The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Have your say on the future of Ayr town centre

Ayr Renaissance and South Ayrshire Council are staging two public exhibitions to let people have their say on ways to transform Ayr town centre.


The exhibitions running in Ayr Town Hall on Monday 18 June and Wednesday 20 June from 3:30pm – 7:30pm will explore ways to make the most of Ayr’s streets, squares and open spaces, transforming them for the benefit of locals and visitors.

Urban design experts, led by Ironside Farrar, will be on hand to discuss ideas and capture feedback particularly in relation to improving Burns Statue Square and finding a use for the empty site called Affleck’s Block behind the town hall.


How can Burns Statue Square (pictured above) be turned into an iconic gateway leading to the heart of the town? What can be done to make use of derelict sites such as Affleck’s Block?

The exhibitions are a chance for people to comment on possible solutions and introduce their own ideas too.  The main themes to be explored during the exhibitions will be accessibility, movement and activity and other ways to make the most of Ayr town centre.

Information gathered during the exhibitions will be used to develop a public realm strategy for Ayr town centre with a view to securing funding for possible projects.

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder for the Council said: “The exhibition in Ayr Town Hall is an opportunity for people to comment on concepts and designs which will transform Ayr’s public spaces.

“This is very much a partnership approach, so we want to hear from people interested in putting their mark on the continued regeneration of Ayr town centre.”

James Knox Chair of Ayr Renaissance said: “Our role is to develop a vision and a masterplan for these key locations. It’s vital that the people of Ayr get involved at this early stage of the process so that their thoughts and ideas can become part of the solution to the regeneration of Ayr town centre. I urge everyone who loves Ayr to make it to the exhibitions.”

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Ayr Racecourse and Western House come out top

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR Racecourse and Western House Hotel have been voted the best in Scotland.


They beat off strong competition to win two prestigious honours at the third 2018 Scottish Hospitality Awards held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow.

The Racecourse won Sports Venue of the Year while Western House was crowned Hotel of the Year after first winning the regional category for the south west.

The finalists in the Sports Venue included Hampden Park, Celtic Park, Ibrox Park, Hamilton Racecourse and Murrayfield Stadium.

The aim of the awards is to acknowledge the success of local professionals and establishments from restaurants and hotels to festivals and venues. The winners are chosen by members of the general public and reflect the high standard and customer service of the Scottish hospitality industry.

Ayr Racecourse and Western House Hotel managing director David Brown commented: “It is a huge honour to receive these two prestigious awards.

“When you consider the very many fine hotels there are throughout Scotland, for Western House to win overall Hotel of the Year is an outstanding achievement and a credit to the staff.

“The honour of being voted Sports Venue of the Year is a major coup for the Racecourse team given the incredibly high standard of the major sporting venues there are in Scotland. We are proud that both the Racecourse and Western House have been recognised in this way.”

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Thursday, 31 May 2018

Ayr accountancy firm Sinclair Scott joins Campbell Dallas

Ayr-based Sinclair Scott, a long-established independent accountancy firm stretching back more than 100 years, has joined Campbell Dallas.


[Pictured L-R: Chris Horne, Managing Partner at Campbell Dallas; 
Andrew Sinclair and Stephen Wilkie, Partners at Sinclair Scott.]

The deal will see all 20 staff and 2 Partners transfer to Campbell Dallas, and add around £1.3m of fee income per annum. Campbell Dallas acquired Kilmarnock-based White & Co in October 2016, and is now one of the largest full-service accountancy firms in Ayrshire with a staff and Partner complement of 38.

The deal with Sinclair Scott is Campbell Dallas’ first following the merger with Baldwins in October 2017, when the firm announced plans to drive growth in Scotland by a combination of acquisitions and organic expansion.

Sinclair Scott provides a broad range of accountancy, advisory, tax and compliance services to a mix of owner managed businesses, community enterprises, entrepreneurs, and private individuals. The firm has a strong client base in the charities, rural, farming and healthcare sectors.

Chris Horne, managing partner of Campbell Dallas said the acquisition was an exciting move for both firms: “Sinclair Scott is a highly respected local firm with a long history of advising businesses and private clients, and we are delighted to welcome them to Campbell Dallas. The deal provides us with further scale and reach to expand our client base throughout Ayrshire and the South West of Scotland, as well as building on our sectoral expertise within the medical, dental and rural sectors. It also provides our staff access to rewarding career opportunities across our growing business.

Andrew Sinclair, Partner at Sinclair Scott added: “Joining Campbell Dallas presents an exciting opportunity for our clients as we can now offer a full range of advisory services together with access to specialist technical knowledge in areas such as international tax, VAT, corporate finance, banking and re-structuring. The move will also enable significant investment in IT, providing clients with access to the latest online portals and platforms that comply with HMRC’s focus on ‘Making Tax Digital’. It will remain ‘business as usual’ for our clients, many of whom have been with Sinclair Scott for several decades, but we can now offer them access to the resources of one of Scotland’s most ambitious accountancy firms.”

Campbell Dallas is one of Scotland’s largest local accountancy firms, with over 300 partners and staff working from offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, and Kilmarnock. Services cover audit and assurance, business and banking advisory, tax compliance and consulting, VAT, business recovery, insolvency and corporate finance. Industry expertise includes Family Businesses, Rural, Healthcare, Food and Drink, Brewing and Distilling, Construction and Professional Services. In October 2017 Campbell Dallas became part of the CogitalGroup, an international business services group through a merger with Baldwins, which included Springfords in Edinburgh.

Sinclair Scott is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

HALO Scotland partners with Onecom to connect Kilmarnock development to the world

The HALO Scotland Kilmarnock urban regeneration project has teamed up with Onecom, the UK’s leading independent provider of business-to-business telecommunications, in a partnership that will ensure the HALO development is among the most connected in the country when it opens its doors in 2020.


As part of the innovative agreement, Onecom, one of the fastest growing telecoms companies in the UK, will use its Belfast office to establish its Scottish operational and sales hub within The HALO’s Enterprise & Innovation Centre.

The HALO Scotland Kilmarnock is one of four HALO developments planned for the UK. Onecom’s office in Belfast, which is a proposed city for a future HALO, will play a key role in delivering the telecoms to all of these developments, managing all future HALO projects and servicing the needs of all tenants on a national scale.

In addition, Onecom will:

Encourage and enable everyone within The HALO development to access the latest telecommunication technologies, empowering entrepreneurs to realise their full potential

Provide leading-edge products, services and support to ensure that The HALO has state of the art telecommunications and broadband connectivity

* Provide business and domestic telecommunications services to companies and homes located within The HALO

Partner with East Ayrshire schools, Ayrshire College, University of West of Scotland and other educational establishments to enhance the employability of young people by providing specialist technical input to student learning and practical skills development.


[Pictured: Marie Macklin, Founder and Executive Chair of the 
HALO Group, and Paul Lawther, Head of Onecom Northern Ireland.]

Marie Macklin, Founder and Executive Chair of The HALO Group, said: “Onecom has demonstrated amazing enthusiasm and energy in their approach to this partnership, and I am confident that with them on board The HALO Scotland will be the most connected development in the country.  Onecom is the leading innovative telecommunications company in Northern Ireland and their support has been crucial in also establishing a base in Belfast for HALO. This partnership demonstrates the benefits of our multi-site approach to developing The HALO concept.”

Gary Deans, Enterprise Director for The HALO Scotland, said: “Telecommunications has never been more important than it is in the 21st century. and the sector is developing rapidly, at the centre of the fourth industrial revolution, the digital revolution. I am confident that through this partnership with Onecom we can ensure that The HALO and everyone located within the development have access to the latest telecommunications products and services.”

Darren Ridge, Chief Executive Officer of Onecom said: “To describe The HALO Scotland as ‘exciting’ is very much an understatement. Regeneration projects such as these are bold, brave and very necessary in these straitened times; Onecom is proud and privileged to contribute both its technology knowhow and business expertise.”


[Pictured: Marie Macklin, Founder and Executive Chair of the 
HALO Group, and Paul Lawther, Head of Onecom Northern Ireland.]

The HALO Kilmarnock is an inspired and imaginative brown-field regeneration initiative located on the site of the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire. It is being shaped as a multi-faceted development that will create a unique urban park with dynamic commercial, educational, cultural, and leisure opportunities and lifestyle quarter. The development will also include a light manufacturing facility and private rental accommodation for key workers.

The development is one of four HALO projects planned for the UK that are being seen as catalysts for urban regeneration. The next HALO project is proposed for Belfast, with Wales and the North West of England to follow. It is envisaged that The HALO Scotland will connect through road and rail infrastructure directly to the Northern Powerhouse, creating economic benefits across the wider area.

The HALO Scotland will:

Contribute £120m of GDP to the Scottish economy annually

Create 1,400+ direct jobs

Support 630 construction jobs.
Posted by the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.




Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Trainer Olly Murphy saddles a treble at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

TRAINER Olly Murphy made the 650 mile round trip from his Warwickshire base pay off by saddling a treble at Ayr’s May Jumps meeting last Monday.

First up was Miles To Milan, a 6-4 chance, in the Book Direct At Western House Hotel Beginners' Chase. Jockey Aidan Coleman settled him in the back and he got the better of odds on favourite Clondaw Kaempfer in the home straight to win by a comfortable length and a quarter.


[Pictured: Miles to Milan, one of three winners for trainer Olly Murphy and jockey Aidan Coleman at Ayr Racecourse on Monday.]

The Coleman - Murphy combination doubled up with Weebill (5-6 fav) landing the Get Daily Tips at Racinguk.com Novices' Hurdle by seven lengths from Bialco.

The hat trick was completed for both trainer and jockey when Finawn Bawn won the concluding national hunt flat race at odds of 9-4.

Brian Hughes, named earlier in the day as the new number one rider for the powerful Donald McCain stable, celebrated by riding a double.

He gave Return Ticket (11-10 fav) an ultra-confident ride in Division One off the Book Now for the Scottish Sun Raceday Maiden Hurdle to win comfortably, and then followed up in division two of the maiden hurdle on 20-1 shot Shankill Castle for trainer Mike Smith.

Mike said afterwards: " Brian is the best jockey in the north, if not the whole of the UK. I’ll use him when he’s available, and I hope I can help him be champion jockey one day.”

The opening race on the card, a two mile five furlong handicap hurdle, was won by Final Reminder, 10-1, for Fife trainer Nick Alexander and jockey Grant Cockburn.

Flat racing makes it bow for the year at the track on Tuesday 22 May and Wednesday 23 May with May Raceday followed by Tennent’s Raceday.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Scotland’s oil and gas sector sustains strong international reputation

ternational activity from Scotland’s oil and gas supply chain expanded to account for almost 55% of the industry’s total sales during 2016/17.


Scottish Enterprise’s annual Survey of International Activity in the Oil and Gas Sector shows the sector delivered £10.4 billion of international sales, made up of £4.5 billion from direct exports and £5.9 billion from sales via international subsidiaries.

Reflecting the challenging year for the sector, the figures also reveal a 14.4% drop in total sales (domestic and international combined) for the year with the overall figure reaching just over £19 billion.

Commenting on the results, head of oil and gas at Scottish Enterprise, David Rennie, said: “This latest survey helps reinforce the fact that, despite the global downturn, Scotland’s skills and expertise in the oil and gas industry put it in a strong position to continue winning an impressive share of the contracted global market. While the overall level of sales fell during this period which was to be expected, the rise in the international sale reinforces our position as a global hub.

“Helping companies to grow their international activity continues to be a priority for us and we are delighted that over 70 companies have joined us this year on the Scotland pavilion at OTC in Houston, one of the world’s largest oil and gas shows.  Events like these make a huge difference to companies looking to grow their international presence, helping them showcase their world-renowned skills and experience and build important new contacts.”

According to the survey, the United States, Norway and the United Arab Emirates were the top markets for international activity and looking ahead, eight out of ten businesses are optimistic about sales growth in the coming years.

The survey, which was conducted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Scottish Enterprise, captures responses from 250 companies who are active in 111 countries worldwide and employ over 31,000 employees in Scotland.

Commenting on the survey, Aberdeen Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Russell Borthwick, said: “The energy sector has long been a significant contributor to the Scottish economy and this survey tells us that despite a challenging few years we can be confident that it will remain so. The progress that has been made in collaboration and innovation gives real cause for cautious optimism that the UKCS will remain viable as a profitable oil and gas production basin for many years to come.

“And the growing trend towards supply chain companies moving into overseas markets gives real encouragement that the goal of ‘anchoring the supply chain’ in North-east Scotland is achievable based on the world-leading technology, knowledge and experience developed in the North Sea being highly sought after at an international level.”

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Its role is to help identify and exploit the best opportunities for economic growth. It supports ambitious Scottish companies to compete within the global marketplace and helps build Scotland's globally competitive sectors. It also works with a range of partners in the public and private sectors to attract new investment to Scotland and to help create a world-class business environment.


Sunday, 29 April 2018

South Ayrshire businesses give their backing to the new look AMBITION

Businesses are lending their support to a new programme designed to drive economic growth and help start-up companies to succeed. South Ayrshire Council officially re-launched its AMBITION programme at a workshop at the University of the West of Scotland in Ayr on Wednesday 25 April.


[Pictured: South Ayrshire Councillors gather to celebrate AMBITION.]

Since 2013, more than 500 local businesses have received support via the programme for the benefit of South Ayrshire residents.

Mags Grace from Ayr set up her company Flying Feet in 2017. Her podiatry business specialises in the treatment of cabin crew. The AMBITION programme provided Mags with invaluable advice and support.

She said: “The support I received from AMBITION and the Council’s Business Gateway Service quite literally got my business off the ground.

“My adviser offered a whole range of advice from banking and accounts, to suggesting relevant workshops to develop my own business skills. Although it’s still early days, I now have the resources, connections and business knowledge I need to drive my business forward.”

The new AMBITION programme has a specific focus on supporting growth for existing businesses and help for individuals to start-up new companies.

Councillor Brian McGinley, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “We’re committed to supporting local companies to maximise their performance, creating business growth, and securing new jobs for South Ayrshire.  

“We’re actively working to make the most of the local economy and in the next three years we’ll be encouraging businesses to plan for growth in measured and sustainable ways.

“The new AMBITION programme is part of a bigger picture and I’m sure the new support will be welcomed in the business community. The feedback we’ve already had has been positive and I’d urge anyone with plans to expand to contact our team to find out more.”

The new Ambition to Achieve programme will provide new and existing businesses with access to a range of specialists in sales and marketing, finance, digital, procurement, people, innovation, and management development. 

Ambition to Grow discretionary grant funding will support businesses during periods of transition.  The grant is open to applications from new and existing South Ayrshire businesses to help deliver projects that create employment opportunities. Grants from £500 to £5,000 will be provided on up to 50% of qualifying project costs (10% in the case of capital expenditure).  The Ambition to Grow grant is for businesses looking to hire at least one additional full-time employee within the next 24 months.

Ambition to Start is aimed to help get businesses up and running, with grants available of up to £1,000 to cover start-up costs including capital expenditure and working capital.  The Ambition to Start grant is for also businesses with the ambition to hire at last one full-time employee within a two-year period.

For more information on AMBITION and to apply to the programme CLICK HERE 

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Joe Farrell wins Scottish Grand National 2018 at Ayr Racecourse

 By: Iain Ferguson

THE closest finish ever in a Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse saw 33-1 chance Joe Farrell hold on by a nose from Ballyoptic to land the £122,000 prize and give trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge their biggest ever success.


[Trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge 
celebrate their success at Ayr Racecourse.] 

It was an enthralling race, and at one point it looked as if Vicente was going to create history by becoming the first horse in more than 100 years to win three consecutive Scottish Grand Nationals. Sam Twiston-Davies had his mount perfectly situated on the outside of the pack, but his jumping didn’t stand up in the home straight, and he had to settle for a gallant fifth place. 

But take nothing away from the brilliant Joe Farrell who denied Ballyoptic’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies his fourth win in the race. Ironically Nigel also had the runner up last year in Cogry.

The story behind Joe Farrell is one of a horse whose career has been hampered by injury, but he turned up in fine fettle at the Craigie track on Saturday and delivered in spades. He led three out, and at that stage it looked as if it was just a matter of how far, but Ballyoptic and jockey Tom Bellamy had other ideas, and the crowd were left wondering who had won as the two horses flashed past the post. 

But when the announcement went up that Joe Farrell had won Rebecca Curtis was one relieved woman. She’s had a rotten season one way or another, but to win the Coral Scottish Grand National has changed everything. Speaking in the Winners Enclosure after the race, Rebecca said: “I own a quarter of him. I bought him quite cheaply out of John Ferguson’s sale. He had broken down on both his front legs. I took a chance with him and thankfully he’s won a big race. It’s paid off. 

“It’s my first time ever in Scotland and to win a race like this is unbelievable. I’ll be back.”  

Jockey Adam Wedge rode Court Minstrel to win the 2013 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle but Saturday’s success was by far his biggest ever and he said afterwards: “I had no idea I’d won. I thought Tom had just beaten me, so I was overjoyed to hear my boy called the winner.” 

Among the other highlights over the two days was the win of Midnight Shadow in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Sue Smith and jockey Danny Cook. Danny said: “I’ve landed a few good pots this season, but this is the best.” 

Value At Risk won Friday’s Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase Listed Race for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry, while the new £100,000 race on Saturday the Dawn Homes Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase was captured by 22-1 outsider Crosshue Boy for trainer Sean Doyle and jockey Harley Dunne. 

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.



Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Food and Drink mapped out for Ayrshire

The List publishes Ayrshire Larder Food and Drink Map 

Ayrshire's Food and Drink producers have long been putting the area on the map. But now, thanks to an Ayrshire wide initiative by the Ayrshire Food and Drink Steering Group, it's Ayrshire putting Food and Drink on its own map.

Produced by popular Listings publisher, The List, in conjunction with all three Ayrshire Councils, the Ayrshire Larder Food Map is a comprehensive guide to some of the many producers, retailers, cafes and restaurants in Ayrshire, all the way from Ballantrae to Largs and taking in the islands of Cumbrae and Arran too.

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: "Ayrshire is famous the world over for quality food and drink and this map will help to cement our position. It's packed with information and showcases everything from our largest producers to those hidden gems. The new leaflet also highlights 3 food trails Burns, Coastal & Seafood and Picnic which will prove invaluable as people 'taste' their way across Ayrshire. We will continue to work with our partners to bring the very best of Ayrshire produce to as many people as we can."


The map, launched at the Visit Scotland Tourism Expo 2018, www.visitscotlandexpo.com/ will be widely distributed in public buildings, shops, cafes, accommodation and tourism venues throughout Ayrshire and beyond.

Further details of the The List's Ayrshire Larder Food Map can be found  HERE 

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Gordon going for a Grand National treble

By: Iain Ferguson

TRAINER Gordon Elliott will aim for a hat trick of Grand National victories this weekend when he hopes to have two runners in the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse.


Gordon, (oictured above), who won the Irish Grand National with General Principle and then followed up with Tiger Roll triumphing in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, could run Fagan, owned by Scottish businessman Ronnie Bartlett, and Folsom Blue in the Ayr race.

If one of these two horses wins the race the trainer will became the first person ever to hold the three National titles at the same time.

History could also be made in the race if Vicente, winner in 2016 and 2017 were to land this year’s renewal and become the first horse in 105 years to achieve three wins on the bounce.

Trevor Hemmings, who owns Vicente, will also see his colours carried by the Sue Smith trained Vintage Clouds.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has trained the winner of the race three times with Captain Dibble (1992), Earth Summit (1994) and Hello Bud (2009), has several remaining entries – last year’s second and third Cogry and Benbens and Ballyoptic.

Paul Nicholls, who has also been successful in the race three times - Belmont King (1997) and Vicente (2016 & 2017) - has Silsol entered in addition to Vicente.

The declarations for the race will be announced shortly after 10.00 am on Thursday.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Friday, 13 April 2018

Public exhibition will showcase plans for the new Ayr Grammar Primary

Proposals to breathe new life into the old Ayr Academy are being put to the public. An exhibition is being held at Ayr Town Hall on Thursday 19 April to highlight plans to relocate Ayr Grammar to a new home on Fort Street.

The exhibition comes as the planning application for the new Ayr Grammar is submitted for consideration. If approved, the £16 million project would create a new primary school with capacity for more than 430 pupils, a new early years centre with 50 places, community arts facilities as well as a new Archive and Registration Centre. 


There has been a school on the town centre site since 1233, with the old Ayr Academy built in 1880. The school relocated to its new home at Craigie Estate in summer 2017.

The new project will see the historic buildings completely refurbished and remodelled to create an inspiring modern facility with a bright new entrance connecting the school, early years and community facilities. The proposals also involve the demolition of obsolete extensions at the back of the school, a move that will create external space for playgrounds, external teaching and car parking. 

The project will be delivered through hub South West, who have appointed Morrison Construction, and a design team led by BDP Architects. Planning Consent has been granted for the demolition work, which is expected to start on site early in the summer. 

If approved, construction would start later this year, with completion scheduled for 2020.

Councillor Peter Henderson, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance said the project was now at an important stage, “We want South Ayrshire to be the best it can be and for all people and places to have the opportunity to reach their full potential, and our schools programme plays an important role in that wider work. 

“The plans to breathe new life into this landmark building would leave a lasting legacy for generations of families, and with the proposals submitted for consideration, now is the time for the public to get involved.

“I’m sure there will be a great turnout for the Town Hall exhibition where people will have an opportunity to view the plans and speak directly to the team to find out more. Alternatively, anyone looking to find out more can also find the plans online on the Council’s planning portal where they can have their say directly.”


The Archive and Registration Centre will be a separate building (illustrated above) with its entrance on South Harbour Street, providing public access to archive material as well as registration services.

The public exhibition, including images and drawings of the new buildings, takes place at Ayr Town Hall on Thursday 19 April between 2:00pm and 8:00pm to give an opportunity to view the proposals, ask questions and provide feedback.

The plans will be available to view soon on the Council's planning portal https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/planning/register.aspx

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.