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FEBRUARY 2014 Price £2.30 (€3.75)

A safe pair of hands

RSA NI’s Jack McIlduff shares the insurer’s plans for future growth We have an app

Energy: The Utility Regulator talks gas to the west

ISSN 1363-2507

9 771363 250005

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www.pwc.co.uk/yourbusiness

You keep sprinting. We’ll remove the hurdles.

If you’re an entrepreneur moving at speed, PwC is right with you. We’re here to offer carefully judged support, to remove obstacles and help you keep a clear, objective view – even when your business is growing fast.

Your business is our business Watch stories of inspiring entrepreneurs, and book a meeting with our specialists, at www.pwc.co.uk/yourbusiness

© 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. All rights reserved. In this document, “PwC” refers to the UK member fi rm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member fi rm is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.


Contents 6 News

44 John Simpson

64 M&A

Wrightbus secures a new order and PwC ups its graduate intake

The economist casts a critical eye over the Why advisors are expecting more Executive’s new apprenticeships scheme takeover activity in NI this year

16 Cover Story

48 NI Connections

RSA NI on why its local insurance expertise is gaining traction in the market

Belfast-born Hilary Oliver talks about her Pat Burns test drives some of the work with famous film stars and directors latest new models to hit the road

26 Energy Focus

52 Risk Management

90 Sport

Exclusive interview with Jenny Pyper, the new Northern Ireland Utility Regulator

Is 2014 going to be the year all sensitive data will have to be encrypted?

Our reviewer finds Castlerock Golf Club both beautiful and exhausting

38 Executive Search

62 Matrix

92 Gadget Guide

Why NI needs a bigger pool of experienced non-executive directors

UU’s Tim Brundle on what links Back to the Future and YouTube videos of cats

Adam Maguire on Nokia’s new phablet and Canon’s latest printer

76 Executive Motoring

24

16

48

64 44

52

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Insurance Brokers & Risk Advisors

We stand on our own 200 feet

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

For further information contact Maurice Boyd, Managing Director Direct Dial 028 9332 5031 Tel 028 9335 0015 maurice.boyd@ablinsurance.co.uk www.abbeybondlovis.com


EDITOR’S COMMENT

Weathering the storm

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he recent bad weather and flooding has shown that no matter what business you are in, some things can very quickly be taken out of your control. While Northern Ireland certainly hasn’t had it as bad as parts of England and the Republic, many businesses will have been watching nervously as flood waters rose during the worst of January’s atrocious weather. It served as a timely reminder of the wide range of challenges and risks business owners and managers have to take into account in the day-to-day running of their organisations. It’s easy to whinge about the weather but we live where we live and it is always going to be miserable at this time of year. So in this issue we’ve included an article with DARD’s advice on how business owners should prepare for floods – and who is most at risk. We have something of a risk management theme running through this issue,

We also tackle the issue of cyber security and the move towards encryption following the revelations by Edward Snowden on US surveillance last year; the perils of handling the media badly when your company is at the centre of a crisis; and the rules every organisation should follow when hiring a chairman or senior executive so they don’t end up in a PR crisis in the first place. The economy is improving and the time for figurative battening down of the hatches may have passed. Hopefully by the time this issue is published we can say the same about the physical climate in the real world.

Publisher Greer Publications 5b Edgewater Business Park Belfast Harbour Estate, Belfast BT3 9LE Website: ulsterbusiness.com Tel: 028 9078 3200

Editor Symon Ross

Art Editors Stuart Gray & Chris Black

Manager Sonia Armstrong

Production Manager Stuart Gray

Printer W&G Baird Greystone Press, Caulside Drive, Antrim BT41 2RS Website: wgbaird.com

Deputy Manager Sylvie Brando

Cover Photo Richard Trainor

Greer Publications © 2014. 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 Greer Publications.

FEBRUARY 2014

from our cover story on the successful first year for insurance company RSA NI following its rebrand, to an exclusive interview with Utility Regulator Jenny Lynch on the risks (and opportunities) facing the local energy sector in terms of pricing, network investment and security of supply.

Ad Executive Chris Black

For your nearest stockist or subscription queries, telephone reception on 028 9078 3200

Wondering what this strange pattern is? For those not in the know it is a Quick Response (QR) code which allows those with a Smartphone to link the experience between online and offline reading. You can easily download a free QR Reader from your chosen App store on to your Smartphone. The code to the right takes you directly to the Ulster Business website.

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NEWS

4177 The number of jobs Invest NI’s Jobs Fund has supported to date, leaving it on course to meet the 6,000 target.

Waterfront extension to start this summer

2% Inflation finally fell back to within the Bank of England’s target band, surprising some analysts.

$10bn The amount the US Federal Reserve cut its stimulus package by last month. leading to panic in emerging markets as investors who saw it as a sign of recovery moved back to dollar denominated assets.

£600,000 The amount of money which has been allocated by DoE to cover up so-called “eyesores” which are making towns look bad.

60 The number of acres Belfast Harbour is targeting for a new land reclamation project on the foreshore of Belfast Lough.

27% The percentage of the NI working age population classed as economically inactive, the focus of a new Government jobs initiative.

2 million Tourism Ireland has reached two million fans on Facebook around the world - with 825,000 news fans ‘liking’ its Facebook pages in 2013 alone. 6

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unding for the £29.5m extension of Belfast’s Waterfront Hall has been confirmed as plans for the new conference and exhibition facility were unveiled. The two storey extension is expected to get under way by the summer, creating 400 construction jobs, and the target is to complete construction work by December 2015, with the extension fully operational by the following summer. Belfast City Council had already committed £11m to the project as part of its £150m investment programme and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has approved funding of £18.5m. A significant part of that funding – £14.5m – comes from the European Regional Development Fund, under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, and administered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, which is also providing funding of £4m. The extended building will stretch out to the edge of the River Lagan and provide

an additional 4,000 square metres of conference, exhibition and banqueting space for an extra 750 delegates, including five new breakout rooms, each catering for up to 200 people. Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: “This is great news for both tourism and the economy, following on the heels of the newly opened Visit Belfast Welcome Centre. It will also provide employment opportunities with up to 400 construction jobs created during the building phase and the contract will include social clauses to provide placement opportunities for the unemployed, apprentices, students and trainees.“ Belfast City Council believes the new facilities will enable the Waterfront to attract 50,000 conference delegates to Belfast every year, generating an additional £39m in income for the city. It is targeting the hosting of six large association conferences a year by 2020. The project is expected to be completed by December 2015.


NEWS

MJM buys Mivan name and factory

a platform for new jobs to be created.” Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed MJM Marine’s decision to buy Mivan out of receivership, saying it was “good news for the construction industry.”

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pecialist fit-out firm MJM Marine has bought the factory and assets of Antrim-based international engineering company Mivan, which closed its doors in January. Mivan had gone into administration and then ceased trading after administrators could not sell the firm as a going concern. That led to over 250 people losing their jobs. MJM has now bought the Mivan name plus its property, plant and equipment in Antrim and as part of plans to maintain and develop the brand it is to re-employ about 50 of the company’s staff. MJM Managing Director Brian McConville commented: “MJM have built up a strong reputation as a global player in the industry and there

John Armstrong, from the Construction Employers Federation said the closure of Mivan was a cruel blow in light of the recent stabilization in the industry. are obvious synergies between our two operations. There are exciting opportunities ahead to re-establish the Mivan brand in existing and new international markets.” Peter Allen of Deloitte, and Administrator of Mivan, added: “We had initially hoped to achieve a sale of the business as a going concern, but this sale of the assets will provide an opportunity to continue the Mivan name and hopefully the Antrim facility. The assets have been sold as a package to a strong player in the industry – and potentially this will provide

“We have warned that the recovery is unlikely to be smooth. Many companies still face challenging times but there is no doubt that overall the industry is bouncing back. An increase in local work opportunities coupled with even more successes for local contractors in Great Britain means we are starting the year with a positive outlook. Private house building is also moving in the right direction. Growth, albeit from a very low starting point, will be the key factor in 2014 that will allow construction companies to trade successfully out of the difficulties of the last five years,” he added.

Introducing the Ulster Business App

Free to download. Free to read.

FEBRUARY 2014

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NEWS

In Brief Bombardier in Belfast has said will not be impacted by job losses announced by the company in North America. The aerospace manufacturer has also said its CSeries aircraft will be delayed in coming into service until the second half of 2015. While Bombardier said this will not affect its workforce in Belfast, it did say the company had reviewed its recruitment needs for the current year and would be slowing down plans for expansion.

Coal puts Belfast Harbour trade in the black

Boston-based payment technology firm Merchant Warehouse has located its first permanent operation outside the US in Belfast Harbour’s Clarendon Building at City Quays. The 6,000 square feet, two-storey building located behind the Belfast Harbour Office will house 70 Merchant Warehouse employees involved in software development and customer support. BP Gas Marketing Limited has decided to withdraw from the Islandmagee Gas Storage project near Larne following a review of its European wide gas assets portfolio which determined that further investment in gas storage in Northern Ireland is no longer aligned with the portfolio’s objectives. BPGM has relinquished its option to acquire 50.495% of the shares of Islandmagee Gas Storage. Monaghan Mushrooms, Europe’s largest producer of mushrooms and one of the world’s largest producers of mushrooms, has created 20 new jobs for graduates. The Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr. Stephen Farry, welcomed the launch of the company’s Graduate Programme 2014 at Stormont. The improving property market in Northern Ireland, has allowed leading estate agency, Michael Chandler to relocate to bigger premises and invest in more staff. Moving to offices three times the size situated on the Ormeau Road, the relocation is the result of the agency’s growing success since its inception in 2009. 8

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rade through Belfast Harbour rose by 16% during 2013 with record tonnages of almost 23 million passing through the Port. Over half the increase, 1.7m tonnes, was fueled by a rise of over 150% in coal imports. The Harbour said this reflects a new service through Belfast to supply AES Kilroot power station, which generates around 30% of Northern Ireland’s electricity. Overall, Dry Bulk cargoes, vital to Northern Ireland’s agri-food and quarry industries, increased by 45% to a record 6.744m tonnes. Growth was also positive in other sectors such as Liquid Bulk - petrol and diesel - which was up 2% to 2.173m tonnes, and freight traffic, up 8% to a record 466,000 vehicles during the year. Break Bulk tonnages rose by 57% to 452,000 tonnes, driven by the Harbour’s new offshore wind terminal operated by DONG Energy and Scottish Power Renewables. Trade in wind farm components rose from just 3,000 tonnes in 2012 to over 200,000 tonnes last year.

Roy Adair, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, said: “2013 has been a very positive year for Belfast Harbour as the economy started to recover slowly and investments in new facilities began to come online. Coal tonnages have been particularly impressive following capital expenditure in new deep water facilities. “Likewise, Belfast’s £50m investment in the UK’s first bespoke logistics and assembly harbour to support offshore renewables is supporting significant growth in an industry which is benefitting not just Belfast Harbour, but the wider Northern Ireland economy. Tonnages are now 30% up on the prerecession peak of 2007. Belfast Harbour remains committed to identifying new capital expenditure projects and initiatives to support further growth in tonnages and in the local economy.” Not all sectors, however, recorded growth. The level of containers, commonly used for consumer goods, fell marginally by 2% to 121,000 containers, suggesting that consumer demand in Northern Ireland remained weak.


NEWS

Entrepreneurs support IBWC

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orthern Ireland based entrepreneurs Ruth Wilson from Beaufort Interiors and Anne Murphy of Delegate Recruitment, are reminding the business community across Ireland, the UK and beyond to ‘book Belfast’ as their destination for networking this year, as the city gears up to host its first International Business Women’s Conference (IBWC 2014) in May. Led by Women in Business NI, ‘IBWC 2014: Creating a New Economy’ is aimed at building international business connections and will feature a diverse mix of business, panel and social sessions at venues across the city including The Waterfront Hall, City Hall and Titanic Belfast, as well as addresses from high profile keynote speakers. Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive of Women in Business NI said, “IBWC 2014 will bring together women and men from across the globe to Belfast between 12th and 15th May for a unique opportunity to explore international issues, to be inspired by world class business leaders and to create meaningful partnerships. “It will also shine the light on Northern Ireland’s pool of exceptional business talent. Anne Murphy of Delegate Recruitment won the Women in Business NI Award in 2013 for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, whilst Ruth Wilson was named Best Exporter. Their businesses are shining examples of the fantastic contribution women make to the Northern Ireland economy and as entrepreneurship, innovation and exports represent core themes for our conference, we are delighted that local role models such as Anne and Ruth are acting as ambassadors for this event.” Full information and online registration for IBWC 2014 is available at www.ibwc2014.com.

FEBRUARY 2014

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NEWS

In Brief Specialist manufacturer Thales has signed a deal worth more than £100m to supply military equipment to Indonesia that will provide work for the company’s 500 workers in east Belfast. The contract for missiles and defence systems will help secure “highly-skilled” jobs but the French-owned company – formerly Shorts Missile Defence - said it did not expect to take on new workers in Northern Ireland to deliver the contract. The University of Ulster has begun construction of a new £5.1m teaching facility at its Coleraine campus. The development, due for completion in March 2015, will provide a stateof-the-art, three-storey building, joined to the existing campus central building via a glazed link. In addition to a 250-seat raked lecture theatre and a series of teaching rooms, the new facility will include hubs on each floor with soft seating areas and wifi access. Ardmore Advertising has joined Worldwide Partners, Inc. (WPI), one of top 10 largest marketing communications networks in the world. The Holywood-based agency, which employs more than 40 staff, is joining the globally-recognised roster of independent agencies after being selected by WPI “for its progressive and innovative approach.” Ardmore said the move would help further expand its reach internationally and broaden its own capabilities through the access gained to an outstanding group of influential peers. Co Antrim company Francis Dinsmore Ltd has won a lucrative new deal with global clothing brand Barbour, which it said would enable it to create 16 new jobs. The Kellsbased company won the order to supply wax-coated fabric for jackets following a £1m expansion of its facilities which was part supported by Invest NI. The business plans to increase its export sales across Europe and the US. 10

Caterpillar to make truck axles in Northern Ireland

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S construction giant Caterpillar has confirmed plans to invest $9m (£5m) in expanding its local manufacturing operations to produce articulated truck axles in Northern Ireland. The new production is expected to maintain up to 100 jobs and the company said it will “further enhance skills and diversify production in Northern Ireland”. The news is a big positive for the former FG Wilson business, which shed over 700 jobs in 2012 when manufacturing of one of Caterpillar’s smaller diesel generator sets was moved to China. The decision to permanently source the components from Caterpillar’s local facilities follows a preliminary production period, which has been underway for a number of months. The axles are a key component of Cat Articulated Trucks, which are used for earthmoving, mining and quarry applications throughout the world. Caterpillar’s facility in Peterlee, England, is the worldwide manufacturing source for the trucks.

Caterpillar Northern Ireland Operations Director Robert Kennedy said: “This important announcement primarily recognises the high standard of the facilities, processes, skills and expertise in Northern Ireland. It is also a testament to the cost competitiveness of manufacturing in Northern Ireland and advantages the local facilities have in terms of proximity to customers, access to ports and other transportation infrastructure.” Managing Director for Articulated Trucks Phil Handley added: “Caterpillar NI operations are proven and very capable. We’re happy with the level of quality we’ve had from there, the team has been very responsive to our needs and has been really collaborating and working closely with us. It’s an excellent source for these key components.” The announcement follows the recent news that Caterpillar plans to produce Cat Wheeled Material Handlers at its manufacturing facilities in Northern Ireland, supported by Invest NI and the Department for Employment and Learning. FG Wilson and Cat branded electric power products will also continue to be manufactured at the company’s Northern Ireland operations.


NEWS

Prosperous 2014 for exporters? By Brian Telford, Head of Markets, Danske Bank

PWC to increase graduate intake

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wC in Northern Ireland is to recruit over 130 new graduates in 2014, accounting for almost 10% of PwC’s total UK graduate recruitment.

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any exporters would have breathed a sigh of relief in 2013, as it proved to be a less volatile year for economies around the world after a series of political shocks in 2012.

The accountancy and business advisory firm also confirmed it will recruit a further 35 schoolleavers into its Higher Apprenticeship programme in Northern Ireland, with further opportunities for school-leavers in other apprentice roles. Nationally, PwC said it will be upping graduate recruitment by around 30% compared with 2013, with the record level of graduate roles reflecting overall business growth and particularly the continued expansion of the Northern Ireland region.

We are beginning to see some differentiation in our three most important export markets – Eurozone, US and UK. Currencies are trading more in line with the perceived strengths of each economy, rather than the actions of policymakers. Accordingly, there are some signs of a three-speed pace of recovery.

The new graduate roles will increase overall employment numbers in the firm’s tax, assurance and consulting and advisory practices, as well as in technology roles where trainees work in information security and system testing. The biggest increase will be in the firm’s Northern Ireland Centres of Excellence, which will account for over half of the 130-plus graduate intake.

The UK has arguably exhibited some of the most positive signs, with GDP having grown by 1.9 per cent in 2013. These strong numbers have led the Bank of England (BoE) to revise its outlook on the health of the UK economy. Based on what is known at the current time, there is no imminent downward pressure on sterling.

Paul Terrington, PwC Northern Ireland’s regional chairman, said the firm had held its nerve through the downturn and maintained graduate recruitment levels in a tough economic environment: “This has positioned us well for a return of market confidence and growth in domestic and export markets and this year’s significantly increased recruitment plans reflect our confidence in our growth,” he said. “Talented people are the lifeblood of our business and we endeavour attract the best students by offering them the best opportunities.” FEBRUARY 2014

The Eurozone has been under the most pressure and previously the European Central Bank (ECB) has even discussed the possibility of negative interest rates. While the picture for the US is more optimistic, the US Federal Reserve’s continued ‘tapering’ of its bond-buying programme is likely to create some further fluctuation around the strength of the dollar

When thinking about how currency fluctuations might affect exporters, it is worth considering why individual firms are exporting in the first place. If a firm has been exporting to compensate for weaker domestic demand, a stronger local economy is of benefit to them, implying an increase in appetite closer to home. On the other hand, it could be that a company has simply been looking to export because this may provide the best opportunity to grow exponentially. Managing currency exposure should be thought of in the same way that firms manage any other input cost. While currency volatility can change, a business that manages exchange rate risks relative to the underlying exposures in their business can plan ahead in 2014 with more certainty.

Get in touch by emailing me or my team at markets@danskebank.co.uk or telephone: 028 9004 5000

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NEWS

Business Books GIVE AND TAKE by Adam Grant (Phoenix) The motivations behind today’s most successful leaders and entrepreneurs come to a simple yet decisive explanation: there are people who give, people who take, people who match, and people who fake. Our world is filled with these givers, takers, matchers and fakers. Amazingly, those who succeed (not only personally but for their clients and companies) don’t take or match. They give. (Although they’re not necessarily philanthropic.) The results are unequivocal: givers gain big. Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Jon Huntsman Sr. - all of them are givers. In a world in which so many takers such as Bernard Madoff and Raj Rajaratnam have ruined lives and reputations, this book will reassure readers that the real power lies in becoming a giver.

LEADERS EAT LAST by Simon Sinek (Portfolio Penguin) Simon Sinek’s mission is to help people wake up every day inspired to go to work and return home every night fulfilled by their work. Organisations that create environments in which trust and cooperation thrive vastly out perform their competition. And, not coincidentally, their employees love working there. But ‘truly human’ cultures don’t just happen; they are intentionally created by great leaders. Leaders who, in hard times, would sooner sacrifice their numbers to protect their people, rather than sacrifice people to protect their numbers, are rewarded with deeply loyal teams that consistently contribute their best efforts, ideas and passion.

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

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Wrightbus wins FirstGroup deal worth £45m

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orthern Ireland bus manufacturer Wrightbus has received confirmation of a major order worth around £45m from the UK bus division of FirstGroup. The order for 301 buses is part of a 425 bus investment worth a total of £70m by FirstGroup, who selected Wrightbus following extensive testing and fuel consumption trials during 2013. FirstGroup has ordered 301 Wrightbus StreetLite buses – 274 of which are specified as having innovative “Micro Hybrid” technology, developed exclusively by the Ballymena based-company. The chassis for the new buses will be built at Wrights Group subsidiary EN-Drive in Antrim. The bodywork will be assembled in Ballymena. Vehicle deliveries will commence during the next few months, with all buses expected to be in full operational service by early 2015. “This is further great news for Wrightbus and the Northern Ireland economy” said Group Managing Director Mark Nodder. “Hot on the heels of last year’s order to build 600 innovative double deck buses for Transport for London, this order for

FirstGroup will help secure existing jobs right across our business. It is a huge endorsement for our innovative StreetLite single deck bus concept and the exciting Micro Hybrid technology that we have developed with First.” Micro Hybrid technology captures the energy generated from a bus’s braking system, and redistributes this energy to power pneumatics, hydraulic and electrical systems which would otherwise require power from the engine. The result is a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 10%, leading to substantial savings over a bus’s typical 15-year operational service life. Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First UK Bus, added: “Our groundbreaking partnership with Wrightbus will deliver unsurpassed levels of fuel efficiency. In 2013 we laid down the gauntlet to bus manufacturers to work with us to minimise fuel consumption. Wrightbus embraced that challenge and together we’ve developed its StreetLite Micro Hybrid product. I am immensely proud of our collective achievements and we’re very much looking forward to being the first operator to take delivery of these revolutionary new vehicles.”


NEWS

Dr McGinnis, speaking to local business leaders at an event in Belfast organised by Management and Leadership Network (MLN), warned that companies, both large and small, will also have “to develop new expertise and probably very quickly… in a much more promising and more dynamic global marketplace.”

Companies, he said, will have to invest more in developing management leadership skills to “catch the growth tide”. They will need to “move beyond comfort zones that have been shaped against a background of recession and explore markets in which competition is once again accelerating.” “Successful managers realise that there’s always room for personal growth and learning that will ensure business development. If leaders think they can’t get any better, they’re guaranteed not to get any better. Their people won’t

learn to work better with them. Teams will learn what their organisation really values, and if it isn’t improvement, there won’t be any sustainable growth.” Investment in leadership skill will be required to increase productivity and overall competitiveness, he added.

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kills learned during the recession such as tight cost control can be used to give local companies an edge for faster growth in the developing recovery, according to Dr Bill McGinnis, Northern Ireland Advisor on Skills and Employment.

Dr McGinnis said: “Many companies are probably leaner and fitter than ever… and have a tighter grip on managing costs and other expenditure as a result of the difficulties over the past eight years. They’re probably more outward looking too, most now appreciate that growth demands success abroad.”

The official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Mazda6 range: Urban 36.2 (7.8) – 60.1 (4.7). Extra Urban 57.6 (4.9) – 83.1 (3.4). Combined 47.9 (5.9) – 72.4 (3.9). CO2 emissions (g/km) 136 – 104.

NI ‘must invest in skills’

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‘I’ll just wing it...’ Film director Michael Bay’s inability to give a speech at the CES tech conference because his autocue failed showed that even people used to the limelight can get found out when delivering a live presentation. Andrew Keogh of aristo.ie, a pitch and performance coach who works with start-up entrepreneurs on Invest NI’s Propel programme, gives his top tips for avoiding a similar on-stage meltdown. 1. First and foremost always use your own people to talk about a product. Michael Bay was talking about a new television - was there no-one from Samsung who could have done it instead? 2. Never rely on the tech, it will always let you down. I was recently at a conference with nine speakers and four were let down by the technology. You have to be able to do it without notes. 3. Be in the room early. You have to have rehearsed your pitch or presentation so be in the room an hour beforehand, which means you can also make sure the tech is up and running. 4. Be yourself. Don’t try to be Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs. You have to be authentic. Enthusiasm and passion come through when you tell your own story. 5. Don’t lecture. Nobody wants to be lectured to. It has to be a conversation because if people feel they are engaged in a conversation they will listen, even if you’re not actually inviting your audience to answer back. 6. Be able to explain your 14

proposition in three or four sentences. The number one failing of companies I work with is that after listening to them it is not clear what it is they do, particularly among tech companies who tend to blind you with science. 7. Try to entertain. The goals of any presentation should be to inform the mind, touch the heart or change the will of your audience. The days of droning on are long gone. It’s show business on stage, no matter what business you’re in. 8. Be confident. You wouldn’t be asked to give the talk if

you didn’t know the subject matter. So talk from your own experience, not from what you researched on Google. 9. Stay on track with what you want to say. Take a classic presentation template that touches maybe five bases that you need to touch and then make it your own.

“Try to entertain. The days of droning on are long gone. It’s show business on stage, no matter what business you’re in.”


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COVER STORY

One Year On Twelve months after the creation of RSA NI, the insurance business says it is confident of growing its market share across Northern Ireland.

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hen two divisions of a large organisation merge it can sometimes signal a downsizing exercise. But, in the case of insurance company RSA NI – formed a year ago through the merger of specialist underwriting agency Europa General and RSA UK’s Belfast branch office – the opposite has been true. With a full time staff on site of almost 120 people, RSA NI is now one of the largest local insurance companies operating in Northern Ireland and the firm expects to drive growth as it continues to broaden its client base. Jack McIlduff, Managing Director of RSA NI, says that the growth can, in part, be attributed to the company’s decision to operate a full claims and underwriting 16

service from its Belfast office. “Most other insurers have shifted their claims and underwriting to the other locations. We decided that wasn’t going to happen here. We’ve bucked the trend in the insurance industry and all our underwriting, claims and servicing of accounts is carried out by our local office. We don’t outsource anything; we brought it all back to Northern Ireland,” he says. “Our recent significant investment in our NI operation reflects a strong vote of confidence in the business and demonstrates our future intent. We’ve seen growth faster than expected and as a result we have had to recruit across some key disciplines including Actuarial, Marketing and Specialist underwriting.”

The International division of RSA Insurance Group plc – formerly known as Royal Sun Alliance – bought Europa General in 2006. Europa had started as an underwriting agency in the famous Lloyd’s of London insurance market, before developing into an Irish regulated insurance company. The Group’s other key presence in Northern Ireland was RSA’s Belfast office, which formed part of the Group’s UK branch network. Writing mainly Property and Personal lines insurance business, the RSA operation, while complementary to the Europa business, didn’t have cross over areas of activity as Europa specialised in bespoke Motor and Liability insurance. In seeking to significantly expand its footprint across the region the logical decision (it was a “no brainer


COVER STORY

RSA NI’s senior management team (l-r): Vincent McIvor, Ian Cummings, Celine Gillen, Jack McIlduff, Libby Morgan, Mick Comerford, Elaine Carr, Neal Brown and Des Doherty.

in fact” says Jack) was taken to bring the two units together under unified branding and at the same location. “The great thing about merging the two entities was that it brought together experts in all lines of insurance and we were able to develop synergies around the products we offer. We’re now able to promote a full ‘end to end’ proposition to clients and present a very broad range of high quality insurance offerings. Our client response has been tremendous,“ says Jack. General Manager Mick Comerford, who led the merger and transition process, agrees saying: “We placed major emphasis on ensuring our combined systems and, importantly, our expanded operational capability, were FEBRUARY 2014

all up and running ahead of plan. It’s been a brilliant team effort and we’re receiving great feedback confirming that our product offerings and high service levels are appealing to broker partners and businesses across Northern Ireland’s commercial landscape.”

“The great thing about merging the two entities was that it brought together experts in all lines of insurance.” Mick adds: “Insurance might be a grudge purchase. Nobody likes buying it. But when things go wrong, brokers

and customers are delighted to have local experts at hand to provide quick, direct and highly professional outcomes. For example, when you have claims staff familiar with the structures of the local market, they can deliver outcomes quicker than people without such local insight. That’s where our service provision really stacks up. Brokers come here to get fast, expert guidance and great insurance solutions. They want to deliver for their clients and not waste time communicating with various offices or countries hoping to get responses.” With 100 per cent of its business generated through local brokers, RSA in Belfast operates a “trading floor” model in its office. Jack McIlduff’s old underwriting desk from his former syndicate in the Lloyd’s building sits › 17


Jack McIlduff and Mick Comerford.

COVER STORY

pride of place in reception as both a symbol of this and a practical workspace. “The brokers appreciate that we have a full blown operation here. They can sit down, the underwriter will make the decision and the broker walks away with a solution,” says Mick. “What we’re trying to do is make sure our proposition is the best in the market and really focus on local servicing. Whether you work with 10 or 100 brokers, if you offer the best service you’ll get the clients in the door. We’re not just another general insurer, we see ourselves as part of the fabric of the local industry.” As well as longstanding relationships with brokers, McIlduff says RSA is also working closely with trade organisations and individual clients in key sectors: “We know the cover they need and working in partnership with the broker, the client can be sure that they are getting the best professional advice and the best insurance protection available. I fully echo Mick’s comments concerning our strong, local presence. This means that we can negotiate and settle claims quicker and more efficiently than our competitors. A claim settled well is worth more than any advertising.” The business has enjoyed major success in the past year in the Public sector, 18

winning major tenders for contracts with several local authorities and bodies, in part because of its local claims and underwriting operations, as well as maintaining its traditional strength in the motor and heavy industry sectors.

“We’re not just another general insurer, we see ourselves as part of the fabric of the industry.” The senior management team at RSA NI see opportunity to increase its market share in transport, construction and across the SME landscape. In this context, RSA NI is targeting more wins in the Northern Ireland industry and commerce in 2014. McIlduff believes that risk management by companies in Northern Ireland has improved dramatically in the last ten years and that more businesses will be looking at their insurance provision as the economy here and south of the border improves. And internally, in partnership with RSA’s businesses across the island of Ireland and the UK, many other positives will be delivered over the coming year.

Mick Comerford points, for example, to their drive to have the highest technical capability and expertise in its workforce. “Unlike the rest of Ireland, attainment of a professional qualification is not obligatory in the UK insurance market. But, anticipating this will change soon and supported by our continuous professional learning programmes, RSA NI ensures a high volume of its employees are focused on building their professional qualifications from the Chartered Insurance Institute.” RSA NI already has three former presidents of the Belfast Insurance Institute within the Belfast office, and Mick notes that the attainment of professional qualifications is “part of the DNA of the company.” Looking to 2014 both Jack and Mick are confident that the business will continue its upward growth curve: “It’s a competitive market and the economy continues to present challenges. RSA NI however is well placed to build upon our great heritage and strong market presence. Supported by our new structures we have every intent to further expand our footprint and continue to deliver for our existing and new customers across the Northern Ireland market.”


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AWARDS

NI firms urged to enter 2014 Viscount Awards

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orthern Ireland-based companies have been urged to enter the Aer Lingus Viscount Awards by two of the leading business figures who will sit on this year’s judging panel.

are delivering and are not just based on their size. There are great small companies out there that if they are given the opportunity to grow could be the companies of the future,” said Alan Taylor.

Colin Walsh, CEO of Crescent Capital and Chairman of CBI Northern Ireland, and Alan Taylor, managing partner of leading law firm Arthur Cox, said the awards offer an opportunity for companies who are currently “flying under the radar” to have their successes recognised.

“The ones that get me excited are the Northern Ireland companies that are doing something that other companies are doing but they are doing it better and beating them in their own markets. They are manufacturing a product or delivering a service better.”

The Viscount Awards, in association with Ulster Business, aim to recognise businesses which are generating enduring and lucrative economic ties between Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and beyond. The awards will be held on 30th April 2014 in the prestigious surroundings of The Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, London. Entries are now being sought across seven categories: Most Innovative Company; Best Large Business; Best Medium Business; Best Small Business; Entrepreneur of the Year; Exporter of the Year and the Aer Lingus Viscount Award for Overall Excellence. “The good thing about the awards is that they provide an opportunity for companies to show what they 20

Taylor says his own firm, which has recently hired six new staff, is seeing a pick up in activity in the externally focused manufacturing sector and among export driven technology companies. “One thing I want to see is people who are genuinely innovating in the way they do business. While there are a number of companies here who are innovating I get the sense that we need to up our innovation rate again. There is a lot of talk about innovation but perhaps too much of that is still based on the historical achievements of Northern Ireland.” Colin Walsh agrees that we need more local businesses to look to Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Europe for sales.

“Companies are narrowing their odds if they don’t look outside of Northern Ireland. For companies with the capacity to export a product or service why would you not do it? If we don’t export and generate revenues what do you use to buy in the things we can’t possibly make here?” he said. “All of the growing tech companies we back at Crescent are striving to be exporters early in life. They have no prayer of succeeding if they only look at the local market.” Walsh said the low cost of air travel and the much wider network of air links from Belfast and Dublin have made sales to international markets much more achievable. “Some companies can obviously learn in the local market. But for other things you need to get on your bike and go to see what customers want. If you don’t how will you shape your next provide innovation or strategy?” he said. “What potentially holds some firms back is that we are not long on sales skills here in Northern Ireland. Nobody is told at school to become a salesman, they are told to be doctors and lawyers. But the discipline of management we find hardest to recruit for is in sales.” Entry forms can be found at viscountawards.ulsterbusiness.com


NEWS

Dolphin ready to go back to sea

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t will feel like something is missing on east Belfast’s skyline by mid-February when the massive Blackford Dolphin offshore drilling platform leaves the dock at Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries to go into service in the North Sea. At time of writing the renewal, upgrade and maintenance project was on schedule and Harland & Wolff expected it to be finished within the forecast two month completion period.

PHOTO BY KELVIN BOYES, PRESS EYE

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Another refit project is due to occupy its 556 metre long main building dock by the end of the month. The Blackford Dolphin refurbishment required 600 additional temporary workers and saw the famous Samson and Goliath cranes moved along their tracks to the city end of the building dock because the 360ft high platform was too big to fit beneath them. Harland & Wolff hopes successful completion of the job will lead to other contracts in the oil and gas industry.


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ENERGY, WASTE & ENVIRONMENT

Regulator motivated to make a difference Jenny Pyper, the new CEO of the Utility Regulator talks to Ulster Business about power prices, security of supply and infrastructure.

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s the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator puts its new corporate plan out for consultation, the watchdog’s role has perhaps never been more important. The rising cost of energy has increasingly been in the headlines, with both households and businesses struggling with prices, while there are also concerns over the security of electricity supply in Northern Ireland due to the need for new infrastructure investment. They are issues that Jenny Pyper, the new CEO of the UR, says will be at the core of the new corporate strategy. She says she wants the UR to be seen as a “best practice” regulator, one that’s transparent and accountable, responsive to customer concerns and engaged in robust dialogue with utility companies. “Effective network regulation is the first of our three key corporate strategy objectives. We want high performing, responsive utilities. We want to see companies that are earning a reasonable rate of return, while investing prudently for the future in networks and the service they’re providing. But we want to balance that with the lowest possible price to consumers. That’s really why the regulator exists, to provide that balance and to ask the question how much is too much in terms of affordability,” she told Ulster Business.

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“Competition and markets are our second big area. We want to challenge the markets and make sure they’re effective. The third is security of supply and playing our part in delivering Executive’s renewables targets,” she added. A career civil servant until now, Pyper is no stranger to energy, having held the post of director of energy policy at DETI between 2004 and 2010. During that time she played a leading role in the development of both the Single Electricity Market and the NI Executive’s Strategic Energy Framework. One of the attractions of the new role, she says, is the Utility Regulator’s independence and the fact that the work it does impacts on the social, environmental and economic arenas. “We exist to protect the interests of consumers, we exist to make a difference. That’s what motivates me and my team here,” she says. “I think I’ve come in at a really exciting and a challenging time. You don’t come into regulation to be loved. But there’s a job to be done, there’s an opportunity to make a difference and add real value.” Ms Pyper says that in the first few months of her tenure in the job she has been wearing the regulator’s independence lightly, rather than brandishing it, instead focusing on

building relationships with stakeholders. No doubt there will be plenty of time for that given the regulator’s ongoing dispute with electricity network owner NIE over its price control. NIE argued that the UR’s price control determination, which would have led to lower charges for consumers, was insufficient to enable the company to invest in infrastructure and did not give them a fair return on that investment. Ms Pyper says the referral, which is currently awaiting a ruling from the Competition Commission, illustrates the balancing act the regulator has to perform. Whatever the outcome she says the regulator is ready to “move forward positively.” “It is clear NIE want to move forward and so do we, because there is a lot of work to be done. Our objective is to facilitate investment to allow companies to earn a reasonable rate of return for their shareholders. But the question is how much do we approve without gold plating it. Clearly companies with valuable assets will want as much investment as possible, but it is the consumer that is paying for that,” she said. “We haven’t said there isn’t a need for investment. We’ve approved £30m of investment to allow the share of renewable electricity to increase significantly. But we want to see a phased plan that will take us


ENERGY, WASTE & ENVIRONMENT

on to the next stage. It should be proportionate and incremental so we aren’t landing customers with huge increases in their bills.”

also future customers. It is not a static picture and we do want to encourage a sustainable and diverse energy supply for Northern Ireland.”

RENEWABLES The need for infrastructure investment has arisen from the desire to connect more windfarms to the grid in areas where the network is at its weakest but the wind profile is strong. The Executive has largely pinned its hope on wind generation to reach its target of having 40% of all electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020. Ms Pyper says it is a challenging target but points out renewable generation has already risen from 8% in 2009 to 15% today.

SECURITY OF SUPPLY While renewables may be the future, there are concerns in the short term over security of supply, both from a network and generation perspective. Environmental rules mean that both Ballylumford and Kilroot power stations will have to reduce capacity by the end of 2015. Added to that is the fact that the Moyle Interconnector which imports electricity from Scotland is only running at 50% capacity and requires expensive repairs.

“There is a challenging path between now and 40% in 2020 but the pattern of investment has been positive. The investment we’ve approved should allow renewables penetration to reach about 27%. The question is the upgrading and reinforcing needed to get to 40%,” she said.

Network operator SONI’s recent Generation Adequacy Report suggested supply could be tight in terms of demand and available generation from 2016. Pyper says that gives the regulator time to work with DETI to mitigate the risk.

“While we want to keep prices down we do recognise the responsibility not just for current customers but FEBRUARY 2014

“We’ve had good early warning, it is SONI being cautious not sounding alarm bells. Nobody is saying at this stage that we’re facing black outs in NI. It

is just saying it could be tight because of some plant coming offline, but there are options to deal with it. We’re working through to identify what is the most cost effective option,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re not gold plating any particular solution for a problem that might not arise. SONI is being prudent and flagging there may be a tightness in 2016, but whether that actually crystallises we’re not sure. We’re taking steps now to manage it.” Ms Pyper says one key part of the long term solution is the completion of the long delayed North / South Interconnector between Northern Ireland and the Republic which would allow Northern Ireland to better utilise spare generating capacity across the island under the Single Electricity Market arrangement. Having been held up in planning and appeals for several years, the Irish Government has suggested a new application is imminent. But even if that is the case the interconnector is unlikely to be built for several years. “When we were developing the Single Electricity Market a key factor in our thinking was the prospect of a second › 27


ENERGY, WASTE & ENVIRONMENT

interconnector to get economies and efficiencies, to encourage new players to come into the market and stimulate competition, and also to bring security of supply benefits. We’re aware and DETI has confirmed that delays in proceeding with that interconnector have led to annual losses of some £7m, particularly because of constraints on trading. That’s something that can be improved.” PRICES Energy prices have been in the news in Great Britain recently with politicians criticising the big energy companies there for the level of profits they are making while increasing prices to customers. Pyper says that many of the same problems don’t exist here due to Northern Ireland having domestic supply regulation and a different wholesale market. She also notes that while there is concern over underinvestment by power companies in Great Britain, the UR has facilitated over £5bn of utility investment since 2006. “The sort of thing we’ve seen politicians like Ed Milliband call for, the idea of a pool market, more regulatory control and greater transparency, that’s what we have in the Single Electricity Market. I think it is clear that without the SEM customers in NI would be paying more,” she said. “I’m not complacent about the market we have. Europe has set a challenge in terms of a vision for regional integration and moving towards that is something we’re working on with our Irish colleagues. The intention is to have a new market in place by 2016. “The two regulators, the UR and CER, published a high level design options paper in early February for consultation. That’s going to mean changes to the Single Electricity Market. We’ll seek to keep as many of the things that are 28

working well in the SEM but also meet the challenging standards Europe has set. In all of this our objective is to ensure we have a good, competitive, transparent market that’s delivering the lowest cost for consumers.” While that may be the case, Ms Pyper acknowledges that energy costs are a massive issue not only for consumers but also large commercial users, whose energy costs are higher than counterparts in GB. “I’ve talked about transparency around pricing and the work we’ve done in the last year has allowed us to confirm that for domestic customers and small businesses our prices sit round about mid-range against European benchmarks. Around 98% of our business customers pay the same or less than counterparts in the ROI,” she said.

“You don’t come into regulation to be loved. But there’s a job to be done, there’s an opportunity to make a difference.” “But I’ve also talked with some of the big players – the 2% who represent 56% of industrial and commercial consumption by volume – and Invest NI and I know how significant an issue it is for them. We are focused on playing our part on prices and have, for instance, recently commenced a project on network cost allocation. There aren’t any simple answers because while there are concerns for those large users there are also significant concerns at domestic level about fuel poverty. It really is a question of whether you rob Peter to pay Paul. There are decisions in there I don’t think the Regulator can make in a vacuum. It will involve dialogue with DSD and DETI around policy priorities. We

want to present real evidence if changes are going to be made at policy level.” GAS TO THE WEST Of course the Utility Regulator’s role is not all about electricity. The next major development is the launch of the competition for a major programme of physical investment to bring gas to the west of the province. It is a project which will not only make gas more widely available but which will also require a massive amount of construction work. “It is a major programme with £32m of support from the Executive because they recognise the benefits it will bring in terms of jobs but also in terms of bringing a choice of fuel to customers and businesses west of the Bann. Some of our bigger businesses, particularly in the agri-food sector, are particularly looking forward to having gas because it will offer a cleaner and more affordable form of energy relative to oil,” said Pyper. Since gas came to NI in 1996 there has been over 4000km of pipe laid and over 170,000 customers connected. At present the gas pipeline goes from Belfast to Derry with a north south link for Newry and mid-Ulster. Gas to the West will go as far as Enniskillen and Derrylin, including towns such as Dunganon, Cookstown, Omagh. The regulator is also looking at how well companies are enabling switching between suppliers, noting there is now competition in greater Belfast and the 10 towns operated by firmus gas will be completely open by 2015. “I think it is an exciting project and an opportunity to bring new players into the market, which always stimulates the others. We welcome new market entrants because they can bring innovation and a new market dynamic.”


OUTLOOK FOR 2014

Office THE CHIPPY

PHARMACY

+

COFFEE SHOP

BAKERY

GARAGE

JANUARY 2014

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ENERGY, WASTE & ENVIRONMENT

All power to the energy company that cares approach, the ‘we’re all in it together’ mantra. There’s no ‘them and us’, it’s just ‘us’. And it works. Power NI is the only energy company to openly publish its small business tariffs online letting customers see how much they’re paying – fairly and squarely. It’s all part of the transparency stance – a refreshing trait for any company, let alone an energy company.

Alan Egner

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ant an energy company that wants the best for your business? Enter Power NI. With over 80 years experience, they should know a thing or two about local business. Perhaps that’s why they’re Northern Ireland’s number one energy company with over 35,000 business customers and hundreds more switching back. Where customers come first The company prides itself in its customer service with a dedicated Business Support team and friendly local staff in its Antrim, Belfast and Omagh contact centres. They won’t leave you hanging on the line and you won’t be passed from pillar to post. You simply call, and usually within 20 seconds, a real person will answer. That alone would swing it for anyone who’s been a victim of the automated response system. meet AlAn A big figure in the business team is Alan Egner, Power NI’s Commercial Sales & Marketing Manager, “2013 was a fantastic year for us with 12 months of continuous growth and over 1,000 new business customers on our books. With easing of regulation for larger users we can now offer personalised, tailored contracts. This led to us winning several major tenders to supply local government, manufacturing and retail premises. We hope to see this success continue in 2014.” open And honest Part of Power NI’s charm is its neighbour next-door

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double discount Price is obviously important to customers but instead of tempting introductory offers, Power NI prefers a long-standing value approach. They offer 4% discount when you pay by Direct Debit and further discount when you sign up to Energy Online. eAsy to mAnAge, eAsy to pAy Their handy online service, Energy Online, means businesses can track the amount of energy they use giving them the power to control and even reduce costs. sWitch And sAve Whether you’re new to Power NI or switching back from another supplier, they offer a range of tariffs depending on your business type and what you need. The switching process is painless too. It only takes a quick phone call. So restaurateurs and entrepreneurs, hairdressers and horticulturalists, manufacturers and mechanics – whatever your business, Power NI will take care of your company as if it was their own. Not bad, eh? love them or leAve They’re so confident you’ll love the customer service and competitive rates, they don’t lock small businesses into a contract. You can choose to take your business elsewhere. But with 90% customer satisfaction rate (they’re working on the remainder) you probably won’t want to. Whether you’re a small start-up business or an established larger user, call the Power NI business hotline today on 08457 455 455 or visit powerni.co.uk/business.


We don’t just offer simple, good value business tariffs. We bring you the very best in customer service from local people who know you, your business and what’s important to you. You’ll always find a friendly voice on the end of the phone. You’ll always be updated on new innovative products and ways to save energy and money. And you’ll always feel like you’re in safe hands with us: Northern Ireland’s number one energy company. Join the 35,000 local companies already doing business with us.

Business Hotline


ENERGY, WASTE & ENVIRONMENT

Waste – the heavy cost of crime Environmental law specialist and Partner at Tughans, Andrew Ryan considers the potential impacts on the waste industry and NI business as a whole following Northern Ireland’s most significant illegal waste incident.

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he discovery of over 500,000 tonnes of illegally landfilled waste in a quarry near Londonderry is likely to spawn a significant revision of waste regulation in Northern Ireland. This will impact upon waste producers and processors alike through more inspections and tighter regulatory procedures. Administration and costs are likely to rise as a result but penalties for illegal operators currently benefitting from lapses in the system will also increase substantially. In 2012 a major investigation began into landfilling of mixed wastes at an unregulated quarry outside the City of Derry. Some 516,000 cubic metres of waste was dumped illegally over a 5-6 year period. In 2013 the Environment Minister commissioned a detailed review by Welsh Environment Agency director Christopher Mills into the legislative and regulatory failings that led to this serious environmental crime occurring almost in plain sight. The final report, published in December 2013 concludes that criminality is widespread in the NI waste industry; that the complex regulatory regime does not work as intended; and both structural and cultural change is required for the NIEA to become a more effective regulator. Despite a marked increase in prosecutions, penalties for waste offences still lag 32

Andrew Ryan

significantly behind Great Britain and can be considered an occupational hazard by determined criminals. Further action to deter criminality and create a level playing field will be welcomed. However, the regulatory burden for lawful operators may well increase and this will come at a cost which will inevitably be passed on to all businesses generating waste. The Mills Report notes that the current waste regulation system is varied and complex involving disparate permitting regimes for different activities monitored by separate teams within the NIEA. The report found a lack of co-ordination between NIEA departments and DOE Planning which allowed criminals to slip through the net to the detriment of the environment and lawful operators. Of particular concern is the self-

policing “Duty of Care” system, which requires all waste movements to be recorded but is easily abused and near impossible to monitor effectively. This duty extends to producers, transporters and processors of waste, and in future more stringent checks on the destination of waste may be imposed on all parties in the waste chain with strong penalties for non-compliance. The temptation to cut corners to avoid increased costs must be curtailed and so the consequences of noncompliance may become more severe. Recently revised Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines for environmental offences plus further training of the judiciary will see higher fines imposed along with further use of asset seizure orders for proceeds of crime, custodial sentences and penalties against individual directors. The fall-out from the illegal landfills in Derry will be long-lasting and significant for both the regulator and the regulated. If the Mills Report’s recommendations are followed, major regulatory change will be needed to create a fit for purpose waste system in NI. Operating in the sector will become more costly and those costs will have to be passed on to customers who will also need to take more responsibility for waste that they generate. However, the end result will hopefully see well-run and innovative waste operations prosper, along with a greater focus on waste minimisation across all business sectors.


ENERGY, WASTE & ENVIRONMENT

42% of households in NI affected by fuel poverty

By Nigel Brady, Director, Bryson Energy

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orthern Ireland has the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK and one of the highest in the European Union, with current estimates indicating that 42% of households are affected. Fuel poverty is complex, but essentially there are three aspects that have a role to play: energy efficiency, fuel costs and income. In Northern Ireland, oil is the most common method of heating homes. This over dependency on one particular form of fuel is a unique issue to Northern Ireland requiring a different approach to other regions. ‘Warm Homes’ is the Government’s main tool for tackling fuel poverty. Operating from 2009, the scheme has assisted almost 50,000 households with measures ranging from cavity wall to loft insulation, through to solid wall insulation and heating systems. The scheme has exceeded Key Performance Indicators set; however, it is restrictive and concentrates mainly on the energy efficiency of the home. Learning that Bryson has gained, as one of the delivery agents of the scheme, is that initiatives such as area based approaches; increased use of subcontractors; local Council engagement and the targeting of those in extreme and severe fuel poverty being currently piloted will not in themselves be enough to tackle this complex problem. Data collected by the University of Ulster shows that almost all those in ‘extreme’ fuel poverty, some 33,499 households, rely on oil for their main heating system, but only 25% of these households shopped around for the best price before purchase. It is clear ‘Energy Brokering’ needs to be a major part of any longer term solution. Budgeting for fuel is another element where households can benefit from an overarching ‘whole house’ solution to fuel poverty. Credit Unions and stamp schemes can assist fuel-poor houses to get best value. While we cannot affect the price of global energy prices, households can be provided with renewable technologies to generate their own power. There are a range of firms in Northern Ireland who provide Photovoltaic’s (PVS) free

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to households with suitable properties. Fitted at no cost to the household the occupants get free electricity generated with the firms taking the Renewable Obligation Certificates payments along with the exported electricity. The problem is that these payments are not shared equitably with the householder and our vision is where the return, after investment costs are met, could be used to pay for household services such as budgeting and brokering service costs. Partnerships are key to achieving ‘whole house’ solutions to fuel poverty and social enterprise models provide a level of flexibility that can allow other factors such as sustainable employment to feature in any future programme of spend. Bryson Energy is currently undertaking a pilot in the Omagh and Strabane areas bringing all these elements together to illustrate the effectiveness of a whole house solution. In the coming months, the Department of Social Development will be initiating a consultation linked to any future Warm Homes Scheme. We welcome the opportunity that this presents to debate initiatives and strategic partnerships which have the potential to provide a ‘whole’ house approach to the issue of fuel poverty.


ENERGY, WASTE & ENVIRONMENT

Record breaking year for wind energy

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enewable generation met the government’s 2020 target in December, when the highest ever levels of wind energy were recorded in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG) said at its annual conference that 506MW of electricity was generated on December 17, the first time that wind has contributed more than 500MW to energy needs in Northern Ireland. The number is also significant because it represented 36% of total electricity needs at that moment and wind accounted for upwards of 40% of required supply on several occasions during the month. The NI Executive has set stretching targets to have 40% of all electricity generation delivered via renewables – primarily wind farms – by 2020. However, there is still some way to go before that target will be met on an annual basis. According to network operator SONI, the annual figures for the percentage of demand met from wind was 14.8% for 2013, although that was up from the 2012 figure of 11.7%. Gary Connolly, Outgoing Chairman of NIRIG, which represents the collective voices of the Irish Wind Energy Association and RenewableUK in Northern Ireland, said: “Throughout

FEBRUARY 2014

December wind energy regularly contributed upwards of 40% of Northern Ireland electricity demand. These recordbreaking levels were facilitated by an additional 59.8MW of wind energy being connected to the electricity grid in 2013, bringing our total installed wind farm capacity to 531.4MW, which equates to 345,410 homes being powered. Our renewable energy target of 40% electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 will be within sight if we continue to have a healthy and consistent build-out rate for renewables. “Last year was also a record-breaking year for renewable energy across the UK and Ireland. In Great Britain in December, a traditionally high demand month, wind power supplied 10% of the total electricity demand for homes, businesses and factories. In the Republic of Ireland, by 7am on 15 December 2013, a staggering 59.99% of electricity demand was being met by wind energy. Indeed throughout the month of December, wind provided, on average, almost 30% of demand in the Irish system.” NIRIG said local onshore wind farms have the potential to contribute almost £1m annually to the local economy through rates, whilst the overall potential annual value of the renewable market to Northern Ireland is estimated to be almost £2bn per annum by 2020 across a range of sectors.

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TECHNOLOGY

Windows XP won’t go quietly

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eaf “Microsoft’s Small and Mid Market Partner of the year 2013” have been consulting with their clients regarding the end-of-life deadline for Windows XP being just three months away for the last 12 months. Ensuring clients who require lengthy infrastructure changes have enough time to action them. How many computers will still be running Windows XP come April 8? Microsoft’s most popular operating system ever until Windows 7 came along will cease to be supported and that means no more updates, no more bug fixes, and – perhaps most important of all to Leaf and their clients – no more security patches. XP usage dropped from roughly 39.5% of PCs at the start of 2013 to just under 29% at year’s end, this would mean roughly one in five PCs worldwide will still be running XP after Microsoft shuts off support – a wise decision? Leaf think not! “If businesses have not yet migrated from Windows XP, it is not because they do not want to but because they have many internal barriers,” Kyle Johnston (pictured) from Leaf Consultancy said. Johnston’s examples of those barriers echo many of the reasons some businesses are essentially ignoring Microsoft’s support cut-off, namely: budget, hardware, and application compatibility; strapped IT resources; user availability and training; and so on. For organisations planning to keep XP in use post-April 8, Leaf advise taking steps to minimise the downside. For instance: “If you have a system that can’t be upgraded, look at lockdown technology to only allow the functions that are needed by the system and prevent others. This can protect the system and reduce the need for patching.” So, what will happen to XP machines – not to mention the corporate networks they connect to – on April 8? Security apocalypse? Business as usual? Somewhere in between? Leaf are advising all XP users to err on the side of caution. Contact Leaf regarding the options you have, time is running out! Please contact sales@leafconsultancy.com or Tel: 028 9089 7650 and ask to speak to a member of our sales team to arrange a consultation.

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Improving the digital skills of NI

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igital organisation DANI has announced it will be assisting the delivery of the UK wide initiative GO ON UK, created by Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, the founder of LastMinute.com.

Northern Ireland’s new Digital Champion Naomh McElhatton, the Managing Director of DANI, is to help the UK GO ON UK team to deliver their three-point business plan for 2014, which is to be rolled out across NI. 1. Build a cross sector digital skills alliance and a national digital skills delivery plan. 2. Develop a web based Marketplace (www.digitalskills.com) 3. Champion innovation The organisations says its vision will be achieved when all individuals, SMEs and charities in the UK have the Basic Online Skills to fully participate in everyday economic and social life. While it would be easy to think that everyone is online these days, 1 in 5 adults in the UK still don’t have Basic Online Skills. That is worrying given predictions that 90% of all jobs will require ICT skills by 2015. Just 33% of small to medium-sized companies have a digital presence and only 14% sell their products online. But the more digitally enabled a company is, the faster it tends to grow – and in the UK people are twice as likely as the OECD average to buy goods online. Charities are among the organisations with the most to gain from upping their digital skills, yet one-fifth have little or no web presence and 50% need help with web design and social media. “The potential is huge and it’s growing by the day. Now’s the time to start working together to reap the full benefits of making the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation,” says Naomh. The GO ON UK initiative will be going live in mid April, with interactive workshops in Derry, Belfast and Mid Ulster. The charity is supported by founder partners Age UK, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, EE, eON, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office & Talk Talk. It will be working with both private and public bodies to deliver a number of workshops, seminars and events that will assist develop NI’s digital skillset. For more information on getting involved in the initiative email: naomh@digitaladvertisingni.co.uk or tweet @naomhs.


Executive Search & Recruitment

Sponsored by


EXECUTIVE SEARCH

NEDs: time for NI to get on board Getting a CEO job is a tough task with stringent tests of experience, knowledge and skills undertaken before an appointment is made. But do companies apply the same rigour to the process of selecting board members and chairmen?

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he disgraced former Coop Bank chairman Paul Flowers apparently did very well in psychometric tests when being interviewed for the role. Mr Flowers, a Methodist minister, got the job as chairman of the board of the bank in April 2010 in part because he’d done well in the tests and despite one obvious red flag – he had no banking experience and a total lack of banking knowledge. Last year, a rescue deal was required with bondholders after it emerged the bank faced a £1.5bn black hole. To add to the misery of the bank’s financial problems, it was then hit by scandal when its chairman was arrested for alleged drugs offences. Granted the Co-op bank could not have known about its chairman’s private life, but with board members admitting to MPs that there hadn’t been much discussion about banking experience in the interview for the role of chairman and that no references were asked for, it’s clear they didn’t do themselves any favours. So how should a company select a chairman or directors to serve on its board and what should it take into

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account when appointing them? Executive search consultant Kim Johnston says the selection of a chair or non-executive director (NED) is just as, if not more important than sourcing an executive director and she thinks that in Northern Ireland we don’t always get this right. “Fundamentally, the Chair and NEDs are there to set a strategic course as well as to provide a challenge function with inbuilt robust corporate governance. The executive team are there to deliver the strategic plan and ensure the company or organisation survives and thrives,” she said. “It sounds straightforward but unfortunately this is rarely what happens in practice. The key relationship is between the Chair and CEO. If this is healthy, then the Chair will steer, encourage, support and push the CEO to achieve better. What can happen is that the Chair either dominates the CEO or tends to behave as if he were the CEO and acts in “executive mode” which can be undermining. The litmus test from a headhunting point of view is to get this balance right and this is done by having a deep understanding of the executive team – their skills, behaviours and

culture of the organisation.” Johnston says in her experience the challenge we face locally is one of both supply and demand. There are, she thinks, too few qualified and appropriately experienced NEDs and a large number of small, family-owned companies who may not see the value that a professional board can bring. “The danger of these companies looking for a NED under their own steam is that they often go down the route of asking someone they know and are comfortable with and who may not provide the challenge and guidance needed and therefore may not be as effective as a properly sourced candidate,” she notes. “On the other hand, we all know the same faces who get on boards and I would query their effectiveness – are they too complacent and stretched too thin? I am not being critical of these people – if they keep putting themselves up, then they will keep being taken on. I am more interested in the selection process and wonder if we have gone too far down the road of offputting, competency based, application form-filling and panel interviews.” The fact that there are so many of the same former executives and senior civil


EXECUTIVE SEARCH

servants on boards in Northern Ireland could point to a dearth of qualified candidates for non-executive roles or, worse still, a cosy old boys network having the market locked down. That’s not the case says Colin Coffey, who helps run the Chartered Director programme for the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland. “There are a lot of experienced and high quality people around in Northern Ireland. You just have to look at some of the success stories of the companies in export-oriented sectors like manufacturing, over many years. As a result you’ve got some very good, capable individuals who will add value to any board,” he said. Instead, he believes the challenge here is in getting local companies to recognise the benefits nonFEBRUARY 2014

executive directors can bring. “We have a large number of very successful family firms in Northern Ireland and I think some companies don’t see the need for it. There is an old adage that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “But the proper structure of a board, a good challenging board with independent directors who are asking questions, can add value. In an ideal world I would want boards to review their structure every three years, maybe not changing it, but asking the question, do we have the skills around the table that will meet the challenges this company will face over the next number of years.” Coffey believes the individuals are there in Northern Ireland and, while he concedes there could be more of them, he also notes that by head of population Northern Ireland actually has a far

higher number of Chartered Directors than most other regions of the UK – something he believes illustrates the commitment to good governance here. “I do think the skills and knowledge are there to meet the need. There’s just an issue of the company’s themselves recognising that independent directors can add value and should not just be seen as a cost,” he said. CHALLENGE FUNCTION The problems at the Co-op Bank being investigated by MPs included the collapse of a deal to buy over 600 branches from Lloyds, known as Project Verde. As it turned out two deputy-chairmen of the bank resigned because their opposition to the project was ignored. Their challenge and eventual resignations should, MPs said, › 39


EXECUTIVE SEARCH

Not many boardrooms are like Lord Sugar’s on The Apprentice, but non-executive directors and chairmen should be there to challenge decisions.

have set alarm bells ringing for the chairman and the rest of his board. That challenge function is crucial to the job of a non-executive director or chairman. “Non-execs tend to bring a lot of focus,” says Coffey. “In small family firms a lot of decisions are taken in operations meetings and the same people who sit around the operations table sit around the board table. A board should be different, it is not operational or financial or marketing, it is the board of directors, it is a different level of decision.” Coffey says the advantage of using Chartered Directors is that they have demonstrated to their peers through a very clear process that they understand all aspects of the Board and understand all aspects of corporate decision making. That means they’ll understand the sort of questions that need to be asked and the nature of their role within the board. But he doesn’t necessarily think a nonexecutive director or chairman needs to be from the same sector as the company whose board they are joining. “The key thing is they have to understand the business and what it is all about so they can contribute. Again 40

it is about the skills around the table to help the company meet its challenges. If a company for example is selling into GB but a review finds there’s an opportunity to sell into France, well then you would want somebody on the board who has experience of selling into euroland. It is when you are going outside of your comfort zone that you have to look at the knowledge and skill set of your board,” he explained.

Kim Johnston thinks that to avoid the sort of embarrassment the Co-op Bank faced, or lesser versions of it, an organisation should hire based on its individual needs. Perhaps unsurprisingly she believes NEDs should be handpicked by a practised and independent head hunter and she agrees that qualified and experienced Chartered Directors make ideal candidates.

“Time and again we are told that we need diversity on boards and yet we make it really hard for people to get these roles.”

“NEDs should have little knowledge of the sector that the company operates in as one of the frustrations of really good NEDs is that they confer their experience but are not intellectually stretched unless they are in a new environment. More women would be encouraged to apply, the process would be less onerous, all positions would be paid and the tenure of any NED should be no more than three years at a stretch,” she said.

“It is a journey and at some stage the directors and non-execs add to that journey. A good example is the number of firms involved from sectors like manufacturing who got involved in property during the boom. They didn’t know anything about property and with non-execs on a board they might have questioned why they were getting involved in property or suggested they didn’t bring it into their core company’s balance sheet,” added Coffey.

“Time and again we are told that we need diversity on boards and yet we make it really hard for people to get these roles. I would argue that there is a happy medium where a commercial and sensible approach should be taken. Each organisation should be looked at in isolation and a search and selection process undertaken which best matches the needs of that organisation.”


EXECUTIVE SEARCH

Demystifying the role of the headhunter Launched in October 2013, 4c Executive Search is now working with many of Northern Ireland’s leading organisations to find the best available talent to fill their business-critical roles. Owner and Principal Search Consultant Gary Irvine explains how the executive search process works.

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xecutive search is a very indepth, methodical process, used mainly to target and attract senior-level talent. Candidates are usually already employed in a senior post at the time and are considered to be what we call a ‘passive job seeker’ in the unadvertised job market – they are happy in their current role, but may be interested in being made aware of other opportunities that could further their career. The process • At 4c Executive we follow a very exact process. We meet with our client on a number of occasions to identify the role, understand their culture and work in partnership with them to draw up a detailed assignment brief – a 15-20 page document outlining the company and the role for which they seek to recruit. It matters not whether the role is based locally or abroad. • We then instruct our team of international researchers to identify an initial list of target companies and the relevant individuals in each company who potentially meet the criteria for the role. This initial target list is then approved by our client, allowing them to rule out any ‘off limits’ companies – be it a company they do business with, or one which they don’t feel presents a good fit. At 4c we want to build lasting relationships with our clients and have a strict rule that we 42

the researcher will seek an alternative contact telephone number and arrange a suitable date and time for a second call. • On this second call, the researcher will provide the candidate with a more detailed synopsis of the role – still without disclosing the name of our client – and will ask the candidate for more information about their background, their current role and salary. The researcher will then seek informed consent from the candidate for their information to be shared with 4c Executive. At this stage it is worth noting that no-one is head hunted that doesn’t want to be head hunted.

will not approach potential candidates in another organisation that we are currently working with or have worked with in the past year, and we make this clear to our client from the outset. • With the target list approved, and having conducted background checks, our researchers start making approaches to the potential candidates, usually at their place of work, to explain that they are working on behalf of an opportunity that may be of interest. They will provide a brief synopsis of the role, without disclosing the name of our client. Our researchers go to great lengths to ensure that the confidentiality of both the client and the target individual is protected. If the candidate expresses an interest in finding out more,

• A 4c search consultant will then make a call to the candidate at an agreed time to exchange more information. A face-to-face meeting at a neutral location will follow, at which stage we will disclose the name of our client in confidence and will go into more detail using the assignment brief. • At this meeting 4c will assess the suitability of the candidate for the role and, pending their suitability and consent from the candidate, will finally pass their details on to our client, after which an interview will likely follow. In a nutshell 4c Executive Search is all about leaving no stone unturned to find the best available talent for your business critical roles in the most discreet and professional manner possible.


Ready for a change? Working with many of Northern Ireland’s leading organisations.

Left: Emma Kieran Business Support Executive

4c Executive Search – 9th Floor Causeway Tower 9 James Street South Belfast BT2 8DN

– T +44 (0) 28 9055 8120 admin@4cexecutive.com 4cexecutive.com

Centre: Gary Irvine FIRP Principal Search Consultant

Right: David Winterburn Search Consultant


EXECUTIVE SEARCH

Skills training: tackling a major failing for a growing economy By John Simpson

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inister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry has posed one of the most important questions in relation to how the economy can be better equipped to grow. How does Northern Ireland shift from an economy where too many people in the labour market are inadequately equipped for the more demanding jobs of the 21st century? The answer from the Minister is that a very large change in the number of schemes (and the level and standards of competency) to ensure suitable training is needed. Indeed, it is overdue. As a start to the demanding and complex processes of change, the Minister has issued an ‘Interim Report and Consultation Document’ entitled ‘Review of Apprenticeships.’ Even the description and the title do little to show that clear heads now have a competent vision of what needs to be done, on what scale, with what incentives and with what timetable. Even the word ‘review’ lacks the dynamic of what must be done to radically transform the training and qualifications of the next generation of skilled employees. Arguably, Minister Farry and his advisory team have taken nearly a year to essentially describe the failings of the present system and begun to set out guiding principles for an action programme. The Review is well researched, drawing on national and international evidence and experience, but stops short as it invites consultation on general principles 44

rather than linking to early action. The perception seems that the Minister is more ready to move, and move with expedition, than his team of officials. If, as seems possible, the ambition to radically reshape the apprenticeship system is non-controversial, the current consultation is misplaced. Potentially, this consultation may be followed (with more inevitable delay) by another round of consultation when there are legislative proposals, operational plans, forecasts of skills (and up-skilling) demands and schemes for financial incentives, all calling for implementation. Although some Ministers like to claim that Northern Ireland has an adaptable well educated young population, the evidence published in international comparative studies is far from reassuring. There are sectors which display creditable performances but as a general statement, the competence of the current policy makers and the delivery organisations in Northern Ireland must be questioned. The sTarTing poinTs Two particular features of the existing system in Northern Ireland underscore the current weaknesses. First, the number of people starting on the main ApprenticeshipsNI scheme averages just over 6,000 each year. Second, and an important concern, the majority of recent new ApprenticeshipNI entrants, 68%, have been starting with Level 2 qualifications. This is the equivalent of GCSE passes which is a lower standard than is now commended.

For the future, apprenticeship entry point qualifications may be at Level 3: A-level or equivalents. On that basis, the scale of the provision for better defined and monitored apprenticeships will need to increase sharply: possibly from (for illustration only) about 2,000 at above Level 2 to nearer 10,000 each year. Unfortunately the official review fails to estimate, even roughly, how large the number of apprenticeships might be by 2020, or earlier. Possibly the most significant changes will lie in the more formal learning experience that will be built into each apprenticeship programme. Rather than ‘sitting by Nellie’ and gaining a narrow training in a single occupation, apprenticeships will be designed to produce a breadth of skill which gives the apprentice a greater degree of occupational mobility and competences which have been externally assessed and documented. On the job training will be designed to operate alongside off the job training provided through training organisations (possibly Further Education institutions or commercial training businesses). The ambition to give apprenticeships a more formal competence based structure leads into unanswered questions on the range and definitions of the occupations where groups of trainees can be assembled in numbers that make training viable. Then there are questions of shape, duration, registration and financing. Making The sysTeM work The Minister’s consultative paper


EXECUTIVE SEARCH

is conspicuously silent on how an adequate number of apprenticeships will be offered. The Minister, appropriately, wants to ensure that more apprenticeships will be offered than are currently needed by existing employers. In this way, the needs of a growing economy will be supported. Today’s employers will be expected to support a more radical apprenticeship programme. The Minister quotes evidence that enhanced programmes, professionally applied, can pay for themselves. This self-financing model would represent a serious challenge. There is an urgent need for some modelling of how the programmes will work and what level of incentive payment (if any) to employers for certain types of apprentice will be needed and acceptable as a cost to Government. Into this matrix of questions there must be added an early effort to identify the occupational groups for which modern apprenticeships will be necessary and/ or desirable. The international evidence, quoted by the Minister, refers to 200 – 300 occupational groups identified in each of the Swiss and German systems. How many would be relevant locally and to what extent might crossborder co-operation help to make shared training proposals viable?

greater clarity than these imprecise aspirations. If the new arrangements are to deliver a step change on the scale that would make an impact on a serious problem, DEL will need to be allocated a much larger recurrent sum to attract adequate recruitment levels. EmployErs’ commitmEnts New apprenticeship arrangements are an urgent element in the delivery of a growing economy. Private sector employers will be expected to make a much larger contribution to training arrangements. Some will argue that this will lead to extra expense. A well-structured scheme(s) will need to balance reasonable expectations on employers to plan, recruit and train to higher standards along with a judicious scheme of financial support.

that the public sector must now take more responsibility for this type of training within the public sector employment structure. Critically, to anticipate a growing economy, the scale of provision must be larger than current demands. This calls for sensible forecasting and a willingness to take the risk that overprovision may not always be neatly matched with emerging skill needs. Minister Farry has cautiously (too cautiously) opened a discussion on how some of the skills deficit should be repaired. His agenda is well chosen. His action plan is missing.

An important additional feature in apprentice training is the acknowledgement by Stephen Farry

Radically improved apprenticeship arrangements represent a logistical and financial challenge for the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) on a scale that will be demanding. The current ApprenticeshipNI arrangements cost DEL around £21m each year. £8m of this is drawn from the EU European Social Fund. For the future, the early stage thinking is that DEL is ‘examining how we can develop a financial model to determine how best to resource the new model... through availing of a range of funding sources.’ In the consideration of the new proposed arrangements, employers and prospective apprentices, and training providers, would expect FEBRUARY 2014

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EXECUTIVE SEARCH

Re-engineering your mind and business

By Professor Peter McBride, CEO, Niamh Group

staff and by the same token improve our performance. It is not a novel concept that the mental resolve which athletes use to harness their strength and talent on the sports field can be applied to the business world to achieve similar levels of high performance. But to embed the ‘winning mindset’ of athletic performance in the culture of an organisation requires the right environment. In pursuit of our purpose, Niamh has developed a groupwide people management strategy which is aligned to our goals and organisational objectives. Within this approach, we have fostered an environment that stimulates the conditions for success to flourish: a robust strategy; clarity of our vision and purpose; individual goals aligned to our strategy and a culture of learning and feedback.

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high performance team can conjure images of an athletic team who are disciplined, focused and keep pushing to achieve their goal. This image can be lifted across to the corporate environment and the same values easily embedded to achieve high performance goals. A high performance workplace in any sector displays strong characteristics of leadership, clarity, communication, trust, development and a positive atmosphere. These are the essential characteristics that will provide a basis for achieving superior results.

The “winning mindset” psychology which sports coaches ingrain in their athletes brings to life the key ingredients to perform when under pressure and when things haven’t gone as planned. The key catalyst here is mental resilience. When an individual or team in the workplace doesn’t achieve a short-term goal, it is important that they do not vear off their path and fall into defeatist mentality. Like professional athletes, they need to recognise their capacity to be resilient in overcoming this adversity to fulfil their potential. Resilience in all walks of life helps us deal with challenges and is an important factor in maintaining good mental health. Setbacks in business will always occur. Leadership should facilitate the preparedness of individual employees to respond to challenge, maximise performance, recover quickly after setbacks, improve productivity and develop a winning mindset. To achieve a winning mindset and high performance in our workplaces, we must invest as much in developing the emotional resilience of our staff as we do in the business itself. Carecall Wellbeing, part of the Niamh group, provides a range of services including one-to-one counselling and wellbeing training to

Whether you are in business or an Olympic athlete, above all else the key to success is a winning mindset. It is a factor that is inherent in the organisational culture of Niamh where we make genuine, measurable efforts to develop our 46

employees of its client companies. The Niamh group was awarded the Investors in People Gold award in January 2014, the first organisation in Northern Ireland to have been awarded gold on its first assessment.


EXECUTIVE SEARCH

Sainsbury’s CEO King to step down Retailer Sainsbury’s has announced that Justin King (pictured) has decided to step down in July 2014 after ten years as CEO, and that Mike Coupe, currently its Group Commercial Director, will succeed him as CEO. Since he took the role in 2004, Sainsbury’s has seen its underlying profits almost treble to £756m, while sales have risen to £25.6bn from £16.1bn a decade ago. The company’s chairman, David Tyler, described King as a “truly exceptional leader, who has reshaped Sainsbury’s during his ten years as CEO” and said he left a lasting legacy at the supermarket chain. The chairman said Mike Coupe was the natural choice to take the company forward as “nobody knows Sainsbury’s – or the industry” better than him.

Recruitment Case Study: Meeting the needs of manufacturers By Catherine Gokcezade, Business Manager at Hays Engineering of products, systems and a feel for their culture, Hays was the able to propose candidates demonstrating the right team fit, technical capability and experience required to support EN-Drive.

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he Northern Ireland economy is emerging from recession, and companies within manufacturing and engineering – the largest employment sector here – are leading the charge. Consider the automotive industry. According to the most recent data, automotive has increased its contribution to the local economy by 13% from pre-recession times. One company at the heart of this growth is EN-Drive, an ambitious new start-up in Antrim. Part of the Wrights Group, EN-Drive operates independently and has recently secured contracts outside of FEBRUARY 2014

the traditional Wrights offering for the first time in the Group’s history. During this period the company has focused on investing in staff and new technology in order to grow its production capacity. With this in mind, the company approached Hays to bring in the necessary skills and to assist the company in meeting its objectives.

After this initial engagement, ENDrive again turned to Hays to recruit for manufacturing engineering, quality and new product integration teams. This campaign too proved to be successful and EN-Drive continues to prioritise headcount growth in 2014 with Hays Engineering. As was achieved with EN-Drive, a specialist recruiter can help firms meet demands for niche skills and so maintain their competitive advantage. For further information and access to the latest job opportunities contact Hays directly on 028 9044 6900 or visit

As is commonly the case, the main challenge lies in attracting skillsets that are often in very short supply. After meeting with EN-Drive management, the Hays Engineering team spent time on the factory floor getting to know their set-up, processes, range and types of machinery. With an understanding

www.hays.co.uk/northernireland.

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Hollywood connections In the latest of our diaspora profiles in conjunction with NI Connections, Symon Ross talks to Hilary Oliver, who spends much of her time in the company of people most of us only know from the silver screen.

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here can’t be too many former school teachers from Belfast who spend their days hanging out with Hollywood stars like George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep. But that’s exactly what Hilary Oliver does on a daily basis with her company Cameo Productions, which provides media interviews with big stars for use on radio, offers media training to actors and directors, and also organises press briefings and events. Born in Belfast and an alumnus of Queen’s University, Hilary jokes that she set up Cameo because she couldn’t think of another way to meet the likes of Clooney and Robert Redford. In reality it was her creative and entrepreneurial drive that led her to form the business when she saw a gap in the market for providing such services. After university Hilary taught English in a number of schools, including Ballyclare High and St Patrick’s College, before moving to England with her late husband, a journalist, in the mid-1980s. She found herself working on the local radio station 210FM Reading (now Heart) and with a background in arts and an interest in acting, went on to produce arts programmes, winning several awards. It was in 1990 that she decided to set up her own company to supply UK and Irish radio stations with top quality radio editorial, such as film clips and

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interviews with leading industry names. “When I was producing my arts programme we used to get clips sent through on reel to reel tape and I just thought I could do them so much better. I sold the idea to various distributors that they shouldn’t just provide clips, they should also get people to do the interview,” explains Hilary. “People were coming over to do interviews on Parkinson or Michael Aspel’s show at the time, but radio seemed to be getting missed out.” The idea took off and in a short space of time Hilary had replaced the competition and found herself conducting interviews with a dizzying array of stars, including Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis, Dustin Hoffman, Pedro Almodóvar, Cher, Angelina Jolie, Danny Boyle, Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson. But her ambitions didn’t stop there. In 1994 she moved Cameo to London and built a studio to host ISDN interviews with luminaries directly to national and regional stations – including BBC Radio Ulster. The company also started hosting interviews from venues in the US and Europe for occasions when film junkets didn’t stop in London. “What I wanted to do was not only get the interviews with people but actually get them in to a studio in London, build it into their schedules, and then

we open the mic to do interviews with BBC Scotland or Northern Ireland or other regional broadcasters and commercial stations,” she says. Cameo is now the market leader in this field and a measure of its success can be seen in the fact that it continues to work with Sony, the distributor who gave Hilary her first break 24 years ago. Hilary also developed other strands to the business, including the media training arm of Cameo which she now heads. It helps train breaking or established talent who need a media refresher or need to be more “on message” about their film. Highlights include working on all the Harry Potter films and seeing the Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint “grow into fine young people”. She also chairs film launch press conferences, with recent examples including Ridley Scott’s film The Counsellor with Sir Ridley, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Michael Fassbender; Philomena with Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan; Labor Day with Kate Winslet; and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Kenneth Branagh and Keira Knightly. If that were not enough Hilary has also become a leading freelance critic in her own right, appearing on Radio 4’s arts programme and Radio 2. She is a member of the London Critics’ Circle and organised the committee’s annual


HOSPITALITY

awards event earlier this month. It is, I suggest, a long way from teaching at Ballyclare High. “I suppose it is, but I retain very strong links to Belfast,” she says. “I helped launch Queen’s University’s media week last April, talking to students about getting into the media, and I co-financed a three month internship for a QUB undergrad last summer. I’ve also got involved in the university’s mentoring programme to guide students into a career they want to break into.” She adds: “Because I came from background of education as a teacher and a mother I want to see young people get on so I try to offer help and support that way. It seemed like an obvious route to take.”

which was me, and one print. He was so courteous, and this was in the days when you got a half hour sit down with them, not just a couple of minutes. He was so gentlemanly and courteous. And he’s one of those guys who has put so much back into the industry with the Sundance Film Festival,” she gushes. “There have been lots of lovely people over the years. I love Julia Roberts as well, she’s really funny and feisty and outspoken. And she’s not too big to come forward to you when you walk into the room and hold her hand out and say, hello I’m Julia. I think that’s lovely, that she’s not too big to give her name at the start. She’s a pro. It’s something I tell people when they do media training, introduce yourself and stand up to meet people when they come into a room because it creates a good impression.”

Having long taken in American students working abroad as part of their degree, she is hopeful of taking on another intern from Queen’s this year. Of course, when speaking to students about her role, being able to drop in the big names gives Hilary a big advantage in holding their attention and inspiring them about what they can achieve. When I ask if she has any favourites, it prompts a long pause.

The day I catch up with Hilary she’s just finished organising a press briefing with one of Northern Ireland’s favourite sons, Kenneth Branagh, for his new movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. In one interview he gave, he talked about going to the old Capital Cinema in Belfast as a child, the same cinema she used to go to when she lived on the Antrim Road.

“It’s a hard question but I have to say that Robert Redford is just an absolute gent. He had very little time, he came in for A River Runs Through It. I think he did one television interview, one radio,

“I love meeting Kenneth Branagh,” she says. “He never forgets his roots and I was so delighted he got the knighthood. He has been such a great supporter of the arts generally.”

FEBRUARY 2014

Hilary Oliver and Gary Oldman at the 2014 London Critics Circle Film Awards.

While her work doesn’t bring her home too often, Hilary says she’s delighted to see the local film and television industry booming and major motion pictures and series now filming here. “It’s absolutely thrilling and if you get any of the producers to talk about it, they will tell you how good the craftsmanship is, how good the crews they can put together are, how friendly the people are. They talk about it very warmly. They come back saying it is a good work experience and that is great for Belfast.” 49


Connect, access & grow Join at www.corporateni.com or follow on @corporate_NI CORPORATE NI

Funding & Trade Credit Insurance By Nigel Birney, Trade Credit Brokers

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rade Credit Insurance is a straightforward, cost-effective and flexible way for local companies who are trading on credit payment terms either domestically within the UK and Ireland or in export markets, to protect themselves against the potentially fatal financial impact of suffering a bad debt.

The risks covered include, insolvency of their buyer during the credit period, a buyer’s inability to discharge their debt to the policyholder within the agreed contractual terms of payment (protected default) or non-payment of an export debt caused by an event covered under political risk. Companies using credit insurance can trade virtually riskfree with the peace of mind and confidence that should any of their buyers default on payment they themselves will not suffer financially. Trade Credit Insurance complements a company’s own in-house credit control function by not only protecting them against financial loss but by also providing the policyholder with ongoing market intelligence on the financial viability of their buyers together with peculiar trading risks in countries they maybe exporting to. There have been many innovations in the Trade Credit Insurance market in recent years which makes credit insurance a very viable and prudent risk-management tool for many local companies. One such innovation is the option that can be provided to exporters by UK Export Finance (UKEF). UKEF is the government department that works with companies to support UK Exports. They provide an insurance policy direct to exporters who can’t get what they need from the private market. UKEF have a particular interest in helping more SMEs and mid-sized companies from Northern Ireland to export. Further information can be found at www.corporateni/funding. 50

Member Watch David Crawford (Partner, Deloitte) David has been a Partner in Deloitte since 1999 and currently heads up the Audit and Advisory Practice in Deloitte Belfast. He has extensive experience having served in that market in the mainland UK and latterly Northern Ireland for 23 years. He has worked extensively with not for profit organisations and businesses in the technology and construction sector. David also has significant advisory expertise, with experience including reporting accountant and due diligence work, involving public company and private equity transactions, advising Audit Committees and Boards on Corporate Governance and internal controls. Neil Simms (FD, Clarendon Fund Managers) Neil Simms is Finance Director of, and an Investment Manager with, Clarendon Fund Managers Ltd having joined the company in 2002. Neil has a BSc (Hons) in Economics and Econometrics from Nottingham University and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, having trained and qualified with Ernst & Young in Belfast. Neil has either led or been heavily involved in negotiating and completing multiple investment rounds, and exits, in over twenty Northern Ireland based SMEs, across a broad range of sectors and he currently represents the Funds’ interests on the Board of four portfolio companies.


Risk Management & Security


RISK MANAGEMENT

Will 2014 be the year of encryption?

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ollywood has always loved a good conspiracy theory and there are a plethora of movies out there based around the premise that the government is watching your every move.

hefty sums in new and improved cyber security software and services?

While that seemed possible in an increasingly technological world, it also always felt a little bit ludicrous that anyone would bother to go to the trouble, save for tracking terrorists or exposing threats to national security.

Originally from Belfast and a former research engineer at Shorts, Dr Lowans now focuses on a range of security issues, including structured and unstructured data encryption, database audit and protection and public key infrastructure – looking primarily at enterprise and server-based storage. He says he’s never seen so many new encryption products coming on to the market.

But the revelations of US National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden about the sheer volume of often mundane private data his government was sifting through from everyday people (as well as the odd world leader supposed to be an ally) made many of the those paranoia-fuelled fantasies a reality. In response to Snowden’s stories, the global companies that provide many of the world’s internet-based services have gravitated towards one solution: encryption. The solution to surveillance is to “encrypt everything” said Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, while Microsoft said it would be putting “best in class” encryption into its core products. It has all come at a time when surveys are showing an increase in companies reporting data breaches. The question is what all this means for the average enterprise, or in Northern Ireland’s case, the average small or medium sized enterprise. Now this sort of data breach risk has been exposed do they need to be investing 52

Not necessarily, says Brian Lowans, Principal Research Analyst in Gartner’s Secure Business Enablement group.

“It is a fascinating market. A couple of years ago there were people selling encryption products but it was hard to know why clients would invest in the technology. When I first looked into encryption it was inherently clear that the market was driven by regulation and even when you looked at the regulations, they weren’t prescriptive, they were guidance at best,” he says. Generally, telecoms companies and internet service providers are obliged to inform national authorities about breaches of personal data. However, in many places, the individual users who had their data stolen did not have to be notified, if that data was encrypted. The main adopters of encryption technology have, perhaps unsurprisingly been among tier one vendors in the financial and payment card sectors, as well as those working with health data

in the US. Lowens says industry peer pressure had been driving adoption of the technology but he has seen this step up a gear in the past year, with more and more companies enquiring about what’s called Data Residency – ie where data is stored. It is becoming a complex issue for enterprises with an international footprint as having an office in a country or obtaining data from a country means they are subject to often very different privacy laws. Over 100 countries around the world have privacy laws that require legal protection of data and enterprises are increasingly realising that if data is encrypted they can show they had a viable means of protecting it. The Edward Snowden expose has also been an undoubted driver. “It is one element that is driving enterprises to use encryption. It highlighted what government security agencies have been doing for hundreds of years in terms of both protecting and cracking secure messaging. As far as enterprises are concerned, it just highlights the risk,” said Lowans. “Enterprises need to understand and look at the security of their data when they work internationally. The Snowden story just highlighted the risks of taking data, for example from Europe and storing it in a data centre in the US, it then becomes potentially accessible to the US government under the Patriot Act. They can go to the enterprise storing the data and say, we want to see it.”


Many countries have national access laws like the US Patriot Act and the UK’s RIPA Act that allow their governments to access data legally for reasons of national security, terrorism, drugs, tax, etc. There are also restrictions on the use and export of encryption to prevent, for example, information on military grade technology being distributed to certain countries. Gartner’s Lowans says that with all this in play, the people who are saying 2014 will be the year of encryption have, in many ways, missed the boat. “2013 was the year of encryption, that’s when we saw interest in data residency snowballing. Nothing new happened last year, but awareness has increased. Pressure on enterprises to protect their data from the regulatory side and the increased number of security events is driving it,” he said. And for the average Northern Ireland business, the main interest in encryption is likely to be driven by the increasing use of Cloud based services. “For almost any CIO there is strong board pressure to use the cloud for business operations, which is absolutely the right thing to do because businesses need to cut costs and be competitive. The only way to do that in future is to reduce your infrastructure costs and enterprises will rightly look at the cloud. But they need to have a data policy in place which looks at what sort of data they are putting on there, who has access to it, and what are the risks of that,” he said. “Once you start putting data in the cloud you turn the security model on its head. You’re putting it into third party storage who might not provide all the security controls you have in the enterprise.” Lowans says there has been a “dramatic” increase in the number of vendors – both existing and new – who are offering encryption products, FEBRUARY 2014

especially focused on the cloud. In cloud file share encryption alone – technology that allows enterprises to encrypt and protect data going into the likes of Dropbox and Googledrive – more than 20 new vendors backed by venture capitalists have emerged in the last 12 months with products. “The question for enterprises is to look at where the encryption technology is being used and where the encryption keys are being used and where they are being stored. Because if you allow the encryption key to be used or stored in the cloud then that increases the risk of breach to the data through potential access by an employee or third party,” he adds Within the security software industry there has been much discussion about the need for more complex algorithms and longer encryption code keys to make systems harder for hackers to crack. Lowans thinks this misses the point. “The length of the encryption key and the strength of the algorithm in many ways are a distraction from the real issue. Hackers go after the easiest route to make money. They go

after weak passwords to circumvent the security measures rather than trying to tackle the harder job of cracking cryptography,” he says. “A lot of sensitive data – credit card data, personal data – is stored in databases. So when hackers break into an enterprise system that’s what they want access to. The easiest way to do that is to go through weak management of access to data. They’ll go after usernames of administrators or highly privileged users. They’ll use phishing attacks to bypass or get access to passwords. Guest usernames and temporary users are prime targets, the same goes for users who have weak passwords and never change them,” he adds. “Enterprises realise that encrypting data can help prevent theft of data but it is only useful if they provide strong access control and preventative measures.” 53


RISK MANAGEMENT

Poor communications the greatest risk to reputation

By Alan Watson, Director, Smarts Communicate

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his January was the 25th anniversary of the Kegworth air crash and the media marked it by relating the harrowing and often heroic stories of some of the survivors of British Midland Flight 92 from London to Belfast. One aspect of the disaster not examined on the anniversary was how the airline handled its communications in the wake of the crash. The actions of the late Sir Michael Bishop, then British Midland’s boss, have long been cited as an example of a responsible, caring response to the tragedy. He went straight on to the media that night, recognising the terrible human consequences of the crash and taking responsibility for dealing with the immediate aftermath as well as for finding out exactly what went wrong. Subsequent analysis by crisis management experts concluded that how the tragedy was handled in the media led to the reputation of British Midland brand being enhanced and not diminished by the crash. I had the privilege on several occasions to meet Sir Michael and I’m sure corporate reputation was not at the front of his mind on that fateful night. He was acting in the only way he knew how – as a caring human being. That stands in contrast to so many other crises of our times where corporate bodies immediately become defensive, non-communicative and in thrall to the lawyers who advise them to say as little as possible in case they are sued somewhere down the road.

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Any company or brand can find itself in a crisis. They vary in intensity but experience tells us the consequences are worse if communications are badly handled. There are some simple rules that any organisation can follow. The first and most obvious is that you should plan for a crisis. Many companies have business continuity plans in case of disaster but they often neglect to plan how they will communicate to important audiences – ranging from the public and politicians to regulators and customers. All this affects brand reputation. Develop, test and keep your crisis communications plan up-to-date and if necessary consult experts in the field. A plan will enable you to react quickly – the next most important thing. Your responses during the first 24 hours are critical and with social media the response time is now counted in

minutes. You need to demonstrate concern, care and empathy. People are often emotional. They do not hear your rational arguments until you get past their emotions. Relatively minor issues can become real crises if the media are badly handled, so communicate with the media honestly, openly and often. Have a spokesperson with recent media-training who can handle questions and do interviews. Ensure you communicate directly with employees, customers, suppliers and all the interested stakeholders – don’t just rely on the media to do it for you. Speak to stakeholders directly and often – and ensure there is always someone who can answer their questions and concerns. And finally, when it’s over, evaluate how you did. What worked, what didn’t and what do you need to change. And then adjust that crisiscommunications plan accordingly.


RISK MANAGEMENT

Flooding: avoid that sinking feeling

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he recent storm surge caused by tidal changes brought the issue of flooding back into sharp focus for the UK and Northern Ireland. Early warning systems and ample preparation time meant government agencies were able to get flood defences in place in the most vulnerable areas, such as east Belfast, with

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households and businesses provided with sand bags and expert support. However, flood risk in Northern Ireland mostly comes from high intensity rainfall events which are much harder to predict and to defend against as the volume of rain overwhelms drains and flood defences. The Rivers Agency and Department of

Agriculture and Rural Development have identified 20 significant flood risk areas (SFRA) mostly located around major towns and 49 areas of the province which warrant further study. The 20 areas of high risk were chosen based on a risk assessment of where flood events happen as well as their impact on human life, economic activity, the environment and cultural activity. David Porter, Director of Development


RISK MANAGEMENT

at DARD, says many people don’t even know they are living or working in a high flood risk area, unless that area has recently been flooded. “The more people we can get to look at this the better. Flood risk information is freely available, you can go to the flood map produced by DARD online, as an individual, and very quickly find out if you’re at risk. That’s the first step,” he says. Thankfully, large scale floods don’t happen often in Northern Ireland, which means the minds of homeowners and business managers are occupied with other more immediate challenges. But, says Porter, if you know the risk you can take action. For a company that could be looking at whether they can change how they do business, for example is there a way to move or relocate equipment that could get damaged in a flood. “The key space is obviously the ground floor when it comes to flooding but you often find that is where computer servers are located and electrical supply will often come into a premises in the basement. So there are simple things you can look at changing FEBRUARY 2014

before an event happens,” he says. If the building itself is at risk Porter advises companies and individual homeowners to look at whether there is a local government plan or community scheme that can offer help, as was the case in Connswater in east Belfast, which mobilised people to reinforce flood defences against the tidal surge. The next step is to take appropriate action themselves.

“You can go to the flood map produced by DARD online, as an individual, and very quickly find out if you’re at risk.” “They need to ask what can I do myself, can I change vulnerable bits of the business? Can I do something to the building to make it more resilient, for example putting flood guards across the doors for temporary protection of the property,” he adds. “If those measures draw a blank,

how much warning can I get. If I see water rising how much time have I got to move stock out of harm’s way and minimise the impact.” The big risk centres around summer storms and what Porter calls “convective rain” – localised thunder clouds arriving over a short time span which can overwhelm draining systems. There are, he admits, shortcomings in the ability to predict such storms, which don’t appear much in advance on weather models in the same way as frontal rain driven by areas of low pressure. But Porter says the Northern Ireland Planning Service deserves credit for the way its approach to land use minimises flood risk. Its PPS15 regulation prevents building on areas prone to flooding. “That has put us in a good position,” says Porter. “There are very few recent developments that flood, which is very different to the situation in England. With climate change meaning there is likely to be more flooding in low lying areas, tidal risks and the ongoing risk of surface water avoiding those risks is the best plan. It makes sense not to toy with nature.” 57


RISK MANAGEMENT

Global attack, local consequences

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ould it surprise you to know that one in three Britons has been a victim of online fraud or personally knows someone who has – and that virtually every company trading online in this country has encountered the problem to some degree or other. To date, most individuals’ and companies’ experience of fraud has been relatively small-scale and painlessly resolved. There are good reasons for believing, however, that this could soon change – and that companies who fail to take this on board could end up paying a heavy price. The Internet plays a growing role in all of our lives. Most businesses today have some form of relationship with their clients online. For many, this relationship brings them into contact with sensitive personal or financial customer data. Tougher rules Tougher legislation from the EU is on its way. Companies that experience a breach will incur the cost of investigations, possible fines and potentially payments for compensation. Also investigations also tend to lead to significant brand and reputational issues. In the United States, where class actions are easier to bring and are expensive, the threat of litigation is a real problem. One conservative U.S. estimate put the cost of handling the aftermath of a customer data breach at $215 per customer. 60

“Ultimately, managing the ‘people risk’ is every bit as important as managing the technology aspect. No system is more secure than the people you trust to operate it.” repuTaTional damage The bigger issue, though, is customers voting with their feet – or more accurately with their mouse clicks. The reputational damage following a data leak can severely damage any business, with formerly loyal customers departing en masse. For precisely this reason, more are looking to specialist risk management and insurance products to protect their businesses against the potentially ruinous costs of data breaches.

sorTing risk managemenT No organisation transacting business online today – or indeed accepting card payments in any form – can afford to ignore the risks posed by customer data breaches. Basic risk management tasks here include strictly defining who has access to sensitive customer records, and how. Where does such data sit within the company’s IT system, and how is it protected? Otherwise secure systems can be compromised by the transfer of data to unencrypted laptops, datasticks or other external devices. Every link in the security chain needs careful attention. But, ultimately, managing the ‘people risk’ is every bit as important as managing the technology aspect. No system is more secure than the people you trust to operate it. Cyber insuranCe At Lockton we specialise in the design, placement and management of technology, media, telecom and cyber risk insurance. We work closely with client companies to help them understand and contain their exposure to online fraud, data breaches and other forms of cyber risk. We create tailored programmes to protect against the direct costs of business interruption and additional expense associated with a data breach or system outage – as well as integrated programmes covering cyber risks along with other technology and professional liability risks. For more information on Cyber Insurance contact: Gary Ennis Lockton Companies LLP gary.ennis@uk.lockton.com


New look offices for Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Alastair Rankin (centre), Chairman of Cleaver Fulton Rankin, with Gordon McDougall and Heather McHenry from Cunningham Coates.

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elfast-based law firm, Cleaver Fulton Rankin has created an important new addition to the street scape of Belfast City Centre through the expansion of its prominent Bedford Street offices. The expansion down to the ground floor of their existing premises features new meeting rooms and a business centre for the use of the firm’s clients. As well as meeting the needs of their growing business, the new building has enhanced the streetscape of the Linen Conservation Area. Karen Blair, Managing Director of Cleaver Fulton Rankin, said: “Our new offices are a statement of intent. We believe that it’s important to have a modern business frontage and a working environment that complements the high quality of work that we do. We’ve got a dynamic team of almost 100 employees, that blends youth with experience, and we wanted our new premises to reflect that. Now that there are more signs of economic optimism, we want to be positioned to provide our expert advice to even more businesses and individuals.” Founded in 1893, Cleaver Fulton Rankin is one of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious law firms. The firm offers legal services for both commercial and private clients, as well as providing local representation for national and international firms. Cleaver Fulton Rankin also acts in Northern Ireland on behalf of legal firms from London, Dublin and Edinburgh.

Karen Blair (centre), Managing Director, Cleaver Fulton Rankin with James Hagan, Hagan Homes and Gerry O’Connor, Gerry O’Connor Estate Agents Ltd.

Jonathan Forrester (centre), Director, Cleaver Fulton Rankin, with Ellen Matthews and Oonagh Murtagh from Danske Bank.

Karen Blair concluded: “We are looking to the future with great optimism and I and the Directors are confident that our investment will give us strong foundations for future growth, both in terms of expanding our business and growing our employees.” The company celebrated its office expansion with a series of launch events in January, welcoming clients and other friends of the company to view the smart new interior.

Kathryn Collie (centre), Director, Cleaver Fulton Rankin with Peter Cardwell and Jason Thompson both from PwC.


Back to the future

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s the year begins we often look forward to the technological advances that might change the fortunes of clinical practice, the economy and society. The media provides comment on the accuracy of predictions of writers and scientists in years past, and invariably there will be a comparison with the world of 2014 as it has been presented in popular culture.

who replied ‘I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.’

of MATRIX, working with scientists and business people in Northern Ireland to explore the opportunities that advances in technology will present for our local economy.

This year, Albert Einstein and Arthur C Clarke provided many column inches for their predictions from 50 years ago of a world of mobile computing, aggregated mass personal information, the emergence of China as a global technological hub, and advances in cancer diagnostics and treatment. This was contrasted with the world of hoverboarding teenagers presented in Back to the Future Part II, a film which is set in 2015.

Whilst such annual articles and debates provide much entertainment, they are also extremely important. For those of us engaged in bringing new innovations to market, it will most often be true that the consumer that you are trying to satisfy doesn’t yet exist. This might appear to be a strange statement, but during the time you have taken to design, develop and introduce a new product the world will have changed and so will the behaviours and preferences of your customer. To ensure commercial success we must therefore look to the future in our innovation endeavours, seeking clues from market research, the changes in society and the performance of our competitors.

MATRIX aims to provide knowledge of the market opportunities that may exist at the intersection between new technologies and indigenous industrial capability. The work of MATRIX is a vital reference point for both companies seeking to develop new business opportunities and academics that wish to align their research outcomes to the future needs of the economy.

Amongst the commentary on technological predictions was a posting on AskReddit that asked ‘if someone from the 1950s suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them and why?’ The highest rated of the many thousands of comments was one from a user named ‘nuseramed’,

I was fortunate to spend an early part of my career working with organisations in Northern Ireland and across Europe engaged in a technology foresighting programme to determine the technologies that might change business in the first two decades of the 21st century. Today, it is an honour to have membership

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The more people that engage in MATRIX’s work, the more perspectives and data can be collated, and thus the more insightful its findings will be, and I encourage each reader to explore how they might benefit from the technology foresighting process. A best first starting point is via the website www.MATRIX-NI.org which collects the team’s reports and provides information on how you might get involved. Timothy Brundle is Director of Innovation at the University of Ulster and a member of MATRIX, Northern Ireland’s science and technology advisory panel.


Flags, firebombs & flashbacks

Mergers & Acquisitions


MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Will Andor sale herald more M&A activity? 2013 was a bumper year for mergers and acquisitions in Northern Ireland and most of the leading players in the sector expect that upward trajectory to continue this year.

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he completion of the sale of scientific camera manufacturer Andor Technologies last month for £176m represented a strong start to the year for M&A activity in Northern Ireland. The acquisition by Oxford Instruments had been on the cards for several months and after being rubber stamped in January it means one of Northern Ireland’s most lauded home grown technology businesses is now owned by a GB-based parent. Andor was an attractive proposition in that it has a leading position in a specialist market, a strong record of product development, international sales and good management in place, all information widely available as it was also stock market listed. But while many local companies are not at Andor’s level yet, Colin Walsh, former chair of Andor and CEO of venture capital fund Crescent Capital, believes there are other potential “There are some very good firms lurking out there who are probably worth more than you think,” he said. “I don’t expect another deal like Andor to happen tomorrow or next week, but they are coming.” Data would seem to back that up. Experian recently reported a total of

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78 transactions recorded in Northern Ireland over 2013, the highest number in the last ten years, with 30 closing in the fourth quarter alone, indicating the market is in an upward cycle. And while overall transaction value is still some way short of the 2004 peak of £4.1bn, it reached £1.6bn during the year, up by 31.2% on the previous 12 month period.

“When accountants start moving people out of insolvency and into corporate finance that will be a sure sign of confidence.” Charlie Kerlin from Grant Thornton’s corporate finance team believes the activity is in part down to greater confidence in the local market. Recent deals his firm have been involved in include the purchase of Crucial Sauces by SHS Group and the purchase of Duncrue Food Processors by Fane Valley Group. “The market upturn is set against the context of an improving economic position in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and in the rest of the UK. Increased confidence in the

underlying economy has converted opportunities that had been on the stock for a period of time,” he said. “Shareholders are actively considering how best their businesses can grow in the next few years and whether this is best under their ownership. Indeed, many would have expected to have already exited but circumstances haven’t allowed this,” added Kerlin. “It is envisaged that the trend for local businesses to refocus on growth oriented strategies, with acquisitions back on the agenda, will translate into further M&A deals in 2014.” It is a view shared by Barry-John Kelly from BDO, which ranked as the busiest financial advisory firm in Experian’s 2013 rankings. “We see more activity, more projects requiring corporate finance, more companies raising development finance and more M&A this year,” he said. “We’re advising large family owned corporates in Northern Ireland who are well resourced and are looking to grow but are running into restrictions locally so they are looking at GB and the scale of the market opportunity there.” According to Experian there were three large (£100m plus) deals here during the year, worth £1.2bn (up 21%),


MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Camera maker Andor Technology, which was acquired last month, has long been viewed as one of NI’s most innovative companies.

nine mid-market (£10m-£100m) transactions worth £379m and 17 small deals (£500,000-£10m) – the highest number of transactions since 2004 and worth a combined £72.1m. The region contributed 1.59% of all UK transaction volume in 2013, up from 1.11% in 2012. The Experian data showed that in 2013 the manufacturing industry was involved in 35 recorded deals, followed by wholesale, retail and repair with 20 and computer activities or IT with 16. Those remain the most likely sectors for activity in 2014, with most commentators tipping IT, engineering, agri-food, renewables and possibly construction to be busy. Some analysts also expect a further pick up in transactions in the property sector, which, while still subdued may see more businesses FEBRUARY 2014

and individuals keen to move on from the hangover of the property crash.

a steadier stream of enquiries and transactions with higher values.

VALUATIONS BDO’s Kelly says his firm is seeing activity in sectors like agri-food and technology, noting sales are happening right across the scale, from startup level through to the likes of the Andor exit. He puts that in part down to a “normalising of valuations”.

“It doesn’t compare to what’s going on in Dublin, but there has been an improvement,” he says. “Multiples are improving to a level where maybe it is time to sell. But it is still at a level where buyers can see value. If economies are growing it is easier to bridge the gap of buyer and seller expectations.”

“The gap has gradually closed in terms of vendor expectations and what purchasers are prepared to pay. So I’d anticipate seeing some more vendors coming to the market who may have postponed their plans for exit over the past number of years. That is both to do with valuations and the perceived credit worthiness of potential purchasers,” he said.

However, Coulter says in Northern Ireland it is harder to get a true sense of what’s happening, because there are a lot of private, family-owned businesses and deals can fly under the radar in a way they couldn’t in London or Dublin. What is clear is that there is both investment coming in and Northern Ireland companies buying outside their home market, he adds.

Ian Coulter, managing partner of Tughans Solicitors in Belfast, says since September his firm has seen

“There is definitely interest from funds in North America which have extensive cash reserves. Northern › 65


MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Ireland has always done well in spaces like technology and agri-food with those investors. There is also a real keen interest in Northern Ireland companies with scale from UK-based funds. It is as strong as ever,” he says. FUNDING John-George Willis, Corporate partner at Tughans Solicitors, says the pick-up in activity after the summer, can partly be attributed to companies seeing good deals out there in the current low interest rate environment. At present most deals are self-financing, but he sees a shift in the market. “Funding is still dominated by the cash that is sitting on companies’ balance sheets. We’re acting for a large US business that has funded an acquisition of a Northern Ireland company using its own money. Smaller companies are also using their own resources with minimal bank debt,” he said. “But we’re slowly seeing the banks picking up the funding

EXPERIAN’S TOP 10 DEALS IN 2013

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requirements again, particularly for larger transactions where there is scale. It is still a lot less than it was in the past, but it is coming again.” Grant Thornton’s Kerlin agrees that the banking environment remains challenging but is improving. “The availability of transactional funding remains a key cog in determining the growth in the M&A market. Historically deals have been made by companies with cash on their balance sheets. The state of the debt market has been manifest in the number of deals done by Whiterock Capital in the last year. Clearly there is a market for lending in the market especially for development finance,” he says. “Private equity remains with a lot of firepower but there still has not been the level of deals that would be expected. YFM’s investment into Seven Technologies in 2012

has shown benefit in that in 2013 that business made the strategic acquisition of Datong plc,” he added. Tughans’ Willis also believes the suite of Invest NI funds that have been put in place over the last 18 months should help the market keep moving in the right direction. He too notes that the Whiterock-managed Growth Loan Fund has done extensive mezzanine finance business in its first year, while the £30m venture capital funds operated by Crescent Capital and Kernel Capital are also now up and running and making investments. But he says those in the M&A market will look for other indicators before they get too carried away. “When the large accountancy firms start moving people out of insolvency and into corporate finance that will be a sure sign of confidence,” he adds. “We’re still a little way from that, but it is improving.”


BDO - MOst active M&a aDviser 2013* HiLDeN Advised Molly Wind on its fundraising to develop a 15MW wind farm

Advised Hilden Properties ÂŁ28.8m sale to British Land Plc

Advised Clearway Group on its acquisition of EMRL

Advised FP McCann on the acquisition of Weston Underwood Precast Concrete from Tarmac Building Products

JAR Advised Jar (Ire) Ltd on the acquisition of CHA Properties

Advised FP McCann on the acquisition of Charcon Specialist Products from Aggregate Industries

Advised Eakin Group on the acquisition of Labont Limited

Advised Balcas on its private equity fundraising from Equitix and Green Investment Bank

Advised bhsf Group on its acquisition of Occupational Health Consultants

Advised banah UK on its ÂŁ5m equity finance raising

Advised FP McCann on the acquisition of the precast concrete division of Eleco PLC

At BDO Northern Ireland, our Corporate Finance team is dedicated to helping businesses grow. Our aim is to maximise shareholder value by providing specialist advice on acquisitions, disposals and finance raising. Our Corporate Finance services include: - Mergers, Acquisitions & Disposals - Management Buy-Outs/Management Buy-Ins - Finance Raising & Refinancing - Due Diligence

- AIM Reporting Accountants - Business Valuations - Business and Strategic Planning Advice - Deal Origination

For further information please contact: Francis Martin, Shane Hall or Barry-John Kelly on 028 9043 9009. www.bdoni.com * Source: Experian Corpfin Northern Ireland Deal Review and Advisor League Tables 2013

BDO Northern Ireland is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to conduct investment business.


MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Davy acquires Square Seven in Belfast

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avy Private Clients (NI), the Northern Irelandbased wealth management and financial planning firm has agreed to acquire Square Seven Financial Planning. Established in 2005, Square Seven is a leading provider of independent financial advisory services in Northern Ireland advising private, corporate, trust and pension clients. Its two founding directors David Rea and Sam Curry have over 50 years of combined financial and investment experience and will join Davy’s existing Belfast-based private client team upon completion of the acquisition. Davy Private Clients, part of J&E Davy, opened its Northern Ireland office in Donegall Square, Belfast, in 2007 and has an existing team of ten professionals servicing the investment and financial planning needs of clients in Ulster. While the Square Seven deal is Davy’s first acquisition in Northern Ireland, it is Davy’s fourth acquisition in under two years following the

Seven Square’s Sam Curry and David Rea with Davy’s Stephen Felley.

purchases of the private client and asset management businesses of Bloxham Stockbrokers in May 2012, Prescient Investment Managers (Ireland) in November 2013, and investment consultancy iCubed in January 2014.

acquisition of Square Seven firmly establish Davy as a major player in Northern Ireland’s evolving financial services marketplace. During 2013 Davy Private Clients (NI) grew its assets under management by over 20%.”

Stephen Felle, Managing Director of Davy Private Clients (NI) said: “Davy has experienced strong growth from our Northern Ireland business, particularly over the past two years. Senior appointments at our Belfast office, together with the

“Northern Ireland is a material part of Davy’s overall private client business, and we see it as an area of key strategic growth in the coming years. We will continue to review further potential acquisitions in Northern Ireland such as that offered by Square Seven.”

Powerteam joins the VINCI Group

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owerteam, Northern Ireland’s largest high voltage (HV) electrical design and build company, has joined the global VINCI Energies Group of Companies following its recent acquisition by VINCI Energies UK plc. The company, which specialises in the construction and refurbishment of electrical substations and overhead lines, did not disclose the value of the deal.

VINCI Energies, which generates a turnover of over €9bn a year, is a leading player in global electrical energy and infrastructure technology services with 64,000 employees operating from over 1500 business units in 45 countries. 68

five years, growing turnover to in excess of £55m, and we are delighted to be joining a global company of such stature.

Powerteam’s Alastair Dawson with VINCI Group’s Rochdi Ziyat.

Alastair Dawson, Managing Director, Powerteam, said: “This is excellent news for Powerteam and a very positive move for the future outlook of the company. Powerteam’s management team and staff have worked hard over the last

“With the backing of VINCI Energies it means that we can further develop our relationships with current clients like SSE, Northern Powergrid, Electricity North West, ESB and various wind farm developers and work towards future expansion plans under the Powerteam and VINCI Energies brands.” Powerteam has offices in Perth, Basingstoke, Manchester and Belfast and directly employs in excess of 200 staff and 150 sub-contracted workers to service its growing portfolio of clients across the UK and Ireland.


MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

How is M&A being funded in 2014? For the third year running, corporate law firm A&L Goodbody has been ranked by Experian Corpfin as the ‘Most Active Legal Adviser’ in the local M&A market. Partners Ciaran McAlinney, Peter Stafford and Mark Thompson reflect on the level of M&A activity across the past year and how these deals have been structured and funded.

CMcA: In the last year we’ve noticed that the banks have been much more active in the local market place for the deals where due diligence, financials, sectors and promoters fit, and are funding the right sort of deals from their perspective. Terms and structures are perhaps different than they were a few years ago, with typically a greater proportion of equity introduced alongside the debt piece and a broader range of investors and quasi debt players, particularly at the mezzanine level, on larger deals. PS: That trend reflects in our deal book for the past year. We advised on around 50 deals in 2013 – ranging from a swathe of smaller local deals where we saw a lot of the local venture capital funds and the Growth Loan Fund being involved, right up to larger international transactions such as the sale of Phoenix Natural Gas and Belfast International Airport – and we saw a much greater involvement of private equity than in previous years. We also saw a higher level of US funding – those entities are seeing value in the Irish market, north and south. CMcA: That’s right – some of the more innovative forms of finance and equity structures are coming to the fore, such as angel investment, mezzanine finance and the Enterprise Investment Scheme [EIS] funding. FEBRUARY 2014

Peter Stafford, Mark Thompson and Ciaran McAlinney

MT: This availability and choice of alternative sources of finance – coupled with improving economic conditions and increasing level of business confidence in Northern Ireland – means there is now an appetite for activity that hasn’t been here since pre-recessionary times. This is manifesting not only in terms of interest from local management teams, but also internationally. Now that we are coming out of recession we are seeing more speculative opportunities for M&A activity. Local companies that have weathered the recession well and have some cash sitting on the balance sheet are beginning to invest again. PS: As we move on from recession we would expect to see opportunities for asset sales on the back of distressed work and I think this will impact on

the nature of M&A activity in coming months. I would also expect some consolidation in the services sector. We are currently working with Northern Ireland based companies who are seriously looking at stock market listings and I would predict that we are going to see local activity in that space in the next few years as well. MT: With economic indicators suggesting that we have turned a corner in Northern Ireland, I think we can be confident that 2014 will be an opportunity-led market. M&A activity is ramping up and the banks and funds will continue to engage in the right deals. Whilst our pipeline for deals in Q1 of 2014 is mainly local, I think we will see a good mix of local activity and larger international deals, including a couple of landmark deals in the coming months. 69


HOSPITALITY

Get some ‘me time’ at the Killyhevlin

By Sonia Armstrong

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013’s G8 summit certainly put Enniskillen on the worldwide map, but it was also a reminder of how lucky we are in Northern Ireland to have such a gem on our doorstep. So when I had the opportunity to visit the area again and stay at the award winning 4-star Killyhevlin hotel I had

no hesitation in accepting. It was the perfect time to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and take the family away for some well needed time out.

appeal is the lure of its spa – particularly as outdoor activities cannot always be guaranteed with the temperamental weather in Co. Fermanagh.

The hotel is idyllically set on the shores of the scenic Lough Erne and instantly offers the relaxed surroundings required for an ‘escape to the country’ weekend. However, for me, the other half of its

On arrival we were welcomed and shown to a very spacious family room, with two double beds and a sofa bed, and a roomy bathroom with double sink – perfect to keep the kids from fighting over sink space. In room facilities and supplied extras ticked all the boxes – from the ironing board, bottles of water, bath robes and slippers and a bathroom with more than enough toiletries to cover the stay, as well as a surprisingly good hair dryer! The kids were particularly excited by the Killyhevlin teddies left on their beds – a lovely touch. Needless to say with an excited four-year-old and seven-year-old the first stop was the pool and the prospect of tiring them out (so we could enjoy a more ‘relaxed’ dinner time) made it the natural choice. It is only a short walk from the room to the health club and we spent the

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next hour enjoying the experience of the various pool areas, including the Jacuzzi, hot tub and kids’ pool area. Staff were very helpful and changing room facilities were in keeping with most spas of this standard. I was also fortunate enough to get some ‘me’ time and avail of the recently refurbished Elemis spa. The spa manager was able to tailor a treatment to me based on my own preferences using the best Elemis products, as well as taking into account my skin type, lifestyle etc. Her level of expertise was apparent even before the treatment started and the treatment itself confirmed that this was not only a 4-star but a 5-star experience. I snapped up a relaxing full body deep tissue massage which I have to admit was one of the best I have ever had – from the pressure used to the ability to relieve those stress knots in the muscles whilst still maintaining a level of relaxation. A truly enjoyable experience and I would definitely recommend squeezing in an appointment on any stay to fully appreciate all that the hotel offers. As we were on a dinner and B&B stay we decided to dine in the Silks Restaurant, which offers diners an extensive a la carte and children’s menu with a good quality wine selection. There is also the more casual Boathouse Grill, where bar food, carvery lunch and snacks are served daily. The menu covered all choices from meat dishes to vegetarian options. My husband and I opted for chicken and steak main courses. Despite the more than adequate portions, I did manage the three courses (as I rarely miss a dessert) finishing with a delightful white chocolate and strawberry truffle and half of my husband’s sticky toffee pudding. I was on holiday after all! In summary, the hotel offered exactly what the doctor had ordered, a comfortable stay, good food, a great spa experience and a perfect family getaway. The only negative was that it wasn’t long enough. To book your next escape, call the Killyhevlin today quoting ‘Ulster Business’ on +44 (0)28 6632 3481. FEBRUARY 2014

Reader Offer

Book a two night escape and receive a complimentary Lakeview Upgrade worth £50 (based on a two night stay). Please quote ‘Ulster Business’ when contacting the hotel. Valid up to 30th June 2014, subject to availability, terms and conditions apply.

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CREATIVE SECTOR

Leading actors set sail for Driftwood Bay

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he new animated show from Belfast-based Sixteen South will feature an A-list cast including Stephen Fry, Peter Mullan and Ardal O’Hanlon.

recently seen in The Hobbit; Peter Mullan, who has appeared in the Harry Potter movies and award winning films such as Tyrannosaur; Jane Horrocks, star of Little Voice and Absolutely Fabulous; Father Ted’s Ardal O’Hanlon; Tameka Empson from EastEnders; Annette Crosbie of One Foot in the Grave; and Richard Dormer, who starred as Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations and has appeared in Game of Thrones.

Set for transmission on Nick Jr. in May, Driftwood Bay is a pre-school animation series about a little girl who creates an imaginary world from treasures she finds washed up on the beach. Peter Mullan

Sixteen South’s creative director Colin Williams is delighted to have attracted the cast to breathe life into the characters of his new pre-school series. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine attracting a cast of this magnitude to Driftwood Bay,” he said. “These incredibly talented people have taken our characters off the page and made them come alive in the most wonderful, creative way.”

It is the first foray into animation for television production company Sixteen South, which has created and produced four award winning children’s series including Sesame Tree, Big City Park, Big & Small and Pajanimals, all for major networks. The company has pre-sold Driftwood Bay to over 20 territories including the US, UK, Scandinavia and Australia. Lending their voices to the new series are Stephen Fry, star of TV’s QI and 72

Stephen Fry

Actor Peter Mullan, who is best known


CREATIVE SECTOR

for starring in gritty, hard-hitting television series and films, added: “Any actor would give his right arm to be doing a series like Driftwood Bay. It’s sweet, innovative, funny and gentle with a good heart and a great sense of collective responsibility. I’ve never done any voice work on animation so I thought this was a nice chance to do something that my children can actually see me in for a change!”

And now for Part Two

A unique series about making fun and adventure from things that you find, Driftwood Bay was created by Sixteen South, based on an original idea from artist Joanne Carmichael, and featuring characters and environments completely created from objects found washed up on the beach. Lily (voiced by Orlagh O’Keefe from Belfast) is a five year old who lives in a beach hut on the shore with her Dad (Dormer). Every day, the sea washes up a curious new treasure, which sparks Lily’s imagination about what might be happening ‘across the way on Driftwood Bay’. And so, with her best friend Gull – the clever seagull (Paul Currie), an adventure begins as they head off to Driftwood Bay – and its cast of colourful inhabitants. They include Salty Dog (Mullan), a jolly seafaring sailor with a story for every occasion; Nonna Dog (Crosbie), a sage granny who runs Cockle Café and who’s always ready with some advice and a biscuit; Hatsie Hen (Empson), a traindriving hen with a need for speed and a love of excitement; Bull (O’Hanlon), a boisterous bull who always charges head first into things; Wee Rabbit (Horrocks), a gentle young bunny with a love of art, fairy tales and rainbows; and Lord Stag (Fry) an aristocratic deer with a taste for the finer things in life. The series is set to air in May on Nick Jr. and will also air on RTE in Ireland, Sprout in US, ABC Australia, Kika in Germany, MTV in Finland, NRK in Norway, SVT in Sweden, and HOP! in Israel later this year. Broadcasters in Australia and the US are keeping the original voices to the series. FEBRUARY 2014

Ian Bennington

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ne of the province’s best-known marketing and branding experts has launched a new design consultancy. Ian Bennington, who for 31 years was the public face and Managing Director of Belfast-based Triplicate, has opened Part Two Design. The business, created following the demerger of Triplicate which was widely regarded as one of Ireland’s top design consultancies, is based in the stunning Meter House in the former Ormeau Gas Works site in Belfast. During a professional career spanning three decades, Bennington has lectured on branding, design and marketing for a host of organisations including IDB, LEDU, ORTUS, Invest NI and InterTrade Ireland. He acts as a mentor to start-ups and fledgling businesses for Business in the Community (BITC) and The Prince’s Trust as well as offering pro-bono consultancy for BITC through its Pro-Help scheme. He sees Part Two as an opportunity to embrace change: “I have a passion for elevating design within businesses and get huge personal satisfaction from seeing profitable growth created in client companies by the power of excellent design and intelligent marketing. Part Two represents a fresh start for my trusted team which has a proven track record for brand creation, compelling design and the provision of strategic marketing advice which enables businesses to punch above their weight in existing and new markets”. “We’re delighted to have secured the Meter House as our base as it’s an historically significant studio with real aesthetic appeal and is an inspiring location for our highly creative consultancy.” Bennington’s multi-skilled team includes fellow Triplicate founder partner, Catherine Hume as well as five other former colleagues from the demerged agency.

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PROPERTY

CBRE forecasts rise in NI office rents… of new office developments planned which will ease the shortage of Grade A office accommodation in Belfast, it will be some time before they come on stream, pushing rents upwards. It said this anticipated rental growth will in turn boost demand for office investment properties in core locations.

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Other trends CBRE expects in 2014 include an increased focus on office refurbishment projects, a rise in the number of new restaurant and coffee shop openings, more development land to be traded, and more non-discount retailers entering the NI market.

That was one of the forecasts made by commercial property consultants CBRE in their annual outlook on the market. CBRE said that while there are a number

CBRE also said demand for prime investments in the key population centres is expected to continue to emanate from UK institutional buyers, with local buyers likely active outside of Belfast too.

ncreased demand for new office space in Northern Ireland could see office rents rise by 20% to reach £15 per square foot by the end of this year.

Brian Lavery, Managing Director at CBRE Northern Ireland said: “Last year marked a major turning point for the commercial property market in Northern Ireland with the first tentative signs of recovery emerging in the second half of the year. The most notable trend was an increase in activity in the investment sector as the process of deleveraging kicked off in Northern Ireland in the last six months of 2013. There was strong demand from both institutional and local buyers for the assets that came available for sale. Activity in the occupier sectors across the region was more muted however. 2014 is shaping up to be a busier year for the commercial property market in Northern Ireland, fuelled to a large extent by improving economic indicators and by some improvement in the availability of debt funding.”

… while Savills tips investment increase

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nvestment property transactions in Northern Ireland are likely to exceed £200m in 2014 due to an increase in investor demand, according to Savills Northern Ireland. In its annual market report, the property consultants said that the level of stock that came to the market in 2013 increased significantly, which led to a transactional level in the region of £175m – more than the combined total of transactions since the start of the downturn. Ben Turtle, (pictured) Director of Investments at Savills Northern Ireland said, “2013 marked a new beginning in the Northern Irish investment market. The increase in business and consumer confidence led to a wide variety of new purchasers entering the market and we expect this momentum to continue in 2014. We are already aware of £100m of stock scheduled to come to market in the first half of

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the year and with economic conditions improving, we predict that transactional activity will increase this year with volumes exceeding £200m.” In the office market, Savills said a shortage of prime office space in Belfast in conjunction with a limited growth in achievable rental values, has stalled the development of new stock. Recent proposals for the development of new office space in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and City Quay are unlikely to be completed in the short-term, which it said may result in firms seeking alternative space in other UK cities or in Dublin. Neal Morrison, Director at Savills Northern Ireland said: “The inability to service the current demand poses a real threat to economic growth as the potential to attract foreign direct investment is debilitated by the lack of available stock.” According to Savills, the stability in the residential sector has contributed to a

renewed confidence in the residential land sales market with a number of high profile transactions in 2013. The property consultants report that an increase in demand and lack of quality stock in prime locations has resulted in an upward pressure on values. However, there remains a limited appetite from financial institutions to fund speculative development opportunities with the majority of acquisitions being cash funded.


Flags, firebombs & flashbacks

Executive Motoring

By Pat Burns

Sponsored by


EXECUTIVE MOTORING

2013 – a good news story

Picasso receives a touch-up

As we have grown so have the services and savings we can offer you 2013 was a very successful year at Fleet Financial across all elements of our business. Increased activity levels with our existing customers coupled with growth in our new conquest customers has enabled us to grow our new vehicle contracts year on year by 28%. We also enjoyed increased demand with trade remarketing, retail used vehicle sales and short term hire.

We have established a sector leading group of finance providers for our customers: Thus providing you with additional credit lines for your business at market leading finance rates. Last year saw recruitment in three areas of our business – Sales, Credit Control & Business Support. We now have the team to take the business forward through our growth strategy for the next three to five years. In addition we are developing a sales team in GB to increase our market share and develop the Fleet Financial brand with our parent company Lookers plc.

We would like to say a big thank you to all our customers for your continued support and new business throughout 2013 as it has enabled us to deliver this great news story.

Reasons why you should choose Fleet Financial • The back bone of our company are businesses like yours. • We are one of the longest established companies in our field. • We specialise solely in supplying and maintaining vehicles to the business sector. • We are highly motivated to deliver the vehicle solutions our customers need. • We provide all makes and models of cars and LCV’s. • We recently recorded a 28% increase on year on year sales. • We are a top 50 UK leasing company. • We strive continually to improve the customer experience. • With a Fleet size close to 4,000 managed vehicles on the road means that we have discount levels and finance rates which other companies are unable to obtain. See how we can help your business succeed. For your next business vehicle, call us on

T: 028 9084 9777 W: www.fleetfinancial.co.uk E: sales@fleetfinancial.co.uk

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C

itroën’s ever-popular supermini MPV, the C3 Picasso, has been upgraded and restyled. The award-winning model has been updated with new design features, fresh body colours and additional optional technology. The newly restyled C3 Picasso is priced from £12,995. New exterior styling features include a revised front bumper and the latest Citroën chevrons on all versions; together with the addition of LED daytime running lights for a fresh new look on VTR+ and Exclusive models. Two striking new body colours are also introduced; Ink Blue and Pearlescent White. Inside, the flexible, airy and spacious cabin is updated with a sophisticated new trim called Mistral ‘Mixou’ cloth, which is specified as standard on all VTR+ models. There’s also the option of a new ‘Claudia Mistral’ full black leather upholstery on Exclusive models. Citroën’s new eMyWay satellite navigation system is added to the option list, with extra functionality over the previous MyWay system, but at no extra cost. eMyWay can also be specified with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors for easier manoeuvres. An electro-chrome rear view mirror is now included in C3 Picasso’s Automatic Pack option at no extra charge and the new-look C3 Picasso comes with new 15inch ‘Asterodea’ wheel covers as standard on VT versions. Citroën has also uprated the power output of the HDi 110 engine on the C3 Picasso Exclusive, renaming it HDi 115. The slight increase in power from 82PS to 84PS has no effect on the model’s fuel economy or CO2 emissions which remain the same as before.


Let’s put a better deal together

The right package for your business costs less at Fleet Financial. For a better deal call us today on T: 02890 849777 W: www.fleetfinancial.co.uk E: sales@fleetfinancial.co.uk


EXECUTIVE MOTORING

E for Excellent

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ercedes’ evergreen E Class range has been completely revised. The new line-up consists of SE and AMG Sport, replacing the SE, Avantgarde and Sport models from the previous generation E-Class. The new range features a contemporary front-end design, as well as new proportions for a sporty appearance. The front has been completely revised with new headlamps, which comprise all functional elements with a single headlamp lens, replacing the previous ‘twin headlight’ design. At the rear, the lights and bumper have also been revised to emphasise the width and feature a characteristic night design. The new rear bumper has a distinctive lip and a black insert with chrome trim. With more than £4,000 of additional standard equipment in the new SE model, for a £2,280 increase over the previous SE, and almost £3,000 of added standard features in the new AMG Sport for £575 over the previous Sport, the new E-Class provides better value to the customer, combined with attractive finance offerings. The line up for the SE features three diesel engines – E 220 CDI, E 250 CDI and E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, and two petrol engines – E 200 (Saloon only) and E 250. The E 220 CDI is the only engine with manual transmission in the new E-Class range, and the

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new four-cylinder petrol engines, as well as the E 350 BlueTEC engine, are all EU6 compliant. There are also significant CO2 improvements across the new E-Class range, with reductions of up to 20 g/km in emissions. The E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid Saloon CO2 figure remains at 109 g/km, but is now achieved with 17” wheels (previously 16”). New technology on the E-Class includes Active Park Assist with Parktronic as standard, which measures potential spaces to the left and right of the direction of travel from 0-20mph. If a suitable space is detected, and reverse gear is engaged, the vehicle will be automatically steered into the parking space, with the automatic braking function active throughout. There is also an automatic exiting function to leave the space if Active Park Assist was previously used to park. Optionally available is the all-new 360° camera (£715), which is close-range and equipped with four surround view cameras that provide assistance during parking, manoeuvring and exiting parking spaces. Other key optional equipment includes the LED Intelligent Light System with Active Light System, cornering light function and Adaptive High Beam Assist (£1,280), nappa leather (£1,935) and AirMATIC semi-active air suspension with self-levelling and Adaptive Damping System (£1,455).


EXECUTIVE MOTORING

motor with a new 2.5-litre, 178bhp four-cylinder petrol engine, equipped with next-generation D-4S fuel injection, Dual VVT-i intelligent variable valve timing and high efficiency exhaust gas recirculation.

Sporty Lexus Hybrid

The system drives the rear wheels and accelerates from nought to 62mph in 8.3 seconds and a 125mph top speed. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 65.7mpg with class-leading CO2 emissions of 99g/km. In addition to the petrol engine and electric motor, the hybrid drive system also comprises a generator, a highperformance nickel-metal hydride battery, a power split device which combines and reallocates power from the engine, electric motor and generator as required, and a compact power control unit that governs the high speed interaction of the different components.

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exus has launched a performance version of the IS300h Hybrid – the F Sport. It combines a tuned petrol engine with an electric motor to offer the same high levels of fuel efficiency and tax savings but with a more sporty character and styling. The Lexus hybrid system combines a 141bhp electric

The IS F Sport models come with exclusive styling, fog lamps and wheels and also a retuned front and rear suspension. The F Sport also features an intake sound generator which creates a more sporting engine note when the car is being driven in ‘Sports’ setting which amplifies the sound of the intake system to underline the sporting nature of the car.

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EXECUTIVE MOTORING

Kicking off the range is the Access, starting at £8,995 on-theroad for the two wheel drive version. The 4x4 version costs £10,995, the cheapest 4x4 SUV by several thousand pounds. Available with a 105hp 1.6-litre petrol engine, features include electric front windows, four airbags, height adjustable steering wheel and ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats.

Cut price SUV

Moving up the range brings customers to the Duster Ambiance. Prices start at £11,495, rising to £13,495 and standard equipment includes 4x20W radio/CD with AUX, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and steeringcolumn mounted fingertip controls, plus body coloured bumpers, 60/40 split folding rear seats, front fog lights and height adjustable driver’s seat.

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t a shade under £9,000, Dacia are offering the most affordable new SUV on the market. Dacia sales have really taken off as the Renaultowned manufacturer offers frugal engines and a comprehensive three year/60,000 miles warranty included as standard on their range of cars and SUV. This latest Dacia is the Indian-built Duster. Due to its appeal, there is already a five-month waiting list on some models.

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he Seat Toledo was already a car with good value for money on its side – but it’s just got even better. Seat has added extra equipment to the spacious fivedoor hatchback for no extra cost.

The flagship of the Duster range is the Lauréate, costing £12,995 to £14,995. The specification includes 16” alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric rear windows, leather steering wheel and trip computer. The styling inside and out also moves up a notch, with satin chrome for the roof bars, scuff plates, side sills and door handles. Body coloured, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors also appear. If you want an SUV or a small 4x4 that you want to get dirty, the Duster fits the bill.

Seat Toledo – an even better bargain

The starting point of the Toledo range is now £10,000, for a Toledo E 1.2 12V, while a top-of-the-range Toledo SE 1.6 TDI Ecomotive costs £15,340. The specification upgrades apply to S and SE models, with the former gaining a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, rear electric windows, rear parking sensors and a centre-rear headrest. This is in addition to the already standard Bluetooth, a six-speaker stereo with USB port, air conditioning, and electric heated door mirrors. SE cars gain the Seat Media System 2.2, formerly a £700 option, which is a colour touch-screen system including satellite navigation, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth audio streaming. And as well as the rear parking sensors and 80

centre rear headrest offered with S, the SE also gains dark tinted rear windows. In addition, SE comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, cruise control and automatic climate control. The Seat Toledo remains one of the most practical-per-pound cars on the

market, with a huge 550-litre boot accessed via a large hatchback tailgate, and seating for five adults. Across the range it’s extremely economical too, with the Ecomotive S version returning 104 g/km CO2 and 72.4 mpg combined, while even the 1.2 TSI 105 PS petrol model is rated at 56.5 mpg.


Joanne Houston, Managing Director of David Prentice and Christopher McCausland from Value Cabs

Value Cabs – going the extra mile in style V

alue Cabs, Belfast’s No.1 Taxi and Chauffeur company are going the extra mile in style.

The locally owned, family-run business has earned the No.1 spot through their commitment to continually improving the experience they offer to their clients as well as their ongoing investment in systems to maximise efficiency. The 600 vehicle fleet which includes an executive chauffeur range, has been complimented by the first 30 of a 50+ order of new BMW’s: a first for the Northern Ireland market. The company take their environmental commitments extremely seriously. An impressive 65% of the fleet are low emission vehicles and they can even provide electric vehicles on request. Managing Director, Christopher McCausland said: “The BMW range was an obvious choice for Value Cabs executive chauffeur fleet. BMW Efficent Dynamics have industry leading technology. The brand continues to win more awards for environmentally friendly, low emission engines without compromising on performance or build quality. That makes BMW a perfect choice for us as a business and fulfils the increase in demand by our clients for environmentally friendly executive travel.” The vehicles were supplied by local BMW Dealership David Prentice in Portadown.

Pictured l-r are: Stephen McCausland, Peter McCausland and Christopher McCausland of Value Cabs with Carol McCarron, Corporate Sales Manager David Prentice and Joanne Houston, Managing Director David Prentice.

Joanne Houston, Managing Director, commented: ”We have enjoyed a long standing relationship with Value Cabs and share a passion for delivering excellent customer service to our clients. Like Value Cabs, we are a local, family-run business and we pride ourselves on supporting local companies wherever possible. We are delighted to be Value Cabs BMW/MINI supplier and look forward to continuing to provide the company with exceptional customer service. We provide the ultimate driving machine along with the ultimate in customer experience.”


APPOINTMENTS

Richard Gray has joined law firm Carson McDowell. One of the region’s leading commercial lawyers, Gray will head up the firm’s corporate team alongside Neasa Quigley. Also joining Carson McDowell is Dawson McConkey. He will become a partner in the firm’s Real Estate Team, focusing mainly on renewable energy. Sinead McGrath has also joined law firm Carson McDowell from one of its rivals. Sinead has become a partner in the firm, with expertise across banking and insolvency issues.

Mutual Energy, the local company which owns and operates Northern Ireland’s major electricity and gas links to the UK, has appointed Regina Finn as its new Chair. Regina has been on the Mutual Energy Board since 2008. Máirín Murray has become Learning Services Manager at Aurion Learning with responsibility for the design, development and delivery of creative E-Learning and digital media solutions. Eamon McHugh has joined Aurion Learning as a Business Development Executive. He will be responsible for the acquisition and development of new business opportunities.

Ivan McMinn has been appointed Head of Corporate Banking at Danske Bank. Ivan will be involved in leadership, management and development of the Corporate Banking Team. Robert Garrett has been appointed as Head of Customer Service for Business Banking at Danske Bank. His new role will include responsibility for the strategic development and management of customer satisfaction. Carmel Scott has been appointed Regional Director for Madison Soho, a retail destination marketing agency. Carmel has over 10 years’ experience working in marketing communications.

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APPOINTMENTS

John Boland has been appointed a director of Lisburn-based Andrew Ingredients. He has worked for the company for 28 years after joining as New Business Development Manager. Brian Hegarty has recently taken on a role with Cavanagh Kelly as a Director specialising in Corporate Recovery, Insolvency Services and Corporate Finance. Una McKearney has recently taken on a role in Cavanagh Kelly’s tax department as a tax consultant. With 8 years’ experience in tax compliance she advises both individuals and businesses on a wide range of taxation matters.

JPR has recruited Michael Purcell to help expand its content marketing and social media offering. Michael previously founded and ran Firefly Integrated Marketing Communications. Kate Ferguson has joined Musgrave Retail Partners NI as Communications Manager. She joins with 11 years marketing and communications experience in London and Belfast. Terry Bradley has also joined Musgrave as Business Development Manager. He has over 20 years’ experience within the FMCG sector and previously worked for Henderson’s as Merchandising Manager.

Chanelle Conway has become a Food to go Specialist at Musgrave Retail Partners NI. Chanelle joisns MRPNI following 10 years of employment with Henderson Foodservice. Michelle McDonnell has joined Musgrave as Mace Sales Advisor. She has 13 years’ experience in the FMCG market and was previously with Cuisine De France. Mark Orchard has become Head of IT at Musgrave Retail Partners NI. Mark, who first joined Musgrave in 1997 as a parttime checkout operator, has progressed through the company and was most recently IT Services and Business Intelligence Manager.

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PHOTOCALL 1. MLN Management Month Partners Bill Manson (Podiem), Sylvie Brando (Ulster Business), Joanne Grant (JCDecaux ) and Michelle Hawkins (FPM Accountants LLP) launch a series of ten free management masterclasses scheduled to take place in February. For more information visit www.mln.org.uk.

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2. The latest phase of the new food EU-funded export programme – Access 6 – was officially launched in the German market, with four NI-based food and drink companies the first to benefit from the wide-ranging opportunities it presents. 3. Anthea Savage, CBI; Brian Ambrose, George Best Belfast City Airport and Lisa McIlvenna, Business in the Community call for business leaders to join in a Big Business Conversation about tackling youth unemployment. 4. Pauric McGowan from the Ulster Business School and Oonagh O’Reilly of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce call on final year business students at the University of Ulster to show their entrepreneurial spirit to win a Postgraduate Bursary worth up to £9,000. 5. The Chartered Institute of Marketing held a seminar discussing the changing nature of the high street. Speaking at the event were University of Ulster Marketing Lecturer Lisa Donnell and Dr Karise Hutchinson, from the Ulster Business School, pictured with Chartered Institute of Marketing Chairperson Christine Watson and Nick Read, Business Development Manager at the Ulster Business School. 84

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PHOTOCALL 6. Retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield (centre) pictured prior to his recent tour of Titanic Belfast with Tim Husbands, Titanic Belfast (left) and Aubrey Irwin, Tourism Ireland (right).

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8. Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster visited Herbert Smith Freehills in Belfast where she discussed the progress of the company and had a chance to view its new and expanded offices. The Minister acknowledged the company’s commitment to Northern Ireland and congratulated Libby Jackson, Office Director on achieving impressive growth targets ahead of schedule.

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9. SDC Trailers’ Darren Donnelly, John Donnelly and Jane Miller join NICFC Corporate fundraisers Matthew Allen and Sorcha Chipperfield to kick off the Toomebridge manufacturing company’s Charity of the year initiative. SDC have pledged to help raise ‘significant funds’ for the NICFC in the next 12 months.

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7. Karen Orchin from JTI with local Artist Mark Revels and Mary Trainor-Nagele from Arts & Business are pictured with prototype pieces for the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards 2014.

10. Centra Brand Manager Nikki McDowell and Ulster Rugby Business Development Manager Philip Polack kick off another year of local convenience store group Centra’s sponsorship of the Ulster Rugby children’s Summer Camps. Centra has supported the Summer Camps since 2008 and since then almost 7,500 kids have taken part in the popular camps. 85


PHOTOCALL 11. Sainsbury’s Sprucefield Manager John Lockhart and Dara Irwin, HR Business Partner, Sainsbury’s Sprucefield are pictured reviewing plans for the multi million pound store refit which has just commenced at the store. As part of the investment Sainsbury’s will be creating 50 new jobs.

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12. Autoline have witnessed growth in their commercial sector and have rebranded that side of their business to incorporate a wider range of industries. Michael Blaney, Managing Director of Autoline Insurance Group is pictured with John Keilty, Autoline Commercial Director and Mark Fryer, Director of Autoline. 13. Getting the 2014 Balmoral Show calendar underway at a special breakfast event in the James Street South restaurant in Belfast were Ellvena Graham of principal sponsor Ulster Bank, Cormac McKervey, the bank’s Senior Agriculture Manager, and Colin McDonald, Chief Executive of the RUAS.

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14. South American winegrower Santa Rita has signed an agreement with United Wine Merchants for the exclusive distribution of its award-winning wines in Northern Ireland. Toasting the deal are Martin McAuley from United Wines and Terry Pennington from Santa Rita Europe. 15. A refreshing approach to a new partnership – Laura Faulkner, Brand Activation Manager – Tipperary Mineral Water congratulates Brian Magee on being appointed their Tipperary Brand Ambassador and on the opening of his new Magee Health and Fitness Gym. 86

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PHOTOCALL

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17. Belfast business Fenix Solutions, which supplies telephone and network solutions to businesses across Ireland, has invested into revitalising its brand and launched a suite of new branded vehicles in partnership with Agnew Corporate. Pictured are Jonny Elliott, Account Manager for Agnew Corporate and Kieron McGuire, MD with Fenix Solutions.

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16. Ballymena Champions Jackie Fullerton and Trevor Ringland are pictured with Mayor of Ballymena Councillor Audrey Wales at the launch of the Ballymena Global Alumni Network, which was created and launched by Ballymena Borough Council.

18. The Ulster Community Investment Trust has committed ÂŁ7m of loan finance to community enterprise organisations in 2013. Gareth Scates, Manager of Bangor FC, Harry McDaid, Chief Executive of UCIT and Trevor Best, Chairman of Bangor FC. 19. Pictured outside the new Costa Coffee and Subway restaurants at Holywood Exhange are from left to right: Laura Shepherd, Manager of Costa Coffee, Holywood Exchange, Colin Mathewson from property agents Osborne King and Stephen Coulter, Owner/Manager of Subway, Holywood. 20. President of Insurance Institute Belfast Peter Kelly and Deputy President Brian Gibson are pictured at the annual Insurance Institute Belfast dinner, which took place at the Culloden Hotel.

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PHOTOCALL 21. Chef Michael Deane has announced a five hundred thousand pounds expansion of his flagship Restaurant premises in Howard Street, creating thirty new jobs and bringing it’s total workforce to 150.

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22. Three of Northern Ireland’s most respected lawyers have recently joined top tier commercial law firm Carson McDowell. Richard Gray, Dawson McConkey and Sinead McGrath are pictured with Michael Johnston, Managing Partner at Carson McDowell. 23. Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced that Finnebrogue in Downpatrick is creating 65 new jobs. The new positions are being created with assistance from Invest Northern Ireland’s Jobs Fund and are part of a £3m expansion. Pictured with the Minister is Denis Lynn, Finnebrogue’s Managing Director. 24. Dunville, once the best-known Irish Whiskey brand that was established in Belfast in 1801, is back on the market again after more than 80 years. Shane Braniff, managing director of Echlinville House Distillery in Kircubbin, is pictured with the Dunville Irish Whiskey casks.

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25. Jolly Pies, the Belfast specialist in gourmet savoury pies, has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop a range of branded products for retail and foodservice. Pictured are James McAllister, Jolly Pies, and Olive Hill, Invest NI.

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18 Boucher Way, Belfast BT12 6RE www.agnewcorporate.co.uk


OUTLOOK FOR 2014 SPORT

Castlerock deserves its place among golf’s elite

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f it is possible to have both an enjoyable and chastening experience on the golf course at the same time, then that would be my description of my first ever round on the famous Castlerock links. One of the many fabulous courses on Northern Ireland’s north coast, Castlerock is consistently ranked alongside the likes of Royal Portrush, 20 minutes to the east, as one of the best in the province, and it is easy to see why. A classic links set amid towering dunes the 18-hole Mussenden Course is everything you would hope for in a coastal course. Its fairways are at times tight with doglegs left and right, at times wide, straight and very long. Its rough is unforgiving, in places unplayable. And its greens are immaculate and incredibly fast, with pin positions on some holes requiring really accurate

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approach shots if your ball is not to end up 20 feet off the green. Enough then to test every department of your game without the added challenge of the weather. The day I had the pleasure of playing Castlerock with three other journalists it was, for much of the round, blowing a gale. The club captain may have jokingly asked afterwards how we’d fared in the “light breeze” but it is not often you stand on a tee box with a 5 handicapper and they turn to you, confused, and say they have no idea what shot to hit. Among the highlights are the 200 yard par three signature hole called Leg’o’Mutton, which requires a tee shot over a burn with a railway track lurking to the right. Several other holes require blind tee shots or approach shots and on others, such as the short par four 18th, the contours of the fairway often leave players with unsighted shots into tricky plateau greens.

There are opportunities to score well on some of the straighter holes, such as the par five 3rd, 5th and 11th, as well as the par four 13th. However, if the wind is not in your favour these holes can also feel very, very long, especially for the higher handicap player. As someone who fits in that bracket myself, I found my round at Castlerock Golf Club an exhausting and yet very rewarding experience. The number of balls lost comfortably outweighed the number of pars made and greens reached in regulation. And the weather undoubtedly made a tough course that much tougher. But set as it is a location of such natural beauty and stunning views, and with some holes of the highest quality, Castlerock is undoubtedly one of the must play courses for anyone who is an ardent follower of golf.


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TECHNOLOGY

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

Reviews NOKIA LUMIA 1520 Samsung has blazed a trail in the ‘phablet’ space – that is a device that bridges the divide between phone and tablet – and now Nokia wants a piece. It is fair to say that sharp screens and great cameras have been a common feature in Nokia’s attempted smartphone revival. Continuing this trend is its new Lumia 1520, which boasts a whopping six inch, Full HD screen on the front and a rival-beating 20 megapixel camera on the back. Holding it all together is a fairly

well-manufactured enclosure that – for those interested – comes in a choice of striking colours to boot. This device is another sign that Nokia can make great products when it really tries, while the Windows Phone operating system running the show is easy to use. The one thing to bear in mind, however, is that the phablet is a Marmite-style form-factor that you will either love or hate. The best advice for finding what side of the fence you might be on is simply to go to a shop and hold one. The Nokia Lumia 1520 is priced at £540 SIM free.

As a result, it is worth taking note of their latest product – even if it is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. The core function of the Nest Protect is much the same as any of its more traditional peers – it beeps in cases where dangers are detected. What sets it apart from the herd is what else it does. It is wifi-enabled, and so can send notifications to your smartphone. If you have multiple units it can tell you what room it has detected a problem in. Perhaps most usefully, however, it can be silenced with a wave for cases where the only thing burning is toast. NEST PROTECT The Nest Protect is proof that, in this tech-dominated world, few household items are safe from being made ‘smart’. Nest is an interesting company. It was started by the man who designed the iPod, its first product made home heating more efficient and it was recently bought by Google for £2bn. 92

These are all nice features but, at its steep pricepoint, it is hard to see many picking the Protect over the more common-or-garden variety alternatives. The Nest Protect can be bought online for £109.


TECHNOLOGY

Previews SONY XPERIA T2 ULTRA Sony has been touting its Xperia brand for some years now, but it has only recently begun to give some real shape and direction to its smartphone offerings. The Xperia T2 Ultra will see it try to go bigger – namely in the size of screen it uses. Sony’s flagship Xperia Z1 is not a small smartphone. It boasts a five inch screen and is around two centimetres taller and wider than the iPhone 5S. This, however, is nothing compared to the T2 Ultra – which will fall into the ‘phablet’ category with its six inch screen, and dominate all but the mightiest of hands with its 16.5 x 8 cm dimensions. Assuming that is not an issue, everything else you might expect should be found within its massive frame. The T2 Ultra will boast a 13 megapixel camera, a 1.4GHz quadcore processor and up to a day of talk-time on the battery. The Sony Xperia T2 Ultra is due for a UK release in March.

CANON SELPHY CP910 If you were to plot a graph outlining the average number of photos taken every year since the 1990s, there is little doubt that it would consist of a line going upwards rapidly.

Do the same for the number of photos printed, however, and it is likely to give a slightly more depressing result. Canon, being a company that specialises in photography, is clearly keen to change that and hopes that its Selphy CP910 will do the trick. It is a miniscule photo printer that promises ‘lab quality prints’ at a fast pace. Part of its selling point is the cartridges it uses, which combine the ink and photo-paper together to supposedly make the process much easier for users. Users can connect their camera or PC directly to the CP910 to print photos, or plug in a USB or memory card instead. Arguably most useful, however, is the ability to wirelessly print directly from a device – such as a smartphone or tablet. The Canon Selphy CP910 is due for release in early 2014.

FEBRUARY 2014

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BUSINESS TRAVELLER

Harry Hamilton, NI project manager, Access 6 What’s your favourite city or country in the world? I like France for no other reason than I have happy memories of time spent there. Most unusual place you’ve travelled to for work? Dubai is the most unusual place I have been asked to perform (in my other life with Queen tribute band Flash Harry). Not really the audience I am used to. What’s the best airline you’ve flown with? Emirates. Airline, service, food – I couldn’t fault them. What are the essentials you need in a hotel? For work, WiFi throughout the hotel not just the lobby. Personally I like to have the pool and sauna just to chill in. The best I have stayed in though was a suite in The Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. We were appearing there and it was a different world as we were treated to the very best. The Americans can do service so well. How often do you travel, where to and why? Currently I am travelling once or twice a month into mainland Europe in my role with the new EU-funded food export development programme Access 6. I have also travelled extensively with my Queen tribute band Flash Harry. What are the three things you couldn’t do without when travelling? My Ipod, a selection of Time magazines, (I subscribe, never read, just subscribe) and a comfortable pair of shoes. What would be your top tips for anyone taking a job that involves a lot of travel? Start drinking your tea black. Long life milk, no thank you! It’s just not proper. Do you have a favourite App for passing the time? BBC news. I know, not many laughs there. Have you ever unexpectedly run into someone you know from home while overseas? Yes. I recently met an old work colleague. Strangely both on the outward flight and the flight back which was on separate days and we were allocated seats together. Spooky. 94

Do you speak any languages and have they been of any use on business trips? To my shame I cannot speak any language other than English. It is embarrassing when you arrive in a place and they all speak English so well and all I can do is say thank you or hello in their language. I even get that the wrong way round. Where in the world would you most like to work? From home thanks. I have never day dreamed about working in exotic places. To answer the question I would have to say the place I would most like to work is where the opportunities are. Where are you off to next? I’m off to Paris. I’m sure I have a recent Time magazine with something about President François Hollande in it!


TRAVEL

Belfast City outperforms major airports Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of Belfast City Airport, said: “With just over 2.5 million passengers being transported through the airport and 36,867 flight movements, 2013 was one of the busiest years in our 30 year history. “The triumph of the World Police and Fire Games plus the influx of visitors around the G8 and the success of our summer European services culminated in a great year for the airport. “As Northern Ireland’s sole link with Heathrow and with regular daily services to Gatwick, our London routes witnessed large volumes of passengers throughout the year.

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igures published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have revealed that George Best Belfast City Airport handled more air transport movements in 2013 than any other Northern Ireland airport. A 13.2% increase in passenger numbers has also seen the airport outperform passenger growth at any other major UK airport.

“2014 looks set to be as busy and we hope to build on our European network offering flights to European cities not currently served from Belfast.” In addition to increased passenger growth, air transport movements at the airport in 2013 saw an increase of 2.6% on 2012. Mr Ambrose added: “The Planning Agreement under which we operate stipulates that annual flight movements at the airport can total 48,000, and we will continue to manage all future growth within this cap.”

easyJet launches mobile boarding pass

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assengers at Belfast International Airport can now board easyJet flights using their phone after the airline became the first European carrier to introduce mobile boarding passes. Anyone flying with the carrier will be able to download their boarding pass via the airline’s app and scan it to gain access to their flight. Scanners have been installed at bag drop desks, security and departure gates across Belfast International Airport to help speed up queues and boarding times. Over 100,000 passengers at Belfast International Airport are expected to download mobile boarding passes over the next year. Since launching the technology in September 2013 over 2.5 million mobile boarding passes have been downloaded across Europe by easyJet customers. Ali Gayward, easyJet’s Head of Northern Ireland commented: “We’re pleased to introduce mobile boarding passes across all easyJet flights from Belfast to make travel easier for our passengers. The service will be offered in addition to printed boarding passes and will allow customers to check in and download their pass via the easyJet app. “Mobile boarding passes can be saved on the easyJet

FEBRUARY 2014

app and accessed without network coverage or roaming charges wherever you are. Customers can check in for their flight as early as 30 days ahead of the departure or as little as two hours before.” Uel Hoey, Business Development Director at Belfast International Airport, added: “This is another great initiative from easyJet and with the growth of mobile devices it makes sense that this service is in place for all of easyJet’s Belfast passengers. With around 50% of the air travel market in Northern Ireland using easyJet we are sure passengers will welcome this new development.” 95


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TECHNOLOGY

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Business Diary March 2014 For more information and to book visit date event www.womeninbusinessni.com/events

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4 March 10.30 - 12.30

Networking lunch with Martin Naughton, founder and chair of Glen Dimplex Organiser: Women In Business NI

Canal Court Hotel, Newry Cost: £10 +VAT for Members £25 +VAT for Non-Members

For more information or to book email: laura@womeninbusinessni.com or visit www.womeninbusinessni.com/events

6 March 09.30 - 12.30

Sales Strategy Genius Masterclass Organiser: Women In Business NI

Galgorm Resort & Spa, Cost: £10 +VAT for Members £25 +VAT for Non-Members

For more information or to book email: laura@womeninbusinessni.com or visit www.womeninbusinessni.com/events

7 March 08.45 - 16.00

IoD Women’s Leadership Conference – Leading with Confidence Organiser: IoD Northern Ireland

Ramada Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast Cost: £85 +VAT

Contact Lorraine Corry on 028 9068 3224, email: lorraine.corry@iod.com or visit www.iod.com

11 March 10.00 - 11.30

CITB Construction Skills NI Information Event Organiser: CITB Construction Skills NI

Strabane Enterprise Agency, Strabane Cost: FREE

For more information call 028 9082 5466 email: events@citbcsni.org.uk or visit www.citbcsni.org.uk

12 March 08.30 - 12.30

Connecting for Growth Programme in partnership with Bank of Ireland UK Organiser: NI Chamber of Commerce

Belfast, TBC Cost: FREE for Members £30 +VAT for Non-Members

For more information contact johnquinn@ northernirelandchamber.com or visit www.northernirelandchamber.com/events

14 March 10.00 - 16.00

Be a Saint Volunteering Day Organiser: Business in the Community

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Contact Angela Campbell on 028 9046 0606 email: angela.campbell@bitcni.org.uk or visit www.bitcni.org.uk

The Lab at The Mac Cost: FREE for Members £10 +VAT for Non-Members

For more information or to book email: laura@womeninbusinessni.com or visit www.womeninbusinessni.com/events

20 March 12.00 - 14.00

The Art of Business Organiser: Women In Business NI

27 March 12.00 - 14.00

Investing in the Arts Reception 2014 Organiser: Arts & Business NI

The Long Gallery @ Stormont Cost: FREE

Email: t.bamford@artsandbusinessni.org.uk, Tel: 028 9073 5151 or visit www.artsandbusinessni.org.uk

27 March 12.00 - 14.00

Networking Business Lunch Organiser: Women In Business NI

Belfast Cookery School Cost: FREE for Members & Non-Members

For more information or to book email: laura@womeninbusinessni.com or visit www.womeninbusinessni.com/events

If you would like to promote an event or conference please contact Sonia Armstrong (soniaarmstrong@greerpublications.com) 97 FEBRUARY 2014


PEOPLE IN

BUSINESS OUTLOOK FOR 2014

OUTLOOK FOR 2014

What do you consider your best business decision or idea? Herbert Smith Freehills’ Respond programme launched in our Belfast office in February 2012. Respond offers genuinely flexible, permanent employment to some of my team. What is your most hated business expression or cliché? “In the loop” (and yes, I do find myself using it.) Do you have any “golden rules”? Be positive, lead with truthfulness and energy, find solutions and support those around you. What is your most treasured possession? My wedding ring. What are you currently reading? Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D.James.

Fact File

If I hadn’t been in business... I’d have been an actor.

Name/Job Title: Libby Jackson, Director, Belfast Office – Herbert Smith Freehills Family: Married to Chris, with two children, Billy and Emma Interests: Family, music and running

What was your first paying job? Queen’s Hotel in Brighton, age 15. What’s the worst job you’ve done? Summer 1992 in Boston USA, selling floral hand-painted clothing, purely on a commission basis, at a shop called “Frillz”. What do you like most about your current role? The amazing opportunity to have built a new business in Belfast in 2011 and the challenge of making it even better and more successful every day. What has been your toughest challenge to date? The sheer pace of the growth and

expansion of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Belfast office. I still can’t quite believe that we opened with 26 people in 2011 and now employ more than 120. And we are recruiting again now! Has your personal life suffered because of your career? I am deeply committed to both my family and my career so, despite the challenges, my wonderful husband and I make it work as a team. Who has inspired you? Peggy Ray, my former partner at Goodman Ray Solicitors, and Sonya Leydecker, recently appointed joint CEO at Herbert Smith Freehills. Both incredible lawyers and mentors.

What’s your favourite film? All the President’s Men. What advice would you give the 18-year-old you? It isn’t a virtue to be a perfectionist. Instead reach positively for high achievement at all times and embrace what you learn when things don’t quite go to plan. Which person, living or dead, would you like to have met, and why? I am interested in history and The Tudors, so maybe Anne Boleyn. When are you most happy? At home, reading to my children in the evening with my husband chilling in the same room, after a busy satisfying week at work. How do you want to be remembered? As formidably effective.


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