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OCTOBER 2014 Price ÂŁ2.30 (â‚Ź3.75)

Food for thought How Bank of Ireland UK has rolled its sleeves up to help drive the agri-food industry

Construction & Commercial Property: Is there a skills gap to fill?

Food, Drink & Agriculture: Just how local does your supermarket source?

ISSN 1363-2507

9 771363 250005


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Contents 6 News

40 Food, Drink & Agriculture

70 Roundtable

Jobs announcements, commercial property transactions and more

How much local produce to supermarkets and retailers source from Northern Ireland?

Legal eagles Tughans host this month’s roundtable

14 Cover story

53 Fledgling freelancer

75 Word from the Wise

Bank of Ireland UK rolls it sleeves up and shows its agri-food roots

Julie Stewart says your business ignores social media at its peril. #youhavebeenwarned

Stephen Roycroft talks Bewitched, absentee landlords and strategic input

18 Simon Hamilton

56 John Simpson

76 Business Breakfast

The Finance Minister tells David Elliott about welfare and reform

Our erstwhile economist looks at the Northern Ireland banking scene

Tim Brundle turns from interviewee to interviewer at Belfast’s Established

22 Construction

64 Social Enterprise

77 Motoring

Do we have the skills to keep up with demand?

Harry McDaid from the Ulster Community Invest Trust mixes enterprise with a social twist

Pat Burns Rubber knows a good set of wheels when he sees them



18 70




Taxing issue could be swayed by welfare deadlock


elcome to the October edition of Ulster Business.

We kick off this month’s magazine at an exciting time for the Northern Ireland economy, one which looks bright for all of us if only we can make the most of the opportunities which look likely to come our way.

The warning comes as little surprise but does offer an insight into how positive Westminster currently is to the idea.

The one particular opportunity which, against all odds, shows signs of resulting in a positive decision, is the much-talked-about devolution of corporation tax-setting powers to Stormont.

The trouble is, dithering over welfare payments has made us look a bit gormless when it comes to being able to sort out our own affairs, so it’s no surprise there’s a reluctance by the Treasury to allow us to take more control of the steering wheel.

Once dismissed as a wild idea which would struggle to garner ten seconds of ‘ear-time’ in Westminster, it seems to be gaining traction as a sensible way to help rebalance the Northern Ireland economy and woo overseas investors.

There are obviously complexities in sorting out the welfare issue, but if we can’t prove we have what it takes to run a grown-up devolved region then the argument against devolving corporation tax-setting power builds momentum.

Like it or loath it, the campaign has been taken seriously, so much so that Secretary of State Theresa Villiers felt compelled to fire a warning shot across Stormont’s bow in early October to be ready for a thumbs up.

The opportunity to change the business environment beyond measure is within our grasp, and it would be foolish to lose such a once-in-a-lifetime chance because of an inability to govern properly.

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She said the Executive needs to get itself in order if it’s to be trusted with setting its own tax powers.

Sales Executive Chris Black

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Briefs Portglenone company Plotbox has been named as the winner of the Northern Ireland Science Park’s INVENT 2014 competition. Plotbox, owned by husband and wife team Sean and Leona McAllister from Portglenone in County Antrim, is a cloud platform for cemeteries and crematoria to manage all their operations in one place.

Lisburn’s Hilden Brewery has sealed a deal to supply it’s local brews to the world’s thirstiest beer drinking nation. It’s tied up with a distributor in the Czech Republic to export its full range of bottled beers throughout the region after contacts made during an Invest NI trade mission. It’s hoping to tap into growing demand for craft beer in a busy market place.

A new SuperValu store in County Down will create 35 new jobs, according to Musgrave Retail Partners. It will be run by Gabriel Bell and will include a butchery, deli, hot food bar and parking for over 70 vehicles.

Bank of Ireland UK have launched a new app for use on tablet computers. It said 31% of all Bank of Ireland UK website visits in Northern Ireland are from mobile or tablet devices, up 11% from 2013, and the trend is expected to continue to grow.

The gap between Northern Ireland’s economy and the rest of the UK is becoming a “gulf”, according to PwC economist Dr Esmond Birney. His comments follow the release of statistics which showed the UK economy grew by 0.9% in the three months to June. He said the most reliable data available shows Northern Ireland’s economy is 12% below the pre-crisis levels while the UK is back above pre-crisis levels.

PwC creates over 800 new jobs in Belfast

First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are pictured with Paul Terrington, PwC Regional Chairman.


replicated beyond the UK. PwC Augment is a direct response to international client demand for high-level, multi-skilled in-house support.

When filled, the total salary bill for the posts will reach £16m – an average salary of around £21,000 each – and the new workforce will be made up of 303 experienced and graduate accountants and the remainder a range of graduate hires recruited over the next five years.

“Both developments are in line with our strategy of identifying and developing innovative revenue streams to generate growth and have been initiated from within Northern Ireland. They are a testament to the leadership and entrepreneurial endeavour of our local team.”

The former will be working on a new PwC financial advisory service called My Financepartner and will provide analysis of financial transactions to provide management information for companies, while the latter will be focused on the establishment of PwC Augment, a pool of staff who can be seconded into PwC’s global client businesses to deliver specific assignments.

And he said the decision to expand its Belfast office is a reflection of the availability of talent in Northern Ireland.

usiness advisory firm PwC has announced the creation of 807 new posts at its Belfast base.

They’ll be working on various pieces of work including major transformation projects to acquisition and consolidation. Paul Terrington, PwC regional chairman in Northern Ireland said the expansion has the potential to grow further. “The My Financepartner business model takes PwC into a new segment of the business advisory market with the potential to be


“Our decision to locate both these projects in Northern Ireland reflects our confidence in the high standard of the local graduate pool. Over the years we’ve benefitted from strong local talent, recruiting both accountancy graduates and graduates from other disciplines.” Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster agreed. “These two significant projects could have gone elsewhere but were secured for Northern Ireland by the hard work of Invest NI and because PwC recognises the high calibre of graduates available here. Companies like PwC are key players in driving Northern Ireland’s continued economic growth.”


Take stock of careers in food and drink


he food and drink sector should be high up the list when students are considering a career, according to industry body Improve.

It has just launched the ‘Tasty Careers’ programme which sends representatives from the food and drink industry to schools throughout Northern Ireland to highlight the 15,000 potential job opportunities available for young people across the food supply chain between now and 2020. During school visits, ‘Tasty Careers’ ambassadors, will give presentations to pupils providing an insight into their dayto-day activities and giving advice on the most beneficial qualifications and educational path to their current role. Geoff Lamb, NI Operations Manager, Improve, wants to drum up interest in the sector. “We are delighted to once again be launching our ‘Tasty Careers’ programme, which continues to be a very popular initiative in schools across Northern Ireland,” he said. “As the economy continues to grow, we want to educate students about the vast

Erin McDowell and Chloe Wilgaus from Belfast Model School for Girls help Geoff Lamb, NI Operations Manager from Improve to launch this year’s ‘Tasty Careers’ programme.

array of career opportunities available in the food and drink sector. With an impressive average starting salary of up to £21,000 it is a fantastic career path that should be considered by all students.”

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A Month in Numbers 0.9% The rate of growth of the UK economy in the three months to June, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Hotel operators urged to check in to new Belfast hotel

3.2% The rate of growth of the UK economy over the last year.

12% How far below its pre-recession peak the Northern Ireland economy currently sits.

2.7% How far above its pre-recession peak the overall UK economy currently sits. An architect’s drawing of how the new City Quays development will look.

£57,500 The average annual salary on offer from IT company Version 1 for the 50 jobs it announced last month at its Belfast office.

£22,000 The average annual salary in Northern Ireland.

6.6% Unemployment rate in Northern Ireland for the May to July period, down 0.3% from last year.



otel operators are being urged to act quickly to be in with a chance to run a new “upscale” hotel on Belfast’s waterfront. The call from Belfast Harbour Commission follows the granting of planning permission in July for the construction of a 150 to 200 bedroom hotel as part of the £250m City Quays development, one which is attempting to integrate part of the harbour’s north shore with Belfast city centre from Clarendon Dock to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

“To achieve a best-in-class product we are seeking expressions of interest to secure the expertise of an experienced hotel operator.” Companies wishing to express their interest in operating the hotel should contact Belfast Harbour and return the relevant information by October 3rd. While an operator is required to manage the hotel on a day-to-day basis, it will be developed and owned by Belfast Harbour.

The commission is funding the development.

Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy, said the development will help boost the waterfront area.

“City Quays 1, a Grade ‘A’ office development, is already under construction and planning for an adjacent office project, City Quays 2, has been submitted,” Graeme Johnston, Belfast Harbour’s Property Director, said. “To complement these developments, along with plans for residential and local retail space, we aim to build a new waterfront hotel.

“The addition of this hotel further demonstrates Belfast Harbour Commissioners’ commitment to the continued revitalisation of this area of the city – not only will it provide a welcome boost to the local, and indeed regional, economy in terms of creating employment, it will also help satisfy Belfast’s fast growing demand for top class hotel and conference facilities.”


US takeover helps Belfast golf company add 28 new hires


Belfast company which allows golfers to book tee times online has created 28 new jobs after being taken over by a subsidiary of US media giant NBC.

The expansion by BRS Golf, started by brothers Rory and Dr Brian Smith twelve years ago, follows the company’s purchase by GolfNow, part of the Florida-based Golf Channel which is owned by NBCUniversal. Mike McCarley, president of the Golf Channel, said its new Belfast arm will be used as the company’s European base. “NBCUniversal is a global business, and in addition to Golf Channel/GolfNow’s headquarters in Orlando, Florida, Belfast will provide BRS Golf with a great opportunity to continue to grow and further develop our best-in-class technology for golf clubs around the world due to the region’s costcompetitive infrastructure and pro-business environment.” Dr Brian Smith said it was a big day for the company. “It feels brilliant to get to this point,” he told Ulster Business. “It’s

Pictured are (L-R) Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Mike McCarley, President of the Golf Channel, and brothers Rory and Dr Brian Smith, Directors and Founders of BRS Golf.

been 12 years of hard work starting with two guys building a business out of our garage, but it’s been worth it. He said part of the businesses success can be put down to the speed with which they broke into the market.

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Briefs Engineering giant Caterpillar is investing £700,000 in a new specialist showroom at its Larne base. The facility will allow the company to showcase its Northern Ireland-manufactured products to international customers and will house conference facilities and exhibition space.

Belfast casino backers roll dice with councillors

Bombardier has signed a deal to supply airline lease company Macquarie AirFinance with 40 of its CS300 jets as well as options on a further 10. The wings and other parts of the airplane are made at the Canadian company’s Belfast plant.

Abbey Insurance has created 20 new posts as part of a plan to create three new branches in the next 12 months. The first store on Belfast’s Boucher Road has already opened, the 15th in the Newtownabbey company’s branch network.

Ground Espresso Bars said it plans to open six new coffee shops across Northern Ireland and the Republic as part of an investment in tandem with Next Plc, including one in Dublin. It’s currently spending £100,000 refurbishing its two Belfast stores, one of which is housed in the Next on Donegall Place.

Northern Ireland’s film industry is gathering pace with the most unlikely venues becoming the backdrop to the latest movies. Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss have just completed filming in the former Stena ferry passenger terminal in Belfast Harbour at Ballast Quay. The film, High-Rise, is set in a 1970s apartment block and filming led to the transformation of the former terminal into sets including a lobby, penthouse suite and roof-top garden.



orthern Ireland’s first ever casino has taken a step closer after the company behind the proposed development met with Belfast City Councillors. Rank Group, the name behind Mecca bingo, operates 35 casinos throughout the rest of the UK and wants to set up what it calls an “entertainment complex” in Belfast, complete with restaurant, bar and casino. Current legislation in Northern Ireland rules against casinos but Rank are attempting to persuade legislators that gambling laws should be relaxed when they come up for review in the Assembly next year. In the meantime, it has met with councillors in Belfast to push for a relaxation of the law within the city to allow a casino. Rank representative Dan Waugh presented the company’s plans to Belfast City Council’s development committee in what he described as a “full and frank” discussion. He said two councillors raised queries about the proposals which he hoped to address if asked back to the council again in November to pitch the idea

more thoroughly, and remained positive there is a desire for a casino, both from consumers and from business. “We want to create an environment to give people fun and enjoyment and in the process will be bringing investment and jobs,” he told Ulster Business. The Titanic Quarter in the city has been mooted as a potential site for the complex, and a definite location will need to be tied down before the exact size and offering mix – restaurant, bar etc – in the casino can be confirmed. However, Mr Waugh said it would likely create over 200 jobs, invest up to £20m and could be up and running within three years if given the go-ahead. Despite the potential, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has previously said a change to the law to allow casinos in Northern Ireland is unlikely. Fighting Rank’s corner is board member Sir Richard Needham, the former Minister for Trade and the man who drove the redevelopment of the Laganside Development in Belfast as well as a visionary for the Titanic Quarter.


Belfast’s Kremlin club sold for £3m


“We are absolutely delighted to now own the freehold of the Kremlin having been the tenant for the past five years,” she said.

The Kremlin Licensed Complex – which includes the Kremlin Club, Union Street Bar and The Shoe Factory Club – were sold to Anthea Wilson’s Anthology NI, the company which had been leasing the buildings.

“For us its business as usual, but with a few exciting new additions planned for the complex over the next 12 months as we expand on demand and increase our diversity.”

The actual sale price wasn’t disclosed but it’s thought the owners Seamus Sweeney and Andre Graham sealed the deal close to the £3m asking price.

The club is situated in and around Donegall Street in the city, an area soon to benefit from major redevelopment by nearby University of Ulster.

Formed in 2009 to lease and run the Kremlin Complex, Anthology NI will now take full ownership of the venues including the liquor licence, branding, copyrights, goodwill, fixtures and fittings.

Tim Reid, Director of Capital Markets at selling agent CBRE was in charge of the deal.

elfast’s biggest and best-known gay nightclub complex has been sold to its tenants for around £3m.

New owner Anthea Wilson said she had big plans for the venue in the months ahead.

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“As the economic recovery continues to gather pace, so too have we witnessed strong renewed interest in the Northern Ireland hotel and licensed sector,” he said.

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Aer Lingus explores direct flights to Germany


er Lingus is looking at the feasibility of operating direct flights from Belfast City Airport to Germany as well as new sun routes to Mediterranean destinations. Chief Revenue Officer Mike Rutter said a new route to the likes of Berlin or Frankfurt is possible providing inbound travellers – holiday makers from Germany – can be persuaded to come to Northern Ireland. That, he told Ulster Business, would take help from the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure German tour operators will sell the route as part of a holiday here. “They need persuading,” he said. “The key focus for getting a German route off the ground is to get the tour operators on board.” More run routes, to destinations such as Alicante, to go with the current two of Faro and Malaga are also a possibility as the airline embeds itself to its Belfast City Airport Base and recovers profitability across the board. “Aer Lingus and Belfast City are wedded together,” Mr Rutter said just ahead of the airline’s first ever board meeting in Northern Ireland at the Culloden Hotel. He said the move was proof of the airline’s commitment to Northern Ireland,

Mike Rutter, Aer Lingus Chief Revenue Officer, pictured launching the new on board menu with chef Clodagh McKenna.

and boded well for the future after it managed to grow its operating profits in the second quarter of the year.

to show a gathering of Northern Ireland business people – in a concerted effort to target that sector of the market.

“Aer Lingus have been on a rocky journey but now we’re building on solid foundations.”

Aside from the new high-tech luxury seats, one of the biggest selling points as far as Aer Lingus is concerned for trans-Atlantic flights is the ability to pre-clear customs and immigration before boarding in Dublin rather than after landing in the US.

Part of that building process is to target the business market for its transAtlantic flights with the refurbishment of its business-class offering. It spent £8m on over 200 lie-flat beds built by Thomson Aero Seating from Portadown – on display in the Culloden

It said more than an hour can be saved through the process, making the Aer Lingus services to the US from Dublin attractive to time-hungry business travellers from regions such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, northern England, Wales and European destinations. “We believe we’ve a very strong offering and are already finding a willing market,” Mr Rutter said. “Now, with the new seats, we don’t have to compromise on the product.” He said Aer Lingus’s trans-Atlantic business service from Dublin will always be 20% cheaper than rivals “and we’ve no intention of changing that”. “We’re going to be a major, major player in the trans-Atlantic business market.”




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Ploughing ahead Working in tandem with the likes of Kestrel Foods and companies right along the food supply chain, Bank of Ireland UK is becoming an essential pillar of the agri-food sector.

Maria McAllister, senior business manager at Bank of Ireland UK and Michael Hall, co-founder of Kestrel Foods. Photography: Khara Pringle




he world of banking has, after a few years of upheaval, reverted back to basics.

That’s meant credit decisions are focused on the traditional methods, looking at affordability and ability to repay, those which only a few years ago would have been described as old fashioned but which are now in vogue. It stands to reason, therefore, that one of Northern Ireland’s biggest lenders is also focusing on the oldest industry in the world; the business of growing and making food. Bank of Ireland UK has, quite literally, grabbed the bull by the horns when it comes to the agri-food sector, committing £165m to farmers and food companies during the 2012-2013 period. Such a result hasn’t come about by accident but by concerted effort to target an industry the bank believes has always had huge potential. The response was such that a £50m fund set aside to lend to agri businesses was quickly doubled to £100m, proving the focus was well placed. “The farming base here is world class,” Ian Sheppard, Head of Business & Corporate Banking at Bank of Ireland UK, told Ulster Business. “The yields are second to none, the livestock management is top class and the quality of the product is first rate.”

“That means their working capital cycle is very elongated and because we understand the situation we can work with the client.” As importantly, at the source of the chain, the bank has been working closely with the farming community. Conor Digney, a Newry-based farmer, said: “Since switching to Bank of Ireland UK, they have supported me in growing and developing my dairy and poultry enterprises. In particular the support from the local Agri Manager in helping to make key business decisions has been invaluable.” William Thompson, the Agri Manager NI for Bank of Ireland UK, is leading that charge when it comes to liaising with farmers. In supporting the Bank’s network of business managers he is ensuring the bank has a complete understanding of how their businesses work. Not only that, he’s been instrumental in driving Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, an initiative which sees producers across the land throw their doors open to members of the public – up to 20,000 last year – so they can get an insight into the everyday workings of a modern farm. In addition, he notches up an impressive 15 agricultural shows a year, proof, if it were needed, that this specialist lives and breathes his discipline.

“From the farmer right up the chain to the processor, Northern Ireland can’t be beaten.”

With all bases along the supply chain covered, it’s no surprise Bank of Ireland UK has worked alongside some towering success stories in the industry.

Such quality goes part of the way to explaining why the sector is in such rude health, along with the fact many processors are targeting export markets with products they’ve spent time and money innovating in a clever manner.

Take Kestrel Foods. The company you might know better through its Forest Feast brand has been producing its range of dried fruit, nuts and seeds since 1996 from its Craigavon base, and Bank of Ireland UK has been instrumental in its growth.

An understanding bank has also helped.

Sales have grown 25% year-on-year during that period, according to Michael Hall who founded the business with wife Lorraine.

“We make it a priority to get under the skin of businesses we deal with,” Ian said. “For instance, to ensure security of supply, most processors will pay suppliers


within seven days but it could be a lot longer before their customers pay them.

“That result is down to the investment we’ve made in the business thanks to Bank of Ireland >>



UK and their understanding in where we want to take the company,” he told Ulster Business. A further increase in those already impressive sales figures is the ultimate aim, one which involves getting Forest Feast products into all four corners of the world (it has already conquered 30 countries from the US to Uruguay, Brazil to the Baltics). To do that it’s invested £800,000 in new plant and machinery, including a new roasting and flavour plant, new packing lines as well as a factory extension. It’s trained staff, recruiting a further 11 on a full-time basis and launched a fresh round of sales promotion (making it to the finals of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year competition has also helped). That’s a lot but “with an understanding bank which is able to understand the business and see where we want to go it’s not a problem.” That doesn’t mean just looking at the numbers. “They (Bank of Ireland UK) come down here and make sure they’re on the ground, kicking the tyres of the new machines to make sure they know how they fit into our strategy,” Michael said. “We make sure there’s visibility when it comes to cash flow so the bank knows when the peaks and troughs are likely to appear.”

Speaking from experience

Jim Dobson, Dunbia chief executive pictured with Paul Magee (right), senior manager corporate banking NI from Bank of Ireland UK.


im Dobson is Chief Executive of Dunbia, the multi-national red meat processing company he founded with his brother Jack in 1976. From its Headquarters in Dungannon, the business now operates across thirteen sites in the UK and Ireland servicing retail, commercial and foodservice markets locally, nationally and internationally. “Since we joined Bank of Ireland UK they have brought a very different and very positive working relationship to the business,” Mr Dobson said. “They’re a very proactive team who always try to say yes to things. Throughout so much of our recent growth and development they’ve been with us every step of the way and they’ve been very supportive.”

It therefore stands to reason that Kestrel is an attractive customer for other banks.

Patrick McLaughlin, Devenish chief executive pictured with John Mathers (left), regional business manager, Bank of Ireland UK.

“The door is knocked frequently,” Michael said. “We always say we’re happy where we are. Bank of Ireland UK is very fair with us. We have a mutual understanding.” For Bank of Ireland UK, the future is definitely focused on agri-food as witnessed by its support for the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association’s Appetite for Growth Conference “a statement to the sector that we’re behind it”. This type of support bodes well for one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and most exciting industries and further economic success is surely only a matter of time with companies of Kestrel’s class innovating and forging ahead into new markets.



evenish Nutrition is a leading edge agri-technology company headquartered in Belfast and is led by chief executive Patrick McLaughlin. It is a business dedicated to high quality animal nutrition products together with speciality products for the intensive livestock sector. With five facilities in the UK and the USA, they export their solutions to over 25 countries. “Bank of Ireland UK is a key partner of the Devenish Group,” McLaughlin said. “They have worked hard to build a close relationship with us over the past fourteen years and this gives us the confidence to progress our rapid growth strategy. We know that we have a supportive partner who understands our business, what drives us, and the sector in which we operate. Over the last 18 months Bank of Ireland UK has provided both long-term funding and additional working capital as we have expanded our operations across a wider area.”

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Carving up the shrinking pie

By David Elliott


alancing the books is never easy, but for the Northern Ireland executive the next few months, or even years, are going to be particularly hairy.

“The health, justice and other departments are feeling under pressure,” the minister said. “My ability to assist them is severely limited by the fact £100m has to be paid this year for needless welfare penalties.

on the public sector to keep its economy going – in terms of being a customer purchasing goods or paying peoples salaries which are spent in shops and services – that’s going to impact businesses here.

It’s faced with finding an estimated £200m of spending cuts from an already creaking public sector system, part of which is made up of £100m of penalties levied by Westminster for failing to agree on reforming the welfare system.

“That £100m doesn’t solve all our problems but without it life would have been a lot easier and I wouldn’t be asking for the kind of expenditure reductions I am. And it will get much worse next year.

“It could have an impact on policies and expenditure on policies the business community has enjoyed over the last few years and that is going to affect spending on public services or on policies that have helped the business community over the last few years.”

Because of the welfare issue and because of the fact other services here fail to raise money for the government in the same manner as the rest of the UK – water charges, free prescriptions etc – there’s unlikely to be a sympathetic ear from the Treasury and some harsh cuts are going to be needed. That’s a point which certainly isn’t lost on Finance Minister Simon Hamilton when Ulster Business met him in his office at Clare House in the Belfast Harbour Estate. “Things are not healthy at the minute,” he said. “We’ve got a heady cocktail of different things happening which have come to a head this year. Those things include the 2.1% reduction in the June monitoring round across all departments apart from health and education, one which helped deal with £13m of welfare reform penalties from the previous year, upfront costs for local government reform, the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry plus another £87m of welfare reform penalties for this year. It’s the latter expenditure which seems to stick in the craw most for Mr Hamilton.


“It’s dawning on people that what I’ve been saying for the last year hasn’t been bluster or histrionics but has been laying out what has been happening and is starting to cause us real problems.”

“My ability to assist the health, justice and other departments is severely limited by the fact £100m has to be paid this year for needless welfare penalties.” In a business magazine, those problems at a government level could appear far removed from the day-to-day operation of the economy here but are in fact intrinsically linked, particularly for one which relies so heavily on public sector work. “You’re going to see it start to affect the business community,” the minister said. “In a region which is so aligned to relying

Despite the potential for the disappearance of some of the cushions which the Northern Ireland economy has enjoyed over the last few years, the minister said business could benefit from the ongoing reform of the public sector which he has been driving. He points to the building where we’re sitting, not a fusty warren of offices you’d expect from a government building but a modern open plan setting more akin to the modern private sector office. Even the minister’s office is nothing more than a cornered off section of the room, more Google than government. Learning from the private sector is Mr Hamilton’s aim. “We’ve spent a lot of the last year trying to develop the architecture of reform,” he said. That architecture includes bringing the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in to benchmark the Northern Ireland public sector, the first time the group has acted for a sub-national government. He’s also introduced “public sector innovation laboratories”, using experts from both sectors

to come up with innovative ideas on specific issues, and online portals where public sector workers put forward ideas to reform the organisation in exchange for a small reward. But a big part of the reform is to direct as much business from the Northern Ireland public sector as well as from other jurisdictions in the UK, to Northern Ireland business. “We’re a huge customer and pumping a lot into business in Northern Ireland, as much as £3bn a year,” the minister said. “That’s a significant size spend where it’s got to be possible to ensure local business in Northern Ireland get as big a chunk of it as they can.” Whether than will be enough to offset the upwind cuts from public sector spending remains to be seen but one thing is for sure, Mr Hamilton is going to have his hands full over the next few months and will need to hold tight to Northern Ireland’s purse strings.




Can you afford to ignore good governance? Joy Allen is one of only 50 Chartered Directors in Northern Ireland and MD of Leading Governance Ltd. She tackles the must-do list for making sure you have a strong governance process in place.


hether we’re buying a new car, booking a holiday, or building a strong board, we tend to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, with varying degrees of formality. In considering the cost of effective governance, we should also think long and hard about the potential costs of ineffective governance – a stressed chief executive, a chaotic staff team without clear direction and boundaries, a poor reputation among funders, not to mention the financial costs of fraud and inefficiency. The fundamentals of governance include the need for boards to: • ensure compliance with the law, their constitution document, and regulation. • provide clear, long-term vision, and ensure the strategy is taking us towards that vision. • set the tone for culture and behaviours by defining values and ensuring they are lived throughout the organisation. • oversee performance and ensure agreed targets are being met; • agree the risk appetite for various aspects of the work, and ensure everyone is managing risk appropriately throughout the organisation. A well-governed organisation is a joy to be a part of, and getting governance right needn’t be expensive. There are a


number of simple, low-cost governance tools that can really make a difference.

before appointment ensures that they know what is expected of them before they commit.

My top FIVE are: 1. A governance calendar: Setting the dates for the year, and ensuring all the key actions are listed in a way that creates flow, can make a real difference.

3. A scheme of delegation: A scheme of delegation provides clarity around ‘matters reserved for the board’, and ensures that the senior staff feel comfortable getting on with their day to day work, while being in no doubt about when board decisions are needed.

• Knowing when company returns to statutory agencies are due is useful, especially if there is a change of key staff. Ensuring that new directors are signed up as directors, and retiring directors’ resignations are notified to the Companies Registration Office are legal requirements. • Agreeing dates for all board and committee meetings will optimise attendance and engagement of members, and ensure that committees are able to report to the board in a timely way. • Booking the board away day ensures commitment to it. It’s really important that the whole board is there to set the strategic direction of the organisation. It’s also a great opportunity to identify any skills gaps on the board, and plan for new board members to join in time for the AGM. 2. Role descriptions: Role descriptions for the board as a team, for individual board members and for office bearers are essential. Giving them to potential new board members

4. A code of conduct: For a code of conduct to be truly effective, it should be designed by the board itself, and physically signed by each of its members ensures a sense of ownership. The code of conduct guides important boardroom behaviours – attendance, listening with respect, giving and receiving feedback. 5. A register of interests: The register of interests should be updated at least annually. It helps the Chair to ensure that any potential conflicts of interest are known and managed appropriately. This is a source of assurance to all stakeholders. If you’re still not convinced that effective governance is worth the effort, ask some battle-weary board members how much time and energy they’ve had to give when things have gone wrong – when a fraud has been discovered, when key staff have resigned or taken long-term sick leave, when funders have withdrawn their support. I rest my case!

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A spanner in the recovery works? Will a lack of skilled workers hamper the construction sector’s recovery? Simon Rowe finds out.




he construction industry in Northern Ireland has just come through the deepest downturn that anybody here can remember,” says John Armstrong, chief executive of the Construction Employers’ Federation. The sector has suffered a bloodbath with more than 28,000 jobs lost – about one in three jobs in the industry – and highprofile casualties such as Pattons and Mivan litter the commercial landscape. From his offices in leafy south Belfast, Armstrong surveys the economic damage: a five-year economic slump dealt a hammer blow to his federation’s 800


member firms and the output of Northern Ireland’s construction industry has shrunk by more than 25% since 2007. With such facts at hand, it would be easy to be gloomy. However, there are signs that Northern Ireland’s construction industry is in recovery. Figures for new orders, employment and exports are all up. And, most importantly, confidence is slowly returning. Admittedly, industry experts attribute the upturn to firms winning lucrative contracts in Great Britain rather than locally – approximately 60% of the turnover of Northern Ireland’s top construction firms is generated outside the province. But regardless of where work is to be found, any silver lining

has to be welcomed by a sector that has been living under a dark cloud for so long. With optimism rising by the day, the only spanner in the works is that recovery spells a new problem: a lack of skilled workers. Industry experts now fear a looming skills shortage may damage hopes of a recovery in our beleaguered construction sector. “There are potentially big skills shortages on the horizon which is a concern to us,” said John Armstrong. “Many of those 28,000 jobs lost would have been skilled or semi-skilled people and many of them will have got other occupations now and many will have migrated.” >>



A shortage of non-skilled labourers will also impact the industry as many of those former construction industry workers are now driving taxis or have emigrated to Australia or Canada in search of work, said Armstrong. “I think it’s unlikely many will return, although I hope they do.” Around 1,280 new construction workers will be needed yearly over the next five years as private housebuilding, infrastructure and industrial projects are all expected to help push the sector towards growth, CITBConstructionSkills NI predicts. Barry Neilson, the training agency’s chief executive, said the training and upskilling of construction workers is key to averting any potential skills shortage. “We have been working with key industry partners to ensure we maintain a skilled and qualified workforce that is ready to take advantage of potential new investment opportunities,” he said. “We have also addressed skills development in areas such as heritage and sustainable construction methods in order to assist with openings that may arise in these sectors.”

“Clarity and certainty of future projects is an important element of a sustained recovery. It gives employers the confidence to train and to plan. But growth needs to be sustainable.” “We are looking to the future with confidence. Since the start of the recession, construction has lost significant numbers of skilled workers and we will continue to work closely with the industry to ensure it has the right skills and qualifications needed to deliver forecasted output,” said Neilson. Construction employment is expected to start rising again, with an annual average employment growth rate of


Barry Neilson, CITB-ConstructionSkills NI chief and John Armstrong, chief executive, Construction Employers Federation.

1.1% predicted. The annual recruitment requirement of 1,280 will include demand for bricklayers, plasterers, painters and decorators, construction managers and professionals and technical staff. Despite the challenges ahead, John Armstrong remains upbeat about the industry’s ability to respond. “The industry is remarkably resilient in terms of its ability to fill gaps.” However, the greatest concern among industry experts is the need for sustained investment by the Executive in longterm infrastructure and industrial projects to secure future growth. Referring to stalled projects such as the A5 road upgrade, the £130m police and fire training college at Desertcreat in Tyrone, and the shelved Maze Prison peace centre, CEF boss Armstrong says there is “huge frustration that at a time when optimism is

beginning to come back into the sector that major projects get so far and then they stall”. CITB-ConstructionSkills NI chief Barry Neilson, agrees. “Clarity and certainty of future projects is an important element of a sustained recovery. It gives employers the confidence to train and to plan. But growth needs to be sustainable; underpinned by long-term infrastructure projects and continued investment. The assurance that major infrastructure projects in the pipeline go ahead as planned would be most welcomed and measures must be taken now to ensure growth is sustained over the long-term.” Northern Ireland’s construction industry has come through the fiercest of economic storms in recent years and taken some big knocks along the way. But if the sector can harness the ingenuity and resilience of its skilled workforce it will be on the road to recovery – and this time it will be built to last.

CITB NI: 50 years supporting the local construction industry


he Construction Industry Training Board, established in 1964, is celebrating 50 years of leading the way in identifying the skills and training needs of the local construction industry. The organisation has changed significantly over the past five decades and has served the industry during both the boom times and the low recessional times. With this in mind the organisation, more recently known as CITB-ConstructionSkills NI, will now revert back to its original trading name, CITB NI, in order to help celebrate the successes of the past 50 years and also reflect better the work with local employers.   Barry Neilson, Chief Executive, CITB NI said: “Our 50th anniversary is quite an achievement and we are proud to have supported the development of our most valuable resource, our people during this time. Over recent years we have concentrated our efforts on supporting the industry to help it survive the economic downturn. We have worked with the sector to improve their capabilities in strategic planning and performance improvement at senior management level whilst also working to develop a qualified workforce at craft level. The economy in Northern Ireland is levelling out and we are looking forward to the future with a confident and more capable workforce able to embrace the opportunities arising as our industry regenerates.” “We may be changing our name but we are not changing our organisation. We will continue to work in partnership with CITB in Great Britain and the Construction Industry Council as ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for Construction.

CITB NI is focusing on training young people in construction.

As an Industry Training Board and Sector Skills Council, our vision is to have a construction industry where skills and competence are at the core of every business plan and a training culture where skills are at the heart of each construction company, no matter how large or small.” Over the past 50 years the construction industry has changed dramatically with significant changes to local city skylines, technology and construction methods. Barry continued: “Construction is a historic industry. It has built our homes, our hospitals, our schools, our roads, our railways, our workplaces, our airports, our greatest cathedrals and historic buildings. The buildings and landmarks which have been developed will be here long after the construction process has been completed

CITB Northern Ireland Nutts Corner Training Centre 17 Dundrod Road, Crumlin Co. Antrim BT29 4SR T: 028 9082 5466 I F: 028 9082 5693 I

so we will be able to make our mark on the landscape. Looking forward to the next 50 years, CITB NI will continue to support the industry in developing the people it needs to meet the challenges now and in the future.” “We will continue to develop new interventions and programs focusing on apprenticeships and leadership within the sector to ensure the industry has the skills to deliver and the strategic management to do so efficiently and economically. We will also address skills development in specialist areas such as heritage and sustainable construction methods in order to assist with opportunities which may arise in these sectors. And we will continue to work closely with industry partners, stakeholders and government to ensure a qualified and competent industry to ensure growth is sustained over the long-term.”



Commercial property market yearns for positivity

By Gareth Howell, Retail Director, Osborne King Commercial Property Consultants


s we move into the last quarter of 2014, the commercial property market has exhibited some signs of – dare I say it – positivity? We have seen press releases regarding job creation and investment from Baker & McKenzie to establish a global services centre in Belfast, expansion plans from Ernst & Young for its Belfast office and Deloitte’s announcement regarding its target of 338 new jobs in Belfast over the next five years. All goods signs, no doubt, but scratch the surface and it is clear this positivity is still very fragile. The supply side of this equation is still unfortunately absent and the desire to deliver new-build, “grade A” office space cannot be met easily. Until we see a return to normal lending conditions, deliverability will be stymied. However, upward pressure on rents will continue as availability of grade A stock diminishes. Equally, within the residential sector we have seen evidence of pricing, within established locations, grow throughout the last nine months. Even marginal locations, where tangible price growth is not readily identifiable, have experienced increased activity. The big tests for this sector will come with future removal of government subvention via the Help to Buy scheme, the increased scrutiny placed, albeit sensibly, on borrowers through Mortgage Market Review as well as the inevitable rise in interest rates which will test almost all


households. The biggest test will be for those still attempting to work through legacy issues around disproportionate loan-to-value ratios. Positivity in the retail sector comes from a few new entrants in Belfast in the form of Simply Be/Jacamo, Joules and children’s wear retailer JoJo Maman Bebe. The retail sector, and in particular the high street, faces more challenging structural changes ahead with current estimates suggesting the typical high street is over supplied to the tune of 20%. This is floor space which may never be re-occupied for retail, therefore even with a potential redistribution of the rates liability and continued increased consumer confidence, vacancy is something we are going to see persist until creative solutions are implemented. Granted, this is not an easy problem to solve and we need a forward-thinking planning service working alongside

the private sector to lead the delivery of a reinvigorated high street. Overlay the respective challenges in each of these sectors of the property market with the entrance of private equity funds into the region via loan sales and we infuse a degree of uncertainty into matters which may irrevocably alter the landscape of commercial property in Northern Ireland. The Basel 3 regulations have accelerated regulatory change within the senior debt market, prompting our traditional lenders to retreat from the market, with loan sales now being viewed as the quickest and most effective method of achieving this retraction. The hope is that private equity brings with it the prospect of informed and decisive commercial rationale that moves in tandem with this initial positivity in the market, which may in turn support growth.

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Lagan Water cleans up at awards


he winners of the CEF/Specify Construction Excellence Awards 2014, in association with Ulster Business and sponsored by JLT, were recently announced in Belfast. Guest of Honour, Minister for Employment and Learning, Stephen Farry, revealed Lagan Water as the winner of the Overall Award for the Clay Lake Water Treatment Works in Keady, County Armagh. The water infrastructure project, which also won the Utilities Infrastructure Award, emerged as the ultimate winner for 2014 against stiff competition from the other 14 category winners including the Redevelopment of Ravenhill Stadium by Gilbert-Ash and the new Antrim Area Hospital Emergency Department by Farrans Construction. Congratulating the overall winners John Armstrong, Managing Director of the Construction Employers Federation (CEF), said: “We turn on our taps and out comes high quality clean drinking water – we take that for granted, but of course it is millions of pounds of investment in infrastructure that makes that possible. The Clay Lake Water Treatment Works is the sort of project that is often invisible to the public and I think it is a testament to the outstanding work of Lagan Water that this vitally important part of our local construction industry has been brought into the spotlight.” A packed Culloden Hotel hosted the prestigious ceremony which is now firmly established as the highlight of the construction calendar in Northern Ireland. The audience, which included guests from across the political, public and private sectors, was addressed by Stephen Farry, the Minister for Employment and Learning.


Neil McKenzie, Director at Lagan Water and Rhona Quinn, President of CEF celebrate with a splash.

Mr Armstrong said: “The minister’s presence at tonight’s ceremony underlines the construction industry’s significant contribution to employment, apprenticeships and training opportunities in Northern Ireland. As an industry we want to work in partnership with our political leaders to create more jobs and to further develop the skills or our people.” “Construction output on the ground in Northern Ireland has fallen on average by 8% each year since 2007/08 with the loss of over 20,000 jobs. Due to construction’s unique multiplier effect the absence of a recovery in construction activity is holding back growth in the wider economy. Just as hope was growing that 2014 might mark the end of the construction recession in Northern Ireland the industry has been hit with a freeze on a number of public sector maintenance

contracts. Whilst CEF has been calling for the Northern Ireland Executive to take active steps to facilitate an increase in construction activity, the key message in the short term is don’t kick the industry when it is down.” “Against this challenging backdrop I congratulate all the shortlisted finalists and particularly the winners of each of the 14 categories. These companies are ambassadors for the construction industry both at home and now increasingly abroad. It is the quality of their work that makes them stand out from the crowd.” For a complete list of winners please visit or contact Siobhan Kissward for a copy of Specify magazine on T: 028 9078 3218 or email:

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Affordable housing becoming a must? By Graham Pierce, Worthingtons Solicitors


he public consultation period has recently closed on the Department of Social Development’s proposals to introduce a system of “Developer Contributions for Social and Affordable Housing”. This follows the publication of the department’s consultation document in June and the results of the consultation, along with the department’s views on the responses received, will be published some months thereafter. Alongside the DSD’s consultation, the DOE has been running its own consultation on the delivery mechanism for the new housing policy, which would take the form of a new Planning Policy Statement 22. Essentially it would contain the nuts and bolts of the scheme and how it would be implemented and enforced. The basic proposition is that every development over a certain threshold – five units is suggested – will be required, by way of planning conditions or obligations, to make a contribution to affordable housing (which is defined as social rented housing and/or shared-ownership housing) with the level of contribution determined by the profitability of any given scheme. The contributions can take the form of a certain number of affordable housing units on site or off-site (but within the general locality), a commuted sum of money or a combination of affordable units and a commuted sum.


Preference, however, would be given to housing units on site, with commuted sums being the least preferred option. A simple commuted sum with no housing contribution would only be acceptable where building affordable housing at the development or in the vicinity “is not feasible” but even where the affordable housing need has been met in the particular locality a commuted sum would still be required.

“The proposals contained in the consultation paper beg numerous questions. Expect some level of anti-avoidance provisions to be included.” This characterises the scheme more as a straightforward development tax. Commuted sums received would be ringfenced for use by the DSD in affordable housing schemes elsewhere in the Province. The department’s proposed level of contribution for a particular scheme, that is to say the proportion of affordable

housing to be included in the scheme or the commuted sum to be paid, will be tested against “an economic viability model” and if the calculation results in an overall development profit for the developer of 15% or more then the test will be passed. The department promises teams of specialist valuers and financial appraisers to negotiate with developers. The department’s proposals share many of the characteristics of the Community Infrastructure Levy (“CIL”) that operates in many parts of England and Wales and which came into effect in 2010 although CIL is more focused on raising funds and, as the name suggests, these are spent on a much wider range of infrastructure than just affordable housing. The devil will be in the detail, clearly, and the proposals contained in the consultation paper beg numerous questions. No doubt many in the industry will already be turning their minds to ways of mitigating the level of contributions or avoiding them entirely. We can expect some level of antiavoidance provisions to be included at all stages of the consenting process, from the Planning Policy Statement through to the planning conditions/obligations relating to the specific scheme. We can also expect the potential impact of the scheme to be front and centre in negotiations between developers and landowners.


Proposal needs consideration By Tom Stokes, director of Belfast planning consultancy TSA Planning mechanism for securing developer contributions.

Northern Ireland is at a significantly low level compared to where it needs to be.

No-one should be under any illusions that such contributions will not come into play here because similar policies have already been adopted in both Britain and the Republic.

There has been an uplift in housebuilding in the past six-to-12 months in the BMAP area, but the viability of sites is finely balanced at present, while access to finance remains difficult.

However, in my opinion the policy is unworkable in its current form. And the timing is all wrong.

The timing of this policy therefore has the potential to stymie land transactions and curtail housebuilding growth.

he present consultation seeking views on developer contributions for the delivery of affordable housing in Northern Ireland is causing quite a stir in construction circles – and that’s no real surprise.


The draft paper is proposing a target of 20% of housing developments of five units or more to be provided by the developer as affordable housing and/or a commuted monetary sum. This would be determined on need as assessed by the Housing Executive.

And a further levy on top of traditional charges could see private sector housebuilding go into further decline.

The Department of the Environment’s (DoE) draft planning policy statement PPS 22 is a

Such a proposal is unworkable at present because house building in

While we know such contributions will be introduced at some stage, my advice to the DoE is that they should hold off until the recovery in housebuilding has taken a firm hold, and there has been more research and consultation with the local house building industry.

Dedication to mediation can solve a tricky situation


ore construction companies should use mediation to settle disputes, according to law firm Cleaver Fulton Rankin.

“Clearly an inability to resolve a commercial dispute in any sector can have major implications, which is just one of the many reasons we believe disputing parties should consider mediation when appropriate.”

Experts speaking at its seminar in Belfast last month said it can help avoid long and costly litigation while also removing the need to go to court. Patrick Fleming, Head of Construction in Cleaver Fulton Rankin said the practice is gathering popularity. “Over the last number of years the judiciary in Northern Ireland has been enthusiastic in their promotion of mediation. Cleaver Fulton Rankin are actively ensuring that our clients and contacts understand that the mediation process can not only provide imaginative solutions to disputes but can also greatly reduce the costs of litigation.” Director of Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s Construction team Lisa Boyd said mediation is well worth considering. “In a UK-wide construction context, last year the average value of disputes hit a record high of £16.7m with the length of time to resolve a dispute in 2013 averaging at 7.9 months,” said Lisa Boyd.


(l-r) Lisa Boyd (Director, Cleaver Fulton Rankin), The Hon. Mr Justice Weatherup and Patrick Fleming (Director and Head of Construction, Cleaver Fulton Rankin).




Oliver McAllister, PwC

Building on the future – can the construction industry deliver?

By Oliver McAllister


orthern Ireland’s construction sector is delivering some mixed messages around capacity, skills and growth, and a recent PwC roundtable comprising many of the sector’s leading players and PwC sector professionals plumbed the mood of the sector across the UK. Whilst May’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), for Northern Ireland, showed the fastest rate of growth in new construction orders and jobs for a decade, that growth came from a desperately low base. PwC chief economist, Dr Esmond Birnie, told the roundtable that the sector – including house building and civil engineering – has shrunk by around one-third since 2007, with around one-in-three jobs lost. Chris Temple, PwC’s UK construction sector leader, said that in the first three months of 2014, the value of new private house building in Northern Ireland totalled around £80m – a mere 22% of the £354m worth of house building in the same period in 2007. However, improvements are starting to emerge, with average house prices up 6.9% according to the latest University of Ulster house price index, and this is having a positive effect on demand for new build housing. There’s movement too in mortgage lending where the Council of Mortgage Lenders says that lending to first-time buyers in Northern Ireland in the first half of 2014 was up almost 30% on the same period in 2013. In the rest of the UK the sector has been brighter. While average Northern Ireland property prices are still around half the pre-recession peak, other regions have recovered most of their decline, with some boasting prices higher than before the crash.

Great Britain has a serious housing shortage, providing a strong underlying dynamic for the sector where an improved economic environment drove new starts in England to over 108,000 in the 12 months to March 2014 – a year-on-year increase of 34%. That was aided by the Help-to-Buy scheme, although this has primarily impacted existing properties, with new-builds accounting for only a relatively small proportion of sales.

across regional cities, while the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) aims to deliver £375bn of infrastructure investment over the next 20 years. But the impact of the NIP on Northern Ireland will be minimal with only one of the 429 projects – the Islandmagee Gas Storage project – listed in the 2014 pipeline. Little wonder then that one prominent construction company boss said: “When it comes to real growth opportunities, exporting is the new normal.”

“The supply of skilled labour is an issue, with many workers having left the industry, and it is becoming harder to attract new, especially younger, skills and talent, while civil engineering courses have seen a significant drop in applicants.”

However, the supply of skilled labour is an issue, with many workers having left the industry, and it is becoming harder to attract new, especially younger, skills and talent, while civil engineering degree courses have seen a significant drop in applicants.

In the UK commercial construction sector, both PwC and the industry agree that demand is relatively flat, with the most consistent growth being offices, particularly in London, where the crane count is continuing to increase, although there are strong indications of a lack of Grade A commercial property space in Belfast which may lead to opportunities. Northern Ireland construction companies continue to see GB as a major “export market”, with the re-balancing UK economy offering opportunities, particularly

The consensus of the roundtable is of an industry that will continue to focus on opportunities in GB and further afield. Major Northern Ireland public sector investments are relatively rare, with projects sticking in the planning system and even being cancelled or deferred, while major GB infrastructure projects offer growth opportunities, profits and jobs. However Northern Ireland may offer some opportunity in house building and office construction so long as capital investment is secured in these areas. One question even the industry cannot answer is, when the Northern Ireland construction market returns, will our leading construction companies have an appetite to follow?

Oliver is an Associate Partner and PwC’s NI Real Estate and Construction Lead. Oliver can be contacted on +44 7843 347992 or by email:

Dan Braden-Astbury, pictured centre, with the team at Stanley Security.

Security in technology How Stanley Security is taking a unique approach to the process of securing Northern Ireland’s businesses.


aking sure your business is secure has never been more important. Whether you’re involved in financial services, in processing or handling physical products or even managing large volumes of people, the cost of a security breach can be crippling to the bottom line of your business. With so much to lose, it stands to reason, therefore, that the cost of protecting your business should also be wince inducing. There’s no doubt that’s the case in many situations but security, like other parts of the business world, has moved with the times and clever adoption of technology means the right provider can in fact make your business even more secure for less.


At the cutting-edge of security technology is Stanley Security, the Belfast-based company which is a part of the global tools & hardware US-listed group Stanley Black and Decker.

to prosecute. And if you’re on the move, using IP-based video surveillance will allow you to check in on your premises through an app on your tablet computer or smartphone.

A good example of how it’s putting high tech to good use can be found in that emblem of security, the CCTV camera.

Those are just an example of some of the changes in an industry that is constantly improving.

Huge advances in security camera technology mean just one internet protocol (IP) camera can do the job of up to twenty traditional cameras, proving much more cost effective and carrying out a higher quality, more detailed service.

“The technology is moving so fast it can be hard for some companies to keep up but we make sure we invest a lot of time in research and development to always be ahead of the pack,” says Dan Braden-Astbury, the company’s business development director. “Because we are part of such a large organisation we can leverage a lot of inhouse technical know-how and make sure our customers are able to take advantage of it.”

Not only do they provide companies with clearer security pictures of their premises, the captured footage is “evidence grade”, meaning it could potentially be used in court


The technology also helps save time when it comes to reviewing security footage. For instance, IP-based cameras can be integrated with tills in shops to provide a condensed picture of only the period when the till is open. “Our analytics will pull all that up extremely quickly,” Dan said. “We try to get an understanding of our customers’ business and can create a bespoke solution for each and every one of them.” That application doesn’t necessarily need to involve traditional security products but could also help out with other forms of monitoring your business.

Dan Braden-Astbury, Business Development Director.

Shelley Adams, Business Development Executive.

“Technology is moving so fast it can be hard for some companies to keep up but we make sure we invest a lot of time in research and development to always be ahead of the pack.”

“We have traditional security products but can also offer time and attendance systems and staff protection systems. We’re leveraging the technology to integrate a whole range of bespoke offerings.” And it’s not just the technology end of things where Stanley Security can offer an edge. It’s also one of the first in the island of Ireland to offer long-term finance for its security solutions, one that means customers know exactly what they’ll be paying for the security provision and are able to factor the cost into budgets. “Our STANLEY Assure finance solution gives you a fixed cost, combined with a life long warranty and service agreement,” Mr BradenAstbury said. “That’s a key bonus for finance professionals because it removes the need


Greer Parkinson, Account Manager.

for capital spend and there are no peaks and troughs when it comes to security costs.” Such an offering needs well-informed staff, familiar with all the products and their customers. Alongside Mr Braden-Astbury at the front end of the business is Greer Parkinson, the account manager for large accounts, Shelley Adams, the sales manager for small and medium-sized enterprises and Eamonn Devlin, the company’s account manager for the banking sector. All have a wealth of experience in the security industry but also a drive to

Eamonn Devlin, Account Manager.

understand customer businesses and the freedom to choose from the best software and hardware on the market. “We’re completely agnostic to suppliers,” Mr Braden-Astbury said. “We have a number of partners but don’t have a single supplier and we will always strive for the best solution to fit the client. “We invest very heavily in continued professional development for all the employees in Stanley Security and we work with the best suppliers in their field. We’re not going to go out and provide a generic solution, it’s the best solution and the best fit for our customers.”



Jayne’s Five Star Career Jayne Wilkinson, Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel, New York, is the seventh student to be profiled in our “Studying Success” series. She has completed a BSc Hons in International Hotel and Tourism Management at the Ulster Business School.


aving been awarded the Associate grade of the Institute of Hospitality as the most aspiring hospitality professional, Jayne hopes to inspire and motivate others who are starting their own academic and professional careers. She talks to Ulster Business. What did you study at the Ulster Business School? I successfully completed a BSc Hons International Hotel and Tourism Management at the Ulster Business School in Belfast and graduated with first class honours. Why did you choose this course? From a young age I knew that a career in the hospitality industry was something I desired. The international career prospects that the course provided were very attractive and gave me the opportunity to travel to the United States of America to be trained

in a five star Platinum Country Club. This course also provided me with the necessary framework to enhance my skills in the areas of accounting, culinary operations, human resource management, services marketing management and strategic management. What attracted you to the Ulster Business School? I researched a lot of schools and ultimately there was no comparison as the Ulster Business School in Belfast was recognised as one of the Top Three UK Universities for Travel, Transport and Tourism. Its programme also included the opportunity to gain exposure to the field of hospitality management abroad which greatly appealed to me as I wanted to gain cross cultural understanding of the hospitality industry. What part of the course did you enjoy most? Undoubtedly, studying alongside such inspiring and supportive academics and lecturers was most enjoyable. Being provided with the opportunity to gain an insight into the environment of an international hospitality brand was a fantastic experience. I grasped every opportunity to put theory into practice particularly in the University’s training restaurant, The Academy. How will this qualification help in your future career? My qualification has provided me with an opportunity for placement in one of the most


Jayne Wilkinson, Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel, New York, BSc Hons International Hotel and Tourism Management, Ulster Business School.

luxurious hospitality brands in the world, The Ritz Carlton (now the Powerscourt Hotel). The experience with this prestigious hotel group has provided me with a strong foundation of gold standards, training and principles which I will continue to use as a benchmark for all my daily tasks. The experienced academic staff at the Ulster Business School have continued to provide me with support and advice in helping me fulfil my career goals. In August 2014, I joined the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel, New York on a twelve month trainee management programme. It involves rotational training between the front office, housekeeping and food and beverage departments. I strongly believe that without the fundamental skills I gained as part of my degree both of these opportunities would have not been possible and I look forward to continue growing professionally in five star organisations. Who do you admire most in the business world and why? I admire everyone in the hospitality industry who is ambitious, professional and enthusiastic. In particular, I admire my mother, Mrs Edna Wilkinson, who is a Hospitality and Catering Lecturer at South West College, Omagh. My mum has not only inspired me to join the hospitality industry, but has also continued to support me in my professional and academic career.

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Keeping it local?


ocal sourcing is big business. Gone are the days when hosts at posh dinner parties would boast about how far the prawns in their retro starter had flown before being slathered in mayonnaise and tomato ketchup. Nowadays aspiring foodies are more likely to tell you which bay the seared mackerel had been caught in or which tree the poached pear pulled from. This trend hasn’t been lost on the big retailers in the food game, companies who pride themselves on being as reactive to consumer

trends as Usain Bolt to a starter gun. They’re forever telling us about the plethora of products they source from Northern Ireland, some of which not only finds its way to consumers here but also across the rest of the UK, the Republic and beyond. In an attempt to find out who sources what from where and how much, we gave each of the major supermarkets a series of questions to answer. The answers – apart from Marks & Spencer who said they didn’t break down their local sourcing to Northern Ireland – are below:



How much produce do you source from Northern Ireland, in monetary terms? In total, Asda sources around £300m of produce (food & drink, exc tobacco) from its Island of Ireland suppliers – of which there are over 100. This figure includes all products sourced here and sold throughout Asda stores in both NI and GB.

How much produce do you source from Northern Ireland, in monetary terms? The company spends more than £580m per year with Northern Ireland food and drink suppliers. Products from local suppliers extend to more than 1,200 products including all the well-known Northern Ireland brands and many Tesco brand products.

How does that compare to five years ago? Since Asda first opened in Northern Ireland in 2005, this represents an increase of 225%. What are the main products you buy? Beef – ABP, Newry; Chicken – Moy Park; Dairy – Dale Farm; Bread/Bakery – Irwins, Allied Bakery; soft drinks – Coca-Cola Ireland; Pork/Sausages – Karro (including McGee’s instore butchery) and Finnebrogue (supplier of Asda’s Extra Special own label range); Eggs – Skea; Fresh Produce – Gilfresh, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Wilson’s Country Potatoes etc; Crisps – Tayto. How much of the produce you buy is sold in your Northern Ireland supermarkets? Around one third or £100m.


How does that compare to five years ago? It was circa £480m. What are the main products you buy? Beef, pork, poultry, fresh produce, eggs, milk, bread, cakes. More than 3,000 Northern Irish farmers supply Tesco with Northern Irish beef including over 500 NI farmers who supply farm quality assured Tesco Finest Aberdeen Angus Beef to its meat counters. 100% of Tesco fresh beef, pork and chicken sold in its Northern Ireland stores comes from Northern Ireland farms. 100% of Tesco eggs and fresh milk sold in its Northern Ireland stores comes from Northern Ireland, the milk from 1600 local farmers through Dale Farm. Skea Eggs supplies over 50 million eggs to Tesco annually for stores across the UK. How much of the produce you buy is sold in your Northern Ireland supermarkets? Information not available.

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Sainsburys How much produce do you source from Northern Ireland, in monetary terms? Sainsbury’s sources in the region of £250m worth of products annually from Northern Ireland-based suppliers and producers. How does that compare to five years ago? The level of sourcing generally increases year on year. In the last 12 months we have built on our local sourcing commitment to local beef and lamb industries by sourcing 100% of our fresh pork in Northern Ireland for example. With fresh meat from Northern Ireland sold across a large proportion of our supermarket network and our support for suppliers through initiatives such as the Pig Innovation Centre means that this figure is likely to continue to grow. What are the main products you buy? We buy a range of products, many of which are fresh foods, including dairy, meat, vegetables and fresh convenience foods. We only sell eggs from Northern Ireland in our network of 13 stores here and all of our fresh milk sold locally is also sourced here. How much of the produce you buy is sold in your Northern Ireland supermarkets? In the region of one fifth of the produce bought here is sold here – approximately £40m pounds worth, with the remainder going to our network of stores across England, Scotland and Wales. We have 13 supermarkets across Northern Ireland with a large number of these also offering online shopping facilities. Each of these supermarkets offers a significant selection of locallysourced products across the grocery departments both own brand and branded goods.

Henderson Group How much produce do you source from Northern Ireland, in monetary terms? We are relentless in our efforts to increase our local sourcing and in the last two years our sales of Northern Ireland produce have increased by over 20%. Whenever possible (or when in season) the primary food stuffs e.g. meat/vegetables/milk and eggs always come from a Northern Irish source.

How does that compare to five years ago? Our Fresh Foods division continues to grow significantly and the amount of produce we source from Northern Ireland has increased by more than 40% over the past five years. The mix of the business is becoming increasingly focused on fresh foods, creating new sales opportunities for suppliers and retailers alike and, most importantly, changing the way customers perceive our combined businesses. For example, now all our salad leaves and fresh barbeque meats come from Northern Ireland suppliers and that wouldn’t have been the case five years ago. What are the main products you buy? We provide a significant volume outlet for categories which would be readily associated with convenience shopping, particularly milk, bread and general dairy. However, our ability to provide better fresh meal solutions over recent years is really beginning to see those categories return some brilliant results. Working with local suppliers like K&G McAtamney has given us the opportunity to offer convenient, high quality meals to our customers and we are keen to further expand that area of our business. How much of the produce you buy is sold in your Northern Ireland supermarkets? 100%.




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Musgrave How much produce do you source from Northern Ireland, in monetary terms? Musgrave Retail Partners NI currently sources over £130m of produce in Northern Ireland each year. How does that compare to five years ago? The amount of Northern Ireland sourced produce has increased by more than 25% over the past five years. What are the main products you buy? Most of our fresh food is sourced locally, in keeping with Musgrave’s ethos of supporting the local agrifood sector in each of the markets in which we operate – this includes sourcing 100% of our fresh chicken, beef, pork, lamb, milk and eggs in Northern Ireland. How much of the produce you buy is sold in your Northern Ireland supermarkets? All of the produce bought locally by Musgrave Retail Partners NI is sold in the 250 SuperValu, Centra and Mace stores in Northern Ireland.

Lidl How much produce do you source from Northern Ireland, in monetary terms? Around 47% of all grocery sales in Lidl’s stores across the island of Ireland are generated from products sourced from Irish and Northern Irish suppliers, producers and manufacturers. A significant proportion of our top selling Irish product lines come from our fresh meat category. How does that compare to five years ago? Information not available. What are the main products you buy? Lidl Northern Ireland is committed to working with more than 35 local suppliers from right across Northern Ireland, many of them household names such as Linden Foods, Moy Park and Dunbia. Locally-sourced products include beef, chicken, pork, milk, eggs, breads and cheeses, as well as seasonal fresh vegetables and fruit which are stocked in each of our 36 stores in the province. How much of the produce you buy is sold in your Northern Ireland supermarkets? The produce we buy in Northern Ireland is available in all of Lidl’s 141 stores in the Republic of Ireland.


Mash Direct plants firm roots with Asda and Carrefour

Local Comber-based company, Mash Direct is planting firm roots with two major retail giants after securing a UK-wide supply contract with Asda and launching with multinational supermarket Carrefour in Dubai. Mash Direct is building on its existing relationship with Asda, having agreed a new contract to supply seven of its product lines into 363 stores across Britain in a deal

that is projected to generate an additional £3m of sales in the following 12 months. As part of its growth strategy, Mash Direct has set its sights upon the huge potential in the British retail market alongside other export opportunities. Mash Direct is the market leader in the vegetable accompaniment sector and the company hopes to achieve an even bigger share of the UK chilled ready meals sector through the Asda deal. Production is set to increase substantially to fulfil demand from this new contract which forecast sales of 350,000 units within the first week alone. A new 25,000 square foot factory extension is in the process of being completed which will help double production capacity, whilst creating jobs right across the business. Meanwhile an additional 35 jobs have been added since the beginning of this year alone. Mash Direct’s Managing Director Martin Hamilton said: “Mash Direct has come a long way in 10 years, from a dream to produce champ, which started in our farmhouse kitchen, to supplying an enviable portfolio of customers across retail, food service and food manufacturing in the UK, Ireland and beyond. This new Asda contract is the product of years of hard work and we are

delighted to partner with such a forwardthinking company. We are also excited to announce that we have just been listed with Carrefour in Dubai which is in addition to our existing Dubai and Middle East customers. “Mash Direct have not only successfully weathered, but prospered during the gloomy economic climate and we look forward to building on our success further with lots of exciting new projects, including a brand new TV advert which is due to air shortly on Sky channels LivingIT, E! Entertainment and Sky Movies Premier,” said Martin. “We are also delighted to have won a further three Great Taste Awards for our Red Cabbage and Beetroot, Cauliflower Cheese Gratin and Potato Cakes with Bacon. This is a huge accolade which recognises the high quality of our products and means a great deal to us,” he added.

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From Augher to Arabia for Heavenly Tasty


n Augher company has bagged a contract to supply its baby food to a chain of retail outlets in the United Arab Emirates.

News of the deal, worth £50,000 to the two-person company, was released as part of a five-day trade mission organised by Invest NI to the region led by enterprise minister Arlene Foster, along with a number of other exporters and potential exporters from Northern Ireland. Heavenly Tasty has already begun supplying baby food to Spinneys, one of the biggest and best-known premium retailers in the Middle East, through distribution company Pan Euro Foods. “The arrangement, put in place by Invest Northern Ireland, means products from a range of local food companies are consolidated by Pan Euro, shipped and then distributed on time to retailers in the Emirates,” the minister said. “As a direct result of this service, many Northern Ireland companies such as Heavenly Tasty have gained their first sales in the Gulf with leading retailers including Spinneys, LuLu Supermarket Group, Choittrams and Carrefour.”

Arlene Foster is pictured in Spinneys, Dubai, with Conor Ryan, Pan Euro Food.

Other Northern Ireland products already heading to the Gulf region include beef, pork, porridge oats, eggs, gluten-free biscuits, traditional Irish breads and confectionery, organic salmon and other seafood and mashed potatoes.

Hillsdown Water – part of the revolution potential cost savings, fixed costs, a reduction in paperwork as there is only one invoice and no need to order bottles, no heavy bottles to lift and store and environmental savings including reduced road travel on delivering and collecting bottles, reduced usage of plastic for bottles and a reduction on energy and paper use to order, schedule and pay for deliveries. All of these can be included in your company carbon footprint. As the only company in Northern Ireland to be a member of the European Drinking Water Cooler Association, Hillsdown Water provides expert advice and tailored solutions for all customers. It was established in 1989 and is one of Northern Ireland’s leading providers of coolers to the public and private sectors, specialising solely on the plumbed-in mains-fed variety. Over the course of the last ten years more and more companies are moving away from bottled water coolers.


ydration, hydration, hydration! According to food and drink consultancy Zenith International, by 2018 there will be five million water coolers in Europe.

The Zenith report said: “Mains-fed continues to take market share away from bottles, with many customers making a straight conversion.” Mains-fed water coolers use a filtration process that removes all contaminants such as lead, heavy metals and chlorine to leave the end user with a constant supply of fresh chilled water. The main advantages of moving to mains-fed water coolers include:


Hillsdown Water also specialise in supplying a range of bespoke water softening equipment to the hotel, pub and restaurant trade in order to prevent problems associated with hard water. This is particularly prevalent in kitchen equipment such as steam ovens, water boilers and dishwashers that can be damaged by a build up of lime scale causing breakdowns and reducing the lifespan of the equipment. We would be happy to call at your premises to offer you a free no obligation quote. For further information contact us on 028 9260 5916 or visit us at

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Read the European label Maria O’Loan, Director of Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s Agri-Food unit, highlights some of the changes hitting the Northern Ireland food industry.


ollowing on from the publication of the Food Information Regulation Northern Ireland 2014, further legislation is on its way in the coming months to respond to European Food Information Regulations which will require local businesses to change their labels yet again. It’s estimated that each label change costs businesses approximately £3,500 and therefore the requirements will be a particular burden on SMEs. The labelling requirements are likely to change in phases requiring business to undergo this process and expense several times.

The race to comply is not helped by the fact that the EU has yet to issue final rules on: • The date that should be applied to the first freezing of food; • Implementing regulations on meat uses and ingredients and primary ingredients and provenance declarations; • Implementing regulations on: trans fats, nutrition labelling on alcohol and vegetarian food; • Nano materials; • Food service industry requirements; and • Rules on distance or internet selling.  One key issue which will impact Northern Irish food businesses is country of origin labelling for ingredients. Whilst the position for Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) for various meats is relatively clear and comes into force in April next year, the position of ingredients in foods is less clear cut. It will be assumed that an ingredient or ingredients of a food representing more than 50 per cent of that food, or which are usually associated with the name of the food by the consumer, will constitute “primary ingredients” and it will be necessary to identify the origin of those ingredients.


As the proposals stand, a “primary ingredient” can actually comprise several ingredients of a food, or it would also be possible that where an ingredient accounts for a lesser proportion than other ingredients in the product, but would be considered as essential for the foodstuff by the general consumer (e.g., tomatoes for pizza) that too may be classed as a primary ingredient. However, as long as the country of origin of a food is not specifically highlighted on the label of a product, it may not be necessary to indicate the different origin of any of its primary ingredients. Further reports are to be submitted to the European Commission by 13 December 2014 which may clarify these points. As a result, food businesses must understand that their labels may need to change at short notice and frequently to reflect seasonal changes in ingredient suppliers or to allow them to adapt to supply chain issues. The use of ingredients sourced from outside Northern Ireland may mean that local businesses cannot use the “product of Northern Ireland” logo or indications. Food businesses need to consider and review their supply contracts and labelling requirements now to be able to react to the changes afoot. In the alternative, it may be a golden opportunity for local growers and producers to secure a greater local market share.

A supermarket that’s

super-sustainable Earlier this year, high powered supermarket chains across the UK announced their level of food waste in astonishing figures, it kickstarted a trend for the rest of the multiples to reveal their own waste levels, and more importantly, what they were going to do about it. Fast forward to the final quarter of 2014, and the waste awareness campaign has taken on many forms, most recently on a local scale with Henderson Group’s own chain of supermarkets, EUROSPAR. The EUROSPAR concept is one that is relatively new to Northern Ireland, one that the company continues to invest heavily in and takes pride in this new style of supermarket. You won’t find them on the outskirts of town, taking up huge areas of land. No, these “super easy supermarkets” are right in the heart of communities, with all the fresh choice and variety of any other supermarket. With that variety, the threat of waste is ever present which is why, this month, EUROSPAR has launched its own “Waste Not, Want Not” initiative. This will seek to educate shoppers and staff on how to reduce waste in the home, and how to be more conscious of what they are buying in store. The week-long initiative kicks off on 13 October and will mix cooking demonstrations from well-known cook and BBC chef, Paula McIntyre who will create dishes using locally-sourced meat, something that the waste light rarely shines upon. Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director from Henderson Group, owners of the EUROSPAR franchise in Northern Ireland said: “Meat is a weeknight staple in many homes across Northern Ireland, but usually shoppers aren’t quite sure of how much they really need for whatever they are cooking. Throughout the Waste Not, Want Not scheme, we’ll seek to arm our shoppers with the necessary knowledge of how to make best use of what they are purchasing, and with butchers in nearly every store, they can learn just the right amount to buy for their needs. “Paula McIntyre will be holding live demos in different stores each day of the week, and will be basing her demonstrations on the “Cook Once, Eat Twice” philosophy, encouraging shoppers not to discard leftovers. The EUROSPAR supermarket has customers coming in for their weekly shop, much like any multiple, so we need to arm them with the correct information so their fresh purchases are informed and their fresh waste at home is lowered.”

Paula McIntyre.

During the week, staff at each of the EUROSPAR supermarkets involved in Waste Not, Want Not will be given training by a Love Food Hate Waste representative, meaning they can become ambassadors, share their experiences with staff and provide recommendations to customers. “We have a huge degree of responsibility in reducing the amount of waste that we generate. At our distribution centre in Mallusk we have won several awards for our waste management initiatives and continue to implement new practices that are aimed at reducing waste and cutting costs. We are particularly proud that we have achieved a ‘zero to landfill’ status, utilising NWP’s recycling and process scheme. “We will continue to work with local fresh food suppliers, in particular our meat offering, which will make us more responsible with our sourcing. Because we know where our meat is coming from, this too will help reduce waste. Finally, with a push on education, we hope to create a chain of stores that are efficient with waste, and shoppers who are too.”

For more information on Waste Not, Want Not with EUROSPAR, visit and


Liberty sets out stall after Hughes takeover


mbitions to break into a new geographical market leave a company with two options.

By David Elliott

It wasn’t until 2011 that the insurance business appeared here after scooping up an arm of the troubled Quinn group.

its market share considerably over the last few years and one which can help propel the US company’s ambitions.

Either you can grow your market share organically by building up your own customer base or you can take over one of the incumbent players in the market.

That made it a big player in the insurance market in the Republic and gave it a foothold in the market in Northern Ireland, but Liberty’s ambitions here were set higher.

“Our strategic intent is to be a top three player in the market,” Mr O’Neill said in an interview with Ulster Business. “We’re close to that in the Republic but were a long way off in Northern Ireland.

Liberty – that’s the US insurance to IT giant, not the London department store nor the human rights organisation – chose to do the latter when it decided to take on the Northern Ireland insurance market.

“Liberty has been investing in Northern Ireland for a period of time and want to be a major player in the insurance market across the island of Ireland. Acquisition was part of that strategy,” Pat O’Neill, chief executive of Liberty Insurance said.

Having established the Liberty name in Northern Ireland through its IT arm when it set up stall here in 1997, the company already had a feel for the region.

Earlier this year it announced the acquisition of Newtownards-based Hughes Insurance, a family-owned business which had grown

“But, with the acquisition of Hughes, we’d expect to be top three in Northern Ireland within 12 months.” Owing to the complicated nature of such takeovers, the deal is still in the process of being completed but in the meantime it’s business as usual for the Hughes Insurance business, according to Mr O’Neill. “When the deal closes liberty will become more actively involved and we’ll expect to see the growth continued.” A name change may not be on the cards. “We’re intent on maintaining the Hughes brand,” he said. “It’s the best know insurance name in the market place and has a local characteristic.” “There’s no shortage of competition so where we can differentiate ourselves is in trying to take the local approach.” Mr O’Neill was coy on how much Liberty had paid for the Hughes business.

Pat O’Neill, chief executive of Liberty Insurance for the island of Ireland.


“That’s commercially sensitive but what I can say is that the Hughes business is significant, with £160m in revenue, 160,000 policy holders and 20% share of the Northern Ireland motor insurance business. The business has a lot of value.”

Andrew Park and Clare Beswick

Retail is therapy at INC As a multi discipline communications consultancy, INC has taken the UK’s retail marketing sector by storm. The young company have developed iconic brands, implemented big ideas from conception to completion and pushed the boundaries of consumer and retailer relationships. The company’s strong retail portfolio includes Liffey Valley, Dublin, Marshes Shopping Centre, Dundalk and Mahon Point, Cork. Changes are afoot within the passionate Belfast-based agency with Andrew Park, Managing Partner, delighted to introduce the latest appointment to the Senior Management Team – Clare Beswick as Head of Retail. Clare comes from a consumer PR background having worked for brands including Big National Lottery Fund, Douglas & Grahame and Specsavers. Her passion for the retail industry is apparent, with out-of-the-box marketing idea generation a speciality. “Clare is a leading light in retail marketing,” Andrew said. “Having immersed herself in the industry for the past number of years she has an enthusiasm for retail which is infectious.

“The retail industry has proved challenging in recent times, with economic climates ever-changing, however Clare’s insight and strategic planning have resulted in a greater footprint for our clients and ATV stabilised.” Clare has managed and directed awardwinning campaigns including The Victoria Shopping Centre Summer Sessions, Purple Apple Award winning crossplatform initiative. A personal favourite was Liffey Valley’s Romancing Style SS13 visual communications; a fashionfocused campaign shot in Amalfi Italy. ‘We are futurologists, exploring the retail world of today and injecting innovation into tomorrow,” Clare said. “Dreaming big and cementing our creativity with concrete evidence of consumer activity, behaviour and pattern. “We are living in exciting retail times, with the emergence of blurred sectors, cost polarisation and high-speed retail demands, all having implications for our client’s brands. More than ever brand experience is key. “The retail industry is a tricky business, with game-changing technological emergence. As the latest addition to INCs Senior Management Team, I intend to make it my priority to see that clients remain ahead of the curve.”

Clare continues: “Retail is everywhere, increasing the reach of your potential audience and demanding you communicate better, on a more personal level. ‘Retailtainment’ is now ever possible with the introduction of Smartphone Apps, mobile wallets and near-field communication. Future retail marketing must focus on the experiential rather than simply the transactional.” So what is the future for INC Marketing? The latest addition to the senior management team heralds a visual rebrand for the organisation. INC are setting their sights on growing their client portfolio, continuing to service existing clients to the highest standard and utilising the experienced team to provide consultation across a number of marketing disciplines. INC Marketing is a 360 consultancy providing expertise on everything from strategic social media communications to commercial interior design.


Par for the course... The sun shone for the annual Ulster Business golf day at the Hilton Hotel Templepatrick, where a four ball made up of golfers from A&L Goodbody and Hays took home the top prize.

Ulster Business editor David Elliott and Ulster Business publisher James Greer.

Ulster Business’ David Elliott with Catherine Williamson from Hilton Hotels.

Mark Cunningham, Bank of Ireland; Charles Burns, Kingspan; Tim Clarke, Kingspan and Martin McLean, Bank of Ireland.

Graham Pierce, Worthingtons; Geoff Clarke, Xafinity; Celia Worthingtons, Worthingtons and Iain Darby, Biznet Solutions.

Ian McIlrath, Ballymena Rugby Club; Andrew Osborough, Spectrum Hotels and Rodney Cole, Donnelly Brothers.

Luke Fuller, Hays Recruitment; David Rowan, A&L Goodbody; Peter Stafford, A&L Goodbody and Eamonn McCance, Hays Recruitment.

Chris Black, Ulster Business; Patrick Beattie, Irish News and Stephen Nelson, Surefreight.

Peter McMahon and Michael Hutchinson of Nitec and David Lyttle, David Lyttle & Co Accountants.


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Donaghcloney workshop is part of the furniture

Commercial property investment jumps

Andrew Morgan, founder of Edenballycoggill Workshop in Donaghcloney.


estled in the outskirts of Craigavon Borough Council in one of the area’s most picturesque areas is the workshop of experienced cabinet maker Andrew Morgan. From exquisite furniture to hand-made wooden structures, craftsman Andrew uses a wide range of wood types and carpentry techniques to produce some of Northern Ireland’s most exquisitely-produced woodwork. The unique nature of Edenballycoggill Workshop remains in sync with the fantastic work being carried out in Craigavon’s creative sector; something being profiled through an exciting new initiative delivered by Craigavon Borough Council, known as ‘Craigavon Means Business.’ The project aims to stimulate growth and competitiveness in the agri-food, creative and life and health sciences industries in the local area. Andrew has been designing and manufacturing furniture for domestic and commercial clients for seven years however, his experience of working with natural materials started long before this. He said: “I have been interested in woodwork from a young age and I achieved a degree in furniture production in England which helped me gain valuable knowledge from a manufacturing aspect. In 2006 I established Edenballycoggill Workshop and it has been an absolute delight ever since to work at something I have loved for so long.”

Andrew welcomes people to visit means business his workshop by appointment. He can be contacted on Tel: 07821 189 864; email: or by visiting


showcasing the best of local business


The Abbey Centre, owned by NewRiver Retail.


nvestment in the Northern Ireland commercial property market has jumped in the second quarter of the year, according to the latest research from agents CBRE.

It said, excluding loan sales, over £267m was invested in the Northern Ireland property sector in the third quarter of 2014, up from £144m during the first half of the year. Of the total invested since the start of the year, 94% has been made up of investment in retail properties including the sale of Forestside Shopping Centre in Belfast, the Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey and Foyleside Shopping Center in Londonderry. As a result of the renewed interest in the investment property, yields have been pressured. “Prime yields in Northern Ireland have contracted over the last few months due to the weight of money chasing property in the region and are expected to trend stronger over the course of the coming months,” the report said. CBRE said prime office yields now stand around 6.75%, prime shopping centre yields at 6.75%, prime high street retail yields at 6% while prime industrial yields at 7.5%. The report comes following news the new Abbey Centre owner NewRiver Retail announced it has agreed a 15-year lease with Next to create a new 43,000 square feet store in the park. It said it had agreed an annual rental of £475,000.


To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question By Julie Stewart


ou’ve finally done it. You’ve made the leap into working for yourself, you’ve conquered the voices in your head that try to remind you that you haven’t got a ‘real’ job and you have a few happy clients. Brilliant. Now what do you do? Obviously you put the kettle on, grab a couple of custard creams and just have a quick peek at Facebook. Just for a minute. You learn that someone’s child is looking adorable in a school uniform, someone else is uplifted by a twee picture with some poncy font telling them to seize the moment and a friend you haven’t seen since school has Instagramed everything they have stuffed in their mouth for the last day. An hour has passed and you are going to settle into some proper work, but you think you’ll just have a glance at Twitter in case something amazing has happened in the world outside your desk. It generally hasn’t. While procrastination is a common ailment for most workers, not just the freelancer, whiling away time on social media is not a waste of time, honest. The loneliness of the solo worker can create a world of doubt in the freelance mind. Being able to connect with others can not only raise morale but also boost your business, result! Social media can open up a world of conversations with prospective clients and collaborators. All you need to do is join in. Come on, the water is lovely! Once you work out what you want to say, who you want to say it to and how, the possibilities are endless. You don’t even need to be a literary or comedy genius, you just need to be human. You don’t want to see a load of dry advertising on your personal account, so why do it for your business? It


makes people tune out, or in the case of that person who updates their status on the hour, hit the block button. Share interesting stories about something you are working on. Ask questions about things your clients would be interested in. Engage (ah, the dreaded engagement) with similar businesses and you could find a collaboration you’d never expected. Variety is the spice of life, so try not to bang on about your product all the time. By being relevant, aware of current trends and having respect for your audience they are more likely to look for what you do themselves without being force fed. Make a plan and have some passion and you will do well. Don’t just hand over the updating of Social Media to someone to ‘look after’ on top of all their other stuff, especially if they don’t like it or get it. This can do more harm than good. Just think of it as a worldwide cocktail party for your business without having to get dolled up or have a hangover the next day.

Coronation Street for the fear of missing out on a lead. There are very user friendly platforms out there such as Hootsuite, which let you programme what you want to share at whatever time you want to in advance. This can also help you avoid the death stare from your other half on the sofa, and those dreaded words “turn that off and talk to me”. The reach of fancy and expensive advertising is often well out of the reach of the shallow pockets of SMEs but having a social presence is free. OK, it does take time and dedication but the rewards will definitely outweigh the effort. All you have to do is step away from the incessant sales pitch, show some personality, try not to be boring and be yourself. Unless you are rubbish at it. In that case, call in a professional.

Julie Stewart is a social media consultant

While social media is 24/7 you don’t need to sit staring at your screen all night missing

and copywriter and can be found at



The Modern Business

FinTru’s offers jobs to first tranch of students

By Kyle Johnston, Sales Director, Leaf


eaf recently researched the SME market in Northern Ireland and discovered that over 70% of SME’s are thinking about, or starting to look at updating their existing office systems. Leaf asks isn’t it time you considered looking at what Office 365 can actually do for your business? To remain competitive and profitable it’s more important than ever to embrace modern technologies that can improve workplace communications that drive productivity, increase efficiencies and keep costs down. Pictured at the launch of the Academy are (l-r); Michelle Bell, Head of Assured Skills, DEL, Darragh McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer, FinTrU and Minster Farry.

The threat for companies which still use older applications, such as Windows XP, is that older software and hardware such as XP or Windows Server 2003 are no longer supported and also pose a network security risk to the business.


By migrating to Office 365 you are supported 24/7 with automatic updates. And with office 365 now in the cloud, you can access your documents, files, e-mails from anywhere at anytime, regardless if you are in your office, at a conference, networking event or even on holiday. With all your Office applications hosted in the cloud, you can read and send files, e-mails and conduct meetings all through your mobile device or PC at home or in the office. Connect and collaborate with staff to ensure communications never break no matter where you or your team are working from.

FinTrU announced earlier this year it was creating 80 new posts once they’d completed its four-week Financial Services Training Academy and this first group of 20 are the first tranche of that total.

For many businesses considering adopting Cloud and Office 365, the cost can be as low as £3.10 per user/per month which can be easier for businesses allocating budget for their 2015 IT spend. Office 365 is also scalable, so as your business grows you can add more users to your plan as and when required.

“The results of the academy-style approach in other sectors have also been very positive in terms of up skilling and creating employment opportunities,” Employment minister Stephen Farry said. “Programmes such as the FinTrU Financial Academy, with the offer of a job to graduates, will ultimately assist with the expansion and growth of our economy at the same time creating newly skilled talent pools. I would encourage any unemployed graduate to consider a career in this growing sector.”

For businesses, it can be difficult to understand what Office 365 can do for them in terms of business benefits. It’s about understanding where you want your company to go and how to get there and achieve that by utilising modern cloud technologies. Leaf help to educate SME’s on the benefits of Cloud and Office 365 in simple to understand business benefits that can have a real, positive impact on business processes.

To find out more about understanding the cloud and Office 365 for your business contact the Leaf Team on or telephone: 028 9089 7650.


financial services firm in Belfast has offered jobs to 20 students who successfully completed its training course.

The Academy has been designed by the Department for Employment and Learning, FinTrU, Belfast Metropolitan College and the University of Ulster under the Assured Skills initiative. Targeting graduates from any discipline, the Academy has provided them with an intensive four week training programme covering a range of training in financial regulations, analytics and capital markets.

FinTrU is short for Financial Transparency Utility and provides outsourcing of “human-capital intensive and client-facing processes for financial services clients, much of which takes place at its Belfast base. Darragh McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer of FinTru, said he was pleased with the performance. “FinTrU is delighted by the success of our inaugural Financial Services Academy in Belfast. The quality of applicants was exceptional and has reinforced our strong belief in Northern Ireland’s talent pool.”

Business Flags, firebombs & Finance flashbacks & Banking


Time to stand up and be accountable?

By John Simpson

How many senior bankers in Northern Ireland have put their ‘hands up’ to show an understanding of what were their inadequate banking practices?


here must be serious reservation about the impact of the current policies of the commercial banks. They cannot escape critical review for the extent to which they fuelled the emerging credit crisis and subsequent series of events from about 2006 onwards. The commercial banks in Northern Ireland have been, and remain, inadequately accountable to the local economy. This is partly a consequence of the understandable accountability to parent organisations whether in Dublin, London (or Edinburgh) and Copenhagen. However, these banks are operating in a regional devolved economy where many critical economic levers lie in the remit of the Stormont government. Yet the relationship of some of these banks to the devolved arena is, at best, unclear or, at worst, detached and held at arms-length. Northern Ireland has a near devo-max devolution model but the work of the devolved economic policies is handicapped by the absence of even the most basic information on the activities of the banks. Information on changing levels of deposits, analyses of advances, changing ratios of costs to income, and changes in the ratio of advances to deposits, are not available. Of course, in strict accounting terms these banks have no obligation to help Northern Ireland monitor the impact of regional economic policies. Nevertheless, that poses an important test


of the understanding of the significance of banking performance to this region.

of monetary policy might be examined in support of the regional administration.

There exists a considerable regular monitoring process, with statistical support, for farming, manufacturing, construction and nonfinancial services. Impact analysis of the operation of the banks at even a modest level is not available on a continuing basis.

The Bank of England fulfils a UK-wide role. For the bank to argue that, as a national authority, there cannot be specific regional dimensions, even to mirror the relationship with devolved governments, has a logical foundation but stops short of accepting a responsibility for an informed awareness of the changing influence of monetary features on spatial development.

“Northern Ireland has a near devo-max devolution model but the work of the devolved economic policies is handicapped by the absence of even the most basic information on the activities of the banks.” This need for an adequate appreciation of the analytical and policy needs of a devolved regional economy is not acknowledged by the commercial banks. Neither is there any evidence that the monetary authorities in national capitals, whether the Bank of England or, to a lesser degree, the Central Bank of Ireland, are taking a purposive view of how the monitoring

The Bank of England does not currently offer any evidence of responsibility to be aware of, and monitor, what is happening to macro-financial trends in Northern Ireland. Significantly, for the evolution of regional economic policies, local ministers have an inadequate baseline data-set on the performance in Northern Ireland of the main commercial banks. The significance of the absence of an adequate data set is easily illustrated. Whilst other economic data can confirm the impact of the recent recession on employment, output and income levels, there is no authoritative information on how (for example) the levels of lending by the banks have varied and to what sectors. The British Bankers Association (BBA) on 2 July 2014 published a report on bank support for customers in Northern Ireland. The content of the report was modest


The Bank of England doesn’t offer much insight into the macro-financial trends in Northern Ireland, according to John Simpson.

but it was a first. The BBA announced its arrival by saying that ‘this is an important moment – the first time we have ever published any lending and deposit data... for Northern Ireland’s local banks.’ This publication might be described as overdue and modest. Nevertheless, it is a start and there is considerable interest in compiling a series of these reports on a quarterly basis to assess how banking activity is evolving. One feature of the BBA analysis is that it confirms that the level of deposits held by SME businesses and the level of borrowing have been falling in 2011,12,13 and into 2014. Repayments of borrowing seem to be larger than the value of new loans accepted. The statistical report does not offer an answer to the question whether the scale of lending is falling because of falling demand or because the banks are squeezing new lending in an effort to restore the reserve position of their balance sheets. The public presentation from the banks is that they have funds available and are ready to lend to acceptable borrowers. The suggestions from


some businesses are that gaining approval for new loans can be difficult. Whatever the reality of the position of the banks, there is an interest in alternative sources of business funding.

“These investment vehicles are an important supplement to the local capital market although, in total, their contribution is a small part of the potential market demand.” Invest NI has ventured into the business of making equity capital available, through selected subsidiaries and funds, to encourage business growth. There are nine ‘associate’

investment organisations listed in Invest NI’s annual report where Invest NI is contributing from 25% to 100% of the capital. The annual report shows that Invest NI’s share of the net assets of these funds is now valued at £20.4m out of total net assets of £37.4m. The largest funds are the Growth Loan Fund with lending of £18.6m and the venture capital Crescent II with net assets of £7.5m. These investment vehicles are an important supplement to the local capital market although, in total, their contribution is a small part of the potential market demand. As the local economy continues to recover, it is important that the commercial banks play a larger part in giving a lead in providing finance and also contributing to the policy debate. These banks have survived their own mistakes with reliance on major official support. Now they must become more co-operative in collecting evidence on where the economy is going and becoming more active in leading on policy, rather than descriptive economics!



What’s the right borrowing pitch? What sort of a business plan does a bank want to see before it will consider lending you money? Andy Mills, Regional Director, Business Banking Ulster Bank, reveals what he’s looking for.


ompared to the challenge and excitement of breaking into export markets, making new contacts, and getting your products into the hands of customers, the thought of writing a business plan may seem dry. After all, strong companies have been built without them. For small businesses in particular, when there are so many demands on resources, it may feel like another piece of administration. Yet there are a number of significant practical uses. A well-crafted business plan can help marry ambition with discipline to generate sustained success. First and foremost, it’s frequently part of the process of securing new lending to help your business. A good business plan explains your ideas clearly and succinctly and it can help funders to assess what products they offer that might be particularly right for you. But further than that, it can also be an important tool for your company – helping to audit your own ambitions and create a realistic benchmark for progress. The kind of realistic scenario planning involved in business planning can be invaluable in insulating your company from shocks at different stages in the business cycle. Even if something isn’t likely to happen, by including it in a plan you’ve increased your resilience and mitigated the potential effects in the future.


Plans of this type are usually best aligned to specific funding requests, for example term loans for asset purchase such as motor vehicles/plant and machinery, or overdrafts and invoice discounting facilities to manage short term cash-flow.

“The kind of realistic scenario planning involved in business planning can be invaluable in insulating your company from shocks.” When reviewing a business plan, there are generally three areas that most financers will consider – People, Project and Payment. People • What is their track record? • What experience have they got? • What ability do they have? • Can these people manage a business through the highs and the lows? Project • What is the nature of the business? • Where is the business in its life cycle?

• What is the market for the business or product? • What is the competition? • Do the numbers add up? • Does the case underpinning the numbers add up? Payment • How will the business pay the bank back? • What are the cashflows (sales and expenses)? • Can the business continue to meets its existing commitments in addition to a new debt? Considering all the above will shape a credible business plan for presentation to your Bank and ensure you are prepared for an open discussion about the project with the Bank’s business manager. Further help and advice on drafting a business plan is available through Smallbusinesscan. com, a free online resource which provides support and networking opportunities for SMEs, and which is supported by Ulster Bank. Local lending institutions will try to meet reasonable demand for finance – a business plan makes it easier for them to see the potential in your company. As the economy grows, we expect demand to increase and Ulster Bank hopes to work with many more good business propositions.


Pension freedom – what does it mean for you? By Glenn Branney, Chartered Financial Planner, Barclays Wealth & Investment Management

take a lump sum in the future – this would be stipulated in the contract at outset. The best option(s) will depend on your objectives and circumstances. Consideration should be given to many factors, including your retirement plans, any other assets or income, whether future contributions will be made, your attitude to risk and the death benefits available. The taxation of death benefits is under review by the government who will make an announcement in the Autumn Statement.


he government is making the most radical changes to pensions in over 100 years. From April 2015, savers will be given complete freedom over how they withdraw their pension funds: Individuals approaching pension age will be able to access the whole of their defined contribution (‘money purchase’) pension pot at any time after age 55 (rising over the next few years to age 57) but subject to income tax at marginal rates on three quarters of the money.

date. The amount taken is treated in the same way as above for Full flexi-access drawdown.

Here, we summarise five of the retirement income options available from 6th April 2015. Individuals looking for flexibility will have four new options:

If you are looking for the security of a guaranteed income, you can still buy an annuity:

1. Full flexi-access drawdown: take all tax-free cash (25% of the entire pot) and designate the remaining (‘crystallised’) funds as a drawdown ‘income’ pot for unlimited access (whenever you want, subject to your marginal income tax rate). 2. Partial flexi-access drawdown: take just a portion, leaving the balance for a later


3. Full withdrawal – no drawdown: take the entire pot in one go as a lump sum – with 25% tax-free and the remainder taxable: an “Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum”. 4. Partial withdrawal – no drawdown: take just a portion, leaving the balance for a later date. The amount taken is treated in the same way as for Full withdrawal – no drawdown above.

5. Annuity – take up to 25% of the crystallised pot as a tax free lump sum and use the remainder to secure a guaranteed and regular income for life. The government is also changing the annuity rules and it is expected that providers will develop products that will offer other options, including an income for a set term (rather than for life), or allow individuals to

The government are also introducing ‘The Guidance Guarantee’ service. This will provide individuals with defined contribution pension schemes the right to free and impartial guidance. It is important to note that this is mere factual guidance, which is no alternative to advice in individual circumstances. Now is a good time to take stock as to what retirement might look like, and then seek advice on how you can use the new flexibility and choices. Pensions and tax rules can change in the future and this has to be taken account of in any pensions planning exercise. The values of this tax treatment to you will depend on your individual circumstances. The investments that you hold in a pension arrangement can fall in value, like any others. Barclays does not provide tax or legal advice. We therefore recommend that you obtain independent tax and legal advice tailored to your needs. Glenn Branney can be contacted at Barclays’ office in Belfast on 028 9088 2925 or email:



EY sets out stall in NI EY’s Michael Hall, Managing Partner, Northern Ireland and Michael Kidd, Partner, explain how the company’s poised for a busy few years.

“That stems right back to our culture where we major on being open and honest with each other together with a real focus in teaming.” A good person to take the temperature of EY’s people engagement is Michael Kidd. The former banker joined the company in July 2012 and was recently promoted to Assurance Partner in July 2014. Michael has been impressed by the level of engagement throughout the business, locally and across the wider firm.

Michael Hall and Michael Kidd.


he name EY has been steadily ingraining itself in the consciousness of the Northern Ireland business community over the last few years.

According to Northern Ireland’s Managing Partner Michael Hall, it doesn’t intend to sit back on its laurels but rather aims to continue to invest and grow over the short and longer term.

The firm has been in the news for its plans to take on 486 new employees at its Belfast base but, away from the headlines, this ‘big four’ firm is providing services across audit, tax, advisory and transactions, and has been building a client list, made up of some of the biggest names in the local economy.

Its plans are quite ambitious, particularly when Northern Ireland is still hosting an environment of low macroeconomic growth, but is one Mr Hall is confident EY can achieve.

Of the Top 50 Northern Ireland companies, it is auditor to 34%, plus it audits and advises many well-established family businesses and successful entrepreneurial companies throughout the region. The last 12 months have probably been some of the busiest for the company formerly known as Ernst & Young, where the business has delivered very strong double digit growth.


Championing companies and people with an entrepreneurial spirit is also a key focus for EY through its Entrepreneur of The Year Programme, which boasts a rich seam of Northern Ireland in its alumni. And it’s not just entrepreneurs outside the company on which EY is focused. “People engagement is key to our success,” Mr Hall said. “Our ability to attract talent depends on making sure the people who work for us are totally engaged with the business and have clarity around their own career.

“The breadth of the client base and the ambition of the firm to invest and grow the practice were among the factors which brought me in to EY,” he said. “There’s a real sense of team work here across all four service lines with audit, tax, transactions and advisory all working closely as a team. Mr Kidd’s experience is also bringing significant benefits to EY offering an alternative perspective to the business. “My corporate and business banking experience has given me a breadth of understanding of how businesses operate, of the challenges they are facing and, most importantly, how they’re getting around those challenges. “That combination is working well and getting through the partner process was a reflection of the skills I have allied to the environment and the support EY has given me.” It must be working because EY has huge ambitions to grow here in Northern Ireland and throughout the rest of the world in the coming years, confirming the inkling that the streamlined twoletter name has left it fitter, more focused and determined than ever before.

The power behind the cheese Backing Wyke Farms’ plans for 100% energy self-sufficiency

Wyke Farms, Somerset Richard Clothier, MD, Wyke Farms Ltd Colin James, Relationship Director, Barclays As Britain’s largest independent farmhouse cheese maker, Wyke Farms wanted to become self-sufficient in energy production. Barclays supported them by providing £3.5m of finance to build a biogas plant to recycle waste and generate green electricity. As MD Richard Clothier says, “It’s people that make things happen. Barclays’ knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment are crucial to making our business sustainable and competitive.” To find out how we can help your business succeed, call Adrian Doran on 02890 882900* or visit

Barclays is a trading name of Barclays Bank PLC and its subsidiaries. Barclays Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 122702). Registered in England. Registered number is 1026167 with registered office at 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP. *Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. To maintain a quality service we may monitor or record phone calls.


Thirteen in the hunt for Fast 50 award


or the last five years the buzzword in the economy has been growth. Years of austerity have forced companies to do many things but the overriding commercial imperative to grow has been a constant theme. For the IT sector in Northern Ireland the Deloitte Fast 50 recognises this reality and celebrates the success of those companies which have shown exceptional growth in the face of one economic challenge after another. The Northern Ireland IT scene is incredibly healthy at present, with job announcements on an almost weekly basis, companies constantly in the news and the search for new and highlyskilled employees never-ending. David Crawford, partner at Deloitte in Belfast said: “It’s a source of constant encouragement to all of us at the firm to see the excellent calibre of companies appearing in the Fast 50 shortlist. “Those who have been there before understand its enduring appeal and come back for more, while new companies, breaking into the shortlist for the first time, find themselves among a unique peer group that quite simply is keen to take on the world. “Our Rising Star category is particularly popular and here we will award two up and coming companies who have been in business for less than five years. “When one looks at the list from Northern Ireland there are companies that are also fast becoming household names like Learning


Greg Wilson, MD at Seopa, with David Crawford from Deloitte launching the Deloitte Fast 50 awards.

Pool, First Derivatives and the children’s TV programme makers, Sixteen South. “We can be proud of all who are shortlisted from Northern Ireland.” With competition entry firmly closed David Crawford and his team look forward to the gala awards evening in Dublin on November 7. “It promises to be a great night,” said Mr Crawford. “We will watch the cream of Irish technology companies being rewarded, not just for their growth, but their incredible persistence, innovation and commitment to their markets here and abroad.” The 13 companies shortlisted from Northern Ireland are: Catalyst 2; Etain; Export Technologies; First Derivatives plc; Instil Software; Leaf Consultancy Ltd; Learning Pool Ltd; Novosco; Path XL; Rehabstudio Ltd; Seopa; Sixteen South and Team Solutionz Ltd.

“These are great companies up against stiff competition from all over Ireland and we wish them well,” said Mr Crawford. The technology sector is one Northern Ireland’s fastest growing parts of the economy and encompasses much more than the traditional perception of software businesses. The emergence of a thriving film and digital media community means that technology companies can be found in many parts of Northern Ireland life, creating wealth and employment as they grow. “One look at this shortlist of Northern Ireland companies is enough to suggest that the local technology scene has a bright and effective future,” said David Crawford.

Full details of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Award 2014 can be found at

Flags, firebombs & flashbacks

Social Enterprise

The social bank Simon Rowe speaks to Harry McDaid to find out what makes the Ulster Community Investment Trust tick.




arry McDaid is a banker with a heart. Just two days after retiring from his high-powered job at Bank of Ireland – where he was responsible for managing a whopping £17bn of risk assets – the erstwhile corporate banker walked into the Belfast offices of the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) to begin work as its new chief executive. After 43 years in banking, McDaid had decided he wasn’t quite ready to fully retire last summer and wanted to “give something back”. “I joined Bank of Ireland when I was 17, in 1970, and I worked for 43 years. But I never got time to get tired of it. I decided after 43 years when I reached retirement age that I wanted a second career. It was just too early for me to retire. When I do retire I want to make sure that I’m doing the right thing because the one thing I’m pretty clear on is that when you press the stop button it’s not just a straightforward thing to push the start button again in career terms.” As chief executive of the UCIT, the largest provider of finance to the social economy sector in Northern Ireland, McDaid now manages a more modest loan portfolio of £12m. Since January 2001, from its headquarters in Linenhall Street, the UCIT loan fund has assisted over 300 community organisations, charities and social enterprises, north and south, through providing social finance totalling £50m. The wider UCIT group also manages Invest Northern Ireland’s £5m Small Business Loan Fund, representing an important source of finance to cashstrapped fledgling firms. The fund provides loans up to £50,000 to individuals and businesses that would otherwise be unable to access financial support. “We are proud to deliver financial support to communities and voluntary sector organisations that could not otherwise


realistically access capital elsewhere. We also provide funding to thriving social enterprise businesses enabling them to grow, and in the process give or sustain employment opportunities in areas of special economic need,” says McDaid. The list of social enterprises receiving UCIT funding is impressive. It spans childcare, green energy projects, arts and culture, housing, tourism and community projects. The social enterprise sector is booming. There are almost 500 social enterprises in Northern Ireland, generating an annual turnover of approximately £600m. Over 12,000 people are employed in the social economy here, with a further 13,000 volunteers. New research shows that social enterprises are growing faster than traditional SMEs, with 38% reporting an increase in their turnover in 2013 compared with 29% of SMEs. But difficulty accessing conventional funding is hampering growth. This is where UCIT steps in. UCIT is a charity, not a bank. Therefore, the conventional rules of banking don’t apply. In effect, social enterprises that can’t access loans from main street banks turn to UCIT for financial assistance and mentoring. McDaid says the trust considers “social impact” as the principal criterion when lending money to firms. “It’s not about profit maximisation but social impact,” he says. “Secondly, if there are profits they must be recycled into the business, whether that is through debt servicing or reinvestment. And, thirdly, the social enterprise must be generating enough earnings to service the debt.” UCIT may be ‘a funding agency with a heart’ but McDaid is no soft touch. Since taking up his role, the new chief executive, along with a new finance chief, has overseen a reduction in bad debts of £177k in the last financial year and has reversed group losses of £200k to record a £77k profit.

Referring to the level of bad debts in the previous financial year, McDaid says: “That year we downgraded two relatively high-value transactions and that was the impact it had. We have recovered.” In total, UCIT approved 32 loans valued at £2.67m in Northern Ireland during 2013. “It’s a very well balanced, well managed portfolio of assets,” insists McDaid. But asset-backed lending to social enterprises has an obvious risk as some of them have assets that are not readily marketable, such as women’s refuges and community centres. “We recognise on an eyes-open basis that in some cases we won’t be able to realise that property,” he says. But he adds: “Communities, social enterprises and trading charities really do take repayment of their loans very seriously.” He contrasts the commercial property loan sector and the social enterprise loan sector when firms get into difficulty. “If a property transaction breaks down there are generally speaking relatively limited remedies, whereas when a community loan comes under pressure not infrequently a community rises to that challenge,” he says. Helping communities rise to any financial challenge is what drives McDaid. Four decades of experience in banking has also taught him that investing in social enterprises is a sure bet both for financial institutions and communities. While McDaid may miss the cut and thrust of corporate banking, he clearly relishes the opportunity to be working at the coal-face of a sector that is making a real difference to people’s lives and filling vital social gaps. “I only do this because I enjoy it,” says a clearly upbeat McDaid. “This is a business where people have to be passionate about what they’re doing, and they have to enjoy what they’re doing. It seemed like an opportunity not to be missed.”



Taking stock


s the world’s financial markets shake off the last vestiges of the downturn, Ulster Business thought it was time to dip its toe into a bit of stock market trading. We feel the winds of profit are blowing in our direction and we want to make the most of it. I mean, it can’t be that hard to make a million can it? To help us get there, we first had to round up a trading team, one with the right balance of temperament, intelligence and bravery to turn a modest pot of starter capital into a shimmering pot of gold. First on the list was obviously a five-year old. Dylan Armstrong, son of this magazine’s manager Sonia, brings with him a wealth of experience in the world of stock picking and has many millions of funds under management. He will bring a level head

to proceedings and should balance the pin the tail-on-the-donkey method used by some of our other team members with deep research and statistical analysis. Dylan may soon qualify for our next trader Carol Fitzsimmons’s organisation Young Enterprise, one which encourages young people to get into business. Carol is used to picking business winners at a young age so will hopefully be able to spot a winning stock before the crowd piles in. All good trading teams employ analysts but we thought it would be better to have a mentalist in our midst and, after failing to impress at interview, we ditched Derren Brown and David Blaine and gave quizzical glasses wearer of the month David Meade the job to give us a bit of forward insight. Professor Neil Gibson hasn’t been called

a mentalist before but is another ‘ist, an economist. He heads up the number crunchers at the Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy so should have a good idea of the macro economic outlook. Neil also has a splendid range of ties to bring a dash of sartorial colour to proceedings. The rules are simple, more so to make it easier for the editor to count up the winnings/losses than for any other reason. Each trader starts with fantasy money – £100,000 of it to be exact – to invest as they see fit in two FTSE 100 companies, £50,000 each. After a month we count up what will hopefully be winnings and the traders either stick with what they’ve got or exchange them for new shares. At the end of the year we count up who’s made the most and force them to buy the team and the editor dinner. Simple.

Dylan Armstrong, student




Stock pick: Carnival, Smiths Group “While there could always be exogenous factors that impact pricing, I believe cruising offers tremendous price/ value for the consumer and Carnival and others appear poised to effectuate some long awaited pricing growth.”

Stock pick: Royal Mail, Severn Trent “As it’s the first week, I’m going to show my support for two of the five companies that have female CEOs out of the 100!”

Stock pick: Anglo American, Petrofac “Look into my eyes, you are feeling very, very sleepy... invest in Anglo American and Petrofac.”

Stock pick: Royal Bank of Scotland, Associated British Food “Forecasters tend to model the long term so, to get my excuses in early, I am confident my choices will be proved the best in the group when the results are revisited in 2025!”


How social is your supply chain? Social enterprises are scattered across Northern Ireland, creating jobs, contributing to the local economy and putting back into local communities. For many people they just look like regular businesses but something great lies beneath the surface. It’s true social enterprises are businesses but they are trading not just to create a profit. They have a social purpose at the heart of their activities. Many seek to tackle social problems such as improving communities, life chances and the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the community. Social Enterprise NI is the representative body for the sector. It actively promotes and lobbies on behalf of its members. Director Juliet Cornford explains: “Running a social enterprise is hard work. Our members

are supporting ‘a triple bottom line’: people, planet and profit. A key objective for us as an organisation is to find ways in which we can help our members find places to sell. One way we do this is by building supply chains on their behalf”.

gifts, training, event management, venue hire, grounds maintenance, bottled water, recycling, film and editing. The questions for all businesses are: are you thinking about your social impact and could you be buying from social enterprises?

“We are delighted to see the mind-set shift both in business and with consumers. People are really now thinking beyond traditional corporate responsibility and considering the social impact. Many recognise that their spending power through supply chains could have a real social impact. Buying from a social enterprise is a simple way to contribute. For example, the construction giant Wates has committed to spending £5m with social enterprises by 2015 and closer to home Belfast City Council is incorporating work with social enterprises into its procurement procedures.”

The landscape is changing in the way that services are commissioned, and all businesses need to make a fundamental shift towards better engagement with their communities. Private corporates who have practised this for many years say that social enterprise has been good for business.

Social enterprises sell pretty much anything, stationary and printing, catering, corporate

Align your brand with a fast-moving sector which is growing rapidly, changing and influencing the way the world does business.

For more information on social enterprises and how we can support you to buy from a Social Enterprise contact

Social Enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or community.

Pink Elephant Stationary provides corporate Christmas cards, invitations, and unique wedding stationery hand crafted by people with a learning disability. #twiceasnice @pinkelecards

The Vintage Satchel Company produces stunning leather bags, supporting people who are visually impaired. @VintageSatchel

Acceptable Enterprises offers sub contract work to industry – packing, printing, finishing, sample making whilst supporting people with mental ill-health and other disadvantages. @aelarne

What’s going on at Downtown? Well for starters, there’s much, much more to early mornings with the ‘Downtown Breakfast Show’. Gary and Kirstie now boast the highest share of any commercial listening at that time, growing total hours by an incredible 80%* across the year. And overall, Downtown Radio, on the latest audience figures, grew to 290,000* weekly listeners, adding an extra 22,000* new listeners, ensuring once again that it was the best performer in the local radio market. Two great reasons to go Downtown.

*Source RAJAR Qtr 2, 2014 Downtown TSA

And keep an eye out for Downtown Radio’s new press campaign with Johnston Press, highlighting the positioning of our music, from Ed Sheeran to David Bowie and from Bruce Springsteen to Queen… more reasons why more people are tuning into Downtown over every other rival If you like this, you’ll love our new advertising campaign! local commercial station.

The Downtown Breakfast show with Gary Myles and Kirstie McMurray (Monday to Friday 6am to 10am).

So, if you want to reach a mass audience across the province, in the most cost effective way, then call Simon Mann, Commercial Director on 02891 815151.


A great place to invest? Tughans and Ulster Business brought some of the greatest minds in Northern Ireland business together to find out why overseas companies invest in these shores. Talent, it would seem, is at the top of the agenda.

Participants Anna Moss, General Counsel, Citigroup Belfast. Patrick Hurst, Managing Director, Whale. Jeff Wylie, CFO, Kana Software. Barry McBride, International Director for Invest NI. Michael Black, General Manager of Intel Belfast. Brian Burns, Vice President of Operations, Seagate. Ian Coulter, Managing Partner, Tughans. John-George Willis, Head of Corporate at Tughans. David Elliott, Editor, Ulster Business.

David Elliott: What attraction does Northern Ireland’s hold for overseas investors? Anna Moss: We first came here in 2005 with fairly modest plans but they have exceeded our expectations and we’ve grown by around three times those original targets. The reason for that success is the availability of talent. From a technology perspective – and that’s one of the reasons we’re here – Northern Ireland has a very strong workforce and obviously education standards here are very high. That’s particularly true in the legal area. I moved here in 2007 because we needed to start moving outside of what we called our “metro hubs” and have a


second sister department to our London hub. Having looked at locations where we already had infrastructure, Belfast was without question top of the list for a number of reasons. Everyone thinks it is pure finance, but actually it isn’t. Top of that list was the talent pool which would enable us to have a long-term strategy in terms of development and growth. We are about 1,500 across the whole site now, with just shy of 100 in our legal department. We also have a fairly large operations department which came in early 2007. And now our compliance department is exploding. So we also have all the usual tick points such as being part of the UK, we have the same legal system, we can operate as one department and

one location with our London office. And we have the same language, so from an internal customer perspective it causes much less angst than having to deal with language and time difference issues. David Elliott: Michael, from Intel’s point of view what do you think attracts the companies in? Michael Black: Intel came to Belfast about 18 months ago when it acquired a local software company called Aepona. Aepona was established in Belfast in 1999 specialising in the area of telecoms software and search creation software. We are part of the Intel Services Division which is


headquartered in Seattle, and we bring the expertise of the former Aepona business to that division. Essentially Intel are here because we have the expertise in an area that they didn’t have expertise in in-house. We had developed a product which attracted them and have a strong customer base.

John-George Willis

Ian Coulter

David Elliott: Barry, from Invest NI’s point of view, what is the attraction of Northern Ireland to the investors you’re trying to tempt here? Barry McBride: Talent at a reasonable cost is very important, as is open business policies. And in some cases – particularly in the legal profession – being part of the UK is important and for others being part of Europe. Our proposition really boils down to top end people coming out of our schools, reasonable cost of salaries, reasonable cost of office accommodation and, corresponding with that, a pretty low cost of living which means the salaries are sustainable in the longer term. David Elliott: Patrick, your company has recently agreed a takeover. Why do you think the buyers came here? Patrick Hurst: Firstly, the product was innovative. We had spent a lot on international branding, promoting the business and promoting the people. So things like the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For really helped because it’s read

widely outside Northern Ireland. The outside world looking in found us because of the product, the technology, the innovation and, I guess, we are growing in an industry which had shrunk 80%. We were annoying bigger players by taking market share from them and I guess the reality was that was the lure, not Northern Ireland. But when they discovered we were from Northern Ireland, the curiosity then gained pace and we had a number of interested businesses looking at us from around the world.

over the fact that as they walked around the factory that people were open, wanting to engage and wanting to talk to them. They were really taken with the technology and I think we underplay that as a country. There’s a lot of very clever people in this country but we’re not good at blowing our own trumpets.

Secondly, they were impressed when they visitied. What struck them about Northern Ireland and about Whale was the quality of people and the culture. They couldn’t get

Jeff Wylie: Kana traces its roots back 20 years to the day. On September 16 four local software guys set up a business called Lagan Technologies. Two of those guys are still with the business today in senior roles and have been through a whole series of development from early days: growing the business, shrinking it back, raising venture capital from both local players and then from international players. We were acquired by a US private equity firm about four years ago but it was nothing to do with Northern Ireland, more to do with the product we had identified and built on the international market. But when the buyers came here the openness of the people was a big thing for them and they were pretty impressed with the workforce that was available here, so much so we announced 109 new jobs. A slight downside was that in the 18 months following the acquisition we didn’t really put as many heads here as we wanted to because we couldn’t get them. The organisation couldn’t wait and had to invest elsewhere on the west coast of the US. >>

Brian Burns


David Elliott: Jeff, Kana is also here as the result of a takeover (of Lagan Technologies). Would you agree with Patrick?



phases. We started off as a manufacturing site. One of the main reasons why we came here is that Invest NI were out there selling Northern Ireland. And I think they need to continue to do that, because you’ve got to get something that opens the door. We have grown our original operation to about 1,400 now and the availability of talent has helped deliver that success. We’ve changed the business and moved a lot more into development and you’ve got to have a ready supply of very, very talented people. We have had a very close link with Queen’s University and the local colleges and that’s really helped. 60% of our employees have been with us for 10 years or more. That’s critical to the company continuing to invest in us, because it is no longer purely about where is it financially the best.

Patrick Hurst and Anna Moss

But the availability of that talent is getting better in Northern Ireland and we have since doubled our workforce in the last four years. Another bonus which we don’t make enough of is staff retention. We have development centres in Glasgow and in Jakarta but our retention rate is much higher here in Belfast.

David Elliott: So what is deterring further overseas investment here?

Jeff Wylie

Ian Coulter: Given some of the results and the announcements which have come out recently, from an Invest NI perspective we seem to be doing very well at the moment, but the game is about to change. The Europe debate is going to be a big one for us, and also how Invest NI can support companies in the future may change. The corporation tax perspective is the last obstacle. If we could move that then we could just open up a whole new range of companies. We just need to make sure a) we get the powers and b) we have the ability to deliver on the back of those powers.

Michael Black: I think you are right there. As recently as last week when we had some visitors over from the west coast US, they were really amazed that in the 18 months since we joined Intel, only four of the 120 people that we have in Belfast have decided this wasn’t where they wanted to develop their career. If they compared that with a development centre on the west coast US there would be something of the order of 10 or maybe 15 percent. The amount of knowledge which walks out the door when that happens is massive and a big loss.

David Elliott: Thursday was flagged by the Prime Minister as the day after which he would he would start looking at devolving corporation tax. Can you give us an update on where we are on that?

Jeff Wylie: I wonder if that’s starting to change? In the past there haven’t been many other alternatives but now the options are greater, has that been eroded? Or is it more cultural, in that people stay in jobs a lot longer here. Michael Black: It’s a combination of both. But when you get people, they tend to stay, which is a huge thing for any business. Brian Burns: Seagate has been here 21 years and has gone through multiple


Michael Black

Ian Coulter: There is still a lot of work to do but all the noises indicate we are in a good space. There are some significant local challenges that have developed over the last six months and what we’ve got to make sure of is that our core message as to the benefits gets across The private sector salary in Belfast is average £21,000 a year; the private sector salary in Dublin is £29,000. To me what all this is about is increasing the private sector salary, the money in peoples’ pockets. Some


of the jobs that are coming through from the likes of Baker & McKenzie and EY will make a really good dent in that because the average salaries in some of these can be around £33,000. But we need more.

John-George Willis, Ian Coulter, Brian Burns and Michael Black

Jeff Wylie: You’ve got to be careful on that Ian. You can’t solely have an objective to increase salaries, because what you are doing is eroding part of the competitive advantage. Ian Coulter: Agreed, but if you look at the UK average of £25,000 and the Irish average of £29,000, we still have some way to go and we should be edging toward that.

“The question is Northern Ireland a good place to invest? Yes it is, but there is a disproportionate amount of investment focused purely on the services side and on the high value jobs.” Patrick Hurst: The question is Northern Ireland a good place to invest? Yes it is, but there is a disproportionate amount

of investment focused purely on the services side and on the high value jobs. But that doesn’t reach a lot of the people who aren’t graduates. We need to have a balance of inward investment that is not just solely about the high-value service jobs, but also focused on the sectors which generate wealth, such as manufacturing. John-George Willis: In terms of global relevance, investors are sometimes attracted here because we have established a hotspot. For instance, earlier this summer we saw Astec, based in Chattanooga in Tennessee, take over Telestack in Omagh. This was the first acquisition in Europe. We asked the CFO sitting on the other side of the table, why Northern Ireland? He said the company

decided to go into the aggregate handling equipment manufacturing sector two or three years ago and didn’t really have a track record. It realised that Northern Ireland has 45-50% of the world manufacturing capacity in that, so to give it credibility in that space it went looking in Tyrone where the expertise is. These US companies come in, they know the products are world beating, they have great intellectual property protection and are going to fit very well with their own portfolio of products. But they also know that the people skills are here, not just amongst the graduates but in the entire workforce to ensure they achieve substantial growth. David Elliott: If you were the Enterprise Minister what would you do to attract more investment?

David Elliott, Barry McBride and Jeff Wylie

Brian Burns: It’s a difficult one for me to look at from a Seagate perspective because what we do is manufacture components that go on to another part of Seagate and it goes into a global distribution. We are not that much affected by the Northern Ireland economy and what’s going on and the local aspects of things. Corporation tax doesn’t really make that much difference to us. If it comes along we might save a bit of money, but it’s not huge. I spend more time talking to the DEL guys than I do to DETI. Mr (Stephen) Farry is important to us because he is the guy who drives a lot of what we are looking for and he is the one that we are pushing hard to deliver for us at this moment in time. >>




Probably more importantly we need, as a group of businesses, to get together and explain to people the types of jobs we have and the types of skills we’re looking for. We’ve got to get back out there and sell the jobs, not just to students but to careers teachers.

“More importantly we need, as a group of businesses, to get together and explain to people the types of jobs we have and the types of skills we’re looking for.” Michael Black: We had 20 careers teachers in for half a day, just to explain what we do. Their feedback to us was that “this is really good to get interaction on a oneon-one basis with a company, but we are totally bamboozled by all the people who are out there talking about STEM”. If you are a careers teacher, you have a very difficult job trying to keep pace with a whole plethora of possible career opportunities. David Elliott: How do we change that? Ian Coulter: It’s a combination of the Department of Education, DEL, DETI, business and the universities and key businesses already located here like today’s panel. This shouldn’t be too difficult because we are quite small. We should be able to get it coordinated and a plan put together relatively quickly. And also parents; parents need to understand the game plan and where the real opportunities will be for their kids in the future. But there’s also another point about the Northern Ireland economy which makes us unique amongst other regions competing for inward investment: our connectivity. Businesses can get first class access to our Ministers and the senior executives in Invest NI.


Anna Moss: I think the access to government and to ministers is a huge selling point for Northern Ireland. I know that as an American company, our senior visitors who come over are hugely impressed with that. The accesses to Arlene Foster and to Stephen Farry, to be able to take our seniors over to Stormont or Hillsborough and sit down with a minister; it shows that degree of support and commitment which is hugely important. That’s very, very valuable. David Elliott: The takeover of indigenous companies by those from overseas is a loss to the Northern Ireland economy. Discuss. John-George Willis: What we are seeing is that companies are coming in, acquiring good businesses with good market share and with good people. Companies which are leaders in that sector, who have global relevance, are they going to close those any day soon? Absolutely not. If they have

invested a lot of money on the acquisition to start with, why should they reduce that operation or relocate it? They are here to stay. They are growing and we will continue to see that. I would mention one negative and it comes back to further overseas investment. There is a growing controversial issue in the US at the moment in that there is obviously a number of companies that have acquired businesses in the UK looking at re-domiciling, mainly for tax purposes. I think that’s something we should be alive to. Patrick Hurst: For us the investment was about reaching markets and customers we couldn’t easily do ourselves. It is a bittersweet pill. It is a great thing for the company just having access to a new parent owner. We supply our products into those guys and we have pretty much doubled our business. What it actually draws out is a different question which is, how do medium-sized companies in Northern Ireland scale without having to be taken over? I think that is a real challenge.


Name: Stephen Roycroft Position: MD of RLA Ireland, a Belfast based ad agency owned by The Mission Marketing Group.

A word from

The Wise How did you start out in business? Occasionally I have the privilege of speaking in universities or colleges and often shudder to see students furiously writing down what I’m saying. I think to myself these guys are already better educated than me. I knew I wanted to get into advertising when I saw Darren in Bewitched reclining on a beige sofa, cracking a big idea and then returning home to the bewitching arms of his wife Samantha. I fell under the spell of both. A third level career eluded me (as did the affections of Samantha) in favour of some fairly cavalier independent travel in Africa, India and the Far East. Settling down after a couple of years I got into selling advertising in the Newsletter and then in business publications, this one in fact. I took that opportunity to learn everything I could about advertising and to try and impress the agency cognoscenti to whom I was selling. An arduous selection to McCann Erickson in Bruce Street got me on the path. After five years I joined Ardmore Advertising, rising along with it to Deputy MD over 18 happy years; and finally to take up my recent appointment as Managing Director or RLA Ireland. As if by magic. What did you find the most challenging during your years in business? In truth, absentee landlords. I have watched my colleagues, and even me sometimes, come up with stunning, singular, potent ideas that were mercilessly spiked for being too “arty” or “risky” or worse “too soon” for decision makers who were not in the room. There is a screaming need for some decision breakers to recall their personal favourite ads, which make them laugh, or cry, or better, buy... and to see how those compare with the campaigns they are signing off. There is accountable, EFFECTIVE creative


The column with an ear for experience...

greatness here in Northern Ireland. The real challenge actually is for advertisers – and I include government – to trust their marketing staff and their agency to get the results. How would you describe your management style? Delusional maybe; but let’s give it a go. I try to be fair: I say thanks when it’s due: and I exude a chilling sense of disappointment when temperatures rise. I like to contribute to the process throughout – I call it “strategic input”; others may misconstrue it as meddling – but I can help them with that... It should be obvious that while I may not perform every task in the building I never believe any are beneath me. Know who you work with, know what they do and know what they’d ultimately prefer to be doing; and let them know you know. And do something about it. What would you change if you could go back and do it all again? I would deliver bad news more promptly; whether I was the news or not. Problems only grow in the dark. If you are diligent, professional and successful there will always be substantially more good news than bad; and solving problems visibly is good news in itself. That, and never screw up. Have you done it all on your own? An advertising manual in itself, but succinctly (my word count is under pressure, and I’m not sure the editor is on team here), no! For fear of becoming emotional, I have worked with the most creative, passionate, loyal, selfless, professional, intelligent, sensitive and experienced people outside of The Oscars and owe them everything. Everything; and I include my wife Julie in that. Kleenex please. A slogan!!





with Tim Brundle

The column which doesn’t have time for lunch.


entioning to the publisher of this esteemed magazine I had just been out for breakfast with Tim Brundle drew a query as to whether he was any relation to retired racing driver Martin. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case – although I’m happy to be corrected – but there is certainly an air of F1 devil-may-care about the man who drives innovation and commercialisation at the University of Ulster. That’s a lot of ‘ations and involves a lot responsibility, but there was breakfast to be had so the detail would have to wait. Knowing that keeping up with the trend is fairly crucial to Tim’s line of work, we arranged to meet in one of the most trendy cafés in Belfast, Established. Faced with a very rare day at a golf club – for reasons which will become clear in next month’s magazine – your scribe was decked out in what his wife described as an outfit borrowed from the 90s, not at all fitting for the achingly cool sartorial elegance and surroundings provided by Established’s hipster clientele, or indeed the sharply dressed innovator. Luckily I wasn’t the only retro decoration in the place given the option of beans and toast for breakfast, one which we both availed of. Of course, these weren’t any old baked beans, but homemade with a dash of spice, a smidgen of bacon and piquancy to catch us unawares, all served on a sourdough toast. If


I’d remembered, I would have asked the uni man if they could be described as innovative. Breakfast out of the way and notebook suitably marked with innovative baked bean sauce, Tim explained how he’d got to where he is. A biotechnology graduate from what is now the University of South Wales, he started out at the National Air Traffic Services in England where he spent two years helping to digitalise the UK-wide service. An MBA at Queen’s followed after which Tim was challenged with the job of looking at each of the industry sectors in Northern Ireland and asking how they could benefit from digitalisation. Tim said he was lucky enough to “carry the bag” of the founding chairman of the Northern Ireland Science Park Professor Ernest Shannon – a revolutionary engineer originally from Ballysillion who, during his career with British Gas developed a “pig” to detect cracks in pipelines before they caused an explosion – as the organisation was moving from an idea to a reality. After a spell commercialising defence technology for non-defence means, he joined the University of Ulster in 2007 to look after its commercial affairs, a role which includes everything from tying up the university’s research with business to encouraging start-ups from within the university. His full title is now Director of Research and Innovation, while he is also CEO of

Tim Brundle

Innovation Ulster, Chairman of Performa Sports, Non-Exec Director at Tactility Factory, Director of SiSaf, Non-Exec Director of Datatactics and has only recently given up the post of Invest NI Board member. This is a man well placed to answer the question of how does Northern Ireland rate as an incubator of start-up companies? “We’ve come a long way but there’s still plenty of work to be done,” was the short answer, and to illustrate the point the innovator pulled a few of Northern Ireland’s most forward-thinking entrepreneurs, who happened to be in the queue for take away coffee – over for what can only be described as innovation flash mob. Chris McClelland, the founder of Brewbot, and David Turner and Kyle Gawley, the founders of Get Invited, concurred with the uni man and also pointed out there’s a funding gap in Northern Ireland for the more established start-ups which needs to be filled. This was excellent stuff but your scribe had to go schmooze with some golfers and reluctantly had to leave, hugely impressed by Tim’s ability to summon a couple of entrepreneurs at will and thinking that a mooted plan to reconvene the group for the purposes of this magazine was an innovative idea. David Elliott

Flags, firebombs & flashbacks

Executive Motoring

By Pat Burns

Sponsored by


Goodbye to an old friend

Land Rover scores with Ireland star Luke

It’s the news we’ve all been waiting on but now it’s official… the tax disc on your vehicle will soon be a thing of the past. From 1st October 2014, the paper tax disc will no longer need to be displayed on a vehicle windscreen. If you have a tax disc with any months left to run after that date, you can remove from the vehicle windscreen and destroy. This includes customers with a Northern Ireland address, however they will still need to display their MOT disc. The DVLA have produced a video explaining that tax discs will no longer be issued and you can view it by visiting the link:

Pictured with Luke Marshall is Franchise Director at Charles Hurst Land Rover, Stephen Surgenor and Shaun Longstaff, Luke’s playing agent.


lster and Ireland rugby star Luke Marshall has joined the team at Charles Hurst Land Rover in an important deal which appoints the Irish International as the official ambassador for the iconic Land Rover brand at Charles Hurst. Stephen Surgenor, Franchise Director of the Land Rover dealership at Charles Hurst, said Marshall was perfectly suited to the new role.

What does this mean for you and your company car drivers? • From the 1st October 2014 you will no longer receive a paper tax disc. • For vehicles in Northern Ireland it is still a legal requirement to display (where applicable) a valid MOT/GVC disc on the vehicle windscreen. • The tax status of a vehicle may be checked by logging onto the newly revised DVLA’s online vehicle enquiry service • You will need the vehicle make and registration number to obtain the information.

Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to call Ross Moffett at Fleet Financial on 028 9084 9777.

T: 028 9084 9777 E: W:


“The Land Rover brand represents pure style, functionality, rugged capability and longevity in a unique, quality package – features we can readily see in one of our rising rugby stars, Luke Marshall. “Working with such an accomplished sportsman is an exciting prospect for us. Luke is a huge talent in the world of sport and he echoes our core values of adventure and challenge. We’re delighted to have Luke on board and we look forward to working with him.” As part of the six-month deal, Luke will work closely with Charles Hurst Land Rover on a range of exciting projects, including live events, to help promote the Charles Hurst Land Rover brand. Luke, 23, said he was looking forward to the challenge as he took the keys to his new Freelander. “To be asked to become a brand ambassador for Charles Hurst Land Rover is a great honour and I’m gearing up to embrace that challenge in the year ahead.” Former Ballymena player Marshall recently signed a three year deal with Ulster, and is the winner of five International caps. The playmaker made his international debut for Ireland in 2012, and is expected to be the side’s long-term number 12 ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

Every type of vehicle for every type of business.

Contract Hire | Fleet Management | Personal Contract Hire | Sale and Leaseback | Accident Management

Whatever the size of your business Fleet Financial have the right package for you, at the right price. For a better deal contact us today.

T: 02890 849777 W:


Jack of all Trades


ord’s spacious and versatile all-new five-seat Tourneo Connect and seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect offer voluminous space and load carrying capability with economy and great pricing. Ford’s two Tourneo Connect models provide smart, stylish and affordable people movers for both businesses and families offering best-in-class flexibility from versatile seating, stowage and dual sliding side doors; outstanding fuel economy from highly efficient powertrains; and class-unique technologies including Active City Stop and Ford SYNC. Prices start from £14,245 for the five-seat Tourneo Connect and £16,985 for the seven-seat Tourneo Connect. The Tourneo Connect models also offer outstanding practicality for active families, with dual sliding rear doors, highly flexible seating and a host of smart stowage areas, including aircraft-style overhead lockers above the rear seats and luggage area. A large glass panoramic roof adds to the feeling of space and light. Other useful stowage areas include a clever hidden box with a 12V socket above the instrument cluster, a large lockable glovebox, practical front door bins capable of holding 1.5-litre bottles, spacious centre consoles with cup holders, and a stowage compartment in the second-row footwell. In addition, the car provides unrivalled access to the rear, with the widest sliding side doors in the class, and is equipped with a folding front passenger seat that enables items up to three metres long to be carried. The five-seat Tourneo Connect offers best-in-class first-row leg room and head room, and best-in-class leg room and knee room in the second row. Clever 60/40 split rear seats can be folded flat and tumbled forward, or removed to provide 2,410 litres of space behind the front seats. The seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect breaks new ground in its segment by offering rear seating which folds quickly and easily into a flat, unobstructed luggage platform with up to 2,620 litres of space; the third row seats also slide fore/aft to allow customers the choice between extra leg room or increased luggage space. The two Tourneo Connect models offer outstanding fuel economy delivered by highly efficient diesel and petrol engines. Fuel Efficiency is


enhanced further by Ford ECOnetic Technology features such as Auto-Start-Stop and Active Grille Shutter. The 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi engine with a choice of 95 and 115PS power outputs, delivers outstanding fuel economy of up to 61.4mpg and 120g/km CO2 emissions. For the first time, Tourneo Connect customers also have the option of a smooth and responsive six-speed automatic transmission, paired with the powerful Bridgend-built 150PS 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. The new models are the first in their class to offer the automatic emergency braking system, Active City Stop, and to deliver further technologies that enhance the ownership experience such as Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance, Rear View Camera, and Trailer Sway Assist. Ford’s improved-efficiency Electric Power Assisted Steering. A gearshift indicator and Ford ECO Mode driver information system are standard on all models.


High Performance Hybrid


he new BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid performance vehicle that uses a three cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, with a 1.5-litre capacity, in conjunction with an electric motor to provide searing acceleration but in a package that takes BMW’s EfficientDynamics philosophy to a new high, posting just 49g/km and 135mpg figures in the process. The i8 embodies a revolutionary, futurefocused interpretation of the driving pleasure, for which BMW is renowned. It was purposedesigned as a plug-in-hybrid 2+2 seater sports car offering agile performance, near 50:50 weight distribution and outstanding efficiency. The i8 is the first BMW production model to be powered by a three-cylinder petrol engine. This three-cylinder combustion engine in the BMW i8 develops 231hp and drives the rear wheels, while a maximum torque of 320Nm is available from 3,700rpm.


The car’s second power source is a 96 kW/131hp hybrid synchronous electric motor which sends its power to the front axle. The motor develops 250Nm torque from a standstill. As well as providing a power boost to assist the petrol engine during acceleration, the electric motor can also power the vehicle by itself with a range in everyday driving of up to 22 miles and a top speed of 75mph on electric power alone, drawing its energy from a lithium-ion battery. Developed by BMW Group, the high-voltage battery has a liquid cooling system, offers a maximum usable capacity of five kilowatt hours and can be recharged from a conventional household power socket, at a BMW i Wallbox or at a public charging station. The battery can also be recharged via the electric motor on the overrun. The highvoltage starter-generator, responsible for starting the combustion engine, can also be used as a generator to charge the battery,

the necessary power being provided by the petrol engine. These various processes help to ensure that the BMW i8 always has sufficient energy on board to power the electric drive system. The rear wheels of the BMW i8 are driven by the petrol engine via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the front wheels receive their power from the electric motor via a two-stage automatic transmission. Combined maximum output of 362hp and combined peak torque of 570Nm provide all-wheel-drive performance which is as dynamic as it is efficient. Utilising both power sources enables the sprint from zero to 62mph takes just 4.4 seconds, going on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. All the while combined fuel consumption stands at 135mpg and CO2 emissions come in at 49g/km. The i8 is now on sale at £94,845 on the road.



Faster, Sharper AMG C 63


he all-new Mercedes-AMG C 63 Saloon and Estate have been unveiled.

The 2015 C 63 adds an all-new 4.0-litre biturbo engine to endow it with phenomenal performance while three-stage adjustable dampers and a bespoke steering setup allow it to retain the agility that made the model it replaces the most popular AMG ever created. The technology applied to the new MercedesAMG C 63 is focused on enhancing the performance of the car – to make it as exhilarating as possible yet viable to be used every day. The dynamic engine mounts fitted to the C 63 are a good example. They reduce unwanted vibration from the engine and gearbox by softening during normal driving conditions – when greater agility is required, they stiffen to improve responses through the speed-sensitive, electromechanical steering system and limit unwanted movement in the drivetrain. Likewise, the C 63 uses a unique suspension setup. At the front it uses four-link suspension, independent steering knuckles and a wider track to improve stability,


while at the rear the multilink system uses independent mounts and an increase in negative camber. Both are linked to the AMG Ride Control system, operating through electronically-controlled threestage dampers – ranging from comfort through to track settings. Useful for when the latter is engaged, a mechanical locking rear differential is fitted to the C 63, with an electronic version for the C 63 S. A new braking system uses 390mm discs at the front and 360mm at the rear with the option of enhanced ceramic discs available for track-orientated driving. At the heart of any AMG is its hand built engine. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 uses the M177 engine – a sister unit to the M178 found in the new Mercedes-AMG GT – displacing 3,982cc and equipped with twin turbochargers neatly packaged in the ‘V’ of the cylinder banks and cooled via a special duct built in the bonnet of the car. The C 63 produces 476hp and, in C 63 S guise, 510 hp. It’s nearly a third more efficient than the engine it replaces yet, in ‘S’ form, produces more power and emits less CO2 – now from 192g/km. The combination makes it the most efficient performance engine of its kind.

A heavily revised version of the 7-speed transmission features on the C 63 – now with significantly quicker shift times to improve responses. Matching the changes under the skin are extensive changes to the appearance of the car – both outside and in. New front bumpers with deep airdams to feed the intercoolers are joined by the unique AMG grille and a new bonnet with subtle power domes. Unique, wider front wings (to clear the wider front track) feature subtle ‘V8 biturbo’ badges above a set of similarly discreet sill extensions. The rear bumper is also new, designed to house the new quad exhaust pipes below a small wing mounted on the bootlid and above the tailgate glass on the Estate. Inside, the changes are immediately apparent, with deep, contoured seats set behind a small, unique AMG wheel and recalibrated AMG dials. The option of AMG sports seats can be specified along with a range of different leather treatments and trim finishes – from piano black to carbon and aluminium. First deliveries are expected to take place in Spring 2015.


Agile and nippy, the new C1 marries compact exterior dimensions for easy handling and a turning circle radius of 4.80m, with a spacious cabin for up to four adults and a 196-litre boot. More useful technology onboard includes a 7-inch Touch Drive interface and Mirror Screen that allows the driver to run selected smartphone apps from the touch screen. Thanks to a lightweight design and efficient new-generation petrol engines, the new C1 is among the best-in-class for fuel economy.

Small Car, Big Fun


he new Citroën C1 is the first of a series of cars based on the same platform and shares its floorpan with the new Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo. After suffering badly during the economic downturn, French car makers have definitely sharpened their act and the new C1 has a great quality feel to it, is stylish and great fun to drive. The new C1 is available as both three and five-door versions as a hatchback and as a new open-top body style, named Airscape.

ABS, EBA, ESC, Cornering Stability Control, six airbag and two rear Isofix mounting points are standard equipment and finish a specification that ensures an enjoyable, safe and relaxed driving experience for everyone on board. Sub-100g/km CO2 across the range also exempts all models from VED. A new choice of power from the PureTech engine family is also offered. This 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, 82hp petrol engine uses innovative technologies to achieve fuel economy of 65.7mpg (combined cycle) and just 99g/km CO2. Prices start at £8,245.

First Five Door Mini launched


ust six months after introducing the new 3-Door Hatch, Mini has unveiled an all-new 5-Door Hatch. An entirely new body style for the range, Mini’s two rear doors enhance its versatility and, coupled with increased interior space, its appeal to a fresh group of customers who will further expand the Mini family. The wheelbase is 72 millimetres longer than the Mini 3-Door Hatch, and all of the extra length has been used to create more cabin space. The practical new body style allows for the inclusion of a central rear seat, making the car a true five-seater. Usability has also improved at the rear, with a boot that’s bigger than ever. At 278 litres – 67 litres more than the 3-Door Hatch – the car features a 60:40 split folding rear seat. The 5-Door Hatch will be available in six model variants with the choice of both petrol and diesel engines, featuring Mini’s innovative


TwinPower Turbo Technology. A slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission is fitted as standard across the range, with a six-speed Steptronic transmission available as an option. Combined cycle CO2 emissions start at just 92g/km. Prices start at £14,350. This means the car is just £600 more than the equivalent 3-Door Hatch.



Orla Milligan has joined Energis to launch its Global Legal Services Division. She will specialise in the recruitment of legal professionals for private practices, in-house roles and public sector bodies. Roberto Comsa has been appointed Ski and Special Projects Manager at Travel Solutions. He joins Travel Solutions after 32 years working at management level in the tourism industry. Michael Noble has been appointed as new Chief Executive of digital sector body. Michael brings over 20 years’ experience working in the Software Profession in a variety of roles.

The head of Allen & Overy’s Support Services Centre in Belfast Andrew Brammer has been promoted to global IT and shared services director, a new position in the firm. Chris Jamison has been promoted to Business Systems Manager at Stanley Security. Having previously held the post of Systems Management Co-Ordinator, Chris has seven years’ experience in the security industry. Lawrence O’Hara has been appointed to Begbies Traynor, the UK business rescue and recovery firm which recently opened an operation in Belfast.

Former Belfast High School student Nichola Coghlan has joined Tughans as a trainee solicitor. Nicola is from Carrickfergus and graduated in law this summer from Queen’s University Belfast. Former St Dominics student Ellen Forrester from Glenavy has joined Tughans as a trainee solicitor. Ellen graduated in law this summer from Queen’s University Belfast. Former Thornhill College student Amanda Byrnes from Londonderry has joined Tughans as a trainee solicitor. Amanda graduated in Law this summer from Queen’s University Belfast.



Former Fortwilliam School student Clare Heaney from North Belfast has joined Tughans as a trainee solicitor. Clare graduated in Law this summer from Liverpool University. Former RBAI student Luke Thompson from South Belfast has joined Tughans as a trainee solicitor. Luke graduated in Law this summer from Dundee University. Brian McFetridge has joined Muldoon & Co. Chartered Accountants to take on the role of Business Advisory Manager. Brian joins the firm from another midtier practice.

Wendy Blundell has been appointed Director of UK Regions of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), having previously been Head of Devolved Regions and Regional Director for Northern Ireland. Richard Kirk has been the Regional Director of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) since June 2014, having previously been the Assistant Regional Director since January 2011. Iain Bell has been appointed as Leaf’s newest support assistant for client issues including refurbishing and amending faulty hardware and preparing new hardware.

Sarah Law has been appointed as Leaf’s newest support assistant. Sarah is also Leaf’s resident placement student from Queen’s University who is studying BSc Computing and IT. Lynne McBennett (Campbell) has been appointed manager of Ulster Grocer at Greer Publications. Lynne has 17 years sales and marketing experience gained with Hibu (Yell Ltd) and Coca-Cola Bottlers Ulster. Whites has appointed Stuart Best as Business Development Manager. Stuart will focus on developing sales for the company in both retail and foodservice sectors on the island.



PHOTOCALL 1. Professor Gillian Armstrong (centre), Head of Ulster Business School’s Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics welcomes the endorsement of the School’s new suite of Accounting Degrees by John Poole, Partner, KPMG; Ian McConnell, Partner, PwC; Keith Jess, Partner, EY and Jackie Henry, Partner, Deloitte.

2. Sir William Hastings and Julie Hastings are joined by staff of the Europa Hotel who have clocked up 291 years of employment between the 15 of them.



3. Visit Belfast has won a major three-way race to secure one of Europe’s top conference industry awards. Pictured with the coveted C&IT award is Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Tourism at Visit Belfast and the organisation’s Chief Executive Gerry Lennon.

4. Caroline Crothers from Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI joins Professor Ken Mills to launch Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Donate to Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI by texting SEPT14 £5 to 70070.

5. SD Kells is expanding across Northern Ireland through a significant investment supported by Ulster Bank. Pictured is Shauna Burns, Ulster Bank, Roy Kells, SD Kells, and Leona McNicholl, Ulster Bank at the new store in Portadown, which is opening as part of the wider investment.








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6. Martin Hamilton, MD Mash Direct; Dr Etta Campbell, Deputy Chair, Food Standards Agency; and Michael Jackson, Head of Local Authority Policy & Delivery, Food Standards Agency NI on a visit to the Comber company as part of the FSA’s board meeting.

7. Lisa Keys, Head of Business Development at Institute of Directors (NI) and Belfast Town Crier David Long remind company directors not to miss out on having their business success rewarded by entering the 2014-15 Institute of Directors (IoD) NI First Trust Bank Director of the Year Awards.

8. Terry Arthurs and Maureen Courtney from ‘The Briers’, a Bed and Breakfast business in Newcastle Co. Down, and Cathal Cullen (pictured centre), Business Manager for Barclays in Northern Ireland. The couple quit the rat race in England to open the business with Barclays’ help.

9. The Lloyds Bank Foundation for Northern Ireland has celebrated the work of 527 organisations that are making a difference to the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people. Attending the event were (left to right): William Humphrey, Sandara KelsoRobb, six-year-old Matthew Wylie from Aghalee Taekwondo Club and Jim McCooe.

10 OCTOBER 2014

10. Pictured at the relaunch of Adelaide Insurance Services as Cornmarket Insurance Services are, from left to right: Roddy Murphy, John Quinlan, and Sam Geddis MD of Cornmarket Insurance Services, who originally founded Adelaide Insurance Services.


PHOTOCALL 11. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in Northern Ireland has announced the appointment of University of Ulster communications student Aine McElhinney from Rostrevor as its new Student Ambassador. CIPR NI Chair Chris Love is pictured with newly Aine.


12. The Big Music Project will support young people by helping them to develop the skills they need to break into the music industry. Pictured launching the scheme with Employment Minister Farry are (from left to right) Elle Black aged 14 from Bangor, Bobby Joe Edgar aged 16 from Belfast, Alicia Walsh, aged 15 and Nathan Jones aged 17 both from Belfast.

13. Business Advisory Firm BDO is working in partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College in a mentoring programme which will help produce the business leaders of tomorrow. Pictured from left to right is Laura Jackson – BDO Partner, David Jennings – Apprentice, Nigel Harra – BDO Senior Partner and Catherine Devine – Apprentice.



14. Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, and Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland CEO, at the launch of Tourism Ireland’s new plan, ‘Canada: Land of Opportunity – A Strategy for Growth 2014-2016

15. Pictured from left to right are Doug Cookson, Brian Johnston, the Mayor of Craigavon, Councillor Colin McCusker and Olga Murtagh after explaining to MLAs at Stormont the positive contribution which the Craigavon business community is making to the NI economy.






16. Pictured (left to right): General Manager, Gavin Carroll and Great Room Restaurant hostess, Olga Nagy launch The Merchant Hotel’s Cristal dinner, which is being tipped as the city’s most expensive menu at £195 per person.

17. Sarah Travers (centre) joins Paul Francis, Tearfund and Bronagh Luke from the Henderson Group to launch this year’s “Milk It” campaign, which starts 22 September. For every two litres of milk sold in selected SPAR, EUROSPAR, VIVO and VIVOXTRA stores, Henderson Wholesale will donate 5p to Tearfund.


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18. Victoria Pinkerton (left) and branch manager Erin Johnston celebrate the new look Pinkertons, Bangor, as well as picking up two gold awards at The Sunday Times Letting Agency of The Year Awards.

19. Jonny Cook, Managing Director of Peninsula Care Services, at a recent celebration of the business’s sponsorship of the current leading goal scorer of The Belfast Giants, Kevin Saurette.

20 OCTOBER 2014

20. Following the June 2012 acquisition of Crossgar Foodservice by Pallas Foods the full integration of the brands in Northern Ireland has now been completed. Pictured is Darren Hughes, Despatch Manager with Crossgar Pallas and Michael Morrissey, Director of Foodservice with Crossgar Pallas in Northern Ireland.



Canapés and cocktails The cream of the last month’s business events. Merchant What do a roadside emergency service and one of Northern Ireland’s most top end hotels have in common? Normally, not a lot but only last month the AA and the Merchant Hotel were close bedfellows as the latter picked up the first ever AA Spirit Award. Pictured are awards host Fiona Bruce; Gavin Carroll, general manager at The Merchant Hotel; Michael Patterson, the manager at The Cocktail Bar at The Merchant Hotel; Michael Sullivan, deputy general manager; Kirsten Grant Meikle, prestige director of The Balvenie and Simon Numphud, Head of AA Hotel Services.

St James Place Buy it low and sell it high; pretty sound advice if you’re playing the markets but maybe not always the easiest to achieve. The financial services sector in Northern Ireland should know and they were the belles of the ball at an event held at the Merchant Hotel by wealth managers St James Place last month. Pictured are Julie Reilly from Octopus Investments Belfast and Nick Morgan from Foresight Group.

Also at the St James Place shindig at the Merchant Hotel last month were Arthur Dodds from A Dodds, Kevin Curran from Ashtree Financial Services and Damian McLarnon from St James’s Place.



Mashup A Friday Night Mashup might sound like something you’d find at the end of a week-long potato board conference but is in fact one of the biggest gathers of tech heads this side of the Atlantic. Held this month in Londonderry’s Ebrington Buildings, it managed to attract some big hitters from the US tech scene as well as the

cream of the crop of local talent. Put that together in a room with beer and Little Matador, the local supergroup led by Snow Patrol guitarist Nathan Connolly, and you’ve a recipe for something special. Pictured (below) on the night were Wilson Kriegel Chief Revenue Officer at Pics ART; Becky Wang from Crossbeat; Aaron Taylor from Friday Night Mashup; and Jon Vanhala from Thesis Ventures.

The speakers for Friday Night Mashup from left: Beck Wang from Crossbeat; Pete Johnston from Google; and investigative journalist Gavin Sheridan.

Sustainable Awards Sustainability is rightly all the rage these days, particularly in the building trade. It was a boon therefore for Paul McAlister Architects to pick up the Sustainable Building Project of the Year award at this year’s Sustainable Ireland Awards to pick up for its design of the new CREST Centre for South West College in Enniskillen. Pictured from left to right are Adrian Logan, Sean McCann of PJ Treacy & Sons, Contractor; Paul McAlister, MD at McAlister Architects; Malachy McAleer and Joseph Martin, both from South West College and Colm McAvinchey, Kingspan Environmental.


Construction Excellence

Lynn Carson, Managing Director of DMS Ireland, presents Lynsey Boyle of Young Enterprise NI with her CIPD Intermediate Diploma in Human Resource Management Qualification. Carol Fitzsimons also presents Lynsey with her CIPD Northern Ireland Outstanding Student of the Year Certificate and is pictured with the organisation’s certificate for Change Management Programme of the Year.

The construction sector has had a difficult few years but is looking much healthier once again, just in time for the Showcase of Finalists for the Construction Excellence Awards 2014. They were held at the Guildhall, Derry, a building which was restored by H & J Martin and was the winner of the Overall Award at the 2013 awards. CEF managing director John Armstrong is pictured speaking at the event.




The Gadget Guide Our technology expert Adam Maguire checks out the latest gadgets to keep you at the cutting edge in the office and at home.

Reviews Lumia 930 Microsoft is in the process of ditching the Nokia brand – but it is very much committed to the mobile phone business, as the Lumia 930 shows. Nokia – for all its faults – was always known for the spectacular build quality on its devices. Even with that brand being pushed to the side, the Lumia 930 still delivers on that front. It’s a relatively large device – with a 5” screen – and yet it doesn’t feel too bulky in the hand. It is solid and sturdy-feeling, but it is also startlingly light. Best of all, though, it packs in a beautiful display, plenty of power and a really impressive camera. But when it comes to devices running Windows, the issue remains the same. The platform’s app store is okay, and it’s growing, but when compared to what’s on offer from Apple and Google, it looks barren. Once that issue is resolved – and it won’t be done easily – devices like the Lumia 930 may suddenly become desirable. The Lumia 930 is available from free on a number of networks.

Moto 360 While Apple’s new Watch has been getting a lot of attention lately, Motorola has gone ahead and actually released something beautiful in the ‘smartwatch’ category. Samsung is already active in the market too – as are a number of smaller firms like Pebble and FitBit. But few have made managed to make something as stylish as the Moto 360. For a start, it has a round face – you know, like a watch. Inside it is a sharp screen, with Google’s Android Wear running operations under the hood. From here you can use it to check your messages, dictate commands and track your level of fitness. And it works surprisingly well. The catch – the battery is awful. Users will struggle to even get a day’s usage out of it without having to recharge, which pretty much nullifies all the great things it can do. Hopefully it’s a problem Motorola can address quickly. The Moto 360 will hit shelves in October.



Previews iPhone 6 Finally succumbing to the large screen trend, Apple’s latest iPhone promises users a bit more bang for their buck. Steve Jobs once famously mocked oversized mobile phones, saying there was no need for anything beyond four inches. His trusted colleagues – like Tim Cook and Jony Ive – seem to feel otherwise. With the launch of the iPhone 6, the flagship Apple phone now has a 4.7” screen – and those wanting a bit more can opt for a 5.5” ‘Plus’ model. But beyond that – and arguably more importantly – the phone also contains a chip that allows for wireless transactions, potentially replacing your wallet (assuming banks and retailers are willing to play ball).

It also packs all of the other expected upgrades – faster processor, an improved camera and a host of new software features to booth. Early reviews from the US suggest the company has hit the motherlode – but the decision to go large

can only be judged by the humble consumer that has to handle it on a daily basis. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have launched – with very limited availability – in Northern Ireland.

Amazon Kindle Voyage While it has made a big effort to break into the tablet market, Amazon is still showing love for those who prefer a dedicated ebook reader – especially those willing to spend a few pound extra. The company has just unveiled the Kindle Voyage – a premium ereader the company says was designed for those who “love paper”. It’s amazingly light – just 180g – but what the company is boasting about most is its ultra-sharp screen, which it claims is as close to real paper as it’s ever got. It also has a great battery – lasting six weeks on a single charge (assuming you do about half an hour of reading each day). And there are a tonne of additional features added in to help users find word definitions, learn more about the author and make their way around a book without losing their place. It does not come cheap, though – the Voyage is priced at £170, or £230 for the 3G model. The Amazon Kindle Voyage will be released on 4 November.




Name: Paul Terrington Position: Regional Chair of PwC in NI and chair of Institute of Directors in NI What’s your favourite App for passing the time? I am not a great user of entertainment Apps. I tend to use travel time to catch up on emails and review documents. The lifting of the ban on using iPads during take-off/landing is a plus in that respect. Have you ever unexpectedly run into someone you know from home in a far flung destination? Regularly, but too often for it to be unexpected. PwC is a big organisation so I’m always bumping into colleagues at airports, stations and hotels, all over the world. What do you enjoy most about working internationally? Coming home to my family. Don’t kid yourself, working internationally is still working, so don’t confuse it with tourism.

How often do you travel and why? I travel every week, usually to London, less frequently to other UK cities and throughout Europe and 4/5 times a year further afield. I am normally 2-3 days per week in London, which is much easier if they are consecutive days. Last year I made a return flight between Belfast and London every day for a week – first flight out, last flight home... that’s an experience I don’t intend to repeat. Much of PwC business growth is outside Northern Ireland so I travel to lead efforts in networking, developing opportunities, prospecting for leads and selling – you can’t do that sitting in an office in Belfast. Other than your phone, what are the three things you couldn’t do without when travelling for work? Leg room on the plane! A bag that fits in the overhead locker and my Spurs season tickets, in case I have the chance to get to a game. Have you found a good way to work while you are on the move? No easy answer to this. I have an iPhone, an iPad and a 4G receiver so I’m always connected. My highly organised and telepathic PA is equally important. However I’m always open to suggestions. What would be your top tips for anyone embarking on a job that involves a lot of travel? A measure of effectiveness for the airline commuter is how little time you actually spend in airports. You have to endeavour to let travel interfere only minimally with your work pattern. That means cutting connections and travel very fine, which does result in occasional missed flights, but that’s not something to get stressed about.


What’s your favourite city/country in the world and where has disappointed you? I love London as a city to visit for work or recreation. More far flung would be Hong Kong – a really interesting fusion of East and West and New York – like being on a permanent movie set. Jerusalem is the most interesting city I have visited, while my most disappointing city was Bangkok... grubby and impossible to walk around. What do you look for in a good hotel? Someone else does that for me. PwC has a list of hotels around the world that meet our standards of quality and convenience to offices and airports, so I don’t really mind where I stay. What’s the best airline you’ve flown with and the best hotel you’ve stayed in? I fly regularly with BA and Aer Lingus, both of which are fine. Hotels when working are all about convenience. For pleasure, my favourites would have to be the Merrion in Dublin and Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park. Have you worked out a way to avoid jetlag? No secret formula. On short stay/long haul trips, I try to stay in UK time as best I can. Thankfully I don’t need much sleep. Do you speak any languages and if so, have they been of use on business trips? I speak some German and I can understand a few other languages better than I can speak them.


City to city for Flybe


lybe said its new services to London City Airport will help it capture a bigger chunk of the business market as the company continues a major turnaround launched last year. It will start flying to the London docklands airport on October 27 from Belfast City Airport – along with from Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter, Inverness, Aberdeen and, a few days later, from Amsterdam – and will be focusing its marketing campaign on what it said are reduced times from business district to business district. “We’ve recognised there’s a big business market to London,” Flybe’s chief commercial officer Paul Simmons told Ulster Business. “Travel times are hugely important for the day return and short stay market and we thought London City was ideal to target those customers rather than another Luton or Gatwick.” It will initially be flying three times a day from Belfast but Mr Simmons said that could be expanded if demand dictated as slots at London City become available. He said Belfast City is “a good strong base for us. We expect to survive and grow at the airport and have made a big commitment to the base.”

Paul Simmons, Flybe’s chief commercial officer.

Meanwhile, Flybe’s turnaround from lossmaking carrier has continued. It racked up a profit of £8m for the 2013-2014 financial year, a big improvement on the £41m loss last year. A hefty cost cutting programme, led by chief executive Saad Hammad, was said to be behind much of the turnaround.

“At our core we’ve focused on costs,” Mr Simmons said. “Since taking that action we’ve turned back to profit and raised money to focus on growth. We have to carefully plan our expansion and pick our new routes and if we do that we believe we have a recipe for success.” Mr Hammad also brought in some new members to the senior management team of the airline, including Mr Simmons from Easyjet. The airline said last November that it would look for 52 redundancies at Belfast City Airport but, because of the speed of the turnaround, it had reduced that number sharply. It lost its slots in Gatwick last year and stopped its Belfast-Gatwick service but has since credited the dropping of loss-making routes for its revival.








Business Diary

November 2014





3 November 10.00

Networking Morning, Mid-Ulster Organiser: Women in Business NI

White River Hotel, Toome, Mid-Ulster Cost: Members FREE Non-Members £10 +VAT

For more information or to book visit

4-7 November

Digital DNA 2014 Organiser: Digital DNA Connect Ltd

Titanic Belfast, Belfast City Hall, T13

For more information or to register visit

6 November 19.00 - 01.00

Ireland Marketing Excellence Awards Organiser: The Chartered Institute of Marketing

Belfast City Hall Cost: £102

For more information or to book visit

7 November

Deloitte Fast 50 Awards Organiser: Deloitte

Deloitte Technology Gala, Dublin

For more information or to book visit

12 November

Pub of the Year Awards 2014 Gala Night Organiser: Pubs of Ulster

La Mon Country House Hotel, Belfast

For more information or to book visit

18 November 08.30 - 16.00

You’re nicked! Managing health and safety on the Board and on the ground Org: IOSH NI

Riddell Hall, 185 Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5EE

For more information or to book visit

20 November 18.30

Women in Business NI Awards 2014 Organiser: Women in Business NI

Culloden Estate & Spa Cost: Early Bird Rate – £80 +VAT Table of 10 – £800 +VAT

For more information or to book visit

21 & 28 November 08.30 - 10.00

Business Thinking Rewired Organiser: Arts & Business NI

James Street South, Belfast Cost: A&B NI Members FREE Non-Members £15 +VAT

For more information or to book visit

27 November 19.00 - 23.00

Northern Ireland Enterprise Awards 2014 Organiser: Enterprise NI

Hilton Hotel, Belfast Cost: £50 +VAT per ticket plus special Early Bird offer for ENI members

For more information or to book visit

Cost: IOSH members: £75 +VAT Non-members: £95 +VAT

If you would like to promote an event or conference please contact Sonia Armstrong ( FEBRUARY 2014





Uncovering the 9-5

NAME: Brian Clerkin POSITION: Managing Director of ASM Chartered Accountants’s Belfast office

7.00am Depending on how busy I am I will flex my start time. However, an early morning coffee is always high on the agenda and it is usually picked up on my way into the office. The first task of the day is to check in on any overnight emails and to review yesterday’s to-do list to make sure everything is in hand. 9.00am I try to spend 10 minutes every morning with my PA Katie to go over my diary to make sure I know where I need to be that day, to make sure that I will have the relevant papers to hand and to agree on what else needs to get squeezed into the diary. We also take that opportunity to ensure that the day to day paperwork of a busy office keeps flowing and doesn’t get caught up on my desk. It’s just after this that I have always found that I tend to be most productive in the morning so where possible I will often block out 90

minutes or so to deal with a “chunky” task. I also use this time to review any client proposals or marketing material that we are working on. 12.00pm I try to spend some time every day walking round the office and having a quick face to face catch up with the key directors and managers in the firm just to get a sense of any emerging issues or concerns particularly in respect of the delivery of client work or staffing issues. As a firm we offer a wide range of services ranging from the traditional audit, accounting and tax compliance services to specialist tax consulting, forensic accounting, internal audit and hospitality and leisure industry consulting, so there is also something interesting to get involved with. 4.00pm At this stage I would have just completed two to three hours involved in client meetings,

usually out at our client’s premises. I then usually leave my admin tasks to later in the day. As MD I am responsible for liaising with the other ASM offices, with our international colleagues, with our key stakeholders and with our regulators. I also usually take the time once a day to check in with our practice manager to ensure that there are no other pressing practice management issues which need my attention. 6.30pm Homeward bound. With two kids under three I have become much more disciplined about trying to separate home and work life. So while occasionally I will still work on emails at home late into the evening in recent times I am more likely to be immediately immersed in home life and with an energetic two year old on our hands and a new born, all thoughts of work will evaporate until early the next morning.

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Ulster Business - October 2014  
Ulster Business - October 2014