The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 9 January 2015

QTS reports record-breaking turnover and profit figures ahead of playing key role in Network Rail improvement programme

One of the UK’s leading railway contracting businesses, the QTS Group has reported record annual turnover and profit figures for the year ending 31 March 2014.

[Pictured: Alan McLeish, managing director and founder of QTS.]

Turnover at the company has soared 135.23% per cent to £65,373,231 million for the twelve-month period, (2013 - £27,790,937) with profits before tax increasing by 110.86% per cent to £6,537,756 million (2013 - £3,100,469).   Business will be further boosted with a major new partnership contract with Network Rail as part of the UK-wide Renewals Collaborative Delivery programme. 

QTS is one of seven successful suppliers who will deliver more than 1,000 maintenance, renewals and enhancements projects improving earthworks, bridges, tunnels, footbridges and station buildings as part of Network Rail’s £38 billion programme to build a bigger, better UK railway during the five-year period between 2014 and 2019.

Based in Drumclog near Strathaven in Lanarkshire, QTS Group is a multi-discipline organisation servicing the rail, transport, utilities and private construction sectors throughout the UK.   Headed by managing director Alan McLeish, the business offers services including railway operations, environmental, civil engineering, training, vegetation management and drainage. 

QTS currently employs 172 staff at the company’s operational bases in Drumclog, Nottingham and Preston, with a further 800 sub-contractors working on contracts across the UK.

Alan McLeish, managing director and founder, commented: “We are hugely encouraged by the fact turnover has grown rapidly from the £19 million we reported three years ago and that is a testament to the sheer hard work and commitment delivered by the team across the country.

“This growth has been fuelled by winning more framework contracts and alliances within the UK rail sector, improved supplier relationships and our increased capability to deliver more works and innovative operational solutions.

“Looking forward, the new infrastructure projects contract with Network Rail represents a major opportunity for the business and we are already working closely with the client team to ensure that the improvement work involved is delivered safely and efficiently.    

“Last year also saw us work on projects including our continued National Fencing and Vegetation Frameworks, LNE Minor Works Framework across the country. Moving forward we are looking ahead to start work on our CP5 Earthworks & Coastal Defences Contract, which has a five-year lifespan. We have also won the Minor Works Framework for the LNW, Anglia and Western routes, which will help the business continue to grow nationwide, ensuring we remain one of the largest contractors on the UK Rail Infrastructure. 

“A major capital investment programme during the financial year increased the Road Rail Vehicle fleet and upgraded the commercial vehicle fleet to ensure we retain our competitive edge in the delivery of specialist services including vegetation management.”

QTS has added additional office accommodation at the Strathaven headquarters to accommodate the new staff required as part of the Network Rail contract and the company plans further investment at its Nottingham and Preston offices.

Mr McLeish added: “These results allow us to really build for the future, whether that is developing our workforce, investing in new fleet or adding to our green energy credentials across the country.” 

Already named one of the UK’s top Entrepreneurs at the 2014 Ernst & Young Awards, Mr McLeish was Scotland’s sole representative in the Entrepreneur of the Year category at the British Chamber of Commerce business awards ceremony in London in November.

QTS has been announced as the presenting partner for the latter stages of the current season’s Scottish League Cup.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

West End show comes to Ayr Town Hall

The Circus of Horrors show that stormed into the finals of Britain’s Got Talent, and is now being performed on stage in the West End of London, will take to the stage at Ayr Town Hall on Saturday 31 January 2015 − the Night of the Zombie. 

The last few years has seen the profile of The Circus of Horrors jump tremendously after rampaging into the finals of Britain’s Got Talent, the only circus act ever to reach the finals. 

The first circus to appear in a west end theatre for 100 years, the show, suitable for over-16s only, is set to take Ayrshire by storm. 

The Night of the Zombie is set in 2020, a decrepit and corpse-ridden London, plagued by a swamp of Zombies, in a city ruled by the undead and climaxing in an awesome flaming apocalypse. 

The story twists and turns with grisly murders and sensational shocks – all interwoven with some of the greatest and most bizarre circus acts on earth, sword swallowers, knife throwers, daredevil balancing acts, astounding aerialists, a demon dwarf, a Guinness World Record holding ‘hairculian’ hair hanging beauty, Sinister Sisters, gyrating & fire limboing acrobats and much more. 

The show is for people aged 16 years and over. Tickets for the show on Saturday 31 January 2015 can be purchased for £20 by calling 01292 288235 or visiting the box office at the Gaiety Theatre between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday (tickets can also be booked in the Council's customer service centres). Tickets can be purchased online 24 hours a day at, where you will find details of all forthcoming shows.

Further images on Flickr

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Free entry at Ayr Racecourse next Monday

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR Racecourse is offering free entry to those attending the January Jumps Raceday on Monday 12 January. 

Those wanting to take advantage of the free racing offer can either call and book tickets for collection on the day or simply turn up on Monday and gain entry. 

[Pictured: Plus Jamais, a likely runner at 
Ayr Racecourse on Monday 12 January.]

The feature race is a two mile handicap chase and gates open at 11.05am with the first race due off at 1.05pm. 

Ayr Racecourse Sales and Marketing Manager Lindsey Smith said: “We are hoping as many people as possible will take up this offer because the bigger the crowd the better the atmosphere. It should be an enjoyable afternoon.” 

The Ayr track is also trialling a unique incentive to owners and trainers who run their horses in chases on 12 January or 21 January. 

If a horse comes under starter’s orders in a chase on those days both owner and trainer will receive complimentary accommodation for two after racing that day including dinner with wine and breakfast in the course’s four star Western House Hotel. 

There are three chases on both days – Monday’s card sees a two mile and half a furlong limited handicap chase, a three mile, one furlong handicap chase and a two mile and a half a furlong handicap chase. 

To take advantage of the incentive an owner or trainer must claim the offer by 5pm the day before racing. However course officials stress that it is subject to availability and on a first come first serve basis so arrangements should be made as soon as practicable. 

Western House Hotel has won many awards since opening in 2005 and owners and trainers with horses running at Ayr already receive a complimentary meal with wine – an initiative that earned the course an RCA Showcase Award in 2012. 

Commenting on the incentive for owners and trainers Ayr’s Racing Manager and Clerk of the Course Emma Marley said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this incentive and hope that it is well received.  It provides us with the opportunity to showcase our on-course facilities and encourage runners at Ayr, also offering a unique experience for connections.”   

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, 5 January 2015

Back to school for First Minister

Free school meals now on the menu 
for all P1-3 pupils across Scotland

Schools across Scotland are now serving up free school meals to every Primary 1-3 pupil, following the Scottish Government’s expanded free schools meals policy coming into effect today. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the measure, which will benefit an additional 135,000 pupils across Scotland and will save families of every eligible child at least £330 a year.

The Scottish Government is providing revenue funding of £70.5 million over two years to deliver the commitment, supported with total additional capital funding for all 32 local councils in Scotland of £24.8 million.

Speaking on a visit to her old primary school, Dreghorn Primary, in North Ayrshire, the First Minister said: “This is an exciting and historic day for Scottish education. It’s the beginning of a new year, a new school term and free school meals are now on the menu for all Primary 1-3s. Great things are going on at schools across Scotland and it's a privilege to be back at Dreghorn Primary as First Minister, as my experiences here had a huge role in shaping my life.

“As a Government, we want to do all we can to make sure every young person has the best start in life and can make the most of their time in school. The delivery of free school meals for all Primary 1-3 pupils underlines our commitment to doing all we can to support the development of our young people and tackle inequalities in our society, including the scourge of child poverty. That’s why I am delighted that this policy is worth at least £330 to families of every eligible child across Scotland.

“School lunches are hugely important in supporting a pupil’s ability to learn. We know from recent studies that free school meals improve nutrition and health among pupils, which can only help improve attainment in schools.

“Here at Dreghorn, the headteacher, Philip Gosnay, and his team have done a great job to prepare for the expansion of free school meals and I know that all over Scotland other councils and schools have been doing all they can to ensure our nation’s future will reap the benefits.”

Philip Gosnay, Head Teacher, Dreghorn Primary School said: “We are all thrilled that the First Minister has chosen her old Primary School to launch this new initiative. Research has shown that free school meals impact positively on the health and social development of children. It is vital that we, as educationalists, take this opportunity to use the provision of free school lunches to reinforce the connection between what we eat and our health and well-being. 

“Throughout Scotland, children have been successful in gaining skills, knowledge and experience about healthy eating. Our focus now lies in ensuring that they consistently put this knowledge into practice, making good choices for a long, productive and healthy life.” 

Councillor Tony Gurney, North Ayrshire Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure said: “Our catering team in North Ayrshire has won countless awards over the years producing healthy, top-quality meals for our children. We have just confirmed plans to continue offering school meals - free to those entitled to them - over the holidays and have continually shown our commitment to the well-being of our young people. 

 “So it is fantastic that even more young pupils will now have the opportunity to eat a nutritious lunch and this far-sighted initiative underpins everything we are doing here in North Ayrshire. Everyone knows about the dietary problems in the west of Scotland. So getting children used to healthy food at a young age can provide lots of long-term health benefits. Hopefully this is just the start and we are building a healthier North Ayrshire and Scotland.”

The introduction of free school meals for all P1-3 pupils has been supported by campaigners against child poverty, including Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, Children in Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, the Church of Scotland and trade unions.

Dreghorn Primary School is a non-denominational school serving the village of Dreghorn and the surrounding area of Drybridge in the south of Irvine. The school roll is 273 and there are 58 children in early years provision

The First Minister attended the old Dreghorn Primary School from 1975 to 1982. The new building was officially opened by the Education Secretary in May 2013.The new building design is focused upon active, independent and cooperative learning through the introduction of performance areas and stages, both indoor and outdoor. It is also designed for outdoor learning and health and wellbeing through a ‘magical forest’, eco gardens, allotments, first rate facilities for PE and de-sensitising education for autism and spaces designed by/for children to play and relax.