The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Glasgow Prestwick Airport chief executive
reports record festive season traffic

GLASGOW PRESTWICK AIRPORT chief executive Mark Rodwell (pictured above) reports that the Ayrshire airport will be seeing record passenger numbers over the festive period.

Between Friday 21 December and Wednesday 2 January, around 80,000 passengers will pass through the airport – 40,000 inbound and 40,000 outbound.

The total of 80,000 compares very favourably with the same 10-day period last year, when the airport handled approximately 64,000 passengers – an increase of 25%.

New routes introduced since then include Belfast, Budapest, Kaunas, Katowice and Cork. Poznan will start operating in January.

Most popular routes –

London Stansted – 13,500 in total with 7,000 inbound and 6,500 outbound;

Dublin – 7,500 in total with 4,000 inbound and 3,500 outbound;

Paris – 7,000 in total with 3,500 inbound and 3,500 outbound.

ALL flights are operating at an average of just over 80% capacity.

20,000 passengers (with a 50/50 inbound outbound split) will travel on Irish services to Dublin, Belfast, Shannon, Derry, Donegal and Cork.

THE report of these record passenger figures comes in the same week as Infratil, the company which owns Glasgow Prestwick Airport, has scooped two top business accolades at a prestigious award ceremony in its home country of New Zealand.

Infratil received the Deloitte/Management magazine Company of the Year award for 2007, while their chief executive Lloyd Morrison was named Executive of the Year despite strong competition from fellow captains of industry.

The company is well-known for creating shareholder wealth, with average returns of more than 20% per annum since its first investment in 1994.

Judges described Infratil as “one of the world’s most enlightened, best managed, focused and risk-wise investors in growth infrastructure. It is thoughtfully led, articulates its strategy and corporate objectives, and has performed consistently over time.”

They also recognised the organisation’s growing influence beyond its native shores: “Infratil has stepped beyond New Zealand with investments in Australia and Europe. It understands the importance and relevance of the world’s changing environment.”

Infratil Airports chief executive Steve Fitzgerald commented: “We are very confident that our European airport investment strategy will deliver strong returns in the longer term by exhibiting the characteristics the judges have recognised. 

“There are many opportunities to develop the excellent airports we currently own, and we remain on the lookout for new opportunities.”

The awards - in their 18th year and generally regarded as the most prestigious business awards in New Zealand - were a personal triumph for Lloyd Morrison, who is also chairman of Infratil Airports Europe in addition to his role as chief executive of Infratil.

The judges commented: “Lloyd Morrison is an astute and strategically brilliant chief executive. He questions, probes and challenges conventional wisdom.”

They added: “Morrison is an outstanding executive in tune with the market, economic issues and environmental realities. He is also in sync with the needs and aspirations of his employees.”

Morrison founded Infratil and remains the driving force behind the company, which is managed by Morrison & Co – his own firm which specialises in managing and investing in infrastructure assets.

In addition to Glasgow Prestwick, Infratil owns Kent International Airport, L├╝beck Airport in Germany, two-thirds of Wellington Airport and a number of energy (mainly renewable) operations and public transport services.

Friday, 21 December 2007

A Christmas and New Year message from
Willie Coffey MSP (SNP Kilmarnock & Loudoun)

“As an Ayrshire man born and bred, I am delighted to represent Kilmarnock & Loudoun in the Scottish Parliament.

“We have such a rich history in Ayrshire - cultural, industrial and political - that has helped make Scotland what she is today. Our landscapes are breathtaking, from the coastal areas right across to the Loudoun Valley. And visitors can be sure of a welcome that is unique in Scotland.

“We can also boast that we have many world-leading brands, whether it be whisky or golf!

“The new Parliament has been very busy since May, and we have great hopes that a positive and sustaining difference can be made that will develop the whole Ayrshire economy. We want to cut red tape, and focus upon those strategic issues that will make the greatest difference to our chances of success.

“Ayrshire already is a great place to live, work and visit. And I will be doing my best to help develop the county over the coming years.

“I believe that Ayrshire is the beating heart of Scotland, and I wish all the readers of Ayrshire Scotland Business News a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year in 2008.”

Willie Coffey MSP
SNP (Kilmarnock & Loudoun)

Willie Coffey’s Scottish Parliament web page

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Christmas message from Des Browne,
MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun

“THE year of 2007 marked my 10th anniversary as the MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun. During the past decade I have seen great change and progress throughout the whole of Ayrshire.

“In 2007 I visited a number of businesses in my constituency like Mahle Engine Systems and TPS Fronius Ltd. At the time of my visit to the former it had taken on more staff, and the latter company is now in the process of finalising with a UK manufacturer their first contract in mainland China. I know from talking to companies like these that there is pride in what has been achieved in our local economy.

“Meeting with local businesses and the relevant agencies ensures that I am aware of the challenges that the economy of Ayrshire faces in sustaining and improving performance. However the performance of Ayrshire in recent years in the growing sectors such as retailing and catering bodes well for 2008, and I am sure that with the co-operation of all levels in governance it will continue to make strides in the right direction.

“I would like to thank Ayrshire Scotland Business News for allowing me to send this message to its readers, and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2008.”

[Rt Hon Des Browne, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun is Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Defence].

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Ayr bakery does the salsa and gets its just desserts

AN AYR bakery has become the first company in South Ayrshire to gain a major new food standards award.

The Dessert Depot at the Green Street Lane Business Park has received approval to the SALSA standard (Safe and Local Supplier Approval).

[Picture shows the two directors of The Dessert Depot:
Frances Barron (left) and Ellen McPherson.]

Dessert Depot managing director Frances Barron said: “The team at the Dessert Depot are proud and delighted with the achievement of SALSA.

“This approval recognizes our commitment to quality, and provides our customers and potential customers with the knowledge and peace of mind that they are sourcing products from a company where food safety and hygiene are tightly controlled by a quality management system and are of the highest priority.

“As a marketing tool SALSA is invaluable, and will make our company visible to and give us access to a wider market including national foodservice companies.”

The SALSA, or Safe and Local Supplier Approval, scheme has been developed to help local and regional food and drink producers improve their businesses and supply their products to national and regional buyers who have introduced their own local sourcing initiatives.

The principal criteria of the standard are product safety, legality and quality.

SALSA is a joint venture between four main trade associations representing the UK food chain: the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The scheme was set up by the trade associations in recognition that, in many instances, smaller companies were finding currently recognised industry quality assurance standards overly expensive or having disproportionate requirements.

The need for the development of this scheme has been highlighted by an increasing drive for locally sourced food, particularly from foodservice companies and some supermarkets.

Sisters Frances Barron and Ellen McPherson, originally from Drongan, started the Dessert Depot from scratch. They leased an industrial unit, fitted it out using their own savings and a small loan from the bank, and opened for business on 3 January 2003.

At the Dessert Depot they make a range of handmade desserts, patisserie and artisan traybakes. Their traybakes are made from traditional recipes with a contemporary twist.

They also use recipes that their mother passed on to them. She was the main inspiration for them to start their own business. Sadly she died in February 2002, and did not live to see her two daughters gain success.

In four years the two sisters have built up their business from nothing. Their sales figures have consistently doubled every year, and this year will hit £500,000.

Frances and Ellen started off selling their products to coffee shops, delis and hotels. Their aim was always to build a sustainable business with an infrastructure that would support them as they moved forward and grew their business.

They now have three distributors, and Dessert Depot products can be found in establishments from the Highlands to the south of England and also in Ireland.

Three years ago they took the lease of the empty unit next door, which doubled their floor space and made room for new much needed packaging machinery, greater oven capacity and a walk-in chill.

And in August this year, due to the ever increasing demand for their products, they expanded for the second time by acquiring the lease of a third unit where they are now concentrating their shipping and packing activities. This expansion was supported and part funded by a Small Business Improvement loan provided by South Ayrshire Council.

The Dessert Depot Ltd
Unit 11
Green Street Lane Business Park
Ayr KA8 8BE

Telephone: 01292 285566
Fax: 01292 288842


Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Christmas message from Cathy Jamieson,
MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

“Looking ahead to 2008 there are real
opportunities for businesses in Ayrshire.”

“Looking ahead to 2008 there are real opportunities for businesses in Ayrshire. Larger-scale national and international businesses continue to make a huge contribution to Ayrshire’s economy, and I have been working to ensure that they receive the support they need from government.

“The Scottish Government has announced major changes to Scottish Enterprise, to be implemented in the coming months. I am concerned that the new government has already cut Scottish Enterprise’s annual funding, as well as funding for Innovation and Investment, including Regional Selective Assistance.

“Many of our local businesses are small, and often family run, and I know the challenges they face. It’s important to remember the crucial role they play in the Ayrshire economy, providing employment and vital services in many of our smaller towns and villages.

“Continuing regeneration of our town and village centres is vital to supporting existing businesses, as well as encouraging new ventures. Clean, attractive town and village centres with modern facilities are essential if we want to see people opting to live, work and shop locally.

“Improvements to transport must also remain high on the agenda, with a renewed focus on improving major road and rail links. This will be vital to assist businesses to develop, as well as ensuring people can take up job opportunities across Ayrshire. It will also be key to supporting tourism, particularly as we must make the most of the opportunities in 2009 Year of Homecoming.

“Along with my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament, I will continue to make the case for Ayrshire, and look forward to working to highlight what Ayrshire has to offer.

“I would like to wish all of the readers of Ayrshire Scotland Business News a happy Christmas and a successful 2008.”

[Cathy Jamieson was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and in 2001 she was appointed Minister for Education and Young People. Following the 2003 election she was appointed Justice Minister and held this post until May 2007 when the administration changed. She is currently Deputy Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament.]

Cathy Jamieson’s Scottish Parliament web page
A Christmas message from John Scott, MSP for Ayr

“During 2008 we need to develop still further the Ayrshire brand”

“2007 has seen good progress made in developing the business and tourist sectors in Ayrshire, and I believe we are on the cusp of a time of new opportunity locally.

“During 2008 we need to develop still further the Ayrshire brand, capitalising on our skilled and flexible local workforce, our improving road, rail and air transport links and the growth opportunities that these present to both domestic companies and businesses seeking to relocate or make investments.

“Government at all levels, the enterprise agencies and other business groups all have a part to play in creating the right conditions for growth and development in Ayrshire, and that’s why it is essential that enterprise-friendly policies such as reducing business rates, cutting red tape and speeding up the planning process are given the priority they deserve.

“Above all, we must all work together to send out the message that Ayrshire is a good place to live and work, a part of Scotland that values and encourages economic development, and that as a county we are truly ‘open for business’.

"I am glad to have the opportunity to send this message to readers of Ayrshire Scotland Business News, and wish you all a happy and prosperous 2008."

[John Scott was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in March 2000, after winning the Ayr by-election for the Conservative Party. He was re-elected in May 2003 and again in May 2007.]

John Scott’s Scottish Parliament web page

Monday, 17 December 2007

South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan’s
Christmas Message 2007

“Christmas is an important date on the calendar in many countries, not just because Father Christmas arrives, but because it is a significant time in their religious calendar. A time when they remember the birth of a baby who came into the world in the most basic of places, a stable, and was put to rest in a manger in Bethlehem.

“In our truly multicultural society people follow different religious faiths, and Christmas might not be as significant for some as it is for others. I think it is very healthy that we can all join in the celebrations, respect each other’s religions and special days in the religious calendar of others.

“Traditionally Christmas also is a time when families come together to exchange gifts, eat, drink and enjoy each other’s company, with some family members travelling long distances including students coming home to eat! The extra burden of making this event joyful and stress free tends to fall on the mums. This only lasts for a short time, and we should remember that there will be many other families who will not be in a position to celebrate together, particularly those who have loved ones serving their country in the forces. They will all be in our thoughts and in our hearts.

“The truth is that for many people Christmas Day is a working day. Police officers, fire and rescue officers, medical staff and many others continue to keep important services running. So to all of you who will be working on Christmas Day, thank you for your dedication, and thank you also to your families for supporting you.

“Wherever you will be spending this Christmas and whoever you will be spending it with, enjoy your celebrations.

“2008 is just around the corner, and my wish is that the New Year will bring harmony and prosperity to you all.”
Ayr Racecourse wins top award for the fourth year running

AYR Racecourse has made it four in a row by being voted Racecourse of the Year 2007 for Scotland and the North East by The Racegoers Club.

Ayr also won the award in 2004, 2005 and 2006, which underlines the track’s status as not only Scotland’s premier racecourse but also one of the top courses in the UK.

The award comes as Ayr prepares to open even more new facilities in 2008. Work has begun on a £3.5 million Grandstand Bar which will cater for up to 3,000 people on racedays, and an Owners Bar incorporating a restaurant and with access to a betting shop. Not only will the latter be open to owners and trainers, but also those who wish to take out Owners Club Membership.

The honour from The Racegoers Club is particularly pleasing for those associated with Ayr, as the Club has 6,500 members who are all avid racegoers. Ayr has previously won the award 13 times since 1990.

Ayr Racecourse general manager William Gorol said: “I was delighted to receive this news. It is proof that the improvements we are making are appreciated by members of the Racegoers Club, who are in my eyes aficionados of the sport.

“To win this award four times in a row is especially pleasing, and I’d like to thank everyone who voted for us.”

ATTENDANCES at Ayr Racecourse rose during the 2007 flat season by 7% with an average of 3,934 per meeting.

The flagship flat meeting of the season, the totesport Ayr Gold Cup Festival, recorded its highest three-day attendance (22,000) for more than 30 years.

Other successes were the June Saturday meeting, with an increase of around 30% to 6,500, and the July Family Day which rose by around 10% to just under 4,000.

The 2008 season promises even bigger attendances, with Ayr hosting the Saints and Sinners Charity Night next June for the first time. Organisers have moved the meeting from Hamilton in a bid to increase crowd figures and raise even more money for charity.

Scotland’s premier racecourse has seen an upturn in fortunes since it was bought by Ayrshire businessmen Alan Macdonald and Richard Johnstone in June 2003, and the latest attendance figures are another major step forward.
The new owners have already invested more than £20 million in the course, and that will be increased over the winter with a new £3.5 million Sports Bar being built in the Grand Stand in addition to a new Owners Bar catering for owners, trainers and premium rate members.

Ayr Racecourse general manager William Gorol said: “These figures are a huge boost to us all at Ayr. We are striving to give the best possible deal to racegoers in terms of quality of racing and quality of the facilities, and these figures show we are getting the message across.”

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Glasgow Prestwick Airport flies Ayrshire pupils
to their favourite destinations

PUPILS from ten Prestwick and Troon primary schools have visited Glasgow Prestwick Airport to receive tickets to some of Europe’s top cities.

The group took part in Destination Challenge – a venture between the airport and local schools – and came up trumps amongst their peers.

Primary seven classes at Barassie, Dundonald, Glenburn, Heathfield, Kingcase, Monkton, Muirhead, Struthers, Symington and Troon primaries were given a destination to study.

The pupils had to report back individually with their findings and the winners will be jetting off to the places they have swotted up on.

Class teachers picked the top five entries from each class and airport management selected the overall winner for each class, who received three flight tickets to the places they studied including Paris, Oslo, Frankfurt, Riga, Budapest and many more.

This is the second time schools have taken part in the project after it was successfully launched earlier this year.

Entries were judged on creativity, best effort, knowledge of the area, airline and airport; cultural understanding and history of the area.

The winners received a tour of Glasgow Prestwick Airport during their visit, and chief executive Mark Rodwell (pictured centre above) presented the prizes.

Mark commented: “This project is a fantastic initiative, and a great link between the airport and local schools, as it offers the best possible incentive to learn about these destinations – the chance to actually visit them.

“It was hard to select the winners due to the standard being very high, and it was obvious that a lot of effort had gone into producing them. We hope they enjoy their adventures abroad.”

Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce business liaison officer Claire Baird added: “We are working with schools right across Ayrshire to expand their involvement in local businesses and we were delighted to be involved with the Airport’s Destination Challenge project. 

“The students were not only given the chance to learn about a new country but were given the opportunity to win a trip to that country.

“This is a great example of how business involvement adds value to what young people learn at school.”

The full list of winners is as follows –