The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Strictly Come Dancing reaches Ayr Town Hall!

BUILDING on the very successful afternoon Troon Tea Dances held at Troon Concert Hall, South Ayrshire Council recently held two ‘come and try’ events at Ayr Town Hall.

[Pictured: Provost Winifred Sloan along with Councillors Eddie Bulik, Douglas Campbell, Bill Grant, Elaine Little and Margaret Toner, all took to the floor at a packed Town Hall.]

Arranged to encourage people to come to the Town Hall, the Tea Dances ran at lunchtimes and proved extremely popular, even attracting several twinkle-toed councillors, including Provost Winifred Sloan, who said: “Ayr Town Hall is a wonderful venue, and lends itself to dancing extremely well.

“The refurbished interior, spacious floor and facilities are first-class, and it deserves to be recognised as a top entertainment venue in its own right."

Over 100 dancers took part during the first taster session, and 120 came along for the second.

Those who took part enjoyed an afternoon of dancing to the melodic sounds of the highly acclaimed keyboardist Alan McPike, whose tasteful arrangements and knowledge of all the classics brought the music to life with a ‘Big Band’ sound.

The taster sessions proved so popular that more may soon be organised – so put your dancing shoes on standby and watch this space!

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Friday, 16 October 2009

Ayr Racecourse Christmas party nights to hit all time high

CHRISTMAS Party Nights at Ayr Racecourse are set to break all records this year, topping last year’s total of 18,000 revellers.

The fun starts on Friday 27 November, and the venues are the Ayrshire Suite, Princess Royal Suite and Western House Hotel.

There are still a few places left on the following nights – Friday 27 November, Thursday 3 December, Sunday 6 December, Thursday 10 December, Sunday 13 December, Wednesday 16 December, Thursday 17 December, Sunday 20 December, Monday 21 December, Tuesday 22 December and Wednesday 23 December.

Ayr Racecourse general manager Geoff Green (pictured above) commented: “We have already sold out on all Fridays and Saturdays in December, and other nights are filling up fast.

“Our reputation for providing great Christmas nights out goes before us, and as a result we should smash last year’s figures. It is possible we could hit the 20,000 mark, which would be fantastic.

“We are now the number one venue for Christmas Party Nights in Scotland.”

For more information on Christmas Party Nights at Ayr Racecourse contact Marion Patterson on or by calling 0870-555510.


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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Scotland’s businesses better prepared for recovery than rest of UK

Scotland’s businesses, although reeling from the effects of recession, are more prepared to face a return to economic growth than their counterparts across the rest of the UK, according to a new study from Bank of Scotland.

[Entrepreneur and Dragons' Den judge James Caan: “Those businesses that have adapted, diversified and are prepared for the upturn are well placed to prosper and grow as the economy recovers.”]

The research reveals that a quarter of Scotland’s firms (26 per cent) have put a plan in place to help them grow, more than any other region across the UK. Scotland’s firms have also been taking other positive steps to ready themselves for a recovery. Four in ten (42%) have made cutbacks to get themselves in shape, and a third (32 per cent) believe that these have improved their business processes.

In a sign that many businesses believe a recovery is on the horizon, more than half (58%) of those who have taken action have done so within the past few months. Those businesses that have started to prepare for recovery are also clear about the importance of taking action. Three-quarters (74 per cent) say they need to act now in order to benefit, while two-fifths (41 per cent) say they don’t want to lose out when the recovery arrives.

However, despite widespread recognition (40 per cent) that taking action to prepare for the upturn is essential for long term survival, one in six (18%) firms have still not taken any such steps. More worryingly, of those that have not taken any steps, just under half (42 per cent) don’t believe they need to do anything to ensure their business is ready to benefit as the recovery starts to gain momentum. One in six (17 per cent) admitted that they had not even thought about the steps they might take.

Despite this laissez-faire attitude on the part of the few, Scotland’s businesses are conscious of several business risks which might leave them unable to exploit the upturn.

More than half (55 per cent) believe their business will suffer from low cash resources, while a fifth (21 per cent) believe depleted capital will be an issue. More than third (37 per cent) fear they will lack the capacity to meet demand for their products and services, while just over one in eight (13 per cent) are concerned about potential management or strategy gaps.

Donald Kerr, Head of Commercial Banking for Scotland said: “Recession has weighed heavily on Scotland’s businesses, and it is easy to see why talk of a recovery might bring welcome relief. But in the same way that we have encouraged firms to take action to survive the downturn, they will also need to prepare for the return to growth.

“The shape and scale of any recovery is still uncertain, but one thing is clear – those businesses already looking towards the upturn and planning how to make the most of it, are the ones which will thrive. And those firms that sleepwalk towards recovery risk not just losing out, but falling into the overtrading trap.”

Entrepreneur and Dragons' Den judge James Caan (pictured above) said: “Those businesses that have adapted, diversified and are prepared for the upturn are well placed to prosper and grow as the economy recovers. Businesses without a plan seldom go far, and that’s especially true in times like these. It’s important that companies act now to plot how they’ll approach the opportunities that exist in the prevailing economic climate.”

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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers
achieve Chartered Broker status

MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers, based in Ayr, has become the 6th insurance broker in Scotland to achieve Chartered Broker status.

The status, awarded by the Chartered Insurance Institute, recognises general insurance brokers for their professionalism and commitment to qualifications in the insurance sector.

[Pictured: British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) chief executive Eric Galbraith presenting the certificate to MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers (MCIB) managing director Ian Warnock marking MCIB‘s achievement of Chartered Broker status. Left to right: MCIB director Karen Fitzgerald, chairman Alan MacKay, Ian Warnock, MCIB director David MacKay, and Eric Galbraith.]

The status was acknowledged by industry leader Eric Galbraith, chief executive of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, who visited MacKay’s to welcome their achievement and dedication to professionalism and training.

MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers managing director Ian Warnock said: “This is a great achievement. We have put a huge amount of dedication and investment into training to benefit both our staff and customers, and this has really contributed to our professional service.”

BIBA chief executive Eric Galbraith added: “I am delighted that MacKay’s have chosen to recognize the importance of professional qualifications by achieving chartered status.”

About BIBA

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is the UK’s leading general insurance organisation representing the interests of insurance brokers, intermediaries and their customers.

BIBA membership includes 1700 regulated firms. Insurance brokers and intermediaries distribute nearly two-thirds of all UK general insurance. In 2007, insurance brokers and intermediaries generated £1.5 billion of invisible earnings, and they introduce £22 billion of premium income into London’s insurance market each year.

BIBA is the voice of the industry, advising members, the regulators, the Government, consumer bodies and other stakeholders on key insurance issues. BIBA provides unique schemes and facilities, technical advice, guidance on regulation and business support and is helping to raise, and maintain, industry standards. BIBA works closely with the Chartered Insurance Institute to provide training to those working in the industry and actively participates in helping the industry and its customers deal with some of the major issues of the day.

BIBA members provide professional advice to businesses and consumers, playing a key role in identification, measurement, management, control and transfer of risk. They negotiate appropriate insurance protection tailored to individual needs and operate to a very high standard of customer service with the aim of ensuring peace of mind, security, financial protection and the professional advice required.

To find your nearest BIBA broker visit the ‘Find A Broker' section of the BIBA website, or call BIBA’s consumer helpline on 0870 950 1790

About MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers (MCIB)

MCIB is a leading corporate insurance broker based in Ayrshire. MCIB was established in 1989 and has grown to become one of the top 10 leading independent brokers in Scotland. The aim is to look after their clients' insurance requirements, and design a programme that protects their assets revenues and liabilities.

MCIB prides itself on customer service, with every client having a key personal contact to look after their insurance programme.

MCIB strives to be at the forefront of the insurance broking sector, and believes that the commitment shown in achieving Chartered Status is reflective of how the business is run.

MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers are founder members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers
38 Miller Road
Ayr KA7 2AY
Ayrshire, Scotland

Contact: David MacKay
Tel: 01292 611028
Fax: 01292 611179


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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Scottish companies should be Twittering more

TOO many Scottish companies are wasting a golden opportunity to vastly increase their visibility on the Internet because they are not making full use of social and business networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

That’s according to Murdoch MacDonald, managing director of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and proprietor of PR consultancy Fame Publicity Services.

He says: “There is now a considerable number of sites that can either be used for trivial purposes like exchanging gossip and holiday photographs, or alternatively taken practical advantage of in order to increase market awareness of a company’s products and services.

“In order to best survive the remainder of the current recession and take advantage of the coming economic recovery, Scottish companies need to make sure that future potential customers can find them more quickly and easily on the Internet, and that they are more prominently visible than any of their competitors.

“They should ignore the trivial aspects of networking sites, and make it their business to find out how proper use of them as part of an integrated Internet PR campaign can make a real, positive and tangible difference to their future company performance.”

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle offers its members a groundbreaking and cutting edge Internet PR and publicity service, including use of Twitter and Facebook, not to mention business networking sites and Internet newswire sites, as part of their subscription package.

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Libertine launch set to enliven Ayr’s nightlife

THE launch this month of Libertine, a new bar and casual dining venue on Ayr’s River Street, is set to enliven Ayr’s nightlife with a string of established and emerging music artists booked to appear over the next few months alongside the start of a bi-weekly Songwriters Club on 19 November and a monthly Stand Up Poets night on 26 November.

With a distinctive bohemian and edgy vibe, Libertine’s upstairs performance room will offer a diverse range of performances, from acoustic music sets to stand-up comic slots and small theatre productions.

Libertine is the latest venture from lifestyle entrepreneur Gordon Richardson (pictured above), founder of coffee and music house chain Beanscene, the result of a pioneering alliance between his onebiggroove umbrella group and Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises.

Richardson said, “Libertine is a bar and casual dining facility and is very much performance based through its extension of the ‘house gig’ concept. There’s no doubt that the musicians and other performance artists we’re bringing to the venue will deliver a refreshing new dynamic to Ayr’s nightlife.

“It’s not just about evenings though, Libertine is an all-day affair. Opening from 10am and offering an outstanding range of coffees, deli sandwiches and pastries, soft and ice blended drinks, Libertine also offers a tempting selection of hot and cold tapas, stone baked pizza, burgers, quesidillas, nachos, beers and wines throughout the day and into the evening.”

Artists already scheduled to perform at Libertine include two time Grammy award-winning American singer/songwriter Jon Vezner (3 November), legendary folk singer/songwriter Dick Gaughan (5 November), Boo Hewerdine (18 November), formerly of The Bible and writer of the number one hit ‘Patience of Angels’, hotly tipped emerging Glaswegian Roddy Hart, who’s opened for the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Teddy Thompson and Ray Lamontagne (22 November) and acclaimed performer and former Daintees main man Martin Stephenson (3 December) – tickets for all shows are available now from Tickets Scotland on 0141 204 5151 or online at

Featuring original poetry, verse, rhyme and comedy from the country’s best exponents of the spoken word, ‘Stand Up Poets at Libertine’ takes place on the last Thursday of every month. Commencing 26 November renowned performance poet and resident MC Robin Cairns introduces, New Cumnock native, the hilarious Rab Wilson with fellow Ayrshire homey Sheila Templeton and the endearingly caustic Andy Fleming. There will also be three open mic slots promoting new and emerging talent each month.

‘Libertine Songwriters’, meanwhile, is a bi-weekly platform for new talent anchored each week by an emerging artist. Commencing December 10 host John Alexander will perform two sets and MC four open mic slots. A winning artist will be determined by audience vote and that artist will be invited to host the evening at a future date.

Libertine Songwriters will be recorded and will yield the release of periodic ‘Libertine Sessions’ compilations in both CD and digital formats. New artists interested in performing at Libertine Songwriters should submit demos to Ross McKenzie, Libertine, 7 River Street, Ayr, KA8 0AX.

Libertine is part of - a digital lifestyle, entertainment and media business model encompassing; music retail, recording and distribution, broad and narrowcasting, publishing, TV and film, artist management/promotion and lifestyle/retail products, goods and services.

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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Turnberry Hotel and Golf Resort joins Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

THE world renowned Turnberry Hotel and Golf Resort, host of the Open Golf Championship this year, has become the latest new member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Turnberry Hotel and Golf Resort's Director of Sales & Marketing Stephen Walker commented: “Turnberry is one of Ayrshire’s true icons, recognised globally as a haven for world-class golf and hospitality.

“Our role as both a major employer and local community player is one we take very seriously.

“Working with initiatives like the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle supports this objective ideally.”

[Pictured left to right: Norman Geddes, executive chairman of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and senior partner at Frazer Coogans Solicitors; and Murdoch MacDonald, managing director of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and proprietor of Fame Publicity Services.]

And in a joint statement, Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes and managing director Murdoch MacDonald (pictured above) said: “We are delighted to welcome Turnberry Hotel and Golf Resort’s accession to membership of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

“Turnberry will complement admirably our existing member companies and businesses, and we look forward to working in partnership with Stephen Walker, Tracey Smith and their colleagues to create further worldwide publicity both for Turnberry and for Ayrshire business as a whole.”

Turnberry Hotel and Golf Resort

Opened in 1906, Turnberry was originally known as the Station Hotel.

In the mid-20th century, when it was owned by British Transport Hotels (BTH), there was a national concern that the upkeep of this established, luxurious hotel would not be maintained. After a number of disappointing years of low occupancy, BTH placed Turnberry on the market. Over the next few decades, a number of different proprietors made significant investments in guest rooms, conference amenities and spa facilities that raised Turnberry’s profile. In particular, Turnberry’s dedicated centre for health and relaxation was extremely innovative when it was introduced in the 1980s—and put the resort on the modern-day map.

The new millennium brought a new owner: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Starwood’s vision for Turnberry included a variety of improvements. The red-roofed houses by the roadside, originally built as staff accommodation, have been converted into guest lodges, offering space and seclusion to large groups. The state-of-the-art Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy and the newly built Kintyre course have commenced operations. And the Outdoor Activity Centre—which allows guests to make the most of Turnberry’s 800 acres and the Ayrshire countryside beyond—has completed Turnberry’s transformation from a largely seasonal, golf-focused resort to a year-round destination with an abundance of activities that appeal to a wide audience.

Leisurecorp, a division of Dubai World that is one of the world’s most innovative and renowned golf development entities, took ownership of Turnberry in October 2008 and closed the hotel immediately for a dramatic refurbishment ahead of the 138th Open Championship that took place in July 2009. Internationally renowned interior designer Mary Fox Linton was appointed to lead the renovation, which, with the help of a heritage consultant, saw the 103-year-old hotel restored to the vision of its original architect while accommodating the needs of the modern guest. The property is now a member of Starwood’s Luxury Collection® portfolio.

It is the intention of Leisurecorp, with the contributions of its partners, to make Turnberry the top golf and resort experience in the world.

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle was formed in 2007 by some of the top companies in Ayrshire. Its mission statement is to publicise its members, to celebrate and report the wealth and rich diversity of entrepreneurial talent and business excellence that flourishes here in Ayrshire, and to raise still further Ayrshire‘s profile throughout the world as an ideal place to live, work and visit.

A further selection of Turnberry images is on Flickr: CLICK HERE



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