The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 13 May 2011

Mafiz Ali introduces Tandoori Barbecue at Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant

Celebrity TV chef Mafiz Ali (pictured below) is introducing a new daily Tandoori Barbecue at Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It will be available 7 days a week during Ayr Spice opening hours of 12noon – 10.30pm.

And of course the popular all-the-year-round Ayr Spice menu will also continue to be available at all times.

Mafiz Ali commented: “We have a spacious outdoor deck area with a pleasant view over the surrounding South Ayrshire countryside, and the possibility to eat indoors in inclement weather. There is also a tree-house for the children. Customers can come and enjoy a delicious meal and a refreshing drink with the whole family in a friendly and carefree environment.

“They can choose between lamb, chicken, kebabs or fish. And watch out for occasional specials. There will be burgers for kids. All barbecue portions will be garnished with vegetables or chips. For larger groups prior booking essential.”

Prices from £7.95 per portion (children £4.95).

OAPs will receive a 20% discount on all restaurant products.

* * *


Mafiz Ali has enjoyed a busy and successful start to 2011.

He has made two guest appearances on STV’s popular early evening television programme “The Hour” with regular hosts Stephen Jardine and Michelle McManus.

The previous month, Mafiz Ali hosted a very successful luncheon meeting of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle, which further enhanced his already growing reputation amongst discerning diners in the local business community.

He has also already this year put on successful special menus to celebrate Mother’s Day, the Bangladeshi New Year and the Royal Wedding.

And finally, Mafiz has extended the opening hours of Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant, which is now open from 12 noon 10.30pm every day.

And now he is introducing a Tandoori Barbecue, at which customers can dine al fresco (weather permitting!) in a family-friendly atmosphere with a tree-house for the kids and ample parking.

There will be further exciting developments to be announced during the course of the rest of the year which will cement Ayr Spice’s place as one of the top fine dining experiences in South West Scotland.


Mafiz climbed the ladder to fame when he won a chef of the year award in 1998 and, almost immediately, added one for exceptional hygiene and cleanliness. Newly crowned at Westminster, he was commissioned by the then prime minister, John Major to supply a banquet for his 50th birthday at Number 10 Downing Street.

A replica banquet was then ordered by one of the distinguished guests and sent to New York city. Since then he has sent food elsewhere in the USA and to Japan and Australia in what must be an almost uniquely international takeaway service! He has also catered for numerous celebrities from the world of entertainment and some have vowed to come to his restaurant while they are in Scotland on tour.

It is not widely known that 92% of all “Indian” restaurants in the UK are in fact Bangladeshi, and it was to promote such eating houses and reward young chefs by recognising their talents, that Mafiz founded the “British Bangladeshi National Curry awards” at the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, also in 1998.

Mafiz Ali has been closely associated with charities, notably when he entered the Guinness Book of Records with 4.5 tons of chicken korma, which was then eaten at a charity event. Because of the enormous quantities involved he had to seek the advice of a professional engineer for the technical realisation of the project. His other charitable activities have included the Essex Air Ambulance Service and several children’s charities.

No stranger to TV, Mafiz has been invited to return to STV for further programmes in the future. Channel 4, Big Breakfast TV and several others including Bangladeshi TV on which he has his own programme, number among the other stations for whom he has appeared, and he has made double that number of radio broadcasts, as well as contributing to many publications including the Times and Daily Mirror.

Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant
The Old Minishant Memorial Church
22 Ayr Road
KA19 8EX

Tel: 01292 441413

Monday, 9 May 2011

Clydesdale Bank says customer support key to creditable performance

National Australia Bank Group, owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, has released interim results for its UK Banking operations for the 6 months to 31 March 2011.

Financial Performance

Following the substantial recovery in profitability last year, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks achieved pre-tax cash earnings growth of 25% to £101 million (from £81m) in the half.

This continued and significant improvement in profitability was secured whilst continuing to demonstrate strong support for customers during this period of economic uncertainty and by carefully balancing risk and return.

Average retail customer deposits grew by £900 million (4%) to £23.4 billion compared with the prior corresponding period favourably ahead of UK industry average movements. Deposits across iFS grew 2.5% and retail delivered 5.8% growth. Despite intense market competition, average deposit levels are 1.3% down from the historic high achieved in the prior half.

Deposit attraction and retention combined with strong wholesale funding has provided the business with a robust platform for future growth and enabled it to hold liquid assets totalling £9.8 billion at March 2011. This conservative level of liquidity has been maintained (£10.1bn at September 2010) at more than double the level held three years ago (£4.5bn in March 2008). The Banks’ funding position of retail deposits and longer term wholesale funding covers 94% of lending. The Retail Cover Ratio remained high at 70%.

While the business continues to maintain a conservative risk position, capital ratios were further strengthened in the half with £200 million of preference shares issued in December 2010. At March 2011, the Tier 1 capital ratio was 9.8% (up from 9.0% at September 2010).

Supporting Customers

Providing real choice in the market, the Banks continue to attract growing numbers of small and mid-corporate trading businesses as well as expanding its mortgage book. Despite subdued market demand for credit, new lending of £3.3 billion was advanced in the half including £2.1 billion of business lending and £1.1 billion of mortgage advances.

With a total of £8 billion of new lending advanced in the past 18 months, the business is firmly on track to deliver against its two-year pledge to make £10 billion of new lending available to support business and personal customers by October 2011.

While average business lending and mortgage growth outperformed the market, average gross loans and acceptances were broadly flat at £32.6 billion (down 1%), reflecting subdued market demand for credit and the managed rebalancing of the lending book. As a result, commercial property lending was reduced by 11% and exposure to credit card and personal lending fell by 14%. Mortgage lending grew by 4% and lending to trading businesses was up 2% in the period.

Building on an already strong customer base, the expansion of Retail’s small business support during the period will broaden the products and services on offer to this important segment of the market. Improvements to the direct banking service will improve efficiency in direct sales for retail customers. The iFS business banking strategy is continuing to evolve with investment in the payments capability and prudent enhancement of the mid-corporate offering, providing dedicated support and choice for customers.

Investments in the business continued with a £5 million increase in cash spend to £49 million in the half. The delivery of an enhanced customer offering continued to be a key focus of this investment. Building on the success of the Bank’s current Business Internet Banking platform, BusinessOnline was launched in February 2011 to extend the functionality and payment options for business customers. A programme to deliver improved online and telephone sales channels was also mobilised in the half and will be in place by October 2011.

Performance Measures

Working closely with customers during this period of economic uncertainty, asset quality measures continue to be carefully monitored. The charge to provide for bad and doubtful debts decreased by £32 million (17.5%) compared with the prior corresponding half. This reflects the stage of the economic recovery post recession and remains an area under close management scrutiny.

As a result of growth in balance sheet provisions and a stable portfolio, the total provision to gross loans and acceptances ratio has improved to 1.52% (from 1.46% at September 2010). Mortgage balances 90 days past due as a percentage of total mortgages have been held at the September 2010 level of 0.76%.

While costs have been kept below inflation, responding to customer support demands has contributed to increased personnel costs in the half. As a result, operating expenses increased by £10 million (2.8%) to £363 million over the prior corresponding period. The cost to income ratio increased to 59.0% compared with the prior corresponding period (from 57.2% at March 2010) and improved marginally on the prior half (59.2% at September 2010).

Interest earning asset volumes increased by £500 million to £41.4 billion. The net interest margin declined by 7 basis points to 2.33% compared with the prior corresponding period. This was driven by lower earnings on capital, lower deposit margins and margin dilution from the increase in low yielding liquid assets as the balance sheet was further strengthened.

Pursuing a sensible and consistent strategic direction, the business continues to maintain a sound capital position balancing profit with security. While well prepared for the challenges national economic recovery will continue to provide, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks remain very well placed to capitalise on future growth opportunities.

Lynne Peacock, Chief Executive (pictured above) said: “The effectiveness of our support for customers and the sensible, consistent strategic direction we have maintained is clearly demonstrated in these creditable results. Pre-tax cash earnings are up 25% in the past six months continuing the substantial recovery in profitability achieved last year.

“Maintaining our sound capital position and balancing profit with increased security, a key focus has been to support our customers and this has been central to our success in these uncertain economic times. Despite subdued market demand for credit, we continue to offer genuine customer choice in the market. This is attracting growing numbers of small and mid-corporate trading businesses and helping us to further expand our mortgage book. It also helped us advance £3.3 billion of new lending in the half on top of £4.7 billion last year. We are well on track to deliver our two-year new lending commitment of £10 billion by October.

“As I prepare to pass the baton to David Thorburn (pictured above) and a very strong UK management team, I am proud to reflect on what we have achieved in transforming this business over the past seven years. While national economic recovery will continue to provide challenges, we have kept Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks safe, strong and very well placed to capitalise on future growth opportunities.”

Discussing the interim results from an Ayrshire perspective, managing partner of the Clydesdale Bank Financial Solutions Centre in Ayr Willie Mackie (pictured above) said: “We are continuing to support our customers across our Commercial, Agricultural and Private banking portfolios, and I pleased to confirm we are actively participating in the delivery of the Bank’s two year lending commitment of £10 billion by October.”


Clydesdale Bank
Financial Solutions Centre
43 Alloway Street
Ayr KA7 1SP
Ayrshire, Scotland

Contact: Willie Mackie, Managing Partner
Tel: 01292 272072
Fax: 01292 280202

The Clydesdale Bank Financial Solutions Centre in Ayr is a founder member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Jungle queen Stacey and the Overtones headline Ayr Racecourse shows

X-Factor finalist and Queen of the Jungle Stacey Solomon (pictured below) is to headline the after racing entertainment at this year’s Saints and Sinners Racenight at Ayr Racecourse on Friday 17 June.

And doo wop boy band The Overtones will top the bill at Champagne GH Mumm Ladies Night on Saturday 6 August.

Stacey will follow in the footsteps of fellow X-Factor finalist Alexandra Burke who performed at Saints and Sinners last year. Since coming third in X Factor in December 2009 Stacey has gone on to win the 2010 ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ and appeared on many television shows.

The support act at the Racecourse will be the Coverboys performing many boy band hits from recent years. The Floorstompers, featuring Jim Prime from Deacon Blue will appear in the Horseshoe Bar.

Ayr Racecourse marketing manager Lindsey Smith said: “We thought long and hard about who to book for Saints and Sinners and feel we have come up with a winner in Stacey. She is immensely popular and we are looking forward to a very busy evening.”

To secure the Overtones (pictured above) is a major coup for Racecourse bosses, with the five singers’ first album ‘Good Ol’ Fashioned Love’ having been in the album charts for 24 weeks reaching a high of number 3 and going platinum in the process.

The Ayr gig will precede a major UK tour later in the year which includes a show at the London Palladium, and Lindsey added: “We are very lucky to have been able to attract a band like The Overtones for Champagne GH Mumm Ladies Night.

“Their album is one of the best selling of the year so far and with their television appearances on prime time shows like Dancing On Ice they have really captured the imagination of the British public.”

For more information on Saints and Sinners Racenight or Champagne GH Mumm Ladies Night call 01292 264179 or go online at

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 07795-565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are founder members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

It’s whisky galore for Jim Goldie at Ayr Racecourse awards

JIM Goldie bagged a major awards haul following the recent Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse.

The Uplawmoor based trainer won both the coveted Isle of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Top Scottish Jumps and Flat Trainer Awards for 2010-2011 and was presented with trophies and a bottle of 50 year old Isle of Skye. Jim also landed the 2010-2011 Ayr Jumps Trainer Championship, again sponsored by Isle of Skye, and won a bottle of 21 year old Isle of Skye.

The top jockey of the 2010-2011 jumps season at Ayr was Graham Lee (pictured above) with Mr & Mrs Raymond Anderson Green (pictured below) the top owners. Both these titles also carried a bottle of Isle of Skye 21 year old as the prize.

Ian Macleod Distillers director of marketing Iain Weir made the presentations and said: “What a fantastic achievement by Jim Goldie to capture these titles with the opposition being so strong. He is equally at home on the flat or over jumps as these awards prove.

“It is also fitting that the Owners and Jockeys titles were won by such high profile figures as the Anderson Greens and Graham Lee. We at Ian Macleod Distillers are delighted to be associated with these awards as we continue to support Scottish racing.”

And Ayr Racecourse sales and marketing manager Lindsey Smith added: “Everyone at Ayr Racecourse in indebted to Ian Macleod Distillers for sponsoring these awards. Congratulation to Jim Ray and Anita Anderson Green and Graham for their successes.”

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 07795-565691.


Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are founder members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.