Think global but holiday at home
AS Scotland braces itself for swingeing public spendingcuts, and the banking sector continues to shed hundreds upon hundreds of jobs, t he economy north of the Border does not have its problems to seek. And, in terms of the search for solutions, Scotland will have to look increasingly overseas for drivers of future economic growth.
In this edition of The Business Herald, the global scene is a big theme.
Going Global looks at the opportunities in the US energy market, through the eyes of trade promotion agency Scottish Development International’s Houston office.
Switching sector, we have Douglas Hamilton’s interview with Rabinder Buttar of Glasgow-based clinical research company ClinTec International. ClinTec is a fine example of how an entrepreneur can build an international business from a base in Scotland, serving pharmaceuticals and biotech companies in 40 countries and on track for £20m of sales this year.
Turning to companies on a grander scale, in recent weeks in The Herald’s business section, we have told the stories of the success of engineering company Weir Group and temporary power group Aggreko in the global market-place. The recent surge in Glasgow-based Weir’s share price is now seeing it touted as a possible candidate for entry to the UK’s FTSE-100 index of leading shares.
Glasgow-based Aggreko is already in the FTSE-100. Its name was seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world on the electronic advertising billboards at the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa. Aggreko provided temporary power and cooling equipment for this tournament – its biggest-ever major event contract.
Weir and Aggreko are still thriving in what are tough times for the global economy. Weir is benefiting from the drive towards shale gas, the building of new nuclear power stations in the US, and recovery in the mining sector.
Aggreko is benefiting from the demandforpoweroutstripping supply increasingly in developing countries, with its temporary generation expertise much in demand in Africa.
Life is undoubtedly tougher just now for many smaller businesses in Scotland who are more focused on the market-place north of the Border and elsewhere in the UK.
Asurvey late last month from Glasgow-based business management, corporate finance, and company turnaround consultancy Craig Corporate showed nearly half of small and medium-sized family business owners in Scotland had made personal sacrifices to help keep their firms afloat in the last two years. More than onequarter had had to change succession plans. Such succession plans might involve disposal of the business through a trade sale or management buy-out or passing over the reins to another generation.
However, tougher economic times in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK also present opportunities.
In The Business Herald this month, Ron Clark takes stock of Scotland’s key tourism sector.
Mike Cantlay, the new chairman of VisitScotland, hammers home the need for growth in the Scottish tourism industry. He highlights the potential to persuade Scots faced with declining disposable incomes to discover the attractions of their own country.
And tourism is an obvious area where Scotland can and must, given what is happening elsewhere in its economy, sell itself abroad. Given the natural beauty of so much of Scotland, and the myriad attractions of its big cities, there is plenty to sell. Hopefully, overseas visitor numbers can be increased.
Ron Clark’s article highlights the need for some Scottish tourism providers to raise their game, and there is no denying this. However, there are many which already offer great service.
Travelling up to Inveraray in Argyll on a day trip recently, I encountered a group of Italians, from a town near Venice, on a tour of Scotland.
They seemed mightily impressed by the scenery. They were not perturbed by the mixed weather, and their main challenge seemed to be driving on the other side of the road from usual.
I met them again in the George Hotel in Inveraray a couple of hours later. They seemed beguiled by their venerable surroundings, and more than happy with the standard of food on offer. And, thankfully, the George was definitely not one of those places where the chef had gone home at 2.35pm.
Aggreko, which provided power for the 2010 World Cup Finals is benefiting from increased demand in Africa