Think global but hol­i­day at home

The Herald Business - - Straight talking - IAN MCCON­NELL

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

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