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Issue 338 - 9th May 2016

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By Peter Gay

This is a fictional story. A well known gentleman was a member of the board of a voluntary organisation. When he attended board meetings, which he did infrequently, he would bring out his unopened envelope of board papers, rip the envelope open and scan the papers.

He rarely contributed but if he did his input had little relevance to other members. The company secretary observing this decided in future to send board papers in a heat sealed plastic envelope.

Our friend arrived at the board meeting and as usual took his envelope (unopened) out and tried to open it, unsuccessfully. The seal was such that a knife was needed to open it. With great embarrassment and a red face he asked for a knife which the company secretary handed over with a smile. This was our friend’s last board meeting.

Is this story true? I have no idea but it goes the rounds as an example of how not to be a board member.

There are those in our community who are offering their professional services to enable boards to improve their performance. I have no issue with this at all and I do notice a tendency to stress the legal issues of board membership: i.e. it’s the board members who are responsible if things go horribly wrong.

In my view this is sometimes seen by some who would be excellent board members as a deterrent; it puts them off the whole idea. I think that’s a shame but if my fictional story were true I would not shed a tear for the gentleman who never reads board papers in the event of the law knocking on his door.

Of course horror stories do happen. A colleague was appointed Chair of an organisation only to find within weeks of taking up the post that the Chief Executive was engaged in defrauding the organisation. He took action leading to the Chief Executive’s departure and while this was a baptism of fire, thankfully such incidents are relatively rare.

Our voluntary organisations need professional people to join boards and make a contribution, whether its in governance, financial scrutiny, HR, strategic direction or the basics of challenge and support. Strong Chief Executives and their teams value this input; it gives them a sounding board they can trust, it gives confidence and access to expertise that would otherwise be costly.

If you are thinking of becoming a board member, I would encourage you to go ahead but to exercise your own due diligence on the organisation and to undertake the job as a real job, giving it the same commitment you would to a paid one.

That way you will not only make a valuable contribution but you will gain knowledge, skills and insights that could be important in other aspects of your life.

However, please don’t think that getting a board position is a ‘shoe in’. Most boards these days are fussy about who they accept; they want to make sure that your skill, knowledge and experience profile matches their needs.

Business in the Community and CO3 offer a matching service and it often entails making an application for unpaid voluntary posts. Think of it as another development opportunity!

You can contact Peter here.

Peter’s views are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the organisations with which he is associated.

Ulster University Business School Business Institute is delighted to invite you to a one day conference entitled ‘Perspectives on the creation and development of effective entrepreneurship ecosystems in Northern Ireland.’

Date: Thursday 16th June 2016
Venue: W5, SSE Arena
Time: 9:30am- 4:30pm
The Conference aim is to contribute to the development of the entrepreneurial capacity of Northern Ireland. It will seek to achieve this through the bringing together of key entrepreneurship stakeholders to examine ways in which the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Northern Ireland can be further developed.

Speakers include: Ulster University Business School, EY, Invest NI, LEDCOM plus International perspectives from Denmark and Sweden.

Workshops will focus on regional development, harnessing the power of the private sector, education and clusters development
Register for this free event here

Exporting is GREAT aims to inspire and support 100,000 additional UK exporters to sell their goods and services overseas by 2020.

In support of the Exporting is GREAT campaign, the Export hub touring truck will visit Northern Ireland as part of it's UK tour.
The hub will visit:
  • 16 May - Titanic Slipways, Belfast
  • 17 May - The Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen
  • 18 May - Ebrington, Derry~Londonderry
  • 19 May - Junction One, Antrim
  • 20 May - The Outlet, Banbridge
Exporting is GREAT can provide advice and expertise to support businesses at every step on their exporting journey, from initial interest to selling in market.

Come along to our launch event to find out more about Exporting is GREAT and hear from successful local exporters.

Learn to interpret balance sheets and profit and loss accounts

As business owner or manager, an appreciation of the key concepts of financial management and basic techniques will equip you with the knowledge you require to successfully run your business or department. This training course will give you a practical understanding of finance enabling you to:
  • Read and interpret the main financial statements that you come across in business
  • Apply principles of good cash management
  • Use the information to improve business performance
Date:  19 May 2016          Cost:  £199 + VAT
Time:  09.00 - 16.30        
Location:  The Mount Conference Centre, Belfast



Steam Enterprise

Sunday 5th June

Enjoy a day steam train excursion from Belfast to Dublin and return.

Departure times: Belfast Central 09:15, Dublin 16:10.

Fares: Adult - £30, Child - £14

Full details here.

Advance ticket purchase is essential!


This Facebook for Business workshop will help you grow your audience and reach more people using the largest global social media network.
Lisa McGarry is a Digital Media Consultant with over 15 years experience in the industry.  She founded the popular entertainment news website Unreality TV, which attracts more than 1.5 million readers every month.  During the workshop Lisa will cover:
▪    What are the benefits of Facebook
▪    Creating an optimised Facebook Page
▪    Facebook Pages – key functions
▪    Developing Content – what works best?
▪    Growing your Facebook community
▪    Advertising and Promoted Posts
▪    Facebook PR:  Events, PR, Competitions & Offers on Facebook
▪    Facebook Insights & Metrics
▪    Managing risk on social media
▪    Integrating Facebook with your digital media strategy
▪    Case Studies:  Best practice use of Facebook from your sector
When:       Wednesday 18th May 2016
Where:      CIDO Innovation Centre, 73 Charlestown Road, Portadown. 
Time:        10.00am – 12.00pm  (Tea/Coffee  provided)
Cost:         FREE
Contact:    Kirsty Watson/Allyson Morrow  - By phone: +44 (0) 28 3839 6520
e-mail:  or


New international partnership opportunities

Brought to you by the Enterprise Europe Network, we can put you in touch with these businesses and help you promote your own partnering requirements in Europe too.

A Turkish company specialized in dairy products is looking for distributors
A Turkish company specialized in dairy products such as; milk, cheese, yogurt etc. is looking for partners to distribute its products.
Innovative method for tree stump removal by biological degradation
A Spanish company offers an innovative and biological process in order to remove tree stumps by means of mushrooms inoculation. This service aims to degrade the tree stumps and produce edible mushrooms on them at the same time. These edible mushrooms are produced until the tree stump is totally degraded and may be then picked. This is a cheaper and easier method which does not need any type of heavy machinery. Thereby, no contaminating emissions are produced. Services agreements are sought.
An italian wine producer is searching for sector importers and specialized shops in North Europe
This italian company is a wine producer, with their own vineyards. Because now they are able to expand their production, they want to find new foreign partners to sell their wine. They provide a lot of different quality wine, such as Red Wine, White Wine, Prosecco, Cabernet, Tai Veneto Orientale. They are particularly interested in North Europe countries. They are aiming to horeca. sector importers and specialized wine shops.
French contemporary and trendy cider brand is looking for distributors.
A Normandy based SME specialised in the production of high quality premium cider (gluten free, 100% natural) is making a modern and fashionable cider. The company would like to access new markets abroad and is interested in distribution services agreements.
UK cider manufacturer seeks distributors
A UK cider company specialising in producing cider using apples from its own orchards, is seeking distributors from across Europe. The company can offer a range of cider products including apple cider vinegar and apple juice.
Specialist knives and cutlery manufacturer is looking for distributors
A Czech company designing and manufacturing kitchen, butcher and chef knives and utensils, household scissors, gardening tools, manicure and pedicure tools, and cutting parts for meat mincers and food processors, and other cutlery products is interested in extending its business activities in foreign countries. The SME seeks a cooperation with e.g. wholesalers or trade representatives on the basis of an acquisition agreement or a distribution services agreement.
French company specialized in the engineering and manufacturing of electric heating solutions for the industry with a unique know-how in the heating of fluids is looking for commercial partners in Europe
The French company is specialized in engineering and manufacturing industrial equipment for the heating of liquids, gases and solids. It has a recognized expertise in designing custom-made solutions for the heating and cooling of fluids. It offers a unique and patented concept for the heating of any kind of liquids. It is at the same time: modular, corrosion-proof, easy to use and available at a reasonable cost. They are looking for commercial agency and distribution services agreement.
UK producers of cricket flour energy bars is looking for a distributor in Germany/Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark
UK award winning company specialized in the production of healthy food products has now developed a natural energy bar, containing cricket flour, first ever product launched in the UK market and it’s looking for distributors or commercial agents in Germany/ Netherlands/ Belgium/Denmark.
Dutch company specialised in organic tea and tea products is looking for distributors in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the UK.
This young Dutch company creates exclusive handmade products with a wide variety of organic teas. In its online shop, it sells the tea loose, with accessories or in gift boxes. The company is looking for distributors in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the UK, who want to sell the tea products in their home market.
Italian pastry workshop located in Sicily is looking for commercial agreement and distribution service agreement
Italian pastry workshop located in Sicily (Modica), already working internationally, aims at expanding its production. The company is involved in manufacturing the prestigious Modica Chocolate, famous for its sublime quality due to the use of bitter paste, a distinctive usually pleasant smell and cane sugar - without any polysaccharide, composed of glucose units coming from the fair trade network. The company is looking for commercial agency agreements and distribution services agreements.
French manufacturer of sweet and salty specialty pastry products looking for trade intermediaries and offering to develop new products for clients.
A French manufacturer of sweet and salty specialty pastry products is interested in establishing distribution services or commercial agency agreements with trade intermediary partners, including retailers. It can also adapt existing products or develop new products for its clients under a manufacturing or a subcontracting agreement.
A French manufacturer of waffles looking for distributors
A French manufacturer of sweet and salty waffle products is interested in establishing distribution services agreements with trade intermediary partners, including retailers.
UK marketing and sales agent seeks agreements with speciality food manufacturers
A Northern Ireland (UK) based marketing and sales company is looking for long-term partnerships with manufactures of high quality speciality foods aimed at the delicatessen/food service industries; who are interested in generating export sales in Ireland and/or the UK through agency agreements. As well as sales activity, the company can provide market research & marketing support services.
A Turkish company specialized in candied dried fruits is looking for distrubitors or users in all Europe.
A Turkish SME is in food sector offering candied dried fruits to its customers.The products can be used in cake and bakery, ice cream and all sort of goods.The company is looking for new partners to distrubitions all around the Europe.
Spanish winery which not only produces but also represents several wines all of them with Protected Designations of Origin (POD) is looking for commercial agency and distribution services agreements
The company behind this profile is a Galician (NW Spain) cellar producer of wine under the POD “Ribeira Sacra” which also represents commercially coworker wine cellars with other Spanish Protected Designation of Origin as well as wines of its own wine cellar, all of them elaborated with excellent kinds of grape. The company is looking for distribution and commercial agency agreement with potential distributors around Europe
Polish producer of soft drinks seeks trade partners for distribution agreements and offers manufacturing capacity as subcontractor
A Polish medium-sized company from food sector specializes in production of soft drinks packed in aluminium cans. The company is active on the international market since the year 2001. Importers and/or distributors of food products are sought. The company is also looking for any partner interested in creating a private label beverage. Cooperation based on distribution services, manufacturing and subcontracting agreements is considered.
French company specialized in research, development and manufacturing of custom-made and innovative nutritional products is looking for manufacturing and commercial agreements
French company specialized in customized and innovative nutritional food solutions is looking for manufacturing agreements with companies having their own brand of weight management products, dietary supplements, sport nutrition, healthy diet & functional food (lactose intolerant friendly products, gluten free, balanced diet, organic products). They are also looking for sales partners interested in marketing their know-how and existing range of finished, semi-manufactured premixes in EU.
A Belgian brand of organic and fairtrade chocolate is looking for distribution and commercial agency agreements in France, Germany, United Kingdom, USA and Japan.
The Belgian company offers a new organic & fairtrade chocolate brand. Their products range offers chocolate bars and snacks exclusively made from Peruvian beans. They put fair trade, microcredit and philanthropy at the disposal of small cacao producers, at the detriment of the narco-traffickers. They are looking for importers, distributors, wholesalers and commercial agents particularly in France, Germany, United Kingdom, USA and Japan.
Distribution partners and investors are sought for icelandic glacial spring water in "bag-in-boxes"
German SME that is active as a manufacture of mineral waters is looking for partners. The SME is a specialist for glacier water from Iceland and produces a bag-in-box water product for the consumer market. The water has several unique selling prepositions. Partners are sought for a commercial agency agreement or a distribution services agreement for outside of the EU. Partners are also sought for a financial agreement.
Portuguese SME is seeking for commercial or distribution partnerships for rapid test kits able to identify foodborne pathogens
A Portuguese SME that focus its activity in the biotechnology field, developed several innovative test kits for identification of foodborne pathogens to be applied on food safety diagnostics, being possible with this novel technology, guarantee fast accurate results. The company is currently looking for commercial agency agreements/distribution services agreements to market these products.
A French company manufacturing and distributing organic baby food is looking for trade intermediaries: importers, distributors, agents or retailers, in order to develop its presence abroad.
A French company manufacturing and distributing organic food for babies is looking for trade intermediaries in the EU as well as in third countries including the USA, Canada, China, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, and Russia, among others.


Each week Nick O' Shiel, Chief Executive, Omagh Enterprise Company, blogs on issues related to enterprise, technology and the economy. This week Nick asks if technology is killing retail.

The retail industry lies at the heart of the economy and is its largest private sector employer. Local retailers provide everyday services to tens of millions of people and are a point of contact for countless customers and communities. But like many industries it is threatened by technology.

Increased competition
Many young people get their first job in retail and develop long and rewarding careers; others leave as they get stuck in low pay jobs and find it difficult to see a future.

Market growth in recent years in the retail industry has been sluggish at a time when costs are climbing and prices have reached a plateau.

Technology is intensifying competition across the sector as overheads are cut to provide value and choice for customers.

The digital revolution is having an effect too as it drives on and off-line sales and provides transparency for customers and competition for retailers.

Greater investment in technology is also swelling costs and diverting finance from the tradition of investing to upgrade stores.

As a result, the profitability of the industry is falling as sales sag, prices plummet and margins are sorely squeezed.

Changing times
Within the industry a number of significant changes are taking place: the introduction of a living wage, the introduction of an apprenticeship levy, a review of business rates and a surge in online shopping.

Retailers expect the operating costs of doing business to increase once the effect of these and other changes flood into the economy.

They also expect to absorb any increase in costs, as it is not possible to pass them on to customers given the ferocity of competition in the market.

One response to higher costs is to increase levels of technology and automation, which leads to lower overheads but also a loss of jobs.

Another is to concentrate investment on profitable stores in areas of growth and focus closures on marginal and loss making stores in areas of poor performance.

The consequences will, however, damage local communities and promote societal inequality through the redistribution and accumulation of wealth in affluent areas.

Once higher levels of automation are introduced the skills required of staff will have to evolve as different types of jobs are fashioned, particularly in large retailers.

Small retailers are likely to be hardest hit as they have fewer opportunities to absorb soaring salaries, offset overheads or pass on price hikes.

The fall out will be different in different areas and for different people but will have a greater negative effect on places of low or no growth.

It will also have a damaging effect on low paid staff, the majority of whom are women given their need to work flexible hours near home.

The speed of change in the economy is quickening and nowhere more than in the retail industry as technology spreads at a rapid rate.

SO, retailers work in every corner of every community and have done so for centuries but the industry is entering a new era where technology threatens like never before.
Why not join the conversation and leave a comment
Nick O'Shiel,
Omagh Enterprise
Great Northern Road, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, BT78 5LU
Tel: +44 (0) 28 8224 9494  Fax: +44 (0) 28 8224 9451


Rise of self-employed could result in retirement problems

Increasing self-employment could lead to long-term retirement problems in the future, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has warned.

Less than a third (31%) of the 1,600 self-employed workers surveyed reported that they were saving into a private pension, while 27% are planning to rely on their business to fund their retirement.

15% suggested that do not currently have retirement savings of any kind.

FSB also found:

  • ‘security of income’ was the biggest challenge for the self-employed with 18% reporting that they don’t know how much income they will have from ‘month to month’
  • income levels were diverse with 32% claimed to earn more than £2000 per month. 41% claimed to earn under £1000 while 19% said they earned less than £500 a month.

Self-employment in the country is at its highest record, up from 12% of the workforce in 2000 and 8% in 1980.


For Northern Ireland specific contracts, there are a number of sources of information specifically for contracts within Northern Ireland. The Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) handles contracts for a number of government departments.

You can find a list of current tender opportunities on the CPD website. Again, there is no email alert facility that we can find which makes the content difficult to adapt to the Bulletin format.

Please see for the current list of Northern Ireland opportunities.

105015 - - Expert Advice and Support in the Procurement of an Integrated Workplace Management System
Publication date:  04-05-2016
Response deadline:  25-05-2016 12:00   Irish time
Procedure: 1. Open Procedure (NON OJEU)
Description: Expert advice and support to an internal project team charged with procuring an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). The expert advice and support to be provided will include: - advice on and input to the Business Case for procurement and implementation of IWMS system; - development of a data governance model for the estate portfolio management (epm) function within OPW; - development of a data model for the epm function; - identification of data migration requirements and development of a data migration plan; - analysis of system interface requirements and the development of a plan to implement these interfaces; - review and revise the draft requirements specification for an IWMS; - assessment of tenders from shortlisted vendors; - advice on the requirements and format of a proposed presentation/ system demonstration, by shortlisted vendors, which will form part of the tender assessment process; - development of an implementation plan for the procurement and implementation of the IWMS.
Buyer: Office of Public Works ( OPW )

104977 - NCTR 1605 - RFT for the Provision of Executive Search Services to Dublin Institute of Technology
Publication date:  04-05-2016
Response deadline:  25-05-2016 12:00   Irish time
Procedure: 1. Open Procedure (NON OJEU)
Description: Dublin Institute of Technology has identified a need for the services of an Executive Search Agency to assist DIT in the end-to-end management of the competition for appointment of a Director of Corporate Services for the Institute.
Buyer: Dublin Institute of Technology

104975 - Tender B - This RFT is published to invite suitable individuals/companies to provide a tender for the provision of a number of training and development programmes for the Sustainability Skillnet.
Publication date:  04-05-2016
Response deadline:  09-05-2016 17:00   Irish time
Procedure: 1. Open Procedure (NON OJEU)
Description: This RFT is published to invite suitable individuals/companies to provide a tender for the provision of a number of training and development programmes for the Sustainability Skillnet. The Sustainability Skillnet is a new national initiative aimed at developing leadership capacity and staff competencies across the sustainability sector in Ireland. It is funded under the Skillnets Training Networks programme and will provide a range of new programmes and grants to companies to develop sustainability skills.
Buyer: Sustainable Nation Ireland

104848 - - Provision of Managed Print Services to DDLETB Schools and Centres
Publication date:  28-04-2016
Response deadline:  10-06-2016 12:00   Irish time
Procedure: 2. Open Procedure (OJEU)
Description: This tender concerns the Supply, Installation & Commissioning of Multi-Function Devices (MFDs) - Print, Copy, Scan, Finishing; On-going support, management and servicing of the MFD’s provided under this contract for the life of this contract; Supply and management of all consumables, excluding paper; Floor servicing of the MFD’s supplied through the presence of an onsite maintenance and support technician; Print Management software solution for the control of print across all devices installed at local level; Provide Swipe Card Reader for each device.
Buyer: Dublin & Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board

104866 - - RFT for a Foodworks Panel of Business Advisors
Publication date:  28-04-2016
Response deadline:  20-05-2016 14:00   Irish time
Procedure: 1. Open Procedure (NON OJEU)
Description: This public procurement competition relates to Teagasc requesting tenders from suitably experienced and qualified service providers to provide a Food Works Panel of Business Advisors.
Buyer: Teagasc

Belfast City Council Tenders are available at

First Edition Publications
Townsend Business Centre, Townsend St., BELFAST BT13 2ES 

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