Business Briefs - May 28



BegbiesTraynorDundee energy contractor Sustainable Energy Scotland (SES) has called in administrators after mounting debt and market volatility.

Managing director Callum Milne told The Courier that the voluntary step to bring in Begbies Traynor, which has resulted in the loss of 40 jobs, had been taken with “regret”, but was necessary after trading was hit by the “rollercoaster” carbon trading market and a “significant bad debt”.

In a statement, Mr Milne said efforts were being made to redeploy up to 15 of the staff affected by the situation.

Some of those new positions may be within Redwell GB, Mr Milne’s other locally-based business.

“It is with regret that Sustainable Energy Scotland has been placed into voluntary administration,” Mr Milne said yesterday. “The energy efficiency funding market is extremely volatile, often changing on a daily basis.

“Much of our work was funded by Energy Company Obligation, a Government scheme to obligate larger suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic premises in Britain.

“Recent weeks have seen the carbon price under ECO 2, the second phase of the initiative, crashing to an all-time low, putting companies such as ours in a position that we cannot trade carbon profitably.

“Sustainable Energy Scotland is one of a number of companies that have been forced into this position due to the rollercoaster nature of the carbon trading market.

“The situation was hampered further by a significant bad debt, which placed us in an untenable position.”

SES was formed in 2012 by Mr Milne and his brother-in-law David Small.

By the time the firm moved to its new headquarters at Wester Gourdie Industrial Estate last spring, turnover had reached £1 million and its workforce had grown to more than 40.

“It is sad to hear that another business in the region has gone down,” Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce president Tim Allan said.

“Dundee and Angus is behind the Scottish average for most economic indicators and the loss of any business like this is deeply regretted. Our thoughts are with the employees.”

Sir Ian Wood
Sir Ian Wood

Scottish oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood is to donate £4.5 million to support oil and gas research at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

 

He said the funding would support the aim of the university to become a “world-class centre of excellence” in the sector.

 

A £500,000 donation from the Wood Foundation in 2013 helped set up the university’s Oil and Gas Institute and appoint its first director.

 

The retired Wood Group chief executive said £3.1m of the £4.5m donation will assist the institute in developing four “knowledge centres” in drilling, operations, decommissioning and business.

 

The university’s programmes in remote healthcare will also benefit from the funding package.

 

Sir Ian said: “By attracting industry experts and internationally renowned academics to lead the teaching, consulting and research programmes, the Oil & Gas Institute will be able to provide a valuable resource for the industry.

 

“It will help secure Aberdeen’s future as an international oil and gas hub long after our own resources have been depleted.”

 

RGU principal Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski said: “We are extremely grateful for the huge generosity of The Wood Foundation.

 

“Sir Ian’s leadership in the oil and gas industry is univers al ly recognised, most recently in the response to the Wood Review on maximising recovery in the UK Continental Shelf. It is hugely significant to RGU to have his support as we develop our ambitious plans for the institute and create investment.”

 

 

IrnBruCumbernauld-based Irn Bru maker AG Barr has posted a 1.1 per cent fall in sales for the 15 weeks to 9 May.

 

The soft drinks firm, which also makes Tizer and Rubicon, said the flat sales were the result of a “competitive and volatile” market, and year-on-year comparisons were tough given that it had previously benefitted from one-off events like the Glasgow Commonwealth Games –which it sponsored.

But the business said sales in the wider soft drinks market lifted by 0.7 per cent in the same period.

Barr’s sales figures excluded its off-loaded Orangina and Findlays water coolers drinks brands, but did include a £3m revenue contribution from its recently acquired Funkin cocktail drinks business.

The firm said it would continue to extend its reach into the south of England by developing its factory in Milton Keynes.

It plans to extend the site’s warehousing capacity, and will buy more land next to the plant at a cost of £11m.

In a statement ahead of its annual general meeting, AG Barr said: “Margins continue to hold up well as we drive efficiency improvement across the business.

“We have a strong summer brand programme planned across all of our core brands and expect to see a return to sales growth in the second half of this financial year.”

 

 

West Lothian-based transport seating manufacturer Transcal has predicted a near-doubling in revenues after sealing a deal to buy a rail engineering specialist.

 

The firm, which has carried out interiors work for train operators including East Midlands Trains and First Great Western, said the acquisition of Worcester-based Winstanley Holdings would cement its position as a leading player in the rail refurbishment market.

 

Founded in 1980 as a maker of leather seats for cars, the Livingston-headquartered firm diversified into rail interiors in 2008 and set up its Transcal Rail division two years ago through the acquisition of train seating specialist Primarius.

 

 

Aberdeen-based Wood Group Kenny has won a deal with the Department of Energy & Climate Change to provide technical advisory services for carbon capture and storage (CCS) policies, as well as potential projects across the UK.

 

The framework will see the firm, which is a division of the Aberdeen-based energy services giant Wood Group, under contract for four years.