Page 1


OCTOBER 2016 Price £2.30 (€3.75)

Your growth partner How Bank of Ireland UK is helping Northern Ireland’s businesses scale, export and grow ISSN 1363-2507

9 771363 250005


Contents 6 News

52 Health at Work

76 Motoring

All that’s going on that you need to know

Jeremy Gardiner explains how a stroke stopped him in his tracks, briefly

Pat “Chicane” Burns test-drives the latest executive motors

66 Top 100 Gala

82 Appointments

The gallery from the Ulster Business/A&L Goodbody event of the year

Who? Where? To to what? It’s all here

14 Cover Story Bank of Ireland wants to help your business grow

22 Commercial Property Economist John Simpson delves into the work of commercial property

40 Finance and Banking We find out how best to present your business case to the bank for funding

69 Roundtable The importance of business and education working together

74 Business Breakfast Ulster Business has breakfast with Claire Aiken

90 Events If you were out and about last month you might be here

92 Tech Read all about the latest Yoga tablet in gadget corner


22 52



STANLEY SECURITY IS A TRUSTED LOCAL PROVIDER OF SECURITY SOLUTIONS THAT ARE FULLY INTEGRATED WITH YOUR BUSINESS PROCESSES. One of the largest and most reliable security experts in Europe, we have been supporting the needs of our clients across Ireland and Northern Ireland in banking, retail, logistics, healthcare, education and justice for over 20 years.

To find out how we can help your business please contact us today on 028 9079 9988 or visit our website at

A1 Calmount Park Calmount Road, Ballymount Dublin 12 Ireland +353 (0) 1 456 4544

Locksley Business Park 39 Montgomery Road Belfast, BT6 9UP Northern Ireland +44 (0) 28 9079 9988




Interesting economic times


elcome to the October edition of Ulster Business. We come to you at a time which, while we’re living through it, seems tumultuous for the Northern Ireland economy, but one which history will no doubt look back on as one of the most fascinating periods. All of us – businesses, public sector and media – are on tenterhooks in anticipation of the next major business survey to see if it reveals that the economy has indeed slumped in the wake of the Brexit vote. If ever the mantra of financial markets - buy the rumour and sell the fact - was applicable, it has been in the months following June 23rd as survey after survey revealed the vote to leave the European Union has been barely noticed by businesses. It’s still early days and anecdotal evidence – sometimes a better indicator, sometimes best ignored – suggests that major capital investment decisions have been put on hold and inward investors are waiting for a clearer picture of the post-Brexit environment, but we can take heart from the hard evidence, so far.

Publisher Ulster Business c/o Independent News & Media Ltd Belfast Telegraph House 33 Clarendon Road, Clarendon Dock Belfast BT1 3BG Printer W&G Baird Greystone Press, Caulside Drive, Antrim BT41 2RS

Independent News & Media Ltd © 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of Independent News & Media Ltd.


Consumer confidence remains relatively strong, inflation hasn’t increased as much as expected, weaker sterling has been a boon for exporters and the drop in the Bank of England’s interest rate has made borrowing cheaper. Still, we are only at the start of this long journey toward extracting ourselves from a huge complex organisation and we’ll only truly get a picture of how, and if, the vote has impacted our economy in many months from now. By then we’ll be close to cutting our own corporation tax rate which, although slightly tempered by Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to cut the UKwide rate to 15%, still offers an advantage and puts us on an even footing with the Republic. These are interesting times we are living through but there’s no doubt that we’ll look back on them with wonder.

David Elliott

Editor David Elliott

Art Editor Stuart Gray

Manager Sonia Armstrong

Production Manager Stuart Gray

Deputy Manager Sylvie Brando

Cover Photography Khara Pringle

Sales Executive Sarah-Ann Gamble

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


The Big Numbers 2002

CBI – Target productivity to boost NI ecomony

The last time the number of public sector jobs in Northern Ireland was as low as it is now, according to NISRA. Despite that, activity in the public sector here has grown by 2% over the last year.

0.9% The amount by which activity in the Northern Ireland economy increased in the three months to September compared to the same period last year, according to the Northern Ireland Composite Index. Every little helps. David Gavaghan (CBI Chair), right, is pictured with Stuart Carson, Rainbow Communications (sponsor), centre left, Sarah Green, (CBI), centre right and guest speaker Michael O’Leary, (Ryanair), left. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye.

50,000 The number of new jobs the Executive promised to create in its manifesto earlier this year. Not a new number but one worth remembering.

£64bn The latest estimate of total turnover of Northern Ireland businesses.

0.2% The drop in UK retail sales in August, down from growth of 1.9% in July. But don’t panic, the ONS says, the EU Referendum result appears not to have had a significant impact on the economy.


ddressing Northern Ireland’s low level of productivity needs to be front and centre of any plan to reinvigorate the economy.

economy and work doubly hard to create over 50,000 new jobs over the next five years,” he said. “To do this we must demonstrate ambition and a new found focus on delivery.”

That’s the view of CBI Northern Ireland Chair David Gavaghan who said we need to improve the skill levels of school leavers to achieve that aim.

“The issues resulting from the EU referendum every day reveal ever more complexity – for example, the state of origin rules, energy regulations, even defining the circuitous phrase “Brexit means Brexit”. It is widely understood that businesses across the globe like there to be some degree of political and economic certainty.

“Good results at 16, equals good productivity within a region,” he said. “Therefore, to have a successful economy, and greater social justice, we must improve educational outcomes.” Quoting economist Paul Krugman (“Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything”), he pointed out that productivity per worker in Northern Ireland is 30% below that of the “best in class” and called for a sustained plan of action by government over the next decade to improve skill levels and bridge that gap. Speaking at the organisation’s annual lunch, he backed the Executive’s agreement to create the right conditions for ambitions economic growth in the next few years, despite the Brexit vote. “Regardless of the uncertainty caused by the EU Referendum, we need to transform our


“The added burden for our politicians, civil servants and businesses as they seek to understand the potential implications of our future relationship with the rest of Europe is currently impossible to estimate. Regardless though of this backdrop, we must keep our focus on the existing challenges and opportunities facing our domestic economy if we are going to improve the lives of our citizens.” Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryanair, was the guest speaker at the lunch and waxed lyrical on the Executive’s aviation policy. He said the bailout of £9m for United’s Belfast-Newark service was a waste but called for action on “crippling” air passenger duty (APD) on short-haul flights.


Capita bags contracts in public and private sectors

Ed Brown, managing director of Capita Managed IT Solutions


Belfast IT company has won two contracts with local organisations worth half a million pounds. Capital Managed IT Solutions has signed the deals with Derry City and Strabane District Council and also with building material supplier Murdock Builders Merchants. It will provide IT infrastructure services and support to both organisations. Under the new contract Capita will provide the council with an infrastructure refresh, including disaster recovery and support services for over 1,000 Council system users. The infrastructure upgrade is intended to deliver cost efficiencies, allowing the Council to deliver more connected and effective public services to its residents whilst saving money which can be reinvested in frontline services. The contract with Murdoch will see Capita deliver a completely new infrastructure refresh including disaster recovery and business continuity to the business for the next three years. Murdock’s has over 10 sites across the region. Ed Brown, managing director of Capita Managed IT Solutions, welcomed the contract wins. “It’s great news to see organisations in the region investing in their IT infrastructure – and I’m pleased that Capita is so well placed to service both the public and private sectors. From supporting council officers in doing their civic duty to helping the private sector continue to drive economic growth, Capita has a huge amount to offer Northern Ireland.”




Quotes of the month

Economy shrugs off Brexit blues but weakness prevails

“Demand for Grade A office space is extremely high in Belfast and we have now reached a critical shortage which could impact our ability to secure foreign direct investment going forward.” Lisa McAteer, director Office Agency at CBRE, following the announcement that planning permission has been submitted to turn Oyster House in Belfast into Grade A office accommodation.

“The EU is not going to make it easy for the UK. All this kind of arrogant nonsense in London – ‘we’re the fifth biggest economy in the world, they’ll give a good deal’... they won’t.” Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary laments the Brexit vote.

“In the weeks ahead I intend to outline how we hope to scale up more of our SMEs in terms of their turnover, employment levels and exports. This plan will draw directly on what I have learnt from the German Mittelstand.” Minister for the Economy Simon Hamilton says the model used to support SMEs in Germany can offer a lot to Northern Ireland.

“I am committed to developing opportunities with China for the NI agri-food industry and working to enhance relationships. There is a lot of good work already taking place and we continue to explore areas of mutual benefit.” DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen welcomes a delegation from China’s Jiangxi Province to Stormont.



he Northern Ireland economy appears to have dusted itself down and shrugged off uncertainty surrounding Brexit, according to the latest PMI report from Ulster Bank. It showed activity in the business world here rose in August after falling in July in the immediate aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union on June 23. The rate of input cost inflation accelerated to the fastest since November 2011 and firms also raised their output prices at a sharper pace. But the recovery has been relatively weak, according to Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank. “Local firms reported a return to growth in activity in August but it was still the weakest rate experienced this year, and well below the pre-downturn long-term average,” he said. “Furthermore, Northern Ireland’s private sector did not experience

the recovery in new orders last month that occurred in the rest of the UK. “Order books amongst local firms shrank for the second successive month. This is due to subdued domestic demand, as export orders increased; no doubt boosted by the fall in sterling.” And he said the underlying economy is struggling. “While the headlines may focus on a return to growth and ongoing job creation, these cannot conceal the notable weaknesses that lie beneath. In particular, the two growing concerns are the surge in inflationary pressures and stagnation within the local services sector.” Mr Ramsey said the economy here could do with a helping hand. “Overall, the survey is a monthly story of recovery. But this shouldn’t mask the underlying weaknesses that need addressed in the longer-term. The Chancellor has spoken about the need for stimulus at a UK-level. Such a move would be particularly welcomed in Northern Ireland.”


London firm creates 94 jobs in Belfast


London software firm has announced plans set up a new base in Belfast, creating 94 new jobs. Metaswitch, which develops software for telecommunications clients, is setting up a Centre of Excellence in the city and will pay £27,500 a year on average. It was announced by Minister for the Economy Simon Hamilton. “The new centre will deliver a competitive and innovative edge to the company’s operations, helping it to compete in a global industry. The involvement of Invest NI and my Department has secured this highly attractive mobile project for Northern Ireland.” In conjunction with the job announcement, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has launched the commencement of the first Metaswitch Academy. The programme will see 20 graduates undertake an intensive nine week training programme delivered by Belfast Metropolitan College. Graeme MacArthur, Executive VP of Engineering and Support Services at Metaswitch, said the skilled workforce drew the firm. “We were attracted to Northern Ireland primarily because of the stable supply of highly educated people. We were particularly impressed by


Pictured with the Minister Simon Hamilton at the announcement in Parliament Buildings are (L-R) Graeme MacArthur, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Support Services and Stuart Warwick, SVP, Support.

the Assured Skills program and the close links it fosters between business and the universities, enabling us to feed into curriculums and ensure the ongoing supply of smart people with the right skills. “High quality telecommunications and lower operating costs were also attractive.”



Hotel occupancy falls 5%

Small firms find out the secrets of tendering to BCC

By Margaret Canning


otel occupancy levels in Belfast have fallen 5% over the last 12 months as the number of places to stay in the city rises further, a survey has claimed. The research by business advisors PwC said the city’s hotels had enjoyed a bumper June – but over the year had slipped down the league table for hotel occupancy in UK cities. PwC pointed to business confidence taking a knock in the run-up to the EU referendum – translating into companies reducing their budgets for events and travel. The firm’s research showed that average occupancy levels in Belfast’s hotels fell from 79% to 74% in the 12 months to June 2016. That was second only to Aberdeen, where occupancy levels fell by 10% as the Scottish city’s prosperity – heavily dependent on North Sea oil – took a battering from falling oil prices. Belfast’s fall follows a strong performance over the two previous years, when average occupancy for the city’s hotels outpaced the UK as a whole to grow from 75% to 79%. PwC’s survey comes as around 22 new hotels are planned for the city – with new arrivals including Hastings Hotels’ Grand Central on Bedford Street (pictured). Martin O’Hanlon, partner at PwC Northern Ireland, said: “Uncertainty and lower confidence pre and post the EU referendum, as well as a slowdown in economic recovery, have impacted corporate budgets and travel, a vital segment for hotels.” He said new hotel rooms were becoming available “which have outpaced demand”.


Councillor Aileen Graham, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, joins Dave McClements from Core Consulting to open the doors of the Reception Room in City Hall to welcome SMEs to an upcoming event on tendering for contracts in the public sector.


mall companies which want to supply their goods or services to Belfast City Council are to be given a masterclass to help them tender for contracts. The council is running the Successful Tendering Programme from this October until May 2017 and is calling for applicants. The programme is open to Belfast-based businesses with less than 50 employees and will feature tailored workshops and one-to-one mentoring support to help companies understand the tendering process as well as guidance from experts on writing a winning bid. Launching the programme along with delivery agent Core Consulting, Councillor Aileen Graham, Chair of the council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, said the programme will give companies a good grounding in how to present their application. “The Successful Tendering programme is a very important one for SMEs in the city interested in selling their services or products to the public sector but unsure about the tendering process and need help with putting together an effective bid and tendering successfully for a contract. “It links with the council’s goal of increasing local procurement spend and supporting growth in key sectors. I would encourage eligible businesses in the city interested in developing or building on skills to tender effectively for contracts within the public sector, to come down to City Hall on 5 October to find out more and sign up for the programme.” The council is holding a free information seminar and awareness event on Wednesday 5 October for those interested in finding out more about the course.


Watch and learn By Richard Garrard, Private Clients


he UK is one of the fastestgrowing markets for luxury watches with sales increasing 21% year-on-year. More people are turning to investing in watches than art and antiques. One alluring reason is their exemption from Capital Gains Tax.

Greggs creates 18 jobs with new shop


he founder of the “steak bake” has opened its fourth company-managed shop in Belfast, creating 18 new jobs.

The new Greggs unit is situated on Castle Lane in the city and will be selling its range of baked savouries, sandwiches and coffee. It is less than a year since the company set up its first shop on in Northern Ireland and it’s thought many more are planned. Richard Stewart, manager of Greggs on Castle Lane, said the situation of the new shop is ideal. “I’m delighted to help bring another Greggs shop to this high footfall location in Belfast’s vibrant city centre,” he said. “The Castle Lane store is in an ideal location both for shoppers and city centre workers and we’re really looking forward to bringing them a taste of Greggs – from our much-loved savouries, to our Balanced Choice range and our freshly ground coffee – there is something for everyone!” Greggs has over 1,700 shops across the UK but first entered the Northern Ireland market in 2015, via a franchised shop in the Applegreen Service Station on the M2. This was followed by a further two franchised shop openings in partnership with Applegreen on the A26 outside Ballymena and on the M1, near Lisburn. On 22 March 2016, Greggs opened its first companymanaged shop in Boucher Retail Park, South Belfast. On 21 May 2016, Greggs opened its second company-managed shop on Belfast’s Royal Avenue, followed by Dargan Road on 6 August 2016 – bringing its full product offering to its expanding customer base in Northern Ireland.


There has also been increased demand for customised luxury watches, where people add a personal statement to their timepiece. Obtaining an accurate valuation of any luxury watches you own is very important in order to avoid the risk of underinsurance. Avoiding underinsurance may sound easy but there are a number of reasons why underinsurance can occur. • If you have inherited a watch, you may not realise its true value. • If you bought the watch abroad the price paid could be very different to the cost of replacing it in the UK if it was lost, stolen or damaged. Many insurers can offer a valuation service. Valuation services are also offered by many jewellers and watch specialists. A valuation including bespoke reports, full details about the watch and any other pertinent details will make sure you avoid underinsurance and can also help make accurate valuations in the future.


Insur Risk M

Having this kind of valuation paperwork can also make sure you can confirm the value of the watch should the worst ever happen and you have to make a claim. It also has the benefit of being excellent evidence of ownership, in the event of loss and subsequent recovery especially if it includes or is supported by a photographic record. It is also important to make sure that luxury watches, and any other high value items you may own, are covered under your insurance. Standard household insurance is potentially not going to do the job when it comes to achieving the full worth of a valuable timepiece in the event of a claim. Some watches can carry more value than the policy limits allow, for instance. Willis Insurance and Risk Management specialises in bespoke insurance policies for high net worth individuals. We can ensure that your watches, and any other high value items, are adequately covered by your insurance. Get in touch today to make sure that you are not falling into theunderinsurance trap.

willis Insurance & Risk Management

Contact Richard Garrad on 028 9032 9042, email or visit to download a brochure.



The problem solver By Feargal Quinn

Q: Have you any suggestions on how I can get my managers to focus on a number of key issues, which are critical to the business? We are struggling to get consistency with the 22 managers that work in the business. A: What you are describing is not unusual. If your business has grown fast and there has been lots of change, the problem will have become more exaggerated. It’s not that your managers don’t care, it’s probably more that they are being hit by a multitude of priorities and finding it difficult to keep them all in focus. Agree with your senior management team what you want the priorities to be. Also set out the minimum expectations of things that have to be done every day, regardless of what other priorities are in place. Getting the senior management team to buy in will be critical as you don’t want conflicting messages going throughout the business. I would recommend you examine your bonus structure, assuming that you have one. In Superquinn, we found that aligning key priorities to the manager’s bonus system delivered an instant result. If your managers know their bonus is dependent on an audit of some key measures, this tends to focus minds. It might also be an idea to run some sort


of a competition which would include the managers and all of the staff in its judging format. This would be a great way to mobilise everyone to focus on the key priorities, as there would be a sense of peer pressure among the branches, with everyone not wanting to be beaten by their neighbouring branch. Finally, to launch this focus I would recommend a meeting led by yourself which would address your senior management team and branch managers so that everyone is clear on the message you are trying to get across. Q: I run a small business, which is only two years old but I am getting good growth. My problem is that I am really struggling to get all the tasks in the business done especially in marketing. A: When you start a new business for the first time, you quickly discover that you end up multi-tasking to try and cover all of the roles that are required. You are the production manager, the marketing manager, the sales manager etc. As you rightly point out, this can sometimes be a very big challenge. In the ideal world you would go out and recruit another member of staff, however the commercial numbers may not allow this, although you do need to be careful you do not stifle business growth through lack of resources. Sometimes it is wise

to invest the money ahead of time to allow you to focus on growing sales by employing additional help. I see many small businesses working with colleges and third level institutions by taking interns for three or six-month placements. Ideally these interns would have expertise in the areas you would want them. Of course taking interns into the business means you need to be structured yourself and invest time in them so that they can produce results. There are several government schemes to incentivise businesses to employ staff. Schemes are designed to give your business a subsidy in order to cushion the cost of taking on an employee for the first time. In the case of the Local Enterprise Office, employment grants, if you are eligible, you could qualify as the first employee and get some much needed funds which would then allow you to take on a second person. You are right to be raising this as an issue, and I would caution you about waiting too long to bring in additional resources. The blockage to growth in most businesses is caused by an over reliance on the owner. There are only a certain amount of hours in a day, and days in a week and no matter what you do, you can’t change that fact.

An exclusive five star business experience Innovative thinking through Ulster University Business School’s custom designed Management Ambassador Programme, helped accommodate Hastings Hotels with a new creative strategy and vision for the future

Creating innovators tailor made for your workplace


The essential growth partner Gavin Kennedy, Bank of Ireland UK’s Director of Business Banking for Northern Ireland explains how the bank is partner to Northern Ireland’s businesses, as well as a funder


urturing and supporting value creation within the economy, goes to the heart of a bank’s role in our society.

150 years in Northern Ireland by helping customers to scale up their businesses through investment in innovative products and services and expansion into new markets.

That statement is particularly true in the business world where companies of all sizes need a bank to be a true partner if sustainable growth is to be achieved.

They have done that by rolling their sleeves up and getting under the skin of the businesses they deal with, literally reaching out and connecting with the business community.

It needs to understand the challenges and opportunities the business faces, from the shop floor right up to the boardroom, if it’s to be able to offer the right financial support. Step forward Bank of Ireland UK, a bank which has taken that approach to heart and developed its franchise over


By doing that they have been able to find out what clients need from a partner bank.

“Our role goes far beyond providing funding,” Gavin Kennedy, Bank of Ireland UK’s Director of Business Banking for Northern Ireland, told Ulster Business.


“We make sure we are a true partner to every one of our business customers and get a huge thrill from their success.” “That means an enduring relationship has always been a core principal of how we do business. We make sure the relationship management teams remain as constant as possible, bringing the Bank’s full range of expertise to the customer locally, and taking the time to understand the customers’ business.” That has meant creating a streamlined organisation. “We have improved our internal processes and procedures to make them as efficient and customer focused as possible so we can spend more time with our customers and with our potential future customers.” Equal importance is placed on all sizes of companies, Gavin said. “We want to encourage more start-ups to get up and running and to grow,” he said. “We offer tailored propositions, such as small business start-up packages, to make sure this integral part of the economy can thrive.” Incidentally, the bank’s new start-up and growth propositions launched in 2015, have been awarded a five-star rating by the independent experts at Moneyfacts in 2016 – the only local bank to be recognised in this year’s five star ratings. “We also want to help nurture and support the big businesses of the future and we’re putting our money where our mouth is by approving nine out of 10 credit applications.” Ciaran Doherty from Causeway Geotech has certainly been impressed by the bank’s help. “With Bank of Ireland UK’s support, we have been able to grow the company substantially since we came on board with them two years ago. Since starting the business in 2012 we have been on an upward trajectory of growth and we need a flexible finance solution, something which Bank of Ireland UK have been able to offer. Other banks don’t provide a dedicated Business Manager to businesses of our scale but Bank of Ireland UK do – by doing so they have made sure they understand our business and our needs. We have compiled a growth plan for the next 12 months and we see Bank of Ireland UK as our banking partner in that phase.” >




(L-R) Maria McAllister, Senior Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK with Brendan Mooney, CEO, Kainos.

As well as its own start-up services, Bank of Ireland UK partners with Catalyst Inc on a wide range of programmes tailored to support and encourage business founders to come forward with breakthrough high-tech ideas and to progress these to commercialisation and growth stages. Evidence of the bank’s enthusiasm to help companies to export and scale up their business is found in a very popular programme it runs in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Connecting for Growth programme, is a cross-border trade initiative designed to facilitate increased business between companies from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It focuses on bringing together more than 700 local businesses with procurement teams from large buying organisations and is open to any businesses that have an interest in developing cross-border trade opportunities. Medium-sized companies are a key part of the bank’s business. Gavin’s teams of experienced relationship managers are working with businesses right across Northern Ireland providing their expertise and connecting them with others in order to help them achieve their growth ambitions. The teams are supported by in-house sector specialists providing better understanding of the business and allowing the businesses to benchmark their own position in their market. “We believe that there is currently significant untapped growth potential in Northern Ireland plc, particularly in the medium sized business segment where innovation


(L-R) Kris Toner, Senior Business Manager, Bank of Ireland UK with James McIlveen, Finance Director, AJ Power.

has the potential to deliver exponentially,” Gavin said. “Bank of Ireland UK works in partnership with CBI to help create, foster and support our future champions in NI.” This month’s 24-hour CBI conference is the annual highlight of that partnership, where we bring together some of Northern Ireland’s most successful and promising growth stories. James McIlveen from AJ Power is one of those growth business which has been a long-standing customer of the bank. “Bank of Ireland UK has been instrumental in the growth of our business. The expertise available within the bank has identified the products that we need and laid the groundwork for expansion into new markets and development of products.” “In the early days of the business, Bank of Ireland UK gave us access to a commercial finance facility by releasing the value tied up in customer debts. This product has helped more than any other in allowing export growth to be realised and thus enabling the company to remain export focused with export sales (outside Northern Ireland) now over 98%. “The bank’s expertise in trade finance – through the Global Markets team – meant we have been able to secure payments from overseas buyers through trade finance and have used Letters of Credit to manage trading risk. “They’ve also allowed us reduce our exposure to currency fluctuations using

forward contracts and remove a major area of risk which allows us to get on with doing what we do best.” An important initiative launched last year, The Trinity International Growth Programme, in partnership with Trinity College Dublin and the British Irish Chamber of Commerce is specifically aimed at taking these growth companies to the next level of global innovation and trade. “We are privileged to have been a part of the Kainos story since its days as a spin out from QUB to its public flotation,” Gavin said. Brendan Mooney, the Chief Executive Officer of Kainos said the bank has been an essential partner in the firm’s growth. “As our banking partner for 30 years, I recognise the contribution that Bank of Ireland has made to our growth over the years – from the small business loans when we were a start-up business to the sophisticated banking arrangements today that support our international expansion.” The partnering approach is obviously paying off. The bank has seen demand for funding increase steadily over the past three years. Lending approvals have increased by 46% in the first six months of 2016. “We are a trusted adviser to our clients and make sure that we share our experience, our networks and the financial leverage we have access to, to the benefit of our customers,” Gavin said.

The current. The future.

Gareth Hanna (left) and Gary Irvine

4c tops three years of growth with new divisions As 4c Executive Search prepares to celebrate its third birthday, the team tells Ulster Business about the launch of three new divisions in the business and ambitious plans for further growth in the coming months...


hey say that the first three years will either make or break a business,” said Gary Irvine, Founder and Managing Director of 4c Executive Search. “As we prepare to enter into our fourth year of business at the start of October this year, we can say with conviction that our first three years have very much made us. I am immensely proud of everything 4c has achieved so far.” 4c Executive Search was launched by Irvine in October 2013 in response to what he said was a very obvious gap in the Northern Ireland market. “Prior to this, local businesses were shopping outside of the province for high-quality executive search partners to find the best person for their senior-level,


business-critical roles – simply because they didn’t believe that there was anyone in Northern Ireland who could successfully deliver such an assignment,” he explained. “From the very beginning we set out to become the leading provider of true executive search services in Northern Ireland and I think we have definitely arrived at that point. 4c has been on a steady upwards trajectory every month since our inception and we have exceeded all business targets along the way – having been retained to fill over 140 high-level assignments in Northern Ireland and GB in the past three years.

but, from the offset, we have always asked ourselves ‘what can we do better?’ and ‘what can we do next?’. This means that we are relevant, that we can respond to the needs of new and existing clients and that we are always one step ahead of the game. “To that end, we have invested significantly in launching three new divisions under the 4c Executive umbrella and – alongside a number of new appointments in the wider team – have appointed an additional Search Consultant, Gareth Hanna, to lead this side of the business.”

Expansion at 4c “But we don’t rest on our laurels,” he continued. “When a business is performing so well the danger is always to be complacent

Gareth Hanna commented: “We were being asked frequently by clients if we offered an executive search solution for a range of


markets and sectors outside of the private and public sectors and were finding ourselves turning away business, simply because we didn’t feel that the 4c Executive Search model suited those new markets at that time. “It would go against the 4c ethos to take on any assignment unless we were 100% confident that we could deliver an exceptionally high-quality, value-formoney service, but over the past few months, as the business continued to grow and develop, the time became right to look at new opportunities in a number of different sectors.” Hanna explains that 4c has responded to this market demand by launching 4c Third Sector, 4c Interim and 4c Boardroom.

4c Third Sector

vacancy at a senior-level, or trouble-shooting a certain issue in their organisation.”

4c Boardroom She explained that 4c’s third new division, 4c Boardroom, will cater for a growing need for Non-Executive Directors [NEDs] across the private and public sectors in Northern Ireland. “NEDs are usually highly-experienced businesspeople who can play a vital role in not only ensuring effective corporate governance, but also helping to drive the growth and financial performance of a business. For many businesses, the cost of paying such a high-calibre individual in a full-time capacity would be prohibitive, so investing in their expertise in an NED capacity offers a much more affordable solution.

“The third sector in Northern Ireland operates in a very different environment than the private and public sectors and, as such, we believed there was a need to develop a bespoke service that would cater for this sector,” he said.

“At 4c, we believe that the need for the expertise and leadership of NEDs will grow significantly as Northern Ireland companies contend with the many challenges and opportunities that exiting the EU will bring in the coming months and years – not to mention the daily challenges that come with running any business.

“4c Third Sector will ensure that charitable and not-for-profit organisations can benefit from the executive search service that 4c typically provides, but without having to invest in the service in its entirety – since it is unlikely that they would require the international reach that we have always built in as standard for private and public sector clients, for example.”

“We didn’t want to shoehorn an NED recruitment service into our existing executive search model,” she continued. “Instead, we did the research, we tested the market and we developed a bespoke NED service we believe can truly add value to businesses in Northern Ireland.

4c Interim According to Claire Reid, Head of Delivery at 4c, the launch of 4c Interim, meanwhile, has essentially formalised a service that has naturally evolved over the past three years as the firm’s relationships with clients have grown. “4c Interim will focus on recruiting seniorlevel executives to fill a short-term need in a business. Our clients have come to recognise the very high level at which we are operating and, having ‘tried and tested’ the 4c model, often on a repeat basis, are confident that they can trust us to find them the best person to address their need – be that filling a short term


“So many businesses rely on ‘who they know’ when it comes to bringing an NED onto their Board, when in actual fact it is the person they don’t know that could add most value and have the biggest impact on their business. It stands to reason, then, that there has to be some level of investment in finding the very best person for such a business-critical role and, most importantly, that it is done in a very methodical, process-driven fashion. “4c Boardroom will offer a range of services – from detailed assessments that will help our clients to truly understand skills gaps within their Board, to succession planning and NED remuneration benchmarking. This will essentially ensure that only

Claire Reid

the very best NEDs are recruited for our clients, through a process that very clearly adheres to the organisation’s governance and compliance requirements.”

The next chapter Irvine concluded: “We quickly established, and have continued to maintain, a prominent position as the market leader in Northern Ireland and remain extremely focused on continuing to propel the business forward in every way we can. “Our core objective in the coming years will be to continue growing the excellent reputation we have gained for delivering an exceptionally high quality and professional service which exceeds our clients’ expectations at all times. “We very much look forward to the next chapter in the 4c success story...”

To contact a member of the team at 4c, please call 028 9043 4343




Java Script

By David Elliott

The column with an eye for an espresso...

Saad Hammad, Chief Executive Officer of FlyBe


itting down to interview the boss of an airline is always going to be a whirlwind, and Saad Hammad is no different. The dynamic head of FlyBe has flown into Northern Ireland only for one day and isn’t going to waste much time with small-talk. Before Ulster Business has the time to shoot the breeze about the unseasonably good weather and the uncharacteristically on-time arrival of this scribe, he’s off, pressing points he feels strongly about in the direct manner with which he has run the airline since taking over more than three years ago. It’s this manner which is attributed to FlyBe’s return to profit for the first time in nine years, one which seeks out efficiencies with an eagle eye. All would be well were it not for the fact that in the rush to put pen to paper Ulster Business has grabbed a pen from the jacket pocket (not one advertising a rival airline, for once) which quickly runs dry. Saad ploughs ahead regardless, but PR to the stars Jane Wells quickly steps in with a replacement pen which was no doubt much lighter by the time we’d filled 10 pages of notes. In essence, he said FlyBe is very much committed to the Belfast base.


“What we do here in Belfast is very much about what Flybe does,” he said. “We’re a community business and Northern Ireland is very much a shining example of that.” The last time Ulster Business had met Saad was a couple of years ago at London City Airport when he was launching, amongst a host of others, the route to Belfast City.

government starts to negotiate the final exit arrangements from Europe and, of course, we want to continue to provide connectivity.” Part of that competitive line of thought relates to air passenger duty, something Saad believes should be rethought for short-haul regional routes.

“The Belfast route has performed well. It takes three to four years for our routes to reach maturity.

“I’ve proposed that the government levy it in a fairer way,” he said. “It should be reduced by 50% for all regional airports, a cut which could be funded by having a congestion charge for slot-constrained airports such as those around London.

“Is there room for improvement? Yes, but we’re very encouraged.”

“That’s much fairer approach for UK-wide regional growth.”

That’s despite the fact the environment in which his and other airlines are operating in isn’t ideal at the moment given the uncertainty caused by Brexit and recent terror attacks across the world.

And he pointedly makes reference to the proposed £9m bailout from the Executive for the Belfast-Newark route.

How has it performed since then?

And, the drop in fuel prices – seemingly a boon for airlines – has resulted in a jump in the number of short haul flights in Europe, creating a sharp increase in supply and pressure on yields. Nevertheless, he’s backing Belfast, particularly post-Brexit. “We’re here for the long haul and are very committed to Northern Ireland but we’re keen to make sure Belfast is competitive, particularly versus Dublin. We want to make sure the voice of the people of Northern Ireland are heard politically as the

“That route is well served out of Dublin. That money would be better spent funding start-up routes and airport expansion. With that in mind Saad is also championing the expansion of Heathrow’s neighbouring airport Northolt. He has mooted a new route from Northolt to City of Derry Airport, a suggestion that comes shortly after Ryanair said it would drop a number of routes from the city. It’s through these kind of initiatives that Saad sees FlyBe being able to come into its own, using its smaller, more agile airplanes to serve regional routes from less popular airports.

Commercial Property & Construction

Sponsored by


Rebuilding confidence in commercial property


ommercial property values and market behaviour are still in uncharted waters. Just over six years ago the bubble that signalled an end to rising property values burst. None of the property investors, developers or venture specialists had, prior to 2009, seen anything comparable to what happened after 2009. Negative equity was not unknown, in rather modest degrees and for rather limited periods. The scale and duration of the events which unfolded were neither predicted nor previously experienced by anyone under the age of 80! In addition, such was the state of expectations that no credible institution stood ready to anticipate a crash, crisis, or meltdown.


By John Simpson

The crash in commercial property values was serious in Ireland, north and south. The perception is that the property crisis in Ireland was more dramatic than in England. Initially, the impact of the loss of confidence in property values sharply hit the finances of developers and investors. The ripple outwards soon reached many construction businesses and, even more dramatically, eroded the viability and security of the banking sector. Now, six years after the crisis hit, the essential question at least in Northern Ireland is whether normality has been restored or to what degree the new normality is able to accommodate a revival of property market development. The new normality might reasonably still be described as still abnormal. The


inherited environment includes: • A housing market constrained by serious and widely spread negative equity. • A less enthusiastic smaller group of large scale local developers. • A financial sector relearning how to assess and respond to financial support for development proposals. • A post-Brexit caution on the prospects for the local economy. • A market place still potentially destabilised whilst NAMA type properties find new (or restore former) owners. • A public sector motivated to reduce the size of office space held by public sector departments and agencies.

Into this property marketplace, account must now be taken of the emerging features of the changing economic strategy to be set by the Executive as a new Programme for Government is drafted and of the spatial dimensions of market demand in each of the 11 new local authorities as they prepare local development plans which are under review.

Northern Ireland, with particular emphasis on trends in the more central parts of Belfast, has attracted a number of ‘back office’ functions for national businesses. If there is a common strand to these developments it is that modest middle range communications and IT activities can be staffed and organised here on a competitive cost basis, relying particularly on >

The emerging commercial property market is enjoying at least one sustaining feature. The scale of empty commercial property has diminished. The market where prospective tenants were able to negotiate very favourable leases is now less a one-sided relationship.




competitive rents and competitive labour costs for employees with primary degree level capabilities, usually seeking reasonable literacy and numerical dexterity. There are also some examples of more mid-range occupations with scientific underpinning as well as developments in the creative industries linked to film, TV and IT games origination. The ambitions of the Programme for Government convert into an aspiration for an increase of 50,000 in regional employment over the next five years. If that is to come near to fulfilment, perhaps about half of the increase could be in mid-range communications, IT and scientific skills linked to new employers. For the property market, this forecast translates into enquiries about the availability of more office accommodation of good quality, located conveniently for travel to work, and available at competitive rental or leasing costs. This seems to point to a market for larger commercial buildings designed for the application of digital technologies. Places like Titanic Quarter, Belfast Harbour estate, and more modern commercial estates peripheral to Belfast and Derry may be high on the agenda. Is this prospective property market strong enough to attract viable projects?


For highly-leveraged projects, lenders will need to be reassured if borrowing is significant (and what is meant by ‘significant’ lies in the cautious awareness of the lender). There are undoubted opportunities for major investors who make a careful choice of location, type of building (and its environment), and style of presentation. With hindsight, now, the recent investments in Laganside, Titanic Quarter and Belfast Harbour offer good long-term prospects. Just as important as the prospective demand for an increased supply of commercial building investment, usually for offices or warehousing, there is the inter-related question of whether there is the potential supply of funds from developers and investors. The appetite for commercial development has been affected in contradictory ways. First, some developers have been singed. Their capital base and borrower credentials were depleted by the crash in property prices and the arrival of administration, liquidation or worse. In contrast, for some developers (and potential new developers) the property crash, the arrival of NAMA and then the sequential sale and

repurchase of former assets, has indirectly rebased some businesses after debts have been written down, assets re-valued, and emerging goodwill re-entered into the accounts to create viable returns. This fundamental reorganisation of the business of developers comes at the same time as the banks, serving as major sources of finance, reassess their scope and terms for lending. In the two years, from late 2013 to late 2015, the banks in Northern Ireland have reduced their total lending on real estate etc from £8.5bn to £5.2bn: a drop of over £3.3bn, or 40%. Figures for the longer period from 2009 are not available but would obviously be larger. Lending to construction businesses fell from £3.5bn to £0.9bn over the same period. That fall of 74% confirms that the activity and financing of building has changed more than dramatically. Into that situation, the challenge for the commercial property market in 2016 and onwards is of a fundamental re-orientation and a need for restoration of confidence. If 2015 was the low point in the recent crash, then the realistic comment must be that now is the moment that things begin to get better. It probably is!


Project fear not? Gavin Clarke, Director at Osborne King, says it is time for local investors to look for opportunities as the market searches for direction in the wake of the EU Referendum rhetoric continuing to come from the leaders of other member states, it will be some time yet before real clarity emerges. Foreign investment has cooled into an already overheated London market and during the summer the UK institutions have become net sellers of property in overall terms. It is fair to say, however, that the initial panic over “Brexit” has been tempered and the price adjustments made by the funds have largely been reduced showing that sentiment is improving. If nothing else, there is a general air of resignation that the show must go on, so while investment appetite may have been quelled, occupiers still need accommodation, and although the decisions may be delayed, we must be hopeful that these will resurface after a period of quiet reflection.

Gavin Clarke


any in the property industry, and indeed many other fields, packed their bags for their summer holidays this year still very much in shock at the referendum vote in late June. They returned to find that not only did no one really have a contingency plan for this scenario, many high-profile “Brexiteers” had beaten a swift retreat into the undergrowth. It was clear that in the wake of resignations, party leadership battles and general mud-slinging, the then Conservative leadership had not only misread the will of the people but had also got it wrong with their endearingly-monikered strategy, “Project Fear”. For property professionals, it felt like a positive first half of 2016 showing continued improvement from a long recessionary period had been undone overnight. The closing of many large UK funds signified fears at the top of the market which quickly cascaded down to all property sectors. This move, along with the significant devaluations and disposals in the market, was a very obvious and immediate step to enhance capital reserves and to bolster these against the illiquid nature of the medium as a whole. Now, post the traditionally quiet summer period, opinion on the “Brexit” vote remains significantly divided and, with tough


What has emerged from the summer is a landscape of historically low interest rates which will serve as a disincentive to retain money on deposit and should spur local investors into taking advantage of current pricing, attractive returns in property and the favourable costs of funds. It strikes me that within the confusion there is space to make smart investments by looking less at the short-to-medium term macro-economic conditions and focusing on property fundamentals. As a firm we have already witnessed direct evidence of local investors in particular, reflecting a “business as usual” attitude. Osborne King has just concluded the sale of Lesley Buildings, a prime city centre asset, located at the corner of Fountain Street and Wellington Place. A local NI-based investor acquired the building for £8.0m demonstrating clear appetite for reversionary office/retail investment product in the city. The sale is the largest of its type post-Brexit and reinforces the continuing demand for opportunities of this kind following hot on the heels of similar notable deals such as Oxford & Gloucester House, Longbridge House and 6-8 Donegall Square North which we sold in early 2016. While Project Fear hasn’t yet manifested itself in the way the Remain camp predicted, there is tremendous uncertainty regarding future economic growth and scant evidence of a cogent plan for a successful Brexit. On a local level, the autumn will see a busy period as buyers and sellers jockey within the market to test appetites on both sides of the fence. For those with the nerve and the nous, opportunities will emerge.

SPICE UP YOUR ADVICE Property expertise with a wider range of ingredients.

Instinctive Excellence in Property


Closing the flood gates By Amanda McConkey, Chartered Insurance Broker, Corporate Business Development Manager, Caulfield Corporate


usinesses and householders alike will see a further increase in their insurance premiums when George Osborne increases standard rate of insurance premium tax (IPT) by half a percent to 10% on the 1st October. According to the Association of British Insurers, this will result in the average combined home and contents insurance policy being increased by £1, and the average motor insurance premium by £2 per year. Whilst this most recent increase will not affect householders considerably, businesses will find that even a slight increase could increase their premium spend significantly. The last increase was only in November 2015, so why is the Treasury increasing Insurance Premium Tax again? The answer relates to a particularly common problem that many householders and businesses have increasingly experienced in the last few years – to help the government fund flood defences and resilience. Met Office projections show that the flooding problems that the UK have encountered in the last few years, are likely to get worse. Global warming has caused temperatures to rise and as warm air can hold more water, winter rainfall is expected to increase. The Royal Institute of British Architects estimates that 1.5% of the UK is at risk from direct flooding from the sea, and about 7% of the country is likely to flood at least once a century from rivers. The consequences of severe and continual flooding have resulted in insurers increasing rates and excesses in flood areas and in some cases, excluding flood cover altogether. These measures have resulted in householders and businesses experiencing financial difficulties while they try to repair and restore uninsured losses.


Many existing flood defences have been seen as ineffective and require replacement, and calls from the insurance industry and the general public for the government to provide more assistance has now been recognised by the treasury. It is expected that the 0.5% increase in Insurance Premium Tax will contribute an extra £700m to boost resilience and flood defences in flood damaged towns. Whilst areas that have experienced the devastating flooding in recent years, will welcome this move by the government, it will be businesses that will feel the burden of this increase. Businesses not affected by this issue may find that they are contributing heavily to a fund that has no bearing on their experiences. Business

owners will find that their insurance premium tax contribution has increased in the last year from £600 to £1,000 for every £10,000 of premium. While householders may think that they are only paying a small increase to assist flood defence costs, they may actually find that indirectly they end up paying more out of their household budget as UK companies increase prices to facilitate this new increase. Flood mapping is a huge rating factor when insurers are calculating risk, so if you are thinking of buying new premises or re-locating, and want to avoid “opening the floodgates”, talk to Caulfield Corporate, a local broker that is able to provide solutions.





TO GET YOU WORKING HAPPY Our extensive range of designer, contemporary and traditional office furniture offers everything you need for a functional and stylish workplace. We put our customers at the heart of our business and pride ourselves on providing quality products with a first class service from our friendly and professional team.

Tel: 028 9078 1531 Fax: 028 9037 0053


A look at

tomorrow’s office M

ost of the trends we see in our workplaces now came as no surprise to those who were looking for them. However, to most of us, if in 1986 we were asked to envision the office in 30 years, it would not have looked like it does. No one can know what the future holds, and what technology can potentially change for us, but we can get a glimpse of tomorrow by paying attention to what is happening today. In a twist of fate, the trends that used to be set by the largest global corporations are now being trail blazed by the smallest! Freelancers and independent employees need to stay ahead of their peers, and technology is the perfect way to do so. Here are some of the workplace trends we expect to see in the near future.

Remote Business We can already see a movement towards business becoming more remote, integrating hot desking and tech integration which allows employees to fulfil their roles anywhere in the world. The next stage of this is companies born as remote businesses, virtual companies, where employees interact in a digital realm with no physical space needed! Death of PowerPoint Perhaps a welcome trend to some, the days of spending hours searching for the perfect clip-art are well and truly behind us, and so are the PowerPoints that consumed them. In 2015 the demand for PowerPoint skills dropped 5%, while dynamic presentation platforms like Prezi and Keynote grew by an average of 20%. Static

presentation are quickly being replaced by movement, with video now overtaking images and infographics as the preferred medium for information. Prepare your staff by tooling them with platforms like Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro & iMovie, and buy yourself a GoPro and a DSLR! Work-Life Balance The work-life balance concept is beginning to take a backseat in Millennials decision making process. As the workplace becomes more agile and mobile, work is becoming more integrated with

home. This trend is still unclear how it will manifest itself, however, expect the next generation of employees to be looking for a more relaxed, homely environment to work in! Consumer Grade Design While design has remained a focal point for consumer products, the proliferation of well-designed tools, devices, and applications is creating new expectations on the enterprise. In the coming years, there will be a renewed focus on design in places where it hasn’t traditionally been an area of consideration, such as HR and IT.


Northern Ireland ahead of the trend with unified communications Northern Ireland SMEs are adapting to the changes and reaping the benefits also. With calls to desk phones diverting to selected mobiles if no one is there to answer, and vice versa, employees are no longer tied to the office in order to be productive. The technology enables businesses to communicate with their customers outside of normal working hours, and be in a position never to miss a call, maintaining that one point of direct contact for customers.

Proof in the profits

Scott Ritchie


hile traditionally Northern Ireland businesses have been slow to adopt new technologies, we are ahead of the curve with our acceptance of Vodafone One Net. Northern Ireland’s take up of the product per-head of population is higher than anywhere else in the UK. But what’s driving this incredible uptake? Vodafone One Net is the first and only network in the UK to own both fixed and mobile infrastructures, providing a highquality, fully-integrated communications service. One Net Business is a hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) technology solution that brings your mobile, IP desk phones and fixed lines together in a single hosted system – unifying, i.e. integrating, all your methods of communications. Connect Telecom has been providing telecoms and IT solutions to businesses across the UK and Ireland for almost ten years, and is the only Vodafone Platinum Partner in Northern Ireland. The leading independent business-tobusiness telecoms and IT provider was recently authorised to install Vodafone solutions such as One Net Business and


Scott highlights that higher productivity isn’t the only benefit: One Net Express, and is one of just two Vodafone partners in the UK to hold the status, as well as the only partner in Ireland. Connect Telecom has seen 50% growth in both customers and connections in the last year, and provides the best technology solutions from leading providers including Vodafone, Microsoft and Cisco in order to benefit their customers’ businesses. Director of Connect Telecom Scott Ritchie said: “Fulfilling the needs of our customers and making their working lives easier is central to all we do at Connect. Our focus on our customers led us to developing our unified communications services and we are now the most successful and best qualified delivery channel in the UK for Vodafone’s One Net Business Platform. “We want to ensure our customers spend less time worrying about their IT and telephony and more time focused on running their business. Vodafone One Net allows just that, and the benefits to productivity are vast.”

Not just for the big players This approach to unified communications that Vodafone One Net delivers, isn’t just made for large corporations,

“Financially, customers see huge benefits also. In our experience, our customers save around 25% on their bills after installing Vodafone One Net. “Customers are able to grow their profits, communicating at a higher level, whilst still making savings on how they do so.” David Burrows, Chief Executive of The Benmore Group, which had Vodafone One Net installed two years ago, said: “One Net has given us the confidence to be out of the office and where we need to be. We have no fear of missing that important call. “Essentially having one system, we don’t have a fixed line system and mobile system, we have a One Net system, with one bill and one point of contact. “Connect has been fabulous, they introduced us to systems we didn’t know were available, that suited us perfectly and it led to a more efficient way of working.”

To learn more about Vodafone One Net and to hear how local businesses have benefitted through partnering with Connect Telecom, please visit

Seeing value in a changing market LSH Valuation Team

Commercial Property Valuations undertaken for: • Loan Security • Financial Accounting • Acquisition and Disposal Advice • Tax Planning Belfast 028 9032 Belfast 7954028 | Dublin 9032 7954 00353| 1673 Dublin 1400 +353| Galway 1673 1400 00353 9186 5333


Connective reliance We are more connected at home and on the move than ever before, according to latest Ofcom research. James Stinson from the organisation’s Belfast office tells us more…

Two-thirds of people (65%) had cut down on specific activities, such as using social media or browsing the web, and half of parents (49%) had made rules of some sort to limit their children’s time online. Elsewhere, our research shows more than three quarters of homes in Northern Ireland (77%) now have a fixed line broadband connection, up from 69% in 2015. Customers are also embracing faster mobile internet connections, with more than half of adults in Northern Ireland (54%) having a 4G mobile service – up from 26% in 2015. The appetite for these connected devices and the infrastructure that supports them is obvious.

James Stinson


he internet has been the most significant invention of the last 25 years, but its potential has really only come to the fore in recent years with the arrival of the smartphone. Our very latest research shows that seven-inten of adults in Northern Ireland now own a smartphone, compared with just 21 per cent back in 2011. We spend nearly 19 hours a week online with the smartphone now our favourite way of accessing the internet, way ahead of laptops and tablet computers. Few would argue that the ability to access the internet on the move is having a truly transformational effect on our personal and working lives. But how do we feel about living in this new and almost always connected world? Perhaps unsurprisingly, latest research carried out for our annual Communications Market Report shows nearly 90% of web users in Northern Ireland say the internet is


“important” to their daily lives and many credit it with broadening their horizons. Three-quarters of internet users (77%) say that being online means they can do things that they would previously have been unable to do, while over seven in ten (71%) said it inspired them to try new things. However the same research suggests you can have too much of a good thing, with nearly two thirds of us admitting to being “hooked” to the internet. Just over six in ten internet users in Northern Ireland (62%) said they were guilty of ‘connectivity creep’ – spending longer browsing the internet than they originally intended on a weekly basis, while 53% said the same of social media. The good news is that we are starting to self-regulate. Around a third of internet users in Northern Ireland have taken a ‘digital detox’ in the last year in a bid to strike a healthier tech-life balance.

Ofcom is in the middle of a major review of the communications market aimed at giving telephone and broadband users the service they need and deserve. We want everyone, whether they’re in a city high-rise or a sleepy rural hamlet – to enjoy the benefits of decent broadband and mobile coverage. That’s why we are working with Government to realise its plans to make fast, affordable broadband a legal right by 2020 while mobile users will also see a significant increase in 4G coverage over the next 18 months as operators ramp up their network roll-out in Northern Ireland. Ofcom’s Communications Market Report (available online at is a mine of information on how people in Northern Ireland engage with and use not just the internet but other communications services including TV, Radio, Telecoms and Post.

P2V Systems eShop Launch

90,000 Hardware & Software Items Global Leading Brands, Local Service Access the best technology and IT kit for day to day business, security, storage, backup, networking and communications. Leading brands include Microsoft, Apple, Dell, HP, VMware, Cisco, Lenovo, Samsung and many more.

Competitive prices & great oers Secure payment Next business day delivery ISO accredited local supplier Personal customer service


to view our extensive range of products and oers P2V Systems Limited, Garvey Studios, Longstone Street, Lisburn, BT28 1TP. T: +44 (0) 2892 528 528 E: W:

Ticket(less) to ride Translink’s Chief Financial Officer Paddy Anderson explains how its new ticketing system will help commuters, tourists and businesses thrive in the years ahead


modern, efficient public transport system is an essential cog in the economic wheel, helping ferry workers on the daily commute, taking party goers home after a night out, shoppers into town on a Saturday morning and freeing up roads for lorries and vans to be able to make their deliveries.

cities such as London, Paris and New York, according to Paddy Anderson, the chief financial officer of Translink.

than minutes, boarding and therefore journey times are reduced and the whole process is made much smoother.

He has been intimately involved in the planning and introduction of the scheme which centres around the use of smart technology to simplify and speed up the payment process for passengers.

It replaces a system which currently handles 56m transactions every year and, while ahead of its time when introduced – Translink was the first operator in the UK to use smartcards – needs replacing.

It’s for this reason Translink has such an important role to play in any future plans for Northern Ireland’s economy, and also why the organisation has just begun one of the most exciting overhauls of its ticketing system in years.

Initially that will mean being able to buy tickets at new ticket vending machines positioned at station and halts, then being able to make contactless credit and debit card payments on board, followed by the introduction of ePurse smartcards (similar to Transport for London’s Oyster cards), and finally by being able to top-up smartcards online.

That will involve the mammoth task of replacing 1,700 ticketing machines and 275 hand-held machines, but it will set up Northern Ireland’s public transport system for the future, according to Paddy Anderson.

The nattily-titled Translink Future Ticketing System, or TFTS for short, will put the process of travelling by train and bus in Northern Ireland on a par with major


By doing that, travellers get the best fare, transactions take seconds rather

“It’s a great opportunity to modernise and simplify our offering,” he told Ulster Business. “We’re trying to attract as many people as possible to use our


with new machines, training our drivers and fitting ticketing machines to halts. “We’ve performed a lot of planning and consultation to make sure it goes without a hitch. We’ve benchmarked and researched by talking to the likes of Transport for London and Transport for Edinburgh and we truly believe the system we’re getting will provide a transformational change to public transport in Northern Ireland.” After a competitive tendering process, Translink chose Parkeon, a global leader in transport technology, as a partner for the project. “Attracting more people onto public transport is their (Parkeon’s) bread and butter. They’re a worldwide player and bring a lot to the table.” Meanwhile, Translink is also working very closely with Irish Rail to improve cross-border services and connections. The new technology will make it possible to, for instance, buy a ticket in Ballymena for a connecting service through to Dublin. “As well as making it easier for people who live and work here, we want to make the services more attractive and accessible for tourists.” services and although our current system is fantastic, it needs to be easily accessible.” The system is designed to be integrated with Belfast Rapid Transport which will initially run high capacity buses linking the east and west of the city, due for introduction in 2018, and will see passengers buy tickets prior to boarding. The transformational work would be difficult enough to achieve from a fresh start but is doubly difficult because the buses and trains need to keep running while its being introduced. “The big challenge is to do all of this while we’re in live service,” Paddy Anderson said. “We’ve got to keep everything moving while kitting out our buses and trains


That has already been taken a step further with a recent partnership with Ryanair

where flyers can book tickets on the Belfast International Airport to Belfast bus service when booking their flight. “It’s an initiative which we feel very strongly about. Belfast and Northern Ireland are becoming more and more popular as tourist destinations and we want to make sure our services are simple for tourists to use and represent good value so we can tempt them to return.” That’s also good for the wider economy, of which tourism is a big part. “If we can make the transport system more accessible it has to have a positive impact on business.” That’s borne out by recent research which shows that every pound invested in public transport here, generates four pounds for the total economy. On a more local basis, independent research shows that over 50% of shoppers using the Metro service spend £35 each per visit, a big boost to the retailers of Belfast. It’s evidence such as this that means the TFTS has the potential to help transform the Northern Ireland economy. “We believe Translink can be a key enabler to business in Northern Ireland and it’s proven that public transport has a very positive impact on the economy.”

Planned TFTS ‘Go Live’ timescale • Belfast Rapid Transit Off-Vehicle Ticketing System – Summer 2018 • Metro System Replacement – Spring 2019 • Ulsterbus System Replacement – Autumn 2019 • Contactless Credit & Debit cards on-bus – Autumn 2019 • NI Railways System Replacement (including Gates & Validators) – Spring 2020 • NI Railways Period Pass Smartcard – Spring 2020 • Barcode Ticketing – Spring 2020 • ePurse Smartcard – Autumn 2020 • Business Account Card (Replacing Warrants) – Autumn 2020 • Customer Smartcard Portal, Online & Automatic Smartcard Top-ups – Spring 2021



The CIM Ireland Marketing Awards will be held on November 10. Pictured are Nicola McCleery, head of marketing at Danske Bank and winner of the 2015 award for Marketing Team of the year, Darren Jackson director of PML Group (Associate Sponsor for the Awards) and Carol Magill, CIM Ireland, Network Manager.

17th annual CIM Awards to showcase marketing excellence


reland’s star marketers will come together at the Europa Hotel in Belfast on November 10 to celebrate the most creative and innovative campaigns of the year. The 17th annual Chartered Institute of Marketing Ireland Awards 2016 will recognise the best of the best in this most competitive of sectors. Carol Magill, CIM Ireland Network Manager, said: “These long-running awards, now in their 17th year, are an important way for businesses and individuals to really showcase their work. CIM has an international presence, with over 30,000 members, including 13,000 studying members. Last year, the awards attracted over 100 entries from across all sectors. This is why winning an award or being associated with our ceremony as a sponsor brings unrivalled prestige – the scale and scope of CIM’s brand is unique.” Winning a CIM Marketing Award Ireland has proved invaluable to past winners, helping


to instil confidence in both prospective clients and suppliers. It is an opportunity for companies to enhance their corporate image and position themselves as a trusted brand that has been recognised by CIM, the world’s leading professional marketing body. Past winner, Nicola McCleery, head of marketing at Danske Bank, said: “Danske Bank is absolutely delighted to have won the 2015 CIM Ireland Marketing Award for Marketing Team of the Year. Gaining recognition outside of our sector and from the professional body of marketers has given each individual within the marketing team an enormous sense of pride and achievement for what we do to satisfy our customers on a daily basis. The award not only acknowledged our creativity and hard work in delivering an exciting and innovative youth recruitment campaign, but also has inspired us to deliver the best marketing activities time and time again, and to keep pushing the boundaries. Winning the award has galvanised us as a team. Each one of us contributed to the campaign and together we achieved it

through collaboration, coordination and focus – giving us a real sense of collective purpose, identity and confidence. Darren Jackson, director of Associate Sponsor, PML Group, said: “PML Group is delighted to be associated with CIM’s 17th Ireland Marketing Awards. These awards recognise the role that integrated communications, including advertising, make to the marketing mix and celebrate marketers who ensure their campaigns deliver for customers by demonstrating return on investment. PML Group is also focused on these objectives, and on pushing the boundaries of customer interaction and delivering on brand awareness, and, most importantly, commercial objectives.” This year’s 14 award categories highlight marketing best practice in a range of sectors and business types.

For more information, go to and keep in touch by following @CIM_Ireland.

Business Finance & Banking


How to get your bank to say yes Joanne Sweeney talks to some of the biggest banks in Northern Ireland to find out how best to present your business’s case when applying for funding




n the intervening period following the Brexit vote and ahead of a lower rate of corporation tax being introduced in Northern Ireland, businesses are planning ahead.

business – even if it’s a big corporate body. This includes the background on how the business has grown to date, your personal business experience and why the expansion is now required.”

While cash-in-hand is often the indicator of a flourishing business, access to finance to cover capital investment or fund expansion is also vital.

Girvan Gault, commercial director from Ulster Bank, puts his advice succinctly – it’s about the three P’s.

Banks and lending institutions are much more confident in lending following the recovery and all have reported an uplift in lending to SMEs in the last year. But how do you go about approaching a bank for funding in a manner which gives the best chance of success?

Girvan Gault, Ulster Bank

For a borrower like David Rodgers, a ‘yes’ for £700,000 from his bank helped fund the expansion of his family-run Toymaster business in Portadown, Co Armagh in 2015.

“As a bank, we have the money available to support good businesses with ambitious plans. A business plan including a cash flow can help as a clear and concise way of articulating the potential in your business and can often be the start of a really productive conversation.”

Owner Jonathan Rodgers said: “The business, which was started in Banbridge, had been successfully established in a rented premise for four years, but I wanted to buy and renovate a new 30,000 sq ft property. “I was on the lookout for property and I saw one that I really wanted so I found out prices and went to my Ulster Bank manager who was able to fund the buying and renovation of it. It helped us take the business to the next level.”

First Trust Bank’s Brian Gillan, recommended a “robust” business plan as key.

Brian Gillan, First Trust Bank

Overall, banks agree that businesses should not fear approaching them should they need finance.

John Mathers, corporate development director of Barclays in Northern Ireland, believes that borrowers need to have an ability to articulate what they want and why they want in a professional way to engender confidence.

“Apart from the financial numbers, perhaps one of the areas people overlook most is the ‘softer facts.’


“Firstly, don’t feel daunted by the thought of applying for credit. You should approach your bank right from the offset to discuss your potential requirements and to talk through the funding process,” says the head of business and corporate banking. “Ensuring you have a robust business plan is also key. To make this as easy as possible, we’ve designed a standard business plan template alongside a simplified credit application form for those who want to use it.”

“Approaching the bank is not something to worry about or fear. If you’ve already got a good business and want to expand or invest further, then the bank will want to work with you,” said Mark Watson, head of Finance Centre at Danske Bank.

“By this I mean, you should explain and describe the person(s) behind the

He said: “When a bank is assessing an application for finance, there are three main strands that they look at – the people, the project and payment – what’s the background and experience of those involved, how cyclical or strong is their industry, what’s the competition like, and how will the business balance repayments of new lending against existing commitments?

John Mathers, Barclays NI

He advised: “When approaching your bank, remember that you are asking for an investment in your business and >



“Finally, it is important that both the borrower and lender understand that business lending will be secured against the assets of the business as a secondary source of repayment if business cash flows come under pressure.” But banks are not the only lending institution helping fuel expansion in the region. The Ulster Community Investment Trust has made over £62m in loan commitments to over 400 organisations in the third sector since it started in 2000.

Julie-Ann O’Hare, Bank of Ireland

you need to convince the investor (bank manager) that it is a good one. “It is important to clearly communicate your requirements – i.e. how much you want and in what structure. The bank will want to know the purpose of the loan and it is important that you have clearly thought through the investment case. “You will also be asked about the nature of your business, the markets and sector that you operate in and your management team. Then it comes to the numbers – generally, you will be expected to provide accounts for the last three years and forecasts for the coming three years.

Articulation about your business past, present and future is also key to the Bank of Ireland when it considers investment requests. Julie-Ann O’Hare, from BoI business banking said: “Be prepared to articulate the project the funding is required for and why you believe it is a good idea and, be clear on the duration of the funding so we can identify the most appropriate funding solution. “Demonstrate the level of cash being generated by the business and its ability to repay the loan, as well as identifying the risks to this cash flow and how they’re managed.

“When a bank is assessing an application for finance, there are three main strands that they look at – the people, the project and payment.” “And my strongest piece of advice is to try to encourage your bank manager to visit your business on site – this will help their understanding and gain buy-in.”


Phelim Sharvin, The Ulster Community Investment Trust

And while like any other loans, the businesses from as renewable energy, charities, tourism and hospitality sectors, need to show an expansion to their application, they importantly have to show a social economy improvement as well. Associate director Phelim Sharvin said that his organisation “stands ready and responsive to any organisation” wishing to borrow. “We like to take a hands-on approach,” he says. “I always go out to visit the potential borrower at his or her site, as you get their background through their story, but also an understanding of their credit history, their achievements or milestones in their business and their passion for their project.”

Corporate Banking

Start-ups. Scale-ups. Gazelles and unicorns. What next for Northern Ireland? There are many buzzwords about high-growth business, and there has been a raft of research on the topic in recent years. But how are we performing locally in reference to innovation and entrepreneurship? And how can we drive tangible economic benefits for Northern Ireland? If we want to see a Northern Ireland that’s a globally competitive economy – which is our Economy Minister Simon Hamilton’s number one aim – we need to know where to focus and what we should change. Both the Octopus High Growth Small Business Report 2015 and the more local NISP Connect The Knowledge Economy in Northern Ireland – September 2015 report give us the same clue: potential high-growth small businesses (HGSBs), which tend to be knowledge sector-based.

The value of high-growth small businesses In 2014 there were 400 HGSBs in Northern Ireland, generating turnover of £1.7bn and employing 13,000 people. Northern Ireland was the only UK region where there was more gross value added (GVA) by HGSBs than by non-HGSBs – clearly making it an important sector for future growth.

In 2014 there were 400 HGSBs in Northern Ireland, generating turnover of £1.7bn and employing 13,000 people. What we need is the ability not just to create start-ups but to scale them. We have some impressive local examples of innovative companies with strong entrepreneurial drive that have successfully made the leap from start-up to large company. But what has helped deliver this growth and how can we support growth among more local start-ups?

Identifying the challenges Earlier this year Barclays carried out research into how to help start-ups grow, with the result published in our report, Scale-up UK: Growing Businesses, Growing our Economy. Experts from the Cambridge Judge Business School looked into the ‘management challenge’ and Oxford Saïd Business School addressed the ‘financing challenge’. Key issues and recommendations raised in the management challenge included a need for early-stage entrepreneurs to have the will and desire for growth – for them to build a team with broad and complementary skills, supported by investors, and to strike partnerships to help in key functions. Plus to identify strengths in the eyes of customers, using those strengths to drive growth.

John Mathers Corporate Development Director Northern Ireland

The recommendations of the financing challenge largely focused on increasing the number of venture capital funds that are sufficiently large to finance scale-ups (arguably an even bigger issue in Northern Ireland); growing the number of experienced investors with sector experience and international networks; establishing the London Stock Exchange as the leading pan-European stock market for scale-ups; and developing new approaches for creating liquidity in private company shares.

Supporting growth Barclays recognises the impact of high-growth businesses is hugely positive – creating new jobs, providing new opportunities for investors and galvanising economic growth as a whole. So, to support these businesses and entrepreneurs, an Energising Ambition initiative has been launched. Energising Ambition seeks to deliver solutions that address both business and personal ambitions at every step. This programme focuses on three key areas. Firstly, providing access to our own dedicated experts who understand the entrepreneurial journey and will forge a long-lasting relationship with individuals. Secondly, providing the right funding at the right time – with a specific fund for venture debt and a lending framework with specialist underwriting. And thirdly, giving access to our network, one of our greatest assets. This offers unique opportunities to connect with our wider customer base and take part in our initiatives such as Barclays Accelerator and Eagle Labs. As our local economy seeks to rebalance itself, there’s a real opportunity to support our entrepreneurs to both innovate and scale-up their businesses. Of course, this demands joined-up thinking between stakeholders across education, government and private sector. However, the potential impact on job creation, economic growth and prosperity for our region justifies the effort. Given that HGSBs are drawn to high-performing economic regions – in turn, generating further growth – it’s vital that we as a region act quickly. As is so often the case in innovation, we need to move first.

For more information on how Barclays can support your business, contact John on +44 (0)330 150 1283 or email

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.


Invoice financing versus bank loans Fearghal O’Loan, Partner & Head of Finance and Restructuring at Tughans, delves into the detail behind the world of invoice finance

Justin Rush


oth bank loans and invoice financing are favourable sources of finance for businesses but what is invoice financing and how does it differ from a bank loan? Bank loans are credit facilities offered by banks, with a fixed amount, usually a fixed term and repayments required on a regular basis. Factoring and invoice discounting have become a major source of working capital finance resulting from the credit crunch and the difficulties facing a lot of business in securing a bank loan. Capital is created out of a business’ outstanding invoices. The invoice financier essentially lends the business money against its unpaid invoices, usually an agreed percentage of the total value of the invoices. As the customers pay their invoices, the money goes to the invoice financier, reducing the amount owed and allowing more borrowing on the invoices from new sales, again up to the percentage previously agreed.


So what are the advantages to invoice financing? • The various forms of invoice financing allow businesses to free up capital tied up in invoices with long remittance terms. • It can be arranged confidentially so customers won’t know what the business is borrowing against their invoices. • Once an invoice is raised up to 90% of the invoice value could be available with 24-48 hours, funds are made available quicker when compared with bank loans. • Better cash flow gives increased bargaining power with suppliers and less need to concede discounts to customers. • Removal of cash flow worries allows more time to be spent developing and improving the business. • Fewer conditional requirements. • Comparatively, it offers a more cost-effective facility.

Factoring and invoice discounting have become a major source of working capital finance resulting from the credit crunch and the difficulties facing a lot of business in securing a bank loan. Are there disadvantages to invoice financing? • Businesses lose profit from orders or services that they provide. • Invoice financiers will usually only buy commercial invoices.

• It may affect the ability of a business to obtain other funding due to the lack of ‘book debts’ that can be offered as security for other loans. • Once a business enters into an invoice discounting arrangement it can be difficult to leave as the business becomes reliant on the improved cash flow. What type of businesses are best suited to invoice financing? • Invoice financing is suitable for most business in the manufacturing, business services and distributive trade sectors in the UK selling goods and services to other businesses on normal credit terms and who are seeking short term borrowing aimed at specifically improving its working capital and cash flow position. • The key point is that no business is excluded, even those making trade losses since the invoice financing company’s security is primarily its customers (through the invoices). Invoice financing facilities are therefore available to sole traders, partnerships, limited companies, plc’s and new start–ups. Are there particular types of businesses which are not suitable for invoice financing? Potential problematic areas for invoice financing are: • Maintenance contracts. • Stage payments. • Long term contracts and retentions. However, even if your business does contain any of the above elements, there are specialist trade financiers who may be able to assist. It should also be borne in mind that various banks, financial institutions and invoice financiers offer a range of invoice financing products making invoice financing potentially an attractive alternative form of funding for businesses.

MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO YOUR FUTURE RIGHT NOW. They say the future makes its own plans. But you can have a major influence on your future possibilities, by taking action now. It begins with a conversation with one of our advisers. It leads to a Financial Life Plan and investment strategy that stays focused on your goals as they evolve. We’re ready when you are.

With Davy, it’s a relationship. Start yours today. Call 028 9031 0655 or visit Davy Private Clients Donegall House, 7 Donegall Sq. North, Belfast, BT1 5GB

The value of investments may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested. Davy Private Clients is a division of J & E Davy. J & E Davy, trading as Davy, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Davy is a member of the Irish Stock Exchange, the London Stock Exchange and Euronext. In the UK, Davy is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland and authorised and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our authorisation and regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request.

Private banking thoughts Garth Maxwell, Head of Private Banking at Danske Bank, explains why his area has witnessed exponential growth over the last few years and shows no sign of slowing


ho better to get the inside track on Danske Bank’s Private Banking team than a man who has been working with the bank for 36 years? Garth Maxwell started at the former Northern Bank after leaving school, working his way up to become a financial advisor and then a branch manager in his home town of Donaghadee before moving back to head office. He took up the role of Head of the Private Banking arm of the Danish bank’s UK branch in 2014. Garth played rugby for Bangor, Ulster and was a member of the Ireland sevens team back in the day, experience that provided him with leadership and people skills that have served him well in the world of Private


Banking, an area that has been very successful for Danske in recent years.

That growth was spread throughout Northern Ireland, not just in Belfast.

The platform for that success consists of 25 highly skilled Private Banking Managers and a support team of eight. The team has built up an enviable portfolio of high net-worth clients.

“For us, Belfast is not the centre of everything,” Garth said. “We understand the city’s importance but there are fantastic opportunities in mid Ulster and other geographies and that’s why our team is spread throughout Northern Ireland.”

“During the recession we invested heavily in the team,” he said. “The service we provide comes to the fore in challenging times – it’s about being a trusted advisor. While others in the market contracted their private offering, we saw the downturn as an opportunity to get closer to those clients with more complex needs and higher demands. “Instead of contracting we actually expanded and saw it as an area to help clients through difficult times.”

Meanwhile, Garth is also keen to point out that the Private Banking team at Danske also make sure they can be easily reached by their clients. “Accessibility is a hugely important aspect of the business for us,” he said. “If they have an issue their relationship manager will be at the end of a phone or they can speak to our private banking support team. “It’s a big part of our offering and something we’re very adamant about.”


L-R Brian Byrne, Tracy Morris, David Allister, Garth Maxwell, Siobhan McGrath, Conor McCann, Keith McCullagh, Chris Marshall, Wendy Forsythe.

The other part of the offering is access to Danske’s own team of 18 independent financial advisers (IFAs), five of who are embedded within Private Banking. These advisers are professionally qualified and authorised to offer independent wealth planning advice on products and financial solutions from the whole of the market. Meanwhile, the wealth offering is also significant, not just in terms of the amount of funds under management but also the support mechanisms in place to support clients, including access to third party products and an in-house discretionary management service which has £300m of assets under management. “That is part of the Danske Bank Group discretionary fund,” Garth said. “The


expertise and support they can give us sets us apart from other fund managers.” The Private Banking team also work very closely with the Business Banking team. “It’s no secret our business banking colleagues are considered the number one for customer satisfaction. We make sure to link in closely with them to help their top end clients meet their personal needs. “Often we find the businesses are being run brilliantly but personal finances can get forgotten about. We try to address that by working in harmony with our business banking colleagues to make sure customers are getting all the help they need.” All in all, that’s quite an offering and one which is sure to gain more traction amongst Northern Ireland’s high net worth individuals.

Factfile What is Private Banking? At Danske Bank, Private Banking customers are typically individuals with significant wealth or income. As part of the Private Banking service, a dedicated Private Banker will develop a close relationship with you and your family and over time build real understanding of your short, medium and long term goals. “This approach allows us to provide solutions that cater for every day banking and borrowing needs and to consider your wider wealth creation and protection requirements,” the bank said.



Stretching your sales team Meade’s back, and this time he’s selling


ith the Rio Olympics well and truly over us, it’s difficult not to feel the urge to limber up and stretch ourselves thatthat little bit more. up and stretch ourselves little To in succeed business, important bitsucceed more. To init’s business, it’s to drive sales, and stretch goals have important to drive sales, and stretch long a way of as doing this. goalsbeen haveused longas been used a way of A stretch goal isn’t something doing this. A stretch goal isn’t which something can be can achieved by implementing which be achieved by implementing incremental changes however, as it requires pushing people to their limit – and then asking them to go beyond it. Described as being “difficult, but achievable with some extra effort,” stretch goals are often highly valuable to a workforce. Indeed, in 2012, a Forbes article described stretch goals as “essential for our health and our prosperity,” adding that they should be about human excellence, rather than financial targets. Research also suggests they can accelerate business growth and are useful for both small and large businesses. Of course, we all know that sales drive business but increasingly, many sales leaders are setting their teams unachievable targets that are more rooted in wishful thinking than market reality. The world of the stretch goal has become a more perilous place, where great sales people can suddenly be found wanting, while their weaker colleagues rake in the rewards. In theory, there isn’t anything wrong with stretch goals. In fact, research has consistently shown they boost a sales team’s morale and energise people. They help to focus sales staff and encourage innovative thinking and action, making people more persistent and passionate in their work. Indeed, when someone completes a task or is involved in something previously thought impossible, the sense of satisfaction is immense. This ultimately motivates them to take up the next challenge, no matter how



difficult or unattainable it seems. As a result, companies have the potential to develop innovative services and products which might otherwise never see the light of day. And it’s all down to using stretch goals. Over the past 10 years or so however, sales leaders have ramped up their expectations when it comes to what they want their sales teams to deliver. As a result, when they fail – and they sometimes inevitably do – morale plummets, tensions rise and motivation goes out the window. You can only stretch your sales team so far before it snaps...

Stretch goals: Ignoring the upper limit We’ve mentioned already about today’s sales leaders often having unachievable stretch goals – the wishful thinking mentality. But there’s also another factor to consider if your sales team isn’t quite delivering; something that’s making those goals like waves upon the sand. The answer? Extra padding. Sales goal padding can come from all directions. You, as a sales leader, may well set an achievable and realistic stretch goal for your team. You then pass it on to a sales manager and they decide to add on an extra 5%. This new target is then passed on to the regional directors and from there it goes down to the district managers, accumulating add-ons at each level. They may be small, but they all add up in the end and when the sales team finally gets the stretch goal, it really has stretched to become something that’s far out of their capacity. What’s more - if the initial stretch goal was already unrealistic, then the issue immediately morphs into an even bigger problem. Of course, market conditions, adverse and unforeseen circumstances can also impact whether or not sales goals are achieved. If you’re setting your staff up to fail with sky-high goals from the outset however, then you shouldn’t be surprised when they fail to bring home the bacon.

• Sales goal padding: The stretch goals are increased at each level of the business, so are inflated far beyond what they should be by the time they reach the sales team. • Higher challenges = better sales: You might think that giving your team ever more challenging stretch goals will increase sales, but the problems come when you fail to realise when enough is enough. As the Harvard Business Review states: “When 10% – 20% of salespeople miss goals, the problem might be the salespeople. But when most salespeople miss, the problem is their goals.”

When stretch turns to snap So, what happens when a sales team is faced with stretch goals that go beyond ‘stretching’ their abilities and are actually completely unattainable? Well, at first, they’re likely to make attempts at the work that’s been asked of them. However, Daniel Markovitz, president of Markovitz Consulting, says “stretch goals have a dangerous tendency to foster unethical behaviour” and can “result in excessive risk-taking.” The implication therefore is that, when faced with an impossible task, staff will do whatever it takes to deliver the results they need – whether it’s ethical or not – so the company’s reputation may suffer. When stretch goals have grown way out of proportion however, sales teams are often quick to realise the only outcome is failure. As a result, they lose the motivation and passion that comes with working on challenging, but realistic, stretch goals, often holding back and reducing their efforts. What’s more – as stretch goals are often given to the most talented sales staff, when they fail, the sense of dissatisfaction is even greater, which can ultimately affect employee turnover. After all – good sales staff are unlikely to stay very long with a company which asks the impossible.

Back at the office Let’s summarise again how this can happen: • Wishful thinking: Your ambition overlooks current market conditions and you fail to set realistic stretch goals. Your goals don’t stretch people – they snap.


You may be reading all of this and thinking – I’d never over-stretch my team – but you have to be ambitious to succeed in today’s market place. Just take a moment to really think about what you ask of your sales force on a daily basis though, and how

you distribute those stretch goals. Are they really as attainable as you think, or have you strayed over into wishful thinking territory? Here’s what you can do to stop stretching your sales team to breaking point: Keep records of past stretch goal results: We’re talking benchmarks here. Know what percentage of your sales team should hit their targets (research shows this is typically around 60%-75%) and if this percentage has hit the benchmark on the last few incentive periods, then your goals are probably achievable. On the other hand, if they’ve been below benchmark many times before, then chances are they’re not going to reach it this time either. Also – a team that’s always 100% on target may need more of a challenge. Maybe your stretch goals are much too easy to reach. Look for stretch goal padding: The most effective way of doing this? Just ask. Ask the different levels of management in your organisation what they’re doing with the goals they’re given and make sure they aren’t inflating en route to the sales team on the ground. More importantly, consider collaborative goalsetting across the business to ensure padding isn’t happening formally or informally. Data analysis: Be aware of who’s working for you and how they perform. Keep an eye on the ebb and flow of staff retention in your business – who’s coming and going, and why are they doing this? If goals aren’t being met and all your high-achieving staff are leaving, then you need to know why and how this will affect your business. There’s a fine line between challenging your team and over-stretching them into failure. Sales are needed to build and grow a business – to keep it ticking over – but asking too much of a team will ultimately never reap rewards. It’s good to have stretch goals and to give your sales force something they can really get their teeth stuck into. Just don’t get carried away when it comes to creating them.

David is a researcher and lecturer in international business whose personal interests have always focused on aspects of popular psychology, consumer behaviour, and choice. and follow him on twitter @davidmeadelive



Why you struggle to recruit top talent Justin Rush, Director at Abacus Professional Recruitment tells you the uncomfortable truths • Failing to outline the recruitment process • Not providing evidence of how great your organisation is And these are just the basics. So while you are considering what you do well and not so well, let me tell you something else that you would rather not know. Approximately 60-70% of the workforce are not actively looking for a job

“You don’t need a massive financial budget to attract and recruit top talent.”

Justin Rush

Recruiting is easy, right? Yeah, that holds true. After all, anyone can make an appointment decision, even the most unqualified person can say yes or no. The truth is, recruiting truly talented people is really very tough. It is time consuming and fraught with difficulties. I guarantee your organisation is making a number of basic errors right now when recruiting. Here are some of them: • Advertising a job not a career • Promoting your offering in the wrong place(s) • Highlighting what you want, not what you offer • Not making it easy for people to inquire • Providing poor communication throughout the process


at present. They are happy in their current position, they are motivated, incentivised and have a bond with their employer and colleagues. How do you engage those people, the truly talented people you want in your organisation, when they aren’t looking at job boards or adverts? In reality, the in-demand professionals like accountants, lawyers, software developers, engineers, HR and sales executives don’t wait for you to advertise your vacancy. Even if they do see your advert, you have a 40% chance that they do something. Not great odds. OK, that is the bad medicine taken, so here is some better news to digest. Not everyone wants to work for the biggest corporate businesses; you don’t need a massive financial budget to attract and recruit top talent; and when you apply some basic principles your success rate will increase significantly.

The key to acquiring top talent is to have a strategy, specifically an engagement strategy. These times demand a previously unseen level of transparency and communication between organisations and top talent. Here are some points that will ensure you are on the way to improving your recruitment process: Recruiting top talent does not have a start and an end. You need to present your offering all year round and encourage talented people to reach out to you at any point. Always be available for a call, an email or a coffee. Talented people aren’t stupid. They want to know that they can achieve their career aspirations and you can meet their needs if they join you (Remember they join you first, the organisation second). Are you prepared to not only reward them, but also to offer the flexibility and freedom they need in order to be fulfilled outside of work? Let them in. Talented people want to be an intrinsic part of an organisation. They must believe that they will have a voice in business issues and feel they can contribute on all levels. Great organisations illustrate these examples when attracting and recruiting. Treat unsuccessful applicants like royalty. When recruiting from a small pool of talent you cannot afford to give anyone a bad experience or impression. These people are tomorrows talent and you will need them as you grow. Provide feedback and advice, encourage future application and let them down gently. Do this well and they will become evangelists for your organisation.

Justin Rush is a career recruiter and Director at Abacus Professional Recruitment he can be contacted on T: 028 9031 3157

Health at Work


Declan Cunnane, Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke Chief Executive (left) and Jeremy Gardiner, stroke survivor and Gran Fondo fifth place finalist (right) take advantage of the fountains at Custom House Square, Belfast to ‘cool down in the warm up’ for NICHS’s Step Up Cycle on 1st October 2016 along the North Coast.



Getting back in the saddle One Northern Ireland business man’s journey back to health with the help of a bike

year to coming fifth in the Gran Fondo Strangford Route eight weeks later.

Jeremy pictured at the finish line of the Gran Fondo where he took fifth place.

That’s quite a recovery, but shouldn’t mask the fact that the stroke took Jeremy and his family – a keen cyclist who was, on the face of it, fit at healthy at the time of the stroke – completely by surprise. “Whenever anyone talked to me about having a stroke I made a couple of assumptions, which now I know are completely false,” he said. “Firstly, people who suffer a stroke are of a certain age and demographic and secondly, people who suffer a stroke are not physically active.


hen you’re fit and healthy, there’s an unwritten assumption – and perhaps hope – by most people that any medical impairment or condition won’t happen to you. You don’t need this article to tell you that everybody is at risk and that we in business, probably in a relatively sedentary and highpressured role, are particularly vulnerable. Luckily, most recognise that we need to make time for regular exercise, not only for our physical health, but also for our heads. Whether it’s tennis, football, golf or any one of the thousands of other sports,


it’s important to get the blood flowing no matter what age, shape or how busy we are. There are no excuses.

“I’m not sure where I got these ideas, but on the 6th April 2016, my view dramatically changed.”

One Northern Ireland man who is testament to that fact is Jeremy Gardiner, an executive coach with Core Consultancy in Belfast.

“It was 7pm and my wife (Catherine) and I had been travelling home after having been out for dinner at a local restaurant. I was driving, which now seems crazy, but while on the way home I started to feel nauseas.

His experience in the last six months will put any of your “oh, I forgot to pack my trainers and can’t go to the gym” or “it’s raining so I can’t go for a run” excuses into perspective and hopefully provide that added impetus you need to get moving. To sum it up, Jeremy went from being rushed to hospital with what turned out to be a stroke in April of this

“On arriving home, I said to Catherine, ‘I think I will go out for a run to clear my head’. After changing into my running gear I stood up about to head out, when I got a buzzing sound in my ear. It was really strange; I’ve never had anything like that before. “Then, totally out of the blue, my balance >



went. My body lost control and I fell to the floor. Not knowing what was happening, the only thing I could communicate was that there was something seriously wrong.” The incident, similar to that which hit Ulster Rugby player Chris Henry, was to change Jeremy’s life, one which by any standards was healthy and relatively young.

“I’d like to invite all my fellow cyclists out there to join Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke’s North Coast Cycle to help raise funds and awareness in order that we can be better educated, to have our assumptions challenged and also that we have the right care and support for the thousands of individuals who have been permanently impacted through an event like this.” “That moment began a ten-day investigation in hospital, going through multiple tests to find out that I had taken a stroke in the cerebellum part of my brain (effecting my balance), which was potentially caused by a hole in the heart, an issue I’ve had since being a child without being aware. The challenge for me, however, in coming to terms with this event has been firstly, I’m only 42, and secondly, I’m physically fit.” Jeremy stayed in hospital for three days to recuperate, needing help and physioptherapy to help him learn how to walk again.


And it wasn’t long before he was wanting to learn how to cycle again, something which has helped immeasurably in his swift recovery. “I started on a static bike and then around the garden before heading out on the road with friends,” he said, adding that after four weeks he was managed to complete 18 miles on the bike. “It was awful,” he said.”I felt heavy, my legs were heavy, I couldn’t get up a hill and I just thought this isn’t going to happen. “So I just thought ‘ok, now I have to train

Jeremy pictured in the ambulance shortly after having a stroke.

for this and build up my strength’.” And that’s what Jeremy did, putting the lessons he teaches to Northern Ireland’s business executives on how to overcome adversity to good effect, and eventually feeling strong enough to take on the Gran Fondo. “I was on the front row at the start and there was a guy there Chris who had won it last year and I just thought I’d see how long I could stick to him and I surprised myself.” And although coming fifth, Jeremy wasn’t far off the leaders. Despite such a performance, he is still undergoing rehabilitation but said the achievement has helped him overcome the stroke. “I just decided that I didn’t want this to define me. For me its as much mental as it is physical. I want to live life and embrace it, and this is not going to stop me.” It’s certainly not stopping Jeremy. He’s taking part in the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke’s Chief Executive’s Step Up Cycle on 1st October 2016 along the North Coast, a 70km or 100km route. “Taking part in the Step Up & Ride is a personal acknowledgment of firstly, that this happened to me and secondly, that it can happen to anyone at any point in time,” he said. “So I’d like to invite all my fellow cyclists out there to join Northern Ireland Chest, Heart

& Stroke’s North Coast Cycle to help raise funds and awareness in order that we can be better educated, to have our assumptions challenged and also that we have the right care and support for the thousands of individuals who have been permanently impacted through an event like this.” Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke’s Chief Executive Declan Cunnane is taking part in the race alongside Jeremy. “NICHS celebrates it’s 70th Anniversary this year and has launched a new programme of events called Step Up, where ordinary people do something extraordinary together,” he said. “I am delighted to be taking part in the Step Up Cycle along with Jeremy, who is an outstanding example of an extraordinary person overcoming adversity. NICHS has been at the forefront of the battle against the biggest health risks Northern Ireland has faced in the last 70 years, but the battle is far from over. The fact that many more people are surviving heart attack and stroke, and living with respiratory conditions, means that our support services for families are in more demand than ever before. We pride ourselves in being the only local charity tackling heart disease, stroke and lung disease. In seven decades, every penny we have raised has been spent in Northern Ireland for the benefit of local people.”

Join Declan and Jeremy on the 70/100km cycle by visiting or call the Events Team on 028 902 66740


Stress: spot the signs By Dr Alan Black, Managing Director of Blackwell Associates Ltd


ressure is a natural aspect of everyday life that helps us to achieve goals, particularly inside the workplace. For many organisations, pressure is an integral part of modern living and when properly managed, can drive the growth of a business by motivating employees to meet targets, progress professionally, and feel mentally stimulated. Without a manageable and safe level of pressure, organisations run the risk of a bored workforce that is low in productivity, retention, and morale. In short, a degree of pressure can bring positive benefits to both employees and the business. However, when workplace demands outstrip workforce capacity, and too much is asked of an individual who is already struggling to cope, further pressure is likely to result in work-related stress which can manifest itself physically, mentally and behaviourally. Common signs include insomnia, sweating, loss of appetite and poor concentration levels, as well as feeling anxious and irritable, with a tendency to develop headaches, muscle pain and vertigo. These symptoms can play havoc on a company’s bottom line and overall performance, as stressed employees are more likely to take long-term sickness absence in order to seek medical advice and recover. In total, 9.9 million working days were lost last year due to stress, as reported by the Health and Safety Executive.

Stress management Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers have a legal responsibility to safeguard the


health and safety of employees, including their mental and emotional wellbeing. When it comes to stress, common risk factors can include difficult working relationships with colleagues, lack of managerial support, poor communication and excessive workload. Often however, pressure not related to work, such as financial worries or a breakdown in a relationship, can reduce the ability of an individual to cope with additional pressure from other sources. It’s therefore in the best interests of both employer and employee to reduce stress levels as far as reasonably practicable with the help of the Health & Safety Executive’s guidance and by working closely with an occupational health specialist to assess the risks involved and put the appropriate, preventative measures in place. Occupational health practitioners can support those who are currently suffering with stress to either remain in work or facilitate their return, whilst also training line managers on how to recognise the symptoms of stress and understand when and how to mitigate. Managers are often the first to spot the signs of stress in an employee, such as a change in productivity, attitude, or quality of work, and therefore are best placed to take the necessary action to eliminate any stressors, whether by redistribution of workload or by providing more support to employees. Whilst it is a line manager’s responsibility to oversee the welfare needs of others, it’s also important that they don’t neglect their own. According to research by AXA PPP Healthcare (2015), senior managers are at a far greater risk of suffering from workrelated stress than any other occupational group, with almost half (48%) saying they feel constantly stressed, compared to one-in-four of other employees.

Dr Alan Black

For this reason, Blackwell Associates also offer companies executive medicals to determine if senior members of staff are impacted by high levels of stress and advise on the best pathway to recovery, without necessarily taking time off work.

Healthy employees, healthy business Occupational health plays a crucial role in encouraging and maintaining the health and wellbeing of employees, which in turn boosts the productivity, performance and profitability of businesses. By understanding the potential causes of stress, training employees to spot the signs, monitoring performance and implementing measures to reduce stress, employers have the opportunity to ensure pressure remains a positive factor in the workplace, without risking the health of employees.

To learn more about Blackwell Associates Ltd and the health services it provides to individuals and organisations, visit or call 028 9065 6131. Blackwell Associates can also be followed on Twitter @BwellAssociates or Facebook.

Food, Drink & Agriculture


Eating, drinking and being merry? As Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink enters its final phase, Joanne Sweeney assesses how the initiative has boosted the sector and looks ahead to the remaining events


he first ever Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink 2016 will draw to a close this quarter and the big question is, has it helped to put us on the national and international food map?

Paul Rankin – who championed local produce when he became the first chef in Northern Ireland to win a Michelin star in 1999 with Roscoff – will be here to entertain and tantalise the audience.

While our sportsmen and women and giants of the arts have long helped to ensure that Northern Ireland punched above its weight, our exceptional produce and restaurant/ hospitality sector has not received as much recognition, until recently.

But even more importantly, the show will provide a significant platform in the form of the Tasting Theatre from food and drink producers every one of the six counties.

However, this month Northern Ireland will officially be branded as a top UK foodie region when the BBC Good Food Show is held in Belfast Waterfront on October 14-16. Popular TV chefs like James Martin, John Torode, the Hairy Bikers and our own


Hosted by chef Paula McIntyre, it will present everything from breads, cider, cheese, eels and smoked salmon. Despite the taste sensations of all of this, there is a serious business and marketing objective behind the Year of Food. It’s about increased awareness for international tourists, more hotel bed nights


being sold, more bums on seats in restaurants and hotels and increased orders and new markets for food and drink producers. That was very much on the mind of Tourism NI Chairman Terence Brannigan when welcoming the news of the event in January he said: “The BBC Good Food Show will provide an ideal platform to showcase our award-winning food and drink producers, place the spotlight on our talented chefs and celebrated restaurants, and spread the word about Northern Ireland as a fantastic destination. “I am confident the BBC Good Food Show will make a significant contribution both to Year of Food & Drink 2016 and to the wider economy, helping us to deliver on our long-term aims for tourism to the end of the decade and beyond.”

“The most important aspect of this year-long series of events will be the legacy it leaves for future generations in our hospitality industry, which will be crucial in developing the sector further.”

The Year of Food initiative was designed to position the country as a thriving food and drink destination to a domestic and international market with the objectives of: • An increase of 5% in food-related visitor satisfaction ratings. • Support the increase of export sales to £30m. • Generate £10m of positive PR coverage in Northern Ireland, the Republic and GB. • Increase the number of entries into the Great Taste Awards. Nearly 10 months in, signs are encouraging. >


Chef Niall McKenna



At the recent annual Great Taste Awards organised by the UK Guild of Fine Food, there were 84 Northern Ireland companies and 212 products recognised in the event. The Meat Merchant, owned by Peter Hannan, achieved 36 product awards, a record number of awards for a single food manufacturer in UK and Ireland. And Hannan Meats from Moira are now the most successful company in the history of the awards throughout UK and Ireland. They won the prestigious honour of Great Taste Supreme Champion 2016 has been awarded to Hannan Meats’ Glenarm Shorthorn 4 Rib Roast. Hannan Meats is the first producer in the 22-year history of Great Taste to take the top award for a second time. And Hannan Meats supplies restaurants such as the James Street South group and Michael Dean’s restaurants and other hotels. Chef Niall McKenna of James Street South believes the Year of Food will have a lasting legacy. “I have long been an advocate of our incredible local produce and the dedication of producers here, and in showcasing their efforts, as well as our own, we continue to develop our reputation as an award winning and global food destination.

William Kirby, General Manager, Lough Erne Resort and Spa.

Meanwhile, the Lough Erne Resort and Spa gave Northern Ireland its biggest international marketing platform to date when it hosted the G8 summit in 2013. General Manager William Kirby is equally positive about the initiative.

“The most important aspect of this year-long series of events will be the legacy it leaves for future generations in our hospitality industry, which will be crucial in developing the sector further.

“Any activity that assists in making our food offering more visible, and in turn highlights our outstanding five-star product, has to be welcomed.

“The increase in foodie events which attract overseas and southern tourists here showcases how much we have come on with a calendar of great events from the traditional Hillsborough Oyster Festival to the newer Moira Food Festival, and Derry coming second to the Irish foodie town destination.”

“Initiatives like this are key in cementing Northern Ireland’s reputation as a destination of choice, and we should continue to build on the awareness achieved over the past 12 months to further develop our achievements in the food sector.”

Our hotels have also swung into action to support the initiative by regularly hosting food and drinks in their properties every month of the year so far. Joanne Harvey, Hastings Hotels Group Marketing Manager says that they are “very proud to work with a host of Northern Ireland’s finest food and drink producers”. “At our six properties, we have made great use of the NI Year of Food & Drink monthly calendar by creating dishes that complimented the monthly themes. “These have proved to be very popular with our guests, from home and overseas, and it has been a superb opportunity to educate them about the Northern Irish foodie culture whilst they taste and enjoy the fruits of this for themselves.”


Upcoming NI Year of Food & Drink key dates • Armagh Food and Cider Festival, 5 – 9 October (TBC) various locations, Co Armagh • Belfast Restaurant Fortnight, 8 – 23 October • BBC Good Food Show, 14 – 16 October, Waterfront, Belfast • Christmas Baking, 30 November, Orchard Acre Farm, Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh • Naturally North Coast and Glens Market, 23 October – 4 December, Co Antrim

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere Diageo Northern Ireland: proud supporters of Northern Ireland‘s Year of Food & Drink 2016



Star suppliers create award-winning local products for Henderson Group Almost two years in the market, Henderson Wholesale’s enjoy local range is already marking milestones for the company, earning their first Great Taste stars thanks to quality local suppliers

“Since the enjoy local range was introduced in 2015 after a £25m investment, we have nurtured our relationships with our suppliers and enabled the range to grow alongside our shoppers’ needs. Further investments of around a quarter of a million pounds this past year, has resulted in some of the most innovative, fresh, value for money products and meal solutions available on the shelves of convenience stores across Northern Ireland. “I am so proud of the team and all their hard work that has earned two Great Taste stars for our local products.”

Fresh Trading Managers Steven Kennedy and Iain Dickson join Neal Kelly (centre), Fresh Foods Director at Henderson Wholesale, part of the Henderson Group, to celebrate winning their first ever Great Taste stars as part of the Great Taste Awards of 2016.


n 2014, the Fresh Team at Henderson Wholesale, part of the locally-owned Henderson Group, decided to create their own fresh and local brand to meet the demand for such produce in the convenience market in Northern Ireland.

The company received 1-star status for both the enjoy local Natural Yogurt, which was developed with Clandeboye Estate in North Down, and for the enjoy local Roast Beef Dinner, made by Armagh-based Daily Bake.

In 2015 the enjoy local brand was launched; simple in its mission, this was a range that sought to bring shoppers the best of local produce, at a value that competed with the multiples, while supporting the vibrant landscape of local suppliers across the island of Ireland.

Neal Kelly, Fresh Foods Director at Henderson Wholesale spoke of his pride upon hearing the news; “This is the first year we have entered any of our products in to Great Taste and we are over the moon to see two of our best selling products and local suppliers get the recognition they very much deserve.

In 2016, the range caught the attention of the Great Taste judges, winning 1-star status for two local products, Henderson Wholesale’s first ever Great Taste accolades.

“We have been working with Clandeboye Estate and Daily Bake for a combined 12 years, developing only the best products for our retailers and their shoppers.


When first launched, the range consisted of 126 products spanning dairy, baked goods, fruit, meat, vegetables, savoury pies and a 100% Northern Irish barbeque selection. The brand supported 22 of NI’s finest suppliers to the tune of £25m each year, and in the past year, it has experienced incredible growth and sales figures. In 2016, the Group released its end of year results for 2015, recording sales of £23m for the enjoy local line, which now supports 25 local suppliers through 144 products. Over the next year, the Fresh Team at Henderson Wholesale will continue to invest in the local range, adding to its local supplier roster and investing in the agrifood market here in Northern Ireland. enjoy local is available in SPAR and EUROSPAR stores.


License to brew


he Open Gate Brewery transported some of the magic from St James’s Gate to Belfast for this year’s Tesco Taste Fest. This is the first time the Guinness Open Gate Brewery was at the festival showcasing some of their experimental brews for consumers to try. Guinness launched The Open Gate Brewery at St. James’s Gate, Dublin last November. The experimental brewery has been at St. James’s Gate for over a hundred years, and is where the brewers are given license to explore new recipes, reinterpret old ones and experiment freely to bring exciting new beers to life. For the first time in its history, the brewers in St. James’s Gate opened the doors of its home of brewing experimentation and innovation with the launch of The Open Gate Brewery. Over the last seven months, the brewers have welcomed thousands of people into The Open Gate Brewery to enjoy the unique brewing experience at St James’s Gate; chat to them about great beer and of


Jorge Lopes, Diageo NI with Caoimhe Mannion, Tesco NI

course, savour the regular pipeline of amazing, small batch brews that are created each month, which has included 1516 Pilsner, Chocolate and Vanilla stout, Antwerpen Export stout and Strawberry Porter.



Small business of the month

By Amy Leonarel

Tony and Jen’s, Lisburn Road, Belfast


ublic interest in health and fitness has never been higher, and there’s one Belfast business in particular that is taking it seriously and making it personal.

Tony & Jen’s on the Lisburn Road is all about great food with even better nutritional value. Owned and run by Tony O’Neill, a personal trainer, and Jenny Curran, a writer, it is their first venture into the world of business together. The couple met five years ago in a gym, rather poignantly, when Tony was Jen’s trainer and the concept was quickly born. Jenny had always been interested in opening her own food venue and Tony inspired the healthy aspect of it. Spending a year in Australia from 2013-2014 and experiencing the health conscious lifestyle there only spurred their enthusiasm. A line of cookies they created was nearly taken on by a cafe in Melbourne, but with their temporary residential status the red tape unfortunately proved too much. The Belfast cafe produces food that people like, but in a healthier way, with twists on pancakes, potato bread and waffles to name but a few. “It’s stuff that people want to eat, but that’s going to help them live longer” says Jen. Nearly everything is made from scratch in their own kitchen and everything on the menu is free from gluten, dairy and wheat. “We want to kill the perception that healthy food is dry and boring” says Tony. “We are proof that it can be tasty.” It was preceded by a pop-up only a few doors from their current unit, or rather the pop-up was in the interim whilst they patiently awaited planning permission. It ran for four months and Jenny says she was pleasantly surprised by its reception. “It was startling. We never imagined people would take it as well as they did. We were just two people who love food and eating well. We thought it might end up just a handful of friends popping in and out but suddenly we were producing enough food to keep a busy pop-up running, and for much longer than intended. We really learnt from the ground up.” The permanent cafe opened its doors in October 2015 and is continuously growing in popularity. Tony says that every single month they are getting busier. “We started out with 10 staff and now employ 19.”


Tony O’Neill and Jenny Curran, the people behind the name.

“Our online presence has increased substantially. We’ve gone from 3,000 Likes on Facebook to 8,000 without paying for any advertising; it’s just an organic growth, people spreading the word. It’s a great measure of how well people are receiving our product.” They recently held a huge charity event, a 26.2 hour ‘marathon’ shift completed by Jenny and manager Jane Sally, who is running the Amsterdam Marathon in October in aid of Marie Curie. The event was an incredible success, with over £3,000 raised for the charity and a large amount of publicity for the business. Both Tony and Jen believe it’s all down to quality and source their produce locally; Massey’s of Saintfield provide the turkey sausages, Marlfield Farm in Co Down the free-range chicken and Get Fresh in Dunmurray for fruit and vegetables. There are plans for expansion in the future but both Tony and Jen are realistic. “Yes that would be a dream but we won’t be getting carried away,” says Tony. “We want to get everything working completely efficiently and smoothly first” finishes Jen. “We have projections for the future of course but at the minute we are very much in the here and now.” There are however imminent plans to open evenings, which seems like a step in the expansion direction.


Medium business of the month Company name: UPU Industries Location: Dromore, Co Down Who: Phillip Orr, CEO What makes your business stand out? UPU celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and while our business doesn’t have a particularly high profile in the local market, our products are used by the agri-food sector throughout the world. Our main brands – Farmer’s and Reflectornet – are used to bale, wrap, bind and protect the crops and perishable foods that we use every day, so we regard ourselves as an important link in the global food chain. How did you come up with the idea for the company? UPU naturally evolved from my father’s time as Managing Director of the Belfast Rope Works in Connswater, East Belfast. His move from manufacturer to distributer saw market change and demand for sisal and medium twine decline, so he developed the manufacturing process to produce high tenacity plastic twines for the then new big square balers. He was a great networker and had an extensive distributer base and this enabled us to establish UPU to manufacturer his recipe and further develop the knitted netting products that are now the backbone of our business. Twenty years down the line, UPU continues to evolve and grow. How do you compare with the competition? We have very few competitors – in fact we’re the only manufacturer of our kind in the UK and Ireland. Globally there are about 12 companies similar to UPU. One of our German customers recently referred to us as being ‘consistently reliable’. They’ve been a customer since 1998 so I think that speaks for itself. Consistency and reliability are embedded in our company ethos and are part and parcel of our processes, our products and our service


Phillip Orr

delivery. We set ourselves rigid deadlines and we stick to them, time and time again. How will your business look in five years time? I hope I’m still alive and kicking to see what it looks like but the priority is to build a family of products that continue to meet the changing needs of the market. Globally the agri-food sector is diverse and we must keep up to speed with its developments and demands. We’ve a great team of skilled and committed people in place to help drive this forward – so I hope that in five years we’ll be as ‘consistently reliable’ as ever. How do you encourage innovation in your company? Innovation is driven by our customers so the process starts with them. I’m a huge advocate of engaging, listening and responding to their feedback as this stimulates innovation and challenges us to better understand the lifecycle of our products. Ultimately, everyone in the company has a role to play when it

comes to innovation – so I also encourage collaboration. It takes a lot of clever thinking to bring a good idea to life. What is the next big mind-blowing product or idea for your company? I never give away my company secrets! However my haven is my garden and if I had time, I’d invent an all-in-one backpack device which can trim, vacuum and mulch dogwood, all in one go. There’s nothing like this on the market and if I ever made it on to Dragon’s Den, I’m sure Deborah Meadon and Peter Jones would be fighting to invest! What is the secret to your success? Like I said, I never give away my secrets! However I’m happy to borrow from the insights of Bill Gates who said velocity is the key to business success. We operate in times of enormous change and we need to get out there and get on with it. Good business, particularly export business, relies on people who are prepared to travel; to engage with their customers; and to respond in a quick and efficient way.



Top 100 dine out in style Directors of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies enjoyed a celebratory evening in the Great Hall at Queen’s last month. The Ulster Business Top 100 Gala Dinner, in association with A&L Goodbody, was held to mark their inclusion in the Top 100 list and saw the leaders come together over a five-course tasting menu accompanied by fine wines.

Helen Glennie, Mike Mullan, Janet McCollum, Eric Forin and Ursula Lavery

Robert and Majella Scott

Sonia Armstrong, Richard Kennedy and Stephen Maguire


Photography: PressEye

David Elliott, First Minister Arlene Foster, Mark Thompson, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Peter Stafford.

Karen Nicholl-Faith, Hugh Nicholl and Sonia Armstrong

Neil McKibbin and Pauline McKeating

Robert Cooper and Jonathan Guest

Terence Donnelly, Dean Martin and Wilton Farrelly


Glenda McStravick, Sonia Armstrong, Sylvie Brando and Kirsty Black

Great Hall at Queen’s University

Gavin Vaughan, Anne Clydesdale and Mike Vaughan

Paddy Doody and Joanne Hayden

David Carlisle, Jarlath Austin and William Carlisle

Nigel Graham and Peter Stafford

Enda Cushnahan, Sonia Armstrong and Mark McCusker


Mark Thompson, Head of Belfast Office, A&L Goodbody

Majella Scott and Micaela Diver

Paul Stanfield, Karen Nicholl-Faith and Michael Scott



Optimising technology and communication key to business

Belfast book review: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By Roisin Byrne, Business Director for Hays Information Technology in Northern Ireland

David Meade and Laura Jackson, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland, run the rule over the latest tome to offer sage-like advice to savvy business folk


hy do some people

succeed and others fail?’ asks psychologist Angela Duckworth in this New York Times bestseller. It’s a fair question as talent is not the only factor for guaranteeing success in any walk of life or career.

Reality TV has shown us in painful detail Laura Jackson from BDO and David Meade that mediocrity can rise against the odds, while talent can flounders on impossible whims. But what is the elusive factor that separates winners from also-rans? Duckworth dissects outstanding achievement in different fields to find that a well-calibrated mix of passion and persistence goes a long way. Describing this potent combination as ‘grit’, her formula for what we used to term ‘stickability’ is surprisingly consistent in her analysis of various peak performers showing that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance. Duckworth offers an accessible walkthrough insights gleaned from dozens of high achievers – including JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. Don’t be put off by the academic overtures, this is a compelling and relevant read for anyone aspiring to improve.


dapting processes to reflect changing demands in the marketplace – or business transformation – is high on the agenda for firms in Northern Ireland. Customers expect access to a brand’s services and products 24/7, and this requires businesses to optimise strategy and technology in order to keep pace.

This places ever greater demands on the IT function. From product development and data management through to marketing communications and human resources, IT professionals now have remits which touch upon all aspects of operations. We know from conversations we’re having with employers that business transformation and how best to leverage technology is a major challenge. Indeed, the issue arises with such frequency that we’re bringing together four subject experts – Allstate, Xperience Group, Graham Construction and Tibus – to share their insights at a Hays workshop on Friday October 14 at The Mac, Belfast. For example, cloud has moved from concept to a practical solution. Organisations are realising the potential of cloud and are working towards making it a part of their everyday operating model. This has created a sustained demand for cloud architects, engineers with virtualisation experience and professionals with knowledge of Citrix, VMware and Amazon Web Services. Resource shortages mean organisations risk falling behind the competition and being exposed to security and business risks. With the high-profile hacking scandals of recent years still fresh in public memory, these are risks that organisations cannot afford to take. The pace of technological growth shows no sign of slowing down, nor will the need for talented IT professionals to take the newest developments and weave them into the everyday life of organisations and their customers.

“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” is the first book to be reviewed as part of the Belfast Book Review, a

To get a deeper understanding on how technology can transform

free bi-monthly club where professionals can discuss the

business operations, request a copy of the Hays IT Project &

latest in business thinking. It starts in 25th October Common

Change report from To

Grounds Café, Belfast. To join the club or find out more visit

find out more about our Project & Change breakfast seminar or email

that takes place on Friday October 14 at The MAC, Belfast



Roundtable: Aligning business and education A flourishing economy needs to have an education system producing a labour force with the right skills to meet the needs of industry. Ulster Business, in association with Ulster University Business School, brought together some of the best placed experts from both business and academia to benchmark how closely the two are working together

Participants: Professor Marie McHugh, Ulster University Business School Professor Sean Duffy, EY Carol Fitzsimons, Young Enterprise Euan Isles, Deloitte Michael McQuillan, Ulster University Business School David Elliott, Ulster Business

David Elliott: How important is it for the economy to have an education system which is closely linked to the needs of business? Marie McHugh: For us it’s really important that we help our students to acquire and develop knowledge and a set of skills which will make them attractive to employers, and will also foster their entrepreneurial spirit. For example, in our undergraduate programmes, annually, over 400 of our students go on placement for one full year, mostly in Northern Ireland but some are GB or in the Republic, and 100 are in international destinations. It’s very interesting to note the transformation in those students during that time in industry. They have changed out of all recognition when they come back to us in terms of their self-confidence, well developed communication and problem solving skills. While our students are very privileged in that they have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills when they


are on placement, we like to think that they also contribute in a very positive way to the organisations that they are placed with. One example that we have cited on a few occasions is the case of Catherine McKiernan, one of our very talented undergraduate marketing students who went on placement to Edge Innovate in Dungannon. During her placement year she developed a CRM (customer relationship management) system for the company, which increased turnover at the company by £750,000. Sean Duffy: I have a theory that internships should be compulsory in our business. There is a freshness that young people bring into

a business. The hard part is actually how our generation deals with them, not the other way around. I applaud the placement idea and I would go a step further to say there should be something more unique about it. I trained as a Chartered Accountant and went through Queen’s and it was a pure academic exercise. But when you jump into business you go “Whoa, if I had known this I’m not sure I would have gone done that path.” The earlier the context is provided the better. Michael McQuillan: From a university perspective, the benefits of the placement process is one reason why education and business needs to work more closely. We >



also need business folk to come in and help shape education provision through providing context. Whether it’s through guest speaking, through feeding in to shaping the curriculum or through advising on new programme development. From a wider education perspective it really needs to start at the primary school and go into secondary school, into further education and higher education. Educators and business have a responsibility to work together on workforce development to develop the pipeline. We should let people go away but we need to create the environment within which they are happy to come back and develop careers or businesses here. Importantly we need to work together to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit right through from Primary 1. Sean Duffy: The potential to accelerate economies is driven by entrepreneurial talent and flair. It’s really important to have entrepreneurial role models who are prepared to participate and communicate with young people to inspire them about business. One of the benefits Northern Ireland has is that we have a small population which means in theory we work together more easily and hold up examples of really good practice and continually reinforce them. We don’t have any excuse here really. We have a phenomenal education system, we have phenomenal universities with the Business School leading the way, so the potential for us to take a march on other larger economies is huge.

Carol Fitzsimons

Carol Fitzsimons: We have a lot of really powerful elements to bring together in Northern Ireland. We are very well connected and should really harness that. With Young Enterprise we get great support from a lot of businesses, but not all businesses. It can be difficult for the likes of SMEs to engage, so it’s finding different ways of doing that. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have a skills base curriculum which is relatively unique across these Isles. It is also how do we, as employers, as parents, value what comes out of the education system? We still tend to revert to recruit-based degrees, qualifications and A-levels. Not levels of learning but the actual specific titles. We

all know a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t have strong academic results but yet we still say academic performance is the most important thing. In the Business School a lot of people come back and consolidate their learning. So we need to figure out how to move from a system where people are rewarded for learning lots of information and regurgitating it for an exam to a system which values the ability to apply what you have learned. For us, at Young Enterprise, that is about the project-based work our students do in running companies. You’ve talked about placements and it’s the exact same thing. It’s all those project based, so they are actually able to apply what they’ve learned. Euan Isles: The Deloitte Bright Start Programme is a great example of the Ulster University Business School being able to be very agile. It quickly developed an apprenticeship programme with us which allowed us to take on students who could then learn on the job with the business school. When we, as a company, set off on this journey the programmes weren’t there but the university stepped up and developed it for us.

Michael McQuillan


Michael McQuillan: Recently, we have developed some tailored programmes under the heading of ‘the business of’. These have come about through working alongside businesses and scoping out, with them, where the pain really is. For example,


push from the universities and businesses to help meet the needs of the finance sector and the fintech sector in particular. In Northern Ireland, if you think of companies like Randox, Norbrook and Almac, we have world leaders in the life sciences sector. Maybe it is time to place some bets on sectors like this with our curriculums, way in advance. The hard bit is that the political agenda is a very short-term environment. Part of the problem actually is how you get momentum behind this because the individual effort is fantastic and laudable, but it is still down to the individual effort.

we’re currently working with a group of vets – who have studied their six or seven years in veterinary practice and have now found that they are running businesses with maybe 30 employees. They have human resource issues, they have got business development issues, they have got issues with their landlords. As a result we’re now running a programme called the Business of Veterinary Practice and as a result of that the dentists, doctors and others now want it. Euan Isles: With recruitment we sometimes find that we get people who, on paper, are fantastic but they haven’t had the breadth of experience or the skills to allow them to sit down in the room with a client. We need to make sure they have those experiences throughout school, college, university. We need to look beyond just pure academic skills and look at the individuals. In terms of who’s responsible for doing that, it’s business, it’s educators, it’s parents. I think everybody should be encouraging kids to find things they are passionate about, but focused on building experiences around that which would give them the wider life experiences. Carol Fitzsimons: We have to have an honest conversation about what we value as success. We are saying it is much more than exam results but we judge the best schools on the likes of A-level results. But if we’re saying that for business the best school isn’t necessarily the one with the best exam results and one which educates children in a more rounder way then we need to change. Within the Programme for Government there is an opportunity to look at that. I would love to see that all young people come out with a self-awareness of what their skills were. I’m not necessarily saying you have to all be operating at top communication level, but they come out self-aware so they maybe know what they are really poor at and what they are good at and can follow a career path that suits. When you look at the curriculum it’s got personal development, career planning, healthy eating, citizenship, communitybased learning, work-related learning – it’s all in there. But we need to allow our schools the time and space to act on it.


Professor Sean Duffy

Sean Duffy: There is another key piece in the jigsaw and that’s economic policy. We have talked about the opportunities, skills and connections we have in Northern Ireland and we should make the most of that by aspiring to be world-class in certain areas. We all need to get behind that aspiration and make sure we are servicing that aspiration through education. David Elliott: Is there an example of that in another region? Sean Duffy: In the Republic the fintech market is just extraordinary. There is a huge

Marie McHugh: It is really important that universities, for example, are very much involved and included in the early stages of discussions with potential investors and Invest NI. And I think one example that we can cite within Ulster University Business School is where we were very involved in the early discussions that Invest organised with the CME Group when they were considering locating a portion of their business in Northern Ireland. That was really useful because we had the opportunity to showcase the fantastic programmes that we have at Ulster, the fantastic pool of talent that we have in Northern Ireland, and the supply of highly accomplished graduates that we can provide to support the development of their business. CME did come to Northern Ireland, and now work with us in a range of areas including the provision of internship opportunities, graduate job opportunities, >

Professor Marie McHugh



and the delivery of ‘academies’ to upskill those who work in the financial services sector. For us a very special outcome of our collaboration with CME is the sponsorship provided by the CME Group Foundation and Invest NI to support our state-of-the-art Financial Innovation Lab on the Jordanstown Campus. This very special simulated trading room facility is widely used by our students and by our industry partners to support the development of specialist skills for the FinTech sector here in Northern Ireland. This shows what we can do by being joined up. It’s about the acknowledgement of the importance of the University working hand-in-hand with bodies like Invest NI and industry partners. Michael McQuillan: We have a very rich relationship with industry across all sectors but we’re always looking to improve our collaboration and integration. I’ve had the opportunity over the last number of years to have a foot in both camps, coming from running a business, liaising with the university and now in the university liaising with business, so I’ve seen it from both sides, and I think that businesses have to step up to the mark as well. Business owners and leaders must invest in their people. It’s unfortunate that sometimes when things are perceived to be getting a little bit tight that the training budget is the first thing to go, or the development budget is the first thing to go, and that’s not right. There needs to be a cultural change. Businesses

need to step up to the mark and take up the opportunities to engage with schools through Young Enterprise, with further education and higher education through helping to shape programmes – they need to help us add flavour to the curriculum. Taking it up one level, while we’re a small population we seem to have an abundance of representative bodies and representative organisations, which is brilliant, but it can also hold us back a little bit. Each one of them has skills development on their agenda but sometimes that fragmented approach means that its importance gets lost. There should be a Northern Ireland

Alliance on workforce development for the future to identify and react to the changing behaviours of the workforce, the changing needs of our businesses and the demands of globalisation. I would be encouraging all of our representative bodies to maybe have a joint alliance on workforce development so as to nudge it, effectively, into our Programme for Government. Sean Duffy: There’s nothing to stop us creating a think-tank. Why wouldn’t this be the spawn of something that would actually get people together and actually try and push it on. Carol Fitzsimons: And we need role models, not just individuals but corporates as well. We need to have great case studies to showcase. We have plenty of examples of why Apple is very good at innovation but need more examples of why Wrightbus and other brilliant local companies are great innovators. These should be the cases studies that we are using throughout our education system so that that’s how you do your careers guidance

Euan Isles


Euan Isles: We also need to make sure we are exposing our students to entrepreneurs and business people who are not that far removed from them in terms of age. We need people who are only a few years older than the students but working in business who they can relate to. Sometimes people like us can be too far removed from their reality.


Name: Alan Foreman Position: CEO of B-Secur

A word from

The Wise How did you start out in business? I was fortunate enough to go to University and get a job in Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting) where I worked for 19 years and held the position of Managing Director in Accenture’s Life Sciences business. I was also their UK lead for Emerging Technologies. In that time, I got a pretty good grounding in many aspects of business, so it was a good apprenticeship for my current role as CEO of B-Secur, which is bringing a new ECG (heartbeat) authentication technology to the world. Two very different worlds (corporate versus start-up) and both equally challenging. What did you find the most challenging during your years in business? Relationships – managing and working with people – have always been my greatest challenge and yet also the most rewarding aspect of my business life. By definition, everyone is different so the ability to successfully manage upwards, downwards, peer level, clients, suppliers, customers, and sometimes all at the same time requires a little bit of skill beyond straightforward IQ. How would you describe your management style? I believe that people together can create great things and certainly more than the sum of the parts. And I believe that people perform if they have the right combination of ability and motivation. So, I hope my management style reflects this... that I am inclusive, positive and always constructive to whomever I work with and that others feel I go about my business fairly and honestly.


The column with an ear for experience...

What would you change if you could go back and do it all again? I loved my career at Accenture and the opportunities that this presented for me and my family; equally, I love my new ‘entrepreneurial’ business with B-Secur. However, if I had my time again and I appreciated a bit sooner that pretty much anything is possible in our world today, I would have mixed it up a bit more, spent more time in other parts of the world, and taken even more risks. Have you done it all on your own? No. I am proud of my work ethic and that I can spot an opportunity, but it takes two to tango and my family at Accenture, at B-Secur and my clients are the people that have also provided me with these opportunities and allowed them to happen, for which I am grateful. How would you like your business career to be remembered? For having limitless ambition and being successful whatever I turn my hand to. Without getting carried away, I’d like to think ahead to a few years from now, when it will be hugely exciting to be at the helm of B-Secur when its technology becomes an integral part of the services of just some of the international banks, businesses and mobile technology giants we are already talking to. What piece of advice would you give a 20-year old you? Life is about experiences. Go and experience as much as you can. Don’t let anything or anyone get in your way. Never be shy of hard work and when you think you have tried everything, try some more.





By David Elliott

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



hat do you get when you mix a brilliant breakfast guest with a brilliant breakfast venue?

The first client on the books was the pioneering chef with the mid-Atlantic accent Paul Rankin and there’s no doubt his subsequent success was down to Aiken’s work. Business grew from there and really took shape when the firm signed Guiness to its books, a client it still maintains today under the guises of Diageo, a brand which it helped launch.

A brilliant breakfast of course! Regular readers of this column will realise that the use of such positivity are as rare as the use of exclamation marks, but in this case both seemed fair. Maybe it was the coffee, maybe the feeling that we had feasted like kings, but every now and again we break the self-imposed exclamation mark rule. Claire “the PR” Aiken and Ulster Business had a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast while discussing everything under the sun, and then some. The south Belfast commuter traffic, seemingly hell bent on being as obstructive as possible that September morning, did its best to make us both late but that didn’t detract from a thorough run down of the past, present and future of Claire’s life in business. Started 22 years ago in the offices of Aiken Promotions not far from where we’re currently sitting, Aiken PR has been a major player in the world of public relations in Northern Ireland ever since.


Claire is obviously a fan (although Pinto Grigio looks to me more her tipple than pint of stout if I had to guess) and said she enjoys working with them. “What Diageo say, they mean,” Claire said. “When they say they want to tackle underage drinking then they make sure they tackle underage drinking. “There’s a huge amount of integrity and responsibility with that business.” Helped by Aiken stalwart Lyn Sheridan, who joined Lyn shortly after the business was founded, the firm went on to grow its customer base with gusto, landing some of the juiciest names around such as McDonalds, Progressive, Kingspan, ESB, CPL, London Heathrow, to name but a few. Picking up new business is normally through referrals but the tie up with the burger giant necessitated a bit of luck and a large dollop of tenacity. “I bumped into the head of communications at a wedding,” Claire said. “Then I

heard he was speaking at an event in London so I flew over and waited until it was over so I could pitch to him.” That was 13 years ago and since then Aiken PR have handled not just the Northern Ireland public relations for McDonalds but has also picked up its Scottish account. “It’s not all about the money.” For the future, the focus will be on expanding the business on an all-island basis, from its offices both in Belfast and in Dublin, as well as providing an integrated communications service rather than solely public relations. With that in mind, it was time to go, but what about the food, I hear you ask? Well, before we go any further I must confess to a slight conflict of interest, what with being the son of one of Tony & Jen’s suppliers. But don’t let that get in the way of a top class breakfast – me: the savoury sweet potato waffle with poached eggs, avo (T&J are down with the kids and I can confirm this is avocado) and their own version of sriracha (a hot chilli sauce from Thailand), her: the acai berry bowl – which all has the added benefit of being incredibly healthy. Claire ate her’s in the sophisticated manner you would expect, while I wolfed mine down like a man possessed, hence the sriracha on the notes. It makes a change from egg yolk.

Flags, firebombs & flashbacks

Executive Motoring

By Pat Burns

Sponsored by

we are


XF sets new standard for business class motoring camber compensation and advanced driver assistance systems including lanekeep assist, driver condition monitoring and bay- and parallel park-assist. Advanced passive damper technology delivers exceptional ride quality as standard through an extra valve which reduces damping forces at low speeds. For even better control the Adaptive Dynamics system monitors body movement 100 times a second and wheel movement 500 times a second to determine the optimum damper settings for the driving conditions.


he 2007 XF was a radical step forward for Jaguar – and for the business car segment. Combining a sleek, coupé-like exterior and a luxurious interior, it set the class benchmark for aesthetics and driving dynamics. Features such as the rotary shift controller, rotating air vents and phosphor blue ambient lighting set the cabin apart from the competition and made the XF a highly desirable, aspirational vehicle. It was like nothing Jaguar had ever made before, and like nothing the competition could offer. The XF went on to become the most-awarded Jaguar ever. An all-new XF retains its predecessor’s core attributes, but uses Jaguar’s aluminiumintensive architecture to enable weight savings of up to 190kg – making the 163PS diesel model 80kg lighter than the nearest competitor – plus an increase in torsional stiffness of up to 28 per cent. The architecture also delivers dramatic


improvements in packaging and the proportions so essential to Jaguar design. The all-new XF wheelbase is 51mm longer than before, the front overhang 66mm shorter. Though 7mm shorter and 3mm lower than the original XF, rear seat space is class-leading thanks to 15mm more legroom, 24mm more kneeroom and up to 27mm more headroom than before. Aerodynamics are also superior: the drag coefficient drops from 0.29 to just 0.26. The light, stiff body is also fundamental to the all-new XF’s superb vehicle dynamics. Double wishbone front suspension and Integral Link rear suspension – combined with near-50:50 weight distribution – deliver the ideal balance between ride and handling. Adopting Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) maintains Jaguar’s leadership in steering feel but also reduces fuel consumption by up to three per cent. EPAS also enables functions such as

Jaguar Configurable Dynamics technology, optional on all V6 models, provides the ultimate in control and enables the driver to individually tailor settings of the dampers, steering, engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. All-Surface Progress Control, developed for low-speed driving in adverse conditions, automatically manages the brakes and the throttle to deliver the best possible traction, enabling the car to pull away smoothly and without drama: the driver only has to steer. ASPC operates between 3km/h and 30km/h, and the desired speed is set by the driver using the cruise control switches. Infotainment and connectivity is the most advanced Jaguar has ever offered. The all-new InControl Touch Pro system builds on the intuitive user interface but offers a 10.2inch touchscreen and Dual View technology which simultaneously allows the driver to see information such as navigation, while the front seat passenger watches TV or a DVD. The all-new XF is also the first Jaguar to offer adaptive full-LED headlights. Prices start at £32,300. Hopefully Jaguar has more space in its trophy cabinet.

we are


Audi puts the Sport into SUV


he term ‘sport utility vehicle’ has rarely been more applicable – the Audi RS Q3 is powered by the superb 2.5 litre, five cylinder TFSI petrol engine delivering 310PS and a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds. As if that package wasn’t potent enough, a Performance version is also now available with a revised engine which pumps out a whopping 367bhp, a quicker 0-60 time by half a second and a top speed of 167mph. At the heart of this RS is the five cylinder 2.5-litre TFSI engine familiar from the TT RS and RS 3 Sportback, linked to a sevenspeed S tronic twin-clutch transmission. The already highly efficient five-cylinder engine is also complemented by a standard start-stop system which, along with a regulated oil pump that only supplies lubricant when needed, contributes to fuel economy that sets a new precedent for an RS model – up to 32.1mpg is possible


according to the combined cycle test, equating to CO2 output of 206 g/km. Drivers can decide how loud they want the engine soundtrack to be – and the accelerator characteristics via the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system which is fitted as standard. It offers auto, comfort and dynamic modes, and in the latter throttle response is sharper and the engine sound even more intense for that true five cylinder Audi quattro rally sound effects. True to Audi RS tradition, quattro permanent all-wheel drive system underpins the RS Q3, in this case the version based on an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch positioned on the rear axle. The system provides swift and proportionate distribution of torque between the front and rear axles for optimum power management in all weathers. It works with RS-specific sports suspension which lowers the body by 25 mm compared to the standard suspension, and which is tuned to deliver flat cornering without forsaking

equally important everyday ride comfort. A specially tailored electronic stabilisation control (ESC) also stands guard – it offers a sport mode which raises the limit at which it intervenes, and it can also be deactivated entirely. Electromechanical rack and pinion steering provides quick and accurate turn-in, and ventilated disc brakes provide progressive and steadfast stopping power. The perforated 365mm front discs have a wave design with wave-shaped outer contours, which saves approximately one kilogram of weight at the front wheels. They are gripped by eight-piston calipers painted black with RS logos. An electromechanical parking brake and hill hold assist are also standard. In the infotainment area, a modular component system offers a wide range of options; at the top there is the hard-drive based navigation system, MMI Navigation plus. A BOSE surround sound system driving 14 loudspeakers can also be added, bringing up to 465 watts of output power, while Audi connect brings the Internet to the car.

we are


New Tipo range offers space and value


he all-new Fiat Tipo hatchback and Station Wagon have just gone on sale. The new C segment car offers exceptional roominess, high specification, robust quality and outstanding efficiency, not to mention its stylish Italian flair. The new Tipo hatchback is deceptively roomy, being capable of accommodating three six-feet-plus adult passengers in the rear – thanks to class-leading legroom and outstanding headroom. Its boot capacity is also best-in-class with a volume of 440 litres, while the Station Wagon version adds an additional 110 litres of boot space which, at 550 litres, is also class leading. In terms of the model range, both the hatchback and Station Wagon will be offered in three trim levels. The entry-level trim level is equipped with air conditioning, remote central locking, front electric windows, body-coloured door mirrors with electric adjustment, six airbags, DAB digital radio, chrome door handles, split rear seats, a front seat centre arm rest, USB and Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel remote controls. The Station Wagon adds rear electric windows and longitudinal roof bars. The mid-range trim level adds a five-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, rear power windows, LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, rear parking sensors and cruise control. The price for the mid-level trim is £1,000 above that of the equivalent entry-level Tipo, thereby simplifying the range structure and making it easier for customers to choose the best Tipo for their needs and budget.


The top trim level, which is priced just £1,000 above the equivalent mid-level version, builds on the specification of the mid-range Tipo but adds satellite navigation with TomTom LIVE services including HD Traffic, climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, rear view camera, driver’s side lumbar support and a chrome pack all as standard. The engine range comprises five engines in total. There are three petrol engines, a 1.4-litre 16v producing 95hp and 127Nm, a 1.4 T-Jet turbo petrol with 120hp and 206Nm and the 1.6-litre e-TorQ engine producing 110hp and 152Nm (combined exclusively to a six-speed, torque converter automatic transmission) and two turbo diesel engines – a 1.3-litre MultiJet II producing 95hp and 200Nm and a 1.6-litre MultiJet II with an output of 120hp and 320Nm.

The entry-level 1.4-litre 16v Fire is equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. It is capable of accelerating to 62mph in 12.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 115mph. The official combined cycle fuel economy figure is 49.6mpg for both body styles and their CO2 emissions are both 132g/km. Prices for the 1.4 hatchback start at £12,995 and prices for the Station Wagon start at £13,995, just £1,000 more than its hatchback equivalent. The top diesel engine in the range is the 1.6 MultiJet II 120hp unit and in the Tipo it is combined with a six-speed manual gearbox or FIAT’s new DDCT six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The top speed, official combined cycle fuel consumption figure and CO2 emissions are the same for both bodies – 124mph, 76.3mpg and 98g/km respectively.


we are


Bentayga – the ultimate SUV


he Bentley Bentayga combines unparalleled luxury with effortless performance and everyday usability. With an all-new W12 powertrain, the Bentayga is the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world. It offers a true Bentley driving experience and showcases innovative technology features. Designed, engineered and handcrafted in Crewe, the Bentayga’s styling is pure Bentley. Sculptural with an elegant, timeless execution, it perfectly balances athleticism with confidence. From the four round LED headlamps and large matrix grille, to the distinctive power line and muscular haunches, the Bentley DNA is apparent throughout. The development programme for Bentayga was the most extensive in Bentley’s


history. This resulted in the creation of a completely new luxury SUV segment. In high demand since Bentley announced it would launch this all-new car, the Bentayga has attracted new customers to the brand right around the world. The Bentley Bentayga boasts the world’s finest automotive cabin, with unrivalled levels of precision. The detailing in metal, wood and leather – including meticulous tolerances between elements of trim – is the epitome of modern British luxury. This level of perfection is only achievable thanks to the exceptional craft and skill of Bentley’s colleagues in Crewe. An all-new twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine is at the heart of the new Bentayga. The mighty 12-cylinder unit combines efficiency and refinement with ultra-luxurious levels of power and torque. With 608 PS

(600 bhp / 447kW) and 900 Nm (663 lb. ft) delivering a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds) and a top speed of 187 mph (301 km/h), the Bentayga is the world’s most powerful and fastest SUV. Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, comments: “The Bentayga is truly the Bentley of SUVs. It redefines luxury in the SUV sector and offers a genuine Bentley experience in any environment, thanks to a combination of unparalleled attention to detail, go-anywhere ability and cutting-edge technology. With this extraordinary car we are looking forward to an exciting period of strong growth and sales success for Bentley. The Bentayga is the next step in our brand’s bold future.” Prices for the First Edition Bentayga start at £229,500.




Discover why Citroën Vans are right for your business by visiting or call us on 0800 285 1704.ª

Official pre-launch fuel consumption in MPG (l/100km) and CO∑ emissions (g/km) for the New Citroën Dispatch XS and M models: Urban 47.1/51.4 (6.0/5.5), Extra Urban 54.3/57.6 (5.2/4.9), Combined 51.4/55.4 (5.5/5.1), CO∑ 133/144g/km. MPG figures are achieved under official EU test conditions, are intended as a guide for comparative purposes only, and may not reflect actual on-the-road driving conditions. *Cost option on certain models. ∞Standard on Enterprise and Enterprise Plus models. Model shown is for illustrative purposes only. ªCalls are free of charge from all consumer landlines and mobile phones. If you are calling from a business phone, you should check with your provider whether there will be a charge for calling an 0800 number.


Jonathan Dawson has been appointed Business Account Manager at Rainbow Communications. He joined the Account Management team in Rainbow in February 2016. Kim Smith has joined Rainbow Communications as Provisioning Team Leader. Kim has over 13 years’ experience in management within a number of service industries. Victoria Smyth has been appointed Credit Control Manager at Rainbow Communications. Victoria from south Belfast has over seven years’ experience in Credit Control within the Natural Gas and Telecommunications Industry.

Clare Hiles has been appointed as PR Client Executive at ASG & Partners. Clare brings with her over three years of international experience, having worked across the communications industry. Stacey Rooney has been appointed Account Executive at ASG & Partners. Stacey brings with her over four and a half years of marketing experience in the healthcare industry. Moy Park has announced the appointment of Sian Land to the role of Chief Financial Officer. Sian will be responsible for leading the company’s finance, legal and IT teams.

Mike Dean has joined Jumpstart as Director of Sales & Marketing. He is responsible for managing client acquisition activities including field sales, marketing, partner development and inside sales. Neil Bailie has joined P2V Systems as Senior Infrastructure Consultant. Neil is responsible for design, installation and configuration of complex IT infrastructure deployments. Frank McKenna has been appointed Project Manager at P2V Systems. He will be responsible for the delivery of projects and Managed Services .



Craig McBurney has joined P2V Systems as Service Desk Level 2 Analyst. He will support the Managed Services customers by assisting 1st line Service Desk to resolve more difficult requests. Anthony McKibbin has been appointed Associate Director, Business Risk Services at Grant Thornton NI. Robbie Milliken has been appointed Corporate Finance Manager at Grant Thornton NI with over eight years’ experience in the Corporate and business banking industry.

Lisa Knipe has been appointed Group Tax Manager at Grant Thornton NI. Lisa is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a Qualified Chartered Tax Adviser with over 18 years’ experience. Abbey Insurance Brokers, now incorporating Open + Direct, has appointed Paul Hanna has Managing Director. He joined Abbey Insurance brokers over 10 years. Jeni McKelvey has been appointed to Personal Lines Director at Abbey Insurance. She has been at the company since 1992 and will now be responsible for all aspects of company operations.

Emily Paisley has been appointed as an Assistant Solicitor in the Commercial Litigation Department in Worthingtons Solicitors Belfast Office. Katie Buchanan has been appointed as an Assistant Solicitor in the Employment Department in Worthingtons Solicitors Belfast Office.   Rachel Toner has been appointed an Assistant Solicitor in the Commercial Department in Worthingtons Solicitors Belfast Office.



PHOTOCALL 1. Business in the Community has launched Activity Works, a new workplace-based campaign designed to support employers tackle the harmful effects of sustained sedentary behaviour. Pictured (from left to right): Jessica Perry, NICHS; Chris Conway, Translink; Lorraine Milne, Westfield Health; Amy Kieran, Business in the Community.

2. Philip Mills from Johnsons Coffee, Gillian Thomson from Action Cancer and Esther Jackson from White’s Oats are encouraging local shops, businesses and individuals across Northern Ireland to Paint The Town Pink this October for Action Cancer this October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.



3 3. Titanic Exhibition Centre’s Chief Executive Tim Husbands MBE and Laura Cowan are cueing Up for a sporting Year Two, with events including World Snooker Home Nations Series – Irish Open and Jamie Conlan’s SuperFlyweight Commonwealth Belt Defence already in the pipeline.

4. Irwin’s Bakery has secured a contract with Asda to produce a new range of Extra Special Muffins, which will be stocked in 280 Asda stores across Great Britain. Pictured are Chris Moore, National Account Manager for Irwin’s Bakery, left, with Asda Regional Buying Manager, Brian Conway, right.

5. Around 100 new jobs are to be created at a new McDonald’s restaurant at The Outlet in Banbridge. Pictured are local McDonald’s franchisee John McCollum and Business Manager Heather Thomas.


4 5

PHOTOCALL 6. Professor Marie McHugh (left), Dean of the Ulster University Business School shares the first anniversary achievements of the CME Group Foundation Financial Innovation Laboratory with US Consul General Daniel Lawton (second left), Kassie Davis (second right), Executive Director, CME Group Foundation and Alison Hamilton (right), Head of CME Group, Belfast.



8. Maxol has announced it has secured a contract with the Henderson Group to supply three new service stations. Pictured at Glenavy service station are Kevin Paterson, NI Retailer Manager for Maxol, Ron Whitten, Chief Finance Officer for the Henderson Group and Brian Donaldson, Chief Executive Officer of Maxol.


9 10

7. Larne entrepreneur Sam Marsden, Robert McConnell, Director CCP Gransden and Jim Erskine, Managing Director, CCP Gransden with the Velocity motorcycle, which Sam will drive in an attempt to break a world land speed record next year. CCP Gransden manufactured the super lightweight casing for the bike.

9. TEDxStormont is back, taking place on 17 September at the MAC in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Pictured from left are Eva Grosman, Curator, TEDxStormont, Richard Donnan, Head of Northern Ireland at Ulster Bank, the lead sponsor of TEDxStormont, AnnaMarie McAlinden, Director, Mills Selig and Junior Minister Alastair Ross ML. 10. Tughans has appointed five new trainee solicitors. Pictured from left, law graduates Kerry Doran, Pauline Walker, Gavin Walker, Rochelle Martin and James Tracey will now embark on a comprehensive two-year external and internal programme.



PHOTOCALL 11. Scott Higginson, Managing Director of Four Star Pizza in Carrick, along with team members Teofil-Stefan Sorban (left), Emma Gaw and store manager Mark Givens (right) serve up a celebratory pizza to mark the restaurant’s first birthday.


12. More than 100 senior business leaders attended an exclusive CBI breakfast briefing with the Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA, last monyh to discuss his vision for the NI economy. Pictured, from left, are David Gavaghan, CBI Chair, Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Michael Hall, EY.

13. Young Enterprise NI is to mark its 30-year anniversary with a fundraising dinner at the Culloden Estate and Spa on Friday 16 September. Jan Donaldson (Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Young Enterprise NI) with Jim Eastwood (Young Enterprise NI Ambassador and Vice President at Groupon UK & Ireland) launch the birthday celebrations.

14. Electric Ireland has won the energy contract to power The Merchant Hotel Pictured at The Merchant hotel is Alan Cunningham Customer Relationship Manager at Electric Ireland and Kevin Reilly, Procurement Manager at Beannchor Group.

15. Staff at law firm Arthur Cox have walked a combined distance equivalent to that between Belfast and Perth, Australia, in 100 days to raise money for charity as part of a worldwide challenge. Pictured are Samantha Moore, Matthew Howse and Gareth Planck, representatives from each of the three Arthur Cox teams that took part in the Global Corporate Challenge 2016.






PHOTOCALL 16. Helping to launch Opportunity Export at Craigavon Civic centre were, from left, Nicola Wilson, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Simon Devlin from Full Circle Management Solution, Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Garath Keating and Roger Wilson, Chief Executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.



18 19

18. Tourism Ireland has launched a £7m promotional campaign to boost late-season travel to Northern Ireland from around the world. Pictured are Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Emma Gorman, Tourism Ireland; and Brian Ambrose, Chairman of Tourism Ireland, at the launch of Tourism Ireland’s autumn campaign in Belfast.

19. Tim Moruzzi, Ulster University Business School and Programme Director, with Firstsource Belfast employee John McClenaghan, pictured with Fiona Murray, Human Resources. John is one of 280 employees worldwide studying for his Contact Centre Management Degree with the company.


20 OCTOBER 2016

17. First Minister Arlene Foster is pictured with Mivan owner Brian McConville, left, and Mivan CEO Neil Ward‎ on a visit to the fitout company.

20. Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist Richard Ramsey, guest speaker at the firmus energy briefing, joins Michael Scott, MD for firmus energy and Martin Collins from H&A Mechanical Services at the annual energy event.


PHOTOCALL 21. Launching Ulster Bank’s free ticket schemes for this year’s Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival are Ulster Bank Arts Ambassadors Siobhan McKenna and Trudi Cole.

22. Millmount Village is set to create up to 700 new homes in East Belfast. Pictured reviewing plans for the site are Conor Mulligan, Manging Director, Lagan Homes, Michael McCormick, Contracts Manager, Lagan Homes and Jonhston Logan, Site Manager, Lagan Homes.

21 23

23. Pictured at the Love Food Hate Waste event at Lurgan Market are Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Councillor Garath Keating, chef Jenny Bristow, Jennifer Cunningham and Kirsty Pinkerton from Council, Danielle McCormick from WRAP and Pamela Jordan and Richard Greer from RiverRidge Recycling.

24. Michelle Greeves is pictured alongside Bill WolseyAlderman Brian Kingston and Gordon McElroy, launching the Belfast First Manifesto.

25. Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Brian Kingston joins Nicola McAdam of Movie House Cinemas, Hollywood makeup artist Brian Kinney and founder of Titanic Creative Management Nuala Campbell in congratulating students on graduating from the first Titanic Creative Management Summer School.



24 25

PHOTOCALL 26. PwC is helping to give Ulster University students the competitive edge in the job market after signing up to support the EDGE Award. Pictured are Head of Employability at Ulster University, Shauna McCloy; Ulster University student, Andrew McFadden and Stephanie Gowdy, PwC Student Recruitment Senior Manager.




27. David Mulholland, Chief Executive, The Bar of Northern Ireland and David Wright, director, Office Agency at CBRE unveil plans for a new Mediation Centre for Northern Ireland at The Boat Building in Belfast.

28. Pictured at the recent Advanced Composites conference held at the Belfast NIACE centre. Front, Dr Scott King, General Manager, NIACE, back row, Matthew McCullough, Lead Designer, CCP Gransden, Noel Brown, Invest NI, Leslie Orr, ADS, Noel Bloomfield, Denroy, Tom Hitchings, NCC and Nigel Keen NCC.

29 30

29. From left Maeve Haughey, Digital Marketing Exective at Kestrel Foods Ltd, and Ann Woods, Product Development Manager, Kestrel Food Ltd. Forest Feast is to invest £100,000 in digital, as part of its commitment to growing the company’s brand,

30. IT company Zenith Networks are celebrating after delivering a successful IT move for NI4Kids, the specialist publishing company. Pictured are, from left, Gary Hamilton, Managing Director, NI4Kids, and Martin Lyons, Managing Director, Zenith Networks.




Canapés and cocktails The cream of the last month’s business events

Pictured at the launch are (L-R); Brendan Mooney, Kainos Group Plc; Mr. Ashok Songra and Dr. Suresh Tharma, 3fivetwo Group; Leona McAllister, Plotbox; Kevin McLoughlin, Partner Lead, EY Entrepreneur of the Year™; Pamela Flood, Presenter; Sean Duffy, Programme Director, EY Entrepreneur of the Year™; Rob Heron, EY Partner; Jim Wright, JMW Farms Ltd; Gareth Loye, M&M Contractors; and Eamon Donnelly, Uform.

New Italian job Ryanair has launched a new flight between Milan and Belfast last month. Pictured at the promotion of the new flight are Giacomo Cattaneo, Direttore Aviation SACBO, William Ralph Kells, Winterfell Tours, Emilio Bellingardi, Direttore Generale SACBO, Niamh Kinsella, Market Manager Tourism Ireland Italy and John Alborante, Sales & Marketing Manager Italy Ryanair.

Entrepreneur camp The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year TV programme – a six-part documentary series showcasing 24 of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs – has been launched on UTV. The series will be broadcast on UTV Northern Ireland every Monday night at 8pm from 26th September.

Renewable experts from around the world visit the Creggan Community Centre.

Energy experts

Among the delegates were Denise Johnston, Marian McKenna, and Ruth Johnston from the Bombardier occupational health department based in Belfast with Sandra Gordon, Cancer Focus NI.

Men’s health Resilience was the theme of the annual Cancer Focus Northern Ireland Men’s Health Conference held in Antrim.


Renewable energy and sustainability champion Action Renewables has played host to an international gathering of expert partners in the European-funded RECENT Project as they visited Derry/ Londonderry and examined best practice examples displayed by Creggan Community Centre. The RECENT Project (Renewable Community Empowerment in Northern Territories) is a European funded Northern Periphery and Arctic Area INTERREG Project which aims to empower rural communities in Northern Territories with resilient and energy efficient public infrastructure.


Food for thought

Agri-food for thought

Cook at Home Potato Gratin from Dunnes, produced by Lurganbased Avondale Foods, scooped the award in the Side Dish category of the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards 2016. The awards, hosted by Ballymaloe Celebrity Chef and cookery author Rachel Allen were held at the Round Room at the Mansion House, in Dublin on the 8th September.

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) not only had a key role in organising Europe’s largest animal science conference, 46 AFBI researchers also featured heavily throughout the programme of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP2016) conference, which recently took place in Belfast.

Pictured at the Irish Quality Food Awards are Helen Lyons, Irish Quality Food Awards; Colin Ferguson, Avondale Foods; John Hickey, Dunnes Stores; Lorraine Boyle, Dunnes Stores, Diane Christie, Avondale Foods and Ballymaloe Celebrity Chef and cookery author Rachel Allen.

AFBI sponsor representatives at EAAP 2016.

Business like Stefanos Loukakos, Director of the Small Medium Business team for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Facebook provided a keynote speech to over 800 members of the local business community at NI Chamber’s Annual Networking Conference and Business Showcase held in Belfast last month.

Pictured front left is Richard Smith, General Manager of Huhtamaki (Lurgan), centre is Huhtamaki Chief Executive Jukka Moisio and, right, Chairman Pekka Ala-Pietilä along with staff from the Lurgan plant.

Tidy packaging Pictured at the event (L-R) are: Justin Rush (Abacus); Ann McGregor (NI Chamber) and Stefanos Loukakos (Facebook).

The global bosses of Finnish packaging manufacturer Huhtamaki were in Northern Ireland last month to visit the company’s production facilities at Lurgan.

Smeg pop-up Hundreds of guests were treated to a dazzling dining experience at the Smeg Pop-up Restaurant which featured on this year’s Hillsborough International Oyster Festival programme. Local chefs Derek Patterson from The Plough, Karl Banks from The Hillside, and Andy Rea from the Mourne Seafood Bar were joined with a special appearance from top chef Richard Corrigan, as well as the Flying Chefs from Festival sponsor Turkish Airlines.


Claire and John Leckey Bodel.

Alistair Pollock, Karen McAvoy, and Jago Bret.

Ruth and Robert Wilson.



Tech talk

By Adrian Weckler

New Yoga tablet-laptop copies your paper notes into digital text Halo keyboard compared to 91 characters per minute on a normal tablet screen. That’s not quite as much as (Lenovo’s claimed) 169 characters on a 12-inch traditional keyboard, but it’s a hell of a lot faster than one might normally expect from such a surface.


enovo is hoping that the concept is attractive enough to get people interested in its new £499 Yoga Book 2-in-1 device, which comes in both Android and Windows versions. When closed, the 10-inch machine looks like a super-thin laptop, measuring just under a centimetre thick. But opened up, it’s like a double tablet with what appears to be two 10-inch screens. However one of the screens is in fact a hard keyboard that doubles as a notation transcriber. You can put any piece of paper against it, start scribbling on it with any pen, and the Yoga Book will record that handwriting as digital text. (You can also write or draw directly on the surface using the digital pen that comes in the box.) Otherwise, it acts as a hard keyboard (Lenovo calls it a ‘Halo’ keyboard) that performs as an advanced version of typing on a tablet screen keyboard.


The machine is being aimed chiefly at those between 15 and 30 years of age who need something for regular (if light) productivity purposes and who have become used to typing for extended periods on hard surfaces. According to Lenovo, up to 40pc of college students now type on tablet screens in some part of their working day. “They’re not afraid of the hard typing experience and they love the form factor that such a skinny device gives them,” said Jeff Meredith, Lenovo’s general manager for Android and Chrome. Lenovo says that it’s been working on this gadget for three years, one of the longest gestation periods it has taken for any mobile product in the group. One of the reasons it has taken so long to release is that the company says it needed to get the keyboard’s efficiency up above existing accuracy levels of current ‘hard’ keyboards. In this regard, Lenovo claims that typical users bang out 151 characters per minute on its

Part of the reason for this is that Lenovo has spent a lot of time making trying to make sure typing errors are cut out. Its Halo keyboard ‘learns’ from your typing usage patterns. If you often tap on the edge of a certain key, for example, it will learn and – over time – credit you with having tapped that key. It also has some predictive typing technology built in which is calculated to speed things up. While Lenovo has mostly left the stock OS on the Android version alone, It has added the ability to open four different windows on the desktop screen. These can be used with most apps: Lenovo says that 734 of the top 1,000 Android apps are compatible (although not Snapchat or Netflix). Internally, there’s 64GB of storage which is expandable via an SD memory card slot. Both Android and Windows versions of the device use Intel processors, although these stop some way short of laptop-grade Core i3 or i5 models. The Yoga Book has a claimed battery life of up to 15 hours, which can probably be discounted down to around 10 or 11 hours with some media use. It has an older Micro-USB (typical in Android devices) charging connection, although it charges relative quickly with


Four of the best... smart watches 1. Apple Watch (from £259 from If you’re an iPhone user, this is the logical choice. With the cheapest ‘Sport’ strap, it comes in two sizes, a 38mm (£259) and a 42mm (£299) watch face. The Watch is very comfortable to wear, synchronises with many of the apps you’d want and uses Siri voice commands so you can search or reply to texts without touching your phone. It also has lots of straps to choose from. And as soon as Apple Pay arrives in Ireland, you can use it to buy things in shops. The Watch needs to be tethered to your iPhone for most functions.

2. Samsung Gear S2 (£279 from Samsung) Samsung’s smartwatch is one of the neatest, lightest, most compact models out there. As such, it has been aimed largely at fitness users. However, it gives you pretty much all of your messaging notifications like other smartwatches. The 1.2-inch round watch face has a rotating outer dial that can be used to control some functions and is pleasing to use. Curiously, Samsung declined to adopt Android Wear and has its own Tizen operating system. Bear in mind that the company is expected to soon launch a newer S3 version.

3. Huawei Watch (£289 from Currys) Huawei believes that people want a nice leather strap with a smartwatch. This is one reason why its Watch costs a little more than many of its Android Wear competitors. (If leather isn’t your thing, a stainless steel version has recently been launched for a premium price.) That said, the result is fairly elegant. This is just as well as the 1.4inch watch face itself is fairly chunky and thick. As with its competitors, the Watch can run thousands of apps from Google’s Android Wear store.

the 8,500mAh battery reloading 50pc of its tank in 50 minutes. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB 2 port on board. Arguably, the Yoga Book’s biggest advantages are its slim form factor and its price. When closed, this looks like a


4. Tag Heuer Connected (£1,100 from Goldsmiths) While smartwatches appeal to people unaccustomed to wearing watches, this Android model is aimed squarely at those into their timepieces. With a titanium bezel and lugs keeping it together, the 46mm face is bigger than you’ll find on most smartwatches. This means it’s better for glancing at emails and other messages. And Tag Heuer says anyone who buys a Connected watch will be eligible to get a replacement special edition Carrera Calibre 5 (automatic) movement in two years (for an additional £1,000-plus, mind).

really svelte machine that’s simple to pop in and out of a small bag. It’s also aggressively cheap when compared to potential rivals such as the iPad Pro (from €699 without a keyboard and pen) a Microsoft Surface Pro (from €879 without a keyboard) and Samsung’s Tab Pro S.

It’s still a challenging sell to pitch a hard keyboard devices as a main productivity machine. But Lenovo is being clever here in the demographic it is choosing. And the price could be a determining factor. The Yoga Book will be available in September.


London Calling! Choose from up to 80 flights a week


The five best Portuguese hotels From stylish urban stays in Lisbon to family-friendly rooms on the Algarve

Almalusa, Lisbon

AlmaLusa, Lisbon Lisbon is on the rise as one of Europe’s must-visit cities and AlmaLusa is one of its new wave of smart, boutique

boltholes. With 28 rooms set in an historic 18th century building on the Praca do Municipio, the look here is classic but contemporary with a nod to the building’s

rich heritage. All of Lisbon’s highlights are within easy reach and walks along the banks of the nearby Tagus River beckon.

Martinhal Cascais Family Hotel, Cascais A stay at Martinhal has become a winning formula for families visiting the Algarve who are reluctant to sacrifice style for child-friendly surroundings. In March it opened a second outpost in the seaside town of Cascais, just 20 minutes outside Lisbon. Its 84 rooms and villas are decked out in its signature tasteful, bright interiors, while there are two pools, a spa and a huge kids’ club.

Pestana CR7 Hotel, Funchal


Quinta de Marinha, Rua do Clube, Cascais, Portugal (00 351 507 788; martinhal. com). Doubles from €200 per night B&B.

Fly from Belfast City Airport to London City and London Heathrow


Pestana CR7 Funchal, Funchal Football fans take note: CR7 is Madeira-born Cristiano Ronaldo’s new venture in collaboration with Pestana Hotels and it’s even taken the world’s most famous footballer’s nickname as its moniker. The hotel, which opened in July, has a rooftop cocktail bar and has brought a youthful sizzle to the Funchal scene. Rather than just lolling by the pool, guests staying in one of the hotel’s 49 rooms can also channel their inner Ronaldo and sign up for one of its specially devised Get in Shape fitness programmes. Av Sá Carneiro, Praca do Mar, Funchal, Madeira (00 351 218 442 001; Doubles from €180 B&B.

Belfast City Airport smashes international passenger record Over 200,000 passengers use international routes as Belfast City Airport surpasses 2015 figure Katy Best


eorge Best Belfast City Airport has smashed its annual international passenger record almost four months before the end of the year.

The end of August saw the airport beat the previous annual high of 171,270, set last year, with the 2016 figure having now climbed to 200,977. At the same stage in September last year, 128,709 passengers had arrived and departed on the airport’s international routes.  

Sobreiras Alentejo Country Hotel, Alentejo

Sobreiras Alentejo Country Hotel, Alentejo The log facades of the recently opened Sobreiras Alentejo Country Hotel echo the cork oak forests surrounding the 22-room Sobreiras Country Hotel in a quiet, rural pocket of the Alentejo. Designed by Lisbon-based Future Architecture Thinking, the eight single-storey, whitewashed buildings of the hotel are rooted in the textures of the landscape and have a sparse, modern look. Here the unspoilt landscape takes centre stage with farreaching views to the east and you can take in the Serra de Grândola mountain range from the infinity pool. Herdade do Vale das Sobreiras, Mosqueiroes, Grandola, Portugal (00 351 269 109 930; sobreiras. pt). Doubles from €85 per night B&B.

Pine Cliffs, Algarve Pine Cliffs, A Luxury Collection Resort, is one of beachside Portugal’s great family-centric resorts and it overlooks a stretch of pristine sand. At the start of July it unveiled a €50m renovation that has not only seen each of the hotel’s 217 guestrooms redesigned and public spaces remodelled but also the addition of 148 completely new clifftop Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites and a new spa. Pinhal do Concelho, Albufeira, Portugal (00 351 289 500 300; Doubles from €150 B&B, and Ocean Suites from €230 B&B.


Over 150,000 passengers have taken advantage of Belfast City Airport’s sunshine routes in 2016, which now includes Alicante as well as Malaga, Faro and Palma, while Brussels Airlines has recorded consecutive monthly growth since the launch of its five times weekly Brussels flights from Belfast City Airport in March this year. KLM, meanwhile, has carried over 55,000 passengers since the airline began its Amsterdam Schiphol service from Belfast City in May 2015. Katy Best, Commercial and Marketing Manager at Belfast City Airport, commented: “To reach the milestone of over 200,000 international passengers almost four months before the end of the year is fantastic news for the airport and for the city of Belfast, and provides a major boost for Northern Ireland tourism. “The record passenger figures reflect our plans to significantly grow our European route network and are further evidence of the public demand for flights to key European destinations from an airport so close to Belfast city centre. We have received fantastic feedback on our new routes to Brussels and Amsterdam with our partners Brussels Airlines and KLM, both of whom have enjoyed growth in seat sales. Our sunshine routes have proved as popular as ever this year and, with the addition in June of Alicante to our flights to Malaga, Faro and Palma, it’s been a really strong summer for Aer Lingus at Belfast City Airport.” Belfast City Airport’s breaking of its annual international passenger record follows news last month that the airport has been shortlisted for a World Routes Marketing Award, one of the most prestigious aviation marketing awards in the world. The airport has also been ranked as the sixth most convenient airport in the world, and the most convenient airport in the UK and Ireland, in a recent study conducted by The Daily Telegraph.



Fan engagement: from match day to everyday By Geoff Wilson and David Fowler


ngaging your fan base and enhancing their experience when they are at the stadium on match day has been a challenge for many sports clubs to get to grips with. However as most clubs slowly find their feet, the new battleground of fan engagement is the period between match days. Progressive sports clubs are shaping a holistic fan engagement strategy as they push beyond the match day in search of the “every day”. They recognise that fan engagement must play a central role in their overall growth strategy and that a balance of activities reflecting each of the below four strategies is key. They also recognise that every fan engagement touchpoint represents an opportunity to collect data that can drive further value to the club, to fans and to sponsors.

1. Host Fans Non-match days provide opportunities to “host” fans at your venue and make them feel part of the club by giving them an intimate experience.

4. Enhance the live experience 2. Connect Fans Fans are tribal and want to feel connected to fellow fans as well as the club itself. Facilitating these connections is critical to an everyday fan engagement strategy. Top sports clubs are becoming more like media houses producing lots of content to fulfil and satisfy the craving of fans for information on players and team news.

3. Bring fans closer to the live action Engaging those fans who are not in the stadium on match day is a key challenge for most sports clubs, particularly since live content rights can be tied-up with central media rights partners. Clubs have become more creative in recent years with the development of behind-the-scenes content (such as tunnel cams and creatively deploying Go Pro cameras).

For now at least, the live experience is at the core of the value proposition for sports clubs. Empty stands lead to a flat atmosphere for the players and those watching at home. Therefore, this must remain the cornerstone of a clubs fan engagement activities. For many sports clubs, fan engagement rightly begins with understanding the fan journey and ensuring “pain points” are addressed.

Engaging fans from one match day to the next It’s not easy to go from match day to every day but hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought to bring your fans closer to your club and reduce your reliance on the match day experience.

Worthingtons hit the fairway


orthingtons Solicitors once again sponsored the closing competition of Bangor Golf Club’s tourism week held in August. “The weather was kind to us, the golf wasn’t bad and a great day was had by all,” Celia Worthington said. She’s pictured, far left, after the golf with, from second left, Nikki McConnell, Nichala McBride, Stephen McBride and Huw Worthington.


SUBSCRIPTION OFFER Dine FREE at Malmaison with Ulster Business

Malmaison Brasserie on Victoria Street provides a perfect setting for business lunch or dinner. The surroundings are unique and stylish and can offer allocated booths to you and your clients for seclusion to conduct your meeting. Coupled with iconic dishes prepared with a modern twist and served with passion and personality as well as a mouth watering wine list, you will certainly impress your guests. Malmaison use local ingredients carefully selected by the Head Chef. This infusion of bistro classics with locally inspired

cooking, creates a very memorable dining experience. As a business destination, Malmaison Belfast also offers two stylish meeting rooms with wow-factor as standard. Your meeting or private event should be pure theatre with absolutely no dramas. Our team are dedicated to providing amazing hospitality and putting the show back into your business. For more information or to make an enquiry, please call Lydia Smith on 028 9022 0204 or email:

$ Title:

Subscribe online at quoting ‘Malmaison Offer’ or complete and return this form and a cheque for £27.50 (made payable to Independent News & Media NI) to: Ulster Business Subscriptions - 2nd Floor, Belfast Telegraph House, Clarendon Dock, 33 Clarendon Road, Belfast BT1 3BG. Or call subscriptions on: 90264102



First Name:

1. A lunch voucher will be posted to subscribers on receipt of full subscription fee.


2. The voucher will entitle two guests to a three-course set lunch Monday to Friday.

Delivery Address:

3. The offer excludes all drinks and beverages. 4. Advance booking is required. 5. Bookings cannot be made during the month of December.

Postcode: Contact Number: Email:

6. This offer is only applicable to new Ulster Business subscribers.

Signature: Date:


Uncovering the 9-5

John McLean is pictured with Shauna McRandal, a Primary 7 pupil at St Patrick’s Primary School in Holywood, putting the finishing touches to Fold’s 40th anniversary cake.

our customer offering. The involvement of staff and customers is uppermost in our thoughts. We’re delighted with the ideas received from a recent workshop involving 50 staff from both organisations.  

12.30pm The SMT runs through our recent fundraising programme supporting Alzheimer’s Society, Fold’s nominated charity. We reflect on a recent visit by the First Minister Arlene Foster to our Donovan Fold in East Belfast and on Minister Paul Givan performing ‘sod cutting’ duties at our Rathgill family housing scheme in Bangor. We are building close to 200 social and private houses in Bangor complete with a special built park leisure area and retails units. 

1.30pm Name: John McLean Position: Chief Executive of Fold Housing Association

7.00am Holly, our King Charles, gets a run out first thing while the household awakens. Our kids will often get some grief over not walking the dog first thing, however the truth is it’s hard to beat that half hour for clarity of thought.

8.00am I start my day with a business partner appointment along with Fold’s Director of Development. This is a chance to review new business prospects, sites for houses, designs, planning applications and the viability of new schemes. Where possible, we are now designing community, employment and leisure facilities in all our larger projects.  We have expanded our remit beyond the core housing offering to support more sustainable and shared communities. This year Fold will have had 800 homes under construction across Northern Ireland. That’s a capital investment of over £80m.  

9.00am My assistant Elaine, a lady with exceptional organisational skills, reviews

my diary with me and runs through the next Board meeting schedule.

9.30am I meet with the Housing and Finance Directors as well as the Maintenance Manager to review a business case for funding PV solar panels. We are seeking to reduce fuel poverty among our most vulnerable customers. The solar panels will help 2,500 tenants and residents to cut energy bills over the next 20 years. We are keen to do all we practically can to support families and single people to sustain their tenancies.                    

10.30am Top of the agenda for our Senior Management Team (SMT) meeting is the proposed merger between Fold and Helm Housing Associations. This will see the two associations come together, supporting over 33,000 customers, managing 14,000 properties, with a combined turnover of £70m. Together we believe we can increase capacity to build more houses and expand

catch up over lunch with Fold’s Chairperson Diana Fitzsimons to cover the board agenda and the latest progress on merger plans. Diana is a hands-on Chairperson, keen to be kept informed on key issues and to impart her considerable knowledge and experience.  

2.30pm It’s the most important appointment of the day – afternoon tea with tenants to hear first hand their experience of living in Fold sheltered accommodation. I greatly value invitations to come and listen and enjoy the craic. Our older generation is a fountain of knowledge and perfectly able to point out areas for enhancing services, value and comfort. We encourage young people to come in and share life experiences with our older tenants as part of Duke of Edinburgh assignments and school intergenerational programmes. Recently we had primary school children teaching their elders how to use i-Pads and laptops.          

4.30pm Finally it’s the quarterly progress meeting with Fold’s Accord partners, Alpha, Habinteg and Triangle Housing Associations. This is a procurement consortium leveraging its purchasing power to secure efficiencies and best value in design, construction and corporate goods and services.

A little local knowledge can go a very long way

The Pneumatic Tyre invented by John Dunlop, Belfast 1887

Insurance Brokers & Risk Advisors

Ulster Business - October 2016  

Ulster Business

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you