Edinburgh-based Beeline PR specialises in:

Public Relations | Crisis and Reputation Management | Brand Building

We can:

create maximum impact through strategic communications

raise the awareness of your brand or organisation

support your business objectives

identify and communicate with target audiences

provide white-label services for other creative agencies

 

About Beeline PR

Debbie Byers

CIPR

Debbie was Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in Scotland 2009/10 and also scooped the CIPR Award for Best PR Consultant under the age of 30 in Scotland in 1998.

Debbie Byers, Director

Debbie Byers established Beeline PR in September 2011.  The independent agency works with corporate clients and consumer brands as well as other creative agencies looking for strategic PR and business development support.  Services include brand building, media relations, business-to-business marketing support, crisis communications and reputation management, stakeholder and political engagement and social media strategy.

Each client is provided with a strategic tailored approach to both its campaign planning and the dedicated team selected to implement the activity.  Beeline PR is affiliated to a number of organisations and consultants to create positive working relationships for the benefit of the client.   

With almost two decades of experience, Debbie worked for leading PR consultancies in Edinburgh, London and Glasgow before establishing Beeline PR in September 2011.

She is a business degree graduate and the past Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in Scotland representing its 750-strong membership from the private, public and charitable sectors.

Debbie has fostered a broad experience across consumer, business-to-business and corporate campaigns as well as issue-led media relations working across all sectors from financial and professional services to food and drink. 

She is a Trustee and Chair of The Polar Academy charity.


Peter Ranscombe, Consultant and Corporate Writer

Peter Ranscombe, Consultant 

Peter spent nine years as a journalist with The Scotsman newspaper, including three years writing for and helping to edit the professional pages - such as Science & Environment, Education & Learning, and Law & Legal Affairs - and six years on the business desk, writing about life science companies, technology firms and university spin-outs. His articles have also appeared in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Herald, the Sunday Post and the Sunday Times.

As the editor of BQ Scotland and a commissioned corporate copywriter, Peter writes across a broad range of subjects from entrepreneurs, investment finance, renewable energy, technology and law.  

Peter holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in physics from the University of St Andrews and a master's degree in journalism studies, awarded jointly by Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Strathclyde.


Colin Hutchison, Consultant on Tiso Group

Colin Hutchison, Consultant

Before he could barely walk, Colin was on family trips that explored the beaches and remoter parts of Scotland’s highlands and islands. A few decades later, the Edinburgh-based PR and writer has more than 15 years’ experience, including within the sport and adventure tourism sectors.

A keen alpine skier, kayaker, mountain-biker, climber and hiker, he has written extensively about Scotland and the great outdoors for the national and specialist media.  A former outdoor adventure columnist for the Sunday Herald, he has also co-authored / contributed to several international travel guidebooks about Scotland, including Footprint, Rough Guide Highlands & Islands and Frommer’s Best Walking Trips in Scotland. 

Making Colin the perfect candidate to support Beeline PR on the PR account for Scotland’s leading outdoor adventure clothing and equipment retailer, Tiso - as well as the charitable initiatives it supports including, The Polar Academy.

Rosemary Gallagher

Rosemary Gallagher, Consultant 

Rosemary has enjoyed a career in media and marketing spanning more than two decades, including senior roles in journalism and communications.  Her specialisms include professional services, food and drink and parliamentary affairs.  Rosemary is a content writer for Beeline PR and also supports on securing national media placement across a number of clients.  She is also a freelance journalist for The Times, Sunday Times and Business Insider.

Heidi Cordner
Heidi Cordner, Social Media Manager

Heidi Cordner creates engaging content for the social media platforms of Beeline PR’s clients.  She spent many years promoting adventure tourism in-house at VisitScotland and also worked for Scotland’s leading outdoor adventure retail specialist and Beeline PR client, Tiso.
 
A recent graduate of Digital Mums, Heidi is the creator of Helensburgh Living, which promotes the best places to eat and drink, events and festivals to showcase the towns incredible houses, gardens and people.  Heidi also manages the social media for her popular family business, Cruise Loch Lomond .
Sarah Howden

Sarah Howden, Consultant

Sarah is a PR consultant and journalist with more than 15 years’ experience in media, PR, marketing and events for retail and luxury brands.

Having worked in some of Scotland’s top PR consultancies, she specialises in creative results-driven multi-media campaigns spanning media relations, marketing, digital and social communications.

Sarah also spent several years working for the Scotsman Publications as a columnist, lifestyle journalist and magazine editor.  She is currently a beauty columnist for the Edinburgh Evening News, a regular contributor to Scottish national glossy, i-on, and continues to write for publications including the Press & Journal, the Scottish Sun, Tie the Knot Scotland and Glamour.com. 

How we can help

As a small PR business with a carefully managed portfolio of clients, Beeline PR can offer senior level support and commitment at all times.  In addition to working with our own clients, we provide a white-label service to other PR consultancies and creative agencies that need support driving busy projects or assistance with securing new business.

Current clients

Click on the client logo to find out more

Beeline PR client experience has also included:

Gardens Galore
Graham's The Family Dairy
Nick Nairn Cook School
Rare Whisky 101
Keenan Recycling
Turcan Connell

Our partners

Beeline PR works with a number of partners to pollinate creative ideas while project managing campaigns for its clients:

Photography/Video
Photography/Video
Digital/Social Media
Digital/social media
Advertising
Advertising
Direct Marketing
Direct Marketing
Public Affairs
Public Affairs
Contract Publishing
Contract Publishing

Recent News from Beeline PR

6 July 2018

Scottish Polar Explorer Honoured for Services to Education

Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and founder of the charity, The Polar Academy that helps transform the life-chances of ‘invisible’ youths in schools, has been recognised (5 July) for his contribution to education with an Honorary Doctorate from Abertay University.  

Bo’ness based Craig, who in 2013 established his charity with the aim of using exploration to positively transform the lives of youths affected by crushed self confidence, low self esteem and anxiety, was one of three honorary graduates and among more than 750 students who received awards at the ceremony held in the Caird Hall in Dundee. 

49 year-old Craig (pictured), who left school at 16 to join the military with minimal qualifications, took the opportunity to impart some sage advice to the assembled young graduates. He told them:  “I was 12 years old when (inspired by the exploits of Captain Scott), I decided to become a polar explorer. 

“Unfortunately, being a polar explorer is not part of any career choice at high school or university. I had to work extremely hard for many years to eventually succeed.

“Along the way, I met many people who told me what I couldn’t do, or who said that what I wanted to do was just too difficult. You (graduates) will also regularly meet these people in life. I’ve always found it best to deal with these people by thanking them for their ‘terrific’ advice, look them straight in the eye, smile, shake their hand … and then disregard everything they’ve told you and stick to your original plan!”

Craig, who as part of his work with The Polar Academy has spoken on RRS Discovery and to students at the Dundee Academy of Sport, added: “I’m extremely proud to receive this Honorary Doctorate from Abertay University and hopefully it reflects the tremendous ongoing work of The Polar Academy.  

“I firmly believe that with perseverance and resilience, you can achieve anything in life.  Over 30 years ago I was being told by a guidance teacher to forget my dream of being an explorer. Yet I’ve never given up. Three decades later and with the help of many supporters and charitable donors, including Tiso Group and Cornhill Building Services, I am able to help transform the lives of young people, nurture the self-confidence to safely explore in the Arctic and ensure they return to inspire their peers.” 

Thursday’s graduation ceremony also rounded-off a year of success for Abertay, which has seen the university named number one in Europe for computer games education by the prestigious Princeton Review and ranked top modern university in Scotland by the Guardian University Guide.

www.thepolaracademy.org

28 June 2018

There’s a Buzz about town as inspirational speakers’ agency launches in Edinburgh

Agency with a difference launched to represent speakers committed to inspiring social, cultural and behavioural changes across the globe

A new business has been launched in Edinburgh with the aim of inspiring audiences and driving tangible changes in communities and society.
 
Speaker Buzz, which exists to promote speakers who have genuine human-interest stories that inspire and motivate others, is being launched by two Scottish sisters with well-established careers in the communications and technology sectors.
 
Located in Edinburgh, and operating across the UK and internationally, Speaker Buzz is the brainchild of Debbie Byers, who has worked in the communications industry for more than two decades, and Carol Graham, who enjoyed an almost 20-year career with the global technology giant, IBM.
 
Speaker Buzz will differentiate itself from other speaker agencies by only promoting people who want to make a positive social, culture or behavioural change in society, while also focusing on health and wellbeing.
 
It will represent individuals who have achieved something extraordinary and who are changing people’s attitudes and lives – giving Speaker Buzz its tag line: ‘inspiration with impact’. It is actively targeting organisations interested in developing the minds and emotions of its workforce, clients, delegates, members or students.
 
Debbie Byers, Speaker Buzz director, said: “Having been fortunate enough to have listened to hundreds of motivational speakers during my PR career, I was more and more conscious of the difference between the truly inspirational speakers, who motivated me to take action and change things around me, and those who are often just going through the motions to pick up their fee. Carol and I wanted to create a place that is exclusively for those in the former category, which is why we have launched Speaker Buzz to showcase the passion and talent of some truly extraordinary people.
 
“Speaker Buzz also recognises that employers increasingly understand that the wellbeing of individuals is of huge importance in the modern world in which we operate. The corporate world is now much more aware and thoughtful about the needs of its workforce, but more can always be done. People need to look after the mental and emotional wellbeing of their employees if they want to grow their businesses in a sustainable way.”
 
Speaker Buzz has already signed up a number of clients to be ready for its launch. Clients include: 
 
  • Mollie Hughes, who in May 2017 became the youngest woman (aged 26) in the world to summit Mount Everest from both the south and north sides;
  • Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living Polar Explorer and founder of The Polar Academy charity – the toughest youth programme in Europe;
  • Kylie Reid, the founder of EGG (formerly Edinburgh Gossip Girls), a female community supporting individuals and local businesses;
  • Alister Gray, the founder of Mindful Talent – a global leadership coaching organisation using mindfulness and meditation to cause a positive behavioural change;
  • Stuart Sandeman, a coach at Mindful Talent and a trained Transformational Breath®. facilitator promoting conscious-connected breathing.
Mountaineer and motivational speaker, Mollie Hughes said: “Being lucky enough to travel to some of the world’s most remote and exciting environments, I’m keen to share my experiences and insights with others in the hope that I can inspire people in their own lives. 
 
“I want to show people that they can achieve absolutely anything with the right mix of determination, self-belief and team work. I’m also interested in how controlling fear and resilience can play an integral part in all of our lives – whether that be on a business or a personal level.
 
“I love giving talks to diverse audiences and seeing the impact this can have on people of all ages and from all backgrounds. I recently gave a TED Talk during the TEDx Youth conference in Glasgow and a two-day workshop for a business in Barcelona and was heartened by the feedback I received.
 
“Working with Debbie and Carol at Speaker Buzz is opening up new doors to me to deliver talks across the world and is giving me the chance to touch the lives of more people than ever before.”
 
Debbie Byers will continue to run her successful Edinburgh-based PR agency, Beeline PR, alongside Speaker Buzz, while Carol Graham, who was awarded the prestigious 'Best of IBM' award in 2017 for her achievements and contributions, has chosen to leave the industry to focus exclusively on launching and growing Speaker Buzz with her sister.
 
Speaker Buzz is based in the ‘Spaces’ office development in Lochrin Square in Edinburgh’s main business district.

24 June 2018

Ventient Energy gives financial backing to the opening of the new Sheiling landmark in Argyll

- The President of Ireland sends special message -

Onshore wind generation firm Ventient Energy threw its support behind a newly created landmark, unveiled on the site of its Beinn Ghlas wind farm in Argyll, commissioned by the original landowner.
 
Sam Macdonald, who owned the land overlooking Loch Etive, commissioned Scottish sculptor and public artist David Wilson to design and build the ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’.  The Deirdre and Naoise story was a particular favourite of Sam’s late wife Evelyn and is one of the most significant early stories of Irish history.
 
Edinburgh-headquartered Ventient Energy contributed funds to the unveiling ceremony of the Sheiling as part of its commitment to supporting local projects and communities around the locations of its wind farms.
 
The sheiling – a Gaelic word for a hut, or collection of huts, once common in wild and lonely places in the hills and mountains – was officially unveiled at a ceremony on 23 June 2018 attended by Michael Russell MSP and Mark Hanniffy, the Consul General of Ireland to Scotland, along with more than 100 guests and local dignitaries.
 
The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins sent this message of support as he was unable to attend the ceremony: “The tragic tale of the two doomed lovers is one of the great tales of an Ruraiocht, the Ulster Cycle, a mythic arc that is the shared inheritance of the peoples of Scotland and Ireland.  There is perhaps no place on our islands more representative of that shared inheritance than Argyll, once the home of the ancient Gaelic Kingdom of Dal Riada.  It was there that Cu Chulainn, the warrior-hero of the Ulaid, was said to have learned the arts of war, and it was there that Deirdrie sought sanctuary with Naoise and his brothers Arden and Ainle.
 
“I am so pleased that a magnificent memorial will now rest forever on Beinn Ghlas, not far from Gleann Èite, the place Deirdre and Naoise were said to have found a moment of peace.  May it stand as a monument, not only to the common past of the peoples of Scotland and Ireland, but to the shared destiny of our two ancient countries.” 
 
The sheiling, situated near one of the turbines on the Ventient Energy wind farm, has the appearance of being on the site for 1,000 years due to its historic features and looks across the stunning Scottish landscape to where Deirdre and Naoise lived in the 7th C AD
 
Sam’s late wife Evelyn Day, who was originally from County Waterford and attended Belfast Arts School and then London Arts School, loved the story of Deirdre and Naoise.  She was delighted to find out that Sam Macdonald’s father Neil was a fan of the story but disappointed that many other people she met in Argyll were not aware of it. 
 
The story, which links Ireland with Scotland, was first featured in the Glenmasan Manuscript which is held in the National Library in Edinburgh. It is the 780th anniversary of the manuscript in June and Michael Russell MSP is also involved in that celebration.
 
Scott Mackenzie, CEO of Ventient Energy, said: “We’re delighted to support Sam Macdonald in creating the stunning ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’. Its creation is being celebrated by the entire community and is something that can be visited and enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield, including Ireland.
 
“The Beinn Ghlas windfarm has been in operation since May 1999 and has been owned by Zephyr, now part of the Ventient Energy portfolio, since 2004.  The business is managing 12 windfarms across Scotland and is the third largest generator of onshore wind energy in the UK.
 
“We are committed to giving back to communities where our wind farms are located and to supporting a wide range of local projects. The Sheiling is just one example of a range of projects we fund and support.”
 
Sam Macdonald said the stories preserved largely through oral tradition are from a time when “an aristocratic warrior class dominated”. He added that they “are characterised by dramatic stories of fighting and adventure on the part of the chiefs”.
 
He said Deirdre's powerful story with its “elements of lust, treachery and ultimate death” is vividly told. He added that while one may question whether the characters in the story ever existed, recent research into place names in the North Lorn area of Argyll raised the idea that perhaps Deirdre, Naoise and his brothers Arden and Ainle were real and did reside in Glen Etive - as his father had said - given the number of place names that memorialise them in the landscape.
 
In raising the Sheiling for Deirdre and her lover Naoise, Sam Macdonald hopes to revitalise the stories and introduce visitors to the subsequent development in history which led to the establishment of the Irish Kingdom of Dalriada, including most of Argyll and its islands. He said this might also reinforce the strong social and cultural ties that link the people of the west Highlands with their Irish neighbours across the water.
 
The Sheiling also features the statue of Deirdre and Naoise that was originally created by the Glasgow School of Art graduate Fiona McLeod for Scotland’s National Gardening Show held in Strathclyde Park in 1997. This statue has been in Sam Macdonald’s gardens since the show closed, having attracted more than 30,000 visitors.

20 June 2018

New Award on the Menu for Innovative Scottish Food and Drink Ideas

Food and drink entrepreneurs and companies with exciting new product ideas invited to enter the inaugural Guy & Co-creation® Award

A new competition and award has been launched to help innovative Scottish food and drink businesses turn their great idea into a winning brand.

Set up by Edinburgh creative and research agency Guy & Co, the 2018 Guy & Co-creation® Award has been developed to support Scotland’s flourishing food and drink industry by recognising innovative ideas with potential and promoting the importance of branding.

From 21st June until 31st October 2018, businesses will be able to submit entries for the award, with the winning company receiving a comprehensive go-to-market prize package worth more than £65,000, including a consumer-validated brand identity, packaging and sell-in materials from Guy & Co. 

The award is open to Scottish entrepreneurs and food and drink businesses with a new product idea in development – this includes new ranges of existing brands but excludes extensions of current ranges (unless sufficiently innovative). 

Candidate businesses should not only be able to demonstrate a winning product idea but also have a clear business plan including route to market and production capability. The full criteria for entries is available at www.guyco.co.uk/award 

Guy & Co will evaluate the entries in November to assess the rigour of the innovation, both from a strategic and commercial standpoint. The judging panel will include the former chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, Paul McLaughlin, who brings more than 25 years’ industry experience, from global giants like Mars and Coca-Cola to great Scottish companies like Scotty Brand. 

Shortlisted entries will then be consumer tested to assess the end user’s reaction to the product and the likelihood of success. The winner of the award will be announced in December 2018.

The full package of services supplied by Guy & Co, which will be carried out in the first half of 2019, includes brand planning; brand proposition and architecture development; consumer testing of brand identity concepts; packaging design & artwork; and development of sell-in materials, including a brand website. Assistance with PR strategy is also included from Guy & Co’s public relations partner, Beeline PR, with supporting financial advisory from a Chartered Accountant partner, covering areas such as business planning, investor-ready support and funding advice.

David Guy from Guy & Co said: “Scotland’s food and drink industry is world class and has an ambition to grow its value to £30bn by 2030*. As an agency we are keen to give something back in a way we believe will add value to an entrepreneur or SME with a great new food or drink idea.

“We know many SMEs often omit the same passion and energy that goes into their business planning in branding, where they are overly focussed on perfecting the product rather than defining its benefits and positioning. That omission can be costly, with an estimated 85% of new product launches failing.**

“As Guy & Co grows, we’d like to help invest in exciting young ideas that maybe don’t have the time or resource to be robustly tested with target consumers, ideas that deserve the support of a strong brand identity when going to market. Launching a new product is challenging and ultra-competitive so the goal is to validate the winner’s brand proposition through rapid cycles of learning with target consumers, effectively de-risking taking their idea to market.”

Guy & Co is an award-winning creative & research agency based in Edinburgh who work on new-chip to blue-chip UK and global clients.

Scottish food and drink clients include: ACTIPH water, Border Biscuits, Albert Bartlett potatoes, Scotty Brand produce, Smokehead Islay Single Malt Whisky, Innis & Gunn beer and The Whisky Illuminati.

For further details, visit www.guyco.co.uk/award 

* http://www.foodanddrink.scot/media/78129/strategy-brochure-smaller-size.pdf
** https://hbr.org/2011/04/why-most-product-launches-fail
 

18 June 2018

Ventient Energy gives financial backing to the opening of the new sheiling landmark in Argyll

Onshore wind generation firm shows support for local communities

Onshore wind generation firm Ventient Energy is throwing its support behind a newly created landmark, soon to be unveiled on the site of its Beinn Ghlas wind farm in Argyll, commissioned by the original landowner.
 
Sam Macdonald, who owned the land overlooking Loch Etive, commissioned Scottish sculptor and public artist David Wilson to design and build the ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’.  The Deirdre and Naoise story was a particular favourite of Sam’s late wife Evelyn and is one of the most significant early stories of Irish history.
 
Edinburgh-headquartered Ventient Energy is contributing funds to the unveiling ceremony of the Sheiling as part of its commitment to supporting local projects and communities around the locations of its wind farms.
 
The sheiling – a Gaelic word for a hut, or collection of huts, once common in wild and lonely places in the hills and mountains – is being officially unveiled at a ceremony on 23 June 2018 being attended by Michael Russell MSP and Mark Hanniffy, the Consul General of Ireland to Scotland, along with more than 100 guests and local dignitaries. Irish President Michael D Higgins is sending a message of support as he is unable to attend the ceremony.
 
The sheiling, situated near one of the turbines on the Ventient Energy wind farm, will have the appearance of being on the site for 1,000 years due to its historic features and will look across the stunning Scottish landscape to where Deirdre and Naoise lived in the 7th C AD
 
Sam’s late wife Evelyn Day, who was originally from County Waterford and attended Belfast Arts School and then London Arts School, loved the story of Deirdre and Naoise.  She was delighted to find out that Sam Macdonald’s father Neil was a fan of the story but disappointed that many other people she met in Argyll were not aware of it. 
 
The story, which links Ireland with Scotland, was first featured in the Glenmasan Manuscript which is held in the National Library in Edinburgh. It is the 780th anniversary of the manuscript in June and Michael Russell MSP is also involved in that celebration.
 
Scott Mackenzie, CEO of Ventient Energy, said: “We’re delighted to support Sam Macdonald in creating the stunning ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’. Its creation is being celebrated by the entire community and is something that can be visited and enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield, including Ireland.
 
“The Beinn Ghlas windfarm has been in operation since May 1999 and has been owned by Zephyr, now part of the Ventient Energy portfolio, since 2004.  The business is managing 12 windfarms across Scotland and is the third largest generator of onshore wind energy in the UK.
 
“We are committed to giving back to communities where our wind farms are located and to supporting a wide range of local projects. The Sheiling is just one example of a range of projects we fund and support.”
 
Sam Macdonald said the stories preserved largely through oral tradition are from a time when “an aristocratic warrior class dominated”. He added that they “are characterised by dramatic stories of fighting and adventure on the part of the chiefs”.
 
He said Deirdre's powerful story with its “elements of lust, treachery and ultimate death” is vividly told. He added that while one may question whether the characters in the story ever existed, recent research into place names in the North Lorn area of Argyll raised the idea that perhaps Deirdre, Naoise and his brothers Arden and Ainle were real and did reside in Glen Etive - as his father had said - given the number of place names that memorialise them in the landscape.
 
In raising the Sheiling for Deirdre and her lover Naoise, Sam Macdonald hopes to revitalise the stories and introduce visitors to the subsequent development in history which led to the establishment of the Irish Kingdom of Dalriada, including most of Argyll and its islands. He said this might also reinforce the strong social and cultural ties that link the people of the west Highlands with their Irish neighbours across the water.
 
The Sheiling will also feature the statue of Deirdre and Naoise that was originally created by the Glasgow School of Art graduate Fiona McLeod for Scotland’s National Gardening Show held in Strathclyde Park in 1997. This statue has been in Sam Macdonald’s gardens since the show closed, having attracted more than 30,000 visitors.
 
The opening of the Sheiling will include an on-site bell casting ceremony. The Celtic Bell to be cast was designed by the Iona artist Mhairi Killin. Members of the Oban Gaelic choir will sing Deirdre's Lament on Leaving Scotland.

14 June 2018

Britain’s Biggest Potato Lover Travels 1,000 Miles for his Ayrshire New Potatoes

Jamie McCoo, [69], from Deal in Kent is arguably Britain’s biggest potato lover making a 1,000-mile round trip across the country each June to stock up on his favourite pick of the crop – Ayrshire new potatoes. 

Hailed as some of Scotland’s finest produce, the seasonal Ayrshire new potatoes are famed for their melt in the mouth texture, fresh earthy sweet flavour and are regarded as best in the world – with Scotty Brand known for only selecting the cream of the crop.

Which is why the retired electrician makes the mammoth trip each year back to his native Scotland for a whopping four stones’ (25kg) worth of Scotty Ayrshires, to share with his fellow ex-pat pals south of the border.

“My mother always told me that the first dig resulted in the best batch and Ayrshire potatoes are some of the finest new potatoes grown in the UK,” explains Jamie. “Grown in sandy soil warmed by the Gulf Stream they are delicious and unbeatable. Sadly, they are only available for sale in Scotland.”

“Ayrshire potatoes come into season in June, so I’ve been making the special trip for the last couple of years to stock up for summer. Scotty’s new potatoes are in my opinion the best out there, so it’s been great to meet the farmer Drew Young who allowed me literally to dig my own batch. It’s safe to say my salad potatoes are always the best!”


Richard Allison, general manager of Scotty Brand who sell Mr McCoo’s favourite Ayrshires added: “We receive many requests from customers desperately searching for the best Scottish seasonal produce, but Jamie McCoo’s correspondence really stood out.  Having emailed our customer service team to check for stockists of his favourite Ayrshires in the south east, he was disappointed to discover they weren’t available south of the border but made it clear that he was prepared to make a special visit.

“We invited Mr McCoo to select his crop personally from Scotty’s Girvan-based farmer, Drew Young and he’s promised to share his four stone of potatoes with his Scottish friends in Kent.  What tremendous dedication and a great way for Scotty to celebrate the start of the season.”

Scotty Brand launched this season’s Ayrshire new potatoes on 9 June, returning to supermarket shelves in Scotland for 2018.  The oval, creamy fleshed new potatoes are grown in Girvan, packed locally and delivered to supermarkets in as little as 24 hours from lifting to bring Scotland’s families the ultimate freshest taste of summer. They are available to purchase in 750g bags in selected Asda, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, Spar, Co-op and Waitrose stores throughout Scotland.

7 June 2018

Ventient Energy to appeal planning decision on Kirkby Moor wind farm

Granting of appeal would benefit local economy, society and environment

Thousands of pounds of investment in the local community and many public benefits will be secured if the Planning Inspectorate agrees, on appeal, to extend the duration of the planning permission for the existing Kirkby Moor wind farm near Ulverston.
 
Ventient Energy, the energy firm that owns the wind farm, is appealing against the decision made by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee last December to turn down the application for a variation of condition which would allow the wind farm to operate until 2027.  The wind farm has operated since 1993.
 
It was a close vote with the planning committee split almost down the middle, six members voted to refuse the application for the wind farm’s continued operation and five voting against refusal.
 
The Committee’s decision went against the planning officer’s recommendation for approval and there were no objections to the application from the Lake District National Park Authority and Natural England.
 
Ventient Energy is seeking planning permission to continue to operate the existing wind farm – there are no proposals for new turbines or the installation of infrastructure. The company said a ruling in favour of the appeal would deliver many benefits to the local community.  
 
Public benefits include:
 
•    An increase in the existing community fund from its current level of £3,555 a year to annual funding of up to £24,000. A volunteer panel of local people would be formed to make decisions on funding applications with support from the Cumbria Community Foundation 
•    Moorland restoration during the life extension period and an enhanced decommissioning, reinstatement and restoration scheme once operations come to an end and the turbines are removed.  
•    Helping the UK reach its ambitious renewable energy targets and its aim to build a circular economy.
 
The wind farm community fund has already supported a number of local projects and organisations including the Grizebeck Village Hall and Kirkby-in-Furness Community Centre.  
                                                                                                                          
Since Kirkby Moor wind farm started operating 25 years ago it has generated enough energy to power thousands of houses. 
 
Scott Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer at Ventient Energy said: “We were disappointed with South Lakeland District Council’s decision to go against the planning officer’s recommendation by narrowly voting to turn down our application to support the continued running of the existing Kirkby Moor wind farm for a few more years. 
 
“We have decided to appeal the decision based on the many economic, social and environmental benefits the wind farm delivers to the local community and beyond. 
 
“Kirkby Moor wind farm generates clean, green energy and supports the local community through the annual community fund, providing in-kind and financial support to the Mountain Rescue who use our equipment on site as well as support to the local economy.
 
“We strongly believe in the public benefits of the wind farm, as others do, and we hope the Planning Inspectorate allows the appeal and grants planning permission for the continued operation of the Kirkby Moor wind farm.”
 
www.ventientenergy.com

25 May 2018

Arctic Bound … Ten Bathgate Academy Pupils Selected for The Polar Academy

West Lothian’s youth targeted for help by life-changing charity 

Ten teenagers, all between 13 and 15 years of age have been selected to benefit from the support of a ground-breaking Scottish charity, The Polar Academy. As part of their involvement, the seven female and three male participants will undertake a self-guided 100km, 10-day expedition in Eastern Greenland next April. 
 
All of the youths selected for the expedition team (names listed below) are pupils at Bathgate Academy in West Lothian.  Ellis McKay, a teacher at the school is also part of the expedition team while an additional nine pupils from Bathgate Academy have been selected for the (back-up) leadership team. 
 
Mollie Hughes, an explorer and Tiso Ambassador and who in 2017 became the youngest woman in the world to successfully climb Mount Everest from both the north and south, is one of the expert guides on The Polar Academy Expedition Team.
 
The charity was set-up in 2013 by Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer.  His vision is to inspire youth through exploration and to help young people positively transform a life blighted by crushed self-confidence, anxiety and / or a lack of self-esteem. 
 
Over the past five years, Mathieson has worked closely with teachers to identify what he calls ‘invisible’ youths. To date, four expeditions involving pupils from a total of ten secondary schools have experienced the life-changing methods deployed by the charity that helps participants to redefine their physical and mental limits.  
 
Confirmation of his or her selection into The Polar Academy (that was decided by Mathieson and followed a weekend of physical and mental challenges at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore) is only the beginning of a rigorous nine-month programme. As 49-year-old Mathieson, explained: “The pupils from Bathgate Academy who have come through the selection process should be proud of their achievement.  
 
“It has been extremely hard to decide those who can most benefit from being part of the 2019 Polar Academy Expedition Team. For those selected, the hard work starts now. Supported by the charity, their school and families, the youths can expect to fully commit to a programme that will include undertaking regular physical training. Like the many positively transformed youths who have gone before them, The Polar Academy will prepare the expedition team for the experience of hauling a 45kg sledge, navigating, camping, cooking and skiing across the wilds of Greenland in temperatures as low as minus 30C.  
 
“Crucially, in the months ahead, as a team and individuals, they will encounter and overcome challenges that develop self-confidence and awakens the realisation that with focus and effort the seemingly impossible can be achieved. Just as importantly, their post expedition talks to peer groups across Scotland will inspire thousands of other youths to pursue goals they too previously thought unattainable.”
 
Over 60,000 youths have already been engaged and inspired by the charity that’s regarded as Europe’s toughest youth training programme. 
 
In the Arctic, accompanied by a doctor and expert guides, pupils will also conduct scientific experiments to support the Scottish school curriculum and to further understanding of the impact of global warming.  Mathieson, who in 2013 was named the first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 129 years, is also a STEM ambassador for Scotland. 
 
Despite its growing success, The Polar Academy remains wholly dependent on donations to deliver its programme that costs £170,000 to operate and to which the participants and their families are not asked to contribute.  Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist and Cornhill Building Services (CBS) are among founding supporters of the charity whose trustees are drawn from the fields of education, business, exploration and the media. 
 
Carol Ann Penrose is the Head Teacher of Lochgelly High School in Fife and was part of the school’s ten-strong 2017/2018 Polar Academy Expedition Team that recently returned from Greenland in April.  She is full of praise for the work of The Polar Academy: “The calm, understated approach of Craig and his guides really gets results. They quietly instil a ‘can do’ mind-set in the participants.  You come to recognise that with a little more self-belief you can accept and overcome challenges. 
 
“I noticed that the pupils were increasingly unfazed and accepting of tasks they would have recoiled from (when first selected). Previously very quiet, shy and ‘under the radar’ in school … (there’s a) marked and significant change in their outlook and ‘can do’ mentality.”  
 
www.thepolaracademy.org

18 May 2018

BLM promotes 16 lawyers to partnership, including Keith Matthews in Glasgow

Leading insurance risk and commercial law specialist BLM has celebrated the promotion of 16 new partners, at the start of its 2018/19 financial year across five of its business streams, including Claims Solutions, Large Loss & technical, Specialty & Financial Lines, Healthcare and Northern Ireland.  This includes Keith Matthews from the Claims Solutions team in the Glasgow office.

The firm has also announced the promotion of a further 23 associates across BLM, including two within the positive change programme focussing on business improvement. These promotions include lawyers across five of BLM’s business streams, in Claims Solutions, Large Loss & Technical, Speciality & Financial Lines as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland.
 
Matthew Harrington, Senior Partner at BLM, said: “This is excellent news to kick-off the financial year.  The identification and nurturing of people at all levels is fundamental to what we do as a business.
 
“In making these appointments we are looking ahead to what the shape of the firm will be and this round of promotions demonstrates our commitment to talent management and succession planning. 
 
Our new partners have the commercial acumen and drive to work effectively with our client base and take the business forward by helping to inspire and develop our next generation of lawyers and future leaders.”  
 
Matthew concluded by saying: “The firm is changing, year on year, and these promotions reflect that. I congratulate our new partners and the teams with whom they work who will rightly celebrate their success and look forward to seeing them bring their skills to bear and positively shape our future.”
 
About BLM
  • BLM is the leading insurance and commercial risk law specialist in the UK and Ireland and we aim to be recognised as one globally by 2020. With a turnover of over £100million, we advise insurers, Lloyd’s syndicates, MGAs, brokers, corporate policyholders, professional indemnifiers and other market organisations 
  • With more than 200 partners and 1600 staff, BLM is instructed on a broad spectrum of legal issues and acts for customers in key sectors such as construction and property, corporate risks, healthcare, insurance and indemnity, leisure, public sector, retail, technology, media and telecoms, transport and the London Market
  • BLM has 13 offices across the UK and Ireland in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Londonderry, Manchester and Southampton
  • BLM presently acts for 13 of the top 15 UK insurers and four of the top five global insurers
  • BLM is a founder member, and UK representative, in Global Insurance Law Connect, an international alliance of 13 insurance law firms launched in June 2017
  • BLM has diversified with the creation of the Commercial Advisory and Wealth business, having brought in a team of 33 lawyers from Slater and Gordon in October 2017
  • The firm appointed Matthew Harrington as senior partner with effect from 1 March 2018
  • For further information, please visit: www.blmlaw.com 

27 April 2018

Fife’s Young Arctic Explorers Recognised with Prestigious Polar Academy Medal

Lochgelly High School pupils rewarded for their achievements after life-changing Greenland expedition 

Last night (26 April) 10 young Arctic explorers from Lochgelly High School in Fife received a prestigious Polar Academy Medal at a special awards ceremony hosted by Lord Bruce at Broomhall House near Dunfermline, Fife. 
 
The medals were presented to the expedition team of seven girls and three boys in recognition of their courage and achievements after they completed a life-changing 14-day and 100km expedition in Eastern Greenland with the charity, The Polar Academy. 
 
The event took place in the home of Lord Bruce, with the medals presented by the parent or guardian of each youth and in front of more than 100 special guests.
 
Throughout their expedition, the youths aged between 14-17 years old and their head teacher Carol Ann Penrose, braved snow-storms and temperatures as low  as -25C.  The team camped on sea ice and visited Inuit villages and throughout the journey, each pupil was required to haul his or her own 45kg sled. 
 
The Polar Academy was founded in 2013 by Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living Polar explorer, to inspire youths struggling with lack of confidence and low self esteem to transform their lives through exploration. 
 
Bo’ness-based Mathieson, who in 2014 was named the first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 129 years, was the expedition leader. 
 
Paying tribute to the magnitude of the pupils’ achievements, Mathieson said: “These pupils have achieved the extraordinary by pushing themselves physically and mentally to the limit. Their rekindled sense of self-confidence is evident to all. They are more than ready to inspire others struggling with self-confidence and esteem to take that first vital step to change their lives for the better.  Each is deserving of a rare and coveted Polar Academy Medal.”
 
Lord Bruce said: “The Bruce Family is delighted to be involved with a truly worthwhile cause such as The Polar Academy. It is a great pleasure to welcome the Lochgelly team on their safe return to Scotland and to host the awards ceremony at Broomhall House.  Several members of my family have gone to the ends of the Earth in a similar spirit of adventure: James Bruce of Kinnaird discovered the source of the Blue Nile in 1770; William Speirs Bruce led the Scottish Antarctic Expedition (1902-04); and John Geoffrey Bruce set a mountaineering record in 1922, climbing Mount Everest to reach 27,300 feet without oxygen.   
 
“In the Year of Young People 2018, we are delighted to support this adventurous group of Fife students, who are learning valuable leadership and life skills. I am sure they have benefited enormously from their experiences with the Academy and we are very happy to work with such an inspiring organisation.”

Like the participants of three previous Polar Academy expeditions, each of the pupils will now share their personal account of being part of The Polar Academy with their peer groups in Fife and throughout Scotland. In just four years, more than 60,000 school-aged children have been engaged by the charity. 
 
Last night also saw two members of The Polar Academy Leadership Team receive a Polar Academy Medal to recognise their commitment to undertake rigorous physical training and personal sacrifices during the eight-month period between selection and the departure to Greenland of the expedition team. 
 
Mathieson’s fellow guides, Nigel Williams (Glenmore Lodge by Aviemore) and George MacHardy and expedition doctor Naomi Dodds also received a special Polar Academy Medal.  
 
Future Polar Academy Expeditions
 
Mathieson highlighted that annually, The Polar Academy must fundraise over £170,000 to operate. Tiso, the outdoor adventure retail specialist, Bergans of Norway and Cornhill Building Services are among the organisations, individual donors and supporters who generously contribute to the work of the charity.  During the nine months prior to the expedition, the pupils, supported by their school, family and the wider Lochgelly community also undertook considerable fundraising to support their expedition and charity.  
 
The fifth expedition team will comprise pupils from Bathgate High School in West Lothian.  Potential team members have yet to be selected for that expedition which will depart for Arctic Greenland in April 2019.  
 
Notes to the editor
 
The Polar Academy 2018 Expedition Team: 
Morgan Adam - 14
Kieran Burns - 14 
Daisy George - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Conner Harper - 16 
Carla Masterton - 14 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher
Daniel Pratt - 17
Hannah Reid - 15 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Carrie Wotherspoon - 14 
 
The Polar Academy 2018 Leadership Team:
 
Lewis Fotheringham – 14; Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert - 14

For free to use images from medal presentation, please contact Beeline PR.
 

27 April 2018

Two historic Edinburgh hotels to be restored back to their residential grandeur

Plans have been unveiled to return two of Edinburgh’s best-known historic boutique hotels back to their residential grandeur with the creation of luxury apartments.

The luxury residential property developer Square and Crescent, which was founded by directors Simon Cook and Euan Marshall in 2010, has bought The Howard and Channings Hotel from The Edinburgh Collection. 
 
Work is due to begin on converting the Grade-A listed Howard on Great King Street in Edinburgh’s New Town into nine luxury apartments in early May.
 
The three townhouses that form The Howard were originally built as private residences during the 1820s and were converted into a guesthouse and later a hotel in the years following the Second World War.
 
The transformation of the three Georgian townhouses that form the previously five-star hotel, which sits within the Scottish capital’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, is expected to take around 12 months, with the nine apartments due to be completed in the spring of 2019.
 
The former four-star Channings Hotel on South Learmonth Gardens in Comely Bank will be converted into 15 apartments in two phases, with phase one due to also start in May.  There will be a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments with some upper units having lift access.  The ground and lower ground apartments will have private gardens.
 
The 42-bedroom hotel consisted of five townhouses, one of which was home to Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his wife, Emily Mary Dorman, between 1904 and 1910, during the time when he was secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in Edinburgh.
 
Simon Cook, director of Square and Crescent, said: “It’s not often that you get to work on two properties with such rich histories and so we’re very excited about unveiling our plans for this pair of sites.
 
“The Howard forms an integral part of the Edinburgh Old and New Towns World Heritage Site, while Channings Hotel has its own illustrious history.
 
“These apartments are going to make truly magical homes for their new owners and will give them a chance to own a small piece of Edinburgh’s history.”
 
Square and Crescent has converted more than 20 townhouses in Edinburgh’s New Town and West End since its first refurbishment on the city’s Queen Street in 2012 and have also diversified into flatted new build projects in the city centre.
 
Recent developments have included 40-44 Drumsheugh Gardens, previously the Scottish Legal Aid Board, the Arts & Crafts building at 235 Corstorphine and the conversion of Westerles House and stables in Murrayfield.  Square and Crescent are also currently on site converting Guthrie Court in Liberton into 30 apartments and have recently acquired another two prime projects in the West End and Murrayfield.
 
Euan Marshall said: “Our business has grown significantly over the past few years and we are delighted to have secured a number of prime opportunities in such a competitive market place.”
 
Ricky Kapoor, managing director of The Edinburgh Collection, added: “The Howard and Channings Hotel are in safe hands with Simon Cook and Euan Marshall, who I know will respect their history and their heritage while converting them into what will be some of the most stunning apartments in Scotland.
 
“Selling the two hotels will allow my company to reinvest the proceeds and to continue to develop our other Edinburgh Hotels; the Old Waverley Hotel, the Holyrood Aparthotel, and the Haymarket Hub Hotel.”
 
Will Scarlett, formerly of Rettie & Co, acted on behalf of Square and Crescent with Alistair Letham from Colliers International acting on behalf of The Edinburgh Collection.  For further project information please contact Square and Crescent at info@squareandcrescent.com

 

25 April 2018

GlenAllachie to unveil a special treat for whisky fans at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 

Whisky industry icon Billy Walker announces hand-picked single cask bottling for whisky festival in May

Boutique Scotch whisky company GlenAllachie has revealed it is releasing a special bottling exclusively at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in May.
 
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2018 bottling is a 12-year-old single cask that was personally selected by Billy Walker, GlenAllachie’s Master Distiller. 
 
With 1,028 50cl bottles available, the special festival release, which is bottled at cask strength, will be on sale during the festival (3-7 May) at The Whisky Shop Dufftown and the Highlander Inn, Craigellachie. 
 
Walker, the whisky industry icon who last year led the purchase of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside, will unveil the bottling at a series of events during the festival. 
 
On Thursday 3 and Friday 4 May, he will host informal sessions at the Whisky Shop Dufftown from 10:30–11:30am, and then at the Highlander Inn, Craigellachie from 1–2pm. 
 
At the free drop-in sessions, whisky fans can buy the festival bottling, have bottles signed, hear Walker’s plans for the distillery, and taste samples of the new GlenAllachie range, which is being released in June.
 
The festival bottling is the second release from the distillery following the six limited edition 50cl single cask bottlings, which were launched in February to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17 1968.
 
Walker and his business partners – Trisha Savage, who worked with him on his previous venture at the BenRiach Distillery Company, and former Inver House Distillers Managing Director Graham Stevenson – bought GlenAllachie last year from French spirits giant Pernod Ricard. 
 
The three directors have almost 100 years’ experience in the Scotch whisky industry and plan to launch a range of premium quality yet affordable whiskies in domestic and export markets.
 
Walker said:  “When we started the distillery, we all agreed that one of our key goals was to step away from the ‘big business’ corporate approach to whisky and have some fun releasing great whisky that we’re personally passionate about. As we’re independent and privately owned, we have the flexibility to do that and this special festival bottling is a great example of our philosophy.
 
“We’re fortunate to have a fantastic range of casks in the warehouses dating back to the 1970s and I personally selected this cask to showcase the GlenAllachie single malt and highlight the direction we’re taking the distillery.’’
 
Prior to setting up GlenAllachie, Walker established his reputation as an innovator in the whisky industry during spells with Ballantine’s, Inver House and Burn Stewart before forming the BenRiach Distillery Company in 2003.
 
The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delme-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle.  It sits within a 20-acre estate and uses water sourced from Henshead Burn on the slopes of Ben Rinnes. It has four stills but unusually it also has two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.   
 
The GlenAllachie Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2018 bottling (12yo, 58.9%, 50cl, £56) is available exclusively at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, 3-7 May. www.spiritofspeyside.com

5 April 2018

Nick Nairn to close his Cook School in Aberdeen and focus on expanding his pizza business

Nick Nairn has today (Thursday 5 April) announced his decision that he will close his Cook School in Aberdeen at the end of June but has confirmed that he will remain in the city with his successful pizza restaurant business, Nick’s Pizza Bar. 

The Aberdeen Cook School launched in May 2012 as an expansion of Nick Nairn Cook School in Port of Menteith, near Stirling and was catering for the growing demand for cooking experiences in the north-east fuelled by the buoyant oil and gas sector.
 
Offering full-day and shorter classes for up to 24 people, the Cook School is based on the first floor of a stunning listed building in Back Wynd, formerly St Nicholas Kirk’s old church hall in the city centre, while Nick’s Pizza Bar is located on the ground level.  
 
More than 60,000 customers have enjoyed culinary classes in Aberdeen since its opening – with in excess of 4,000 customers learning how to cook the perfect steak and 2,185 perfecting their beef wellington - but the downturn in the north-east economy in recent years means that the Cook School business is no longer commercially viable.  Staff were notified of the decision yesterday.   
 
Nick Nairn explained: “Expanding into Aberdeen had been a long-term passion of mine as we had a huge number of loyal customers regularly travelling from the north-east to our Cook School in Port of Menteith.
 
“We enjoyed a great run of custom for a number of years but like many other businesses in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas, we are not immune to the downturn in the north-east economy.  Our corporate custom suffered in particular for understandable reasons and we have worked exceptionally hard for the last 18 months to diversify our offering, but we have now reached a point where the Cook School is no longer commercially sustainable.”
 
Aberdeen Cook School will close on 30 June 2018.  The Cook School will ensure that everyone who has purchased gift cards will be able to redeem these prior to its closing.  Customers are encouraged to contact the booking line to arrange a class.  The Port of Menteith Cook School is not affected and remains busy with a number of new initiatives in the pipeline.
 
Nick add: “Despite these challenges, we have been really encouraged by the vibrant success of Nick’s Pizza Bar located on the ground floor of the premises and will now concentrate on expanding that operation.  We remain committed to maintaining a presence in Aberdeen so from 1 May the restaurant will open seven days a week from 12pm – 10pm.  We will also make a small refurbishment to the space in the first two weeks of July and are currently exploring further opportunities for Nick’s Pizza Bar in Edinburgh and Glasgow.  
 
“We’d like to thank everyone who has supported the Aberdeen Cook School during the last six years and our incredible team who have made every effort to make it work in really challenging times.”  
 
Voucher holders are being encouraged to book their class places before 30 June 2018 by calling the Nick Nairn Cook School booking line on 01877 389 900 between 9.30am and 4.30pm.  This is open seven days a week.

29 March 2018

GlenAllachie releases first ever bottling since takeover by Billy Walker-led consortium

Billy Walker, the Master Distiller who last year led the purchase of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside, is releasing a special bottling of limited edition whiskies as his first product launch from the site after examining casks of world-class Scotch in its warehouses.

Having sampled an extensive selection of the distillery’s 40,000 casks, Mr Walker has identified six casks that have been bottled to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17th 1968.
 
Over 3,500 50cl bottles have been filled as special edition single cask whiskies; 720 for the UK, 2,391 for General Export and 425 for Taiwan – all bottled at cask strength, with prices ranging from £200 to £699.
 
The single cask bottlings are being released ahead of the launch in June of the full GlenAllachie range, which will mark the first time the distillery has had its own cohesive identity as a brand.
 
GlenAllachie was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewer Scottish & Newcastle. 
 
Mr Walker and his business partners – Trisha Savage, who worked with him on his previous venture at the BenRiach Distillery Company, and former Inver House Distillers Managing Director Graham Stevenson – bought GlenAllachie last year from French spirits giant Pernod Ricard.
 
The distillery has four stills and, unusually, two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.
 
Mr Walker, who sold BenRiach Distillery Company to American producer Brown-Forman in 2016, said: “Even though GlenAllachie is one of the younger distilleries in Scotland, we are very fortunate in that we have casks of whisky stretching back to the early 1970s, in the first years after the site opened.
 
“The past few months since we bought the distillery and its stock have been so exciting for the whole team.  I’ve been able to try samples from some really remarkable casks of Scotch and to study how the spirit has evolved over time.
 
“I’ve been involved in distilling whiskies for much of my forty-year career in the industry, but I’ve seldom come across such a high-quality collection of casks.”
 
Mr Walker, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2016 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards, added: “GlenAllachie has always been prized as an important blending ingredient, not just by Chivas Brothers but also by other whisky companies, which would buy casks to add to their own blends.
 
“What’s particularly exciting about these special-edition single cask bottles is that we’ll be able to demonstrate the really high quality of GlenAllachie as a standalone whisky.
 
“GlenAllachie produces a much more muscular spirit than many of the other distilleries on Speyside and so it works well with lots of different casks, whether they’re American oak barrels and hogsheads or European sherry butts.
 
“Discovering these hidden gems in the warehouses has given us a great opportunity, not only to give whisky connoisseurs a taste of what’s to come later this year when we launch the full GlenAllachie range, but also to celebrate the half century since this very special distillery first fired up its stills.
 
“Why wait when it’s ready to be enjoyed by the world?”
 
Notes to the editor
 
Each of the six special-edition single cask bottles has distinctive aromas and flavours:
  • 1978, Cask 10296, Sherry Butt, 55.9%: A rush of raisins, dark chocolate and spices, followed by hints of orange peel and liquorice.
    • 120 bottles for the UK, 340 for General Export and 68 for Taiwan.
  • 1989, Cask 986, Sherry Butt, 57.7%: A galaxy of sultanas, pineapple and plum pudding, with hints of spices and orange peel. 
    • 152 bottles for the UK, 640 for General Export and 92 for Taiwan.
  • 1989, Cask 2587, Hogshead, 45.4%: The melange of dark cherries, bananas and orange peel develops into dark chocolate and rich spices. 
    • 80 bottles for the UK, 211 for General Export and 32 for Taiwan.
  • 1990, Cask 2515, Sherry Butt, 44.9%: Rich sherry and raisin presence, with a supporting cast of dark chocolate, grapefruit and spices. 
    • 156 bottles for the UK, 484 for General Export and 108 for Taiwan.
  • 1990, Cask 2517, Sherry Butt, 54.6%: The amazing flavour rainbow of raisins, bananas, sweet cloves and pineapples extends to orange peel and dark chocolate. 
    • 144 bottles for the UK, 524 for General Export and 84 for Taiwan.
  • 1991, Cask 100285, Hogshead, 55%: Wonderful notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and hazelnuts as the lead players with hints of dark chocolate, mocha and spices. 
    • 68 bottles for the UK, 192 for General Export and 41 for Taiwan.
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
 
Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

12 March 2018

It's an 'Ice Day for the Beach!
Final tyre haul for Fife youths ahead of Arctic challenge

Ten youths from Lochgelly High School in Fife yesterday (10 March) and pictured, braved the chilly waters off St Andrews Beach when they dragged heavy tyres into the North Sea. It was part of their tough final training session, before leaving for Eastern Greenland on 2 April for a 10-day, 100km expedition with the Bo’ness based youth charity, The Polar Academy.  In the Arctic, the pupils and head teacher Carol Ann Penrose will haul their own 45kg sled for up to ten hours a day. 

Aged between 14 and 17, the teenagers (seven girls & three boys) have been relentlessly training for eight months since being selected for The Polar Academy expedition team. Nine additional pupils (see below) also benefit from the training as part of a back-up leadership team. 
 
With a vision to inspire youth through exploration, since 2013 The Polar Academy has annually rigorously prepared a ten-strong group of shy teenagers for what proves to be a life-changing expedition. With the support of founding partners Tiso, the outdoor adventure retail specialist and Bergans of Norway, it aims to help young people rebuild lives affected by crushed self-confidence and feeling ‘invisible’ in school. Following the expedition, each pupil talks to school assemblies across Scotland about the impact of the charity on his or her life and with the aim of inspiring other young people to overcome their own challenges and achieve personal ambitions.  In just four years, more than 50,000 school-aged children have been engaged by the charity. 
 
The infamous two-hour beach haul is designed to replicate the resistance the team will encounter when their sleds are dragged across the snow.  For Craig Mathieson, expedition leader and founder of The Polar Academy, the gruelling exercise is also a chance to check everyone is fighting fit and mentally prepared for the Arctic.  
 
The 48-year-old, who is Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and a veteran of several expeditions to the polar regions, explained: “Supported by their school and parents, over the past eight months each member of The Polar Academy expedition team has already shown tremendous courage and determination to commit to what is Europe’s toughest youth training programme.  
 
“Through successfully overcoming tough challenges like today’s beach haul, this group of remarkable youths have already grown immeasurably in mental strength and self-confidence. Greenland is no guided school-trip and it will test their resolve, fitness, focus and team working skills to the limit.  But like the thirty youths who have gone before, it will be a hugely positive, rewarding and life-changing experience.  
 
“I am sure they will return from the wilds of Greenland bursting with pride and ready to inspire thousands of other young people throughout Scotland.” 
 
In the Arctic, each youth will haul his or her own sledge, navigate, camp on the sea-ice and undertake scientific experiments in support of the Scottish school curriculum.  They may also encounter remote Inuit villages and observe the Northern Lights. 
 
The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded and does not ask pupils to pay for their participation. With the generous support of companies and private donors, including Tiso Group, it must annually fundraise over £170,000 to operate.   Carol Ann Penrose, Head Teacher of Lochgelly High School, highlighted how the pupils and parents have reacted to The Polar Academy: “The calm, understated approach of Craig (Mathieson) and his guides (Nigel Williams / George MacHardy) really gets results. Somehow they quietly instil a ‘can do’ mind-set in the participants.  You come to recognise that with a little more self-belief you can accept and overcome challenges. 
 
“The pupils are increasingly unfazed and accepting of tasks they would have recoiled from just six months ago. Previously very quiet, shy and ‘under the radar’ in school, they seem to unquestioningly accept each new challenge! I’m really looking forward to being in Greenland and watching the pupils grow further in confidence.
 
“The commitment of the pupils’ parents has also been outstanding. All have relentlessly fundraised and they really are getting actively involved in the whole spirit of The Polar Academy.”
 
Commenting on her own training ahead of the tyre haul on the beach, Carol Ann added: “I’m trying to do a little more training than the pupils so hopefully, it will not just make me fitter but ensure I can keep up in the wilds of Greenland!”
 
The Polar Academy Expedition Team departs on 2 April and returns to Glasgow Airport on Wednesday 18 April. 
 
www.thepolaracademy.org
 
The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Expedition Team: 
Morgan Adam - 14
Kieran Burns - 14 
Daisy George - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Conner Harper - 16 
Carla Masterton - 14 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher
Daniel Pratt - 17
Hannah Reid - 15 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Carrie Wetherspoon - 14 
 
                                                                           
The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Leadership Team
Lewis Fotheringham – 14; Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert – 14

26 February 2018

Time waits for no-one – especially when it comes to court cases 

TIMING is everything, as any actor will tell you. Get your timing right and an audience will lean forward in their seats, hanging on your every word from the stage; get your timing wrong, and you’ll be greeted with silence when the curtain comes down, no matter how good the script might be.

The same is true when it comes to the law. Whether it’s personal injury claims being time-barred by a three-year period of limitation or criminal convictions being “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, it’s crucial to understand the importance of timing.

That sense of timing is at the very heart of the Prescription (Scotland) Bill, which Justice Secretary Michael Matheson introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 8 February. The proposed legislation is designed to amend the law relating to “the extinction of rights and obligations by the passage of time”.

At present, a non-personal injury claim becomes “stale” under negative prescription if no legal action has been taken within five years of a creditor finding out that they have suffered a loss, regardless of their state of knowledge on the cause of the loss. This “discoverability test” was clarified by the Supreme Court in 2014 in an appeal successfully brought by lawyers from BLM – in a previous guise as HBM Sayers – that related to property damage from an explosion at a chemicals factory in Maryhill in Glasgow in 2004.

Following a recommendation from the Scottish Law Commission, the Scottish Government wants to change the point at which the clock starts running on the discoverability test to take into account three factors instead of one. Rather than beginning when a creditor simply discovers they have suffered a loss, the five-year prescriptive period will only start when a creditor discovers: that loss, injury or damage has occurred; that the loss, injury or damage was caused by a person’s act or omission; and the identity of that person.

Commenting on the proposals, Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing said that the new bill was needed to “remove grey areas in the existing law, such as contention regarding the date the prescription clock starts ticking” and to ensure claims are raised promptly. Ewing added: “The changes in this bill will increase clarity, certainty and fairness, and benefit persons or bodies in resolving disputes.”

At the moment, the law is very clear – the 2014 Supreme Court ruling made plain the moment at which the clock starts ticking – and the introduction of three factors rather than one for the discoverability test means that cases will not necessarily be raised more promptly. Further, questions over who knew what and when – or who should have known what and when – could create more grounds for disagreements and legal wrangles, prolonging the time it takes for cases to be resolved. 

Yet Ewing’s comment on fairness, to creditors at least, will undoubtedly be addressed by the new bill. A recent case before the Supreme Court has highlighted how the current set-up could be seen to be unfair.

Last July, the Supreme Court in London heard an appeal against a decision taken in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in the case of Gordon v Campbell Riddell Breeze Paterson LLP. The Court of Session, bound by the 2014 Supreme Court decision, had ruled that the five-year prescriptive clock had begun ticking in 2005 when the solicitors had served defective notices to quit on agricultural tenants and not in 2008 when the Scottish Land Court ruled that the notices had been defective.

That decision meant that the professional negligence action raised against the solicitors in 2012 was dismissed because it had been started too late. Last November, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal against that decision, upholding the Court of Session’s original judgment.

Lord Hodge, delivering the Supreme Court’s judgment in Gordon, recognised that the present “discoverability formula” may indeed give rise to “hard cases”, with arguably “harsh” outcomes. But, as the Supreme Court pointed out, “it offers certainty, at least with the benefit of hindsight”.

The present proposal to reform the discoverability test is a good example of parliaments, not the courts, “making” the law. In the cases mentioned above, the courts were interpreting and applying a 1973 Act of Parliament, rather than making new law. More than 40 years on from that Act, the point has been reached when the timing of non-personal injury litigation is being reconsidered at parliamentary level. 

Shirley Wyles is a partner in the Edinburgh office of law firm BLM.

8 February 2018

GlenAllachie unveils sales team and confirms first overseas orders

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, the Speyside venture launched by a consortium led by whisky industry veteran Billy Walker, has made a raft of senior appointments to its sales team, taking the business’s headcount to 14 and unveiled its first export orders.

The firm, which last year bought the GlenAllachie distillery near Aberlour from Pernod Ricard, has also signed deals with distributors covering twelve countries, including the key Chinese, Netherlands, Taiwanese and French markets.
 
The first distributor to stock GlenAllachie will be Belgium-based Premium Spirits, which was also the first company to sell the whiskies produced by BenRiach, Walker’s previous business which was founded in 2004. 
 
GlenAllachie’s core range of aged whiskies, ranging from a 10 year old to 25 year old, will be launched in June this year.
 
News of the maiden overseas orders came as the company named the line-up for its sales team.
 
David Keir has been appointed as GlenAllachie’s Sales and Marketing Director, bringing with him more than 20 years’ experience working across a variety of retail and marketing roles.
 
Keir will be joined in his new role by Colette Savage who becomes GlenAllachie’s Marketing Manager; Ally Stevenson, joins as Sales Manager along with Administration Manager Lorraine Walker.
 
They are joined by production and warehouse operatives Michael Duncan, Phillip Murray, Lindsay Cormie, Stuart Geddes and William Kewley. 
 
The appointments come hot-on-the-heels of GlenAllachie selecting Richard Beattie as its Operations Director.  Beattie was previously Director of Distilling at Mossburn Distillers, the parent company of Torabhaig Distillery on Skye.
 
As well as investing in its staff, the company has also built a filling store and two dunnage warehouses at the distillery bringing total storage on site to sixteen warehouses and over 100,000 casks.
 
David Keir, Sales and Marketing Director at GlenAllachie Distillers Company, said: “We have assembled a top team, and continue to invest in the distillery, to help launch The GlenAllachie brand and position it as a premium quality Scotch whisky. In his role as Sales Manager, Ally Stevenson will have a specific focus on developing the key European markets such as Germany and France along with the likes of Russia and Ukraine. Colette Savage will be instrumental in developing our branding and sales tools to help us grow as a global whisky brand.
 
“The GlenAllachie has always been a bit of a hidden gem as the previous owners focused on their other distilleries.  It is a hugely exciting opportunity for us all to be involved in a truly independent, Scottish-owned and managed business and to build the brand from scratch.
 
“These first orders from twelve countries prove that there’s demand out there for the high-quality single malt that has been produced at the distillery over the years. Along with these confirmed deals we’ve had strong expressions of interest from around the world including Asia, and will be attending Vinexpo Hong Kong with a view to finalising these. In fact, we’re hopeful to have confirmed distribution in over 30 countries, including the USA, by the time we launch in June.
 
“As well as selling the existing stock of single malt that was bought along with the distillery, we’ll also be involved in developing the blended Scotch brands MacNair’s and White Heather.”
 
Walker’s consortium also consists of long-term business partner and former General Manager at BenRiach Trisha Savage and Graham Stevenson, a former Managing Director at Inver House Distillers.
 
The GlenAllachie distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle. It was ultra-modern in its day was designed to be gravity fed
 
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
 
Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

25 January 2018

ezPyro sensor from Pyreos enables Trueyes to create the world’s smallest pyro-electric flame-sensing module

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based infra-red sensor developer and manufacturer, has revealed that its ezPyro chip is being used by South Korean firm Trueyes to make the world’s smallest pyro-electric flame-sensing module.

Trueyes’ TF100 module measures just 16mm by 16mm and provides highly-sensitive flame detection at a distance of up to 35 metres. The TF100 has a field of view of more than 90 degrees, with a quick response time and low power consumption.
 
Trueyes’ new module will be used to add flame-detection capabilities into cameras, thermal imaging equipment, motion detectors and IoT devices. Target markets include devices for homes, factories and warehouses in China, Japan and Korea.
 
Do Hyung Kim, vice president and co-founder of Trueyes, said: “The ezPyro solution from Pyreos not only allows us to build a very small flame sensing module, but also enables a flexible platform to tailor the TF100 module to meet the specific requirement of the different end user applications.”
 
Andrew Wallace, CEO at Pyreos, added: “This is an exciting implementation of our ezPyro product.”
 
“Whilst this particular application doesn’t fully utilise ezPyro’s low-power capabilities, the small size and the programmability of the device ensures that end customers can optimise their products to meet their requirements.”
 
“We are looking forward to new flame and gas detection modules being launched based on our ezPyro family of products.”
 
Pyreos launched its ezPyro chip at the Sensor+Test measurement fair at Nuremburg in Germany in May 2016.
 
The ezPyro chip is the world’s smallest pyro-electric sensor with a digital interface.
The component can be used in a wide range of applications, from flame and gas detection through to motion and gesture sensors in wearable devices.
 
News of the launch of Trueyes’ TF100 module comes just days after Pyreos revealed it has secured £1.7m of funding from a syndicate of new investors led by Jon Moulton’s family office, Perscitus, alongside existing shareholders.
 
The latest investment brings the total raised by Pyreos since 2015 to almost £7m, with existing shareholders including Seraphim Capital, London Business Angels, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise) and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
 
Pyreos’ unique technology was originally developed by Siemens, from which Pyreos was spun out in 2007.  
 
The company, which is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in Edinburgh, grew last year’s revenues by 50%, with exports accounting for 81% of sales thanks to growth in major markets including China, Korea, India and the United States.

24 January 2018

Story Scotland poised to double turnover to £40m

Story Scotland, the Uddingston-based civil engineering firm, is expanding beyond the rail sector as it unveils a five-year plan to double its turnover to £40m.

The company has worked on a series of high-profile projects in the rail sector, including the £5m Queen Street tunnel track slab replacement in Glasgow for Morgan Sindall and the £2.5m Stirling station canopy replacement for Network Rail.
 
Previous projects have included the St Ninian’s level crossing replacement in Stirling, the renewal of the canopy glazing over platforms five and six at Inverness station, the platform extension at North Berwick station and the installation of “Access for All” bridges at stations including Blairhill in Coatbridge and Elgin in Moray.
 
Having grown its rail team to 52 members, the business is now expanding its civil engineering work into other areas, including construction and plant hire.
 
Story Scotland is part of Story Contracting, a civil engineering business based in Carlisle, and has revenues of £120m a year and employs more than 600 people.
 
John MacArthur, director at Story Scotland, said: “We have experienced strong growth in the rail sector over the past three years, delivering a significant volume of challenging civil engineering projects for our clients.
 
“We have great appreciation for the clients and contractors who have supported Story in Scotland during this time and we have purposely focussed on using local companies to help grow our business, while creating local employment opportunities.
 
“This has allowed us to develop a collaborative and professional team, based at our Uddingston office, which also has the skill set and experience to deliver projects out with the rail sector. 
 
“Our five-year business plan will see turnover doubling to £40m per annum, which will allow us to continue to invest in our staff and employ both graduates and apprentices to help us meet our growth targets across the civil engineering sector.
 
“Our new Story Scotland name reflects our strategy to diversify our business and the markets in which we operate.”
 
Fred Story, owner of the company, added: “Story has successfully delivered a number of key projects around Scotland, including the challenging IEP Infrastructure upgrade at Inverness and Aberdeen Depots, and are currently improving the station facilities at Dundee Station for Abellio ScotRail.
 
“The team has also grown by almost 500%, allowing Story to invest in Scotland’s future talent with apprenticeships and graduate schemes. 
 
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of Story Construction, as we were then known, being launched from a portacabin in my back garden. 
 
“It therefore makes me incredibly proud to see the growth of Story Scotland, built by John and his team through hard work and passion over the past few years, as they continue to service the civil engineering industry in Scotland.”
 
As well as Story Scotland, the group also owns Reiver Homes, which builds houses in the South of Scotland and Cumbria, with current projects including the March Mount development in Dumfries.
 
www.storycontracting.com
@StoryContractng 

16 January 2018

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company appoint new operations director for fresh chapter in Speyside distillery’s future

Billy Walker-led consortium lays foundation for plans to revive GlenAllachie

The new owners of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside have appointed Richard Beattie as its new Operations Director to help realise their vision for a global independent whisky brand.
 
Operations Director Richard Beattie was previously Director of Distilling at Mossburn Distillers Ltd, parent company for Torabhaig Distillery in Skye and Akashi Distillery in Japan.
 
Mr Beattie began his career as distillery manager at Speyside Scotch Malt Whisky Distillery and has almost 30 years’ experience within the industry. His past roles include Distilling/Technical Sales Director for Crisp Malting Group and Business Development Director at Briggs of Burton, where he was involved in developing distilling projects in Scotland, Ireland and the US.
 
A Fellow of the Institute of Brewers and Distillers, he is former Chairman of the Scottish section of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, a member of the Education and training committee of the Malt Distillers Association of Scotland and has chaired the commercial committee for the last five Worldwide Distilled Spirits Conferences.
 
Consumers are expected to enjoy their first taste of a revived GlenAllachie this year following the distillery’s sale to a consortium led by award-winning whisky veteran Billy Walker. 
 
He had earlier sold BenRiach Distillery Company to American drinks giant Brown-Forman, after transforming a £5m investment in a previously mothballed distillery into a global business with £40m turnover. 
 
Mr Walker was joined in acquiring GlenAllachie from Chivas parent company Pernod Ricard by long-term business partner and BenRiach colleague Trisha Savage, and Graham Stevenson, a former Managing Director at Inver House Distillers.  The GlenAllachie Distillery Company Ltd consortium has more than a century of experience between them.
 
Mr Walker, named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016, said:  “GlenAllachie is one of Speyside’s younger distilleries, yet we’re fortunate to have a substantial stock portfolio laid down ready for release.
 
“Richard brings a wealth of experience and knowledge not only about whisky making itself but also understands the intricacies of distillery engineering and design. Incidentally, GlenAllachie was designed so that the whole process was gravity fed, this is one of the reasons we have horizontal condensers which is an unusual feature for a distillery.”
 
GlenAllachie Distillery sits within a 20-acre estate in Speyside and has warehouse stocks dating to the 1970s, which will form the foundations for the brand’s future development.
 
As well as the 1967-built distillery, the consortium has taken over the single malt brand and blended Scotch brands MacNair’s and White Heather, which it plans to develop as a premium yet affordable range to a global market. 
 
The first phase will see a selection of aged whiskies, from a 10 year old to 25 year old, that are expected to launch this year. There are also moves to develop special edition whiskies. 
 
GlenAllachie plans include exploring emerging markets as well as more established export arenas in France, Germany and the United States.
 
Majority shareholder Mr Walker, who began his career in production at Ballantine’s in Dumbarton in 1974, added: “We are looking forward to bringing classic GlenAllachie single malt to a new generation, and exploring how it can deliver new blends that can become the classics of the future.“
 
The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle. It has four stills and, unusually, two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills. 
 
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
 
Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

10 January 2018

BGF invests £4m in Walker Precision Engineering to fuel expansion

Walker Precision Engineering, a high-precision component manufacturer, has secured a £4m investment from BGF to expand its operations in the UK and mainland Europe. 

From premises in Glasgow, Basildon and Poland, the family-owned business manufactures and assembles complex parts for the aerospace, defence and industrial sectors.

Founded in 1979, the company is run by brothers Gary and Mark Walker and employs more than 250 staff.  
 
BGF’s funding will allow Walker to invest in specialist machinery, further increasing its high accuracy machining capacity. The business has experienced an increase in demand from existing and new customers, particularly in the burgeoning space market. Walker has been forging closer links with the International Space Agency and academic institutions, and has been involved in the Galileo Satellite System, which is the European high accuracy positioning system. 
 
In addition to further investment at its Glasgow HQ, Walker will move its Basildon operations to a new purpose-built facility and double the capacity of its manufacturing facility in Poland. 
 
As part of the group’s expansion plans, Chris Melrose has joined Walker as non-executive chairman, following an introduction by BGF. Melrose is a non-executive director of Ralph Martindale and of ADS, the aerospace, defence and security trade association.  Previous posts include that of managing director of a General Electric JV, vice president of Bombardier Aerospace and latterly non-executive chairman of Daher Aerospace.
 
Mark Walker, Managing Director at Walker Precision Engineering, said: “Walker has grown steadily over the years through our deep commitment to investing in technical expertise and innovation. 
 
“We first met BGF back in 2012 and since then have been getting to know the team and how it operates. Now is the right time to bring on board a minority investor. BGF’s funding will help us pursue new opportunities in the market faster than we would otherwise have been able to do, without losing control of the business.”
 
Paddy Graham, BGF investor, added: “Walker is one of the leaders in its field, having built a strong heritage and long-standing customer relationships. Having known the business for a number of years, we’ve seen the team successfully scale up its operations and customer base and break into the space market. 
 
“There are significant opportunities for Walker to expand its capacity further in both existing and in new markets. We’re delighted to be helping the team capitalise on this.”
 
The investment in Walker brings the total BGF funding in Scottish businesses to more than £200m. Its portfolio of growing companies includes Campion Homes, Bar Soba, Keenan Recycling and M Squared Lasers, which has been more than doubling its revenues every two years since BGF’s investment in 2012.
 
BGF provides patient capital to businesses with revenues typically between £5m and £100m in exchange for a minority, non-controlling stake. BGF invests exclusively in small and mid-sized firms headquartered in the UK and Ireland, and is in the top ten most active investors globally. 

9 January 2018

Pyreos raises £1.7m from consortium led by Jon Moulton’s family office

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based passive infrared sensor developer and maker, has secured £1.7m of funding from a syndicate of new investors led by Jon Moulton’s family office, Perscitus, alongside existing shareholders.  The funds will be used for further commercial expansion building on Pyreos’ recent sales growth and the start of field trials and mass-production by several customers. 

Pyreos is the only supplier in the world of thin film pyroelectric sensors.  These are used for passively sensing infra red light and are typically very small, fast, sensitive, energy efficient and accurate.
 
The sensors are primarily used for gas and flame sensing, food safety, and for monitoring oil and fuel in engines.  These growth markets have a combined accessible value estimated at $1.2bn a year in 2018.
 
Pyreos’ unique technology was originally developed by Siemens, from which Pyreos was spun out in 2007.  Pyreos now owns an extensive patent portfolio reflecting its innovative approach.  
 
The latest investment brings the total raised by Pyreos since 2015 to almost £7m.  Existing shareholders include Seraphim Capital, London Business Angels, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise) and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
 
The investment follows a busy year for Pyreos in which the company grew its revenues by 50%, with exports accounting for 81% of sales thanks to major markets including China, Korea, the USA and India. 
 
Products launched in the past year that contained Pyreos’ chips included an oil analyser developed by Parker Kittiwake, on sale to shipping operators and navies worldwide, and several fire-detection and CCTV devices made by South Korean customers.
            
Field trials have started for several other applications and several customer product developments are also in the pipeline.
 
Andy Laing, chief financial officer at Pyreos, said: “We’re delighted to welcome a new set of professional investors with the appetite to support further growth and product development. This funding sets the basis for more ambitious product development in the future.
 
“Our sensors are also already used in a wide array of industrial applications, from monitoring additives in milk through to detecting flames from burning gases.”
 
The lead investor in the syndicate is one of the investment vehicles owned by venture capitalist Jon Moulton.

6 January 2018

Wise investors are looking to the east in Edinburgh

Property expert Will Scarlett examines why the focus for developers, retailers and restaurateurs has shifted to Edinburgh’s east end, and looks ahead to who might be next to arrive in the capital.

THE 12 days of Christmas that lie between Boxing Day and Epiphany on 6 January commemorate the journey that the Wise men made as they followed a star in the east until it settled over a stable in Bethlehem. Property investors are also looking east when it comes to Edinburgh.

Whether it’s the Trongate in Glasgow or Shoreditch in London, regeneration projects are breathing fresh life into the east end of our city centres; and Scotland’s capital is no exception.

The redevelopment of Edinburgh St James by TH Real Estate is acting as an anchor for a revitalisation of Auld Reekie’s east end. The 1.7 million sq.ft development, which is due to be completed in 2020, will include a mix of high street and high-end shops (850,000 sq.ft of retail space), 30 restaurants, an Everyman cinema and hotels from W and Roomzz. The scheme is one of the UK’s largest and most significant regeneration projects and represents a major international vote of confidence in the Edinburgh market – and in Scotland itself. 

The transformative power of the development is already having an effect; Scarlett Land and Development received ten bids for the nearby Forth House and Playfair House office investment. Those came from a selection of residential, hotel and investment bidders, which demonstrates the broadening appeal of the east.

Yet the shift is about much more than simply Edinburgh St James. Artisan Real Estate Investors have made significant progress with their award winning New Waverly development, which includes the completion of three hotels and a new 190,000 sq,ft office hub (completion June 2019), in part pre-let to HMRC. The office will attract some 2,900 civil service jobs to the east end of Edinburgh’s city centre. The development has won several awards with the highlight being the national RICS award for the best city regeneration project in the UK.

The redevelopment of South St Andrew Square has attracted London restaurant brands such as The Ivy, Dishoom and Gaucho, joining existing retail labels such as Harvey Nichols, the boutiques on Multrees Walk and Apple on nearby Princes Street. 

There is more to come on St. Andrew Square with S.Harrison Developments having acquired Buchan House on the north side of the square site for development of a luxury hotel of around 70 bedrooms and restaurant, and Knight Property Group having acquired and now developing “4North” (formerly Edinburgh House) on North St. Andrew Street into a 41,000 sq.ft office, pre-let to Computershare. 

On the east side of the square development of The Registers development by Chris Stewart Group’s  is transforming the former Royal Bank of Scotland into a game changing mixed use scheme that will link St Andrews Square through the Register Lanes area to Edinburgh St. James. The Registers combines more than 15,000 sq.ft of ground floor restaurant and bar space together with 61,000 sq.ft of Grade A office accommodation and more than 50 serviced residential apartments;  it will offer a new city centre destination for locals, visitors, tourists and office occupiers alike.

The proposals allow for West Register Street, between St Andrew Square and Register Place, to be pedestrianised with the cobbled roadways and paved footpaths re-laid to create a smooth, shared surface. Lighting, street furniture and greenery will be used to enhance both the ambience and security of the external area.

St Andrew Square will also become home the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s new purpose-built concert hall.  Located in the former Royal Bank of Scotland’s Dundas House, the world-class arts centre will provide the orchestra with a new home, a 1,000-seat auditorium and a studio for rehearsals, recitals and recording; a superb asset to our cultural capital. 

The combined effect of these projects is transformational – in an area that already has the highest restaurant rents in the city, according to the leading retail property expert, James Godfrey from Culverwell.  The  projects will unlock the social, cultural and economic potential of this strategically important location, linking more of the east end to St Andrew Square and beyond. 

Over the coming months, I expect a halo effect to continue, with the interest in the city centre’s eastern fringes spreading out into the surrounding areas. The closure of Meadowbank stadium and sports centre will trigger a regenerative effect in the surrounding area, perhaps including the neighbouring St Margaret’s House, which could be attractive for flats or student accommodation. We have seen this regenerative effect reflected in demand for a residential site on Marionville Road that we have recently placed under offer (c.125 units). 

Few areas are likely to benefit from Edinburgh’s eastern promise as much as Leith. The Shore is already a vibrant setting and Leith Walk is now being transformed too. 

CSG have completed a development on Baxters Place, at the top of Leith Walk into a 240-bedroom Courtyard by Marriott hotel. 

With a tram link from the city centre to Ocean Terminal looking increasingly likely, Leith stands to benefit even more. Major proposed developments in the Ocean Drive area include: CALA - 338 homes and 19 workspace units; S.Harrison Developments -  site acquired for development of a hotel of around 200 bedrooms;  S1 Developments – site acquired with potential for around 240 apartments at “Skyliner”. The combined effect of these will be transformational, bringing more residents and visitors to eat and shop locally. 

Some were surprised at CALA’s acquisition of the former Royal Mail sorting office on Brunswick Road but any doubts have been dismissed by the achievement of exceptionally strong sales. Currently, S1 Developments have exceeded expectations with 36 off plan sales already at their 450 unit Ropeworks scheme on Salamander Street in Leith.

All these positive developments are stimulating further interest in Edinburgh from UK and International investors seeking regional diversity outside London. I predict that Student Housing investment will follow, given the vibrancy, strong transport links and excellent connectivity from Leith to the City Centre. 

We expect that the year ahead will see more UK and overseas investors attracted to the Scottish capital, driven by factors such as Edinburgh being ranked in first place in the 2016-17 foreign direct investment strategy category by Global Cities of the Future, and being ranked in ninth spot in a new index of Europe’s most dynamic cities compiled by Savills. While there is still a reluctance in Build-To-Rent in Scotland among certain funds, we are seeing an increasing number who are now actively seeking to commit funding to the Scottish capital.

With developments stretching from St Andrew Square and Edinburgh St James out to Meadowbank and Leith, it looks increasingly likely that 2018 will attract wise property investors keeping their eyes on the east. 

Will Scarlett is the founder and director of Scarlett Land and Development.
www.scarlettdev.co.uk 

29 December 2017

Everest Record Breaker to Inspire Youth as Guide with The Polar Academy 

Mollie Hughes, who on 16 May 2017 became the youngest woman in the world to successfully climb Mount Everest from both its north (2017) and south (2012) sides, is to train as an Arctic polar guide with the ground-breaking Scottish youth charity, The Polar Academy.

Following 18 months of specialist training, the 27 year-old Edinburgh-based and Devon-born climber aims to be part of the charity’s 2019 expedition team, guiding ten teenage pupils from Bathgate Academy in West Lothian.

The Polar Academy annually supports secondary school aged pupils (aged 14-17) who on selection into the expedition team first undertake 10-months of rigorous training in their school and in the Scottish Highlands before being tasked with journeying for ten-days through Eastern Greenland. 

Hughes, who also works with Tiso Group, the outdoor adventure retail specialist and her principal sponsor of the 2017 Everest expedition, will be trained as a polar guide throughout next year by Craig Mathieson, founder and expedition leader of The Polar Academy.  This will include accompanying 48-year old Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer, on special instructor training in Greenland next summer. 

Under Mathieson’s guidance she will learn essential skills for exploration in the Arctic and designed to ensure the guide can effectively look after her/himself and the group in all weather conditions and cope with all eventualities in a remote and unforgiving environment.   Skills will include ‘natural navigation’ by observing the ice, wind and clouds and recognising the significance of changes in the feel and sound of the ice. 

In just four years, the Bo’ness based charity has engaged over 60,000 youths across Scotland. With a vision to inspire youth through exploration, the pupils it annually selects to benefit from the training are all identified as acutely lacking in self-esteem and self-confidence and often present with a range of mental health challenges.  Mathieson and his core team aim to help the youths redefine their physical and mental limits, through a process that has been described as Europe’s toughest youth training programme. 

Jess Ainslie, an instructor at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore has been part of Mathieson’s core team since 2015 and he has keenly observed the strong rapport and support Ainslie can establish with the expedition groups, including its young female participants.  Mathieson is confident that Hughes will draw on her own experiences to make a positive impact and help nurture an awareness among the participants that they can overcome personal issues and achieve their goals. 

 As a teenager, Hughes was very shy and it was her positive experiences of climbing and pursuing other activities in the great outdoors that gave her the self-belief and awareness that she had the ability to achieve her aspirations in life.  The mountaineer has already devoted several years to giving motivational talks in schools and youth groups about her experiences and with the aim of inspiring young people to fully realise their own potential in life. 

Commenting on her forthcoming role, Mollie Hughes said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been approached by Craig (Mathieson) to train as a polar guide with the aim of being part of his core team in 2019.  While I have some of the technical skills already, the months ahead promise to be challenging and hugely rewarding.  
“I have followed the work of The Polar Academy for a number of years and I’m really looking forward to being part of a dynamic charity that’s working to positively impact on young lives through immersion in the great outdoors, including the wilds of Arctic Greenland.  Hopefully, I can impart some of my own experiences and help the youths selected for The Polar Academy to recognise that they have the qualities within themselves to change their outlook and lives for the better.”  

Craig Mathieson, who in 2014 was named Scotland’s first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) in 129 years, added: “From her feats in the mountains of Scotland and the Alps to Mount Everest, Mollie has already demonstrated that her modest, unassuming demeanour belies rock-solid determination and a cool focus allied to impressive technical abilities.  

“Highly personable and with an innate ability to engage with young people, she promises to be a highly valued part of The Polar Academy team. As a mixed expedition group, it’s essential we have highly competent, motivated female guides in the core team. Jess (Ainslie) has already highlighted her invaluable role as an experienced guide who in addition to strong technical skills, draws out the best in the participants and nurtures a ‘can do’ spirit in the female participants. 

“In the months ahead, I’m really looking forward to helping Mollie develop some specific skills that are fundamental for our work in the Arctic environment. Her training will be challenging, with a focus on learning to read the ice terrain, navigate in all weather conditions and demonstrate the capability to look after herself and the team in all circumstances.  Like Jess, Mollie is a fantastic role model and I’ve no doubt that in the years ahead Mollie will firmly establish herself as one of very few specialist polar guides.” 

www.thepolaracademy.org
Tiso opens in Aviemore

8 December 2017

Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist to open in Aviemore

Tiso Group, Scotland’s leading outdoor adventure retail specialist has today (7 December) confirmed it is to open one of its Outdoor Experience stores in the highland town of Aviemore within the Cairngorms National Park.  

Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience, located within the new £10 million Myrtefield Retail Park off Grampian Road, promises to ooze outdoor inspiration when it opens next year.  The store will incorporate the specialist key components of Tiso, Alpine Bikes and Blues the Ski Shop, together with a café and soft play area.
 
Tiso Group, which currently operates 15 stores across Scotland, has a long history serving Scotland’s outdoor community since the company was founded in 1962.  The business is uniquely placed through its long established knowledge and experience to offer customer service of the highest levels.  Tiso anticipates the store will create in the region of 30 jobs locally.
 
This latest evolution of its established Outdoor Experience concept will span a ground and mezzanine floor creating approximately 12,000 square feet of retail space. 
 
The store will showcase an extensive range of brands and products from around the world.  Alongside the well-known names, customers will find exclusive brands and products not available elsewhere.  Walkers, mountaineers, skiers, bikers and watersport enthusiasts will all be catered for.
 
Experienced and qualified technicians will provide full ski and bike servicing, in addition to bike and boot fitting.
 
Visitors will have access to an adventure themed soft play area and a wide range of freshly prepared food and drinks in the Explorer Café.    
 
Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group who grew up skiing and mountaineering in the Cairngorms area, highlighted the significance of the store:
 
“I am immensely proud to confirm the opening of our exciting new Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience store.  Aviemore is Scotland’s adventure capital and is renowned as a destination for people of all ages to access and enjoy the variety offered by the local mountains, forests, lochs and rivers.
 
“The area already attracts in excess of 1 million visitors annually and with its diverse attractions and the on-going dualling of the A9, we can expect more people coming to explore an area renowned for climbing, winter-sports, cycling and watersports. 
 
“Opening an Outdoor Experience store in Aviemore is the natural next step for us. I look forward to welcoming customers - new and existing - to our store and for Tiso to complement the choice and knowledge offered by local businesses as part of the wider outdoor community.”  
 
Commenting on the opening, former Olympic skier and founder of the Alpine Training Centre (ATC), Sean Langmuir, said:
 
“From the 1960’s my parents were not only great friends of Graham and Maude Tiso but together they were at the heart of climbing and skiing in Scotland and the Cairngorms in particular.  As a local resident and business owner I am delighted to see Tiso opening - their investment in the area only reinforces the view that Aviemore is fast establishing itself as The Outdoor Capital of Scotland.”
 
The late Graham Tiso and his wife Maude founded Tiso in Edinburgh in 1962.  Fifty-five years later the business is still run from offices in Leith above its Outdoor Experience store on Commercial Street.  Tiso Group employs more than 300 people across Scotland and the Lake District where it owns George Fisher, the iconic outdoor store in Keswick.  JD Sports Fashion Plc invested in Tiso in 2013, however Chris Tiso remains a significant shareholder and the business remains true to its founding principles of commitment to quality of range and service.
 
www.tiso.com

21 November 2017

Stunning ‘Johnny Ca$h Cow’ sculpture to go under the hammer for Edinburgh charity

Artwork contains poignant message that reflects It’s Good 2 Give charity’s role supporting young cancer patients and families

A remarkable sculpture of a highland cow that incorporates a legendary song with a touching message is to be auctioned to help an Edinburgh cancer charity continue its groundbreaking work. 
 
Johnny Ca$h Cow – named because of its musical links to one of the country star’s songs - was created by Ratho-based blacksmith Kev Paxton and his ArtFe team and gifted to young people’s cancer charity It’s Good 2 Give. 
 
The intricate sculpture, weighing more than 300kg, features 100 treble clefs delicately woven into its shaggy steel coat. 
 
Inside the cow and clearly visible are the notes from the poignant Johnny Cash song ‘Walk the Line’. Its lyrics 'Because you’re mine, I walk the line' are a touching reference to the unbreakable bond that exists between young cancer patients, their devoted families and the dedicated professionals who care for them. 
 
The extraordinary work of art is currently on show outside the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh, in preparation for the charity’s fundraising ball on Saturday, 25 November. 
 
The glittering event will be hosted by the charity’s Patron, radio and theatre personality Grant Stott. His King’s Theatre pantomime co-stars Allan Stewart and Andy Gray, are also expected to attend.
 
The event will bring together around 400 guests, many of whom provided vital support and funds to enable construction of the charity’s Ripple Retreat, a stunning haven on the banks of Loch Venachar where cancer patients and their families can enjoy precious time together.
 
The sculpture creators, ArtFe, is an ambassador for the charity, and has also donated a variety of metalwork features at the Ripple Retreat, including intricate details on gates and bike racks.
 
Johnny Ca$h Cow, named following a competition on the charity’s Facebook page, has already attracted a bid of £7,500. It’s hoped the sculpture can fetch over £10,000.  Anyone can place a bid by contacting the charity, with the winner announced on the evening.
 
Also being auctioned on the night is a stunning Ash Beaker designed by noted Scottish silversmith Grant McCaig and handcrafted by expert silversmiths at Hamilton & Inches of Edinburgh. Inspired by the protective qualities of the ash tree in Gaelic folklore, it is one of only two in existence. Its sibling has been donated to the Silvery Treasury in the National Museum of Scotland. 
 
Charity founder and chair Lynne McNicoll OBE said: “Johnny Ca$h Cow is a stunning work of art with a very touching message that reflects what It’s Good 2 Give tries to do – walk alongside cancer patients and their families, wherever the road leads them. 
 
“The beautifully designed Ash Beaker has been specially created for us by master craftsmen at Scotland’s leading silversmiths. That its neighbour is kept at Scotland’s national museum shows the quality of the work.
 
“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has offered items to raffle and auction, and those who give in so many other ways.”
 
Lynne originally decided to raise money for charity to mark her 50th birthday. Within a year she had raised over £54,000, and over the next four years she raised over £650,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
 
She went on to launch It’s Good 2 Give in 2010. 
 
She received the Sir William Y Darling Award for Good Citizenship from the City of Edinburgh Council in 2014, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List the following year, in recognition of her services to children's charities in Scotland.
 
Those interested in bidding for Johnny Ca$h Cow can contact Lynne McNicoll direct on Lynne@itsgood2give.co.uk.  Bids must be received by 5pm on Friday 24 November.
Ewan Ogilvie

13 November 2017

Former Accountant Unlocks Key to Success as Gifted Cabinetmaker

New collaboration with Jeffreys Interiors created

A love of hand-crafting beautiful items from natural wood, working with unusual materials and a desire to own his own business, inspired Ewan Ogilvie to retrain from finance manager to cabinetmaker and launch, Ogilvies of Haddington.
 
The bespoke design and hand crafting business has now announced a new collaboration with the prestigious interior designers, Jeffreys Interiors, providing woodwork and restoration services to its client base.
 
The 44-year old former accountant from the town of Haddington spent more than a decade working in finance, holding positions including Principal Finance Manager and the Acting Head of Revenues & Benefits for City of Edinburgh Council between 2008 and 2012.  Ogilvie took his leap of faith to study at the prestigious Chippendale International School of Furniture in East Lothian.  In 2013 he qualified as a cabinetmaker and set up his artisan business.
 
From his workshop and studio located just 18 miles east of Edinburgh, he initially worked on small furniture commissions, with each piece crafted from locally sourced timber and materials.  Ewan has since gained a growing and glowing reputation for his beautiful craftsmanship in the design and creation of impressive kitchens, wine cellars and larger scale furniture. 
 
Ewan Ogilvie explained:  “I have always been interested in design and aesthetics, although had limited opportunity to explore these in my previous lines of work.
 
“I have been working with clients across Scotland since I launched Ogilvies of Haddington but this new collaboration with Jeffreys Interiors is expanding my business into new horizons.  The renowned interior design business has a loyal and diverse range of customers who are open to innovative designs and working with new materials.  It’s already become a very positive and creative working relationship.”
 
Alison Vance, Design Director at Jeffreys Interiors explained:  “The quality of Ewan Ogilvie’s work is outstanding and meets the demands of Jeffreys’ clientele.  It is wonderful to be able to offer interesting designs, made locally with high quality materials and constructed using efficient workshop techniques and machinery.
 
“Ewan has a great eye for design and is clearly passionate about the sourcing of his materials.  Our clients are very happy with the commissions he has undertaken to date.”
 
Ogilvies of Haddington also makes bespoke furniture for private clients and one of his most impressive kitchens (pictured) has been for the Geary family in Fife who spent years renovating a former Manse near Anstruther.  Its previous off-the-shelf kitchen units did not harmonise with the grandeur of the lofty Georgian room so he designed a kitchen with the look of old apothecary and created a sociable family layout.


 
The father of four (ranging between 8 months and 20 years old) has also immersed himself in the East Lothian community, handcrafting shop fittings for customers, including the newly renovated Humbie Hub, which features a village shop, café and community space.
 
www.ogilvies.scot

7 November 2017

Port Edgar Marina boosted by prestigious retail signing -  Shapes Furniture to swap city base for redeveloped waterfront

A major antique, art and furniture dealer is to relocate from its city home to Port Edgar Marina in South Queensferry, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, heralding a major boost to the waterside development’s transformation. 


Shapes Furniture, which attracts buyers from around the world, is preparing to move from its base in Sighthill in Edinburgh, at the end of this year.  It will bring to an end more than 40 years of trading in the capital. 
 
The business will take up a prime location in the shadow of the famous three bridges across the Firth of Forth. The Port Edgar Marina site will become its base for all its furniture, art and antique viewings and sales.  
 
The retailer’s arrival marks a key point in the development of Port Edgar Marina into a visitor destination, which will combine its stunning setting and reputation as a major water sports hub, with new attractions for visitors and shoppers.  
 
News that Shapes Furniture has opted to move to the South Queensferry site follows recent confirmation that award-winning Buzzworks Holdings – which manages nine bar and dining venues across Ayrshire – is to run a new restaurant at the marina. 
 
Russell Aitken, managing director at Port Edgar Marina, said: “Shapes Furniture is well known for its appreciation of quality, classic style and craftsmanship combined with a deep love for history. That makes it a perfect fit for a location in the shadow of the three stunning Forth crossings, which itself can reflect on centuries of history.
 
“We are looking forward to an exciting new era at Port Edgar Marina, and are delighted that such a prestigious and well-known business is joining us on our journey.”
 
Port Edgar is located between the Forth Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing, close to the heart of picturesque South Queensferry. 
 
Its name is believed to derive from King Edgar Aetheling, who apparently landed there in 1068. His sister, Princess Margaret, married Malcolm III.
 
A pier was erected at Port Edgar in 1819, and King George IV landed there in 1822 during a visit to the Earl of Hopetoun. The harbour provided a base for the Royal Navy during both World Wars. 
 
Operators Port Edgar Holdings took over its running from City of Edinburgh Council’s Leisure division in April 2014.  Redevelopment work has already involved refurbishing buildings and demolishing others to create better parking facilities, and dredging work to make the harbour available to larger vessels.
 
The marina provides berths for around 300 boats and is home to a yacht club, a rowing club, several cruise boat operators and Scotland’s largest water sports centre.
 
Mr Aitken added: “Down the years Port Edgar has enabled generations of sailors to enjoy fantastic views across the Firth of Forth. We are preparing to share that with a new generation of visitors, in an exciting new development that will see Port Edgar Marina become a new Scottish tourist attraction.”
 
Shapes Furniture was launched in Edinburgh in 1974 and has evolved into a major force in the UK furniture, antique and auction market.  It has a reputation for holding a particularly interesting stock of high quality and hard to find furniture, reputed to be the largest and best of its kind in the UK. 
 
As well as selling a wide range of quality furniture, its auction house holds regular high profile sales. One notable highlight was the sale of Jack Vettriano’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”, which sold for £346,000.  
 
It plans to hold a relocation sale in December, before launching from its new home at Port Edgar Marina in April 2018.
 
Ali Black of Shapes Furniture said: “Port Edgar Marina is in a beautiful location, overshadowed by the marvels of engineering that are the three Forth bridges. 
 
“We’re looking forward to moving to such an iconic setting, in a waterside development that will attract visitors from around the world.”
 
www.portedgar.co.uk
www.shapesedinburgh.co.uk
Mark Buchan

6 November 2017

Richard Irvin Energy Solutions mobilise MOD hard FM services

Richard Irvin Energy Solution’s Technical FM team has been awarded a two-year contract with CarillionAmey to provide maintenance and support at the army barracks and military bases in Hampshire, Dorset and Northern Ireland.

The contract, which is worth an estimated £10 million, builds on the company’s successful working relationship with CarillionAmey that dates back to 2014.
 
Mark Buchan, Richard Irvin Energy Solution’s Business Unit Director Technical FM, said: 
 
“Richard Irvin Energy Solutions has enjoyed a positive working relationship with CarillionAmey across Scotland, delivering mechanical and electrical maintenance, repair and projects works at the MOD bases in Leuchars and Condor.
 
“The professionalism of the team and the quality of our work during the past couple of years has resulted in the business expanding its contract agreement to military bases in Hampshire, Dorset and Northern Ireland. 
 
“In addition to the delivery of the mechanical and electrical works in these areas, we have enhanced our scope of services to include fabric works.  As a result of the contract we will be transferring teams in each area from the outgoing contractors, adding an additional 100 employees to the Richard Irvin headcount during November.”  
 
Richard Irvin’s Technical FM team works with customers from a wide variety of sectors including local authorities, commercial managing agents, Oil and Gas and Leisure and Retail.  Core services include planned and reactive maintenance, housing servicing, energy management and minor projects.
 
Established in 1871, Richard Irvin Energy Solutions is one of Scotland’s largest private engineering companies, currently employing 450 staff across its network of bases in Dundee, Edinburgh, Elgin, Glasgow, Inverness and its head office in Aberdeen.
 
The business turns over £45 million a year, with a large percentage of this now coming from outside its North-East heartland.
 
Richard Irvin’s M&E installation customers include Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, Kier and Galliford Try, while its Technical FM customers include a number of local authorities, Hilton Hotel & Resorts, BP and Total E&P UK.
 
For further information on the services Richard Irvin offers to its customers or to view company case studies visit www.richard-irvin.com
Richard Irvin

11 October 2017

Richard Irvin Energy Solutions doubles headcount in Dundee after Scottish Electrical Group liquidation

Richard Irvin Energy Solutions (RIES) has doubled its presence in Dundee by recruiting nearly an eighth of the workers made redundant by the collapse of Scottish Electric Group.

The company, which specialises in mechanical and electrical (M&E) engineering and technical facilities management (TFM), opened its Dundee office in 2014.

 RIES has hired 12 members of staff to take its total headcount in the city to 24.

 The business is already very active in Dundee, Fife and Tayside and provides M&E projects to a number of organisations, including Dundee City Council, Ninewells Hospital, the University of Dundee and the University of St Andrews.

 Its current projects include the refurbishment of the Perth crematorium with Morrison Construction, which is expected to complete in December, and the firm is also active within Perth & Kinross Council’s framework with Hadden Construction.

 Kevin Shinnie, head of RIES’s M&E division, said: “This is not only a boost for our company but also for the wider business community in Dundee.

 “We were disappointed to hear that Scottish Electric Group had fallen into liquidation and so we are delighted that we can help many of those workers affected by the collapse of their former employer.

 “Being able to strengthen our business and the services that we supply to our at the same time as supporting the local economic is great.”

 Shinnie added: “This is a very exciting time for Dundee – the construction of the Victoria & Albert Museum will act as a catalyst to stimulate the local economy, not just on the waterfront but in the wider city.

 “Hiring these talented members of staff will help us to meet demand for our existing customers and make sure we’ve got the right mix of skills for the years ahead.”

 RIES employs 450 staff across its network of bases in Dundee, Edinburgh, Elgin, Glasgow, Inverness and its head office in Aberdeen.

 The business turns over £45 million a year, with 35 per cent of its business now coming from outside its North-East heartland.

 Its M&E installation customers include Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, Kier and Galliford Try, while its TFM clients consist of big names such as Carillion Amey, BP, Total E&P and Hilton.

Will Scarlett

10 October 2017

Scarlett makes his consultancy debut with the launch of two high-profile office developments

Will Scarlett, the former director of land, development and residential investment at Edinburgh-based estate agency Rettie & Co, has launched his own consultancy with two significant office developments.

Scarlett’s eponymous firm will consult on land and development deals, and in part, will continue to work with Rettie & Co on a number of existing development sites and land along the East Coast of Scotland.

Scarlett is kicking-off his solo career by selling Forth House and Playfair House, jointly with Rettie & Co, a pair of connected office buildings in Edinburgh city centre, on behalf of a London-based property fund.

Forth House, currently occupied by Forth Radio, is a category B listed townhouse located on Forth Street, while Playfair House is a modern office development on Broughton Street Lane and is currently occupied by Curo Compensation, the Humanist Society, Social Investment Scotland and Wallace Whittle.

Headon Developments is currently building 11 terraced mews houses on the lane, filling a gap site left behind by a former warehouse that was previously used as a car park.  Scarlett previously sold this site for the same fund while working at Rettie & Co. 

The new company is also jointly marketing a number of land deals including the former Forth Bridges Hotel site in South Queensferry, consented for up to 125 residential houses, the Touchill Farm development at Plean, which has planning consent for 167 units, and the Broich Road site in Crieff, which has consent for more than 300 units. 

Another prime site for sale is Beechmount, a mansion house in Edinburgh’s Corstorphine area set in eight acres with planning permission for a hotel.


Will Scarlett, director of Scarlett Land and Development, said: “After more than 15 years running the land and development team at Rettie & Co, I’m thrilled to be starting my own company.  I’m looking forward to working with landowners, property companies and funds to manage the sale and purchase of sites and developments.

“Forth House and Playfair House in Edinburgh are prime examples of the work that the new firm will undertake.

“Not only do they offer excellent income in their current guise as offices but they also present a rare opportunity to be developed into residential, serviced apartments, hotel or student accommodation, all of which will become even more attractive once the nearby Edinburgh St James development is completed in 2020.”

During his 15 years with Rettie & Co, Scarlett has worked on a number of high-profile projects in Edinburgh, including: the acquisition of the Q1 building at Quartermile development on the site of the former Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; the Summerhall development on the former Royal Dick Vet site; and the Edinburgh St James regeneration project.

His expertise extends beyond Scotland’s capital, with his other work having included the former Yorkhill hospital in Glasgow, the Perth City West development and the former Forth Bridges Hotel in South Queensferry.

Annie Hulme, who has worked alongside Will for more than 10 years, will join Scarlett Land and Development in mid-October.

Simon Rettie FRICS Managing Director at Rettie & Co, added: “Will has been instrumental in building our land and development department as part of the wider land and consultancy team over the past 15 years and so I’m delighted that we will continue to work together as he launches his new venture.

“Our two businesses will continue to work together on the sale of both land and developments across Scotland and the North East of England.”

Prior to joining Rettie & Co in 2002, Scarlett worked as a developer at Kilmartin Property Group.  His career has also included eight years with Clarkson as a shipbroker.  After an initial five years in London, Scarlett moved to Singapore to run a client account based in Jakarta, before spending three years working throughout the South-East Asian market.

He holds a history degree from the University of Bristol and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of Strathclyde’s Strathclyde Business School.

www.scarlettdev.co.uk

3 October 2017

New Owners Lay Out Plans for the Glenallachie after Toasting Completion of Distillery Deal

Billy Walker-led team unveil vision to launch single malt and create premium blends

The new owners of The GlenAllachie Distillery, near Aberlour, have unveiled their ambitious expansion plans for the business after completing the acquisition of the Speyside site from Pernod Ricard in a multi million pound deal.

Billy Walker, Graham Stevenson and Trisha Savage, who came together as The GlenAllachie Distillers Company Ltd to make the purchase, plan to launch a range of premium quality yet affordable whiskies in domestic and export markets.

Key targets include emerging markets as well as more established markets such as France, Germany and the United States.

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company will work with distributors that share its focus on quality drinks brands.  Plans include releasing a range of aged whiskies from a 10 year old to 25 year old.

In future, a range of single cask bottlings and special edition whiskies will be developed.

Experienced team 

Across the senior team the three directors of The GlenAllachie Distillers Company have almost 100 years’ experience in the Scotch whisky industry.

The consortium has also bought MacNair’s and White Heather, a pair of blended Scotch whisky brands, which it plans to rejuvenate with a various range of ages.

Majority shareholder Billy Walker served with Ballantine’s, Inver House and Burn Stewart before forming the BenRiach Distillery Company in 2003. 

The company was ultimately sold to American drinks giant and Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman last year, earning Walker the accolade of “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 2016 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.

Exciting opportunities ahead

Walker said:  “There are so many exciting opportunities in the whisky industry and the outlook for Scotch in emerging markets has never looked brighter.

“We want to create a boutique Scotch whisky company that is truly independent, Scottish-owned and managed. The team have all been in corporate roles previously and this is our opportunity to step away from that. At this stage in our careers we simply want to create a company that is fun to work with and passionate about making great whisky.

“The GlenAllachie Distillery has been in good hands and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to become the custodian and continue the development as a single malt.

“At fifty years old, it may be one of the younger distilleries on Speyside but the range of casks we have warehoused is tremendous, with whisky dating back to the 1970’s. Our aim is to nurture this liquid, develop the single malt and a range of blends that will be admired both home and abroad.”

Trisha Savage worked with Walker at both Burn Stewart and BenRiach, while Graham Stevenson is a former managing director at Inver House Distillers.

The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle.  It sits within a 20 acre estate and uses water sourced from Hangman’s Craig and Black Banks on the slopes of Ben Rinnes. It has four stills but unusually it also has two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.   Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com

Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_
John Phair, Pyreos

26 September 2017

Sensor Leaders Pyreos Win Major Innovation Grant

Edinburgh-based Pyreos has been awarded a grant of almost £1m to help drive forward the next generation of its world class thin-film pyroelectric infrared sensors.

Edinburgh-based Pyreos has been awarded a grant of almost £1m to help drive forward the next generation of its world class thin-film pyroelectric infrared sensors.

The company, spun out from German industrial firm Siemens in 2007, has received the £950,000 award from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. It paves the way for a joint project with world leading nanotechnology innovators at Imperial College in London, aimed at further enhancing the capabilities of ultra-sensitive PZT materials used in the production of pyroelectric thin films. 

The award cements Pyreos’ role as global leaders, and confirms UK recognition of the importance of PZT materials.

Pyreos, which is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre at the University of Edinburgh’s Kings Buildings campus, is the world’s only supplier of thin-film pyroelectric sensors.  They are used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products ranging from devices that detect flames or analyse gases through to spectrometers which analyse foodstuffs, engine oils and blood, through to switches and other electronics that detect gestures and presence.

The new project combines Imperial College’s expertise in thin film deposition control, characterisation and analysis, with Pyreos’ skill in sensor development.  A third partner, an Oxford-based SME, which specialises in the manufacture of highly customisable advanced modular sputtering (PVD) equipment, is also involved. 

The aim is to advance the general understanding and technology surrounding thin film pyroelectric oxides, piezoelectric and ferroelectric oxides, with a view to further enhancing product uniformity, repeatability and stability.

It also aims to develop new process control and monitoring capabilities, which it’s expected will pave the way for establishing the next volume manufacturing level. 

The award comes after Pyreos secured £1.8m of funding last year from new and existing shareholders to help expand the business. That followed a £2.5m funding package from investors in 2015.

As well as raising the potential for further jobs, the Innovate UK grant highlights the high regard for Scottish technology in a ground-breaking sector, and Pyreos’ role in commercialising ultra-sensitive PZT materials across a range of uses.

Dr John Phair, Chief Technical Officer of Pyreos, said: “The purpose of the project is to advance state-of-the-art techniques of depositing thin film pyroelectric oxides and piezoelectric and ferroelectric oxides generally, in order to obtain thin films with enhanced performance characteristics, substantially improved uniformity, repeatability and stability for volume manufacturing compared to what is available today.

“This project is vital for maintaining a strong Scotland and UK presence in the growing area of MEMS sensors for a high tech based economy.” 
Innovate UK
Innovate UK is sponsored by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

Imperial College London
Imperial College London is world-renowned for its nanoscience and nanotechnology research. The Thin Film Technology Lab provides facilities for nano-scale thin film deposition, device patterning and electrical characterisation.

About Pyreos

Pyreos is the world’s only supplier of thin-film pyroelectric sensors.  The company develops and makes these infra-red sensors for use in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products ranging from devices that detect flames or analyse gases through to spectrometers which analyse foodstuffs, engine oils and blood, through to switches and other electronics that detect gestures and presence. The company was spun out from German multinational Siemens in 2007 following €10m (£7.5m) of research and development work in Germany and is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in Edinburgh. The company owns an Intellectual Property portfolio of 173 patents.

Investors include Siemens Technology Accelerator (STA), Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC), Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise), Seraphim Capital and London Business Angels.

www.pyreos.com
@PyreosLtd
Caroline O’Brien

22 August 2017

Pyreos appoints industry veteran Caroline O’Brien as its vice president of sales and marketing

Pyreos, the world’s only supplier of thin-film pyroelectric sensors, has appointed technology industry veteran Caroline O’Brien to the newly-created position of vice president of sales and marketing.

Caroline has spent 25 years in the semiconductor and wider technology market, amassing experience across the business spectrum from start-up companies to blue-chip corporations across the UK, the United States and Asia.
 
Her career has included commercial and executive roles at semiconductor companies including NEC Electronics, Oxford Semiconductor and PLX Technology, now Avago.
 
Caroline joins Pyreos from Bedford-based audio components developer Tectonic Elements, where she was managing director.
 
Andrew Wallace, chief executive at Pyreos, said: “Caroline is an excellent addition to the Pyreos team and we’re delighted that she’s come to work with us as we continue to build the company.
 
“Her semiconductor and components experience across both start-ups and blue-chips adds an extra dimension to our sales and marketing.  Pyreos exported more that 80% of sales in FY16, mainly to Asia, Germany and the USA.  Caroline’s previous work in America and Asia will be key to continuing our export growth. 
 
“Given the quality of mid-IR sensors Pyreos design and manufacture, we are selling our products to a diverse range of market segments in a number of international territories.  This is why it is important to have talented sales and marketing staff like Caroline supporting the ground-breaking technical work that Pyreos undertakes from Scotland.”
 
Caroline added: “Pyreos has been on my radar for some time now, so I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to join the team.
 
“The company has been turning heads throughout the technology sector with its thin-film pyroelectric sensors and I’m excited that I’m going to be engaging customers with these components.
 
“Pyreos is already operating in a host of countries, including India, China, Japan and Korea, and I’m looking forward to expanding our international footprint.
 
“The sheer variety of applications for Pyreos’ sensors – from detecting flames and gases through to movement sensors for wearable technology – means that I’ll be able to work with a broad range of partners across a whole host of sectors.”
 
Caroline completed her bachelor of engineering degree in electrical and electronic engineering at Swansea University and gained a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Bath.
 
Her appointment is the latest in a series of hires for Pyreos as the senior team at the company adds skills and resources to fuel further expansion.
Bob & Bert's

22 August 2017

Scottish expansion for Bob & Berts coffee shops after £2m BGF investment

Coffee shop chain Bob & Berts is poised to open its first outlet in Scotland after serving up an ambitious expansion plan with £2 million of backing from BGF.

Industry expert Mohan Mansigani – a former chief finance officer at Costa Coffee and Casual Dining Group will join the board as non-executive chairman.
 
Bob & Berts was founded by Colin McClean, his father Arnold and brother-in-law David Ferguson in Portstewart.  The team recognised the market opportunity to create a differentiated offering, with a focus on satisfying demand for quality coffee and fresh food.  With its distinctive relaxed style and wide food offering, Bob & Berts appeals to a growing wide customer base.
 
The company already has a chain of 16 eateries in its native Northern Ireland and plans to open a further 30 stores over the next four years, creating up to 600 full- and part-time jobs in the process.

Twenty of the new outlets are planned for Scotland, accounting for some 400 jobs, with the first stores expected to open in the Central Belt of Scotland in the coming months.
 
The company’s strategy involves targeting market towns with strong local communities across Scotland, replicating Bob & Berts success to date.
 
Colin McClean, co-owner of Bob & Berts, said: “The business is growing quickly and we are looking forward to taking the next step. We have successfully opened ten stores in the past two years and are looking to open a further 30 stores over the next four years. 
 
“Working with BGF will enable us to accelerate our growth plans and we are now actively looking at sites in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Fundamental to our growth plans will be maintaining the culture and the ethos that has made Bob & Berts a hit with our customers.”   
 
David Ferguson, co-owner of Bob & Berts, added: “When we set up Bob & Berts, we wanted to offer something different to large multi-national coffee chains. Our branding, food selection and interior design sets us apart from our competition and we believe we have created an environment that encourages people to relax. All of our new cafes will be created with this culture in mind.”
 
New chair Mansigani served as chief finance officer at Casual Dining Group – the company behind brands including Belgo, Bella Italia and Café Rouge – from 2002 until 2014, having previously worked as finance director at Costa Coffee and TGI Fridays and in senior finance roles at Grand Metropolitan and Pizza Hut.
 
Gemma Hamilton, an investor at BGF, will also join the board of Bob & Berts.
 
Patrick Graham, Head of BGF’s Central Scotland and Northern Ireland team, said: “We are excited to begin working with Colin and David who, in a short period, have successfully developed a strong brand with significant growth potential. 
 
“This investment, along with the introduction of Mohan, who brings a wealth of experience to the company, will help unlock their desire and drive to expand significantly in the coming years and we look forward to partnering with the business for this journey.”
 
BGF’s other investments in the leisure and hospitality sectors include Bar Soba, Mexican restaurant group Barburrito, and Thai chain Giggling Squid.
 
An established and independent company, BGF has £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies – early stage, growth stage and quoted – across every region and sector of the economy.
 
In return for an initial investment of typically between £2m and £10m, BGF takes a minority equity stake in the business.
 
The company can also provide follow-on investment and access to its Talent Network of business leaders who can give advice to its portfolio of companies.
 
Advisors to the transaction include:
  • Company Advisors: Deloitte 
  • Company Lawyers: Shoosmiths
  • BGF Lawyers: Tughans
  • BGF Tax Diligence: RSM 
About BGF
 
BGF is the most active and influential investor in small and mid-sized businesses in the UK and Ireland. An established and independent company, it has £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies – early stage, growth stage and quoted – across every region and sector of the economy.
 
BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in return for a minority stake in the companies in backs. Initial investments are typically between £2-£10m and BGF can provide significant follow-on funding. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs. With a 150+ strong team, BGF offers an unparalleled international network of business leaders, sector experts, board-level non-executives and provides in-house support with Chair and senior executive selection and appointments.
 
BGF offers flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and unsecured debt. BGF can provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies.
 
www.bgf.co.uk
@bgf_team

21 August 2017

Funding Boost is Game Changer for Life Changing Charity

The Polar Academy, a Bo’ness based charity with the aim of inspiring and positively changing young peoples’ lives through exploration, has today (Monday 21 August) announced it is the recipient of a significant award from The Weir Charitable Trust discretionary award fund.

Craig Mathieson, who since establishing The Polar Academy in 2014 has worked tirelessly to transform the lives of young people crushed by a lack of self-confidence and self esteem, described the substantial £60,000 sum as a “hugely generous donation and a game changer for The Polar Academy that through exploration is fully committed to positively changing young lives in Scotland.”  
 
In just four years The Polar Academy has already engaged more than 50,000 pupils across the country. However, despite the positive feedback from participants and their families involved with the charity, The Polar Academy has remained wholly dependent on private donations and the help of founding supporters, including Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group, in order to raise the £170,000 annually required to operate. 
 
Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and one of only 12 polar explorers in the world to have skied to both the south and north poles, has no doubt the donation by The Weir Charitable Trust marks a further and significant step-change for The Polar Academy. 
 
The 48 year-old commented:  “I’m personally overwhelmed by the hugely generous financial support offered by The Weir Charitable Trust. Its support will directly impact on our commitment to use exploration to transform the physical and mental wellbeing of young people who feel invisible at school and plagued by feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.  
 
“Specifically, this donation will make a huge difference to our 2017/2018 expedition training programme that’s focused on helping some of the pupils at Lochgelly High School in Fife.”
 
Annually for the past three years, ten teenage boys and girls from Scottish schools have been selected by The Polar Academy to undertake a rigorous and life-changing eight-month training programme.  
 
With the active support of their school and family, for each participant the journey to transform their life culminates in a challenging, self-guided 100km, 10-day expedition in Eastern Greenland. It’s relentless and tough but individual confidence soars as each young person successfully hauls his or her own 45kg sledge, camps and navigates through some of the world’s remotest terrain. All return home as ordinary pupils who have achieved the extraordinary. Exuding fitness and a can do attitude, the youths subsequently recount their experiences to peer groups in schools across Scotland; inspiring others to also change their life for the better.” 
 
Lorraine Tait, manager of The Weir Charitable Trust, explained why the trust decided to support The Polar Academy. “Since creating The Polar Academy, Craig Mathieson has demonstrated a passionate and relentless commitment to help positively transform the mental and physical wellbeing of young people in Scotland. 
 
“Significantly, feedback from parents and participants involved with The Polar Academy highlights how its methods undoubtedly help a young person regain self-confidence and esteem.  Previous participants clearly gain the physical and mental strength to lead positive and fulfilled lives and to serve as role models in their community.  
 
“The Weir Charitable Trust hopes that this £60,000 award towards training and running costs will ensure that The Polar Academy can continue to build on its impressive work to boost the mental and physical health of Scotland’s young people.” 
 
www.weircharitabletrust.com
www.thepolaracademy.org
Nick Gibbons

31 July 2017

Drone-jacking: The perils and possibilities

DRONE technology offers many benefits – from the potential for speedy Amazon deliveries from the sky, to saving lives, as witnessed recently when the Lochaber mountain rescue team used a drone to help find an injured climber.

But on the flip side, there are risks associated with this aerial technology – for example drone jacking or hacking. 

Typically, when the conversation moves to the subject of drone-jacking, people immediately envisage a Hollywood-style breach of national security - probably in or around the White House - before Will Smith leaps in to save the day.

However, attacks on this technology represent very real risks for the growing number of businesses using drones for more ‘everyday' purposes, such as engineers surveying buildings and infrastructure, ecommerce giants sending deliveries by drone, or companies gathering surveillance for insurance claims.

As a law firm, we are currently seeing increasing interest and investment in drone technology for a range of purposes. Earlier this year, Amazon announced an expansion to its research and development team in Cambridge.

This will see 400 technology specialists get to work on fine-tuning the technology behind delivery drones. Despite claims that such deliveries are ‘pipe dreams', there is a growing market for commercial drone technology, and with this comes a growing risk of drone-jacking.

Last November, a report from security software company McAfee predicted that cybercriminals will soon turn their attention to targeting drones, particularly those used for law enforcement, filming and deliveries.

Drones without adequate security in place will be vulnerable to hacks, as well as physical attacks. The McAfee report speculates that 2017 will see an increase in availability, via the dark web, of pre-packaged software and toolkits for hacking drones.

In these cases, hacking of the drone itself or its supporting software may result in either physical misuse or data breaches. Hacking for the physical diversion of a drone carries the potential for personal injury or property damage, or actual theft of the drone or indeed the item it was carrying.

Theft of data is another real risk, particularly if the drone contains personal or sensitive information, whether customer data included for delivery purposes or even footage collected via an attached camera.

The loss of data via drone-jacking leaves businesses and authorities with many privacy concerns - especially with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation coming in to force in May 2018.

In recent years, there have been a raft of data breaches resulting in an invasion of privacy for customers of companies, including TalkTalk and Camelot, and breaches of the GDPR could entail fines of up to four per cent of a company's global turnover.

These attacks are becoming ever-more sophisticated and wide-reaching; recently, we saw the extensive damage that hackers can unleash with the WannaCry cyber attack bringing organisations across the globe to a standstill.

If cyber attacks start targeting drones, drone-jacking could leave businesses and their customers equally exposed with regards to personal and commercial data, and the prospect of big fines levied by the Information Commissioner's Office.

Although the use of drones is already, to an extent, covered by a range of laws and regulations, including the Data Protection Act, greater focus and more specific and targeted legislation is necessary, as are effective insurance products for organisations that use drones. This is especially important with the European Commission predicting full integration of drones into European airspace by 2028.

The UK Government is clearly live to the emerging risks of drone technology. Following a recent consultation exercise, a registration system is to be launched for drones weighing 250g or more. The UK Government is now considering the best legislative option for introducing the new rules. 

Currently, a combination of existing insurance policies are required to cover the risks associated with drone technology. As the risk of electronic theft of sensitive data rises, the market for these specialised policies grows.

In the case of drone-jacking, it would be wise for a business to consider cyber risk policies that are available for first and third parties. These policies can provide protection against business interruption, reputational risks, loss or theft of third party corporate data notification expenses and the payment of compensation to individuals affected by security or privacy breaches. Care should be taken, however, when selecting a particular cyber policy, including detailed discussions with a specialized broker, to ensure that that policy does in fact cover the businesses individual cyber exposures when using drones.

So while drones may have life-saving potential for Scotland’s mountain rescue teams and a business may find investing in drone technology an attractive proposition, an outbreak of drone-jacking could be incredibly costly. It is critical that companies consider the security breaches drone-jacking could leave them open to, and invest in the appropriate protection, for when Will Smith is not available.

Nick Gibbons is a cyber security expert and partner at law firm BLM.

23 July 2017

Charity to Benefit from First Release of Polar Explorer Single Malt

Limited edition Islay whisky containing Arctic iceberg water  will appeal to collectors with nose for adventure 

The launch today (Sunday 23 July) of a limited edition 12 year-old Port Charlotte single malt Islay whisky that includes drops of pure blue, millennia-old iceberg water from the Sermilik Fjord in Eastern Greenland, is certain to appeal to the international whisky collector with a nose for unique expressions and adventure. 
 
From this Friday (28 July), bids with an expected starting price of £100 can be placed through Whisky Auctioneer for one of ten individually numbered bottles of the Polar Explorer single malt whisky. All monies raised from the auction of each bottle will directly benefit the work of The Polar Academy - a Scottish charity. 
 
Following the auction, donations can also be made directly to the charity for one of an additional 190 bottles of the limited edition single malt whisky. 
 
Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and one of only 12 polar explorers in the world to have skied to both the south and north poles, founded the charity in 2014. Its life-changing work helps young people afflicted by low self-esteem to unlock their potential and redefine their physical and mental limits through expeditions to the Arctic. The charity has already engaged more than 50,000 young people across Scotland. 
 
Mathieson’s remarkable journeys have also inspired the Polar Explorer.  It is the first single malt whisky from Scotland to reduce its natural cask strength to 50% ABV by incorporating water from Scotland and melted pure blue iceberg water from Greenland.
 
In the summer of 2016, while exploring by sea-kayak, Mathieson carefully collected samples of iceberg calved from the ancient glaciers and now adrift in the stunning and remote Sermilik Fjord.  Meaning ‘place of glaciers’ in Greenlandic, its serene waters form one of the largest fjords on the south-eastern coast of Greenland. 
 
The internationally acclaimed whisky expert Charles MacLean described the Polar Explorer as ‘a cracking dram’ and went on to explain:  “It is a very interesting whisky with real depth and a very good texture.  It’s an exceptionally good Port Charlotte with a base note of smoked honey glazed ham and salty seaweed.  It was a real honour to meet Craig and learn more about his Polar exploration.  I have scored the Polar Explorer an impressive 8.1 out of 10.”
 
The journey to produce every precious drop of the Polar Explorer single malt whisky began when a single sherry cask of matured Port Charlotte single malt whisky was generously gifted to Craig Mathieson by Steve Thom, a director of Edinburgh-based Cornhill Building Services Ltd.  A heavily peated single malt whisky with a long finish, Port Charlotte is an expression expertly crafted by the renowned Bruichladdich Distillery on the Inner Hebridean Isle of Islay.   
 
From the single privately owned cask of Port Charlotte, a limited number of bottles subsequently received the addition of pure iceberg water.  A very small amount of ice was carefully hand harvested in the same way the local Inuit population has collected ice for water for centuries.
 
Mathieson, who is also the first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 129 years, has signed each individually numbered bottle of Polar Explorer.  Designed by Wolffe in Edinburgh, Polar Explorer is presented in a wooden box and wrapped in an eye-catching sketch map of Arctic Greenland.  The necktie and beautifully illustrated label tell the story of the explorer’s bonds to both the wild waters and landscapes of the Isle of Islay and Arctic Greenland. 
 
Commenting on the launch of the Polar Explorer, Craig Mathieson said: “Supported by Trustees of The Polar Academy and private donors, today I am immensely proud to announce the first release of individually numbered and signed bottles of the Polar Explorer limited edition single malt whisky.
 
“The Polar Explorer is truly unique, a bottle that reflects both its spiritual home in the Isle of Islay and bond with the wild Arctic landscape.  Both are close to my heart. To support the work of The Polar Academy, I invite purveyors of this fine single malt Scotch whisky to bid at auction, or subsequently make a donation to the charity for a bottle of the whisky and share my taste for a fine malt and adventure. Slainte!”  
 
www.thepolaracademy.org
@polar_academy
facebook.com/thepolaracademy
 
Polar Explorer – Tasting Notes
Courtesy of Blair Bowman, whisky consultant and author (www.blairbowman.com)

Colour: Bright copper

Nose: Salted caramel with macaroons and pear drops at first, followed by soot and sea salt. More green fruit notes, crisp granny smith apples and very tart gooseberries.  Balanced with sweet and soft smoke. 

Palate: A chewy and juicy mouth feel gives more delicious apples and pear notes, combined with burnt marshmallow and smouldering charcoal BBQ smoke. Followed by more sea spray, waxy ropes and oily soot. 

Finish: A wonderfully long finish that perfectly balances elements of sweet and smoke. 

Overall: A fantastic dram with plenty of fruitiness and smoke, though not too much smoke, to appeal to a wide variety of tastes. A cracking dram to sip and savour with friends after a meal (or after an arduous expedition!) letting the combination of sweet and smoke dance on your tongue.
 
About Craig Mathieson
After a career in the military, Mathieson went on to lead the first dedicated Scottish expedition to the South Pole in 2004, The Scot100 Expedition.  The route took him from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. In temperatures below minus 55°C, he hauled a 180lb sledge for 56 days over a total distance of 730 miles.  
 
He has since completed many expeditions, including skiing to the North Pole. Yet he gains the most satisfaction from training and inspiring the young adults he annually selects to join him on Arctic expedition in Greenland.  It’s a life-changing journey for the participants, redefining their physical and mental limits. In the Arctic wilderness, self-confidence soars with every step. 
 
The label of the Polar Explorer limited edition single malt whisky reads
‘Craig Mathieson’s senses are enlivened when paddling amidst Greenland’s icebergs and circumnavigating Islay’s challenging waters. Islands close to his heart, it’s fitting that every precious bottle from the Polar Explorer’s malt cask is informed by pure drops of iceberg and the sea air of the malt’s spiritual home. Slainte!

19 July 2017

Catering firm Entier’s overseas expansion is oven-ready thanks to £6.5m BGF investment

Entier, Scotland’s largest independent privately-owned catering company, is preparing to grab a bigger slice of international markets after BGF (Business Growth Fund) served up a £6.5m investment.

The Westhill-based company in the north east of Scotland plans to expand its overseas operations, building on its existing work at 38 remote locations in 23 countries.  The business already has a presence in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States, and last year picked up a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade.
 
Revenues grew by 13 per cent in the year to 30 September 2016 to £44.9m despite the industry downturn in the prices of oil and gas, with pre-tax profits rising by 72 per cent to £1.5m.
 
More than 4,500 people on oil and gas rigs and other remote installations around the world are served meals each day by Entier’s 760 staff, along with receiving hotel services such as cleaning, laundry, recreational & welfare services and with an emphasis on wellbeing and healthy eating.  Major clients in the offshore sector include Apache, Awilco Drilling, EnQuest, Rowan Drilling and Technip.
 
Chief executive Peter Bruce founded Entier in 2008 after running similar services for catering giant Compass, with Aberdeen businessman Mike Reilly, former proprietor of the Olive Tree Restaurant in Aberdeen’s west end.
 
Bruce said: “I’ve said in the past that I want to grow Entier into a £100m company and, with the backing of BGF, I believe we could do far better than that.
 
“While the price of oil and gas remains low, offshore operators are keeping a keen eye on cost, which presents opportunities for companies like Entier because we are big enough to deliver large contracts, but small enough to work with clients to offer bespoke services on their offshore installations.
 
“An army marches on its stomach, and we focus on delivering high quality, healthy and nutritious food to offshore workers, to play our part in improving productivity and reducing costs.”
 
Back onshore, Entier has developed the Fresh chain of cafés situated across Aberdeen as well as providing catering and hospitality services in 20 client offices including Stork, Helix and Archer.

The company also recently acquired Wilde Thyme, the Perthshire-based catering firm, which runs the restaurants at Glamis Castle in Angus and the Glenturret Distillery in Perthshire, home to the Famous Grouse whisky brand.
 
In addition to its permanent premises, Wilde Thyme is the caterer of choice at various venues including the new Barn @ Bara Castle in Aberdeenshire & Carlowrie, Cluny and Drumlanrig castles. Wilde Thyme are the only hospitality company that can cover all of the National Trust Sites in Scotland.
 
Mike Sibson, head of BGF’s Aberdeen office, said: “We are most impressed by the way in which Peter Bruce and his team have differentiated themselves from their rivals.  They provide a bespoke service and build strong relationships with their clients, and the customer feedback is outstanding.
 
“We are delighted to be backing one of Aberdeen’s success stories, and to have the opportunity to support Peter and the team in their continued growth.”
 
Simmons & Company International represented the shareholders of Entier.  Nick Dalgarno, managing director of Simmons & Company, said: “Despite the backdrop of challenging market conditions, Entier has continued to demonstrate strong growth and increase their market share.  At what is an exciting time in the company’s strategic development, this transaction represents an excellent deal for BGF and the Entier shareholders, setting the company up for significant future growth”      
 
About BGF: BGF (Business Growth Fund) is the UK’s most active provider of growth capital to small and mid-sized businesses. The companies it backs are privately-owned or listed on AIM, and typically have revenues of between £5m and £100m. BGF makes initial investments of between £2m-£10m and can provide additional funding to support further growth. The investment provided is typically in the form of equity in return for a minority equity stake.

26 June 2017

Chance for Corporate Scotland to Engage in Mindfulness for Personal, Business & CSR Success

The official business launch event today (26 June 2017) of The Mindful Enterprise aims to encourage corporate leaders and executives to reflect as much on the strength of their own mind as spread-sheets and sales pitches in order to positively transform individual and team business performance; and life beyond the office. 

The Mindful Enterprise C.I.C is the brainchild of owner Gary Young and chairman Alister Gray of the executive coaching business, Mindful Talent.

Young (41) is an Edinburgh-based father of one and passionate about the transformative effects of mindfulness and meditation.  He has 23 years previous experience working in financial services, including 12 years involved in strategic business change in the Scottish banking sector. 

Sceptics may question the validity of introducing a new intervention into an already pressurised, busy work environment. However, a wealth of research, including by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) documents organisations as diverse as Google, Transport for London, the US military and BlueBay Asset Management have recorded positive outcomes as a result of employee participation in mindfulness. 

Transport for London observed a 71 per cent reduction in absence rates due to employee stress and anxiety while participant feedback in private sector businesses highlighted greater focus in meetings and ability to prioritise.

Young is now encouraging members of Scotland’s corporate sector to explore the business and personal benefits of adopting a ‘mindful’ approach in the office and everyday life.  

He already works on mindfulness with business teams at KPMG and recycling business Changeworks and the social enterprise now wants to use its taster sessions, workshops and courses to engage other corporate businesses. The sector has already positively responded to an opportunity to attend a free mindfulness in the workplace event on Wednesday 28 June in Edinburgh. All tickets are now allocated for the evening at The Dome at which the guest speaker will be Martin Stepek, a mindfulness expert and author.

As Young explained: “The Mindful Enterprise is a mindfulness and meditation training provider that delivers tailored, innovative programmes in both the public and private sector. My motivation is to help people at work, in education and home to thrive and to live their best life. 

“In the fast-paced, often stressful world of business, the simple power of mindfulness, focusing on the present, is often overlooked. Yet mindfulness has been shown to open the door for people to adopt more positive actions that will benefit the individual, their work, education and family.” 

Reflecting a vision to ensure mindfulness becomes part of the core school curriculum in the years ahead, 20% of the company profits will go towards part-funding mindfulness courses in Scottish schools and to provide free training to disadvantaged young people and adults in impoverished communities in Scotland. 

Since 2015, Young has been further developing his business model and building an executive team. He has undertaken pilot programmes on mindfulness with S5/S6 groups at Larbert High in Stenhousemuir and Drummond Community High School in Edinburgh. Since May, the social enterprise has also delivered a 7-week mindfulness course to (P5) pupils in Abbeyhill Primary School in Scotland’s capital. 
 
Young added: “Part of our business model is trying to team up corporate
businesses with schools, to help part fund the mindfulness courses to pupils.  With benefits to both the school and the business, this also presents a relatively low cost CSR opportunity for corporates.” 

Young has no doubt that his own life has been greatly influenced by the power of mindfulness.  He grew up with a close family member who suffered from mental health problems and who spent many months being treated in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Consequently, during their adolescent years Young and his sister suppressed a lot of their own emotions.

It was only in his early 30’s, after throwing himself into a successful career and busy social life that Young began to recognise a need to re-evaluate his life and heal some ‘old wounds.’ He turned to meditation, a technique which had an immediate and transformative impact, led to new ways of behaving and thinking and igniting his passion to help others.

He hopes his engagement with the corporate sector will lead to greater implementation of mindfulness in schools and communities. Said Young: “I want to see mindfulness recognised as a fundamental part of Scottish and global workplace culture, promoting improved health, wellbeing and optimal performance.” 

About Gary Young and The Mindful Enterprise   
  • Gary Young has 23 years in financial services, including 12 in strategic business change in the banking sector. 
  • Initially formed in 2015, over the past two years the social enterprise has steadily evolved, undertaking pilot programmes with a number of schools and providing mindfulness sessions to corporate businesses. 

16 June 2017

It’s Gold for Mollie … Everest Record Breaker Awarded Rare Blue Peter Badge

Mollie Hughes, who on 16 May became the world’s youngest woman to climb Mount Everest (8848m) from both sides, is today (Friday 16 June) also one of very few adults to be the recipient of a prestigious gold Blue Peter badge. 

The rare accolade was announced live on air last night during the CBBC Blue Peter programme, when the inspirational 26-year old climber was in the Blue Peter garden recounting her recent experience of ascending the north side of the world’s highest mountain - and entering the record books.  

The Devon-born, Edinburgh-based climber, who works for the outdoor retail adventure specialist Tiso, had previously ascended the south side of Mount Everest in 2012 at the age of just 21. 

Each year a handful of gold badges are awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements, bravery, inspiration and citizenship. Tim Peake the British astronaut, Oscar-winning film director Steven Spielberg and children’s author JK Rowling are among relatively few previous adult recipients of CBBC Blue Peter’s coveted top award that is a gold-plated brooch in the shape of the iconic Blue Peter ship logo. 

The award came as a complete surprise for the unassuming Hughes, who in May was photographed holding a blue coloured Blue Peter badge on the summit of the world’s highest peak. 

Referring to her award, an emotional Hughes, said: "I am both surprised and humbled by this super cool award of a gold Blue Peter badge. I'm absolutely thrilled. You could say I’m on top of the world - again! 

“It's wonderful to be recognised in this way, but more importantly I hope my record breaking Everest climb and this gold Blue Peter badge will really inspire young people across the country, and in particular girls to realise that it's always possible to follow and achieve your dream." 

Ewan Vinnicombe, Editor of Blue Peter, said: “Mollie’s exceptional achievement is an inspiration to our viewers. Our gold Blue Peter badge is very well deserved. We’ve been following Mollie’s story this year and were very pleased to see a Blue Peter badge make it to the summit of Everest with her.”

During her latest ascent of Everest, Hughes also succeeded in raising thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK by asking people to pledge £1 for very metre she climbed. The brave and unassuming climber is currently undertaking speaking engagements throughout the UK, hoping her climb to the top of the world will inspire as many children as possible to pursue their own ambitions in life. 

Notes to the editor
Mollie Hughes reached the summit of Mount Everest in the early hours of 16 May 2017.  She climbed the mountain with guide Jon Gupta and two sherpas as part of the Tiso Returns to Mount Everest 2017 expedition. 

Hughes is three years younger than Ms Maya Sherpa (Patale) of Nepal who in 2007 was aged 29 when she summited Everest for the second time.  Hughes is also 28 years younger than Lynne Hanna (Northern Ireland) who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain. 

Mount Everest was officially successfully first climbed by the mountaineers Tenzing Norgay and (Sir) Edmund Hillary in 1953.

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