EY expands pensions advisory practice

EY has appointed Jamie MacKenzie, a chartered accountant and accredited mediator,as head of pensions covenant advisory.

Prior to joining EY, Mr MacKenzie spent a decade working in London for Grant Thornton’s pensions advisory team, during which time he was recognised as a rising star by Accountancy Age within their ‘35 under 35’ role of honour.

Mark Harvey, EY senior partner, Scotland, said: “Jamie’s appointment is a demonstration of our intent to accelerate the growth of both our transactions practice and our wider business in Scotland.”

EY expands pensions advisory practice was originally published on Daily Business

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Aberdeen poised for property boom as oil workers return

Aberdein Considine sale

Agents expect buyers to move into the market as oil price rises


 

Property specialists in the north east of Scotland believe an upturn in the oil price is about to trigger a surge in the price of homes as workers flood into the area to meet a skills shortage.

It is thought the region could see a similar worker influx to the one which almost doubled average property values in the late 1980s and 1990s.

The UK Government’s Oil and Gas Authority said in its most recent report that the cost-cutting which has seen thousands of jobs lost in the sector “may now be over”.

The gradual turnaround comes as an estimated £8.4 billion worth of capital investment in the wider north-east economy comes to fruition.

Research by estate agency Aberdein Considine shows how closely the region’s property market has followed the fortunes of the energy industry since over the past 30 years.

Parallels are now being drawn with the oil downturn of 1985, which led to property prices falling to £38,000 in 1987.

The job cuts made then caused a labour shortage in the supply chain just a few year later – and an influx of skilled workers in the decade which followed helped push property prices to almost £75,000 by 1997.

That trend may now be repeated following warnings by Oil & Gas UK that the “capacity” of the supply chain has been reduced in recent years and could reach crisis point in 2021.

Robert Fraser, Senior Property Partner at Aberdein Considine, has bought and sold property in Aberdeen since 1981 and believes the current market is the best property buyers have experienced in 20 years – saying that people can now get a two-bed flat for the same price as a one-bed in 2014.

“Since the oil price crash of 2014/15, when the Brent Crude benchmark dropped to under $30 dollars, we have seen a gradual decline in average sale prices in both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire,” he said.

“So far this year, the average sale price in Aberdeen alone is £179,485, down around 15% on the 2014 peak.

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“However, with oil now sitting above $80 again – and suggestions that global events could push it higher – savvy buyers and investors are returning to the market in Aberdeen.”

At the 2014 market peak, there were round 3,000 properties on the market at any time. That number sits at over 6,000 today, with a particular oversupply of city centre flats.

This has created a buyers’ market where properties are changing hands for below home report value in many cases.

Mr Fraser added: “These conditions are rare in the north-east – I haven’t seen a market like it since 1998 after the last real oil dip.”

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of the Chamber, said both Aberdeen and the wider north-east region were on the brink of a renaissance – and that locals should make the most of the current property market.

“Billions of pounds worth of capital investment is either already being delivered or in the pipeline for the north-east – more than many other peer European regions – which will draw more people to Aberdeen.”

Aberdeen poised for property boom as oil workers return was originally published on Daily Business

Pressure builds on McLeish after another defeat

Alex McLeish could be looking for some divine intervention as Scotland continue to struggle

Pressure is building on Alex McLeish and his coaches Peter Grant and James McFadden (pic: SNS Group)


Scotland 1 Portugal 3
Hampden Park


 

While Alex McLeish is becoming used to the feeling of defeat as Scotland manager, the pressure is building on him to prove he is the man to take the national team forward.

The loss to an under-strength Portugal side means McLeish has won just two of six matches since being appointed as Gordon Strachan’s successor.

Going down to the Euro 2016 champions, albeit who fielded an experimental line-up, is no disgrace. However, coming on the back of the embarrassing Nations League loss to Israel, the result was not want the manager wanted.

The thousands of empty seats at Hampden told their own story. The apathy of the long-suffering Tartan Army is clear to see.

Not only does McLeish have a battle on his hands to get the team playing well, he faces a fight to get the supporters on board.

It is going to be a long month for him before the trip to Albania on 17 November and then the chance of revenge against Israel in Glasgow four days later.

If he doesn’t produce positive results in those games to finish on top of the group, the calls for his head will become deafening, even this early into his tenure.

“It’s never easy to lose and that was a tough weekend,” he said after the Portugal match.

“I have to stand up and be brave and take it forward.

“There’s other examples of managers being under the cosh – Michael O’Neil and the Russian camp and Stanislav Cherchesov persevered. I’ll always retain that determination.”

Helder Costa opened the scoring on his international debut for Portugal, who made 10 changes from the team that started the 3-2 Nations League win in Poland on Thursday.

Eder and Bruma netted in the second half to put the visitors in complete control and although Steven Naismith scored a late consolation, it was another tough day at the office for the Scots.

“It’s basic errors that we made and that is the disappointing aspect of it,” said McLeish. “You expect the top teams to cut you open with majestic skills, but we were the perpetrators of our own mistakes.

“I thought there was a lot of good football. We had a good game plan, we were compact, we pressed when we had a chance to press. I know there was a few Portugal players rested but there was a still a hell of a lot of money out on that pitch.”

Scotland: Gordon, O’Donnell, Hendry, McKenna, Robertson, Forrest, McGinn (Shinnie, 67), Armstrong (McDonald, 77), McGregor, Naismith, McBurnie (Mackay-Steven, 76).

Goals: Scotland – Naismith; Portugal – Costa, Eder, Bruma.

Pressure builds on McLeish after another defeat was originally published on Daily Business

Flats plan approved for former art deco cinema

State Cinema Leith proposal

Artist’s impression of new apartments in former cinema


 

A former Art Deco cinema building in Leith will be turned into 36 apartments after developer Glencairn Properties received planning permission.

There will be a mix of three-bedroom, and one and two bedroom apartments. The existing commercial units to Great Junction Street are being retained under the existing ownership.

Glencairn, based in Stanhope St, Edinburgh, will restore the derelict Grade B listed former State Cinema building.

An unsightly warehouse building to the rear has been demolished to pave way for a five-storey residential building grouped around a south-facing courtyard.

Balconies will cantilever out and follow the curve of the Water of Leith, providing views across Coalie Park and towards to the Shore. Secure underground parking has been factored into the design as well as internal bicycle stores. 

The State Cinema closed in 1972 and has since been used as a bingo hall, a nightclub and a church. Glencairn Properties purchased the property last year, since when it has been loaned to the organisers of the fifth annual multi-arts Hidden Door Festival.

Commenting on the plans, Daryl Teague, director of Glencairn, said: “The State Cinema building really was not viable as a standalone venue moving forward. It had sat empty and derelict for years and had become a real eyesore. 

Former State cinema Leith

Former cinema today (pic: Terry Murden)


 

“We recognised an opportunity with this site with a vision is to help improve and enhance the area with a development that will appeal to those from Leith and those looking to move to the area as well as breathing new life into the original building.

“We have established a strong reputation for leading by design and we’re confident that our plans for this Great Junction Street development will provide innovative homes that will reference and preserve the history of the building.

Consultants on the application were ISA Architects and Scott Hobbs Planning.

State cinema in its hey-day (scottishcinema.org)

Background

The State cinema building was designed by architect Sir James Miller and opened in December 1938, part of a multi-use leisure development that incorporated shops, two billiard halls, and a skittle alley. 

Its opening night featured Madeleine Carroll in Blockade and Gene Autry in Boots and Saddles.

It could seat 1,650 patrons, of whom 450 were on the raised portion behind the stalls. The cinema closed in 1972 after showing Richard Burton in Where Eagles Dare and it became a Mecca bingo hall.

In 1995 it was B-listed by Historic Scotland, although nothing of the original features remain.

In 2002 it was turned into the Babylon nightclub, which closed two years later. It continues to have a number of uses, including the Kingdom Church.

In February 2005 plans were proposed by Glasgow-based developer Walter Barratt to demolish the auditorium and retain the facade and foyer as an entrance to a new block of flats on the site. There was also a plan for a restaurant along the Water of Leith side of the building.

Flats plan approved for former art deco cinema was originally published on Daily Business

Davidson and Mundell in ‘quit threat’ over Brexit deal

Ruth Davidson: unhappy over prospect of separate NI deal (pic: Terry Murden)


 

Theresa May is facing the possible resignation of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Secretary David Mundell as her Brexit strategy continues to unravel.

Both say they cannot support any deal which increases customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

They believe that any such arrangement could bolster the case for Scottish independence as the UK government would be agreeing to treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the country.

The PoliticsHome website says Ms Davidson and Mr Mundell have written to the Prime Minister setting out their concerns.

Mrs May is already facing the threat of Cabinet resignations by Brexiteers such as Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey.

A Scottish Tory insider is said to have told PoliticsHome that the Prime Minster was “walking the fine line of recognising Northern Ireland’s unique position and landing a deal”, but insisted that Ms Davidson and Mr Mundell’s walkout threat was real.

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP said: “It is telling that Davidson and Mundell have not threatened resignation to protect Scotland’s place in the customs union or single market – which is eight times bigger than the UK market alone.

The Tories  are willing to impose thousands of job losses and massive damage on the country that they were elected to serve.

After all of Davidson’s broken promises during the independence and EU referendums, and the hard-line unionism that is becoming clear for all to see, no-one can rely on a word she says.

“The Tories must stop pandering to the will of hard-line Brexiteers. Remaining in the single market and the customs union is essential for the economy, jobs and living standards – and it’s high time the Tories put that before their internal squabbles.”

Failure to achieve unity in the Cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday could spell the end for Mrs May who must also face a a crucial EU Council summit in Brussels later this week.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis has urged Cabinet ministers to “exert their collective authority” and rebel against Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal.

The PM has suggested a temporary customs arrangement for the whole UK to remain in the customs union while the Irish border issue is resolved.

Brexiteers suspect this could turn into a permanent situation, restricting the freedom to strike trade deals.

Comment

Brian Monteith: We may have to get used to having No Deal

Davidson and Mundell in ‘quit threat’ over Brexit deal was originally published on Daily Business

Business concerns mounting over local rates levy

Glasgow Fort

Out of town businesses would be hit by new tax


 

Opposition is mounting to a proposed levy on out of town businesses with 31 business groups now voicing their concerns to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s plans.

Objections have emerged during consultation on reform of business rates as recommended in the Barclay review.

The proposed new local authority rates levy on out of town businesses has drawn criticism from a range of sectors including manufacturing, renewables, commercial property, and construction.

Business lobby groups including the CBI Scotland, Food & Drink Federation, Scottish Engineering, and the Scotch Whisky Association have raised concerns the new levy could be complex, difficult to implement, and unlikely to help town centres. The Scottish Retail Consortium, which represents high street, out-of-town, multi-channel and pure online retailers, has consistently raised questions about the proposed new tax.

David Lonsdale, SRC Director, said: “A formidable and broad cross-section of Scottish business and industry are voicing serious doubts over the wisdom of progressing with this new tax, which will simply introduce further complexity and cost into the business rates system.

“The questions around the scheme, who would be liable, what the tax rate would be, how long it would apply for, and where the revenues would go have mounted as business groups from across Scotland’s economy have considered the government’s proposed new tax.

“Considering the Barclay reforms are designed to simplify the complicated rates system, this new tax is a half-cocked pistol which risks exploding and undermining the broader and desirable proposed legislation designed to overhaul the rates regime.

“Finance Secretary Derek Mackay should ditch the proposed levy and instead focus on delivering a simpler and more responsive business rates system; something Ministers do have the clear support of the business community for.”

CBI Scotland said an additional levy “would in short create more complexity, unpredictability and cost to a wide range of businesses that are already working hard to contribute to their local communities.”

The Federation of Small Businesses said a new levy “could create local divisions,.”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce said a new levy risks “unfairly punishing those who have opted for specific business models.”, while the Scotch Whisky Association said it was are not in favour of an out of town additional levy, which could “disadvantage sites that are based in rural locations or out of town centres.”.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation said the levy would be “a bureaucratic burden”.

See also:

Scrap ‘ill-considered’ out of town tax, say retailers

Online and out of town levy ‘a bureaucratic burden’

Business concerns mounting over local rates levy was originally published on Daily Business

McLeish looking for Scots to bounce back

Alex McLeish

Alex McLeish is hoping he can point Scotland in the right direction against Portugal (pic: SNS Group)


 

When you’re in need of a morale-boosting result, a fixture against Euro 2016 champions Portugal would be fairly low down the list.

OK, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo may be missing, but that will come as little comfort to under-pressure Scotland boss Alex McLeish.

The manner of the Scots’ defeat to Israel three days ago in the Nations League encounter sent alarm bells ringing among the Tartan Army.

Quite how the team managed to put in the kind of performance it did in Haifa remains a major concern and prompted more questions about whether McLeish is the man for the job.

Lacking ideas, lacking tactics, lacking flexibility. You name it, and Big Eck got it.

The Haifa horror show prompted further debate about how best to fit Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson into the team. But at least McLeish won’t have that dilemma at Hampden tonight with the Celtic left-back rested for the match.

Also missing will be John Souttar, red carded against Israel, Charlie Mulgrew, Robert Snodgrass and Scott McTominay.

Celtic’s Ryan Christie and Aberdeen pair Michael Devlin and Gary Mackay-Steven have been called up, suggesting this will be more of an experimental selection.

“It gives us a chance to bounce back from a bad result on Thursday night,” said McLeish.

“There’s a good spirit in the camp and we have freshened the team up a bit. As far as I’m concerned, most of the guys are raring to go.

“The guys coming in have something to prove. It would be very exciting if they performed at their top level against Portugal and got a good result.”

Kick-off in Glasgow is 5pm.

McLeish looking for Scots to bounce back was originally published on Daily Business

Westminster urged to come clean on gagging orders

Stephen GethinsThe SNP has urged the Tory government to come clean over the use of gagging orders on organisations and charities to stifle discussions on key policy issues including Brexit.

In a letter to the Brexit Secretary, SNP MP Stephen Gethins (pictured) called on Dominic Raab to set out how prevalent the practice is within Whitehall, and how many organisations had been forced to sign the disclosures.

The Road Haulage Association revealed at the Brexit Committee last week that a number of organisations had been pressed into signing non-disclosure agreements before Brexit – the key issue facing the sector – could be discussed with the UK government.

It follows on from revelations that at least 22 organisations and charities working with Universal Credit claimants were also made to sign similar agreements in an attempt to cover up any criticism that may damage the reputation of the DWP Secretary Esther McVey.

In March, it was revealed that the use of non-disclosure agreements had been inserted into the process before any consultations could begin with organisations.

Mr Gethins, the SNP’s Foreign Affairs and Europe spokesperson, said: “The revelations that the Tory government is attempting to silence business and charities is deeply sinister, improper and borders on repressive.

“Rather than addressing genuine concerns raised by industry and third sector leaders, Tory ministers have instead embarked on a shady and disturbing gagging exercise in an attempt to cover up its own lack of preparation on Brexit, or criticisms of the flawed Universal Credit policy.

“This behaviour – reminiscent of undemocratic regimes the world over – is utterly unacceptable and also demolishes Scottish Tory claims that the party is committed to ‘open government’.

“I have written to the Brexit Secretary seeking clarity over whether the use of gagging orders is now unofficial government policy, answers over how many organisations have been forced to sign the agreements, and if it is common practice across other Whitehall departments.”

Westminster urged to come clean on gagging orders was originally published on Daily Business

Thewlis sells Beer For Good CIC in landmark deal

Chris Thewlis has sold Beer For Good CIC in a landmark deal

Social entrepreneur Chris Thewlis has sold Beer For Good CIC, including Edinburgh’s west end favourite Harry’s Bar (pic: Terry Murden)


 

Edinburgh businessman Chris Thewlis has become Scotland’s first social enterprise entrepreneur to make a viable exit from a company with his sale of Beer for Good CIC.

The Beer For Good founder has transferred his shares to Swedish businessman Mike Christopherson and his wife Anna.

The couple are well known in the capital’s hospitality industry, already owning six bars in the city including Akva, Boda, Hemma and Joseph Pearce’s.

They will now take on responsibility for the entire Beer For Good portfolio, which includes two pubs – the award-winning Harry’s Bar in the city’s west end and Harry’s Southside, and two cafes – Harry’s Courtyard Café at the Craiglockhart Leisure Centre and Harry’s On The Hill at Drumbrae Leisure Centre.

The couple intend to continue running the operation as a social enterprise.

Since helping set up Beer For Good, Scotland’s first-ever hospitality social enterprise group, three years ago, Mr Thewlis has transformed it into a successful high-impact business.

He has taken the decision to move on so he can focus fully on the rapidly expanding GTS Solutions, the only gold standard social enterprise operating in private security.

Established six years ago by Mr Thewlis, GTS recently announced that its turnover had doubled to £1million in the past 12 months. With growth forecast to hit £5m in the next three years, its CEO needs more time to devote to its expansion.
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“It’s been a remarkable journey with Beer For Good in many ways,” said Mr Thewlis, a Yorkshireman who has lived in Scotland since moving from Huddersfield to study at Napier University in 2008.

“It was great fun creating Scotland’s first hospitality social enterprise group. It was a privilege to help the chain grow since its formation three years ago, delivering on our social mission to help improve people’s lives along the way.

“While very rewarding, it was incredibly time-consuming and with GTS Solutions taking up more and more of my time, and more exciting opportunities on the horizon, I felt this was the time to pass it on to someone else.

“Mike is well positioned to take on the pub side and it was a great opportunity to do a good deal as he intends to keep it going as a social enterprise.

“He is very socially-minded so the whole thing fitted in perfectly. I’m sure it will go from strength to strength with him in charge as he continues to deliver sustainable change in the community.”

Mr Thewlis was voted E2E’s Social Impact Entrepreneur of the Year at the company’s recent Edinburgh awards.

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A mentor to Big Society Capital and board member of Social Enterprise Scotland, he added: “This deal shows that the CIC model works; that a viable exit from a social enterprise is possible if the proper groundwork is put in.

“The social enterprise sector is thriving in Scotland at the moment and we remain a world leader in the field.

“GTS is a prime example of this and is going very strongly. That’s where I see my future and I’m very excited about what lies ahead.”

Commercial law firm MacRoberts LLP acted for Mr Thewlis in the sale.

The news comes on the day the country celebrates Social Saturday, an annual campaign which inspires consumers to buy from social enterprises.

Since the first Social Saturday in 2014, awareness of social enterprise among the general public has risen from 37% to 51%. The campaign is supported by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and last year The Co-op came on board as a leading partner.

Thewlis sells Beer For Good CIC in landmark deal was originally published on Daily Business