The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Scottish Government takes over Prestwick Airport

Prestwick Airport has passed into public ownership after being bought by the Scottish Government for £1.

The facility, which was put up for sale last year by New Zealand firm Infratil, has incurred annual losses of £2m.

It is understood a deal was concluded late on Friday. It is expected the airport will continue to operate as normal and there will be no job losses. 

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the deal would help protect the airport and the jobs it supported.

She said that work would now begin for “turning Prestwick around and making it a viable enterprise.”

She said: “It’s a good decision and I’m glad we’ve reached this outcome, because it allows us to protect not just the asset of Prestwick Airport but the jobs that directly and indirectly depend on it.”

Ms Sturgeon said the full terms of the agreement with Infratil and the Scottish Government’s business plan for the Ayrshire facility would be made public at a later date.

She added: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly.

“We would have preferred to see a private company buy Prestwick Airport, but the strategic and economic importance of Prestwick Airport is such that we weren’t prepared to see Prestwick close.”

The Deputy First Minister said the government would run the airport on “a commercial basis” and do everything it could to return it to profit as soon as possible.

She said the long-term goal was to return it to private ownership but said, realistically, it may take “some time” to have the airport running profitably.

“First and foremost we need to make sure that the airport is operating on the right basis,” she said.

“We’ve made clear our intention to have a separate company to run the airport for us.”

South Ayrshire Council Leader, Councillor Bill McIntosh has welcomed the announcement that Glasgow Prestwick Airport has officially transferred into public ownership.

Councillor McIntosh said: “I’m delighted that the deal to take Prestwick Airport into public ownership has been concluded quickly and positively.

“The airport is vital to the local and national economy and this excellent news will be a huge relief for the 1,400 people employed there – and for those companies directly involved with the freight, training, maintenance and repair operations at the site, supporting an additional 3,200 jobs.

“The transfer of ownership, just before Christmas, could not have come at a better time for the staff and families whose future looked less than certain a few weeks ago.

“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to explore and maximise the commercial opportunities available and to develop Prestwick Airport’s undoubted potential, to secure a bright, sustainable and long-term future for the site.”

TV gardener Jim McColl launches renovation project at Ayr horticultural therapy garden for armed forces veterans

TV gardener and BBC Beechgrove Garden presenter Jim McColl helped Gardening Leave officially launch Phase 2 of its project to renovate a large Victorian ‘Stovehouse’ greenhouse next to its horticultural therapy garden at Auchincruive, near Ayr.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie with Jim McColl in the Stovehouse.]

When complete, Gardening Leave will be able to offer armed forces veterans with mental health issues more space to work inside on therapeutic gardening and woodwork tasks, particularly over the winter months. It will also allow the charity to offer a broader range of activities to a greater number of veterans.

Jim McColl is a former student at the old agricultural college at Auchincruive and as a youngster worked in the Stovehouse before it fell into disrepair. Gardening Leave has restored the first half of the listed Stovehouse building but urgently needs to complete this second phase to ensure the building is restored back to its former glory. £50,000 funding from the Pilgrim Trust will allow this final phase to start but the charity still needs to find a further £40,000 to complete the work.

Local Provost Helen Moonie and a group from the Army Cadet Force lent a hand to help launch the project.

[Pictured: Jim McColl, Heather Budge-Reid, horticultural therapist Pamela Smith, Professor George Marshall from the SRUC and South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie.]

Jim McColl said: “I studied and worked at Auchincruive from 1954 to 1959. During the last three years I lived with three others in the Bothy right on site. With the glasshouse foreman, we formed a team to perform weekend duty rota which entailed looking after thousands of plants.  It was our responsibility to look after them, in various glasshouses, including the Stovehouse. That included stoking 5 different boilers (three of them by hand!).

“Two words there stick out a mile – duty and responsibility. These values, which I learned at that time, have stayed with me till this day. The guys who work in this same environment today have ably displayed their duty and responsibility and now the restoration of these glasshouses to full working order, for their use, is surely an apt metaphor for our present duty and responsibility to them. Needless to say, I am delighted to have the opportunity to help publicise this invaluable initiative,” he added.

Gardening Leave’s Chief Executive Heather Budge-Reid said: “I can’t tell you how excited we are that the Pilgrim Trust is making this possible. Jim McColl’s visit will mean the world to our veterans and the cadets who are helping us. When the building is finished it will be something for all of Ayrshire to be proud of.”

Director at the Pilgrim Trust, Georgina Naylor, said: “The Pilgrim Trust is delighted to be able to contribute towards the repair of this important listed garden building particularly as, once restored, it will be used for its original purpose, horticulture, and also will support the work Gardening Leave does with veterans.”

South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie said: “Gardening Leave does a great job, some veterans needs are highly visible, and others are not, but, in the end, with the right support, every veteran is helped to be the best they can be. When you take a cutting from a plant, or have a young seedling, it needs the right surroundings, nourishment and encouragement to grow and flourish – that is what Gardening Leave provides.

“The work that has been carried out, and the work that will be carried out is transforming the Stovehouse into a multifunctional area that can be used to meet the needs of veterans,” she added.

Gardening Leave tends to the invisible wounds of conflict by providing horticultural therapy for troubled veterans. An estimated 20% of veterans carry a mental wound and these needs as much healing as any physical wound.  Gardening Leave has four projects across the UK (Auchincruive, Erskine and two in London) where its specially trained horticultural therapists work with veterans to help them on their journey to good health and their transition to civilian life. The value of gardening therapy is well recognised, particularly for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Turnberry appoints new Executive Chef

Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort, has appointed a new Executive Chef. In his new role, Chef Munur Kara will oversee the development of the hotel’s renowned restaurants and bars. 

Munur Kara (pictured above and below) joins the resort from The Dorchester hotel in London where he was Head Chef of the busy Promenade Restaurant. Munur’s appointment at Turnberry sees him leading a team of over 50 associates at the award-winning resort and overseeing the operations of its six restaurants, including the hotel’s signature restaurant, 1906.  

The move is a return to Turnberry for Munur. He first worked at the resort in 2004 as a Senior Sous Chef, progressing over the following five years, before leaving for London and the position of Head Chef at The Royal Horseguards hotel.  

Jordi Tarrida, General Manager of Turnberry Resort (pictured above) commented: “It’s fantastic to see Munur, one of our home-grown talents, back in the kitchens at Turnberry as Executive Chef. He will be a great asset to our senior team at Turnberry and we are looking forward to seeing him develop his own vision for our six restaurants and bars.” 

Munur is now working on creating new dishes for the forthcoming 2014 menus. He is also very keen to continue building on the success of the James Miller Room, the hotel’s intimate fine dining room which was awarded Gold Class status by the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2012.  

Munur, who has already relocated to Ayrshire to start his new job, commented: “It’s a pleasure to be back at the beautiful Turnberry Resort after a long period in London. I am passionate about continuing Turnberry’s commitment to working with the abundance of natural produce we have on our doorstep in Ayrshire. It’s a great opportunity to make the most of our fantastic local ingredients and further develop our sustainable credentials. I’m very much looking forward to developing the menu and to working hard with the terrific kitchen team.”   

Born and raised in the East end of London to Cypriot parents, Munur has worked through the ranks of some of London’s best hotels. Inspired by his father, also a chef, Munur’s early career was in restaurants and he chose to study food and beverage at college. 

During his studies he also worked at a local butcher. He spent five years with Wheelers Restaurant in Tower Bridge, followed by a move to Chamberlains Restaurant in London where he met Ralph Porciani, former Executive Chef of Turnberry and now Director of Operations at the Resort. Porciani recruited him to join Turnberry in 2004 where he stayed for five years, including working through two Open Championships, before a Head Chef position lured him back to London in 2009. 

His first Head Chef role was at The Royal Horseguards hotel in Whitehall where he developed the hotel’s main restaurant One Twenty One Two, delivering two AA Rosettes within seven months. After three years, he moved to one of London’s most luxurious hotels, The Dorchester, a role that brought the opportunity to cook for international VIPs, royalty and celebrities. As Head Chef of the Promenade Restaurant, Munur managed a busy team, covering breakfast to supper and producing over 160 afternoon teas every day. 

His return to Turnberry as Executive Chef in 2013 is an opportunity to bring his own style of cooking and leadership to the busy Turnberry kitchens and further develop the resort’s six restaurants and bars.

Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

More photos on Flickr. CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

CKD Galbraith offer for sale excellent small livestock farm in North Ayrshire

An attractive small farm with productive agricultural land in the heart of Ayrshire has just been placed onto the open market through leading Scottish property consultants, CKD Galbraith.

Lambridden Farm extends to some 72.34 hectares (178.75 acres) in total and is a compact farm unit for sale as a whole or in three individual lots, situated in an easily accessible location close to Ayr and Kilmarnock and only 40 minutes drive from Glasgow.  

Historically Lambridden has operated as a livestock farm and equestrian property with a range of modern and traditional outbuildings. The majority of the land, principally located all in one block, is down to rotational and permanent grass and has been let out seasonally.   

The land is generally of a varying aspect and classified by the James Hutton Institute for Soil Research as principally being grade 4.2 and therefore capable of growing high yielding crops of grass and other forage.  

There is also an area of mixed amenity woodland extending to approximately 11.53 hectares (28.5 acres) which is located to the north of the property and presents an attractive backdrop to the farmhouse.      

The original three bedroom farmhouse enjoys a secluded position centrally within the holding and offers comfortable family accommodation over two levels. The adjoining farm buildings offer a development opportunity to create additional residential accommodation subject to planning consent.   

Duncan Barrie, senior associate of CKD Galbraith who is marketing the sale, said: “Lambridden Farm presents a great opportunity for both prospective amenity buyers and local farmers looking to acquire a block of productive land with a range of useful outbuildings and the traditional farmhouse offering the potential for a good sized family home.

“The farm benefits from being in an accessible location of Ayrshire and as its available in a number of lots the property presents a range of buying options.” 

Lambridden Farm is available for sale as a whole at offers over £630,000 or in the following lots:

Lot 1: approximately 20.85 hectares (51.52 acres) – offers over £365,000

Lot 2: approximately 19.33 hectares (47.76 acres) – offers over £145,000

Lot 3: approximately 32.16 hectares (79.46 acres) – offers over £120,000

CKD Galbraith is an independent property consultancy employing 250 staff in 14 offices across Scotland including Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Cupar, Inverness, Aberfeldy, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Elgin, Galashiels, Kelso, Peebles, Alyth and Aberdeen, offering local knowledge, national expertise and enjoying an international presence. 

The firm is Scotland’s largest and leading rural consultancy managing in excess of 1 million acres of land across the country.

CKD Galbraith provides the full range of property consulting services across the residential, commercial, rural and renewable energy sectors throughout Scotland. The partnership also enjoys a successful relationship with its associate firm in London, CKD Kennedy Macpherson.

To find out more about CKD Galbraith visit

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Business leader urges First Minister to encourage oil exploration off coastline of South West Scotland

A leading Ayrshire businessman has written to Scotland’s First Minister urging him to positively encourage oil exploration off the south west Scottish coast.

Norman Geddes is managing partner at Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors, based in Ayr, as well as executive chairman of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

[Pictured: Norman Geddes (left) hosts an Elite Ayrshire Business Circle summer luncheon at Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort.]

In his letter to Alex Salmond, Mr Geddes referred to recent newspaper revelations about how, back in the 1980s, the UK Ministry of Defence blocked oil companies from making further exploration off the coast of south-west Scotland after initial tests had indicated the likely presence in the area of recoverable reserves of oil and gas.

The reason given at the time was the proximity of the Trident base at Faslane, and that further drilling activities might interfere with nuclear submarine exercises.

These facts have come to light as a result of Freedom of Information requests by Chic Brodie MSP, and have been reported by Andrew Picken in three separate articles in the “Sunday Post” newspaper.

In his letter to the First Minister, Mr Geddes continues: “In the third of these articles I was glad to read that your spokesman replied on your behalf: “In an independent Scotland there will be no no-go areas for oil exploration on the Atlantic shelf or anywhere else. The waters off the west coast of Scotland are potentially rich in oil and gas resources, and we will make sure we do everything we can to maximise the returns from the industry.”

“However, I would ask you to go even further.

“On behalf of the Membership of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle I would urge you to make an irrevocable policy commitment, and pledge that, post-independence, your Government will positively invite and encourage oil companies to bid for exploration and production rights in the waters off the south-west coast of Scotland.

“You are no doubt mindful of how many parts of this region have been sorely blighted by the ravages of industrial decline in the past few decades, and what a profound and dramatic economic renaissance might result from such an action on your part.

“This policy pledge would be warmly welcomed by my Members, and most certainly by the business community of Scotland as a whole.

“I look forward to receiving your early and positive response.”


The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle is an association founded in 2007 by some of the top companies in Ayrshire.

Its purpose is to publicise its members, and to celebrate and promote the wealth and rich diversity of entrepreneurial talent and business excellence that abounds here within the county boundaries of Ayrshire.

Members include Ayr Racecourse, Western House Hotel, Turnberry Golf Resort and South Ayrshire Council. Member company activities include broadcasting, building and construction, architectural practice, estate agency and land management, chartered accountancy, insurance broking, legal services, golf club management, marketing services and brand creation, web design and public relations consultancy.

Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors senior partner Norman Geddes (above left) is executive chairman of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle, and managing director is public relations consultancy Fame Publicity Services proprietor Murdoch MacDonald (above right).


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Independence to transform Scotland’s economy

Industrial strategy for independence will create jobs boost

An independent Scotland would take full advantage of its vast resources and talent to maximise its potential and deliver a more prosperous country and a fairer society, First Minister Alex Salmond said today.


The First Minister said the Westminster system has created one of the largest gaps between rich and poor in the developed world, an unbalanced economy which has focused on London and the South-East of England, neglected manufacturing and created large trade deficits.

In “Economic policy choices in an independent Scotland” Mr Salmond set out key policy areas which will transfer to an independent Scotland to build greater long-term economic security, growth and job opportunities including:

• Establishing an industrial strategy which rebalances the economy and diversifies Scotland’s industrial base - promoting manufacturing, innovation and boosting productivity. An increase of just one per cent in Scotland’s productivity performance has the potential to boost employment by around 21,000 over the long-term.

• Promoting participation in the labour market by delivering more efficient employability, welfare and skills programmes and transforming child care. An increase in Scotland’s economic activity rate of one percentage point would be equivalent to an extra 30,000 plus people in the labour market.

• Targeting measures to reduce outflow of labour and attract skilled workers to enhance Scotland’s population growth and build on the current projections of nine per cent growth over the 25 year period of 2012 to 2037.

• Using tax incentives to support growth in key sectors (e.g. tourism & creative industry) and target areas – such as international connectivity – through initiatives such as reforming Air Passenger Duty.

• Using carefully targeted tax measures, such as a reduction in corporation tax, to counterbalance the pull of London and the South East an initiative that is forecast to create approximately 27,000 jobs.

• Boosting the internationalisation and brand recognition of the Scottish economy including reforming the structures that support trade, integrating business and industrial strategies, with trade, foreign policy and international engagement. A 50 per cent increase in the value of Scottish exports could boost output by around £5 billion and create over 100,000 jobs in the long-term.

Crucially, the evidence of Scotland’s economic performance as part of the UK shows that it is only with a vote for independence in next year’s referendum that Scotland will be given the opportunity to secure the transformational benefits that can come from bringing together key policy areas with taxation, welfare and public sector investment.

Launching ‘Economic policy choices in an independent Scotland’ at Dundee University’s College of Life Sciences, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Scotland can more than afford to be a successful independent country, with a thriving economy and opportunities for everyone. We have vast natural resources and huge human talent – but those advantages held been stifled by having our economic policy run by Westminster.

“The one size fits all economic policies of successive Westminster Governments have failed and are continuing to fail the people of Scotland. We perform well at the moment but we should be doing so much better. A simple glance at many other European countries of similar size to Scotland, some without the natural advantages Scotland has, shows that we have lagged behind their growth rates for decades.

“Independence will give us with the chance to build an economy that takes advantage of Scotland’s unique strengths and size to deliver a more outward focussed, fairer and resilient economy, boosting revenues and creating many thousands of more jobs.

“This paper sets out just some of the options and opportunities available in an independent Scotland. It outlines the opportunities that will allow us to rebalance our economy, to support re-industrialisation through innovation, diversification and the promotion of exports and to rebalance the economy.

“Increasing the level of participation in our economy by securing new and long-term job opportunities and boosting productivity by improving the business environment will help ensure that the benefits of economic growth are felt by all parts of our country.

“That will make Scotland a fairer country, in contrast to the economic policies of Westminster which have resulted in the UK becoming one of the most unequal societies in the developed world – a trend that is only likely to get worse under Westminster rule.

“As this report makes clear, rebalancing the economy, boosting economic performance and tackling the long-standing inequalities in society created by Westminster will take time, but it can only be done with the powers of independence.

“Only with independence will we be able to maximise our huge potential and deliver the type of economy and society that reflects the values of the people of Scotland.”