The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Clydesdale Bank reveals newly refurbished

financial solutions centre in Ayr


Thursday 9 November 2006

THE
Clydesdale Bank has just completed a major refurbishment of its Ayrshire Financial Solutions Centre in Ayr’s Alloway Street.



Managing partner Willie Mackie says it is the biggest single refurbishment that the building has undergone in the last 20 years.

Financial Solutions Centres were launched three years ago from a standing start as part of Clydesdale’s aggressive expansion in the South of England.

They operate under local managing partners, like Willie Mackie, with a high level of autonomy from head office.

Financial Solutions Centres offer a personal, bespoke banking service for business and private banking customers disenchanted with the off-the-shelf offerings available elsewhere.

Funding packages are individually designed by dedicated managers and signed-off locally, meaning quick decisions and processing for customers.

Customers of the centres are also able to use meeting rooms and technical facilities free of charge not only locally, but also across the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank UK network, with the Bank’s sales force also actively seeking new business opportunities for them.

There are at present 50 Clydesdale Bank Financial Solutions Centres in the UK - 36 in England and 14 in Scotland.

Willie explains: “We like to call customers members, and they have privileges including networking facilities and internet access as part of what we like to think of more as a club.”

The commercial team in Ayrshire has recently been expanded with the recruitment of 3 new Business Partners.

These are Michael Brown (43), Neil McLean (37) and Brian Hemmings (26), all recruited from other banks.


Pictured left to right: Clydesdale Bank Ayrshire Financial Solutions Centre managing partner Willie Mackie together with newly appointed business partners Brian Hemmings, Michael Brown and Neil McLean.

Further expansion is planned within the Agricultural and Private banking teams.

All partners have their own areas of expertise, whether it be agricultural, commercial, wealth management or asset or invoice finance, and these are brought together to meet the particular financial requirements of each individual customer.

Willie Mackie concluded: “I am delighted both with the results of the refurbishment of the Ayrshire Financial Solutions Centre, and with the latest additions to our team”.

“It is great to see this level of investment coming into the region, showing that the Clydesdale Bank recognises the importance of the Ayrshire economy.”

Further information: Willie Mackie, telephone 01292 272072.

Clydesdale Bank website

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Thursday, 2 November 2006

Expansion in Cambridgeshire
for First Independent Finance


Friday 3 November 2006

A finance company based in Ayrshire, Scotland is expanding rapidly in Cambridgeshire, England, thanks largely to the efforts of local director Stuart Croft.


In seven short years, First Independent Finance Limited has already grown to be the largest general asset finance broker in the whole of the UK, and Cambridge-born Stuart (37) says this is down to the company’s ability to blend the services offered by modern communications, and still offer personal face-to-face assistance for businesses throughout the UK when they need help in financing the assets their companies require to be successful.

Stuart explains: “We help businesses to find the best source of finance for large items of capital expenditure, whether it be a commercial vehicle, a computer system, printing equipment or a combine harvester.

“Meeting our customers and getting to know them personally is key to building trust and genuinely helping them achieve their business ambitions. Attention to detail and high-speed modern communications mean that we can offer a personal service and stay ahead of the competition. Customers are treated like family, that’s why they come back time after time,” says Stuart, who now lives in Over with his wife Alison and two-year old daughter Abigail.

Stuart was educated at Netherhall School in Cambridge, and initially trained as an electronics engineer. But having qualified in that field, he then moved into business finance.

After working for a couple of financial services companies, Stuart met Allan Ross, founder and managing director of First Independent Finance Limited, and in 2002 joined the young up-and-coming company as its local director for Cambridgeshire.

Allan Ross started First Independent Finance in a spare bedroom of his house in Stewarton, a small town in Ayrshire, with capital of just £10,000.

Today his company employs 32 people from office premises in the town’s Dunlop Street, and boasts an annual turnover of £60 million.

When First Independent Finance was set up, it concentrated on providing finance for farmers, as Allan and his co-director Robin Duncan had previously worked as regional managers in the agricultural finance divisions of major banks.

Since then, the company has diversified. Now it no longer offers finance just to farmers, but also to any type of business needing help with capital expenditure. Allan and his team can also organise personal car finance.

Allan says that First Independent Finance offers a one-stop approach to finance dealing by working with more than 20 leading finance houses, and because of the company’s increasing size, it can often come up with some of the best deals available.

It is this one-stop approach, combined with speed of response, quality local service, customer focus and attractive pricing that has led to First Independent Finance’s geographical coverage spreading from Inverness in the north down to Wales and Kent in the south.

18 months ago they announced they had broken through the £100 million barrier, by advancing £100 million to their clients since they started the business.

Now they have hit the £200 million mark, customers numbers continue to grow, and this comes on the back of winning Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire’s best performing business employing 25-250 staff last year, and best performing business under 25 staff the previous year.

It’s mainly down to the ongoing commitment and skill of the company’s staff, says Allan. “And that’s why Investors in People awarded us our 3-year renewal, proving that we have continued to value our commitment to the people who do the job of keeping our customers happy.”

Allan is very keen on staff training - and that starts at the top. He is currently studying part-time for a Master's degree in Business Administration at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

For further details telephone Stuart Croft on 07967 044203.

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Thursday, 12 October 2006

Accident and Injury Claims Centre
welcomes asbestos-related cancer law


A LEADING Scottish lawyer has welcomed the announcement of forthcoming Scottish Executive legislation designed to help victims of an asbestos-related cancer, as well as their families and dependents.

Norman Geddes, senior partner at the Ayrshire-based Accident & Injury Claims Centre, a division of Frazer Coogans Solicitors, Ayr, says that the Rights of Relatives to Damages (Mesothelioma) Bill will allow mesothelioma sufferers to claim full compensation, and their families to claim for their own grief and suffering.

Norman explained: “Under the current law, sufferers of mesothelioma - an asbestos-related cancer which can develop up to 40 years after exposure to asbestos - face the dilemma of either settling their damages claim while alive, or not settling their claim before death so their relatives can claim greater awards. Most sufferers do not claim themselves, so as not to disadvantage their families.

“The Bill that has now been put before the Scottish Parliament following a consultation which ran in July and August, will remedy this situation by allowing the immediate family to claim damages for non-financial loss even if the deceased settled their own claim while alive. It will apply to cases where the sufferer's own case is concluded after the Bill comes into force as an Act - expected to be by next March.”

The Rights of Relatives to Damages (Mesothelioma) Bill only applies to that one disease, the most unpleasant of the fatal conditions contracted from even a tiny particle of asbestos lodging in the lung, and taking up to 30 years to kill its victim. There are at present about 1900 people dying from it in Britain every year, but numbers are expected to soar over the next decade.

The law is changing a loophole in past laws, which meant compensation could be paid to a living sufferer, but at a lower rate than would be paid to the surviving family after death. That has left victims facing the dilemma of choosing between maximising their families' benefit, but at personal cost in the final months of their lives.

Lawyers campaigning for victims hoped the law change could go wider than mesothelioma, to avoid the same impact on those suffering from other work-related fatal illnesses. But it was limited to the one condition to let it go through before Parliament is dissolved for next year's election.

Norman Geddes concluded: “Victims will now be able to pursue those responsible for compensation without fear that the rights of their families to compensation for their loss being extinguished.”

ABOUT THE ACCIDENT CLAIMS CENTRE
AND FRAZER COOGANS SOLICITORS

Ayrshire solicitors Frazer Coogans have expanded rapidly from small beginnings in the 1980s to offer a friendly and personal service to all clients from their modern premises in Ayr town centre.

From their Ayr base, partners Norman Geddes, Austin Thomson, Lauren Fowler and assistants Stuart Paterson, Peter McNamara and Ian Morman - all experienced solicitors - along with their professional and dedicated staff, provide a comprehensive suite of legal services to Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland and the UK, with particular expertise in accident claims, personal injury damages, property conveyancing, divorce and family law, wills, estates and executries.

Frazer Coogans’ Ayr office operates a specialist Accident Claims & Personal Injury Damages Centre to assist clients in making claims for personal injury damages after road traffic, workplace, slip and trip accidents and also in criminal injuries compensation.

This Ayrshire firm of solicitors has also established a significant presence in Scotland’s property conveyancing market, advising clients on all aspects of buying, selling and leasing premises both domestic and commercial, and handling property conveyancing for diverse clients across Scotland.

Scottish divorce and family law is another area in which Frazer Coogans solicitors possess particular expertise, advising on the legal, financial and child related issues associated with divorce, providing negotiation for amicable settlement and undertaking litigation where needed.

Frazer Coogans solicitors also offer a professional, dedicated and sympathetic service for wills and estates in the UK, including the administration of estates and appointing executors.

In 2003 Frazer Coogans successfully attained the "Investors in People" standard.

The firm is fully computerised with Broadband connection. It occupies modern premises in the centre of Ayr with adjacent parking for clients and wheelchair-friendly access.

-ends-

Issued on behalf of the Accident & Injury Claims Centre at Frazer Coogans Solicitors by Fame Publicity Services.

Enquiries:

Norman G Geddes
Senior Partner
Accident & Injury Claims Centre / Frazer Coogans Solicitors
Dalblair House
46 Dalblair Road
AYR KA7 1UQ

Tel: 01292 280499
Fax: 01292 611645 / 01292 272601

E-mail: norman@frazercoogans.co.uk
Web: Accident and Injury Claims Centre Frazer Coogans Solicitors

Murdoch MacDonald
Fame Publicity Services
10 Miller Road
AYR KA7 2AY

Telephone: 01292 281498
E-mail: famepublicity@aol.com
Web: Fame Publicity Services
Ayrshire Business News

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Friday, 6 October 2006

Tuesday, 19 September 2006


Allan Ross, Managing Director of the UK's largest independent general asset finance brokers First Independent Finance Limited

* * *


Further expansion for asset finance broker

First Independent Finance Limited
Ayrshire-based asset finance broker First Independent Finance Ltd continues its rapid expansion with the announcement of substantial new business, staff appointments, and an innovative new service for personal customers.

The company has secured two new major national accounts with Kubota UK Ltd (tractor and groundcare products) and United Rental Systems, a network of around 300 quality independent rental companies offering car, van and minibus rental right across the UK.


First Independent Finance will be providing both Kubota and URS with financial packages to help their customers acquire equipment and vehicles.


This rapid expansion of First Independent Finance Ltd has seen the need for the company to employ a new National Accounts Manager to ensure its larger account clients get a co-ordinated support package.


John Morrison (54) has been appointed to take on the role of developing relationships with major UK suppliers of industrial equipment.


John brings to FIF a wealth of experience with 36 years in the banking and finance industry. He has previously worked with NatWest, Barclays, Bank of Scotland, Hitachi and De Lage Landen, specialising in developing national accounts.


First Independent Finance Ltd has also increased its Agricultural and Commercial sales team in the Ayrshire area, with the addition of yet a further Local Account Manager, Jamie Rankin (23).


Jamie was previously with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Abbey National.


"For some time it has seemed strange that we do more business in Kent and Aberdeen than we do here in Ayrshire" says First Independent Finance Ltd managing director Allan Ross.


"Some of that is due to customers not being aware of what we do in our home county, and we needed to resolve that by strengthening our Ayrshire team in order to help local businesses looking to raise funds for the purchase of cars, commercial vehicles, agricultural equipment, computers or other items of plant and machinery.”


And First Independent Finance are also expanding their financial services to personal customers, with the opening of the company’s new Loan Shop in Stewarton, staffed by Brian Kilpatrick and Gayle Neely.


First Independent’s rapid growth over the last nine years has given it increased purchasing power with the major banks and finance houses, which the firm can then in turn pass on to its customers in the form of cheap low interest rate loans.


At present, personal loans of up to £10,000 and hire purchase on cars are now both available from 3.99% flat rate - typical APR 8.9%. (Offer subject to credit approval, changes in money costs and legislation. Written quotations available on request from: First Independent Finance Ltd, 22 Dunlop Street, Ayrshire, Scotland KA3 5AT).


Managing director Allan Ross concludes: “First Independent Finance Ltd is now the UK's leading general asset finance broker and has written millions of pounds worth of business throughout the UK.


“We would now like to offer our low rate, personal and confidential services to local residents. Call in to our newly redeveloped offices in Dunlop Street, Stewarton, telephone 01560 482911, or visit us online at www.f-i-f.co.uk.”


First Independent Finance Ltd won Best Performing Business in Ayrshire in 2003 and 2004.



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Thursday, 24 August 2006

New sponsorship for Culzean Horse Trials. Alexander Morton Homes director Alex Benson (left) and Culzean Horse Trials organiser Katrina Geddes with the Alexander Morton Homes Intro Trophy, which will be presented to the Introductory Class winner at the Culzean Horse Trials on Sunday 17 September 2006.

New sponsorship for

Culzean Horse Trials


THE Culzean Horse Trials, which were held every September between 1987 and 2004, will take place again this year on Sunday 17 September 2006 in the grounds of Culzean Country Park, Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Assisted by generous funding from the well-known land developer and builder of quality homes Alexander Morton Homes and matched by a grant to the event under the sports sponsorship scheme SPORTSMATCH, an exciting redevelopment of this British Eventing One-Day Event has begun.

Alexander Morton Homes director Alex Benson said: “We are delighted to be able to contribute to the development of one-day eventing in Scotland, and we hope that this event will attract many new participants to this sport.”

Event organiser Katrina Geddes commented: “The support that we have received from Alexander Morton Homes, combined with the SPORTSMATCH award, has enabled us to add a new Introductory Class to the schedule. As the name of the class suggests, this is the usual level at which beginners now enter the sport of one-day eventing, and the award will greatly encourage growth and development within the sport.”

Funded by the Scottish Executive and administered by Sportscotland, SPORTSMATCH was launched in 1992 to encourage businesses to sponsor community sports projects. Today SPORTSMATCH partners a wide range of businesses of all sizes, matching their sponsorship £ for £ and publicly acknowledging their contribution to sport in the community.

Julia Bracewell OBE, chair of sportscotland said: “The organisers of the Culzean Horse Trials are one of more than 1,000 sports groups throughout Scotland to have benefited from SPORTSMATCH. Our thanks go to Alexander Morton Homes for their sponsorship. This is a great example of how businesses working in partnership with sports organisations and SPORTSMATCH can make a significant contribution to community sport, enhancing the lives of many people in Scotland.”

One-Day Eventing is a sport in which men and women, boys and girls all compete on an equal footing. It is a challenging and inclusive sport open to members from the year of their 14th birthday upwards. See
www.britisheventing.co.uk for further information on this or other BE events or contact Alexander Morton Homes on www.alexander-morton.com

ENQUIRIES:
Event organiser: Mrs Katrina Geddes, Kirkbride, Maybole, Ayrshire KA19 7QE Scotland

Telephone: 01655 740345
E-mail:
katrinageddes@aol.com

SPORTSMATCH
George Wright, SPORTSMATCH officer
Telephone: 0131 317 7200 Fax: 0131 317 7202

Thursday, 6 July 2006


Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire

sets agenda for year ahead




SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE AYRSHIRE will deliver economic development projects totalling more than £17million in the coming year.

The organisation’s key priorities include:

  • £6.4m set aside for implementation of national training programmes (e.g. Skillseekers and Modern Apprenticeships), addressing the pressing needs of key demographic groups locally.
  • £¾m investment in support for new business start-ups, with the aim of helping 600 people set up in business in the coming year.
  • £1.1m to support local companies become more active in global markets.

Major business infrastructure projects across the region will continue to benefit, including Prestwick Aerospace Business Park. Regeneration is also on the agenda with the development of Kilmarnock Town centre, Lochshore at Glengarnock and Irvine Bay. SE Ayrshire will continue work in close partnership with other local agencies to help drive these projects forward.

Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire’s commitment to tourism will continue with investment in the Burns Festival, involvement in planning the Homecoming 2009 event and a clear focus on golf and sailing as a means of widening the appeal of the region. SE Ayrshire will also make contribute to metropolitan west region planning for a dynamic coastal framework, which is expected to bring significant benefit for Ayrshire’s coastal towns and communities.

In addition to local priorities Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire will lead the development of Scotland’s aerospace sector by helping to establish new opportunities, encouraging growth and investment and assisting companies develop new markets.

Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire will also be working to ensure there is maximum benefit for Ayrshire from Scottish Enterprise’s nationally driven initiatives such as ITIs (Intermediary Technology Institutes), the Proof of Concept Fund and the R&D Plus programme. In previous years Ayrshire has led the rest of Scotland in terms of R&D Plus investment, with more funding for projects and companies than anywhere else.

Alongside this vital economic development activity, the entire Scottish Enterprise network will be looking at improved ways of working, primarily tailoring their activities to better meet the changing demands of industry. By working together with other regions and cities, Ayrshire can contribute to greater success for Scotland while also developing its own economy.

Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire Evelyn McCann chief executive said: “We have a lot happening this year, particularly with some very big projects such as the development of Irvine Bay and further work at Prestwick Aerospace Park, which we expect to bring significant benefit to these areas.

“Our commitment to delivering tailored training that meets the demands of our ‘in need’ groups remains firm and we hope to build on some of the good results we’re beginning to see. Similarly we are very keen to continue to build a strong bank of start-up businesses, as they play a very important role in our local economy, while also supporting some of the bigger local players to grow and develop either at home or internationally.”

“Looking to the future, I’m absolutely convinced of the benefits of industry-led metropolitan working, which will play to some of our key strengths, for example in tourism and aerospace, and provide Ayrshire with opportunities we haven’t had in the past.”

www.ayrshirebusinessnews.com

www.scotent.co.uk

Sunday, 2 July 2006

Finance deal promotes

better eye care


DAVID Bonellie is a well-known Ayrshire optician with high street consultancy practices in Irvine, Stewarton and Largs.

Always determined to offer his clients the best of care, David recently decided to acquire new state-of-the art cameras to help ensure patients’ eyes can be regularly monitored without any inconvenience or discomfort.

Digital imaging can capture and record photographs of the interior of the eye without the need to insert drops beforehand.

The procedure is quick, easy, comfortable and accurate. This in turn leads to optical and other health disorders being diagnosed sooner than might otherwise have been the case.

GPs and hospital ophthalmologists find the photographs sent by the optician to be extremely useful, as they provide a huge clinical advantage when consulting with patients.

The investment involved in purchasing cameras for all three Bonellie branches was considerable, and that’s where the help of another local company that has also in the past featured on this website came in useful.

David had known Allan Ross and his Stewarton-based company First Independent Finance Limited for several years, but it was only when he read an article about them on this website that it occurred to him that First Independent might be able to source the funds to acquire the cameras.

"And they did just that," said David. "Not only were they the most competitively priced in the market, but they had the whole deal sewn up in 24 hours."

It’s good to see one local company helping another - with a little reminder from Ayrshire Scotland Business News.

David Bonellie concludes: "I’ll definitely be approaching First Independent Finance when I need any more new equipment, or to finance my next car.

"In the meantime I’m delighted to see how our business levels have increased, and the new cameras have gone down really well with our clients."

Allan Ross set up First Independent Finance Limited in 1999 with capital of just £10,000 in a spare bedroom of his house in Stewarton, Ayrshire. Today his company employs 32 people from office premises in the town’s Dunlop Street, boasts an annual turnover of £60 million, and has become the largest general asset finance broker in the whole of the UK.
Allan explains: “We help businesses to find the best source of finance for large items of capital expenditure, whether it be a commercial vehicle, a computer system, printing equipment or a combine harvester.”

When First Independent Finance was set up, it concentrated on providing finance for farmers, as Allan and his co-director Robin Duncan had previously worked as regional managers in the agricultural finance divisions of major banks.
Since then, the company has diversified. Now it no longer offers finance just to farmers, but also to any type of business needing help with capital expenditure. Allan and his team can also organise car finance and personal loans.
Allan says that First Independent Finance offers a one-stop approach to finance dealing by working with more than 20 leading finance houses, and because of the company’s increasing size, it can often come up with some of the best deals available.
It is this one-stop approach, combined with speed of response, quality local service, customer focus and attractive pricing that has led to First Independent Finance’s geographical coverage spreading throughout the UK from Inverness in the north down to Wales and Kent in the south.



Friday, 30 June 2006

Compass points the way ahead


COMPASS Self Drive, Ayrshire’s largest independent vehicle rental company, has now moved into a new base in Ayr.

Continued fleet expansion caused the company to outgrow their previous site in Ayr Road, Prestwick, and larger premises have been sought after for some time.


The workshop and yard previously occupied by Strachan’s of Ayr on West Sanquhar Road recently became available, and Compass have now moved in.

Compass Self Drive partner Donald Macdonald said: “While our office at Kingcase Garage had certain advantages, it had become increasingly difficult to handle our expanding fleet within the constraints of that site. We are delighted to be able to make the move to self-contained premises with better vehicle valeting facilities and significantly more yard space.”

Some of the increase in the company’s fleet has been generated by Compass’s partnership agreement with Sixt Rent-a-Car. Last year the worldwide rental specialist appointed Compass as their partner to handle all rental reservations in Ayrshire, and with more passengers arriving at Prestwick Airport every month, Compass are continually adding to their fleet of cars.

Indeed, the range of cars has had to increase, and it now includes a wide selection of economy and saloon cars, hatchbacks, estate cars, people carriers and executive cars. Specifications have also been improved, so some vehicles are available with diesel engines, air conditioning, satellite navigation and automatic gearboxes.

The partnership with Sixt also gives Compass access to a nationwide network of around 80 outlets, allowing them to service customers' requirements throughout the UK.

Compass is perhaps better known locally for its fleet of commercial vehicles, and the move to West Sanquhar Road provides an ideal location for providing vehicle rental services to the many businesses and private hirers based in and around Ayr. Access is good, the location is central, and there is ample customer parking for those who are collecting a vehicle for a part-day hire.

“This is an excellent move for us,” said Donald, “and we are confident that this larger site can handle Compass’s projected growth in the forthcoming years. Although our Sixt connection offers our customers the advantages that a national company can provide, we remain a local independent business, and we try to make use of as many locally based suppliers as possible, retaining ties with
Giles Insurance and First Independent Finance amongst others.”


www.ayrshirebusinessnews.com




Sunday, 5 March 2006

Ayrshire Business Award winners


THE nine business champions of Ayrshire have been declared.

Winners of the 2005-6 Ayrshire Business Awards were announced at a dinner and ceremony last Thursday, 23 February 2006.

The prize giving was hosted by radio presenter Fred MacAulay.

The event was organised by
Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire and sponsored for a third year by pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline.

A judging panel studied over 100 entries before settling on 27 finalists.

Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire chief executive of Evelyn McCann said: "Ayrshire continues to produce excellent, successful and unique businesses and these awards allow us to celebrate their achievements. Companies and organisations are working hard to bring prosperity and opportunity to the area and the annual awards scheme provides an ideal opportunity to highlight those efforts.

"This exercise also allows us to recognise the achievements of the businesses across Ayrshire as a whole. The sheer range of entries we received this year illustrates what a thriving and diverse economy we have in the area."

Winners in this, the eighth Ayrshire Business Awards event, were:

Business in the community:
Kerr & Smith.

Partnership formed in 1975, the once two man team now employs 160 employees. The company holds Vauxhall car and van, IVECO van and truck and Irisbus franchises.

International business:
Neogen Europe Ltd.

Neogen Europe Ltd, Ayr, manufactures and markets rapid diagnostic test kits to the food and agricultural markets to meet the growing need for higher levels of safety and quality within the agri-food industries, research, development, sales and marketing. Their key markets are the food industries of Europe.

Innovation and creativity:
EDpaX Ltd.

EDpaX Ltd, Irvine, was created in 2004 when two teachers identified a gap in the marketplace. Their unique products support and ease the pressures that modern day teachers face by delivering the curriculum in a series of step by step interactive whiteboard lessons. EDpaX’s software has transformed school whiteboards from just another piece of furniture into an inspirational educational tool.

Excellence in skills and learning:
Clyde Muirshiel Park Authority.

Scotland’s largest regional park is nationally important for its wildlife and historical interest. The park, accessed from Lochwinnoch one side and Greenock on the other, is marketed as "The Great Escape" to locals and visitors. A wide variety of formal and informal outdoor recreational activities are on offer in an attractive landscape of hills, woodland, lochs, and coastline.

E-business:
Consolidated Carriers Ltd.

Consolidated Carriers, Troon, is a logistics company with a difference. It outsources the physical delivery and collection activities to the Blue Chip providers. The company creates a single logistics platform for all its customer’s needs, without actually handling their packages. Instead it manages logistics companies through its complex bespoke computer systems.

Most entrepreneurial young company: Wearable Technologies Ltd.

Wearable Technologies Ltd is a dynamic company founded to allow the creative adaptation of technology into apparel. It is essentially a multi-media company with a key focus on technology, merchandising and media. Their aim is to become the first consumer brand synonymous with the fusion of electronics into garments.

Best performing business (25 employees or under):
The Dessert Depot Ltd.

Located in Ayr, it is the brainchild of the two directors. Founded in 2002 the company makes a range of fresh handmade desserts and patisserie, supplying both trade and wholesale. In three short years the business has grown from an idea into a real live growing business.

Best performing business (26-250 employees):
Newton Holdings (Ayr) Ltd.

The group consists of a holding company and two principle trading companies, Newton Security Doors Ltd and Newton Fabrications Ltd. The main focus of the group is sheet metal work and fabrications. Manufacturing operates from three sites in Ayr and the customer base is spread throughout Britain.

Best performing business (over 250 employees):
Food Partners, Kilmarnock Ltd.

Food Partners is the leading supplier of fresh sandwiches for the out of home markets in the UK. It was formed four years ago with the amalgamation of four sandwich businesses starting with Food Partners Kilmarnock in 2000, creating a national company which now has over 1100 employees and 115 chilled distribution vehicles.

See also: www.ayrshirebusinessnews.com

Saturday, 4 March 2006

Asset finance broker

First Independent Finance

appoints director in Aberdeen


The UK's largest asset finance broker First Independent Finance Ltd with its headquarters in Stewarton, Ayrshire, is delighted to announce the appointment of Innes Bruce (58) as Area Director responsible for developing the Aberdeen area.

Innes brings a wealth of experience with him, having spent his entire working life in the finance industry, including time with Bowmaker, Forward Trust, HSBC and latterly Clydesdale Bank Asset Finance as sales manager.

A keen golfer, Innes was born and educated in Aberdeen, where he still lives with his wife Lynn. The couple have two daughters, Claire and Amy.

Commenting on his new appointment, Innes said: “This new post will allow me to offer a very flexible asset finance service in Aberdeen and the Grampian region as a whole. I look forward to developing the name and increasing the profile of First Independent Finance Ltd - a very progressive and forward looking company. We can offer a wide range of solutions to both private and business/industrial clients who need flexible asset finance facilities.”

First Independent Finance Ltd managing director Allan Ross said: "The Grampian area is a growing economy that we have looked to service for the past few years. It has not been easy to find an individual who really knows the local area, the local businesses and has the experience that customers can rely on. Innes Bruce is that man.

"He has a history of building strong service-based relationships with many Aberdeen businesses, and we are delighted that he has agreed to represent us to the Aberdeen business community.

"Aberdeen was very much the missing part of the Scottish jigsaw, with Gordon Scott in Inverness and Jim Gauld in Blairgowrie. Innes, Jim and Gordon will work together to ensure that all our Northern cusstomers receive excellence in Service. Clearly a special bond will exist between Innes and Gordon who will both cover substantial parts of the Highlands and Grampian."

Gordon D Scott (61) represents First Independent Finance in the Highlands, which is appropriate, as Gordon was born in Nairn and brought up in Helmsdale and Inverness.

Schooled at Inverness Royal Academy, he left to join the then National Commercial Bank. There followed posts with North West Securities and General Guarantee Corporation before becoming a self-employed finance broker in association with Highland Credit & Leasing Services for 15 years.

Gordon joined First Independent Finance in 2002 following an approach by managing director Allan Ross, as he could see the potential with a forward looking company who made the most of IT and training.

Gordon’s interests outside work include gardening, golf - he is a past President of Inverness Golf Club, and Petanque (Boule) - he is Chairman of Inverness Petanque Club and Treasurer of the Scottish Petanque Association.

Gordon lives in Inverness with his wife Pat. The couple have one daughter, Claire.

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Monday, 27 February 2006


Latest staff appointment at

Frazer Coogans Solicitors of Ayr



LEADING Ayrshire solicitors Frazer Coogans are pleased to announce the appointment of Peter McNamara (29) to join their legal team.

Peter’s remit will include commercial property, wills and estate planning.

Born in Glasgow, Peter is a former pupil of Cumbernauld High School and studied law at the University of Strathclyde.

He worked as a tax adviser with chartered accountants Ernst & Young and Scott Moncrieff, before serving his legal traineeship with Dunblane solicitors McLean & Stewart.

Peter lives in Kilmarnock with his wife Pauline.

He told Ayrshire Scotland Business News: "This is a very exciting opportunity, and I'm looking forward to playing my part in the continuing development of the Commercial Property team at Frazer Coogans."

Commenting on Peter’s appointment, Frazer Coogans senior partner Norman G Geddes said: "We are delighted to have Peter join our busy Commercial Property team.

"The department deals with all aspects of commercial and agricultural property, and Peter's background as a tax adviser will be invaluable in providing advice to our many commercial clients."

About Frazer Coogans Solicitors

Ayrshire solicitors Frazer Coogans have expanded rapidly from small beginnings in the 1980s to offer a friendly and personal service to all clients from their modern premises in Ayr town centre.

From their Ayr base, partners Norman Geddes, Austin Thomson, Lauren Fowler and assistants Stuart Paterson and Peter McNamara – all experienced solicitors - along with their professional and dedicated staff, provide a comprehensive suite of legal services to Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland and the UK, with particular expertise in accident claims, personal injury damages, property conveyancing, divorce and family law, wills, estates and executries.

Frazer Coogans’ Ayr office operates a specialist Accident Claims & Personal Injury Damages Centre to assist clients in making claims for personal injury damages after road traffic, workplace, slip and trip accidents and also in criminal injuries compensation.

This Ayrshire firm of solicitors has also established a significant presence in Scotland’s property conveyancing market, advising clients on all aspects of buying, selling and leasing premises both domestic and commercial, and handling property conveyancing for diverse clients across Scotland.

Scottish divorce and family law is another area in which Frazer Coogans solicitors possess particular expertise, advising on the legal, financial and child related issues associated with divorce, providing negotiation for amicable settlement and undertaking litigation where needed.

Frazer Coogans solicitors also offer a professional, dedicated and sympathetic service for wills and estates in the UK, including the administration of estates and appointing executors.

In 2003 Frazer Coogans successfully attained the "Investors in People" standard.

The firm is fully computerised with Broadband connection. It occupies modern premises in the centre of Ayr with adjacent parking for clients and wheelchair-friendly access.

www.frazercoogans.co.uk
www.accidentclaims.com
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Saturday, 25 February 2006



Duke of York sees global potential

for Ayrshire aerospace companies


HIS Royal Highness the Duke of York flew into Scotland yesterday for an official visit to some of Ayrshire’s key aerospace companies.

As the UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, the Duke met with
Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire chief executive Evelyn McCann and key representatives from industry.

The visit to Ayrshire included tours of Goodrich and GE Caledonian, both of whom have well established global reputations.


The
Duke of York said that penetrating international markets required clear strategies that built upon Scotland’s strengths in the high-tech arena: “It is clear that Scottish aerospace companies have individually identified a number of routes to strengthen their foothold in the international market. Not only must they trade on their strengths, but also I believe that it is essential that companies work together specifically to develop the critical mass to bring about the best benefit to the Scottish economy and the UK aerospace sector in general.”

Scottish Enterprise highlighted the potential for Scottish companies to rise to the challenge and compete at international level, by combining the efforts of individual companies and the public sector. While Ayrshire has a strong regional reputation in aerospace, Evelyn McCann underlined the need for closer working links across Scotland in order to develop better scale and become even more competitive at international level.

Scottish Enterprise’s aims to bring closer collaboration in the industry has been boosted by the creation of industry body SBAC (the Society of British Aerospace Companies) Scotland. The council, based in Ayrshire, is likely to act as a co-ordinator of best practice and will forge strong working links with industry, essential to the development of a successful Scotland-wide aerospace proposition.

Goodrich Corporation came to Prestwick in 1996 and now employs over 220 people, enjoying significant growth. They are the first tenant of the new Prestwick International Aerospace Park, investing £9m in the new building with an option to expand. Goodrich maintain and repair nacelles and thrust reversers for Europe, Africa and the Middle East from their base at Prestwick.

Goodrich managing director Steve Callan said: “I was very pleased to welcome His Royal Highness to the Goodrich facility and the new Prestwick International Aerospace Park. Goodrich’s growth has proven that Prestwick offers a strong available workforce that can provide a base for international competitiveness. The Duke of York shared our enthusiasm for the area, and it was a pleasure to host his visit to our premises, which also included meetings with other aerospace and related companies in the area.”

GE Caledonian managing director David Crews said: "It was a privilege to welcome His Royal Highness to GE Caledonian and share with him the achievements of the business. This success is reflective of the continued support, energy and innovation from our employees."

GE Caledonian is part of the GE (
General Electric) Group, employing more than 900 highly skilled workers in Ayrshire. Established in 1980, the site celebrated 25 years in operation in 2005 and was awarded the 'Best Performing Business Award (over 250 employees)' in both the local and national Scottish Enterprise awards in 2005.


Ayrshire’s Fairfield House Hotel

restaurant up for top dining award



Having recently completed a major £750,000 refurbishment, the management and staff at Ayr’s Fairfield House Hotel were pleased to learn this week that the hotel’s Martin’s Bar & Grill has been nominated in the Informal Dining category of this year’s Scottish Hotels of the Year Awards.

Fairfield House Hotel general manager Stuart Maxwell told Ayrshire Scotland Business News: “I am delighted that our investment in the hotel has been recognised with our nomination for this award.

“It was always our intention to create an informal, relaxed atmosphere within Martin's Bar and Grill whilst maintaining the highest level of service standards.

“This nomination is recognition of the hard work Craig Adam, Food and Beverage Manager, and all of his team in Martin’s Bar & Grill have put in, both during and after the six month refurbishment programme. They have delivered exceptional service since the opening in September.”

ABOUT FAIRFIELD HOUSE HOTEL

A major refurbishment costing £750,000 has now been completed at the Fairfield House Hotel in Ayr, Scotland.

The ground floor of the building, including the reception area, bar, and restaurant has been renovated, creating a stylish but not ultra-modern look that blends in perfectly with the hotel’s striking exterior on the edge of the Low Green looking out over the Firth of Clyde.

General manager Stuart Maxwell said: “Perhaps in the past there may have been a tendency for the hotel to have been regarded as slightly stuffy - a place where people might go once a year for a special occasion.
“But if that was ever the case, things have certainly changed now, as we have succeeded in creating a relaxed, informal atmosphere with prices that are eminently affordable.

“The result is that our clientele come back on a much more frequent basis, whether it be for coffee, a quiet drink, lunch or an evening meal.”

The building itself dates from 1900, starting life as the private dwelling of a Glasgow tea merchant. When it first became a hotel it was known as the Marine Court.

It was bought by its present owner, former Ayr accountant George Martin, in 1990, the year after its name was changed to Fairfield House Hotel.

General manager Stuart Maxwell (32) was appointed in March 2005.
Stuart lives in Ayr with his wife Kate and son James (4).

Originally from Portpatrick, Stuart obtained a degree in hotel management before working for a variety of hotel chains throughout the UK including Hilton, Stakis and de Vere.

He now heads a staff of 50 at the Fairfield House Hotel. Assistant manager Craig Adam from Troon, whose family are also in the hotel business, worked on the cruise ship QE2 for 10 years, and head chef Will Hay used to run the kitchen in restaurants owned by
Gary Rhodes.

With its Fairfield suite and boardroom, the 44-bedroom hotel also hosts conferences, seminars and weddings, and can cater for up to 150 delegates or guests.

The Fairfield Leisure Club has a well-equipped gymnasium and an indoor heated swimming pool complete with spa bath.

All guests are welcome to use these and the other facilities, which include a sauna and steamroom, providing the perfect way to relax and unwind.

For further information, visit
www.fairfieldhotel.co.uk

Telephone 01292 267461.

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Friday, 20 January 2006


Major planning permission boost

as Barr announces annual results


BARR Holdings Limited, the construction, quarrying, waste management and industrial group, has received approval on a major quarry extension in Ayrshire as it announces annual results to March 2005.

Following a year of considerable investment and consolidation, Barr Holdings has announced profits for the year to March 2005 of £455,000, compared to £2.252 million the previous year, which had benefited materially from a number of non-recurring factors. The underlying profits from operations continued to improve in the year and management figures for the current year have shown a significant upturn in the company’s performance, with profit for the first six months exceeding last year by more than £1 million.

Group non-executive chairman Bernard Solomons said: "The year to March 2005 saw the group make considerable investments, such as rebuilding our steel fabrication factory at Creetown, new quarry plant and major development work within our waste business, and the current year has seen the benefit of this strategy."

Executive deputy chairman Anthony Rush said: "The group’s pre-tax profit in the first half significantly exceeds the full year’s performance for 2004/05. In particular, the turnover of our construction group is up over 50% year-on-year in the first six months and is producing satisfactory margins, while all other activities are reporting improvements on last year."

The planning permission to extend the Swinlees Quarry near Dalry is a major boost for the construction industry in North Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East and South Ayrshire as it is the only operating quarry producing crushed hard rock coated roadstone and ready-mix concrete in its immediate area.

The planning permission, granted by North Ayrshire Council after approval was recommended by the council’s planning department, will extend the life of the quarry by ten years.

Anthony Rush said: "This enables us to maintain the best practical environmental option for the local area by using a substantial and valuable local resource, helping to reduce vehicle emissions and HGV lorry journeys which would have been a consequence of transporting similar materials from elsewhere in Scotland.

"The approval fits in well with our strategy of ensuring Barr is a growing national company which has a healthy awareness of our importance to the local economy of Ayrshire, where we employ over 600 people."

Following a significant restructuring since May 2003, the company, which employs over 900 people and is now the largest Scottish-headquartered construction group, has enjoyed a rapid recovery in its fortunes, with all divisions operating profitably.

Barr now boasts a construction order book over £350 million and a pipeline of opportunities for the next two years. The company is also the largest independent quarrying company in Scotland and is also a significant operator in the UK structural steel market.

Barr announced late last year that it was exploring options regarding its future after receiving approaches from a number of suitors and this process is continuing.

Bernard Solomons said: "Whilst remaining a thriving, independent company is a viable way forward, the board and management will have to consider whether this could be further boosted by being part of a bigger organisation. We have a duty to our employees and shareholders to explore all the options open to us before any decisions are made. The company will be completing its strategic review shortly."

www.barr.co.uk



Thursday, 19 January 2006



Clydesdale Bank announces new

operator at Kilmarnock call centre



CLYDESDALE Bank’s parent company National Australia Group has appointed Airdrie-based beCogent to run its Kilmarnock customer call centre, safeguarding the future of 450 local jobs.

BeCogent has grown into one of the UK’s leading providers of outsourced contact centre services.


Under the 5-year contract, which runs from March, beCogent will operate National Australia Group’s contact centre in Kilmarnock, providing both telephone and Internet banking support for Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank customers.


beCogent’s managing director Charles Breslin told Ayrshire Business News: "This is a fantastic opportunity for beCogent, and we are absolutely delighted to have won this major contract with National Australia Group. Having been chosen after a comprehensive selection process is a great endorsement of the skills, quality and capability beCogent has to offer. This contract will make a major contribution to our growth in the next five years and will provide at least another 450 jobs in the beCogent group."


He continued: "beCogent is an increasingly strong contender in the provision of outsourced contact centre services to the UK financial services sector.


"beCogent’s strong focus on innovation, flexibility and creativity proved key factors in winning this competitive outsourcing contract. The company will implement its distinctive blended live agent and automated solution to give the customer more choice and improved service, whilst delivering significant efficiency savings for National Australia Group over the course of the contract."


This announcement follows National Australia Group’s recent decision to invest £5 million to upgrade the telephony infrastructure at its Kilmarnock site, and confirms the group’s commitment to Ayrshire and to outsourcing contact centres within the UK.


National Australia Group’s head of contact centres Kevin Page said: "Investing in the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank brands and in electronic and direct channels such as telephone and Internet banking are key aspects of our UK growth programme.


"We recently undertook a review of our overall strategy for call centres and other channels such as Internet banking, which resulted in an overwhelming commitment to invest further in these areas of the business," he continued.


"After an in-depth re-tender process, we chose beCogent as our outsourced contact centre services provider for Kilmarnock because its innovation, flexibility and creativity best matched our own business strategy going forward. We look forward to working closely with beCogent to ensure that our customers receive an excellent service."


Clydesdale Bank was established in 1838 in Glasgow and has a proud history of innovation and support for Scottish industry and communities.


With 2,800 staff and 230 branches, Clydesdale is one of Scotland’s largest banks and is currently expanding its operations into the South of England with its innovative Financial Solutions Centres, offering customers a highly integrated business and private banking service.


Since the launch of beCogent in 1999, the company has grown quickly and now has over 1,300 employees and a turnover of in excess of £20 million.


For more information visit
www.becogent.com

Thursday, 12 January 2006


New air routes between

Prestwick and Poland



NEW air routes between Prestwick and three Polish cities are to be launched with the support of the Scottish Executive's Route Development Fund.

Wizz Air will operate Airbus A320s on a year-round service three times a week between the Ayrshire airport and Gdansk, Katowice and Warsaw.

The Gdansk and Warsaw routes begin on March 26 and Katowice will be included from July 17 this summer.

Transport Minister Tavish Scott said: "Poland is increasingly becoming a popular destination for business people and tourists, offering links to the country's emerging economy and the rest of Eastern Europe.

"This new service will also help attract people from these countries to come and live and work in Scotland and will give our tourist industry a boost by attracting even more visitors from that part of the world.

"Our Route Development Fund continues to deliver real economic benefits for Scotland - making a real difference for business travellers and tourists by expanding our direct air services to the rest of the world."

Mary McLaughlin, Director of Transport at Scottish Enterprise which co-funds and manages the Route Development Fund, said: "Business links with Poland are stronger than ever before and these new routes will do much to help Scottish companies secure a share of the substantial opportunities on offer in Poland and its neighbours in Eastern Europe."

The Route Development Fund has made £12.4 million available for investment in strategic air routes.

In October last year Centralwings began its Edinburgh to Warsaw service. In December it was also announced there would be services to Gdansk and Katowice from March 27 and 28 respectively.

November saw the launch of Ryanair's Prestwick to Krakow service and in December SkyEurope announced its intention to operate between Edinburgh and Krakow from April this year.

Wizz Air is the largest Central and Eastern European-based low-fare airline. Formed in June 2003, it carried 1,889,608 passengers in 2005.

The Wizz Air fleet comprises six 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline has established bases in Katowice, Warsaw, Gdansk in Poland and Budapest in Hungary and flies to 17 European destinations on 32 routes.

To acquire investment from the RDF, airlines have to demonstrate that services will have a direct economic benefit to Scotland. The flights must involve regularly scheduled services and must not undermine existing flights.

Exact amounts given to airlines are not disclosed due to reasons of commercial confidentiality.


Scottish Executive


Prestwick Airport