Scotland's Economy

Scottish Business Buzz (26.11.15)

Written by Michelle Rodger
Sandy Adam, Springfield Properties

Sandy Adam, Springfield Properties

Sandy Adam’s award-winning housebuilder Springfield Properties has unveiled a 14 per cent jump in turnover to £84 million, and is confident of further growth in the current financial year.

Springfield, which was established in Elgin in 1956 and has expanded from its heartland in north-east Scotland into the central belt in recent years, saw its profits dip to £3.1 million in the year to May from £4.1m in the prior 12 months.

The company emphasised this drop in profits was temporary, attributing it to the completion of older sites and investment in the promotion of new projects.

Springfield is chaired by Sandy Adam, the grandson of the company’s founder. A spokeswoman for the company noted that Mr Adam and his wife owned about 53 per cent of Springfield. The company expects its turnover to grow further, to £90m in the current financial year to next May.

Springfield highlighted its belief that profits would climb in the current financial year, boosted by major new developments in Perth, Dundee, Elgin and Nairn and the expansion of its affordable housing activities in Central Scotland.

During the year to May 2015, Springfield built 510 homes. Around 1,000 people work on Springfield projects every day, with 450 of them employed directly, the company noted. Springfield said that apprentices and trainees made up about 10 per cent of its 450-strong workforce. The housebuilder currently has 40 live developments across Scotland. Springfield has built more than 4,000 homes across Scotland since 1998.

Managing director Innes Smith said: “This has been an important year for Springfield with a number of large private and affordable developments beginning to come on stream after years in planning and design.

“The year has seen a significant increase in our affordable housing presence in the central belt with five new active sites. Profit has dipped temporarily as older sites were completed and investment was made in promoting new sites.”

He added: “Projections for next year see turnover continuing its steady rise, reaching around £90m. We anticipate profit to climb as big new developments in Perth, Dundee, Elgin and Nairn come on and the expansion of our affordable housing operations in the central belt put Springfield in a strong position.”

This and more in The Herald.

Screenshot 2015-11-25 11.35.04The last commercial shipyard on the Clyde has secured a £1m grant to help safeguard 125 jobs and create a further 100.

Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) received the grant from Scottish Enterprise which will boost the number of full time staff from 150 to 250 at Port Glasgow.

The funding will help contribute to FMEL’s refurbishment of its premises and invest in new state of the art equipment. The project has a total projected cost of £12m.

The company, which is the last commercial shipbuilding company on the Clyde, was bought in 2014 by Clyde Blowers Capital, owned by Jim McColl.

The company currently has an order book of £110m, which includes a £97m order for Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) to build two duel fuel ferries.

Deputy FM John Swinney said: “Commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde has a long history, and it is important that we continue to support this vital industry.

“This £1m grant will enable the company to further invest in the site on the Clyde, which will create jobs and help ensure our shipbuilding industry continues to have a sustainable future.

“FMEL has also recently won a contract worth almost £100m from Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd for the construction of two new ferries, the largest commercial vessels to be built on the Clyde since 2001.

“Since Clyde Blowers took over the company, they have done a fantastic job of turning the company around, and I am delighted to visit their premises today to see just how much progress has been made.”

Paul Lewis, managing director of Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise international operations, added: “Since last September we’ve been working with Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited to help drive forward its plans of developing a successful, growing business with international ambition.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone for the company and we will continue to work with them as they realise their full growth potential.”

Screenshot 2015-11-25 11.37.47Further development potential has been announced for the area with plans to invest £30m into Inverclyde as part of a transformative £1.13bn city and region deal.

More than £14m of the package is earmarked for a planned expansion of the quayside and construction of a state-of-the-art visitor facility, by Inverclyde Council and owners Peel Ports.

The investment into Greenock ‘would significantly expand cargo and cruise berthing facilities, creating and supporting local jobs,’ according to FM Nicola Sturgeon.

Two other local developments are also being considered in Inverclyde as part of the deal: a £9.4m ‘renewables hub’ at Inchgreen dry-dock and £4m of improvements to the A78 at Inverkip.

The Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal is backed by £500m each from the UK and Scottish governments, with eight Glasgow and Clyde Valley councils contributing a further £130m.

“The cruise market through Greenock has grown substantially in recent years and sustaining that expansion is a crucial outcome of the project.

“With the expansion of the quayside and development of a new visitor facility, Greenock Ocean Terminal can continue to be a major economic and tourist boost locally in Inverclyde and in Scotland.

“The Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal project shows the key role local authorities play in working jointly with each other and both national Governments to deliver the key infrastructure to further develop our areas.”

These stories here and here on Business Quarter.

Screenshot 2015-11-25 11.40.31Glasgow’s reputation for welcoming global travellers has been further cemented, as it has been selected as one of National Geographic Traveler’s Best of the World destinations for 2016.

The city has been named as “one of the most exciting in the world” due to its thriving art and music scene, and VisitScotland is hoping that Glasgow’s inclusion on the fifth annual version of the list will lead to an influx of new visitors. The magazine has the largest audience of any publication of its type, with more than 8.5 million readers and over two million Twitter followers.

The other 19 destinations listed as Best of the World include locations in Brazil, Botswana and Japan.

The list was compiled through a competitive selection process which involved nominations from the magazine’s global network of editors, writers and explorers.

Amy Alipio, features editor at National Geographic Traveler, said: “Glasgow landed on our list for 2016 because it’s one of the most exciting cities in the world right now. Its art scene is just too hot to ignore. Case in point: the Turner Prize is in Scotland for the first time, and the exhibit culminates at Glasgow’s Tramway gallery in January. But fans the world over know that it’s the city’s unrivalled music scene that really embodies Glasgow’s energy and swagger.”

VisitScotland regional partnerships director, Liz Buchanan, said: “For Glasgow to be named as one of the top ‘must visit’ destinations in the world by such a respected, trusted and influential publication as National Geographic Traveler is extremely important. Arts tourism is worth £662million to the Scottish economy and a report from UK Music revealed in June of this year that music tourism was worth £3.1billion to the UK economy last year, with £280million of that spent in Scotland. These are therefore very valuable tourism sectors and the opportunity to grow these and attract more visitors could potentially have a very major economic impact.

“Our research shows that in the GB market alone during 2014 visitors to Glasgow on overnight trips who took part in cultural activities contributed greatly to the city’s economy – not only through their expenditure at music and arts events but also on their costs for transport, accommodation, eating out and shopping. The value of these visitors attending live music gigs, for example was £45million, for those going to music festivals it was £7million and for arts and other cultural events it was £7million.

“As a result of Glasgow being promoted by National Geographic Traveler as a ‘best trip for 2016’, we look forward to many more visitors from all over the world coming to Glasgow to experience not only our fantastic music and arts scene but also all that the city offers – resulting in even more economic benefits.”

This story in Aberdeen Business News.

Screenshot 2015-11-25 11.42.02Twenty-one communities around Scotland will share £1.7 million of Scottish government funding to help revitalise their town centres.

The money, which will come from a new Town Centre Community Capital Fund (TCCCF), is being earmarked to help communities deliver a wide range of capital projects such as the revitalising of Kilsyth Main Street (which will receive £139,500), the conversion of a derelict Victorian railway warehouse in Helensburgh in to a community facility (£145,000) to be called the Heroes Centre and the renovation of Ayr Gaiety Theatre (£100,000).

Other grants include £20,525 to bring Wi-Fi to Hamilton town centre, £35,000 towards a project to green the Main Street of Cambuslang, and £150,000 towards the installation of pontoons in Fort William.

Tomorrow, when Scottish ministers will visit Greenock as part of a travelling cabinet, Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil will visit the Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) Inverclyde which is set to receive £60,000 towards a project that will help breathe new life into Greenock’s Cathcart Street.

The funding will be used to develop a Greenock Community Hub, which will offer office accommodation, training spaces, a third sector innovation centre and information and advice services to people in the area.

The £100,000 grant towards phase five of the restoration of Ayr’s landmark Gaiety Theatre, one of Scotland’s oldest theatres, follows the award earlier this year of a £500,000 loan from the Social Growth Fund and a grant of £90,000 from the government’s People and Communities Fund for 2015/16.

The restoration of the B-listed theatre, originally built in 1902, has a funding target of £2.4m. The historic theatre – which reopened two years ago – has played host to comedians, singers, variety acts and icons such as Sir Harry Lauder, the jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, Jimmy Logan and a host of other stars.

The new TCCCF is itself part of the larger £19.4m Empowering Communities Fund, which has invested in hundreds of community-based organisations around Scotland since being launched last year.

More on this in The Herald.

Screenshot 2015-11-26 09.59.59George Osborne yesterday unveiled his masterplan for a decade of austerity in an autumn statement that critics warned would heap “misery on Scotland” despite an apparent climbdown on tax credit cuts.

To cheers from Tory backbenchers the Chancellor announced he would not push ahead with the controversial plans, but confirmed he would reduce the welfare budget by £12 billion.

The SNP’s depute leader Stewart Hosie told MPs the Chancellor’s plans would take public spending back to levels last seen in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s in an austerity “by choice” strategy.

“Times move on and things change,” he told MPs in his response to Osborne’s spending review.

“The ideology of the Chancellor has not changed. He is, in essence, still intending to cut more than £40 billion a year than he needs to to run a current account budget in balance by the end of this Parliament.

“And notwithstanding the humiliating U-turn on tax credits, this is a government who added £37 billion of cuts and tax rises in the summer Budget to the £121 billion of fiscal or discretionary consolidation in the last Parliament.

“There’s £18 billion announced in the blue book, or the green book, today and the Chancellor is very clear the £12 billion of welfare cuts remain on the table.

“Even after today, the public are facing a decade of austerity and these are political choices.”

Despite the spin, not all tax credit cuts are being reversed. There will still be a reduction in the “income rise disregard” – the amount by which a claimant’s income can increase each year before their tax credits are cut. It will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,500, and is expected to raise approximately £170 million.

Cuts will come too from a cap on housing benefit rates in the social housing sector, limiting them to the same rate as private sector housing benefit rates, while other welfare savings would be made through the rollout of Universal Credit, a new benefit replacing tax credits.

Analysis suggested that under the reforms a single parent of two children working full time on the minimum wage on Universal Credit will lose £2,400 next year due to the cuts.

Defence, meanwhile, will see a real-terms budget increase of more than three per cent over the course of the Parliament.

The full story is in The National.

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About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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