Edinburgh-based Beeline PR specialises in:

Public Relations | Crisis and Reputation Management | Brand Building

We can:

create maximum impact through strategic communications

raise the awareness of your brand or organisation

support your business objectives

identify and communicate with target audiences

provide white-label services for other creative agencies

 

About Beeline PR

Debbie Byers

CIPR

Debbie was Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in Scotland 2009/10 and also scooped the CIPR Award for Best PR Consultant under the age of 30 in Scotland in 1998.

Debbie Byers, Director

Debbie Byers established Beeline PR in September 2011.  The independent agency works with corporate clients and consumer brands as well as other creative agencies looking for strategic PR and business development support.  Services include brand building, media relations, business-to-business marketing support, crisis communications and reputation management, stakeholder and political engagement and social media strategy.

Each client is provided with a strategic tailored approach to both its campaign planning and the dedicated team selected to implement the activity.  Beeline PR is affiliated to a number of organisations and consultants to create positive working relationships for the benefit of the client.   

With almost two decades of experience, Debbie worked for leading PR consultancies in Edinburgh, London and Glasgow before establishing Beeline PR in September 2011.

She is a business degree graduate and the past Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in Scotland representing its 750-strong membership from the private, public and charitable sectors.

Debbie has fostered a broad experience across consumer, business-to-business and corporate campaigns as well as issue-led media relations working across all sectors from financial and professional services to food and drink. 

She also provides pro bono support to the venture philanthropy charity, Inspiring Scotland.


Peter Ranscombe, Consultant and Corporate Writer

Peter Ranscombe, Consultant and Corporate Writer

Peter spent nine years as a journalist with The Scotsman newspaper, including three years writing for and helping to edit the professional pages - such as Science & Environment, Education & Learning, and Law & Legal Affairs - and six years on the business desk, writing about life science companies, technology firms and university spin-outs. His articles have also appeared in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Herald, the Sunday Post and the Sunday Times.

As the editor of BQ Scotland and a commissioned corporate copywriter, Peter writes across a broad range of subjects from entrepreneurs, investment finance, renewable energy, technology and law.  He is a dedicated consultant to Beeline PR’s clients Pyreos and Keenan Recycling. 

Peter holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in physics from the University of St Andrews and a master's degree in journalism studies, awarded jointly by Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Strathclyde.


Colin Hutchison, Consultant on Tiso Group

Colin Hutchison, Consultant on Tiso Group

Before he could barely walk, Colin was on family trips that explored the beaches and remoter parts of Scotland’s highlands and islands. A few decades later, the Edinburgh-based PR and writer has more than 15 years’ experience, including within the sport and adventure tourism sectors.

A keen alpine skier, kayaker, mountain-biker, climber and hiker, he has written extensively about Scotland and the great outdoors for the national and specialist media.  A former outdoor adventure columnist for the Sunday Herald, he has also co-authored / contributed to several international travel guidebooks about Scotland, including Footprint, Rough Guide Highlands & Islands and Frommer’s Best Walking Trips in Scotland. 

Making Colin the perfect candidate to support Beeline PR on the PR account for Scotland’s leading outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, Tiso - as well as the charitable initiatives it supports including, The Polar Academy.

Eve Robertson, Consultant – Consumer / Lifestyle / Luxury PR

Eve Robertson, Consultant – Consumer / Lifestyle / Luxury PR

Eve has more than 16 years’ consumer, lifestyle and luxury PR experience having directed UK campaigns for some of Scotland’s most well known brands.  This encompassed media relations, sponsorship, brand partnerships and event management.

She worked in an agency environment for more than a decade before working with Debenhams as the Senior PR Manager for Scotland and Ireland. 

Eve is an extremely enthusiastic and well-regarded PR that prides herself in producing very creative yet realistic campaigns for clients.

How we can help

As a small PR business with a carefully managed portfolio of clients, Beeline PR can offer senior level support and commitment at all times.  In addition to working with our own clients, we provide a white-label service to other PR consultancies and creative agencies that need support driving busy projects or assistance with securing new business.

Current clients

Click on the client logo to find out more

Beeline PR client experience has also included:

Gardens Galore
Graham's The Family Dairy
Nick Nairn Cook School
Rare Whisky 101
Keenan Recycling
Turcan Connell

Our partners

Beeline PR works with a number of partners to pollinate creative ideas while project managing campaigns for its clients:

Photography/Video
Photography/Video
Digital/Social Media
Digital/social media
Advertising
Advertising
Direct Marketing
Direct Marketing
Public Affairs
Public Affairs
Contract Publishing
Contract Publishing

News from Beeline

19 June 2017

Fife Youths Selected for Life-Changing Arctic Expedition

Ten pupils from Lochgelly High School in central Fife are preparing for a life-changing expedition to Arctic Greenland next March after being selected for the expedition team by the Bo’ness based charity, The Polar Academy.

The seven girls and three boys (all between 14-16 years of age) now face 8 months of 
tough training with The Polar Academy to ensure all are physically and mentally equipped for the 10-day, 100km expedition in Eastern Greenland. In the Arctic, each youth will haul his or her own 45kg sledge, navigate, camp on the sea-ice and undertake scientific experiments in support of the Scottish school curriculum. 

An additional nine youths from the school have been selected for the leadership team (names below). They will benefit from much of the same life-enhancing training as the expedition team.

The pupils, who in mid June undertook a final challenging selection process at Glenmore Lodge by Aviemore, are the fourth expedition team to be annually selected by the self-funded charity that aims to inspire youth through exploration. 

Craig Mathieson established The Polar Academy in 2014, determined to help positively transform the lives of young people he describes as ‘invisible’ at school and devoid of self-confidence, direction and self-esteem. To date, thirty youths from schools in North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh and with similar personal issues have seen their lives transformed by the work of the charity. 

Significantly, over 50,000 pupils across Scotland have also heard first-hand accounts of The Polar Academy experience from former participants. Following their return to Scotland from Greenland, all participants must address school assemblies with the aim of inspiring their peer groups to overcome personal challenges and to pursue their own goals. 

Mathieson (48), who in 2013 was named Scotland’s first Explorer in Residence in 129 years by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, described selecting the ten pupils for the latest expedition team as “an agonising decision.” He explained: “I have no doubt that all twenty of the short-listed pupils would benefit immensely from going to the Arctic – I wish I could take them all.

“The pupils selected should be proud of their decision to bravely step forward and aim to make their lives better.  The months ahead promise tough, relentless training and a need for immense individual effort. However, with the support of their school and parents, each youth has already started their life-changing journey and can now seize the chance to shake off the shackles of self-doubt and despair. 

“However, let’s also be clear. This is no guided school-trip.  These pupils will be working as a team to navigate, ski and camp in some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain but ultimately it will be a hugely positive, life-changing experience.  I am very confident they will return from the Arctic bursting with pride, emanating with self-confidence and ready to inspire their peer groups across the country. Their lives are about to get better.”  

 
Carol Ann Penrose, the head teacher of Lochgelly High School and a mother of three children, also experienced the selection process and will be part of the expedition group and training.  She commented: “One of our big messages as a school and as part of the local community is not to be afraid of challenge but to take it on and believe you can succeed if you are prepared to work hard, pick yourself up and keep going after every setback. I am very proud of the twenty pupils at Lochgelly High School who have been selected to be part of The Polar Academy. They now have a powerful opportunity to put into practice the school’s belief that with real commitment and determination it’s possible to achieve. 
 
“To be part of this expedition is a real privilege and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as a person, as well as a head teacher.  I am certain that it will inspire me to continue to strive for and work towards what I believe in and to fulfil my own aspirations in my personal and professional life, working alongside the young people and families of the Lochgelly community.”  

The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded and does not ask pupils to pay for their participation. With the generous support of companies and private donors, it must annually fundraise over £170,000 to operate.  Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist, is a founding partner of the charity.  Reflecting on the selection of The Polar Academy’s fourth intake of participants, Chris Tiso commented: 

“Over the past three years I have personally witnessed the remarkable change in the young people who have had the opportunity to experience The Polar Academy.  I have no doubt that in 8 months time, the seven girls and three boys from Lochgelly High School will return from Greenland with greater self-confidence and self-esteem, ready to be role models in their local community. 
 
“These are ordinary youths who can – and will – achieve the extraordinary. All at Tiso Group wish them well.” 

In addition to considerable support from founding partners Tiso Group and Bergans of Norway, the charity is also helped by the likes of Cornhill Building Services, Baillie Gifford and by private donations. 

www.thepolaracademy.org 

NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Expedition Team: 
Kieran Burns - 14 
Morgan Adam - 14
Carla Masterton - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Josh Farmer - 15 
Conner Harper - 16 
Daisy George - 14 
Carrie Wetherspoon - 14 
Hannah Reid - 15 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher

The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Leadership Team
Daniel Pratt – 16; Lewis Fotheringham – 14;  Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert - 14

Fast facts about The Polar Academy
  • The Polar Academy was established in 2014 by the Bo’ness based explorer Craig Mathieson. 
  • It is a registered Scottish charity with a vision to inspire youth through exploration.  
  • The Polar Academy has been described as one of Europe’s toughest youth training programmes. 
  • A total of 30 teenage pupils to date from 9 schools have participated in the expedition teams of The Polar Academy.  The first expedition team was selected from two North Lanarkshire schools in 2014. Subsequently, The Polar Academy has built further on its growing success by selecting pupils from five Edinburgh schools (2015) and two further Edinburgh schools (2016). All the pupils’ selected for the expedition teams were identified by Mathieson as ‘invisible’ at school and crushed in self-confidence. 
  • Following selection, the participants undertake 8 months of rigorous training before an expedition in Arctic Greenland.  They return as ‘ordinary individuals who have achieved the extraordinary.’  Those involved with the expedition team have described the experience as life-changing.
  • The ‘magic’ of The Polar Academy is also the requirement of all participants to undertake post expedition talks to school assemblies (and even businesses) across the country.  These aim to inspire youth to realise that whatever their personal circumstances, it’s possible to make the personal decision to change life for the better. 
  • The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded and depends on the generosity of private donors and individual businesses. Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group is a founding supporter of the charity. Bergans of Norway is also a founding supporter while Cornhill Building Services (CBS) is among many generous supporters. 
•    In 2013, Craig Mathieson was named the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s (RSGS) first Explorer in Residence in 129 years. A former military man and expert tax adviser, he has led several successful expeditions to the North and South Poles. 

16 June 2017

It’s Gold for Mollie … Everest Record Breaker Awarded Rare Blue Peter Badge

Mollie Hughes, who on 16 May became the world’s youngest woman to climb Mount Everest (8848m) from both sides, is today (Friday 16 June) also one of very few adults to be the recipient of a prestigious gold Blue Peter badge. 

The rare accolade was announced live on air last night during the CBBC Blue Peter programme, when the inspirational 26-year old climber was in the Blue Peter garden recounting her recent experience of ascending the north side of the world’s highest mountain - and entering the record books.  

The Devon-born, Edinburgh-based climber, who works for the outdoor retail adventure specialist Tiso, had previously ascended the south side of Mount Everest in 2012 at the age of just 21. 

Each year a handful of gold badges are awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements, bravery, inspiration and citizenship. Tim Peake the British astronaut, Oscar-winning film director Steven Spielberg and children’s author JK Rowling are among relatively few previous adult recipients of CBBC Blue Peter’s coveted top award that is a gold-plated brooch in the shape of the iconic Blue Peter ship logo. 

The award came as a complete surprise for the unassuming Hughes, who in May was photographed holding a blue coloured Blue Peter badge on the summit of the world’s highest peak. 

Referring to her award, an emotional Hughes, said: "I am both surprised and humbled by this super cool award of a gold Blue Peter badge. I'm absolutely thrilled. You could say I’m on top of the world - again! 

“It's wonderful to be recognised in this way, but more importantly I hope my record breaking Everest climb and this gold Blue Peter badge will really inspire young people across the country, and in particular girls to realise that it's always possible to follow and achieve your dream." 

Ewan Vinnicombe, Editor of Blue Peter, said: “Mollie’s exceptional achievement is an inspiration to our viewers. Our gold Blue Peter badge is very well deserved. We’ve been following Mollie’s story this year and were very pleased to see a Blue Peter badge make it to the summit of Everest with her.”

During her latest ascent of Everest, Hughes also succeeded in raising thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK by asking people to pledge £1 for very metre she climbed. The brave and unassuming climber is currently undertaking speaking engagements throughout the UK, hoping her climb to the top of the world will inspire as many children as possible to pursue their own ambitions in life. 

Notes to the editor
Mollie Hughes reached the summit of Mount Everest in the early hours of 16 May 2017.  She climbed the mountain with guide Jon Gupta and two sherpas as part of the Tiso Returns to Mount Everest 2017 expedition. 

Hughes is three years younger than Ms Maya Sherpa (Patale) of Nepal who in 2007 was aged 29 when she summited Everest for the second time.  Hughes is also 28 years younger than Lynne Hanna (Northern Ireland) who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain. 

Mount Everest was officially successfully first climbed by the mountaineers Tenzing Norgay and (Sir) Edmund Hillary in 1953.
Everest Climber Displays Bold Suit for International Women’s Day

16 May 2017

Top of the world! Young Brit enters Everest record books

Mollie Hughes, a 26 year-old British climber has today (Tuesday 16 May) reached the summit of Mount Everest (8,848m) from the north side. Her feat makes the Edinburgh-based and Devon-born climber the youngest Briton, the youngest European woman and the first English woman to successfully scale the peak from both the north and south sides of the world’s highest mountain. 

In temperatures as low as minus 40C, Hughes originally from Torbay in Devon reached the summit at 1.14am GMT (5.34am local time in Nepal) with climbing partner Jon Gupta of Mountain Expeditions.  

With a £1 donation for every metre climbed, Hughes hopes to raise more than £8,000 funds for Cancer Research UK.  She is being supported throughout the expedition by Tiso, the outdoor adventure specialist where she is an employee in Edinburgh and has been supporting British expeditions to Mount Everest since the 1970’s. 

Relaying a brief message shortly after reaching the summit, Hughes commented: “I am elated, exhausted and know I still have the hardest part to do – the long and difficult descent to base camp.  Jon (Gupta) and I have already spent more than four weeks acclimatising on the mountain.  Thanks to a weather window, yesterday evening we left Camp 3 (8,300m) and we’ve finally reached the top. The climbing has been really, really hard but our mental and physical strength got us up here.  I can confirm that the north side is definitely more difficult than the south side!

“Huge thanks to Jon, the sherpas, family, friends and to Tiso as my principle sponsor on this expedition. I am really proud to be the youngest Briton to have scaled Everest from both sides – and to have raised funds to support the work of Cancer Research UK. Now, we’ll focus on achieving a safe descent from the top of the world.” 

Hughes, who in 2012 summited Mount Everest from its south side at the age of 21, is 28 years younger than Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland) who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain that in 1953 was first officially climbed by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.

Hughes has been periodically posting video clips during her record-breaking ascent.  One clip shows guide, Jon Gupta, talking to camera as they camp at 7,069m on the north-west shoulder of Everest and as part of their essential acclimatisation process. 

A soundtrack by Britney Spears plays in the tent as Gupta reveals that a rubik’s cube is among the items carried by the pair to test their mental alertness at altitude and to keep occupied during rest periods. 

While many climbers choose to ascend from the south, the north route from base camp in Tibet, China is considered to expose the mountaineers to colder and windier conditions. The route includes an arduous and psychologically testing final day ascent over three prominent rocky steps on the northeast ridge. All are negotiated at an altitude of over 8,500 metres (28,000ft) in the so-called ‘death zone.’ 

Prior to her record-breaking climb, Hughes had commented: “To climb Mount Everest is an incredible experience; one that is also the ultimate test of your psychological resolve and ability to cope with physical suffering. The spectacular north side of the mountain will push us to the limit.

“I love climbing and adventurous activities.  Hopefully, my second expedition to Mount Everest will inspire other young women to realise that with careful planning and determination, challenges can be overcome and dreams achieved.”   

Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group and who was part of the 2000 Tiso expedition on which Polly Murray became the first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest, commented: “Mollie Hughes is an inspirational young woman.  All at Tiso Group are very proud that she has reached the summit after a long and difficult climb and entered her name in the Everest record books.  It is a phenomenal achievement.  

“Of course, Mollie and Jon (Gupta) now face an equally daunting descent. All involved with the Tiso Return to Mount Everest 2017 Expedition wish them a safe return to base camp and look forward to welcoming Mollie home in early June.” 

In addition to support from Tiso Group, Hughes is also receiving help from the philanthropist Kae Tinto Murray, from Osprey Backpacks and the engineering firm ch2m. 

Hughes started climbing at secondary school and at the age of 17 summited Mount Kenya (Africa’s second highest peak). She was first inspired to climb Mount Everest when as part of her sports psychology degree at UWE Bristol she interviewed seven Everest summiteers and learned of their different psychological experiences on the mountain.

Hughes left the UK for Kathmandu in Nepal in early April before travelling into Tibet.  If all goes to plan she hopes to return to the UK in early June. 

A full set of media materials including photography and video footage of Mollie Hughes and Jon Gupta on Mount Everest is available via this Dropbox folder – password is TisoReturns 

For further information about Mollie Hughes Everest 2017 expedition, visit: www.tiso.com/everest and www.molliehughes.co.uk

Mount Everest – selected records

1924: British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempt summit from the north side.  Unknown if they ever made the summit 
1953: Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary – first climbers confirmed to reach summit
1960: Chinese team claim to make first summit from north side of Everest
1975: Junko Tabei (Japan) – first woman to summit Mount Everest
1975: First ascent of south-west face of Everest by a British team led by Sir Chris Bonington. Doug Scott and the late Dougal Haston reach the summit 
1988: Lydia Bradey (NZ) makes first female ascent without supplemental oxygen
1993: Rebecca Stephens becomes the first British woman to climb Mount Everest
1995: The late Alison Hargreaves becomes the second British woman to climb Everest, ascending alone via the north ridge
1999: Kathy O’Dowd (South Africa) becomes the first woman at the age of 31 to climb Everest from both the south col (1996) and north col (1999)
16 May 2000: Polly Murray - first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Leanna Shuttleworth (England) and 19 years old becomes the youngest British woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Mollie Hughes (England) summits Mount Everest from the south side aged 21
2016: Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), at the age of 54, becomes the first British woman to summit Mount Everest from both the south (2009) and north (2016) 
2017: Mollie Hughes (England) summits from the north side of Mount Everest. At the age of 26, she becomes the youngest British person to reach the top from both sides of the mountain. 

3 May 2017

Port Edgar Marina reaches milestone with restaurant operator appointment
- Buzzworks to open its first restaurant in the East of Scotland -

The redevelopment of Port Edgar Marina will take a major step forward today when Buzzworks is appointed to run a new restaurant at the marina in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh.

Buzzworks Holdings – which manages nine prestigious venues including Elliots, Scotts in Troon and Largs, Lido venues in Prestwick and Troon, The Treehouse in Ayr, The Longhouse in Kilmarnock, The Mill House in Stewarton and their newest venue The Corner House in Kilwinning – now has over 400 employees and a turnover of more than £15 million in the last financial year. 
 
The family-run business founded by Kenny, Colin and Alison Blair, is excited to be expanding Buzzworks and launching its first restaurant in the East of the country.  It is expected to open at the marina before the end of 2017 after an extensive fit out programme and will create around 60 new jobs.

The creation of the restaurant marks a milestone for operators Port Edgar Holdings, who took over the running of Port Edgar Marina from City of Edinburgh Council in April 2014.  The Council’s Edinburgh Leisure division had been running the marina since 1998. 

Since taking over the facility, Port Edgar Holdings has been redeveloping the site, including refurbishing ancillary buildings, demolishing derelict structures to create more parking spaces, and dredging the harbour so it can take larger vessels and make the marina less dependent on the tide.

The restaurant will be located above the marina’s newly refurbished retail space, Bosuns Locker.  The shop stocks a wide selection of outdoor clothing and footwear including a Coast and Country collection from brands including Musto, Dubarry, Schoffel and Joules.  

Russell Aitken, managing director at Port Edgar Marina, said: “Port Edgar has a rich and varied history and we’re making sure that it has an exciting future ahead of it.  We’re delighted that Buzzworks has chosen to locate its next restaurant at the marina, where diners will be able to enjoy quality food with stunning views of the Forth’s three bridges.

“Over the past year, we’ve secured the future of the marina as a sailing destination by dredging the harbour, bringing in a mobile crane, and improving the security, lighting and access to the slipway for boat handling.

“We’re putting Port Edgar on the map as a tourist destination by opening up the marina to a much wider audience.  Visitors can now enjoy the spectacular views across the Firth of Forth that myself and other sailors have done for so many years.” 

Kenny Blair, Buzzworks Holdings MD, said: “This is another ambitious step forward in our continued growth strategy as we branch out from the west of Scotland. The venue will not only bring a new dining experience to the area, but an opportunity for the local community to work with a company ranked 40th within The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For.

“Buzzworks prides itself on the delicious food, serious cocktails and superb service we provide to customers, so it’s an exciting time for the business as we extend our portfolio to the east coast and take Scotts to South Queensferry. We can’t wait to begin fitting out the property.”

Lying between the Forth Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing, Port Edgar has berths for around 300 boats and is home to a yacht club, a rowing club, several cruise boat operators and is home to Scotland’s largest water sports centre.

Fergus Ewing, MSP and Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “I had the pleasure of visiting Port Edgar Marina where I was very impressed with the imaginative re-use of the infrastructure in the development of the site, including the positive the impact the dredging has in being able to attract larger vessels to the marina.

“This is yet another positive addition to the marine tourism portfolio in Scotland, helping the economic development of communities around the entire coastline of Scotland.”

Port Edgar traces its roots back to 1810 when a pier was erected on the site, with King George IV landing at the harbour in 1822 during a visit to the Earl of Hopetoun.

Port Edgar served as a naval base during both World Wars and was taken over when the Royal Navy left in 1978 by Lothian Regional Council, before passing into the hands of City of Edinburgh Council during local government reorganisation in 1996.

The marina’s name is believed to derive from King Edgar Aetheling, who fled from the Normans and is thought to have landed on the site in 1068 to seek refuge at the court of King Malcolm III. Edgar’s sister, Princess Margaret, later married Malcolm III.

www.portedgar.co.uk
www.buzzworksholdings.co.uk 

27 April 2017

Pyreos secures first volume order for ezPyro chip from South Korean customer

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based passive infra-red sensor developer, has won its first volume contract for its ezPyro chip, which incorporates both a sensor and a processing unit.

The order was secured from a South Korean customer, which is deploying the sensor in two of its products.
 
The ezPyro component has been designed into a standalone fire-detection device and a standard closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, adding a flame-detection feature to the system.
 
Pyreos already has a well-established customer base in South Korea, mainly in gas detection and fire detection.
 
Exports account for about 78 per cent of the company’s total revenues, with 44 per cent of sales coming from Asia.
 
Andrew Wallace, chief executive at Pyreos, said: “Winning our first volume order for ezPyro so soon after launching the sensor is a real validation of the how our customers value this new product.
 
“Our client in South Korea will not only include ezPyro in a fire-detection device, but will also build it into standard CCTV cameras, adding extra value to those cameras for its clients.
 
“This is just one example of how our sensors can help move customer devices up the value-chain, adding features that will set equipment apart from its competitors.
 
“There’s a lot of careful work that’s gone into the development of ezPyro and I’m really pleased to see that’s now being rewarded with volume shipments.”
 
The ezPyro chip is the world’s smallest pyro-electric sensor with a digital interface.  It was launched last May at the Sensor+Test measurement fair held at Nuremburg in Germany.
 
The component is much smaller than a five pence coin and can both detect gestures and provide information on the direction and speed of a movement.
 
The company’s pyro-electric sensors allow its devices to have response times measured in milliseconds, one thousand times faster than the timescale measured in seconds offered by some rival components.

Mr Wallace added: “Our South Korean deal demonstrates the broad range of applications for the ezPyro sensor.
 
“It can be incorporated into a wide variety of devices, from fire and gas detection systems through to wearable technology like smart-watches and fitness trackers.
 
“Pyreos’ sales have been growing by 25-50 per cent quarter-on-quarter since the middle of last year.
 
“That growth demonstrates how popular our chips are becoming and ezPyro is a big part of that success.”
 
Pyreos’ expansion has been fuelled by £1.8 million raised last September from new and existing investors.
 
The company was spun out from German industrial firm Siemens in 2007.  Shareholder include Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise), Seraphim Capital and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
 
They were joined by new investor London Business Angels, one of Europe’s most respected and active private investment groups.
 
The investment followed on from the £2.5m funding package that Pyreos secured from its shareholders in 2015.
Port Edgar

25 April 2017

Port Edgar Marina Hoists Sails for Big Open Weekend: Saturday 6–Sunday 7 May 2017

Novice and expert sailors, kayakers, paddle-boarders, committed ‘yachties’ and landlubbers alike are being invited to join in the fun at Port Edgar Marina when the popular year-round leisure destination hosts what promises to be an action packed Open Weekend over Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 May between 10am and 5pm. 

To celebrate the marina’s on-going multi-million pound transformation, and in association with Port Edgar Watersports, the impressive facility is gearing up to help young and old alike discover and enjoy a myriad of activities on and off the water. Nestled less than 30 minutes drive from Edinburgh city centre on the southern banks of the Firth of Forth, Port Edgar Marina boasts stunning views of the new Queensferry Crossing road bridge and the Kingdom of Fife beyond. 
 
If you’ve always wanted to try paddle-boarding, sail a dinghy, try your hand at rowing, safely paddle a stretch of the Forth, get up close to RNLI lifeboats or simply relax on shore with music and quality food and drink and browse through the marina’s extensive Bosuns Locker retail offering, the Open Weekend promises an ocean of entertainment.  
 
For just £5 per person, more than 350 taster sessions (60 minutes) are being offered over the two days. With expert instructors from Port Edgar Watersports on hand, take to the water with a dinghy, paddleboard or kayak.  Or with Queensferry Rowing Club, experience rowing one of its two skiffs for a donation of just £5, while Port Edgar Dragons will offer trips on their eye-catching dragon boats.
 
Courtesy of Seafari Adventures and its impressive RIB, why not sit back and power off for a memorable ride under the three iconic bridges of the Forth!  While, Edinburgh Boat Charters is also offering half price taster sessions on its catamaran yacht.   
 
The dry land activities promise to be equally exciting, including children’s entertainers, face painting and peeks inside a real RNLI lifeboat. Those wishing some retail therapy can step into Bosuns Locker chandlery to browse through an extensive range of brands including Musto, Schoffel, Fairfax & Favor, Joules and Dubarry.  There will be an incredible 20% discount on all clothing and footwear during the weekend at the Bosuns Locker, that also offers boat sales and a workshop service, celebrates its grand re-launch with the promise of ‘mega deals’!
 
Experts will be on hand throughout the weekend to discuss everything from sail making to rigging and there will even be knot-tying sessions for all the family to attempt.
 
Quality food and drink will be available, including burgers straight from the BBQ, authentic Spanish paella, Spice Pot curries, Japanese noodles and dumplings and delicious Luca’s ice cream. 
 
The local microbrewery, The Ferry Brewery, will be providing a taste of its latest refreshing ales and offering a 10% discount on off-sales during the event.
 
As one of the east coast’s largest marinas with berths for over 300 boats, Port Edgar  is also home of Port Edgar Yacht Club and a number of major marine businesses.   The Bosuns Locker chandlery boat sales and workshop business will celebrate its grand re-launch on 6 May and over the weekend promises the sailing fraternity some ‘mega deals.’
 
For those drawn to wheels and keels, Port Edgar based Engine 710 will be displaying its impressive range of Land Rovers as well as a some classics, courtesy of Pentland Landrover and the Chelsea Truck Company.  There will also be the opportunity to peruse a range of Mercedes cars and vans.
 
The Port Edgar Berth Holders Association will also be holding a Jumble Sale on Saturday afternoon in the Scout Hall between 2pm and 4pm.  Proceeds from the event will be given to the RNLI.
 
Russell Aitken, the entrepreneur and qualified skipper who acquired Port Edgar Marina in 2014, said. “Whether an avid dinghy sailor and yachtie or a family in search of weekend entertainment and excitement by the sea, the Open Weekend over 6-7 May promises to be an ocean of fun.
 
“As part of Scotland’s thriving £100m marine leisure industry, Port Edgar Marina and Port Edgar Watersports look forward to giving young and old alike the chance to experience the freedom and fun of seafaring.”
 
To avoid disappointment it’s recommended to pre-book a taster session by contacting Port Edgar Watersports on 0131 319 1820 or by emailing bookings@portedgarwatersports.com.
 
www.portedgar.co.uk
www.portedgarwatersports.com
Rachel Rough

3 April 2017

Changes to compensation rates may become costly

COMPENSATION is an essential part of the insurance system – if an individual is injured and can no longer work or needs care then a compensation payment can quite rightly support them for the rest of their life. 

Yet changes to compensation rates in England and Wales unveiled by Lord Chancellor Liz Truss in February - which changes have been adopted by Scottish Ministers for Scotland in March - have the potential to turn the whole system on its head – and force up the cost of cover for policyholders.

When a claimant is receiving compensation to cover future loss of earnings or lifelong care, they receive a lump sum, which is discounted to factor in the investment income that the compensation payment will generate so that the claimant isn’t overcompensated.

Truss decided to change the “discount rate” that is applied to compensation payments. 
Back in 1998, the House of Lords decided that index-linked government securities – better known as government bonds or gilts – should be used as the benchmark for the discount rate. This was based on an assumption that claimants would want their investment to carry as little risk as possible.

A lot has changed since 1998. The 2008 global banking crisis and ensuing recession triggered a rush of quantitative easing by central banks; in effect “printing money” to prop up the financial system by buying bonds.

This has taken its toll on gilts and their “yields” – the amount that an investor will receive in interest for buying the bonds – which in turn has heavily distorted the market. 

Despite this, the Lord Chancellor decided that an investment portfolio consisting of just gilts was still the best benchmark for the discount rate – even though independent financial advisors say a properly advised claimant would never use such an investment strategy.

As a result, the discount rate has dropped from 2.5 per cent to minus 0.75 per cent.  This means that the lump sum is not discounted.  Instead it is actually increased to reflect an assumption that the claimant will lose money when he or she invests it.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), the insurance industry’s trade body, has said that the decision is “crazy”. The ABI warned that the cost of up to 36 million individual and business motor insurance policies may have to rise “in order to over-compensate a few thousand claimants a year”.

A switch of 3.25 percentage points may not sound like a large figure, but the movement is amplified over time. If a young person is injured and can no longer work then a negative discount rate can have a huge effect over their lifetime.

For example, let us consider a 17-year-old man who has a care regime that costs £150,000 a year – not an unusually high sum by any means.

The compensation to cover this care is nearly £5m at the 2.5 per cent discount rate, but at the 0.75 per cent level the figure leaps to just over £14m.  

This not only raises issues of a claimant being over compensated, it also creates significant risks for businesses, many of which have claims limits on their insurance policies of £5million or £10million.  These businesses are now at risk of needing to meet any shortfall between what a claimant is entitled to receive and what their policy covers.  This shortfall could be millions of pounds.

The impact of the change in Scotland may be greater than down south, as the Scottish courts can only make lump sum payments whereas in England and Wales, courts can make orders spreading the payments over the lifetime of the injured person.

Having only recently been introduced, the new discount rate may itself be looked at again shortly. The Westminster Government is reviewing the framework under which the rate is set. Following that review, the formula used to determine the rate might be changed which might lead to another new rate for England and Wales, with Scotland then expected to follow suit.

Whilst those most seriously injured are entitled to be fully and properly compensated, if the negative discount rate remains in place then claimants could be over compensated.  This will be at the expense of the wider public, who will be faced with picking up that bill through higher insurance premiums, and businesses, which will be at risk where their insurance cover has a financial limit on it that could be exceeded by the significant increase in the value of the most serious claims.

Rachel Rough
Partner
BLM, Glasgow
Polar Academy Trustees

20 March 2017

Education and Business Boost for Leading Scottish Charity

The Polar Academy, a leading Scottish charity with a vision to inspire youth through exploration, has today (Monday 20 March) further boosted its business and education credentials with the appointment of three additional trustees. 

Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group the outdoor adventure specialist and who is renowned for his passion for the great outdoors, will further strengthen the business acumen of the impressive six-strong Trustee panel. 
 
Mike Hancock, the founder of Cornhill Building Services (CBS), a leading Edinburgh based building contractor also further complements the considerable business experience on the trustee panel. It already includes Keith Neilson, CEO of Craneware plc, Andrew Ford of tax specialists Barr & Ford Ltd and Mike Robinson, CEO of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS). 
 
John Gilmour, headmaster of Craigclowan Preparatory School in Perthshire and who formerly served in the Royal Navy has also accepted an invitation to join as a trustee from the charity’s founder, Craig Mathieson.  With the charity increasingly engaging pupils and teachers across Scotland about its work, Gilmour’s 19 years of experience in education will be invaluable to The Polar Academy.  
 
Referring to his appointment, John Gilmour said: “I am very pleased to be invited to support the work of The Polar Academy as a trustee, and I look forward to sharing my many years of experience of the educational system.  As a former member of HM Forces and for many years a member of Swanage lifeboat crew, I also passionately believe in helping to nurture team work and leadership in young people. These are skills that increase self confidence and instil the all important ‘can do’ spirit embedded in the work of The Polar Academy.”
 
Chris Tiso, who is also a founding supporter of the charity, added: “Craig Mathieson is a remarkable individual and friend with whom I share the belief that Scotland’s youth can be inspired through exploration. Over the past three years I have seen first hand how the charity has positively transformed the lives of many young people who previously felt trapped by feelings of self doubt and their personal circumstances. 
 
“As the third expedition of The Polar Academy prepares to depart for Arctic Greenland, I look forward to being part of the trustee team, supporting The Polar Academy in the next phase of its inspirational journey as it helps ordinary individuals to achieve the extraordinary.”  
 
Tomorrow (Tuesday 21 March), the third expedition team of The Polar Academy departs on a 10-day, 100km expedition through Arctic Greenland. After eight months of rigorous training and supported by Craig Mathieson (Bo’ness) and three fellow expert guides, the Edinburgh based teenagers (all aged 14-17) from Fettes College and Broughton High School will haul their own 45kg sledges, navigate and camp on the sea ice. The expedition is designed to instil greater self-confidence and belief in young individual’s who Mathieson has identified as ‘invisible’ in the school system. 
 
Like two previous expeditions, the pupils return to Scotland ready to speak to thousands of fellow school pupils about their personal challenges and experiences. Often described as the living breathing proof that ordinary individuals can achieve the extraordinary, they in turn seek to inspire their peer groups, urging them to overcome feelings of insecurity, self-doubt and anxiety in pursuit of their own dreams. 
 
Established in 2014, The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded by donations from companies and private donors.  Tiso Group and Bergans of Norway are founding supporters of the charity that needs to fundraise over £170,000 per year.  
 
Last week, after working with Links Design, the charity launched its new website with the latest information about its mission and successes.  Further details can be found at www.thepolaracademy.org 

Free to use image (landscape) of new trustees for The Polar Academy  (l-r: Mike Hancock (Cornhill Building Services; Chris Tiso, CEO Tiso Group; John Gilmour, headmaster Craigclowan Prep School -  pix credit Peter Sandground Photography). Download full size image here


 
Everest Climber Displays Bold Suit for International Women’s Day

8 March 2017

Everest Climber Displays Bold Suit for International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day with its theme of ‘Be Bold for Change.’ Twenty-six year-old Edinburgh-based and Devon-born mountaineer Mollie Hughes hopes her own actions will inspire women to change their lives for the better.  

For in May, Mollie will return to Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain (8848m) with the support of Tiso the outdoor adventure specialist, aiming to become the youngest Briton, the youngest European woman and the first English woman to scale the 8,848m peak from both the north and south sides. With every step she will also be raising funds for Cancer Research UK. 
 
Mollie is pictured in the shop window of Tiso’s Rose Street store in the special clothing she will wear on her bold 2017 Everest expedition.  She’s flanked by the kit worn by Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group on the 2000 expedition and the clothing worn by the late Graham Tiso on his 1972 Everest expedition. 
 
#BeBoldForChange
 
www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mollie-Everest
 
You can track Mollie Hughes progress at www.tiso.com/Everest
Nicola Buchanan

13 February 2017

Protecting children from abuse must be the paramount consideration of the courts

Few pieces of news hit home as hard as stories of children being killed by their parents. Though such terrible crimes are rare, they are perhaps not as rare as society may think.

Over the past ten years, 19 children have been murdered by violent fathers after they were granted contact with sons and daughters by judges, according to a report, covering England and Wales, by charity Women’s Aid. In 12 cases, contact had been granted to the fathers through the family courts, with a further six agreed in family court hearings and the other via a non-molestation order and occupation order.

Since the report was published last year, the charity has identified a further case in which a child was murdered by the father after contact was granted via the family court. The escalating total raises questions about whether other cases remain to be uncovered, both north and south of the border.

The report and an accompanying briefing paper by Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence prompted a review by Sir Stephen Cobb, a senior family judge at the High Court of England and Wales. Mr Justice Cobb’s review called for the presumption, in England and Wales, that both parents should have contact with their child to be scrapped if there is evidence of domestic violence.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, endorsed the recommendation from the review in last month’s, “View from the President’s Chamber”. He noted: “These are problems that can no longer wait.”

The Cobb Review highlights the differences between Scots Law and the Law of England and Wales on the issue of contact between children and their parents. In Scotland, no presumptions apply in these matters. The 2006 Family Law (Scotland) Act made changes to the 1995 Children (Scotland) Act to ensure that courts took abuse or the threat of abuse into account when granting parents contact with their children.

The fundamental principle in the Children’s Act is very clear: “The court shall regard the welfare of the child concerned as its paramount consideration and shall not make any such order unless it considers that it would be better for the child that the order be made than that none should be made at all.” Cutting through the legal language, it is clear that judges need to adopt a child-centric approach and think about the child’s safety.

The Family Law Act spells out the responsibilities of the court to “protect the child from any abuse, or the risk of any abuse, which affects, or might affect, the child”, and to have regard to “the effect such abuse, or the risk of such abuse, might have on the child”. It is important to note that, as well as protecting the child from abuse, the legislation also protects the child from being exposed to abuse of others who have care of them.

A broad definition of “abuse” is also inserted into the Act, including “violence, harassment, threatening conduct and any other conduct giving rise, or likely to give rise, to physical or mental injury, fear, alarm or distress”. Conduct in this context includes both speech and being present in a specified place or area.

Mr Justice Cobb’s review also recommended ending the right of alleged perpetrators in England and Wales to cross-examine survivors of domestic violence in the family courts. The practice has been banned in the criminal courts for the past 15 years. 

Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald last month told the House of Commons that the Government would bring forward primary legislation to ban cross-examination of domestic violence survivors by their alleged abusers in the family courts of England and Wales. With the practice already outlawed in criminal court cases, both north and south of the border, the template has been laid out for a similar prohibition in the family courts.

In Scotland, domestic abuse survivors may be classed as “vulnerable witnesses” who can access a variety of special measures, including giving evidence from behind a screen or by video link and having a supporter with them. As in England and Wales, though, there remains the possibility of an abuse survivor being cross-examined by an abuser in a civil court. In an interesting development, though, a Judge in Scotland considered, towards the end of 2016, that it would not be “in the interests of justice” to allow a footballer who had allegedly raped a female to ask questions of that female in a civil court. 

Nicola Buchanan
Solicitor, Family Law Team
BLM Glasgow

7 February 2017

Royal & Awesome scores hole-in-£1m as it breaks through revenue barrier

Royal & Awesome, the spectacular golf-clothing brand, whose trousers are favoured by celebrities including former First Minister Lord Jack McConnell, singer Brian McFadden and newsreader Naga Munchetty, has broken through the £1m turnover mark as it prepares to celebrate its fifth birthday.

The Edinburgh-based label, which was launched in April 2012, has morphed from a tongue-in-cheek start-up, into a global brand.

Sixty per cent of its sales are now made in the United States, with a significant contribution coming from online retailing giant Amazon, with 35 per cent coming from the UK and the remaining five per cent from Australia.

Sales have grown by 50 per cent year-on-year each year since the label was created.

The brand was launched by Graeme Smeaton, in partnership with Morphsuits’ founders Gregor Lawson and Ali and Fraser Smeaton.

Royal & Awesome shares Morphsuits’ e-commerce and fulfilment systems but also has its own dedicated team working on the business.

The Smeaton brothers hail from Gullane, the East Lothian village that is home to Muirfield, the championship course that has regularly hosted The Open.

Graeme Smeaton, managing director at Royal & Awesome, said: “The growth of our brand over the past five years has been absolutely ‘awesome’ – there’s no other word for it.

“All four of us are keen golfers and we wanted to create a brand that really stood out as different.  We’ve done this by taking all the history and heritage of golf in Scotland and adding loads of fun and colour. 

“Golf is a game that’s played throughout the world, so knew the potential for Royal & Awesome to become a global brand.

“The reaction has been fantastic – people buy our trousers, shorts and Plus Twos to wear at charity games, stag parties and lads’ annual outings.”

As well as becoming popular with celebrities, the Royal & Awesome brand has also attracted a host of sportsmen as ambassadors, ranging from former football players and managers like Neil Lennon, Ally McCoist and Ian Wright through to cricketers such as Darren Gough, Matthew Hoggard and Kevin Pieterson and athletes including Kriss Akabusi, Mike Tindall and Sir Steve Redgrave.

Mr Smeaton added: “Social media has been at the heart of our growth.  We’ve got so many great pictures and videos of people having fun in our range and social media is the perfect channel to share these.

“Golf trick-shots are incredibly popular on platforms such as Instagram and Youtube and we’ve partnered with some of the best in the business to create bespoke branded content.  We can then share this content to the audience on our own channels and especially through our email newsletters, which are particularly
popular with customers who perhaps don’t have time to trawl the net.

“I am totally confident that our growth will continue as we keep raising the profile of brand through social media and we keep increasing our distribution and availability through our own website, Amazon and third party retailers.”

The growth of Morphcostumes, the company behind the Royal & Awesome and Morphsuits brands, has been supported by BGF (Business Growth Fund) since June 2012, following a £4.2m investment.

BGF was established in 2011 by five of the UK’s largest banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered – with a £2.5 billion fund to invest in businesses with the potential for high growth.

6 February 2017

Young British Climber aims to make Everest History

Mollie Hughes, a 26 year-old British climber has today (Monday 6 February 2017) announced her plan to again climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak (8848m). If her attempt this May is successful, the Edinburgh-based and Devon-born climber will become the youngest Briton, the youngest European woman and the first English woman to scale the peak from both the north and south sides.

If successful, Hughes, who in 2012 summited Mount Everest from its south side, would be 28 years younger than Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain that in 1953 was first officially climbed by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.
 
Hughes, who started climbing at secondary school and at the age of 17 summited Mount Kenya (Africa’s second highest peak), will be joined on her latest expedition by sherpas and the experienced climber, Jon Gupta of Mountain Expeditions. 
 
Tiso, the outdoor adventure specialist where Hughes is an employee and which staged a successful expedition to Mount Everest in 2000, is the main supporter of Hughes latest expedition during which she also hopes to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
 
After leaving the UK in early April, the climbers will acclimatize. They will be on the mountain for approximately six weeks during which Hughes anticipates the final summit push will take 6-7 days. If all goes to plan, Hughes aims to stand atop Mount Everest on 19 May, elated and braving temperatures as low as minus 40C. She will then start the tricky descent, returning to base camp by 22 May and the UK in early June.
 
Hughes, from Torbay in Devon was first inspired to climb Mount Everest when as part of her sports psychology degree at UWE Bristol she interviewed seven Everest summiteers and learned of their different psychological experiences on the mountain.  She now also has first-hand experience of the fears and challenges presented by Everest. Hughes explained: “To climb Mount Everest is an incredible experience; one that is also the ultimate test of your psychological resolve and ability to cope with physical suffering. 
 
“After over two years of preparation, training is going well and I am really excited to be climbing with Jon Gupta. I am also hugely appreciative to have the invaluable financial and technical support of Tiso the outdoor adventure specialist for an ascent of the spectacular north side of the mountain that will push us to the limit.
 
“I love climbing and adventurous activities.  Hopefully, my second expedition to Mount Everest will inspire other young women to realise that with careful planning and determination, challenges can be overcome and dreams achieved.”   
 
While many climbers choose to ascend from the south, the north route from a base camp in Tibet, China is considered to expose the mountaineers to colder and windier conditions. This route includes an arduous and psychologically testing final day of ascentover three prominent rocky steps on the northeast ridge. All negotiated at an altitude of over 8,500 metres (28,000ft) in the so-called ‘death zone.’
 
Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group and who was part of the 2000 Tiso expedition on which Polly Murray became the first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest, believes Hughes can achieve her dream: “A talented and focused climber, Mollie Hughes is an inspirational young woman.  I am very proud that Tiso will be returning to Mount Everest in support of Mollie Hughes Everest 2017 bid for which she is making meticulous preparation. All at Tiso Group wish her a safe and successful expedition.”
 
In addition to support from Tiso Group, Hughes is also receiving help from the philanthropist Kae Tinto Murray, from Osprey Backpacks and the engineering firm ch2m. Mollie Hughes, Everest 2017 expedition also hopes to raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.
 
For further information about Mollie Hughes Everest 2017 expedition, visit: www.tiso.com/everest 
 
www.molliehughes.co.uk
 
To support Mollie Hughes fundraising for Cancer Research UK, please visit:
 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mollie-Everest 
 
Mount Everest – selected records
1924: British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempt summit from the north side.  Unknown if they ever made the summit
1953: Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary – first climbers confirmed to reach summit
1960: Chinese team claim to make first summit from north side of Everest
1975: Junko Tabei (Japan) – first woman to summit Mount Everest
1975: First ascent of south-west face of Everest by a British team led by Sir Chris Bonington. Doug Scott and the late Dougal Haston reach the summit
1988: Lydia Bradey (NZ) makes first female ascent without supplemental oxygen
1993: Rebecca Stephens becomes the first British woman to climb Mount Everest
1995: The late Alison Hargreaves becomes the second British woman to climb Everest, ascending alone via the north ridge
1999: Kathy O’Dowd (South Africa) becomes the first woman at the age of 31 to climb Everest from both the south col (1996) and north col (1999)
16 May 2000: Polly Murray - first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Leanna Shuttleworth (England) and 19 years old becomes the youngest British woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Mollie Hughes (England) summits Mount Everest from the south side aged 21
2016: Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), at the age of 54, becomes the first British woman to summit Mount Everest from both the south (2009) and north (2016)
BGF makes £10m investment in Frontrow

30 January 2017

BGF makes £10m investment in Frontrow

Monday 30 January, 2017: BGF (Business Growth Fund), the UK’s leading growth capital investor, has invested £10m in Frontrow Energy Technology Group to support the company’s growth plans, alongside a £3m investment from the Group’s founders.

Formed in 2013, the Frontrow team has acquired, established and grown a group of energy service companies, creating a hub for the development of exciting new technologies and providing entrepreneurial teams with operational guidance and expertise. 

Companies already in the Group include Well-Sense, a downhole technology business with an innovative and low cost way of collecting data from oil wells; Well-Centric, a provider of wellhead servicing operations offshore; and Interventek, a subsea technology business with a unique ‘shear and seal’ valve designed to reduce the cost of subsea well interventions while improving safety and reliability. The companies are based in the same incubator facility in Dyce, Aberdeenshire and have access to extensive shared resources.

Frontrow will use BGF’s funding to expand its resources and infrastructure, allowing it to develop even more promising young technology companies in the region’s energy industry. The investment follows a record year for BGF in the UK, and enables it to unlock much needed investment into a higher number of businesses across Scotland, and in the North East of Scotland in particular. 

Frontrow was set up by chairman Graeme Coutts, the former chief executive at Expro Group and current chairman of BGF portfolio companies Spex Group and STATS Group. The Group is led by chief executive Stuart Ferguson, former Chief Technology Officer at Weatherford, with an established track record in building valuable oilfield technology businesses. The senior team also includes non-executive director Colin Smith, who sold his Petrowell business to Weatherford in 2012, and executive director Frank Summers, who ran the successful Simmons Fund 1 leading investments in Red Spider Technology, Xodus and EFC.

Mike Sibson, an investor in BGF’s Aberdeen office who will join the board of Frontrow, said: “The past two years have been incredibly challenging for companies operating in the North East of Scotland’s oil and gas industry, and many entrepreneurs have understandably been shaken by the downturn. 
 
“Despite these strong headwinds in the energy industry, and across the whole of UK, 2016 was a record year for BGF, and we will continue partnering, supporting and investing as part of our strategy to provide truly long-term capital to companies scaling up.  

“This deal allows us not only to invest in the growth and development of Frontrow, but it also extends our reach into younger, earlier stage companies in oil and gas, and the broader energy industry. We are backing a team with a deep understanding of energy technology, a strong industry network and the operational experience to bring new products to market.”

Graeme Coutts, chairman at Frontrow Energy Technology Group, said: “This funding will allow us to acquire and to grow more high-potential companies in the energy sector. Our vision is to build a group of world-leading technology businesses based here in the North East of Scotland, which has long been a centre for the development of downhole and subsea technologies.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Mike Sibson and his colleagues, so BGF was top of our list when we wanted to expand Frontrow’s capability. We’re not just tapping into the capital that BGF can supply but also into its expertise and network too.”

BGF’s other portfolio companies in the oil and gas industry include STATS Petrotechnics and Rovop, while its investments in the broader North-East business community consist of IT services business Inoapps, optician chain Duncan & Todd and food and garden waste firm Keenan Recycling.

BGF is taking a minority stake in Frontrow as part of the investment. 
Bar Soba serves up expansion plan after £3m BGF investment

6 December 2016

Bar Soba serves up expansion plan after £3m BGF investment

Bar Soba, the Glasgow-based bar and restaurant chain, is preparing to open a further seven restaurants following a £3m investment by BGF (Business Growth Fund) and the appointment of industry veteran Mohan Mansigani as chair.

The company, which already has five sites spread across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds, will initially target Scotland and the North of England and is already considering a number of sites in key cities including Aberdeen, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.  It will then focus its efforts on expanding further afield.
 
Founder and CEO Brad Stevens launched the brand at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1997 as a pop-up restaurant.
 
He opened his first permanent Bar Soba outlet on Mitchell Lane in Glasgow and has since expanded into premises in Glasgow’s Byres Road and Merchant City, as well as on Hanover Street in Edinburgh and Merrion Street in Leeds.
 
His business, which serves creative cocktails and South-East Asian street dishes in a vibrant atmosphere, is on course to turn over in excess of £6m during the current financial year.
 
Bar Soba has an ambition to become a truly national brand and one of the few born in Scotland to then grow south of the border.  This first stage of investment from BGF is supporting its immediate growth, while the business plans to grow to 30 sites.
 
Brad Stevens, CEO and founder of Bar Soba, said: “I’m really excited about our ambitious expansion plans and that we’ve found the right partner to provide the funding and expertise we need to accelerate our growth.
 
“Expanding to 12 city centre locations will allow even more drinkers and diners to enjoy our combination of indulgent cocktails, freshly prepared street food inspired by the night markets of South East Asia and music.  We have been researching locations we feel will suit the Bar Soba offering but are always open to hear ideas from others.”
 
As well as providing the growth capital to fuel Bar Soba’s expansion, BGF introduced the business to industry heavy-hitter Mohan Mansigani, who has been appointed as non-executive chair.
 
He served as chief finance officer at Casual Dining Group – the company behind brands including Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Belgo – from 2002 until 2014, having previously worked as finance director at Costa Coffee and TGI Fridays and in senior finance roles at Grand Metropolitan and Pizza Hut.
 
Mohan Mansigani, chair of Bar Soba, said: “I’ve worked with some really vibrant brands during my career and I see many of the same elements in the DNA of Bar Soba.
 
“Brad Stevens and his team have created bars with a strong personality and a relaxed dining style that runs through all of their venues.  I have been very impressed with the food quality and fantastic range of drinks.
 
“I’m looking forward to working with Brad to help him fulfil his ambitions for the business, which I believe will prove to be just as popular in the North of England and further afield as it has been in its Scottish heartland.”
 
BGF’s existing UK investments in the leisure and hospitality sectors include Mexican restaurant group Barburrito, tapas brand Camino, and Thai chain Giggling Squid.
 
Patrick Graham, an investor with BGF heading up activity in the central belt of Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “Our team at BGF was attracted to Bar Soba’s business model – the bars serve a wide range of unique cocktails all created in-house and fresh Asian food during the day though to the evening, when DJs and other live music add to the atmosphere.
 
“That combination of the lunchtime trade transitioning through into cocktails and live music means that the outlets are busy throughout the day and night.
 
“The Bar Soba concept appeals to students and young professionals, which ties in well with the target geographies in the north of England and beyond.  BGF looks forward to supporting the business through its expansion.”
 
BGF was set up with £2.5bn to invest in privately-owned and Alternative Investment Market quoted companies that have revenues of between £5m and £100m.
 
In return for an initial investment of typically between £2m and £10m, BGF takes a minority equity stake in the business.
 
The company can also provide follow-on investment and access to its Talent Network of entrepreneurs who can give advice to its portfolio of companies.
 
Advisors to the transaction:
 
For BGF: MMS (Legal)
For Bar Soba: CMS (Legal), Henderson Loggie (Corporate Finance)
 
BGF realises successful exit from Stevenswood

29 November 2016

BGF realises successful exit from Stevenswood 

BGF (Business Growth Fund), the UK’s most active provider of growth capital, has successfully exited its investment in Stevenswood after a deal was completed for Stevenswood to acquire Polyframe Trade Centres Limited (“PTC”) continuing it’s ambition to build a UK-wide trade counter business. 

BGF invested £3.6m in the Livingston-based business in February 2015 in return for a minority stake.

BGF’S funding allowed Stevenswood to rapidly expand its network of trade counters from five to 15 throughout Scotland.

During BGF’s involvement, the company has opened outlets in Anniesland, Dunfermline, Falkirk, Govan, Inverness, Stirling as well as Leith and Sighthill in Edinburgh.

Revenues have risen from £10m in 2013-14 to £18m in 2015-16.  News of the deal comes just weeks after BGF revealed that the size of its investments across the UK had broken through the £1bn mark following an £11m investment in holiday park operator Coppergreen Developments, which allowed it to buy the Piperdam golf and leisure resort near Dundee.

BGF investor Patrick Graham, who served on the board of Stevenswood, said: “The favourable return we have realised from our investment in Stevenswood will allow us to continue supporting other fast-growing Scottish companies.

“This is an excellent example of how BGF can help high-growth businesses - our capital helped unlock significant opportunities for Stevenswood to fuel its expansion.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with managing director Ron Hepburn and his team over the last 18 months to grow this highly-successful business and I wish them every success for the future.”

Ron Hepburn, managing director at Stevenswood, added: “The growth capital and expertise that BGF brought to the table helped us to expand our business much more quickly than we would have been able to on our own.


“Opening ten trade counters in just under two years has really transformed Stevenswood into a national brand and no doubt brought us to the attention of other players in the market. As a result, it helped open up the opportunity to combine Stevenswood with PTC to create a group with 26 trade counters across the UK.

“I’m looking forward to the next stage of Stevenswood’s development as we continue to grow our UK presence.”

As well as investing cash in the business, BGF also introduced expertise and advice in the form of Graham as investment director, David Pearson as chairman and Murray McGarvie as finance director. 

Pearson is a former group commercial director of Focus Wickes, while McGarvie is an experienced finance director with a proven track record in both manufacturing and retail businesses.  

Stevenswood was founded in 1997 by Hepburn and his now retired business partner, Dave Flynn, initially focussing on the installation of windows and doors. It was the first company in Scotland to offer 70mm fully-sculptured frames, which are now the industry standard.

15 November 2016

BGF reaches £1 billion invested

More than 150 businesses now backed by BGF, including 17 in Scotland

BGF (Business Growth Fund), the UK’s most active provider of growth capital, has passed £1 billion in committed investments to entrepreneurial businesses across Britain.

An £11 million investment in holiday park operator Coppergreen Developments, which has been used to support the acquisition of Dundee-based Pipperdam Golf and Leisure Resort, brings the total amount invested by BGF to over £1 billion.

The firm is on track to invest more than £370m this year, compared to £250m in 2015.

More than 150 small and mid-sized companies have taken BGF funding since October 2011, including Scotland-based M Squared Lasers, Stevenswood Doors and Windows, Keenan Recycling and MorphCostumes. 

More than £700 million of the £1billion has been invested outside of London and the South East including £127 million in 17 businesses across Scotland. 

Nationally, BGF invested more than £100m in the third quarter of 2016, compared to £60m in the same quarter last year. According to Beauhurst, BGF was the top institutional investor in the three months following the EU Referendum by number of deals completed, against a backdrop of an overall slowdown in investment activity. 

Collectively, the businesses backed by BGF employ 25,000 people nationwide – a number which would make it the UK’s eighth largest private sector employer.

Patrick Graham, Investor, Scotland, BGF said:

“BGF has established itself as the leading provider of long-term capital in the UK. We are proud to have backed 17 great companies in Scotland - and we know that we have only just scratched the surface. 

“While growing businesses will be affected in different ways and to varying degrees during the Brexit negotiations and beyond, our long-term approach means that we have no intention of slowing down our new activity or support for the companies we back.” 

BGF makes long-term investments in small to mid-sized businesses in return for a minority stake. The companies it backs are privately-owned or listed on AIM, and typically have revenues of between £5m and £100m. 
Courts introduce online procedure for the ‘Netflix generation’

17 October 2016

Courts introduce online procedure for the ‘Netflix generation’

CONSUMERS can do almost anything online these days – from booking a flight or ordering a takeaway all the way through to finding out why that mysterious direct debit keeps coming out of their account each month through their internet banking.  Soon, members of the public will even be able to use the internet to bring cases to the Sheriff Court.

From 28 November, non-personal injury claims, such as contract disputes and debt recovery, for up to £5,000 will have to be brought to Court in the form of a new “simple procedure”. A similar simple procedure for personal injury claims is expected  to follow next year. 

Simple procedure is breaking new ground – it marks the first time in Scotland that claimants will be able to use an online portal to launch and run court action. The procedure will replace two existing systems: small claims running to £3,000; and summary causes from £3,001 to £5,000.

These are the most significant changes to “low-value” claims since the 1971 and 1907 Sheriff Court (Scotland) Acts and so they mark a major turning point. It is anticipated that the new simple procedure cases will be dealt with in Sheriff Courts throughout Scotland by Summary Sheriffs, a new Scottish judicial role heralded by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. Sheriffs will also be able to deal with such cases. For the purposes of this article, we refer to both roles – Summary Sheriff and Sheriff – as “Sheriff”.

Online processing of civil court cases is a major change for the Scottish legal system. By the time personal injury claims are added to the portal, which is anticipated around the middle of next year, more than 60 per cent of civil business in the Sheriff Courts will be processed online.

The switch to online processing is being made possible by the introduction of a digital Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) by the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (SCTS). The whole aim of the reforms is to speed-up the court process and make justice more affordable and accessible for litigants.

As well as starting an action online, by lodging a “Claim Form”, parties will also be able to submit documents for their case, pay any fees due, and track the process of their case on the internet. It may not be as exciting as watching a boxset on Netflix, but it does mark a sea-change for the system.

It isn’t just the method that’s changing either. The simple procedure is designed to be user-friendly, allowing members of the public – rather than just lawyers – to use the system.
Instead of legal jargon and very formal terms, the new procedure uses “plain English” wherever possible. For example, cases are now “paused” instead of being “sisted”. 

Flow-chart diagrams are used so that litigants can understand each stage of the process. The documents involved in the procedure will use headings that are phrased as questions to help guide litigants through the system.

Speed is at the heart of the reforms. Sheriffs must make first written orders in the case within 2 weeks of a “Response Form” being received from the person, called the Respondent in simple procedure, against whom the claim is brought. 

Instead of holding a hearing of evidence, Sheriffs will be able to organise case management discussions to identify the issues between the parties and to work out the best way of resolving the problem. They are also able to refer litigants to “alternative dispute resolution”, such as mediation, or indicate an intention to make a decision without any hearing. The prospect of every claimant, therefore, “having a day in Court” is diminished. Hearings for evidence in Court will, it seems, only be set if really necessary.

Sheriffs are also given power to dismiss a claim at any time, even without any hearing or prior indication that a decision without a hearing is intended. That power can be exercised if the Sheriff thinks considers that the case “obviously has no real prospect of success” or is obviously incompetent. Equally, a claim can be decided at any time if the response to it is obviously incompetent. 

Although they may be called “simple”, the rules and forms for the new procedure run to a beefy 253 pages. Written in “plain English”, the intention is clearly to make the new procedure open and accessible to all. Equally, though, we anticipate that lawyers may frequently be involved in the new process. Indeed, both the Claim Form and the Response Form require fairly detailed and extensive information and, with the prospect of the claim being decided simply on the basis of those Forms, all litigants who take part in the new simple procedure will wish to “get it right first time”.

It seems clear that the Scottish Courts’ move to online processing will not end with simple procedure. Earlier in 2016, in a speech to the Council of the Law Society of Scotland, Lord Carloway, the Lord President, discussed a five-year redesign of the court room to reflect the 21st century by fully embracing IT. This culture change starts with simple procedure from 28 November. 

Gillian Rushbury
Partner, BLM
Barburrito Opens Sixth Scottish Site, with Number Seven to Follow Next Month

6 October 2016

Barburrito Opens Sixth Scottish Site, with Number Seven to Follow Next Month

Estate Now 18 Burrito restaurants nationwide with a plan to reach 25 sites in 18 months

Barburrito, the UK’s first specialist burrito chain, founded in 2005 by CEO Morgan Davies, has opened its newest outlet at 55 Forrest Road, Edinburgh in premises formerly occupied by Starbucks.  This is the company’s third outlet to open in the capital. 

The property of more than 2,500 sq ft has been fitted out with Barburrito’s latest high quality, cool interior, with branding emphasising its fresh produce and dishes prepared daily on the premises.

Forrest Road is located opposite the 19 acre Quartermile development that is home to a number of high profile offices and luxury apartments as well as in close proximity to Edinburgh University and The Meadows.

Jim Bishop, Property Director at Barburrito commented: “This location is ideal to serve our customer base with a good mix of students, office workers and local residents.  The fit out of the building has been challenging and exciting and we have managed to create 70 covers in a really special environment”.

Founder and CEO, Morgan Davies added: “This latest opening cements our place as the leading burrito bar operator in Scotland.  Having grown up near Edinburgh, I am personally excited to be selling our burritos on home turf.  As the UK’s first burrito bar chain we are now proud to be operating 18 restaurants across nine major cities”.

Following the opening in Edinburgh, Barburrito will be taking their fast-casual Mexican food to Aberdeen with a new store opening in Hammerson’s Union Square development.

The new Edinburgh has recruited 16 new members of staff and Aberdeen will be appointing 20 team members.  The company now employs 90 people in Scotland.  

Jim added: “The Aberdeen outlet will have 46 covers in the shopping centre and is ideally positioned on the first floor to provide local office workers, shoppers and cinema-goers fast, healthy food in a vibrant environment”. 

Barburrito is backed by the growth capital provider BGF, who last year helped fund the acquisition of Pinto Mexican Kitchen in Scotland and who have provided funding for Barburrito’s growth over the past five years.

BARBURRITO LTD - FACTS & FIGURES   
  • The first Barburrito was opened by founder and CEO Morgan Davies in 2005 in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. 
  • The headquarters are in Manchester. 
  • Proud to be the UK’s first burrito bar chain and the first to go national. 
  • The company now has eighteen stores across eight cities (Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, London, Newcastle, Cardiff, Edinburgh & Glasgow). 
  • The Glasgow sites are located at Queen Street, Gordon Street and Hope Street, with sites in the Scottish capital at Shandwick Place, Lothian Road and Forrest Road.
  • The company employs over 300 people. 
  • Barburrito continues to expand and is looking for top sites in high footfall destinations including major city centres, shopping centres and travel hubs. 
  • Barburrito is backed by BGF (Business Growth Fund), which has committed funding to help grow the business to over 25 stores in the next 18 months. 
  • The company is experiencing strong like for like growth in established sites. 
  • Combined turnover run rate is now over £13m net sales.
Arctic bound… charity selects ten Edinburgh pupils for life changing expedition

3 October 2016

Arctic bound… charity selects ten Edinburgh pupils for life changing expedition

Ten pupils from the north of Edinburgh have today been selected by the Scottish charity, The Polar Academy to participate in a life-changing expedition to Arctic Greenland next March.

The 5 boys and 5 girls have been selected from both Broughton High School and Fettes College in Edinburgh. The 3 girls and 2 boys from Broughton High School are part of the FetLor Youth Club that provides services within the north of Edinburgh. Aged between 14 and 17, all of the participants now face seven months of intensive physical training to ensure they are fully equipped for the 10-day, 100km expedition through one of the world’s most stunning and inhospitable natural environments. 
 
An additional 9 pupils, 4 from Broughton High and 5 from Fettes College have been offered places in The Polar Academy Leadership programme. They will benefit from much of the same training and skills development as the expedition team. 
 
The Arctic bound pupils will face temperatures below -20C and need to ski and haul their own 45kg sledges as they navigate across sea ice, camp in remote mountain passes and conduct field studies to support school projects related to the national curriculum. This will include taking ice samples and measuring movement in glaciers to contribute to scientific understanding of the impact on the Arctic of pollution and global climate change. The pupils’ will be supported on the expedition by Mathieson and his fellow expert guides; Nigel Williams and Jess Ridgway (both from Glenmore Lodge by Aviemore) and Dr Wild.  
 
Departing Scotland on 21 March 2017, it will be the third expedition in three years to be led by charity founder and expedition leader Craig Mathieson.  Designated in 2013 as Scotland’s first Explorer in Residence by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS), in the same year 47 year-old Mathieson founded The Polar Academy with the vision to ‘inspire Scotland’s youth through exploration.
 
A veteran of several successful expeditions to the North Pole and South Pole, Mathieson is emphatic that the latest expedition to Greenland will prove positively life-changing for the participants. He said: “Supported by its founding partners, Tiso Group and Bergans of Norway, The Polar Academy selects pupils whose ability to achieve in life is currently hindered by a crushing lack of self confidence and esteem. 
 
“Kids are kids and regardless of their social background it’s important to recognise that they can acutely lack self-confidence and esteem. The success of the previous two expeditions to Greenland with pupils from North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh has demonstrated how ordinary kids can achieve the extraordinary and develop huge amounts of self-confidence and belief. 
 
“The training is tough and relentless but I am proud that each pupil has already made the first step to positively transforming his or her life. You can see the potential in these kids that The Polar Academy will help to unlock. Now preparations for a journey through the Arctic wilderness begin in earnest!” 
 
Lena Ascherman, a 14 year-old pupil at Broughton High School is one of the ten pupils selected for the expedition. She commented: “I feel quite privileged because so many pupils went for selection and I’m proud of myself that by being chosen I’ve already achieved something. The coming months are going to be a challenge for sure but both physically and emotionally I think the training will be good for me. I’m not very outdoorsy but now I can imagine myself being in Greenland.  I’m really looking forward to what is an amazing opportunity.”
 
Fellow school pupil, 15 year-old Anna Ziemons McLean, added: “I’m really excited to be involved. It seemed like almost everyone in the school applied in the hope of being chosen. The selection process was tough, especially when asked to tie knots under water!  I know the physical training is going to be really challenging but I’m really going to work hard and hopefully I’ll see the Northern Lights when in Greenland.”
 
James Mackman, a 14 year-old pupil at Fettes College, said: “I was over the moon and on cloud nine when told I’d been selected for the expedition team.  I think the training is going to be quite hard and challenging but I know it will all be worth it.”
 
The pupils don’t pay for their involvement in The Polar Academy. As a charity, it must annually fundraise over £170,000 to operate.  Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group has been impressed by the change in pupils who have previously experienced The Polar Academy.

“Over the past two years I’ve been amazed how shy teenagers have returned from Greenland bursting with pride, brimming with newly discovered self-confidence and eager to relate their personal experiences to their peer-groups in schools throughout Scotland. 
 
“Their personal stories inspire thousands of other kids across Scotland to realise that with focus, sustained effort and determination, dreams are attainable.”
 
In addition to considerable support from founding partners Tiso Group and Bergans of Norway, the charity is also helped by the likes of Cornhill Building Services, Baillie Gifford and by private donations.
Pyreos recruits VP Operations

14 September 2016

Pyreos recruits VP Operations

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based passive infra-red sensor developer which is the only supplier of thin film pyroelectric sensors worldwide, has recruited Ken Williamson as VP of Operations. 

Ken has an extensive career in semiconductors.  After graduating in EEE, he worked initially for Nat Semi and in Switzerland for Micronas, Ascom and others.  He then worked for Siemens in the UK & Germany and managed operations through successive acquisitions until the business became part of Atmel.  He has worked for Atmel worked for many years in the US & UK, including several years running Conductive Inkjet in Cambridge.

Ken’s roles have included numerous process developments and transfers, product management, quality management, and several roles as Operations Director. Ken has also consulted and advised widely in the global semiconductor industry.

Andrew Wallace, Pyreos CEO, said:  ”We are delighted that Ken, a returning Scot, has chosen to join us.  He brings extensive experience of setting up and maturing complex semiconductor manufacturing and has worked in multiple languages and cultures.  This breadth is important to our business, which has a global supply chain and which exports 91 per cent of sales and it is interesting that two thirds of our management team has lived outside the UK.

“Pyreos has started shipping samples of its new ezPyro digital sensor, the smallest digital pyroelectric device available, and has also just announced a strategic purchasing agreement with Parker Kittiwake, a subsidiary of Parker Hannefin, to provide sensors for oil analysis products.

“These developments and other news in the pipeline are driving significant volume growth and are the result of major product development initiatives across the Pyreos product range so Ken has plenty to work on.  His experience in process and quality will help maintain the momentum of maturing Pyreos operations.

Callum Gordon, who has managed Operations since early 2015, will continue as an advisor to the company and Pyreos thanks him for his leadership.

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