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DECEMBER 2017 Price £2.30 (¤2.60)

Danske: Digital transformation How one of Northern Ireland’s biggest banks is embracing technology to give it a leading edge

INTERVIEW

The CME Group President drops by

CROSS-BORDER

What can YOU do to prepare for Brexit?


Tools to grow with Ulster Bank Boost

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Help for what matters Ulster Bank Limited, Registered in Northern Ireland No. R733. Registered Office: 11-16 Donegall Square East, Belfast, BT1 5UB.


Contents 6 News

41 Cross-border Trade

74 Business Breakfast

All the latest news and views from the Northern Ireland business world, and beyond

How do you prepare for trading across the border after Brexit? Emma Deighan finds out

The Fitzwilliam Hotel is the venue for this month’s breakfast, and the editor has help...

14 Cover Story

51 Public Sector

77 Motoring

Danske Bank is grasping the world of technology with both hands. We hear more.

John Simpson asks what decisions should be being made at Stormont in the near term

Flat-to-the-Mat Pat brakes late and powers through the corners with this month’s motors

18 Interview

59 Outsourcing

90 Chairman

Bryan Durkin, the president of CME Group, explains what drew the business to Belfast

We find out how to avoid the pitfalls of outsourcing and make it work for you

He’s been out and about again this month and might have spotted you...

21 IT & Technology

72 Business Travel

96 Business Fashion

How GDPR and Brexit are going to cause challenges, and how to overcome them

The editor tries his hand on a BA flight simulator at the airline’s Heathrow base

After a long hiatus, it’s back! The latest styles to keep you looking smart in the office

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72

96 51

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EDITOR’S COMMENT

A call for political sense

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here to begin? This December edition of Ulster Business comes to you packed with an array of all the news, analysis and insight you’ll need to get you through the festive season and marching onwards to a new year.

They need to get back to governing, making the decisions which will keep our economy turning and then, if they have to, they can get back to bickering about their growing list of sticking points, points which a primary school teacher could resolve in an actual playground in minutes.

What the new year will hold remains to be seen but surely there will be some form of resolution to the political shambles which we’ve had to endure this year?

For each week that goes by that our politicians remain at loggerheads, the economy takes a step back.

The fallout was initially easy to ignore, so used is the business community here to prolonged periods of a political vacuum, and companies have been able to plough ahead regardless. But now, faced with what has the potential to be the crippling uncertainty created by Brexit, it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore and much less palatable to accept. How are we to ensure we are being properly represented at the Brexit negotiating table if our own politicians are not even able to reach resolution at their own negotiating table? Yes the main parties have their issues - this is a short column and certainly doesn’t hold enough space to mention them all - but now is not the time to get bogged down in trying to resolve every last one of them.

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

Independent News & Media Ltd © 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of Independent News & Media Ltd.

DECEMBER 2017

Yes most businesses are more than capable of working around the hubris but you only need to look the recent construction industry report which shows that a lack of an Executive - and in particular decisions on public spending - is eroding activity in the sector. This at a time when we’re facing a divorce from our biggest trading partner, a factor which has already managed to trim growth on its own. Do we need the added burden of a political stalement at Stormont as we face this maelstrom? The answer seems obvious to all but those we voted for. More fool us. ■ David Elliott

Editor David Elliott

Production Stuart McKinley

Manager Sonia Armstrong

Cover photo Press Eye

Deputy Manager Sylvie Brando

Contact 028 90 264260

Sales Executive Sarah-Ann Gamble

Online www.ulsterbusiness.com

Free to download. Free to read. ulsterbusiness/app 5


NEWS

A month in numbers 4% The rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland in September, down 1.2% on the same time last year, according to the Labour Force Survey. That is the lowest rate since 2008 and the first time in four years Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate has been below the UK average, currently at 4.3%.

28.9% The rate of economic inactivity - people of working age not actively looking for work - in Northern Ireland, the highest rate since 2010 and, as always, the highest rate of all 12 UK regions. The increase follows a steady drop in economic activity to a record low last year and again shines a light on the Achilles heel of the economy here.

£25,999 The median gross annual earnings for fulltime employees in Northern Ireland, according to NISRA. That ranges from a high of £29,152 in Belfast to a low of £22,805 in Fermanagh and Omagh.

0.5% The increase in Northern Ireland’s economic activity between the second quarter of 2017 and the same period in 2016, as estimated by the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index. The private sector was estimated to have grown by 0.7% and the public sector shrunk by 0.3%.

Rural regions lead house price rise

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ouse prices in Northern Ireland have climbed across all regions over the last year, particularly in the north and west of the province where the jump has been most pronounced. The average annual increase stood at 6% in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year, according to Land and Property Service’s House Price Index, more than any other UK region.

Londonderry’s peace bridge. The Derry City and Strabane district saw one of the strongest increases in house prices over the last year of 9.1%.

Neil Templeton, Director at estate agents Templeton Robinson, said the market is putting in a solid performance.

seeing increases of 9.1% and Fermanagh & Omagh up by 8.1%. That compares to Belfast where prices have climbed by just 3.9%.

“The NISRA figures for the last quarter reveal a continued steady growth in the Northern Irish market, despite ongoing challenges,” he said. “We are certainly seeing a positive and confident Northern Ireland housing market, with enquiries and transactions particularly strong with regard to semi-detached dwellings, for which demand remains high.

The variation in average prices remains stark with average prices at just £115,339 in Derry City and Strabane at the bottom of the league table and at £159,966 in Lisburn and Castlereagh at the top.

“Prices have been on a steady upward climb since 2013 and we envisage this trend to continue in the face of limited supply.” Growth was most apparent outside some of the major urbanised regions with Causeway Coast & Glens and Derry City & Strabane both

Meanwhile, the construction sector remains in a period of stasis, according to latest data from the RICS, stagnating for the second successive sector as a result of a lack of public spending. The Northern Ireland Construction & Infrastructure Market Survey carried out with law firm Tughans, said the sector is lagging far behind all other regions in the UK.

House price index for third quarter of 2017 Government district

% change over 12 months

Standardised price

Antrim and Newtownabbey

4.9%

£137,242

Ards and North Down

5.9%

£150,773

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon

6.7%

£117,637

Belfast

3.9%

£123,409

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Causeway Coast and Glens

9.1%

£137,877

The number of months since Northern Ireland had a functioning government at Stormont. The rather sorry state of affairs has been blamed for holding back business growth in a number of sectors, most recently in the construction sector where a lack of public sector spending is leaving many companies hamstrung.

Derry City and Strabane

9.1%

£115,339

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Fermanagh and Omagh

8.1%

£121,851

Lisburn and Castlereagh

6.4%

£159,966

Mid and East Antrim

3.6%

£123,234

Mid Ulster

6.6%

£132,366

Newry, Mourne and Down

6.5%

£136,648

Northern Ireland

6.0%

£132,169


NEWS

Now Group launches JAM Card

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JAM Card user Conor McCallan, 28 from North Belfast, is pictured with John Walsh, City Solicitor at Belfast City Council and Diane Hill, Head of Business Development at NOW Group, at Belfast Zoo launching the JAM Card training for organisations

Exceptional in every event

elfast social enterprise NOW Group have created an initiative called the JAM Card which allows people with learning difficulties and communication barriers to ask for an extra minute of patience when in customer service situations. The organisation is now launching a training platform for businesses – including an online course - which will allow them to ensure their staff are equipped to provide an excellent service to JAM Card users. The JAM Card, which stands for Just A Minute, is a social innovation from NOW Group an organisation that supports people with learning difficulties and autism into employment. It was their service users who said they would like a discreet way of telling people that sometimes they need a little extra time and patience. The JAM Card was created first as a credit card sized card and has recently been developed into an app for smartphones which received a Highly Commended award in the Innovation in Digital category at the DANI Awards this year.

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DECEMBER 2017

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NEWS

Quotes of the month “The business community will get on with things and continue to do business but it is vital that our politicians, our public sector decision makers and our private sector leaders start working together to address the issues,” Pamela McCreedy, Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, speaking after a survey by the organisation revealed most delegates at its Belfast Conference felt Brexit will do more harm than good to businesses.

“While most understand the importance of succession planning, the majority of businesses have yet to implement policies that they know are vital to the smooth operation and continued success of their business,” Maybeth Shaw, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland, reveals that only one quarter of family businesses here have a succession plan in place, despite knowing the risks. The finding came from BDO’s survey The Future of Family Businesses in Northern Ireland.

“In Northern Ireland, the challenge is to learn the lessons of these fast-improving English regions and get the balance right between investment and reform and maintain a clear focus on driving improved productivity and economic growth while delivering public services efficiently.”- Paul Terrington, PwC Northern Ireland regional chairman and PwC’s head of regions, reacts to Belfast’s slide down the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities 2017 index that ranks cities on a combination of economic performance and quality of life.

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Welcoming the deal with Kennett Insurance Managing Director Nick Wride, centre, are, from left, Richard Willis, Managing Director, Willis IRM and Robert Willis, Executive Chairman, Willis IRM

Willis snaps up rivals at home and away

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illis Insurance and Risk Management has bought two rival firms, one in Northern Ireland and one in England. The independent broker acquired Castlereaghbased McCausland, Light and Rankin and Hull-based Kennett Insurance Brokers, both for an undisclosed sum. The firms will retain their trading names and existing management and staff will also be retained, bringing the overall number employed by Willis IRM to more than 100. Willis IRM Managing Director Richard Willis, whose father Robert Willis set up the firm almost 40 years ago, said the acquisitions bolster the business in both regions. “The acquisition of local business McCausland, Light and Rankin will further strengthen our significant presence in the transportation industry and broaden our expertise in the taxi sector. By acquiring Kennett Insurance Brokers, we are continuing our strategy of growing independent businesses and will continue the good work undertaken by Nick Wride and his team in establishing a solid reputation in east Yorkshire.” The latest purchases come after the company set up an office in Reading in 2015 and Mr

Willis said it will look to growth further in the future through “strategic acquisitions”. Willis IRM was originally set up in Bangor in 1978 by Robert Willis, its current Executive Chairman. The company is also run by Managing Director Richard Willis and his three brothers as shareholders and directors. The firm has grown significantly and has seen staff numbers double in the last three years, prior to the acquisition of McCausland, Light and Rankin and Kennett Insurance Brokers. McCausland Light and Rankin Managing Director Gary McCausland welcomed the purchase. “The success of McCausland, Light and Rankin has been due to providing customer focused personal services to all our clients. It is that customer service which has allowed us to enjoy an exceptional client retention rate and it is an ethos that is shared with Willis IRM.” Kennett Insurance was set up in 1975 and employs 10 staff at its office in Saxon Business Park in Hessle, just outside Hull and Managing Director Nick Wride said the business works with a wide range of companies.


NEWS

Down under calling for NI companies

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nvest NI is setting its sights on the Australian market with the appointment of a Regional Manager in Sydney.

It’s hoping to build on the 19% growth in exports by Northern Ireland’s manufacturers over the last year to the Asia Pacific region to £761m, of which Australia accounted for £105m. The agency said local companies such as Mallaghan Engineering, Mivan Marine, CDE Global and NC Engineering are already exporting to the region and there is potential for much more in the future. “I am delighted to welcome Peter Hendrikssen, our new Regional Manager who will be based at the British Consulate-General in Sydney,” Invest NI’s Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton said. “Peter will have a specific focus on helping our businesses to increase exports across Australia and New Zealand. “He will also play an integral role in supporting our strategy to support companies to increase sales outside Northern Ireland by up to £3.1bn by 2021.”

Pictured from left are Mr Michael Ward, British Consul General and Director General UK Trade & Investment Australia and New Zealand, Peter Hendrikssen, and Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI

Mr Hamilton made the announcement on an Invest NI trade mission to Sydney and Melbourne which took place last month with representatives from Botanica International, Cirdan Imaging Ltd, Core Systems, Foods Connected Ltd, FSL Electronics, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Maximus Crushing & Screening, McCloskey Washing Systems, Mivan Marine, Sixty-5, Mallaghan, Ulster Weavers Ltd and Terex participating.

Setting objectives for increased productivity Wages are often the most expensive overheads incurred by employers so it’s vital to ensure that staff perform to the best of their abilities.

Learn more about this topic and other HR, employment law and performance management essentials at our 2018 seminars in Belfast.

It’s important to remember that if you cannot measure staff productivity, it cannot be managed effectively. Alternatively, if it can be measured accurately, it can be managed well - it’s as simple as that.

HR Team’s Belfast Seminars 2018 1. Thursday, 25th January, 2018 Performance Management

Without proper measurement and management, staff members can become ‘busy fools’? But being busy all the time does not always equate to maximised productivity. Due to the high cost of employing staff, it is fundamental that they are performing to a high standard to ensure productivity is maximised throughout your business. At HR Team we assist our clients in focussing on the importance of setting measurable objectives and targets for their staff with the ultimate aim of increased productivity. We use our expertise to provide employers with the tools and guidance to effectively set

DECEMBER 2017

2. Thursday, 08th March, 2018 Effective Workplace Investigations HR Team Directors Breda Scott and Martina McAuley

meaningful objectives while also ensuring that they are legally compliant. Top tips for setting targets: • Pick three to four clear targets • Ensure the targets are realistic, specific and time-bound • Ensure the targets are agreed and communicated to all employees • Provide regular communication, preferably daily, to ensure maximum performance

3. Thursday, 19th April 2018 Understanding Employment Law 4. Thursday, 31st May 2018 Personality Profiling of Employees 5. Thursday, 13th September 2018 Social Media in the Workplace 6. Thursday, 25th October 2018 Managing Poor Performance To register, contact hello@hrteamgroup.com or call 028 71 271 882. Entry is complimentary for retained clients. The fee for non-clients is £65 (excl VAT). All workshops will take place at Catalyst Inc, 15 Queen’s Road, Belfast. Visit: www.hrteamservices.com

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NEWS

Dave Sheeran, managing director of Donnelly Group Donnelly Group hires new managing director

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ne of Northern Ireland’s biggest motor retailers has appointed a new boss.

Donnelly Group, which has eight locations throughout Northern Ireland and retails more than 18 makes of vehicles, has hired former Opel Ireland boss Dave Sheeran as its managing director. He arrives with 30 years’ experience in the car industry at what the directors describe as an exciting time for the company. “As the Donnelly Group celebrates 70 years serving the motoring public, I know that Dave Sheeran shares our values and will drive the Donnelly Group to continued future success,” Terence Donnelly said. The Donnelly Group was founded in 1947 by Terence and Raymond Donnelly’s father Peter Donnelly when he opened a vehicle repair and taxi business in Caledon, County Tyrone. Raymond Donnelly and fellow director Houston Taggart said further growth is planned.

Bogota in Colombia where OCO has opened an office

New Colombia office offers door to South American market

N

orthern Ireland companies thinking about exporting to South America will be able to take advantage of a Northern Ireland company’s expansion in Colombia. Economic development firm OCO Global, which is headquartered in Belfast, has opened an office in the country’s capital Bogota from where it will offer support to businesses and organisations exploring new markets in Latin America. The company said it is one of a raft of foreign firms which have arrived in Colombia in the last five years, attracted by the region’s status as an export hub and with a growing economy emerging from a period of conflict.

“The Donnelly Group is an institution in the local motoring sector and we are intent on continuing the pioneering strategy that differentiates the Group for its customers and the manufacturers we represent.

“Latin America is an exciting emerging market that should not be neglected by economic development organisations looking for new trade opportunities or businesses looking to expand in new markets,” OCO Global’s founder and CEO Mark O’Connell said. “Our specialist team on the ground will help our clients make the right connections and navigate these markets successfully.”

“Over the last number of years, we have strengthened our partnership with our vehicle franchises and invested in our showrooms as we continue to offer our customers the best value and service.”

OCO is launching its Global Market Accelerator Programme (MAP), currently already operating in France, Germany and the United States, to provide market-entry and trade development support to its clients interested in expanding in

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Mark O’Connell, founder of OCO Global

Latin America. The company will also provide in-market consulting and training services aimed at Latin American EDOs interested in implementing the best trade and FDI practices. In recent years, Latin American countries have experienced a boom of its middle class and a significant growth of its disposable income, creating opportunities within sectors such as food and beverages, automotive and consumer goods. The region offers a strong market for technology products, machinery and equipment, particularly around the commodities that compose the export basket of most countries in the region. “The decision to base ourselves in Colombia is strategic as we believe the recently concluded peace process will create huge business opportunities related to infrastructure development, rural development and extractive industries in areas previously affected by the conflict,” Mr O’Connell said.


NEWS

Boucher road becomes football and rugby fanzone Stephen Symington, Director at Norlin Ventures, said. “Northern Ireland boasts a strong sports culture that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and from across all backgrounds, contributing over £850million to our economy every year. “Norlin have invested in making the site at Boucher Road a safe, family-friendly venue where people can come together – regardless of the weather – to embrace the community spirit that embodies sport here.”

South13, the former B&Q store on Belfast’s Boucher Road, is now being repurposed for numerous events.

A

Northern Ireland private equity company has turned a warehouse on Belfast’s Boucher Road into a fan zone for national football and rugby matches.

and relaunched it for last month’s World Cup Qualifiers for the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland soccer teams, as well as the Irish rugby team’s clash with South Africa.

Norlin Ventures is renaming the space, currently known as South13, as Fanzone@13

The fact the venue isn’t weather dependent was a big plus for these and other events,

The 10,000 capacity indoor venue will boast a 40sqm screen, licenced bar facilities and a range of food and beverage options, as well as free on-site parking. Family entertainment will include penalty shootouts, bouncy castles, face painting and opportunities to win amazing prizes.

Watch the spending and beat the post-Christmas blues Chris Bryans of independent financial consultants Richmond Wealth shares his strategy for starting 2018 in the pink of financial health

C

hristmas is upon us and there is no escaping the advertising, the overflowing shops and the multiple temptations to spend spend spend.

Chris Bryans,

Keep track of spending. Even with the best planning, we can trip up by not monitoring what’s been spent and bought. My mum is great at finding presents in January and February that she forgot she had bought.

CEO of

During the holiday season, spending typically rises ten-fold. Come January and the party is over, leaving us with bloated tummies and credit card bills, and massive regret. With a bit of planning ahead. So, before you create that list, follow my simple tips: Declutter! We’ve all reached ‘peak stuff’. Do a clear out and enjoy the joys and profits of decluttering. Many second-hand shops want fresh supplies in the run up to Christmas. Budget. Time to draw up a budget for Christmas, hopefully boosted with cash from your sales, trade-in swaps or regifting items. Your budget should cover the entire holiday season, not just the presents.

DECEMBER 2017

Richmond Wealth

Shop smart. Retailers specialise in getting us to part with our money. This is never more true than at Christmas. So consider every purchase and don’t get sucked into seemingly great deals. Cut back on presents. Talk to friends and family now and you’ll find they are relieved too when the idea is raised. It’s amazing how the most difficult present to buy is usually the one that can be easily avoided.

Treat yourself… to peace of mind. Let’s leave ourselves out of the shopping treats. It’s a much better present to have the finances in good shape for the New Year and even enjoy a little bit left over to grab a great deal on something we genuinely need in the postChristmas sales. Follow these steps and celebrating a merry, yet manageable, Christmas really is possible, without being a Scrooge. And you can look forward to the happiest sort of New Year; one that doesn’t begin snowed under with debt. Phone us on 02895320333 or contact us at pensionshelp@richmondwealth.co.uk.

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ANALYSIS

How to get ready to raise finance for our business Securing finance to help your business grow, acquire and thrive is hugely important. Clive Hyman FCA, Hyman Capital Services, explains how to prepare for the process

M

know you are contacting the right people, that your business is in their sphere of interest and at the right stage for them, and that the amount of money you are looking for is appropriate for them.

any businesses aspire to raise finance to fund growth. Unfortunately, very few are successful. To shift the odds in your favour you need to prepare and plan carefully. Here are some questions to ask and steps to take to get you on the right path.

1: IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS: EQUITY OR DEBT OR A COMBINATION All too often people think that they have to raise all of the money as equity. However, debt can sometimes be more appropriate than equity. Using debt rather than equity avoids dilution and can be easier to acquire, for example, Funding Circle in the UK will consider lending to a company which has a two-year history. The easier process will help you to save time on the project of raising funds, and allow you to get on with running your business. A combination of debt and equity is often the ideal solution. This enables a cheaper cost of capital for the company, as it requires interest rather than a dividend.

2: ESTABLISH A REALISTIC VALUATION OF YOUR BUSINESS To get a sensible, realistic idea of the value of your company, compare the most recent valuations for transactions in the space. Don’t pick an outlier valuation, instead choose something in the middle. This will show potential investors that you are being reasonable and make them more likely to invest.

3: DEVELOP A ROBUST FINANCIAL MODEL Put your figures into a spreadsheet and test them. Try out different scenarios – see what happens to the numbers. This demonstrates that you are prepared for different outcomes.

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Fundraising is an art not a science; you can be lucky or unlucky. So, make sure you contact enough funders to manage your own luck and tap into as many people as possible. Clive Hyman

You must also show the different types of returns from the different sources of capital, cashflow for at least the next 12-18 months, and any dependencies. This will show that you are being sensible and serious.

4: EXPLORE THE OPTIONS FOR RAISING FUNDS For example, Sola Bank and Baldetton Capital work in the £100million arena. In the £1–5million area, try EIS/SEIS funds and VCT funds. This is where an introducer like us can be helpful in providing introductions and knowledge.

6: PREPARE YOUR INFORMATION You must have a one-page summary of the opportunity. This document should include a summary of the opportunity; what investment is being sought and what kind of business is going to be generated as a result. Include a potential return if it’s possible to identify that. It must be an accurate summary of the business, be clear, concise and easy to read and understand. Once you have potential funders interested they will then want more information. Approach this as a sales document. It must be able to work on its own – and not require you to be standing there explaining it.

For smaller amounts contact Angel Investors. A Google search will deliver a list of Angel networks. Then dig into each one to see if you meet their criteria.

It needs to answer the following: • What is the business? • What is the market size? • What is the opportunity within the market? Ask your network for recommendations and • Who are the management team? introductions, and approach your family and • How much money is needed? friends. These small amounts add up – and help • What is the money going to be spent on? give you seed that will attract a bigger fish later. • What kind of business will be created post investment?

5: BE SYSTEMATIC IN CONTACTING POTENTIAL FUNDERS Once you have drawn up your list of people to contact – work through it systematically and methodically. Make sure you always follow up. Target your funders carefully, do some background research on them so that you

IN SUMMARY By following these steps, you will improve your chances of success in raising the funds you need for your business. Putting in the necessary time to prepare, and perseverance are key aspects to the funding raising process. ■


COVER STORY

The future of banking Ulster Business speaks to Danske Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Kingston and newly appointed Chief Digital Officer Søren Rode Andreasen to hear how they are shaking up the local banking sector with the help of technology

W

hen you’re the chief executive officer of a bank, every day is busy.

That is never truer than on financial results day or when interest rates move. So when Ulster Business found itself interviewing the CEO of Danske Bank in Northern Ireland on a day which saw the release of its third quarter results and, coincidentally, UK interest rates raised by the central bank for the first time in 10 years, you could forgive him for being otherwise distracted. However, Kevin Kingston is fully focused on the interview at hand and exudes an air of calm which only someone with a firm grasp of their business’s future could have. The results show a busy first nine months of the year for the Danish-owned bank with both the corporate and mortgage divisions witnessing a 30% ramp up in lending activity.

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In Corporate that includes a major refinancing deal with the Herbert Group facilitating its acquisition of 27 new KFC restaurant outlets, funding for the redevelopment of The Weaving Works site in Belfast, which is being transformed into a five storey Grade A office building, and also support for a multi-million pound investment by Toomebridge kitchen component manufacturer Uform. Meanwhile, the bank’s share of Northern Ireland’s mortgage market has also increased markedly during the period, and is set to be boosted further, Kevin said, by its investment in a slick new digital system for third party brokers, just one of a plethora of investments across the bank. Record low interest rates of 0.25% - up until the day of our interview - weighed on profits, as they have for all banks across the UK, but that will be helped by the Bank of England’s decision to hike rates to 0.5%, a decision which emerged only hours before our interview.

Danske Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Kingston, right, and Chief Digital Officer Søren Rode Andreasen

But Kevin was more focused on talking about investment, and highlighting that the bank was “doing more for customers”. “We made a conscious decision to increase investment because there are huge opportunities for Danske Bank to drive customer experience, by delivering new digital solutions like, for example, our new invoice finance platform for business customers”. As it has been for some time at the bank, digital is at the crux of this investment and an area where it is basing its future, something which is clear to see at its Donegall Square headquarters where this interview is taking place.


A tour of the open plan offices reveals space which is more reminiscent of a fintech company than a bank, with hot desking, breakout areas, stand-up desks and a general committed adoption of technology. As a nod to this, for this interview Ulster Business eschews the traditional reporter’s notebook and pen in favour of typing notes straight into the laptop, a move which raises eyebrows elsewhere but is considered nothing more than a sensible approach in Danske Bank. The use of a rather aged iPhone to record our conversation as a backup did however feel slightly out of place given Kevin’s own

DECEMBER 2017

top-of-the-range tablet, Apple Watch and smartphone, but you would expect nothing less from a committed techie. The same is also true of the man sitting beside him. Søren Andreasen has taken up the newlycreated role of Chief Digital Officer for Danske Bank in Northern Ireland after an extensive recruitment process, a rare job title in the Northern Ireland business community, but one which highlights how important digital is to the future of this organisation. “The industry is going through huge technical change,” Mr Kingston said.

“In January we’re going to see the advent of Open Banking, which will change the course of the financial services marketplace over the next few years, creating services which haven’t been available in the past in the UK.” Open Banking is an initiative introduced by the Competition and Markets Authority which will enable personal customers and businesses to share their data securely with other banks and with third parties. By doing that people will be able to compare products on the basis of their own requirements quickly and securely. >

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COVER STORY

It means that lenders such as Danske Bank need to become even more relevant to their customers in the future if they are to thrive and that relevancy will come through an intelligent, continually evolving digital offering.

“If we demonstrate our value, customers will embrace the offering. We need to show how our strategy of providing a multi-channel solution can offer huge benefits which will add value for our customers.

That’s where Søren, who had previously been Development Director at Danske Bank headquarters in Copenhagen with responsibility for managing Group Core Banking Infrastructure, comes in.

“If we do that, it will sell itself.”

He will help to drive Danske Bank in Northern Ireland’s technical charge by overseeing the planning and implementation of the bank’s digital proposition for both personal and business customers here. He also leads the development of its local IT strategy, with a focus on infrastructure and security. The digital drive is being undertaken in collaboration with Group colleagues in Denmark, taking learnings from a region which is currently ahead when it comes to use of technology in banking. “I haven’t ever handled a cheque,” Søren, a Danish native, said, a statement which highlights how much further ahead the region is, one which abolished cheques a year ago. “We have huge potential here in Northern Ireland to bring on board some of the progress we’ve made in the Nordics.” He’s well aware that just providing technology is not enough, rather the right technology.

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In terms of support for the business side, a new digital invoice finance system has just gone live to speed up that process considerably - with the team now working on Future Financing, a digital project also aimed at business banking - which is looking to increase the speed of response for lending decisions through digital credit automation. It is set to go live to customers next year.

That Danske has 10 robots working in Belfast in the form of artificial intelligence software - at present won’t come as a shock to those who have knowledge of the bank’s work in Northern Ireland.

Such evolution means Danske Bank is able to compete with challengers from the fintech world, Søren said.

“They’ve freed us from a lot of mundane routine tasks and allowed us to focus on the things that really matter,” Søren said.

“Part of the journey we’re on is changing the traditional banking culture, learning from the start up community, but bolstering those lessons with the heritage and tradition which Danske has in Northern Ireland.”

They and the digital team at Danske Bank – working in a very fintech manner in agile teams so as to speed up the development process – are coming up with new ways to grow the digital offering on the personal customer side, which currently includes ebanking, mobile banking and the likes of Apple Pay and Paym. An important point to note for those who still use the branch network is that they too have been bolstered by the appointment of customer experience advisors who are on hand in key branches to help with transactions, a recognition that the Bank still believes the optimum customer solution is a mix of personal interaction and digital.

This digital transformation doesn’t just have a positive impact on customers, but has also boosted Danske Bank internally. “People within the bank are really excited because they can understand why the bank needs to be digitally innovative,” Kevin said. “That’s really encouraging and we’ve also been recruiting a growing team of digital professionals to further enhance our reputation for innovation.” With a smile, Søren gives a different slant on what digital transformation means for banking. “Banking has become cool again.” ■


JP Corry customers meet sporting stars at glittering night

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ustomers of local building supplier JP Corry were treated to an intimate evening featuring three of Northern Ireland’s top sporting professionals last month.

Former Northern Irish footballer Keith Gillespie, Tyrone Gaelic All-Star Sean Cavanagh and Rugby legend Stephen Ferris entertained 150 guests in a special question and answer session at the Merchant Hotel. Northern Ireland television presenter Adrian Logan hosted the evening and kept proceedings moving along with discussions on career highlights. The event was held in association with building materials company Kingspan and helped raised £2,000 for JP Corry’s charity partner, Barnardo’s Northern Ireland.

JP Corry is owned by French conglomerate Saint Gobain and the charity partnership is part of its Together programme. In the past JP Corry has supported Alzheimer’s Research UK and MS Society NI. Established in 1814, JP Corry has been supplying building materials for over 200 years and currently has a network of 17 branches across Northern Ireland, including the latest acquisition, H&T Bellas based in Coleraine which was bought in May 2017. JP Corry operates as a generalist builders’ merchant supplying a full range of products from leading suppliers, for building, renovation and DIY projects. For more information on JP Corry, visit www.jpcorry.com

Adrian Logan, Stephen Ferris, Keith Gillespie and Sean Cavanagh

Sean Cavanagh, Stephen Ferris, guests and Keith Gillespie

Stephen Ferris, Ciaran McConnell (JP Corry Managing Director), Gary Hunter (JP Corry Regional Director), Keith Gillespie, Adrian Logan and Sean Cavanagh

Guests observing the Q&A

Keith Gillespie with auction winner

Sean Cavanagh with auction winner

DECEMBER 2017

17


PROFILE

An exchange of big ideas David Elliott speaks to Bryan Durkin, the President of the world’s biggest futures exchange CME Group, which has been slowly building up a substantial base in Belfast since arriving here five years ago 18


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here aren’t many companies in the world, never mind in Northern Ireland, which have need of the term “quadrillion” when measuring their business. But CME Group, the Chicago-headquartered financial services firm which has an office of 220 people on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street, is one of them, valuing the three billion contracts the global firm handles each year at $1 quadrillion. If, like Ulster Business, you weren’t immediately aware of how much a quadrillion is, a quick bit of research reveals it is $1,000,000,000,000,000 (at least in the US system), a dollar figure which works out at £753,500,000,000,000, or, to put it in layman’s terms, an awful lot of money. It has responsibility for such a large value by providing a market place for the trading of derivatives, allowing businesses to hedge risk or assume risk on a myriad of products ranging from lean hogs to interest rate swaps, crude oil to Hungarian Forints and everything in between.

2012 with just 23 people but, having grown substantially since then, it is also making a mark on these shores. There are now 220 people working in the CME Group Belfast office, the vast majority of which are focused on technology roles such as software architecture and cybersecurity. But why come to Belfast in the first place, a city far from any of the major financial hubs? “We are very much viewed as innovators in technology solutions and our job is to keep ahead of the curve,” CME Group President Bryan Durkin told Ulster Business on a visit to the city. “We wanted to expand our technology footprint in the UK and found that the skills we were looking for were here. “Belfast was very welcoming, extremely excited about the prospect of having us here and did everything they could to help us make the decision to come.

That expansion suggests the promise of talent hasn’t disappointed? “I couldn’t be more impressed with the skilled personnel we have in this office,” he said. “When I think about the breadth of the applications and programs which the team here is working on for our enterprise it is amazing. “We’re very impressed with the pool of talent we have been able to bring into our Belfast organisation.” To CME Group’s credit, it hasn’t sat back waiting for the talent to come to it but has recently announced two-year funding for both Queen’s and Ulster University to the tune of around £145,000 each to help in the development of financial engineering qualifications, a move which suggests it is investing in a future here. The funding is provided by its philanthropic arm, the CME Group Foundation.

In a practical sense that might mean a wheat farmer locking in the price of a crop that he’s just planted and won’t be harvested for six months or a UK manufacturer which knows it will need to buy raw material in euros in the next six month and doesn’t want to be left exposed to the fluctuations of a volatile foreign exchange market when it goes to pay for it. On the other side of the coin will be pension funds, investment banks and others with an appetite for risk and which make their money from trying to predict where markets are headed. It takes the two parties to make the market work and a third in the shape of CME Group to facilitate the trade. The organisation – an acronym of Chicago Mercantile Exchange – has grown exponentially over the last few years, both organically and acquisitively by buying up rivals such as the Chicago Board of Trade, the New York Mercantile Exchange and Comex and is now considered the world’s largest futures and options exchange. Although a major name in the financial services world, it wasn’t widely recognised when it first set up camp in Belfast back in

DECEMBER 2017

“The fact other financial institutions were building up a strong presence here was exciting for us because we knew this would be a smart area for us to go in terms of finding the talent and skilled resources we would need to help build out value proposition.” It also helped that Invest NI and the then Department of Employment and Learning offered up the guts of £1m to the company as an incentive between them at the time. Encouragingly the business seems to have settled in well, as the expansion over the last few years has shown, and headcount is well on its way to reaching 250 by the middle of 2018, Mr Durkin, who was deeply involved in the decision to set up a base in Belfast, said.

The funding will allow Queen’s to develop courses for over 140 GCSE computing teachers to properly teach and inspire pupils to study computing and coding while Ulster University will fund postgraduate and doctorate scholarships as part of its financial engineering project. While the focus has been very much on technology, CME Group is also showing signs of broadening the remit of its Belfast office in response to the availability of talent here. “We are largely a technology centre but have expanded into other areas with a clearing operations team and a small team of account, finance and human resources,” Mr Durkan said. >

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PROFILE

That move is similar to investment bank Citi which started out as a small technology base in Belfast and now employs over 2,500 people including a large legal department – which fed on the wealth of legal graduates being produced by local universities – and a growing middle office division which matches trades from its investment banking division. So could CME Group follow that path in the future? “I can’t say I see that in terms of the other disciplines, but who’s to say,” Mr Durkin said. “I can say that, as you point out, five years ago this was a technology arm and it has expanded beyond that. “We’ll do what makes the most sense for our organisation.” When it comes to Brexit, one of the biggest issues hanging over businesses of all sizes in the UK, he said the importance of the CME Group’s function in the global economy has been ramped up. “It (Brexit) is not going to impact our ability to function as an international exchange as we continue to access the client base throughout the globe. Our focus is to make sure we’re providing deep liquidity and tight efficient markets around the clock so that when things start happening, whether it’s Brexit or the US elections, the market is there

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to absorb the uncertainty and manage their risk.”

skills, their opportunities would be extremely limited.”

As a veteran of 35 years in CME Group, Mr Durkan has helped steer the company through many other periods of major change in the industry, such as the move from floor trading – where traders bought and sold futures contracts in front of each other in a physical building – to electronic trading where all contracts are exchanged on a computer system.

The lessons learnt from managing such transformation could be of use to businesses in the current environment who are coping with the introduction of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual and augmented reality.

For many “open outcry” floor traders who had spent their careers doing business in front of each other, the process of retraining and learning to trade electronically was, at the time, difficult but the move has borne fruit, according to Mr Durkan. In its heyday, CME open outcry trading was notching up a maximum of one million contracts daily (both the Chicago and New York pits were closed in 2015 when floor trade dropped to 1% of daily futures volume) while nowadays the exchange trades an average of 16m. “It was necessary for us to develop capabilities and technology so we could compete on a global basis and that required us to go from a floor-based environment to introducing technologies. We had to get people to accept and embrace the fact that if they weren’t able to adapt their trading

How do you introduce such new technologies to employees used to more traditional methods? “We did a lot in terms of education,” Mr Durkan said. “And we were very transparent about what was on the horizon so that we could help those who were most affected and appreciate what was needed to continue to grow the opportunities for the institution and further build the value proposition of being a global risk management solution for the world.” “Change is hard but people got it. I’m very proud of that.” Those lessons will no doubt come in handy, as will the CME Group’s contribution to the Northern Ireland economy. Aside from the employment it brings and the work it does with the local universities, its presence here is proof we have what it takes to satiate the demands of a global leader. ■


IT & Technology

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15/11/2017 15:01

ICT QUARTERLY

Companies face cyber security double whammy with Brexit and GDPR By Brian Honan

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ompanies processing and storing EU residents' personal data face two major challenges in the coming years. The first is the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect in May 2018. The other is Brexit. As it stands, the GDPR will apply to all EU member states. The UK will still be a member of the European Union at that time and therefore GDPR will also apply. In practical terms this means that companies in Ireland and the EU can continue to send and receive personal data to and from other companies within the UK.

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However, once the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019 (the current date for Brexit to take effect unless this date is extended) then things may not be so clear. In effect, after March 2019 the UK will no longer be part of the EU and therefore GDPR no longer directly applies to organisations in the UK. However, organisations that are still within the EU will have to ensure that any personal data that they transfer, process, or store within the UK complies with the stringent privacy requirements outlined in GDPR. To address this challenge the UK intends to update its data protection regime to incorporate the goals of GDPR. In this year's Queen's Speech, it was noted how important

data is to the UK economy and that "over 70% of all trade in services are enabled by data flows, meaning that data protection is critical to international trade". To reinforce the importance of this, the UK introduced the Data Protection Bill in August. This bill is designed to implement the goals and objectives of the GDPR into UK law so that the data protection regime within the UK remains in line with that of the EU. The question remains though, will that be enough? Under current data protection law, and the upcoming GDPR, it is illegal to export personal data of people within the EU to countries outside the EU unless those countries are part of the European Economic


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ICT QUARTERLY

OPINION

New European rules will sting unprepared small firms the hardest By Adrian Weckler You'd know the General Data Protection Regulation is less than a year off. With Europe's big regulatory stick getting closer and closer, big companies are really starting to get into gear. Nowhere is this more evident than Facebook, which has become a lightning rod in the EU for data protection issues.

Area, are recognised third countries by the EU with adequate data protection laws, or that there are other binding agreements in place such as the EU-US Privacy Shield or obligations built into contracts. So, the big question then is will the UK be considered an acceptable third country by the EU after Brexit? While the UK believes the new Data Protection Bill will be sufficient for it to be considered a third country, there are several other UK laws that could undermine this – the UK's Investigatory Powers Act 2016 could prevent the UK's post-Brexit data protection regime to be considered robust and adequate enough for the EU. The Investigatory Powers Act has also been dubbed the 'snooper's charter' due to the wide range of powers given to UK security services such as the weakening of encryption, granting hacking powers to security services, and the requirements for ISPs to store the browsing history for all users for 12 months. Of course, until Brexit happens and all the negotiations are concluded we will not know for certain what the data protection

DECEMBER 2017

landscape will be like. Until then it is worth remembering a few points. First, GDPR will remain in effect within the UK until Brexit happens. Until then there is no need to make any notable changes. It would be prudent to start identifying what personal data is transferred to and from the UK, either directly by your own business or by your suppliers. Until the UK leaves the EU GDPR will still apply to those companies. Finally, keep an eye on how the Brexit negotiations are progressing with a focus on the data protection frameworks. If it looks like the UK Data Protection Bill will not be sufficient for the UK to be considered a third country then you need to consider different legal frameworks, such as Model Contracts, to continue to use UK-based companies to process personal data. Alternatively, you may need to consider moving your business to companies located elsewhere within the EU. GDPR and Brexit will potentially bring many challenges to organisations over the coming years, but proper planning and keeping abreast of how talks develop regarding data protection post Brexit will help keep on top of those challenges. ■

The company has already felt the heat of European regulatory action in recent months, from small fines in France and Italy to an (unrelated) €110m penalty from Brussels over misleading information given around the WhatsApp acquisition. Now, it is putting many of its top brains into developing systems that will comply with Europe's GDPR. This will include the hiring of a new data protection officer to be based in Dublin. It also includes continent-wide "design jam" developer conferences to come up with new ways to simplify how Facebook users can control their own data. Companies like Facebook have most to lose, given that the new law allows regulators can fine them up to 4% of annual turnover (which Ireland's Commissioner, Helen Dixon, has said she is ready to do). But these big multinationals are getting their house in order. The ones who might really feel the sting are smaller firms. Many SME owners still don't know what the GDPR is about or how it will affect them. If they remain in that state of ignorance, it will cost them dearly. ■

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ICT QUARTERLY

outlets to reach huge audiences with both breaking news stories and longer reads. But there are challenges. Specifically in relation to ensuring brand recognition and creating a reading environment where audiences will value the content. But there is an existential crisis here for news brands. Social media, like the internet overall, has exploded the barriers to entry for anyone that wants to build an audience. It escalates the unbundling of a daily newspaper, TV channel or nightly news broadcast.

YouTube grabs the news agenda Steve Dempsey explains how technology has changed how people get their news

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t looks like more people are turning to social media for the news. Hardly breaking news, but a new report from the Pew Research Centre reveals just how compelling social channels are becoming. The study found that 67% of Americans report that they now get some of their news on social media. And not only are more news-hounds using social media. They’re using more social media services to get news than ever before. Around 26%of US adults now get news from two or more social networks. That’s up from 18% in 2016. The demographics are also changing: Facebook and Co aren’t just fads for the youth – 55% of respondents over 50 are now getting news on social media. The newsiest network is, of course, Facebook. Pew found that 45% of US adults get news from Facebook. YouTube is the next biggest network for news with 18% of US adults getting news on Google’s video channel. Interestingly, only three of the social networks measured saw an increase in their audience that gets news on the site: Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat.

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But all this growth in social channels isn’t necessarily bad news for news outlets. Many social media users still consume news from traditional channels. As ever, there are some variations. Twitter news users, for example, are more likely to also often get news via news websites and apps than Facebook news users. Facebook news users are more likely to often get news from local TV than those on YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. LinkedIn users are most likely to rely on the good ole printed paper for their news. Snapchat news users are the least likely to read the newspaper. So what does all this mean for traditional news outlets? And what does it mean for the news itself? Well, first, it’s worth recognising that the research is specific to America. There may be regional variances; there may be differences in the performance of certain networks; but the trends are probably similar for many developed countries where mobile penetration is high. The ink-absorbed traditionalists will no doubt read this research as further proof of the death of in-depth analysis and quality journalism. But perhaps this is overly pessimistic. Social channels offer huge opportunities for news

Plus it puts the power in the hands of the user to electively select their news sources. Now individuals can reach the same size of audience as large news outlets. And the audience can often have a closer relationship with these authentic individuals. And economically, it can be a lot more attractive to run a commercially successful social media channel than a large news organisation, where the news itself traditionally subsidises the content that makes the money. Take Marques Brownlee a 23-year-old tech blogger, with over five million subscribers on YouTube. That’s five times more YouTube subscribers that the New York Times. The New York Times wanted to get into this technology space. It bought the tech review website Wirecutter last year for an estimated $30m. The Wirecutter now reportedly has over 100 staff. Its revenue was somewhere between $10m and $20m a year before selling to the Times, according to Politico. Assuming that its 100 employees are now hitting the $20m mark, Marques Brownlee can generate far more just on YouTube than any of Wirecutter’s employees, and without any of the huge overheads a news organisation faces. Admittedly, this isn’t pure news content. But it illustrates that the continued rise of social media undermines the business model for news organisations. And perhaps this is the real threat that social media brings may not be the rise of fake news and the creation of echo chambers, but how it is undermining the traditional news business model. ■


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15/11/2017 15:01

CYBERCRIME

Holding your business to ransom The cybercrime community is actively targeting Northern Ireland businesses – and the number of attacks is mounting. IT firm Nitec asks if we are doing enough to counter the threat?

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dangerous new word has entered the business vocabulary in the last few years: ransomware. The malicious bug threatens to scramble your files unless you cough up a ‘ransom’ to the cybercriminals. Security experts have warned that ransomware is the fastest growing form of computer crime. It recently targeted thousands of organisations – the NHS included – in this year’s global Wannacry attack. And while the actual ‘ransom’ requested to decrypt the affected files may not always be massive (the amount requested is tied to the value of Crypto currency and a bitcoin is trading currently at just under £5,000!), it is often the sheer loss of business time, reputation and customer confidence that is the big price to be paid. Northern Ireland business affected The precise number of local businesses that have succumbed to ransom attacks is not known – after all, it’s not exactly the type of thing any business would want to shout about. But insiders warn that the numbers are increasing. “Companies here are very reticent to talk about their breaches,” said Nigel Mulholland, Managing Director of Antrim-based Nitec, one of Northern Ireland’s longest-established IT companies. “Yet the number of incidents we hear about on the grapevine are actually huge.”

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Nigel Mulholland, MD, Nitec

Ransomware is here in Northern Ireland. It’s happening daily.

Nigel Mulholland

Nitec’s office in the Antrim Technology Park is a calm green space on the outskirts of Antrim town. Inside, there is a similar air of calm as the Nitec team quietly liaise with customers or monitor their systems. Nigel said that the first known instance of ransomware surfaced in late October 2013. “I remember us hearing about it back then

and there literally was fear in our faces. We knew it was a biggie – that it was totally indiscriminate and that it would spread. New business model The exponential rise of multiple security threats was one of the reasons Nitec changed its business model within a couple of months of first seeing what ransomware might one day be capable of. “We wanted to continually develop and implement the improved security needed to fight these new waves of cybercrime” said Nigel. “Our customers need to be online to do business, but being there was putting them at increasing levels of risk. We therefore started to beef up the layers of security in preparation


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CYBERCRIME

now transformed our own IT solutions into a managed service. Customers find it so much more reassuring, and very cost-effective too as we have the flexibility to continually negotiate price breaks with vendors on their behalf. When we engage with a new partner for the provision of an extra layer of security, we don’t do it client by client. We bring the scale of our entire base to bear on those negotiations. A 10-user business therefore benefits from the same pricing levels as a 10,000-user multi-national! Better service for SMEs “It’s a more egalitarian way of working. It’s democratising IT and making sure that local SMEs can access a level of security that once only the giant corporations could attain. This relates to both cost and functionality. As we learn best practice for client – we apply it quickly to our whole customer base.

Pointing to new standards of protection

for what we saw coming. We labelled ransomware as enemy number one and set about protecting our customers from it. As a result, with threats like Wannacry, not one Nitec client was breached.” IT as a managed service One of the ways Nitec is changing the model for the IT industry is to move away from long and restrictive contacts towards a simple rolling 30-day contract. “Yes, this is largely unheard of in our sector, particularly here in NI,” says Nigel. “No Nitec client is contracted with us for more than 30 days. It keeps us on our toes as value needs to be demonstrated now and not as the multiyear contract comes up for renewal. It makes both us and our customers more agile in the face of all these new threats. “We’re now having security and productivity conversations with customers every month as a matter of course. It’s the way of the future – all IT companies will increasingly need to be hands-on, all the time, and always alert. Here’s how we measure success. The more invisible we are the better. If we are doing our job right then our customers can thrive, using technology as a productivity tool and we can read about their business success in the local media. We choose not to be a firm that spends our time mopping up messes that should never have happened in the first place.”

DECEMBER 2017

International reputation This approach befits the reputation that firms like Nitec are building for Northern Ireland. Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland recently said the province is enjoying a growing international reputation as a region of expertise and knowledge in cyber security. “Yes, we’re being inventive and proactive. That’s what customers deserve. We’ve

It’s a more egalitarian way of working. It’s democratising IT.

Identity impersonation ahead So what’s the next “biggie” that the cybercriminals are lining up for us? It’s something the Nitec team are already combating. “We’re helping our customers raise their baseline on a number of fronts. Among the major new threats is identity impersonation,” said Nigel. “Up until now that has largely been restricted to the impersonation of individual identity, especially via social media. “But businesses will be the next target and in order for your business to be trusted, its identity needs to be totally secure. You simply cannot afford to have your online business cloned in any way.” ■

Regular security conversations with clients are a matter of course for Nitec

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CYBER SECURITY

Keeping your digital data secure with Capita’s security solutions Jonathan Rea, Service Delivery Manager – Network & Security Services at Capita Managed IT Solutions, discusses the security landscape and information security technology trends businesses should consider in 2018

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ecurity breaches today are a regular occurrence, with 2017 arguably seeing some of the world’s biggest cyber-attacks occurring, including the WannaCry and Petja incidents. Infiltrating the defences of some of the largest computer networks worldwide, including the NHS in England, Telefonica in Spain, Fed Ex and Renault, the WannaCry ransomware attack hit more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries.

business is still adequately protected from threats at all times.

Jonathan Rea

The new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EUGDPR) coming into place on 25th May 2018 is the biggest shakeup in data protection law in a generation and will affect organisations worldwide. Cybercrime is continuing to increase at an exponential rate, meaning more businesses are likely to fall victim to a data breach, which could lead to serious consequences. Failure to comply will come with fines, which could be up to 4% of an organisation’s annual turnover or up to ¤20 million, whichever is higher. Security must take top priority if organisations are to prevent theft or unauthorised manipulation of information, and to block viruses attacking their networks and internal systems. As attacks grow more advanced and in order for businesses to keep their estates safe, it’s increasingly important to have flexible, scalable security solutions in place to meet changing security requirements and to keep up-to-date with ever-evolving

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technology solutions and regulations. An assessment plan must be put in place by legal and risk teams to assess businesses internally and carry out regulatory requirements. Start by completing a discovery on what Personally Identifiable Information (PII) you hold within the organisation, where you store it and how you transmit it. You can then put measures in place to protect it with use of technology or by using safer business processes. SIEM tools can help identify vulnerabilities that need addressed or identify malicious behaviour before it starts to cause any damage. Cloud security is becoming a key focus for businesses and some ideal candidates for security in the cloud include; mail and web filtering, network management, DDoS and WAF (Web Application Firewall) protection in the cloud. Enabling mobility in the workforce is now increasingly common, allowing people to work from any location at any time. It is therefore key to ensure your

In order to establish their levels of risk, organisations must examine and fully understand their own security landscape and decide how and where they will implement solutions to protect it. IT departments must ensure security policies are in place to comply with government regulations, help address threats, provide employees with advice on what to do and when to do it, determine who gets access to certain data and define the consequences when not adhered to. Capita has a wealth of in-house expertise in designing, deploying and supporting tailored security systems. It offers end-to-end security solutions including audits, consultancy, email and web filtering, disaster recovery, and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), which are especially designed to mitigate against, or where possible eliminate, security risks. Working together, Capita can enable your business to keep ahead of today’s evolving security landscape securely. ■ For more information contact: Capita Managed IT Solutions on Tel: 028 9085 9085; Email: mits@capita.co.uk; Web: www.capita-mits.co.uk or www.capita-mits.ie


E-COMMERCE

Time for e-commerce companies to switch on the lights By Daniel Loughlin, CEO & Founder of IRP Commerce

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ver wondered why Amazon completely outperforms most midmarket e-commerce companies? Customer Service? Technology? Marketing? Putting it bluntly: Amazon knows what they are doing in e-commerce and invariably the midmarket company does not. Amazon, in my opinion, is the biggest competitor of almost all companies running independent e-commerce websites and it will remain this way for the foreseeable future. Amazon is in the amazing situation where a company will give it 20 per cent to sell its goods, to win its customer, and to ultimately to help put it out of business – you couldn’t make this up! When you hear from an industry insider talking about ‘digital transformation’ in a vague way — like it’s an out-of-body experience — you know there is a profound, unsolved problem. I’ve been working in the e-commerce industry for more than 15 years and have transformed the fortunes of some of Ireland’s largest online companies, however, my experience has also seen companies make repeated mistakes, wasting time and energy. It is a rare thing to see e-commerce success, and when success does happen for mid-market companies, it invariably comes down more to luck than design. The luck essentially is that they picked the right people to work with.

THE PROBLEM AT THE HEART OF MID-MARKET E-COMMERCE Mid-market companies (with a turnover of £250,000 and above) often have had the digital side of the business forced upon them — they are not Amazon, who are groundup native technology companies. These companies did not set out to be e-commerce companies, and yet this channel is now playing the decisive role in in their future. Not knowing how something works — when it is critical to a business — is an uncomfortable state for a company to be in. They cannot

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sales. This unrecognised issue is a fundamental one at the core of e-commerce — most digital teams are not used to being measured and compared based on their sales return.

WHEN MEASUREMENT, COMPARISON AND REPORTING ARE RIGHT — GREAT THINGS HAPPEN

Daniel Loughlin

easily gain control of the e-commerce channel — because they struggle to do two things: 1. Select the right people for the roles and 2. Measure their own team’s performance in a meaningful way. If a company owner opens the door and looks at their warehouse, they can see who is working hard. If they open the door to their digital marketing or e-commerce team’s office, they will have a very hard job to even know what is going on, never mind who or what is delivering results. Here lies the problem.

SWITCHING ON THE E-COMMERCE LIGHTS — IT STARTS WITH SETTING UP THE RIGHT REPORTING E-commerce is no different to any other sales channel. To succeed, you need to sell goods and keep control of your cost of sale. Good measurement is not Google Analytics or any other analytics. Good e-commerce measurement comes down to: 1. Sales, 2. The cost of sales, 3. Who provides the sales, 4. Comparison of results to know if the results are good or bad. It’s that simple — and reporting is the key. The next challenge is that most technical and digital people are not sales people. These teams often do not want direct targeted measurement based on their contribution to

The magic begins to happen for most companies when the right measurement is in place because people are forced to align themselves around their sales. The right people will want to compete, will want to do better, will want to be accountable. Once alignment and competition is there, e-commerce success becomes a natural outcome rather than success-by-luck. This is because it forces improvements.

SOLVING E-COMMERCE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION I have always fundamentally believed that the challenge of e-commerce is not a technology problem — it is a sales problem. The question is: how are sales and profits increased? And the answer is not technology; it is having people aligned through measurement and competition to tackle a sales problem with technology. IRP Commerce has created the technology through the IRP e-commerce platform, but it does something more important: it seamlessly puts the right measurement system into a company. Our internal ecosystem, IRP World measurement system monitors the teams, aligns their interests to sales, compares their performance, and provides the results. Digital transformation should therefore be about the ability of the mid-market company to understand it’s all about sales and the cost of sales and finding the right people to monitor this. Understanding this will be like turning on the lights of any digital operation and will make them a driving force in e-commerce. ■


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DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 50 AWARDS

Tech talent shines at Deloitte Fast 50

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ShopWorld – pictured left - secured the top spot in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking – for the third year in a row. The company achieved a growth rate of 3632% over the last four years. It is a leader in global eCommerce and logistics management, with a world class modular solution that

gives online retailers control over the end-to-end customer journey – from global checkout to returns. Meanwhile, teamwork.com, the Cork-based tech company which helps teams assign tasks pictured right, communicate and track progress, took 12th place.

Teamwork.com set for major recruitment drive Cork-based Teamwork.com, whose founders were recently named Tech Persons of the Year by it@Cork and winners of the Impact award at the Deloitte Fast 50 technology awards in Dublin are set to treble their workforce by 2020. The SaaS (software as a service) company, which currently employs 140 people, is looking to fill positions in software development, sales and support roles. The company, which builds cloud productivity tools for business, prides itself on being the “best place for developers to work in Ireland, according to Founder and CEO Peter Coppinger. “We work hard to develop our people and have a very inclusive learning culture,” he said. “We’re looking for people who are passionate about technology, work hard and learn quick. Currently, a project management, a helpdesk and a real-time messenger tool make up the Teamwork.com brand, and a fourth is already in production.

Visit www.teamwork.com/jobs for more information 32


DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 50 AWARDS

Deloitte partners Peter Allen and Louise Kelly congratulate Chris Martin and Conor Martin from Ozaroo, the highest placed Northern Ireland company on the Fast 50

Record year for Northern Irish companies in Deloitte Technology Fast 50

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emonstrating the strength of the local tech scene, 16 Northern Ireland companies made the 2018 ranking of the island of Ireland’s fastest growing technology companies. Sixteen companies from Northern Ireland were ranked in the all island Deloitte Technology Fast 50 2017, making it a record year for local companies since the awards began 18 years ago. A leading online shopping platform which was set up in a bedroom in Belfast secured the highest regional position in the acclaimed technology growth index. Ozaroo Retail ranked in sixth place out the 50 fastest growing tech firms in Ireland for the second year in a row.

Stephen McCann of P2V receives their award from Peter Allen and Louise Kelly from Deloitte

DECEMBER 2017

The online retail company was founded in 2010 by brothers Chris and Conor Martin. They have since grown the company to become a leading seller of consumer goods. Orazoo use a multichannel approach through a broad range of websites, including eBay, to deliver a world-class shopping experience. Lisburn-based IT services company P2V Systems was the other Northern Ireland company to be ranked in the top 10. The firm, which specialises in providing IT solutions to both public and private sector organisations, has recently announced the opening of a new office in Dublin.

The awards, now in their 18th year, rank Ireland’s fastest growing technology companies and recognise indigenous technology companies that have demonstrated exceptional growth in turnover in the last four years. The Fast 50 programme is regarded as a barometer of a company’s success and provides it with a hugely valued, respected and marketable, public ‘badge of honour’. Dublin companies again dominated the list, but while Northern Ireland may have a smaller number of technology companies, this years’ Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards suggests that there is much to celebrate in the technology community around Belfast, Derry and beyond. >

Glenn Roberts of Deloitte with Alan McMillen and Jeff Wylie of Repstor

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The 2017 Deloitte Fast 50 Ranking DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 50 AWARDS

Jill Robb, Jonny Kelly and Jerry Staple collect Origin Digital’s award

Listed companies from Northern Ireland include: AquaQ Analytics, Engaged Web, Fathom, Flint Studios, JAR Technologies, Leaf, Learning Pool, Lucid Interactive, Neueda, Origin Digital, Ozaroo, P2V Systems, Repstor, Ryco Marketing, Tascomi and The Web Bureau. AquaQ Analytics, JAR Technologies, Fathom, Lucid Interactive, Origin Digital and Repstor Limited were listed for the first time this year – a sign the a growing number of tech companies from Ulster are scaling up to the level where the industry is taking notice. The Awards showcased companies that, despite the challenges in the global economy, continue to innovate and drive the sector forward. Cumulatively, the 2017 Fast 50 winners generated approximately €858m in total annual revenues in 2016. The average revenue of companies featuring on the ranking was approximately €17m, while the average growth rate of the companies over the last four years was 290 per cent. North Dublin tech company eShopWorld took pole position at the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 for the third year in a row, achieving a growth rate of 3,632 per cent over the last four years. Founded in 2010 by CEO Tommy Kelly, eShopWorld employs 150 people and has customers in more than 200 countries, with presences in Dublin, Newry, the US, Singapore and the Netherlands. The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards took place in Dublin on 3 November 2017 and were hosted by science and technology journalist, and founder of Whipsmart Media, Jonathan McCrea. Keynote speaker on the night was Duncan Stewart, Director of Technology, Media and Telecommunications Research at Deloitte Canada. Duncan gave a quick fire assessment of the speed and which technology is changing many facets of life and business, but also cautioned that much of the consumer tech which is creating a buzz today is likely to have disappeared within five years. ■ Details of the final Technology Fast 50 ranking list are available to download at www.fast50.ie.

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Ranking

Company Name

County

1

eShopWorld

Dublin

2

xSellco Limited

Dublin

3

LearnUpon

Dublin

4

ThinScale Technology

Dublin

5

SilverCloud Health

Dublin

6

Ozaroo

Antrim

7

Keywords Studios

Dublin

8

Fenergo

Dublin

9

Wolfgang Digital Limited

Dublin

10

P2V Systems

Antrim

11

Repstor Limited

Antrim

12

Teamwork.com

Cork

13

Engaged Web Limited

14

Asystec

15

Spearline

16

Nostra Technologies Limited

Dublin

17

Journal Media LTD

Dublin

18

Granite Digital

19

Arkphire

Dublin

20

Roomex

Dublin

21

AccountsIQ

Dublin

22

Intellicom Ireland

Offaly

23

Click&Go

Dublin

24

Phorest

Dublin

25

Action Point Innovation Limited

26

JAR Technologies

Antrim

27

Welltel

Dublin

28

Lucid Interactive

29

Aspira

30

Fathom

31

Integrity360

Dublin

32

Neueda Ltd

Antrim

33

Tickets.ie

Dublin

34

AquaQ Analytics Limited

Antrim

35

CarTrawler

Dublin

36

The Web Bureau Ltd

Antrim

37

Ocuco

Dublin

38

Intact Software

Louth

Antrim Limerick Cork

Cork

Limerick

Derry Cork Antrim

39

Ryco Marketing

Down

40

Tascomi Ltd

Down

41

ITQuotes

Dublin

42

Flint Studios

Antrim

43

Origin Digital (N.I.) Ltd

Antrim

44

EssentialSkillz

Galway

45

StudioForty9

Cork

46

Learning Pool Ltd

Derry

47

Agile Networks

Dublin

48

Medical Account Services Limited

Dublin

49

Topfloor Systems Ltd

Dublin

50

Leaf

Antrim


DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 50 AWARDS

The team from P2V Systems at the Fast 50 in Dublin

P2V Systems celebrates top 10 entry in the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards

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2V Systems is enjoying a double celebration after making the Deloitte Ireland Fast 50 for the second year in a row, as well as making it into the top 10. The company ranked 10th in the prestigious Fast 50 2017 list. This is the second year it has appeared in the list after securing the number 12 spot in their inaugural entry last year. Stephen McCann, P2V Systems CEO commented: “Appearing in these prestigious awards for the second year running marks another highly successful period of growth for P2V Systems. In the past four years, P2V Systems has increased turnover by over £1m through organic growth and in the past 12 months, our team has increased from 17 to 21 employees. This expansion was targeted at increasing our in-house skills base to develop our level of business with both

DECEMBER 2017

existing and new customers to support our ambitious growth goals.” The Fast 50 award also complements a list of other achievements this year. In addition to winning a Microsoft Global Award for our Cloud Packaged Solution, the company has been accepted onto various frameworks including Crown Commercial Service G-Cloud 9 and Technology Services 2, Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) and Microsoft Authorised Education Partner (AEP). Stephen added: “Working in the IT sector, things can be very fast-paced. Our focus is always to deliver the best solutions and innovative technology that can be revolutionary for our customers. Our customers can always depend on our expertise and the IT partnerships we have built with the leaders in our industry to maximise the benefits and results that IT can deliver.

“Making it into the list again this year demonstrates our success and focus on growing and developing our business. “It is an honour to be recognised in Deloitte’s Fast 50 for the second time. We are also incredibly proud to have made it into the Top 10! We have a great team and their efforts and expertise continues to contribute to the achievements and success of our business.” With more focus being placed on the export potential for the business, the company has just recruited a London-based Sales & Business Development Manager to grow the company’s GB presence. This development comes less than a year after the opening of a Dublin office to support and grow P2V System business in the ROI market. The team at P2V Systems is looking forward to another exciting year ahead of growth and development. ■

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DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 50 AWARDS

Ozaroo Retail scoops top ranking in Deloitte Fast 50

O

zaroo Retail has been named the fastest-growing technology company in Northern Ireland by the world’s most influential growth index. The online retail platform was placed sixth in the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards which ranks companies from throughout the island of Ireland according to their rate of growth. Founders and brothers Chris and Conor Martin picked up their award at a glittering ceremony in Dublin’s Clayton Hotel last month. They launched the business from a Belfast bedroom in 2010 and have since grown the operation since then to become a leading retailer of branded consumer goods. Ozaroo uses a multi-channel approach through a broad range of websites, including eBay, to deliver a world-class shopping experience. Chris said that being frugal and efficient, and passing on savings to customers through efficiencies and economies of scale enables the company to compete with its much larger competitors such as Amazon, John Lewis, Argos and Boots. "It's good for our customers, it's good for our employees, our suppliers and partners, and all of the people throughout the supply chain,” he said. “We pass on any savings from the innovations and efficiencies that we make and the customer gets the product cheaper. “We can then grow and continue to diversify our range of products and continually save customers money. Everyone benefits." In addition, Ozaroo's partner brands also benefit from the company's growth and increasingly see Ozaroo as a key strategic partner in the ever-changing dynamics of online retail. “We create a ‘cycle of goodness’, which saves people money on products which helps to

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Deloitte partners Peter Allen (L) and Louise Kelly (R ) congratulate Chris Martin and Conor Martin from Ozaroo on placing 6th on the 2017 Deloitte Technology Fast 50, making them the highest placed Northern Ireland company on the all island listing

continually create and sustain jobs, leading to even lower prices on an ever-increasing range of products,” Chris said. Key to Ozaroo’s success is its delivery.Every product shown for sale on the company’s website is kept in stock in its warehouses and is ready for dispatch to customers anywhere in the world. As soon as a customer places an order, the fulfilment process is begun and the order printed, picked, carefully packed, qualitychecked and dispatched. The order is then in the hands of the customer within a few days. Such an approach has been taken since the company started in 2010. Working in part-time jobs throughout school and university, Chris used a few thousand pounds of savings to invest in starting the company and meeting all of the costs involved.

Successful from the outset, Chris' philosophy has been to continually reinvest profits into creating new jobs, new brands, product lines, technologies and ideas. "I worked in part-time jobs from the age of 13 and throughout my teenage years and even ran a sweet shop from my locker in school. I was interested in computing and computer games and started selling some of my old games and pieces of hardware on eBay,” said Chris, who was still living at home when he founded the company in 2010. The company now operates from state-ofthe-art headquarters and distribution centres in County Antrim, employing and sustaining livelihoods of many people from local communities. ■ Ozaroo is offering Ulster Business readers a 10% discount on its website when placing an order using the promotion code ULSTER10.


COMMUNICATIONS

How to manage devices easily I

BM MaaS360 gives you visibility and control of iOS, macOS, Android, and Windows devices from one unified cloud platform.

Manage smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops securely wherever they are and whoever they are with. Andy Higgs, Business Development & IT Services Manager at Barclay Communications, said: “A large majority of our customers had teams using their own mobiles and tablets at work, naturally they were worried about the security risks. MaaS360 resolved this concern with a cloud-based Mobile Device Management solution that puts device security in the customer’s hands. “MaaS360 is a simple and comprehensive way of managing all the mobiles, tablets and laptops connecting to a customer’s network. “It brings control to the BYOD (bring your own device) method of working and the fact that we are able to do a selective wipe means corporate data on employees own devices remains secure and easily removable without wiping their personal information. “As a robust integrated cloud platform, MaaS360 simplifies mobile device management (MDM) with rapid deployment, visibility and control that spans across mobile devices, applications and documents. “With just a few clicks, IT administrators and office managers can start enrolling devices and quickly manage the entire mobile device lifecycle – from enrolment to enterprise integration, configuration and management, monitoring and security, support and analytics and reporting. “We jumped at the opportunity to switch our customers from Intune to MaaS360. MaaS360 provides us with a much simpler interface to use and a much greater feature set. “It allows us to help and support our customers more efficiently, enabling them to get the most out of there MDM solution.”

Andrew Higgs, IT Services Business Development Manager

Stephen McCormack, Digital Offering Representative IBM MaaS360, said: “MaaS360 allows customers to protect and manage their devices from a single console, configure email, calendar, contacts, Wi-Fi and VPN profiles over-the-air to quickly on board users and experience launch day support for the latest mobile operating system releases for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. “Users can set security policies and enforce them with automated compliance actions like requiring a device passcode and blocking a compromised device. “Robust dashboards and reporting allow users to manage both corporate and personal devices.” ■

DECEMBER 2017

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W5 and Almac team up to inspire the next generation of scientists I

t is well recognised that there is a pressing need to enhance the knowledge and understanding of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects in the next generation of young people who will drive Northern Ireland’s economy in the future. It is with this in mind that W5, Northern Ireland’s award-winning science and discovery centre, has entered into an exciting new ten year partnership with Craigavon-based pharmaceutical giant the Almac Group, which aims to inspire more budding scientists through interactive learning. W5 has secured the global organisation as its Health and Life Sciences partner for the next 10 years in a £1m partnership agreement that will help W5 to further expand its current footprint and create a dynamic new family learning zone dedicated to health and wellbeing. The Almac partnership follows a multi-million pound investment announced by The Odyssey Trust that will see W5 embark on a major capital refurbishment and public engagement programme over the next three years. The Odyssey Trust is the charitable organisation responsible for the management and development of the Odyssey site, including The SSE Arena, Belfast, W5 and the Stena Line Belfast Giants, for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland. In September, the Trust announced a £4.5m funding boost for W5. £3m was awarded through the Inspiring Science Fund, a collaborative initiative between Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome with £1.5m being invested by the Odyssey Trust. Due to open next autumn, the Almac partnership includes a new 4,000 sq. ft.

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exhibition area that explores the physical, chemical, genetic and medical aspects of the body. It will also showcase Almac’s history and the work it carries out in the drug development cycle for pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally. Chairman of The Odyssey Trust Eric Porter believes it is a perfect match that will help the Trust to play an increasingly important role in educating and inspiring young people to consider careers in STEM. “This new partnership with Almac supports our aim to create better life chances for young people by linking informal learning opportunities with leading industry partners to inspire and support STEM futures. “W5 and Almac share the aim of inspiring young people to consider careers in STEM and this agreement will provide more of them

with the opportunity to explore an expanding array of careers within Almac and the biotech sector.” He added: “This partnership is the first of a number of partnerships we hope to announce within the coming year as part of a new strategic approach at W5 that will see us working closely with market leading companies from different economic sectors and industries.” The forward-thinking partnership is expected to have many benefits to the people of Northern Ireland. Chairman and CEO of Almac Group, Alan Armstrong, said: “We are thrilled that the exhibition space adds to our existing presence in Belfast and provides us with a platform to tell our fascinating company history, from very humble beginnings to becoming a key player


in the global biotech sector, employing almost 5,000 people worldwide, 3,000 of whom are based at our headquarters in Craigavon. “We plan to tell that story in an accessible and interactive way and hope we can inspire a new generation who have the potential to be employed in cutting-edge science in the future right here in Northern Ireland.”

This new partnership with Almac supports our aim to create better life chances for young people by linking informal learning opportunities with leading industry partners.

Eric Porter Chairman of The Odyssey Trust

Almac was founded in Craigavon and has operations in the UK, Ireland, across the US and in Asia, including Singapore and Tokyo. W5 has over 250 interactive exhibits spread over five levels. The building also contains Climbit – a multi-story climbing structure, Space-base – a multi-sensory activity zone, a lecture theatre, a temporary exhibition space and ancillary facilities including a shop and café.

The medium to long term aims of the £4.5m investment programme is to establish a world-class innovative science centre that will create an inspiring visitor experience for new audiences and increase visitor numbers. The redevelopment of W5 is set to take between 24 and 30 months to complete. Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Odyssey Trust commented: “These partnerships and key investments are part of The Trust’s wider objective to transform the Odyssey site into a World Class family leisure and recreation hub for the people of Northern Ireland. “Ensuring we are engaging with the public and positively impacting communities across the region is at the heart of the transformation. We are investing in the Odyssey businesses to provide families with a number of outstanding experiences under one roof.”

Last year, W5 attracted an impressive 260,000 visitors, which included 30,000 pupils on formal educational visits. “Since opening in 2001, W5 has attracted over 3.5m visitors and is still one of Northern Ireland’s most popular attractions. In the past few years, we have had a sizeable increase in school visits, particularly secondary schools, as more students decide to pursue careers in STEM-related courses,” the CEO adds. “The skills shortage in NI has been well documented over the years and we hope that the redevelopment of W5 and industry partnerships will help to inspire and support our young people to be ready to take up the employment opportunities of the future and help to deliver stronger, more inclusive and more resilient economic outcomes for the region.” With a three year plan of investment and further partnerships in the works, The Odyssey Trust is demonstrating how serious it is about making a contribution to the growing science and technology sector and helping those who could make STEM flourish in Northern Ireland in future to realise their full potential. “We plan to implement a new model of informal STEM learning outcomes increasing the touch points with science not only within W5, but within the community of Northern Ireland, linking education, public engagement and STEM strategies to create a significant and lasting impact,” explains Eric Porter. “Our aim is that the projects funded by the investment package and the partnership with Almac will not only be aspirational, but inspirational.” ■

DECEMBER 2017

39


RECRUITMENT

Recruitment and selection seduction Don’t sell a job, offer a career: if you have identified a talented professional, chances are others have too. Be different, focus your communication on how your organisation can develop that person. Front load: be specific and clear about why you are making contact, if you aren’t prepared to be transparent don’t use social media. Start a conversation: outline why this appointment is so important, why you feel this person has the credentials needed. Don’t send a job specification or advert, send a link and invite discussion upon it. LinkedIn is not the only social channel: Business users much prefer LinkedIn but Twitter has more users who tend to respond quicker and Facebook users can be very accurately profiled as can those on google+. If you are really savvy you can use Whatsapp, Youtube, Insta and Pinterest – but don’t run before you can walk.

Justin Rush

C

onnectivity is making the world smaller despite the growing number of social media users. In 2017, 71% of internet users were social media users, an estimated 2.46bn people. They are becoming easier to find, but increasingly (and frustratingly) more difficult to engage with when it comes to attracting interest in a job opportunity. Organisations of all sizes are eager to recruit accountants, lawyers, software developers and associated professionals now and into 2018. Nearly all will have the use of social media channels central to their recruitment strategy.

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However, very few are well versed in how to maximise their return from direct contact. Follow this advice and you will increase your response rates from direct contact on social media: Match up: if you are seeking to make a manager level appointment then a manager or senior manager should be the instigator of the contact not a junior member of staff. Personalise your message: it may seem obvious but blanket messaging is see-through and a waste. Review the profiles of your targets and reference a point that illustrates you have taken time to understand who they are.

Oh, and make sure your message is less than 150 words because attention spans are short and getting shorter! The visibility of social profiles allows you to assess the suitability of a potential recruit. The challenge now centres upon seduction, bringing these in-demand, talented people into your recruitment process. So choose your language carefully, be yourself, don’t do all the talking and hopefully if all goes well you can get their number. ■ Justin Rush is a career recruiter and Director at Abacus Professional Recruitment. He can be contacted on justin@abacus.jobs


Cross border trade


CROSS BORDER TRADE

Across the line The Republic of Ireland remains our key export partner and with last year’s exports across the border valued at £2.4bn (31% of total goods exported), Emma Deighan asks how local businesses can prepare for the logistical chaos which looks set to come with Brexit

T

he most recent data from HM Revenue and Customs’ Regional Trade Statistics tell us the European Union is our most valuable export market representing 55% of total exports. And 56% of our EU exports are directly into ROI. It’s been an productive partnership over the years but one which is set to face massive disruption when the full force of Brexit is felt. And even words like ‘soft’ and ‘frictionless’ to reference an anticipated border can’t undermine the upset that is imminent. The next natural question is, what can those businesses involved in cross border trading do ahead of the change? Prepare, prepare, prepare is the advice coming from the experts. Eoin Magennis,

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Economist at Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre, believes that less than only 20% of exporters to the Republic have given thought to what Brexit might mean to them. “The numbers of people prepared seem quite low,” he said. “I would ask exporters if they have a plan and have they thought about what Brexit might mean for business.” “There are a lot of small firms doing occasional business across the border, which maybe represents five to 10% of their business and I think in that case they need to be thinking about it more.” Mr Magennis says attending key events and keeping abreast of discussions can help those businesses prepare for the change and he recommends that those with higher sustainable cross border

trading seek advice from financial advisors and accountants. “You might not make decisions now but be prepared to make them in two to three years’ time,” he continued. “Know the questions you should be asking.”

UNDERSTANDING Logistics, labour and workforce are areas export businesses need to look at continued Mr Magennis; “Understand your supply chain and how tied to those in the chain you are. What new issues might come up in terms of who you are buying from, how will you move stuff from A to B? Those types of reviews are critical,” he said. >


CROSS BORDER TRADE

DECEMBER 2017

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CROSS BORDER TRADE Undoubtedly there will be custom-related bills to pay regardless of how amicable a departure we have because ultimately NI will be a third country trading with the EU and ‘somebody is going to have to take the hit’ said Mr Magennis. The physical challenge of a border is one of the biggest talking points. With Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK to neighbour EU landmass this becomes more political.

Eoin Magennis

Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director at IntertradeIreland, which supports SMEs with cross border business funding and advice, agrees and urges those involved in cross border trading to engage in talks and seek support. “Yes, there is a lot we don’t know just now – but there is also plenty that businesses can be doing to identify their areas of risk and opportunity post Brexit,” he said. “Planning can begin with basic questions around the freedom of movement of goods, services, people and how that impacts a business. “In answering these questions entrepreneurs will identify solutions and new opportunities may also emerge,” he added. InterTradeIreland’s new Brexit Advisory Service aims to help with this process and ‘the next step is to act, or at least to prepare alternative scenarios and actions depending on what emerges from the negotiations’ said Mr Gough. “Innovation, the application of lean techniques and diversification are just some options to build higher margins within a business model.” he continued.

WORKFORCE Migrant workforces, a physical border and tariffs are among the biggest concerns for those exporting to ROI. “Additional costs (to the current position) will potentially occur in areas such as customs

44

processes, standards, country of origins proofs, etc, similar to what NI exporters trading outside the EU currently have to factor in,” forecasted Mr Magennis.

Mr Magennis believes this is a matter for the politicians given the sensitivity of the issue. He said: “I do think that’s the realm of politics. I don’t believe seamless or frictionless is possible.”

“What these look like will greatly depend on the outcome of the current talks. “Areas where businesses may be exposed to additional costs include the imposition of tariffs in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario – but it’s important to remember that for 30% of the products traded across the border the tariff will be 0% and for more than 4/5th of products the tariff is less than 10% - but it can vary considerably so we would encourage businesses to find out what the tariff on their products would be if trading under WTO tariffs. InterTradeIreland’s Brexit Advisory Service offers this as a free service to SMEs,” added Mr Gough.

Yes, there is a lot we don’t know just now but there is also plenty that businesses can be doing to identify their areas of risk and opportunity post Brexit. Aidan Gough

Aidan Gough

Mr Gough continued: “The political will to maintain an open border appears to exist on all sides of the negotiating table. Whether a soft border results however depends greatly on the actual trade deal to be struck between the UK and the remaining EU member states. “It is of course difficult to imagine a soft border under a ‘no deal’ scenario which is why for Northern Ireland a deal will be important to a continued positive trading relationship with our nearest neighbours in Ireland.” ■


Exciting new move for Daly Park Accountants in Lurgan future of their enterprises.”

Accountancy and tax specialists Daly Park & Company Ltd has recently moved into its new state-of-the-art offices in the heart of Lurgan citing its ambitious growth plans as the reason for the move. Daly Park has taken over the entire ground floor of the YMCA building on Carnegie Street in Lurgan. It boasts the latest in fibre-optic cabling, disabled access and excellent meeting facilities for clients while the modern, open plan workspace will be home for about 20 of Daly Park’s staff. Ruairi Maginn, Director at Daly Park, said: “Being able to connect with

Daly Park is encouraging clients to install cloud-based accounting software which will bring all their financial information into one simple, secure and easy to navigate space.

Ruairi Maginn and Darragh Cotter, Directors

our clients and delivering the type of service they really want will remain key to our success. That ability along with the strength of our staffing expertise and depth of experience will allow us to continue to go from strength to strength.” “More and more of our small and medium-sized clients are looking at ways to function more efficiently and effectively. They want access to real-time financial information about their businesses which they can share with us, their accountants, to enable them to make proactive decisions about the

Ruairi said: “We would like to thank all our clients and well-wishers for their continued business and support to date. It’s a very exciting time for us and for our clients and we look forward to showing everyone around our fantastic new premises.”

New Lurgan Address: 4 Carnegie Street, Lurgan, BT66 6AS www.dalypark.com


BREXIT

Brexit uncertainty, challenges and opportunities With great change comes the prospect of opportunity for Northern Ireland’s business community, says Michael Farrell FCA. Grab it now...

F

igures published by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) in May 2017 show that while Northern Ireland’s businesses rely heavily on the local economy, the export sector is critical for growth and the creation of a viable and sustainable private sector. In this uncertain period, it is vital that growing export businesses and their advisors work in partnership to overcome challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that will inevitably present themselves as the Brexit jigsaw is put together. The UK continues to be an important market for Northern Ireland’s businesses and one where ambitious companies see opportunities to expand. In 2015, Northern Ireland sales of goods and services to Great Britain amounted to an estimated £13.9bn, more than four times the sales to the Republic of Ireland and seven times the sales to the rest of the EU.

UNWORKABLE SOLUTIONS Given the volume of cross-border trade and traffic, it is not surprising that the question of border controls has been at the forefront of Brexit discussions. Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, recently dismissed the notion of a “frictionless border” and Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, has said that a technical solution involving cameras and preregistration will not work. A proposal to have a border in the Irish Sea was not popular either and although UK and EU officials have said they want to preserve the Common Travel Area, it is as yet unclear how this might be achieved.

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS To mitigate Brexit-related risks, some Northern Ireland businesses are exploring relocating certain functions out of the region. PKF-FPM is currently working with a number of clients who are exploring strategic alliances to mitigate potential supply chain and market entry risks associated with Brexit. Across the island, agile businesses are exploring all options to maintain access to the UK market and/or to access passporting rights, international talent and the ability to pursue government tenders in EU member states. However, where Brexit prompts businesses to restructure, there are a plethora of issues to consider. Tax must be high on the list as changes to functions or profit-earning activity will alter a business’s effective tax rate while changes to an entity’s legal structure may affect losses brought forward in the UK or elsewhere. Exit charges where functions are moved out of one jurisdiction and into another may trigger taxable gains or require transfer pricing adjustments. Similar issues will arise for the disposal of assets. Supply chain changes potentially impact VAT, and

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Michael Farrell

businesses also need to factor in the potential cost of tariff changes to inter-company terms and IT systems. There will be capital acquisitions tax issues for Irish farmers whose land straddles the border as the existing regime for agricultural property relief refers to agricultural land being land situated in the EU. Similarly, the Irish capital gains tax (CGT) exemption for investment property bought in the period from 7 December 2011 to 31 December 2014 and held for at least seven years refers specifically to property within the European Economic Area (EEA).

CONCERNS AND OPPORTUNITIES Across all sectors, there are concerns about currency, financing, grants, data protection and various sector specific issues. Yet, amid the talk of problems, there is also talk of opportunities. Of the estimated £66.7bn total sales of Northern Ireland products and services, 65% (£43.7bn) is accounted for by sales within Northern Ireland, with the UK the next biggest market. Ambitious Northern Ireland businesses see opportunities to expand their trade with the UK on the one hand, and potentially to retain access to EU markets by establishing cross-border alliances or restructuring. History shows that with great change comes opportunity. In the coming months businesses will need to continue to review business models, supply chains and existing markets, and look for new markets to de-risk where their existing models are adversely impacted by Brexit. In the meantime, businesses must focus on being agile, flexible and planning strategies to reduce risk and secure new markets and opportunities. ■ Michael Farrell FCA is Director of PKF-FPM Accountants Ltd., a service provider for InterTradeIreland’s Brexit Advisory Service and a member firm of Chartered Accountants Ireland. This article first appeared in Accountancy Ireland


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Speak to your local business adviser in branch. bankofireland.co.uk/business

Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Bank

*Eligibility is limited to business customers new to Bank of Ireland UK, trading for over 24 months, with a turnover of under £2m and a borrowing requirement of under £250,000. During this 3 year deal, if you lodge over £10,000 in notes per quarter, 50% of the standard fee for notes lodged is charged on the excess amount over £10,000 per quarter. All other standard charges apply including Electronic Banking, Foreign Exchange and Service Charges. Refer to our Schedule of Charges for Business Customers brochure for detail. Bank of Ireland UK is a trading name of Bank of Ireland (UK) plc. Registered in England and Wales (No. 7022885), Bow Bells House, 1 Bread Street, London EC4M 9BE. JMB14170607A


COUNCIL FOCUS

ABC Council puts economy front and centre This year alone, 23 local producers scooped 44 prestigious Great Taste and Irish Food Awards, truly a testament to the region’s reputation for quality, excellence and ultimately why it is known as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland.

Overall winner of the Consumer-Facing Social Enterprise Award, Dave Linton, Founder and Chief Executive of Madlug CIC is pictured with award sponsor, Megan Peat from Ulster Bank.

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rmagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council continues to build on its reputation as a high performing and forward-thinking local authority. Vowing to make the economy its priority, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is successfully attracting and promoting investment while advancing the prosperity of existing businesses through its innovative and pioneering initiatives. Since its inception over two years ago, council has seen the economic and political landscape significantly transform. Now facing new challenges along with potential opportunities, it is committed to its continuous improvement and growth in order to be ready to make the most of this ever-evolving climate. “We are an ambitious and forward-thinking council operating in a successful, thriving borough that is bursting with award-winning organisations and business leaders. Working in partnership with community, voluntary, business and statutory sectors we continue to

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build a strong foundation and demonstrate our strength on the regional and national stage. Our dynamic and proactive initiatives and programmes have gained award-winning recognition and highlight the promising future for the borough,” comments Roger Wilson, Chief Executive.

FLOURISHING FOOD HEARTLAND Officially recognised as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland, the borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon is characterised by a rich environment of good agricultural land, making it the natural home to an abundance of specialist artisan food and drink producers. Building on this strong base within the agrifood sector is a significant priority for council, and by working alongside local food and drink companies, they have brought about the creation of the Food Heartland Forum and Food Heartland brand. This multi-faceted initiative has flourished in the past two years seeing scores of local agri-food businesses receive recognition for their quality products and services.

Developed in partnership with local producers and key industry ambassadors to promote, support and cultivate this thriving sector in the area, the Food Heartland Forum has received its own industry recognition. It has not only picked up the Best Food Story, Roots to Market and Highly Commended Destination Delicious at the Northern Ireland Food & Drinks Awards, but also won the Best Enterprise Initiative by a council at the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) Awards. As part of the initiative, three Inspirational Career Days were held in early 2017 with over 330 students from 14 local schools in attendance. The events provided the perfect setting for students to meet industry experts working in varied roles within the Food Heartland and discover the range of potential career pathways and qualification options. The inspirational project has also received the accolade of Best Local Authority Community Planning Initiative at the recent NILGA Awards, recognising the value of how it addresses the skills shortage facing the agrifood, hospitality and tourism sectors. “A vibrant and successful economy is built upon the foundation of its people, which is why council is committed to engaging with, listening to, and understanding the needs of its local businesses. Our industryled approach has helped us provide relevant business support and deliver award winning programmes and initiatives, aiming to equip local people with the right skills and assistance to realise their full potential. Through on-going collaboration with key stakeholders in strategic growth sectors, we


COUNCIL FOCUS

Achieving distinguished recognition, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has secured seven illustrious awards this year for its innovative and progressive Economic Development programmes. From left are Chief Executive Roger Wilson, Lord Mayor Alderman Gareth Wilson and Chair of Economic Development and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Joe Nelson.

strive to grow the local economy to ensure the long-term success of the region for the many generations to come,”comments Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson.

BOLSTERING THE DIGITECH SECTOR The vibrant and growing digitech sector is another area of importance for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. By investing in initiatives, providing first-class business support and developing strong academic and industry partnerships, council is committed to facilitating the growth of the sector over the next five years. Council’s proactive approach to develop a digital culture and grow the digitech economy in the borough was also acknowledged at the recent NILGA Awards. Achieving the award of Best Local Authority Digital Integration Project recognises council initiatives aimed at supporting and nurturing digitech businesses while providing conditions to attract and grow digital and knowledge-based start-ups. Gaining further success council’s inventive Digital Youth Programme triumphed as overall winner of the UK Digital Skills category at the NextGen Digital Challenge Awards ceremony in London in October. The programme was officially recognised for its contribution to economic growth, community and entrepreneurship through digital transformation while also enhancing digital skills, increasing exposure to careers,

DECEMBER 2017

facilitating work placements and digital mentors among young people. In this digital age, it is now easier for local businesses across varied and diverse sectors to operate at a global level.

SUPPORTING OUR SOCIAL ENTERPRISES Delivering essential, cost-effective public services, social enterprises play an integral role in helping council improve community development and address social exclusion. Understanding the vital need for enterprises that help create social change throughout the borough, council is committed to working closely with its social enterprise partners in order to support and enable the growth of this important sector. When taking on their new powers, council identified and set themselves key categories in this sector to build upon: partnership and inclusiveness; developing a strong evidence base for our work; a positive and ambitious approach to growing the sector; flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of the sector; innovation and entrepreneurialism. The recognition of council’s ambitious, proactive and positive approach in their support, programme delivery and collaborative working addressing the needs of the sector was highlighted at the recent Social Enterprise NI Awards. Acknowledging the contribution local councils make to

the social enterprise sector, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council was named Council of the Year with a number of social enterprises from the borough also recognised. Local business Madlug CIC were awarded the Consumer-Facing Social Enterprise Award with owner Dave Linton, Highly Commended in the Social Enterprise Leader of the Year category; OutsideIn was the overall winner in the One to Watch category with Healthy Kidz placed Highly Commended; Volunteer of the Year award went to Fiona Rowan from Step by Step NI who operates the One Eighty Degrees Restaurant in Portadown and USEL, who have an office in Portadown, Highly Commended in the Social Enterprise of the Year category. Accepting the Council of the Year award on behalf of council, Chair of the Economic Development and Regeneration Committee, Councillor Joe Nelson said: “We are delighted to be named Council of the Year. Social enterprise is part of the DNA of council and we are extremely proud of our collective working with a range of stakeholders in the community, voluntary and statutory sectors including Southern Social Enterprise Hub. This award, along with the recognition of so many social enterprises from the borough, acknowledges the benefits of a partnership approach and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively, being sustainable and making meaningful change.” ■

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From left, Alan Taylor, Chairman and Head of Corporate and Commercial at Arthur Cox, Catriona Gibson, Managing Partner at Arthur Cox, and Paul TITLE McBride, who has joined Arthur Cox as a Corporate and Commercial Partner

Arthur Cox: Innovation in a changing landscape The past decade has been marked by considerable changes in the corporate landscape, as companies and economies have adapted to manage the challenges presented by the financial downturn. Alan Taylor, Chairman and Head of Corporate and Commercial at leading law firm Arthur Cox, explains how his team continues to innovate in a changing landscape

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he decade since the financial crisis struck has presented a myriad of challenges, with businesses having to display significant innovation in order to prosper. As legal advisor to many of Northern Ireland’s most successful companies, Arthur Cox has been at the forefront of the market throughout this transitional period, playing a major role in driving the local economy forward. Our Corporate and Commercial team has been at the heart of the most prominent deals, advising major local and multinational corporates and SMEs across a range of sectors. Indeed, looking back over the last twelve months, we have seen strong continued growth in the Northern Ireland corporate sector and we are very proud to be called upon to continue to support that growth – advising last year on deals that value well into the billions of pounds. Long-established as one of the foremost of its kind in Northern Ireland, the team has been augmented by the arrival of respected

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lawyer Paul McBride, who joined the firm as a Corporate and Commercial Partner at the start of November. Ranked as a ‘leader in the field’ in the UK and Europe’s most respected legal guides, Paul has advised on many significant mergers and acquisitions, management buy-outs and venture capital projects. His knowledge and insight will further augment our team’s existing pedigree and reputation for providing the intelligent, nuanced and pragmatic counsel that leading corporates increasingly require. With the structure of deals growing in complexity and an increasing number of transactions being driven by private equity funds, international trends are becoming more and more relevant to the local marketplace. These developments have reaffirmed Arthur Cox’s position as the ‘go-to’ firm for trusted legal advice that will ensure the successful completion of any kind of transaction. With offices across the world, including Dublin, London, New York and Silicon Valley,

we have a truly global reach, which we are leveraging for the benefit of clients. Arthur Cox is the go-to firm for major international businesses which are doing deals in Northern Ireland, giving our team significant exposure to ongoing developments in the structure and formation of major corporate deals. This means that we are uniquely positioned to advise clients on global trends. Even more so in recent years than before, innovation is a crucial component of business success. Named in October by the Financial Times on its FT50 list of Europe’s most innovative legal firms, Arthur Cox understands this more than most. Our technically-astute team has an in-depth knowledge of the ever-evolving nature of the corporate landscape, and our first-class service levels ensure our clients can navigate that landscape and stay ahead of the corporate curve. ■ The Corporate and Commercial team at Arthur Cox is well positioned to advise on all aspects of corporate and commercial law. Call +44 28 9023 0007 for further information from Alan or your regular Arthur Cox contact.


Devolution policies must offer pain as well as gain

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PUBLIC SECTOR

John Simpson looks at the decisions facing Northern Ireland’s political masters, whoever they may be, in the next few months

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orthern Ireland enters the Christian festive season with too little good will. Whatever political arrangements are put in place, difficult choices will fall to those in charge and those outside the responsibilities for good government will find it hard to resist claiming, only hypothetically, that they could have made better decisions and been more popular with the electorate.

DECEMBER 2017

John Simpson

As this comment is written, no degree of finality about devolution or direct rule, or a partial form of direct rule, has been made. Some of the awaited decisions can be anticipated but predicting the priorities of those with political authority offers less certainty. Indeed, in a number of questions, Northern Ireland may be facing differing options. Consensus decision making with so many political parties making their various arguments will not be easily found. >

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PUBLIC SECTOR

Whatever the political institutional arrangements imposed during November 2016, one particular theme can be anticipated. There will be an uncontroversial cautionary plea that the official Northern Ireland public sector budget will mean further belt-tightening. Even if the Chancellor formally approves the £1bn special allocation for Northern Ireland agreed with the DUP, spread over three years, this extra spending will ease the budget arithmetic but still leave a longer-term series of problems.

If a local Ministerial Executive is restored the pending agenda for public sector reform and rationalisation is formidable. For some aspects of the public services, the changes must accommodate Brexit consequences. There is little public evidence that the senior civil service boffins have been quietly preparing for a new agenda. Every Government department and its agencies will have changes to make organisationally and sometimes with the need for backing through new legislation.

Examples can be seen in several different functions ranging from rationalisation of the schools estate, to reshaping of the Housing Executive, reconsidering Universal Benefit, refocusing the remit of Invest Northern Ireland or reshaping the health service. An interim suggestion to minimise the influence of Ministerial fiefdoms might be that, with no increase in the overall number of Ministers, each (larger) department might have two Ministers from different parties, one in the senior role, the other as a deputy, and the Executive would ask them, jointly, to agree how to make difficult decisions.

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High on the priority list for the Northern Ireland administration, whether devolved or managed through Direct Rule, must be the reshaping of the health and social services. During the last year, following a promising start from Michelle O’Neill as Minister for Health, there has been a conspicuous failure to cope with the current demands on the health service. The public have been given contradictory explanations. Some have blamed the absence of a Minister to make critical policy decisions. Obviously that is at least partly relevant. Others have pointed to an inadequate budget (even though the cash budget has been increasing). Civil servants have said that background work for reform proposals has taken place, but unpublicised. No firm plans have been published on the operational impact of the Bengoa report.

The pending difficulty in living within the Northern Ireland budget has been well signposted. Whether the limits are alternatively described as Conservative austerity, applied fairly to this corner of the UK, or a Barnett formula allocation that takes inadequate account of the special social and economic needs, the application of budget constraints means that worthy policy ambitions will be curtailed and some excesses in the inherited budget will be examined for rationalisation or, in the language of opposition, cuts in service provision. If a local Ministerial Executive is back in place they will live with a recurring decision making problem. If the Ministers are appointed to head the departments, as was the pattern prior to the collapse of the Executive, the immediate tension lies in expecting a Minister to take difficult and probably some unpopular decisions. The political party taking a Departmental role, will try to avoid being too unpopular. But, some unpopular decisions will be needed even when the greater good of the greater number is the motivation.

funding schemes or a broad, non-devolved, parity expectation.

The degree of mismanagement or the degree of non-management in the health service is too serious to be allowed to continue. The danger is that if devolution is restored, a local Minister will be too ready to blame underfunding rather than push for improved management.

James Brokenshire

A striking example of the consequences of the absence of functioning political institutions is that, unlike Scotland and Wales, there is no evidence that in Northern Ireland preparations have been made for the possible changes in devolution allocations as and when legislation is ‘repatriated’ from the EU. Is there clarity in Northern Ireland about the desirability of ‘regaining’ the 111 topics that the Scots have identified as targets for an amended devolution settlement? The consequences of Brexit are even wider. As the UK leaves the EU Common Agriculture Policy framework, critical decisions must be made on the future scale of farm funding, the degree to which this is a devolved subject and, for Northern Ireland, whether there should be devolved decision making on

The list of areas of public policy awaiting improvement is very long. It includes the resetting of the public sector capital programme and many aspects of current budgets. Clarity and action on the future of the Housing Executive is overdue. The shape and form of additional social housing might change to meet refreshed housing policies. Reconsideration of the financing of utilities such as the Water Service merits a rethink. The role of Invest NI might be reframed in a Brexit environment. Is a change in corporation tax still an appropriate response? The conventional response to the tensions of improved public service administration is to argue that the restoration of devolution is a preferred option. If, instead, there is an emerging policy drift towards Direct Rule, that offers no certainty of decisive decision making. Direct Rule, operating with a minimalist approach to major challenges, offers an inadequate alternative. ■


PROCUREMENT

The role of judicial review in procurement challenges

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he statutory framework for bidders in a procurement process to challenge a breach of the procurement rules is relatively well known in Northern Ireland, given the volume of High Court litigation in this area. The procurement rules allow bidders to suspend the award of a contract and / or to seek damages and a declaration of ineffectiveness. The challenge must be brought within 30 days of when the plaintiff knew, or ought to have known, that a breach had occurred. But what happens if you aren't a bidder, but a party interested in or affected by the outcome? A recent case (Wylde and Others v Waverley Borough Council [2017]) serves as a reminder of the availability of judicial review as a mechanism to challenge procurement breaches where the statutory framework cannot be relied upon.

THE CASE Kate McCann, solicitor at A&L Goodbody, explains: “In this case, the council conducted a procurement process to enter into a development agreement to develop a town centre. Both the council and the successful developer agreed to vary one of the conditions within the development agreement. They published the relevant notice to inform the market of this, to which no responses were received. “A judicial review application was subsequently brought by five local council taxpayers, who had no connection to any of the unsuccessful bidders in the process. The basis for their application was that the variation to the development agreement was unlawful and amounted to a new contract requiring a new procurement process. “Referring to case law (Gottlieb v Winchester City Council [2015]), they argued that, as taxpayers to the council, they had "sufficient

DECEMBER 2017

Micaela Diver

standing" in the development to bring a judicial review,” she continues. “However, the council and successful bidder argued that, even if a new procurement had been carried out, this would not change the ultimate outcome; i.e. the development would still proceed. “Furthermore, even if a new procurement was conducted and the outcome was different, the local council taxpayers were not themselves bidders nor did they have any connection to bidders and, as such, their interests were not affected.”

THE DECISION Partner Micaela Diver continues: “The court held that the five local council taxpayers did not have sufficient interest to bring a judicial review application. They could not illustrate that a new procurement would have changed the outcome, nor could they demonstrate that

the procurement had any direct impact upon them. They were not economic operators within the context of procurement law and, whilst it was acknowledged that they had genuine concerns as taxpayers, these were not deemed to be sufficient.” Diver concludes: “This decision is a useful reminder of the test applied by the courts to the issue of standing in judicial review cases both generally and more particularly within the procurement context. “Judicial review can be a useful mechanism for those who are outside the statutory procurement framework, but there are clearly high hurdles to be met.” ■ To contact Micaela Diver at A&L Goodbody, please call 028 9031 4466 or email mdiver@algoodbody.com. For more information about A&L Goodbody, visit www.algoodbody.com

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PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Public transport for the future David Elliott catches up with Translink’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Conway to find out how the organisation is evolving and hear his ambitious plans for the future

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n advanced, efficient and futureproofed public transport system lies at the heart of Northern Ireland’s economic future. That is the belief of Translink’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Conway, the man who is at the heart of one of the biggest transformations of our bus and rail network in the organisation’s history. Actually, it’s not just his belief but that of just about any economist or town planner worth their salt and it is also a central tenant of Northern Ireland’s Programme for Government. As you would expect, Chris is a public transport evangelist, one with the ambition to change the public transport infrastructure which is under his charge and that is exactly what he has been busy doing, driving passenger numbers on the group’s network

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up by 1.5m fare paying customers to 80m last year. That’s a pretty good result for his first full year in charge but, as far as he is concerned, that improvement is only the beginning, as the statistics prove. In Northern Ireland we take around 45 journeys on public transport per head of population - although that rises to 65 in Belfast – while in Europe the average is 120 journeys. “We feel there is plenty of room to grow but we need to go out and promote our services to the market, we need to get people better connected, we need to invest in our services, we need higher frequency on routes and we need to provide value for money.” Part of the strategy to achieve that has been focusing on laying on more buses and trains

at peak times to aid commuters, offering discounts to those travelling on Ulsterbus in the middle of the day and putting on services which run later in the evening. Examples of the latter are the late service operated for Culture Night which proved very popular and the extension of bus services until midnight on the four weekends running up to Christmas. These are initiatives which have resulted from the organisation listening to demand from its customers, an example of which is being held only days after this interview takes place at a youth summit where it has gathered 100 young people together to find out what they want from a public transport system. Chris is also keen to learn from other regions and has formed close relationships with counterparts in Dublin and London.


PUBLIC TRANSPORT

It will be bolstered shortly after with the launch of Future Ticketing System which will provide customers with better integration, flexibility and convenience such as contactless Credit/Debit card payments, mobile and app payments, an ePurse Stored Value ‘Oyster style’ Smartcard; 280 ticket vending machines and gated rail stations. Such offers will be impressive but are only the beginning of the technical transformation with Transport for London style system the ultimate goal by around 2020.

The Enterprise service to Dublin will also terminate at the new hub and is one of the areas the Translink team are focusing on. “By 2020 it is our goal for the Enterprise service running at hourly intervals at peak times to Dublin. We’re already working hard behind the scenes – with track upgrades at Lisburn and Moira which will allow trains to run at 90 miles per hour (mph) in this section – in conjunction with Irish Rail to reduce the journey time also.” On a longer-term 20-year basis, Chris said the plan is to electrify the line, a move which would help bring down the journey time from Belfast to Dublin to just 90 minutes. Meanwhile, in the north west Foyle Metro is the latest major public transport development for the North West, an area which has seen investment of over £55 million in bus and rail transport improvements in recent years which include the Londonderry Railway Line Upgrade, new hourly rail timetable introduction and North-West Multi-Modal Transport Hub plans.

As well as working Translink’s current assets more efficiently, there are also a number of major projects in the works which will, when finished, transform the way people across Northern Ireland live. Firstly, there is Glider (incidentally an Executive flagship programme), the new £90m project which will initially link the east and west of Belfast using a high-capacity and high-frequency rapid transit service which integrates into the existing bus and rail network. Currently being constructed, it’s due to launch in September 2018 and, crucially, is expected to reduce public transport journey times by 25% as the ultra-modern buses are given priority on the roads on which they’ll travel. “Glider is really going to set the bar as far as efficient, reliable public transport should be,” Chris said. “It will be transformational.”

DECEMBER 2017

“That is important because it gives us a base line to build toward account-based ticketing, to set up the back office arrangements with banks and the technology which we’ll need to deliver it. By doing that we’ll be bringing it on stream well ahead of others in our situation.” Then there is the Weavers Cross development which will include the Belfast Hub, a worldclass transport interchange and surrounding masterplan development which is expected to handle around 18m passengers a year by 2040. Train platforms will increase to eight from four currently while the bus station will be transformed to seamlessly handle a much larger volume of vehicles. The business case for the Belfast Transport Hub has been approved by the Department for Infrastructure and Translink and funding is earmarked for the hub in the Programme for Government.

And on the north coast, Translink is embarking a £5.5m redevelopment of Portrush Station, a project which is expected to be completed by spring 2019 in time for the Open Golf Championship. Other projects for the organisation include the continuing growth of Goldline with 12 new double decker coaches arriving this month, the longest on the network which will offer more leg and headroom, and a focus on Metro to see which routes need increased frequency. On the technical side it has already worked to make its data open for the likes of both Google Transit and Moovit so journeys can be planned easier while on the communications side Chris is taking a look at how Translink itself is viewed by customers and introducing initiatives like Smartmovers. “There’s a lot to do but we need to be bold in our ambitions if we’re to grow a public transport system which is able to support a growing economy and a vibrant society,” Chris said. “I for one am hugely excited about the future for Translink and for Northern Ireland.” ■

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Big Data and the rise of the cross-specialist

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he ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, led by IoT, Big Data, AI, Robotics and Machine Learning, is driving significant transformational change across economies and labour markets. We now have more control over data than ever. Small and large businesses have access to scalable and efficient platforms designed to manage and extract insights from their data. As a result of this, and the impact of global companies within the region, Northern Ireland now boasts deep clusters of data technology talent within banking, financial services, telematics and insurance industries. In order to source talent within these sectors, organisations are casting the net outside of traditional computer science degrees. The trend is increasingly toward PhD-level candidates from STEM backgrounds who can apply relevant R&D methods to their work. Interestingly, Big Data analytics has moved beyond Fintech and is becoming more pervasive in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, telecoms and construction. Our experts have found that savvy firms here are tapping into cross-specialism candidates who can act as a bridge between data, marketing and engineering teams to provide deeper insights and solve core business problems.

By Roisin Byrne, Director at Hays IT

At Hays we are finding that our clients have been placing greater emphasis on predictive analytics to better understand customers and to anticipate future behaviours. Indeed, candidates with traditional data analysis and modelling backgrounds are now seeking to upskill in predictive analytics, data science and algorithm modelling to futureproof their careers. For our local firms, sourcing and attracting appropriately skilled candidates in the sector can be a challenge. To stay ahead of the curve, Hays has amplified the innovation around our own service and processes. One of the major steps we took towards this was developing our Digital Technology business centred on an expert approach to the recruitment of Data Science & Analytics, Cyber Security and Software Development professionals. While roles like Big Data Manager, AI Engineer and ML Analyst are certain to become more prevalent, the greater trend at present is towards cross-specialism candidates with enhanced technical abilities and excellent business acumen to match. ■

London will remain Europe's financial capital despite Brexit - Bloomberg By Ben Chapman

London close to St Paul’s Cathedral. Asked on Tuesday whether he would still have gone ahead with the development had he known about Brexit, he replied that he "absolutely would have". That contrasts with comments he reportedly made in October suggesting that he might have reconsidered the decision.

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ondon will remain an important global financial hub after Brexit, according to billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. He said the UK’s departure from the EU would likely slow down London’s economic growth but said the capital would "be the financial centre of Europe for the foreseeable future". "It has the things the finance industry needs: it is English speaking, it is family-friendly, it has a lot of cultures so you can attract those people here," Mr Bloomberg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. "What will happen with Brexit is that some jobs will move – although they may have very well be replaced here – but the growth rate of London as a financial centre will certainly not be what it would be if Brexit didn’t take place."

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Michael Bloomberg

Mr Bloomberg last month labelled Brexit the "single dumbest thing" a country has ever done – apart from electing of Donald Trump. Mr Bloomberg, who is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $48bn, has been a staunch critic of the US president. In August he questioned whether Mr Trump’s claims to be a billionaire were true. He has also been highly critical of Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Last month, the businessman opened a £1bn, one-million-square-foot office in central

Mr Bloomberg also praised London’s oftencriticised transport system. "It is a city with the best transportation and communication and scale and it is already here, so it’s hard to see that going away." Mr Bloomberg, who made much of his fortune from the data terminals which many bankers and traders in the City of London use, said that London would remain the financial capital of Europe, as New York is to the United States, "for a long time". Financial services firms and City lobby groups have warned about the damage that could be caused if the UK were to leave the EU without continued access to the single market. ■


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OUTSOURCING

Outside source

Outsourcing has become an ever-more popular practise for businesses in Northern Ireland over the last few years as they seek to cut fixed costs and focus attention on their core business. We look at the benefits outsourcing can bring and the challenges it can throw up

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f there is one industry which has made hay over the last decade it’s the world of outsourcing.

Companies, faced with pressures to cut costs and needing to concentrate on their core businesses, have been slowly taking advantage of the wide range of services which specialist outsourcing firms offer.

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From security, IT, cleaning, human resources, design and many more, there are a host of services available from outsourcing firms which now take place in external firms rather as companies choose to move away from the inhouse and somewhat more traditional model. As an example, when this writer lodges the modest expenses which are racked up in

pulling these pages together, they are dealt with by an outsourced company in Cork. In a previous role focused on another business magazine the design work was carried out not in Northern Ireland where the magazine was based but in the south of France.


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TITLE

And even for other services, such as photography, the days of having the luxury of an in-house photographer are long gone, and instead we rely on trusted agency or freelance snappers. These are merely examples personal to the business behind this magazine but there are countless others in industries as far afield as construction and catering. The benefits tend to be focused on cost savings for the companies which choose to outsource. Financial directors love to see fixed costs such as salaries disappear off the profit and loss account and are much happier with the replacement of regular third party

DECEMBER 2017

outsourcing payment, one which is generally less than the wage bill and doesn’t come with the associated tax costs and HR issues.

Industry organisation CIPS said other benefits include more accurate cost forecasting and greater awareness and focus on customer needs.

By specialising in one function, perhaps investing in machinery or training workers, outsourcing companies should be able to lower costs and pass the savings on to clients.

So on the face of it, outsourcing is a winner for companies and for the outsourcing firms themselves.

And because they are specialist in the specific task, the quality of the task or product should be strong.

You only need to take a look down the list of corporate names in Belfast to know that many of them are providing outsourcing services for business around the world.

Out sourcing companies are also better able to cope with cyclical workflow where companies which rely solely on in-house services may be carrying both workers and machinery during slack periods.

Concentrix, Capita and FirstSource and some of the biggest names amongst a myriad of business carrying out services on a global basis. >

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OUTSOURCING

There are others, such as Citi, Herbert Smith and CME Group which are providing services for their own companies, although they aren’t outsourcers in the strictest sense of the word. So while there are many upsides to the outsourcing world, there are some downsides. While in many cases the quality angle is indeed true, there are occasions when quality can slip, mainly because outsourcing companies may be used to carry out a particular function but are perhaps not aware of the sensitivities in the client’s particular field. And being once removed from the final customer, the focus on providing a tailored, quality service can also slip from the standards which an owner operator may expect. But these downsides can be avoided by briefing, choosing and monitoring the outsourcing company, according to NIBusinessInfo.co.uk. It offers up some tips to make sure you sign up with the right company to match your needs. ■

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Outsourcing: seven top tips Outsourcing is when you contract out a business function to a third party over a long period of time. Outsourcing can bring a lot of benefits to your business and help you focus on core activities. However, there are risks to giving up direct control. Follow these top tips for successful outsourcing: Consider carefully: Take your time making decisions and make sure you are clear about the terms on which you and the supplier are working together. See outsourcing considerations. Good relationship management: This calls for constant communication and flexibility. Make the most of online project management and collaboration tools to help you stay on top of projects and in control of the company. Remember that although the supplier takes responsibility for the process, you still need to actively manage the relationship. Nominate a member of staff to take responsibility for liaison. Communicate internally: It’s equally important to establish effective and regular communication within your business. Staff may have particular concerns about their own jobs, so keep them informed. If staff are

being transferred to the outsourcing provider under the arrangement, as sometimes happens, you will need to consider the relevant employment law. See responsibilities to employees if you buy or sell a business. Commit long term: You are likely to get the best results if you can stay with your supplier for several years. Switching suppliers can be disruptive, so it pays to commit to building a long-term relationship from the outset. Be flexible: You may need to renegotiate the contract before the end of the term. A flexible contract benefits both parties, allowing the supplier to innovate and you to react to changing circumstances. See service level agreements. Measure success: There should be financial benefits, but other reasons for outsourcing are harder to quantify. These could include improving customer service, reducing errors or increasing speed to market. Include these factors in your assessment and consider how you’ll measure them. See measure performance and set targets. Plan a clear exit strategy: The relationship might end prematurely or may simply have run its course. Either way, make sure that your service level agreement contains a clear exit strategy. ■


Robinson Services Security Officers Rewarded by British Security Industry Association. The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) recently announced the winners of its Regional Security Personnel Awards 2017. Now in their nineteenth year, the prestigious awards serve to recognise the outstanding achievements and invaluable contributions made by professionals working within the UK’s private security industry. The awards are presented in five different categories: Best Team, Outstanding Act, Service to the Customer, Best Newcomer and Best Use of Technology. “Each year I am humbled to learn of the truly outstanding work undertaken by security officers in their daily roles and this year was no exception,” commented James Kelly, Chief Executive of the BSIA. “These awards are a fantastic way to showcase the hard work and talent exhibited by individual officers and teams within the industry, ranging from lifesaving actions to intelligent uses of new technology. The BSIA prides itself upon representing the very best in the security industry and these winners are a testament to the true quality of our members.” As in 2016 Robinson Services have picked up the award for “Best Newcomer” to the security industry in Northern Ireland. John Moore based at Millennium House, a large office block in the heart of Belfast City Centre, only joined the security industry in October 2016 and has already proven to be a valuable

Pictured left to right: John Moore Robinson Services, James Kelly Chief Executive BSIA, David Robinson Managing Director Robinson Services, Peter Jebb Robinson Services.

member of the site and Robinson Services team. John has also been shortlisted for The National Award for “Best Newcomer” to the security industry in The UK, Peter Jebb has been credited with the award for “Outstanding Act” by a security officer in Northern Ireland. In July 16 whilst on duty in The Meadows Shopping Centre, Portadown, Peter intervened to prevent a member of the public from an attempted suicide in the River Bann. David Robinson, Managing Director Robinson Services commented : “It is fantastic that the great work of The Robinson Services Security Officers has

It’s our business to support yours. Robinson Services has been associated with the FM industry since 1968 when James Robinson had the idea of cleaning windows on a part-time basis in Antrim town. Today the organisation employs 1700 people, providing services to a range of customers from the public and private sector including universities, colleges, offices, shopping centres, car showrooms and retail outlets. We pride ourselves on forming valuable partnerships with customers and employees to deliver a high quality innovative service which the market both demands and requires. Our professional reputation in the support services market is based on consistent delivery and continual growth to a client base that now exceeds 4000. Our success has been achieved by providing a quality service at a competitive price. Our ability to create partnerships with staff and customers has made us one of the leading support services providers in Northern Ireland.

Get in touch to find out more email: bernardb@robinson-services.com Tel: 028 9442 9717 www.robinson-services.com

been recognised by such a prestigious organisation as The British Security Industry Association. The awards highlight the focus our company places on ensuring officers have the necessary skills and training to complete their roles in a diligent and professional manner. Our employees invest a great deal of passion and considerable expertise in carrying out their duties and the recognition received by John and Peter is testimony to this commitment.” For more information contact Robinson Services on 028 9442 9717 or email bernardb@robinson-services.com


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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

National success spurs on growth of Lambert Smith Hampton’s property management team Commercial property consultancy LSH already has the largest property management team in Northern Ireland and the company continues to invest more than ever before following a series of significant contract wins.

L

SH has experienced exponential growth in 2017 and now manages 15m sq ft of commercial property including 12m sq ft of retail space in 45 shopping centres and retail parks in the UK. Ten of these are ranked in the UK top 200 schemes.

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The consultancy has once again secured the number one position as managing agents and letting agents in Northern Ireland in the recently launched ‘Going Shopping 2018 – The Definitive Guide to Shopping Centres’ by Trevor Wood Associates.

INVESTING IN TALENT AND TECHNOLOGY This success has been driven by investment in talented professionals and the development of innovative property management systems and compliance technology.


COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

Pictured are Lindsay McQuillan, Gary Nesbitt, Lucy Elliott and Tara McAnearney

Gary Nesbitt, director and head of property management in Ireland, said: “Property management is a hugely important part of our business. We pride ourselves on staying ahead of our competitors and are pleased to be recognised as market leaders. We have expanded retail marketing and added facilities

DECEMBER 2017

management to our core property management service. We are the only commercial agency in Northern Ireland to provide these disciplines. “Bringing these skills in-house offers tangible benefits to our clients, their properties and their occupiers. We are able to enhance customer

experience, which is vital to compete in the evolving retail space, providing retailers with a platform on which to thrive. Our facilities management team has enabled us to drive additional value through service charges and capital expenditure projects which in turn > reduces occupational costs.”

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COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

RECRUITMENT DRIVE A major recruitment drive earlier this year has seen 10 new recruits appointed in property management, increasing the team to 40 employees and the overall number of employees working at the Belfast office to in excess of 90. Building on the in-house retail marketing capabilities, LSH has appointed Tara McAnearney to the position of marketing executive. In this role Tara will work across a range of marketing and communications activities, within the managed shopping centre portfolio.

We are delighted to welcome a new wave of experienced and talented professionals to the property management team. Gary Nesbitt

The recently formed facilities management team recognises the importance of providing technical assistance and consultancy services, to support the client assets and deliver value for money, while ensuring that all statutory and legislative policies are complied with.

Lucy Elliott joins LSH as a director in property management. Lucy is a Chartered Tax Advisor and also became a Chartered Surveyor before moving into the commercial property sector 12 years ago. Lucy specialises in retail property management and sale and purchase due diligence.

Mr Nesbitt continued: “We are delighted to welcome a new wave of experienced and talented professionals to the property management team. We recognise the importance of recruiting and retaining the top talent in the industry to provide a best in class service to our clients.”

Lindsay McQuillan joins LSH as an associate director in property management. Lindsay is a Chartered Surveyor and has a wide range of experience in the management of a diverse portfolio of shopping centres throughout the UK for a variety of local and institutional investors.

The recruitment drive followed a series of high calibre contract wins for the business.

In a further significant contract win the team has been appointed as managing agent by Benson Elliott on Quedam, a popular street scape scheme in the heart of Yeovil in Somerset.

This year NewRiver REIT appointed LSH’s Belfast office as managing agent on a major UK and Ireland shopping centre and leisure portfolio. The instruction comprises seven shopping centres and two retail parks amongst other retail and leisure assets which includes Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey, Belfast; Priory Meadow in Hastings; and The Avenue in Newton Mearns, Glasgow. NewRiver is one of the UK’s leading REITs focused on the convenience-led retail and leisure sectors. The company is one of the UK’s largest shopping centre owners and managers with £1.3 billion of assets under management including 33 shopping centres, 20 retail warehouses, 15 high street assets and a portfolio of 340 pubs.

The Centre comprises a single-level scheme of 45 retail units, four high street shops, a three-level multi-storey car park with 650 spaces and an adjoining 50,000 sq ft development property, all encompassed within a 7.4 acre town centre site which has recently benefited from a significant £4m refurbishment project.

Mr Nesbitt added: “Our growth from both a new business and talent acquisition perspective is reflective of a very exciting and rewarding year for the property management team. Our passion to deliver a market leading service is being recognised by the industry and our clients, which is further Appointed to manage the portfolio on behalf of confirmation that the approach we are taking NewRiver are Lucy Elliott and Lindsay McQuillan. is the correct one.’’ ■

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Gary Nesbitt, Director - Head of Property Management – Ireland

Lucy Elliott CTA, MRICS, Director - Property Management

Lindsay McQuillan, MRICS, Associate Director - Property Management

Tara McAnearney, Marketing Executive


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THIRD SECTOR

Providing shelter from the storms of life Simon Community’s Chief Executive Jim Dennison speaks to Ulster Business about the organisation’s work with the homeless in Northern Ireland

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n the race to keep on top of work, family and a social life, we often forget how lucky we are.

This latter area is one where some local companies have been particularly innovative in the last few years.

It’s a hard fact to swallow that last year around 20,000 households presented themselves as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and another 40,000 are formally recognised as being in housing stress. In 2016, according to the Homelessness Monitor which is produced by Crisis, Joseph Rowntree Foundation & Heriot Watt University, between 76,000 and 136,000 adults are homeless living as concealed households, more often referred to as ‘hidden homeless’ where they may be sofa surfing or staying with friends and not recorded on official reports. One local organisation which is tackling the problem is the Simon Community NI. It is a Northern Ireland wide charity that was originally set up in Belfast in 1971 in response to a homelessness crisis in the city during some of the darkest days of the troubles. Nowadays the charity helps over 3,000 people every year across 22 province-wide accommodation projects providing beds every night of the year for short and long-term “clients” who are experiencing homelessness. The provision of support to those living in its projects is an essential arm of the Simon Community’s remit, particularly those who have complex needs including addiction, mental health and severe debt issues. It supports in a non-judgemental, high tolerance manner in close collaboration with the people it is trying to help. It also works hard to prevent vulnerable people becoming homeless, while helping people stay in their homes or return to a previous home.

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For instance, staff at the Galgorm Resort and Spa have been fundraising by taking part in sponsored challenge events and the company has been tapping into guests’ generosity through its SleepSmart scheme where it asks if they would like to make a discretionary addition to the bill in aid of the Simon Community.

Jim Dennison

Jim Dennison has worked in organisations which provide support to vulnerable people throughout his career and has been Chief Executive of the Simon Community NI for the last four years. He said the organisation’s work has never been more important. “More and more people are becoming homeless every day,” he said. “We have seen individuals from all walks of life - those who have owned companies or held senior positions to those who have been involved in a family or marital dispute or those who have serious mental health issues, people with addiction or those who have emerged from the criminal justice system.

“Galgorm facilitate that process and it is very beneficial to us,” Jim said. “It provides much needed funds while raising awareness of homelessness in Northern Ireland, the group also provides a similar initiative with diners at its Fratellis restaurant in Belfast. It’s all vitally important to the future of the charity, as is the help of those companies which are willing to provide their time – such as Lloyds Banking Group and Marks & Spencer where volunteers to helped build welcome packs – or even those who are willing to provide work experience or apprenticeships to homeless people.

“Homelessness can strike anyone.”

“If you’re homeless when you’re 18 then you’re likely to remain homeless without significant help and support,” Jim said. “Corporates would be in a brilliant position to support some of these people and we would love to hear from anyone who would be able to offer some training or a job to give them the foot up they need.”

It stands to reason that such good work needs funding and the bulk of that comes from government and helps to pay the wages of the 300 staff the organisation employs and the running of the accommodation units.

The future for the organisation will involve carrying on the good work it has been doing and also focusing on how it can prevent homelessness and how it can develop better alternative accommodation in Northern Ireland, Jim said.

The remainder is raised by the Simon Community itself through public donations or from corporate sponsorship.

“We need to stop the problem before it begins and by tackling those two issues then we can have an even bigger impact.” ■


Merry Christmas Merry Christmas

from everyone at Simon Community NI

from everyone at Simon Community NI

Thank you to all our supporters below for Thank you to to all Simon our supporters below donating Community NIfor donating to SimonChristmas Community NI in lieu of sending cards in lieu of sending Christmas cards

ToTohelp helpvisit visitsimoncommunity.org simoncommunity.org or or Text SIMON to 70660 to give ÂŁ3 Text SIMON to 70660 to give ÂŁ3


BUSINESS TRAVEL

Prepare for landing David Elliott tries his hand at piloting an Airbus A320 in a British Airways simulator at Heathrow, obviously after a full breakfast in Club Europe on the shuttle service from Belfast City Airport

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ere it not for the call of the written word, a penchant for tractors and the belief that 20/20 vision is essential to the training process, this writer would have liked to have been a pilot. The thrill of soaring through the air at 30,000 feet, landing in exotic destinations and avoiding a semblance of a nine-to-five existence made the career seem like one I could easily adjust to and one which would fit in nicely with a need – which is growing more pressing with age – to always be in the driving seat.

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As it turned out, words and tractors won out and – despite realising even those of us who are short sighted can become pilots if we are able to prove we have 20/20 vision with glasses or contact lenses – I didn’t ever manage to follow that dream. However, I have found myself in a role where I write about business and what’s more business related than the airline industry? Aircraft fly millions of business people around the world every day and help keep the global economy turning, particularly one on an island such as ours. It’s with this rather spurious link that I was able to shoehorn a day out of the office to fly to Heathrow and “have a go” in one of British Airways A320 simulators and let you, good readers, know what it’s like to experience sitting in the pilot’s seat. Unhelpfully for my “it’s not a jolly” protestations was the fact BA were also flying me from Belfast City to Heathrow upfront on a real Airbus A320. Not upfront as in the cockpit, but upfront in the Club Europe part of the aircraft

which you might know better as business class, a level of service which has seen the reintroduction of the curtain on domestic flights and a meal and drink for those sitting north of it. Having already breakfasted like a king in the BA lounge at Belfast City Airport (another plus point of the Club Europe package), where a good smattering of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 company bosses were preparing for what appeared to be a much more taxing day ahead, this proved an unexpected addition. However, having wiped my brow with a hot towel and downed the fresh orange juice which was offered before take-off, I felt it was only right to push ahead with a second breakfast – bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes – to make sure no stone was left unturned in the pursuit of accurate reflection for this article. It was very pleasant, as was the fact there was an extra table covering the middle seat which means there’s more space between Club Europe neighbours and more space to set the coffee cup and mound of free newspapers I was trying to plough through.


BUSINESS TRAVEL

The flightdeck in one of the simulators, armed with some comfy seats and an awful lot of switches

simulators being put through their paces by training pilots such as Captain James Tacchi, the Top Gun of the aviation training world. The BA simulator facility at Heathrow

The return journey was equally pleasant as I was able to take advantage of the BA business lounge in Terminal 5 and made sure to avoid pre-flight breakfast so as to enjoy the fry up once again.

Captain James must have drawn the short straw that morning because he was charged with allowing yours truly at the controls of one of these multi-million pound machines. Immediately I rued telling him I had been here once before to have a rattle on the A380, a foolish remark which gave him an impression that I had a clue what the myriad of buttons, dials and joysticks did rather than the truth that I was as bewildered as I had been on that first outing.

It would be churlish not to mention that while the Club Europe service has taken on a new level for those flying business class, the free drink which used to be offered to everyone on the BA shuttle service is now a thing of the past. Nevertheless, he settled the nerves (mine, not his) and, with the Head of News assigned to photography/judge in the examiner’s seat in the However, having since flown the Heathrow simulator, we took off from Heathrow into the route on the other side of the curtain, I don’t wild blue virtual yonder. particularly miss it and was pleased to have the chance to buy M&S fodder. Anyway, before heading back for real, there was the chance to have a go at flying the A320 simulator on the same route. Having been expertly ushered across Heathrow by none other than BA’s Head of News, we were shown to the airline’s simulator cathedral, one which holds a staggering 16 simulators used to keep its 4,500 pilots at the top of their game. It’s a vast space but busy with pilots who must spend two days every six months in the

DECEMBER 2017

The one thing I did remember is that takeoff is the easy part (well, it is if you have a highlytrained pilot doing everything apart from controlling the joystick) and landing is the most challenging, so to get the eye in we did a loop and headed back to land at Heathrow. As we approached the runway from 12 miles out a familiar sense of “this isn’t so difficult” emerged, “maybe I could be a pilot”. But as we got closer and closer to what appeared to me to be a very small landing strip but was in fact one of the two main Heathrow

runways, an even more familiar sense of fear immediately swept over me. Every slight adjustment of the joystick caused a huge movement in the flight of the aircraft and the runway began to sway back and forward in my sightline. But we eventually managed to hold it steady and landed with a bump after being overly heavy on the “flare” – a process which involves counterintuitively pulling back on the joystick to ascend when the aircraft is nearly on the ground. The feeling of relief which washed over me as we eventually came to a halt cannot be overestimated, despite knowing full well we were in a simulator. We then took off again for Belfast City and landed a few times there but the flaring problem persisted, meaning we landed with a solid bump after floating a metre off the ground for too long. Then, just like that, our time was up and it was time to head back to reality and the real journey back to Belfast City where a much more competent pilot would be in charge of landing. But what a day, one which brought home the fact that this piloting lark is much harder than it looks and that I’m probably better sticking to words. Still, it’s nice to dream. ■

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PROFILE

Business

Breakfast

By David Elliott

The column that doesn’t have time for lunch...

BREAKFASTEER: CIAN LANDERS, GENERAL MANGER AT THE FITZWILLIAM HOTEL BREAKFASTING VENUE: THE FITZWILLIAM HOTEL

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alking into the very chic lobby of the Fitzwilliam Hotel on a chilly November morning there is an inviting sofa and fire combination where a scribbler with an hour to kill can comfortably nest. There was also, on the morning this particular word monger visited, a lady, presumably a guest, practising tai chi in the corner. There followed a group of business people gathering in a “we’ll meet downstairs after breakfast before we go to the client’s office”

type-of-way and shortly after a group of – and I’m only guessing from the accents here – US tourists who had just arrived in the city after a long-haul flight.

in Dublin, one which was designed to stand out from the competition and that’s exactly what Belfast got when it was first opened in 2009.

The Fitz, as it’s sometimes known, is a busy international hotel and the hustle and bustle made by these guests and the countless others who came and went gave a good insight into this five star hotel on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street.

Then it was, it’s fair to say, an “interesting” time in the history of Northern Ireland and the global economy, one left stunned in the wake of the financial crisis and one where business and leisure travellers were thin on the ground and held tight to their wallets.

It’s safe to say it has come far since Ulster Business first visited this particular 130-bedroom spot when it was being constructed more than eight years ago and it’s also fair to say it has lived up to the vision of the founder June Burgess.

Nevertheless, the Fitz stood its ground and emerged as the busy luxury hotel hub which we find this morning.

She wanted a very modern luxury hotel which took inspiration from its sister establishment

It was sold by June Burgess’s company Graffan Properties to Hotel Partners in 2015 and has since notched up a five-star rating. Since 2012 the hotel has been under the stewardship of General Manager Cian Landers and it is he who greets the scribbler (who had nearly dozed off in front of the lobby fire) and, for one breakfast only, Emily our Stuttgart correspondent who was on work experience at Ulster Business towers for the week. We’re whisked upstairs to the first floor restaurant where Cian has secured a quiet, out-of-the way table from which to carry out this high-powered interview that will hopefully not leave Emily with the view that doing this job merely involves long breakfasts in five star hotels. Cian, as you would expect of the general manager of a such an establishment, is all seeing, checking out how the morning’s service is progressing and that all the guests are happy, while making sure we’re topped

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PROFILE

up with enough tea and coffee and our breakfasts are just so. We fill up on the muesli, fruit and yoghurt before the main event, poached eggs, bacon and toast for the boss, poached eggs on toast for the scribbler while Emily opts to sit this round out. You can tell that Cian – who grew up in Kells, County Meath - started out his career as a chef when he impresses on our very efficient server that the eggs should be on the toast and that they should be dried so as not to sully its structure. Although initially showing an interest in becoming a car mechanic, it was the world of cuisine on which Cian embarked in the 80s, taking a course at Athlone Institute of Technology before working at some big name kitchens such as the Park Hotel in Kildare and Doyle Seafood Bar in Dingle. He then was chosen for the New Horizons Programme, a north/south initiative which gave him and others from all over the island of Ireland the opportunity to train at the Providence in the US to attend Johnson & Wales University’s School of Culinary Arts. After college Cian was a chef for a few years before the draw of the front of house saw him head to Galway to study hotel management. A role in Heidelberg, Germany followed as part of his course and he enjoyed the country so much he went back after graduating to work for Hilton in Munich where he picked up the language skills that, handily enough, he can practise on Emily. From Germany it was on to MacDonald hotels throughout the north west of England and Scotland before coming back to Dublin for a spell at the Fitzpatrick Hotel and then to Galway where worked at the Clifton Station House for proprietor John Sweeney and then opened a Courtyard Marriot in Galway City Centre. Then, in 2012, he was headhunted to take the top job at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, a name he had known well.

DECEMBER 2017

Cian Landers

“It’s an exciting product and I was at the stage of my career where a city centre fivestar, high-end, boutique-style hotel appealed to me. We’ve been on a growth trajectory since then and we’re aiming even higher. “When I came along confidence in the city was brittle enough, so we focused on improving sales, improving profitability and improving the profile of the hotel, in that order.” That growth curve has been partly built around achieving a five star rating for the hotel, something which have been in the original plans back 2009 but which had been shelved due to the downturn. “Within a year of me starting we came up with a strategic plan to get the five stars. We got Tourism NI involved and planned how we wanted the end product to look like. “We invested £2m in refurbishing 85%-90% of the guest rooms and the lobby and added additional service such as valet parking and the like for which we employed additional staff.

“I’m delighted that it worked and we spent the investment wisely, the trick is to maintain that.” The next stage is adding 18 rooms and refurbishing the remainder. “We asked and the market told us they want family rooms so we’re accommodating that but transforming suites on the eighth floor and to create The Residence at the Fitzwilliam, on the ninth where office space and a conference room will be transformed into rooms.” It looks like it’s going to be a busy future for the Fitzwilliam and for Cian and he’s confident that Fitzwilliam can continue to shine despite the plethora of new hotel rooms to emerging in Belfast in the next couple of years. Attention to detail, a unique product and a warm welcome will ensure that, Cian said. With that it’s time to go, Cian to check in with his army of staff, Ulster Business to start some real work and Emily to wonder if this editing lark consists of breakfasts and long lunches every day. ■

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PROFILE

Name: Paul Murnaghan Position: Regional Director of BT Business in Northern Ireland

A word from

The Wise

The column with an ear for experience...

How did you start out in business? It’s fair to say that I didn’t take a direct route into business. I started out studying engineering at university and followed that up with a post grad in IT. I was then lucky enough to get a place on a graduate placement scheme, which allowed me to study for an MBA and work at the same time. I’m glad to see similar schemes still running today to help young people with the cost of university tuition fees, which might otherwise prevent them from getting the benefit of higher education and that all-important ‘leg up’ into the world of business. What did you find the most challenging during your years in business? Learning to maximise my effectiveness. I soon realised that anyone could fill their day. Just look around you: there are so many people busy being busy. We’ve built a culture of being busy. So that was, and is, the challenge for me. Identifying my objectives, prioritising tasks and making sure that my team is working efficiently and effectively. At BT, we’re all about helping organisations exploit new technologies to change the fundamentals of how they work and help them achieve their all-important objectives to transform their business How would you describe your management style? I’ve had different roles and developed different styles but I like to think that, overall, I am a collaborative and supportive manager. I ask my team to take the lead and let them know that I’m right behind them. They’re the majority shareholder when it comes to responsibility. I hand over 51% to them and keep a 49% stake. I’m there to support every member of my team – not to do their jobs (which takes us back to keeping ‘busy’, or working effectively).

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For me, it starts with recruitment. Get the right team that right and you’re more than half way there. What would you change if you could go back and do it all again? If I could start again, I’d forget about the choice I was encouraged to pursue (Medicine, Law, Accountancy or Engineering). I’m inherently a risk taker, hopefully an informed one, and instead, I’d probably try my hand at the stock market and become a Trader. If I had – who knows – I’d maybe be retired and living in luxury by now, or wishing I’d stuck to engineering. Have you done it all on your own? No. Definitely not. One of the reasons that I believe in being a supportive manager is because I know the value of support – from everyone from my family, friends, colleagues and former bosses. How would you like your business career to be remembered? BT is at the forefront of digital transformation and has an opportunity to transform Northern

Ireland into a better place for our children and future generations. A place where people can fulfil their potential, where people want to live and work together, and where people want to visit and invest. In whatever small part I can play, I want to be part of making that change. What piece of advice would you give to a 20-year-old you? If I could go back in time and give the 20-year-old me one piece of advice, you won’t be surprised to hear that it would be to take more chances. I think young people today should be encouraged to take calculated risks – and be prepared to fail. Instead, we’re encouraging the next generation to be inherently cautious and could be preventing them from achieving their full potential in the process. In my role as a senior manager, I don’t criticise my team for showing initiative and trying something new – even when they fail. I’ve got their back, as long as they learn from their mistakes. Remember: always learn from your mistakes. ■


Motoring By Pat Burns

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MOTORING

Grin and Stonic K

ia has entered Europe’s fastestgrowing market sector, that for small (B-segment) SUVs, with the Stonic, a very smart and sporty looking new model priced from £16,295. Kia’s latest addition is more than a match for the Nissan Juke or Renault Captur and comes, as always, with Kia’s seven year warranty. The Stonic is based on the latest Rio supermini and is powered by high-efficiency, high-technology petrol and diesel powertrains from the Kia family. It was designed in Europe at the company’s Frankfurt studios, with input from the main design centre at Namyang in Korea. Originally intended as a car solely for Europe, it will now also be sold in Korea, such was the reception it got when shown there. There is a five-model line-up based on grade 2 and First Edition trim levels. All versions offer an extensive package of connectivity features, including links to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via pre-downloaded smartphone apps, while advanced electronic driver assistance systems such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning

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and automatic switching between high and low headlight beams are available. The Stonic is Kia’s first small SUV, and all models are front-wheel drive as the take-up for all-wheel drive in this sector of the market is only eight per cent. Three modern and efficient engines are available in the range, headed by Kia’s little jewel, the 1.0-litre T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct-injection) unit delivering 118bhp. It lines up alongside a 1.4-litre multipoint injection (MPi) naturally aspirated 98bhp petrol engine and the 108bhp 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel from the cee’d range. All versions are paired with a six-speed manual transmission though an automatic 1.0 litre T-GDi version will be launched next year. The 1.0-litre T-GDi engine develops an impressive 171Nm of torque across a wide rev band starting at only 1,500rpm, ensuring effortless driveability which allows it to accelerate from standstill to 60mph in less than 10 seconds, yet it is also capable of up to 56.5mpg, while CO2 emissions of 115g/km are not much more than those of a diesel.

By Pat Burns

The fuel economy champion of the Stonic range is the diesel, which has a combined economy figure of 67.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 109g/km. Yet with 260Nm of torque stretching from 1,500 to 2,750rpm it is certainly not lacking in pace, delivering not only impressive in-gear acceleration but also distinctly brisk 10.9-second acceleration from 0 to 60mph. Meanwhile the 1.4-litre petrol engine, available exclusively in the grade 2 model, has economy and emissions figures of 51.4mpg and 125g/km. Despite its relatively small cubic capacity it delivers admirable performance, with 133Nm of torque. All models have 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, all-round electric windows with an automatic function on the driver’s side, roof rails, rear parking sensors, remote locking, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a 3.5-inch supervision cluster, Bluetooth with music streaming, automatic headlight control, bi-function projection headlamps and cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. ■


MOTORING

5 Series success story

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ith approximately 7.9m BMW 5 Series cars sold across the globe so far, the seventh generation BMW 5 Series continues the finest tradition of its forebears by offering an unsurpassed blend of driving dynamics, comfort and functionality. The latest BMW 5 Series Saloon uses the very latest technology from within BMW to create a saloon that’s more refined than ever before, significantly lighter, safer, and more fuel efficient. The new generation of TwinPower Turbo engines provide impressive performance gains, but also show major advances in reducing fuel consumption and emissions. An extensive range of driver assistance technologies including BMW Lane Keeping Assistant and Lane Change Assistant mean that not only does the new BMW 5 Series Saloon reduce the driver’s workload like never before, it also takes a notable step towards fully autonomous driving. Other technologies include Remote Control Parking – as seen first on the new BMW 7 Series – and the optional Parking Assistant and Parking Assistant Plus packages, which enable automated parking with the greatest

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By Pat Burns

of ease in both parallel parking spaces and perpendicular or angled spaces. Surround View and Remote 3D View offer peace of mind to anyone who frequently finds themselves manoeuvring in awkward traffic situations and the optional Display Key offers a host of other functions with Remote operation of the auxiliary ventilation being just one example.

The intelligently controlled interaction between the combustion engine and the electric drive, which together generate a total system output of 252hp, gives the 530e Saloon rapid acceleration while offering a substantial reduction in fuel consumption and emissions. The 530e achieves combined fuel consumption of 141.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 46g/km.

As standard on the BMW 5 Series, the latest generation of the Professional Navigation system boasts a fast start-up, even faster route calculation and more realistic 3D graphics in cities. BMW is now the first carmaker to offer Microsoft Office 365 users a secure server connection for exchanging and editing emails, calendar entries and contact details thanks to the car’s built-in Microsoft Exchange function.

The eDrive system’s state-of-the-art electric motor has an output of 95hp and maximum torque of 250Nm, while the four-cylinder combustion engine with its 2.0-litre displacement generates 184hp and 320Nm of torque. The overall system output of 252hp and combined peak torque of 420Nm allows the BMW 530e to sprint from zero to 62mph in 6.2 seconds and enable it to reach a top speed of 146mph while CO2 emissions of the BMW 530e are just 46g/km.

The new generation range also includes a plug-in hybrid variant. Featuring technology derived directly from the BMW i brand, the 530e iPerformance Saloon offers a dynamic driving experience with exceptionally efficient performance as well as all-electric mobility with zero tailpipe emissions, as and when required.

The 530e iPerformance has a range of nearly 400 miles in real-world driving and is capable of covering distances of up to 29 miles using purely electric power at a maximum speed of 87mph. Prices for the new 5 Series start at £35,835. ■


MOTORING

The car that started the SUV revolution The Jeep Wagoneer was the first SUV long before the term even came into existence, writes Brian Twomey

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ome day in the fast- approaching future our children and their children will go into museums to gaze at crude iPads, chuckle at primitive PlayStation 4 games consoles and howl at our feeble attempts to communicate via Twitter and Facebook. In the corner, gathering dust will be the prime example of early 21st century transport; the sports utility vehicle (SUV). The children of the 2050s might laugh but to the children of the 1970s the SUV was every bit as unlikely as the internet or a Trump presidency. Like all the good ideas, everyone takes credit but nobody can actually prove the SUV was their idea. Japan half-heartedly point to the early Land Cruiser but in reality it was an off-road car and not a sports utility vehicle as it was too crude for families and had all the style of a rusted bus shelter. The one car that history can point to as being the originator of the species is the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer SJ. Unlike competitors in the fourwheel-drive class, the Wagoneer intentionally melded car styling features and car-like appointments to a truck chassis fitted with a very modern overhead camshaft inline sixcylinder engine and independent suspension. Continuous updates such as improved fourwheel-drive systems, plusher interiors and V8 engines kept the Wagoneer in production for a staggering 29 years, the last one rolling off the line in 1991. The success of the Jeep had not gone unnoticed and the competition started to develop rivals, although the SUV concept and manufacturer acceptance took time to flourish. Ford's 1971 Bronco popularised the idea of a cool utilitarian car in North America but it was fantastically spartan, while Chevrolet's Suburban was still a crude pick-up with an estate body artlessly glued to the

DECEMBER 2017

back. European manufacturers toyed with the notion, such as the Matra Ranchero, but relatively high fuel prices and the fact that SUVs were still large cars kept them off the roads. Jeep would again push the idea forward in 1983 with the original XJ Cherokee. Unlike the Wagoneer, the Cherokee was intentionally designed as an alternative to a passenger car rather than a plusher and more comfortable truck. It used car engines; car-derived suspension and had a combined body and frame like a passenger car. Yet it was still tall, spacious and rugged. The compact body boasted the appearance of a full-fat off-road car but in fact was quite compact when lined up alongside the yachts that passed for American family cars of the time. The Cherokee was designed when its parent company, American Motors (AMC), was under Renault ownership and the result was a strongly European influenced designed that was clean and businesslike. The Cherokee was a huge hit and to Jeep's amazement continued to sell well into the new millennium. Pent-up frustration helped it gain new followers when right-hand-drive production started in 1993. AMC, before it was taken over by Renault and bought by Chrysler, had lobbied the US Environmental Protection Agency to treat small SUVs as light trucks and as a result they

could circumvent the EPAs clean air act. Soon the floodgates opened when other, bigger automakers realised that not only could they use their truck chassis to make big profitable SUVs but these SUVs were flying out the door to customers willing to spend thousands more for the privilege. The party came to an end in the late Nineties after a series of damning reports by the US highways agencies criticised popular models of SUV for polluting and rolling over; neither of which are good selling points. While original SUVs were lashed together from bits of tractor and scaffolding, new SUVs had to focus more on safety and fuel consumption, which made them easier to sell globally. Japanese manufacturers realised that the concept was good too and tailored it to a global audience. The Toyota RAV4 of 1994 took the Wagoneer/ Cherokee concept of a rugged yet usable vehicle, melded it with Japanese technology and quality and sent it out the door with a Corolla-sized footprint and a four-cylinder engine. From there it was plain sailing to universal acceptance. Recent times have seen unlikely makers like Alfa Romeo, Porsche and Bentley come out with SUVs of their own, all of which will combine to make the museum of 2050 a very crowded place indeed. â–

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MOTORING

This Spider is talking Italian…

By Pat Burns

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tyled with classic Italian flair and reviving an historic nameplate, the new Fiat 124 Spider brings the Italian roadster driving experience to a whole new generation of enthusiasts. Although the underpinnings are based on the latest Mazda MX-5, the 124 Spider was designed in the Fiat Style Centre. The nose of the 124 Spider takes its inspiration from the 1966 original with the style and position of the LED headlamps and the hexagonal upper grille all drawing heavily from the details of the classic roadster. The 124 is longer both front and back then the MX-5 and all body panels are completely different on both cars. The multi-layer canvas hood is a manual unit that can be operated in seconds using minimal force and without the driver having to leave their seat. Under the 124 Spider’s distinctive bonnet you’ll find Fiat’s 1,368cc MultiAir, turbocharged four-cylinder engine which delivers 140hp and 240Nm of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. The 124 Spider is capable of accelerating to

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62mph in 7.5 seconds and has a top speed of 134mph. The 124 Spider’s suspension uses a doublewishbone layout in front and a multilink in the rear, specifically tuned for greater stability while braking and turning, while the dual-pinion electric power steering system has been specifically tuned to give the Spider a responsive, Italian feel. Combined with the lightweight and balanced weight distribution, the turbo-charged 124 Spider offers a dynamic and exciting driving experience without compromising comfort and refinement, thanks to the adoption of an acoustic front windscreen and additional insulation treatments. Three trim levels will be offered here: Classica, Lusso and Lusso Plus. Standard equipment on the entry-level Classica version includes an impressive array of features including four airbags, air conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, a leathertrimmed gear knob, cruise control with speed limiter, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless engine start and a powerful infotainment system with USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity.

A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB, WiFi, two USB ports and a multimedia control knob is available as a £500 option. The mid-range Lusso version is equipped with that seven-inch infotainment system as standard, but adds satellite navigation with 3D maps and the Parkview rear parking camera as well. It is also equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated leather upholstery, automatic climate control, front fog lamps, keyless entry, chrome exhaust tips and a premium silver finish on the windscreen frame and rollover bars. The top Lusso Plus model builds on the excellent specification of the Lusso model by adding adaptive LED headlamps, LED DRLs, automatic lights and wipers and a nine-speaker BOSE sound system (including stereo headrest speakers on both seats). Prices for the 124 Spider starts at £19,545 OTR for the Classica version, with the Lusso model prised at £22,295 and the top Lusso Plus trim just £1,000 more at £23,295. ■


MOTORING

Mustang sallies forth and conquers the world Mustang sallies forth and conquers the world Modern take on US classic is a real winner, writes, Martin Brennan

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ord is reining in its iconic Pony sports car, the Mustang, to make it safer and more neighbour friendly. But whoa, before you kick off a shoe, the good news is that performance has been improved, not diminished Mustang has been the best-selling sports car in America for 50 years and now after storming into Europe, it us the most popular sports car on the planet. Last year, 150,000 Mustangs were sold across the world, well ahead of Ferrari and Porsche. Now exporting to 146 countries, sales outside the USA have leapt by 100pc. The 2018 version arrives here in March with a long list of safety and performance aids, including a "Good Neighbour Mode" that allows the high-flying executive heading off to an early morning flight to smother the 5-litre V8 engine roar until out of earshot of sleeping neighbours. On the open road you can reset for a full-blooded drive.

Almost 100 Mustangs have been sold here in two years and up to 25 new owners are expected to buy a new model brimming with technology. The 5-litre 450bhp and 2.3 litre EcoBoost 290bhp engines get a new 10-speed transmission which enables the engine to deliver peak power and torque for faster acceleration. The 5-litre will now accelerate to 100km/h in less than four seconds when a Drag Strip Mode is enabled. Typically, when a driver shifts gears, time is lost but this new box enables the engine to deliver peak power and torque when up-shifting. This gives a sprint once confined to supercars. For tax and environment reasons, the 2.3 litre version is more popular here. Prices across the range are from €55,000 to €72,000. The Mustang has languished at a twostar Euro NCap safety rating but it could

win higher marks with such high-end technology as Pre-Collision Assist, Pedestrian Detection, Distance Alert, Lane Departure warning and Lane Keeping Aid. There is also an optional MagneRide Damping System for instant response to changing road conditions: Normal, Sport track and Snow/Wet modes. Thanks to rapid growth in international markets, the Ford Mustang is the most popular sports car in the world, according to Ford analysis of IHS Markit new vehicle registration data in the sports car segment. "The legacy of Mustang continues to grow, and in places it never reached before," said Mark Schaller, Ford Mustang marketing manager. For 2018, a more athletic look is highlighted by new front and rear design and more advanced technologies such as an available 12-inch all-digital instrument panel. ■


APPOINTMENTS

Finola Strain has been appointed Cloud and Infrastructure Engineer at P2V Systems. Her responsibilities include configuring cloud-based solutions across a range of technologies. James Lancaster has joined P2V Systems as Sales & Business Development Manager, England & Wales Regions. He will be focusing primarily on Microsoft Cloud Solutions. David Johnston from Portaferry has joined United Feeds’ nutrition team. A graduate from Queen’s University Belfast with a BSc Hons in Agricultural technology, is currently finishing a PhD on homegrown protein ingredients in dairy cow diets.

Clair Gheel has joined eir Business NI as Business Development Manager. As Business Development Manager, Clair will work closely with existing and new customers to understand their telecoms and communication requirements. Paul Walsh has joined eir Business NI as Head of Delivery. Paul will lead eir Business NI’s Project Teams working closely with project managers, client leads and delivery engineers. Flybe has appointed Roy Kinnear as its new Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) with effect from January 2018. He will report directly to Flybe’s CEO and be a member of Flybe’s Executive Committee.

Stuart Nevin has been appointed Associate, Litigation & Dispute Resolution at A&L Goodbody. He specialises in professional negligence, banking litigation, real estate litigation and dispute resolution. Ryan Walker has joined A&L Goodbody as Associate, Mergers, Acquisitions and Corporate team. He advises on a broad range of corporate, corporate finance and commercial matters. Lisa McCaul has been appointed Business Growth Enabler, North region at Ulster Bank. She is responsible for developing SMEs and providing expert business advice to start-ups.

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APPOINTMENTS

Cara Taylor has been appointed Business Growth Enabler, Southern region at Ulster Bank. She is responsible for developing SMEs and providing expert business advice to start-ups. Aaron Russell has been appointed as Director of New Homes at Colliers International. He has over 14 years’ experience in the industry. Emma MacSweeney has been appointed as Director of IPM at Colliers International. She will be responsible for expanding the company’s diverse portfolio of properties throughout the UK and Ireland.

Tim Reid has been appointed Director of Valuation & Advisory Services at Colliers International. In his new role, Tim will manage and grow client relationships across private and public sectors. Having joined Colliers in 2013, Stephen Crozier has now been appointed as Director of the Project & Building Consultancy team. Diane Hill has been appointed Head of Business Development at NOW Group. Diane will be focusing on growing the corporate side of the social enterprise and providing business solutions to employers throughout Northern Ireland.

Leah Holland has joined Lockton Belfast’s Commercial Department as Account Administrator. In her new role she will be assisting the commercial team with various clients renewals. Naomi Morrow has joined Lockton Belfast’s Claims Department as Claims Administrator. In her new role she will assist claims technicians with various client claims including the production of reports. Neil McKee has joined Lockton Belfast’s International Department as Account Manager. He will be responsible for all International Clients UK subsidiary companies Insurance needs.

DECEMBER 2017

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PHOTOCALL 1. Ulster University Business School has launched a ‘Mini MBA’ programme in partnership with American legal firm Axiom. Pictured are Dr Trevor Cadden, Senior Lecturer in Operations Management, Ulster University Business School; Joan Mashalla, Director of US Projects, Axiom Chicago; and Professor Mark Durkin, Executive Dean, Ulster University Business School.

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2. Pictured are Jane Harnett, owner of Harnett’s Oils is pictured with William Thompson, Head of Consumer Banking NI at Bank of Ireland UK. Jane won a place at this November’s Twilight Market as part of Bank of Ireland UK’s Enterprise Week programme.

3. Belfast information technology company Zenith Networks has opened a new headquarters and announced the creation of several new permanent jobs. Pictured is Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive Belfast City Council, who spoke at the opening, and Martin Lyons, Managing Director, Zenith Networks.

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4. Belfast company NIAVAC recently sponsored the Foyle College rugby team’s tour of South Africa. Pictured are Principal Patrick Allen, left, with the team’s Vice Captain Keelin Coyle and James Conlon, Managing Director of NIAVAC. The firm was recently awarded an extensive audio visual contract by the school.

5. The five recipients of a bursary package provided by Flybe for the Developing Managers Programme delivered by Ulster University Business School. Also pictured is Janette Sheerman, (3rd from left) Course Director and Senior Lecturer in Management Development, Business Institute at Ulster University Business School and Ken Harrower (3rd from right), Flybe’s Country Manager for Ireland.

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PHOTOCALL 6. Celebrating the opening of the new SPAR Titanic premises are (L-R): David Agnew (Store Manager) Kevin Hammett (BDM Henderson Wholesale), James Eyre, Andy Davis, Jenny Davis and Gavin Davis.

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7. Launching a new fundraising partnership between Mencap and GymCo are Lindsey Abbott, Fitness Manager, GymCo; Jim Conlan, Owner JDM Group (GymCo); Sean Conlon, Mencap and Matthew Lovett (aged 8 years) from Antrim.

8. From left: Barry Scott (AG Regional Sales Manager), Alex Longridge (AG Commercial Sales Manager) and Daniel McCavery (AG Marketing Executive) pictured at Belt Road, Londonderry where Anchor Vertica was used to create retaining walls throughout a new housing development.

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10 DECEMBER 2017

9. Donal Laverty and Tracey McCreanor from Baker Tilly Mooney Moore announcing that the firm will sponsor the ‘Leading Organisation Change’ Award at the CO3 Awards. The award will recognise successful and structured transition involving major, sometimes transformational changes in how an organisation does things.

10. Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke is urging health professionals, GP’s and pharmacists to refer patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to the charity’s Taking Control SelfManagement Programme. Pictured at the launch of ‘Breathing Better’ is from left: Julie McGinnis, Respiratory Coordinator, Newry and Mourne, Emma Goldring and Pauline Millar, Respiratory Service’s Project Coordinator, all from NICHS.

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PHOTOCALL 11. Following a donation from the Asda Foundation of £28,820, Rathenraw-based charity Family Caring Centre has taken delivery of its new state-of-the art minibus. From left, Barbara Logan is joined by Alison O’Neill and Joe Maguire alongside Asda colleagues, George Rankin; Robert Ryans and Joe McDonald, Corporate Affairs Manager for Asda NI. Some of the young service users from the Family Caring Centre were also at the launch of the minibus - Eric, Faoiltiarna, Eimear, Emma and Reeva.

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12 12. Power NI’s Ryan McCay, Kieragh Nelson and Managing Director Stephen McCully celebrate the announcement of its £25million investment at its Antrim facilities.

13. Pictured marking Bank of Ireland’s 20-year sponsorship of Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium are, from left, Ulster player Darren Cave; Fiona Hampton, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ulster Rugby; Ian Sheppard, Regional Director NI, Bank of Ireland UK and Ulster players Tommy Bowe and Darren Cave.

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14. Bathroom retailer, Bathshack continues to expand into the Republic of Ireland with a new 5,000 sq ft Bathshack showroom in Dublin. Pictured from left are Operations Manager of Bathshack, Connor Dunlop, Pamela Ballentine and Managing Director of Bathshack, Peter Dunlop at the official opening of the showroom in Dublin.

15. John McLean, Chief Executive of Radius Housing, is pictured with Nicola McCrudden, Director for the Chartered Institute of Housing, announcing that nominations for the CIH 2018 Housing Awards are now open. The awards are run by the CIH and recognises and rewards achievements in housing and communities.

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PHOTOCALL 16. Architecture student Jordan Beattie’s cheesy idea for a whacky leisure facility won him Hamilton Architects Young Designer of the Year Award. Justin is pictured with Partners Paul Millar (left) and Mark Haslett.

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17. Richard Caldwell (centre right) and Vicky Davies from Danske Bank with, Kevin Kelly (centre left) from Podiem/MLN and guest speaker René Carayol (right). Mr Carayol was speaking at a breakfast event organised by MLN and Danske Bank.

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20 DECEMBER 2017

18. Andrew Mearns and Dan Wild, Barbers and co-founders of Quartered Steels launch Hairfest 2017, Ireland’s first interactive training event designed to enhance the skills base of professionals in the industry and give attendees the unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills.

19. Seventeen-year-old Peter Lynch from West Belfast gets a tour of the City Exchange with Transmission Support engineer, Tommy Rainey, as part of BT’s work placement programme. The scheme allows young people, aged 16-24, to get hands-on work experience and develop practical skills which will help them find employment.

20.Kevin Quinn, Director of Exploris, John McGrillen, Alison Stobie, North Down Borough Council, Kieran Quinn, Director of Exploris and Phelim Devlin, Director of Exploris celebrate Tourism NI five star visitor attraction grading.

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CHAIRMAN Founder and Managing Director John McCann is a long-time friend so it was a great honour to see his company receive the recognition it so greatly deserved. Hosting the evening was none other than former English rugby scrum half Matt Dawson who, towards the end of the evening, helped The Chairman hone his lefthanded spin pass. If that doesn’t tell you how the evening ended up then nothing will.

Sometimes we get blinded by the drive for profits.

The Chairman Apparently, he wears a black tie to bed. The Chairman has been out and about again at the best events. Did he spot you?

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oing to so many corporate events can take a toll on The Chairman’s diet.

Canapes, full breakfasts, three course lunches, three course dinners and even the odd midmorning or mid-afternoon soiree offer plenty of culinary delights, but the opportunity to keep vitamin levels high are sparse. So when The Chairman is back at Chairman Towers for dinner – about once a week – he makes sure to feast on some of the best vegetables and salad around, much of which can be traced back to the excellent Willowbrook Foods. As it turns out, those good fellows at the UK Food Manufacture Excellence Awards (FMEAs) feel the same about the Killinchy company which scooped the UK Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year at a glittering ceremony at the Park Lane Hilton in London village.

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So focused are we on the bottom line that we forget to take a couple of moments out to see if we’re doing enough for the greater good. Judging by the talent on display at the Social Enterprise Northern Ireland Awards, the private sector could give itself a much-needed boost if we spent more time making sure we bring a healthy, wealthy and happy society with us on our business journeys. It was one of the best of nights of the year, particularly as one of The Chairman’s most admired social enterprises walked away with two awards. The Now Group, which supports people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs, has been doing some fine work throughout Northern Ireland and was richly rewarded on the night. The Administration Assistant at the organisation Chris Campbell took Employee of the Year for his work in setting up Fandom, a social forum for adults with autism, while the famous sausage roll produced by Now Groups own Loaf Catering and Cafes took the Food/ Drink Product of the Year title. The Chairman had a great chat with the man behind the rolls Patrick Slane but, try as he might, he couldn’t get the recipe. That brought a smile to CEO of NOW Group Maeve Monaghan who has done such sterling work taking this brilliant organisation to great heights. We look forward to many more achievements in the year ahead.

When you find yourself in a dinner jacket at the 2017 Materials Handling Engineers Association (MHEA) dinner in Nottingham you know you have become an awards junkie. The Chairman doesn’t mind though, this is his meat and drink and besides, Northern Ireland is a world leader when it comes to handling the materials of some of the biggest conglomerates around. So it was no surprise to see Lisburn company ConveyorTek walk away with the Innovation Excellence Award’ for its newly-launched conveyor metal detector. Congratulations to Philip Trimble, the company’s managing director, who was telling The Chairman how it has been many years since a new conveyor metal detector has appeared on the UK market. Michael Kaye, outgoing President of the MHEA, was cock-a-hoop about the product and the company, and filled The Chairman in on Northern Ireland’s growing dominance in the field.

Sewerage. You might not like to think about it but without an efficient sewerage system then the economy and society would quickly come to a halt. So hats off to the team from Northern Ireland Water’s Holywood Sewerage Infrastructure Improvement Project which also included those clever people from Geda, White Young Green and McAdam Design. They picked up the “Achieving Excellence in Partnering” award from the Construction Employers Federation for their work aimed at reducing ongoing odour issues, delivering environmental improvements and improving water quality in Belfast Lough. Nearly all the team were there including the irrepressible John Coalter, Paul Harper, Ernie Spence, Grahame Millar, Mark McGuigan and Maurice McNulty, Ernie Spence,Ciara Bradly as well as Paul McElroy, Tania McCartan, Fergus Kerr, Michael Turley, Eugene McKenna and Mark Sefton. What a night, what a project! ■


CHAIRMAN

Colin Stanley of Willowbrook Foods with Jon Poole, chief executive of the Institute of Food Science & Technology, and Matt Dawson

Front row (L-R) John Coalter Geda Construction, Paul Harper NI Water, Ernie Spence White Young Green, Paul McElroy, Ciara Bradley and Tania McCartan (all Geda Construction). Back row: Fergus Kerr McAdam Design, Grahame Millar NI Water, Michael Turley, Maurice McNulty, Eugene McKenna (all Geda) Mark Sefton NI Water and Mark McGuigan from McAdam Design

CEO of NOW Group Maeve Monaghan with Chris Campbell who was awarded Employee of the Year and Patrick Slane who collected the award for Food/ Drink Product of the Year.

Musgrave MarketPlace has made a £1.1m investment in the upgrade of its Belfast-based Duncrue branch. Pictured at the event is Michael McGovern (third from left), who was one of Musgrave MarketPlace’s first customers when it first opened in 1983 to this day, with (l to r) Noel Keeley, Garry Williams and Michael McCormack.

Pictured recieving their ‘Best Airline, Belfast City Airport’ award from host Alexander Armstrong at the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards are Andrea Hunter, Business Development Manager, Yvonne Muldoon, Director of Sales Europe and Alan Molloy, Head of Corporate Business Development at Aer Lingus, with the NI Travel News ambassadors Kelly McKeown & Enya McAteer collect the award for Fresh Produce Retailer of the Year, Mulkerns EUROSPAR at the Retail Industry Awards

At the Retail Industry Awards are Michael Smith & Andrew Porter from EUROSPAR Creightons pick up the forecourt Retailer of the Year, Independent award

DECEMBER 2017

ConveyorTek's Phil Trimble receives MHEA Excellence in Innovation award at BulkEx17

Marc McCammond, Retail Director accepts the Convenience Retailer of the Year Award on behalf of Henderson Retail at the Retail Industry Awards

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TECHNOLOGY

A worthy wrist Apple? Apple Watch 3 ticks all the boxes and is definitely fit for purpose – but just be wary of jumping in at the deep end, says Adrian Weckler

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s it time to consider Apple’s Watch Series 3? There are probably three categories of potential customers interested in the Watch 3. The first is the upgrader who had either the original Apple Watch or the ‘Series 2’ model last year. (This is me.) Another potential buyer is the dedicated fitness enthusiast, who is wondering between this model and, say, a Garmin. And finally, there’s the regular punter who is simply wondering about getting a smartwatch. I’ll start with the upgraders. For those who have had the Apple Watch from the time of its launch two years ago, go for it. The 2017 Series 3 model has umpteen significant improvements over the first model. One of the main ones is GPS (and Glonass – Global Navigation Satellite System): the Watch 3 can track your run, swim or cycle without your phone needing to be close by. For anyone with even casual notions of a fitness plan, this is a big step up. Then there’s screen brightness. The new model has over twice the brightness of the earlier device. Extra speed is another factor (the Series 3 has an extra chip on board and more storage too), as is the fact that speed improvements in future WatchOS releases will

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likely favour this model over previous ones. Finally, there’s water resistance. While the Watch 1 can take a bit of rain, you can go swimming with the Watch 3. I have had both the first Watch and the new model – the new one is well worth getting for those wondering between the two. The choice becomes less clear for anyone who has last year’s Apple Watch Series 2. This already has quite a few of the perks of the Watch 3, including GPS and reasonable waterproof capability. The biggest feature difference between the two models is that this year’s device has a barometric altimeter, which can help tell whether you’ve climbed flights of stairs or other elevation-related statuses. So for Apple Watch users who are into their fitness, it’s probably worth it. For those who aren’t there isn’t a compelling reason to upgrade right now.

athletes, such as Garmin devices? The Watch 3 has a lot more general functionality and a much better screen than any of its sporting rivals, but it lags in one department: battery life. Garmin’s Vivoactive 3, for example, gives you a week. The Apple Watch is around two days. However, some earlier complaints about Apple’s device being less accurate in tracking location or users’ fitness training than offerings from Garmin are now less significant, with the Watch 3’s altimeter helping things here.

Speaking of fitness, how does this rate compare to the devices favoured by hardcore

But what about the ordinary user, curious about the Watch’s value to an everyday life?


TECHNOLOGY

I’ll say straight off that I’m a fan of the new Watch 3. It feels significantly faster and better put together than the last two models. So if you’re going to plump for one, this is probably the best time to get one (so far). My test model was a 42mm aluminium screen (there’s a 38mm version that’s slightly cheaper). What do I use it for? Running (both through Apple’s own fitness app and the Strava app), notifications and diary reminders. But it’s worth stating that it can be used as a hands-free device to make or take calls as it has both a microphone and a speaker. One cautionary note about water and the Apple Watch. The Series 3 has the same waterproof status (ISO standard 22810) as

It (Apple Watch Series 3) feels significantly faster and better put together than the last two models. So if you’re going to plump for one, this is probably the best time to get one (so far).

the Series 2. This, it says, extends both to the sea as well as the pool, but not to “activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below a shallow depth”. It name-checks waterskiing and scuba-diving as examples of these ‘activities’. These exceptions need to be treated with sensitivity. My Series 2 Watch suffered through a creaking crown almost immediately after I jumped into the sea from a pier about 10 feet up. Given that this was my only sea swim since I got the watch, I don’t know whether it was the impact of the jump or the salt water that did for the creaky crown. I’m hesitant to try the same move again with my Series 3 model, but I will before Christmas. Watch this space. ■

Sony unveils ‘ultimate’ DSLR camera S

ony is gunning to take over the enthusiast DSLR market with what may be the ultimate flagship camera, the a7R iii. The device, a successor to Sony’s a7R ii model, packs in a raft of new features that customers in the shrinking camera market say they want. The a7R iii includes an extra memory card slot, better battery life, a control joystick and upgraded autofocus. It also now has a USB-C port for power, meaning you can charge it on the go with cables you may already have for either a new Android phone or a MacBook. The 42-megapixel camera, which will cost €3,500 in Ireland, has also added a bit to its video prowess, with S-Log 3. It shoots either 4K or ‘full’ HD at 120 frames per second. For still, it now shoots at up to 10 frames per second with full autofocus and exposure tracking throughout.

DECEMBER 2017

Its autofocus boost now sees 399 phase-detection autofocus points covering 68pc of the image area and 425 contrast autofocus points. Sony claims that the a7R iii’s eye autofocus is around twice as effective. The a7R iii is also designed to minimise shaky hands with a five-axis optical in-body image stabilisation system that Sony says delivers a 5.5 stop shutter speed advantage. Sony is pitching this camera at photographers and videographers who are either hobbyists or use the camera at least partly for work. To this end, the company has also improved its lens availability with two now bits of glass, a 24-10mm F4 zoom (€1,350) and a G Master 400mm F2.8 telephoto prime.

The latter 400mm lens is considered to be necessary to get wildlife or sports photographers to consider Sony camera systems over Canon or Nikon systems. The launch of the a7R iii may make some think twice about Sony’s high end DSLR, the a9. While the a9 currently has a far higher frames-per-second shooting ability, it costs €1,500 more (€4,999). ■

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TRAVEL

The best of both worlds in Greece - Crete By Brendan O'Connor

T

he swim-up room was a stroke of genius. The key is not to think of it as a pool next to your room.

The way to imagine it is this - it's as if they put your hotel room next to the swimming pool. So basically the kids can be messing around in the pool and you can be there enjoying all the amenities of the room, once one of you is on the patio at any one time. In fact, if you organised it correctly, you could actually be lying on the bed while monitoring the pool. This was all aided and abetted by the fact that they put a few cans of beer into your

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fridge every day. It also means you don't have to deal with other people when you don't want to. You could essentially be on holidays without leaving the room. But of course we had to leave the room a bit. The Atlantica Sensatori Resort in Crete is the usual TUI set up. Set in a picturesque beachside location with several pools, including a kids' one with slides and whatnot, so you can move around and get a change of scenery. There's a kids' club with competent young people whom you'd trust with your little ones. There's entertainment in the evening, where the elder daughter and myself enjoyed a night or two a deux, and lots of bars with incredible sea views of that special azure sea and sky you get in the

Greek islands. So whatever about having to leave your room, you could have a great holiday without leaving the compound, where you also have food and drink on tap as part of the all-inclusive package. The great thing about TUI is they don't just plonk the place there and obliterate the local texture. There was great Greek food every day and you could step outside the door and wander along the seafront and up to the quaint local village. And several towns were a cheap taxi ride away. The hustle and bustle of well-loved Hersonissos is only 5km away. In our case, as the kids are getting a bit older, we are finding that the all-inclusive family resort is a great base, but it is possible to


TRAVEL

We wouldn't have to go far she explained, suggesting driving north to the pretty port town of Agios Nikolaos and then a swim at the posh resort area of Elounda. The weather wasn't supposed to be great on Thursday so I decided why not. I didn't realise that the girl from the shop was to be our tour guide until she rocked up to the hotel on Thursday in her hot pants and high heels. And we were off. Her tour guiding was unusual but to be honest it was my kind of tour guiding. An Albanian married to a Cretan, she basically spent the first hour ranting at us about how religious Cretans are and how crazy it all was. She detailed her struggles to call her daughter a name that was not on the proscribed list of saints' names before segueing into how cheap it is to have a wedding in Greece - lots of detail on that one. She stopped whenever we felt like it, so when we spotted the Monastery of St George Selinari at the side of a mountain, she pulled in and said she'd stay in the car with the kids while we wandered up for a look around.

venture out occasionally and take in a bit of the flavours of Greece. We even went on an excursion this time. Though I'll admit you're usually glad to get back to the all-embracing hug of the resort after a few hours. I was wandering around one day and idly looking at what was on offer at an excursions shop, when the girl from the shop came out. I was in relaxed holiday form so I chatted away idly with her. Then I explained I wouldn't be going on any excursions because I had two kids who would get bored too quickly in a hot bus and walking around looking at ruins or whatever. Within minutes she had convinced me that for a little over â‚Ź100 we could have a half-day trip with a driver.

DECEMBER 2017

When we came back down and I casually said that you could see why these guys might choose to live in these beautiful places with no troubles at all, she got a bit cross with me. This woman did not like the church. Or maybe she just didn't like me talking when she could have been talking. Agios Nikolaos is a lovely pretty spot on the water, with a kind of Venetian aspect to it, but also with plenty of bars for the English tourists. But somehow the innate charm of Greece hasn't been eliminated here either. She brought us on to Elounda then, a chic spot where the likes of Lady Gaga have villas, all the while pointing out the stuff you really want to see, like the amazing houses and the posh hotels. We ended up out at the edge of a causeway on a tiny little stone beach where we swam in what seemed like a weird lake until I thought I saw some kind of sea monster and we legged it. When I demanded that we go to the charming little town for a beer before heading home I could see she was getting impatient but she sucked it up. Having taken in a bit of local colour, it was nice to come home to the buffet and the free beer. The best of both worlds really.

Most of our other outings were walks up the seafront at Analipsi, stopping in to the tiny fishermen's chapels to light candles for various grandparents. Then we might visit the seafront bar with the mini playground, where we had a beer while they played. The Cretans in general couldn't be more hospitable. One evening we walked up to Analipsi village and had a drink, and before long the kids from the bar had included our kids in the playing, and the owner was bringing us out raki. We were the only tourists there as the life of the little town went on around us. I almost wished I was on Instagram so I could show everyone how I was living like a local. We took a wrong turn on the way home and stumbled on this van outside a church where a guy was making simple skewers of really spicy meat. You could get a bunch of them and some bread for a few euros. The crowd around it were dodgy-enough looking, but we sat down with them at the formica table and smiled and thumbs-upped each other as we all tucked in. They seemed happy that we were eating up with such relish. I had started to wonder this year if we have outgrown family resorts. And should we start going a bit more off piste. But I think we found a new way of engaging with the holiday at Atlantica Sensatori, where we enjoyed the unique relaxation you get at an all-in resort, while also managing to have a few mini adventures. We developed this lovely habit in the evenings after dinner just as the sun was going down of going out on to the beach, deserted at this time of day, in front of the hotel and having a little swim in the blue light of the dusk. I thought of it as a little stolen moment at the end of the day. You could have been anywhere. But we were always glad to have our big fluffy hotel towels with us, and to walk back across the road into our home from home. â–

Getting there Flights to Heraklion leave Dublin Airport every Saturday from May 20, 2018 95


BUSINESS FASHION

Top 10 Chic winter must-haves

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By Emily Brando

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top wondering what to wear to work and make sure you look fashionable both in and outside the office with our pick of the top 10 most stylish items for the season.

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With temperatures falling you’ll be ready for any weather or any occasion with these latest trends to keep you warm and cosy. From glamorous handbags for her and smart briefcases for him, we have it covered, including those festive black tie events with a party dress that sparkles or a smart dinner jacket.

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1. Women’s Gold Sequin Dress from Peacocks for £35, 2. Reiss Ocean Peak Lapel Modern Fit Dress Suit from John Lewis for £475, 3. Coat from Stradivarius for £55.99, 4. Coat from H&M for £79.99, 5. Top Handle Handbag from Stradivarius for £25.99, 6. Brown Plaited Leather Briefcase from Zara for £79.99, 7. Textured Herringbone Mix Scarf from Oliver Bonas for £35, 8. Bow Tie from Tieroom for £25, 9. Loulou 95 Ankle Boots Ives Saint Laurent from mytheresa for £685, 10. Autograph Lace-up Velvet Shoes from M&S for £59.


CHARITIES

Helping care for the ‘Little Stars’

“A

ll of us being together is so important, like every family. The biggest present for us though is just being with him.” Jamie, aged eight, was born with BohringOpitz Syndrome. It is a condition so rare that as we go to print only 106 children in the world have been diagnosed with it. Jamie is the only child in the island of Ireland with the condition. Bohring-Opitz is very complex and difficult to explain. What it does mean is Jamie cannot eat, communicate or move and is completely dependent on other people for everything. But, as Carla, Jamie’s mum says, “Jamie is our joy, our light, our own ‘Little Star’. All the hours of sitting by his side, the many, many times we have to get up for him in the night

is worth it to see those moments when he’s comfortable and happy.”

– and only when Jamie is with us can she completely relax.

Jamie comes to the Hospice for a couple of days at a time, a few times a year, which gives Carla a break and time to spend with her partner David and daughter Lara. That’s what Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice is all about – because care for the child also brings care for the whole family.

Christmas is fast approaching. And I’m sure you’ll agree it is a time for children; for family; for togetherness. But when a child in a family is life-limited, when this Christmas might be the last they have together, making it special is more important than ever.

“Looking after Jamie is more than a full-time job and I have become an expert. But it is exhausting and at times I just need a wee break. That’s when I turn to Pamela, our lovely Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice nurse, and – of course – the rest of the brilliant team there.” Our Care Team are the only people Carla trusts to look after Jamie the way he deserves

Everyone at the hospice is working hard over to give every child the chance to enjoy the best possible Christmas. So, as 2017 draws to a close, why not celebrate another year of your company’s success and support to Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice Little Stars Appeal? ■ To make your Little Stars Gift today go to www.nihospice.org/ support-us/little-starsappeal phone: 028 9078 1836 email: eva.toal@ nihospice.org

Have you got round to thinking about Christmas gifts for your friends and colleagues? Why not give a Little Stars Gift to show you really care, and help one of our Little Stars like Jamie? Many local and national businesses help bring our specialist nursing case to over 300 babies and children with life-limiting conditions each and every year. A Little Stars Gift of £243 pays for an incredible 6 hours of specialist nursing care for one of our Little Stars over Christmas, providing much needed rest for the whole family. And with your Little Stars Gift you will receive an e-card to share with your team, clients and friends. To make your Little Stars Gift today contact our Corporate Engagement Manager, Eva Toal Phone: 028 9078 1836 Email: eva.toal@nihospice.org Northern Ireland Hospice Head Office: 18 O’Neill Road, Newtownabbey BT36 6WB

nihospice.org Registered Charity Number: NIC 102337

DECEMBER 2017

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MY DAY Uncovering the 9-5

projects that have led to the betterment of the built environment. The opportunity for property professionals to get involved in redevelopment projects, which often act as a catalyst for urban regeneration, is intriguing, and it is this input and guidance from the surveying sector which is often overlooked. At the early stages of redevelopment projects, my colleagues and I will be required to advise on the appropriate mix of uses for proposed schemes based on prevailing market conditions having regard to market demand and market values (prices and rents). We would regularly attend meetings to discuss this aspect of the development process. 5.30pm The night shift begins. The working day generally doesn’t end here and in a world where clients and advisors are easily accessible, the working day typically stretches late into the evening.

Name: Lloyd Hannigan Position: Surveyor, Lisney

8.30am I aim to arrive in the office for 8.30am every morning, via the coffee shop, with caffeine being a necessity for the day ahead. I generally meet with the other Lisney surveyors in the General Agency team, that focuses on sales, lettings and acquisitions across the commercial and residential land sectors, to discuss fresh targets, new instructions and business development. In a fast-moving environment like the world of commercial property, information is king so an important part of the morning is to review media feeds. We monitor all local publications, Invest Northern Ireland output, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social channels to identify fresh business activity which may lead to companies having property requirements such as business growth or consolidation. 11am It’s time for coffee (again). It may sound cliched, but no two days in property are the same, which is part of the attraction.

My workload is widely varied ranging from the sale of quarries to the marketing of high-profile city centre office schemes, town centre development sites and industrial properties across private and public sectors. However, I try to spend the morning hours client reporting and providing updates on marketing activity. 1pm The role of a surveyor is busy so lunch for me is either taken on the run or at my desk. The early afternoon is generally spent generating new business or prospecting, which entails either face-to-face meetings or calls, some of which are speculative, to prospective clients or occupiers of buildings which we are marketing. 3pm Late afternoon tends to bring more meetings and, on occasion, I have been required to sit on assessment panels scoring development proposals and briefing Council members. I have been fortunate enough to have worked on behalf of a range of quality clients through a number of redevelopment

This can involve responding to unanswered emails, updating clients and, on occasion, even sending multiple email reminders to myself. I would also be required to be present on conference calls to international companies that we are dealing with. Northern Ireland as a region punches well above its weight when it comes to business and sport while Belfast is a city that is everchanging. The opportunity to interact with inward investing companies and to play a small part in selling the city as a business location on the global stage is exciting. Attending networking and business events in the evening is also a regular occurrence. Free Time In my free time, I try to keep active through a mixture of rugby, GAA, cycling and socialising with my friends. I also volunteer with a homeless organisation on a weekly basis which normally involves outreach work on the streets at night.


Secure

Insurance Brokers & Risk Advisors www.abbeybondlovis.co.uk


Ulster Business - December 2017  

December 2017

Ulster Business - December 2017  

December 2017

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