher Way, Belfast BT12 6RE

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BELFAST CITY AIRPORT TO LONDON WITH AER LINGUS At Aer Lingus we’ve designed our service to give you exactly what you need. That’s why we fly out of Belfast City Airport, in the heart of Belfast. And why we’re the only airline flying to both Heathrow and Gatwick. We’re the most punctual too, with six flights daily and flexible fare options to suit your budget. Fast-track through security, assigned seating and four free check-in options are all available. Our Gold Circle Loyalty Programme rewards you for custom and lounge access is provided for members. Fancy a bite to eat? Why not pre-order a full Irish breakfast or, for lunch, one of our new delicious seared beef or chicken noodle salads. Aer Lingus to London. No one’s better for business.

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Ulster Business - February 2013