The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Robbie Savage returns to William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival

By: Iain Ferguson

TELEVISION pundit Robbie Savage is returning to Ayr Racecourse next month as a special guest at the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival.

[Pictured: Robbie Savage enjoying the William Hill 
Ayr Gold Cup Festival at Ayr Racecourse last year.]

On Thursday 18 September the BBC Match of the Day star will make the draw for the feature race of the week - William Hill Ayr Gold Cup which will be run on Saturday 20 September. 

And on the middle day of the three day Festival he will be a judge for the Best Dressed Lady competition on Ladies' Day.

The former footballer, who is also a sporting ambassador for William Hill, performed similar duties last year and Racecourse chiefs are looking forward to welcoming him back.

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

Macfarlane Labels presses ahead

Macfarlane Labels has underpinned its commitment to efficiency and the environment with the installation of a new, state of the art printing press at its Kilmarnock facility.

The company has invested £650,000 in a new UV flexo self-adhesive label press which has a number of important features including: greater capacity; faster run speeds; less waste and quicker changeovers. 

The creation of less waste material and its reduced power consumption will also further improve Macfarlane Labels’ environmental credentials. 

The FA4* press, manufactured by industry leader, Nilpeter, is forecast to increase Macfarlane Labels’ capacity from its current 2 billion labels a year to around 2.2 billion. The new press joins Macfarlane’s existing modern fleet, which comprises eight Nilpeter presses at the company’s Kilmarnock facility. This is the company’s third FA4 servo drive press.

Nilpeter flew a specialist into Scotland from Denmark to provide on-site training for Macfarlane’s operators of the 17 metre long press, which was installed in earlier in August and is now fully operational.

Derek Easson, Macfarlane Labels’ Commercial Director, said: “We’re committed to continual investment in our labels business to ensure that our customers benefit from the latest technology.  Our new press is evidence of this and I’m confident that it will help us to further improve the service and quality that we can provide.”

Macfarlane Group PLC is a UK-based group of companies focused on packaging-related activities.

Printing more than 1.8 billion labels every year, Macfarlane Labels is Scotland’s largest labels producer. Headquartered in Kilmarnock, the company also has a manufacturing operation in Newmountkennedy in Ireland, and employs 114 people supplying 350 customers in the UK, Ireland, Europe, US and Canada.

In addition to the large volume of self-adhesive labelling the company produces for the FMCG sector (including food, health & beauty, household products, beverages and pharmaceuticals), Macfarlane Labels specialise in a range of resealable labels under the Reseal-it® brand.

The Packaging Distribution business is the leading UK distributor of a comprehensive range of packaging products.  

The Manufacturing Operations comprise two businesses, the manufacture of transit packaging and the manufacture of self-adhesive and re-sealable labels.  

Headquartered in Glasgow, Scotland, Macfarlane Group employs 700 people at 22 sites, principally in the UK and Ireland, servicing 20,000+ customers in the UK, Europe and the USA across a wide range of sectors including: consumer goods; logistics; electronics; food manufacturing and retailing; internet and mail order.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ayrshire Smiles all round as 5-Star visitor attraction gets 100%

There are big smiles all round at Hunterston B power station visitor centre after its entire team of guides received their certificates for passing the Ayrshire Smiles service excellence training course – the first business with 100% of its customer-facing staff to complete Ayrshire Smiles.      

The team of tour guides (pictured above) show visitors around EDF Energy’s Hunterston B power station and explain the fascinating workings of the station. Welcoming people from the local area and much further afield on a daily basis to the visitor centre, which has a 5-Star rating by VisitScotland, the guides decided to rise to the challenge of enhancing their already excellent customer services skills.      

Ayrshire Smiles mixes customer service training with destination knowledge and is designed to inspire people employed within tourism and hospitality-related businesses to share their passion for Ayrshire and give a genuine warm welcome to visitors.

It builds on tried and tested destination and service delivery courses and helps create a consistent and quality approach to customer service.

Speaking about the training, Valerie Poyser, Hunterston B power station visitor centre co-ordinator said: “All our guides found the training really very worthwhile to do and it only took just over a couple of hours to complete online. We were tested on our knowledge of other attractions in the local area and on the best way to deal with customers. I would recommend the training to other Ayrshire organisations as it really is a very useful tool.”

Moira Birtwistle, member of the Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Leadership Group said: “We are delighted to have been involved in the development of the Ayrshire Smiles programme, which empowers businesses to enhance the quality and delivery of excellent service to their visitors. 

“The warmth of welcome and customer care through excellent product knowledge are among the most important factors influencing how an area is perceived. By exceeding expectations, the area can benefit from visitors returning and also sharing their enjoyment of all that Ayrshire and Arran has to offer.”

Ayrshire Smiles online training is available free of charge. Individuals can register and businesses can find out more about using the course as part of their staff training at 

The initiative was developed by Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Team with a wide variety of industry partners. The initiative supports the aims and ambitions of the Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Strategy 2012-2017 and recognises the importance that the people of Ayrshire & Arran and the service they deliver make to the overall visitor experience.

The Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Team is funded by the three Ayrshire local authorities (East, North and South Ayrshire Councils).

The team works with the industry under the guidance of the Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Leadership Group to support the delivery and aims of the Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Strategy 2012-2017 (which targets growth of visitor numbers, spend and employment). 

Tourism is very important to the economy of Ayrshire & Arran, generating £348 million of revenue per year, from some 3.5 million visitors. This directly supports almost 9,000 jobs. 

The region has tremendous strengths that offer the visitor a range of great experiences, spanning rural, coastal, historic and built environments; world class golf, sailing, culture and heritage; high quality food, drink and hospitality; beautiful islands, marine and countryside. 

There is a dedicated website for Ayrshire Smiles – 

Find out more about Ayrshire & Arran Tourism at 

Hunterston B power station visitor centre is open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm or at weekends between 10am and 4pm. If you would like a plant tour, book in advance on 01294 826008 or you can e-mail

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

Friday, 22 August 2014

Town centre retail boost is South Ayrshire Council’s latest AMBITION!

The retail trade in South Ayrshire’s town centres is set to benefit from a new package of support, thanks to South Ayrshire Council’s flagship £1.5 million AMBITION programme.

AMBITION for Town Centres was launched this week by Council Leader, Councillor Bill McIntosh, and is the latest development within the AMBITION programme, which is designed to support businesses and generate economic growth throughout the area.

[Pictured: Councillor McIntosh is joined by Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure; local Troon Councillors Peter Convery, Nan McFarlane and Philip Saxton; Council Chief Executive Eileen Howat and Town Centres Officer, Marie McNulty to launch AMBITION for Town Centres in Troon.]

The programme – which was launched in September last year – will see the Council invest £1.5 million over three years to support job creation and economic growth in South Ayrshire.

The overall aims of AMBITION are to create jobs, keep jobs, help businesses start-up, help businesses grow, increase the number of social enterprises and, ultimately, help improve the local economy in South Ayrshire in a lasting and meaningful way.

AMBITION for Town Centres is based around four main routes of support:

Shop Front Improvement Grant – to improve the appearance of the ground floor frontages of commercial premises both occupied and vacant. A maximum grant of £500 can be awarded.

Retail Business Development Grant – for projects that demonstrate an increase in footfall to the local area, sales outwith Ayrshire and the generation of additional employment opportunities. A maximum grant of £2,000 can be awarded.

Town Centre Collective Grant – used to support the development of co-operative groups which can create enhanced economic impact through collective working within the retail sector.  Projects must demonstrate – through collaboration – how the group will access new customers and markets, add vibrancy to the area, increase their reach and grow revenues.  A maximum grant of £10,000 can be awarded.

And – coming soon – brand new retail incubation spaces which will provide retail start-ups with the ideal location to develop and grow, offering everything from virtual support to shop accommodation. These incubator units are modelled on successful similar units in Ayr, Girvan and Maybole and will offer a supportive environment for retailers, with direct access to hands-on specialist support and mentoring.

Councillor McIntosh said: “The AMBITION programme is a key part of our proactive and determined efforts to drive business and maximise commercial opportunities in South Ayrshire and, crucially, to make a real difference for our residents, businesses and visitors.

“AMBITION for Town Centres is designed to deliver a comprehensive package of retail support, including mentoring, advice and financial support in our five main town centres of Ayr, Girvan, Maybole, Prestwick and Troon.

“Our town centres were hit hard by both the global downturn and the impact of changes in the way people shop, spend money and set expectations for their town centres. Our programme recognises this and sets out to lay the foundations for a bold and sustainable approach to creating jobs, reducing unemployment and making sure our town centres are attractive, vibrant and geared up to welcome visitors and shoppers alike.

“It’s about doing something different to achieve the best possible outcomes for you, our town centres and our communities, which can not only change lives – it can make lives.”

Councillor McIntosh concluded: “Whether it’s your first steps as a retailer or you’re getting ready to branch out and expand, our AMBITION for Town Centres will be able to assist, helping even the smallest fledgling retailer to spread their wings!”

For further information about AMBITION for Town Centres – or for any other aspect of the AMBITION programme – call 01292 616265 or visit

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

238 entries for William Hill Ayr Gold Cup

By Iain Ferguson 

JIM Goldie’s Jack Dexter and the Willie Haggas trained, Hamdan Al Maktoum owned Heeraat are the top rated horses among the 238 entries for this year’s William Hill Ayr Gold Cup at Ayr Racecourse on 20 September. 

[Pictured: Last year, teenage jockey Oisin Murphy clocked up four victories in one afternoon at combined odds of 9,260-1, with Highland Colori's Ayr Gold Cup win the highlight of his winning run in Scotland.]

Three previous winners of the £160,000 sprint – Highland Colori (2013), Captain Ramius (2012) and the 2009 winner Jimmy Styles are all among the entries and last year’s second, third and fourth - Louis The Pious, Jack Dexter and Heaven’s Gate are all slated in to run this year. 

There are 31 horses with a handicap rating of 100 or higher and an interesting entry is Out Do, winner of Saturday’s Great St Wilfrid at Ripon – he is one of several from the David O’Meara yard aiming for Gold Cup glory. 

David Nicholls, who has a great record in the race, has two horses who could feasibly get into the maximum 27 runner field in Don’t Call Me and Barnet Fair. 

Jim Goldie in addition to Jack Dexter has Hawkeyethenoo with a rating high enough to secure a run, but he has 16 other entries who could get runs in the William Hill Ayr Silver Cup or Bronze Cup consolation races. 

Richard Fahey’s North Yorkshire yard had 23 entries while the powerful Richard Hannon yard has Ninjago entered. 

Declarations and the public draw for the race take place on Thursday 18 September. 

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.

£1.5 million clubhouse will be well above par!

Golfers at Ayr’s Belleisle Park golf courses will soon be teeing up in style thanks to a fantastic new £1.5 million clubhouse funded by South Ayrshire Council.

[Pictured: Teeing up for the new clubhouse are Councillor Bill Grant (crouching, second from left), Councillor Allan Dorans (far right), Norman McLean from Friends of Belleisle Park (far left) and Belleisle golf professional Richard Gordon (crouching, in the middle). Behind Councillor Grant are (left to right) Seamus McNicholl and Craig Beck from contractors T&A Kernoghan. Behind Councillor Dorans are (left to right) golf starter, Kevin Johnston and architect, Stewart Glendinning. Seated in the golf buggy are Council project team officers John McCallum and Val Orrell.]

The championship course of Belleisle, designed by James Braid in 1927, is one of the most popular – and highly regarded – golf courses in Scotland, viewed by many as the best public inland course in the country.

The introduction of a new clubhouse – which should be available for use for the 2015 golfing season – will ensure the standard of off-course facilities at Belleisle matches the superb quality of the course itself. 

The clubhouse will include: 

Modern changing accommodation

A new golf professional shop

A large modern cafe bar

New starter facilities

Club rooms

Lounge area

Golf simulator room.

The clubhouse will be available to golfers playing Belleisle as well as its ‘sister’ course, Seafield, which is also within Belleisle Park Estate.

It will transform the golfing experience for locals and visitors alike, as well as local golf clubs, and will also mark the introduction of golf buggies for hire – the first time such a service will be offered at the Belleisle golf courses.

Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure, said: “Golf is a big part of life here in South Ayrshire and we’re very proud of our eight fantastic courses, including Belleisle, which is a real jewel in our golfing crown. 

“The start of works on the new Belleisle clubhouse marks significant commitment and investment by the Council in our off-course facilities and will ensure our golfers will benefit from the modern, first-class facilities they deserve. It will also play a key part in the ongoing regeneration of Belleisle Park.

“The Belleisle clubhouse is the start of a wider investment programme in our off-course facilities, which will see around a further £1.5 million invested in Troon clubhouse to bring it up to a quality standard and £169,000 investment to improve the clubhouse at Girvan.

“That’s a significant funding package and will ensure we offer an outstanding all-round golfing experience for the golfing community and I hope it encourages those who may not have tried our courses before to come and see what we have to offer.”

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

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Big crowds enjoy QTS Ladies Night fashion show at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

THE sun shone, there was a heady mix of glitz, glamour and fun plus a massive crowd – QTS Ladies Night at Ayr Racecourse had it all.

And there also a first for the night – the inaugural QTS Ladies Night Fashion Show held before racing in the Paddock Lawn Marquee.

This was a huge hit, and rounds of the Best Dressed Ladies competition – also held in the same venue – were busy too.

Jennifer Reoch, host of STV’s Riverside Show was celebrity compere, along with Gary Lamont, the actor who plays Robbie Fraser in BBC’S River City.

A total of 14 lucky ladies received bronze coins and a place in the final on William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Ladies Day on Friday 19 September, when up to 27 finalists will draw the name of a horse running in that day’s William Hill Ayr Bronze Cup.

First prize is a Vauxhall Adam Glam 1.4 courtesy of Kerr & Smith, runner-up prize is a fabulous holiday for two to Dubai courtesy of Stewart Travel with the winner and a friend flying from Glasgow to Dubai with Emirates Airlines and enjoying four nights at the four star Vida Downtown Dubai a great location close to Burj Khalifa, Dubai mall.

And third prize is cosmetic treatments from Coast Clinic.

The weather played a huge part on Saturday with many of the large crowd soaking up the sunshine on the Champagne Lawn Gardens at the course.

Clothes for the Fashion show were provided by Wish with hats from William Chambers.

Ayr Racecourse Sales & Marketing Manager Lindsey Smith said: “The evening was an unqualified success. We tried something a little different with the Fashion Show and it worked a treat.”

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, 19 August 2014

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle to hold next meeting at Blairquhan Castle

The next Elite Ayrshire Business Circle breakfast networking meeting will be held between 8am and 10am on Wednesday 27 August at Blairquhan Castle.

Blairquhan Castle general manager Nan Li will give a presentation about the prestigious venue, and there will be an opportunity to view some of the substantial renovations and refurbishments that have already been achieved by the new owners.

Another main speaker at the meeting will be Derek Mair, managing director of MAP Global Property Investments, who will be speaking about the work his company performs for its clients.

Derek Mair (pictured above) said: “Are hands off, hassle free, UK commercial property investments part of your business exit and wealth creation strategy?

“With record low interest rates people are looking for proven ways of making their money work harder for them. MAP Global Property Investments (MAPgpi) specialise in offering unique buy-to-let commercial property ownership in high growth markets. Historically these opportunities have only available to corporate investors or within reach of the very wealthy, and are now available to individual or first time investors with full support through MAPgpi offering guaranteed income and capital growth potential.” 

Derek Mair, Managing Director of MAPgpi, will provide an insight into the strategic opportunities the company provides to its clients in order to maximise profits and create multiple income streams through property investments as part of a business exit strategy.  He will also briefly share how you can gain access to a complete suite of solutions for business owners including how you can protect your business and personal assets, along with hassle free Auto Enrolment solutions.

A complimentary buffet breakfast will be served before the start of the meeting.

This is an open meeting, and all Ayrshire business people and their guests are welcome to attend.

However, to facilitate catering arrangements, intending attendees are requested to advise accordingly.

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle – NEXT MEETING 27/8/2014

Monday, 4 August 2014

Ayrshire property market continues to thrive

Encouraging activity in Ayrshire’s residential property market shows no signs of slowing down according to new statistics released by leading Scottish property consultants CKD Galbraith.

Following research conducted by the firm’s Ayr office, the second quarter of 2014 (April – June 2014) saw property sales in the region remain consistently high compared to the previous quarter, as well as a significant increase in the number of property viewings since quarter one of 2013. 

CKD Galbraith Ayr statistics from quarter two of 2014 show:-

• Sales up 58 per cent compared with the same quarter of 2013

• Viewings have risen by 13 per cent since the last quarter

• Property in the area has sold, on average, a month quicker than the previous quarter

• 75 per cent of buyers were locally based and 25 per cent were national buyers 

Bob Cherry (pictured above), partner and head of residential in CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office said: “The Scottish property market has been enjoying another successful period as demand continues to outstrip supply, particularly for Ayrshire properties with land around the £300,000 mark. Our Ayr office has experienced a steady rate of growth having handled 58 per cent more sales over the second quarter of the year and viewings also increasing this period as buyer confidence remains high.” 

There were also encouraging signs in the Ayrshire lettings sector. 

Joyce Smart (pictured above), of CKD Galbraith’s lettings department in Ayr said: “Letting figures for the second quarter of this year have been encouraging with an 11 per cent increase compared to the first quarter and a 73 per cent rise since the same quarter in 2013. However, similar to previous quarters, demand continues to outstrip supply with the majority of applicants looking for high quality two bedroom properties”.

CKD Galbraith has enjoyed substantial growth over the years and operates a network of regional offices located throughout the country. The firm has recently celebrated the launch of its new office in Cults, Aberdeen.

About CKD Galbraith 

CKD Galbraith is an independent property consultancy employing 225 staff in offices across Scotland including Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Cupar, Inverness, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Elgin, Galashiels, Kelso, Peebles, Alyth and Aberdeen, offering local knowledge, national expertise and enjoying an international presence. 

The firm is Scotland’s largest and leading rural consultancy managing in excess of 1 million acres of land across the country.

CKD Galbraith provides the full range of property consulting services across the residential, commercial, rural and renewable energy sectors throughout Scotland and northern England. The partnership also enjoys a successful relationship with its associate firm in London, CKD Kennedy Macpherson.

To find out more about CKD Galbraith visit

CKD Galbraith 
7 Killoch Place 
Ayr KA7 2EA 
Ayrshire, Scotland 

Tel: 01292 268181   
Fax: 01292 292300 

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Ayr Concert series celebrates its 28th year

This autumn sees the 28th annual Ayr Concert Series, arranged by volunteers from Ayr Arts Guild for South Ayrshire Council, and it promises to be one of the best yet!

[Pictured: Councillor Bill Grant, on trombone, helping to 
launch the season ticket sale for the 28th Ayr Concert series.]

From Friday 31 October 2014 to Wednesday 18 February 2015, six orchestral concerts will be performed in Ayr Town Hall, and the line-up again promises to deliver the very best music, led by the cream of international conductors.

The series features three visits by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, two by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and one by The Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

The opening concert on Friday 31 October 2014 features Latvian-born Ainars Rubikis with one of Grieg's earliest orchestral works, In Autumn, performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Other works on the evening include Rota’s Cello Concerto No. 2; Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5. Leonard Elschenbroich features on cello, and the concert will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

That’s followed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on Thursday 4 December, conducted by Robin Ticciati and featuring the exciting young Swiss-Italian pianist Francesco Piemontesi – noted for his fresh, poetic performances. 

Works include: Webern’s Symphony, Opus 21 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 and Symphony No. 4 – considered one of his most perfect and evocative creations.

A fortnight later, on Thursday 18 December, the ever-popular Christmas Classics concert returns to Ayr Town Hall. A firm favourite, it’s a mixture of traditional carols and festive orchestral classics led by conductor Stephen Bell and presented by tenor (and BBC Radio Scotland’s) Jamie MacDougall. Get your family and friends together for an evening of music that’s guaranteed to warm the parts other Christmas concerts can’t reach!

New Year 2015 gets off to a flyer on Saturday 3 January, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Gergely Madaras, who perform lively rhapsodies, dances and waltzes from Budapest and Vienna! The programme includes colourful, gypsy-inspired dances by Kodály and Brahms, with all your favourite Viennese marches, waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss. 

Fans of cartoons will love the frequently used Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Liszt as heard in Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and many more. Dazzling soprano Lucy Crowe joins in with a feast of favourite operetta by Lehár and a special aria from Die Fledermaus. 

Friday 30 January 2015 sees the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Otto Tausk performing Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 1, Ferdinand David’s Trombone Concertino (featuring Simon Johnson on trombone) and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. This concert will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

The Ayr Concert series comes to a finale on Wednesday 18 February 2015 with The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, conducted by Rory Macdonald, presenting Stravinsky’s Jeu de Cartes (The Card Game): Ballet in three deals, Koussevitzky’s Double Bass Concerto, Opus 3 (featuring Peter Fry on double bass) and Dvorák’s New World Symphony No. 9.

Season tickets for the 28th Ayr Concert Series are now available from Ayr Gaiety Theatre, Carrick Street, Ayr, on 01292 288235 and individual concert tickets will be on sale from Monday 1 September 2014.

Councillor Bill Grant, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “Music lovers will again be thrilled with the wide range of concerts to choose from and, better still, the superb value season ticket options now available, so make sure you don't miss out on any of these classical concerts. 

“It’s almost impossible to choose which concert to go to, as there really is something for everyone, so buy a season ticket now and make sure you see and hear them all! 

“Prices for all seats have been held steady for the last three years, making the Ayr Concert Series outstanding value for money.”

“Residents and visitors to South Ayrshire will be able to hear world class orchestras, internationally acclaimed musicians and globally successful performers, right here on their own doorstep.”

Brochures containing details of all concerts in the Ayr Concert Series 2014/15 are available in all Ayrshire libraries, including the Council’s Customer Service Centres and Ayr Town Hall.

Jim Coutts, Chairman of the Ayr Arts Guild added: “We're proud to have been involved in this unique and productive partnership with the Council and Scottish orchestras, which is now approaching 30 years. 

“In that time, we’ve hosted some of the most famous names in the business, and the 28th series promises yet another impressive line-up of international musicians, all enhanced by the presence of some globally acclaimed conductors.”

Councillor Grant concluded: “It’s a magical medley of marvellous music, so please get your season or seat tickets soon, because it’s looking like another superb sell-out series for Ayr!”

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