Business Briefs - April 30

Proposals to build a new 210-bedroom hotel in the North Dee area of Aberdeen city centre have been announced by Drum Property Group.

A detailed planning application has been submitted by Drum for consideration by Aberdeen City Council. Subject to planning consent, the new 90,000 square foot complex will be built by Drum, with construction beginning before the end of 2015. The hotel operator will be confirmed in due course.

Situated at the former derelict Aberdeen Seafood Park on Poynernook Road, the new hotel will form part of Drum Property Group’s ‘The Grande’ development, which will shortly see the completion of the 120,000 square feet Annan House office complex for oil major EnQuest.

The Grande, which is bounded by Palmerston Road, Raik Road, Poynernook Road and Stell Road, is helping regenerate a long neglected area in the heart of the city and is expected to bring considerable economic benefits to the surrounding vicinity including the harbour.

David Frost
David Frost

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has said that it remains upbeat about the prospects for Scotland’s national drink despite a slump in exports.

Members of the trade body met in Edinburgh this week to discuss a range of issues, including the export environment and competitiveness.

The 180-strong gather at the Capital’s Sheraton Hotel listened to speeches by SWA chief executive David Frost and Pernod Ricard’s Pierre Pringuet, the association’s chairman.

Whisky exports last year were worth £3.95billion, down by 7 per cent on 2013, but up 74 per cent over the past decade and the industry insists the long-term outlook is good.

When asked to give his views on the industry’s performance Mr Frost said: “Last year was challenging for us in global markets but our performance is pretty impressive. The underlying picture is an encouraging one.

“We are continuing to grow, with huge investment flows from established producers. Last year, six new distilleries saw spirit flow for the first time and we’ve already seen another this year. We are aware of 30 or more projects for new distilleries. We haven’t seen anything like this for many years.”

The theme of this year’s annual members day was “Scotch whisky – sustaining success in the UK and globally” to reflect the ever-more competitive global market in which the industry operates.

Scottish transport giant Stagecoach has projected a “significant” profit contribution in the year to April 2016 from its new Virgin Trains East Coast rail franchise.

The Perth-based group, has said it is “pleased with its progress so far” of the formerly state-run east coast route between Scotland and London’s King’s Cross which it took back into private ownership on 1 March this year, .

In a trading update, Stagecoach said like-for-like revenues in its UK rail business lifted 9 per cent in the 48 weeks to 29 March.

Like-for-like revenues in Virgin Rail Group, jointly running the west coast line with Virgin Group, were up 7.6 per cent in the same period.

Stagecoach’s regional bus operations, ranging from Scotland to the English south-west, saw revenues rise 2.4 per cent. Revenues in the group’s London bus division lifted 8 per cent.

North American sales edged up 1 per cent in the 11 months to end-march, with the group blaming the significant drop in fuel prices for “a marked slowing of revenue growth”.

Stagecoach said it was reining in further immediate growth of its operation in North America as a result.

Ayrshire-based West Coast Foods has secured a deal to supply a selection of its health-conscious fresh meat products to supermarket giant Aldi.

West Coast Foods, which was founded in 2012, is supplying the German-owned discount retailer’s Scottish stores, with three products from its ‘Skinni’ range throughout the year in a deal worth more than £50,000.

The company currently employs ten staff and has a retail store in Prestwick. The product line-up includes sweet chilli burgers.

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