The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 7 September 2013

5,600 new jobs predicted for Scotland’s food & drink industry by 2018

The boom in the Scottish food and drink sector looks set to continue as the latest Bank of Scotland research reveals that the £12bn industry will be ramping up investment and creating jobs to target new export markets over the next five years.

The Bank of Scotland report, An Appetite for Growth: Ambition and Opportunity for Scotland’s food and drink industry, which launched this week, surveyed a broad cross section of over 100 Scottish food and drink businesses with an estimated aggregate turnover of £6 billion. The results help to cement the industry’s position as one of Scotland’s fastest-growing sectors.

A mean five-year growth expectation of 19% has been reported by respondents looking to expand.

Two-thirds of companies surveyed also expect to increase their workforce in the next five years as the sector continues to look to outpace the wider economy. Of the companies surveyed, respondents were confident of at least new 940 jobs between them over the next five years. If these findings were replicated across the wider food and drink production sector it could mean more than 5,600 additional jobs will be created.

The findings demonstrate that the industry is set to significantly exceed trade body Scotland Food & Drink’s current target of achieving £12.5bn turnover for the industry by 2017.

Other findings from the research included:

* Exporting and new product development are expected to be the key drivers for growth in the sector. Over 40% of firms are still planning on expanding their export activities.

* There has also been a significant shift in where Scottish food and drink companies are setting their international sights as they look for higher growth markets. Almost two-thirds of companies named the Far East/Asia as their key area of focus, replacing Western Europe at the top of the list of target markets. The rapid emergence of countries such as Brazil was also underlined with a 20% increase on last year’s report in the proportion of companies looking at South America.

* The biggest area of concern for the sector continues to be the cost and volatility of raw materials, cited by almost two thirds of respondents amid greater competition for resources and the threat of poor harvests caused by extreme weather.

Alasdair Gardner, Managing Director of Commercial Banking at Bank of Scotland said: “Scotland’s food and drink sector already makes a tremendous contribution to Scotland’s economy and these results show that will only increase over the coming of years. The creation of more than 5,600 jobs will be a very welcome boost to communities across Scotland as economic recovery continues.

“This is our second annual market survey on Scotland’s Food and Drink sector and following the opportunities we identified in last year’s survey, I’m delighted to see that overall confidence levels remain high and the sector is pushing ahead delivering record growth. The reality is that if this level of growth continues we will see levels of growth in the food and drink industry that could soon be alongside oil and gas on the export market.

“Scotland produces a fantastic array of food and drink products and this reputation for world class quality is enabling Scottish businesses to tap into the huge enthusiasm among global consumers for provenance. These are exciting times for the industry and Bank of Scotland stands ready to support companies with their growth plans whether those be here in Scotland or taking their products in to the US, China or South America.”

Friday, 6 September 2013

South Ayrshire Council helps new businesses with AMBITION

New or start-up businesses across South Ayrshire can now take advantage of fantastic modern office accommodation, hands-on business support and mentoring – and even grant funding – thanks to South Ayrshire Council’s brand-new AMBITION enterprise and employment programme.

[Pictured: Councillor Bill McIntosh is joined by Chief Executive Eileen Howat, Graeme Currie and Ayr North and Prestwick Councillors to officially open the Heathfield incubator space.]

The intensive support is part of the AMBITION for start-ups strand of the programme, which got underway this week with the opening of a dedicated business incubator unit at Heathfield in Ayr – one of three such units to be created by the Council.

The incubator unit provides the ideal location to develop and grow a new business, with space for six businesses to work out of the unit on a full-time basis, with additional meeting, conference and hot-desking facilities also on hand.

Complementing the practical support the unit provides is a ‘wraparound’ package of mentoring, access to expertise and advice, and hands-on support to ensure businesses get the best possible start and really get the chance to grow.

The Heathfield unit – which will be joined by similar units in Girvan and Maybole in the coming months – sits at the heart of the start-up support available from the AMBITION programme. 

The AMBITION programme will see the Council invest £1.5 million over three years to support job creation and economic growth in South Ayrshire through four key strands:

AMBITION for Start-Ups

AMBITION for Business Growth

AMBITION for Employment

AMBITION for Social Enterprise.

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

It was established by the Council as a determined and proactive response to the economic challenges facing the local area, as South Ayrshire Council Leader, Councillor Bill McIntosh, explained: “AMBITION is all about taking a bold – but lasting and sustainable – approach to help achieve economic stability and security for our communities. 

“That doesn’t just mean supporting businesses to get off the ground; it also means helping businesses increase the number of people they employ and – crucially – helping people gain the skills, knowledge and experience they require to take full advantage of these job opportunities. 

“The new Heathfield incubator, which is an exciting new way for the private and public sectors to work together, is a terrific example of how we plan to achieve this, giving new businesses a dedicated business adviser, free business space, hot desk facilities, conference and meeting rooms, as well as access to finance and grant funding. 

“Starting a new business can be exciting – but scary – and can be a minefield if you don’t have much more than a great business idea. That’s where we step in – and I would urge anyone starting up – or interested in starting up – a business to get in touch with us to see if Heathfield could be their new home.

“We have all that’s needed to support a business in getting started – all we ask in return is your AMBITION.”

Graeme Currie, Deputy Head of Operations at LESL – one of the Council’s partners in delivering the AMBITION programme – added: “We’re delighted to be a partner in the Heathfield incubator. As one of the largest operators of incubation centres in Scotland, we know that incubator space helps businesses flourish and grow at a faster rate. 

“The infrastructure is now in place and all that’s needed are the businesses with the ambition and enthusiasm to join us at Heathfield and make the most of this wonderful opportunity.” 

For further information about the Heathfield incubator units or any other aspect of the AMBITION programme, call 01292 616265 or visit  

The key activities under the other three strands of the AMBITION programme are:

• AMBITION for Business Growth

Offers access to a variety of financial grants – from £500 to £10,000 – for growing businesses as well as access to a number of loan funding streams. 

• AMBITION for Employment

A wide range of programmes that offer both recruitment incentives and employment opportunities, with a particular focus on young people – including wage incentives where the Council contributions an element of wage costs; or the chance to gain some useful work experience, or the necessary skills and qualifications that will make residents more attractive to potential employers. 

• AMBITION for Social Enterprise

Offers a package of training and support to develop entrepreneurship and leadership capabilities, provide start-up and governance advice, and provide a mentoring programme for social enterprises with potential for growth. 

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

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Scotland’s future workforce

Business-led commission makes recommendations to help young people into work

A new report on how to help Scotland become a European leader in vocational education and training has been welcomed by the Scottish Government.


[Click on image above to view video.]

The Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, chaired by leading industrialist Sir Ian Wood, was asked by Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance to explore ways to improve the transition from education to employment. 

The Commission’s first set of recommendations which focus on the educational offer to young people were published today with a second report into employers’ support for young people due at the start of 2014. 

Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance said: “Scotland continues to make good progress on youth employment and we remain better placed than the rest of the UK, but we aspire to be amongst the best in Europe. Our discussions with employers and other EU countries have highlighted a clear link between vocational training and low youth unemployment which is where much of our efforts must now be focused.

“The advent of Curriculum for Excellence will see our young people better placed than ever to progress in the global jobs market and our colleges are also focused on economic growth and preparing young people for employment. We are continuing to create 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship opportunities every year and every 16 to 19 year old in this country has a guaranteed offer of a place in education or training.

“These ground breaking reforms give us a strong platform to move forward in making vocational training in Scotland even better. I am very pleased to receive this first set of recommendations, and as the Commission progresses, I will continue to promote the benefits to employers of taking on young people through the Make Young People Your Business campaign. I look forward to receiving the second report which will complete a vitally important piece of work and help make education and training in Scotland truly world class.”

COSLA Education, Children and Young People Spokesperson, Cllr Douglas Chapman added: “The report published today presents a clear way ahead on vocational education and training. It is a well written report which I think makes a good contribution to the debate on how we improve educational attainment and the job prospects for Scotland’s young people. 

“The last few years have been particularly difficult for young people seeking work, and while the report does not offer an immediate solution, it opens up more possibilities for Scotland to excel on how we prepare young people for an increasingly competitive and globalised economy. 

“I was struck after meeting Sir Ian recently how much the professionalism and commitment of teachers and local authority staff had impressed the Commission. I believe there are genuine strengths within Scottish education and that this report attempts to build on work that has already been undertaken by local authorities and schools. 

“This is an important report that warrants careful consideration. Its publication today is really the start of more detailed work with Government on how best we can jointly respond to the interim report and its recommendations. The work of the Commission carries on, and will now consider the role of businesses at supporting young people into work. This second phase of the Commission is just as vital as the first and I look forward to reading the Commission’s final report next year.”

Klin Group CEO Marie Macklin recognised for Outstanding Contribution to Business

Entrepreneur Marie Macklin, CEO of The Klin Group, has been recognised for Outstanding Contribution to business by the Association of Scottish Businesswomen at its Annual Awards ceremony held in Aberdeen. The Awards recognise women in business and the contributions made individually and collectively to commercial success in Scotland.

As CEO of the Klin Group, Marie engages in economic and social transformation in Scotland and manages a portfolio of international property investments.  Engaging local communities in planning transformation is fundamental to Marie’s business philosophy. Marie works with Kilmarnock College, local schools and aspiring young business people to encourage new generations of entrepreneurs, and is also involved with the Entrepreneurial Spark programme.

Marie recently launched the Women in Enterprise initiative with the Ayrshire Association of Businesswomen, which will see her mentor and sponsor 12 women over a year, helping them to grow their businesses.

Marie said: “It is an honour to have won the Recognition of Outstanding Contribution Award from the Association of Scottish Businesswomen, I’m absolutely thrilled. I’m passionate about my business and regeneration but, fundamentally, I think it’s so important to give something back to the communities in which we work.   

“The youth is the future of our country, so I believe in encouraging that potential and helping to provide development opportunities where ever I can. In addition, there are so many enterprising women out there, using their initiative, taking risks and striving to develop successful businesses. I’ll continue to work hard to boost the economy of our local areas and Scotland as a whole by progressing significant projects, and encouraging new generations of entrepreneurs.”

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Robbie Savage will be a star attraction at William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival

By: Iain Ferguson

FOOTBALLER-turned-television pundit Robbie Savage is to make two guest appearances at the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival at Ayr Racecourse later this month.

The former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, who is now a sporting ambassador for William Hill, will make the draw for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Thursday 19 September, and the following afternoon he will be a judge for the Best Dressed Lady competition on Ladies’ Day.

The draw for the big race has become an integral part of the Festival and takes place at 11 am on Thursday with trainers or representatives from all 27 horses running in the Saturday showcase picking the stalls their horse will run from after its name is drawn.

Racing UK will broadcast the draw live with Gordon Brown presenting and the addition of a big name like Robbie Savage is sure to be a major attraction.

Ayr Racecourse Chairman Alan Macdonald (pictured above) commented: “Over the years the draw for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup has grown in stature, and with a household name like Robbie Savage in attendance this year’s will be the most prestigious yet.

“Hundreds of thousands of racing fans instantly recognise Robbie not only from his on-field exploits and punditry but also the adverts he appears on during Channel 4 racing as a William Hill ambassador.”

Ladies’ Day on Friday 20 September sees the final of the Best Dressed Lady competition when up to 27 finalists who have been awarded a coin will draw the name of a horse running in the William Hill Ayr Bronze Cup.

The lady who draws the winning horse lands a Vauxhall Adam Jam 1.4 courtesy of  Kerr & Smith, second prize is a Fred Olsen 10 night Fjords, Mountains and Glaciers Cruise sponsored by Stewart Travel and third prize laser treatments by The Coast Clinic, Ayr.

And ladies can still qualify for the final - the final few bronze coins for Best Dressed Ladies will be awarded by the judges on both Thursday and Friday.

For more information on the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival call 01292 264179 or go online at

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

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

Monday, 2 September 2013

Ayr Spice Minishant Restaurant head chef Mafiz Ali celebrates Taste Ayrshire Food Festival

After his highly successful participation in Taste Ayrshire’s Largs Food Festival on 18 August, Ayr Spice Minishant Restaurant proprietor and head chef Mafiz Ali is participating in the weeklong Taste Ayrshire Food Festival later this month, which takes place in the culinary venues themselves. 

Ayr Spice Minishant Restaurant will present five special evenings from Sunday 22 September through to Thursday 26 September as its contribution to this year’s Taste Ayrshire Food Festival.

On Sunday 22 and Wednesday 25 September there will be special tasting evenings on two levels – there will be a £25 Bangladeshi “Thali” (a special tray with five bowls to try different curries and starters etc) for two people, but the Thali is, in point of fact, a very adequate, full meal for the two people concerned and not just a “Tasting”. A £5 “mini-taster” for one person will also be available.

 On Tuesday 24 September a special Thali featuring the “Healthy Option” (seafood and vegetarian etc) will be available also at £25 for two people. 

And finally, on Monday 23 September and Thursday 26 September there will be normal restaurant service with a difference! The difference will be that TV chef Mafiz Ali will give free cookery demonstrations at 7pm and 8pm for the patrons dining in the restaurant on those evenings.

Mafiz Ali commented: “In all my years in the restaurant business, I have always enjoyed supporting the local community and participating in local events like the Taste Ayrshire Food Festival. I hope to see many of my regular customers during the Festival, and hope to attract others to come along to Ayr Spice Restaurant in Minishant and try out our food for the first time.”

For more information contact

Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant

Ayr Spice Indian Cuisine can be found in the fine old red sandstone Memorial church at the entrance to the picturesque village of Minishant, 5 miles south of Ayr on the A77. The church was erected by the thread magnate Sir Peter Coats of nearby Auchendrane, in loving memory of his wife Glorianna, who died in 1877.

Indian food can be simple or elaborate, humble or opulent, within a culinary tradition that is centuries old. The unique gift of Indian cuisine is its inspired use of exotic spices and the finest fresh ingredients. Proprietor Mafiz Ali and his team at Ayr Spice are determined to bring you the best of that tradition, and look forward to welcoming you.

Ayr Spice Restaurant is open 7 days a week from 12 noon until 10pm including Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year. Takeaway and home delivery are also available.

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

Tel: 01292 441 413