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


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:

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

News from Beeline

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.
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
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. 
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 
To support Mollie Hughes fundraising for Cancer Research UK, please visit:
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)
Arran Aromatics unveils new brand to drive global growth

2 December 2016

Arran Aromatics unveils new brand to drive global growth 

Arran Aromatics, Scotland's leading manufacturer of luxury toiletries, lifestyle products and gifts, has unveiled its new brand identity – ARRAN Sense of Scotland - to drive international sales growth.

The brand’s premium transformation will help the company to cement its position as one of Scotland’s most-loved brands and help to introduce the label to consumers in an even broader range of countries.
Janet and the late Iain Russell founded the business in 1989 on the Isle of Arran off the West Coast of Scotland.  All of its products – including bath and body ranges, skin care, fragrances and scented candles - are still made and hand-finished in Scotland, before being sold in more than 30 countries.
For the past 18 months, CEO Jacqui Gale and the team have been quietly working on re-launching the brand.  All the packaging has been re-designed, some new products and gift packaging have been created, along with a completely new Christmas range including a stunning advent calendar.
The brand has not removed anyone’s favourite fragrance and still includes its best seller After the Rain.  Although many of the products have been given new names associated with the inspiration of the island and every formulation has been improved.
ARRAN has annual revenues of around £6m and employs 120 staff across its manufacturing facility on Arran, logistics centre in Dundonald, eight stores, including the newly-refurbished flagship store on George Street in Edinburgh, and many concessions.
The business also creates bespoke products for several hotel groups, including The Auchrannie Hotel & Spa on Arran, Cameron House, Cromlix, the DeVere Group and Macdonald Hotels.
Jacqui Gale joined the business as its CEO in March 2015, prior to which she was chief executive of Crabtree&Evelyn’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  During her career, she has also worked with brands such as Lulu Guinness shoes, Pretty Polly bras and Revlon Cosmetics, as well as improving the performance of clothing manufacturer Russell Europe prior to its takeover by Fruit of the Loom and leading the growth of clothes distributor Falk & Ross Group Europe.
Jacqui Gale, CEO at ARRAN, said:  “I am incredibly proud to unveil ARRAN’s exciting new branding, which provides a contemporary image while still celebrating the label’s provenance and deep roots in Scotland.
“This is a watershed moment for the business, as the new brand will help to introduce our product range to even more overseas consumers, while also giving our loyal customers at home a fresh take on some of their favourite products.
“Introducing this new brand is part of our exciting plans for growth, which will help ARRAN to fulfil its potential.”
Founder Janet Russell, added:  “I have lived on the Isle of Arran for more than 40 years and raised my family there.  When my children were young I started producing ARRAN products in the kitchen of our family cottage in 1989.  I’m so proud that our beautiful Scottish hand-finished products are now available around the world.”
Visit ARRAN.com
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. 

1 November 2016

ARRAN Launch A Sense of Christmas Advent Calendar

Ditch the morsels of chocolate this year and indulge in little beauty luxuries instead with ARRAN’s decadent advent calendar, A Sense of Christmas. Featuring pampered treats from Scotland’s leading designer of luxury toiletries, ARRAN’s most-loved collections behind each advent door, A Sense of Christmas is set to add a touch of festive glamour to any mantelpiece.

ARRAN’s luxurious advent calendar’s 24 generously sized goodies takes beauty aficionados and the pamper seekers on a winter journey of the senses with themed collections embodying the feel of the season. Housed within a stunning Christmas box featuring a festive landscape from Arran, with the opening of each door you can step away from everyday life to discover a secret Arran escape, an unspoiled space within the island’s winter landscapes. 

Janet Russell, founder of ARRAN, commented on the A Sense of Christmas launch: “Last year’s advent calendar was immensely popular so we wanted to create an even better experience – a different and exciting body and skincare experience every single morning throughout December.  The result is A Sense of Christmas.

“With the opening of each door you can step away from everyday life to discover a secret Arran escape, an unspoiled space within the Scottish island’s beautiful winter landscapes.” 

From the best-selling After the Rain collection which is inspired by the atmospheric, fresh garden scent following a rain storm, there’s a body lotion, bath & shower gel, shampoo and conditioner (each 30ml) as well as the fragranced soap awaiting, all with the irresistibly fresh fragrance. Containing essential oils of lime, lavandin, mandarin, juniper and cardamom, skin is left awakened and cleansed, the senses calmed.

Daydream away to a remote beach with the Seaweed & Sage shampoo, conditioner, bath & shower gel, body lotion (each 30ml) and soap, hidden behind some doors. Gently scented with the fragrance of crisp, clean and mineral freshness, feel invigorated on even the darkest of winter mornings.

Other advent doors reveal Glenashdale body lotion, bath & shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and soap.  A 30ml Mandarin and Mint body lotion will sooth muscular aches and pains, leaving limbs toned and revived.  Use after the Bergamot & Ginger bath and shower gel (30ml), which contains essential pols to tone, uplift and stimulate. There’s also the luxurious Grapefruit & Shea Butter soap plus Lavender & Lemongrass shampoo and conditioner (each 30ml).

And who can resist scented candles. With Arran’s A Sense of Christmas there are four - Amberwood, Wild Gorse, After the Rain and Ultimate Fig – to bring festive scent into the home throughout December. Each candle has eight hours burning time.

Costing £45.00, A Sense of Christmas advent calendar is in ARRAN shops, in John Lewis and online at www.arran.com.

Janet Russell, added:  “I have lived on the Isle of Arran for more than 40 years and raised my family there.  When my children were young I started producing ARRAN products in the kitchen of our family cottage in 1989.  I’m so proud that our beautiful Scottish hand-finished products are now available around the world.”

Visit ARRAN.com
Shared Parental Leave Policies need to be well-defined

31 October 2016

Shared Parental Leave Policies need to be well-defined

Pam Loch, Managing Partner of Loch Employment Law highlights the importance of how to manage shared parental leave and pay.

In a recent Employment Tribunal in Scotland a working father was awarded £28,321 
by Network Rail as a result of their discriminatory shared parental leave policy. 

While Shared Parental Leave (SPL) drew lots of attention when it was introduced, the uptake has been limited. By allowing parents to share their maternity, paternity and adoption leave, employers have had to rewrite their policies based on a complex piece of legislation. 

The Employment Tribunal found Network Rail’s parental leave policy was indirectly discriminatory against fathers by reinforcing stereotypes that mothers are the primary carers.  Their policy was unequal in respect of Shared Parental Pay (SPP). 

Male employees who were fathers would always get less than mothers and therefore were being indirectly discriminated against. 

Network Rail also failed to deal with the employee’s grievance raised over the shared parental leave policy in a timely or correct manner and comply with the ACAS Code on Grievances. The Employment Tribunal took the view that this caused further distress to the employee resulting in almost £9,000 being added to the total award for injury to feelings and the employer’s failure to follow a proper grievance process. 

This decision highlights how important it is for an employer to take grievances seriously from the minute they are made. Had the grievance been handled appropriately in the first instance it is likely the case may not have escalated to an Employment Tribunal hearing. Essentially, by being complacent about the original grievance and not following the correct procedures Network Rail failed to nip the complaint in the bud.

Network Rail has subsequently changed their shared parental leave policy “to ensure fairness” by reducing women’s maternity pay to the statutory level in line with the entitlement for partners whilst on shared parental leave. Ironically, part of Network Rail’s justification for paying the different levels was to help retain female employees in their male dominated industry. In light of the Employment Tribunal outcome and their decision to reduce the pay level for mothers, this could clearly have a detrimental impact on retaining female staff going forward. 

A survey by My Family Care (2016) one year on from the introduction of SPL found that less than 1% of male employees were taking up SPL which begs the question why? Is it because working fathers don’t want to share leave for fear it may affect their career? Or is it to do with affordability? Ultimately SPP has to be financially viable for working families and to do this employers must provide equally for expectant male and female employees. If both parents are offered their normal full pay for SPP, as opposed to statutory, SPL could be an attractive alternative to maternity and paternity leave. 

Over 80% of men and women surveyed by My Family Care (2016) agreed or strongly agreed that finances were the primary factor when deciding on sharing their leave. 

On another note, while reviewing their policies, employers should also consider what changes to the law may come about as a result of the Government announcement to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents looking after grandchildren under the age of one. Although the intention was to consult on this in the first half of 2016, with a view to changing the law by 2018, to date no consultation process has emerged from the Government. 

SPL remains a very confusing area for both employers and employees and ultimately has not been taken up by the levels originally anticipated. The Network Rail case explored here highlights how careful employers need to be when creating policies in this area and also how important it is to deal with grievances properly. 

Pam Loch is Managing Partner of niche employment law practice, Loch Employment Law and Managing Director of Loch Associates Group incorporating HR Advise Me, Loch Mediation and Loch Health. 
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.

  • 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.
Employment law & HR expert expands firm into Scotland

5 October 2016

Employment law & HR expert expands firm into Scotland

An employment law and HR expert is returning to her roots by launching a specialist practice in Scotland.

Pam Loch, who studied accountancy and business at the University of Dundee and then law at the University of Edinburgh, has opened Loch Associates Group in the Scottish capital.

The entrepreneur founded her business – comprising Loch Employment Law, HR Advise Me, Loch Mediation and Loch Health – in April 2007.  The business in Scotland will focus on all aspects of employment law, HR and employee wellbeing. 

Her company has a £1.3m turnover and has expanded from its headquarters in Kent to include offices in Brighton and London and now Edinburgh. 

Ms Loch, who is a dual-qualified lawyer in Scottish and English Law has brought on board Chris Phillips, an accredited employment law specialist, as a partner to run the new Edinburgh office. He will be joined by HR Consultants from HR Advise Me. 

Mr Phillips studied politics and international development at the University of Glasgow before gaining his law degree from the University of Edinburgh.

He trained alongside Ms Loch at niche employment law practice Mackay Simon – qualifying in 1997 and becoming a partner in 2000 – before spending ten years as a partner at Maclay, Murray & Spens. He served for a further four years as a partner with Simpson & Marwick and then Clyde & Co before joining Ms Loch’s practice as Partner.

Pam Loch, Managing Director of the Loch Associates Group, said: “The success of the Loch Associates Group has been due to our range of expertise and services we offer. We are not simply employment law experts, but the team also delivers human resources support and training, employee wellbeing and mediation services – adding value to our clients and often resolving situations before the need for further time consuming consultations or legal action.”

“Securing Chris Phillips to run our Edinburgh office has been a real coup – he brings 20 years of expertise to draw on and is incredibly well respected in the industry.”

Chris Phillips, partner at Loch Employment Law, added: “I’m really excited to be opening Loch Associates Group’s first office in Scotland and bring the services of Loch Employment Law to the Capital. The expertise of our HR Consultants and the wider team in our other offices will add value and, more critically, commercial expertise to the service we can provide to our clients.” 

Ms Loch is a member of the Employment Lawyers’ Association (ELA), an accredited mediator and is a former president of both West Kent Chamber of Commerce and Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & District Law Society. 

Mr Phillips is a member of both the ELA and the Scottish Discrimination Lawyers Association. He has been accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as an employment law specialist since 2005 and is an external examiner in employment law for the University of Dundee.

Loch Employment Law is ranked as a leading employment law firm in both the Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 guides and has built a client base that stretches across the UK, Europe, Asia and the United States. Pam and Chris are both regarded by these guides as leading individuals in employment law. The firm has recently been shortlisted as a finalist in the Modern Law Awards.

HR Advise Me is a renowned HR Consultancy providing both retained and ad-hoc HR and employee support to clients nationwide providing a dynamic, secure, cloud-based employee management system as part of its offering. The company is currently a finalist for Consultancy of the Year - Personnel Today 2016 and British Small Business Awards Consultancy of the Year 2016.

Loch Health delivers employee wellness health checks and our team of highly qualified medical professionals and trainers can provide bespoke First Aid Training and specialist emergency training for employers as well as individuals. 
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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