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Contents 12 News
43 The Top 100
152 Business Breakfast
All the latest from the Northern Ireland business world over the last month.
This year’s list in all its glory, from one to 100 accompanied by the latest data
It’s off to Larchfield Estate for a sumptuous breakfast with Gavin and Sarah Mackie
26 Sounds of Simpson
Professor John Simpson asks if Brexit needs to be as painful as many are predicting
The first of our company profiles kicks of with Moy Park before heading across the sectors
Cookstown’s sizzler Pat Burns has been busy while you’ve been on holiday.
30 The Undercover CEO
67 The Top 50 Employers
184 Brexit Breakfast
We find out what the boss of one of our biggest companies really thinks, confidentially
The companies employing the most people, according to the Equality Commision
Ulster Business held a Brexit breakfast in The MAC to hear what we should expect next
38 Cushley Critique
186 The Chairman
Jonathan Cushley, who compiled the Top 100, takes a critical look at this year’s list
Gareth Hetherington healthchecks the economy and assesses the wage gap with GB
He’s been out and about once again and was probably talking to you.
Planning big things for your business? Talk to:
A fine bunch which can inspire the next generation
elcome to this very special Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies edition of Ulster Business.
In this, the 28th year of our unique listing, we bring you the latest rundown of the biggest companies operating on these shores. They’re a varied bunch which spend their time manufacturing, processing, growing, delivering, engineering, cooking, distributing, delivering, generating not just on these shores but around the world. It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that every business in the list - particularly the ones which have risen up through the ranks or which have managed to maintain their place - are those which exhibit a very special set of skills based around innovation, determination and resilience and backed by energy and a can-do attitude which makes them stand out from the crowd. In compiling the magazine I have had the privilege of interviewing some of the people at the top of our biggest companies and it is clear we have some of the best leaders in the world. They have helped grow turnover and profit for the collective Top 100 once again this year and will no doubt continue to do so in the year ahead.
Publisher Ulster Business c/o Independent News & Media Ltd Belfast Telegraph House 33 Clarendon Road, Clarendon Dock Belfast BT1 3BG Printer W&G Baird Greystone Press, Caulside Drive, Antrim BT41 2RS www.wgbaird.com
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But we need more of them. I have also had the privilege of interviewing some of the best people running smaller and medium-sized businesses in Northern Ireland over the years and know from first-hand experience that many of them are more than capable of competing with the talent to be found in our Top 100 companies. But too few of them grow their businesses to a size which would make it into our listing, preferring instead to maintain a smaller scale or to sell out to competitors or those up or down the supply chain. Whatever the reasons – is it our relatively risk-averse culture, a lack of funding or a fear of failure? – we need to overcome our impediments and create a wave of growth which lifts some of our most enterprising smaller companies in to the big time. The challenges are great – don’t mention the “B” word – but if we’ve shown one thing over the years it is an ability to meet challenges head on and carry on regardless, to borrow a popular phrase. For now, enjoy the current crop within this magazine. We can be proud of an industrious and innovative bunch. ■ David Elliott
Editor David Elliott
Production Stuart Gray and Stuart McKinley
Manager Sonia Armstrong
Profile photography Elaine Hill and Press Eye Photography
Deputy Manager Sylvie Brando
Contact 028 90 264260
Sales Executive Sarah-Ann Gamble
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Unfaltering resilience produces shining results By Mark Thompson, Head of Belfast Office, A&L Goodbody
t A&L Goodbody we are honoured to be sponsoring the Ulster Business Top 100 Companies once again. In my foreword last year I noted we were in a time of great political uncertainty following the EU Referendum, and that theme continues – both at Stormont and Westminster. However, a common thread across each of the Top 100 companies is their unfaltering resilience and their drive to push forward, grow and succeed – in spite of the unsettled political or economic environment in which they operate. Yet again, each of the companies has made a hugely significant contribution to the
Northern Ireland economy over the past 12 months. They have created hundreds of new jobs and supported many thousands more. They have each reported inspiring stories of success at home and abroad, underpinned by investment, innovation, R&D and export. Whilst many of the companies listed have, deservedly, long established their rankings in the Top 100, it is encouraging to note the progression of the many companies that continue to rise up through the ranks of the listings each year – such as LCC Group Ltd (rising from 13 to 8) and John Graham (Holdings) Ltd (rising from 14 to 10). Whilst the agri-food, energy and construction sectors continue to dominate to some degree, it is also promising to note the great diversity of companies and sectors listed, from all corners of Northern Ireland.
2017 marks the 10th Anniversary of the opening of A&L Goodbody’s Belfast office. We have invested in our business in Northern Ireland over the past decade and have grown steadily to a team of over 120 high-calibre lawyers and business services professionals. During that time we have had the pleasure of working with many of the Top 100 companies and have been proud to support their growth and success, both at home and abroad. In the coming 12 months, we will continue to follow the journeys of the Top 100 with interest, and we wish them every success in the year ahead. On behalf of all at A&L Goodbody, congratulations to each of the Ulster Business Top 100 Companies 2017. ■
A month in numbers £23,324,957,345 The total collective turnover for the Ulster Business Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies last year, a jump of around £322m and the largest ever recorded. A quarter of the total is accounted for by the Top 10 and 6% by the number one company on the list, Moy Park.
40 The number of Top 100 companies headquartered in Belfast. Of the remainder, 24 are based in County Antrim, 11 in County Tyrone, eight in County Down, seven in County Armagh, six in County Londonderry and four in County Fermanagh.
3 The number of agri-food companies in the top three positions of the Top 100 Companies listing.
£900,977,289 Total profits for the Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies last year, a jump of 9.3% on the previous year. The utility sector appears to be the most profitable with NI Water top of the leaderboard and both NI Electricity and Power NI in the top 10.
£15,900,000,000 Total turnover for the Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies in 2007 when profits reached £922m, around £21m more than this year.
0 The number of Top 100 companies Ulster Business spoke to which said Brexit and the political turmoil at Stormont wasn’t impacting their business.
Moy Park has been named the biggest company in Northern Ireland once again. Lorry driver Peter Gorman is pictured at the company’s Craigavon headquarters
Top 100 companies shatter record books
he 100 biggest companies in Northern Ireland have shrugged off political turmoil and economic uncertainty to post record turnover last year.
taking the top spot for the seventh consecutive year running. Headline sales for the biggest company hit £1.437bn and it accounted for nearly £500m more turnover than its nearest rival.
Those are the findings of the latest Ulster Business Top 100 Companies listing which has revealed a jump in revenue of £322m for the collective to an all-time high of £23.3bn. It ranks companies by turnover to give an indication of how much they put in to the Northern Ireland economy. Profit also climbed by £129m (16%) to a record level of £933m.
“We’re hugely excited to be named number one in the Ulster Business Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies listing, an achievement which is all down to our brilliant people,” chief executive Janet McCollum told Ulster Business.
The stealer performance shows the resilience and energy of Northern Ireland companies, according to Ulster Business editor David Elliott. “To have posted such a solid performance in light of the uncertainty created by Brexit and the stalemate at Stormont highlights the robustness of our biggest business,” he said. “They have concentrated on growing their businesses in the prevailing conditions and proved once again to have the talent and industry to compete with the best in the world.” When it comes to individual performance, the agri-food sector has once again dominated the leader board with meat processor Moy Park
“I’ve had the privilege to work in this business for 25 years and the passion and commitment of our people is second to none.” Grain importer and feed manufacturer W&R Barnett took second place with sales of £946m, up an impressive £131m on the previous year, while red meat processor Dunbia took third place with £788m, down £39m. New entrants to the Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies list include Fivemiletownbased clothing manufacturer Cooneen by Design, Carrickfergus engineering company Ryobi Aluminium Casting, Ballymena meat processor Cranswick Country Foods, Enniskillen engineering firm Severfield (which was formerly Fisher Engineering), energy infrastructure company Mutal Energy, Dungannon screening equipment engineer McCloskey International and energy infrastructure firm GE Grid Solutions.
Neurovalens rides the wearable tech wave
Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI, (right) is pictured with Jason McKeown, Neurovalens
elfast company Neurovalens created seven jobs in the process of developing Modius, it’s weight loss device. A piece of wearable technology, the new product can modify metabolism rates, appetite and fat storage. Invest NI offered Neurovalens £259,000 towards research and development to create Modius, to create the new roles and to assist the company’s marketing activities. It has the potential to transform waistlines around the world, according to Jason McKeown, Co-founder and CEO of Neurovalens. “The first generation of wearable tech devices had a huge impact on the world, helping millions better understand their physical output. odius is part of an exciting second generation of wearable tech and is a product that actively improves health rather than simply measuring.” “We believe there are tens of millions of people who will find they can become leaner through use of the Modius device. We also know that neuroscience and technology can be combined to affect all sorts of other health issues which in effect gives our company a very robust product pipeline.” The company will launch Modius simultaneously in the UK and US via crowd-funding website Indiegogo on 8th August.
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Quotes of the month “It will not fundamentally alter the structural challenges that face any new Executive.” The latest Northern Ireland Economic Outlook from PwC believes the extra £1bn due to Stormont from Westminster won’t be the game changer some think. It says that the absence of a restoration of devolution and an end to political deadlock here, which now looks set to run until the autumn, means that the “strategies and policies essential to regenerate the economy over the medium to long-term remain elusive, with agrifood particularly at risk”.
Road to recovery remains long for NI economy
he Northern Ireland economy has yet to fully recover from the global downturn with pay, disposable income and the housing market still playing catch up, according to data from PwC. It’s UK Economic Outlook said real wages are currently just 94% of their 2005 levels, while real household disposable income stands at 89%, a figure which means annual income has effectively been cut by £1,810 a year for each person. That’s despite a much healthier job market with more people currently in work than before the financial crisis, an economic reading which tends to give a distorted view of the economic health, the report said. It argued that productivity will need to increase if the economic recovery is to continue apace.
from London where prices are now 63% higher. And growth is expected to be sluggish in the next few years with prices expected to grow by just 9% above their 2016 levels to £134,000, on average. During the same period average UK property prices are expected to grow by 36%. Richard Snook, senior economist at PwC, said Northern Ireland’s divergence is stark. “There is a huge disparity in how sub-regional housing markets have performed since the recession. Those local authorities that have experienced the greatest falls in house prices since 2007 are all based in Northern Ireland, while London dominates biggest risers with all boroughs experiencing price growth of over 50%.” But that does have its drawbacks for London.
“Pressure to raise Bank of England interest rates will continue.” Dr Esmond Birnie, economist at Ulster University, said that while the decline in last month’s inflation rate gave the economy and UK policymakers “breathing space”, in the long run the position remained “troublesome”.
“I know that it will be a long race to encourage an equal number of girls and boys to pursue careers in this sector from a young age, but I feel that we are making progress. That is particularly noticeable in Northern Ireland.” Founder of Women Who Code and Deloitte technology consultant Sheree Atcheson who has been named in the Top 50 of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Women in UK Technology.
Meanwhile, the housing market gives a stark view of the roller coaster this part of the economy has been on and how far it is from 2007 levels. PwC said the average price of a house here is 44% below 2007 levels, a sharp divergence
“The affordability crisis within London has seen first-time buyers in particular struggling to buy in the capital. In 2016, house prices in London were 13 times median earnings, while the 15 commuter belt towns offer a lower - albeit still high - ratio of nine times earnings.”
Growth Loan Fund breaks £40m mark
fund set up to support the growth of Northern Ireland’s SMEs has lent more than £40m to local businesses. The Growth Loan Fund made its first investment in September 2012 and has since supported 120 businesses with loans from £100,000 up to £1.25m. Finance for the £50m Growth Loan Fund – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – has been provided by Invest Northern Ireland and private investors, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC). Pictured are Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest NI; Paul Millar, Chief Executive of WhiteRock Capital Partners and David Murphy, CEO of NILGOSC.
First for “Earn as you Learn” Kainos graduate
Brendan Mooney, CEO of Kainos, and Leah Fullerton, Associate Software Engineer at Kainos
he first student from Belfast-based Kainos Group’s ‘Earn as you Learn’ course has just graduated. Leah Fullerton has been awarded a First Class Honours degree in Computing Systems from Ulster University, after studying part-time for four years while working at Kainos. Leah joined the tech company in 2013, the pilot year of its Earn as you Learn scheme, which allows students to earn a living as trainee software engineers, gaining invaluable real-world experience while Kainos funds their degree in a package worth up to £100,000 per student. “Kainos is a great place to work,” Lead said. “It’s a really innovative environment, with plenty of variety day to day. I’d worried before starting about how little I knew, but the training and support is brilliant and my colleagues have been so encouraging. There are 30 students currently studying via the Earn as you Learn programme. Ten places were available in both 2016 and 2017, and Kainos plans to increase this number for the number for the 2018 intake of post A-Level students. Applications for the next intake of Earn as you Learn students will open in March 2018.
Commercial property market poised for seasonal boom
orthern Ireland’s commercial property market is about to see a surge in investment, agents CBRE have predicted. The firm said a backlog of deals amounting to £220m are currently “in legals” and due for completion in the next four-to-six weeks. They include the £125m sale of CastleCourt Shopping Centre and search by HMRC for 100,000 square feet of office space in Belfast City Centre. The expected spike follows a relatively subdued second quarter of the year when just £18m was invested in the commercial property market here across seven separate transactions, a slowdown blamed on the UK general election. CBRE said the launch of a fund by Belfast
City Council to stimulate office development, a tender for a £100m investment fund and the £1bn deal between the DUP and Conservative party will also underpin the sector. Gavin Elliott, director at CBRE, said stability at Stormont is also needed. “We believe that Q3 will deliver a high level of investment given the closure of a number of shopping and retail schemes due to complete in the coming weeks,” he said. “Whilst the Tory/DUP deal should be positive for the property sector, it is imperative that we have a stable local government in place, to deliver confidence to a global investment market.” CBRE said the office lettings market is performing strongly as local indigenous
companies expand to larger premises and as a raft of new inward investors announce their arrival. The refurbishment of existing office space has been responsible for much of the office signings – such as River House on High Street in Belfast and Longbridge House on Waring Street in the city – but a lack of new developments means future supply remains restricted. In the retail sector rental levels are said to be climbing as a result of falling vacancy levels with a number of new tenants signed up such as Hotel Chocolat at Donegall Square North, Boojum at Victoria Square and Skechers at the Quays, Newry. When it comes to hotels, CBRE said it is tracking over 4,300 bedrooms either in the process of being built or in the planning stage, mostly in Belfast.
Full steam ahead for Belfast Harbour with record profits as property portfolio grows
elfast Harbour recorded record profits last year as the volume of goods passing through the port increased and it’s property portfolio grew.
It revealed operating profits of £32.2m in 2016, up 12% from last year on turnover of £58.1m. The harbour said Stenaline’s freight ferry service performed particularly well with half a million vehicles passing through the port, up a 60% on the previous year. “This has been another highly successful year for Belfast Harbour reflecting an improving economic background and the benefits coming from our ongoing investment in port facilities and development of the Harbour estate - investments which have totalled £130m over the past five years,” Dr David Dobbin, Belfast Harbour’s Chair, said. Those investments include £42m on new logistics warehousing, quayside cranes, the new Harbour Studios and ongoing urban regeneration schemes such as City Quays office blocks. And the harbour said it was committed to spending another £105m in the future. “Belfast Harbour has an ambitious investment pipeline which will continue to drive our business and enhance the capacity of Northern Ireland’s economy, creating jobs and maintaining Belfast Harbour as the
Belfast Harbour’s new pilot boats designed and built by Co. Antrim-based Redbay Boats
region’s most important access point to the global marketplace,” Dr Dobbin said. “The Harbour’s investment profile has historically been dominated by marine projects, but the opportunity to utilise waterfront sites no longer required for port operations has generated major property development projects. “Planned in consultation with Invest NI, City Quays has created strong interest among inward investors. The first office, City Quays 1, is fully let, with City Quays 2, due for completion this summer already generating significant interest. The Board has also approved the development of City Quays 3, a 260,000 sq ft office which is expected to be completed by 2019.”
Safety first will drive profits second
anufacturing Northern Ireland Chief Executive Stephen Kelly, centre, hosted a seminar on accidents in the workplace with Willis Insurance and Risk Management advisers, from left, David Sinnamon, Jacqueline Shakspeare and Andrew Galway at the Seagoe Hotel, Portadown. Delegates representing manufacturers from across Northern Ireland heard from the Belfast broker on the steps that could be taken to establish robust health and safety systems, thereby improving staff well-being and improving businesses’ bottom line in the process. More than 137m working days were lost in the UK last year due to sickness or injury with employees in manual sectors absent by an average of two additional days compared to other industries
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Shoppers stay at home as inflation bites
ising costs and a volatile political situation have kept shoppers at home over the last month, latest figures have shown. Footfall on Northern Ireland’s high streets and in its malls and retail parks fell by 2,6% in June, the sharpest drop of all UK regions, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium. The industry body which represents supermarkets and other large retailers said politicians here and in London need to take some responsibility for the drop. “What we need now is renewed consumer confidence and greater certainty about the future, and some political leadership would assist,” he said. “The EU has been making progress on its Brexit position and with formal negotiations started, there is no time to waste.” He said Northern Ireland should have a special case in the Brexit talks. “As the only part of the UK that has a land border with the Eurozone, we need the Westminster Government to secure a fair Brexit for consumers in Northern Ireland by ensuring that ordinary shoppers aren’t hit with the cost of unwanted new tariffs,” Mr Connelly said, adding that Stormont has a lot of work to do. “We also need our Executive back up and running to deal with issues in their purview. There must be some bold decisions taken on the future of the outdated, costly and inequitable business rates system. “It simply is not tenable for retail to be 12% of the economy yet pay over 22% of business rates. Retailers here in NI have also been paying into the Apprenticeship Levy for several months now without any clarity over how it will be spent or how to access the monies which we continue to pay in.”
Richard Caldwell (Danske Bank) and Stephen Felle (Davy)
Davy buys Danske Bank’s wealth management business
anske Bank has sold its wealth management business in Northern Ireland to Davy Private Clients UK.
The deal, carried out for an undisclosed sum, will see the transfer of more than 1,100 Danske Bank customer investment portfolios across Belfast’s Donegall Square to Davy’s Northern Ireland headquarters. The 12 Danske Bank employees which currently look after its discretionary portfolio management wealth business are expected to join the Davy team as part of the deal which is scheduled to complete by the end of October 2017. The agreement also sees Danske Bank make Davy its preferred referral partner for private banking customers seeking options to invest over £150,000. Richard Caldwell, Managing Director of Personal Banking and Small Business at Danske Bank, said the decision to sell the wealth division was part of the bank’s strategy. “After a strategic review looking at anticipated future costs and regulatory change, it became clear that the best way
forward for our customers was to have support in this area from a specialist wealth management company,” he said. “We are delighted to have found in Davy a locallybased, leading national wealth business that has a track record of strong delivery for customers.” Davy has been on an acquisition streak over the last few years and has bought PFC, Graham Corry Cheevers and Square Seven Financial Planning. Stephen Felle, Chief Executive (UK) of Davy, said the latest purchase would let the firm build its presence further. “The addition of Danske Bank’s business gives us an opportunity to build long-term relationships with a new group of customers. It also underpins Davy’s position as the leading wealth manager in Northern Ireland and opens a new era of partnership between two leading financial institutions.” Davy said it is Northern Ireland’s largest wealth manager, with overall assets under management across the United Kingdom and Ireland in excess of £12 billion. Davy has over 660 staff, including 65 in Northern Ireland.
Newry sandwich maker scoops London rival
Gareth Chambers, left, CEO of Around Noon, and Howard Farquhar, Chairman of Around Noon, announce the acquisition of London-based Chef in a Box
n ambitious Newry sandwich maker is set to spread its presence into a new geography with the purchase of a London-based peer.
Around Noon – which already employs around 300 people in the County Down town – has bought Chef in a Box, a premium sandwich and snack manufacturer which supplies the corporate sector in the city. Financial details of the deal weren’t revealed but the Newry firm said it is a strategic decision to get a share of Chef in a Box’s manufacturing, sales and distribution infrastructure, as well as its high-end client-base in London. Gareth Chambers, CEO of Around Noon, welcomed the deal. “Chef in a Box is an excellent business with an impressive client portfolio, and acquiring the company from Donegal Investment Group PLC gives us the presence and infrastructure required to have a significant impact in the UK market,” he said.
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“We see London as a very significant opportunity for us, as well as a platform for further UK expansion, including other potential acquisitions,” he said. “We are delighted to be expanding our geographical reach, adding to our manufacturing capacity and welcoming new colleagues to our business.” Around Noon has been in business for more than 25 years and supplies a broad range of sandwiches, wraps, salads and fruit pots under its Scribbles brand. It also markets bakery items from its in-house operation, Sweet Things, which it acquired last year, and cold pressed juices.
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Software company speeds medicine route-to-market R&D was paramount for us to maintain a competitive advantage and fulfil our growth potential. “The commercialisation and launch of KERUS™ Cloud is a significant achievement for the business that allows us to expand our customer base and exploit the full commercial opportunities this software presents for us in the personalised medicine market.” The company’s target market is the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries across Europe, USA, Middle East, India and Australia. Its cloud-based statistical and big data analytics platform, KERUS Cloud, gives researchers the chance to improve the success of their studies and transform the speed and efficiency with which new medicines are brought to market. Grainne McVeigh (right), Invest NI, is pictured with Aiden Flynn, CEO Exploristics
Belfast IT company has created eight high-salaried new jobs aimed at supporting the rollout of its new software tool.
Invest NI has offered the company £176,941-worth of support for the new jobs, around £97,000 of which will be used to undertake research and development.
Exploristics launched KERUS Cloud - which transforms the speed and efficiency with which medicines are brought to market – last week and said it could triple the company’s turnover in the next 12 months.
Dr Aiden Flynn, CEO of Exploristics, founded the business in 2009 and has extensive experience in pharmaceutical development work with major pharma companies. He added: “Investing in additional staff and
Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI’s Director of Life Sciences and Scaling, said the company has quickly made a name for itself. “Despite being a relatively new business, Exploristics is gaining market traction and developing an excellent reputation among large pharmaceutical companies. “Life and Health Sciences is a priority sector for the Northern Ireland economy and the eight new jobs being recruited at the business are high salaried, skilled positions.
Government department create 123 north west jobs
government department is creating 125 new jobs in the north west.
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities said it’s the latest in a long line of jobs which it has created.
The roles will help the Department for Communities (DfC) service a £7m contract it recently won with the Department for Work and Pensions in Westminster.
“This is good news for DfC and for Northern Ireland, bringing to 594 the number of new jobs secured by the Department over the past year to deliver DWP services,” they said.
Under the terms of the deal, the DfC will deliver Universal Credit services for claimants in Great Britain from its Lisahally Service Centre near Londonderry.
"This third major contract for DfC is testament to the continued confidence DWP has in our capacity to provide high quality services for customers in Great Britain."
The department said some of the posts will be filled in the first instance through internal redeployment, it is expected that a large proportion of the posts will be filled through external recruitment. The contract is for an initial two year period worth just over £3.5m per annum and is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2017. It follows previous DWP contracts announced in September and December 2016, which were worth a combined total of £20 million.
BELFAST BOOK REVIEW: ‘PRE-SUASION’ BY ROBERT CIALDINI Resident reviewers David Meade and Laura Jackson, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland, get to grips with ‘Pre-suasion’ and the pre-purchase influences that alter our thinking.
Launching the 2017 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards on the set of Sixteen South’s new show WildWoods at Clandeboye Estate are Peter Allen, partner at Deloitte and Colin Williams, creative director of children’s television company Sixteen South, which won the Fast 50 Rising Star award in 2011 and 2012
Deloitte calls for Fast 50 entries
ntries are open for the 2017 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 programme.
The awards, now in their 18th year, rank the island of Ireland’s fastestgrowing technology companies and will recognise the indigenous technology companies that have demonstrated exceptional growth in turnover over the last four years. Deloitte is calling on companies from across the technology spectrum – including software, hardware, communications, media, clean-tech, and life sciences– to apply for this year’s awards. The awards demonstrate the contribution of the indigenous technology sector. Swords-based eShopWorld secured the top spot in the ranking in 2016 for the second year in a row. The provider of ecommerce and logistics management solutions to retailers achieved a growth rate of 2,596 per cent over four years. A total of 11 Northern Irish companies made the Fast 50 last year, with Belfast-based Ozaroo Retail, one of the UK and Ireland's fastestgrowing online retailers, the highest ranking Northern Ireland business at number four in the rankings.
e all know better than to judge a book by its cover, but ‘Pre-suasion A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade’ by Robert Cialdini suggests we should at least give more attention to the seemingly insignificant visual cues and environments that shape our thinking. In the details, you won’t find the devil but a hard working troupe of influences that prime our brains into a specific decisions. Think Inception but – instead of dreams – it’s a multitude of circumstances, narratives and environmental factors that collectively corral you towards an action and the belief that it was your idea alone. That’s not to make light of ‘Pre-suasion’ or to suggest that this is paranoid psychobabble. Cialdini is recognised worldwide for ground-breaking research on the psychology of influence and has hit the best-seller list with his previous insight ‘Influence’. An equal work of cutting-edge scholarship and insightful guide to the strange workings of the human mind, Pre-Suasion packs a good punch for business leaders who want to understand their customers and the factors that may be deterring rather than supporting sales prospects. If setting the scene for your audience – “pre-suading” them – is as important as the message itself, then it’s time to make the ‘unimportant’ little details work harder in your favour. ‘Pre-suasion’ by Robert Cialdini is reviewed as part of the Belfast Book Review, a free bi-monthly club where professionals can discuss the latest in business thinking. To join the club or find out more visit www.bdoni.com or email Judith.Stewart@bdo.co.uk
Dell welcomes female entrepreneurs By Dearbhail McDonald
hree female entrepreneurs from Belfast and Cork have taken part tech giant Dell's global Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN).
It is the first time that any entrepreneurs from the island of Ireland have been invited to attend the prestigious business summit. Over 150 female entrepreneurs from 20 countries took part the eighth annual event held in San Francisco last month. Kate Hyde, managing director of tech company Glencove, the Cork firm behind Henparty.ie and a host of bespoke travel tech software solutions, will attend, as will Julie Brien and Dr Roisin Molloy, cofounders of Trimedika, the Belfast-based medical-device firm. Aisling Keegan, vice-president and general manager for Dell EMC Ireland, said the ability to exchange ideas and share success stories and challenges with other women was invaluable. "With so much activity in the entrepreneurial space in Ireland right now, it is appropriate that we have successful female entrepreneurs attend DWEN to share an overview of the business environment and opportunities that exist," she said.
TriMedika’s Dr Roisin Molloy and Julie Brien pictured with Eoghan O'Donoghue of Dell EMC, at a previous event at Dell’s Cork Centre of Excellence
"We also continue to support the development of female entrepreneur networks here in Ireland through the Dell EMC Supper Club, which we launched last month in partnership with Girl Crew. "While not everyone can travel to San Francisco for DWEN, our local dinner gatherings are creating opportunities for founders to get together to share ideas and challenges and to support each other as they build their respective companies." Hyde, whose company is on target to exceed €4m turnover this year, said she was proud to be among the first Irish entrepreneurs to attend the summit. "I'm over the moon, it's like going to the business Olympics," she said. "It can be lonely at times being an entrepreneur. To continue growing means there is a constant knowledge gap. To be invited to DWEN to meet fellow entrepreneurs, major companies and those have been there before me is a huge honour and opportunity." Topics of discussion at DWEN include the changing US and global political landscape, alternative finance methods and emerging technology trends, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality and cloud computing.
Kate Hyde from Glencove, who also attended Dell’s Women's Entrepreneur Network
Last week, Dell issued a report which stated that by 2030 every organisation will be a technology one and it urged businesses to future-proof their infrastructures and workforces. ■
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Join together to face the future Invest NI CEO Alastair Hamilton says we have what it takes to compete
ver the past five years, the Northern Ireland economy has improved considerably across a range of areas – the employment rate is up, rates of unemployment and economic inactivity are down, and export sales and investment in innovation have grown strongly.
employment. However, Northern Ireland is predominantly an SME economy. To leverage best outcomes for the economy we need more companies of scale. Over the next five years we aim to work closely with those companies that have the greatest growth potential, helping them to scale up quickly, turning small companies of today into large employers of the future. As well as offering support to create more, higher value, jobs, reach new markets and invest in innovation and R&D, we will also be supporting these ambitious businesses to build their leadership and entrepreneurial capabilities.
This is echoed in our 2016/17 performance where we saw businesses invest more in innovation than ever before, exports grow and we continued to attract new investors to Northern Ireland. We have also continued to see healthy growth in new company registrations in Northern Ireland over the past five years. This is reflective of a thriving business community and a supportive environment for new businesses to start up and grow. Alastair Hamilton
To ensure that everyone, throughout Northern Ireland, benefits from an improving economy, we will need higher levels of collaboration and partnership than in the past. By working collectively we can integrate our support to address barriers to growth faced by business, exploit emerging opportunities and improve business competitiveness. We are already supporting the eleven councils across Northern Ireland to develop their Community and Economic Development Plans which will focus on the specific needs of each area to bring about economic and social development. To support this we have developed detailed Regional Briefings which contain a wealth of information, not only on our work in the area, but also official statistics on population, labour market, business base, productivity and more.
We now have many companies competing and winning in international markets, however we need many more. Our 20172021 Business Strategy sets out an ambitious pathway to work alongside local industry to make Northern Ireland a confident, outward looking trading region. We have already increased our international presence with five new Regional Managers appointed in Santiago, Doha, Singapore, Toronto and Madrid. A further five will be announced later this year. The Regional Managers will identify new business opportunities for Northern Ireland companies and develop strong relationships with companies, stakeholders and influencers in each region to encourage trade development. As this Top 100 shows, there are large companies in Northern Ireland operating at a significant level – both in turnover and
The draft Industrial Strategy, launched earlier this year, has the ambition to drive balanced regional growth in key sectors where we are world class or have the potential to be world class. To support this, we will focus on those sectors and niche areas where we have, or can develop, the ability to maximise emerging global opportunities. Through sector development and maximising supply chain opportunities we can build on the strengths in financial, business and professional services, advanced manufacturing, materials and engineering, agri-food, digital and creative technologies, construction and materials handling and life and health sciences. We will also use our networks and knowledge to develop our emerging sectors including cyber security, legal services technology, precision medicine and Big Data/Internet of Things. I congratulate those businesses on this year’s list for the significant contribution they are making to deliver a step change in our economy and am confident that, as we implement our 2017-21 Business Strategy, many of the businesses we support will appear on this list in the future. ■
Does Brexit need
nniskillen is leaving the European Union: Sligo is staying in. Does this really mean that each of these towns will live with a less easy relationship for their residents, shoppers, tourists and business owners, one with another? The same question could be posed across this island whether between Muff and Greencastle or between Belfast and Dublin.
In the last 40+ years, quietly and without major difficulty, movement, shopping, travel and business opportunities have been possible with virtually no man-made barriers, except two big cross-border questions: currency exchange rates and excise duty rates on petrol. Since the signing of the AngloIrish Free Trade agreement of the 1970â€™s, the commercial border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has diminished to become all but insignificant.
The timetable is that the UK will leave the EU possibly on 29 March 2019. Ireland, whose Government had no deliberate hand in causing these changes, will remain in the EU. The Irish Government would be ready to acknowledge that a UK Brexit does pose serious potential disadvantages for the Irish economy but, without much doubt, in a choice of how to respond to the UK decision, will remain within the EU.
to be painful? The immediate question for Northern Ireland, following the UK decision to leave the EU, becomes one of how to adapt the Brexit decision to minimise potential disadvantages and maximise any potential benefits. Much of the debate has been at the level of political judgements such as ‘taking back control’. Many of these phrases translate with more difficulty into judgements on the impact for the economy. The main potential risk on this island is that Brexit will damage the economy, both north and south. That converts into a discussion of whether, or how, Brexit can be managed to exclude, or minimise, such damage. The implementation of Brexit, applied as an unqualified withdrawal of the UK from the obligations of EU membership, could be catastrophic. The degree of economic integration for the UK within the EU could be ended as the UK became independent of the EU and current integration was discarded. Similarly, a UK withdrawal could mean that economic and business integration northsouth and south-north on this island could be seriously disrupted. If there is a shared wish, exercised by the parties negotiating the terms of the Article 50 withdrawal by the UK, to minimise the disruption affecting the Irish and/or Northern Ireland economies, then since the interpretation of the main decision lends itself to a range of options there is scope to moderate any unwanted consequences of the withdrawal. The question is not whether Irish adaptations are possible but whether there can be agreement on possible adaptations to avoid economic, social or environmental disruption. The argument that specific moderation of the UK decision is not possible since this is a decision for the whole of the UK by the UK Government is the argument of those who, for their own reasons, do not wish to see appropriate adaptations. The European
If, perchance, crossborder trade within the island becomes subject to man-made obstacles then, as a high profile example, the implications for the dairy and dairy products processing chains could become more than simply unmanageable!
Commission in setting out its approach to the negotiations with the UK has already signposted as a priority seeking agreement for special measures to ease the problems caused for Ireland and Northern Ireland. Although the final form of the negotiations cannot be fully anticipated, one option may be a formal protocol added to the overall UK-EU agreement. If the concept of a formal protocol, or a similar legal device, is accepted then that opens the way to a series of special additions or exemptions to ease the threat of commercial disruption following the Brexit deal. This offers a basis on which business interests, north and south, can make proposals from both directions, to the UK Government and to the EU via the Irish Government, to obtain a pragmatically helpful conclusion. High on the list of special measures may be concessions to ensure that trade in goods and services across this island is not disrupted by tariffs or non-tariff obstacles. Ideally, this potential threat would be avoided if the UK negotiated to stay within the single market and customs union. That is still possible using
By John Simpson
the existing arrangements for the European Economic Area (as already applies for Norway). If the UK (ill advisedly) eschews that option, then a more complicated trading deal for goods qualifying as Irish or Northern Irish to trade freely across the whole island would be a possible substitute. If, perchance, cross-border trade within the island becomes subject to man-made obstacles then, as a high profile example, the implications for the dairy and dairy products processing chains could become more than simply unmanageable! Critically, whilst trading options and possible customs obligations are high on any agenda, there are several all-island dimensions that call for specific protection. They include: 1. The all-island wholesale electricity market arrangements 2. An all-island undergraduate open access arrangement for higher level education 3. Flexible school enrolment options in crossborder areas. 4 Shared access to health care both for emergencies and specialist facilities 5. Shared citizens’ rights in the holding and use of passports 6. No new restrictions affecting the ability to live and work across the (Irish) border Even with good cross-border arrangements in one important dimension Brexit will leave a continuing difficulty: exchange rates. There is no obvious easy way to avoid the variable consequences of a changing exchange rate for £1: 1€. The decisions by the UK and Irish Governments to go their separate ways following the launch of the Euro are a continuing feature of commercial life. The Brexit decision has caused a depreciation of sterling, or an appreciation of the euro. That change is part of the anticipated impact of a forthcoming Brexit. Northern Ireland must live with the consequences of that linkage. ■
Appetite for disruption Change should be embraced, managed and used to grow your business, says Kenton Hilman, Head of Corporate and Property at Ulster Bank.
Damien Long, Stephen Hughes, Kenton Hilman and Gordon Davidson from Ulster Bank’s corporate banking team
nlike for smaller start-ups, in the corporate world there is often an established ‘way that things are done’. This can work well in terms of providing stability and creating a set of rules that all competitors understand. Yet it can also breed fragility – a set of industry practices work, right up until the moment they don’t. Banking is a sector that has seen plenty of change in that sense. At that point, innovation becomes a necessity, and can be harder to implement because of a lack of advance planning and buy-in. As such, I see our role as a bank as being future focused in helping businesses to forsee, and where possible, plan for this change. It’s our responsibility to our clients, and the sectors of the Northern Ireland economy that we support, to see through the medium term and try and provide analysis and guidance on the way ahead. With an increasingly elderly population, healthcare providers are going to have to be
more visible, marketable and innovative in the scope and depth of services that they offer – whether that’s in operational terms, like using technology to manage patient care remotely, or strategic terms, using longer-term funding in a low-rate environment to set plans for further ahead than might have been the case previously. Care homes – including how they are staffed and competition on quality – will have to cope with an increase in demand as the number of pensioners in Northern Ireland is growing (+2%) at three times the rate of the number of children, with some areas such as North Down and Ards where over 1 in 5 are aged over 65. With this population change, consideration too has to be given to our social housing sector. Northern Ireland’s housing associations need to adapt a period of change and residential development and stock transfer arrangements are all means by which they can consider expanding their provision while coping with changes to their unique regulatory environment, with its exposure to both public and private sector pressures.
The agri-food sector perhaps more than most has upheaval built into its model. While all businesses need to consider the outworkings of Brexit, currency, cross-border trade and degrees of competition from external markets, these factors are significantly concentrated in our local food & drink industries. With only a limited number of Single Farm payments left, agri-producers will need to be alive to how that is replaced and managed as a source of farm income. The core lesson across these sectors is, however, that just because change is coming that doesn’t make it unmanageable. At Ulster Bank, we’ve recently launched Boost, our programme of events and insight to support Northern Ireland’s smallest businesses to complement the work that we’ve long done with Entrepreneurial Spark in building emerging entrepreneurial talent. Yet that kind of culture and drive is something that cuts through at every level and I enjoy leading a team that provides meaningful help to those operating right at the top of the scale across Northern Ireland. ■
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What I’m really thinking One of the chief executives of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies reveals what they really think about doing business in the current environment, confidentially of course
oliticians – can’t live with them, can’t completely ignore them.
If there is one part of this job which frustrates me more than any other it’s the fact that we have to try and run a multi-million pound business employing thousands of people while being held back by our elected representatives. I don’t just mean the lot up on the hill at Stormont – they’re beyond help as far as I can see – but also the clowns in Westminster who have not only dropped us in this Brexit mess but have managed to fudge the manner in which we will leave the European Union. With their attention focused on Brexit, wood pellets and maintaining a pig headed approach to life which would see you out of a job within a week in the private sector, they have failed to address some of the biggest issues which are impacting the day-to-day operation of my business.
example of a political pothole which won’t be filled until heads are cracked together. As a large employer – that means we have a wage bill larger than £3m a year, which we certainly do - we have been paying a 0.5% tax since April this year. The principles of the Apprenticeship Levy aren’t completely bonkers, like many other schemes which we’ve been forced to implement, but the implementation of this one has been such a cack-handed pieces of administration it would have been thrown out of the script for Yes Prime Minister for being too ridiculous. The ridiculousness stems from the fact that while we are paying the levy, there hasn’t been the slightest hint as to how we’ll see it back again.
This column doesn’t afford me the space to explain to you in full the daily travails but here’s just a flavour.
By rights we should be able to take advantage of training paid for by the levy to enrich our workforce but because of political inaction we are left with nothing but a tax which goes to enrich government’s pockets, not the industry it was intended to help.
The Apprenticeship Levy is the shining
Margins in our own sector are getting slimmer
and we, and many of our peers, can’t afford to through good money after, well nothing, just to fund some hair brained scheme which doesn’t look as if it will ever get up and running. It is doing irreparable damage to large employers here by stunting the development of tomorrow’s workforce and could be the straw that broke the camel’s back when large inward investors are thinking about their future here in the wake of Brexit. And that’s not to speak of the apprentices themselves, left in limbo because of ineptitude of a political class more worried about instant headlines than long-term policies which work for the good of the economy and society. So there, that’s my starter for ten. Were my name attached to this column you would have read a much more watered down piece of copy but I couldn’t put my name to it for fear of facing the wrath of the politicians I unfortunately have to depend on. It shouldn’t be that way but it is. I call on them to stop acting like children and start governing like the statesmen and women which they’re meant to be. ■
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NI property market showing signs of greater Brexpectations By David McClure, Director, Osborne King Commercial Property Consultants
here can be little doubt that the impact of last June’s ‘Brexit’ vote had a sobering and defining impact on the local property market. Arguably, the past 12 months have been the most challenging within the post-recessionary climate, as initial uncertainty became anxiety and finally fear, as our local political institutions inevitably collapsed just when we needed them most. Hardly tempting ingredients for Northern Ireland: now throw in a splash of Trump, a dash of May and suddenly a real recipe for disaster is created… or is it? However, Northern Ireland is nothing if not resilient; after all one way or another we’ve had to deal with political uncertainty for a generation (and longer). The simple reality is that ‘life must go on’ and what has emerged over the past year is a talented and aggressive pool of local entrepreneurs keen to invest in property and to support our fragile local market. Friday, 23rd June, 2017, marked Osborne King’s largest property auction for a decade resulting in over £11.5m of commercial property, land and residential product sold prior to or on the day of auction, reflecting an overall success rate of 89% which is comfortably in excess of industry standards. The mix of property was also encouraging ranging from office investments to land with asking prices in the millions transacting on the day. Is this a shameless plug for OK I hear you cry? No, not a bit of it! It’s merely much-needed evidence of significant life in our market, life created from within by cash-rich, indigenous investors not prepared to sit back and wait to see what happens. In fact Osborne King has sold over £30m worth of commercial investment product in the post-Brexit period
to such buyers, with a further c.£30m worth of investments currently in contract and due to complete in Q3 2017. On an even more encouraging note, these individuals will presumably be buoyed by the promise of Westminster’s £1bn windfall and the prospect of much-needed infrastructure investment. Adding to a more optimistic picture, office take-up appears to have rallied in the past quarter with Q2 figures showing a dramatic increase on the previous period. It should, however, be noted that around two thirds of the 150,000 sqft of letting space reported relates to a single transaction, but even allowing for this the numbers show a marked increase from less than 20,000 sqft in Q1 2017. Grade A Office rents continue on an upward trend with clear market evidence of rents being recorded that exceed £20.00 per sqft on a headline basis.
There is positivity too in the retail market, as traditional retailers and food and beverage operators compete for limited available space particularly in Belfast. The influx of brands such as Stradivarius, Sostrene Grene, Skechers and Hotel Chocolat has refreshed the retail offer while Patisserie Valerie, Freshii, Costa Coffee, and several local F&B operators have moved to secure units within the traditional retail core. Rents have recovered well within this context and we expect steady growth to continue in the short/medium term. Arguably it would appear that once again our irrepressible nature is trumping uncertainty (no pun intended), and provided we continue to concentrate on supporting our indigenous players there is every reason for optimism as we move into the second half of the year. ■
Property advice, with a little more bite. Independent thinking for the smarter investor.
NI CEOs will disrupt to grow, says KPMG report A
new survey of CEOs in Northern Ireland has found that 84% expect major disruption in their sector as a result of technological innovation. KPMG’s CEO Outlook for 2017 offers insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by Northern Ireland CEOs and more than 1,200 of their peers from around the world. Johnny Hanna, Partner and Head of Tax, explained: “Our CEO Outlook 2017 provides perspectives around the new waves of uncertainty that are compelling our CEOs to think in fresh ways about the disruptive forces impacting their businesses – such as the increasing risks and opportunities presented by technology, and the uncertainty created by Brexit. “Those who are really leading the market are those who see disruption as opportunity to transform their business products, embrace technological innovation and re-shape their business by way of building sustainable growth and success.” All Northern Ireland CEOs surveyed said they want their own business to be a disruptor in their sector. 16% believe that disruption in their sector will eliminate or weaken traditional leaders. When questioned about cyber security, three quarters (76%) of NI CEOs suggested that security prompts innovation in products and services, with almost all (96% seeing investment in cyber security as an opportunity to find new revenue streams and innovate, rather than as an overhead cost. 20% of
NI respondents said that their company is fully prepared for a cyber event, with the remaining 80% claiming to be ‘somewhat prepared’.
management team to better understand geopolitical risk.
Mr Hanna commented: “Cyber security remains very much top of mind. We see strong signals that many CEOs are moving beyond a generic view of cyber risk and are developing risk, resilience and mitigation plans in the parts of their business that could be most seriously affected.”
Mr Hanna said more clarity is needed when it comes to Brexit: “Many NI CEOs are frustrated that there is currently no coherent plan in relation to Northern Ireland and Brexit. However, it is encouraging to note respondents’ ‘getting on with business’ approach to current uncertainties, with many anticipating opportunities from Brexit as well as challenges.”
80 per cent of NI CEOs surveyed agree or strongly agree that political uncertainty is having a greater impact on their business than previously seen. All NI respondents said they are ramping up their scenario planning to plot a course through uncertain waters, with almost two thirds (63%) planning on recruiting new skills/specialists into their
According to the report, Northern Ireland CEOs are less confident than their ROI counterparts about growth prospects for the global economy over the next three years, but are more confident when it comes to the growth prospects for NI, their own companies and the industries in which they operate.
Angela McGowan, Director, CBI Northern Ireland, and Johnny Hanna, Partner and Head of Tax, KPMG in Northern Ireland
CEOs are continuing to keep focused on their core strengths while also transforming the way they create value for their business. Trust and brand value are increasingly important in this time of disruption, with almost nine out of ten (88%) stating that building trust across external stakeholders is among the top three priorities of their organisation. Commenting on the report, Angela McGowan, director of the CBI in Northern Ireland, said: “KPMG’s report raises many interesting issues. Despite the challenges and disruption from a range of factors, however, the clear majority of business leaders are determined to ensure that their companies will adapt and succeed. Indeed, across Northern Ireland today many firms are growing at a very healthy level and these companies have ambitious plans for further expansion. ■
Angela McGowan, Regional Director, CBI Northern Ireland
and other countries when they still have full tariff-free access to those markets.
To strengthen our chances of success we need a strong voice for Northern Ireland in the months ahead. The CBI has been working hard on getting the message from local businesses into both Westminster and Europe through our London and Brussels offices.
Over and above these challenges we cannot forget about long term structural issues such as re-balancing the economy, addressing educational output, tackling youth unemployment and underinvestment in infrastructure.
But to ensure that the UK’s Brexit negotiators take full account of Northern Ireland’s unique situation, we need our devolved government up and running.
ccess to both skills and nearby markets are very real challenges looming on the horizon for Northern Ireland CEOs.
However, we should also remember that while challenges exist, so too do opportunities. Interest rates remain supportive for CEOs to invest and firms should also be exploiting the weak pound to sell more into Europe
When the business community and a Northern Ireland Executive raise their voice in tandem around these important issues – the impact will be infinitely more powerful. Ultimately, it is only through business and government working collaboratively that we can deliver the best economic outcome for Northern Ireland. ■
Tips for the top By Johnny Hanna, Partner, at KPMG
orthern Ireland’s chief executives are incredibly driven, innovative and resilient.
That view has been reinforced in KPMG’s CEO Outlook, a survey which has also given an intriguing insight into how the bosses of some of our most influential companies are overcoming challenges and planning for an ever-changing future. One of the most important qualities they are exhibiting is an ability to continually adapt to the increasingly uncertain environment in which their businesses are operating (across all sectors) and meet the challenges which appear. But aside from being able to flex, what else are they doing to drive their companies forward? What tips can be gleaned from the CEOs we spoke to?
ANTICIPATE DISRUPTION BUT AIM TO BE THE DISRUPTOR The CEOs surveyed saw the risk of disruption from technological innovation as an opportunity for their businesses to transform and grow. It has forced them to take a step back from their businesses and assess where they stand relative to their traditional competitors, and also potential new “disruptive” competitors within their market sector. They realise standing still is not an option so every CEO out there should be considering how they can not only avoid being disrupted, but also how they can themselves be the disruptor. You only need to take a look at leading companies such as Moy Park, Dunbia and First Derivatives and to see how they successfully embrace disruption.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS It sounds trite, but take time for personal reflection. The survey shows that the best CEOs out there are able to recognise the limits of their own capabilities and that of their senior team and take actions to improve and grow. That can mean bringing new
expertise into the company or enhancing their own skillsets through further training. CEOs can’t afford to rest on their laurels and need to constantly improve themselves and the business as a whole to make sure the business continues to fire on all cylinders. Interestingly all NI CEOs in the survey said they were more open to new influences than at any other point in their career and many had undergone training and/or gained new qualifications. It can be difficult to admit to “areas for improvement” but the benefits to the business in the long run will be worth it.
BE VIRUS READY Cyber security poses a major challenge to companies of all sizes and in every region. Our survey shows that CEOs are fully aware of the danger but many are not doing enough about it. Only 20% of CEOs in Northern Ireland said they are fully prepared for cyber risk despite the headline grabbing attacks such as WannaCry and others which have caused millions of pounds of damage. However there has been a shift in attitudes over the last few years when it was seen as an IT problem rather than an important issue from the CEOs perspective. In addition the introduction of new data protection requirements for all EU based companies from May 2018 is also driving change. It will impact all EU companies who hold any sort of personal data – customer, supplier and employee data. Companies who fail to comply could face fines.
STAY FOCUSED You don’t need me to tell you that companies are having to operate in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world. Brexit concerns, the continuing stalemate at Stormont and a US administration seemingly intent on pursuing a more protectionist strategy means there are plenty of distractions when trying to run a business. Our survey shows the best CEOs make sure they don’t get distracted by that “noise” and instead focus on the day job of running their businesses, protecting and growing their market share and looking after
their employees. Instead of worrying about geopolitical factors which they can’t control, they stay focused on those operational and strategic areas which are within their influence.
ATTRACT AND NURTURE DISRUPTIVE TALENT If you really want your company to be a disruptor, you probably aren’t going to be able to do it on your own. To break into new markets, create new technology, identify trends and develop new products will require talented employees who can do just that. Those types of people – often well-qualified and mobile “techies” – are in high demand and the competition is fierce. It is essential that your company is offering the right type of environment to tempt them in. That doesn’t just mean a competitive package (attractive salary and perhaps incentive arrangements) but also flexible working hours, and possibly also a more flexible/different working environment than might currently be the norm within the business. Another option may be to seek out possible collaboration with other “specialist” companies. For companies in Northern Ireland, it is worth pointing out that not only is our cost-of-living low, but our personal taxation regime is very attractive relative to many other countries.
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR DATA Most CEOs recognise the significant value of the data which they have picked up through interaction with their customers and suppliers, but what they’re not good at is analysing and using that data. Make sure you take time (and if need be invest in the appropriate resources and expertise) to analyse and translate your data into actionable insights, so as to identify patterns, trends, and behaviours which might give you better visability into likely future customer and market behaviours. That way you will be much better placed to be the disruptor rather than the disrupted! ■
TOP 100 ANALYSIS
Bumper year sees turnover and profit jump Jonathan Cushley, who compiled the Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies list using Dun and Bradstreet data, analyses the numbers
he 28th compilation of the Ulster Business Top 100 listing provides an exceptionally positive view of the year-on-year performance of the province’s major businesses.
Top 100 Turnover
This year’s figures reveal a small increase in turnover combined with a strong increase in both profitability and shareholder value. The Ulster Business Top 100 incorporates the results of Northern Ireland-based companies – either Northern Ireland registered, headquartered or where a significant proportion of business is transacted through the province. In the vast majority of cases the figures used in compiling the listing
4000 Turnover (£b)
Top 100 Profit 1400 1200 1000 800 Profit (m)
600 400 200 0 2012
TOP 100 ANALYSIS
Top 10 Most Profitable Companies
Profit Margin (%)
Top 100 Rank
NI Electricity Networks
Power Energy NI
Ulster Business Top 100 increased by 1.5% to
Top 100 Turnover £23.3bn from £22.9bn.
15 10 5
correspond to filed results from either 2016 or late 2015 financial year end.
2017 has seen a degree of fluidity within the Top 10 companies which hasn’t been replicated in recent years. W&R Barnett has moved up a spot from three to two in the current listing – it is a holding company for a diversified group of international commodity Turnover trading, storage, agri and industrial (£b) businesses and showed significant sales growth of 16% to £946m. Gortmullan Holdings (formerly Sean Quinn Group) has dropped out of the listing completely with the board commencing the majority of its business 2014 the winding 2015 up of 2016
Top 100 Profit 1400
Since the inception of the Top 100 listing in 1989, turnover has been used as the key identifier of performance. However, golfers out there will be well aware of the phrase “Drive for show, putt for dough”, therefore we will also review the companies within the Top 100 listing which generate the largest profits and those which generate the most shareholder value, also known as net worth.
1200 1000 800 Profit (m)
600 400 200
TOP 100 PERFORMANCE TURNOVER Sales within the companies listed in the 2017
7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0
TOP 100 ANALYSIS
interests during the financial year ending December 2015. LCC Group Ltd (rising from 13 to eight) and John Graham (Holdings) Ltd (rising from 14 to 10). Both enter the Top 10 for the first time. Moy Park Ltd continues to retain top spot posting sales of £1.437bn for the year ending December 2016.
increase of 1.3%, the star performance has come with the significantly increased profit figure. Comparing this year’s Top 100 companies’ year-on-year performance shows an impressive 16% increase in profits from £804m to £932.7m. This represents an increase in profit margin (defined as sales/pre tax profit), across the 100 companies to 4.00% from 3.5%.
PROFITABILITY Whilst the turnover performance of the Top 100 Companies showed a welcome
The strongest profit performing company Northern Ireland Water Ltd produced profits
Top 100 Shareholder Value 8000 7000 6000
of £99.1m on a turnover of £413.5m, a performance which produces a pre tax profit margin of nearly 24%. The company with the highest profit margin within the listing is once again The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd which declared profits of around 30m against an annual turnover figure of £75.6m – this results in a margin of 39.7%. Interestingly, 17 of the Top 100 companies actually declared a loss for the last year’s trading, one which reduced the Top 100 profitability. In the current Top 100, profit per employee has increased to £9,883 (Pre Tax Profit/ Number of Employees). During their last financial year the companies within the listing employed 94,364 staff. Sales per employee currently sit at £246,566.
5000 4000 Turnover (£b)
Shareholder Value (£b)
The final measure of a company’s success is value to shareholders. In its simplest form this is calculated as the shareholders’ funds (issued capital) + retained profits – intangible assets.
2000 1000 0 2011
NET WORTH (SHAREHOLDER RETURN)
The value of the 2017 Top 100 Companies to their shareholders has increased significantly
Shareholder Value (£b)
3000 2000 1000
TOP 100 ANALYSIS
Co Antrim Co Armagh
Belfast Co Down Co Fermanagh Co L’derry
from £5.7bn to £6.4bn, an increase of some 11.2%.
Analytical Platform and the UK Companies Registry Office.
A total of 11 of the companies showed negative tangible net worth in their latest filed accounts.
1. Both Short Brothers PLC (5) & Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd (21) file accounts in $US, to allow fair comparison both companies figures have been converted to £UK at the close of business conversion rate at their corresponding Financial Year End. 2. Golf Holdings Ltd, which owns James E
The shareholders return for the Top 100 businesses equates to profit/net worth as a percentage – 14.04% comparable to the prior year figure of 14.11%.
McCabe Ltd (68) and Philip Russell Ltd (83), does not file consolidated accounts, therefore both subsidiaries are included. 3. Musgrave Distribution Ltd (69) & Musgrave Retail Partners (NI) Ltd (30) are separate legal entities filing individual Northern Ireland accounts. 4. AES Ballylumford Ltd (62) & AES Kilroot Power Ltd (61) are also separate legal entities filing individual Northern Ireland accounts. 5. Cranswick Country Foods (92) – formerly Dunbia (Ballymena) and acquired by Cranswick PLC. 6. During the compilation of text 2017 refers to the current Top 100, mention of 2016 as a period relates to the comparative financial results of the 2017 Top 100 Companies.
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Inventory turnover defined as the turnoverto-net worth – which indicates the total worth of sales generated for each pound of investment – sits at a ratio of 3.6 compared to a prior year ratio of 4.
LOCATION Since the inception of the Top 100 we have periodically reviewed the Northern Ireland business location for the included companies. As would be expected, Belfast remains the main hub for the Top businesses with the East Coast of the province accounting for 72% of businesses.
NOTES In certain instances comparisons have been made with other Top 100 editions. These comparisons will include results for companies that are not included in the current Top 100 Listing – this is due to fluidity of financial performance. A date of 30/06/17 has been used as a cut off for the inclusion of results within the Top 100 Listing. Data has been provided by a combination of D&B’s Hoover’s Market
MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC ENERGY LTD COOLKEERAGH ESB LTD LAMEX FOODS EUROPE (N.I.) LTD CHAIN REACTION CYCLES LTD WESTLAND HORTICULTURE LTD DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) LTD SONI LTD GILBERT-ASH LTD CARNBANE HOUSE LTD CAPITA MANAGED IT SOLUTIONS LTD FIRMUS ENERGY (SUPPLY) LTD AES KILROOT POWER LTD AES BALLYLUMFORD LTD BRETT MARTIN LTD LYNAS FOODSERVICE LTD TMC DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD KINGSPAN ENVIRONMENTAL LTD RANDOX HOLDINGS LTD JAMES E. MCCABE LTD MUSGRAVE DISTRIBUTION LTD CREATION CONSUMER FINANCE LTD ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND LTD HALDANE SHIELLS AND COMPANY LTD A H FUEL OILS LTD MONTUPET (U.K.) LTD GARDRUM HOLDINGS LTD LAKELAND DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD CLEARWAY HOLDINGS LTD MACNAUGHTON BLAIR LTD D. SHANNON STEWART LTD AGNEW COMMERCIALS LTD CREAGH CONCRETE PRODUCTS LTD MAGIR LTD PHILIP RUSSELL LTD COONEEN BY DESIGN LTD INSPIRED BUSINESS INVESTMENTS LTD THE OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY COMPANY LTD R & H HALL TRADING LTD RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK) LTD WIRELESS GROUP LTD DIAGEO GLOBAL SUPPLY IBC LTD CRANSWICK COUNTRY FOODS (BALLYMENA) BALCAS TIMBER LTD SEVERFIELD (NI) LTD VAUGHAN ENGINEERING GROUP LTD MUTUAL ENERGY LTD MCCLOSKEY INTERNATIONAL LTD GE GRID SOLUTIONS (UK) LTD HARLAND & WOLFF GROUP PLC HOWDEN UK LTD MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC ENERGY LTD COOLKEERAGH ESB LTD LAMEX FOODS EUROPE (N.I.) LTD CHAIN REACTION CYCLES LTD WESTLAND HORTICULTURE LTD DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) LTD SONI LTD GILBERT-ASH LTD CARNBANE HOUSE LTD CAPITA MANAGED IT SOLUTIONS LTD FIRMUS ENERGY (SUPPLY) LTD AES KILROOT POWER LTD AES BALLYLUMFORD LTD BRETT MARTIN LTD LYNAS FOODSERVICE LTD TMC DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD KINGSPAN ENVIRONMENTAL LTD RANDOX HOLDINGS LTD JAMES E. MCCABE LTD MUSGRAVE DISTRIBUTION LTD CREATION CONSUMER FINANCE LTD ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND LTD HALDANE SHIELLS AND COMPANY LTD A H FUEL OILS LTD MONTUPET (U.K.) LTD GARDRUM HOLDINGS LTD LAKELAND DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD CLEARWAY HOLDINGS LTD MACNAUGHTON BLAIR LTD D. SHANNON STEWART LTD AGNEW COMMERCIALS LTD CREAGH CONCRETE PRODUCTS LTD MAGIR LTD PHILIP RUSSELL LTD COONEEN BY DESIGN LTD INSPIRED BUSINESS INVESTMENTS LTD THE OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY COMPANY LTD R & H HALL TRADING LTD RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK) LTD WIRELESS GROUP LTD DIAGEO GLOBAL SUPPLY IBC LTD CRANSWICK COUNTRY FOODS (BALLYMENA) BALCAS TIMBER LTD SEVERFIELD (NI) LTD VAUGHAN ENGINEERING GROUP LTD MUTUAL ENERGY LTD MCCLOSKEY INTERNATIONAL LTD GE GRID SOLUTIONS (UK) LTD HARLAND & WOLFF GROUP PLC HOWDEN UK LTD MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC ENERGY LTD COOLKEERAGH ESB LTD LAMEX FOODS EUROPE (N.I.) LTD CHAIN REACTION CYCLES LTD WESTLAND HORTICULTURE LTD DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) LTD SONI LTD GILBERT-ASH LTD CARNBANE HOUSE LTD CAPITA MANAGED IT SOLUTIONS LTD FIRMUS ENERGY (SUPPLY) LTD AES KILROOT POWER LTD AES BALLYLUMFORD LTD BRETT MARTIN LTD LYNAS FOODSERVICE LTD TMC DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD KINGSPAN ENVIRONMENTAL LTD RANDOX HOLDINGS LTD JAMES E. MCCABE LTD MUSGRAVE DISTRIBUTION LTD CREATION CONSUMER FINANCE LTD ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND LTD HALDANE SHIELLS AND COMPANY LTD A H FUEL OILS LTD MONTUPET (U.K.) LTD GARDRUM HOLDINGS LTD LAKELAND DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD CLEARWAY HOLDINGS LTD MACNAUGHTON BLAIR LTD D. SHANNON STEWART LTD AGNEW COMMERCIALS LTD CREAGH CONCRETE PRODUCTS LTD MAGIR LTD PHILIP RUSSELL LTD COONEEN BY DESIGN LTD INSPIRED BUSINESS INVESTMENTS LTD THE OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY COMPANY LTD R & H HALL TRADING LTD RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK) LTD WIRELESS GROUP LTD DIAGEO GLOBAL SUPPLY IBC LTD CRANSWICK COUNTRY FOODS (BALLYMENA) BALCAS TIMBER LTD SEVERFIELD (NI) LTD VAUGHAN ENGINEERING GROUP LTD MUTUAL ENERGY LTD MCCLOSKEY INTERNATIONAL LTD GE GRID SOLUTIONS (UK) LTD HARLAND & WOLFF GROUP PLC HOWDEN UK LTD MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC ENERGY LTD COOLKEERAGH ESB LTD LAMEX FOODS EUROPE (N.I.) LTD CHAIN REACTION CYCLES LTD WESTLAND HORTICULTURE LTD DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) LTD SONI LTD GILBERT-ASH LTD CARNBANE HOUSE LTD CAPITA MANAGED IT SOLUTIONS LTD FIRMUS ENERGY (SUPPLY) LTD AES KILROOT POWER LTD AES BALLYLUMFORD LTD BRETT MARTIN LTD LYNAS FOODSERVICE LTD TMC DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD KINGSPAN ENVIRONMENTAL LTD RANDOX HOLDINGS LTD JAMES E. MCCABE LTD MUSGRAVE DISTRIBUTION LTD CREATION CONSUMER FINANCE LTD ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND LTD HALDANE SHIELLS AND COMPANY LTD A H FUEL OILS LTD MONTUPET (U.K.) LTD GARDRUM HOLDINGS LTD LAKELAND DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD CLEARWAY HOLDINGS LTD MACNAUGHTON BLAIR LTD D. SHANNON STEWART LTD AGNEW COMMERCIALS LTD CREAGH CONCRETE PRODUCTS LTD MAGIR LTD PHILIP RUSSELL LTD COONEEN BY DESIGN LTD INSPIRED BUSINESS INVESTMENTS LTD THE OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY COMPANY LTD R & H HALL TRADING LTD RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK) LTD WIRELESS GROUP LTD DIAGEO GLOBAL SUPPLY IBC LTD CRANSWICK COUNTRY FOODS (BALLYMENA) BALCAS TIMBER LTD SEVERFIELD (NI) LTD VAUGHAN ENGINEERING GROUP LTD MUTUAL ENERGY LTD MCCLOSKEY INTERNATIONAL LTD GE GRID SOLUTIONS (UK) LTD HARLAND & WOLFF GROUP PLC HOWDEN UK LTD MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC ENERGY LTD COOLKEERAGH ESB LTD LAMEX FOODS EUROPE (N.I.) LTD CHAIN REACTION CYCLES LTD WESTLAND HORTICULTURE LTD DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) LTD SONI LTD GILBERT-ASH LTD CARNBANE HOUSE LTD CAPITA MANAGED IT SOLUTIONS LTD FIRMUS ENERGY (SUPPLY) LTD AES KILROOT POWER LTD AES BALLYLUMFORD LTD BRETT MARTIN LTD LYNAS FOODSERVICE LTD TMC DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD KINGSPAN ENVIRONMENTAL LTD RANDOX HOLDINGS LTD JAMES E. MCCABE LTD MUSGRAVE DISTRIBUTION LTD CREATION CONSUMER FINANCE LTD ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND LTD HALDANE SHIELLS AND COMPANY LTD A H FUEL OILS LTD MONTUPET (U.K.) LTD GARDRUM HOLDINGS LTD LAKELAND DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD CLEARWAY HOLDINGS LTD MACNAUGHTON BLAIR LTD D. SHANNON STEWART LTD AGNEW COMMERCIALS LTD CREAGH CONCRETE PRODUCTS LTD MAGIR LTD PHILIP RUSSELL LTD COONEEN BY DESIGN LTD INSPIRED BUSINESS INVESTMENTS LTD THE OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY COMPANY LTD R & H HALL TRADING LTD RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK) LTD WIRELESS GROUP LTD DIAGEO GLOBAL SUPPLY IBC LTD CRANSWICK COUNTRY FOODS (BALLYMENA) BALCAS TIMBER LTD SEVERFIELD (NI) LTD VAUGHAN ENGINEERING GROUP LTD MUTUAL ENERGY LTD MCCLOSKEY INTERNATIONAL LTD GE GRID SOLUTIONS (UK) LTD HARLAND & WOLFF GROUP PLC HOWDEN UK LTD MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC ENERGY LTD COOLKEERAGH ESB LTD LAMEX FOODS EUROPE (N.I.) LTD CHAIN REACTION CYCLES LTD WESTLAND HORTICULTURE LTD DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) LTD SONI LTD GILBERT-ASH LTD CARNBANE HOUSE LTD CAPITA MANAGED IT SOLUTIONS LTD FIRMUS ENERGY (SUPPLY) LTD AES KILROOT POWER LTD AES BALLYLUMFORD LTD BRETT MARTIN LTD LYNAS FOODSERVICE LTD TMC DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD KINGSPAN ENVIRONMENTAL LTD RANDOX HOLDINGS LTD JAMES E. MCCABE LTD MUSGRAVE DISTRIBUTION LTD CREATION CONSUMER FINANCE LTD ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND LTD HALDANE SHIELLS AND COMPANY LTD A H FUEL OILS LTD MONTUPET (U.K.) LTD GARDRUM HOLDINGS LTD LAKELAND DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD CLEARWAY HOLDINGS LTD MACNAUGHTON BLAIR LTD D. SHANNON STEWART LTD AGNEW COMMERCIALS LTD CREAGH CONCRETE PRODUCTS LTD MAGIR LTD PHILIP RUSSELL LTD COONEEN BY DESIGN LTD INSPIRED BUSINESS INVESTMENTS LTD THE OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY COMPANY LTD R & H HALL TRADING LTD RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK) LTD WIRELESS GROUP LTD DIAGEO GLOBAL SUPPLY IBC LTD CRANSWICK COUNTRY FOODS (BALLYMENA) BALCAS TIMBER LTD SEVERFIELD (NI) LTD VAUGHAN ENGINEERING GROUP LTD MUTUAL ENERGY LTD MCCLOSKEY INTERNATIONAL LTD GE GRID SOLUTIONS (UK) LTD HARLAND & WOLFF GROUP PLC HOWDEN UK LTD MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC ENERGY LTD COOLKEERAGH ESB LTD LAMEX FOODS EUROPE (N.I.) LTD CHAIN REACTION CYCLES LTD WESTLAND HORTICULTURE LTD DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) LTD SONI LTD GILBERT-ASH LTD CARNBANE HOUSE LTD CAPITA MANAGED IT SOLUTIONS LTD FIRMUS ENERGY (SUPPLY) LTD AES KILROOT POWER LTD AES BALLYLUMFORD LTD BRETT MARTIN LTD LYNAS FOODSERVICE LTD TMC DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD KINGSPAN ENVIRONMENTAL LTD RANDOX HOLDINGS LTD JAMES E. MCCABE LTD MUSGRAVE DISTRIBUTION LTD CREATION CONSUMER FINANCE LTD ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND LTD HALDANE SHIELLS AND COMPANY LTD A H FUEL OILS LTD MONTUPET (U.K.) LTD GARDRUM HOLDINGS LTD LAKELAND DAIRIES (N.I.) LTD CLEARWAY HOLDINGS LTD MACNAUGHTON BLAIR LTD D. SHANNON STEWART LTD AGNEW COMMERCIALS LTD CREAGH CONCRETE PRODUCTS LTD MAGIR LTD PHILIP RUSSELL LTD COONEEN BY DESIGN LTD INSPIRED BUSINESS INVESTMENTS LTD THE OLD BUSHMILLS DISTILLERY COMPANY LTD R & H HALL TRADING LTD RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK) LTD WIRELESS GROUP LTD DIAGEO GLOBAL SUPPLY IBC LTD CRANSWICK COUNTRY FOODS (BALLYMENA) BALCAS TIMBER LTD SEVERFIELD (NI) LTD VAUGHAN ENGINEERING GROUP LTD MUTUAL ENERGY LTD MCCLOSKEY INTERNATIONAL LTD GE GRID SOLUTIONS (UK) LTD HARLAND & WOLFF GROUP PLC HOWDEN UK LTD MOY PARK LTD W&R BARNETT LTDDUNBIA LTD GLEN ELECTRIC LTD SHORT BROTHERS PLC JOHN HENDERSON (HOLDINGS) LTD BALLYVESEY HOLDINGS LTD LCC GROUP LTD CATERPILLAR (NI) LTD JOHN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LTD CHARLES HURST LTD POWER NI ENERGY LTD FANE VALLEY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD ALMAC GROUP LTD MCLAUGHLIN & HARVEY HOLDINGS LTD NORTHERN IRELAND WATER LTD TEREX GB LTD SHS GROUP LTD P&O FERRYMASTERS LTD DALE FARM CO-OPERATIVE LTD QUALCOMM TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL LTD SCHRADER ELECTRONICS LTD FIDESSA GROUP PLC QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST FAUGHAN LTD DONNELLY BROS. GARAGES (DUNGANNON) LTD CORNERSTONE GROUP LIMITED - THE NORTHSTONE (NI) LTD ISAAC AGNEW LTD MUSGRAVE RETAIL PARTNERS NI LTD NORTHERN IRELAND ELECTRICITY NETWORKS LTD ENCIRC LTD NORBROOK HOLDINGS LTD SSE AIRTRICITY ENERGY SUPPLY (NI) LTD FP MCCANN LTD LAGAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP HOLDINGS LTD NICHOLLS’(FUEL OILS) LTD NORTHERN IRELAND TRANSPORT HOLDING COMPANY SANGERS (NORTHERN IRELAND) LTD RETLAN MANUFACTURING LTD THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER TRENCH HOLDINGS LTD TOPAZ ENERGY LTD VIRIDIAN ENERGY SUPPLY LTD COCA-COLA HBC NORTHERN IRELAND LTD TAYTO GROUP LTD MAXOL OIL LTD FIRST DERIVATIVES PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY DEVENISH (NI) LTD GREENFIELDS IRELAND HOLDINGS LTD DCC
The Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies 2017
Profiles: Photography by Elaine Hill Words by David Elliott
TOP 100 COMPANIES 1-20
Poultry & Meat Processors
W.& R. Barnett Grain Importer
Dunbia Meat Processors
Glen Electric Electrical Appliance Manufacturers
Shorts Brothers Aerospace Manufacturers
John Henderson (Holdings) Food Wholesaler & Retailer
Ballyvesey (Montgomery Transport) Commercial Vehicles
LCC Group Ltd Fuel Wholesalers
Caterpillar NI Generator Manufacturers
John Graham Holdings Ltd Construction
Charles Hurst Ltd Motor Retailers
Power NI Energy Electricity Supplier
Fane Valley Co-operative Society Dairy Producers
Almac Group Ltd Pharmaceutical Manufacturer
McLaughlin & Harvey Construction
Northern Ireland Water Ltd Utility
Terex GB Ltd Engineering
SHS Group Ltd Wholesaler
P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Freight Transporters
Dale Farm Co-Operative Ltd Dairy Processor (prev United Dairy Farmers)
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 44
TOP 100 COMPANIES 21-40
Schrader Electronics Ltd Tyre Pressure Gauge Manufacturer
Fidessa Group Plc Financial Software
Queen's University Belfast University
Faughan Ltd (Foyle Meats) Meat Processor
Donnelly Bros. Garages Motor Retailers
Wrightbus (Cornerstone Group) Bus Manufacturer
Northstone (NI) Builders
Isaac Agnew Motor Distributor
Musgrave Retail Partners NI Food Wholesaler
NI Electricity Networks Electricity Generation
Encirc Ltd Glass Manufacturer
Norbrook Holdings Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
SSE Airtricity Energy Supply NI Electricity Generation
FP McCann Concrete Engineers
Lagan Construction Group Holdings Builders
Nicholl Oils Fuel Distributors
Northern Ireland Transport Hldg Co Public Transport
Sangers Northern Ireland Pharmaceutical Distribution
Retlan Manufacturing (SDC) Lorry Trailer Manufacturers
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 AUGUST 2017
TOP 100 COMPANIES 41-60
University of Ulster
Trench Holdings Ltd Construction (McLaughlin & Harvey)
Topaz Energy Petrol Wholesaler
Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Electricity Utility
Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland Beverage Manufacturers
Tayto Group Ltd Snack Manufacturer
Maxol Oil Fuel Distribution
First Derivatives Financial Services Software
Devenish NI Animal Nutrition Manufacturers
Greenfields Ireland Dairy Produce Wholesalers
DCC Energy Petroleum Wholesaler
Coolkeeragh ESB Power Generator
Lamex Foods (Europe) NI Food Distributor
Chain Reaction Cycles Cycle Retailers
Westland Horticulture Garden Centres
Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Retailer
SONI Electricity Distributors
Gilbert-Ash (Ards Holdings) Construction
Carnbane House (O’Hare & McGovern) Builders
Capita Managed IT Solutions IT Systems
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 46
TOP 100 COMPANIES 61-80
Gas and Electricity Supplier
AES NI Limited Electricity Generation
AES Ballylumford Electricity Generation
Brett Martin Holdings Construction Suppliers
Lynas Foodservice Frozen Food Distributor
TMC Dairies NI Dairy Processor
Kingspan Environmental Building Suppliers
Randox Holdings Clinical Diagnostics Manufacturer
James E. McCabe Drinks Distributors
Musgrave Distribution Grocery Wholesaler
Creation Consumer Finance Consumer Finance
Allstate Northern Ireland Software Development
Haldane Shiells Building Product Distributor
A H Fuel Oils Fuel Distributors
Montupet (UK) Aluminium Motor Part Manufacturers
Gardrum (Euro Auctions) Auction Sales
Lakeland Dairies NI Dairy Processor
Clearway Holdings Waste & Scrap Recycling
MacNaughton Blair Construction Machine Distribution
D. Shannon Stewart (Gordons) Chemists
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 AUGUST 2017
TOP 100 COMPANIES 81-100
Commercial Motor Distributor
Creagh Concrete Products Concrete Manufacturer
Magir (Medicare Pharmacies) Pharmacy Operations
Philip Russell Drinks Distribution
Cooneen by Design Ltd Clothing Manufacturer
Inspired Business Investments Commercial Vehicle Sales & Rental
Old Bushmills Distillery Company Spirits Distributor
R&H Hall Trading Ltd Grain Importer
Ryobi Aluminium Casting (UK) Ltd Motor Part Manufacturer
Wireless Group (formerly UTV) Radio Producer
Diageo Global Supply IBC Drinks Manufacturer
Cranswick Country Foods (Ballymena) Meat Processor
Balcas Timber Manufacturer
Severfield (NI) Ltd Engineering (formerly Fisher Enginneering)
Vaughan Engineering Group Engineering
Mutual Energy Ltd Energy Infrastructure
McCloskey International Ltd Screening and Crushing Manufacturer
GE Grid Solutions (UK) Ltd Electricity Infrastructure
Harland & Wolff Group Heavy Engineering
Howden UK Fan & Heater Manufacturers
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 48
What does the Top 100 tell us? By David Elliott
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP
e rank the biggest companies in Northern Ireland by turnover.
Now, you might say revenue – to give it its other name and bring up an oft-repeated phrase - is vanity and profit is sanity, and you’d be right in most cases. But we want to highlight the companies which are contributing most to the Northern Ireland economy and the best insight to that is to use turnover as it brings to the surface those companies with large workforces and those which are spending money with companies on these shores. We include profit of the Top 100 too but were we to use that as our first marker we’d be showing off lots of companies who have profit centres here and don’t necessarily employ a lot of people or recycle money locally. So, with that in mind, we can be pretty happy that our bunch of 100 – some old, some new – are breaking new ground with a record performance of £23.3bn, a whopping £344mn more than last year.
Given the pressures which the business world was under last year – the run up to the EU Referendum vote, the aftermath of the vote and the gaping hole in local government leadership – that’s a pretty impressive performance. And if we take the profit figure for the Top 100, we can see that sanity is very firmly in place. Profit stood at £933m, a jump of £128m on the previous year. But it’s all relative. Back in 2007 turnover reached just £15.9bn, around £7bn less than this year, but profits were at £922m. Bear in mind that the 2007 period was reflecting an economy at the top of the biggest boom it had ever, and probably will ever see.
And the makeup of the Top 100 probably has a lot to do with the reduction in profit margin. Agri-food companies, and particularly processors, tend to have thinner margins.
MEAT, AND FEEDING ANIMALS, IS BIG BUSINESS IN NORTHERN IRELAND Moy Park is no chicken. It’s relentless focus on honing its offering, which doesn’t just centre around our feathered friends but other meat as well, has seen it maintain its place at the top of the tree for a seventh consecutive year. We’ve only been running the Top 100 list for 28 years but that is bound to be some sort of a record? Then there’s Dunbia, the red meat processor, which has barged its way into the top three over the last three years through aggressive organic growth, acquisition and now a joint venture with peer Dawn Meats. It hardly comes as a surprise that the company which
imports and processes feed for the animals which end up in those two processing giants is sandwiched in between them at number two.
A decade ago the state of the construction industry outside Northern Ireland wouldn’t have had such a big impact on our major construction companies.
W&R Barnett is a privately owned company which has been quietly in the Top 100 list for years but which has benefited from the growth of the food sector on the island of Ireland, as well as some canny management and acquisitions over the years.
Now, because they have been travelling the length and breadth of the island of Ireland, the UK and even Europe during the crisis, they’re reaping the rewards of a much healthier residential and commercial property market from Cobh to Inishowen, John O’Groats to Lands End.
THE BUILDERS ARE BACK, AND HOW For a few years in the wake of the financial crisis the big construction companies were dropping out of the Top 100 list at a rate of knots. Some, like Taggart Holdings and construction suppliers like Quinn Group who were big players in the list 10 years ago, dropped out for good but there were plenty who just drifted outside the 100 while adjusting to the new building world order. And now they’re back, refuelled by a resurgence in building activity in Northern Ireland and much further afield.
John Graham Holdings, profiled on the following pages, has made it into the top 10 while you don’t need to go much further down the list to see the likes of McLaughlin and Harvey, FP McCann, Lagan Construction, Gilbert Ash, O’Hare & McGovern as well as another run of construction supply companies. Oh yes, they’re back.
THOSE BOSSES GET WHERE THEY ARE FOR A REASON Compiling this magazine every year is always interesting. We get to profile a handful of the names on the list and in doing so end up in warehouses, factory floors, offices, the top of the highest commercial building in Ireland…you name it, we’ve got the high vis vest to prove it.
of industry are courteous and generous with their time, even though we’re asking them the same questions they’ve been asked a thousand times about Brexit, takeovers and how they like their staff. This year was no exception and we thanks those involved for their time and urge the rest of you – you know who you are – who “don’t like to put your head about the parapet” preferring instead to “just get on with doing what we do best” – to stop being so shy and do the same. We don’t bite and we’ll make sure you look good across two pages.
NOT ALL COMPANIES FILE TO OUR DEADLINES We try to bring you the latest possible financial data for the Top 100 but, no matter how late we leave the cut off period before we go to print ,we inevitably just miss the filing of one company’s accounts to Companies House, from where we extract the data. It can’t be helped as we have to draw the line somewhere but we can assure you this is the latest possible list you will be able to read. ■
While we’re there we try to take a picture of the boss, which you’ll see on the following pages, and steal 10 minutes of their time for a quick interview. It never fails to amaze us how nearly every one of those captains
hat Moy Park tops this year’s list once again won’t come as much of a surprise.
The food company – a description chief executive Janet McCollum uses for a business which has become much more than just a poultry firm – has been on an upward growth trajectory for some years now which shows no sign of stopping. Starting life from a farm in Moygashel in 1943, it stumbled across chicken meat production as a by- product of its egg business in those early days and hasn’t looked back since. It now processes 5.5m chickens a week (around 280m each year) through its facilities in Craigavon, the Republic, England, France and the Netherlands and, as well as fresh meat, sells ready-to-eat and pre-cooked meals, as well as breaded and frozen foods, many of which include other meats or are vegetarian. That added value side represents around 50% of sales while the fresh poultry side makes up the remainder and is an area of the business which has grown most over the last year. Ms McCollum said that was the result of a strategic focus to make the most of the
provenance and traceability of Moy Park’s chicken. That has helped grow turnover once again and leaves the company well ahead of its nearest rival when it comes to rankings in the Top 100 list. Pre-tax profits also rose, quadrupling in 2016 to £40.6m. The latter point was helped by what Ms McCollum described as “an unrelenting focus on cost control” which has sought to optimise its supply chain by taking out waste and growing efficiencies. All that has helped it not only achieve the top spot in the Ulster Business Top 100 but also a top ten ranking in a list of the UK and Ireland’s biggest food and drink companies. Innovation has played a big part in the journey to the top with the roast-in-the-bag technology proving particularly popular and, more recently, the launch of the Omega 3 chicken which has been developed in conjunction with another Top 100 company Moy Park. On the subject of Brexit, Moy Park was vocal in its support for remaining in the European Union but Ms McCollum maintains that the decision to leave hasn’t impacted its plans for Northern Ireland.
“Absolutely not; in fact we’re investing in Northern Ireland,” she said, adding that it has embarked on a £50m investment programme, much of which is being spent at plants in both Dungannon and Craigavon. And Ms McCollum maintains that plans by parent company JBS to divest assets such as Moy Park won’t impact the business’s future prosperity. “I’ve been privileged over the past 10 years to see how Moy Park has developed and grown considerably and during that time we’ve been part of several international businesses,” Ms McCollum said. “I have no doubt our success is due to the great strength of this business and the exceptional people and innovation. “I know those strengths will ensure our stability into the future as we embark on this new chapter of Moy Park’s journey. We’ve been here before and it’s very much business as usual.” “We’re hugely excited at being named the number one business in the Ulster Business Top 100 Company which is all down to our people. I’ve had the privilege of working in this business for 25 years and the passion and commitment of our people means I’m tremendously excited about the future.” ■
How to run a Top 100 company Brian Donaldson, chief executive of one of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies Maxol, gives us the low down on what it takes to run an organisation of that size What is the one key resource or skill needed to manage a Top 100 company? Leadership qualities and management of people go hand in hand and are essential in setting the direction and constructing the foundation for the overall culture of a company. Maxol is a fourth-generation business, owned by the McMullan family and in our almost 100 years, the pace of change over the last 5 years has been unprecedented with advances in technology and higher customer expectations. Seeing our business through the eyes of the customer has never been more important and creating a workplace culture centred around innovation and openness to change has been fundamental to the continuing success of Maxol. Is an entrepreneurial culture important and if so, how do you make sure it runs right through the company and doesn’t get muffled by risk aversion? Maxol have a Culture Steering Committee which was established to help change our working practices and to create a fully inclusive and respectful open culture. We have teams in place for each of our core pillars, Customer, Communication, Creativity, Partnership and People. Today, we run informal monthly Town Hall Meetings, sharing the latest company information on new developments, food franchises and discussing ideas. We are committed to upskilling our people, which we see as our core asset, creating career paths and progression through performance management is tremendously important to us. Competition can be fierce for big businesses such as yours. How do you stay ahead of the competition and remain relevant to the customer? At Maxol we conduct regular research, quantitative and qualitative, ensuring that we listen to our customers. We attend global conferences looking at changes within our sector and closely follow emerging technologies that may impact on the products and services we currently provide through our network of 234 service stations. Electric
Brian Donaldson, Maxol chief executive
vehicles are coming, along with car sharing and we need to be able to adapt and build a sustainable model for the future. Our Creativity Team is responsible for reporting to the Board each quarter on any disruptive and emerging technologies that may have an impact on the business, along with information on our traditional competitors, helping to keep us informed and in a positive position within the sector. Change is inevitable in today’s modern business world. How do you manage it in a large organisation? In the last six months, we have prepared a new Strategic Plan for The Maxol Group. The approach adopted has been to involve 14 members of our management team to create a bottom up plan and one that has been fully inclusive from the outset. This has promoted ‘buy in’ and created the opportunity for open discussion and debate on change for the business. Brexit throws up a lot of unknowns for businesses throughout Northern Ireland. What advice would you give to other business leaders as to how they approach
the next few years of EU uncertainty? We have set up a Brexit Steering Committee to keep a close watch on all developments. At present, much is still unknown but it does appear that a Hard Brexit may follow, creating inefficiencies and extra cost for businesses. Notwithstanding that, Maxol will be celebrating 100 years in business in 2020 – we are a strong sustainable business. We are continuing to invest in our estate in both markets and we are working with local contractors, while continually striving to provide the greatest possible choice to meet the needs of our customers ever demanding lifestyles. What do you enjoy about your job? I feel extremely privileged to be heading up one of the oldest and most respected family owned businesses in Ireland. I have spent my entire career working for The Maxol Group which has seen me carry out a large variety of tasks. No day is ever the same, presenting new challenges and opportunities. In my role as CEO over the last 14 months, I have enjoyed supporting my colleagues in developing an ambitious and forward looking strategic plan up to 2020, which will underpin the continuing success of Maxol. ■
Moy Park is proud to be Number 1 in the Ulster Business Top 100 Producing fresh, locally farmed poultry for over 70 years. Our commitment to quality from farm to fork makes Moy Park the food industry leader of choice.
â€œJust kiss and make upâ€? Internal conflict can be devastating to big businesses. Michelle Murphy reveals how to resolve tension between senior staff members but if tensions rise you need to ensure no one steps out of line. 4. Confront the issue Management is about doing the things most other people would not like to do, so you need to activate your management skills. Be the wise owl and deal with the situation, even if it seems trivial to you, as it could be a major grievance for one of the parties involved and lead to attrition down the road. The longer you leave the situation, other team members will start discussing it and question your management capability. Your team needs to be able to trust you as a leader to deliver a safe, healthy and conflict-free environment
onflict resolution is an issue a lot of managers have to face and it can be unsettling for everyone. You need to take the right approach as early as possible to ensure it doesn't grow out of proportion.
will lead to possible confrontation. But the other team members need to see that you are acting and can deal with adversity.
Conflict can cause a toxic environment within the workplace so you need to totally understand the situation and act responsibly. Management is not about popularity or avoiding a negative reputation but about ensuring you act in the best interest of the team and the organisation in an ethical manner. All managers and leaders must expect to have to deal with a conflict situation at some point so here are some pointers to consider.
2. Know your employees Some employees may not understand the consequences of their actions, so you need to be able to understand their boundaries. Ensure you can read the timing of when they do actually cross the line, understand their behavioural tendencies, mindset shifts, etc, so you can reach them just before that point of 'no return'. This can be achieved by having one-to-one discussions with employees on a regular basis or engaging in coaching sessions so all employees know what is expected and what is not acceptable.
1. Timing is key Avoiding the situation or putting it off until another day will not wash. You need to take action where you have evidence that there is a situation, which is negatively impacting others - and that there is a pattern to it. Striking too early without proper information
3. There will be differences Everyone will view things from differing points of view - so you do have to listen, interpret the situation and respect cultural and generational diversity. Often your role may be that as a facilitator or mediator so your listening skills may take centre stage,
5. Build team cohesion There are several factors that must be present for cohesion within a team. They must share a common goal and collectively work towards it. Communication is essential and, above all, they need to understand that what they do together as a team is better than what they do on their own and so respect for each other is essential. It is important to recognise that some people can work through conflict with no repercussions but others often feel overwhelmed, afraid or too proud to work through it. You need to foster an environment where the workplace will embrace healthy conflict but not tolerate negative or toxic issues that will cause a breakdown in the culture you are creating. A sprinkling of healthy conflict is not all negative and can foster growth as it allows people to listen, discuss and reach a conclusion. It will test the fabric of the relationship when the tension is resolved and both parties can foresee a win-win outcome for themselves and the team. For the manager, this will certainly hone their your own maturity in dealing with situations and not just brushing them under the carpet. â–
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Founded in 1897 as a dairy business on the Old Lodge Road in Belfast by John Henderson, it has witnessed steady growth to become a multi-million pound retail and wholesale business with a reach which stretches to all communities of Northern Ireland. Around 120 years later, the group’s SPAR and EUROSPAR brands are also fixtures on the high streets, communities and forecourts of Northern Ireland and have been through immeasurable change from the early days, flexing to meet the changing demands of restless shoppers and retailers.
The planning process for the new facility stretches back a number of years when the business set out some aspirational growth targets which needed a warehouse which would have capacity for another 25 years growth. “We had a senior team of logistics, property, IT and human resources people involved in the project for the best part of 18 months. The success we’ve had has been down to that planning and direction, as well as working with a very good local contractor.” Having looked at a number of brown and green field sites the company settled on the Marks & Spencer site adjacent to the current premises at Hydepark in Mallusk.
To service those demands, the firm’s operations have had to evolve, the latest being the construction of a state-of-the-art, £12.5m warehouse at its Mallusk base, which will supply to over 440 stores here.
Development – led by Fermanagh construction company Tracey Brothers – started last October on the 8.5 acre site and the business moved into the 180,000 square foot ambient warehouse at the end of June.
“We’ve enjoyed particularly good growth over the last 10 years and had outgrown our own facilities,” says Group Logistics Director Pat McGarry, who has been involved in the planning and execution of building and moving to the new site, “The last time we had a move of this nature was in the mid-70s.”
Mr McGarry said intelligent design has been key in future-proofing the building and making it as efficient as possible. The project’s steering committee sought advice from SPAR International to make the movement of lorries and forklifts just as efficient.
“The new trailers are designed to minimise impact on the environment, and the design of the warehouse maximises the flow of vehicles in and out of the site,” he said. “There are a lot of environmentally sustainable parts of the new building with motion and light sensors and an energy efficient charging system.” That design stretches to the company’s new headquarter offices which are also based at the site and break away from the old cellular design to become open plan, a design which encourages teamwork and has proven a hit with staff. “We’re really pleased with it,” Mr McGarry said. “The contractors and the staff have been fantastic and it’s great to see it up and running.” All-in-all the new warehouse and offices have helped make the already-efficient Henderson Group operation even more streamlined and set the company up for a future of ambitious growth. Given the strong performance it has displayed in the past – the group posted an impressive 6% sales growth in 2016 up to £699m – the enthusiasm amongst the team combined with the new facility, there’s little doubt that ambition will be reached. ■
A year of resilience By Adrian Doran, Head of Corporate Banking, Barclays Northern Ireland After a decade of subdued growth, business has become used to volatility, however the past year has been different because the bulk of recent volatility has been caused by geo-political rather than economic or financial shocks. In fact, underlying growth in the UK and main global economies has held up remarkably well over the past year. Whilst there’s no denying that many of the challenges from Brexit are still to materialise, in the short term at least, it would appear that many of our local companies are capitalising on a combination of stronger global markets and a weaker exchange rate. Some of this is already coming through in the results of Northern Ireland’s big exporters, such as Norbrook, Randox and Almac, all of which have enjoyed a bumper year. Also interesting is the sustained recovery now underway in many of our largest construction companies, such as FP McCann, John Graham and Creagh Concrete. These companies which are largely focused outside the NI market, have seen continued growth. Whilst growth in company profitability is a relatively good barometer of growth in the wider economy, perhaps a more tangible and real time sign of economic growth might be the “crane count” over Belfast city centre, which is back at levels last seen over a decade ago. Similarly there is a feel good factor in many shops, bars and restaurants which appear to be busier. Encouragingly we are also seeing continued numbers of new investors enter our market, whether they are property firms investing in student housing or new hotels, or international firms buying out local SMEs. All of this new investment augers well for the long term prosperity of our local economy.
he last year has been a tumultuous one for Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies – it has been over a year since the Brexit referendum, which stunned both commentators and markets, causing some of the most significant foreign exchange volatility we’ve seen in recent years. On top of that we saw President Trump achieve a similarly unexpected victory in the US election, and closer to home (and perhaps less unsurprising), the collapse of the Stormont power sharing arrangement and all of the ensuing uncertainty with this. In the face of such political turbulence, it is to the credit of the Top 100 companies that collectively they have reported such positive figures. If there’s one quality which comes to mind when I think of Northern Ireland business it’s resilience – top businesses and entrepreneurs seem to have an innate ability to not only deal with whatever is thrown their way, but to seek out and exploit the opportunities that come from it.
In terms of the challenges that are out there, a weakening currency has hurt importers as much as it has benefited exporters. It has also led to more concerns around inflation, particularly in the important agri-food sector which is such a big employer in Northern Ireland. There are also real long term concerns around what Brexit will mean in terms of access to skilled labour, tariffs and cross-border trade. One of the more basic challenges we face as a business community is that whilst we are great at creating start-up businesses, we don’t have a great track record at scaling these businesses compared to other regions. This is one of the reasons we have invested in the new Barclays Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths, to support our local, ambitious entrepreneurs. A cursory glance at the list of Northern Ireland’s 100 most profitable businesses reveals a list of long established businesses, the vast majority of which can boast having been included on the list for many years. With a renewed high level government push on increasing exports, together with an exchange rate supporting exporters, perhaps in the coming years we’ll see some new names enter this list. Now that really would be worth celebrating. ■
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The BDO Northern Ireland Partnership team and Non-Executive Chairman, Stephen Kirkpatrick
Time to take stock of business planning Now is the time for businesses to take advantage of a wider range of professional soundings, says Stephen Kirkpatrick, Chairman of BDO Northern Ireland
arlier this year, leading business advisory firm BDO Northern Ireland strengthened its senior team with the appointment of Stephen Kirkpatrick as its first non-executive Chair.
environments and make decisions despite an uncertain future with European markets. Having access to a wider range of advice is critical. Our focus is on making it easier to tap the very best insight and knowhow from across our advisory disciplines.”
The prominent business figure and former banker has teamed up with an already formidable and growing team which has its sights on ambitious growth. With Brexit looming on the horizon, the appointment grants BDO Northern Ireland access to the experiences and expertise of someone who has navigated through economic changes and challenges at the highest level.
There are eight departments within BDO Northern Ireland, but the firm’s approach means clients receive professional advice from partners in all areas relevant to them. Collaboration runs deep in the firm and forms the basis of deep client relationships. Trust and partnership are values embedded in the DNA of the firm and that helps sets the firm apart, said Stephen.
Such expertise might be rare, but the plan is to make it accessible to clients as they prepare for the years ahead, as Stephen explains.
“Partners invest time to build an understanding of client needs and their business ideas as well as their individual hopes and aspirations. Close working between colleagues in accounting, audit and tax and throughout the firm enables us to find solutions that few people would have considered on their own. With clients and other professional contacts, that makes a difference.”
“This is an exciting and challenging time for business and BDO Northern Ireland recognises that client demands are changing. Organisations need to respond quickly to evolving domestic and international
For businesses considering what Brexit might mean for them, Stephen has a clear message. “Companies that can react in an agile and well planned way will be best placed to succeed. The sooner businesses can take independent professional soundings the better they can adapt. “As well as issues to be managed, there will be new prospects to take advantage of – particularly from any new trade agreements that the UK may be free to negotiate once it is no longer part of the EU. “Our teams have considered the likely tax and legal changes could arise from Brexit and how businesses should review their operations. Now is the time for leaders to start conversations about potential changes and take stock of the advice that is available to help them plan for the future.” ■ To find out more about BDO Northern Ireland and its services, including their recent Brexit planning guide for companies, visit www. bdoni.com. Stephen can be contacted on 028 9043 9009 or at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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he top of what will soon be The Grand Central Hotel on Belfast’s Bedford Street offers surely one of the best views in the city. There is no corner hidden from atop the tallest commercial building on the island of Ireland but, while the vista is impressive, the building would need to be much, much taller were it to encompass the full geography of Graham Construction’s project base. The company which is developing Northern Ireland’s largest hotel – currently at 304 bedrooms – for Hasting Hotel Group is involved in jobs throughout Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and in the Republic. It is headquartered in Dromore but has offices in Belfast and Dublin as well as in nearly every
major city in GB from Aberdeen down to London. As well as its construction division, it also encompasses an Investment Project arm to manage public private partnerships and an asset management arm which includes facilities management, highway maintenance and environmental services. It’s that spread which has stood it in good stead for a very long time, with the company able to trace its roots back to before 1778, and remains in private ownership by the Graham family. It has been involved in countless landmark projects throughout Northern Ireland but it wasn’t until 1985 that it made its first venture into England, then Scotland and Wales.
In 1997 it started picking up business across the border in the Republic, initially working on the Dun Laoghaire/Dundalk bypass. Now it is now one of the biggest infrastructure construction companies in the UK and Ireland and, as this magazine shows, one of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies. It has got to that position through hard work and a providing a high level of service to clients, according to Michael Graham, the Group Executive Chairman. “We understand that it is incumbent on us to help our customers achieve their aims,” he told Ulster Business in the Graham site office at the Grand Central Hotel. “That comes down to trying to find clever ways of
Michael Graham, Group Executive Chairman of Graham Construction at one of the company’s current projects, the Grand Central Hotel on Belfast’s Bedford Street
doing things so that we can take unnecessary costs out of achieving their aim. strong team made up of people who have come through the trade or university. We spend a lot of time developing the team through training in the Graham Academy and make sure we structure it so it works for everyone.”
to provide support and guidance where appropriate because I understand clearly that the value we create is on site. While I have to turn up and get my picture taken it’s the guys out on site which are the really important people and I never forget that.
In addition, he said providing opportunities for ambitious people is key to the longer-term future of the firm.
“If we don’t offer opportunities to those guys then they’ll go somewhere else, it’s as simple as that.”
“We structure the business appropriately and have really strong teams in place with technical people who work hard to get it right and who are ambitious,” Mr Graham said. “Our people understand it’s about building places people can enjoy.
“People are ambitious so you have to create opportunities for them. If you do that they will drive the business forward and all of the directors recognise that we need to encourage others to take the mantle.
So what does the future hold?
“We have a hands-on approach with a really
“More importantly you have to be there
“We find that the earlier we get involved in the process, the more opportunity there is for us to do that.” It must be working given the company’s forward order book is standing at around £1.1bn, but such an approach will only work if implemented properly.
“We’re in a good place right now but we need to make sure we keep creating opportunities and provide the right environment to keep doing what clients want. That’s a challenge, but we like challenges.” ■
Employers should look beyond salary and offer a more complete package: Hays survey
By John Moore, Regional Managing Director of Hays Northern Ireland
rivate sector optimism in Northern Ireland is high with 65% of employers planning to recruit this year, according to our new What Workers Want Report.
Z (75%) say they are motivated by bonuses, whereas only 46% of Generation X and 36% of Baby Boomers agree. Over a third (40%) of professionals say they want recognition and respect from a promotion, rating it higher than moving up a job level and a change of job title. Training and development was cited as the second most important aspect when receiving a promotion, placing a greater focus on career development for employees.
What insight can the survey offer those firms in recruitment mode? More than nine-in-10 employers (93%) expect business activity to increase or stay the same this year, which augurs well for the local economy in the short to medium term, and also means that keeping employees engaged will be critical for many organisations. John Moore
The research refers to a survey of almost 15,000 employers and employees from across the UK and Ireland, with 785 of those respondents in Northern Ireland, and helps to identify what today’s workers want from their career. Firstly, we would urge employers to look at the complete package they are offering. According to our survey, salary is the single biggest factor and influences just 45% of an employee’s decision whether to move to a new post. However other factors including culture, career progression and benefits contribute to 55% of the decision-making process. Four-in-10 (42%) of respondents cited workplace dissatisfaction as a reason to look for other roles. Factors include a lack of progression or development, culture mismatch, hours/commute, inaccurate description of the role at interview and not
having the budget to work effectively. Culture is a powerful motivator with a majority of those surveyed (62%) saying they would take a pay cut to work for an organisation that offered a better cultural fit. Flexible working options are also ranked as the most important single benefit an employer can offer. What insight does the survey offer in terms of retaining talent?
Communication also presents an issue and perhaps an opportunity for employers. For example, a lack of awareness of training support may also be contributing to employees looking elsewhere. Despite demand for increased training opportunities, we found that uptake often fell far below what was actually on offer by the employer. There also seems to be an issue on communication between employers and new recruits. We found that 87% of employers felt they discussed culture during the interview stage, but only 63% of employees agreed.
Positively, 78% of the local workforce considers themselves ambitious, while over a third (39%) aspire to climb the ladder to senior management.
Employers should seek to clearly communicate career paths and training options, look for additional ways to support their employees, where possible considering flexible working options, and reinforce this throughout their employees’ careers. ■
Traditional ways to nurture this ambition needs to adapt to a changing workforce. Our findings show that different generations hold different motivations when it comes to aspects of pay. Three-quarters of Generation
To find out more about the ‘What Workers Want’ report and to download a copy visit https://www.hays.co.uk/what-workers-want or call 028 9044 6900.
TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY'S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE JOBLINK RECRUITMENT & TRAINING PRIMARK STORES KENNEDY RECRUITMENT TJ MORRIS THE MOUNT CHARLES GROUP BANK OF IRELAND CHARLES HURST NORTHSTONE (NI) KARRO FOOD GROUP TESCO PLC SHORT BROTHERS PLC MOY PARK QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST ASDA STORES INDUSTRIAL TEMPS LTD NOONAN SERVICES GROUP STAFFLINE RECRUITMENT TELEPERFORMANCE JOHN HENDERSON HOLDINGS SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS BT NORTHERN IRELAND PREMIERE EMPLOYMENT GROUP mARKS & SPENCER PLC UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ULSTER BANK CONVERGYS ALLSTATE NORTHERN IRELAND BOOTS UK GRAFTON RECRUITMENT LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CITIGROUP NORBROOK LABORATORIES WRIGHTS GROUP FIRSTSOURCE SOLUTIONS CATERPILLAR (NI) CONCENTRIX GOLF HOLDINGS NORTHERN BANK FIRST CHOICE SELECTION SERVICES SCHRADER ELECTRONICS PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY SANTANDER (UK) PLC NIE NETWORKS NEXT PLC ROBINSON SERVICES MPA RECRUITMENT DUNNES STORES (BANGOR) GRAHAM HOLDINGS DUNBIA (DUNGANNON) RUTLEDGE
Top 50 Employees
TOP 50 EMPL0YERS 1-25
Number of Employees
Short Brothers plc
Queenâ€™s University of Belfast
Noonan Services Group
John Henderson Holdings
BT Northern Ireland
Premiere Employment Group
Marks & Spencer plc
University of Ulster
Allstate Northern Ireland
Lloyds Banking Group
1,606 *Data supplied by the Equality Commission from submissions made to the Fair Employment Register 2016 based on employees working 16 hours or more a week. Some companies file separately for different subsiduaries.
TOP 50 EMPLOYERS 26-50
Number of Employees
First Choice Selection Services
Seagate Technology (Ireland)
Santander (UK) plc
Dunnes Stores (Bangor)
Rutledge Joblink Recruitment & Training
The Mount Charles Group
Bank of Ireland
Karro Food Group
894 *Data supplied by the Equality Commission from submissions made to the Fair Employment Register 2016 based on employees working 16 hours or more a week. Some companies file separately for different subsiduaries.
Connect to the best talent... the first time By Donna Parker, Managing Director of Diamond Recruitment
o matter which sector you operate in, your business relies on the success of the people working for you.
Unfortunately, bad hires can therefore have a massive impact on a company’s performance, not to mention lead to a loss of time and investment both in the recruitment and training of someone who is not right for the company. Whilst bad hires are all too common – a recent survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that nine out of 10 respondents admit their business has at some point hired the wrong person for the job – businesses have everything in their power to hire the right talent the first time, even in a competitive labour market.
ensure even unsuccessful applicants walk away with a positive impression of your brand and your integrity as an employer.
RECRUIT IN HASTE – REPENT AT LEISURE
The standard job applicant is no longer thumbing through newspapers – they are searching online job boards, following wellknown employers on social media pages, checking their websites. For example, over 50% of job views on Diamond’s website are from mobile phones, so knowing this information helps shape our attraction techniques to make it easier for mobile users.
The biggest challenge for employers to overcome is that the labour market is candidate driven. With unemployment at its lowest in years (5.4% in June), demand for staff is increasing whilst the talent pool shrinks. This means there is pressure to hire quickly before a candidate becomes unavailable, but this does not mean employers should hire any person that fits the essential criteria. Businesses must still take the time to run a robust process, regardless of internal business pressures, which will save time and money in the long run by avoiding a bad hire. Taking the time to run a robust recruitment process also means paying particular attention to delivering a high standard candidate experience. Whether a candidate is successful or not, their experience of your recruitment process will have an impact on your ability to attract new candidates in the future – one disgruntled applicant will tell 10 others if they have a poor experience. Being responsive and providing feedback to all candidates will
ATTRACT MANY CANDIDATES In a candidate-driven market, using innovative attraction methods and simplifying the application process are crucial to attracting a high number of applicants.
Review your recruitment process and identify what barriers there may be to applying. Is your application process easy for the average candidate? If you have an application form, test your process by asking an existing member of staff to write a mock application. If it takes them more than an hour, remember that many of your competitors will only ask for a CV, which could take fewer than 10 minutes to attach and email.
A good role description and person specification are standard, but enhance this by linking job activities to your brand and your vision, helping candidates understand how they would fit within the organisation. Also look beyond the responsibilities of the job and ensure you attract the right cultural fit.“Bad hires” often stem from misaligned values or priorities, so cultural fit can be more important than performance. Highlight the required skills and the personal qualities that will make someone a good fit for your team. With candidates having more of a choice between employers, businesses must also ensure benefits are spelled out early. Do you accept flexible working arrangements for your existing staff? If so, highlight that fact during the recruitment process! I cannot count the number of times I have seen a candidate choose a job at a lower salary just because the employer was upfront about flexi-time. In some cases the other employer was just as open to the possibility, but did not advertise the fact and lost out.
START OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT Once you have identified and hired your new employee, ensure a smooth transition from recruitment to onboarding. Provide all relevant training discussed at the recruitment stage and ensure there is a sound understanding of the job, allowing opportunities for regular feedback throughout the onboarding process. Allow this feedback to shape your recruitment strategy for any future vacancies, consistently updating and improving to keep up to date with new recruitment and resourcing approaches. Using these steps all employers can avoid a bad hire, with a recruitment process that attracts the best candidates for the job. ■
ATTRACT THE RIGHT CANDIDATES Whilst a high number of applicants is important, ultimately you need to attract the right type of candidate. Your recruitment process must truly reflect who you are as an employer, emphasising your vision and values.
Donna Parker is Managing Director of Diamond Recruitment Group, part of Staffline Group plc. For more recruitment advice you can reach Donna at 028 9055 8000 or email@example.com
Thatâ€™s what we do. We bring the right people to the heart of your business to help it grow. We promise a complete recruitment solution, working in partnership with you, to get to know your business and provide you with the best talent. So why not get in touch? Belfast 028 9055 8000 Ballymena 028 2563 2223 Portadown 028 3833 9025 Foyle 028 7127 7773 firstname.lastname@example.org
Plenty of bottle Jason Kennedy hears how the former global boss of Coca Cola, who hails from Downpatrick, is still busy in the commercial property world in Dublin
local bottling company. A mere six years later, he became general manager of CocaCola Bottling in Johannesburg, the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Africa.
Co Down millionaire Neville Isdell may have left the country for Zambia when he was a child, but he still maintains that his nationality is important to him.
Over the years, he rose through the ranks and was eventually made CEO of The CocaCola Company, which he worked as from 2004 to 2008. He is now based in Barbados with his wife and daugher.
In 1966, Isdell (now aged 73) began working for the Coca-Cola company in a
According to the Sunday Independent Rich List, he is worth â‚Ź75m, but he said he
shopping centre in the heart of Dublin's International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) lay vacant, until the former CEO of CocaCola saw its potential.
doesn't want to get carried away with the title he used to have. "I realise that it's sort of tattooed on my forehead that I was Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola. I don't like people who feel that they've now become so much better than everyone else," he said. "I still hang out with my buddies. I still drink a beer - actually I drink wine these days, so maybe a bit of sophistication around it."
The Downpatrick native decided to return to the island of Ireland and invest in the economic recovery soon after the Fine Gael and Labour coalition took power in 2012. "I believed that Ireland was really changing that they were putting in the right policies and the right responses to the crash,” he said. “Although that was painful for the Irish people, history already said that Ireland did it right. If you look at some of the others, they didn't do it the same way," he said. For years the CHQ Building only housed four cafes, with Mr Isdell adding most people visited the centre "just to get out of the rain". One day, Mr Isdell's step brother and his investment advisor stopped into the centre's Starbucks. Noticing the centre's potential and that it was for sale, they decided to let Neville know. "It was losing money and it was 25% occupied, but this is a very special building and I decided it was a gamble.
You only do good investments when most people think they are not good investments.
"This is a very special building. I decided it was a challenge, but I'm stupid enough to take on a challenge - even in retirement."
investments. This was seen as a failed shopping centre and no one had any idea what to do with it. “That's why you get it at the right price. If you couldn't do something with this building, then you weren't worth your salt." In recent years, the building's popularity among IFSC workers has skyrocketed. The centre houses a number of popular cafes, office space and EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum, which apts tells the stories of Ireland's emigrants who proved successful abroad, at varying degrees.
Not long after, Mr Idsell, who now also acts as chair of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said he was "captivated by the building" and decided to ignore they naysayers who tried to talk him out of the deal.
Despite its success, Neville is constantly thinking about further innovation and is looking forward to the centre's newest installation.
In the Summer of 2013, the CHQ Building was sold to Mr Isdell for €10m. Only a few years previous, it had been redeveloped at a cost of €45m.
"In the second or third week of June, there's going to be a gastropub here. They're building it right now. We've just got approval to put in a fitness studio too.
"You only do good investments when most people think that they are not good
"Getting that mix right is very important. We keep thinking." ■
SHS Group CEO Elaine Birchall gives an insight into the group’s business performance and shares its plan for the year ahead With a robust and growing portfolio of owned and agency brands, the business will continue to focus on smart investment in brands, people development, strategic acquisitions and sustained profitability.
share learnings and celebrate successes. We will continue to focus on smart investment in brand development, our people and the extension of our portfolio of brands through acquisitions.
How has Brexit impacted your forward planning? The last 12 months have been disruptive with Brexit destabilising both government and financial markets and there is much uncertainty regarding economic growth, currencies and overseas investments.
We have made some excellent senior appointments and will continue to engage and develop with our people to ensure excellent strategy delivery.
How has SHS performed this year? The SHS Group, founded in 1975, operates in the fast moving consumer goods sector in the UK, Ireland and international markets. Group trading divisions delivered excellent top line growth this year. The Group continues to invest in product innovation, brand development and new routes to market. Brand development highlights include a vibrant pack redesign and the introduction of lower-calorie variants for our leading RTD brand WKD. In addition, SHS Drinks renovated its Merrydown heritage cider brand with the introduction of a new lighter, lower strength, lower-calorie Crisp Apple Cider variant and the re-launch of its awardwinning best-seller, Merrydown Vintage Medium cider. Our soft drinks portfolio which includes iconic brands Shloer and bottlegreen, also benefitted from significant product relaunches and reformulation in preparation for the sugar tax legislation. Our Sales and Marketing Divisions in Ireland and the UK had an exceptional year as a result of winning new contracts while sustaining customer service in their core business. Our Condiments and Sauces Division consolidated its position as market leader within the private label herbs and spices category.
Specifically we have suffered increased input costs on imported raw materials due to a weaker sterling and are seeing early signs of labour shortages. In 2017 we have carefully monitored currency hedging and our cost base. Private label invariably performs well when the economic environment is uncertain and we continue to seek new growth opportunities. We have weathered political and economic disruption before and we will rely on the breadth of our portfolio and established relationships to manage any impact from Brexit. How has the drop in the value of sterling impacted trade? The increased cost of raw materials is the single biggest impact and we plan to offset in part with increased overseas trading. Where do you see the SHS business in the next five years? We have launched our five year strategy – Vision 21. This five year plan sets the ambition for our commercial Divisions and centres of excellence and is built on the core Pillars of Category Growth, Operational Excellence and Our People, with a refreshed Group Vision, Mission and Values. This is an important milestone for our group as we collaborate across our Divisions to
How important is the mix of brand ownership and the marketing of other brands? It is extremely important to have a blend of both. Volatility of markets, the lifecycles of agency business and the importance of a long term view for owned brands gives us a variety of investment choices, and we seek to get the best return on our cost base and maximise working capital efficiency. We have emphasised the importance of category expertise and driving category value across all of our divisions to deliver innovation and fresh thinking in both brands and channels. We remain close to our markets and customers and our flat management structure helps us to identify quickly and respond to trends and issues within our various categories. What would your customers say about the business? We value our relationships with customers and suppliers and are passionate about delivery and exceeding our customers’ expectations. We are recognised for our integrity, product and service quality and we continue to invest in people and infrastructure to drive growth and innovation. We are known for our reach and reputation across the industry. We are agile and ambitious and seek to bring fresh thinking and great solutions to all of our business partners. ■
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Dale Farm Co-operative
ick Whelan’s first year in charge of the Top 100 company previously known as United Dairy Farmers looks set to end with that rarest of things: a smile from the co-operative’s farmer members.
Dairy farmers have been wont to – how to put this delicately – raise an eyebrow at the price of milk which they generally feel is not enough and, for many in the last couple of years, that has been the case with the price paid by processors below the cost of production.
However, in the last 12 months since Mr Whelan took over the mantle, milk prices in Northern Ireland have steadily increased and, if forecasts are to be believed, look set to continue to do so. He wouldn’t claim to be behind the upswing (not that those mild mannered farmers would be generous enough to attribute the increase to him), rather it is part of a rally on the roller coaster ride which tends to characterise the global dairy industry, but he is determined to make sure the business – and by business he means the famer members – make the most of it. “I’ve done a lot of work going to see farmers to tell them that rather than seeing us as just a processor, they should see us as working for them,” Mr Whelan told Ulster Business. “I don’t want them to look at it as our business; it’s their business.”
With that in mind, he said the co-operative is committed to helping farmers members up their productivity. “We have exceptional farmers in the group but like every business we can improve productivity, particularly in the face of Brexit. We’re going to help facilitate that and lobby for the right level of support, whether it be capital, advice, grants or funding. “We need to make Northern Ireland the most productive place to produce milk in the world. That is an ambition which might sound mad, but I don’t think it is.”
co-operative’s milk – 450-500m litres a year – goes into cheese production with whey, the by-product from the process, sold into the sports nutrition industry as whey protein, demand which has soared in recent years. “For the medium-to-long-term we have cheese consumption growing around the world by 1% and whey production growing by 6%. We’re well camped in both those areas.” And Mr Whelan is also keen to make the most of some of the iconic brand names which Dale Farm has become famous for in Northern Ireland.
Mr Whelan paid respect to the previous management for putting a “good footprint in place” around the decision to concentrate on cheese and whey as the business’s core product offering.
“We’ve got a fantastic portfolio of heritage brands in Northern Ireland which we want to support and develop, all backed up by some genuinely good products.
Although a diversified business which manufactures yoghurts, ice cream, butter, desserts and animal feed, the bulk of the
“It’s about marrying key brand development and messaging with further business development and ongoing innovation. It’s
telling that one third of our turnover has come from new products in the last three years. “We’re also trying to increase customer relationships to make ourselves more relevant to customers from a service point of view. We run at about 99% service offering at the moment and believe it or not we’re trying to tweak it even higher by coming up with a suite of products which makes us different.” Such detail is tied to meeting the demands laid out by the co-operative’s farmer owners. “I got a very clear message from our owners that it is all about independence, about having a business for the future generations. Our overriding aim is to make sure we have a solid business for the future.” ■
What does it take for NI’s SMEs to break into the Top 100? Paddy Graham from BGF explains how more Northern Ireland companies can scale up to become big hitters in next year’s list
he companies listed in this year’s Ulster Business Top 100 are some of the most innovative, driven and ambitious businesses in Northern Ireland. They are the backbone of the local economy and it is important that we recognise and celebrate their success. But we need more companies like them to scale-up and challenge for a place on the list.
provide them with long-term funding and support – initial investments are typically £2m to £10m – to help them achieve their ambitions. But funding is only one part of the problem. Here in Northern Ireland there is a lot of support for start-ups but few places where established businesses can get mentoring or guidance from those who have experience of scaling up.
Many excellent small and medium-sized businesses who sit outside the Top 100 are content to post steady growth year after year and be successful and respected in their chosen sectors. Others that BGF has met want to emulate the bigger businesses who make the list year after year. They want to expand into new markets, hire more staff, invest in new equipment, invest in R&D or even make acquisitions.
BGF addresses this by providing access to our talent network of experienced business people. Braidwater and RiverRidge both gained the insight and expertise of nonexecutive directors from their industries as part of BGF taking a minority stake in their businesses.
But the relative lack of new entrants breaking into the Top 100 in recent years perhaps indicates that those businesses are finding it hard to realise their ambitions. A great many of them aren’t shrinking but too many small and medium sized companies aren’t growing either. That’s a worry. What the Northern Ireland economy doesn’t want is a soggy middle of businesses that are not growing, not innovating, not hiring and not exporting. That could drain the life out of the economy. Of course there are multiple reasons why it could be happening. Whether it’s regulation and red tape, difficulty securing funding, the constant need to win and retain customers, marketing your products and services, dealing with competition or finding and attracting talented staff – there are many obstacles to growth to overcome.
The problem of “scaling up” often boils down to either a lack of funding and/or expertise necessary to break new markets, diversify or increase market share. Not all entrepreneurs can self-fund their expansion plans organically nor does it make sense to build a business on debt alone, though this has been the traditional method of funding growth in Northern Ireland. SMEs need access to appropriate and sustainable sources of bank and non-bank funding. BGF has invested in more than 180 companies across the UK, including two local companies – RiverRidge and Braidwater. Every one of the businesses we have backed are committed to pursuing growth, taking risks and making personal sacrifices in order to continue building bigger businesses. In exchange, we
These are people who have been there and done it, people who have often held C-level positions in PLCs and global companies, people who can demystify the process of scaling up for MDs nervous about the risks that come with getting too big too fast. It’s hard to overestimate their value. Whether it’s improving sales capabilities, learning to delegate day to day operational roles, managing changing customer expectations and even getting the right advisors – an outside perspective can help owners think like global players. Sometimes we only see the bigger picture when we step back and allow others to critique a business and inject new ideas. If Northern Ireland is to be competitive it needs more fast growing medium sized businesses to innovate, grow and export – and perhaps as a result, see their names added to the Top 100. ■
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The Agnew Group The company said it is planning to grow its market share further in the coming years, although the relatively benign growth in the market as a whole is likely to remain a feature.
interfaces are key to our future retailing strategy.”
Electric vehicles are expected to grow in popularity and complement the growing range of hybrids which currently exist and although diesels have come in for some bad press, it sees “the traditional combustion engine and particularly EU6 compliant diesels engines will remain as a very important part of our industry”.
It has updated its 40,000 square foot showroom in Portadown, has started working on a new £2m Volkswagen dealership in Mallusk and is investing £5.5m in the new Porsche Centre in Titanic Quarter in Belfast.
One area which it said had huge growth potential is the used car market where buyers are expected to become more discerning with premium brands coming to the fore.
ith a history which stretches back to 1931, Agnew Group is one of the most wellestablished motor vehicle retailers in Northern Ireland. The firm was privately owned up until 2012 when it was bought by Synter Group, the largest car retailer in the UK owned by US blue-chip Penske Automotive. It has grown steadily over the last few years through its core brands which include some of the most well-known brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo.
The traditional combustion engine and particularly EU6 compliant diesels engines will remain as a very important part of our industry.
On the ground, investment has continued apace.
Much of the focus has been on improving the customer experience with barista bars, express 90 minute servicing and “technical triage”. Meanwhile, the Agnew Repair Centre has been in operation for over 30 years and is now staffed by 50 technicians and fully trained customer advisors. Being an employer of choice is also high up the Agnew Group agenda with staff turnover standing at 12% on an annualised basis. “Attracting enthusiastic, well-educated and energetic young people into our business is the key to our ongoing success,” the company said. “Our business model is built on the level of service that we provide to our customers and we need the right individuals to deliver this.
The firm said there has been a notable upswing toward the premium sector led by the growing trend toward personal contract purchase (PCP) leasing rather than outright ownership.
And the manner in which customers buy cars is also likely to change with the online side of the business becoming ever-more important to marketing.
“We are investing further in delivering a range of in-house training courses and our newly appointed head of training is creating numerous bespoke courses. Each year we sponsor a number of technical apprenticeships which ultimately lead to recognition at a national level.
That, and a strategy focused on growing the business, has seen the volume of new and used cars sold by the group climb 30% over the last five years, while headcount has topped 1,000.
“Customers now use smart phones to check our new and used cars, book a service and to make a general enquiry. Our investment in our new agnewcars.com web site along with the associated digital and social media
“We also offer training opportunities in customer service, car sales, parts retailing, finance and insurance, customer hosting and accounting and finance. All opportunities are advertised on agnewscars.com/careers.” ■
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Why the data centre isn’t dead yet Reports of the ‘death of the data centre’ are greatly exaggerated, says Jarlath Mallon, Technical Architect at eir Business NI. He explains why a more mature data centre network and server infrastructure are the future
e’ve all read the reports suggesting that the cloud has killed the data centre, but the reality is quite different. Despite new IT computing scenarios being deployed using cloud models and traditional IT services being migrated to cloud service alternatives, the data centre continues to play a vital role. According to the Cisco Global Cloud Index, global data centre traffic is projected to triple from 2014 to 2019, while cloud traffic within data centres is expected to quadruple during that period. What’s more, the surge in cloud activity has driven a symbiotic relationship between the cloud and the data centre, forcing innovation within the data centre sphere across compute, storage and networking.
but a few) to offer higher density; reduced rack footprint; reduced cost to purchase, run and cool; alongside a lesser carbon footprint. Together with 40gbps as the new minimum entry point, technologies such as VXLAN and eVPN and bleeding-edge software defined networking (SDN), these developments make the modern datacentre look a lot different to that of a decade ago.
From a networking perspective, for example, the major vendors have invested heavily in their switching technology (delivering tremendous throughput, resilience, large queue depth & converging storage to name
As a network partner to organisations across Northern Ireland, we’re seeing enterprises embracing a hybrid model that brings the best of cloud and on-premise storage to the fore – incorporating virtualisation, private
clouds, hosting, colocation, Software-as-aService (SaaS) applications and Infrastructureas-a-Service (IaaS) offerings. This model allows companies the flexibility and scalability to add new services while ensuring availability, security and speed of mission-critical ones. It also allows them to maintain control of their IT environments, yet still take advantage of the efficiencies that cloud management provides. But it’s not as basic as that. We’ve compiled a short list of things to consider when determining where to host your data and applications:
1. SECURITY For any large organisation, security is an ongoing concern and the impending enforcement deadline of the new Europewide data governance legislation – GDPR – brings with it harsher financial penalties for data breaches, not to mention the reputational cost associated with data theft. Organisations need to fully understand the security implications of where they store their data: at one extreme, data held in the cloud is on someone else’s infrastructure with a border you can’t fully control; while at the other end, data stored in a fully-managed and serviced data centre will benefit from the inherent security protocols and procedures that are the bedrock of any reputable data centre. Even if application owners utilise encryption to protect their data in the cloud, there are points during processing on remote servers that this information can be ‘in the clear’ and vulnerable.
2. DATA SENSITIVITY This is an extension of data security but refers to not only the data you are managing, but its jurisdiction and regulatory concerns. GDPR and its enhanced data protection guidelines will have a far-reaching impact and organisations need to be assured about the data they store – how it’s stored, how it’s managed and ease of access. Sensitive data, in particular customer data, is better placed in a data centre environment, where experts are monitoring and managing the data 24/7.
3. FLEXIBILITY AND AGILITY A cloud-based approach can help you to be more flexible so you can test and launch products faster and react quicker to changing market conditions (for example, if you’re trialling an IoT solution with a disparate user base). With the cloud, servers can be autoscaled instantly, rather than having to buy and set up new servers to deal with high demand.
4. TYPE OF COMPUTE When you host data or applications on a server in a data centre, you pay for it all the time – whether it’s busy or not. Very few applications have 100% server utilisation; Gartner has estimated that properly-managed storage infrastructure has server utilisation of less than 15 percent. What we typically say to clients is “bursty suits the cloud”. Cloud supports a flexible and scaling model where services need to flex up and flex down at certain times of the month or year. For
example, we work with a number of large online retailers here in Northern Ireland, which have a huge influx of seasonal traffic but are distinctly quieter throughout the year. We’re also seeing many clients using the cloud as a Disaster Recovery hot standby. In the cloud environment, services are prepped and ready but are idling until (and unless) they are needed.
multiple corporate locations, both in terms of bandwidth and the creation and management of virtual private networks (VPNs) to reach the cloud applications securely. These considerations are also particularly pertinent when taking into account that the open Internet does not support or honour Quality of Service (QoS).
7. CAPITAL OR OPERATING COSTS 5. APPLICATION MIGRATION Different applications will be better suited to different environments: legacy and custom applications with a contained user base are well suited to a data centre environment. Some applications just aren’t ready for the cloud; large enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, for example, will have features and functionality that depend on on-premise servers. And the cost of integrating and testing these apps to assess their suitability for the cloud, or even the cost to redevelop them to move or port them to the cloud can be prohibitive. Cloud can be better suited to white label, off-the-shelf applications. It is also well suited for web-facing or Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
Despite new IT computing scenarios being deployed using cloud models and traditional IT services being migrated to cloud service alternatives, the data centre continues to play a vital role.
6. INTERNAL OR WEB-FACING
A key question to ask is “are the services we provide web facing or internal facing?” Web-facing, with its specific demands suits a cloud environment. The advent of content delivery networks (CDNs) allows your bulky content to be distributed across the Internet and close to your target users. Internal facing services however can put additional demands on your connection to the cloud from
This will come down to which model suits your business – capex or opex? It’s worth bearing in mind that cloud typically has no upfront cost, rather its cost is ongoing on a monthly basis. On the other hand, hosting in a data centre is all about the upfront cost. For those managing a budget this can be a significant positive as your cost is well-defined upfront – sometimes cloud services can come with a surprise bill when your services ramp up unexpectedly.
8. CONSULT AN EXPERT The current innovation in both cloud and data centre create an exciting yet daunting landscape for IT managers planning their IT & application strategy. Network experts like eir Business NI are a great resource to consult when making this decision. We work with organisations to understand their unique requirements and ascertain their business objectives. Each client will have different needs, and as we’ve seen in the seven points above there are several permutations to consider. Because we provide the infrastructure as well as the supporting services (design, installation, ongoing management, monitoring, load balancing, security) we are ideally placed to work with organisations to develop a made-to-measure data centre/cloud strategy. ■ If you’d like to discuss this topic further and find out how eir Business NI can help, connect with Jarlath at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ jarlathmallon or call the team on 028 9000 2100
Adrian Court, Managing Director of Encirc
ne of the great bonuses of compiling the Ulster Business Top 100 edition is finding out about Northern Ireland companies doing amazing things in amazing places. Encirc tick both those boxes, although the name is probably not widely known outside the beverage market. Formerly Quinn Glass, it was founded in 1998 in Derrylin by Sean Quinn in an effort to add value to a plentiful, Fermanagh raw material; sand. Given there hadn’t been a new glass plant built on the island of Ireland since 1932 and there was a small and consolidating customer base, the stakes were high, but when Adrian Court received the call from Mr Quinn to come and set the plant up, he didn’t take much persuading. “Being the entrepreneurs that Quinn were, we went ahead and built the plant,” Mr Court, who is now managing director, told Ulster Business. “Those were fantastic years and that ethos is still in our business.”
£325m plant at Elton in Cheshire to allow it to compete in the GB market and, after a planning battle, initiated and grew that business. The well-publicised difficulties faced by Sean Quinn saw Quinn Glass sold to private equity in 2011 before being bought by Spanish firm Vidrala in 2015, a year after rebranding as Encirc. Today the business has 35% market share, a position reached by expanding its offering beyond glass to encompass a number of ancillary services which sit neatly alongside. Not only does it run a logistics business using what it claims to be the largest fully-bonded automated warehouse in Europe, it also offer what it calls “advanced bottling and bag-inbox facilities at our purpose-built plant” in Cheshire. It bottles wine, beer, soft drinks and a host of other beverages for the drinks industry at its plant in Elton, going so far as to carry out additional blending after taking some in at two or three times normal strength.
A £100m speculative investment followed in Derrylin and, while it took a while to get the plant up and running and pique customer interest, the business was soon making money.
The offer came about owing to the bulky nature of glass bottles which are costly to transport when empty; it makes more sense for the liquid to be transported in bulk to the glass plant in Cheshire where it can be bottled.
Not one a business to rest on its laurels, the business then embarked on building a
Customers include some of the best-known drinks brands in the world including Diageo,
Carlsberg and Heineken as well as a host of famous wineries, such as Californian-based Gallo Family and many others. “With filling in the UK we have created a new market for glass,” Mr Court said, adding that it services wineries from all the major growing regions. “Around 75% of wine drunk in the UK and Ireland is filled in this way, most of it by us.” He said the growth of the business means it is committed to the Derrylin plant, something which is helped by the Gas to the West project which will see a cheaper form of energy piped direct to the company’s door. Adding to the importance of the division to parent company Vidrala is the fact it has put its glass plant in Italy under Mr Court’s remit while the Encirc Academy is making sure workers are being upskilled on an ongoing basis. And with around 440 people at the Derrylin plant, it is one of the biggest factories in Fermanagh and, as well as the manufacturing capability, the base is where the support functions for the business are retained. Coupled with that, on the evidence Ulster Business has seen so far, it is where an abundance of enthusiasm and innovation for the firm lies, a cocktail which would surely sell out if you could only bottle it. ■
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Caroline notches up 21 years at Apple Recruitment On the 4th July 2017 Caroline Parker celebrated a huge milestone: 21 years in Apple Recruitment!
unrivalled service to both our Clients and our Candidates.”. “Although we all have particular areas that we work on, we communicate with each other continually so if we find the right candidate for one of our colleagues’ jobs we will highlight this. We are just as excited as our colleagues about finding the right candidate for our clients.”
She started with Apple as the Receptionist 21 years ago and is now the Recruitment Manager. Caroline is passionate about the company and the services Apple provides to public and private sector organisations throughout Northern Ireland. Caroline has extensive knowledge of the recruitment industry and is a Fellow of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation. “Recruitment changes on a daily basis, and the ever-changing environment means that the years fly by in a blur of excitement,” she said. Caroline has been mentored from day one by Kate and Clarke Houston, the owners of Apple for over 30 years, who still play an active part in the business. They promote open communication, co-operation, trust and integrity, guiding Caroline to shape her into the manager
Apple cover temporary, permanent and contract staff across all sectors and are intuitive and focused on their clients’ needs. she is today, an ethos Caroline instils in all members of Apple Recruitment. “Apple is like a family, we are all very close knit and work extremely well together,” she said. “The team is a hard-working, dedicated, enthusiastic, driven and professional group of Consultants. We always help each other which is one of the many reasons that we continue to provide an
Contact the team at Apple Recruitment on 028 9024 9747 or caroline.parker@ applerecruitment.com
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Tendering to impress Noel Brady, founder of Consult NB1, explains how to make sure your bid for public sector business hits all the right notes...
here are a host of companies and other organisations in Northern Ireland providing products and services to a wide-ranging public sector. This can be anything from fruit and veg for our hospitals to building schools or roads in our infrastructure. Whether directly or indirectly, one of the biggest and most essential parts of our economy, the public sector marketplace, provides a steady and lucrative source of income for businesses and other enterprises up and down the land. The public sector is a buyer of goods and services from construction companies, IT companies, maintenance companies, training companies, medical companies, food producers... the list is endless. Like it or lump it – if you want to grow your business in Northern Ireland then you need to be doing business in the public sector, one way or another – it’s an unavoidable fact! The public sector spends around £2bn every year in the private sector, pays on time, prefers longer-term contracts and it is very likely that your business will have something to offer into this marketplace. When it comes to the valuation of your own business – substantive public sector contracts are viewed as a “solid” contributor to that value. While the rewards may be attractive, the process of winning public sector business can deter many businesses from tapping into this source of trade. They see the tendering process as an overly complicated, time consuming dark art which they don’t have time for and where they don’t have any chance of winning.
ARE YOU IN OR ARE YOU OUT? Would you bet all your worldly goods on winning a round of golf against Rory McIlroy – probably not! That is a bit extreme but it serves to underline the important first golden rule of tenders – don’t enter a competition which you have no chance of winning. It pays to make sure the opportunity in front of you is properly qualified. By that I mean a tender which your company can realistically fulfil and is therefore at least in with a chance of winning. Bidding is an expensive process so it makes sense to spend time analysing whether you should put your hat in the ring or not. If you do then information will be your friend. Market intelligence is one of the most important resources in qualifying a bid and even more so when mounting a bid. I go out of my way to spend time gathering intelligence in relation to upcoming tenders, the reasons why they’ve been launched, the likely budget and what other companies are likely to be bidding. The more information you can get at this stage the better. If you are tendering regularly for public sector business then your company should create and implement a formal Bid Qualification Process (BQP). This process should be straightforward and easy to use but should result in a clear recommendation of whether you should proceed with a bid or not. The BQP will depend on what you are selling and the nature of the client/Requirement. I have designed a number of these which have been implemented very successfully in a number of local industries.
IT’S GREEN FOR GO I hear these types of views a lot but it doesn’t need to be that way. Approached in the right manner, you can multiply and enhance your chances of winning a public sector tender by a significant degree by adopting the right approach and attitude to the tender process. That’s a bold statement but in my 40 years of working on both sides of the table – initially procuring large ICT systems on behalf of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and latterly submitting and writing public sector tenders across the whole range of tender types – I know only too well the dos and don’ts needed to maximise your chances of winning a tender.
The right BQP will not only help you decide to bid or not It will also help you mould a tailored bid which answers the needs of the tenderer, one which appeals to their more nuanced desires and sets you apart from the competition. If the decision is green for go then please ensure that the whole team is committed to the tender process and more importantly, committed to winning! I believe tender writing is an art form and it is something I personally enjoy doing (does this man need help or what!). Perhaps it is because it is a very process driven technique and I like processes. There is some degree of “secret sauce” in successful bid writing and I
of course try to share that with my clients who engage me to write tenders or participate on their bid team. However, there are some basics which I offer up to the reader which can at least start you off on the right footing.
DO WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN! You need to ensure you comply with the instructions to tender, the additional information requirements which the buyer always supplies along with the other formal tender documentation. It will cover straightforward things like, the structure of your tender, what other forms need to be returned etc – ignore these instructions at your peril. They are there for a reason. The Procurement body uses these instructions to ensure every bidder understands what is required and how it should be submitted and therefore all tenders stand in the same format for evaluation. Step outside or ignore these instructions and it is highly likely that your tender will be excluded because it does not comply. Failing to pay attention to this simple list of pointers could quickly sabotage your bid, so it is key to make sure these aren’t overlooked. But while there is much you can learn when it comes to successfully bidding for public sector work, there is a lot which is difficult to teach and in many respects tendering is an art form, one which can open the flood gates to a rich seam of business. Having honed my art for a number of decades, I have picked up wide-ranging in-depth knowledge of the procurement organisations and processes which you are likely to be involved with. That has helped my company Nb1 build a track record which has seen us win countless tenders successfully for business throughout Northern Ireland and beyond, ranging in value from £30,000 to £350m. All offer their own unique challenges but with the right knowledge and right approach I’ve been able to vastly increase the chances of winning a tender for all of the companies who have engaged me. For time-hungry businesses focused on the day-to-day operation of their business, that’s a coup. ■
Ed Brown, Managing Director of Capita Managed IT Solutions, at the firm’s Newtownabbey headquarters
Capita Managed IT Solutions
rive past Capita Managed IT Solutions base on Church Road, Newtownabbey and there is little sign of the wide-ranging work which is going on inside.
Previously known as Northgate Managed Services, it was acquired by blue chip technology business Capita in 2013 and now operates under its own flag of Capita Managed IT Solutions from its Hillview House.
does, it’s worth taking a look at its work with some headline clients.
What looks like a normal office building – granted, a very large office as the picture here shows – harbours an army of industrious IT professionals servicing customers from around the UK and Ireland in a range of diverse areas.
The business unit employees around 800 people in total with around 500 working from Northern Ireland and the remainder based through GB and the Republic.
Capita MITS runs a call centre for the agency which answers enquiries, runs and supports the internet book system and takes payments.
From schools to government, big business to micro enterprises, charities to utilities, this modest hub is responsible for providing cloud and infrastructure services as well as specialist managed services.
Take the Driver and Vehicle Agency Northern Ireland (DVA NI).
That’s reflective in the geographical split of its work with around 80% accounted for servicing local clients and rest either across the border or across the Irish Sea.
If you book a driving test or motor test in Northern Ireland then the Newtownabbey firm will handle the booking, right down to the infrastructure which decides which lane you drive into on the day of your MOT.
To get a feel for what the business actually
And if you have any involvement in the
primary and secondary education sector in Northern Ireland then you’ll probably use Capita MITS’s services on a daily basis. In partnership with C2k, it delivers the Education Network for Northern Ireland project, described as the next generation of education technology services to all grantaided schools across Northern Ireland. In practise that means it delivers IT services to every school in Northern Ireland, from teachers’ desktop computers, devices used by students to the software used to teach lessons. “It’s a big contract,” said Capita MITS Managing Director Ed Brown. “We have over 350,000 end users and need to make sure the system lives up to very strict service levels. “We have to ensure those physical assets are always available and I can assure you they are a very, very happy customer.” So happy in fact the contract has just
been extended for another two years until September 2019. Another contract which has just been extended is Capita MITS’s support for the NSPCC across the UK. “If there are any problems with the charity’s system they will phone us and we will fix it remotely from here,” Ed Brown said. “The systems which we look after on the back end are mission critical such as Childline, Helpline and Adultline; they all run on our infrastructure and it’s crucial they are available all the time.”
Ireland; and to grow the amount of work the unit carries out for other Capita businesses. For the former that is likely to consist of signing up more business in the Republic, a route made easier after the company delivered cloud infrastructure to the Department of Justice in Dublin, as well as other work with the Probation Board in Dublin and other “blue light” organisations.
So what does the future hold for Capita MITS?
For the latter it involves building on work Captia MITS has carried out in conjunction with the Capita Insurance Services division for Brent, Barnet and Sussex Councils.
Mr Brown has two very clear targets: to grow the business both in and outside Northern
If past performance is anything to go by, those targets will be met, and then some. ■
How to present like a pro By David O’Reilly from O’Reilly Digney & Associates
resentations can be some of the more difficult tasks to perform in the modern business world. A good presentation can boost your sales and chances of promotion, while a bad presentation leaves a sense of dread Firstly, you should understand that just about everyone feels daunted by public speaking, even those who appear most confident. Some people may be natural public speakers, but most need to work hard at it. Being your natural self is a good place to begin. It is not an acting role, so don’t try to be someone else or some smooth-talking alter ego. Match your presentation to your audience: Get to know your audience ahead of time and adjust your presentation to meet their needs and expectations. Understand their understanding: Don’t blind your audience with science. An overly technical presentation will turn your audience off. Likewise, being too light on detail, will make you appear lightweight.
Include everyone: Address different perspectives. For example, “This will affect our senior managers like this... and our key customers like that.” Identify common ground: What are the concerns or opportunities you share and how can they best be addressed? People may fall asleep through a presentation, but not generally through a conversation. Knowing your audience allows you to take on a more conversational tone. But if they are new to you, do some online research before the event. If you know who will be attending, check their LinkedIn profiles and social media feeds. Check out their business’s annual report and follow up on any press mentions. Research them with your colleagues and get an understanding of the issues that are important to them. Practice your presentation with trusted colleagues for honest feedback. Rehearse on the stage you will be using to get familiar
with the environment and the technology. Time your presentation to avoid drift. Prepare flash cards as prompts. It can seem difficult to know how your presentation is going, but as you improve you will be able to monitor the room better. Look out for obvious cues of interest or boredom: Make your audience active by welcoming questions. Listen closely to the questions to ensure your response is relevant and don’t rush your explanations. Don’t be afraid to ask the audience how it is going. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them what you told them: It is essential to keep your audience informed on where you are throughout your presentation. A good structure allows the audience to follow the story and absorb your message. If you decide to use visual aids, such as a PowerPoint, don’t litter the presentation with repetitive slides. Focus on creating a straightforward narrative that is compelling, allows time for interaction and has joined-up thinking: Practise beforehand and ensure the flow is right for you and that the story comes together. Importantly, view it through the consumer’s eyes. Use the ‘power of three’ to make points stick. If you will be doing more presentations, or possibly repeating this one, have a colleague take notes on the spectator reactions. Ask for feedback from credible participants. Consider an icebreaker: Humour is a great way to get a room to relax and to focus on you, the presenter. Don’t rush your words, be an active listener and don’t skip over important elements of your presentation in your hurry to escape the spotlight. Hang on for questions: Prompt a few answers and seek out ‘friendly fire’. Most importantly, breathe! ■
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Opportunities to reward staff continue despite reduced salary sacrifice incentive Emma-Jane Flannery, Employment Law Partner at leading law firm Arthur Cox, examines the recent changes in tax incentives for salary sacrifice schemes
It means, however, that new schemes offering company cars, car parking, gym membership or health check-ups will no longer carry the same tax benefits.
However, not all benefits are affected, meaning companies can continue to reward and recognise their staff.
With the legislation now in effect, employers should carry out an audit of staff contracts and terms and conditions relating to any salary sacrifice arrangements.
n a development announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as part of his Autumn Statement, the tax perks on some salary sacrifice schemes were discontinued at the start of April.
Salary sacrifice schemes offer arrangements whereby employers can allow staff to forgo part of their salary in order to receive another benefit in kind.
Particular consideration should be given to whether employers have an express or implied contractual obligation to continue to provide perks for which they no longer receive the tax benefits.
The rewards offered usually attract tax or National Insurance contribution exemptions, and are considered a useful tool in improving staff morale and retention rates, so are popular for both employers and employees.
Relevant case law exists by way of an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in England and Wales last year.
However, new legislation came into effect on 6th April which requires any employee entering into salary sacrifice to pay a tax charge based upon either the salary sacrifice, or the cost to the employer of providing the benefit (whichever is greater).
The outcome of Peninsula Business Services v Donaldson determined employers were not obliged to continue to provide childcare vouchers through salary sacrifice when an employee was on maternity leave.
Several benefits continue to be provided without being subject to the legislation. These include pension contributions, childcare vouchers, cycle-to-work schemes and ultralow emission cars. There are other exceptions for employees who entered into any salary sacrifice arrangement prior to 6th April. They can continue to receive tax and National Insurance advantages on all salary sacrifice until 2018 â€“ or even 2021 â€“ depending on the particular benefit, and provided the terms and conditions of the arrangement are not altered.
In this case, the employer had contractually reserved the right not to provide the vouchers during maternity leave. The decision, whilst at odds with the practice of many employers, has been welcomed as a potential cost saving during maternity. It is
understood that HMRC plans to issue revised guidance for employers in light of the case. Given the changing salary sacrifice landscape, employers facing the dilemma of whether to discontinue particular employee benefits or to withhold them during periods of maternity and other leave should seek professional guidance before taking action to avoid the risk of potential claims. â– The Employment Law Team at Arthur Cox is well positioned to advise on all aspects of employment law. Call +44 28 9023 0007 for further information from Emma-Jane or your regular Arthur Cox contact
Fast Future Technology Fast 50 Awards 2017 The world is evolving at speed. Itâ€™s time for you to show the world what you are creating as part of the digital revolution. Enter the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards and take your place among the fastest growing technology companies and industry leaders.
Apply now at fast50.ie Closing date for entries is Friday, 15 September, 2017
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Michael Scott, Managing Director of firmus energy, at Old Park Road in Ballymena where the company is laying new gas mains
hen the Ulster Business Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies list was first published in 1989, firmus energy (yes, it should be lower case) wasn’t even a twinkle in its parent company’s eye. Only established by Bord Gais after being awarded a licence to develop a new natural gas network in 2005, construction of what was to become 1,100 kilometres of gas mains wasn’t to begin in earnest until 2006 when the North West and then the South North transmission pipelines were completed. Since then, growth has been impressive. Having spent between £12m to £15m a year on the network infrastructure and £5m in operational costs, it now has around 80,000 customers and plans to invest £120m over the next six years. Around 30,000 of those customers are supplied in its network area of towns where it owns and operates its own gas mains – from Ahoghill to Warrenpoint, Coleraine to Magheralin – and the remaining 50,000 are supplied gas in Belfast by firmus through existing pipelines owned by the incumbent Phoenix Gas. It employees 95 people at its Antrim base, a location chosen according to Managing Director Michael Scott because of its central location at the centre of Northern Ireland. Speaking to Ulster Business, he said the business has a number of unique selling points against its competition. “We are the only utility in Northern Ireland which has trained all our staff to City and Guild levels in Energy Awareness, along with a formal qualification from National Energy Action. Everyone in the business has energy efficiency at the top of their list of priorities and it is one of the values we hold dear. “It feeds through the customer who ultimately benefits from that focus.”
In addition, Mr Scott said firmus is the only energy customer in Northern Ireland which has a gas network which buys and sells on behalf of customers and also has a supply business. Meanwhile, its business customers are an important part of the company. “The business market is the anchor network, particularly in new areas, and helps us buy gas more efficiently and gives us trading flexibility.” To keep its commercial customers informed, it holds an energy briefing each year to keep them up to date on changes to the energy market and offer an insight into where gas and electricity prices may be headed. And the business also holds corporate social responsibility high up its agenda and was
shortlisted for the Business in the Community Responsible Company award earlier this year. “Take the local communities which we serve seriously and make sure we give something back,” Mr Scott said. Now owned by private equity company Icon Infrastructure, further investment looks on the card. “The new owners have been excellent. They did exactly what they said they would and have been keen to invest and grow the business.” “The future is focused on rolling out the gas network, multiplying the number of customers we serve, spending close to £20m in capital investment and looking at other opportunities where we can take gas. The original license was for 10 towns but we won’t stop there and will work alongside the Utility Regulator to see if we can expand further.” ■
Outstanding growth and remarkable technology As Connect Telecom celebrates a significant milestone, CEO Scott Ritchie outlines how, this year, the business has delivered 200% growth outside Northern Ireland and how Connect is providing a technology roadmap for clients across the UK.
onnect Telecom is celebrating 10 years of delivering business telecoms and the latest communication technologies, transforming the working environment for thousands of organisations. There can’t be many Northern Ireland companies that have witnessed such startling growth in the year they mark a decade in business. Under Ritchie’s leadership, Connect Telecom has been transformed from a Northern Ireland centric company to one now realising a strategy which places 60% of its business outside these shores. Ritchie is an entrepreneur with telecoms pedigree - a man who built and successfully exited a customer-focussed business in his early 20s and a former director at BT. “When I purchased Connect Telecom in 2015, we had a clear strategy to grow the business across the water,” he explains. “For a population the size of Greater Leeds, the telecoms market in Northern Ireland is extremely crowded. Growth had to come from other markets, so we devised a strategy that aimed to capitalise on our modest yet established GB footprint by acquiring firms that shared our customer centric ethos, but also companies that provided access to new and emerging technologies that we could offer to our client base. “Fundamental to this has been the power of the partnership with Vodafone. Vodafone entered in to a restructuring of its partner
channel throughout the UK and a major feature of this was partners getting their staff accredited correctly. “It became clear that we at Connect had the skills and capabilities on a par with any other partner in the UK as we once again were awarded the highest level of accreditation. This emboldened our resolve to grow into the rest of the UK, a growth that is underpinned by our customer service and technical capability being second to none.”
“Thanks to support from our partners, we now have a truly UK-wide network. “While we’ll always be headquartered in Belfast, we now have offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Carlisle, Manchester and now London, servicing the communication and technologies requirements of businesses as diverse as global fashion brands, Premiership football clubs and many of the firms featured in the Ulster Business Top 100.“
VODAFONE ONE NET A series of targeted and strategic acquisitions by Connect Telecom has seriously shaken the UK telecoms market. No longer a small fish in a big pool, the company now has more than 45,000 connections across the UK. Since acquiring the business 20 months ago, Ritchie has overseen Connect’s customer base and Vodafone connections grow by 200%. “At the time we vowed to double the workforce within a year, which we did. Since then, we have turned our attention to growing the business through the acquisition of other Vodafone partners and telecoms companies throughout the UK,” he continued. “Last month, we took over the mobile base of one of the UK’s leading managed service providers, GCI, extending our London operation and reach. “In May, we completed the acquisitions of Aberdeen-based Coltel and Carlisle-based Nortech.
Being the only Vodafone Total Communications Partner in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the highest Vodafone accreditation, Connect Telecom must consistently demonstrate outstanding levels of customer excellence and the highest expertise in both Vodafone Fixed and Mobile solutions. Connect Telecom also took the crown of the 2017 One Net Business Partner of the Year at the annual Vodafone Partner awards, excelling beyond the over 450 other Vodafone partners in the UK. Scott Ritchie is proud of the Vodafone partnership and what it can deliver for his client base. “As a Total Communications Partner, we have access to a wide range of Vodafone training opportunities and technological expertise to help bolster our reputation as a leading communication firm. “At the forefront of Vodafone’s services is the award-winning Vodafone One Net Business,
which incorporated clients’ mobiles, fixed lines and broadband into one easy account.
technology solutions from leading suppliers such Microsoft and its Office 365 and Cisco.”
“The Vodafone One Net solution allows businesses to sync their telecoms systems and create a more productive and flexible communications infrastructure, which can be entirely tailored to their business needs and objectives.
“Furthermore, Connect is one of only two partners in the UK with its own engineering teams, which enable us to ensure end to end responsibility of the order and implementation process.
“Take, for example, our deal with GCI which was much more than an acquisition of the firm’s mobile base,” Ritchie continued.
“But our expertise reaches beyond the suite of Vodafone products. We provide the best
Telecoms will continue to change exponentially and Ritchie is keen to stress that, in order to survive, the industry must adapt and successfully facilitate unified communications for its business customers.
“It gave us access to a Skype for Business platform from GCI to support our growing unified communications requirements across our base.
“We’ve always provided our customers with pioneering mobility services, in essence a roadmap to utilise the very latest technologies, unifying and simplifying their business communications, and this will continue.” As for further growth, Scott Ritchie isn’t ruling it out. “Up until relatively recently our growth was organic, in the last year strategic acquisitions have benefited our customers. If opportunities for growth present themselves which will directly assist our clients, I won’t rule them out. “At Connect we’re always looking to the future on behalf of our customers.” ■
AES Kilroot Power AES Ballylumford
Ian Luney took over the position of President of AES UK & Ireland from Carla Tully in June. We find out what he has planned for the power generator What has the last year been like for AES? ‘2016-2017 has been an exciting period for AES and the energy sector as a whole. As distributed energy like wind and solar reaches scale across the island of Ireland, we’re seeing renewables take the traditional place of baseload energy in the system. That means that energy assets which can be dispatched at command by the system operator - like traditional power plants, interconnectors, and energy storage - need to be more flexible and sustainable to provide the security of supply which our economy rests upon. In the last 18 months AES has operated our Ballylumford and Kilroot power stations in line with the stricter emissions limits of the Industrial Emissions Directive, ensuring that we provide the same amount of power to consumers with a lower environmental impact. Refurbishing these existing assets also supports the region’s priority of affordable electricity by deferring the need for new plants to be built.
We also experienced the first 18 months of operation of the Kilroot Advancion Energy Storage Array, the largest battery energy storage array on the island which is helping to balance system frequency. UK Government’s Innovate UK supported our partnership with Queen’s University Belfast to analyse the data from the facility, and we’re beginning to see exciting independent results from them about the potential for energy storage to help the island of Ireland to meet security of supply and decarbonisation ambitions.’ What developments have you planned for the future? ‘This year AES celebrates 25 years of operation in Northern Ireland, so the future for our company over the next quarter century is very much on our minds. It’s a great time for me to start as President of the company as we bring our global experience of innovative and sustainable solutions to this region to support security of supply at a pivotal point in Northern Ireland’s energy system.
Earlier this year, we announced that we are seeking to redevelop our existing sites through a new generation of sustainable energy solutions that will provide critical supply beyond 2020 for the All-Island energy system. Called the AES East Antrim Energy Platform, this development of additional generation and storage capacity will represent another very significant investment in the region, and enable us to retain expertise built over many years of power generation supporting the local economy and supply chain, as well as creating jobs for the future. We’re currently investigating a range of best-in-class technologies to meet the requirements of the Northern Ireland system to ensure we propose the most sustainable and affordable solution for competitive auction in 2018. We’ll be sharing our plans in more detail with the public in late summer, and look forward to hearing the business community’s views. Does Northern Ireland have a forward plan for electricity infrastructure which is fit for purpose?
Ian Luney, the new President of AES UK and Ireland, takes the baton from outgoing President Carla Tully
‘At UK level, we are led by clear legislation setting the direction of travel for the energy sector, enshrined in the Fifth Carbon Budget. We also anticipate announcements by the end of the year from UK Government on Energy Flexibility and the Industrial Strategy, some of which we would expect to have applicability in Northern Ireland. On this island we also see market design moving forward in the shape of the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM) which is set to go live as the new wholesale electricity market in 2018. Our company is busy preparing to participate with our existing assets and to competitively bid to deploy new generation and storage assets as Ian described. It is critical for electricity consumers in the North that the I-SEM market design gets this right as our market is too small to support electricity generation which doesn’t deliver on tomorrow’s energy needs. For Northern Ireland, we would welcome publication of a forward looking Strategic Energy Framework, as supported by most of the Assembly parties, to guide the specific investments that will support the Northern Ireland economy to reach its full potential. When we look at AES’ global markets where electricity infrastructure is being realised in the most flexible, sustainable and financially optimised way, we tend to see a clear plan for electricity infrastructure. For example, California – which has much in common with NI being a high renewables region with security of supply concerns – sent clear entrance signals for investors with the publication of an energy roadmap.’ In an ideal world what would that plan look like? We’d like to see long-term policy in the Strategic Energy Framework to guide energy investment out to 2030 with a view to shape policy and markets out to 2050 (in line with the Republic of Ireland). A crucial component of that plan would be a policy framework that supports the delivery of I-SEM in the context of Brexit to ensure Northern Ireland consumers can continue to share the benefits of a larger, more integrated electricity market. Getting that right will send the right entrance and investment signals to foreign and domestic investors in the NI market.’ ■
All may not be lost with our SIPP SOS Richmond Wealth CEO Chris Bryans is standing up for savers mis-sold high-risk Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) schemes
cross Northern Ireland, SIPPs are causing a lot of sleepless nights. Are you one of the many lifelong savers having nightmares that your hardearned savings are at risk? Or already lost due to unsuitable pensions advice to invest in property overseas?
Did you lack understanding of SIPPs and the process of investment? Did you feel under pressure to opt for an investment you did not really need or want? Was there a hard sell? Were you given information that you now know to be poor or incorrect? Was there a lack of transparency about fees?
My advice: take heart and take action right away. In our experience, working on behalf of clients who have been hit hard by mis-sold SIPPs, it may not be too late to recover your lost pension savings. You could be entitled to compensation.
Were you warned about the risky nature of investing in the offshore scheme and the potential financial loss? Have you been advised to invest in Cape Verde, Storage Pods, Harlequin or Ethical Forestry?
We have become increasingly concerned about the number of people whose lifesavings are now in peril due to poor and unsuitable pensions advice. Mis-selling of SIPP schemes, it seems, has become an epidemic because of the investments being recommended. For inexperienced investors this is putting their entire retirement at risk.
particularly involving offshore property or other unusual investments, Richmond Wealth should be your first port of call. If you have invested and any of the following danger signs applied to the selling process, there is a good chance you’re a candidate for compensation:
We are committed to help you put things right and protect your interests. If you have doubts about existing SIPP investments,
If you answered YES to any of the above, we strongly recommend you seek immediate help from a professional resource you can trust. It is essential you only work with financial advisers, such as Richmond Wealth, who are fully authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to advise on investments. ■
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McCulla Ireland take top industry award
ome-grown specialist logistics company McCulla Ireland has won ‘Temperature Controlled Operator of the Year’ at the Motor Transport Awards. The event, which took place on 5th July at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane, was hosted by sports presenter Gaby Logan and comedian John Bishop. Dubbed “The Oscars of the Transport Industry”, Northern Irish businesses have rarely been represented at this awards event in its 31year history. Award winners are typically large UK corporate operators, so it is significant that a family-run business from Northern Ireland has been recognised. Established in 1969 by David McCulla, the Company is fastapproaching its 50th anniversary and is now under the ownership and direction of the second generation of the McCulla family. Brother and sister, Ashley McCulla and Carol Thompson (the youngest two children of the Company Founder), jointly took control of the business in 1992 and have developed it from a company turning over £700,000 to one turning over £21.7m.
The team from McCulla Ireland pick up their award at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London
At the post-awards interview, Mr McCulla, Managing Director of McCulla Ireland gave credit to the 200-strong McCulla team. “The key thing is that it’s our team that made this happen,” he said. “As the directors, we show the way that we’re trying to go and try to set the example, but it’s the staff that do the job; everybody from our drivers to our loading bay staff to the administration staff and the traffic planners. Everybody in the team is why we are here.” ■
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How the Top 100 attract and retain talent Justin Rush, Director at Abacus Professional Recruitment, offers an overview of how Northern Ireland’s Top 100 firms attract and retain talent
n order for those aspiring to join the NI Top 100 at some time in the (hopefully, not too distant) future, I have spent some time investigating what these leading businesses do in order to attract and retain the best people. We all know that strong businesses are built by great people, maybe we can all learn a thing or two from my findings. Start with the vision, leading businesses state where they are going to, they will of course highlight successes and milestones to date, but they don’t rattle on too much. They are ‘future focused’ and illustrate genuine passion and emotion in their communications. This attitude is highly attractive to top talent. Workforce diversity is a reality in the Top 100. Leading companies walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Those that have appointed groups from varied ethnicities and regardless of disability, orientation, age or sex are excelling ahead of their peers. Recruitment is hugely transparent, outlining basics like timescales, specifications and company information is now run-of-themill. Pushing promotional ‘A day in the life’ videos that illustrate the experience that recent joiners have had via social channels, that is more the style of the Top 100. Adaptive work practices are promoted in the best businesses. Flexibility is a discussion for all, work can be full-time, part-time, flexitime, from home or from the office. What is constant is quality and delivery. The Top 100
well know that turning away the best people because they are not available 9 to 5 is shortsighted. Community engagement thrives in the Top 100. Whether they are tackling youth unemployment via apprenticeships, social exclusion through partnerships or children’s reading initiatives with volunteering, some of the examples of time and effort invested by these businesses is incredible. No one wants to work for a faceless corporate, rather a business with a soul. Quality is not a department for these businesses. Standards are high, don’t waver and tend to increase. Whether it is ISO, IIP (Bronze, Silver or Gold), Industry Awards or
Accreditations, they all evidence a business focused towards its stakeholders. High standards say a lot about a business, top talent gravitates toward these businesses because they reflect their common perspective. Finally, it is also worth mentioning that the Executives in the Top 100 companies I have spoken to are all willing to share their experiences with other business people that are commencing these initiatives. You have support available that you perhaps did not appreciate. ■
Justin Rush is a career recruiter and Director at Abacus Professional Recruitment. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
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ohn Healy is bristling with anticipation. The Managing Director for Allstate Northern Ireland is only a matter of weeks away from moving the business into its new Belfast headquarters (on the site of the old Maysfield Leisure Centre adjacent to Central Station) and can’t wait. The £30m development, which will house all the firm’s Northern Ireland staff and become one of Belfast’s largest office blocks, has been quite an undertaking. Moving staff and equipment will obviously be a big job but for a business which has grown its base here from a standing start 19 years ago to one of the biggest employers in the land, the move will be a piece of cake. Allstate in Northern Ireland – as part of the largest-listed insurance company in the US – focuses on the technology needed to provide insurance to people who use the firm’s service. “We write the software, test the software and manage the infrastructure to allow Allstate to deliver its promise to people to pick up the pieces when things go wrong in their life,” John said. “We write the software which process the claims, which runs the finance and keeps the business moving.” That message is one John is keen to explain, not just to give the wider business world an idea of what the company does, but also to
get the word out to others working in the technology arena here. “There were an amazing amount of people in the wider technology family in Northern Ireland who wouldn’t have been able to articulate clearly what Allstate does and that is one of the things I very much wanted to change. We’ve always had a reputation as being an employer of choice but I want to make sure the technology is being talked about as well. “We have an agenda at the moment to get our technologists out and about at conferences and seminars to make sure people understand what we’re doing. As a result, we picked up a lot of technology awards because we’re doing a much better job of articulating what we do.” And the way it goes about its business is also changing with the business here moving away from the traditional “waterfall” design process to a more collaborative agile product-centred way of delivering technology. That goes as far in some instances as assigning two developers to a project to design two pieces of code, a method which may seem like overkill but which in fact is proved to be highly productive in reaching the goal of what the client actually wants. Meanwhile, John is very aware that recruiting the best talent is key and wants
to “make sure that when technologists are looking for their next challenge, they’re thinking of Allstate.” He said local schools, colleges and universities have helped ensure the pipeline of technology talent in Northern Ireland is strong, particularly at the entry level stage, but agreed there were still some challenges in terms of talent availability further up the experience curve, hence a focus on developing that internally at Allstate. Certainly the Northern Ireland arm seems to be a central plank to the global business already. “Before I even moved to Allstate I spent a bit of time with Suren Gupta (the Executive Vice President of Allstate’s Technology and Strategic Ventures). He’s a very frequent attender here and really supportive of what we’re doing. Just listening to him and his vision for Allstate and for the transformation of technology is inspirational.” At the moment it’s the biggest technology firm in Northern Ireland and also a significant part of Allstate as one of only two tech centres outside the US, the other being in Bangalore. With such head office support and a new office building, the Northern Ireland arms looks set to solidify that position in the coming years. ■
How business can succeed David Gavaghan, chair of CBI Northern Ireland, assesses the current economic environment and offers up a few pointers to help companies thrive
t is now a year since the seismic decision taken by the majority of people in Britain and Northern Ireland to leave the EU. As we head into the second half of 2017 after another momentous election that potentially heralds a new focus on our domestic agenda, businesses here are not much wiser as to what the arrangements will be after March 2019. For business this is not a conducive backdrop to make long-term decisions. Notwithstanding this, what might the guiding lights for business be in the coming years? In many respects the foundations for success remain the same as they have always been – albeit with an added sense of urgency as there is every prospect that each and every business will face more uncertainty and more challenging times, as new ways of doing business arise. David Gavaghan
One thing is for sure – there will be winners and losers. Easy access to markets – accessing existing (and new) markets is the lifeblood of any business. Anything that reduces the ability for businesses to access their primary markets will undermine the prosperity of business and in turn damage our economy. Undoubtedly all exporting businesses will need to consider how to expand their markets recognising that whatever the arrangements are put in place with the rest of the EU, there is the need to recognise that across China, India, Indonesia, Africa and Latin America there will hundreds of millions of new consumers that will be of interest to business;
For many businesses in the UK this could be one of the most challenging times in the past three decades but well-managed companies that focus on the following issues will undoubtedly be in better shape: e Attracting
talent and developing a skilled workforce – a critical issue for business will be the ability to attract talented people and to invest in developing their skills to the maximum potential of the individual. Some businesses (including higher education institutions) are already experiencing difficulties in attracting global talent. It will be critical in the coming months for solutions to be found to this – if not, it is certain that our businesses will not be as competitive. Government increasingly appears to recognise this threat so we hope that pragmatic solutions will be found. In the meantime companies need to increase significantly the amount of resources into developing skills right across their workforce;
Technology – the level of technological change in the coming decade will be at a pace that very few of us have anticipated. Recent disruptive events have shown the huge risks that businesses face if they ignore the threats of cyber security. This equally presents great opportunities for those countries that are seeking to be at the forefront of this next wave of technological change. Reading
last year Alec Ross’ book “Industries of the Future” gave me a real insight into the pace of change that we face;
Innovation – business today has no choice but to innovate. Not to do so will simply mean that your business will disappear. The ability to leverage technology will also be essential.
Finally, I believe that businesses run by people with a strong social conscience are likely to be more successful over the long-run. Fully embracing the greatest challenge that we face across the planet – man-made climate change – cannot be left outside the boardroom. Some might argue it is not the role of business to consider societal issues but today young people are much more discerning about working for companies that demonstrate strong ethical standards. They also are much more aware in their purchasing decisions about those companies which both make a profit and make the world a better place! ■
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Jorge Lopes, Country Director at Diageo NI
What sort of a year has it been for the business? It’s been a really good year for Diageo Northern Ireland. We’re beating plan, growing the business and increasing market share. The hospitality industry here is doing fantastically well with several new bars opening in Belfast in recent months including ‘Five Points’ on the Dublin Road and ‘The Bear and The Doll’ to name a few. We remain committed to supporting the hospitality and tourism industry in Northern Ireland and we’re doing this by investing in our brands, our customers and through strategic partnerships, including our long
standing partnership with Visit Belfast and our sponsorship of this year’s Northern Ireland Tourism Awards held in May in Enniskillen Castle. It has been an exciting year as well for our brands with the launch of our new premium blended Irish Whiskey, Roe & Co. Meanwhile, our local lager, Harp, has continued to capture the essence of NI perfectly with its new ‘Pure Here’ campaign and mural launched in the Cathedral Quarter by Carl Frampton. We’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to showcase out extensive range of craft beers by bringing the Open Gate Brewery from St James’s Gate to Belfast for various events including Tesco Taste Fest and the Twilight Market.
How has Brexit impacted your forward planning in Northern Ireland? Diageo operates on an all-island basis and Ireland is home to two of our core brands, Guinness and Baileys, so we have one of the most integrated operations of any business in either jurisdiction. We have over 300 employees across three sites including the Baileys Global Supply facility in Mallusk which produces and exports over 70% of the world’s supply of Baileys, a 24/7 bottling and packaging plant in East Belfast and the company’s corporate headquarters in Belfast. As such, the movement of people and goods across an open border is of fundamental importance and a key priority for us.
We welcome the current emphasis on keeping the border a virtual one in terms of the movement of goods and people and remain confident that we can manage through Brexit without any significant disruption to our business. How has the drop in the value of sterling impacted trade? A lower sterling value has contributed to a greater number of tourists coming to Northern Ireland and we have benefited from that increase in footfall which is great both for us and our customers. Where do you see the Diageo NI business in the next five years? The future is bright for Diageo in NI. The
hospitality sector here is booming and we have amazing brands, amazing plans and, most importantly, an amazing team to deliver our ambition.
what they chose to drink and this is reflected in the growth of the Diageo Reserve portfolio of luxury spirits, which features brands such as Cîroc, Tanqueray No. Ten, Bulleit and Johnnie Walker.
Diageo is an integral part of the community here both as a major exporter and employer and we will continue in the next five years to play our part in helping to support and expand Northern Ireland’s tourism and hospitality offering.
The gin boom continues and food pairing has become increasingly popular and I think we’ll see even more of this in the future with pubs and restaurants really using the link between food and alcohol to enhance their offering.
What trends are shaping the drinks world? People are planning their nights out much more than ever before. The concept of quality not quantity is also evident with people much more likely to ‘trade up’ in
The focus on craft beer continues and the future looks bright. Hop House 13 has made craft beer more accessible and, in the two years since launch, has become the number five lager in the NI market (based on Nielson data). ■
Caterpillar (NI) Ltd
anked at number nine in the TOP 100 is Caterpillar (NI) Ltd, formerly FG Wilson (Engineering) Ltd –, the company’s name changed in 2014 to create a more visible link between Caterpillar’s manufacturing facilities in Northern Ireland and its business globally. Caterpillar NI employs around 1,800 people and its core activity is the manufacture of generator sets under two brands – Caterpillar and FG Wilson – for sale around the world. FG Wilson products remain a significant part of the Caterpillar business and while the FG Wilson name might no-longer adorn the buildings in Northern Ireland, globally the brand remains as strong as ever. Today, FG Wilson-branded generator sets – many of which are manufactured at Caterpillar’s Northern Ireland facilities – are sold in more than 150 countries, with Asian markets accounting for an increasing proportion of sales. FG Wilson was founded in 1966 and acquired by Caterpillar in 1999. The FG Wilson brand is now looked after by Ann Brown, who is based in Belfast. A grounded professional, Ann leads an experienced team, many of whom started their careers with the company and were instrumental in driving the FG Wilson brand’s growth. Ann is candid about what attracted Caterpillar to FG Wilson. “It was the modern factories, the wellestablished distribution network, the ability to reach new customers and most important of all, the entrepreneurial spirit.” That entrepreneurial spirit has seen over 600,000 FG Wilson-branded generator sets
installed in the last 30 years, with a combined installed electrical power greater than the UK mains grid. The same spirit has seen the organisation through major changes in the last five years as the brand adapts to everchanging markets. Ann said: “Like everyone else, we’ve needed to adjust and reinvent ourselves. Our markets peaked in 2008, then sank in 2009. Today in Europe, Africa and Middle East our markets are worth 30% – 40% less than in 2008, whereas our markets in Asia are worth 50% more. We’ve also seen a big influx of new low-cost entrants and the relocation of many suppliers into Asia.” For the FG Wilson brand, that’s meant re-evaluating the global manufacturing
footprint. Ann said: “Today we build more of our standard products in Asia, and Caterpillar’s Northern Ireland facilities are being reconfigured for the more complex, customised, value-added products. “That’s a really important part of what we do. In some European and Middle Eastern cities, it’s possible to look across the skyline and tick off large landmark buildings which rely on an FG Wilson generator set for standby power. This kind of business is something which FG Wilson does extremely well. We’ve a long track record of experience and the innovation and product development from custom projects work their way through to our more standard ranges and gives us a competitive edge.” For Ann, the heart and soul of the FG Wilson brand was born in Northern Ireland and will remain there. “Everyone is very conscious of the heritage of FG Wilson and it’s backed up by logic. The heart sees the tradition and our roots, the head sees the design and R&D facilities and the years of experience within the team. These give us a real edge. We’ve a great and historic brand with a 50-year history, and now we’re writing a new chapter in its life.”
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The SSE Arena, Belfast brings a touch of Essence to Corporate Entertaining...
orporate hospitality continues to be an integral part of the marketing mix as companies try to secure the loyalty of their clients in the face of difficult economic conditions. The SSE Arena, Belfast provides luxury hospitality suite hire to businesses who entertain at the biggest and best concerts Northern Ireland has to offer. Now The SSE Arena has launched a new and exciting hospitality experience to their impressive VIP suite and lounge facilities, Essence. The Essence experience provides guests with added value in the form of a high end service and delivery creating a mix of hospitality with regards to quality and presentation. Guests can stay and enjoy the late
night hospitality for one hour post show giving added value and an opportunity to chat with clients at the end of an enjoyable evening. The SSE Arena have looked at ways of delivering their services to various customer profiles and have been creative in marketing their facilities in order to accommodate various markets. Opportunities include: ANNUAL SUITE HIRE The SSE Arena, Belfast VIP Suites have become the premier client entertainment option. VIP Suites provide the perfect setting to entertain clients, potential investors, reward employees or enjoy an evening out with family and friends. Annual VIP Suite holders
receive the first opportunity to use a private suite at the biggest and best shows Belfast has to offer. EXCLUSIVE SUITE HIRE – PER EVENT Looking to entertain for one event only? The SSE Arena have an option to hire a suite and entertain on a per event basis. This is the perfect option for companies who have an entertainment budget and want to plan a one night only event. Booking on a per event basis hospitality suites are available catering from 12 to 28 guests. SHARED SUITE HIRE – PER EVENT The SSE Arena have created a new Share a Suite option ideal for smaller groups and individual seat purchases. This is the perfect way to enjoy a show in luxury surroundings sharing the suite with a small number of customers and availing of the hospitality perks. LOUNGES The SSE Arena have also developed that bit of extra comfort and relaxation for customer’s pre and post show with the popular Heineken Lounge and West Lounge Experience. Guests can enjoy a pre-show meal and drinks before taking their seats to enjoy the entertainment. The lounge stays open post show for guests to come back to and finish off the evening in style. For further details on Suite and Lounge opportunities at The SSE Arena contact the Commercial team on 028 9076 6000
The Suite & Lounge Experience at The SSE Arena, Belfast
Wanting to entertain key clients and reward customers... With over 150 events per year The SSE Arena is just the ticket. Enjoy hospitality at The SSE Arena in the luxury of a VIP suite and lounges. For further details on annual suite hire and event packages contact the Commercial team on 028 9076 6000
Your voice: a secret weapon Andrew P Bennett from Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation which teaches public speaking and leadership skills, explains how you can use your voice to get your audience’s attention
hen we speak we want people to listen in a positive way. Afterall we are speaking for a purpose: to inform, to persuade or to inspire. Many people get into the habit of under-utilising their vocal variety and sounding monotonous. You can change this by rediscovering the power of your voice to engage your audiences and keep them listening! Think of your voice as an instrument A musician doesn’t sound wonderful without paying attention. You need to know how to hold your instrument correctly to produce beautiful and varied sounds. The same quality of attention is needed for the body and the speaking voice. Use your posture To sound good you need good posture. We need to stand comfortably with our body alignment straight and flexible (without tension). This makes us look alert and ready to speak. Your body is like a column with the feet supporting the column – just slightly apart or one foot a little in front of the other. Avoid crossing you ankles or legs wide apart. Look at yourself in a mirror to see if you are
standing in a slightly lop-sided way. Over time you can gently change your habit and stand tall, flexible and relaxed.Good posture lets you breathe freely so that your voice can reach the back of the room. Use your breath to carry your voice Speakers can get confusing advice about breathing. The key point is that we need to train ourselves away from a stressful, shallow, high-in-the-chest breath which often accompanies nervousness. Instead we want to breathe using our full lung capacity. This anchors our breath lower in the body and brings poise. Remember you need your breath to be free to carry your voice so everyone can hear you. Good breathing and good posture will go a long way to achieving this. Keep hydrated Remember your voice needs humidity to work well. Speakers should always carry a bottle of water and take a sip whenever needed. Be expressive If you record your voice and listen back you’ll hear what you sound like to other people
(we really do sound different to how we sound inside our own heads). One of the best ways to be vocally expressive is reading out loud. At work we mostly read silently and purely to get the meaning of the text. If we read a presentation, even though this is out loud, there is a good chance we will become monotonous and dull. However, if you ever read aloud to children you’ll be used to an audience that actively demands that you are lively and “do all the voices!” However the reading material can be anything you like: novels, poems, magazine articles. Pick material with different moods and characters. Read aloud to yourself to start with, record yourself, notice what is good and where you can make yourself sound more interesting. If you can do this 10 minutes a day. Over time your voice will sound more varied naturally. Keep practicing To keep your voice at its most expressive and musical, keep using it with purpose. Practice your own words and presentations to integrate your new skills and create new habits. If you sound good your audience will listen and thank you for being both interesting and engaging. ■
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Surprisingly strong, but more to do Gareth Hetherington, Associate Director at the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, takes a look at the health of the Northern Ireland economy, honing in on the labour market
he business of crystal ball gazing has never been easy, whether you are one of Northern Ireland’s largest companies, a sole trader or even an economist. The referendum result and the much more recent June 2017 General Election has made that task even more difficult. Despite the uncertainty of the last 12 months, economic performance continues to be steady, if not spectacular, and has been more positive than many had anticipated. Nevertheless, there should be no room for complacency about our future economic prospects. The potential for significant policy shifts with respect to migration, trade, funding and borders presents major challenges to key decision makers in business and government alike. The Northern Ireland economy grew by 1.5% in 2016, but growth is likely to be lower in each of the next four years, ranging from 1.1% in 2017 to 1.4% in 2020. Whilst Brexit will have an impact on the economy over the next two years, the primary risk to growth is a squeeze on incomes and the subsequent impact on consumer spending. The UK and Northern Ireland economies are more heavily reliant on consumer spending as a driver for economic growth than many other
year low. Yet, despite this situation, earnings growth remains subdued and “clustered around 2%-2.5% across the economy” according to the Bank of England latest Agents report. This suggests, that an increase in pace of wage growth may not happen immediately. The outcome of this battle between the forces driving wages higher and those keeping a restraint on wage growth is critical to determine the future growth path of the economy. Gareth Hetherington
advanced nations (see Chart 1). Therefore, continued economic growth both locally and nationally is dependent on the financial health of the consumer.
INCOME GROWTH IS VITAL The Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts wage growth at above the rate of inflation over the next five years. At face value, there is a strong case for an increase in wages: the labour market is tightening; there are reported skills shortages across a range of sectors; and fears of future immigration controls will reduce the supply of labour. In addition, higher inflation is also likely to result in increased wage demands. Whilst a pay freeze is not welcome, it may be more tolerable when inflation is very low as has been the case in recent years. However inflation is now 2.9% and rising. Coupled with several years of pay restraint in the recent past, companies large and small are likely to come under increasing pressure to offer more generous pay rises. In contrast, it should also be recognised that labour market conditions have been tight for some time, the UK employment rate is at record levels and unemployment is at a 42
THE CHANGING NATURE OF EMPLOYMENT IN NORTHERN IRELAND The local economy has enjoyed a ‘jobs rich’ recovery since 2012, with employment increasing by almost 60,000. This is to be welcomed, but the nature of employment has changed in that period, in particular, part-time employment has been growing at a faster pace than full-time employment (8% P/T compared to 6% F/T). There has also been a significant increase in self-employment, which can be seen as positive in terms of increased levels of entrepreneurialism but the greatest level of growth has been seen in part-time selfemployment (12,000 compared to just 5,000 additional full-time self-employed). This may suggest a growth in the gig economy which is attractive to employers as it reduces the need to make employers National Insurance and pension contributions. This changing nature of employment suggests that despite record high levels of employment, there is greater additional supply in the labour market than the headline figures may suggest. As a result, there could be significant scope for further labour market tightening before pressure to increase earnings picks up. >
WHAT DO ALL THESE BUSINESSES HAVE IN COMMON? TECHNOLOGIES
CH ARTE R E D ACCOUNTANTS
DOES THE NORTHERN IRELAND WAGE GAP MATTER? Given the importance of consumer spending to the economy, the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre will be publishing research conducted into Northern Ireland incomes and spending patterns. The average full time wage in Northern Ireland is £26,070 compared to £28,560 across Great Britain as a whole, a wage gap of 8.7%. At the headline level this is quite significant, however, removing London from the analysis, the gap reduces to only 3.6%. Taking a more detailed sectoral view, some interesting patterns emerge (see Chart 2). For example, the financial sub-sector has a much lower average earnings than other GB regions, however, removing London from the analysis the gap falls from 43% to 13%.
Regional ranking of total spending by category Category
Highest weekly expenditure (£)
Food and non-alcoholic drinks
Alcoholic drink, tobacco and narcotics
Clothing and footwear
Housing (net)1, fuel and power
Household goods and services
Recreation and culture
Restaurants and hotels
Forecast Tables Northern Ireland 2016
GVA(1) growth rate
Employment growth: Full time
Employment growth: Part time
Average House price
United Kingdom GVA(1) growth rate Unemployment rate(2) Average House price
Macro-economic variables 2016 Aspiring to achieve UK average earnings in Northern Ireland is appropriate, but it is also important to reflect the other side of the side of the equation: the cost of living. A significant portion of overall household spending is allocated to housing, which in NI is only 12% of the total household budget compared to 22% across the UK. The impact of lower housing costs, along with free prescriptions, no domestic water charges, lower tuition fees and free public transport for pensioners, has resulted in local households having different spending patterns compared to the rest of the UK (see Table 1). As a proportion of overall spending, Northern Ireland households spend least on housing and most on food, drink, clothing and communications relative to other UK regions. Northern Ireland is also second only to
Note 1: Gross Value Added (GVA) is the preferred measure of economic activity. It is similar to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but excludes the impact of taxes and subsidies (most notably VAT) Note 2: Claimant count rate as a % of 16 – 64 population. GB claimant count rate impacted by transition to Universal Credit Note 3: Bank of England base rates Note 4: UK Consumer Prices Index (CPI)
London in hospitality (restaurants and hotels) expenditure. Therefore, perhaps the ‘glass half full’ attitude to our overall standard of living should be promoted a little more often. This is also important from a business investment perspective and the list of our Top 100 companies includes a healthy share of foreign-owned businesses. Encouraging senior executives to move to Northern Ireland from their own domestic market may be challenging, particularly if they believe they can earn higher sums in other locations. But
it must also be recognised that their salaries will go much further here. Combine that with a high quality, low cost education system for their children and Northern Ireland becomes an increasingly attractive location for overseas executives. This is a good news story that too often goes untold. ■ Gareth Hetherington is an Associate Director at the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @UlsterUniEPC
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From flax to hacks Gary Robinson, founder of Uleska, explains why the cyber security industry has the potential to dominate the economy in a manner reminiscent of Northern Ireland’s once-famed global linen trade dominance
here’s a saying in the IT industry; “Software is eating the world”. This points to the fact that everything we use, interact with, and rely upon is running software.
large and skilled IT sector, with many people who can easily transitioned from other disciplines into cyber security. Indeed it is the skills and adaptability of this workforce that has fuelled Northern Ireland to top the cyber security foreign direct investment table.
Twenty years ago most people had not heard of the Internet, now bank accounts, fridges, cuddly toys, bicycle lights, and, of course, computers, are all packed with software and talking to each other.
The US astronaut and Senator John Glenn famously quoted “I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.” Many in the IT industry can relate to this quote when it comes to software and interconnected devices, where cost is critical to winning over any market. As we can see through any of our news outlets, this combination of software existing everywhere and market pressures has led to a major problem, namely “Cyber Security”. Listed by many sources as a major risk to businesses, the ability for deliberate or accidental compromises of computer systems has caused many high profile problems for businesses large and small. However with every cloud comes a silver lining. The worldwide need to secure these software systems has led to a cyber security industry expected to be worth $1 Trillion in the next five years. This is an amazing opportunity for those willing to take it. Especially in regions such as Northern Ireland where there is a strong ‘Knowledge Economy’.
Northern Ireland is already the number one destination in the world for cyber security foreign investment.
Strength in an industry such as cyber security requires a skilled workforce. There is no ‘cyber security’ to be mined from the ground, no pipes to extract it from the North Sea. Strength in cyber security comes from the strength of skills, expertise, and experience of the workforce. This is the type of industry Northern Ireland can excel in. Northern Ireland is already the number one destination in the world for cyber security foreign direct investment. Driven through the work of Invest NI and local educational centres such as CSIT and University of Ulster, many of the worlds’ largest cyber security companies have chosen Northern Ireland as the place with skills and ability to generate cyber security products and services. Cyber security is essentially a speciality IT sector, I myself moved from the software engineering discipline into cyber security over 10 years ago. Northern Ireland has a
Anecdotally I’ve seen this effect across the world. In my capacity as European Board member of the security organization OWASP, I get to travel the world attending security conferences. In 2014 I was stopped by multiple people enquiring about my accent. Each person immediately associated Belfast with excellence in cyber security, citing the industry leading companies who have set up here and spread the word. In the foreseeable future we should expect to see more of this external, and importantly internal, investment in cyber security. As our workforce gains more skills and reputation, we have the opportunity to lead the world in a new and lucrative industry. In reaction to Belfast’s IT industry over the last 20 years, it has been said that the city went “From ships to chips”. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to add to that phrasing, with Belfast moving “From flax to hacks”. We’ll see if that catches on. ■
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Skills and stability needed to deliver infrastructure Richard Kirk, Regional Director at the Institution of Civil Engineers, calls for stable government to boost skills and infrastructure provision to help the industry thrive
hroughout late spring and early summer, Brexit and the General Election have dominated the news cycle and national conversation. Ask anyone working in infrastructure in Northern Ireland what’s on their mind, and Brexit will assuredly be on the list. But they’re also bound to bring up two home-grown issues: the skills shortage, and the lack of an Executive. Industry and government have known about the impending skills shortage for some time. The Skills Barometer Report came out in 2015, and identified IT and civil engineering as two of the areas with greatest undersupply. Last year, a survey by CBI and AECOM showed that 86% of infrastructure providers were concerned that these shortages will deter the ability to deliver projects. Worse, by 2021 we will have 10% less 18-year-olds to fill these much-needed jobs. During the past 18 months, there has been some promising momentum in addressing the shortage – particularly around apprenticeships. However, much more needs to be done. Too many people still consider apprenticeships as a backup plan, or less prestigious than university. Meanwhile, other countries are championing apprenticeships to great economic and social success. Germany, for example, is a world leader in vocational training – and has half the youth unemployment rate of Northern Ireland. In response to the skills shortage, ICE, government, Northern Ireland’s FE colleges and 30 employers have created Work+, a civil engineering apprenticeship
programme. Work+ launched last year with 17 apprentices, and is set to have an even bigger intake this autumn. It has also proven to be a benefit to apprentices, employers and the wider industry alike. Apprentices take the first step into their careers as civil engineers with no educational debt, and employers develop in house talent while raising industry standards. We need more partnerships like this between industry, FE and government in order to upskill the workforce and put the right people in the right jobs. For us to move forward, however, there needs to be clarity around the apprenticeship levy. Many employers already face thin profit margins, and the lack of implementation for their levy contributions is hugely frustrating for them. Government absolutely needs to resolve this by making a plan to reinvest the levy funds into skills and apprenticeship programmes in Northern Ireland. Of course, we also need to have a functioning government in order to get this done. Prior to the Assembly elections in March, ICE made a list of asks for the new Executive to deliver within its first 100 days. The list included aiding delivery of critical infrastructure projects such as the York Street Interchange, NorthSouth Interconnector, A5, A6, and Belfast Transport Hub. Those 100 days have come and gone, and though there’s been some progress on projects like the A6 and Belfast Transport Hub, our wider infrastructure needs remain more pressing than ever. The current climate of uncertainty, austerity
and political tension is causing us to miss the bigger picture. We need to be investing in the next generation and the infrastructure projects which will attract investment, enable movement of people and goods and offset the effects of population growth and climate change. Our sector can only lead the way so much on these issues – we need a secure government committed to funding and delivering outcomes in order to achieve results for our society. If we let political instability delay investment in infrastructure and skills, we damage our health, economy, environment and quality of life. ■
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Act on data protection Steve Dempsey explains why any business holding large amounts of personal data needs to take its responsibilities seriously
n June 2015, UK pub chain JD Wetherspoons was hit by a cyber attack. More than 650,000 emails and some staff details were stolen. When the breach was discovered, the company's founder and chairman sounded an interesting note on security. "As far as I'm concerned, there's no need for Wetherspoon to hold customer information in future," said Tim Martin, promising that the company would "try to store the absolute minimum amount". And last month, Wetherspoons, founded by Campbell College educated Tim Martin, came good on that promise when it announced it was deleting its entire email database. Chief executive John Hutson explained why in a final email to customers. "Many companies use email to promote themselves, but we don't want to take this approach, which many consider intrusive. Our database of customers' email addresses, including yours, will be deleted. In future, rather than emailing our newsletters, we will continue to release news stories on our website." "Thank you for your custom," the email concluded, "and we hope to see you soon in a Wetherspoons pub." Some might see the destruction of such a valuable database as drastic. But given the risk and overheads associated with storing personal information, you can't argue with a focus on getting bums on seats, rather than emails into a database. And the cost of keeping data is only going to get more onerous with the onset of the EU's new General Data Protection
Regulation, or GDPR, in May of next year. The GDPR applies to any business that keeps data on European customers. Any business that uses such data for marketing or other purposes must have that person's unambiguous consent and must keep an audit trail that proves the customer hit all the relevant tick boxes when their data was collected. Consumers will also be able to demand details of all the personal data that marketers keep about them, including how this data is used. As a result, marketers need to get ready to justify every piece of data that they have collected and how it is used. They also need improved systems for retrieving datasets quickly when requested by consumers. There may be trouble ahead for those who don't. Trouble means fines. When the GDPR comes into effect, companies that are found to be non-compliant are facing a two-tiered approach to sanctions. Lesser incidents could result in maximum fines of either €10m (£8.8M) or 2% of the company's global turnover, whichever is greater. More serious violations could result in fines of up to €20m (£17.6m) or 4% of the company in question's global turnover; again, whichever is greater. Aside from the fines, there is also a risk of reputational damage and loss of customer trust. For some companies. data breaches are a PR disaster waiting to happen. So what should companies do and should other companies be looking to follow Wetherspoons' lead? Well, the first step is the application of some
common sense. Hoarding data for vague or intermittent marketing is no longer worth it. Businesses should be examining each and every dataset, whether it's emails, cookies or other personal information to ensure the cost of maintenance is less than the revenue they deliver. For some, the risk may outweigh the return. These companies may decide to take the Wetherspoons route at this point. Everyone else who chooses to hold onto their data needs to get their houses - and databases - in order. That means companies need to audit the permissions and consent associated with each customer and interrogate how they are currently being stored and processed within their CRM platforms. This could result in some uncomfortable conversations over ownership in some companies, where the IT function still retains control of customer data. Where consent cannot be proven or the provenance of existing data is unknown, companies may need to delete records or risk fines. They also need to review current datacollection processes to ensure consumers have full control over the permissions around the data they provide. Another recommended step is a review of contracts with third parties; data processors and providers. The line that data is the new oil has become a bit of a cliché at this stage. But perhaps it's more apt than it seems at first glance. Yes, data is the fuel for a new digital economy. But like oil, it's got a risky side. It is expensive to extract, refine and keep - and disastrous if it leaks. ■
Making the next generation proud Let’s celebrate ambition and give future leaders the role models they deserve, says Pamela McCreedy, Chair, Chartered Accountants Ulster Society
ou will often hear that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of the Northern Ireland economy. Indeed Northern Ireland’s SMEs account for over three quarters of private sector turnover and private sector employment, a huge contribution to local business life and to society. Over 99% of all Northern Ireland businesses are SMEs and we need them to develop and grow. But we also need the large businesses. They represent international investment, create wealth and employment and provide the service chains for many of those local SMEs. They can be the core around which important clusters can grow. They are important investors and valued advocates for Northern Ireland overseas. They can act as a gauge of international confidence in Northern Ireland and their experiences carry weight with other potential investors. It’s especially important that in a post-Brexit world we continue to seek to create a blend of strong indigenous firms and multinational companies which can make Northern Ireland a great place to live, and a great place in which to do business. As Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, it’s my job to represent the views of almost 4,500 professionals and to encourage the next generation of business leaders. Four out of ten of our members are working at senior, executive positions such as CEO, Managing Director, Finance Director or Partner.
and train 1,100 chartered accountancy students who are hoping to be future trailblazers. It’s crucial that we have those leaders of large businesses as role models and to encourage our brightest and best to stay here to make a life in Northern Ireland. The Top 100 list of companies represents ambition and aspiration. These are qualities that we would do well to celebrate in Northern Ireland. They are companies which help Northern Ireland to succeed on a global stage.
Research shows that almost one in four (23%) FTSE 100 CEOs are Chartered Accountants, and that finance experience is the most common career trait a mong UK CEOs, with 55% coming from a financial background.
An EU-funded report in 2012 stated that large companies contribute disproportionately more to a country’s economic performance than smaller ones. It found that bigger corporations were more productive; they pay higher wages, enjoy higher profits, and are more successful in international markets.
It’s no secret that a Chartered Accountancy qualification is a great education for a career in business and finance. We currently educate
Of course many SMEs represent innovation, export success and business excellence every bit as well as our large companies. It is vital,
though, that we retain and promote depth within our economy. Foreign Direct Investment and a strong home-grown entrepreneurial culture when found together are signs of a healthy economic mix. It goes beyond the economy however. A sustainable, diverse local economy is vital if we are to deliver on the social, health and education benefits that we want to see. A strong economy will help us to provide greater opportunity and the best possible public services for our people. If Northern Ireland is a great place to do business, it will help to ensure that Northern Ireland remains a great place to live. Northern Ireland has fantastic potential. For a small place we have a big impact around the world. There is much of which we can be proud. Our large firms are an important part of that success. We should celebrate their ambition – and we must pass it on to those coming through our schools and universities if we are to thrive in the future. ■
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Special relationship must stand strong Mary Rose Burke, chief executive of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, says Brexit must not fray the close ties between business north and south of the border
hen two people freely exchange resources of any kind they are, by definition, better off. This is the undeniable power of commerce: to unite people through mutually beneficial engagement. A survey we conducted in Dublin Chamber at the beginning of 2017 found that over half of Dublin businesses engage with Northern Ireland on some basis. This included sourcing staff, buying and selling, investing and seeking investment. One in four businesses in Dublin either employs or contracts staff from Northern Ireland. Over a third of our members sell to Northern Ireland, seamlessly and regularly. All of this important activity is made possible by the existence of an invisible border, which facilitates improved cooperation between the administrations involved and improvements to cross-border infrastructure. Business does not only rely on such co-operation; it champions it. When trade is flourishing, governments are naturally incentivised to facilitate cross-border cooperation. It is incumbent on all of us to determine what is required and what may be possible in order to ensure that this trend towards cross-border activity continues. I believe that there are three main strands to this: planning together for the future; capital investment; and improving technology.
The Irish Government is currently developing a National Planning Framework (NPF) which will be the framework for Irelandâ€™s city and county development plans and regional strategies for the next twenty years. As part of that, the Chamber has argued for our cities to be recognised as the drivers of regional economic growth. Excellent transport links between them will help the economy to optimise performance both nationally and on an all-island basis. The Dublin-Belfast corridor is one such link that is crucial. The NPF must take Belfast into account as the second major metropolitan centre on the east coast of the island. While it is difficult to predict the kind of border that will exist after Brexit, it is the responsibility of both states to ensure that Government policies either mitigate against cross-border friction through good planning, or utilise the benefits of an invisible border. Ensuring that there are two thriving metropolitan regions will require capital investment from all relevant parties. The UK and Northern Irish Governments must ensure that capital investment is a priority in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government must ensure that capital investment is a priority in the Greater Dublin Area. Increased confidence in the potential of both economies will encourage private investment, while healthy competition between the two cities can improve the attractiveness of both locations for business.
Economic and social links between the metropolitan regions of Dublin and Belfast are strengthening organically, and the commuter belts of the two cities have already converged. By supporting this trend with adequate infrastructural investment, we can ensure that the benefits are felt throughout South Ulster and East Leisnter. Proximity to a large and attractive commercial centre is, in itself, a fantastic feature for attracting investment. In a cross-border context, increasing investment will require investments in new technologies that ensure frictionless transportation of people and goods. With the UK potentially exiting the customs union, increased use of smart technology, connected vehicles, and shared standards will be required to ensure that we do not once again return to delays for vehicles at checkpoints while awaiting customs clearance, discouraging cross-border activity through inconvenience. The Dublin-Belfast business relationship has grown and brought prosperity to many in both cities as well as those between them. It will be challenged by Brexit and we must ensure that we are ready to meet this challenge. We must rise to this challenge with considered planning, credible and long-term capital investment plans, and increased use of technology to ensure that the half of Dublin businesses who engage with Northern Ireland continues to grow over coming years. It will make us all better off. â–
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Oﬃcial fuel consumption figures for the Audi A7 Sportback S line 3.0 TDI ultra 218PS S tronic in mpg (l/100km): Urban 54.3 (5.2), Extra Urban 61.4 (4.6), Combined 58.9 (4.8) CO2 emissions: 126g/km. Fuel consumption and CO2 figures are obtained under standardised EU test conditions (Directive 93/116/EEC). This allows a direct comparison between diﬀerent manufacturer models but may not represent the actual fuel consumption achieved in ‘real world’ driving conditions. Optional wheels may aﬀect emissions and fuel consumption figures. Image shown for illustration purposes only. More information is available on the Audi website at www.audi.co.uk and at www.dft.gov.uk/vca
Terms & Conditions: Price shown is for a 48 month Business Contract Hire agreement for a Audi A7 S Line 3.0 TDI 218 Ultra S Tronic, with a contract mileage of 10,000 miles per annum and excess mileage charge of 11p per mile. All figures shown are exclusive of VAT and are for business customers only. At the end of your agreement you must return the vehicle and vehicle condition, excess mileage and other charges may be payable. Hire available subject to status to UK residents aged 18 or over. Guarantees and indemnities may be required. Terms and conditions apply. Offer may be varied, withdrawn or extended at any time. Hire provided by Audi Financial Services, Brunswick Court, Yeomans Drive, Blakelands, Milton Keynes, MK14 5LR. We commonly introduce customers to Audi Financial Services. This introduction does not amount to independent financial advice. Offer ends 30th September 2017.
EHA Group – building upon experience This experience was instrumental in the coordination and management of the many and varied issues that inevitably arise on a building project of this scale.” EHA’s private housing development “Huntingdon Hill” on the Barnfield Road, Derriaghy will provide 46 luxury houses. A collection of classically designed family homes which are now on sale with Ulster Property Sales www.ulsterpropertysales.co.uk In England, projects include a £32.5m multi-purpose refurbishment. This former department store in Plymouth is being redeveloped into a 110-room Premier Inn hotel, 500-bed student accommodation and seven retail units.
Choice Housing Association & Communities NI with EHA Group
HA Group has had its busiest six months to date from January to June 2017, with current contracts totalling £82m. At present EHA is building 15 projects across Northern Ireland and the UK, from Ballymena to Mayfair. Established in 1990, EHA has grown to become a full-service construction firm with over 75 staff, consistently delivering the finest properties in terms of location, quality and design. Headquartered in Eglinton, Derry/ Londonderry with offices in Belfast and London, the business provides contracting, civil engineering and specialist joinery services which includes building custom kitchens, bathrooms and furniture across the locations.
Belfast Road, Bangor development for Choice Housing Association
A total of 500 homes are currently being built across Northern Ireland, completing, on average, one house a day. Handovers have commenced at EHA’s Belfast Road, Bangor project where 106 homes are being built. In partnership with Choice Housing Association, this development meets the diverse needs of a wide range of occupiers including older people, families and those with complex needs. Hugh McNally, Development Officer, Choice Housing Association, commented: “From the beginning it was clear that EHA understood Choice’s vision for the project. EHA’s Contracts Manager brought a wealth of social housing experience to the table.
Huntingdon Hill, private residential development, Derriaghy
EHA group is also refurbishing a Victorian townhouse for overseas royalty in London’s exclusive Mayfair. The Grade II listed townhouse is located in a heritage conservation area, often referred to in Oscar Wilde plays, requiring careful preservation. The fit-out includes custom furniture and a bespoke handmade kitchen, all designed and manufactured in EHA’s state-of-the-art workshop in Eglinton. Edward Allingham, Managing Director says: “The company has really grown this year and we anticipate an even busier 2018, with a number of major projects in the pipeline.” ■ Contact: www.ehagroup.co.uk
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Making yourself heard
You’ll inevitably find yourself working for a strong personality at some stage. David O’Reilly explains how to make sure it’s doesn’t become an overbearing relationship with some key tips
: I have recently started as senior manager with a large corporate business. I am finding it increasingly difficult to work for my new CEO. She has a very strong personality and doesn't ever want to listen to my views. I had a very responsible position with my previous employer and was viewed as central to the team. If I can't get a resolution I will have no alternative but to move on. A: Having made the brave move to further your career with a new employer, it would be a shame to give up on them so quickly. A major skill of management is not only the ability to manage downwards, but also the ability to manage upwards. This is often overlooked but I believe it requires much greater skill than the former. Several thoughts strike me regarding your dilemma. Does your new ceo see you as a potential threat to her own career? Is this her management style with others, or just you? Some senior managers like to lay down the law early on and may feel that this is the best way to establish control and show who the boss is. A core question to be answered by you is why did the ceo hire you in the first place? Focus on your strengths and the characteristics that differentiated you from the other candidates.
If you were interviewed by a panel, speak to others on the panel, possibly HR, to discover what it was for them that made you the stand out candidate. Discuss your situation with trusted colleagues so you can better understand your ceo. Get their points of view and learn from their experiences from when they first started with the company. If they had the same experience as you are having, how did they manage it? What actions did they take? What worked, what didn't work? How long did it take until things settled down for them? If your experience is unique, then you must challenge your ceo in a calm and professional manner. She may not realise how she is treating you. If it is a personality issue, then let her get it out in the open. If she feels she has made the wrong choice in hiring you, then let her get it out in the open. Ensure she understands your reservations so that she is given the opportunity to make things better. Communication is key. If you feel you must move on, then this will allow you to manage the process for everyone's benefit. No one is immune to workplace tensions: It is inevitable that you will have some trying
moments and conversations with colleagues. To reach the most productive outcome for you, keep these three points in mind: 1 Keep it civil. Don't turn the conversation into a combat with a winner and a loser. Everyone looks bad when the discussion turns toxic, and your ceo may not forgive you. 2 Don't rehearse. When you know things are going to be tough, it's tempting to practice what you're going to say ahead of time. But this is a conversation - not a performance. Instead, know where you stand but be open enough to listen and react. 3 Resist making assumptions. You don't have access to your ceo's mindset, only your own. Don't assume that you know where your ceo is coming from or how she views the problem. Instead, ask for her perspective. Her viewpoint may surprise you. Ultimately, get your issue out in the open. Manage upwards to ensure the best outcome for yourself whilst showing strength, openness and the ability to take the lead in a very awkward situation. ■ David O'Reilly is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with a MSc in business from TCD and employment law from UCD.
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How to create an effective team meeting Dr Kevin Donaghy, Business Consultant and Coach with CCO (Int), explains how to get to the nub of the matter when your team meets Kevin Donaghy
e it at board, operations or senior management team level, or even in ad hoc teams put together for a particular project, businesses can fall short when it comes to managing and coaching their various teams. Professional sportsmen like the Ulster rugby team or County GAA sides hit the field of play with the best possible preparation and support behind them. They have an experienced manager and coaching team devising an effective game strategy, guiding players on how to operate as a cohesive unit and ensuring the team plays with the correct blend of skills. We expect to see something similar within the business sphere. And yet, when groups of people are pulled together to deal with an emerging challenge or to serve a specific function, they often don’t operate effectively and the strategy fails. This dynamic comes across most clearly in the team meeting. Participants will often complain about the time meetings take, the lack of clarity and the absence of decisions. Often, there is no meeting etiquette; that is, an agreed, professional way to manage meetings. For example, it would not be unusual for us to find a business where there is a regular
dysfunctional, weekly meeting between senior members of a design department and a production department. The meeting may nominally be about ensuring products are produced properly and cost effectively, but due to past unworkability, anger and frustration takes over. The ‘hidden objective’ of such meetings soon becomes: “Can I make sure I/we come out of this meeting looking good, or at least not looking bad?” At these meetings, there is little true listening only the loudest speak, criticism is either direct or implied, and there are occasional outbursts of personal or team criticism. The agenda meanders everywhere and measured outcomes and accountability are lost. The meeting’s usefulness diminishes and participants depart frustrated, stressed or fearful. We find that this situation can be improved quickly with some clear guidelines and coaching designed to create clarity and a collaborative spirit. So how is that achieved?
CLARITY To deliver an effective meeting, it is critical that you clearly answer these questions: • What is the purpose of the meeting? • What measurable outcomes are required? • What is the minimum number of participants?
• What roles / skillsets are needed? • What is the minimum time required to deliver a successful meeting and how frequently should the meeting occur? • And how much time should we spend deciding today’s priorities versus forward planning?
COLLABORATION We will often step in to moderate team meetings. When we do so, we will invite those present to ensure that: • participants are acknowledged for good work; • concerns are listened to, understood and, where possible, dealt with; • participants state clearly what isn’t working, why they think that is, and make a request for a change in a process / procedure / behaviour • SMART goals are set at the conclusion of the meeting for which participants will be held accountable • negative emotions like anger and fear are controlled by everyone so that team members can stay calm, passionate and supportive. When meetings have a clear purpose, have the right people present, have clear goals and have a supportive meeting etiquette, they become worthwhile and effective. ■
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David McWilliams: US role as global leader looks over...
ears ago, a mate of mine, the son of a hard-working Jewish butcher from Brooklyn, managed to get into Harvard. This was a huge undertaking for this average family without the financial resources to pay Ivy League fees. But they managed, as families tend to do. They saved, scrimped and borrowed so eventually the son emerged from one of America's finest universities with brilliant results. He hasn't looked back since. Two decades later in New York, when we were chatting to his dad, discussing the sacrifices parents have to make to send their kids to top US universities, the old man looked at me and chuckled: "If you think Harvard is expensive, try ignorance!" Ignorance is expensive and Donald Trump is testament to this. By pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, he is signalling to the
world that the United States – for so long the world's pre-eminent home of scientific enquiry – is rejecting science. For the country that sent the first man to the moon, this is shameful. American universities produce far more Nobel Prize winners for science than the rest of the world combined – what does this say to them? Having a climate change denier in the White House is frankly embarrassing. There is also something bigger about the US withdrawing from the world. It is a massive change from everything that has gone before. We will miss America if it goes. Pax Americana has given the world its geo-political ballast for the past 70 years. Implicit in this is the understanding that the USA – initially the world's major and then the world's only superpower – would defend concepts like free trade, free movement
of people, freedom of the press, and multilateral organisations like the UN and the World Bank. For most of the EU's existence, peace in Europe was preserved by the fact that the Americans deployed its military up against the Iron Curtain. Does anyone really think that Western Europe's military would have given Soviet generals a sleepless night? Of course not! Nato, as much as the European Union, created the conditions for peace in Europe. Nato is an American creation. Likewise in Asia, the ability and willingness of America and, in particular, the US Navy, to project its power to the farthest corners of the globe preserved peace in Asia. Obviously, the Americans have made mistakes. Indeed it is deeply fashionable to list our grievances against the Yanks. However, that "what aboutery" approach is
to fall into the great critics' trap of failing to distinguish between good and best. Sure, we'd all love to be best, but in many cases, being good as opposed to bad is sufficient. Being best is an aspiration and a rare reality. The Americans operated a foreign policy for much of their hegemony known in Washington as "adult supervision". This summed up the American approach to allow all the smaller countries, former friends and foes alike, to mess around in the playground until there was an issue. Only then would America step in and do the right thing. This strategy was most evident for Europeans during the genocidal war in Yugoslavia. In Yugoslavia, even as innocents were being slaughtered on our TV screens, the socalled European powers of Germany, Britain,
France and Italy sided with their old allies, either Serbia or Croatia, claiming impotence as a drunk and vicious rabble murdered and raped. Finally, it was Bill Clinton who decided this was enough; and the Americans bombed the Serbs to the negotiating table as the Europeans looked on with fake indignation. For Irish people, Pax Americana was most >
evident in the North. It wasn't European politicians who sat down tirelessly with the various sides in Northern Ireland between 1994 and 1999. It was Americans. The Americans involved themselves, mainly on the nationalist side, giving our government a friend in the negotiations. It was American politicians who helped with the furious scurrying back and forth between Dublin and London, helping clear obstacles. I can't remember a continental European politician becoming seriously involved, can you? Do you remember names like Jacques Chirac, Eduard Balladur or Gerhart Schroeder in the Good Friday Agreement? As you can see, at crunch times, the American adults came in to supervise the unruly children and sort things out. Part and parcel of American hegemony has always been trade and capital flows. Over the years this has culminated in Ireland doing $90bn (£69bn) of trade with the US every year. This is a phenomenal figure, particularly when you place it on top of the close to $400bn (£307bn) in US foreign investment here.
Unfortunately, the global understanding whereby the US will always be there as a type of "underwriter of last resort" is disappearing with Mr Trump. As I said, let's not confuse best with good; the US has made plenty of mistakes as the global policeman, but if it leaves the pitch we will miss it. So how serious is Mr Trump about leaving the pitch? If his Irish-American puppeteer Steve Bannon has anything to do with it, withdrawing from the Paris Accord is only the start. Mr Bannon is a true radical. He is on record as saying he wants to destroy and disrupt the "status quo" both within America and outside it. He wants to tear up agreements that he believes were hatched over the head of the ordinary American yet signed in the name of the ordinary American. He is the Nativist in the administration who believes that the people have been betrayed by a ruling class which sits above democracy, ultimately looting the country for its own narrow ruling class. For him, American commitments to agreements such as the climate change accord, the UN, Nafta and Nato are simply
various ways of emasculating American sovereignty. Mr Trump repeated these Bannon mantras time and again in his campaign and it seems that when he is under pressure in Washington and needs a quick headline, he lurches for the Bannon playbook, whether it's a renewed immigrant ban or withdrawing from an international treaty. This is all very dangerous for us, because Ireland has benefited overwhelmingly from Pax Americana. We are umbilically tied to the US. Furthermore, any withdrawal of America from the world stage would leave the world a much more dangerous place. Germany, the only other possible Western hegemon, hasn't the permission to lead properly; or at least the Germans have shown no appetite for the constraints and costs of leadership. Those who are now looking to China to take up the global reins should be equally cautious: China is an autocratic, one-party state on the cusp of a financial meltdown. To paraphrase an elderly man: "If you think America is bad, try China! ■
A MARK OF PROGRESS
Gender Diversity Charter Mark NI will launch at the Women in Business Chairâ€™s Lunch
14th September 2017 in the Europa Hotel 12-2.30pm
For further information on the Charter or to book a table at the lunch contact Women in Business on: 0845 6076041
Fleet Financial drives home new awareness campaign Fleet Financial urges NI businesses to steer clear of myths and take back control
leet Financial has kicked off a major awareness-raising campaign to bring Northern Ireland businesses up-to-speed on the range of vehicle management solutions which are designed to underline growth and create new operational efficiencies. The information-driven campaign is designed to put an end to some of the costly misconceptions and myths among business decision-makers which are preventing them from steering their way to new and innovative solutions that could transform their businesses. Research undertaken by Fleet Financial showed that more than half (56%) of SMEs in Northern Ireland recognised that managing their fleet effectively and efficiently should be a priority, less than one third (27%) had enquired about the solutions available or acted on the information available to them. Almost two-thirds of NI businesses (67%) believed embracing a fleet management company for solutions might cost them more money and time. Damian Campbell, Sales Manager at Fleet Financial, said: “We encourage business managers in Northern Ireland to regularly think about the vehicles they use, about how they can manage them better and increase efficiency to reduce outgoings. The survey highlights that most businesses know what they need to do to tackle these issues but aren’t confident about their knowledge of this area. “Our campaign is designed to urge NI businesses to realise that fleet management is a critical area within a modern, forwardlooking business and needs to be reviewed regularly. We would like local businesses to know their options, move towards engaging
Damian Campbell, Sales Manager at Fleet Financial
the services offered by Fleet Financial and fully understand the benefits and savings to their business.
innovative new technology can be easily deployed to save thousands of pounds in time and energy.”
“We have evolved to be much more than a contract hire provider. Our business model continues to change and innovate, keeping us at the forefront of our sector and providing local businesses with choice and flexible options when managing their company vehicles.”
“It’s why we’re embarking on a focused campaign to inform and educate the sector on the options available to them and how practically they can be utilised for their benefit. Using clear explanations and simple calculations, we want to dispel the myths that many business owners have so that they can make decisions based on fact.”
The survey showed that most NI businesses (92%) wanted clear and costed solutions to upgrading and managing their fleet, including full certainty around servicing, maintenance and repairs. “We recognise that Northern Ireland’s business owners have multiple priorities but many remain in the dark about the advantages we can offer on vehicle procurement, management or how our
As Northern Ireland’s leader in contract hire and vehicle management with more than 1200 business users and over 4,200 vehicles under management across the UK and Ireland, Fleet Financial delivers solutions for businesses of any size – from one small van or company car to larger fleets. ■ For more information, visit www.fleetfinancial.co.uk.
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The allure of the 19th tee Lord Iveagh of the Guinness empire will bring his inaugural global golfing event to Royal Portrush this autumn. Here he speaks to Emma Deighan about his own business, the family’s charity and the Golf Guinness and Oyster Gathering
he Earl of Iveagh prefers to be addressed as Edward Guinness. To his friends he’s Ned.
Edward may not have as much involvement in the family business as his father did. Benjamin Guinness (The 3rd Earl of Iveagh) was the last in the Guinness family to be directly involved before the Black Stuff was taken over by Diageo but Edward still has his say in some of the most important decisions made by the global drinks company he told Ulster Business. “I do keep in touch closely with the team,” said Edward whose sons Arthur and Rupert launched an Irish stamp to celebrate Guinness’ 250th anniversary almost nine years ago. “It’s a very well-run company and I’m highly supportive of things they do like the new modern brewery Brewhouse No. 4,” continued Edward. “That was the largest capital project to take place during the financial crisis and it’s one of the most modern breweries in the world,” he added. “You could say I get to do the fun things without the responsibility but I still take the family’s legacy very seriously and I encourage the right people to make decisions that are fitting with Guinness’ traditions,” he said. Today much of Edward’s time is taken up by the work on his estate, Elveden, which he describes as an SME. It comprises three business disciplines; hospitality, agriculture and retail, employing 150 people. “The estate has been in the Guinness family since 1895,” he said of his Suffolk demesne. “It shifted from a shooting estate to a productive estate and has gone through every production you could think of. We grow, primarily, carrots, potatoes and parsnips and we have links to the trade including the retail multiples,” explained Edward. While the Guinness family owns 10 golf
Lord Iveagh, left, with members of last year’s winning team at the Golf, Guinnes and Oyster Gathering
courses that are exclusively members-only clubs, the GGOG is the family’s first major tournament of this kind. GGOG is a global golfing tournament calling at three different cities - New York, Dubai, London and ending in Royal Portrush this October 5 where all winners will compete in the final alongside new teams joining from NI. It’s described by the organisers as a ‘readymade premium golf event attended by c-suites and HNWIs with b2b networking at the helm and a platform for businesses to provide premium hospitality and entertainment for their stakeholders’.
and venture capital business Tarncourt in London among those. There will be 25 teams and 100 people in the final with ten of the teams still available for NI-based businesses. “It’s an opportunity for businesses to meet likeminded people but also play on what is one of the world’s best golf courses and showcase it to their clients,” said Edward of the Royal Portrush venue which will be home to the 148th Open in 2019.
“The Guinness and oysters’ link has been strong and we decided to have a fun event to combine both,” began Edward on the event’s conception.
“The event is about having fun, networking and just having a laugh on the field and not taking it too seriously. There are some very good golfers who come to play competitively but also those who are blatantly out for the day and they haven’t got an enormously strong golfing ability.
“Grant Muskett who has organised it all was very ambitious and looked at a world series and with a lot of support from Diageo, Delta Airways and other brands we got going.”
“I’m a hopeless golfer and for the standards of the day I will hang up my clubs but I will be pouring pints. It’s a very good day to pour pints,” he added.
GGOG has welcomed CEOs and top tier executives from global firms to the competition already with hedge fund company Solovis, Texas, shipping and logistics firm DFS Middle East and property investment
One of Edward’s other focal points on the day will be raising funds for the Guinness family’s 125-year-old charity, The Iveagh Trust, which offers affordable rented housing to people on low incomes in and around the Dublin area. ■
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Small business of the month COMPANY NAME: CRAIGMORE LOCATION: CRAIGAVON NAME: GEOFF BAIRD
What makes your business stand out? Craigmore is the largest Karcher Center in Ireland and has grown to be the number 2 Karcher Center in the UK. We stock, sell and service the complete range of Karcher pressure washers, vacuums, sweepers and scrubber driers with machines in stock for use both in your home and your business. How did you come up with the idea for the company? We began by selling vehicle cleaning and polishing products to car dealers and haulage companies. After a few years were approached to take on the agency for Karcher. Over the last 27 years we have continued to expand and add to the range of products we offer to include welding and personal protective equipment, yet we are still best known for the Karcher machines. How do you compare with the competition? By working with the largest manufacturer of cleaning equipment in the world we are in a privileged position to be always able to offer the newest technology before the competition, as well as having the support and back up of a world leading manufacturer. Karcher offer superb training for our sales staff and our service team and through this we can ensure top class service to our customers from beginning to end. How will your business look in five years time? We have recently set out a ten-year plan for Craigmore which will include a massive expansion with our online offering. This will also include new focused activity in our traditional business markets and a potential large expansion announcement in the near future. We also have a plan in place for new management and future succession. In five years’ time we will be a very much larger business but with the same focus on customer service and a great range of world class products. How do you encourage innovation in your company? We have recently begun a drive to recruit the best young minds to take us into new markets and new sales channels. This has been best demonstrated by Jourdan Bairds recent shortlisting for the final of the Belfast Telegraph, Young Business Person of the Year award. Jourdan
has headed up the online business for only 12 months and has grown the sales to almost £1 million already. What is the next big mind-blowing product or idea for your company? In the latter part of 2017 we will launch the Craigmore App. This will be the first of its type in the industrial tools and equipment market and will allow customers to order with one touch, request service calls, browse the full product range with ease and have quicker access to support when needed. From a company point of view it will allow us a much better platform to interact with our customers, to respond quicker to their needs and to offer special promotions in a much more focused and targeted manner. What is the secret to your success? We never stop! We are constantly evolving. After almost 30 years in the industry we are always looking at new ways to do business and not just grow but grow with sustainability. We have always made it a goal to offer our customers the best service possible and our staff the best conditions to work in, with long term prospects and a healthy working environment. It seems to be working as two of our key sales team are celebrating 25 years’ service this month. ■ To view a full range of Craigmore products, visit www.craigmoreonline.co.uk
FOR ALL YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS www.mckeeverhotelgroup.com Head Office: (028) 9084 9221
Borough celebrates business success with new awards
Mike Mullan, Moy Park was recognised for his Outstanding Contribution to the Borough. The award was presented by Roger Wilson, Chief Executive and received by Brian Johnston on behalf of Mr Mullan.
The winners at the first Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Business Awards pose with their prizes alongside Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson and Roger Wilson, Chief Executive of ABC Borough Council
idely regarded as the engine room of Northern Ireland’s economy, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council recently celebrated the diverse businesses located across the region with its inaugural Business Awards. A major first for the Council, these awards, in association with principal sponsor Almac, recognised and rewarded industrious and innovative companies across the region with 16 hotly contested trophies.
Nick Coburn, Ulster Carpets received the Business Ambassador Award sponsored by ABC Council from Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson
Eileen Stewart, Cara Dallat, Ciaran Cunningham of the local enterprise centres present the Best New Business Award to Andrea Kingston, Happy Hills Day Nursery
Ann McGregor MBE, Chief Executive of award sponsor NI Chamber, presents the Best Marketing Initiative Award to Peter McVeigh, Donaghy’s Shoes
Jourdan Baird, Craigmore receives the Sir Allen McClay Young Business Person Award from Kerry Lyle, Almac Group (award sponsor and principal event sponsor)
Mike Mullan of Moy Park was awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award for his achievements winning top accolades within his industry including The Institute of Grocery Distribution Learning and Development Award, RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards and The Institute of Directors UK Director of the Year for Leadership in Corporate Responsibility.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Armagh Business Centre, CIDO, Banbridge District Enterprise Ltd, Digital DNA, Bank of Ireland, GMcG Portadown, Ulster Carpets, Business Partnership Alliance, Southern Regional College, The Irish News, First Trust, Insight Social Enterprise Solutions and the Council itself. ■
Winners on the night included Homecare Independent Living, Happy Hills Day Nursery, Donaghy’s Shoes, Alana Interiors, The Jethro Centre, Sinton’s at the Bridge and Newforge House, among others. Jourdan Baird from Portadown, 21, won the prestigious Sir Allen McClay Young Business Person Award, named in honour of Almac’s founder. Jourdan was brought in initially to help with the website of her family’s equipment business Craigmore. She has been responsible for increasing online sales and doubling turnover. Nick Coburn, Managing Director of Ulster Carpets, was also recognised for his commitment to the industry, the region and the promotion of Northern Ireland on the world stage with the Business Ambassador Award.
The awards were supported by a range of organisations including the Almac Group, NI
For more information on the awards and a full list of winners, awards and sponsors, visit www.abcbusinessawards.com
Best Eating Establishment Award presented by Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Sam Nicholson to joint winners Sinton’s at the Bridge (Julianne Morton) and Yellow Door Deli, Portadown (Jenny Hamill)
Sharon Fleming, Thompson Travel International, wins the Outstanding Woman in Business Award sponsored by First Trust Bank, presented by Lynn Leathem
Eoin O’Hagan, CPS Property, receives the Excellence in Customer Service Non-Retail Award from Vice-Chair of the Economic Development & Regeneration Committee, Councillor Colin McCusker
Award winners Outstanding Contribution Award Mike Mullan, Moy Park Business Ambassador Award Nick Coburn, Ulster Carpets Best New Business Award Happy Hills Day Nursery William Gilpin, Gilfresh Produce receives the Best AgriFood Business Award from Gareth Williamson, Bank of Ireland (award sponsor)
Excellence in Customer Service – Non Retail CPS Property
Deputy Lord Mayor, Sam Nicholson presents the Commitment to Responsible Business Award to Joan Boylan, Mairead Mackle and Dympna Palmer, Homecare Independent Living
Best Marketing Initiative Award Donaghy’s Shoes Excellence in Manufacturing Award (joint winners) Water Tecnik Ltd Moy Park Best Export Initiative Award MacIvors Cider Co Sir Allen McClay Young Business Person Award Jourdan Baird Best Agri-Food Business Award Gilfresh
Brian Johnston (Moy Park), Brian Doran (SRC) and Adam Mackin (Water Tecnik Ltd), Excellence in Manufacturing Award sponsored by Southern Regional College
Best Family Business Award Alana Interiors Best Social Enterprise Business Award The Jethro Centre John Brolly presents the Best Family Business Award on behalf of award sponsor The Irish News to Carol Little, Alana Interiors
Excellence in Customer Service – Retail Perfect Day Commitment to Responsible Business Award Homecare Independent Living Best Business Growth Award Irwin M&E
Andrew Dunlop, Shankill Parish Caring Association (The Jethro Centre) receives the Best Social Enterprise Business Award from Derek Browne, Insight Consulting
Outstanding Woman in Business Award Sharon Fleming Best Digital Innovation Award Healthcare Analytics Best Eating Establishment Award (joint winners) Yellow Door Deli (Portadown) Sinton’s at the Bridge Gill Johnston presents the Best Business Growth Award sponsored by GMcG Portadown to Richard Megarity, Irwin M&E Ltd
Adrian Farrell, Business Partnership Alliance (award sponsor) presents the Excellence in Customer Service Retail Award to Bernie O’Neill, Perfect Day
Simon Bailie of Digital DNA presents the Best Digital Innovation Award to Brendan Crossey, Healthcare Analytics Ltd (trading as Nightingale Analytics)
Lou Mathers of Newforge House and Joyce Brownless of Blackwell House receive the Best Tourism Business Award from the Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson
Best Tourism Business Award (joint winners) Newforge House Blackwell House
Karen Argue, Ulster Carpets, presents The Best Export Initiative Award to Greg MacNeice and Sarah McNally, MacIvors Cider Co
By David Elliott
The column that doesn’t have time for lunch... BREAKFASTEERS: SARAH AND GAVIN MACKIE BREAKFASTING VENUE: THE SITTING ROOM, LARCHFIELD HOUSE, LARCHFIELD ESTATE
all off the dogs! Take down the wanted posters! Tell the search and rescue helicopter to land!
Ulster Business has found the best breakfast this side of lunch, one which arrived when we least expected it. The venue was the sitting room of Larchfield House where hosts Sarah and Gavin Mackie had laid on a spread which really was fit for a king. In fact, the main house this magazine was so warmly welcomed into was originally built for the Mussenden family (bankers with string links to the Linen industry) in the 1750s and was brought by Gavin’s father Leslie Mackie in 1968. Fruit, yoghurt, museli, a full cooked breakfast, pastries…the works, all of the highest quality and all greatly received by your hungry scribe at what many would consider a brunch hour, a delay prompted by an overrunning interview the previous day. Such stresses melt away as you drive into Larchfield Estate, Gavin’s family home south east of Lisburn, and are banished completely when you walk into the house for a leisurely breakfast. But as well as being a home, the estate is also a top-class venue and is celebrating 10 years since hosting its first wedding.
Gavin and Sarah Mackie
It was then the pair - inspired after holding their own nuptials at the estate - moved from their home in Edinburgh and jumped into the events world with both feet, hosting a pretty impressive 36 weddings in its first year. That number has grown substantially to around 130 with the spread of events also expanding to include corporate dinners, team days and retreats. As an example of the kind of corporate they have been welcoming, Sarah explains that the latest guests were a group of directors who flew in from around Europe for two days, staying in the estate’s luxury cottages and dining in the main house. “We open the house up to a select number of times a year for high-end dinners in the dining room or, if guests prefer, we have Downton Abbey-esque kitchen in the basement,” she said.
“They can have the formal Georgian dining room experience or the upstairs-downstairs dinner.” Personally, having seen both, I’d be hard pushed to know which to choose. Given the house is home to Gavin, Sarah and their children, the corporate entertaining is a family affair, one which both enjoy. When The World cruise ship – which is home to some of the globe’s richest off-shore residents – docked in Belfast in 2013, it was little wonder the organisers chose Larchfield to host seven of its passengers for a private dinner. “Things like that are really interesting and we get to meet some charming people,” Gavin said. “We laid on a relaxed and fun evening and by the end of the night they had had such a good time they said it was the best hospitality they had experienced in the world.” >
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The Orangery at Larchfield Estate
It’s worth bearing in mind these were some of the most pampered travellers in the world who are guests at some of the best hostelries, so such praise holds considerable weight. “Of course, we also gave them plenty of my homemade vodka and gin, so that helped.” Bigger corporate events have the option of the barn, the main venue for weddings, or the orangery - both of which are tastefully designed and have a cosy atmosphere - and use of the gardens. Privacy can be an important factor, particularly for business people, and that’s something the estate can offer. “People have their own space here and can have complete privacy if they want,” Sarah said. “We can accommodate everything here on the estate and make sure your meetings aren’t interrupted.” As mentioned, the cottages, which have 10 beds, offer a touch of luxury and a further six rooms are planned.
Meanwhile, a recent addition to the accommodation portfolio makes sure that the more adventurous guest can expect the same. It’s a 1952 Swiss Army truck which has been converted by the pair into a luxury glamping truck, complete with its own sundeck, power shower and - this is most impressive part sauna. The idea stemmed from engineer Gavin’s love of vehicles and it is sure to find a willing custom base. It is also a good example of how Larchfield is striving to offer an experience for clients - and in particular for corporates - which is different. Other differentiators include the option to fish on the estate lake, falconery and the farm’s flock of alpacas. That strategy has worked and, so far, much of the corporate business has come via word-ofmouth and demand continues to grow. It come far in a relatively short space of time
after considerable investment by the couple. It now numbers 13 full time and five part time staff and has ambitious plans to grow. However, Gavin is careful to maintain the exclusive feel and has pledged to increase room numbers to a maximum of 25. And they’ve plenty of other ideas up their sleeves but, being canny business people, aren’t going to share them in the press just yet. It’s quite a business, set in quite a setting and although not strictly somewhere you can pop into for breakfast, the small (although rather large from a breakfast point of view) taste I had gave an idea of the quality of welcome you could expect at a corporate event. With that, there was just time to pay homage to Gavin’s other love, a Subaru Impreza, before Ulster Business had to hot foot it to the next meeting. My wheels weren’t so impressive. Until the next time. ■
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, assesses the impact on the sector of the UK’s impending divorce from the EU
Brexit outcome key for hospitality sector
rexit will present challenges for businesses in Northern Ireland. It is essential our departure from the EU is handled correctly and carefully and the interests of our economy are prioritised.
industry is in a position to face the uncertain future. A fifth of all workers in the sector are migrants and we rely on their presence to maintain and grow the hospitality offering in Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is also a departure point for many of our visitors.
The hospitality sector is a crucial part of Northern Ireland’s economy, generating as it does almost £1.2 billion annually. In addition it supports 60,000 jobs across the region and will be a key lever for further economic growth in NI as tourism plays an ever more important role in our economy.
Hospitality Ulster is calling for the retention of the Common Travel Area between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and for no changes to the rights of citizens from the Republic to work in Northern Ireland.
The sector is performing well. In 2015 there were 4.5 million overnight trips by visitors to Northern Ireland, a 4 percent increase from the previous year. In 2015 alone visitors from the Republic of Ireland spent £61 million in Northern Ireland and the latest available figures, from January to September 2016, show a 27 percent rise. Tourism and hospitality is working in Northern Ireland. Clearly it’s in the best interests of businesses across all sectors that this momentum is maintained and supported. Brexit will pose challenges and may present opportunities for the sector and it is vital that both the NI Executive and politicians at Westminster act now to ensure the hospitality
Any restrictions would limit the hospitality sector’s ability to recruit staff, deter visitors from the south coming north and increase costs. Given our unique position as the only part of the UK to have a land border with an EU state, it is vital that free movement of people, goods and services is maintained. Many business owners will know and understand the burden of red-tape and bureaucracy. We in the hospitality sector have to overcome it also. For that reason our local politicians and those at Westminster must ensure that there are no additional tariffs or red-tape for imported goods. To impose such burdens would reduce the Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector’s competitiveness, hamper our ability to grow and ultimately cost jobs and shrink the industry.
This is especially true given the fact that in the Republic of Ireland they enjoy a tourism tax of just nine percent, far below the rate levied here. For that reason Hospitality Ulster is calling on government to introduce a regional tourism VAT system, which would allow us to compete more favourably with our closest competitor. Due to the differences in the tax rate, tourists in the Republic of Ireland can actually save money at the minute by just taking day-trips to Northern Ireland and staying overnight in the Republic of Ireland. The changes brought about by Brexit will undoubtedly bring about challenges, and for some, opportunities. But it is clear that not to legislate and maintain the conditions which have helped the hospitality sector to grow in Northern Ireland over the past decade would be extreme folly. The hospitality sector here can be a key driver of economic growth and is currently expanding at a robust rate. To ensure this continues we need to maintain the free movement of people, goods and services with the Republic of Ireland, ensure that no additional red-tape is incurred and that the hospitality sectors to overseas workers, a life blood of the industry, isn’t hindered. ■
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Name: Alison McFadden Position: Director, Continu
How did you start out in your career? For several years, I was self-employed as a training and business development consultant, working with local and international companies. My partner Tom Hall was a freelance engineer specialising in backup technology solutions, protecting businesses from power failure. We recognised there was a gap in the market for a specialist supplier of backup products that could not only install the equipment, but also provide a full technical support service. We combined our two areas of experience to launch our own business – at the onset of a recession – in 2008. We launched Continu, with a focus on technical expertise and exceptional customer service – nine years later we are working as exclusive partners to globally leading electrical companies and exceeding our targets. Thankfully, we haven’t looked back! What did you find the most challenging during your years in business? One of our biggest challenges in the early days was finding the right people. We formed a hugely valuable, exclusive partnership with global company Schneider Electric, which demands an exceptional level of technical expertise. We therefore needed to recruit engineers who were willing to undergo a lot of training to become specialised in Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). We were extremely lucky to source Andrew Wilson as our first engineer, who has since progressed to become our Operations Manager. Andrew paved the way for a team of people that are ambitious, skilled, loyal to the company and, importantly, always willing to learn. I always felt that creating the right culture in our business was going to be key
A word from
The column with an ear for experience...
to attracting and retaining the right people. Another early challenge was competition from electrical contractors, who offered a general backup power solution as part of their service. We knew we had to set Continu apart so worked hard to create a niche offering, focusing solely on backup solutions and all the technology and support that goes with it. Thankfully the strategy worked, but at the time, as with any start-up, it was daunting. How would you describe your management style? Coach / mentor. I believe in presenting people with opportunities to maximise their full potential, encouraging and motivating them to strive for goals and take pride in their work. It’s important that our staff see they are part of a forward-thinking small business that is capable of big things. This attitude probably comes from my people development background – and to me, it just feels like the right way to lead. What would you change if you could go back and do it all again? As a small, family-owned business, we initially operated out of an attic in our home. Whilst that was a necessary stage, I wish we had moved to our premises earlier. I think Northern Ireland now has a much better infrastructure for start-ups, so perhaps it was a sign of the times. Have you done it all on your own? Not at all. Continu is the result of a combination of Tom’s technical expertise and my business and training background. Tom’s knowledge of backup power solutions and understanding of that sector is what brought us into the market – whilst I focused on driving and growing the business and our people and services. We realised at a
very early stage that to compete effectively, we needed to surround ourselves with exceptional people. Our team of staff and engineers are committed, talented people – without whom Continu wouldn’t be on the journey it is today. How would you like your business career to be remembered? I would like to be remembered as an entrepreneur that started a leading business from nothing – and helped cultivate it to success through passion and hard work. What piece of advice would you give a 20-year old you? In my 20s, my work brought me to various parts of the the world. I found the experience so valuable – giving me insight into how businesses in other cultures operate. So if I were to meet the 20-year old me, I would say – see, do and experience as much as you can – it will all be useful one day. ■
Agnew Corporate going from strength to strength
Agnew Corporate, Northern Irelands leading contract hire and leasing company, continue to experience significant growth in both Northern Ireland and Great Britain, having recently secured two major contracts with a collective estimated value in excess of £4m. With over 25 years’ experience and an everexpanding fleet of over 5000 vehicles, Agnew Corporate’s cutting-edge fleet management technology and exceptional industry knowledge have been invaluable in achieving exponential growth year-on-year. Whether for a private individual, a small/medium size enterprise, or a global organisation, Agnew Corporate have a variety of vehicle and funding options, which can be tailored to fit individual needs. The company has recently been awarded major contracts with two industry-leading enterprises to supply fully maintained fleets on a contract hire basis, extending throughout Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The combined fleets comprise over 200 cars and LCV’s, at an estimated contract value of over £4M. David McEwen, Head of Business Development at Agnew Corporate, spoke about the recent business growth stating: “We are delighted with the company’s 2017 performance to date and remain dedicated to seeking out opportunities for further progression in both Northern
management experience. Utilising the AFM system, dedicated system specialists work alongside each client to provide customised, expert advice on the company’s fleet, recording and analysing key aspects such as mileage, vehicle maintenance, fuel usage and vehicle tracking. David McEwen
Ireland and Great Britain. We take a great deal of pride in providing an exceptional quality of service, personalised for each client’s individual requirements, and the remarkable growth we have experienced recently is a testament to the teams continued efforts.” Agnew Corporate has accredited their innovative use of technology, competitive pricing and exceptional understanding of customer needs to the company’s recent success. Offering a holistic approach on fleet services, the company has invested in market leading analysis software, in partnership with Deloitte, which enables them to evaluate the whole life costs for each customer. Additionally, the company offers all customers exclusive access to an advanced, in-house Fleet Management system - Agnew Fleet Manager (AFM), allowing clients to control their fleet more effectively and simplifying the fleet
As a result of continued business growth, Agnew Corporate has continued to expand their workforce, with five new members of staff joining the company in 2017. Such expansion enables the company to nurture and develop their existing customer base and remain focused on providing the highest possible levels of customer service for every client. Agnew Corporate, 18 Boucher Way, Belfast, BT12 6RE Tel: 028 9038 6600
Integrate to accumulate? Emma Deighan breaks down the integrated education system in Northern Ireland and talks to some of the country’s most successful expats to uncover why they believe cross-community academical institutions are good for business
David and Sophie Montgomery with Baroness Blood and Adrian Dunbar
t was a balmy summer’s evening when top media executive and Bangor native David Montgomery and his wife Sophie, alongside actor Adrian Dunbar, hosted a drinks reception for the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) in London recently. Some of Northern Ireland’s best known expats were quick to RSVP to an event that promoted cross community education here and among the 60-something guests and former Integrated AlumNI was broadcaster Maxine Mawhinney, BAFTA’s Deputy Chair, Anne Morrison as well as Sir Richard Needham.
The latter guest list is not exhaustive of the personalities and business people from here who are supportive of the IEF. There are countless expats unified in their viewpoint that integrated education is not only beneficial for longterm peace here but it is instrumental in forging a better economy and strengthening business. Tony Carson, son of the late Frank Carson, who describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, has been advocating integrated education for the IEF for the past 15 years. His career spans various sectors, namely hospitality and property with recent interests in science and eco products. He currently spends his time
between London and Spain but firmly believes integrated education could encourage future generations to stay and work in Northern Ireland. “I grew up in the New Lodge where I experienced the nastier parts of society and to me integrated education seems like the natural bridge to bring people together,” said the Board Director of Sullivan’s Brewery on joining the campaign almost two decades ago. “The obvious thing is, integrated education promotes cohesiveness of society. If kids grow up together they tend to do business together
and the more business that goes on, the more entrepreneurship goes on and this is good for NI plc. It glues people together and hopefully it will stop some of the kids going across the water and living their lives there and building their wealth outside of Northern Ireland. It could help people to come back where more good business is to be done,” he told Ulster Business.
There are 65 formally integrated schools here which are attended by over 23,000 children. Twenty are colleges and 45 are primary schools. In addition there are 19 integrated playgroups/nurseries for three and four year olds.
“I also believe a more cohesive environment encourages outside investment,” added Tony.
Government funding can be available from day one if the criteria is met. However, capital funding for new schools is not provided until the school can demonstrate longer term viability (usually three to five years). The IEF has often underwritten these costs until viability conditions are met and a school is vested.
I grew up in the New Lodge where I experienced the nastier parts of society and to me integrated education seems like the natural bridge to bring people together.
While lending their support to the IEF, the ambassadors of the charity also set out to raise funds for what is an underinvested system.
In the last two years three schools have transformed to integrated status.
Over the summer, Northern Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers will give proceeds of merchandise sold at its Belsonic gig to the Fund. Tony Carson is currently investing in the relaunch of the Ormeau Road Baths as a tech hub. He will deliver ‘Carson Bursaries’ to encourage entrepreneurship between the tech hub and integrated schools. Other supporters donate silently. The IEF was set up in 1992 to address the absence of capital funding for integrated schools, as well as the other unmet financial needs they face. To date it has raised over £20 million. Adrian Dunbar addresses guests on the importance of integrated education
Actor Adrian Dunbar expressed despondency for the politicians who don’t support a fully integrated educational system and those who have refused funding for new or existing establishments.
There are thousands of organisations that are funded to try to bring children together when actually all that money could be going into an integrated education system.
He believes investing in integrated education is the ‘economically sensible thing to do’; “I always wondered how come we spend millions and millions of pounds separating children at the age of five to then spend millions trying to tell them that they were the same at the age of 16,” Adrian said. “There are thousands of organisations that are funded to try to bring children together when actually all that money could be going into an integrated education system. >
in a mixed community but in terms of his education felt segregated.
David Montgomery addressing guests at his IEF function
“My exposure to kids from other backgrounds was limited to the bus on the way home,” he told Ulster Business. “It seems very clear to me that integrated education – and indeed greater inclusion of people from different religions, races and genders – makes for a far more productive economy. When children are growing up and learning together society will be more stable, and when everyone has an opportunity to make the most of their abilities that will have a very positive effect on business and the economy.”
“If we want to heal society in Northern Ireland then integrated education would be the norm, sadly it’s not. There’s huge resistance to it from various parties and the people who are advocating a two-strand education system have a vested interest in the state of Northern Ireland being split.”
Barron, who grew up in Belfast and studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution has been supporting the IEF for the past two years. The former Newsnight Editor and BBC journalist says he was lucky to grow up
Peter, David, Tony and Adrian vow to continue supporting the IEF for the foreseeable future. They will do so under the guidance of the charity’s Campaign Chair, Baroness May Blood who told Ulster Business that while the Fund, in its 25 years of existence, has ‘pushed the barriers out’ there is more to come. “We have reached out to parents and opened the doors of integrated education but there is more to be done. People are starting to believe in a shared future,” she said. ■
David Montgomery, former newspaper editor and current bidder for the Express and Star Newspapers group, grew up in Bangor. He echoed actor Adrian’s sentiments by forecasting the benefits of a fully integrated education system here; “The public get it. 77 per cent of people believe de-segregated schooling will contribute both to crosscommunity relationships and economic growth. “The business community gets it. 77 per cent feel that a de-segregated education system could contribute to a strengthening of cross community relationships in the workplace and impact positively on economic growth. “Making available integrated education will create the greatest legacy for peace embedding in the next generation the means for Northern Ireland to reach its true potential.” Meanwhile Google’s head of communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Peter
David Montgomery and Peter Barron at the breakfast event
Shining a spotlight on Responsible Business More than 500 business people gathered at Belfast Waterfront Hall on Thursday 1 June for the twelfth annual Responsible Business Awards in Northern Ireland. The much anticipated black-tie event, which is run by Business in the Community, sponsored by Electric Ireland and supported by JP Corry, aims to recognise and reward those businesses and organisations that are going the extra mile, to transform communities and change lives, by taking practical action to address important social and environmental issues. The keynote speaker, Clarke Carlisle, a former professional footballer and mental health champion, received a standing ovation for his powerful address which highlighted the need for business to work together to help tackle the growing issue of mental health.
“The Responsible Business Awards are a valuable opportunity to showcase and share responsible business practices, but also to celebrate the great things that Northern Ireland businesses are doing throughout the year. With award entries up 20% on last year, the judges had a tough time on their hands deciding the winners – the standard for entries was truly exceptional. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every one of our winners, and those who were shortlisted, for leading the way in responsible business practice. I hope that the achievements of the winning companies will inspire others to put responsible business at the heart of everything they do.” Roy Adair CBE, Chair, Business in the Community NI and Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour
2017 Northern Ireland Company of the Year – George Best Belfast City Airport George Best Belfast City Airport (GBBCA), situated in the ‘heart of the city’, is a regional airport catering for over 2.6 million passengers each year, directly employing 75 people. Proud of its contribution to growing the prosperity of NI, not only as a major gateway for business and leisure passengers, but as a catalyst for direct and indirect employment opportunities, Corporate Responsibility (CR) is at the heart of everything it does. Its CR policy sets out clear commitments to enrich and support the local community, protect the Michelle Hatfield and Laura Duggan from George Best Belfast environment, invest in its people, and help young City Airport collect the NI Responsible Company of the Year people realise their aspirations. award from Jorge Lopes of category sponsor Diageo and Kieran Harding, Business in the Community. As a busy airport operating close to Belfast city, the organisation is mindful of the impact it has on the community and environment, and its responsibility to be a good neighbour. Annually, it dedicates 2,600 staff hours to its CR programme; c£46k in average salary time. It has further invested £300k in over 100 educational, environmental, and community cohesion projects across Belfast and North Down. With a strong emphasis on people development and succession planning, the airport offers internal coaching and mentoring, and sponsors further qualifications. The Airport is conscious of its impact on the environment and has a dedicated Environmental Manager who works closely with the community to maintain an Environmental Management System (EMS). It is a signatory to the Sustainable Aviation Strategy to deliver significant reductions in emissions and aircraft noise by 2050. The Airport’s innovative Community Fund, a voluntary initiative linked to fines on flights outside of scheduled operating hours, has been in operation since 2009. Its High Flyers Apprenticeship Scheme supports the skills development and career prospects of local unemployed people. The airport operates a multifaceted educational programme which has reached 2,200 pupils across 61 schools with educational initiatives in past two years. Media partner
The winners NI Responsible Company of the Year Sponsored by Diageo George Best Belfast City Airport
Building Stronger Communities Sponsored by Department for Communities Ulster Bank
Diversity and Inclusion Award Sponsored by BT Queen’s University Belfast
Education Award Sponsored by Allen & Overy Farrans
Employability Champion Sponsored by Belfast Harbour Marks & Spencer
Environmental Leadership Sponsored by Arthur Cox Lagan Construction Group
Marketplace Leadership Sponsored by Fujitsu AES UK & Ireland (Big Business) Suki Tea (Small Business)
One-to-Watch Sponsored by Danske Bank Belfast International Airport
Wellbeing at Work Sponsored by Larne Port Queen’s University Belfast
Ulster Bank Ltd, Building Stronger Communities Award
Arthur Scott, Department for Communities and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland present the Building Stronger Communities Award to Gillian Orr and Seam Murphy from Ulster Bank.
Ulster Bank is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and employs 2,400 people in Northern Ireland, serving approximately 600,000 personal and business customers. Ulster Bank has felt the impact of significant media and political criticism of the financial services sector in recent years and recognised the business imperative of rebuilding customer trust and advocacy, employee engagement and pride. The bank’s ambitions could only be achieved by running its business in a responsible and sustainable way. It does this by offering help for what matters; making a positive difference. This ethos drives its community engagement strategy, which has included actions such as: signing up to the Age Friendly Belfast Charter; training a Dementia Friend in every branch; training its employees in CPR, and installing portable defibrillators in its largest branches. The bank’s Community Protection Manager also supports customers who are at risk of financial harm, and provides scam awareness sessions in local communities.
Queen’s University Belfast, Diversity and Inclusion Award Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) is respected across the globe as a centre of teaching excellence and innovative research. With 3,700 employees, the university has been a committed equal opportunities employer since 1908. With 800 employees from 75 different countries, QUB recognises the importance of taking its role as a responsible employer seriously by undertaking a strategic and meaningful approach to diversity and inclusion. Building on its strong reputation as a university with citizenship and social responsibility in its DNA, it has implemented a variety of wellbeing, people development, and equality, diversity and inclusion programmes and activities. QUB commits to going above and beyond to ensure its employees and students are part of a positive and inclusive culture. The university set up its Equality Scheme in 2012 which sets out its structured activity at institutional level and activities implemented have included: lunchtime workshops for staff, campus couch to 5K, mindfulness sessions, international food festivals, cultural celebration events and supporting international students with safe travel and pray zones. Highly commended were Allen & Overy and Lagan Construction Group
Mairead Meyer, BT and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland present the Diversity and Inclusion Award to Conor Curran, Kate Brassington, Leeann Matchett and Mudra Kumar from Queen’s University Belfast.
Farrans, Education Award
Liesbeth Vermeir, Allen & Overy and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland present the Education Award to Darrell and Bridget McGuckian from Farrans.
Farrans’ business is structured into two primary divisions; Building and Civil Engineering. With over 500 employees, Farrans recognises that it shares its workplace with communities and natural environments making it vital to implement sustainable business practices across its operations. Farrans continually strives to find better ways of delivering results for its clients, and community engagements forms a large part of this commitment. Farrans devised a comprehensive set of community engagement initiatives, and aims to leave a positive image in the areas in which it works. It uses practical initiatives that help young people realise their career aspirations. Farrans has invested heavily to deliver a series of bespoke education initiatives. One of the most notable projects is its Connswater Community Greenway initiative which was recognised by the Considerate Constructors Scheme as ‘the best observed with excellent engagement with the schools and local community groups’. Highly commended was Kainos
Marks & Spencer, Employability Champion Award Marks & Spencer (M&S) is one of the UK’s leading multi-channel retailers with 1,382 stores, 83,000 employees and 32 million customers worldwide. Through its commitment to ‘Plan A’, the company seeks to ensure that it makes a positive difference across the board, whether it’s sourcing responsibly, conserving energy, reducing waste or supporting the communities it serves. As one of the UK’s leading employers, M&S recognises that it has a responsibility to tackle the prevalent issue of unemployment, both of young people and excluded groups affected by long-term unemployment. M&S recognises as our economy globalises, jobs are becoming more mobile, competition for them grows, and skills evolve more rapidly. Being unemployed and ‘excluded’ from employment is more daunting and crippling than ever. To respond to this, M&S has developed an employability programme to support excluded groups, and encourages other companies to do the same. An important part of Plan A is centred on people and each year, the programme helps nearly 3,000 people across the UK, making M&S a diverse and inclusive place to work. Highly commended was George Best Belfast City Airport
Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland present the Employability Champion Award to Tanya Magee, Wendy Loughridge and Shirley McCullough from Marks & Spencer.
Lagan Construction Group, Environmental Leadership Award
Richard Robinson and Sarah Lowe from Lagan Construction Group receive the Environmental Leadership Award from Rosemary Lundy, Arthur Cox and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland.
Lagan Construction Group is a private, family-owned construction business established in 1962. The company has grown from its quarrying activity origins to be the major international civil engineering and building contractor that exists today. Lagan Construction Group’s Corporate Sustainability Strategy aims to provide lasting social, environmental and economic benefits to all its stakeholders by focussing on: ‘Our People, Our Planet, Our Footprint’. It strives to set an example for the construction industry to follow through best practice in sustainable environmental management; aiming to make the Group the most sustainable contractor in Ireland by embedding sustainability in all aspects of its business. Lagan Construction Group aims to reduce its impact on climate change and to positively influence its supply chain, staff, competitors and clients to do the same. Its commitment to climate change mitigation goes further than just looking at its internal energy management, but embraces a holistic approach that affects every aspect of the business. The company has achieved a 38% energy efficiency saving, and has a reportable recycling rate of 98.1% on its construction jobs.
Suki Tea, Marketplace Leadership Award Suki Teahouse Ltd started in 2005 at St George’s Market in Belfast. With a growing team of 16 staff, the specialist tea company imports, blends and exports loose leaf tea to the hospitality and catering trade of the UK, ROI and exports to 10 countries worldwide. Suki Tea focusses on great taste, quality and variety, but also importantly on ethical sourcing. This is critical to ensuring a sustainable future for the company’s brand and for the community. Suki Tea’s vision is to grow a global community of loose leaf tea drinkers, an appreciation society of the ritual in a great-tasting, ethically-sourced cuppa. It does this in an adventurous yet sustainable and responsible way that respects and values people, plant and planet. It is the first independent loose leaf tea company in the UK to offer teas carrying Triple Certification – Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic. Relying on the power and infrastructure of these bodies to implement real social and environmental change, and with our focus on triple certification, it has put forth the challenge to all other tea companies in the UK and Ireland, leading the way in sustainable sourcing of its everyday brew and communicating this core message to influence consumer behaviour.
Chris James, Fujitsu and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland present the Marketplace Leadership Award for Small Business to Oscar Wolley from Suki Tea.
AES UK & Ireland, Marketplace Leadership Award
Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland presents the Marketplace Leadership Award for Large Business, sponsored by Fujitsu, to Carla Tully, Shane Tedford and Ken McKinley, AES.
AES UK & Ireland owns and operates Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations and directly employs around 270 people. The NI operations are part of the AES Corporation’s global portfolio of businesses operating in 17 countries worldwide, employing 21,000 people. It is NI’s largest electricity generator, providing 61% of generation capacity in 2016. Making a significant investment in the next generation of low-carbon, flexible assets for Northern Ireland’s energy infrastructure, in the last two years, it has demonstrated dedicated market leadership in the development, deployment and scaling of battery energy storage with the AES Kilroot Advancion® Energy Storage Array near Carrickfergus, the largest battery energy storage array in the UK and Ireland. This technology supports cleaner and more stable energy at better value for energy consumers. AES has announced plans for a 100 megawatt (MW) extension, independently assessed to provide annual savings of £8.5 million and 123,000 tonnes of CO2. AES’ market leadership in this technology has brought global attention to the clean tech revolution happening in Antrim. Highly commended was Interface Flor
Belfast International Airport, One-to-Watch Award Belfast International Airport (BIA) is Northern Ireland’s principal airport and the second largest gateway on the Island of Ireland. Operating 24/7 all year round, the airport handles over five million passengers every year and employs 186 people directly. With over 200 companies operating on site and employing over 4,700 people, BIA believes that by providing customers and other stakeholders with the best possible airport experience that it will grow responsibly and profitably, confirming its position as the gateway for business and leisure travel. BIA embarked on an Employee Engagement Programme in 2015. Following consultation with employees, a vision for the airport was developed; ‘Your Airport, Our Business, Your Welcome’. This also marked the beginning of its Corporate Responsibility journey, which became formalised under one strategy in line with the newly rolled out ‘Vision and Values’ programme. The CR strategy encompassed four key drivers; workplace and employees, educational activity, community and charity, and environment. An internal committee leads on the programme, with the charity committee handling applications for charitable donations. All employees are encouraged to take part in various CR activities, whether it’s through engagement with schools, health and wellbeing initiatives or community programmes.
Alison Falls, Danske Bank and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland present the One-to-Watch Award to Jaclyn Coulter from Belfast International Airport.
Queen’s University Belfast, Wellbeing at Work Award
Roger Armson, Larne Port and Kevin Caldwell, Electric Ireland present the Wellbeing at Work Award to Laura Lynch, Deborah Morgan and Brian Parkes from Queen’s University Belfast.
Recognising the need to look after its 3,700 strong workforce, Queen’s has strategically invested in health and wellbeing since 2014. It’s placed at the heart of Queen’s Corporate Plan and Core Values, both of which were developed in consultation with staff and students. Caring for staff and students is at the heart of the university’s Core Values; ‘ICARE’ and is fully supported and championed by the Senior Management Team who act as champions, promoting, and getting involved in health and wellbeing initiatives. The dedicated Health and Wellbeing team supports over 50 volunteer Staff Wellbeing Champions. Taking a holistic approach the programme focusses on promoting mental and physical health, biodiversity, positive relationships, and Corporate Social Responsibility. Extensive internal and external consultation processes ensure the programme is as relevant possible, to optimise the benefits to employees and students, with more than 40 events each year themed around issues such as mental health/mindfulness, cancer awareness, and physical health. Highly commended was Lagan Construction Group
Leading companies keep responsibility at the CORE of their business This year has seen more companies than ever successfully achieve CORE – the Standard for Responsible Business. Eleven businesses have achieved ‘CORE’ in the past year, meaning twenty-three leading organisations now hold Northern Ireland’s corporate responsibility accreditation. In achieving CORE, participants have led the way in responsible business practice and are now accredited leaders in CR. Eleven companies achieved CORE in 2017: Pass: Encirc - Huhtamaki Foodservice Delta - JP Corry - McAvoy Group - Moy Park - Northstone Silver: Firmus Energy - Gilbert Ash - Seagate - Survitec Gold: Heron Brothers To find out more about CORE, visit www.bitcni.org.uk Drinks Sponsor
Motoring By Pat Burns
Kuga goes for gold
he revised and updated Ford Kuga delivers an even more technologically advanced, refined and affordable sports utility vehicle (SUV), making driving simpler, safer and more enjoyable for growing numbers of SUV customers here. The new Kuga features Ford’s sophisticated SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system, innovative driver assistance technologies, an ergonomic and comfortable interior, and powerful and efficient engines including Ford’s 120PS 1.5-litre TDCi diesel that returns 64.2 mpg and 115g/km CO2. The new Kuga also features Ford’s Perpendicular Parking technology that helps drivers park hands-free in spaces alongside other cars; an enhanced version of the Active City Stop collision avoidance system; and Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System for optimised visibility in low light. Further advanced technologies include Hands-Free Liftgate and Ford Intelligent All Wheel Drive (AWD). The Kuga enables drivers to control audio and navigation functions plus connected smartphones using simple, more conversational voice commands, with Ford’s new SYNC 3 connectivity system. Ford has drawn on more than 22,000 comments, and
insights gained from research clinics and surveys to ensure the new version is the most customer-centric system to date. SYNC 3 delivers faster performance, simplified commands, and supports five additional languages. Simply by pushing a button and saying “I need a coffee,” “I need petrol,” and “I need to park,” drivers can locate nearby cafés, petrol stations or car parks, and find train stations, airports, and hotels. Kuga drivers can operate SYNC 3’s 8-inch touchscreen in the same way that they use their smartphones. A new interface features larger, easier to operate buttons and enables pinch and swipe gestures for the first time. Phone users have a choice of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The new Ford Kuga makes driving and parking simpler for customers using sophisticated Ford driver assistance technologies. New Perpendicular Parking functionality enhances the semi-autonomous Active Park Assist technology specified by almost half of Kuga customers last year. Using additional ultrasonic sensors, Perpendicular Parking at the push of a button enables drivers to locate parking spaces alongside other cars as well as parallel to the road, and steers the vehicle into them while the driver controls the accelerator and brake.
By Pat Burns
The latest generation Ford MyKey technology allows new Kuga owners to programme a key for younger drivers that can inhibit incoming phone calls; restrict top speed; prevent deactivation of driver assistance and safety features; reduce audio system maximum volume, and disable the audio system altogether if occupants are not using safety belts. The new Kuga features Ford’s latest TDCi diesel and EcoBoost petrol engines for optimised performance alongside low CO2 emissions for reduced running costs. The choice of diesel engines include the 1.5TDCi and 2.0TDCi engines with front or four wheel drive and six speed manual or auto gearboxes. Both engines feature advanced new diesel engine technologies including a lean NOX trap for cleaner exhaust emissions and a sophisticated Variable Nozzle Turbocharger. Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engines feature advanced technologies including high-pressure direct fuel injection and Twin-independent Variable Cam Timing and the new Kuga is available with either 120PS or 150PS 1.5 litre manual and 182PS automatic. Prices start at £21,615. ■
Three letters of corporate reassurance T
he Bavarian BMW Corporate sales team can offer fleet decisionmakers a compelling combination of class-leading cars from across the entire BMW product range, coupled with a personalised service from initial enquiry, through to a comprehensive handover of your new BMW company car. Working in conjunction with the BMW Business Partnership Programme (BPP) we also provide a range of benefits to meet the needs of smaller businesses with fleets of less than 50 company cars, such as competitive hire rates, a range of exclusive product offers and invitations to new model launches and exclusive sales events. These offers are enhanced by our teamâ€™s in-depth knowledge of our entire product line, ensuring support is on hand to inform and advise on specific innovative technologies which may not only enhance the emotive experience of driving your new BMW, but offer substantial cost savings over the ownership of your car. And with hybrid/electric vehicles showing dramatic growth within the fleet market, our i-Performance range remain every inch a BMW, retaining the dynamic drive and premium comfort you would expect, coupled with the benefit of significantly reducing emissions and running costs. After taking delivery of your new BMW, you can be assured that our Aftercare packages can be tailored to meet your specific needs. These can range from low cost products covering the routine servicing of your new car, through to fully maintained packages ensuring all of your cars needs are met,
Bavarian Corporate Sales Team: Stephanie Morrison (Corporate Sales Support), Barry Boreland (BMW I Sales Manager), Sian McBride (Corporate Sales Support) and Jason Thompson (Corporate Sales Manager)
offering you a fixed cost solution for both easy budgeting and peace of mind. As a team we also manage the expectations of both local and national leasing companies. As the supplier of the vehicles,
we extend the same BMW service to all customers who come into contact with our dealership, including delivery services and on-hand assistance regarding the return of previous lease vehicles to ensure the entire process is hassle-free.
For more information on all your Business needs contact a member of our Corporate team on 028 9038 1311, or alternatively visit www.bavarianbmw.co.uk/business for full details on all current offers.
SEARCH: BAVARIAN BMW.
THE BMW 730d M SPORT SALOON MONTHLY RENTALS FROM £399.98 (Plus £2,399.88 initial rental)*
For more information or to arrange a test drive†, call us on 028 9038 1311 or visit www.bavarianbmw.co.uk
2 Boucher Crescent, Belfast County Antrim BT12 6HU
BMW Business Partnership Ofﬁcial fuel economy ﬁgures for the BMW 7 Series range: Urban 24.8-51.4 mpg (11.4-5.5 l/100km). Extra Urban 45.6-67.3 mpg (6.2-4.2 l/100km). Combined 34.9-134.5 mpg (8.1-2.1 l/100km) incl PHEV. CO2 emissions 189-49 g/km incl PHEV. Figures are obtained in a standardised test cycle. They are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not be representative of what a user achieves under usual driving conditions.
Bavarian is a credit broker. Business users only. *Price shown excludes VAT at 20% and is for a 24 month Business Contract Hire agreement for a BMW 730d M Sport Saloon, with a contract mileage of 16,000 miles and excess mileage charge of 19.98p per mile. Applies to new vehicles ordered between 1 July 2017 and 30 September 2017 and registered by 31 December 2017 (subject to availability). At the end of your agreement you must return the vehicle. Excess mileage, vehicle condition and other charges may be payable. Available subject to status to UK residents aged 18 or over. Guarantees and indemnities may be required. The amount of VAT you can reclaim depends on your business VAT status. Terms and conditions apply. Offer may be varied, withdrawn or extended at any time. Hire provided by BMW Financial Services (GB) Limited, Summit ONE, Summit Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 0FB. Isaac Agnew Ltd trading as Bavarian, commonly introduce customers to a selected panel of lenders including BMW Financial Services. We may receive commission or other beneﬁts for introducing you to such lenders. This introduction does not amount to independent ﬁnancial advice. †Test drive subject to applicant status and availability.
he New Generation Hyundai i30 is the DNA car for Hyundai Motor representing the core of the brand in Europe. While Hyundai is a Korean brand, the company designs its European models in Germany and builds them in the Czech Republic so that the cars have a European style and feel about them.
passenger comfort to enjoy the ride with the New Generation i30 even more. With design being the No. 1 buying reason for Hyundai customers in Europe, the i30 further evolves Hyundai’s design.
The New Generation i30 delivers great value to single people, families, young and old. It is a smart and rewarding choice for those seeking an appealing design, an efficient and dynamic ride and a comprehensive safety package. Its quality and reliability are guaranteed by the unique, industry-leading 5-year unlimited mileage warranty.
The powertrain line-up consists of downsized turbocharged engines to improve efficiency and responsiveness. Customers can choose from three petrol engines and one 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine with three outputs with CO2 emissions as low as 89 g/km. The i30 is the first Hyundai model available with the new turbocharged fourcylinder petrol engine, the 1.4 T-GDI with 140 PS.
The i30 is packed with technology such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless charging to enhance smartphone operation and functionality while driving. Latest active safety features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, Driver Attention Alert and Blind Spot Detection increase
The 1,353 cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is significantly lighter than its predecessor, the Gamma 1.4-litre engine. The unit’s base weight has been reduced and it also boasts greater efficiency and power, delivering 140 PS and 242 Nm of torque with improved fuel consumption and emissions.
By Pat Burns
The three cylinder 1.0 T-GDI engine produces 120 PS and 171 Nm provides a perfect combination of fun and frugality. For customers looking for a diesel engine, the i30 is available with a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder turbo engine with 110 PS delivering a maximum torque of 280Nm. The 1.6-litre can be selected with a six speed manual or seven speed double clutch auto box. In combination with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission the New Generation i30 offers two drive modes: normal and sport.In sport mode there is a different shift pattern holding gears longer before shifting, the steering provides a sporty feel and the throttle response is adapted. Hyundai Motor is the only car manufacturer to make its own steel for the production of its vehicles globally with great benefits for the New Generation i30 featuring a strong and light body that enhances the dynamic performance and increases passenger safety. Prices for the new i30 start at £16,995. ■
Contract hire still top for corporates, says Ogilvie By Paul Griffiths, Head of Sales in Northern Ireland at Ogilvie
irst and foremost, a huge congratulations to all who have made the 2017 Ulster Business Top 100 in what has been a well-publicised 12 months of Brexit uncertainty and local government turmoil. Our clients inform us of new challenges in currency, export tariffs and access to staff and labour but life and business has to go on and after a slowdown in the third quarter of this year we have noticed growth has been restored to those Top 100 and SME companies we supply in Northern Ireland. This year Ogilvie Fleet has maintained the position as the largest independent leasing company in the UK and we are delighted to have been awarded a Customer Service Award by ‘FleetEye’ for a record seventh year in a row. Our business model of contract hire
is unique in Northern Ireland as we selffund. We directly offer our corporate clients headroom for company vehicles, a strategy which allows them to utilise their available bank funding for other parts of their business. Having one consolidated invoice for all your transport needs from contract hire to daily rental is welcomed by our client’s finance departments. Self funding, as well as bulk buying vehicles, has attributed immensely to our own growth as our UK fleet has now reached a milestone of 15,000 live vehicle contracts for the first time in our 35 year history. Thank you to our clients and our staff. Paul Griffiths
In terms of vehicle type, it has definitely been the year of the ‘high value hybrid plug in’ at senior management level with BMW X5 4.0e, Volvo XC90 T8, Mercedes GLE 500e, Mercedes C350e, BMW 330e and BMW 530e all frequenting our order book more than ever. More drivers have ventured back into the company car policy due to the Finance Bill
changes for taxation on ‘cash or car’ drivers. At executive level the battle between Audi, BMW and Mercedes continues to remain tight as all three offer high specification, low CO2 and impressive fuel consumption. The SUV category has had a few new entries with the new SEAT Ateca being popular. ■
C of tranquility? By Pat Burns
oyota has shaken up the crossover market with the introduction of its radically styled C-HR, a model that epitomises the company’s commitment to make cars that look great and are even better to drive. Some new Toyota models in recent years have not been the most exhilarating to drive, but this new model is the best Toyota Ulster Business has tested in a long time.
Thanks to the versatility of its Toyota New Global Architecture C-platform, the C-HR has the lowest centre of gravity in its class, which makes for balanced handling, less body roll and a more rewarding drive, all more akin to a compact hatch than a typical crossover. It also helps secure a low, coupe-like roof line – another quality that sets it well apart from its taller, more conventional competitors.
In terms of size, the C-HR’s footprint puts it in the heart of the popular and growing C-crossover segment, alongside established players such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Škoda Yeti and Honda HR-V. None of its rivals, however, can match the impact of its stand-out design, or the innovation and efficient performance of its hybrid powertrain option.
The C-HR is also unique in the UK market in giving customers the option of a full hybrid powertrain. The benefits of Toyota’s new generation hybrid system are not confined to class-leading CO2 emissions from 86g/km and official combined cycle fuel economy from 74.3mpg, they include a supremely smooth, quiet and intuitive drive and proven, exceptional reliability.
Add high sensory quality in everything you see, touch and feel, and the C-HR earns consideration alongside premium players such as the Audi Q2, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. The result is a richly appealing prospect that opens Toyota up to new customers who are tech-savvy, early adopters and enthusiastic for “cool brand” qualities.
The low emissions figure is not at the cost of performance – the hybrid system offers a competitive 120bhp. Moreover, it secures a class-best 15% first year benefit-in-kind rate for company car tax payers. The C-HR range presents a wealth of choice in terms of both powertrains and specifications. In addition to the
1.8-litre hybrid, Toyota is offering a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol model, with a choice of six-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. The 1.2 CVT is also offered with the option of all-wheel drive. The line-up offers three equipment grades: Icon, Excel and Dynamic. The Icon specification includes dual-zone automatic air conditioning, 17-inch alloys, the Toyota Touch 2 touchscreen controlled multimedia system with integrated reversing camera, front fog lamps, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, dusksensing headlights and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. All C-HR models benefit from Toyota Safety Sense, a package of active features that can alert the driver to collision risks and intervene if necessary to avoid an impact, or mitigate the consequences if an accident is unavoidable. These elements include a PreCollision System with autonomous emergency braking, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and Automatic High Beam headlight operation. The C-HR is covered by Toyota’s five-year/100,000-mile new vehicle warranty. Prices start at £20,995. ■
Official government fuel consumption figures in mpg (litres per 100km) for the E-Class Saloon range: urban 24.1(11.7)65.7(4.3), extra urban 37.2(7.6)-78.5(3.6), combined 31.0(9.1)-134.5(2.1). CO2 emissions 207-49 g/km. Official EUregulated test data are provided for comparison purposes and actual performance will depend on driving style, road conditions and other non-technical factors.
The E-Class Saloon from £382* per month. Built around your business. Packed with intelligent features, the E-Class Saloon is the car to take your business forward in the connected world. And it’s available now with our latest competitive offers at Mercedes-Benz Northern Ireland. Visit us at Mercedes-Benz of Portadown or Mercedes-Benz of Belfast. Model featured is an E 220 d SE Saloon at £37,345 on-the-road including optional metallic paint at £645 (on-the-road price includes VAT, delivery, 12 months’ Road Fund Licence, number plates and first registration fee). *Business users only. Mercedes-Benz Contract Hire agreement. All rentals exclude VAT at 20%. No ownership option. Vehicle conditions, excess mileage and other charges may be payable. Rental includes Road Fund Licence for the contract duration. Guarantees may be required. Orders/credit approvals on selected E-Class Saloon models between 1 July and 30 September 2017, registered by 31 December 2017 excluding Mercedes-AMG models. Subject to availability, offers cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Some combinations of features/ options may not be available. Credit subject to status by Mercedes-Benz Finance, MK15 8BA.
Mercedes-Benz Northern Ireland mercedes-benzofnorthernireland.co.uk
The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards 2017
rom companies with a global footprint to those taking their first tentative steps in the business world. Every box was ticked on election night as the winners were declared at the 11th running of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards. It was a high-octane evening at Titanic Belfast, comprising music, comedy and the sheer drama of announcing the 21 winners of the unique WEA award gong, which has become the ‘must-have’ accolade for corporate Northern Ireland. And the general consensus among the 600-strong audience was that the 2017 awards eclipsed everything that has gone before. From the moment the sublimely accomplished St Patrick’s Junior Choir opened proceedings with two rousing renditions of the songs – including Roar – which wowed the public on Britain’s Got Talent, to the announcement of winners for the Victoria Square, Lough Eske and Aer Lingus draw prizes, the night went off without a hitch. It was Belfast-based cloud solutions provider
Roeanna Weech, Joanne Reihill, Elaine Gilligan, and Mareanne Bradley from the Keystone Group receiving the Best Place To Work Large Winner Irish News Workplace and Employment Award, from Sam Davidson of Henderson
Novosco, which clinched a notable double by winning the Best Place to Work and Workplace Wellbeing categories. Indeed ‘wellbeing’ was front and centre of the whole evening, with guest speaker Brian Higgins, chief executive of suicide and self-harm crisis centre Pieta House in Dublin, bringing an uplifting message to the audience. The Co Antrim man said: “Our vision is of a world where suicide, self-harm and stigma are replaced by hope, self-care and acceptance.
“We should treat everyone with dignity and respect and should be rooted in compassion and care, and we should generate and nourish hope. “We need to engender a community of people who support each other. We can do our work in the therapy rooms – but you can do your bit in the workplace.” And he challenged businesses: “Do you want to add to society’s cracks and fractures through what you do and what you fail to do, or do you want to strengthen bonds and make a positive impact? “We need to celebrate diversity in the workplace. You have teams of staff depending on you to set an example. It’s your responsibility to make an impact.” There was a special twist at the end of Brian’s speech when he introduced a video message from Irish rugby star Jack McGrath, an ambassador for Pieta House, who is in New Zealand as part of the British and Irish Lions squad preparing to face the All Blacks.
HR Director Michelle Hatfield and Environmental Manager Laura Duggan from George Best Belfast City Airport, receiving the Small/Medium Organisation Right Place To Work Irish News Workplace and Employment Award, from Sponsor Ruth Cleland of Titanic Belfast.
His message said: “Hi to everyone at the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards. I’m Jack McGrath and I’m currently in New Zealand playing for the Lions. For us, it is
Chief Executive Officer Gareth Chambers from Around Noon receiving the Entrepreneurial Spirit Large/Medium Organisation Irish News Workplace and Employment Award, from Sponsor Roger Wilson of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and compere Patrick Kielty
General Manager Andrew Greer of SSE Airtricity receiving the Right Place To Work Large Organisation Irish News Workplace and Employment Award, from Sponsor Ruth Cleland of Titanic Belfast
about working together, accepting differences, incredible teamwork, and celebrating diversity. “In fact, the diversity of the Lions is what makes us the Lions. My message is that you take the values of Pieta House of treating everyone with dignity and respect, of being routed in compassion and care, of generating and nourishing hope into your workplace. “Be leaders. As business leaders you have a team of staff depending on you. As Brian Higgins has said, it’s your responsibility to make an impact, to tackle issues head on, and to play your part in creating a workplace and a world free from suicide and self harm.”
Team PKF-FPM receiving the Small/Medium Managing Talent Irish News Workplace and Employment Award, from Sponsor Cathal Geoghegan of Mount Charles
The presentation ceremony was overseen by BBC broadcaster Jim Fitzpatrick, assisted in his own inimitable way by top comic Paddy Kielty – his third time fronting the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards. A full list of all the successful companies and organisations – which include the likes of Kainos, First Derivatives, Coca-Cola, PKFFPM, the north’s two main airports and previous multi-winner Allstate – is included on the opposite page . The awards were supported by eight key business partners in Carson McDowell, Mount Charles, Phoenix Natural Gas, Queen’s University, Ulster University, Henderson Group, Armagh City Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and Titanic Belfast. ■
Team First Derivatives receiving the Large Managing Talent Irish News Workplace and Employment Award, from Sponsor Cathal Geoghegan of Mount Charles
For galleries, coverage, all the winners and those highly commended at the 2017 Workplace & Employment Awards see www.irishnews.com/wea
Jessica Neeson has been appointed as a Recruitment Consultant for IT/Technology at Abacus Professional Recruitment following a number of years working within IT recruitment in London. Lucy Mooney has joined Abacus Professional Recruitment as an ICT Consultant. Her experience includes account management and customer relationship management with a particular focus on business development. Gregory Martin has joined the Commercial Property team at A&L Goodbody. Gregory has worked as a solicitor in London for the past 10 years and joins from city law firm Nabarro.
Gavin Annon has been promoted to Head of Sales and Marketing at Mount Charles. He most recently held the position of Commercial and Marketing Manager. Chris Annon has been promoted to Group Logistics and Vending Development Manager at Mount Charles. He has been with the company for almost 20 years. PR and content agency Smarts Communicate has appointed Tim Magowan to the role of Brand Purpose Consultant. Tim joins Smarts following 14 years at the charity Tearfund.
Grant McBurney has been promoted to partner at Carson McDowell. Grant is a member of the planning and environmental law team within Carson McDowell since 2007. Kerry Teahan has been appointed head of procurement and partner at Carson McDowell. Kerry recently joined the law firm and will specialise in public procurement. Mary-Kim Doherty has been promoted to partner at Carson McDowell. Mary-Kim joined the firm in 2002 as an apprentice whilst obtaining professional qualification at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies of Queens University.
David Sinnamon has been appointed Risk Manager at Willis Insurance and Risk Management.David will be responsible for helping clients identify, manage and mitigate the risk. Leslie Dick has been appointed Management Risks Client Director at Willis Insurance and Risk Management where he will be in charge of identifying new risks and increasing personal liability risks faced by firms. Katrina Anderson has been appointed Business Ecosystem Manager at Barclays PLC. She has seven years of business banking experience at will be based at Barclays Eagle Labs.
Lisa Bailie has been appointed Business Ecosystem Manager at Barclays PLC. Lisa has 15 years business banking experience and will be based at Barclays Eagle Labs. Patrick Mullarkey has been appointed clinical negligence partner at O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors. Patrick has spent his career successfully bringing civil actions in medical cases of negligence on behalf of patients. Peter Russell has been appointed Director of Sales & Marketing at Neueda. Peter is responsible for the growth of Neueda’s business on a local and international scale.
Brendan Duffy has been appointed Chief Technical Officer at Neueda. Brendan is responsible for driving Neueda’s digital transformation services through innovative technology. Alan Moneypenny has been appointed as Chairman of the Ulster Community Investment Trust. Alan has had an extensive career in the private, public and community sectors. Damian McAteer has been appointed Vice Chair of the Ulster Community Investment Trust. He has 40-years’ experience in private and third-sector organisations as well as public service.
PHOTOCALL 1. Flogas has signed up multi-gold medal winning Paralympian and World Champion Michael McKillop as its brand ambassador. Pictured is Paul Ruegg, senior marketing executive at Flogas with Michael McKillop, who has converted his car to autogas.
2. NakedPR celebrated its fifth in June with an event thanking clients for their support over the years. Pictured (LtoR) is Amy McGuckian, Darryl Campbell, Jackie Logan, managing director, and Ciara McCoy.
3. The 12 finalists competing in the prestigious Invent Awards from Connect at Catalyst Inc, are now gearing up for the final hurdle of the competition after a mentor day in Belfast. Engineering Category Finalist Fiona Bennington showing her innovation ‘Hug’ to Lynsey Mallon from Sponsor Arthur Cox
4. techstart NI’s two lead partners in Northern Ireland, Hal Wilson and Jamie Andrews, have reached agreement to become majority shareholders in Techstart Ventures. Pictured from left is Hal Wilson, Techstart Ventures, Sandy McKinnon, Pentech Ventures, and Jamie Andrews, Techstart Ventures.
5. Linen Loft, an office building on Adelaide Street in Belfast, has opened its doors to its first tenant, financial services group comprising pensions consulting firm Spence & Partners and professional pensions trustee Dalriada Trustees. Pictured from left is David Wright, director, CBRE and Neil Copeland, director, Spence & Partners.
6. Celebrating over £200K of sales for local businesses, System Sales Consultants (SSC) has launched a new dedicated Sales Programme aimed at helping businesses achieve propelled growth in competitive markets. Pictured are Deborah Byrne, Christine Jones and Ben Paynter from System Sales Consultants.
7. Two of Belfast Met’s top Video Game Design students won the Best Overall Project at the prestigious BEST Awards. Pictured with their award is Ignas Lescinskas from East Belfast and Shannon Turley from West Belfast.
9. Wendy Blundell, Director of UK Regions of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) in recognition of her distinguished career in civil engineering and as an exceptional role model for young women. Wendy is pictured with daughters Olivia and Erin.
10 AUGUST 2017
8. The Growth Loan Fund has lent more than £40m to local businesses since opening in September 2012 and has since supported 120 businesses with loans from £100,000 up to £1.25m. Pictured are Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest NI; Paul Millar, Chief Executive of WhiteRock Capital Partners and David Murphy, CEO of NILGOSC.
10. Furniture retailer EZ Living Interiors has announced the opening of its second store in Belfast at Holywood Exchange. Pictured from left are Colin Mathewson, Director, CBRE; Christine Shortt, Store Manager (Shane Retail Park), EZ Living Interiors & Paul Wilson, Director, Savills.
PHOTOCALL 11. A group of pupils from Lismore Comprehensive is representing Northern Ireland at the UK final of the Young Enterprise Company of the Year competition last month. From front row is Ruth Young, Young Enterprise; Conall Brady, MD of Never Lace, and Francis McVeigh, business studies teacher at Lismore. Middle row, Jamie Leighton; Oonagh Murtagh, Danske Bank; Kerry Lyle and Kevin Reid from Almac; and back Dean Conway and Michael Judge.
12. Lloyd Hannigan, Surveyor at Lisney (left), and Chris Campbell, Marketing Manager at Lisney (right), join Brian Shanks, Corporate Partnership Manager for the Simon Community NI, announce that the leading commercial property agency has raised £20,000 – double its target – for the Simon Community.
13. Norwegian has launch its direct transatlantic flights from Belfast International Airport. Pictured after the first flight from Stewart International land in Belfast is Lars Garde (Captain), Robert Bjorkholm (Co-Pilot) and Graham Keddie (MD Belfast International Airport).
14. Square Pit Productions has launched its latest project named South 13 (S13) which will see them convert the former B&Q site off Boucher Road in South Belfast into a community asset. Pictured at the launch is Joseph Ricketts from ACSONI (African and Caribbean Support for Northern Ireland), Richard Irwin (Landlord), Briege Arthurs, Chief Executive of South Belfast Partnership Board and Gary Flynn, Director of Square Pit at S13.
15. David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland Manager, and Kevin McGrady, Emergency Pollution Officer at NIEA, are urging business owners to be aware of oil tank regulation requirements and associated fines. The legislation strives to ensure businesses store oil safely to reduce the risk of pollution and offer better protection for the environment.
16. The Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh has completed a multimillion pound refurbishment in a bid to increase its share of the business event and wedding markets. An additional 25 jobs have also been created. Part of the investment was supported by Danske Bank. Pictured are Oonagh Murtagh, Head of South Business Centre at Danske Bank; Allan Duncan, Owner of Silverbirch Hotel and Robert McGill, Business Manager at Danske Bank.
17. Gary Blair, Ulster-Scots Agency, Richard Hanna, CCEA, Ian Crozier, UlsterScots Agency, Moya Neeson, Morrow Communications, Aisling Gallagher, Morrow Communications and Suzanne Harrison, Northern Ireland Screen are pictured with school children Caoimhe McDonagh, Reuben Thompson and Gabriel Szkaradek at the launch of a new interactive educational resource called ‘Our Artists’.
18 18. Pictured are the winners of Allstates first annual student TechMaster of the Year Awards, organised in association with the Queen’s Graduates’ Association at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. From left are: Roy Sterritt, Pearse Hughes, Hans Vandierendonck, Kevin McLaughlin and Feargus McCauley.
19. U105 Presenter, Frank Mitchell and TV personality, Clare McCollum launch the search for Northern Ireland’s SuperStars. The new SuperValu SuperStars initiative will honour unsung heroes in local communities that have gone beyond the call of duty to help someone in need.
20. Restwell Manufacturing Ltd is investing over £475,000 to expand its production capabilities and workforce with support from Invest Northern Ireland. Jeremy Fitch (left), Invest NI, is pictured with Artur Slizak, Restwell Manufacturing.
Plan, plan and plan again to thrive during Brexit David Elliott, editor of Ulster Business; Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland’s Policy and Strategy Director; Tom Kelly, founder of Stakeholder Communications and former chair of Stronger in Europe; Will Taylor, founder of Glastry Farm Ice Cream; Johnny Hanna, Partner and Head of Tax at KPMG
lan for the worst case scenario and hope for the best” That’s was the message from KPMG’s Partner and Head of Tax Johnny Hanna in reference to the likely outcome from the current discussions around the UK/ European Union divorce. He was speaking at the Ulster Business Brexit Breakfast, in association with KPMG, held at the MAC in Belfast where he and speakers from across the business world offered insight into how businesses have been preparing for Brexit and what we can expect in the future. “We know the UK will leave the customs union and we know the UK will leave the single market,” he said. “Those two things on their own mean Brexit will be a big deal for many companies, so much so that even the prospect has forced many to act.” He said preparation would be key for companies determined to thrive during what could be a difficult period in which to operate, for instance, advising consultancy business reliant on EU tenders to incorporate in the EU to be prepared for the separation.
Mr Hanna also pointed out that exporters in Northern Ireland are, in fact, looked upon enviously by those in the Republic. “They think Northern Ireland companies have an advantage because they are part of a UK market of 70m people and their concern is people buying products in GB will choose to buy from within the Uk rather than go to the Republic.” Tom Kelly, founder of Stakeholder Communications and former chair for Stronger in Europe, said a second referendum couldn’t be ruled out. “If Theresa May gets a good enough majority then she might decide to put any deal she can negotiate to the people. A second referendum is possible.”
“I can’t tell you how little some of them know about our situation. In the past there were Tories who had family here or interest in Ireland but there are very few today.” Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland’s Policy and Strategy Director, agreed with Johnny Hanna’s comments on prior planning, particularly given a recent survey by the agency found that 98% of businesses in Northern Ireland have not taken any action to ready themselves for Brexit. “There are actions which can be taken now to prepare: innovation, lean techniques and actions which should be aimed at the worst case scenario. We’re telling business to take action now and also to engage with policy makers to let them know what is happening on the ground so they can negotiate properly.”
But he said that was a outside chance and in reality Brexit will be drawn out.“It’s going to be a complicated process, not helped by an absentee Executive.”
Will Taylor, founder of Glastry Farm Ice Cream, said he had already found subtle barriers appearing for his exports to the Republic.
He said a lot of work has been carried out by government in the Republic but said interest in Northern Ireland’s interests from Westminster appears weak.
“We’ve already started to look at GB and are actively looking at a distribution network there and have even had productive meetings with buyers in the United Arab Emirates.” ■
Rachel Capper, Gatekeeper PR; Sonia Armstrong, Ulster Business; Brian Reid and Sinead Little
Will Taylor, Glastry Farm Ice Cream; Len O’Hagan, INM; and Susie Brown, Tourism NI
Claire Vaux, Translink, and Sarah Ann Gamble, Ulster Business
Chris Wallace, Brian Moss, Paul Griffiths and Michael Duffy at the Ulster Business Brexit Breakfast, in association with KPMG
Johnny Hanna, Partner and Head of Tax, KPMG in Northern Ireland
Dominic Mudge, KPMG, and David Wilson, Worthingtons Solicitors
Ulster Business editor David Elliott welcomes guests to the Ulster Business Brexit Breakfast, in association with KPMG
Tom Kelly, founder of Stakeholder Communications and former chair of Stronger in Europe
Johnny Hanna, Partner and Head of Tax, KPMG in Northern Ireland, addresses guests at the Ulster Business Brexit Breakfast, in association with KPMG
Toby McMurray, Tughans, and Marcus Coppens, Brewin Dolphin
Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland’s Policy and Strategy Director
Will Taylor, founder of Glastry Farm Ice Cream, explains how the Brexit vote has changed his business’s focus
EVENTS Banker-turned-co-operative director Clare Guiness was in splendid form and was telling The Chairman how she’s taken to the world of agri-food at Fane Valley like a duck to water.
The good people of this magazine took heed of my suggestion and set forth bringing together a stellar cast of speakers to inform and entertain a stellar audience.
Holding court was boss of Capitalflow Commercial Finance Harry Parkinson who was in robust form while The Chairman enjoyed a chat with 4C’s Business Development Director Orla McGreevy.
On stage was cross-border guru Aidan Gough from InterTradeIreland, the voice behind the Remain campaign in Northern Ireland Tom Kelly, Glastry Farm Ice Cream and dairy king Will Taylor and one of the most knowledgeable experts on all thing’s Brexit KPMG partner Johnny Hanna.
And as is customary, The Chairman caught up with boss of Crescent Capital Colin Walsh before he headed of on to sunnier climes. A great night was had by all.
The Chairman The international man of black tie events has had a busy summer. Were you chatting to him? Were you subject to his networking brilliance?
here are few events The Chairman looks forward to more than the annual 4Se4sons do held by those ever-so professional executive recruiters 4C. This year the drinkies were held in my old favourite venue Riddell Hall (a venue yours truly remembers vividly when it was a residence for female students at Queen’s) and what a night it was. There to offer an insight into his world of management was old friend Jim Eastwood, the former BBC Apprentice star who was as usual in fine fettle. Gary Irvine, the founder of 4C, hosted proceedings with characteristic grace and made sure the premier league guests were enjoying themselves.
Editor of this magazine David Elliott did his best to try and coral them along and the lively debate soon uncovered a deep seam of interest in all things Brexit.
Back when Sheryl Sandberg was rising up through the ranks of the US Treasury, The Chairman crossed paths with her for a long lunch and a bottle of something red in Washington with Larry Summers.
What a treat to bump into Claire Vaux from Translink who was in sparkling form, as well as Toby McMurray from Tughans and Marcus Coppens from Brewin Dolphin who themselves known a thing or two about Brexit.
Even then there was something about the woman who would go on to become the boss of Facebook which suggested she was destined for big things, so it was no surprise that she didn’t waste any time climbing to the top.
Len O’Hagan and Richard McClean, both of this parish, were spotted at the far side of the room, as was Dominic Mudge from KPMG and David Wilson from Worthingtons Solicitors.
It was an absolute pleasure to get the chance to catch up with her once again in London where she was in conversation on stage with none other than Belfast’s own Nuala Murphy. Nuala is behind the Belfast chapter of Ms Sandberg’s Lean In organisation which is designed to encourage women to achieve their ambitions and the interview was a great success. Also there was PR guru Andrea Kennedy, also a member of Lean In, who has done a fabulous job of getting the organisation’s name in the media.
Breakfast you say? Sorry, what’s that? Oh Brexit? Both? Together? It can only be the inaugural Ulster Business Brexit Breakfast in The MAC Belfast which The Chairman has been hoping would happen ever since David Cameron shot himself in the foot last June.
Asking the tough questions was Cathal Geoghan from Mount Charles along with Rachel Capper and Sinead Lyttle from Gatekeepr PR while The Chairman also enjoyed catching up with Chris Wallace, Brian Moss and Paul Griffiths and Michael Duffy. Ulster Business’s own Sonia Armstrong and Sarah-Ann Gamble were in effervescent form while art’s world hero and The MAC’s brilliant host Julie Stewart made sure proceedings ran like clockwork. What a morning, what a Brexit.
Summer is a socialable time for The Chairman so it was with gusto we hot footed it to the delightful Robert Sinclair Solicitors Summer Social at the equally delightful Harlem Cafe on Belfast’s Bedford Street. We were in good hands with MC Sarah Clarke while Siobhan McAleer, Robert Sinclair and Tracey Perry were on top form also. ■
Orla McGreevy, Business Development Executive, 4c Executive Search & former finalist of BBCâ€™s The Apprentice, Jim Eastwood at a 4C event at Riddell Hall
Gary Irvine, Managing Director, 4c Executive Search, addresses the audience at the 4Se4sons event at Riddell Hall in Belfast
Clare Guinness, Director of Corporate Services, Fane Valley; Gary Irvine, Managing Director, 4c Executive Search and Harry Parkinson, CEO, Capitalflow Commercial Finance, at the 4C event at Riddell Hall
Nuala Murphy, left, with Sheryl Sandberg at a Lean In event in London
Louise Hull, apprentice programme manager at Fujitsu (centre) is pictured with prize winners Nicola Taggart and Sean Kelly at the Belfast Metropolitan College Skills and Apprenticeships Awards 2017. Fujitsu also received an Employer Recognition Award at the ceremony
Graham Oâ€™Geran, business development director at IMS (centre), is pictured with the directors of Acheson Associates from Lisburn, at an IMS event in Belfast.
Rose Kane Quinn, Software Engineer at Belfast-based Neueda, is pictured right receiving her Young IT Professional of the Year award.
Siobhan McAleer (The Mortgage Shop), Robert Sinclair (Robert Sinclair Solicitors), Tracey Perry (Ulster Property Sales) at the Robert Sinclair Solicitor summer social
Industrial Symbiosis Service hits 10-year anniversary
nvest Northern Ireland’s Industrial Symbiosis Service has been operating in Northern Ireland for 10 years and during that time has delivered economic benefit of over £40m to the companies which participated and diverted 390,000 tonnes of waste from landfill. International Synergies NI and Invest NI hosted a Business and the Environment conference at Titanic Belfast in May to recognise this milestone and acknowledge these results.
Delegates at the Industrial Symbiosis Conference
A full house of delegates representing companies of all sizes – from SMEs to large multinational businesses and social enterprises – fully engaged with the international and local speakers. The audience posed an array of topical and interesting questions on Industrial Symbiosis and the wider environment, providing some important take away moments. A taste of what exactly Industrial Symbiosis has done for businesses in Northern Ireland was the highlight of the day as local case studies described the diverse benefits that Industrial Symbiosis can bring to an organisation – product diversification, response to legislation, supply chain management and social inclusion – were prominent. The event included a special recognition ceremony, acknowledging the loyalty and dedication to the service from some of our members. The 10 winners were presented with a beautifully designed Gold Standard award made by an unplugged woodcrafter from only reclaimed and discarded materials. Elaine Kerr, Deputy Director of International Synergies NI said: “Businesses that engage with the Industrial Symbiosis service are achieving £15 of benefit for every £1 of facilitated support. These benefits can only be achieved
Andrew Whyle (Ricoh), Niall Casey (Invest NI), Orla Hoy (Interface), Elaine Kerr (International Synergies NI), Rachel Lombardi (International Synergies) and Peter Laybourn (International Synergies)
Some of the presenters of the local case studies: Clive, Janet Schofield (CAN), Collette Eastewood (Bombardier), Ronan McCay (Frylite), Roy Harrson (Camden) and Alan McVicker (SIB)
when two or more organisations work together with the Industrial Symbiosis team to find suitable matches for each resource stream encountered.
Symbiosis in the future and to ensure that Northern Ireland continues to be a benchmark in sustainability.
“Resources can be anything from wasted wood to sludges, chemicals, expertise and space capacity. This conference has demonstrated that the Invest NI Industrial Symbiosis Service is leading the way globally as the longest running facilitated service in the world and we are looking forward to seeing the economic, environmental and societal benefits that can and will be achieved in the years ahead.”
Commenting on the achievements, Niall Casey, Director of Skills and Competitiveness said: “The Industrial Symbiosis service is helping organisations to generate significant savings by recycling used materials and diverting waste from costly landfill. This conference was a fitting showcase of the impact resource efficiency measures can have on a company’s performance. I would encourage more people to explore how this service could benefit their business.” ■
The keynote speaker, Laura Sandys, brought the day to a close with a presentation that inspired delegates to embrace Industrial
For more information visit our webpage at www.investni.com/industrialsymbiosis
Alternative finance - join the crowd
lster University Business School hosted a conference recently focusing on alternative funding for SMEs and start-up businesses. Chaired by Dr Tony Gandy, Visiting Professor at both UUBS and the London Institute of Banking and Finance, the conference explored the range of finance options available to SMEs including crowdfunding, venture capital and unsecured mezzanine finance.
“SME growth is the bedrock for future economic development in Northern Ireland, but educating start-ups about alternative forms of funding is essential for success. But SMEs need to be aware, not only about what finance options are available, but also the optimum time in the business life cycle to avail of them,” said Mike Pogue, Course Director of the MSc Applied Finance programme at Ulster University Business School.
Paul Millar, Professor Gillian Armstrong, Hal Wilson and Colin Walsh
Colin Walsh, Paul Millar and Michael Pogue
Alan Wardlow, Pam Gillies, Gary Plant and Dave Warnock
Dr Tony Gandy
Speakers at the conference also included Damian Mullan (Invest NI); Judith Totten (Upstream); Philip McAleese (See Sense); Paul Millar (Whiterock); Colin Walsh (Crescent Capital) and Hal Wilson (Tech Start). ■
Email email@example.com for further information on the MSc Applied Finance programme.
Dr Tony Gandy, Judith Totten, Professor Gillian Armstrong, Damian Mullan and Michael Pogue
Professor Gillian Armstrong, John Young and Naomi Gaston
Wilfred Mitchell, Nick McCafferty and Roger Pollen
Cap off the year at the Cape
The Conrad Hotel’s private beach
By Dominic Francis
here’s something decadent in swopping turkey and ham and all the associated stress for a game of golf in the sun. That’s the choice being made by a growing number of Northern Ireland travel adventurers who are increasingly turning their backs on some of the great traditions. They are being rewarded, however, with some wonderful experiences, an escape into the sun at a time when a winter bleakness hangs over all and a holiday during which there is absolutely no danger of being disturbed by the office or any form of commerce. It’s the dream break for the harassed businessman or overworked executive. Go on holiday when everybody else is out of the office. Result; no phone calls, no emails and
no urgent text messages from the finance department. Walking through the centre of Cape Town last Christmas we bumped into a prominent Belfast businessman who had had enough of tradition; sitting at a cricket match in the sundrenched magnificence of Newlands stadium we encountered an eminent Ballymena scientist swopping darkness for light; and relaxing over lunch in the languid Knysna lagoon we discussed inward investment into Northern Ireland with a Lisburn entrepreneur who was taking a break from, well... entreprenneuring. South Africa in winter, particularly at Christmas, is becoming a magnet the Northern European AB1 market and Northern Ireland members of that club are discovering that swopping their Christmas bonus for the high skies of Africa has many benefits. Cape Town is one of the world's most visited
destinations. It is also the starting point for the Garden Route, a main road winding its way from the Mother City eastwards to Durban, clinging to the coastline and opening a route to some of the best holiday destinations in the world. In the middle of the Garden Route what was the once sleepy fishing town of Knysna, protected by giant cliffs which afford it a gateway-like entrance to a shimmering lagoon. This is where South Africa comes to play at Christmas, when its population of 50,000 souls explodes to tens of thousands. Blessed by miles of sandy beaches and hidden coves Knysna is now and international resort catering for holidaymakers from all over the world. It's main market, however, is Northern Europe and those lucky Northern Ireland businessmen who have discovered it. During the Christmas season the town is a
The Conrad Hotel
Getting there; If you're planning to travel over the Christmas period plan well in advance as flights fill very quickly. British Airways fly from London to Cape Town with prices as low as £800. You can rent a car here and meander along the Garden Route to Knysna. Alternatively you can fly to George airport, about an hour from Knysna.
bustling playground catering for all modern needs. Fine hotels, great restaurants and everything any holidaymaker would wish for. It offers great value with an excellent dinner including wine for around £30 in a top-class restaurant. Supermarkets and Main Street shopping mall are there for the sale-caterers and there is any amount of seafront coffee shops and cafés where whiling away a few hours over lunch is an unrivalled mid-winter experience. Perched on a hillside overlooking the ocean just outside Knysna is the golfers' paradise of Pezula where the Conrad Pezula envelopes its guests in unbelieveable luxury. This is a hotel which has very few rivals in South Africa. Its international golf course is a challenge for the holiday golfer. There's a private beach where lunch is served by one's own personal butler
and gourmet restaurants which specialise in classic South African fish and meat dishes. Try the Kudo, a form of venison and realise what's missing from your diet at home. There are suites at this hotel fit for, and regularly visited by, Presidents but for us ordinary mortals its others rooms are very financially accessible. There is even an app available to order your meals. Check out the menu online, make your choice and the app prints out your order in the kitchen at whatever time you choose. That's modern cool. Knysna is little known in Northern Ireland but it's a horizon that requires exploration. It's easily reached and makes a great alternative to the more traditional Christmases at home. ■
There is an abundance of hotels and restaurants in Knysna. Room prices vary but can start as low as £50 per person sharing. For those seeking a luxury experience there are a number of fine hotels. We stayed at the Pezula Conrad which offers unrivalled luxury starting at £200 for a double room with breakfast. Take your pick of scores of restaurants in all price ranges. We liked the East Head Café, the Olive Tree and, in particular, Pembreys.
What to see: Knysna is ideally located for all descriptions of holidays. It's close to sweeping beaches and towering mountains. You can walk with elephants across sweeping plains at the Knysna Elephant Park or commune with monkeys at Monkeyland, a great old park. On the activity front there is really no shortage or lack of variety.
Back to the (i) Pad? Adrian Weckler test drives the new iPad pro to see if it could reverse declining sales of the device for Apple
f all the announcements made at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week, the unveiling of a new iPad Pro may be the most significant in the long run. That’s because iPads may yet bounce back from a sales malaise to reclaim what many see as their rightful role – replacing laptops. Apple certainly believes that this could happen. So it has focused an unprecedented amount of its engineering and software focus into making its new 10.5-inch iPad Pro the laptop replacement you can look to with ease. The new tablet has a screen that’s bigger by almost 20pc compared to its 9.7-inch predecessor. Despite this, the overall size of the unit has only increased by 7pc. Apple has done this by thinning out the
bezels around the screen, meaning that you simply get more screen in proportion to the overall device size. There’s a truckload of software and power changes in the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, too. Arguably the most interesting of these software developments is the ability to drag and drop files from one location to another. This goes hand in hand with another software development, Apple’s new Files app. This lets you change the way you set up your workflow. You can store and work with documents and images that are stored either locally on the machine or in commonly used cloud services such as Dropbox, Box or iCloud Drive. Aside from the display size, one of the physical features that’s most noticeable is the new screen technology. The screen is brighter and more intelligent at displaying
colours and white balance arrays than previous iPads. A higher refresh rate of 120Hz means that scrolling on the iPad Pro’s screen seems considerably more fluid, with much smoother content motion. This technology (which Apple calls ‘ProMotion’) also gives Apple’s Pencil an extra edge, reducing its latency (the apparent time between the stylus tip touching the screen and registering a mark on the screen) to 20 milliseconds. This is faster than pretty much any other stylus system. One of the things that has given iPad Pro devices some credibility as work machines in the last two years is their multitasking and productivity features. There’s quite a bit more of this going on with the software used with new iPad Pro. Aside from ‘drag and drop’ and ‘Files’,
there’s a new customisable Dock that provides quick access to frequently used apps and documents from any screen. There’s also a redesigned app switcher that brings Spaces to iOS. This lets you move between apps or pairs of active apps, used in Split View. Other nice bits include a new document scanner for the default ‘Notes’ application. Like other scanning apps, this lets users scan single or multi-page documents. Alongside all of this is more integration with Apple’s Pencil. Probably the most impressive new Pencil feature is the ability to scribble notes in an app such as Notes, close the app and then search for whatever you’ve scribbled in Spotlight later on. This is exactly the type of functionality that might make stylus sceptics reconsider the Pencil. As one might expect, Apple has added a bit more power to the engine under the hood. This comes in the form of an A10x processor, which Apple says delivers over 30pc faster performance than the previous iPad Pro machines. While I’ve never really appreciated a camera on an iPad, there are many people who seem to use it. So much so that Apple has included the same camera system from the iPhone 7 into the new iPad Pro. That means a 12-megapixel rear lens and a 7-megapixel FaceTime selfie camera. What I do appreciate (lots) is the excellent speaker system that iPad Pro models have come with. Like its predecessors, the new model comes with four speakers. This is more important than you’d think, especially if you like to use the device for a bit of Netflix, Sky Go or other streaming options. Like other iPads, you can get this one with or without a 4G service option. It starts at 64GB (£619 wifi only) and goes up to 512GB of storage memory. In a nutshell, this machine is getting a lot closer to the workflow stuff that regular laptops can do, as well as keeping its pacy, quickstart, ‘always on’ feeling. ■
Gadgets to fight stress Fidget cubes are slightly less school-yard than craze de jour, the fidget spinner, but the principle is the same. This has six sides, allowing you to glide, flip, roll and click for when you need to sharpen your focus. No batteries are required, and the design is inspired by traditional worry stones. Fidget cube, £9.99; smythstoys.com
Give yourself a breather with this mini board. You paint on the surface with water – it comes with a brush – and see your designs appear. As the water evaporates, your masterpiece fades, encouraging you to "let go". This five-inch board takes up little desk space and has an easel stand. Mini Zen Buddha Board, £9.50; amazon.co.uk
From the same people who created the lava lamp, this hand-held gadget is deeply relaxing. Turn it on and it shines a colour of your choice, or goes through the whole spectrum. It's rechargeable and lasts from six to eight hours, and is also splash-proof for outside use. Mathmos Aduki Light, £55; amazon.co.uk
Stress often accelerates your heart rate, so if you are aware of that happening, you can do something to calm down. Pricier than your average stress ball, the hand-held emWave2 monitors your heart rhythms and stores the data, which you can download, helping you to plan ways to slow your heart rate. emWave2, £165; heartmath.co.uk
MY DAY Uncovering the 9-5
Name: Christine Jones Position: Managing Director of System Sales Consultants
6.00am I’m up early especially if it is term time for the kids. My husband leaves for work early, so depending on the day I either have a workout at the gym or complete back-end administration work; such as invoices, wages or the dreaded tax return! 8.30am I take some calls on the way to work most mornings to review scheduled jobs, to ensure meetings for the day are secured or to talk to clients about anything they need help with. 9.00am By this time I have done the school run and will start my morning emails. I have email accounts for every client so I can liaise directly with business prospects on my clients’ behalf. We act as a whitelabelled sales team on behalf of our clients. Every morning I open each account and do the follow-up emails from the day before. We set appointments as the client, attend as the client and, in some cases, project manage as the client. 9.30am First thing I may have meetings with clients, prospective clients or occasionally with other parties interested in finding out more about our work. Meeting with my dedicated team is a must to have a catchup and update each other on any ongoing work. The SSC Team also manage different social media accounts, I would sign off the week ahead scheduled posts and ensure the team is briefed on new tasks. 10.30am Several times a week I will have face-to-face appointments with my clients to catch-up with them and to ensure all KPIs are being met, review goals, set deadlines etc. I sometimes act as intermediary and lend my expertise to help my clients resolve any important off-field issues such as trademarks, safety certifications and writing tenders. 12.00pm I set this hour aside to prospect for clients, while ensuring all the CRMs are up-to-date and on track with the SSC team busy in the background making contact and ensuring clients pipelines are kept moving.
1.00pm I have lunch at my desk or go on the road to deliver a pitch on behalf of a client. This may take me anywhere in Northern Ireland, or further out to Dublin. In some instances I may go further afield to London or beyond. We represent our clients in the field, pitching their products or services under their own brand. This is the part of the day I love the most as I hope to to close the sale and complete the job. Then I’ll email the client - perfect. 3.00pm It’s paperwork time. It is my belief that it is imperative to ensure all the work we have pitched and sold are relayed correctly back to the client. The end-to-end process is always fully documented and complete for handover. Then we move on to the next pitch on the schedule which the SSC Team in the office is busy setting up. 5.00pm Being a mum kicks in. Time to make the dinner, do the house work, homework and get them to their activity for the day! 9.00pm Depending on the day, most evenings I keep in contact with clients by phone and email to ensure everything runs smoothly. On Fridays this may be topped off with a nice glass of wine!
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