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THE TOP 100 NORTHERN IRELAND COMPANIES 2016 REVEALED
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Contents 10 News
44 Top 100
All you need to know about the biggest stories of the last month
The definitive list of the companies contributing most to the economy
Simon Hamilton lays down his vision for the Northern Ireland economy
26 First Minister
52 Moy Park
160 Business Breakfast
Arlene Foster says the economy is front and central
The first of nine profiles of the companies which make up the Top 100
Alan Taylor from Arthur Cox takes his first meal of the day with UB
John Simpson casts an analytical eye over Brexit and its impact on the economy
Gareth Hetherington asks what needs to be done to prepare
Pat Burns, rumoured to be Chris Evanâ€™s replacement, is first off the line
186 Out to Lunch
Jonathan Cushley gives his take on this yearâ€™s Top 100 list
David Dobbin assesses the impact of Brexit on one of our most important industries
Not content with just breakfast, UB takes Nigel Smyth for lunch
At the heart of business in Ireland
ÂŠ 2016 KPMG, an Irish partnership
100 reasons to be cheerful
elcome to this very special Top 100 edition of Ulster Business. In this month’s magazine we list the biggest companies in Northern Ireland to give you an insight into which firm is contributing most to the economy here, based on the latest figures lodged with Companies House.
We use turnover to rank the businesses, which, while often considered the vanity project to profit’s sanity when measuring an individual company’s health, gives a better insight into how much they are putting back into Northern Ireland through salaries, raw material and other purchases. Once again turnover for all of the Top 100 has edged higher in tandem with growth in the wider economy over the last year to a staggering £23.6bn. The number one firm remains Moy Park, seemingly going from strength-to-strength following its takeover last year by the world’s biggest meat packer JBS. There are a plethora of other big names in the list also growing their business substantially, with the likes of Dunbia, John Graham Holdings and Almac all playing their part.
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 © 2016. 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.
Once we’ve ranked the Top 100 we then take a look at profit and it’s there that a worrying trend raises its head with total profits falling by 44%. A couple of big name multi-national losses account for much of that so it’s not worth reading too much into the headline figures, but it is a warning shot across the bow in these uncertain times. Despite that, there is huge cause for optimism. We’ve been out and about over the last month interviewing and photographing some of the Top 100 and getting to see behind the front door of some of our most exciting businesses. From Andor to Randox, Devenish to Moy Park, it was quickly clear to us that endeavour and innovation is writ large in the culture of our best businesses and, as importantly, in the mindset of the people who run those businesses. With Brexit, we’re in for an interesting year or two but the high calibre of our biggest companies means we’ll be able to face whatever is thrown at us by being reactive and downright hard working. David Elliott
Editor David Elliott
Art Editor Stuart Gray
Manager Sonia Armstrong
Production Manager Stuart Gray
Deputy Manager Sylvie Brando
Profile Photography Elaine Hill
Sales Executive Sarah-Ann Gamble
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Time for the Top 100 to shine By Mark Thompson, Head of Belfast Office, A&L Goodbody
Nutrition recorded an increase in turnover to £126m (up from £101m in 2014). Within the construction sector it was the materials suppliers who recorded the most significant increases in turnover, with FP McCann recording an increase in turnover to £168m (up from £135m) and Brett Martin recording an increase in turnover to £136m (up from £124m). Building product distributor Haldane Shiells, meanwhile, saw an increase in turnover from £70.6m in 2013 to £88m in 2014. In the energy sector, Topaz reported a significant increase in turnover to £220m (up from £149m in 2014) and AES Ballylumford saw an increase in profits from £3m in 2013 to over £10m in 2014.
mid what continues to be a time of great uncertainty and speculation for the local business community postEU Referendum, it is refreshing to take time out to reflect on the notable success of each of the companies ranked in this year’s Ulster Business Top 100 Companies. In different ways and across many different sectors, these formidable companies have made a hugely significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy in the past year. Whilst some have created hundreds of new jobs, they have all underpinned many thousands more. Many have been at the forefront of innovation and the latest cutting-edge developments in technology, engineering and manufacturing.
They have dominated their markets to varying degrees, both at home and abroad, and with the majority of those listed having achieved growth in overseas markets, it is clear that export remains key to driving business growth. Whilst many companies on the list are well known for their success, it is encouraging to note the progression of many companies which, year on year, continue to rise up through the ranks of the Top 100. A number of key sectors in particular produced strong results this year. In agrifood, whilst Moy Park continues to rule the roost at Number One in the rankings, Dunbia recorded an increase in turnover to £826m (up from £764m in 2014) and animal nutrition manufacturers Devenish
The diversity of the companies and sectors that make up this year’s list illustrates that there is a blueprint for emerging companies in Northern Ireland to follow as they strive for sustainable business growth and success. Our Top 100 companies continue to lead by example in proving that, with drive, determination and resilience, challenges can be overcome and new opportunities can be sought out at home and abroad. Despite the uncertainty that lies in the months ahead, we look forward to seeing these companies continue to thrive and to achieving continued growth and success. On behalf of all at A&L Goodbody I would like to congratulate each of this year’s Ulster Business Top 100 Companies and wish them every success for the year ahead.
The Big Numbers 0.7%
Moy Park makes it five in a row
The growth of the Northern Ireland economy between the first quarter (Q1) of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, according to the NI Composite Economic Index. UK GDP grew by 2% over the same period.
1.6% The growth of the private sector in Northern Ireland between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016. Over the same period the public sector here shrunk by 2.2%, all according to the NI Composite Economic Index.
7.2% How much the NI Composite Economic Index needs to climb before it returns to the high it reached in Q2 2007. It is only 3.8% above the minimum recorded in Q2 2012.
7.0% How much higher UK GDP is than its preeconomic downturn peak in Q1 2008. It exceeded the peak in Q3 2013.
26.6% The Northern Ireland economic inactivity rate. It has fallen steadily in the last few months but remains far above the UK average which stands at 21.6%. Northern Ireland has the highest level of all UK regions.
Janet McCollum, chief executive of Moy Park and David Elliott, editor of Ulster Business.
oy Park has been named as Northern Ireland’s biggest company for the fifth consecutive year. The Craigavon-based meat processor topped the list of Top 100 companies, as published in this magazine, with turnover of £1.407bn for the latest full year of sales for 2015, up from £1.388bn the previous year. It was taken over last year by the world’s biggest meat packing company JBS in one of the biggest corporate transactions in Northern Ireland’s corporate history, having been sold by fellow Brazilian Marfrig. It is joined at the top of the table by fellow meat industry firm Dunbia, in second position, with sales of £826m and grain importer W&R Barnett, in third position, with £815m. It’s the first time in the 27-year history of the list that agri-food firms have dominated the top three positions, a sign of the industry’s growing dominance in the economy here. Overall the Top 100 companies have together produced record sales of £23.6bn, a 1% increase on the previous year. The Ulster Business list ranks companies according to turnover filed with Companies House as it offers a good insight into how
much money the business are putting back into the local economy through salaries and other costs such as raw materials. On a profit basis, the collective Top 100 companies didn’t have such a buoyant year with total profits 44% of the previous year’s at £533m. Much of that is accounted for by Short Brothers (Bombardier), the seventh placed company, which lost £229m in the latest financial year and Gortmullan Holdings, the former Quinn Manufacturing business, which lost £262m. Bombardier’s losses have already been much publicised after initially poor sales of its C Series aircraft, parts of which are made in Belfast. Gortmullan’s loss is mostly due to write-downs from the selloff of parts of the business. Remove those two major losses from the list and the Top 100 companies made over £1bn in profits. Elsewhere, there have been new entrants for scientific camera maker Andor, Wireless Group, Sawyers Transport, Harland and Wolff and Rathmore Estates. Qualcomm Technologies International, the US giant which bought over Queen’s University spinout APT also makes it into the list at number five.
London calling for top NI entrepreneurs The group also attended a series of workshops on personal branding hosted by renowned speaker and London-based business leader Rashmi Dubé. Niall Casey, Invest Northern Ireland’s Director of Skills and Strategy, said such trips are invaluable at such an early stage of a company’s direction. “Propel is a programme designed to fast-track high growth businesses with export potential,” he said. “This trip is a key component of the export strategies which these entrepreneurs have developed in conjunction with their Propel Programme mentors. The 20 entrepreneurs on the trip to London.
group of Northern Ireland’s most exciting entrepreneurs travelled to London recently to pitch their business to major buyers and consumers.
The 20 companies, part of the Invest Northern Ireland Propel Programme, managed to make new contacts and sign up business, as well as testing their concepts on the streets of the city.
“This London visit was an enormous success and already the results of the trip are coming to fruition, with a number of participants having secured significant deals with large UK retailers. As negotiations continue, we have no doubt that the coming months will see substantial new contracts emerge for these local start-up businesses.” Propel is a programme for entrepreneurs who have the greatest potential to start up and scale an export focused company.
London broker creates 300 jobs in Belfast
Lisburn tech firm creates 60 jobs Clear AV managing director Philip Dowds.
ne of the world’s biggest financial brokers is to create 300 jobs at a new Belfast base. Tullett Prebon plans to establish a technology centre in the city and will be hiring IT professionals on an average payscale of around £33,000 a year, a total wage bill of £9.9m. Invest NI has offered the firm £2.2m toward the investment while the Department for the Economy Assured Skills programme providing £400k for associated training. Luke Barnett, Group CIO of Tullett Prebon, said Belfast provided a strong draw: “We are delighted to announce the launch of our technology centre in Northern Ireland. It will play a key role in the delivery of our global technology strategy, transforming the way our teams collaborate within the business and with outside partners, and will help us deliver on key business goals. We looked at many potential locations and Belfast was the outstanding choice.” “The combination of a highly educated workforce, attractive business environment and great infrastructure, underpinned by the support of local Government and Invest Northern Ireland, offers a compelling proposition for a global financial services group such as ours.” First Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the investment: “Northern Ireland has an enviable reputation for hardworking, innovative, committed employees and I can assure you that we will prove, once again, we are good for business.”
Lisburn technology company is creating 60 jobs after growing its business amongst high-end brands in London. Clear AV said the posts will be created over the next three years as it targets projects in both the commercial and residential sector in the city, an area where its automated technology has found a willing audience over the last few years. It is currently working on 45 so-called ‘fasttrack installation projects’ in properties ranging in value from £10m to £100m and with brands such as Claridges, Hilton Hotel Group, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy and W hotel. Managing director Philip Dowds said a focus on further growth will need additional workforce. “In order to meet our business goals within our strategic plan we will need the right people who buy into our vision and who want to build a successful longterm career working with some of the most prestigious schemes in the UK.” The company began life as an installer of TV Ariel systems operating from a garage almost 25 years and now installs
technology which helps control lighting, air conditioning or other automated services in high-end houses and commercial spaces. “In the luxury commercial sector we install similar technologically complex projects that are controlled using a simple interface on a customised IPAD that we have developed in collaboration with Apple,” Mr Dowds said. “These devices function differently from a standard IPAD and enable users to control every aspect of the room from TV and audio to climate and access.” The company said its offering stands out from the competition by having “a design lab and mirror build facility where every project is literally ‘mirror built’ and rigorously tested in a controlled offsite environment.” “This ensures everything is perfect before being shipped out for installation, meaning our jobs are delivered in a third of the industry standard timeframe and with zero snags,” Mr Dowds said. “When combined these important elements make our clients’ lives easier by enabling them to occupy or sell their properties quicker and with a higher profit.” “Our approach has been welcomed from contractors and developers too because our ‘on-time’ guarantee means they can meet tighter deadlines.”
New Pandora store in Belfast creates five jobs
ewellery brand Pandora has opened a prominent store in Belfast city centre through Argento owner Pete Boyle. The new 100-metre square store just off Cornmarket in the city is in the unit previously occupied by Tiso Camping and is the brand’s largest on the island of Ireland and will replace the smaller store on William Street. Five jobs have been created with the move into the new shop, one which highlights the resurgence of the city, according to Mr Boyle. “As a city, Belfast is a thriving shopping destination so the opening of our flagship store at Cornmarket will really amplify our position in Northern Ireland as a leading jewellery brand. “We had set our sights on the opening of a mega store for some time now so we are proud to make this a reality having signed a ten year lease. The sheer size of the outlet will allow us to offer an unrivalled customer experience in addition to being able to attract visiting tourists.” Lord Mayor Brian Kingston agreed. “It was a delight to be invited to officially open PANDORA’s flagship store in Belfast. The megastore is a
Pete Boyle outside the new Pandora store.
fantastic asset to the high street and demonstrates the confidence investors are having in our city by committing to long term leases and the creation of jobs. “Revitalising Belfast’s city centre is a priority for the council and I am pleased that a store opening of this size will continue to increase the footfall to the Cornmarket area.”
Quotes of the month
Conference brings £3.7m to city’s economy
“The Wireless Group represents an opportunity for us to take advantage of its strong radio presence to build on our growing digital success story and to bring some of the best journalistic and broadcasting talent into one group.” Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News UK and former editor of The News of the World, after the group bought the former UTV’s radio assets.
“As part of the fifth largest economy in the world, we are confident that Northern Ireland will continue to succeed as an attractive location for inward investment, in particular from our largest target market, the USA; and that the reduction in corporation tax will play an invaluable role in creating a businessfriendly environment to support job creation, based on the combination of tax, talent and value.” Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton reacts to the Brexit vote.
“We are very sad that the vote is to leave the European Union. While we fear that the result will be economic damage, we call on our political leaders to establish arrangements that limit this damage. We call on the UK government, the Irish government and the EU to work together to find common sense ways forward.” Gavin Killeen, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.
Ibec Head of Policy and Chief Economist Fergal O’Brien.
Ellvena Graham (Chair of the Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall Ltd Board), Brian Branch (President and CEO of World Council of Credit Unions), Brian McCrory (President of the Irish League of Credit Unions) and Tim Husbands (Vice Chair of Visit Belfast).
ne of the biggest business conferences to be held in Belfast has brought £3.7m to the city and paved the way for more major events in the future, according to hosts Belfast Waterfront. The 2016 World Credit Union Conference, which was held over four days last week, brought nearly 2,000 delegates to the city from 55 countries to Northern Ireland. They were serviced by 60 local suppliers which included 20 hoteliers in an attempt to maximise the economic benefit for the city. Brian McCrory, President of the Irish League of Credit Unions and host of the 2016 World Credit Union Conference, said the event was a huge success for all involved. “I’m a member of the WOCCU board and I have lobbied for seven years to bring our annual conference to Belfast, subject to the opening of the new extension at Belfast Waterfront. The opening of a 7,000m2 conference facility, made Belfast a serious contender as a host destination. “And the new conference facilities are fantastic, we have received excellent feedback from our members about both the venue and city.”
He said the inclusive nature of the conference helped. “Everyone knew we were here. From taxi drivers and restaurateurs to local shop owners, they knew about the conference coming to the city – we were moved by the friendliness of the Belfast people. This city is a great business destination and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time here. “As for the new Belfast Waterfront, it exceeded our expectations and their team, along with that of Visit Belfast, have gone above and beyond to facilitate and enable us to host a successful event here – I couldn’t say enough. The facility is brand new and is wellequipped to help foster a supportive learning environment, for our members to learn from each other and leading experts. In essence, we want repeat business and the quality is here,” praised Brian Branch, President and CEO of World Council of Credit Unions. During the four-day programme, the 1,900-strong WOCCU delegation discovered more of Northern Ireland by enjoying guided tours of the city and beyond, including the spectacular Mountains of Mourne and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Giants Causeway. The conference ended on a high note with the grand closing party being held in Titanic Belfast and the new Titanic Exhibition Centre.
Kilimanjaro floored by Belfast businessman Richard Snape on the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Angus Creed, right, and John McKee.
ounder of Belfast firm The Wooden Floor Company has completed a world record attempt to lay the highest floor in the world – at the summit of Kilimanjaro.
With businesses in Scotland as well as Northern Ireland, Richard Snape carried the packet of wooden flooring along the Lemosho route on the mountain’s north face. Fighting off altitude sickness, Richard laid the floor signed by donators and supporters at Uhuru peak (5,985m). The big-hearted businessman’s climb has so far raised £2,300 for the Bradley Logan Memorial Fund. The charity was established after the sudden death from CPVT (Catecholominergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia) of 10-year-old Bradley who was in the same year at school as Richard’s daughter. Even with seven months of preparation behind him, Richard and his team still struggled with the thinner air at the heady heights of 19,000 feet above sea level. “We lost a guide on the way up from severe altitude sickness and another team-member got into difficulties on the descent and had to be evacuated on a stretcher,” Richard explained. “It was extremely difficult doing anything at that altitude, just breathing was an effort, never mind laying a floor, but the support of the people back home drove me on to complete the challenge. “We’ve sent documentation along with photo and video evidence to the Guinness Book of World Records, so we’ve got our fingers crossed that they verify it!” The Wooden Floor Company has six outlets across Scotland and Northern Ireland; Glasgow, Paisley, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Belfast and Lisburn. Last year, the firm supplied flooring for the set of James Bond film, Spectre. To donate to the Bradley Logan Memorial Fund, please visit Richard’s Just Giving page at crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Richard-snape.
Kelsius lands deal with Five Guys FoodCheck’s wireless temperature monitoring technology and digital HACCP Management system maximises product safety, which ensures regulatory compliance in this very complex area. In addition to the safety element, it also massively reduces the costs and time associated with maintaining these standards – in some instances up to 30 hours per week. UK IT Director for Five Guys, William Day said: “The FoodCheck paperless HACCP system is easy-to-use allowing staff to concentrate on the quality of food we provide. Records are easily and securely accessed for each location and thereporting is what really sets the system apart. This makes life much easier for a HACCP audit or inspection.”
Paddy Hearty from Kelsius is pictured with Caroline Hutchinson from Five Guys.
igital Food Safety company Kelsius has landed a major six figure deal with Five Guys to provide the global burger chain with its digital food safety solution FoodCheck. Spending approximately £60,000 on research and development to secure the deal, Kelsius is now supplying 50 Five Guys locations across the UK, including Belfast’s Victoria Square outlet. With no freezers on site, everything in Five Guys is cooked from scratch, so food must be delivered and stored at exact temperatures.
ighting up the launch of the 2016 Fast 50 awards are Peter Allen, partner at Deloitte; Brendan Monaghan, managing director of Neueda and Mark McCann, head of development and director at Flint Studios. Neueda and Flint Studios were two of 11 Northern Ireland companies ranked in last year’s Fast 50 with Flint Studios winning the Rising Star award. Entries are now open for the awards, which are now in their seventeenth year. The closing date for entries is 16 September 2016 and the winners will be announced on 4 November 2016. Details of how to enter can be found at www.fast50.ie.
Founded in 2003, Kelsius has offices in the United Kingdom and Ireland with a network of partners inEurope, Middle East, Australia and the USA and is revolutionising the way food is stored and cooked. Kelsius Chief Executive Andrew Logan said the signing is a big deal: “The Five Guys deal is a massive boost for our company and it’s a real testament to the strength of our product within the food safety sector. We now feel it has given us more confidence to attract customers of a similar size and reputation as Five Guys. “We are well known in the Irish market, after previously winning contracts with Musgrave, SuperValu, Centra and Applegreen, but this deal has helped us broaden our customer base in the UK and with the support of our global partners further afield.”
Inaugural flight for Bombardier aeroplane boosts Belfast base
The C-Series in Swiss Airlines branding.
orthern Ireland’s burgeoning aerospace industry has been given a boost by news of the first commercial flight of Bombardier’s new flagship aircraft, parts of which are made in Belfast. The Canadian company said the CS100 model flew on active service from Zurich to Paris Charles de Gaulle on Friday morning under SWISS International Airlines colours. It marks an important milestone in the development of the aircraft which has a specialist manufacturing division at Bombardier’s east Belfast headquarters. Michael Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager, Bombardier Belfast, said the technology used on the aircraft during manufacture in Northern Ireland is ground breaking. “The advanced composite wings for the C Series aircraft, produced using a patented process developed by our Belfast engineers, represent a step change in aircraft wing design and manufacture, and our employees and supply chain should be justly proud,” he said. The wings for the C-Series, a mid-sized passenger jet carrying around 150 people, are manufactured in Belfast before being transported to Bombardier’s Canadian base where they are assembled with the rest of the aeroplane. Since launching the jet, the company has a total of 370 firm orders, including 127 in the first half of this year. “We salute SWISS on the CS100 aircraft’s successful entry-into-service and thank the airline for its outstanding support to the C Series aircraft program,” said Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “We also congratulate all the employees and suppliers who have worked tirelessly to bring us to this great milestone. It is an outstanding achievement and continues to build the momentum for the C Series aircraft program.”
Murdoch buys former UTV radio stations for £220m Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News UK and former editor of The News of the World, said the deal presented a number of synergies for News Corp.
ne of the world’s most formidable media tycoons has bought the radio stations previously owned by UTV for £220m.
News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch, has taken ownership of Wireless Group – which counts Belfast-based U105 as well as talkSPORT and 19 other stations throughout the UK in its stable – in a deal which sees the final part of UTV Media sold. Wireless Group was a new company formed last year when ITV bought UTV’s television assets. News Corp owns media companies around the world including The Sun, The Times and The Wall Street Journal newspapers.
“The Wireless Group represents an opportunity for us to take advantage of its strong radio presence to build on our growing digital success story and to bring some of the best journalistic and broadcasting talent into one group,” he said. “This acquisition will allow us to increase engagement for both businesses through the cross promotion of our brands and the use of our respective talent.” And she hinted that the group would be investing in the Wireless Group. “We also look forward to collaborating in the expansion of the Wireless Group’s digital audio and international assets, which offer new opportunities for our businesses in the UK and globally.” Richard Huntingford, Executive Chairman of Wireless Group, said the deal was a good deal for shareholders. “Shareholders receive an immediate and certain cash value for their shares which not only represents a very significant premium to the current share price, but also fully recognises the longterm prospects and growth potential of Wireless; News Corp’s proven track record of investing in content that drives audiences will significantly benefit Wireless’ listeners and advertisers; and, the excellent strategic fit and complementariness of the Wireless business to News Corp’s operations will provide great opportunities for Wireless’ management, employees and talent.”
Punjana brews up a storm
elfast company Thompson’s Family Teas has won the maximum three stars for its main brand Punjana at the prestigious UK Great Taste Awards 2016. Three stars is the highest achievement a product can win and is normally reserved for exclusive and specialised products rather than an affordable everyday product. In this year alone, the family-owned business amassed a record breaking total of 23 Star Awards. Another blend, Thompson’s Irish Breakfast tea bags also achieved top honours with the maximum three stars. Punjana tea bags now stand alone in their category – winning more Great Taste Awards than any other blended teabag in the UK and the Republic of Ireland over the past 10 years. Cousins Ross and David Thompson run the company. “I feel that with this latest endorsement, we have come one giant step closer to our ultimate goal of blending the perfect everyday cuppa,” Ross said.
Pictured are Punjana staff celebrating their 23 Great Taste Stars (L-R) Chloe Brooker Quality Supervisor, Greg Earl Operations Manager and Christine McCluney Factory Supervisor.
Lisburn company bought by Nottingham competitor SLS
Andy Pepper, Aileen McGrath, Damien McCorry and Tom O’Meara.
isburn laboratory supplier Analab has been bought by a competitor for an undisclosed sum. New parent Scientific Laboratory Supplies (SLS), which is based in Nottingham, said the move has already created two new jobs and further posts in sales and marketing will announced in the future. The newly merged company, to be named “Analab, an SLS Company” will help SLS grow its life sciences, state-funded research, food and beverage, and medical technology sectors across the island of Ireland. Analab founding director Damien McCorry remains as Managing Director alongside Aileen McGrath, Director of Clinical Diagnostics. They have been joined by newly-appointed Tom O’Meara as Marketing and Portfolio Director and Andy Pepper as Sales Director. “I cannot think of a better team for us to go forward with than the SLS folk,” Mr McCrorry said. “I have known the key staff for almost 25 years and have watched how they have competed successfully against the major competition to become a very significant player in the UK market.
Keyperson Protection By James Trimble, Financial Consultant at Willis Wealth Management
ost organisations employ at least one individual who is essential to the company’s success. This person may be a partner, majority stockholder or an individual with expertise that is unmatched throughout the rest of the company. If this person’s exit from the company is planned, such as retirement or voluntary termination, then you can prepare for the loss and take the necessary precautions to minimise the impact. However, if the departure is unplanned, then the company may be exposed to financial risks. Consider key person insurance to offset your risk. This insurance solution can provide essential funds to help mitigate the loss of a key person which in turn can be used to replace lost revenue. This may also assist with potential short term solvency problems while the key person is replaced and provide additional peace of mind to the lenders and investors in the company. Who needs key person cover? • Employees who would be extremely difficult, time-consuming or expensive to replace. • Highly skilled employees with unique training or skills. • Employees with exclusive ties to key clients. • Employees who are company leaders and have irreplaceable knowledge. • Small business owners who would face financial hardship in losing a key staff member, employee or client. How does it work? • The employer pays the premiums and serves as the beneficiary in the event of the employee’s death. • Money from the policy can be put towards finding, hiring and training a replacement employee, compensation for lost business during the transition and/or financing timely business transactions. • Premiums are based on several factors, including the key employee’s age, physical conditions and health history. The amount of cover also affects the premium. In addition to proper cover, create a business continuity plan that outlines how your business will function if you lose key employees.
“Tom O’Meara and Andy Pepper bring invaluable knowledge as well as contacts to our new team and we expect to double Analab sales to £4m in the next 12 months.” SLS Chairman Peter Chapman said he was keen to break into the life science market here. “Ireland is recognised as a global centre for life sciences and medical devices and the pace of scientific research and commercial activity is truly impressive.
To learn more about keyperson insurance, contact James Trimble at Willis Wealth Management on 028 9032 9042 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Spending power of NI families peaks at £103 per week While that is good news for retailers and other businesses dependent on consumer spending, Northern Ireland is still at the bottom of the UK league table. In total families here have £103 a week to spend after taxes are subtracted from their income and they have bought essential items such as groceries, electricity, gas, transport costs and mortgage interest payments or rent, according to the report which was compiled by CEBR. That is nearly half the £201 a week UK average and far behind the £272 a week consumers in London have to spend. In pound terms, Northern Ireland’s households also experienced the smallest increase in discretionary income in the last quarter.
amilies in Northern Ireland may have more spare cash but still aren’t flush compared to consumers in other regions of the UK. The latest Income Tracker from Asda has revealed that households here had an extra £8 a week to spend in the three months to the end of June compared to the same time last year.
The report noted that even the North East of England, which has been the closest region to Northern Ireland in terms of spending power, experienced a significant pick-up with families now having £133 a week of discretionary income. It said the slower rate of growth here reflects lower rates of pay with 10% of
Northern Ireland workers here at or below the minimum wage while that figure stands at just 5% for the UK as a whole. Looking at the UK picture as a whole, Sam Alderson, Economist at Cebr, welcomed the steady increase in disposable income. “Whilst the latest data shows a slight slowing in spending power growth, we continue to see a picture of broad increases in discretionary incomes across the country,” he said. “In the uncertain economic environment the UK now faces, the gains in spending power seen in recent years cannot be understated. Whilst consumers have understandably lost some confidence in recent weeks, improved finances should provide some support in navigating the uncertain outlook.” An Asda spokesperson said: “While a rise in consumer price inflation and transport costs influenced the overall growth in consumer spending power, families across the UK continued to enjoy some buoyancy in their bank balances last month thanks to a continued fall in essential items and steady levels of wage growth.
Entries called for Women in Business awards
omen in Business is calling on the leading lights of females in business – the inspirational, the leaders and the achievers – to enter its sixth annual Awards.
Hosted by television presenter Pamela Ballantine on Thursday, November 17 at Ramada Plaza, Shaws Bridge, Belfast, the Women in Business Awards, in association with Alexander Mann Solutions, are a celebration of talent, hard work and ultimately success in the world of business, whether as an entrepreneur or a leader. Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive of Women in Business said: “Our Awards continue to go from strength to strength. We had a record number of entries last year and we hope even more companies will enter and join us to celebrate the achievements of women in business in 2016.”
TV presenter Pamela Ballantine and Lynsey Nixon, events and marketing manager at Women In Business, launch the 2016 Women In Business Awards.
Orla McGreevy Business Development Executive –
Laura Calvert Business Support Executive –
Gary Irvine Managing Director –
Emma Kieran Search Consultant –
Claire Reid Head of Delivery –
Ruth McDonald Search Consultant –
Peter Stevens Recruitment Research Specialist –
Hannah Sloan Administration Assistant –
US software firm creates 12 jobs
In picture is Invest NI CEO Alastair Hamilton, Ian Purdy, Crossvale Europe Managing Director, and Conor Brankin, CEO of Crossvale.
US software company founded by a Northern Ireland-native is to create 12 high-paying jobs as it sets up a new base in Belfast. Dallas-based Crossvale Inc, which was started by Conor Brankin in 2001, will pay an average of £38,000 for each of the roles which will be created over the next two years. Invest NI offered the company support for the new jobs but the firm said the high level of talent available in Northern Ireland was a big draw. “We spent a lot of time considering where the right location for our new software centre should be,” Ian Purdy, Crossvale Europe Managing Director, said. “The local talent here is hard to beat and we are keen to recruit both experienced developers and recent graduates.” Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest
NI, said a companies like Crossvale find plenty of reasons to come to these shores. “Once again it is the availability of high quality software engineers that has attracted this US company to Northern Ireland,” he said. “This, combined with low staff turnover, low costs and Invest NI support has secured this mobile project and the new developer roles for Northern Ireland.” Prior to starting Crossvale, Conor Brankin began his working career with British Telecom in Northern Ireland in 1992, after graduating from The University of Manchester with a BEng, in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He said he was inspired to start the company in the US. “Our mission was to build a professional services firm that offered more than just technical excellence,” he said. “We wanted to deliver business value in a world where technology is essential but intimidatingly misunderstood, and where making development a
commodity doesn’t deliver the goods. “And especially, we wanted to do so as an ethically-driven, honorable partner to both our clients and our employees.” He said the Belfast base will have a global remit. “Our new engineering centre in Belfast will support our company’s growth and help service both our existing US clients, as well new clients in the UK, Republic of Ireland and the Middle East.” The company develops integrated software and professional services solutions, for financial services, telecoms and retail customers, is extending its engineering capabilities to support the company’s growth. Crossvale makes extensive use of Software AG’s webMethods platform and Red Hat’s subscription-based solutions, for customers including a multinational Spanish banking group and a Saudi Arabian Telecom Corporation.
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PERFORMANCE INACTION ACTION PERFORMANCE IN TM
Business as usual after Brexit vote First Minister Arlene Foster says Northern Ireland hasn’t lost its attraction as a place to do business in the wake of the Brexit vote
his is a time of great potential for Northern Ireland. We have already made significant progress in terms of jobs and investment, with almost 35,000 jobs created during the last Programme for Government. We have laid strong foundations; foundations which are helping underpin the recovery of Northern Ireland’s economy. Economic output is up and more people are entering the world of work, with the number claiming unemployment benefits continuing to fall. I want to congratulate and pay tribute, not
just to the Top 100 companies featured in this edition of Ulster Business, but to all of our businesses – large and small – for the valuable contribution they make to our local economy. The outlook for growth remains broadly positive with independent economic forecasters expecting local growth of, on average, 1.5% in 2016. Clearly, there is no room for complacency and we must be prepared for challenges that lie ahead, particularly as we enter negotiations following the historic Brexit vote. The priority of the Executive will be to ensure Northern Ireland is well placed to benefit
from any new arrangements, as well as protecting and advancing our interests. I have a positive vision for Northern Ireland. That has not, and will not, change. It is a time for us to keep confidently moving forward with ambition and in the knowledge that Northern Ireland is a great place to live, to visit and to invest. It is clear that any out workings of the UK leaving the EU will not happen overnight. In Northern Ireland, we have not pressed the pause button and it is very much business as usual.
An interim set of targets has been agreed for Invest NI while the Executive finalises the details around the next Programme for Government. These targets include stimulating employment opportunities by supporting businesses with projects that will promote between 4,000 and 6,000 new jobs. Between 2,600 and 3,200 of these jobs are to be from indigenous business growth. Other important measures will be to encourage increased investment in skills and R&D to ensure businesses remain competitive on the global stage, identifying
and exploiting opportunities to grow their sales to markets outside Northern Ireland.
I will continue to do all that I can to stimulate business growth and increase job opportunities.
Recent data shows Northern Ireland exports valued at ÂŁ1.77bn, the highest quarterly value recorded from available statistics. The latest 12-month rolling change shows an increase of over 9% over the year whilst there was over a 2% reduction in the UK overall.
The Brexit vote has not changed our offering to potential investors in terms of our skilled workforce, our low attrition rate and the cost of doing business here.
This progress is encouraging. We need to build on the increasing number of success stories from Northern Ireland based companies to showcase excellence in innovation, which is becoming increasingly important in terms of exports and new markets.
Recent events have shown that no one can predict the future but what we can be sure of in Northern Ireland is the quality of our offering and our own ability to maximise every opportunity to create more and better jobs. By doing so, we can continue to build a prosperous and regionally balanced economy that will enhance everyoneâ€™s quality of life.
The undercover CEO The CEO of one of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies tells us what they’re really thinking, freed from the shackles of shareholder responsibility by the shield of anonymity...
on’t start me on Brexit. One minute we were trundling along nicely with a healthy sales book, a good pipeline of products and a start made on the packing for the summer holidays and the next we were thrown into bedlam by blundering buffoon Boris and his mates. To say it threw a spanner in the works would be an understatement. Not only did it undermine the confidence of our own customers – and therefore make them all the more reticent to sign up to longer-term contracts – it has also rocked our own confidence and made us rethink our longer-term strategy and, in the short-term, put a halt on hiring. That’s a real shame but until we get more insight into how our markets are going to react to Brexit we can’t go through the process of growing our business only to find we have to shrink it again. What galls me most is the Leave camp – and yes I include Northern Ireland’s biggest political party in this – just didn’t seem to have any plans in place to deal with the fallout. Boris and co seemed very good at peddling their over-inflated cost estimates of European Union membership but completely ignored the costs which business would have to absorb from the loss of confidence in the event of a Brexit vote.
Perhaps for regions such as the south east of England the risks were acceptable but for an economy such as Northern Ireland, which still hadn’t shaken off the last remnants of the recession, it was tantamount to Russian roulette. For instance, the residential property market here is one of the most vulnerable to the uncertainty. In London property prices are 20% above where they were in the prerecessionary peak in 2007, while in Northern Ireland they are still 40% below that level. It’s just a tiny example of how far behind Northern Ireland is in many different economic arenas. Brexit means trying to close that gap, as we were doing effectively in the last couple of years, will become all the more difficult. Anyway, I don’t want to drag on about Brexit but it has, frankly, been a real pain. Elsewhere, the new Executive is making all the right noises about supporting the economy but, like a horrendously expensive new striker at a Premiership football team, still hasn’t scored any big goals. If they really want to make life a bit easier for people like me then they need to sort out our infrastructure, and fast. The fact we don’t have a motorway between our two major cities is a joke, as
is the fact the train service between Belfast and Dublin needs a lot more investment before it can be considered useful for businesses either side of the border. Meanwhile, the disconnection between the post primary education system and business continues to grow. The fact some of the big law firms came to Northern Ireland to soak up the overflow of qualified solicitors says a lot of the chicken and egg situation. “Educate them and they will come” seems to have been the mantra, rather than actually going to business and finding out what sort of skills they need. The Skills Barometer is helping sort that out, but change needs to happen much quicker And government shouldn’t be the only ones shouldering the burden because business people like me and you need to be going into schools and selling what we do. How are pupils meant to decide on a career when they don’t know what careers are on offer for them? That’s enough ranting for one month. On the upside, we’ve dealt with a lot worse that Brexit in the past and the initial reports suggest confidence is holding up reasonably well. Long may it last.
Brexit: neither clear cut nor easily done Professor John Simpson gives an overarching view on what Brexit really means for Northern Ireland
orty years of gradually closer links with the European Union (EU) must be undone as the UK government implements the decision to withdraw. It is a complex matrix of legislation, budgets, taxation, and formal and informal co-operation agreements. Brexit, or leaving the EU, is not a clear cut decision. A decision to remain would be straightforward: more of what we already know. A Brexit decision is only a first step. What sort of Brexit did the UK vote for: a contested disagreeable divorce or a separation between continuing friends? The referendum result can, and does, mean different things to different people. The terms of the eventual settlement emerging between the UK and the EU are likely to pose political results that fall short of what some Brexiters thought they were expecting. Not only does Brexit pose unusual and difficult negotiations. An orderly and sequenced programme will be hard to devise. With goodwill, and that is not assured, the UK could still be contributing to the EU budget for another 4-5 years.
Northern Ireland must cope with a prolonged period of uncertainty affecting the Northern Ireland budget as well as uncertain impacts on the local economy. For the Executive the best strategy is likely to be one of preparing a Programme for Government, using the existing Stormont budget on the assumption that Brexit will have little immediate impact until about 2019. In the next two-three years, agreement is needed on how key parts of the Stormont budget will be determined from about 2019. From a Northern Ireland perspective, arising from Brexit there is a keen financial interest in: • The EU budgetary settlement and its impact on the UK Treasury. • The changes in the UK Treasury
relationship with the Stormont budget. • Particular decisions on the replacement funds for farming and their devolution. • Decisions on UK replacement funds, if any, for regional social and economic projects. Despite the ambitions of some of the Brexit campaigners, caution suggests that assumptions of extra funds for Stormont should be avoided. The Treasury are unlikely to behave as if there is extra cash either nationally or locally. Stormont is likely to inherit responsibility for changed funding for farming and any replacement of EU funds for the wider range of economic and social projects such as under InterReg. This will all point to a contentious debate on the adjustment of the Block Grant (or the Barnett formula). The Treasury starts from a position that Northern Ireland, compared to Scotland or Wales, might be expected to live with a series of revenue reductions.
The case, based on relative needs, will need to be articulated persuasively. Just as critical (and possibly more critical) for Northern Ireland will be the outcome of the negotiations on trade in goods and services, and payment mechanisms, as they relate to the existing EU countries. • Will the UK be trading as a full participant in the Common Market? • What common commitments will be part of any deal? • If the UK has no preferential rights (or few) how will this affect trade and services? Ideally, for Northern Ireland, the format of a new trading agreement within the EU should be the same as prior to Brexit. That will not be easily agreed with the EU. Why should they allow the UK to trade on no less favourable terms even after leaving the EU? Of course, the UK (and Northern Ireland) will be free to trade with non-EU countries and make new deals. With the alternative outcome, trading with other countries instead of the EU is a painful thought.
Continuing to trade easily with the EU is a negotiation requirement for the UK with possible particular arrangements for goods and services from Northern Ireland. As a negotiated outcome, Northern Ireland must hope for a relaxed trading agreement similar to Norway and within the model of the European Economic Area. That would come with conditions which might be unwelcome but necessary. Perhaps the most important conditions would relate, first, to competition rules and, second, a specific budget contribution to the EU. UK negotiators might agree that, for example, they would continue to observe the current State Aid rules. That would ripple into constraints on how the UK, and Northern Ireland, offered incentives to inward investment. Corporation tax rates would be subject to an agreed framework. If negotiated trading arrangements were not agreed and the UK was outside any deal with the EU, then there are painful consequences offset partially with a freedom for the UK or Northern Ireland to set in place incentives for foreign direct investment with no EU restraints.
Depending on the form of any agreement affecting trade in goods and services, there are further issues affecting either the UK Government and/or Stormont. • What would be the implications of the OECD guidelines on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS). • If outside the EU, what guidelines on State Aids will be followed? • How might the UK, or Stormont, develop incentives for business development? • Would Stormont wish to have a wider discretionary range of devolved options affecting businesses? Particularly for UK-Ireland relations, or also Northern Ireland-Ireland relations, what practical special arrangements could be made as exceptions to any wider EU policies? This question overlaps with the separate question of what steps would be possible to acknowledge the anti-Brexit majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland. At least the Northern Ireland representation in the Brexit negotiations will wish to have special arrangements for trade in goods and services between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ingenuity from policy makers is now at a premium. Then there are a number of social type questions. • Will the EU arrangements for emergency healthcare across borders end for the UK? • What happens to cross-border agreements on policing and offenders. Brexit has created a serious, near insoluble, series of policy dilemmas.
Driving innovation in payments and cash management Paul Davies, Cash Management Specialist for Barclays, takes a look at some of the digital offerings making life easier for business customers
book one-off or recurring cash collections from their mobile device or desktop computer. Cash is collected directly from the business and is transported to the bank by G4S. Funds appear in the customer’s account the next working day – saving travel time and avoiding the security risks associated with transporting physical cash.
arclays is developing a range of products and services which will provide greater convenience, security and efficiency to business and corporate customers in Northern Ireland. As well as being the first UK bank to introduce a new cash collection service using a digital booking system, Barclays is also investing in mobile payments technology and a cutting-edge mobile cheque imaging product. For companies in Northern Ireland, these solutions will bring significant benefits.
Despite the steady decline in cheque volumes in recent years, the UK still processed 558 million cheques in 2015. Barclays has long been championing the move to image-based cheque clearing in order to make cheques more convenient and faster for businesses and individuals. Last year the ‘Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-15’ was granted Royal Assent, which has paved the way for cheque imaging to be used in the UK. While this change will take time to become a reality, Barclays has proactively developed a new mobile cheque imaging solution for retail customers and small businesses. The solution, which is currently being piloted by over 57,000 people, allows individuals to take a photo of, and pay in their Barclays cheques using their smartphone or tablet in a few simple steps – with the added benefit of getting faster access to their funds.
Barclays collect Transporting physical cash deposits to a bank branch is not only inconvenient but can also represent a security risk. This is about to change with the launch of Barclays Collect, a new cash collection service which we are rolling out this year in Northern Ireland. Suitable for both business and corporate clients, the service allows employees to
A number of corporate customers are also piloting our innovative Remote Cheque Imaging solution for corporate clients, which gives businesses the convenience of depositing cheques from their own premises. Upon introduction across the industry, cheque imaging will be revolutionary for customers and businesses and will have particular
benefit in Northern Ireland, which has seen a lot of branch closures by the Big 4 banks in recent years. In addition, Northern Ireland has a large rural community which may not live in close proximity to a bank branch.
Mobile payments With growing demand for smooth and seamless payments, Barclays Pingit enables customers to pay for goods and services quickly, easily and securely. Retailers can offer customers the ability to pay in six taps directly from a mobile device, without the need to re-enter card details, expiry dates or CVC codes. Meanwhile, Barclays Pingit for corporates allows businesses to send payments directly to their customers’ UK bank accounts using only their mobile number. Suitable when making payments such as dividend payments, refunds or claims settlements, this service provides a fantastic customer experience.
LEARN MORE Barclays has a long history of supporting new technology and driving innovation. We were the first bank to introduce ATMs and credit cards in the UK. Exciting developments such as Cheque Imaging and Barclays Collect will bring significant benefits to businesses in Northern Ireland in the coming months and years.
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How an IPO might just be the answer Growing business through public markets isn’t just for the big battalions, says Kevin MacAllister who leads PwC’s Assurance practice in Northern Ireland
combination of a slowdown across the Eurozone and developed markets, together with the recent referendum result to take the UK out of the EU, has depressed financial markets and hit confidence. However, there are already signs that a recovery is fueling growing confidence and that the impact is likely to be shortterm. So, companies should be preparing to use public markets to finance their post-Brexit expansion and growth. Whatever the strength and availability of bank finance, private equity and even crowdfunding, accessing capital markets is a key to driving continued private sector growth. We are currently punching well below our weight compared to other UK regions, yet there is a plethora of companies in Northern Ireland which could access public equity. Back in May 2012, Facebook raised $16bn in new capital, in less than a day of trading, through its initial public offering (IPO) and there is a perception – particularly amongst Northern Ireland’s small family-owned businesses – that accessing capital markets via an IPO is the personal preserve of the big battalions. But, IPOs are not just for the mighty US tech companies, the little guys can do it too.
UK-based companies which have floated so far this year include Hotel Chocolat, the clothing brand Joules and the listings and city guides publisher Time Out. All three opted for IPOs in a depressed market and ahead of the Brexit vote and all three achieved their target valuations, with both Hotel Chocolat and Joules shares still at a premium at the time of writing. It’s worth remembering that an IPO offers more than money. Public Limited Company (PLC) status confers considerable prestige and there’s a cache attached to the status that does not extend to private companies. PLCs can find previously closed doors more easily opened, previously reticent customers more willing to deal and more skilled and experienced nonexecutive directors willing to serve. PwC believes the markets provide an opportunity for Northern Ireland to grow. But that means local companies need to be confident in their ability to access the market and be knowledgeable in the opportunities it could bring.
Northern Ireland once had six publicly-listed companies, now it has two Northern Ireland once had six active, publicly listed companies... recently this has reduced to two. But the fact that Northern Ireland has only two remaining listed PLCs is not a reason why it can’t have more. Particularly when, over the past five years, Scotland has had 10 IPOs, Wales 11 and even the Isle of Man saw its five IPOs raise close to half a billion pounds in new capital. One major obstacle to persuading more Northern Ireland companies to embrace IPOs
is a fear that going public risks diluting family control and encouraging ‘new’ shareholders that their views should be sought in day-today business management. There’s also a perception that listing and running a public company is cumbersome and expensive, while the ‘Facebook syndrome’ suggests that only the biggest, mega-growth businesses should even consider an IPO. In reality, in the current climate, with an abundance of institutional equity, sparse returns and virtually zero interest rates, steadily yielding companies are increasingly attractive.
An IPO offers flexibility compared with other forms of capital raising For a company, an IPO can offer great flexibility compared with other forms of capital raising. A bank may only lend money secured against assets such as property which can be sold if the company were to fail. But many small and growing companies may not have enough security to offer. They may also not be able to manage the interest payments on such borrowings, particularly in the early years and secured bank finance is not risk money. That’s where the IPO comes in, providing the ability to raise capital for expansion, funding for acquisitions and even offering new investors the opportunity to do all that while taking some reward for the effort and expertise already invested. Mind you, PwC’s most recent publication IPO Watch would not necessarily cause local companies to run out to seek a listing. The run-up to the EU referendum put the brakes on a number of anticipated IPOs and we expect that European IPO proceeds are unlikely to exceed €25bn by the end of 2016, less than half of the €57.4bn raised in 2015. It was feared that the UK vote to
leave the EU would be met with a series of cancelled and postponed IPOs but, in practice the level of publicly postponed and cancelled deals was in line with previous quarters. That said, the majority of companies pursuing IPOs for the second half of the year are maintaining their plans. However, the timeline for achieving a listing from initial discussion to execution being a 12-18 month window makes the current reality less important and the forecasts for 2017/18 more relevant. So, despite the headlines, Northern Ireland has some excellent innovative businesses across the traditional sectors of manufacturing, construction, aerospace and agrifood, as well as the newer kids on the block in technology and pharma that are market-leading on the national and international stage. These businesses and the future heavyweights that are striving to reach these heights, need an environment to grow and prosper and the availability of funding to help them grow will be a key component over the coming years of nervousness and uncertainty.
Clarity over EU negotiations will be key to IPO activity recovering Improved political stability and greater clarity over the UKâ€™s progress on negotiations with the EU will be key to IPO activity picking up again, post the traditional quiet summer period. Provided this is the case, the successful completion of the first IPOs coming to market post-summer will set the tone for the remainder of the year. PwC now expects IPO candidates to return gradually to the market towards the end of the year and early 2017, provided investor confidence improves and market uncertainties subside. We believe that the traditional antipathy towards an IPO has been more about emotion and less about practical reality. Yes, companies considering an IPO need to demonstrate strong management and excellent corporate governance alongside innovation, growth and profit potential, but a number of well-known and wellregarded local companies demonstrate those virtues and more. Probably the appealing feature of an IPO is that it constitutes a share issue with no commitment to pay a fixed return and an acceptance by the holders of these securities that they are taking a risk with their capital.
There are many other advantages of having an IPO because issuing shares allows a company to create a currency which can be used to finance strategic acquisitions and enhance the value of the core business.
Could an IPO turn a Brexit in to an opportunity? Market conditions and investor appetite can influence the right time to go for an IPO, but companies need to be prepared in order to exploit the optimal conditions within the market. A common misconception around the level of turnover and profit required to become a listed company, often removes the option early on in consideration. However, the access to markets like the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) provides an opportunity for up and coming businesses to access this option at an earlier stage. A credible equity story and a strong management team are the core building blocks to starting on the journey and funds
will travel if they perceive an opportunity to provide the return. That fear of losing control and wider visibility of the businessâ€™ performance can often be the stumbling blocks for local businesses. But, these need to be considered against increasing global opportunities, the impact of technology on our daily lives and how we do business and how the IPO market can provide a real option for accelerating growth and ambition. As the UK prepares to leave the EU and look to new, wider and more distant markets, local companies that want to be poised and funded to take advantage of new opportunities should seriously consider if an IPO is the vehicle they need to turn Brexit into an opportunity.
Kevin can be contacted on 028 9041 5560 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and will be hosting a seminar in the autumn for companies considering an IPO. This will feature a number of IPO expert advisors.
Employment law might be cushioned from Brexit shock Rosemary Lundy, Employment Law Partner at Arthur Cox, outlines how Brexit will affect employment law in Northern Ireland
Whilst technically these laws could all be repealed once the UK leaves the EU, it is highly unlikely. The extent to which current employment legislation will be affected could depend largely on the model chosen for the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It remains to be seen whether that future relationship will find a basis in the ‘Norwegian’ model (of single market access free from certain EU rules), the ‘Swiss’ model (of negotiating on a country by country basis) or reliance entirely on the UK’s membership of the World Trade Organisation. The most probable outcome, however, is that EU law will continue to significantly influence the UK’s employment law regime even after the UK departs the EU, in most circumstances causing only minimal changes for employers. Looking at specific employment law issues, a significant overhaul of the existing legislation on issues such as anti-discrimination law, TUPE and employees’ family-related rights is unlikely.
n the wake of the announcement of the EU referendum result, there remains some confusion as to what the post-Brexit future holds for Northern Ireland.
This could be the case for some time as, once Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union is triggered, the UK government has two years in which to implement the decision to leave. It is therefore as yet uncertain when exactly the UK will exit the EU.
The majority of the Working Time Regulations are likely to remain, although there are elements of the right to statutory paid holiday that are deeply unpopular with employers, and which may well be repealed. In particular, the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 are likely to be subject to change and, if the UK does not negotiate to maintain freedom of movement rights after the Brexit, EU workers might be required to apply for visas under UK immigration rules. This would impact upon international employers of all sizes.
While there’s no doubting how momentous the Brexit decision was, the fact is there will be no immediate change to employment legislation as a consequence of the vote.
It should also be noted that, given the close ties between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the additional complexities of implementing a physical border between the two countries, Brexit could have substantial implications for employers operating on a cross-border basis.
A substantial amount of Northern Ireland’s employment law is derived from EU legislation, including working time regulations, collective consultation obligations, anti-discrimination rights, rules on the transfer of undertakings (TUPE), duties to agency workers and family leave.
In the midst of the prevailing uncertainty, one surety is the need for a very significant assessment by the UK and Irish governments of their relationship. Extensive bilateral negotiations may be required to determine how both countries, with such a long and close history, interact in the future.
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TOP 100 ANALYSIS
Turnover ticks up but profit dented Jonathan Cushley from D&B, who compiled the Ulster Business Top 100, takes a forensic look at the listing to see how Northern Ireland’s biggest companies are performing
he 2016 compilation of the Ulster Business Top 100 listing has revealed an uptick in turnover but pre-tax profits have fallen sharply. Profits for 2015 are only 44% of the prior year’s number. While turnover showed continued growth of 1%, the profitability and shareholder value of the province’s top businesses were both severely impacted. Table 1: Top 100 Turnover/ Sales Comparison
The Ulster Business Top 100 incorporates the results of Northern Ireland-based companies, either Northern Ireland registered or headquarter domiciled and relates in the vast majority of cases to businesses filing either 2015 or late 2014 financial year end performance results.
The turnover/sales figure in conjunction with profitability and shareholder value is imperative for companies when measuring on-going performance especially in what is apparently becoming a more challenging and competitive business environment.
Top 100 performance Since the inception of the listing in August 1989, turnover has been used as the key identifier of performance.
Sales within the companies listed in this year’s Top 100 increased by 1.03% to a record £23.623bn from £22.954bn prior year.
TOP 100 ANALYSIS
TOP 10 most PROFITable companies Company 1. Northern Ireland Water
Profit Margin (%)
Rank in Top 100
2. Qualcomm Technologies International
3. Power NI
4. NI Electricity Networks
5. Glen Electric
6. Fidessa Group PLC
7. Moy Park
8. AES (NI)
9. Schrader Electronics
10. Creation Consumer Finance
The 2016 Top 100 showed a degree of fluidity within the Top 10 companies, W&R Barnett Ltd have moved up from position 12 in 2015 to third in the current listing. This movement is due to the Barnett Group restating its prior year consolidated accounts to reflect it control over both BHH Ltd & R&H Hall Ltd. Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd enter the listing for the first time. Moy Park Ltd retained top spot with the Tyrone company continuing to show increased sales with turnover now exceeding £1.4bn. Dunbia, W&R Moy Park’s turnover now exceeds £1.4bn.
Barnett, Glen Electric, and Qualcomm make up the companies in the Top 5. Within the remainder of the Top 10 results there were a number of challenges with two of the reporting significant losses, both Short Brothers PLC (-£229m) and Gortmullan Holdings Ltd (-£263m) taking the biggest hits. The majority of group relationships within the Top 100 have been either amalgamated under company parentage or excluded, however please note that the AES companies responsible for Kilroot and Ballylumford
Power stations are separate entities. In addition various Isaac Agnew and Golf Holding companies have been included separately due to group accounting, which means no aggregated Northern Ireland results are currently available (for additional context please see reader notes). Due to the nature of the Top 100, D&B utilise year-on-year company comparison for the 100 companies included in the 2016 listing (see table 1).
Profitability The success of a business cannot consider solely the top line sales performance, the generation of profit is key to the on-going viability and sustainability of any organisation. This year’s Top 100 shows how fickle the Northern Ireland economy can be, after a period of sustained profit growth following the aftermath of the credit crunch, this year’s results have shown a marked decrease in the listings pretax profit figures with profitability now sitting at £533m against a prior year figure of £1.21bn. This reduction of some 227% is in stark contradiction to the previous year which saw a strong 15.6% increase and sees the worst profit performance of the Top 100 since 2009. >
TOP 100 ANALYSIS
Table 2: Top 100 Profit Margin Comparison
In the current Top 100, 16 of the 100 companies showed aggregated pretax losses totalling £-541.8m, compared to 12 companies declaring losses in the previous year’s listing of £-334m, an increase of 62%. The Top 100 companies have returned a profit margin – sales/pretax profit of 2.26% which compares unfavourably to the 5.1% margin from prior year. Table 3: Top 100 Net Worth Comparison * 2011 Figure estimated
The top performing companies from a profit perspective continue to be fluid, although the power and utility companies are starting to reclaim their dominance after a few years giving way to more commercial entities. Northern Ireland Water Ltd (£131.5% at a margin of 30.9%), Qualcomm (£89.8% at a margin of 12.2%) and Power NI Ltd (£56.8m at a margin of 10%) show the highest profit in monetary terms.
The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd showed the highest profit margin within the listing – 31.9% generated from £22m profit on sales of £69.1m as it continues to drive sales whilst maintaining its cost base. (see Top 10 Most Profitable Companies table on page 39). In the current Top 100, profit per employee within the Top 100 decreased
TOP 100 ANALYSIS
to £5, 817, with sales per employee hitting £257,710. The total number of employees stands at a high of 91,667
Net Worth (Shareholder Value) The third measure of a company’s overall success utilised when compiling the Top 100 listing is the company’s value to its shareholders. In its simplest form it is the shareholders funds (issued capital) + retained profits – intangibles. The value of the 2016 Top 100 Companies to their shareholders has decreased significantly to £6,003m from a corresponding figure for the Top 100 Companies of £6,782m – a decrease of 12.5%.
Inventory turnover defined as the turnover to net worth: this volume ratio indicates how many sales pounds are generated with each pound of investment and this equates to for 2016 – 3.93 compared to 3.45 for the current Top 100’s prior year (see table 3).
Location Since the inception of the Top 100 we have periodically reviewed the geographic headquarter location from which the Top 100 companies conduct their business. 2016 continues the trend of the majority of companies being based in Belfast and the East Coast of Northern Ireland in general with 75% of businesses in Belfast, Co Antrim and Co Down (see table 4).
Reader Notes A total of 11 of the 100 of the companies showed a negative tangible net worth compared to a prior year figure of nine. This confirms the issues raised by the pressures on the company’s profitability, as in the majority of cases, losses are incorporated in a business’s retained profits and this is reflected within the net worth figure. The shareholders return for the Top 100 businesses equates to profit/net worth as a percentage – 8.8% against a prior year 17.8%.
In certain instances comparisons have been made with other Top 100 editions. These comparisons may include figures for companies not included in the current Top 100 due to fluidity of results. A date of 04/07/16 has been used as a cut off for inclusion of financial results within the Ulster Business Top 100. Financial Information has been gathered using D&B’s Investigate Market Research & Analytics Tool. 1. Short Bros PLC accounts have been filed in $US, for comparative purposes these
accounts were converted to sterling at the exchange rate prevalent on 31/12/15. 2. Golf Holdings Ltd which owns Philip Russell Ltd & James E McCabe Ltd – both are included within the Top 100 under their own merits as Golf Holdings Ltd does not file consolidated accounts. 3. Musgrave Distribution Ltd (63) & Musgrave Retail Partners (NI) Ltd (25) both file individual Northern Ireland accounts, their ultimate Parent Company Musgrave PLC is ROI registered. 4. Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd, Bavarian Garages Ltd & Agnew Commercials Ltd are included as Agnew Group do not file consolidated financial accounts. 5. During the compilation of text – 2016 refers to the current Top 100, mention of 2015 as a period relates to the Period pertaining to the Comparative Financial Results of the 2016 Top 100 companies.
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Table 4: Geographic Location Comparison
p Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd
y Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd
Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumf
unnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd
ervice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balc
Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Car
Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Comp
arland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Bro
ortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Grou
errymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (
lls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Ho
any Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Cons
ce Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Hol
rmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. M
andox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd
ll Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdin
Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnet
Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd
m Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc
Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Lt
rsity of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Vi
y Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd
n Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdin
el Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Comp
an Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Sha
rt Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Grou
o Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holding
pillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Ter
THE TOP 100 NORTHERN IRELAND COMPANIES 2016
hs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Don
Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Nor
nd) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Rea
s Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (S
ageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holding
Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Bus
ments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Cr
rete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electr
omm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holding
es Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Grou
rave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The Univers
r Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy S
etlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Hol
es (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oi
pan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Ga
d Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd
reless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global S
d Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd P
rgy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Qu
rsity Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dunga
orthern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ir
cLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europ
airy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Irelan
rt-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Sh
Profiles: Photography by Elaine Hill Words by David Elliott
ompany Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaug
Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Saw
port Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies Internat
ohn Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ir
Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schr
ronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Hol
axol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCan
Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Dev
d Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Mus
bution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technolog
rashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W.
s (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallus
ore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Hol
ne Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northsto
THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Elect
orks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harv
nergy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Pa
es Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lak
s (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Mon
td Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Nor
nd Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bush
llery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Hol
hort Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farme
Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity En
y (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ir
port Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solution
on Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd
earway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticu
mes E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural &
ty Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercia
um Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd D
& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Socie
roup Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fi
p Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norb
ngs Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company Sangers (Northern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Nor
nd Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd Chain Reaction Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes S
or) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd Firmus Energy (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd
n Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Randox Holdings Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives P
d Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russell Ltd Inspired Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howd
Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Carlisle Ltd Creagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harlan
Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Electric Ltd Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortm
ngs Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Holdings Ltd Charles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferryma
rex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Group Ltd Musgrave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fue
onnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The University of Ulster Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd Maxol Oil Ltd Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company San
hern Ireland) Ltd Greenfields Ireland Ltd McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd Dcc Energy Ltd Coca-Cola Hbc Northern Ireland Ltd Viridian Energy Supply Ltd Retlan Manufacturing Ltd Fp McCann Ltd Capita Managed It Solutions Ltd Creation Consumer Finance Ltd
ion Cycles Ltd Lamex Foods Europe (N.I.) Ltd Dairy Produce Packers Ltd Aes Ballylumford Ltd Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd Brett Martin Holdings Ltd Aes (Ni) Ltd Coolkeeragh Esb Ltd Devenish (Ni) Ltd Tmc Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Soni Ltd Clearway Holdings Ltd F
y (Supply) Ltd Diageo Northern Ireland Ltd Gilbert-Ash Ltd Lakeland Dairies (N.I.) Ltd Lynas Foodservice Ltd H & J Martin Holdings Ltd A H Fuel Oils Ltd Kingspan Environmental Ltd Musgrave Distribution Ltd Westland Horticulture Ltd James E. McCabe Ltd Ra
ngs Ltd Isaac Agnew Ltd Haldane Shiells and Company Ltd Montupet (U.K.) Ltd Balcas Ltd First Derivatives Public Limited Company Bavarian Garages (N.I) Ltd Andor Technology Ltd Ballyrashane Co-Operative Agricultural & Dairy Society Ltd Philip Russe
ed Business Investments Ltd Macnaughton Blair Ltd Allstate Northern Ireland Ltd Carnbane House Ltd Howden Uk Ltd D. Shannon Stewart Ltd Magir Ltd Wireless Group Plc T.W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Ltd Agnew Commercials Ltd Gardrum Holdings Ltd D & W Ca
reagh Concrete Products Ltd Sawyers Transport Ltd The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd Harland and Wolff Group Plc Diageo Global Supply Ibc Ltd Isaac Agnew (Mallusk) Ltd Rathmore Estates Ltd Moy Park Ltd Dunbia Ltd W.& R. Barnett Ltd Glen Ele
ualcomm Technologies International Ltd. John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd Short Brothers Plc Gortmullan Holdings Ltd Caterpillar (Ni) Ltd Power Ni Energy Ltd Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Ltd Lcc Group Ltd John Graham Hol
harles Hurst Ltd Northern Ireland Water Ltd United Dairy Farmers Ltd Almac Group Ltd P&O Ferrymasters Ltd Terex Gb Ltd Shs Group Ltd Queen’s University Belfast Northstone (Ni) Ltd THE Cornerstone Group Limited Fidessa Group Plc Foyle Food Grou
rave Retail Partners Ni Ltd Schrader Electronics Ltd Sse Airtricity Energy Supply (Ni) Ltd Nicholls’(fuel Oils) Ltd Donnelly Bros. Garages (Dungannon) Ltd Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd Topaz Energy Ltd Norbrook Holdings Ltd The Univers
TOP 100 COMPANIES 1-20
Latest Year Sales
Poultry & Meat Processors
Dunbia Meat Processors
W.& R. Barnett Grain Importers
Glen Electric Electrical Appliance Manufacturers
Qualcomm Technologies Audio Technology
John Henderson (Holdings) Food Wholesaler & Retailer
Shorts Brothers Aerospace Manufacturers
Gortmullan (Holdings) Concrete Products, formerly Quinn Group
Caterpillar NI Generator Manufacturers
Power NI Energy Electricity Supplier
Ballyvesey (Montgomery Transport) Commercial Vehicles
Fane Valley Co-operative Society Dairy Producers
LCC Group Fuel Wholesalers
John Graham Holdings Builders
Charles Hurst Motor Retailers
Northern Ireland Water Water Distributors
United Dairy Farmers Milk Processors
Almac Group Pharmaceutical Manufacturer
P&O Ferrymasters Freight Transporters
Terex GB Construction Materials Manufacturers
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 44
TOP 100 COMPANIES 21-40
Latest Year Sales
Queen’s University Belfast University
Northstone (NI) Builders
Wrightbus (Cornerstone Group) Bus Manufacturer
Fidessa Group Financial Software
Foyle Food Group Meat Processor
Musgrave Retail Partners NI Food Wholesaler
Schrader Electronics Tyre Pressure Gauge Manufacturer
SSE Airtricity Energy Supply NI Electricity Generation
Nicholls’ (Fuel Oils) Fuel Distributors
Donnelly Bros. Garages Motor Retailers
NI Electricity Networks Electricity Generation
Topaz Energy Petrol Wholesaler
Norbrook Holdings Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
University of Ulster University
Lagan Construction Group Holdings Builders
Maxol Oil Fuel Distribution
Northern Ireland Transport Hldg Co Transportation
Sangers Northern Ireland Pharmaceutical Distribution
Greenfields Ireland Dairy Produce Wholesalers
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 AUGUST 2015
TOP 100 COMPANIES 41-60
McLaughlin & Harvey
Latest Year Sales
DCC Energy Petroleum Wholesaler
Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland Beverage Manufacturers
Veridian Energy Supply Electricity Generators
Retlan Manufacturing (SDC) Lorry Trailer Manufacturers
FP McCann Concrete Engineers
Capita Managed IT Solutions IT Systems
Creation Consumer Finance Consumer Finance
Chain Reaction Cycles Cycle Retailers
Lamex Foods (Europe) NI Food Distributor
Dairy Produce Packers Dairy Processor
AES Ballylumford Electricity Generation
Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Retailer
Brett Martin Holdings Building Suppliers
Aes NI Limited Electricity Generation
Coolkeeragh ESB Power Generator
Devenish NI Animal Nutrition Manufacturers
TMC Dairies NI Dairy Processor
SONI Electricity Distributors
Clearway Holdings Waste & Scrap Recycling
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 46
TOP 100 COMPANIES 61-80
Latest Year Sales
Diageo Northern Ireland Drinks Manufacturer
Gilbert-Ash (Ards Holdings) Construction
Lakeland Dairies NI Dairy Processor
Lynas Foodservice Frozen Food Distributor
H&J Martin Holdings Builders
A H Fuel Oils Grain Importers
Kingspan Environmental Building Suppliers
Musgrave Distribution Grocery Wholesaler
Westland Horticulture Garden Centres
James E. McCabe Drinks Distributors
Randox Holdings Clinical Diagnostics Manufacturer
Isaac Agnew Motor Distributor
Haldane Shiells Building Product Distributor
Montupet (UK) Aluminium Motor Part Manufacturers
Balcas Timber Manufacturer
First Derivatives IT Software for Financial Services
Bavarian Garages NI Motor Distributors
Andor Technologies Scientific Camera Manufacturer
Ballyrashane Co-Operative Society Dairy Producers
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 AUGUST 2015
TOP 100 COMPANIES 81-100
Latest Year Sales
Carnbane House (O’Hare & McGovern) 31/12/2014
Inspired Business Investments Vehicle Sales & Servicing
MacNaughton Blair Construction Machine Distribution
Allstate Northern Ireland Software Development
Howden UK Fan & Heater Manufacturers
D. Shannon Stewart (Gordons) Chemists
Magir (Medicare Pharmacies) Pharmacy Operations
Wireless Group (formerly UTV) Radio Producer
T. W. Scott & Sons (Fuels) Fuel Distribution
Agnew Commercials Commercial Motor Distributor
Gardrum (Wilsons Auctions) Auction Sales
D & W Carlisle Fuel & Supermarket Retailer
Creagh Concrete Products Concrete Manufacturer
Sawyers Transport Distributers
Old Bushmills Distillery Company Spirits Distributor
Harland and Wolff Group Heavy Engineering
Diageo Global Supply IBC Drinks Manufacturer
Isaac Agnew Mallusk Motor Distributor
Rathmore Estates (Vaughan Eng) Engineering
Figures researched and compiled by D&B T: 0845 601 2677 48
Brexit means Brexit... but what does it mean for Northern Ireland’s Top 100 We’ve all heard that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. But for most of us, that still leaves a lot of questions unanswered, particularly around what is going to happen to things like trade, labour, and funding. Richard Ramsey, chief economist at Ulster Bank, takes an in-depth look
with electricity flowing between the two jurisdictions. What are the implications for this arrangement with the UK leaving the EU?
Foreign direct investment The pursuit of FDI has been a big objective of Northern Ireland policymakers. And FDI is a lot wider than just the firms Invest NI is targeting. It also includes mergers & acquisitions and property. Indeed some of our largest indigenous companies have been acquired by foreign investors who have since reinvested in them – access to the single market of 500 million people has been a key motivator for some of them. Richard Ramsey
Trade In the short-term, the fall in the value of the pound will provide a boost to exporters, not least in our largest export market, the Republic of Ireland, as well as the US. However, Sterling weakness is a doubleedged sword as the cost of imports will rise, as will the cost of living for households. In the longer-term, there is a bigger question around what our trading arrangements with the rest of the world will be. The new Chancellor has stated we will leave the Single Market. If so, what tariffs will apply to the price of the goods that we import and
export? Even if we leave the Single Market, firms seeking to trade with the EU will still have to adhere to their rules and regulations for as long as they have to trade there. The EU applies a Common External Tariff (CET) which protects some industries against cheap global imports. Changes to the CET could bring both opportunities and threats to the local economy; for example, cheaper food imports benefiting consumers, at the expense of local food producers. Another trade angle often forgotten about concerns energy. Northern Ireland is part of an all-island energy market
That’s not to say that all of our inward investors trade with the EU. Some of the more recent examples are cost centres, providing services to parent companies in the US and UK. However, they are often reliant on imported skills from the rest of the EU. And many companies located in Northern Ireland trade internationally under EU trade agreements. How will the UK’s new trade arrangements outside the EU look and how will they compare, particularly for financial services? Indeed, the new Chancellor has said that single market access for the financial services sector is key. The scaling back of any headquarter functions in the City of London could have implications for back offices elsewhere, including Belfast.
The Referendum result therefore raises questions about the ability to attract FDI in the future. It also raises questions about the sustainability of foreign investment already here. The former UK Foreign Secretary, now Chancellor, has suggested that the flow of foreign inward investment into the UK has all but dried up. Until there is clarity around what our new trading and immigration arrangements will be, will the same be true of Northern Ireland? Meanwhile, other companies may defer or cancel their investment plans.
EU research is a motivating factor for academics and the loss of this will make working in UK universities less attractive.
Jobs / skills
Northern Ireland people who want to work in the rest of the EU may also find that this is not an option post-Brexit. Since April 2016, skilled workers from non-EU countries must have a job offer and earn £35,000 p.a. to obtain a visa. Northern Ireland would have a lot of skilled job vacancies below this threshold. National and regional skills requirements vary considerably. How will Northern Ireland firms, care homes and the NHS fill job vacancies below this £35k threshold if they can no longer access EU labour? Northern Ireland also has shortages of unskilled labour, with EU nationals plugging this gap. Any points-based immigration system is unlikely to enable access for unskilled labour.
Slower economic growth and a potential return to recession would be accompanied by job losses and rising unemployment. Some investment plans by companies will likely be postponed or cancelled which would hamper job creation and potentially mean that some staff would be surplus to requirements. There will also continue to be pressures on the public finances, including the need for increased taxation. The age of austerity hasn’t come to an end, though the pace and timescale of it will change. The removal of EU funding will also present challenges for the third sector and our universities. Access to collaborative
The wider jobs issue is that of supply of labour. A number of industries are reliant on workers from the rest of the EU, including the NHS, the hospitality sector, food producers, aspects of manufacturing, and the construction sector, for instance. Where will these industries source their labour from if the tap is turned down in relation to incoming skills?
Agri-food There will be a significant short-term gain for the agri-food sector from the exchange rate, with sterling considerably weakened. This includes short-term benefits both for exports and subsidies currently paid by the EU. But concerns within the sector are focused outside of exchange rates and are longer-term. These concerns include what will happen to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It is difficult to see how Northern Ireland will get as favourable terms outside of the EU as it does inside. It is also feared that the agri-food sector could face the steepest tariffs. Sourcing from the rest of the EU will also be impacted. Another threat concerns the EU Common External Tariff (CET). Currently this is set to keep prices high and discourage cheap imports. UK producers would suffer if the new tariff with e.g. South America was lowered / removed. It remains to be seen what will be negotiated with regard to labour mobility. Overall, Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector is a bigger proportion of the economy than in any other parts of the UK, so the sector will be watching negotiations with some interest.
he founder of worldrenowned Danish restaurant Noma credits roast chicken with inspiring him to cook. Given that René Redzepi can charge over £200 a head for a meal at his restaurant where diners are served anything from live ants to moss, you would think that he would choose something more outlandish as inspiration but no, he consistently diverts to the chicken he ate as a child growing up in Macedonia. Little wonder then that a company which places this most prevalent poultry at the centre of its focus has once again come out on top in the list of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies.
And – this is news to Ulster Business – Moy Park also produces beef products, vegetarian foods and desserts. But it is poultry that it’s best known for, poultry that is supplied by some 800 farmers in both Northern Ireland and England.
Moy Park processes 5m of the little blighters a week, not to mention 1.3m turkeys and 200,000 tonnes of ‘added-value products’ a year.
For that reason it’s one of the biggest customers of Northern Ireland’s agriculture sector and a vital cog in the wheel of the industry.
As the son of a poultry farmer and processor who likes to think he can pluck with the best of them, let me assure you that’s a lot.
An opponent of leaving the EU, it hasn’t yet said how Brexit will impact its business, although the siting of a European headquarters for JBS could drift south.
And even though Moy Park is technically competition, it’s difficult not to admire the business it has built up over the course of 73 years from its base in Moygashel. In that time it has grown to a £1.4bn turnover business which employs 12,000 people across the UK, Ireland, Holland and France. As well as being Northern Ireland’s biggest company, it’s one of the UK’s top 15 food companies and part of the world’s biggest protein company JBS which took over the reins last year from fellow Brazilian firm Marfrig in one of the biggest deals in corporate history here.
It supplies its own label and branded chicken products to retailers and foodservice providers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe, and claims to have been the first company in the UK to introduce free range chicken in the mid-1980s and organic chicken in the 1990s (I think it means on a mass market basis because I certainly remember chickens roaming free before then and plenty that were fed on nothing more than a handful of wheat).
Chief executive Janet McCollum, pictured, warned before the referendum that “any move away from the free market in which we currently operate could increase tariffs, add administrative burdens and limit export opportunities.” For now, Moy Park carries on as normal, propping up the number one spot on the Top 100 list with no sign of being challenged anytime soon. Chicken really is an inspiration.
Why do big businesses need PR support? What can public relations do for your business? Anna Morris, Managing Director of Clearbox, explains all that ball in your court. From setting the tone of communications to interacting with customers and key stakeholders, a well-equipped PR programme will help your business build and maintain the image and the profile that you want.
Customers One of the most important aspects of any business is customers. Who’s communicating with them? If you’re not talking to your customers, you can be sure that your competitors are. PR will help businesses own conversations about them and help shape the direction in which that conversation flows. Advertising might point a horse to water, but it’s PR that makes it drink. In 2016, there are a multitude of ways to communicate with people and PR programmes will help you hit those target audiences across all channels. You wouldn’t launch a new product or service without marketing, and the same rule applies for public relations.
t’s a question I’m asked more than any other - ‘why would we need PR?’ There are a few key reasons why businesses of all sizes should make public relations a priority.
Image First thing’s first. Do you want to control the image of your business, or are you happy for others to do that for you? PR keeps
their heads in the sand during a crisis, which damaged some of them beyond repair. It’s not worth the risk to deal with a crisis unprepared and alone.
Content Did you see that great video on Facebook that your competitor did? Or do you like the look of another brand’s Twitter account? By and large, most things which businesses do today online have PR people behind them. Be it an in-house team or a consultancy, creating engaging content for social and web channels has become a core part of PR’s offering and is now the best way to communicate with certain target audiences. Best of all? It’s surprisingly cost and time effective.
Time A basic reason for building public relations into your business is time. Do you have time, with everything else you do in your working day, to write a press release, create a video or field calls from the media?
Lots of businesses are fortunate in that they don’t have to face a crisis very often, but what happens when they do? Customers get angry, the media bombard you with questions and if you’re not communicating throughout the process, a vacuum filled with speculation is created.
My last point on the importance of public relations for businesses is risk. Can you afford not to embrace PR? By not putting yourself out there and building a brand personality, you run the risk of losing ground to competitors, getting yourself in a sticky situation with the press or, perhaps worst of all, being a bit invisible.
How a crisis is handled should be led by the PR team or consultancy working with a business. PR can act as a buffer between a business and the media or its customers, which is invaluable when things go wrong. History is littered with case studies of businesses that buried
If you’ve ever had a conversation with a friend or colleague that starts off with the words ‘did you see what they did…’ and nobody’s ever had that conversation about you, it’s time to think about investing in Public Relations for your business.
PROUD TO BE NUMBER IN THE ULSTER BUSINESS TOP 00 Producing fresh, locally farmed poultry for over 70 years. Our commitment to quality from farm to fork makes Moy Park the food industry leader of choice. www.moypark.com
Processing Business of the Year Winner
TOP 100 INSIGHT
View from the top Elaine Birchall, Group CEO of SHS Group, gives us an insight into one of the biggest businesses in Northern Ireland
How’s business? Our overall Group performance remains satisfactory – with our diverse portfolio we are managing to weather a deflationary retail market. Like many businesses we are currently considering what Brexit means – in the short term we are dealing with currency impact on input costs and international investments. In our sector overall volume is stagnant and the continued battle to gain consumer footfall via price discounting is diluting category value. In the past year we have increased our investment in product innovation and new business development in order maintain our growth momentum ahead of the marketplace. What have been the main highlights of the last year for SHS Group? We have developed a number of new products, including Blush, which hails the re-positioning of our biggest brand WKD and this has already resulted in new consumers being introduced to the brand. The associated marketing and distribution strategy has paid dividends in our first half year with sales exceeding forecasts and we are hopeful that the good weather will provide further consumption occasions for our drinks portfolio this summer.
Our Condiments and Sauces Division has delivered a stellar double digit sales growth across its dry and wet portfolio due to new business wins and relevant new product development, and our Sales and Marketing Divisions have won prestigious
engagement initiatives across the rest of the Group.
new brand owners in both GB and Ireland.
We pride ourselves on designing and marketing high quality products and we focus on the things that are important to consumers – consistency of quality, availability and regular and relevant innovation. We have upgraded our capability in consumer insight and brand development and are confident that we have a pipeline of great products to bring to market across our food and drink portfolio.
Of course, our people are central to all aspects of our service delivery and the exceptional job that they do is reflected in the new business we have generated in the last 12 months. At our corporate headquarters we have architected a five-year strategic plan which is designed to consolidate and build upon the significant success of SHS Group, galvanising our corporate identity and outlining ambition and objectives for the coming years. This is work in progress and over the summer we will unpack our operating division strategies before cascading to our teams. How do you manage the workforce of such a diverse Top 100 company? The SHS Group has a dynamic and collaborative spirit which is driven by our staff and their shared ambition to deliver exceptional customer service. Each division has an empowered leadership team and we drive a collegiate culture. I travel frequently to our operating units to demonstrate visible leadership and enable decision making. We have recruited some exceptional talent in the last year and I feel we have a healthy blend of true SHS stalwarts and complementary new thinking At our Belfast site we have introduced a People Engagement Plan (PEP) designed to develop and support our people by equipping them with the necessary skillset to succeed and to create a working environment that values wellbeing. As we cascade our strategic plan we will look to align our Employee
You own some of the most well-known brands. How do you go about making them the first choice for consumers?
Brexit is the big issue on every business leader’s lips. How does it affect you? The full implications of Brexit are yet to be realised, We are already feeling the impact on financial markets and currency devaluation, and expect to see price inflation as input costs rise. We perceive risks to the Northern Irish economy which requires inward investment in productive labour but we also see opportunities for our brands in international markets subject to new trading regulations. You’ve grown the company through organic and acquisitive growth. Will that continue in the future? Yes. Once markets settle down we hope to see a resurgence in M&A activity. Meantime we continue to focus on investment in brand development and channel reach. Where would you like to see SHS Group in five years’ time? Our five-year plan identifies our growth areas and the investment, capabilities and resources required to deliver. So in five years’ time I’d like to see that the strategy has been successfully implemented and that in parallel we have grown our talented people and retained our family values.
Rated No.6 in the TOP 100 Northern Ireland Companies by Ulster Business Magazine. EST. 1897. With almost 120 years of experience in retailing and five award winning brands, we understand the key to success! Call us now to find out more on how to join leading retail experts, Henderson Wholesale. Contact a member of our sales team on: 02890 337866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Ireland Water
t’s a bit of an understatement to say that water is important to life but is it really important to the Northern Ireland economy? Very much so, according to the chief executive of NI Water Sara Venning, who believes we need to have proper infrastructure in place to prepare for future economic growth.
“We want to be ready to support growth as the growth arises, not 10 or 20 years after,” she told Ulster Business. “It is essential our infrastructure is in place to support our growing population, the ambitions of government and our business community.” Ms Venning should know, given the utility she runs provides 560m litres of fresh
water and takes away 330m litres of waste water every day through pumps, pipes and other machinery worth £2.8bn. Ulster Business didn’t ask where the intervening 230 litres goes to but it’s not a discrepancy worth sweating over. An electrical engineer by trade, she spent 14 years at NIE before crossing over to
NI Water in 2010 as Director of Customer Service Delivery, then chief executive in 2014. That role involves keeping the taps flowing, as well as attempting to maintain costly infrastructure while the purse strings are being pulled tightly. “While the necessary investment has been underfunded in the first two years of our current six year price control, there is an opportunity to deliver planned service improvements, outputs and efficiencies if funding is allocated during the next four years to 2021. Recognising the links to safeguarding health, protecting the environment and promoting a strong regional economy, I’m confident the case for funding NI Water is a sound one.”
It would be remiss when talking to the boss of NI Water not to ask about water charges. “The decision on whether to charge directly for water and sewerage services lies with our government. NI Water’s annual capital budget represents less than approximately 1.5% of the total budget for Northern Ireland. “Our politicians do have difficult choices to make but it is feasible for NI Water to remain publically funded and to deliver for customers.” With all those factors to consider, is being the boss of such a large utility company enjoyable?
“I love my job and never fail to be inspired by the range of services we provide and the dedication of the people who deliver them,” she said. “Working in a utility business, you are always tuned in to your work because your services are always required. “It is truly a 24/7 job, it is a way of thinking and a way of life.” “When I see the sheer scale of engineering ingenuity that goes into our capital programme, the beauty of our water catchments and impounding reservoirs, the way waste is treated and returned safely to the environment I never fail to be impressed and inspired. While often understated, our work should never be taken for granted.”
Treat employees like they’re your best clients By John Moore, Regional Managing Director of Hays Northern Ireland
Our most recent Hays State of UK Resourcing Report showed that market reputation is a key element of resourcing for HR Directors across the UK and Ireland. Employer brand was cited by almost 90% of respondents as being important, yet few were delivering on this element. Many firms believe that the employer is in the driving seat and calling the shots, when the opposite is often true for hard to fill roles.
mployees are hailed as the lifeblood of organisations and invariably held up as a company’s primary assets, so it is as important as ever to acquire and retain the best possible talent available. Organisations we work with are placing ever greater value in enhancing their reputation as an employer. This type of ‘employer branding’ helps to attract better talent to an organisation and offers other myriad benefits to the business as a whole. From intern to CFO, your employees exemplify your ethos as an employer and bring your brand to life. Treating employees as though they’re your best client lies in the best interests of your talent management strategy.
Even as recently as five years ago, a company’s website was the primary source of information about an organisation’s working practices, philosophy and sense of purpose. This is no longer the main source for many discerning jobseekers. With social media playing such a major role in our daily lives, candidates will go to third-party websites and online networks to get a sense of how a business manages its staff. Your reputation is a fragile commodity and is impacted upon by existing and previous employees who post their views of working for your company on sites such as Rate My Placement and Glassdoor. If your company ignores this they are perhaps missing a trick, because candidates certainly don’t ignore it when they are researching what kind of company they want to work for. To build your brand, invest in learning and development opportunities. Consider opening up greater involvement in strategy development; offering more flexible working practices; enhancing internal communications channels; and
opening up routes to recognition. Through taking feedback from the employee and active listening, you will understand what motivates people and develop more appropriate and relevant personal development plans and company practices. Hays speaks to thousands of employers and jobseekers every day. We do this as part of our daily business operations but we also do this more systematically through in-depth surveys in order to understand the market better. Time and time again, our research shows that offering positive experiences to employees and candidates drives successful talent management and human resourcing. We know this too from a practical point of view having been recognised as one of the best employers to work for in the UK, and we are the top rated recruiter listed in the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award. Companies that want to attract the top candidates will have to do more to protect and foster their reputation to ensure that they get the best applicants through their door. This means working harder to market new roles, developing a quicker and more efficient recruitment process and ensuring that new employees’ initial impressions of the company are positive. Companies with strong employer brands are more capable of meeting these distinct needs.
For further information about Hays in Northern Ireland log on to www.hays.co.uk/northern-ireland
Brexit: what’s going to change? Dorit McCann, partner in the corporate team at Carson McDowell LLP, explores the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU
UK remains a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), the majority of EU laws would continue to apply to the UK, including the free movement rules, competition and procurement laws. The effects of Brexit will be more significant if the UK chooses a trading relationship with the EU outside the EEA. A free trade agreement similar to the ‘Canadian’ model would give the UK the freedom to regulate much of UK life without reference to EU laws but would be subject to any free trade agreement’s provisions regarding goods and services – UK goods imported to the EU, for example, would have to comply with relevant EU standards.
t is clear by now that the next few years will bring a degree of uncertainty for businesses in Northern Ireland – and indeed the rest of the UK – while the terms of the UK exit from the EU are being negotiated. However, it is important to bear in mind that the UK remains a full member of the EU and that EU laws will continue to apply in the UK during the negotiations.
A customs union along the lines of the relationship the EU has with Turkey would provide a common external tariff for all industrial goods but would not address agriculture, services or public procurement. If no other trade model has been negotiated with the EU in the two years provided for by the EU Treaty, in the absence of an extension of that period which would require the unanimous consent of all EU Member States, the UK’s trade will be governed by the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This would mean that UK exports of products to the EU would be subject to the EU common external tariff and that the UK would have to comply with EU product standards for exports to the EU. Regardless of the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK, it is important to bear in mind that many pieces of EU legislation are firmly embedded in UK law and are therefore unlikely to change substantially in the short to medium term. Examples are employment, competition, public procurement, environmental and planning laws.
Moreover, many EU laws are implemented into UK law and will therefore continue to apply after the UK exits the EU. The UK Parliament will have to decide which of these laws it would like to repeal, which it would like to retain and which it would like to amend. This process will take many years.
Of course these potential legal developments have to be viewed in light of the impact of the Brexit vote on broader markets. The initial impact on market sentiment in terms of mergers and acquisitions and investment activity has been a negative one according to economists. As greater clarity begins to emerge, businesses will look to see where opportunities may lie and one assumes that the UK government’s focus will be on seeking to restore business confidence.
At this stage nobody knows what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will look like. This means that it is too early to say what the long term implications for businesses will be. This will become clearer as the negotiations with the UK and the EU take shape and details of the new trading relationship emerge. For example, if the
As Northern Ireland is the only UK region to share a land border with another EU Member State, the future relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the post-Brexit treatment of the border between the UK and Ireland is a critical issue for businesses in Northern Ireland that currently operate on a cross border basis.
More high-flyers than any other law firm. We provide legal advice to the majority of Northern Ireland’s top 50 companies*
At Carson McDowell, our commercially focused, specialist teams are the law firm of choice for the majority of Northern Ireland’s top companies. We are creative problem solvers, finding the best bespoke solutions to our clients’ problems. We’re hands on, passionate and always prepared to go the extra mile.
*Source: Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies 2016
usgrave describes itself as providing the “the sourcing, sales, marketing and supply chain expertise so local entrepreneurs can go head-to-head with the international supermarket chains.” It is the name behind a number of high street convenience store names which thousands of people in Northern Ireland use each day including SuperValu, Centra and MACE, as well as a wholesale arm under the Musgrave Marketplace brand. Although based in Cork, it is growing its business in Spain – through the Dialprix convenience store brand and Dialsur cash and carry brand – as well as in Northern Ireland, which is headed up by Michael McCormack (pictured). He is keen to point to the ongoing rollout of its store upgrades as well as the addition of new stores, such as the new Centra on Donegall Street in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter where this photoshoot took place. Mr McCormack said the new concept is “redefining the convenience market in Northern Ireland with a full new range of fresh and healthy foods and a reinvigorated coffee offer making it easier for consumers to eat and live well.
30 stores across Northern Ireland as part of a three-year £60m investment. In keeping with changing consumer demands, emphasis has been placed on local sourcing. “SuperValu and Centra stores sell in excess of £200m of local products annually with 60% of everything sold in the stores produced or sourced in Northern Ireland and more than 75% of all fresh ranges sourced local,” he said. And the future will see more of the same as the firm works toward some lofty ambitions. “Musgrave’s intention is to run marketleading brands, which are responsive to the needs of the Northern Ireland consumer and which deliver a sustainable profitable business for our retail partners,” he said. “By 2018 we will be Northern Ireland’s number one consumer choice in convenience shopping,” “We will be the preferred partner for retailers looking for a retail partnership via SuperValu and Centra and we will operate the number one symbol (MACE) and wholesale (Marketplace) brands in the market. Our people are experts in retail and committed to working with our retail partners to ensure long term success and profitability for their stores.”
“Due to the scale of the refurbishments across the three brands our focus for the next 12-18 months is to implement this exciting new shopping experience for consumers across all of our stores.” So far this year the firm has upgraded
TOP 100 INSIGHT
CBI and Ibec call for £10bn infrastructure upgrade By Donal O’Donavan
£10bn programme to upgrade the transport network across the island should be rolled out regardless of last month’s Brexit vote, according to the two main business groups in the Republic and in Northern Ireland.
the past” if the Brexit vote is allowed to spell the end of joint action by Dublin and Belfast on work - including transport, energy and digital.
Employers’ group Ibec, in the Republic, and the Northern Ireland branch of the UK’s Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have jointly launched a major report setting out proposals to upgrade the all-island transport network on a phased basis in order to cope with a future population of 10 million by 2050.
“Investment in all island infrastructure and initiatives must progress with added urgency. Progress has been achieved over the last two decades but we must now set out ambitious plans to complete the connectivity across the island that businesses need,” he said. “Ibec and the CBI will continue to identify and facilitate investment and funding mechanisms to deliver the ambitious proposal that is put forward by the All Island Investment Project. Business will rise to the challenge and continue to build on the strong historical cooperative relationship across the island and between the two islands.”
They warned that the Brexit vote demanded a “new, concerted and co-ordinated policy response” and that all-island investment must remain a priority. The director of policy and corporate affairs at Ibec, Mary Rose Burke, said piecemeal plans to extend road infrastructure on both sides of the border needed to be merged to create a comprehensive all-Ireland motorway and dual carriageway network.
CBI Northern Ireland Director Nigel Smyth said there is no time to waste.
Immediate priorities include completing routes in development, such as the A5 and A6 connecting Derry and the north west to Dublin and Belfast; upgrades to the N20 from Cork to Limerick; enhancing capacity on the M50; the N15 linking Letterkenny to Sligo; and the A5 route extension to Letterkenny.
The plan includes development of major connecting roads on the west coast, connecting the so-called Atlantic cities, from Derry to Tralee and Cork.
“The plan includes development of major connecting roads on the west coast, connecting the socalled Atlantic cities, from Derry to Tralee and Cork.”
The plan is also to add more north-south routes, and roads between second-tier urban centres, in addition to the current networks radiating out of Dublin and Belfast. A fully national network will be vital to any shift to more balanced regional development, Ibec said.
The country has not had a comprehensive all-island transport network since the high point of the railways in 1920. After partition, links to the north west in particular have not developed, she said. Referring to partition, she said there was a danger of “repeating the mistakes of
Under the plan 85% of the population would be within 10km of a motorway or dual carriage-way, easing access to trade, work and services, she said.
With the population set to increase, investment is needed to support exports, job creation and business development, the organisations said. Ibec and the CBI will lobby leaders on both sides of the border with a view to getting work to the planning stages next year. The estimated €12bn cost is based on a price of €5m per km of dual carriageway and €10m per km of motorway. That level of investment was affordable, Ms Burke said, but might require publicprivate partnerships, and new and innovative forms of tolling – including time-based charges levied using GPS technology. European rules mean financing by the State is likely to be done “off balance sheet”. The push by tech and motor companies to develop smart cars and more ecofriendly vehicles demonstrate that road, rather than rail or air transport, is likely to remain dominant, she added.
Flags, firebombs & flashbacks
Top 50 Employers
TOP 50 EMPLOYERS 1-25
City / Town
Short Brothers plc
Poultry & Meat Processors
Queen’s University of Belfast
Noonan Services Group
University of Ulster
Marks & Spencer
John Henderson (Holdings)
BT Northern Ireland
Allstate Northern Ireland
LLoyd’s Banking Group
Number of Employees
* Figures supplied by The Equality Commission from the 2015 Fair Employment register. Only employees working 16 hours a week or more are included on this list.
TOP 50 EMPLOYERS 26-50
City / Town
Wine & Spirit Merchants
Seagate Technology (Ireland)
Stream Intelligent Contact
First Choice Selection Services
Dunnes Stores (Bangor)
Mount Charles Catering
Bank of Ireland
AIB Group (UK)
Number of Employees
* Figures supplied by The Equality Commission from the 2015 Fair Employment register. Only employees working 16 hours a week or more are included on this list.
Connecting you with the best talent Donna Parker, Diamond Recruitment’s Operations Director, looks at how to attract talent in a candidate-driven marketplace
o matter what industry you are in, the success of your business relies heavily on the people you have working for you. Currently in Northern Ireland we are experiencing a candidate-driven market where employers are trying to attract and retain the best talent from an ever-decreasing pool of available candidates. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s monthly report on jobs states that eight out of 10 employers are planning to hire more people in the next three months. In the same report we discover 95% of employers are operating with either no spare capacity or only ‘a little’ capacity to take on more work with their existing workforce. All of this points to increased pressure on companies trying to recruit and increases the need for innovative recruitment solutions, ensuring that you stay ahead of the competition and attract the best talent for your business. Successful recruiters will always consider the following when going to market to attract new talent:
Employer brand All organisations have an employer brand whether they have consciously created one or not. This is how your organisation is perceived as a ‘place to work’ by wouldbe recruits, current employees and those leaving the organisation. It is worth engaging your current employees in a survey and asking them what makes your organisation a great place to work. Use your findings to inform your recruitment marketing campaign; whether it be worklife balance, employee benefits schemes or general culture, you can be sure what your employees think is good about your company will help attract others. If some feedback isn’t great, at least you are now aware of any issues potential recruits could have heard of in the market and can start putting mechanisms in place to fix them.
Passive candidates The person scouring the job ads every day isn’t always the best person to fill your vacancy. The person happily working away for your biggest competitor however, might be the perfect match. According to LinkedIn, roughly 75% of candidates fall into the “passive candidate” category. They won’t reply to your ad, so how do you engage with them and eventually hire them? Your initial reach out to them should include some information about you and your company and why you think a move to your organisation would benefit them. Tell them why their experience is relevant to you, and also why you feel they would be a good fit. Employee referral schemes are also an effective way to reach passive candidates, particularly if your current employees have come from competitors in the marketplace. Chances are they will know who the talent out there is and what makes them tick.
Social media strategy Don’t underestimate the power of social media, particularly for technical or high volume roles. Social media is a great way to promote and share your employer brand and advertise your job postings; many candidates will look at your profile before
deciding to apply for your job. Encourage your employees to share your job postings on their own social media which will give you much greater reach to relevant candidates.
Positive candidate experience When devising your recruitment strategy, getting your recruitment process right is critical. I have lost count of the amount of people who have told me they didn’t bother applying for a role simply because the application or recruitment process was so cumbersome it put them off the role and the organisation. Ensure the process is relevant for the level of role you are hiring for. Make sure you communicate throughout the application process and manage expectations – one disgruntled applicant will tell 10 others if they have a poor experience thus limiting your candidate pool even further. However, a positive recruitment experience with good communication, constructive feedback and respectful dialogue will leave even unsuccessful candidates with a positive view of your business, ultimately helping you connect to the best talent.
For confidential recruitment advice for your business contact Donna Parker on 028 9055 8000 or email: email@example.com
rying to arrange interviews and photoshoots with the bosses of some of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies can be a difficult affair, but Maxol’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Donaldson makes it easy. He takes a call from Ulster Business over the holiday period while he is, quite rightly, on holiday in Portugal and kindly makes only minimal reference to the searing sunshine which at the time of writing was not visiting UB Towers. And given there are around 100 Maxol sites throughout Northern Ireland, it wasn’t difficult finding a location for the shoot (the Townparks station in Antrim, for those who are curious).
Of those 100, around 35 are company owned but licensed to local business people, there are six which are unmanned fuel stations and the remainder are run by private businesses which use Maxol as their brand and fuel provider. While supplying fuel has been a traditional staple and is probably what the name is best known for, the shops in most sites are a major part of the offering and are growing in importance. In the company-owned network, Maxol partners with Henderson Group and hosts Spars in its Northern Ireland stores, although keen-eyed cross-border travellers will realise that in the Republic that
partnership is with Musgrave Group, so those sites host Mace stores.
Coffee and Supermac, a concept it is hoping to bring to Northern Ireland.
Even keener-eyed consumers will notice that Maxol has upped its focus on the convenience offering with the addition of its own foodservice brand Moreish which is currently being rolled out.
That will be part of a further push into Northern Ireland, and the Republic, in what will be significant investment over the next few years, according to Brian Donaldson.
It’s a café concept which offers coffee, sandwiches and salads and marks a switch in direction for Maxol to make its sites a destination for more than just fuel. It has hired a food service executive to work closely with suppliers and will take a special interest in offering healthy food. In addition, Maxol is already partnering with indigenous foodservice brands at is Blanchardstown site such as Chopped, a salad offering, Insomnia
“We have a very heavy focus on growing the business and will build on the trust and recognition which Maxol has,” he said. “Our forecourts can become destinations in their own right provided we make sure our offering is relevant to the consumer. “We’re turning the traditional view of our business on its head; the key is how we achieve that transition.” Mr Donaldson certainly has the experience to drive that growth, having been with the company for over 30 years. “I’ve been very fortunate and humbled to take on the role as Group Chief Executive and be in charge of one of the largest familyowned businesses on the island of Ireland,” he said. “These are exciting times ahead of Maxol and we have some fantastic people in the company to make sure we deliver.”
BDO’s Francis Martin appointed President of the British Chambers of Commerce
rancis Martin, a Partner in BDO Northern Ireland, has been appointed President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), one of the most powerful and influential business networks in the UK.
his role at BDO Northern Ireland where he continues to practice full time as a Partner.
It is the first time in the BCC’s 156year history that a Northern Ireland business leader has taken the helm of the organisation which represents more than 75,000 organisations and supports over five million employees in the UK.
“This is a crucial time for the UK economy and the role of the Chambers of Commerce has become vital as a result. Businesses in the UK are resilient and innovative, but it is imperative that actions needed to sustain competitive trade and support long-term growth are identified and taken by policymakers.
Francis, who was officially appointed at the BCC’s Annual General Meeting in July, succeeds Nora Senior who stands down after three years in post. He confirmed that in the wake of the Brexit vote, the Chambers would be urging Government to provide stability, clarity and action. “There is an urgent need from Government for swift, decisive and co-ordinated action to stabilise markets and trading conditions,” he said. “We need clarity on the timeframe for key decisions; and we need action, to proactively support the economy at a sensitive time of transition.” Francis, originally from Moy in Co Tyrone, holds more than 20 years’ experience in corporate finance and business strategy development. He was formerly President of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry and was recently awarded Northern Ireland Dealmaker of the Year 2016 through
His said the Chambers will offer leadership and positive influence for UK businesses during these uncertain times.
He added, “In my tenure as President, I will work with my colleagues and government for the benefit of businesses and communities around the country. The British Chambers of Commerce is a powerful advocate for the business community and has strongly represented the diverse interests of our members for more than 150 years. “Over recent years, it has forged a dynamic Global Business Network that includes more than 20 counties, from Chile to Vietnam. This vehicle has been advantageous for exports and it is right that UK businesses continue to look for new ways to boost trade and establish new linkages. We are ideally placed to help drive this agenda.” A chartered accountant by profession, Francis hold more than 20 years’ experience in corporate, finance and business
strategy development, advising Northern Ireland’s largest organisations as well as SMEs across a broad range of sectors. Peter Burnside, Managing Partner at BDO Northern Ireland congratulated him on the appointment and said: “Francis brings strong leadership and exceptional business acumen to the Chambers. His influence and measured approach in challenging situations has helped our clients and our firm to grow considerably in the last decade. I’m pleased that he will continue to lead our ranks while also sharing his experience and guidance through the BCC. Now is the time for calm and considered thinking across all sectors in the UK and, in Francis, the Chambers have a strategist of the highest calibre at their helm. I wish him every success during his term as President of the British Chambers of Commerce.” Francis was a Board Member of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) between 2009 and 2015 and served as President between 2010 and 2012. Nick Coburn, the current President of the NI Chamber said: “I would like to congratulate Francis Martin on his appointment as President of the British Chambers of Commerce. Francis brings great experience to the role as a former President of NI Chamber, a post he held for two years from 2010. As President of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I will work in partnership with Francis to ensure that the business voice is heard in the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster.”
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Could a virtual border be the solution? By Niall O’Connor
Travel Area, if new agreements were reached surrounding tougher borders. But any such move would likely be met with strong resistance from the EU. Mr Kenny insisted he has secured full agreement with the prime minister about the border issue as he moved to dampen concerns about the prospect of checkpoints. “A hard border, in normal circumstances, means customs posts and customs checks on a very regular basis. There will be no return to the hard border of the past.
Enda Kenny meets Theresa May
virtual border using technology could be the solution to maintaining an open flow of people between Northern Ireland and the Republic, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said. After his first meeting with new British Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr Kenny ruled out the possibility of a hard border in the strongest terms yet. “I would not agree to a hard border with a whole range of customs posts and neither does the prime minister,” he said outside Downing Street. “There are other ways of dealing with modern technology in terms of checking trade.” Mr Kenny indicated that he was open to exploring models such as those in Canada, whereby vehicles’ registration plates are screened automatically as they approach a border. “Yes, I think these are things that need to be looked at creatively. But we are both agreed very firmly that there will be no return to a hard border as existed previously,” he said.
Mr Kenny’s comments came as reports in London last night suggested that Mrs May and her chancellor Philip Hammond had yet to be convinced that the advantages of leaving the customs union would be offset by the liberty to negotiate that doing so would bring. The new Trade Secretary Liam Fox is pushing for the UK to cut free from the agreement which ensures there are no tariffs on goods. Such a move is likely to add “significant” administrative costs and delays to trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Meanwhile, Mrs May continued to avoid the use of the phrase ‘hard border’ when discussing her meeting with Mr Kenny but emphasised the need to “preserve” the common travel area and secure “a deal that is in the interests of both of us”. “Alongside this, we should continue our efforts to strengthen the external borders of the Common Travel Area; for example, through a common approach to the use of passenger data,” she said. This would suggest that it could become more difficult for people outside the UK and Ireland to travel to the Common
The Taoiseach twice dodged questions about the prospect of a united Ireland. Asked specifically whether he, like Leo Varadkar, would like to see a 32-county Republic in his lifetime, Mr Kenny hesitated, before replying: “My focus today is on confirming that there will not be a return to a hard border, by that I mean customs posts all along the way. “Obviously, the prime minister favours that very strongly with me. So we both agree – no return to a hard border.” In statements following the meeting, Mr Kenny said that he had invited Mrs May to visit Ireland. He is the first head of State to visit Downing Street since Ms May became prime minister. Meanwhile, the former president of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, has called for a rethink of “speculative” fears about a hard border. Speaking in Newry, Mr Cox said work needs to begin on common standards, data and information sharing, e-border initiatives and reinforced co-operation between the UK Border Agency and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
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Clare Kilfin, who works at Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company
aced with such a well-known consumer brand, Ulster Business would have normally chosen to begin such a profile with reference to a slogan from one of Coca-Cola’s old advertising campaigns, but sometimes it’s best not to try and be smart. Instead, it would pay readers to take heed of Tom Robinson’s smartness because it is because of him that the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company is here in Northern Ireland. Back in 1938 he wrote a letter to the brand’s London operation, registering his interest in setting up a franchise in Northern Ireland. A year later, he was selling the iconic caramel-coloured drink from his Rumford Street base off Belfast’s Shankill Road. Sometimes it pays just to ask. The operation moved to Lisburn in 1967, initially based in Lambeg, before relocating to its current £93.5m stateof-the-art manufacturing plant at Knockmore Hill in 2007 and is now run by General Manager Matthieu Seguin. It bottles international brands like CocaCola, Fanta, Sprite, Oasis and Schweppes, as well as local brands such as Deep RiverRock and Fruice and can lay claim to manufacturing 97% of all the Coca-Cola products sold on the island of Ireland. In addition, the company also distributes brands such as Monster Energy and BPM. Around 500 staff work for the business in Northern Ireland and they are seemingly a big
draw and one of the main reasons why the plant is based here, according to Mr Seguin. “The region offers a workforce that is educated, smart, innovative and resultsdriven. People who we can rely on to make sure our operation is a success,” he said. “Combine this with superb infrastructure, a competitive cost base and excellent support packages and we have a great location in which to do business.” While the location may be well chosen, how does a business like Coca-Cola view the UK government’s intention to introduce a sugar tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks. “We do not support the sugar levy for the very simple reason that we don’t believe it will help to tackle the problem of obesity. We have already done a great deal to help consumers manage their sugar intake and we are committed to continuing these efforts by reformulating to reduce sugar in our existing added-sugar beverages, introducing new lower sugar beverages, and actively promoting our low and no calorie beverages.” “If the aim is to reduce obesity, the sugar levy flies in the face of evidence from around the world which shows taxes do very little, if anything, to reduce sugar and calorie intake or obesity levels but do add to people’s cost of living.” While Mr Seguin realises the health and wellness agenda will provide some headwinds for a sector such as his which operates in a mature environment, he’s not taking them lying down.
“We also see these challenges as an opportunity. We have a clear roadmap in place to help our business respond to evolving consumer health needs. “Guided by this strategy, we expect our portfolio to evolve over the next five years’ time with increasing focus on low and no sugar variants, water and functional beverages. And before you ask, that doesn’t mean that CocaCola classic is on the way out! “Consumers have been enjoying the great taste of Coca-Cola for 130 years and we expect them to continue to do so for many decades to come; so Coca-Cola classic is here to stay.” On the issue of Brexit, Mr Seguin said the business is watching developments closely. “At this point in time, it is unclear exactly what the implications are and how our business will be affected. However, we do know that whatever the consequences, there will be a lengthy transition time as the terms of withdrawal and future relationship between the UK and the EU are negotiated. “We will need to take the appropriate steps to understand the process and as we learn more, we will map the impact and position our business to respond accordingly.” “In the meantime, it’s business as usual. We have been doing business across the island of Ireland for over 75 years and we remain absolutely committed to our people, our communities, our customers, shoppers and suppliers in our two countries.”
Alan McVey, NI business development manager, Ward Solutions
Cagey firms won’t reveal data breach Ward Solutions’ 2016 Information Security Survey has highlighted what businesses need to do to improve cybersecurity
ard Solutions recently revealed the results of its 2016 Information Security Survey, which found that almost half of Northern Irish businesses wouldn’t disclose a data breach to impacted third parties, including customers and suppliers. What’s more, the survey found that a third of businesses had suffered a data breach in the past year, which indicates a pre-existing risk to many people’s data that they may not be aware of. These findings emphasise the need for a new approach to information security, and Ward Solutions has developed a set of recommendations for any organisation looking to understand current IT security trends and design an information security strategy to tackle developing threats.
Focus on the basics first Advanced IT security technologies have their place but they will not solve fundamental problems such as lack of workable policy for data handling and classification or incident response. Ward’s advice is to focus on covering the basics and ensure they’re working well and then work towards the continued improvement of your security posture through refinement of those practices.
Don’t reinvent the wheel The implementation of a recognised accreditation can help to refine your organisation’s security model. Ward strongly advises the use of an overarching framework such as ISO 27001:2013 as part of your security management system to provide a systemic approach to managing overall information security.
Close the knowledge and communication gap Without board-level involvement in information security matters and concerns, IT issues will continue to rank poorly on the C-level agenda. Finding an appropriate C-level sponsor on the board, who is aware of the importance of information security, and the aspects of the business in which it acts as a blocker or enabler, can help in this regard.
Implement a holistic information security model Move from prevention-focused strategies to a holistic information security model. Approaches to information security have traditionally focused mainly on preventative strategies, but recent developments indicate that this focus is flawed and organisations need a much more comprehensive approach.
Ward Solutions has developed an innovative information security strategy, based on the implementation and lifecycle of five key stages: Identify – Identify key information assets and the risks facing them. Protect – Put appropriate business and technical controls in place to stop incidents from occurring. Detect – Accept that prevention is not 100% effective and allocate additional resources to detect security incidents. Respond – In the event of a breach, implement pre-rehearsed incident response processes to determine what has been affected and how it can be resolved. Recover – Following initial incident handling and response, roll out well-developed incident response strategies to minimise the impact of a security incident. Once resolved, organisations must continuously repeat the cycle, learning from previous incidents to consistently improve their information security strategy. In conjunction with a continuous information security management system, this can greatly help to manage and reduce risk.
To read Ward Solutions’ full 2016 Information Security Report visit www.wardinfosec.co.uk
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ot that many years ago, Devenish wasn’t known much beyond the farming sector in Northern Ireland. Nowadays, its a posterchild for high growth companies. Named after the island on Lower Lough Erne of the same name, Devenish Feeds, as it was known then, was founded in 1952 in Belfast and focused on supplying minerals and nutrients to local feed mills and farmers. The firm’s products are a small, but vital part of animal feed which are mixed in with the base constituents such as wheat, soya and maize and which can have a big influence over milk, meat or egg production, and therefore the efficiency of farms. In 1997, the current management team lead by Executive Chairman Owen Brennan bought the firm and embarked on a mission to take the company global. An early statement of intent saw the name changed to Devenish Nutrition and, with
heavy investment in production capabilities, human capital, research and development and a number of acquisitions, that ambition was soon realised.
“It’s our mission to be world-renowned for creating innovative, bespoke and sustainable nutritional solutions in the markets we participate in,” he said.
It has manufacturing sites in Maquoketa, Iowa and Fairmont in Minnesota as well as a number of key distributors throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle and Far East.
As an example of what that means in practice, he points to the development of omega-3 chicken for supermarket Waitrose.
And it manufactures in excess of 1,500 metric tonnes per week across three production sites, which are sold and delivered to over 40 countries worldwide and to over 20 states within the US. Employee numbers have jumped to 400 from just 23 at the takeover in 1997, turnover to £160m from £5m annually. Export and innovation is at the key to such growth, Richard Kennedy, Group CEO, said as he was being photographed at the firm’s Belfast Harbour distribution centre.
It is a reaction to concerns from doctors that modern diets are deficient in omega-3 which led Devenish to develop a feed additive which boosts levels of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in chicken. Mr Kennedy is also keen to point out that the staff at Devenish are key to the company’s success. “They are the most important part of Devenish. It’s the people on the ground, in the labs, in the stores and out selling which make this company what it is. With their help we can only go from strength-to-strength.”
Next door’s GDP: should we be jealous?
funny thing happened on the way to the merger of carmakers Daimler-Benz and Chrysler in 1998. When the highly profitable German company re-filed its accounts in line with the rules of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, it posted a loss. Nothing else had changed, there was no jiggery-pokey; just accountancy. Presumably this was the work of Wagnerian dwarves rather than Irish leprechauns, but the reasons for this oddity and the 2015 explosion in the official size of Irish GDP are much the same. The dictionary definition of GDP (gross domestic product) could hardly be simpler – the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders over a particular period. Note the word, “produced”. It is one thing to talk of lies, damned lies and statistics. Things get even worse when they are harmonised across countries, whether for profits or GDP. The merger story shows why international standards seem a good idea. In practice, especially in UK and Irish pensions, they have been more like weapons of mass financial
Brendan Keenan takes a look at the Republic’s huge jump in GDP of 26% and finds the measure itself may be a little misleading
destruction. Now, they may do similar harm to the Irish economy, at home and abroad. In Dublin, the uncomfortable truth is that we need a good measure of something like GDP to have any chance of following sensible policies. GDP itself has been unsatisfactory for a long time, because it includes the earnings of multinational companies which do not accrue to Irish people. This did not stop policy formation based on GDP, with the unfortunate result that we spent money we did not actually have. It is a difficult business admittedly, because all the international comparisons are in GDP. Irish people and policymakers are being asked to act on the basis of one set of numbers, while all the statistics are based on another. The result is that we have a very limited understanding of what is actually going on; never mind what we ought to do next. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the thickets of the health service. Measured as a proportion of GDP, Irish health spending looks on the low side compared with other advanced economies.
Take a more realistic measure of Irish income than GDP, and health spending is already in that zone – without the levels of service. Get a little more complicated, and allow for the age of the population, and Ireland becomes one of the big spenders. Not a lot of people know that. Complexity in policy argument is impossible if the basic measure is incorrect. There are persistent demands for spending to be increased to match the countries with higher ratios of spending to GDP. And that was the old GDP, before the 2015 eruption, and at least we had Irish income (GNP) as a more realistic basis. But there was precious little attempt by politicians, unions or spending lobbies and lobbyists to work off the lower figure, when more money could be mined from the higher. Now, GNP is pretty useless too, because of a particular kind of tax avoidance; mostly by British companies. One would like to think that the ludicrous 26pc increase in the value of GDP would persuade everyone that both should be consigned to the junk folder, but the early signs are not encouraging. The public finances of the last couple of years benefited from corporation tax receipts soaring for reasons which continued on page 92 >
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What is ActivityBased Working? Activity-based working is a conceptual idea where workstations are communal, and the entire working area is viewed as usable space. At the core of this principle are values like flexibility, transparency, team work and efficiency. Activity-based working is a principle that looks ahead, integrating the latest technology into the space and planning for a new generation of staff. Organisations design their space in a way that they are focused on support the tasks that need to be carried out in space. For example, areas with few desks but with sofas and writable walls for collaborating, silent areas with sectioned off desks for concentrated work, designated telephone areas and various meeting areas.
or a number of years now we have seen the workplace transform from a sedentary, hierarchy-based workplace, to a more dynamic and transparent environment. The absence of cellular offices brought in a wave of employers trying to fill a space with as many openplan workstations as possible. To combat the overcrowded office space, some employers have turned to flexible working, where workstations are shared by two or more employees. This has been evolved further, and its new incarnation is known as activity-based working.
By providing a variety of environments, the employee gains more freedom in the workplace, determining how and where they will work that day, based on the task at hand. Fully integrated technology in these areas make working together, even at distance, more accessible. Advantages of Activity-Based Working are: n Increased productivity n A less sedentary work place n Collaboration and creativity increase n Team work and cooperation increase n Mobile environment n Cost saving through fewer workspaces n Staff retention and recruitment increase
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alking into the control room of SONI’s Castlereagh hills headquarters is like stepping into another universe. As the security door closes behind, the twin impact of lower lighting and subdued noise levels make this reporter instantly jealous that Ulster Business towers isn’t quite as calm. Alas there’s little chance of Ulster Business being allowed to hammer out a couple of stories in this space, which is dedicated to making sure the lights stay on in Northern Ireland, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. SONI, or the System Operator of Northern Ireland, is responsible for “the consistent and reliable transmission of electricity on its high-voltage grid, matching supply and demand for power across Northern Ireland, every second of every day.” It also operates the wholesale electricity market for the whole-island of Ireland in collaboration with its counterpart in the Republic, EirGrid and through the Single Electricity Market Operator.
In essence, it makes sure the power is transferred from generation stations – such as AES’s Ballylumford plant profiled in last year’s Top 100 magazine – to end users, whether that’s you and me boiling the kettle in our kitchens or a factory like Moy Park’s – profiled in this year’s magazine. It works alongside NIE, which owns and maintains the transmission hardware – the poles and substations – as well as with the electricity providers which sell power to consumers. Here in the control room the team of engineers are going about their business calmly, monitoring the flow of electricity on banks and banks of screens stationed around a central screen which lights up with a map of Northern Ireland. Standing out are the main electricity lines which snake across the country like veins on the x-ray of an eye. It’s all calm when Ulster Business visits but when demand peaks in one area, it’s up to these engineers to call on additional power from the generators or to tap into supply from elsewhere.
That’s an important job, but they aren’t fazed when the snapper sets up a couple of flash lights and commandeers one of the desks. Robin McCormick, pictured, is the Director of Operations, Planning & Innovation and General Manager at SONI. “We manage the demand customers make for electricity by ensuring we have enough generators running,” he said. “We run it as efficiently as we can, making sure we use the most efficient generators most often and only running the most expensive when we really have to. “That also means anticipating how hard the wind is going to blow, as a large proportion of our energy come from renewable sources.” Wind is an area Northern Ireland is leading the world in, according to Mr McCormick. “Our ability to accept wind generation is way beyond what the rest of the world is doing,” he said. “It’s a different type of energy and we have to do all sorts of tricks to ensure stability of supply.”
And that is only part of SONI’s role. It also keeps money flowing in the electricity market from supply companies to generators. “We’ve got to make sure that a cheque goes from one part to another on the right day and for the right amount of money.” SONI also makes sure the transmission infrastructure is adequate for the efficient operation of the system, a good example being the north-south interconnector which is needed to ensure a steady supply of electricity. All-in-all, SONI’s responsibilities are wide ranging, but none more so than keeping the lights on, although not too brightly in this tranquil control room in the Castlereagh hills.
Robin McCormick, Director of Operations, Planning & Innovation and General Manager at SONI
continued from page 86 >
were not clear. Now, they are becoming clear. Changes in the way the accounts are drawn up along with – irony of ironies – attempts by multinationals to escape the international crackdown on tax avoidance, have laden Irish GDP with investments we have not made and assets we do not own, and all without any particular increase in production. Artificial it may be, but the search for tax shelter may see the booming corporation tax revenues continue for some time. Mr Noonan seems inclined to spend them, even though a good chunk will go on increased contributions to the EU, based on Ireland’s swollen GDP. An early test will be whether he uses the new, inflated value of GDP in setting his budget targets, or moves to a bigger surplus. There has been a general tendency to regard that as jolly unfair, since we have not earned any more money. In fact, we should be jolly glad – perhaps even make a voluntary contribution. The damage abroad from these adjustments is that they remove much of the force from Ireland’s argument that it is not a tax haven but a respectable, low tax jurisdiction. By their fruits ye shall know them, and the wave of inversions, headquarterings and
transfers of intellectual property which created much of this distortion would not happen in a more respectable, low tax jurisdiction.
While all that is going on, we must wrestle at home with the problem of how to have any serious economic discussions
Something has gone wrong with Ireland’s corporation tax regime; even if it is the fault of tax lawyers rather than Irish governments (although that is far from certain). Irish governments should have acted to stop much of the activity of the last decade. If they could not stop it, they should have made their displeasure clear, accompanied by vague threats of future action.
There are already great arguments about whether Ireland is highly taxed, moderately taxed are lightly taxed. But relative to what? Certainly not GDP.
Now, in the worst possible international circumstances, they must find ways to protect the core advantages of low taxes and lawful incentives against the massed ranks of European governments which think that, if €50bn of value was somehow added to the Irish economy, it is probably their money.
Former Central Bank of Ireland governor Patrick Honohan has suggested looking at total expenditure, public and private, while treating many of the multinational entities as financial institutions, rather than producers, but that does not lend itself to public debate.
A sorrowful shaking of the head at the ingenuity of multinationals and their advisers, along with an acceptance that it is reasonable to transfer some of any resulting tax revenues to the EU, might be just about the only bargaining chip left to Ireland post-Brexit.
UCC economist Seamus Coffey has noted that yet another CSO number, NNI (net national income) seems to track reality quite well.
It is also worth noting that any attempt by the UK to compete by slashing business taxes will result in the hardest of hard borders between it and the EU.
The Fiscal Advisory Council will have to modify its calculations of a sensible base for taxation and spending – calculations which were widely ignored.
Any port in a storm, and this column will take note. But one has to accept the implausibility – and therefore the danger – of domestic debate centring around one set of statistics, while the rest of the world measures us with another.
Ranked No1 Experian Deal and Advisor League Table 2015 Northern Ireland M&A Activity
Winner Corporate Law Firm of the Year 2016 Northern Ireland Dealmakers Awards
Always a team effort.
Young Dealmaker of the Year 2016 Northern Ireland Dealmakers Awards
Regional Heavyweight Legal 500 Northern Ireland
In recent months our work has been recognised with a number of significant
awards and industry accolades.
None of them would have been possible without the trust placed in us by our clients and the collective effort of a team that consistently aims to deliver beyond client expectations.
Oiling the wheels of export Richard Donnan, Head of Northern Ireland at Ulster Bank, says a strong focus on export will pay dividends for business
hange often leads to innovation – and I personally find it refreshing to seize the opportunities that it brings. Change can also be disruptive, unexpected and prone to shifting gear very rapidly – qualities that can pose real challenges to rational planning and strategic focus. In reality, change is also simply a fact of life for any and all businesses. And so as the economic climate in Northern Ireland continues to evolve, there are some positive, practical steps that our businesses can take to help to deal with the inevitable change that come our way. First and foremost, they should be taking the opportunity to build trust with their customers and supply chains. The growing size and scale of international trade in the coming years is still a huge opportunity for indigenous exporters. An exporting culture is one that is fundamentally built on trust – it is the WD40 that allows the formal contracts and legal mechanisms for doing business across the globe to function in an effective way. Secondly, businesses should be engaging with their financial institutions to make sure that the products and services they are availing of are the right fit with their future aims and ambitions. From my experience of dealing with clients, banks thrive when they view themselves as being more than just utilities, more than just managers of money, but active participants in the business community – supporting, advocating and developing in partnership with our clients better ways of doing business. As banks, we are well-suited to working with them to better enable them to serve their customers, through product sets like invoice financing or working capital facilities, as
well as understanding broader trends in various sub-sectors and the ways in which finance can make a significant difference. The thing about building trust and having these conversations is that they don’t necessarily generate an instant return, but they do put you and your brand and business on a sustainable footing: people are more likely to know that you mean what you say, that you are willing to take hard decisions in the interests of the long-term and most importantly that you consistently deliver on your commitments. I am passionate that we in Ulster Bank continue to have those conversations. What’s good for Northern Ireland, and good for our business sector is ultimately good for Ulster Bank, and that is we always seek opportunities to demonstrate our roots and support for our local community. A good example of this that I’m looking forward to is our support for the Belfast International
Homecoming, which will bring together some of Northern Ireland’s most prominent diaspora leaders of commerce, community and culture – an important statement of how our local roots have borne fruit across the world, and how the right people can thrive in any environment. Our support for the Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery in Lombard Street in Belfast, providing space for up to 80 early stage businesses and entrepreneurs that want to start out or scale up, is further tangible proof of that commitment on the ground. Banking has never been solely about numbers. Looking at risks, discussing business plans and judging whether a product or service has real potential are all judgement calls that require a good understanding of the person sitting on the opposite side of the desk. As we help our customers navigate the new business landscape, I know that trust will be a vital component of how we get there.
Help for the cupcake bakers
Help for what matters Important Information. Ulster Bank Limited, Registered in Northern Ireland No. R733. Registered Office: 11â€“16 Donegall Square East, Belfast, BT1 5UB. Member of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, and entered on the Financial Services Register (Registration number 122315).
r Peter Fitzgerald introduces Randox as a medium-sized company but you can’t help thinking he’s going to have to rethink that description fairly soon.
It has four key manufacturing and research and development sites, located at the headquarters in Antrim, in Donegal, India; and in Washington DC.
It means that multiple tests can be carried out from one blood sample and is a revolutionary process in which Randox is a global leader, according to Dr Fitzgerald.
Sitting here in a boardroom of the Co Antrim company it’s clear that the growth of the firm which was started by the scientist in his parent’s shed has carried on apace and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
As a manufacturer, it is a major player in the likes of producing cholesterol tests and accounts for some 12% of the world market in that particular product.
While the diagnostic system has found a willing audience around the world, the relatively slow uptake of such new tests by clinicians has meant the company has decided to take its offering direct to the consumer.
It now employs around 1,400 people – around 400 of which are engineers and scientists – and sells its products in 145 countries to some 100,000 customers.
Much of the money it makes from that business – some £225m since 1992 – has been reinvested in research and development (R&D), an essential for any forward thinking medical company.
Those products are focused around the diagnostic testing field in which Randox is something of an expert as the largest diagnostic company in the UK.
The R&D is focused on developing new biochips which give the company the ability to carry out a number of different tests on one microchip.
It tested the market with a first clinic in its local town of Crumlin. “We wanted to see if people would be willing to pay for tests which could be carried out on the health service, but which aren’t,” Dr Fitzgerald said. “We have found there is a demand for it and people are willing to pay for improved accuracy
and diagnosis. We can detect the early stages of things like cancers which can be successfully treated if caught early enough.” It has since opened other clinics in the Culloden Hotel near Holywood and one in London and will shortly be opening new branches in Dubai, Beverly Hills, Liverpool and Manchester. Meanwhile, it’s expanding its manufacturing capability by turning the old Massereene army base in Antrim into the Randox Science Park which will add 500 new jobs.
It has already spent around £10m transforming the site and Dr Fitzgerald said the company will probably spend around £165m over the next few years on the science park as well as on R&D and on other developments. This is just a flavour of Randox’s activities over the last few years and it’s clear that the next few years are going to be busy for all concerned. That medium-sized description will soon be outgrown.
50% growth in eight months, and that’s just the beginning! Scott Ritchie explains how Connect Telecom has managed to continue to grow its business
onnect Telecom, Northern Ireland’s largest independent businessto-business mobile & Unified Communications provider, has grown connections by 50% since being acquired by Scott Ritchie only eight months ago. Based on the Lisburn Road, Belfast, Connect Telecom provides telecoms and IT solutions to businesses across the UK and Ireland, and is the only Vodafone Platinum Partner in Northern Ireland. Scott, who has a wealth of IT and telecoms experience and has made a multi-millionpound investment in the company, explains how the company is continuing to achieve growth through a customer centric approach in the fast paced IT industry. “Mobile communication has become so integral to how we live, it transcends both our professional and personal lives and is frequently taken for granted. People often only realise its value when it isn’t working properly. “Vodafone is arguably the best performing network across the UK and, I believe, our focus on customer service is head and shoulders above our competitors. Ensuring we put the customer at the core of everything we do enables us to not only deliver an excellent service, but also to be innovative in our approach. “This led to us developing our Unified Communications & VoIP capability. We are now the most successful and best qualified delivery channel in the UK for Vodafone’s One Net Business Platform. “Furthermore, our development of fixed line, broadband and our move into Microsoft Office 365 has been well supported by our customers. It is with their feedback that
we now plan to develop this capability further again, with the launch of our Online Management portal later this year.”
Empowering our customers The changes within the telecoms industry are fast paced and continuous, Scott and his team believe that it is their role to be the technology experts on behalf of customers to ensure that they gain maximum benefit from the latest developments. “I believe in listening to our customers. The majority of local businesses are privately owned, just like we are, and I know personally how that shapes a business decision. We focus on what is really going to help our customers spend less time thinking about IT & telecoms and more time running their business. “We provide the best technology solutions from leading providers such as Vodafone, Microsoft and Cisco which we know benefit our customer’s business and facilitate growth, in a way that makes sense to the end user.”
EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) Gold Star service award. “With additional investment following the great support from Danske Bank, we know we can deliver total care for our customers and provide more support than our competitors in Northern Ireland. Our customers have dedicated Account Managers and Customer Service Agents who are based locally. It is our dedication and personal approach to customer service that has carved a niche and allowed us to become one of the leading telecoms solutions providers in the UK market. “Plans are also well underway to extend this provision to a 24/7 support service for customers, which will be in place in the coming weeks.”
Growth With over 20,000 connections across over 4,000 businesses throughout Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and the North of England, Connect Telecom is committed to providing an easy, professional and personal service across its markets.
Local Service Scott continued: “Too many telecoms companies and providers rely on global call centres to be the first point of contact. We know that doesn’t work for our customers. “We are very deliberate about where our office is as our customers have the option to walk in as well as dial 191. The ability for our customers to simply walk into our office and chat to the local support team sets us ahead of our competitors. “Underpinning this personal service is our ongoing staff training and development. The team’s focus on customer care and support has received external recognition with the achievement of accreditations such as an
“The company’s growth within the last 18 months has been rapid but we made a conscious effort throughout this period to maintain a focus on high quality customer service here in Northern Ireland, to develop stronger partnerships with customers and continue to employ local, experienced industry professionals. This has made us bigger, stronger and ultimately better for our customers, and also ready for further growth. “We have extremely ambitious growth plans across our core markets in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland, which I believe we have built firm foundations for. I expect the company will double its workforce within the next year, with at
least 15 new members of staff here in Belfast in the next six months alone.”
The telecoms and IT fusion The core offering at Connect Telecom has expanded beyond mobiles and fixed lines to now offer complete communications solutions including broadband, email, cloud storage and other IT solutions. Scott explained how the ever-changing digital landscape has led the company, and indeed the industry, to alter its focus, and Connect is ready to capitalise on this to the benefit of its customers. “As our customers’ businesses become more digital, their appetite increases for greater mobility, more storage, secure solutions and machine-to-machine communication. “Last year we purchased a 49% stake in a Belfast-based cloud solutions company and collectively we are in beta testing for a cloud based portal integrating Microsoft Office solutions for our customers right across the UK. As a business, we are very keen to progress in line with Vodafone’s plans to be more than just a mobile network, but a complete Unified Communications platform that is the sole provider of all communications requirements for customers.”
The continued evolution of the industry Telecoms will continue to change exponentially and Scott is keen to stress, that in order to survive, the industry must adapt and provide integrated and unified communications solutions for business customers. “At Connect Telecom, we partner with and provide solutions for businesses across Northern Ireland of all sizes and from an array of industries. Whilst the detail of the requirements of each may be different, what remains the same is their need and desire for simple Unified Communications – ie. the integration of all communication capabilities.
Scott Ritchie, Chief Executive of Connect Telecom Holdings Group
mobiles for the airport, the brand will have a presence in the terminal and with such a high percentage of business passengers using the airport, this is a really exciting partnership for us.
“Our range of services means we are a communications ‘one stop shop’ for business customers which include Randox, Hastings Hotels, PG Contracts, Axon Power, and many businesses featured in the Ulster Business Top 100.
“We are the biggest Vodafone partner in the Northern region – which includes Northern Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. To date, 50% of our growth has been in Northern Ireland and this will continue, but we also expect to see further expansion particularly within the Scottish markets.
“We have recently been named the Mobile Communications Partner at George Best Belfast City Airport. As well as providing
“Our combined understanding of Vodafone, associated technologies and the local market allows us to look at
the bigger picture and deliver effective products and services to local small and medium businesses as well as the larger corporate customers such as the Top 100. “At Connect, we understand our customers – they’re the central focus of everything we do. Our unrivalled relationship with Vodafone allows us to work closely together ensuring that as a network, Vodafone is catering to the needs of its business customers here in Northern Ireland. “It is then our job to manage this process and provide the 24/7 local support that ultimately makes life easier for our customers.”
The science behind a high performance and positive mindset What is it that separates the good from the great, those that ‘do’ from those that ‘could’, and ultimately those that get results? David Meade has been fascinated by what makes us tick for almost 15 years, and has made a career of sharing the secrets of how and why we do the things we do. Never has this been more relevant than in the field of business and team performance. At Legal-Island’s Annual Review of Employment Law conferences in November (www.legal-island.com/events), David will guide delegates through a masterclass that shares inspirational and accessible ways that we can get the very best out of our teams and ourselves.
David Meade will close Legal-Island’s Annual Review of Employment Law 2016 conferences at the Culloden Hotel (9th November) and Ramada Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge (22nd November). Full programme and speaker list: www.legal-island.com/events
Exploring the science behind a high performance and positive mindset, he’ll share the secrets of what makes us, and the people around us, feel engaged and connected to the work we do. With a focus on change and the impact it can have on organisations, he’ll also share the critical tools that help us get engagement, buy in, and results when we need to persuade even the most stubborn stakeholder to make a change that we know is a positive one. At the end of the session, delegates will leave with a sound toolkit that they can use to improve their own productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency. David has also promised that there may be a little mindreading in the mix!
We believe in making the lives of HR professionals easier Legal-Island is a multi-award winning organisation specialising in workplace compliance. Our services are designed to make the lives of HR professionals easier. Conferences & Seminars Over 800 HR professionals attended our NI events in the past 12 months. We offer a range of events throughout the year, ranging from workplace investigations to equality law, delivered by expert employment lawyers and HR practitioners. Our flagship events are the Annual Review of Employment Law conferences in November. Visit www.legal-island.com/events.
Northern Ireland Employment Law Hub Our Employment Law Hub articles are written by top law firms and is relied upon by hundreds of organisations in Northern Ireland to keep up-to-date with employment law developments. Visit www.legal-island.com/register for your 30 day, no obligation free trial.
eLearning Our leading edge eLearning software is now delivering Equality & Diversity, Data Protection and Child Safeguarding compliance training to 27,000+ users in top public, private and third sector organisations across the island of Ireland. For a free trial of any of our modules, visit www.legal-island.com/e-learning.
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nyone who has followed the fortunes of Andor Technologies will know it’s not a run-of-the-mill Top 100 company. A spinout of Queen’s University, it was set up in 1989 by two physicists who focused on manufacturing high performance digital cameras. One of these three, Donal Denvir continues with the company as Andor’s Chief Technology Officer. Not personal cameras for everyday use, but the type used in academic, industrial, government backed research for physical and life science applications where exceptional sensitivity is needed. Since then the firm has grown exponentially, extending its reach into other areas including spectroscopy and microscopy and selling its products all over the world. That growth has been achieved organically and acquisitively, with around six complementary businesses added to the original business including in recent times, Californian-based Apogee Imaging and Canadian firm Spectral Applied Research. As a result, global headcount has climbed to 360 but Andor Technologies itself remains headquartered at its high-tech premises in West Belfast. That’s despite coming under new ownership back in 2013 when peer Oxford Instruments bought the firm for £176m. Chief executive Gary Wilmot said the availability and quality of talent in Northern Ireland is one of the main reasons for staying put.
“We have access to some extremely bright and talented people here,” he said. “They bring with them world class competence and most importantly, the capability to develop innovative solutions to help keep us ahead of the curve.” That focus on innovation is something which is key for Andor, both in finding innovative ways to develop its products and in finding innovative uses for its products in new market segments. Sharing resources with the relatively new parent company has helped in that quest, be it sharing knowledge and best practice or office space around the world. “Through continuous dialogue with our customers and strong teamwork we continue to innovate and produce ground-breaking products, which in turn, drive forward research boundaries and discovery,” Gary said. “We want to take our technologies, our capability and connect them to the market to accelerate the advancement of science. That’s why Andor exists as a business.” He’s been in the top job at Andor since 2014, having previously acted as director of engineering for seven years and has an enthusiasm and inquisitiveness for the company’s work which is rarely found, although one which seems to be typical throughout the company. A quote from Michelangelo, which Gary has hanging in his home, sums up the thirst for knowledge which keeps this high tech company at the cutting edge. “Ancora imparo,” Gary said. “Roughly translated as ‘I’m still learning’. Michelangelo would have loved Andor.”
Queen’s students scoop £5,000 prize in business competition The team from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science designed energy-conscious app
Pictured from right are Jackie Garvey, Marketing Manager Electric Ireland; Russell Kane, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science QUB with the Electric Ireland winning team; Ryan McCabe, Joseph Flynn, Aislinn Franklin and Susan Magner, final year students from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at QUB.
team of students from Queen’s University has won a £5,000 prize after developing an app to help businesses manage their energy usage.
The developers and designers from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science took part in in Electric Ireland’s ‘Energy Innovation Award’ initiative. It challenged the students to come up with an app which could show the breakdown of where, when and why energy usage is frequent for small and medium-sized businesses and startups.
explore innovative methods to interact with current technologies to assist in the development of a smarter approach to energy efficiency. “Through the engagement and mentoring from the Electric Ireland team with our QUB EEECS Software Engineering students, each team had the opportunity to further develop their skills and experience in developing a customer-facing application. We’re delighted to see how the winning prototype will be further developed and come to life as a real-world working application that will benefit Northern Ireland businesses.”
The benefits of renewable energy usage are also incorporated in the app to inform users how they could make even greater energy savings.
Niall Dineen, Head of Commercial Electric Ireland, said the students impressed. “Our aim is to transform the way SMEs digitally interact and through this project, we can help to make life better for businesses by providing them with smarter energy solutions.
Russell Kane, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s, said the students gained considerable experience from the collaboration. “The project partnership with Electric Ireland provided our students with a unique opportunity to
“We’re always looking for new and simple ideas for our customers and we were hugely impressed with the quality of the students’ entries and are looking forward to further developing the prototype into a commercially viable solution that will help engage businesses.”
Technology Fast 50 2016 IRELAND
Robert J Copper, Chief Executive at Harland and Wolff
Harland and Wolff
alking in to the boardroom of Harland and Wolff, it’s hard not to be blown away.
We’re all familiar with the exterior of probably the world’s most famous ship yard but the depth and breadth of its history is on full display within four walls which bear
testimony to the past, present and future of Northern Ireland’s industrial heritage. There are two chairs and a sideboard which were intended for the yard’s most famous project, the Titanic, but which weren’t ready in time for the maiden voyage; there’s a vast mahogany boardroom table which would
comfortably hold 30 people; and there is a small wooden puzzle box created by one of the yard’s long past apprentices as part of his induction programme which only a crafty engineer’s mind will be able to open. There are innumerable other reminders of the yard’s past as well as models of
And it’s a strategy which seems to be working as the company has made a profit in all but two of the last 13 years. some of the more recent oil platform work, and it’s those and other plans for the future which are very much front and centre to Robert J Cooper’s mind. He is the chief executive of Harland and Wolff, a position he’s held for the last 13 years during a period of huge transformation for the firm. It has shifted focus from predominately a ship builder to a ship repair and refit specialist, an offshore oil and gas engineering specialist and as a logistical base for offshore wind farm installation.
“The focus has been on how we win work that suits our equipment and property,” Mr Cooper, a trained accountant, said. “It’s all about finding where we have a competitive advantage. “We have big cranes and a lot of space. We’re very good at things which are big and ugly and will do whatever we can make a profit.” That statement rings very true when you consider the yard has two gigantic cranes which can each lift 800 tons and over 100 acres of space at its harbourside location.
Varying jobs mean the number of people working on site can rise to 1,100, a big increase on the core full time team of 120, as contracted workers are brought in. Last year the yard repaired over 20 vessels and that repair side of the business is one which it intends to focus on, as well as on renewables as that industry recovers momentum. It’s this ability to change and adapt to changing market conditions which has allowed Harland and Wolff to continue to thrive, living up to its giant historical reputation and the majesty of those cranes.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
M&A sector ignores Brexit bluster to break record A record number of deals were carried out in Northern Ireland in the first half of the year, according to Experian, keeping law firms such as Tughans extremely busy
orthern Ireland’s merger and acquisition sector was busier than ever in the first half of the year, according to latest data from Experian MarketIQ.
Its Deal Review report for the six months to the end of June recorded 93 deals, a record for the period and 13% up on the same time last year. And while reported deal value fell 36% to £798m, the first six months of 2016 were exceptionally strong and it was the second-best first half since 2008. Experian also ranked the most active legal advisors and placed Belfast firm Tughans top for volume of deals. Of the 93 deals carried out in total in the first half of 2016, it participated in 27, placing the firm as one of the most active deal advisors outside London. And continuing a busy period for one of the stalwarts of the Northern Ireland corporate legal world – the firm topped the Experian Deal and Advisor League table for Northern Ireland M&A activity in 2015. John George Willis, Head of Corporate at Tughans, said the firm had been involved in some of the region’s headline deals. “As a firm we have experienced an active first half of the year as evidenced by our deal tally. The last quarter saw a number of major transactions completed including the sale of Delta Print and Packaging to Huhtamaki for £80m, the sale of PathXL to Philips and the sale of Sophia Search Ltd to Mixaroo Inc – all major international companies investing in Northern Ireland.” “The local mergers and acquisition market is proving resilient to the current political turmoil surrounding the EU Referendum. Confidence in the local market has been growing, and while the Brexit vote has created uncertainty, we believe our home-grown companies will do what they have always done and get on with growing their business in domestic and international markets. We have a strong pipeline of work which is testament to the quality of our lawyers and the ambition of our clients both locally and internationally, and it is our clients’ ambition that will enable our economy to continue to strengthen throughout the rest of this year.”
Pictured (l-r) James Donnelly, Ciara Lagan, John George Willis and John McGuckian.
It has been a busy few months for Tughans on the deal front. Earlier this year it celebrated double success at Insider’s Northern Ireland Dealmakers Awards 2016 and claimed the title “Corporate Law Firm of the Year” while John McGuckian also won “Young Dealmaker of the Year”. Tughans corporate team received the highest score from the voting heads of corporate finance to win Corporate Law Firm of the Year. The accolade acknowledges an ongoing period of successful deals, notably advising Lagan Construction Group on H&J Martin joining the Lagan Construction Group of Companies, the sale of Sawyers Transport and the disposal of Hospital Services to Foresight Group. Meanwhile, John McGuckian’s track record for getting significant deals across the line has been recognised with the title “Young Dealmaker of the Year”. Over the last year John has led high level multi-disciplinary teams within Tughans on deals totalling over £200m which included advising TotalMobile on the investment by Lyceum Capital. He was made a partner in July 2015, along with Ciara Lagan who has 15 years’ experience of corporate transactions under her belt. The judges described him as “the outstanding candidate due to his skill at assembling specialist transaction teams and for his involvement in many of the venture capital and private equity deals in the region”.
Musgrave NI invests in local..... Musgrave NI aims to be Northern Irelandâ€™s number one consumer choice in convenience shopping by 2018 and to reach that is investing over ÂŁ60 million in the Northern Ireland business over the next three years.
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Investing in local communities
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shows former Prime Minister David Cameron the door.
Brexit will hurt but recession side stepped
rexit is going to interrupt growth in the Northern Ireland economy but we should just about manage to avoid going into recession, according to the latest report from PwC. It said the economy will grow by 0.2% in 2017, from the 1% forecast previously, a fall which doesn’t sound like much but which is a big drop in the world of economic forecasting. Northern Ireland will be just a small part of a wholesale drop in growth across the UK caused by an expected slowdown in investment by businesses, particularly from overseas. PwC’s chief economist Dr Esmond Birnie said construction companies and capital goods manufacturers could also be relatively exposed to short-term cyclical slowdown. However, he also pointed to an upside with the weaker pound expected to boost net exports, which should move from being a drag on overall UK GDP growth in 2015 to a positive contributor in 2017. And even under the most pessimistic scenario, he said the UK will not see as severe a recession as it saw in the early 1980s or in 2008-2009. “More marked slowdowns are expected in all regions in 2017 as the effects of the vote to leave the EU come through, although the
UKEO does not project negative growth in any region it’s our main scenario,” he said. “However, Growth in London might fall to just over 1% in 2017, while it could be close to zero In Northern Ireland.” PwC Northern Ireland regional chairman, Paul Terrington agreed and called for a measured approach from business. “The Northern Ireland business community needs to hold its nerve through this unsettled period, take stock of the potential impact of Brexit on their markets and operations, and make contingency plans for alternative outcomes. “Local organisations should also look to the opportunities to offset any decline in long-term EU trade, by researching and building closer trade relationships with relatively fast growing economies like China and India and new markets like Australia and Canada.” “Also on the upside, there some confidence measures are emerging. With a new Prime Minister in post, the UK has avoided a protracted political vacuum; there is growing optimism that the government is moving to develop policies around people, mobility and trade. “The Prime Minister has also undertaken to consult all regions of the UK on how a Brexit would be negotiated and delivered and that offers the potential for the Executive to lobby strongly in respect of issues that directly impact on Northern Ireland, its businesses and its people.”
Image © TODD Architects
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Behind the headlines Susan Dunlop, Partner at GMcG Chartered Accountants, looks at the figures behind the Top 100 and what challenges lie ahead
he Ulster Business Top 100 list always makes an interesting read. The listing and associated analyses are seen by many as the ‘signature dish’ of the business magazine, and for good reason. Regardless of what aspect of industry you might be involved in, it is easy to appreciate the insights and trends that can be identified from the Top 100 listing. This year’s Ulster Business Top 100 list shows that it has been a challenging year for Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies. Despite a combined increase in turnover of 1% and an increase in employee numbers from 75,777 to 91,667 (21%), it has revealed a significant fall in pre-tax profits and net worth. Pre-tax profits have more than halved (56%), falling from £1.2bn to £533m, with net worth shrinking by £754m (11%) from £6.757bn to £6.003bn. There were 16 companies reporting pre-tax losses compared to 11 in the prior year, the most notable of these being Shorts, Gortmullan and Northern Ireland Transport – excluding these three companies, the fall in pre-tax profits reduces to 12%.
So what challenges are these and other Northern Ireland businesses facing and likely to face in the coming months? In an evolving political landscape, the performance of the Executive has been overtaken by Brexit as an issue that is causing the greatest amount of instability and question marks over business confidence and investment. Uncertainty over such variables as border controls, tariffs, free movement and access to markets will undermine any economic recovery unless we achieve clear and decisive leadership both at Westminster and at Stormont.
question mark over corporation tax. The anticipated benefits of the reduction in corporation tax rate to 12.5% (from April 2018) in Northern Ireland are somewhat diminished following the former Chancellor’s announcement that he would reduce the UK rate to below 15%. Corporation tax will undoubtedly be high on the Executive’s agenda in the coming weeks and months.
Exchange rate fluctuations have been precipitated by the Brexit result and add to the uncertainty faced by many Northern Ireland businesses involved in overseas trade. The strength of sterling was one of the key concerns cited by the findings of a recent local business survey. Other key findings cited competition, rising costs and the national living wage (particularly for the hospitality and tourism sector) as key issues that could undermine business confidence in 2016.
Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies are crucial to the Northern Ireland economy. Notwithstanding global variables affecting all markets, we need to ensure our own house is in order and we have the conditions in place to help these companies thrive. This includes investment in education and initiatives to address skills deficits, improved infrastructure, increased inward investment, as well as a vision and leadership that will help us move away from our over reliance on the public sector, encouraging innovation, research and development and exploration of export markets. All of this is only achievable when the correct economic and political frameworks are in place.
The Northern Ireland economy and its recovery face further uncertainty with the
Programme for Government, it’s over to you.
Breaking up is hard to do By Martin McDowell, Osborne King Commercial Property Consultants
eil Sedaka penned his classic song back in the ‘60s but the sentiment is as valid today. The morning of the 24th of June saw many a business leader/owner sitting in meetings trying to figure out what happens next. Brexit has occurred; we are leaving the EU and now we need to work out what it actually means for real business. Don’t get me wrong. Europe was not perfect and many business leaders voiced their criticisms from time to time but at least we had some degree of certainty as to how the market would operate. Today, only weeks after the vote to take us out of Europe, I am watching the Leave Campaign leaders scratch around trying to figure out what to do next whilst both political and market volatility is clearly evident. In Northern Ireland there was a clear majority to remain within the EU and yet the DUP led a campaign for us to leave. The “party for business” led the charge towards the exit and appears now to be as much at sea as the rest of the “winning” politicians. I simply do not get what their logic for leaving was unless they simply could not be seen to agree with other local parties that campaigning to stay was in Northern Ireland’s best interests. Here is what we in the property business can already see: • Foreign Direct Investment, a cornerstone to our economic development plan, has been given a clear reason to choose Dublin over Belfast as an English speaking access point to the European market. • Investment transactions have already been shelved or prices chipped to reflect the market volatility already evident within the wider UK.
• Uncertainty regarding replacement funding into business, agriculture and public services is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. • Office development, a growth sector within our market, is likely to experience continued difficulty in achieving funding which impacts the recovery of the construction sector which was finally gearing up to start building again. For many, the next few months will in reality see little change to their day-to-day working lives but property is generally assessed on medium to long term assumptions. The uncertainty delivered by the result to leave impacts investment decisions today and as someone once told me “capital is a coward” and therefore unlikely to be committed where actual or perceived risk is evident. For many years our industry within Northern Ireland has faced an uphill struggle to
persuade investors that we were both a safe and profitable investment location for their capital. I have written before about my frustration that our political leaders spend way too much time waving flags as opposed to delivering real benefits to the Northern Ireland economy. I believe some of our politicians have scored a massive own goal (my apologies to all who find this reference painful following Northern Ireland’s spirited performance at the European Championship) and worst of all they cannot see it. Our politicians are going to have negligible input into the EU exit negotiations but we need someone fighting to protect the Northern Ireland economy. As Neil Sedaka so eloquently sang, “think of all that we’ve been through, breaking up is hard to do”.
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Keeping the youth
ith the world changing as fast as it is – how do we best ensure young people are prepared for the world of work from here forward? In order to create employment for the next generation, it’s important for us to review a system that has become antiquated. We need a major paradigm shift in how we think about training our emerging workforce and the skills they need to have to be relevant, let alone have a chance at being wildly successful. Step forward Young Enterprise, the not-forprofit organisation which has the primary aim of stirring the entrepreneurial spirit in children and young people from four to 25 years. That’s quite a task, but one it has carried out with aplomb, as the recent Young Enterprise Awards, ably highlighted. The benefits for the schools who participate in Young Enterprise are easy to see, but what do the plethora of business people who give up their time and expertise get out of the process? To find out, Ulster Business spoke to Cary Wilson, a Transactions Advisory Services Partner at EY in Belfast, who has been judging the Entrepreneur of the Future competition and is involved in the Learn to Earn programme which helps students to figure out what qualifications they need to follow their chosen career. He’s just one of a host of people from EY involved with Young Enterprise and – apart from the obviously pleasing abbreviation of EY/YE for those wordsmiths among us – the synergies between the two organisations runs deep. “It’s a natural fit with what we’re trying to achieve,” Cary told Ulster Business. “The economy needs a shift from public to private sector and we need entrepreneurs to help us
Winning company Enlighten Hope from St Patrick’s College Dungannon are pictured picking up the with Northern Ireland Young Enterprise Company of the Year award in Belfast. (L-R) Carol Fitzsimons Chief Executive Young Enterprise NI, Host Pete Snodden, Michael McQuillan from Ulster University Business School, Cary Wilson from EY and Ciaran Sheehan, Chairman Young Enterprise NI. The team went on to win the UK finals in London, the first team from Northern Ireland to do so in more than 20 years.
achieve that. “That means providing the right conditions for entrepreneurs to thrive, something which EY is very focused on, and the right conditions to uncover an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, something which Young Enterprise is very good at.” EY places a lot of importance on celebrating and developing entrepreneurs through its Entrepreneur of the Year programme, now in its 19th year. The programme supports, advises and connects a community of entrepreneurs around the world, so it’s easy to see how Young Enterprise make a good partner. “Young Enterprise’s Company Programme helps identity that entrepreneurial talent and in many cases lights the touch paper in young people that would otherwise remain hidden. To see the entrepreneurial talent coming through in the various programmes give us, as a company, huge encouragement.” Such talent doesn’t seem to be in short supply if this year’s crop of entrants from
the Company of the Year programme are anything to go by. Overall winners of that competition were Enlighten Hope from St Patrick’s College in Dungannon. The team have since gone on to win the UK finals of the competition, the first Northern Ireland team in 20 years to do so. The team wrote and illustrated a series of three short stories that deal with the side effects of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a child friendly way. They have expanded their product internationally – visiting publishers in Dublin and New York, and securing a deal to sell the books on the Amazon Kindle Store. “When you see the quality of the winners to this year’s awards, it’s clear we’re in good hands,” Cary said. “These guys have discovered a thirst of business that is hugely impressive and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them on the EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year programme in a few years time.”
Brexit: what should we do now? Gareth Hetherington, Associate Director with the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, takes a look at the implications of the European Union referendum vote for Northern Ireland
Despite everything we didn’t see it coming The EU referendum delivered a shocking result, not only because it represents a major shift in our relationship with the EU and the rest of the world, but despite everything it was a result we simply didn’t see coming. This lack of preparedness is evident across all aspects of society, at the individual level there is shock, anger and denial with calls for a second referendum, at the institutional level the financial markets reacted with extreme volatility, and at the political level there was change at the very top. Most surprisingly, within the higher echelons
of Whitehall, it is evident that a detailed contingency plan had not been developed to mitigate against this known risk. The ‘Leave’ result was always going to create uncertainty, but the accompanying shock at the result has potentially magnified the short term economic fallout.
How bad will it be? Like everything else, the scale of impact on the economy is also uncertain. Whilst absolute clarity will only emerge at the conclusion of trade negotiations, the appointment of a new Prime Minister and Cabinet along with greater acceptance across
society at the result, could see the return to some form of normality in the short term. However, understanding the scale of the impact on the economy in the longer term will take time to emerge. The current ‘best guess’ comes from consensus forecasts, which at the UK level suggest a revision downwards in economic growth this year of 0.5% (from 1.9% to 1.4%) and a reduction in 2017 of 1.7% (from 2.1% to 0.4%). These initial numbers will be subject to revision over the coming months but should be set against a backdrop of significant global economic challenges, even before Brexit. >
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be key in determining the UKâ€™s trade relationships with the EU following Brexit.
The impact on business investment has been the major focus of the economic debate thus far. This is clearly important and will have long term implications for economic growth. However, in the short term, the key measure to monitor is consumer spending. The UK (and Northern Ireland) economies are very consumer dependent and if consumers delay on discretionary purchases, this would point to an economic slowdown. The health of the housing market is also closely related to consumer behaviour and therefore any slowdown in house prices would most likely follow through to lower spending on the High Street.
What should the Executive do? There are a number of priorities for the Executive over the coming months. Firstly, the needs of the local economy must be strongly represented in Westminster. Single market access is a must, but London already recognise that requirement, the NI Executive should therefore focus on specific Northern Ireland priorities. For example,
the major economic sectors in Northern Ireland differ from those in England and in the absence of proper representation, the UK Government may overlook the needs of major local industries. Secondly, there is a need for ongoing engagement with the Republic of Ireland Government to identify ways to minimise the impact on north-south trade and to seek to provide continuity of arrangements for people living and working on different sides of the border. The third area of focus for the Executive is to continue to encourage Foreign Direct Investment flows. There were reports of overseas businesses delaying investment decisions until after the EU referendum and the result is likely to have given these businesses further reason to hit the pause button. It is therefore important that the Executive work with Invest NI to identify measures which will continue to incentivise overseas businesses to invest in Northern Ireland. Clearly the implementation of lower
corporation tax would form an important part of the overall suite of incentives. Lastly, the Northern Ireland economy faced several challenges prior to the referendum vote, with educational under-achievement being one of many. Therefore it is critical that dealing with Brexit does not usurp the political capital needed to implement the reforms so desperately required.
Greater clarity will emerge The referendum result has created a mood of gloom both nationally and locally, but as greater clarity emerges around the critical path to a negotiated settlement with the EU, so the journey towards certainty will begin. This in turn should lead to an increase in both business and consumer confidence. The great irony is that â€˜Brexitâ€™ could be the catalyst for the fundamental reform in the EU that the UK has always sought, and it could result in the creation of an institution in which the UK would want to become a member.
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Agri-food sector needs post-Brexit clarity United Dairy Farmersâ€™ Chief Executive Dr David Dobbin calls for a speedy EU trade deal but says the Northern Ireland agri-food sector is very much open for business
hatever our personal, professional or political view is of the referendum result, we need to take the decisive action now needed to make sure that our local agrifood sector continues to succeed. More than ever before, we need to ensure that our industry is market led and innovative, that it is internationally competitive and most important of all, that it is open for business wherever that business may be.
While the fall in the value of sterling will make our produce more competitive, it is
our long-term access to markets which is of major concern. The Northern Ireland agrifood industry exports considerably more of its output than its GB counterparts and therefore we are much more exposed to the threat of losing EU market access. Should a free trade deal not be negotiated with the EU, we will either be left paying agreed tariffs to access the EU market or, even worse, we would have to revert to WTO (World Trade Organisation) tariffs if a deal canâ€™t be reached. The default WTO tariffs for dairy are high and would effectively prevent any trade with the EU either way, including >
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killing off cross-border trade in milk and dairy products between ourselves and the Republic. It is therefore essential that the UK reaches a trade deal with the EU before, rather than after, it leaves Europe. While we have been told that the UK regions will be represented at talks with the EU, it will be the UK Government which will be responsible for trade deals. Agrifood is our biggest industry and significantly more important to the economies of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales than it is to the English economy. It is vital that our political representatives ensure that trade negotiations value the importance of agrifood and that market access for our food exports isnâ€™t sacrificed in preference for trade in the aerospace, automotive or services sectors. Locally, the Northern Ireland Executive needs to urgently get the proposed new
Food Marketing Body up and running as we will need every support we can get to market our produce in a post-Brexit world. In the worse case scenario of trade tariffs being introduced, it is likely that local food companies will turn their sights to the UK market where we will continue to enjoy full access and to markets outside of the EU where we already have good levels of exports. But, even in markets outside of the EU, new trade deals have to be established to replace the EU arrangements we currently use. So once again the focus needs to be on trade negotiations. It is unfortunate that the decision to leave the EU comes just as dairy markets were beginning to stabilise as a result of slowing EU milk production and continued powder intervention.
We are now past the Northern Hemisphere peak milk production period and with UK milk production now falling year-on-year as well as seasonally, dairy produce returns and farm gate milk prices appear to have bottomed out. It is too early, however, to call a market recovery. There are still significant public and privately held stocks overhanging the market and while the growth in milk production is slowing down, global milk output is still running at an historical high. Having said this, the combination of slowing output and weakening currency should result in milk prices showing some recovery by the autumn of this year. While we face considerable challenges and uncertainty, we should not be overly pessimistic. We have an outstanding local agrifood industry with world-class products and our people have the ambition, the determination and the skills to succeed. The Northern Ireland agrifood industry is very much open for business, it is ready and willing to play its part in building a strong local economy and, most important of all, it is committed to creating a successful future for all our farmers, employees and stakeholders in a post-Brexit world.
Tech sector powers on Joanne Stuart, Director of Development at Catalyst Inc, says the technology sector in Northern Ireland is going from strengthto-strength and has the potential to make waves on the global stage
I Joanne Stuart
t is an exciting time for the technology sector globally and in Northern Ireland. With the growth of emerging technologies ranging from blockchain to the commercial launch of virtual reality, artificial intelligence to the ever increasing use
of data analytics, there are growing opportunities for our local technology companies and the commercialisation of research in these areas. Coming to terms with the Brexit result continued on page 132 > has been difficult but
The Catalyst Inc team in Belfast at the Northern Ireland Science Parkâ€™s rebrand.
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this means that it is even more important to nurture our entrepreneurship talent to maximise the opportunities for the ever invasive emerging technologies. We need to accelerate the growth of our innovative companies and the support for our entrepreneurs to create and grow companies that are producing world leading, competitive products and services and creating high quality jobs. In the independently produced Knowledge Economy Index, the sales of those companies within the Knowledge Economy are predominantly export focused, with over 85% of sales outside of Northern Ireland. This represents almost one third of total exports from NI and a fifth of external sales and yet these companies only account for 4.4% of total firms employing 4.6% of all employees. This demonstrates their disproportional contribution and just how outwardly focussed the sector is and therefore how critical it is to the growth of our economy. In June, Catalyst Inc (formerly the Northern Ireland Science Park) announced a £100m investment plan to drive the growth of the Knowledge Economy over the next 10 to 15 years enabling Northern Ireland to be one of the most entrepreneurial knowledge economies across Europe by 2030.
“IRP Commerce launched their DeepAgent Artificial Intelligence Analytics engine which enables companies to visualise customer behaviour, predict outcomes intelligently and intervene decisively to get results.” To have confidence in our ability to achieve this, you only need to look at the many exciting announcements by technology companies, based at Catalyst Inc, over the
last six months. These include the research collaboration partnership between Intelligent Environments and Queen’s University Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) to develop the world’s first attack aware software involving the innovative use of machine learning to recognise when a hacker is entering, or already inside, a banking system. IRP Commerce launched their DeepAgent Artificial Intelligence Analytics engine which enables companies to visualise customer behaviour, predict outcomes intelligently and intervene decisively to get results. Novosco, the market-leading managed cloud provider and one of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK, recently announced the acquisition of NetDef. This adds a world class security specialism to the portfolio and will see the workforce increase to 140. These are just some examples of the growing number of world leading technology companies that are showing that we have the talent and ability to compete globally. We just need more! This is our focus at Catalyst Inc. As part of the £100M investment plan, the surpluses
generated from the real estate business will provide the underwriting necessary to scale the community-led development of the entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. This model of peer-driven support helps innovators incubate new entrepreneurial ventures in Northern Ireland that is as good as anywhere. In fact, the Enterprise Research Centre UK Growth Dashboard for 2015, showed that start-ups in Northern Ireland are the most likely to reach £1m turnover within three years. The challenge is increasing the number of technology start-ups and supporting them to significantly scale. This means stimulating many, many more new ideas to come into the top of the funnel and for those ideas to be developed by incredible teams and supporting those incredible teams who have developed brilliant products to scale into businesses supplying markets all over the world. Our technology sector is still at a fairly early stage of development with plenty of room for growth. The number of start-ups in the tech sector is increasing on a daily basis, and if the entries for the annual Catalyst Inc INVENT 2016 are anything to go by, the technology sector in Northern Ireland has a very bright future!
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Manufacturing a prosperous post-Brexit future Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, says the EU Referendum result has already had a negative impact on the manufacturing sector and calls for strong, decisive leadership to make sure the pain is short lived and any opportunities exploited
n the past year, we’ve unveiled the full contribution manufacturing makes to the Northern Ireland Economy.
We clearly remain a manufacturing economy and as such, there is a huge amount at stake when our government get going on negotiating a new trade environment now that we have a proBrexit government installed in London.
The right deal for Northern Ireland, for our 5,000 manufacturing firms and those reliant on a manufacturing wage could not be more critical. Our sector contributes 214,000 in direct and supported jobs and growing – that’s one-infour families dependent on a manufacturing wage – and makes an almost £10bn total gross value added (GVA) contribution, or around 30% of our economy. It also accounted for over 60% of total business investment in 2014 and attracted £900m in foreign direct investment between 2010 and 2014. With a total wage contribution of £4.2bn and salaries much higher that
other sectors collectively, this all shows that we are creating more and better jobs. These jobs are located right across every constituency but particularly in MidUlster, Mid and East Antrim and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council areas where you really get a strong sense of how much manufacturing matters. Local jobs, at the centre of local economies, in places where people want to set up home, build a family life and contribute to their community. Whilst not scientific, a survey of Manufacturing NI members did overwhelmingly show that >
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Northern Ireland’s manufacturers wanted to remain in the European Union. They said they do not want barriers to trade or the free movement of labour, particularly those who sell into the EU market to the value of some £3bn or who leverage EU Trade Agreements with other parts of the world which are worth an additional £3bn. For small open economies like ours, exports are a critical driver of economic growth. They provide an external source of demand which compensates for a lack of domestic scale. Exports also help to support demand in non-export sectors such as retail through economic multiplier effects. Manufacturing accounts for 61% of all goods and services exported by Northern Ireland companies. Consequently, as Northern Ireland’s largest exporting sector and therefore source of revenue, manufacturing plays the most important part in supporting the province’s economic growth. Firms of all sizes contribute to Northern Ireland’s exports. In 2014, SMEs (firms with less than 250 employees) posted export sales of £1.9bn, almost one-third of total exports. The impact of the referendum result has been immediate and largely negative. Evidence as early as 5am on 24th June showed that effectively the border was reinstated – not a physical, hard, soft, nor digital border
but an investment border and this should be a huge concern to the Northern Ireland Assembly and its departments and agencies. Uncertainty is as damaging as action. We’re aware of businesses holding off investment, looking at other locations, EU and indeed UK customers and partners stalling or cancelling deal as concerns are raised about what happens next. Capital is a coward, it moves away from risk and finds safe haven. Our manufacturing sector is large but remains brittle and we need to make sure that confidence is restored quickly and the conditions created for growth. We need to provide this safe haven for capital investment which will improve our economy and secure jobs for the long term. Manufacturing was recovering strongly from the 2007 crash. Jobs, sales and investments were all rising sharply. The referendum has unfortunately put the brakes on that with the future uncertain unless we take action lead by a united approach from the NI Executive and all parties in Stormont. We need access to the Single Market and with it freedom of movement. Let’s be creative. Let’s be singularly focused on creating a new environment to operate a manufacturing business. Can we have similar rights for goods and services which people have secured under the Belfast Good Friday Agreement for passports? Can we benefit
from leaving the EU by committing to more Northern Ireland content in procurement? Can we secure an enterprise zone status for the whole of Northern Ireland and unleash huge investment in plant and equipment and with it secure jobs? Can we leverage the majority ‘Remain’ vote in Northern Ireland to build and secure relationships in Brussels, continue to influence standards and access funding? Let’s try! Sadly, in its first official opposition debate since the early 1970s, the Northern Ireland Assembly didn’t believe that a standalone Manufacturing Strategy was needed unlike its counterparts in Scotland, Ireland and soon to follow in Wales and the UK overall. However, with recent events, there could not be a better time to look again at this. There are huge risks but also big opportunities on the horizon. Manufacturers have proven they are prepared to invest, to sell internationally and to create better jobs. The Northern Ireland Executive should give them every assistance to do so. The referendum has been run, we have our own new structure in Stormont and we now must secure manufacturing’s future and markets at homes and abroad. We can reindustrialise, we can create wealth and work but we must to be agile, active, aggressive and creative in securing the best conditions for firms here and those who we know we can attract.
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Time to focus on infrastructure In uncertain times, infrastructure can build our quality of life and secure investment for Northern Ireland, says Richard Kirk, Regional Director at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Northern Ireland
n the wake of Brexit, the many uncertainties facing Northern Ireland have inevitably given rise to questions about its future prosperity. How will the economy fare long-term? Will it affect foreign investment? Will there be job growth or stagnation? For now, most answers to these questions are speculative. However, there are a few certainties we can, and should, take heed of in the months and years ahead. The necessity of infrastructure, and its central role as the driver of the economy, is one of these certainties. The five major strands of infrastructure are transport, energy, water, waste, and flood protection. Each strand is critical and must be adequately maintained in order to sustain economic growth. Infrastructure and the services it provides drive the economy forward by generating jobs, productivity and well-being with every £1 of investment generating £2.84 in the wider economy. However, to deliver long-term benefits to Northern Ireland, we need to think differently about how we fund and procure projects, what areas are most in need and how we attract and develop our best people to deliver them. In addition, 94% of businesses report that quality of infrastructure is a decisive factor when planning future investment. Infrastructure has a clear impact on businesses’ competitiveness and it remains central to growth. Though we welcome the devolution of corporation tax, it is not a silver bullet. Resilient, modern infrastructure and a skilled workforce are vital to attracting investment and meeting the demands of a growing economy. We cannot leave urgent infrastructure needs on the backburner and expect that the crumbs from financial monitoring rounds will sustain us. In June 2016, the Department for Infrastructure received £10m worth of funds allocated to maintain rural roads. Though this is a welcome investment, it only covers a fraction of the £1bn roads maintenance backlog. ICE has called on the NI Executive to put improving infrastructure at the heart of its 2016-21 Programme for Government, and to continue to develop a pipeline of identified upcoming projects. In a challenging fiscal climate, we must adequately maintain our assets – otherwise they will fail to serve us, protect us and attract investors. Earlier this year, ICE and Pinsent Masons hosted a roundtable which brought together government officials, industry experts and business
leaders to discuss Northern Ireland’s infrastructure needs up to the year 2050. The impending skills shortage in civil engineering is one of the most challenging obstacles facing infrastructure delivery, and the recent findings of the Skills Barometer show that Northern Ireland will need more civil engineers to meet its future needs. In response, ICE has developed Work+, a civil engineering apprenticeship in conjunction with the Department for the Economy, 25 employers and all six of Northern Ireland’s FE colleges. This September, Northern Ireland’s young people will have the opportunity to get involved with flagship infrastructure projects both at home and overseas through Work+. By pursuing these apprenticeships, our young people will have the opportunity to have a salary, no educational debt and a direct path to higher levels of professional and technical work. However, if we do not commit to actually funding and investing in infrastructure, we will pay the price of poorer health and damage to our economy and environment. As a sector, we must encourage our leaders to focus on economic and social outcomes which are underpinned by investment in infrastructure.
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Simon Hamilton gives his first major address in June
Minister with a vision Economy Minister Simon Hamilton tells David Elliott he wants to turn Northern Ireland into the next Singapore, while managing our interests as talks begin over the UKâ€™s separation from Europe 140
hat a time to take over the job of Economy Minister. Simon Hamilton has sat down in the hot seat just after a complete reorganisation of government departments which adds a long list of responsibilities to his remit, just after the UKâ€™s vote to leave the European Union and just before Westminster bows to pressure and cedes control of tax-setting powers to Stormont. Depending on your point of view, such a convergence of factors could be seen as the perfect platform to drive the Northern Ireland economy onto bigger and better things, or
it could also be seen as the perfect storm. As you might expect, Simon Hamilton is very much in the former camp. Starting with the departmental reorganisation which sees him avoid the mouthful that was the “Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment” for the much more natty title of Department of the Economy, he can barely contain his excitement. “It presents a huge opportunity to have a combined Department of the Economy with the policy responsibilities of telecoms, tourism, economic development as well
as now skills, universities and colleges under one umbrella,” he said in his office in Netherleigh House. “It’s what business wanted us to do and we’ve responded.” And he’s keen to set the achievements of the Northern Ireland economy in a longerterm context to highlight how far we’ve come, before getting on to all things Brexit. “There has been, and remains, a large degree of optimism, an optimism which I share. You couldn’t fail to be anything but optimistic. If you look at what we’ve achieved in a relatively short period of time it is hugely impressive. “We had huge potential but have been held
back by civil strife and political instability. Things have moved on and now, with peace and a responsive government as well as a hard working business community, we have a growing economy, falling unemployment and proof that everything is moving in the right direction.” With the aim of keeping the wind blowing in the right direction, Mr Hamilton has been thinking globally. He wants Northern Ireland to stand up and be counted, not against unrealistic competitors such as the US, Japan or China, but against small advanced economies such as Singapore, >
New Zealand, Finland, Estonia and even our next door neighbour the Republic.
“That isn’t to say we’re blasé or unconcerned but we’re managing the process from a Northern Ireland perspective. That means listening and talking to business through roundtables, liaison groups and speaking to individual businesses so we use the period of time between now and start of formal negotiations to catalogue the challenges.” In rugby parlance (and we must stress this is Ulster Business’s analogy, not the Economy Minister’s, although he’s welcome to borrow it) we would be a scrumhalf, smaller and not as fast as most of the other players on the field but hard working, agile, a little bit shouty and able to score a try given the right opportunity. “I have set out the vision to turn Northern Ireland into a globally competitive economy. We’ve got some of the foundations in place and can build on those to become a breakout nation and the model of a modern regional economy.” As a vision, you can’t fault it and it’s nice
the DUP’s Leave stance – and secondly how Northern Ireland is going to cope through the Brexit process being uniquely attached to a European country through the land border with the Republic. As expected, there’s no chance of getting an answer to the first question but plenty on the second. “The referendum result has created a degree of uncertainty which business doesn’t like. There are any number of questions but at this stage not a lot of answers and that is frustrating for anyone in business. “The message I’ve been trying to get out is that we are open for business and for now remain members of the EU so we’re continuing with business as usual. “We want to make sure we know what the issues are so that we can inform the overall UK negotiating position.” And away from the nitty gritty of organising Northern Ireland’s position following Brexit, Mr Hamilton sees a chance to find new and improved flows of trade.
“I have set out the vision to turn Northern Ireland into a globally competitive economy. We’ve got some of the foundations in place and can build on those to become a breakout nation and the model of a modern regional economy.”
to have a target for our ambition. But there is the sticky issue of Brexit to get over in the immediate future, firstly how Mr Hamilton voted in the referendum – a hot topic at the time of our interview given
Despite those opportunities, there is concern that some inward investors use Northern Ireland as a European base and by coming out of Europe we’ll lose that draw.
Citi, which employs close to 2,000 in Belfast, and Moy Park, Northern Ireland’s biggest company, are just two companies with overseas ownership which warned against Brexit in the run up to the referendum.
“We also see this as an opportunity. We want to open up direct trade with countries the EU has struggled with in the past such as China, India and Japan. There are huge opportunities of leaving the EU and we’re going to make sure we take them.” “The factors which made Northern Ireland a great place to invest haven’t changed,” Mr Hamilton said. We have lower property costs, lower labour costs, a highly skilled workforce and will soon have lower corporation tax. Big inward investors have been servicing customers and clients which are based in the UK or in the US. “For a lot of them, access to the EU market is a virtual non-issue.” Nevertheless, it’s bound to be a worry so has the minister been in front of the bosses of the big name investors? “Even without the result you would expect me to rekindle or make new relationships with the businesses which have invested here. We’ve attracted a lot of great firms and this is an issue which will be discussed in depth over the next few months.” It certainly will be, as will the performance of the Northern Ireland economy in the next few months. Whatever happens, Simon Hamilton has a big job on his hands.
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Want to grow? Let’s get personal... David Meade’s back, and he wants you to get under the skin of your customers
ere’s a question for you: How easy do you make it for customers to like your brand? Also – do you keep up-to-date with what today’s customers want? Do you follow trends and watch what other businesses are doing to keep people engaged? If you’re not sure about the answers to these questions, then here it is in a nutshell. You should make it as easy as possible for customers to like, even love, your brand. You should definitely keep your finger on the pulse of what today’s consumers want (and need) to stay loyal to a brand, and you should follow trends and watch the competition. Right now? It’s all about personalisation. Whether your business is large or
small, your delivery needs to feel like a customised, bespoke experience for every client lead or prospect.
Why individuality matters Remember Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, which ran during the summers of 2013 and 2014? The global brand removed its famous logo on Coke bottles, delighting consumers who could pick up a bottle with their name on it. A Coca-Cola spokesperson said: “The campaign capitalised on the global trend of self-expression and sharing, but in an emotional way. Coke is big enough to pull off an idea like this, which speaks to the iconic nature of the brand. Who would want their name on a brand unless it was as iconic as Coke?”
Of course, there are a fair few other iconic brands in the world and now, they’re all jumping on the personalisation bandwagon. Why? Because increasingly, this is what customers want. The Millennials and Gen Z have grown up and are growing up with their lives on full view to the world. Social media and the internet means everyone can and does promote themselves online. In a world where the average Joe down the street can collect thousands or more followers on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube or Facebook, everyone has the chance to attain almost celebrity-like status. What helps them to achieve this is by being an individual – by promoting themselves in a unique and interesting way – and for this, personalisation is key. What’s >
more, all the big brands are catching onto it and are doing their best to keep up with customer demand by introducing products they can put their own stamp on.
kids? It was cool for a while and then it became kitsch, dweeby and very much uncool. We grew out of it. Whatever happened, customised products were over.
Today it’s all about the personal brand and, if your business isn’t offering consumers personalised products or services, then someone else will – and that’s where they’ll go.
Who knew that we’d develop a nostalgia for branding ourselves again in the Noughties? Sex and the City fans revived the craze for name necklaces a little while back, when the hit sitcom was still on TV and everyone just loved Sarah Jessica Parker’s gold ‘Carrie’ necklace. But now, the personalisation trend is back with a vengeance and thanks to the internet, it’s become more popular and in demand than ever.
Global giants giving the personal touch It’s worth noting that all of this personalisation is happening from the top down. New York fashion label, MarieClaire St John, created customised shirts where consumers can have personalised embroidery on the backs of their garments. Levis also introduced custom embroidery options for its jeans. NIKEiD let customers customise their trainers, shoes and bags. And there are more doing the same. You’ll notice that these aren’t just any old brands. These are leading, globally known – and loved – brands, doing what they can to keep their customers happy. If even big names like these are trying hard to keep consumers interested and engaged, then the question is – why aren’t you?
How customisation became cool again... Once upon a time, we probably all had something that was personalised. Maybe back in the 70s...? Maybe when we were
“Historically, monograms or your name on your clothes was [seen as] preppy, old fashioned, or stuffy,” says Jackie Chiquoine,
associate retail intelligence editor at WGSN, the leading trend forecaster. “Fifteen or twenty years ago, people wouldn’t have wanted to be so publically identified with their own name,” she adds. “[But] because we spend so much time on social media, everyone lives their life as if they’re a public figure. Having something no-one else has creates an Instagram-able, postable product.” We’re all selling our personal brand online these days – putting our faces and our names out there for all to see. More and more brands are realising how effective this is for marketing their businesses and engaging with and keeping customers. Love them or hate them, you’ve also got to acknowledge that Starbucks has been doing it for years – personalising their takeaway coffee cups with customer names. Luxury brands like Prada, Burberry, Gucci and Louis Vuitton have also got in on the act, with personalised shoes, monogrammed blanket scarves, handbags and leather-stamped monograms.
It’s all about ‘the twist’ The psychology behind it is simple – personalisation makes people stand out and in today’s digital world where, let’s face it, most people now hang >
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out, that’s exactly what they want. It’s all about being different, grabbing attention and standing out from the crowd. Having that same product – but with a twist.
the clothes we wear and feeling valued by the brands we buy from – being acknowledged and treated as an individual rather than a number – is all part of this.
What makes your business stand out from the competition, and how can you offer something that does the same for your customers?
Back at the office
Brands like Dove are championing the individual with their ‘Real Beauty’ campaigns, celebrating their customers’ uniqueness. Consumers are increasingly encouraged to ‘be themselves’ and to ‘embrace their individuality’ – it’s how lots of brands are now choosing to sell their products. Social media is also saturated with uplifting hashtags and words of encouragement to the same effect, the message being that we should celebrate our own worth and be proud of who we are. Personalising
Personalisation is all very well and good for global brands, but how does that translate for Joe Bloggs back at his Belfast office? Personalisation comes in many forms, so it’s finding what works for your brand and going with it. You can even ask customers for feedback using surveys, offering prizes and just asking them outright on social media. If you sell services, try using your photograph on social media instead of a business logo, or have staff tweeting under their own names alongside the official account. Interact with your customers and show them through the content you create online that they matter – that you see them as individuals and that they can expect individual treatment when they buy from you. If you run a product-based business, look at developing your own way of personalising what you sell. Do you ask customers for input when you’re creating a special menu; do you provide bespoke artwork or tailormade, customised clothing? Do you make items to measure and let customers select their own colour schemes and designs? Businesses which don’t attempt to personalise their brand do so at their own risk. Customers expect you to make the effort and if you don’t, plenty of other brands will. It’s becoming more and more important to get creative with how you engage with consumers and if you want to stay in the game, then you have to be aware of this. The psychology of personalisation is really quite straightforward. It’s simply about giving customers what they want – more of themselves.
David is a researcher and lecturer in international business whose personal interests have always focused on aspects of popular psychology, consumer behaviour, and choice. www.davidmeade.co.uk and follow him on twitter @davidmeadelive
The future of business
his year’s Women in Business 8th Annual Conference is sponsored by Fujitsu and hosted by broadcaster and journalist, Claire McCollum.
“The Future of Business” is designed to inspire all delegates by providing them with world-class speakers and role models who will share their view on the future of business, what it will look like in the future and how we will work in it. Our keynote speakers, panels, and breakout sessions will explore the future of enterprise, ambition, business and career growth and leadership. There are two practical break-out streams to ensure we are all preparing for the future: “Working on Your Career” for our employed managers and senior managers and for our self-employed delegates “Working on Your Business”.
Our speakers Regina Moran: Head of Business Application Services for Fujitsu EMEIA. Regina, who brings with her over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, leads Fujitsu’s £1.8bn UK and Ireland business.
Molly Harvey: Recognised as a Leading Authority on Leadership and Cultural Transformation, Molly is a best-selling author of eight books, with over 21 years’ experience of engaging people, companies, and communities. Molly has produced a range of E-books, CD’s and Podcasts. Norah Casey: Norah is the owner and Chairwomen of Harmonia, Ireland’s largest magazine publishing company, printing over four million magazines annually for the Irish, British and USA market. Norah is a former Dragon of the popular television series Dragon’s Den and is a well-known radio and television personality. You can keep up to date as we release more of our speakers and details of our full programme soon via our website: www.womeninbusinessni.com
Don’t miss out on our exclusive Early Bird rate of £75 +VAT – book your place today online at www.womeninbusinessni.com; email: email@example.com or telephone 0845 6076 041
Women in Business 8th Annual Conference:
Ramada Plaza, Belfast Thursday, 22 September For more information: Women in Business T I 0845 6076 041 E I firstname.lastname@example.org W I womeninbusinessni.com
Early Bird Rate available for a limited time only, to book your place today visit: www.womeninbusinessni.com
Inspiring the local economy A visionary local authority is building the economic prosperity of the area by supporting business development, growth and entrepreneurship
orking closely with local and international businesses, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is attracting investment and increasing employment to strengthen the vibrant and growing local economy. As the largest council area in Northern Ireland outside of Belfast, both in terms of population size and Gross Value Added, which stands at around 10%, the borough is in a strong position to shape the region. The council is leading the promotion and development of digital technology, manufacturing, agri-food, pharmaceutical, life sciences, tourism and the creative sector.
Creative Momentum As part of its commitment to developing the region’s creative industry, the council recently hosted the Northern Ireland launch of the €2m ‘Creative Momentum’ project. With partners in Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Ireland, the project opens up global opportunities for the local creative sector.
Business Networking One of the council’s main strengths is its close relationship with local businesses. With a deep understanding of challenges facing the borough’s main industries, the council creates networking opportunities for businesses to meet key strategic partners and industry professionals. The recent Health and Life Sciences ‘meet the buyer’ event brought together key partners and over 30 companies from this fast growing sector. In the autumn, the council will again bring the industry’s global leaders together for a Health and Life Sciences conference.
Building Prosperity In collaboration with Tourism NI and local event organisers, the borough is playing a key role in celebrating local produce throughout 2016 for NI Year
The borough is home to many of Northern Ireland’s most successful globally-focused companies and innovators, including pharmaceutical giant Almac, which specialises in diagnostics, clinical services and development. More than 600 companies worldwide use the company’s products – a testament to its ambition, efficiency and the talent of its local workforce.
of Food & Drink. Developing a Food Heartland Forum to champion local food and drink producers and advance the local agri-food sector has been key to enhancing the local tourism experience and expanding local agri-food exports.
Celebrating Local Produce The council developed the Food Heartland Awards to champion local businesses and individuals in the agri-food sector, from specialist artisan producers and household brands, to award-winning restaurants and eateries. The platform recognises the hard work, passion and commitment to business excellence.
Digital Technology The borough is at the forefront of digital business support, developing strong academic and industry partnerships via strategic programmes such as the Digital Teen Programme, CoderDojo groups and a STEM summer school which will be delivered in August.
These schemes are designed in partnership with industry professionals to accommodate future growth in the sector by enhancing the technological skills of young local talent.
Digital DNA In September the council will host Digital DNA, a leading business and technology conference which will give businesses from all sectors the skills, knowledge and understanding to implement digital technology into their operations. By showcasing digital leaders and the steps they have taken to grow and engage with their audiences, the innovative event will inspire individuals to embrace digital technology and help turn businesses into digital leaders.
To find out more about doing business in the area contact: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Economic Development team on 0300 0300 900 or email: email@example.com
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Fingernails2Go readies for global growth
lster Business finds itself in some interesting places discussing some interesting topics with some interesting people in the pursuit of this magazine, but no more so than with the subject of this month’s featured small business. We’re on Belfast’s Lisburn Road talking to a former restauranteur about his new venture while admiring the freshlypainted nails of one of his team. It sounds odd, and it is, until you meet Butch Baird and realise that such an entrepreneurial spirit isn’t going to be confined to only one industry. Instead the former owner of The Other Place restaurants has a deep interest in painted nails -something you may find at odds with his name – and not just any old painted nails but those which with increasingly complex designs. That’s because he has developed and is in the process of marketing Fingernails2Go, a self-service digital nail art kiosk which prints intricate designs and patterns onto fingernails or a full set of artificial nails in just seconds. Customers can choose from up to 10,000 designs ranging from floral patterns to abstract art and iconic images. They can even use the kiosk’s in-built digital camera to capture their own image. Using state of the art printing technology, the kiosk then picks up the size and shape of the customer’s nails and prints perfectly onto them. Ulster Business doesn’t like to get too involved in the story so declined the invitation of a free nail paint, but can confirm that the results are pretty impressive. The user can scroll through differing
designs on the touch screen and then merely has to hold the finger in place for the briefest time while the HP technology used in the manufacture of the kiosk by Tensator Technology – sprays the nail. If you’re using stick-on nails (not a phrase this reporter ever thought he’d be writing) the whole set can be done in one go. Butch spent years coming up with and fine tuning the concept and is in the process of rolling it out both nationally and globally. It’s a long way from feeding the hungry diners of Belfast and begs the questions as to how he made the journey? When you realise he had been involved in the condom vending machine business in parallel with restaurants it begins to make more sense but it’s still a big jump to nails. “I was looking for something new, exciting and challenging and settled on developing a nail art kiosk,” Butch told Ulster Business. “The first kiosk came out in 1977 but it took 90 seconds per nail,
was temperamental and unregulated. “We wanted to improve on all of that.” Finding a manufacturer was the first move and that’s where Tensator came in, a company which has been involved in making the likes of voting booths and airport barriers, as well as a printing expert in the form of non-other than HP, the global IT giant which has got behind Fingernail2go. Plenty of research and development has resulted in the current kiosk, one which is making its way into chemists and other suitable venues across the world with Boots trialling one in Derby and others operating in Spain, New Zealand, Israel and even Trinidad and Tobago. And with the product only recently launched on the market, your likely to see a Fingernails2Go kiosk in plenty of places before long, particularly if early interest is anything to go by. “Now it’s the fun bit,” Butch said. “We have the final product and all we have to do is sell it.”
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Special entrepreneurial effects To get Top 100 companies we need top tier entrepreneurs. Ulster Business speaks to Connie McGrath who specialises in make-up effects for the film and theatre industries to get a taste of a profession which is becoming vital to the future of the Northern Ireland economy
How are things? Things are good, thank you! I’m a bit nervous, actually. I have recently quit my day job to pursue my dream job, which is a career in make-up effects.
How did you get started in special effects make-up? It all started when I was about 8 or 9 years old and I saw Beetlejuice for the first time. That film really fired up my imagination and inspired my love of all things strange and unusual! The make-up, sets, costumes and prosthetics still, to this day fascinate me. It’s a truly unique film. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Australia in 2012 that I decided to pursue makeup effects at a professional level. I got in contact with an FX Studio in Melbourne and volunteered my time, painting props and applying makeup FX and soaking up all the information. My first on-set experience was a short zombie film, which took place out in a forest just off the Great Ocean Road. We had just over an hour to turn nine actors into the undead. It was a challenge and certainly one that paid off. I was hooked after that.
Typically, who are your clients? A majority of my clients are involved in film and theatre. I have been fortunate enough to work on several productions at the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) The Lyric Theatre and the Grand Opera House here in Belfast, as well as a number of films both big budget and smaller scale. The highlights so far would be working as a make-up trainee on Dracula: Untold and Lost City of Z. Halloween is also a very busy period. A
majority of my clients around this time are my friends and family, in need of some casualty simulation and fake blood.
Do you enjoy what you do? I love what I do. After I graduated with a Fine Art degree from the University of Ulster in 2004, I felt a bit lost and didn’t know what my plan was. It was another eight years before I figured it all out. When I finally did, I just went for it and haven’t really stopped since.
What is the most difficult part of your job? The most difficult part of the job would probably be the hours on set, but if you love what you do, you will power through.
Has demand picked up with the arrival of HBO and other production companies to Northern Ireland? I believe the demand for artists will significantly increase. Since the arrival of HBO and TV shows such as Game of Thrones and The Fall, the film industry has gone from strength to strength. Belfast Harbour Studios which is currently under construction will see the rise in demand and with the Star Wars franchise, it definitely feels like things are taking off.
Where would you like to be in 10-years’ time? In ten years’ time I would like to think I’ll have the same passion and drive that I have now. To be established here in Belfast, working alongside others artists with the same enthusiasm for the craft.
Connie picks up the award for best make-up FX at the Freak Show Horror Film Festival.
What’s been the highlight for you so far? I have quite a number of highlights so far. I’ll give you two! The first would be meeting the Oscar-winning make-up artist Greg Cannom at The United Makeup Artists’ Expo in London last year. He is famous for creating Mrs Doubtfire and Michael Jackson’s Thriller look, amongst many others. He is a huge inspiration. The second would be winning an award for best make-up FX at the Freak Show Horror Film Festival. That was a very encouraging moment.
What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs? My advice to other artists interested in getting involved in the industry is ‘always be willing to learn and never, ever give up’. Oh, and always arrive early to set!
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“Now is the time to invest in your business” Funding options for small and mid-sized businesses come in all shapes and sizes, writes Paddy Graham, BGF’s lead investor in Northern Ireland. The key is finding the right one for your business
espite the inevitable peaks and troughs of macro-economic conditions and market dynamics – including the ongoing volatility caused by the recent EU referendum decision – this is still a good time for entrepreneurs to build bigger businesses here in Northern Ireland. Even amid the fog of uncertainty caused by Brexit, the UK is still the most entrepreneurial country in Europe, creating more start-ups than ever and with a proud history of innovation and ambition. The fundamentals that make the UK so attractive for growing businesses have not suddenly disappeared – we still have the same location, language, education, legal system. BGF is a long term investor and now, more than ever, we need to think long term. The currency and stock markets may continue to gyrate, but they are first and foremost an indicator of current sentiment. As an investor, we think about what the businesses we back can do over five to 10 years, not five to 10 minutes. The key to sustainable growth is the ability to think long-term. Do you know where you want your business to be in three, five or ten years’ time? Work back from there and you will begin to see what needs to be done today. Have you got the right products at the right price? How can you reach new audiences or expand in new geographies? How can you attract and retain the best talent as your company grows.
There is no one answer or perfect path to growth, but almost every plan will require investment. So businesses need to think how and from whom you will raise the necessary capital. In the current post-Brexit climate, bank loans are likely to be less readily available for projects that are deemed higher-risk and not every business owner wants to take on more senior debt. Equally, many Northern Irish businesses tell us they don’t want to, or simply cannot, self-fund their expansion plans, particularly if doing so requires millions of pounds in upfront capital and additional risk to their personal finances. As a result, equity funding is proving increasingly popular. The amount of equity capital raised by non-listed companies has more than doubled in the past four years in the UK. This uplift is a result, in part, of a greater supply of equity capital in the market. BGF is a case in point: we were set up in 2011 with £2.5bn to invest in return for a minority equity stake. To date, we’ve invested more than £850m across the UK, backing more than 125 businesses. In Northern Ireland, it has been a more gradual process of building awareness of equity funding and BGF’s offering. We have backed Derry-based Braidwater, a residential construction company and we are in active discussions with a number of other businesses in relation to potential equity funding. Every company we
speak to is different but all have the desire to build a bigger and better business. One piece of guidance I would give to business owners looking to get funding from an equity partner is to make sure the chemistry with that partner feels right. As a minority investor, BGF doesn’t get involved in the day to day running of the companies we back, but a shared enthusiasm for the success of the business makes the partnership all the more rewarding. Caution and even fear are understandable reactions to the Brexit uncertainty. But history has taught us that successful businesses don’t stand still, and that some of the greatest companies are those that invested and challenged themselves in the most challenging times. BGF is in it for the long term, willing to share the risk along the way. Now, more than ever, we want to back bold and ambitious businesses. The critical issues of access to capital, talent and markets are as pressing as ever for smaller growing companies. So, now is not the time to go silent. We need to be sure that our priorities are high on the new political agenda. Yes, we are entering uncharted waters at a time of extreme political turmoil. But let’s think how we can make the best use of the new flexibility that the UK may have, and not lose focus of longer term goals as well as what needs to be done now to achieve them.
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Name: Norah Anne Barron Position: Managing Director, Pi Communications
A word from
The Wise How did you start out in business? In 2001 I joined forces with Conor O’Brien, the other Managing Director who is now my husband, to provide freelance news crews for various networks and agencies and in the early years there was still quite a lot of international interest in the NI story. Conor was the cameraman and I did the production management. We literally started off working from a spare bedroom! We now employ 45 staff in Belfast and Dublin and we broadcast all meetings for the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly. We also provide crewing and technical facilities and support for news networks. We have taken this TV standard of broadcast and now support the corporate market providing filming and production services clients such as Invest NI, producing short films for companies with a positive message to tell. As well as this, we produce marketing films for forward-thinking companies using social media as a key platform, andthe results have been staggering with clients finding film use is dramatically driving their sales. A significant growth area for us is supporting the events and conference market providing AV support and live streaming. What did you find most challenging during your years in business? We’re always being presented with new and often exciting opportunities and challenges and whilst our planning is meticulous, the nature of broadcasting means that situations and circumstances change all the time, but we thrive on the fast pace of what we do. Our team could be filming a late night parliamentary session as well as planning for an upcoming event and managing teams
The column with an ear for experience...
across a number of locations. There is always a solution to be reached, or a problem to be solved and while some might see that as a challenge, here at Pi it’s all in a day’s work. How would you describe your management style? Positive, proactive and pragmatic. I’m very fortunate to have a great team who are all dedicated to their craft and are experts in what they do, as well as department managers who know the business inside out. We all work to our strengths, and it’s important that Conor and I motivate, support and challenge all our staff to get the best results for our clients. What would you change if you could go back and do it all again? I would delegate more and have more specialised support – we have a great team now and I have my role in the business but in the early start up years we were doing everything and there was a poor work life; having 3 children under 5 didn’t make it any easier either! I think that when you start a business, this way of working was totally necessary but if I had to change anything I’d definitely opt for enlisting more support in the startup years. Have you done it all on your own? Conor and I established the company on our own, and we have developed and grown through dedication, hard work and constant innovation. However, you can’t maintain a well-respected company without the full back-up of your staff. Our team have grown with us and we are hugely grateful for the commitment they show to us and our clients every day. What we’ve achieved in recent years has been a team effort.
By David Elliott
The column that doesn’t have time for lunch...
Diner: Alan Taylor, Chair of Arthur Cox Eatery: Avoca, Alfred Street, Belfast
drizzly Thursday morning in June normally finds this reporter sheltering in the office with a cup of coffee and a good business story. Not this particular driech day, however, as Ulster Business had a breakfast appointment with a man who has his legal hand on the mergers and acquisition tiller of Northern Ireland. As expected, Alan Taylor was already waiting outside this month’s chosen dining establishment – Avoca on Belfast’s Arthur Street – and once the doors were opened at 9am we rushed past the cashmere throws and candle diffusers to the upstairs restaurant. The legal eagle had obviously read and digested his brief – one moulded from a stream of no-breakfast-business-breakfasts which have plagued this column – as he went straight for the Avoca breakfast, a fry of impressive proportions which would have sunk a lesser man. Dancing around the edges of such a feast was your scribe who plumbed instead for the poached egg and avocado on sour dough toast, a combination which may have breakfast purists running for the door.
Both were top notch, although going through the notes from the day it’s clear that someone’s egg once again made it onto the notes. No matter, some yolk won’t get in the way of Alan Taylor’s story, one which begins in the farming community of Tandragee where he still lives. Alan’s father had been one of the owners of Whites Speedicook during the 80s before selling the business to Fane Valley in the early 90s, so from an early age he had a keen interest in business and in the legals which inevitably accompany it (maybe we should have had porridge?). That led the way to a law degree at the University of Dundee before taking up a post with a Scottish accountancy firm where he learned the ins and outs of a profit and loss account, working alongside a young Earl of Southesk. After a few years in Scotland, it was back to Queen’s University to complete the Certificate of Professional Legal Studies in the early 90s and following a number of years of practice in Belfast, it was off to Arthur Cox in 2007, initially as head of the corporate department before taking the role of managing partner. Then the firm numbered 28 people but steady growth since then has seen headcount rise to 90 with turnover “more than quadrupling”.
“He was quite a character and had a big influence in how we run the firm today.”
although there is another large part of his interests which are in an actual field.
Carrying on that tradition, Alan has a key involvement with corporate social responsibility organisation Business In The Community, a role he talks about with passion and one which ensures CSR permeates Arthur Cox.
That’s because he rears sheep.
“The staff get a lot out of it,” he said. “It helps ground everybody and makes much more rounded people of us all.
Alan lists the second prize for his shearling ram at Armagh show and the two rosettes he picked up at Balmoral with as much pride as he talks about an M&A deal, although that’s no surprise given his three children are also enthusiasts (of showing sheep, not M&A).
“That helps make a better working environment and allows us to offer a better service to our clients.” Alan has now handed over the managing partner baton at Arthur Cox to Catriona Gibson but remains chairman.
“We’ve recruited people who are suited to the brand. Our lawyers are commercially focused and part of the fabric of the business community with high levels of integrity.”
Specialising in corporate law, Alan and team have been involved in some of the largest mergers and acquisition deals in Northern Ireland in the last few years and that reputation has helped the business grow.
On the back of BITC, Alan has also been instrumental in the formation of Business on Board, a programme which helps place business people on the boards of the voluntary and community sector.
“We’ve recruited people who are suited to the brand,” Alan said. “Our lawyers are commercially focused and part of the fabric of the business community with high levels of integrity.”
It helps answer the growing need for a business brain and direction on such boards while also helping to develop leadership for the people involved.
He attributes that latter fact to Arthur Cox himself who started the practice in Dublin in 1920 before becoming a Jesuit priest and missionary in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.
Yes, you heard that correctly, sheep, and not just any old sheep but a herd of pedigree Jacobs which he shows at events throughout the year.
It’s finding out surprising pastimes like that which make doing this job all the more interesting, but as time is marching on we soon have to head, but not before a bit of sheep chat. It appears the world of ovines and M&A do occasionally clash, I find out, with the bosses of one of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies only-too-ready to critic the legal man’s beasts at the recent Balmoral Show. But with a flurry of rosettes to take home, who’s laughing now?
It’s that passion for the development of leaders that means Alan is also involved in the Institute of Directors and recently led its Effective Board session aimed at helping boards operate successfully. All this makes Alan a leader in his field,
L-R: Eva Toal, NIH Corporate Fundraiser; Brendan Miskelly, PwC NI, Community Affairs Lead; Ellen Hillen, NIH Corporate Fundraising Manager; and Loretta Gribben, NIH Director of Nursing & Patient Services.
Charity partnerships – creating purpose and changing culture By David Armstrong, Partner, PwC NI Community Affairs
ust over 14,500 people die in Northern Ireland annually and around 3,000 of these are cared for at some point by the Northern Ireland Hospice. There’s hardly a workplace or a family across the region that doesn’t engage with the Hospice and its staff and PwC is no exception. As one of Northern Ireland’s largest employers, PwC’s staff engagement with the Hospice has been both frequent and emotional and it was that relationship that created an unprecedented wave of staff enthusiasm to give something back. PwC’s annual charity partnership generally sets out to raise £25,000 for the partner charity – this year, that total was passed in weeks, with the Hospice finally receiving a cheque for over £96,000.
PwC NI has successfully expanded its footprint in international markets, selling client solutions across the globe, but remaining closely integrated to our local community is extremely important to us. And it was that sense of community purpose that convinced the PwC leadership and staff that partnering with the Northern Ireland Hospice could make a big impact and leave a lasting legacy. The Hospice’s ambitious new 21st century accommodation on Somerton Road, Belfast cost a projected £13m, with only £3m coming from government, leaving £10m to be raised – no small task. Yet they managed to do this and building work began three years ago. The new Hospice has 18 ensuite bedrooms each with their own private garden and outfitting each bedroom cost
£25,000. PwC’s initial commitment to outfit a bedroom was seen by staff as a minimum and there was a determination to double that. Across the PwC UK network, one day a year is set aside for dedicated charitable support and fundraising. In 2016, the One Firm One Day (OFOD) event fell in May and the PwC Northern Ireland organising committee decided that they would create their own version of PwC does Strictly Come Dancing. Anyone who’s a fan of Strictly will recognise that is no small-scale entertainment event. But long-time client the Hastings Hotel Group, came to the rescue, generously providing the Europa Hotel’s giant function rooms and other accommodation free of charge. Then there was the small matter of the dancing and dancers. On the basis of aiming for the best,
Shane Berger, a professional choreographer and producer of many Strictly productions was approached to produce PwC does Strictly Come Dancing. He also generously worked with the 24 volunteer dancers from PwC over eight weeks building their confidence to perform on stage. PwC does Strictly was an outstanding success, with close to 600 tickets sold and the Europa function rooms filled to capacity. But while PwC does Strictly raised over £35,000, it was only one of an almost weekly parade of events, fund-raisers and initiatives that easily broke the £25,000 target. Team work and determination was to the fore again when 350 staff from the PwC NI Deals Team raised an incredible £32,000 in a single day, through a series of fundraising initiatives across Belfast. They took over 10 Hospice shops, contributing and selling stock, held street collections, busked and bag collected in over 20 locations, along with other fund raising activities. The following month, 140 partners and staff took to the roads and pavements for the Run to the Shops, a 26mile circuit between each of the NI Hospice shops in Belfast. It was another fundraising success with great cooperation between PwC, the Hospice staff and general public. The hoped-for and more ambitious £50,000 goal was smashed, delivering sponsorship for two bedrooms and over £40,000 in other vital equipment which the Hospice needed. As the events tumbled on and the enthusiasm was sustained, we became curious as to why the Hospice had triggered so much support and motivation amongst our 1,300 people and which persuaded Ellen Hillen the Corporate Fundraising Manager for the NI Hospice to write:
“The overwhelming success of the charity partnership and engagement has been an inspiration to the staff and patients at NI Hospice. We have been encouraged by the sheer energy and commitment shown by the management and staff at PwC and their creative fundraising ideas. The partnership has exceeded all expectations of the charity. With innovative ideas and attention to detail, it has galvanised the support of colleagues and senior management team to deliver what we can only describe as a ‘Winning Partnership’ for the people of Northern Ireland who will need Hospice care today, tomorrow and in the years to come.” When we asked staff what contributed to their enthusiasm, a few common answers emerged. These included: raise money for NI Hospice and help the community; help realise a lasting achievement for the
community; and being taken out of a comfort zone and challenged to make a difference. The emphasis on community and on self suggests that the level of engagement we experienced was because each person took responsibility for his and her own level of involvement; they perceived the firm’s purpose as connecting people and community with what’s important to them and they engaged with that. We’ve also recognised that formalising a situation whereby people can spend a fair bit of ‘working time’ engaged in something beyond their normal work function facilitates creativity which then transfers to the workplace. People are talking about being more creative, more engaged in work related tasks, because they have been challenged to do precisely that as part of our partnership with the Hospice. Even in a regulated environment of accounting, tax and finance, identifying ‘purpose’ and stimulating and facilitating creativity, combine to facilitate a powerful culture that is equally at home in the workplace and in the community. Facilitating ‘purpose’ has been good for the Northern Ireland Hospice, but it’s been good for PwC and its people, too.
Getting up to autoenrolment speed Conaill McGrady, Director of M.B. McGrady & Co Chartered Accountants, gives the lowdown on what your company should be doing to make sure you’re auto-enrolment ready
What should employers be doing to prepare for auto enrolment? Firstly, you must understand Leave staging date - the day that auto enrolment comes into effect - and this will depend on the size of your payroll. Preparation will help to ensure a smooth transition ahead of your auto enrolment date, and it’s crucial to provide information to staff, and to set in place a procedure for auto-enrolling employees and dealing with opt-ins and opt-outs. This is where we can help to assist businesses in making the right choices for both the business and employees. My employees have told me they don’t want to join a pension scheme so can I ignore auto enrolment? No. The employer must still assess their workers, make the necessary communications to the employees, set up and automatically enrol any eligible job holders into a pension scheme and take deductions from them and also make employer contributions, whilst maintaining all necessary records. The employees that have been automatically enrolled can inform the pension provider that they wish to ‘opt out’ of the pension scheme, and the pension provider in turn informs the employer. If the employee opts out within a certain time limit any deductions made can be refunded to them. Our business already has a pension scheme for staff, can I continue to use it? In order to comply with the auto enrolment requirements, the pension scheme must be a ‘qualifying’ scheme, and this is where we can help to ensure businesses are compliant.
If the scheme is not qualifying for the purposes of auto enrolment, then you will have to either amend the scheme so it becomes eligible or if this is not possible then you will have to set up a new ‘qualifying’ pension scheme. How much do I have to deduct from my employees and how much must I contribute on their behalf? An entitled employee must be between 16 and 75 and the deduction and contribution rates applied to pensionable pay must be over the threshold of £5,824 pa. The percentage of contributions is set to change between April 2018 to April 2019, with the total contribution (employee and employer) amounting to 2% before April 18 and rising to 8% from April 2019 onwards*. (*The proposed dates are subject to Parliament approval)
An example of this would be an employee on £15,000 per annum: before April 2018, the employee net contribution would be £73 per annum and the employer would contribute £92 per annum. From April 2019 onwards, on this same salary, the net contributions per annum would rise to £367 (employee) and £275 (employer). Is there still confusion on auto enrolment? The introduction of auto enrolment has left many business owners worried and unsure of its impact on a business. Auto enrolment is here to stay, and planning will help companies to prepare for its introduction and impact before their staging dates. At M.B. McGrady & Co, we understand the complexities of auto enrolment and will be helping to guide our clients throughout the entire process, making the introduction of auto enrolment as seamless as possible.
Flags, firebombs & flashbacks
By Pat Burns
Fleet for all Fleet Financial celebrates 20 successful years in business in 2016. Pictured at the company’s headquarters in Mallusk are (L-R); Stephen Cullen, Fleet Manager; Brian Casey, Operations Director; Philip Miley, Sales and Marketing Director; Damian Hughes, Managing Director; Damian Campbell, Sales Manager and Patrick Dobbin, Financial Controller.
s a major partner in the success of Top 100 company Charles Hurst, Fleet Financial plays a strategic role in the ongoing development of both companies and the growth of the automotive industry in Northern Ireland. Philip Miley, Sales and Marketing Director, has seen a promising period of growth for the company, particularly over the last 12 months. “The motor trade is constantly evolving, and while it is a fantastic testament to the commitment of our team and clients that we can celebrate 20 years of successful business in 2016, we continue to innovate and integrate with both our product offering and the services we provide across the corporate and consumer markets in Northern Ireland.” Ranked as the number one fleet company in Northern Ireland in the UK’s official Top 50 list as compiled by industry bible Fleet News, Fleet Financial is always in front when it comes to innovation, including the introduction of Fleet Navigator. This market-leading, bespoke fleet facility allows the day-to-day management of a company’s fleet to be controlled via a desktop or handheld device with all relevant
and necessary documentation securely stored and available at the touch of a button. This cutting edge digital application will aid Fleet’s management team and its clients to effectively and efficiently deliver on all requirements associated with the daily running of a fleet of vehicles, whilst working remotely or outside working hours. The 24/7 approach is another element of the changing car market that Fleet is adapting to. In addition, Fleet Financial have been pioneering Personal Contract Hire for a new market of customers outside the corporate client base. Regardless of career or company, an increasing number of customers requiring an upgrade or additional vehicle are turning to the industry experts. To recognise this shift in demand and customer demographic, Fleet launched their ‘Preferences’ product which is tailored for the Personal Contract Hire market, working around an individual’s or family’s needs and budget. Officially Northern Ireland’s Best Fleet Provider following consecutive award wins in 2014 and 2015, Fleet Financial
specialises in Contract Hire and Vehicle Management to over 1,000 of Northern Ireland’s leading companies ranging from sole traders and SMEs to Top 100 employers. The company’s corporate reach has expanded in 2016 with a strategic Patronage partnership with the Construction Employers Federation, which brings organisations from a range of sectors together to support the construction industry with expertise and guidance. “The construction industry remains vitally important to the development of a strong economy and we at Fleet Financial are acutely aware of the challenges faced by new, established and fast-growing businesses of every size. That we can join others as CEF Patrons, including Danske Bank, Carson McDowell and JP Corry, allows us to provide assistance, advice and encouragement for the growth, expansion and benefit of all.” Philip added: “From our base in Mallusk, the senior management team, supported by our 30-strong workforce, are dedicated to the ongoing development of the company, product innovation, and customer satisfaction with new services for emerging customer bases.”
Slimmer, lighter, more economical Q7
he Audi Q7 has gone on a diet and is now slimmer, lighter and more economical. It is also slightly shorter but impressively has even more interior space. In fact, the new generation Q7 offers the most spacious interior in the premium SUV segment. In terms of knee space, shoulder space and headroom, it even surpasses the dimensions of its predecessor – despite the exterior of the car becoming more compact. The new Q7 is the embodiment of Vorsprung durch Technik: It combines high fuel efficiency and impressive driving performance figures, with the latest in technology. The new Q7 is available here with a turbocharged V6 diesel engine – the 3.0 TDI which is available in two power outputs, 218 and 272PS. Compared with the predecessor model the 272PS version fuel consumption is lower by 23 percent – a CO2 equivalent of up to 50 grams per km. Acceleration from 0 to 62mph takes 6.5 seconds, with a top speed of 145mph. On average, the 3.0 TDI is capable of returning up to 47.9 mpg combined, emitting 153 grams of CO2 per km.
A second version of the V6 TDI is now also available, producing 218 PS and 500 Nm (368.8 lb-ft) of torque, the latter at 1,250 to 3,000 rpm. With up to 28 percent less fuel consumption than its predecessor, it achieves the best score in efficiency. On a combined cycle, 49.6 mpg is achievable when fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, while CO2 drops to 148 g/km. A start-stop system is standard with both engines. For example, should the driver be rolling towards a red light, the system already disables the engine shortly before the vehicle comes to a halt. The system is networked with
the optional assistance system ACC, including traffic jam assist. When the car in front begins to move again after stopping, the engine of the new Q7 starts again automatically. Both engines also come with sound generators on board that makes suitably pleasant engine sounds for the occupants to appreciate.
entry-level SE version. S line models are equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels from the factory. Alternatively, up to 21inch wheels can be optionally specified. The new model is priced from £50,340 OTR in SE specification, increasing to £53, 835 OTR for S line versions.
The new eight-speed tiptronic is a classic torque-converter transmission, shifting smoothly, quickly and spontaneously.
Standard specification includes 19-inch alloy wheels, a tyre pressure loss indicator, xenon plus headlights and LED rear lights, electrically heated and folding exterior mirrors, a power-operated tailgate and aluminium roof rails and window trims.
The Q7 is an extremely comfortable travelling companion. On motorways it travels smoothly and confidently, affording excellent ride comfort – especially with the optional adaptive air suspension (air suspension with controlled damping). Another optional system for the Q7 is all-wheel steering – a technology unique in the SUV segment. This system make the Q7 more manoeuvrable at low speeds and improves the handling at higher speeds. The new Q7 comes with standard 19inch wheels with 255/55 tyres for the
The interior of the new Audi Q7 offers the Audi sound system, MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch and a 3-month free trial of Audi Connect, dual-zone electronic climate control, a 4-spoke multifunction leather steering wheel with shift paddles, twin leather upholstery, LED interior lighting, the electromechanical parking brake, reclining and folding seatbacks in the second row, ISOFIX anchors for all six passengers and electric 4-way lumbar support for the heated and electrically adjustable front seats.
Along came a Spider
esigned in the Fiat Style Centre, the 124 Spider is pure classic roadster, with its long wheelbase, a cockpit hunkered low near the driven rear axle and a long bonnet. To minimise weight, improve longevity and encourage spur-ofthe-moment open air driving experiences, 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 bonnet you’ll find the brand’s proven 1,368cc MultiAir, turbo-charged four-cylinder engine which delivers 140hp and 240Nm of torque to the rear wheels via six-speed manual transmission. The 124 Spider is capable of accelerating to 62mph in 7.5 seconds and has a top speed of 134mph. The FIAT 124 Spider’s suspension uses a double-wishbone 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.
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 leather-trimmed 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. Prices for the FIAT 124 Spider starts at £19,545 OTR for the Classica version.
Octavia can take on the best
koda’s rich sporting and performance history reaches a historic milestone in 2016 with the 15th anniversary of the vRS brand in the UK. Since the first Octavia vRS arrived in showrooms back in 2001, Škoda has continually developed the vRS range; adding more power, performance and excitement to cars wearing the famous three letter badge. The latest version of the Octavia vRS can take on most executive performance saloons and match them punch for punch. The third-generation Octavia vRS has the largest range ever with three engine options, two body styles and the option of fourwheel-drive. Petrol versions are powered by a 2.0 TSI engine available with outputs of 220PS and 230PS, while diesel variants feature a 2.0 TDI with an output of 184PS. Paddle-shift DSG transmissions are available across the vRS range, while the diesel variant can be specified with four wheel drive. Delivering the perfect combination of sportiness, space and functionality, the new Octavia vRS takes Škoda performance to a new level.
Offered in both hatchback and estate forms, the new Octavia vRS’s bold, motorsportinspired design pays homage to its legendary predecessors. Despite its obvious sporting ambitions, the new Octavia vRS is as practical and clever as the award-winning standard models. The hatch offers 590 litres of boot space with the rear seats in position, while the estate delivers 610 litres of luggage room. With the rear seats folded, the figures rise to 1,580 litres and 1,740 litres respectively. At the heart of the new Octavia vRS is an engine line-up that is as powerful and exciting as it is frugal and clean. To allow drivers to fully exploit the vRS’s performance potential, Škoda has engineered a new chassis set up that features a lowered ride height (12mm hatch, 13mm estate) and advanced multi-link rear suspension design. Electronic differential lock (XDS) is fully integrated into the Octavia’s electronic stability control (ESC) system, and helps improves traction in corners. The new Octavia also introduces a new progressive steering system that varies the amount of lock required according to road speed.
The top of the range model is the vRS230. As with the standard Octavia vRS, the new vRS 230 has incredible road presence. Striking 19-inch Xtreme Black alloys fill the wheel arches while Black design door mirrors and front grille give the whole front end a mean and muscular appearance. Xenon lights with black backfills and subtle new grille badging that incorporates a black ‘V’ into the logo further enhance the vRS230’s powerful new look. Estate versions are equipped with black roof rails, while all models also feature black gloss exhaust tailpipes as standard. Inside, the new vRS 230 is equally alluring with a raft of unique features and styling touches that mark it apart from the standard model. Perforated leather heated sports seats are fitted as standard and feature a threeway memory function and distinctive red stitching with coloured vRS logos stitched into the seats – unique to this model. Ahead of the driver is a new instrument binnacle with white dials, colour Maxi-DOT trip computer with Lap Timer function and a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather with red stitching.
Official government fuel consumption figures in mpg (litres per 100km) for the new E-Class Saloon range: urban 44.1(6.4)-65.7(4.3), extra urban 61.4(4.6)-78.5(3.6), combined 54.3(5.2)-72.4(3.9). CO2 emissions 144-102 g/km. Official EU-regulated test data are provided for comparison purposes and actual performance will depend on driving style, road conditions and other non-technical factors.
The new E-Class Saloon. Masterpiece of Intelligence. Available from £369* per month, with a new stunning design and a more connected drive than ever before, meet the perfect balance between elegance and technology. Contact us today to book your test drive. Model featured is a new Mercedes-Benz E 220 d SE Saloon at £36,580 on-the-road including optional metallic paint at £645 (on-the-road price includes VAT, delivery, 12 months’ Road Fund Licence, number plates, first registration fee and fuel). Specification imagery may show optional features. Content relating to finance is promoted by Mercedes-Benz Finance. Your Retailer may offer finance on behalf of other companies. *Business users only. Mercedes-Benz Contract Hire agreement. All payments exclude VAT at 20%. No ownership option. Based on a new E 220 d SE Saloon including optional metallic paint. Vehicle condition, excess mileage and other charges may apply. Rental includes Road Fund Licence for the contract duration. Guarantees may be required. Orders/credit approvals on selected new E-Class models only between 1 April and 30 June 2016, registered by 30 September 2016, excluding Mercedes-AMG 63 models. Subject to availability, offers cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Some combinations of features/options may not be available. Please contact your Mercedes-Benz Retailer for availability. Credit provided subject to status by Mercedes-Benz Finance, MK15 8BA. Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 2448457 and has its registered address at Tongwell, Milton Keynes, MK15 8BA. Prices, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions correct at time of print.
Mercedes-Benz of Belfast 6 Boucher Crescent, Belfast, BT12 6HU 02890 689000 www.mercedes-benzofbelfast.co.uk Mercedes-Benz of Portadown Carn Court Road, Portadown, BT63 5YX 02838 337373 www.mercedes-benzofportadown.co.uk
New Tiguan leads VW assault on SUV market
olkswagen has admitted it missed the boat somewhat given the proliferation and sales success of rivals SUV models. VWs new Tiguan model has now been redesigned to appeal to SUV customers and is the first of a new line up of SUV models from VW that will compete in every segment of the market by 2020.
Once a smartphone is paired with the Tiguan the driver or passenger can make and receive phone calls via the car’s built-in microphone and infotainment speakers. When the car is stationary the driver or passenger can even read and reply to SMS text messages using the touch-screen display, if they have an Android smartphone.
The new Tiguan’s cool, calm, connected nature enables its driver and passengers to stay in touch while on the move. Whether it’s getting the latest traffic information, streaming some music or dictating a text hands-free the new SUV is equipped for the task.
The Tiguan is offered with three new petrol engines, with power outputs from 125 PS to 180 PS, and four new diesel engines ranging from 115 PS to 240 PS. All EU6-compliant, they are more powerful and more fuelefficient than the comparable EU5 engines of the previous model. The diesel engines feature SCR catalytic converter technology, using the now familiar AdBlue additive.
All new Tiguans offer, as a minimum, Volkswagen’s impressive Composition Media system. This includes an eight-inch colour touch-screen, DAB digital radio receiver, CD player, USB connection and the simultaneous pairing, via Bluetooth, of two compatible mobile phone devices.
The high-volume diesel will be available as a 2.0 TDI 150 PS with 4MOTION all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) or six-speed manual transmission; or with front-wheel drive and a manual
gearbox. In addition the 2.0 TSI with 180 PS, 4MOTION and DSG is also on offer. The new Tiguan sets standards when it comes to safety, with a raft of active and passive safety measures delivered by virtue of the use of the MQB platform. Front Assist with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring; active bonnet; automatic post-collision braking and Lane Assist are fitted as standard (in Europe). The first active bonnet on a Volkswagen reduces the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists by lifting upward in the event of an impact – rising 50mm within 22 milliseconds of an impact. The safety equipment roster also includes a network of seven airbags – including a knee airbag on the driver’s side. It sets standards, and not only for A-SUVs. The new Tiguan, like all Volkswagen cars based on the MQB platform, also comes with the automatic post-collision braking system which helps to avoid dangerous secondary collisions.
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Employers scoop gongs at Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards turnout of nearly 600 guests on an evening of glitz and glamour as the awards night honoured a range of organisations from blue chip local companies through to several innovative and emerging, but lesser-known, businesses. A handful of past victors made it back on to the podium, picking up their distinctive award in a presentation ceremony overseen by BBC journalist Karen Patterson, assisted in a humorous and often irreverent way by top comedian Paddy Kielty.
Deirdre Heenan, third left, of Ulster University, Alastair Pollock of Phoenix Natural Gas, Mark Regan of Kingsbridge Private Hospital, Anna Beggan of Tughans, Fergal Doyle of Delta Print & Packaging, Beverley Harrison of the Department of the Economy and Irish News editor Noel Doran, centre.
t was the night of all nights in the plush surroundings of Titanic Belfast as companies representing sectors from energy to architecture, finance to pharma, and banks to beer, were lauded
at the 10th anniversary Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards. A record-breaking number of entries in this milestone year translated into a record
Among the big-name victors was Newrybased First Derivatives, which provides trading and risk management software systems and consulting services for many of the world’s leading financial institutions. Currently employing 1,600 staff, it won both the Managing Talent and Best Place to Work categories for large firms, and received a rousing ovation from the audience. There was another double winner from Newry when PKF-FPM topped the same two categories as FD, but for medium-sized organisations, which comes on the back of its recent success in both the UK and Irish Accountancy Awards, where it was named employer of the year. The night’s other multiple winner was CDE Global in Cookstown, which clinched both the Innovative Employer and new Entrepreneurial Spirit awards, and which was described by the judges as “embodying a hard-working attitude backed up by creativity, ambition and a pronounced entrepreneurial spirit”. Among the other householdname companies called forward to the famous Titanic staircase for a Workplace & Employment Award were Allstate Northern Ireland and the Almac Group in Craigavon.
Rebecca Burrows and the team from CDE Global collecting the Entrepreneurial Spirit-Large Organisation Award at The Irish News Workplace and Employment Awards from sponsor Fergal Doyle of Delta Print and Packaging.
But a clutch of first-time winners, who often don’t share in the media spotlight, included
Maurice Flynn & Sons, Cavanagh Kelly and Ireland Craft Beers, a company with a staff of just five. Following a drinks reception courtesy of Diageo, the Titanic formalities commenced with a welcome from Irish News editor Noel Doran, who said: “It’s been another tremendous year not only for the numbers entering and attending the dinner, but for the range of sectors represented.”
Deirdre Heenan, Ulster University, sponsor of Career Inspiration presenting Large Organisation Award to Tanya Graham, Frank Burkaup, Gayle Johnston, Kathleen Hunter and Caroline Trainor from Almac Group with Patrick Kielty.
Anna Beggan, Tughans Solicitors, sponsor of Best Place to Work, presenting the Large Organisation Award to Christina Bates from Allstate Northern Ireland.
Stormont junior minister Alistair Ross and infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard each delivered keynote addresses. Mr Ross said: “The Northern Ireland Executive, through the Department for the Economy, is proud to be associated with these awards and the recognition of excellence. “As an executive, we want to deliver more and better jobs and attract more investment into Northern Ireland. We want to create a better society for everyone and are determined to deliver on that commitment. “The executive has a strong track record of working with business and we want that to continue. By working in partnership with Northern Ireland’s rich talent base, we have a huge opportunity to make a real and positive difference to society.” Mr Hazzard said: “The executive is determined that this mandate will be one characterised by delivery for all the people. “Under the new programme for government framework we are committed to working in partnership with wider society to grow our economy and create a better society for all.” After dinner, guests were treated to a presentation from Northern Ireland-born entrepreneur Alyson Hogg, founder of Vita Liberata tanning technology, who shared her phenomenal success story. The awards were supported by seven key business partners in Tughans, Kingsbridge Private Hospital, Ulster University, Phoenix Natural Gas, the Department of Employment (now Department for the Economy), Delta Print & Packaging and Titanic Belfast (venue partner).
Fergal Doyle, Delta Print and Packaging, sponsor of Entrepreneurial Spirit, presenting the Small/Medium Organisation Award to Liam Brogan, Colin Brannigan and Shane McCarthy from Ireland Craft Beers with Patrick Kielty.
For award photos visit www.irishnews.com/wea
Stephen McCallum has joined Davy Private Clients as Wealth Manager at its Belfast office. Stephen is a Chartered Financial Planner and brings considerable experience working with high net worth individuals. Medialink has appointment Janine Wells as Northern Ireland Sales Manager for Channel 4. Janine joins the 4 Sales Team from Genesis. Simon Magill has joined The MAC as Creative Director, tasked with supporting the venue’s drive to be a landmark of cultural excellence.
Tughans has appointed Rebecca Moffett as partner. Rebecca is a dual qualified expert in real estate law with over 10 years’ experience. Jacinta Parkhill has been appointed a Director at Morrow Communications. Jacinta will play a key role supporting the company as it continues to grow. Almac Group has announced the appointment of Kevin Reid to the position of Vice President of Corporate Marketing. Kevin’s role will be to lead Almac’s Global Corporate Marketing team.
Sarah Sistern has been appointed Associate in the Corporate department of A&L Goodbody. Sarah specialises in providing corporate transactional and commercial advice. Aisling Owen has been appointed an Associate at A&L Goodbody in Banking and Finance. Aisling advises local and international financial institutions and borrowers. Diane McGregor has been appointed Regional Sales Director for Captialflow Commercial Finance. Diane’s role is to build the firm’s brand and develop the invoice finance side of the business.
Marc Hawthorne has joined Capitalflow Commercial Finance as Sales Director. With eight yearsâ€™ experience in corporate and commercial bank lending. Richard Henderson has been appointed Head of Agriculture at Autoline Insurance. Richard has worked in the agri-insurance sector for over 16 years. Ciara Gribbin has been appointed Personal Lines Branch Manager at Autoline Insurance, Ballymena. Ciara has worked in Personal Lines Insurance for over 25 years.
Sharon Dougall has been appointed Broking Manager at Autoline Insurance, Newry. Sharon has worked in commercial insurance for nine years. Lorraine Anthony has joined PML Group in Belfast as Marketing and Account Executive, having previously worked for Power NI. Clare Ferris has been appointed Account Executive at PML Group in Belfast and will be working on Out of Home advertising solutions for local and international brands.
Susannah Hylands has been appointed Recruitment Account Executive at ASG & Partners. Susannah brings with her over two years of experience in the communications industry. Amy Grant has been appointed Client Executive at ASG & Partners. Amy brings with her over two and a half years of experience in the marketing and advertising industry. Patrick McCanny has been appointed Restaurant and Lounge Manager at Hastings Culloden Estate & Spa and Bush Bar & Grill.
PHOTOCALL 1. The wheels of justice were spinning fast as 25 teams from the legal profession in Northern Ireland battled it out in front of the Royal Courts of Justice last month in aid of CLIC Sargent. John Guerin, President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland and Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, are pictured.
2. Mary Nagele, Chief Executive, Arts & Business NI and Helen Hutchinson, Business Development Executive, Allianz launch the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards which will celebrate A&B’s journey of 30 years in supporting partnerships between the world of arts and business.
3. Mount Charles has announced new company headquarters on the Ormeau Road in a £1.6m investment to purchase and renovate its new premises. Trevor Annon (left), the company’s chairman is pictured with managing director Cathal Geoghegan.
4. Portadown-based Kitchen Bakes is celebrating 30-years in business with plans to boost its exports to the Republic by 50%. Pictured is Dean McCullough, Managing Director of Kitchen Bakes.
5. Chairman of Tourism Northern Ireland Terence Brannigan and Mary Jo McCanny, Director of Visitor Servicing at Visit Belfast, launch the new “Summer Sundays” brochure. The free brochure promotes everything that happens across Belfast on Sundays.
PHOTOCALL 6. Sales of barbeque favourites increased as much as 958% at Tesco Northern Ireland last month as the heatwave resulted in hot sales for local suppliers. Pictured is Colin Gough, instore butcher at Tesco NI.
8. Carson McDowell is giving its backing to solicitor Timothy Cockram who plays for the Ireland hockey team and will travel with the Ireland squad to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer. Pictured with Timothy Cockram is Michael Johnston and Hugh McGrattan.
7. Ulster Supported Employment Ltd’s Laura Warrington is pictured with Titanic Belfast’s Head of Retail and Merchandising, Denise Kennedy and Titanic Belfast crew members Nikita McGuiness and Jack McGee, as they celebrate the arrival of its new product line as part of the tourist attractions Year of Access.
9. From left, David White, General Manager for Charles Hurst Motorcycles joins David Allen, Sales Manager for Charles Hurst Honda Motorcycles and Graham Foster-Vigors, Sales Manager for Honda UK Motorcycles as it is announced that Charles Hurst Group has bought Belfast Honda.
10. It’s celebration time for leading Crossgar-based wine merchants JN Wine, who have triumphed at the prestigious International Wine Challenge Awards, winning the ‘Regional Merchant of the Year’ title for Northern Ireland for a record 24th time at a glittering ceremony in London. Pictured is owner Jim Nicholson.
PHOTOCALL 11. Happening Conferences and Events is set to expand into the Scottish market after absorbing Dunblane-based Intelligent Events into its operations. Photographed are Anne Doherty, MD Happening Conferences and Events with new Scientific and Association director Celia Lloyd.
12. Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has launched the fourth FinTrU Financial Services Academy. Minister Hamilton is pictured with Stephen Shaw, Site Head of FinTru’s Belfast office, at the launch.
13. Bank of Ireland UK has been awarded 5-star ratings for both its Small Business Growth account and its Agri-business current account by Moneyfacts. Pictured is Claire Derby, Business Advisor, Belfast City Branch, Bank of Ireland UK and Bernard Rooney, NI Consumer & Small Business at Bank of Ireland UK with the accolade boasting the five star rating.
14. Aer Lingus has been awarded a 4-Star rating by Skytrax, the international air transport rating organisation. CEO Stephen Kavanagh, Cabin Crew Tracy Johannson and Chief Operating Officer Mike Rutter celebrate the news that Aer Lingus announce has achieved a four-star rating by Skytrax, the international air transport rating organisation.
15. From left, Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster, Ken Sharp, Owner of the Salty Dog Hotel and Bistro in Bangor with Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA meet at the Salty Dog in Bangor to discuss the issues facing the hospitality sector how some of the barriers to growth can be overcome.
PHOTOCALL 16. Gilfresh Produce has invested more than £2.5m in a new anaerobic digester. Pictured (l-r) are William Gilpin, partner at Gilfresh Produce, Richard Stack, corporate banking manager at Danske Bank and Thomas Gilpin, owner of Gilfresh Produce.
18. The Northern Ireland Hospice and Diageo NI have come together to celebrate a charity partnership which has raised funds of over £80,000. Pictured at Northern Ireland Hospice are Jorge Lopes, Country Director Diageo NI, Ellen Hillen from NI Hospice and Dancing with Diageo champions Aaron Flaherty and Mary Devlin who supported the partnership.
19. Two Belfast-based PR consultants have become amongst the first in the UK to secure Chartered Status from the industry’s professional body. Jane Wells, pictured right, and Chris Harrison of communications agency JPR were awarded the professional distinction by the Chartered Institute of PR (CIPR).
20 AUGUST 2016
17. From Left: Glen McMahon, International Project Consultant, Belfast Met, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland and Ken Belshaw, Honorary Consul for Hungary in Northern Ireland celebrate Belfast Met receiving €250,000 under the European funding programme, Erasmus.
20. Launching a new Housing Executive contract is the Housing Executive’s Paul Isherwood, Director of Asset Management, Gerry Flynn, Director of Housing Services, Chief Executive Clark Bailie and Serena Hylands, Assistant Managing Director of CTS Projects.
PHOTOCALL 21. Pictured at the new Mencap Centre is Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of George Best Belfast City Airport and Chair of Mencap’s Big Step Forward Appeal (second from left) and members of the Mencap fundraising team Justine Curran, Area Fundraising Manager, Vanessa Elder, Head of Regional Fundraising NI, and Jonathan Hanna, Fundraising Support Officer.
22. Portadown-based O’Chatten Smokery, Northern Ireland’s only commercial smokery, has secured orders from Fortnum & Mason, just two months after opening. Owner Andrew Chatten (R) and business partner Frances O’Hagan (L) at the Food Heartland stand at the Balmoral Show 2016.
22 23. Lingerie brand Cinch Corsets has celebrated one year in business by securing Arnotts Department Store as a stockist. Pictured outside Arnotts’ store in Dublin are Cinch Corsets founders Angela Hunter and Nicola Crawford.
24. Software development company Tascomi is set to create at least 10 jobs as part of a strategy to increase its foothold in the English and Welsh markets with the help of the Growth Loan Fund. Pictured are Richard Martin, Managing Director at Tascomi and Jenna Mairs, Investment Manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners.
25. Novosco has bought specialist IT security solutions and managed services expert NetDef. Pictured from left are Dave and Sue Beesley of NetDef with John Lennon and Patrick McAliskey of Novosco at NetDef’s offices in Cheshire.
Bank of Ireland seeks to cut through the noise
ank of Ireland Corporate Banking Northern Ireland held an Economic Breakfast Briefing recently in the Penthouse Suite at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. The event was hosted by Ian Sheppard, Regional Director NI Corporate & Business Banking and Dale Guest, Director Corporate Banking NI. They were joined by several senior Bank of Ireland executives from Dublin. There were many of Northern Ireland’s leading Corporate businesses in attendance from a wide range of sectors as well as a number of intermediaries representing legal, accountancy and commercial property firms. The key speakers were Alan Bridle, UK Economist for Bank of Ireland and Shaun Moore, Senior Dealer, Bank of Ireland Global Markets Belfast.
Alan presented on the theme ‘Half-Time 2016 – what’s the outlook for the second half and beyond’, which was made all the more topical following the UK referendum outcome to leave the EU. With markets pre-positioned for a remain vote, Alan’s presentation sought to ‘cut through the noise’ and dissect the immediate impact of the vote. Shaun Moore covered the markets reaction and likely trajectory as well as mitigating currency risks following the impact on currency markets as the referendum result became clear. The event is the latest in a series of customer engagements across Bank of Ireland Business and Corporate Banking in Northern Ireland aiming to offer useful insights and continuing to add value for customers.
Representing Bank of Ireland were (left to right): Dale Guest, Director, Corporate Banking Northern Ireland; Shaun Moore, Senior Dealer, Global Markets; Ian Sheppard, Regional Director, NI Business & Corporate Banking; and Alan Bridle, Bank of Ireland UK Economist.
Representatives from many of Northern Ireland’s leading Corporate businesses were in attendance from a wide range of sectors.
Pictured on the left are Alan Bridle, Shaun Moore and Ian Sheppard, who took several questions from the audience following the presentations.
Guests from across the business community enjoyed the opportunity to network at the event.
Canapés and cocktails The cream of the last month’s business events
Picking up the award from comedian and host Sally Phillips (far left) is store manager Ian Elliott, employee Mandy Mair, Musgrave NI Retail Training & Development Manager, Elaine Sinclair, Cathy Elliott, store owner Peter McCool and SuperValu Customer Manager, Geoff Johnston.
McCool and the gang McCool’s SuperValu, Ballymoney has been crowned winner of the Best Newcomer category (up to 249 employees) at the annual Investors in People Awards in London. The awards, which received over 300 entries from organisations working in a variety of sectors and locations across the globe, celebrate the best people management practices amongst businesses.
Pictured are Pete Boyle, Chief Executive, Argento and Emma Filmer, Managing Director, Argento with Pam Aujla, Managing Director, Trollbeads and awards host Gethan Jones.
Argento scoops award Jewellery retailer Argento has scooped a prestigious award for Best Store Environment at the Retail Jeweller, UK Jewellery Awards 2016. A total of 18 awards were given out at the ceremony in London Hilton, Park Lane last month, which recognised and honoured the achievements of the industry’s retailers and brands.
Battle of the spas goes to Culloden
Pictured at the awards were (l-r) Niamh Rice, Culloden Spa therapist, Rachel Crawford, Culloden Spa Manager and Abby Pritchard, Culloden Spa therapist.
The Culloden Spa has been named Spa of the Year at the Northern Ireland Hair and Beauty Awards which took place at the Europa Hotel recently. The award-winning Culloden Spa has undergone a recent refurbishment adding exquisite upgrades to its relaxation room, female changing suite and treatment rooms and adding a new luxury manicure and pedicure area, walk-in showers and a new corridor that links the spa to the Culloden Hotel.
Pictured are Cathal O’Neill, Diageo Northern Ireland and Kevin Gamble, Féile Director. Photo credit Bernadette McAllister.
Two pints and plenty of dates Harp lager is returning as the official pouring partner of Féile an Phobail 2016, Ireland’s largest community arts festival. The Féile runs from 3-14 August in venues across West Belfast and includes music concerts, comedy, exhibitions, discussions and debates, literary events, dramas, out door and community events, street performances, carnival parade, international food fayre, sports, tours and walks.
Top apprentices take a bow Belfast Met’s Apprenticeship and Training Awards were held at the college on June 16 to celebrate the best apprentices of the year.
Colin Williams, founder and creative director of Sixteen South, is pictured with the ministers. Student Marc Thompson (centre) is pictured with James Street South owner Niall McKenna and Belfast Met Principal and CEO Marie Therese McGivern. Marc won the Professional Cookery trophy.
Animated reception First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have opened a new four-floor studio for BAFTA-winning and EMMY nominated children’s television producer Sixteen South.
Belfast Met Principal and CEO Marie Therese McGivern with Paul McKee and Duncan Whelan from Phoenix Energy Services.
Ulster University has the EDGE
Aidan Flynn of Maurice Flynn and Sons (third from left) is pictured with the college’s Heather Hedley, principal and CEO Marie Therese McGivern, apprentice Aaron Keenan and Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Mary Ellen Campbell.
Ulster University’s Employability Development Manager Dr Sharon Milner joins Baker & McKenzie Global Services Belfast Senior Recruitment Manager Sarah Fowler in congratulating Ulster University EDGE Excel Student of the Year winner Karen Wray. The accountancy and law graduate wins £300 as part of Baker & McKenzie’s overall support for the EDGE Excel awards.
Mercury rising CastleCourt shopping centre and security company Mercury Security Management have been named the Best Security Team in the United Kingdom and Ireland at the SCEPTRE Awards in London. The SCEPTRE Awards are the Oscars of the shopping centre industry and recognise the best practice and the best people throughout Britain and Ireland, putting the spotlight on management teams, retailers and suppliers that demonstrate real excellence. Pictured at the awards are (l-r) Award Sponsor Centre Security Innovations’ Ian Bowie, CastleCourt Centre Manager Stewart McConnell, CastleCourt Security Manager Paul Nicholl, Mercury Security Training Manager Garry Suddaby and Awards presenter Anita Rani.
By David Elliott
Nigel Smyth, CBI Northern Ireland Director, reminices on the past 26 years at the organisation just ahead of his retirement.
ack in 1990, Northern Ireland’s economy was in a very different place. Unemployment was high, the property market was stagnant, industry was heavily reliant on dwindling sectors any foreign direct investment came as a surprise rather than by strategy and tourists were rarer than prolonged periods of peace. Amidst all that, a home-grown geologist, who was putting his vast knowledge of open cast coal mining to good use in St Helens in England, received a message which would not only alter the course of his life but coincide with one of the biggest periods of transformation in the Northern Ireland economy. In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that a large part of that transformation was down to him.
The present day Nigel Smyth
in the Assistant Director role before, after only 18 months, take over as Regional Director for Northern Ireland.
and Grill where a busy and noisy lunch crowd is no match for the exuberance of Nigel when he’s on a roll.
No small task.
This was meant to be an interview and restaurant review in one but when you’ve the chance to learn about the Northern Ireland economy’s last 26 years from someone who has been at the helm, you can’t afford to spend too long critiquing the food (it was excellent, by the way – burger and sticky toffee pudding in a knickerbocker glory glass for the business group kingpin, crab linguine and ice cream for Ulster Business, in case you were wondering.)
He would go on to do that by identifying the needs of the business world and relaying them to government in his own uniquely pragmatic way, one which quickly won respect in both Stormont and the business community, helped shape government policy and oiled the wheels of economic growth. Now, in the final weeks before he retires, Ulster Business has resurrected an old outto-lunch feature in an effort to find out more about his time in the role and what the future holds for a man who, as anyone who has met him will know, isn’t likely to be opting for the sedentary lifestyle. We’re in the James Street South Bar
Were it not for the fact the August 24th deadline for his retirement – also his birthday – was already set in stone, you could be forgiven for thinking Nigel had just taken up the post, such is his enthusiasm for the issues surrounding both the economy and politics.
That geologist was Nigel Smyth (who holds the not-inconsiderable title of the man who discovered lignite in Crumlin in 1980) and the message came from his father-in-law who had spotted an advertisement for a job as Assistant Director of CBI Northern Ireland. “I’d always said I’d come back to Northern Ireland if the opportunity arose,” Nigel said. Having landed the post at the business organisation where he would work for the next 26 years, Nigel and wife Kay moved back to Northern Ireland and to a brief to invigorate a stagnant economy weighed down by years of conflict, initially
The Newsletter announces Nigel’s appointment as Regional Director in 1991
Nigel Smyth (left) pictured when he took up the Regional Director role with CBI NI with Roy Bailie, Chairman of W&G Baird and Vice-chair of CBI NI at the time and Bill McCourt who was Managing Director of Old Bushmills Distillery - and CBI Chair from 1990-1991.
In some ways it’s ironic that his departure comes when both are in a period of huge upheaval following the Brexit vote, but in another it’s fitting that he leaves at a time when the need for the CBI and for people like Nigel has never been more crystal clear. He played a large part in the long-running campaign to devolve corporation tax setting powers to the Executive, a move which CBI Northern Ireland had to first argue for internally as it ran against the business body’s own national view to keep tax-setting powers in Westminster. To their credit, Nigel and CBI Northern Ireland were allowed to take an alternative view on the issue, a view which, as recent events have proven, was prescient. But that is just one of a large number of achievements which he has achieved in post. “We initially got involved in three main issues,” Nigel said. “Firstly there was the north/south work with IBEC (the Irish Business and Employers Confederation
which carries out a similar role to the CBI in the Republic) where we brought thousands of companies together and looked at how we could work together on building better infrastructure etc and the Dublin-Belfast corridor. “The second was taking a big part in the peace process at the time with the idea that we weren’t going to create a more prosperous society without peace and stability. It wasn’t up to us to dictate what that should form but it was up to us to convey to our politicians the importance of having that agreement and that continued up until last year. “The third was the economic development piece and, even up until the last few years, we’ve been working hard to make sure the economy is a central part of the Executive’s work. We’ve had a lot of feedback from senior political figures who said we had a lot of influence by providing strategic reports on things like infrastructure, education and access to finance.”
And it wasn’t always a case of trying to get government to act for business. Sometimes Nigel’s role involved stopping the introduction of policies which would get in the way of business. “There were some things which were threatening to happen which didn’t happen because we put arguments up that they wouldn’t be in the best interest of the economy. Some of those things we were able to shout about but some of we couldn’t.” That is just a flavour of what Nigel has been up to since 1990 and, although he’s stepping down from the role, you can be sure he’ll be keeping a close eye on the goings on in the economy as he eases into retirement. He’ll be missed by the business and political community and remembered for years to come as someone whose grasp of the issues and deep integrity is unparalleled in modern business.
Twenty best apps to use while on your holidays... Adrian Weckler runs the rule over the apps that will make your break easier to plan and more enjoyable
Reviews When you and your family are travelling, your phone or tablet can be a hugely valuable aid. From guides and games to postcard-makers and language translators, here are 20 of the best apps you should load up on before taking your trip.
1. CleverCards Isn’t it a shame we don’t send postcards any more? This Irish-made app lets you ‘make’ and send a postcard with your own phone’s photos. Write a few words, type in an addressee and it makes your virtual postcard into a physical one, sending it anywhere in the world for £3.45.
2. Tides Near Me If your trip will incorporate any water sport, fishing or beach activity, you might need to check local tides. This app gives you high and low tidal ranges of over 4,400 locations around the world in most holiday destinations (including Ireland). It also gives you sunrise and sunset times.
3. Google Translate If you’re trying to navigate your way around a foreign country, this app translates words and phrases for you in a number of ways. Point your phone at a sign or menu
and it will change a foreign word or phrase into English. It also supports live conversation translation in 32 languages.
4. Airbnb When planning a foreign stay, you’re missing out if you don’t check Airbnb first. The available range of houses, apartments, cottages and villas is well worth investigating. They’re often more conveniently located and better equipped than hotels or other rentals, especially for families.
7. Kindle app Are holidays a time to catch up on reading? You don’t have to have an actual Kindle to buy and read Kindle books. You can download much of the same content to any tablet and almost any phone (although tablet screens aren’t as good in the sunshine as Kindle e-ink screens).
8. Google Photos
This Irish-made app is like Airbnb but instead offers hosted accommodation in someone’s home. The idea is you get a local’s knowledge and insight into wherever you are visiting. There are over 16,000 homes available across 120 countries. You can contact the host ahead of time to make sure they’re not crazy.
We take hundreds of photos on our phones when away. But many handsets are limited to a couple of gigabytes of free memory. Google Photos relieves the pressure by letting you upload an unlimited number of pictures for free. You can then access or download them from any other device.
If you’re going to a US city, Uber is an app you must download. It’s cheaper, quicker and friendlier than local taxi cabs. You specify your pick-up and destination on your phone and it debits your credit card online. Security is built in and you’re encouraged to rate your car and driver (they rate you too!)
When you’re looking for a restaurant, a pub or a shop on holidays, Google is okay. But Yelp is superb. It generally gives you a more detailed map than Google for whatever establishment you’re looking for. It’s especially good in the US but is also excellent in most European countries.
13. Minecraft Pocket Edition (£6.99)
If you have kids between the ages of six and 12, there’s a high probability that at least one of them is into Minecraft. If so, this is a genuinely worthwhile investment: it is very likely to keep your child happily occupied for good periods of time during tricky periods, such as long flights.
14. Sky Go Most people now use their phones as their main cameras. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to brighten the pictures up? Snapseed is the best free photo editor out there. It lets you sharpen and colour photos. It also lets you pick bits of photos to edit, instead of the whole thing in one go.
11. Netflix When it starts bucketing down and you’re stuck in a caravan or cottage, Netflix can be a lifesaver. The basic £10 subscription (which can be cancelled at any time) lets you use two tablets, phones or laptops. There’s mountains of kids’ movies too. And it works in almost every country.
12. Nest For worrywarts, a security cam app (which requires a security camera) is reassuring. Nest is probably the easiest and best system. Once set up, you can instantly check what’s going on from your phone. It also immediately saves any movement online, meaning a burglar can’t beat it by cutting it off.
Over a third of Irish households have a Sky subscription but many don’t know you can access it on your tablet or phone. Log in on the Sky Go app with your account information: you’ll get instant access to whatever your subscription covers at home. Note, though, that it won’t work abroad.
15. Tripadvisor For general tips and advice on the better places to see and more worthwhile things to do, Tripadvisor really can’t be beaten. And it’s just as useful on location as for when you’re planning in advance. While user reviews can be gamed, Tripadvisor’s reviews are usually a good guide for accuracy.
17. Foursquare If you have no idea what to do upon arriving and are suspicious of mainstream recommendation apps, try Foursquare. It offers you tips on what’s good and bad in an area based on your exact location. That could mean that a certain steak is great or that a park is filthy. Worth downloading.
18. Video Editor (Android only) If you use a Samsung, Sony, HTC or Huawei phone, this is probably the best beginner-friendly video-editing app you can get. It walks you through putting together your own phone’s video recordings and lets you pick themes, music (theirs or your own) and even voiceovers. Worth downloading.
19. Google Maps Forget those expensive travel maps -- Google Maps is really the only map you need. As well as detailed street, park and coastal maps, it gives you turn-by-turn directions if you need to travel somewhere. It even shows you where the traffic is light or heavy on most city or urban roads.
16. Yahoo Weather
20. iMovie (£4.99, iPhone and iPad only)
If you’re likely to be checking the weather regularly, Yahoo’s Weather app is the best around. As well as hour-byhour and 10-day forecasts, it also gives humidity, UV and rain probability indicators. There are also wind indicators as well as local maps to show more detailed forecasts.
If you’re taking short video clips, iMovie is probably the most powerful, userfriendly app out there to stitch together your clips, put a few titles on it and make decent-looking mini-movies out of them. They can then be shared on YouTube or anywhere else. It now works with 4K video clips, too.
London Calling! Choose from up to 80 flights a week
Granada: 24 hours in Spain’s most surprising city Pól Ó Conghaile maps out 24 hours of food, culture and stunning views in Spain’s most surprising city Granada’s Alhambra is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Bored with Barcelona? Done Malaga and Madrid? Granada is Spain’s southern belle, a deliciously hilly city where Moorish and Spanish cultures remain in slow-mo collision. Start as you mean to go on with a mosey through the Albaicín, the city’s tumbledown Arabic quarter. Grab coffee and a brownie on the cobbled steps outside Café 4 Gatos, and feel the smile inside. How: cafe4gatos.com; Placeta Cruz Verda, 6. 2pm: Amazing Alhambra Trickling fountains, chirping nightingales, chunky, sandstone fortresses and breathtaking Moorish palaces. Granada’s Alhambra is one of the great UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and demands at least a half-day of your time.
Book online before you arrive (more people visit than the Prado), prepare for crowds, and float your way through its exquisite galaxy of gardens, museums and architecture. “How unworthy is my scribbling of the place?” wrote a gobsmacked Washington Irving in 1832. Touché. How: alhambradegranada.org; @14, under 12s free.
Espadafor to avail of their unfussy hospitality. Why can’t all cities be this civilised? How: Gran Via de Colon, 59.
5pm: Tapas time You could visit Lorca’s summer home, the Huerta de San Vincente. You could see the charcoal-black coffins of Ferdinand and Isabella at the Capilla Real. After walking the Alhambra, however, you’ll likely be craving a frothy beer and some finger food. Granada is one of the few Spanish cities where bars still offer free tapas with a drink – stop by the old-school Bodegas
You’ll have to share the sunset with canoodling couples, hustling flamenco dancers and tripod-toting photographers, but boy is it worth it. The palace-fortress is lit up like a chandelier over the city. How: See en.granadatur.com
8pm: Make for the Mirador There are views, and then there are views of the Alhambra. Follow the snaking, cobblestoned pathways through the Albaicín to the Mirador de San Nicolás.
Do it Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly to Malaga, a 1.5 hour drive from Granada.
Fly from Belfast City Airport to London City and London Heathrow
Belfast City Airport backs Heathrow expansion campaign
Oasis takes on Holiday NInja
eorge Best Belfast City Airport has voiced its support for the London Heathrow expansion campaign which proposes to build an additional runway at the UK’s only hub airport.
In a letter to the Minister of State Department for Transport, the Rt Hon Robert Goodwill MP and the Chief Executive of Belfast City Brian Ambrose Airport, Brian Ambrose, declared full backing for the campaign, highlighting the importance of mid to long-haul connectivity for passengers in Northern Ireland. Belfast City Airport is among 38 airports throughout the UK, including Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Liverpool and Newcastle, to openly pledge support for the Heathrow expansion. Mr Ambrose commented: “An expansion at Heathrow Airport would bring huge benefits to Northern Ireland’s business and leisure sectors. Last year, 132,000 passengers transferred through Heathrow from Belfast and we believe that this number would only increase with expansion at Heathrow, which is set to create 40 additional long-haul routes. Heathrow already serves 75 destinations which aren’t operated from any other UK airport and in order to continue growth within the local economy, maintaining this connectivity, particularly with international markets such as China, is key. “The expansion would also serve to make Northern Ireland accessible to an increasing number of business and leisure passengers across the world, which would build further on the growth the region has already experienced to date. We are adding our voice to an already extensive list of UK airports in support of the expansion and hope that the Department for Transport reaches a conclusion that will benefit, not just the people of Northern Ireland, but regional airports across the UK.”
Sandra Corkin with the Holiday NInja website.
orthern Ireland’s largest independent travel agency Oasis Travel has signed up to an exclusive sponsorship package with The Holiday NInja. For 12 weeks Oasis Travel will publicise a specific holiday offer exclusively on www.theholidayNInja.com offering all holidaymakers the chance to get a holiday offer at an exceptional price and value. Sandra Corkin, Managing Director of Oasis Travel, said the partnership promises great things. “Oasis Travel, with its award-winning highly trained staff, has always been Northern Ireland’s number one stop for holiday offers all over the world. However, this link up with such a fabulous new holiday platform in The Holiday NInja, gives us yet another opportunity to show why we can offer unrivalled value and options for Northern Ireland holidaymakers”. Each week an exclusive Oasis Travel “Deal of the Week” will be published on The Holiday NInja and can be booked and purchased in Oasis Travel branches in Lisburn, Belfast, Holywood and Bangor (www.oasis-travel.co.uk)
Belfast City Airport remains the only airport in Northern Ireland to serve the London Heathrow route which is operated up to ten times daily by both Aer Lingus and British Airways. Heathrow CEO John HollandKaye said: “An expanded Heathrow will help grow Northern Ireland’s competitive advantage and make it a magnet for investment, a spring board for exporters and a hotspot for tourism. I am very grateful for the support businesses in Northern Ireland have given us in our fight for Heathrow expansion. Even when it was unfashionable to say “we back Heathrow”, they were saying it. It was Northern Irish businesses and MPs that made their voices heard. And now I’m delighted to have the support of Belfast City Airport who are making our case in Whitehall, perhaps more passionately and more succinctly than I ever could.”
his summer I spent almost two weeks in France following Northern Ireland at the Euros. Qualification for ‘our wee country’ has been a long time coming and has made many great memories for the ‘Green and White army’.
By Geoff Wilson
Geoff Wilson with some of the Green and White army.
But what can sporting events learn from the Euros? I have highlighted a number of areas that every sporting event should consider: • Focus on the fans: Each host city had dedicated fans zones that provided daily entertainment and the chance to watch games on the big screen. • Focus on transportation: Buses shuttled the fans to and from the stadium during match days. This included specific drop off points and hundreds of buses to ensure quick exit during match days. In some ways, very similar to the transportation experience you get at Disney. • Focus on the local businesses: During my trip it was obvious the tournament had engaged the local business community to ensure they maximised revenue during our stay. This included plenty of taxis, restaurants showing the matches, hotel accommodation etc. • Focus on fans experience inside the stadium: Before each match, fans were treated to a spectacularceremony before kick off as well as a range of fans engagement activities. This also included sponsor activation such as face painting etc.
Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson or connect on Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/in/geoffwnjwilson
Homeless World Cup team sponsored by Ulster Bank
or the second year in a row the Northern Ireland team heading to the Homeless World Cup tournament will have their shirts sponsored by Ulster Bank. The sponsorship will enable members of Justin McMinn’s Green and White Army to fulfil a dream by representing Northern Ireland at an international competition. This year’s tournament will take place in Glasgow from 10th July – 16th.
Street Soccer NI is a football project set up for disadvantaged groups of society – bringing positive change to their lives by using football as a hook.
Pictured are players Gerard Bannon (left) and Gavin McGuinness (right) with Sean Murphy, Managing Director of Branch and Private Banking, Ulster Bank and Justin McMinn, Co-founder of Street Soccer NI.
Sean Murphy, Head of Branch & Private Banking, Ulster Bank, said: “Street Soccer NI does a fantastic job in providing meaningful help for vulnerable people in our society. We’re really pleased to be providing this support, enabling them to continue their good work with those who are homeless and prove yet again that Northern Ireland’s footballers, of all levels, deserve an international stage.”
Business Diary September 2016
Zorbing on the Lagan Organiser: Action Cancer
Bryson LaganSports, Ravenhill Road, Belfast Registration fee: £20 (minimum sponsorship applies)
For further information or to book contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or T: 028 90 803379 www.actioncancer.org/Get-Involved
15 September 08:00 - 13:00
The Resilient Leader - lessons from the Antarctic Organiser: IoD Northern Ireland, sponsored by Arthur Cox and Ulster Bank
Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast Cost: Members - £175+VAT Non-Members - £200+VAT
For further information or to book contact: IoD Northern Ireland on T: 028 9068 3224 or visit www.iodni.com
20 September 11.45 - 14.15
CBI Annual lunch 2016 Guest Speaker Michael O’Leary Organiser: CBI Northern Ireland
Titanic Belfast Cost: Members: £100+vat per person Non-members: £130 per person Table of 10: £900
For further information or to book contact: Anthea.email@example.com T: 028 9010 1100
22 September 09.00 - 16.30
The Future of Business Organiser: Women in Business NI
Ramada Plaza, Belfast Cost: Early Bird £75 + VAT Regular Rate: £100 + VAT
For further information or to book contact: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0845 6076041
22 September 18.00 - 20.30
Let’s start a Business Organiser: Mallusk Enterprise Park
Mallusk Enterprise Park., Newtownabbey Cost: Free
For further information or to book contact: email@example.com T: 028 9083 8860
28 September 09.00 - 16.30
Waste Smart Training Organiser: International Synergies (NI) Ltd
Waste Smart Training, Belfast Cost: £130
For further information or to book contact: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 028 3833 3438
30 September 15:00 - 17:00
The Effective Board - Board Financials Organiser: IoD Northern Ireland, sponsored by Arthur Cox and Ulster Bank
Ulster Bank, Donegall Square East, Belfast Cost: Members: Free Non-Members: £25 +VAT
For further information or to book contact: IoD Northern Ireland on T: 028 9068 3224 or visit www.iodni.com
If you would like to promote an event or conference please contact Sonia Armstrong (email@example.com)
Uncovering the 9-5
from my busy schedule. It’s also a great way to catch up with colleagues from the other departments across the firm.”
2:00pm “We work closely with a number of other departments in the firm outside of our team – for example, we regularly work alongside our Corporate Transaction Advisory Group with regard to merger and acquisition projects that would require Employment Law support. This is a vital support function, so I spend time tracking through documentation to ensure that all necessary information can be included in subsequent due diligence reports.
Name: Andrew Spratt Position: Associate, Employment, A&L Goodbody
6:30am “Having got up at 5.30am, I arrive at my gym – Hench, which is based just a few minutes from A&L Goodbody’s office in the centre of Belfast. I like to keep in shape and if I’m not in the gym in the morning, you can find me running or cycling into work.”
8:15am “I aim to be at my desk by no later than 8.15am and use this time to catch up on emails and business news, and to prepare for the day ahead.”
9:15am “Time for the Employment Team meeting. With six fee earners – one Partner, three Associates and two Assistants/Solicitors – we have one of the largest Employment teams in Belfast, so we find great value in meeting regularly to discuss clients, to share any ideas or issues that we may have, and to discuss developments in case-law.”
10:00am “We aim to keep our clients away from Industrial Tribunals by ensuring that their
contracts of employment, policies and procedures are reviewed and updated regularly, and that they are fully briefed on any changes in legislation. However, if we do find ourselves in a court or tribunal on a client’s behalf, it would typically be from around 10.00am onwards. At an Industrial Tribunal, I could be in attendance with or on behalf of a client, or accompanied by a junior barrister – depending on the nature of the case.”
11:30am “My time leading up to lunch is used to liaise with clients – be it on an HR support call or on a site visit to a client’s premises. I also use this time to draft advice notes or prepare company handbooks, as well as policies and procedures.”
1:00pm “I am a keen member of the A&L Goodbody staff choir, which rehearses in our offices once a week from 1.00pm-2.00pm. We have a number of engagements throughout the year and I find the choir to be a great release
“As a consultant editor of XpertHR, a UKleading, online HR resource, I provide regular commentary on the key differences between Employment Law in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom and so I try to dedicate some time in the afternoon to prepare content for this commitment.”
3:00pm “Alongside my specialism as an Employment lawyer, I also have a growing licensing practice. I use this time to work on applications that I am often instructed to prepare for liquor licensing, entertainment licensing, cinema licensing and betting licences for businesses, and entertainment venues in Northern Ireland.”
4:00pm “A number of our clients are based in the US, so late in the afternoon is when they come online. Often the rest of the working day is filled with conference calls and online meetings, to coincide with the beginning of their working days.”
6:30pm onwards “No day is the same and the time when I leave the office can vary according to work load. After leaving the office, I often attend Young Professional Networking events, dinners or entertainment. This is important for developing professional relationships in Northern Ireland.”
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