North West’s first ever Welding Academy Launched

Students attending North West Regional College’s Welding Academy, pictured with college staff and prospective employers.

Students attending North West Regional College’s Welding Academy, pictured with college staff and prospective employers.

A new academy has been launched by North West Regional College (NWRC) to tackle the chronic shortage of skilled welders in Northern Ireland. Run in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, the new Fabrication and Welding Academy, which currently has 15 students, is a first for the North West and aims to address the challenges faced by employers in accessing skilled welders locally.

Nicola Curry, NWRC, explained that the Business Support Centre at the College engages with local businesses to enhance the skill levels of the existing workforce and encourage innovation.She said: “It became apparent from a number of discussions with local engineering companies, that there was a clear shortage of new welding talent coming through the education system. “The proposed academy will provide a short-term sustainable solution to support the immediate skills shortages, currently experienced in the North West, with regard to accessing skilled talent in Fabrication and Welding.”

George Fleming from Fleming Agri is one local employer who has found recruiting skilled welders challenging. He said: “I welcome the launch of this academy today which will ensure that local companies can access skilled welders locally. There has been a long tradition of engineering manufacturing in the North West with good growth and development in recent years from local indigenous companies creating a strong demand for welding and fabrication skills in the region. We are delighted with the NWRC support for this skills demand and the support from the DSDC.”

The aim of the academy is to encourage greater collaboration between education and industry and to provide a sustainable solution to the skills shortages constraining the growth of the engineering and manufacturing sectors in the region. The first students of the Fabrication and Welding Academy will take part in a 12 week intensive Level 2 City and Guilds programme which will include four weeks of paid placement. Placements will be with local employers Fleming Agri, Global Equipment Spares, Mim-Ni, Fabplus Limited, Foyle Port and GB Engineering. It’s anticipated that on completion of the programme successful participants of the Fabrication and Welding Academy will have the opportunity to be interviewed for live employment opportunities locally. North West Regional College also run short courses in Mig and Tig welding on a part time basis from their Springtown and Greystone campuses.

£12m Granny Annie’s investment in Derry


“Granny Annies,” the brand operated by W.&R. Holdings, has confirmed details of an estimated £12 million investment in Derry, the ‘Journal’ can reveal. Having purchased the former Wetherspoons and Ice Wharf pubs in the Diamond and Strand Road, the group has also secured the former Clarendon Bar, now to be renamed “The Tipsy Bird”, and the Belfray Country Inn Hotel, on the outskirts of the city. It’s understood £4 million is to be invested in the iconic landmark building in the Diamond in addition to the ongoing multi-million refurbishment at the former Clarendon Bar site on Lower Clarendon Street. The acquisition and refurbishment of the Belfray Country Inn Hotel and the Ice Wharf on Strand Road will bring the group’s total investment to approximately £12 million, making “Granny Annie’s” the largest pub and restaurant operator in the North West.

Commenting on the imminent opening of “Granny Annie’s” new Kitchen and Bar at the Diamond, the Group Area Manager, Andrew O’Doherty, said: “We are extremely excited about this particular landmark development which will lead to the creation of 80 new jobs for this prominent building which is steeped in rich history and has played an integral commercial role in the Diamond for many years.

The regeneration of this area follows hot on the heels of other recent developments such as Bishop’s Gate Hotel and The Shipquay Boutique Hotels at a time when many economic observers are delivering a bleak forecast. However, when other city centre outlets are seeing shutters coming down and hoarding going up, it appears that Derry’s city centre is determined to buck the trend which can only be good news. “We believe this new ‘Granny Annie’s’ Kitchen and Bar complex and the forthcoming ‘Tipsy Bird’ development, are important regeneration projects vital to Derry’s tourism economy. We want to provide the next generation of super pubs and ensure their customers receive a first-class service with a five-star experience including beverage, entertainment and food.”

MetaCompliance plans to double Derry~Londonderry workforce

Pictured (L – R) are Robert O’Brien, MetaCompliance, and Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI.

Pictured (L – R) are Robert O’Brien, MetaCompliance, and Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI.

North West based technology firm MetaCompliance is recruiting 69 new jobs over the next three years to help develop its worldwide sales and market presence. The company develops software and creative content for the cyber security sector and is aiming to triple its turnover by capitalising on the demand for cloud based cyber security products. To deliver on its objective, MetaCompliance is recruiting a combination of sales and IT roles to implement a new sales model targeting prospective customers across Europe and the US.

Welcoming the expansion, Invest Northern Ireland’s Executive Director of Business & Sector Development, Jeremy Fitch said: “MetaCompliance is one of our most innovative technology companies with a long standing commitment to the North West. The company has used a range of Invest NI support to enhance its competitiveness in the global marketplace which has included support for research and development, skills development and marketing. This new investment will support its global ambitions and create valuable employment opportunities in the Derry and Strabane District Council area. The 69 jobs being recruited at the company, 29 of which are already in place, will generate £1.7million annually in additional salaries into the local economy and will see the company triple its workforce over the next three years.”

The market opportunities are driven by the growing global threat from phishing and ransomware, as well as the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 and the need for policy management solutions throughout all industries.

The company provides clients with cost-effective cloud first software which makes compliance easier for organisations governed by stringent legislative and regulatory requirements such as Data Protection, Privacy and Bribery laws. Invest NI has offered MetaCompliance £652,000 towards the creation of the new jobs.

Speaking about the expansion, Robert O’Brien, Chief Executive of MetaCompliance, said: “This is an exciting stage in our business’ growth, as we implement ambitious plans to double our workforce and triple our turnover. Invest NI’s ongoing support is central to the continued growth of our business. Invest NI’s ongoing support is central to the continued growth of our business and we are delighted with the progress of recruitment to date and also the calibre of talent available in the North West.

“Enhancing our market development team in Derry supports the targeted approach we plan to take to maximise the sales potential of our cyber security and compliance products. We are focused on expanding our customer base and will be working hard to engage prospective clients from both public sector and commercial industry throughout Europe and the US.”

The company’s product suite includes IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (IT GRC) solutions that enable organisations to automate, enforce and manage the key tasks associated with user awareness and employee engagement for information assurance. MetaCompliance’s recruitment drive will increase its workforce total to 102 by 2019. The company will be holding a recruitment day in City Hotel, Derry, on Friday 01 December between 09:00 and 17:00.

Dragon Brand Foods in bid to drive export growth with new investment: Strabane based food manufacturer, Dragon Brand Foods is investing over half a million in jobs, innovation and a new factory with the support of Invest Northern Ireland.

Pictured at the site of the new factory at Strabane Business Park are (L – R) Paul McGuigan, Dragon Brand Foods, and Des Gartland, Invest NI.

Pictured at the site of the new factory at Strabane Business Park are (L – R) Paul McGuigan, Dragon Brand Foods, and Des Gartland, Invest NI.

The company is due to begin construction on its new factory at Strabane Business Park as part of its plans to grow its business. The company is also creating four new roles and is using a Grant for R&D to develop a new range of Free From sauces, dips and condiments for the more health conscious consumer.

Making the announcement, Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager said:

Dragon Brand Foods is a highly ambitious and export focused business with innovation at its core. The company is using a range of Invest NI support to drive efficiencies which will enhance its competitiveness in the global marketplace. The company’s decision to build a new factory at Strabane Business Park is a significant commitment and has involved a lot of preparatory work. I am pleased we have been able to help the company through this process and I look forward to seeing their plans come to fruition.”

The company’s investment will see it build 7,500 square feet of manufacturing space at Strabane Business Park. Invest NI developed the park to help address the shortage of available industrial land in the district and play an important role in supporting economic development in the local area. “This investment marks the next step in the company’s journey to achieving faster export growth and reaffirms its continuing commitment to the Strabane area. I hope that this announcement will act as a catalyst for further investment into the Strabane area”, continued Des.

Dragon brand Foods is making a total investment of £550,000. Invest NI has offered the company support of £153,563 towards creating four new roles, researching and developing new products and help building food safety protocols to drive growth in the ROI market.

Commenting on the investment, Paul McGuigan, Director of Dragon Brand Foods said:

“Our strategy is to pursue growth through investing in new products and innovation. Invest NI is providing us with invaluable support which is helping to safeguard our future and accelerate the future growth of our business. Building work for our new factory has already commenced and we look forward to growing our workforce to help us deliver valuable new contracts, particularly in the UK and ROI markets.”

Strabane Business Park offers potential tenants over 15 acres of serviced industrial land to help meet their immediate business growth needs.

Kainos announces the creation of 15 new high-tech roles at its digital hub in Derry – Londonderry.
Kainos Group plc, a leading provider of digital services and platforms, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its Derry base with the announcement that 15 high value jobs will be created.

Kainos Team at Derry ~ Londonderry Offices

Kainos Team at Derry ~ Londonderry Offices

With a current workforce of 27 people in Derry, this latest job creation initiative will result in an increase of more than 40% at the company’s Strand Road base.

This time, Kainos is looking to recruit consultants for its WorkSmart division – a role that involves advising global organisations such as Diageo on how to implement the Workday Inc. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Human Capital Management and Financials product. The role requires a unique mix of technical and consulting skills, so will offer a highly rewarding career for the right candidates. The role will also be very well remunerated, with a potential salary of up to £42,000 depending on experience, which benefits not only the individual but also the local economy.

CEO of Kainos Brendan Mooney said: “A Workday consultant performs a role that is different to the traditional software engineer in Kainos, and requires the ability to listen to others and to understand how to make digital systems meet their needs. It’s a really interesting and varied role, with a clearly defined career path. The success of our digital services is built on the strength of the relationship we have with our customers, and that’s what makes this role so important.”

Kainos, which employs 1,000 people in eight offices across Europe and the USA, opened its Derry office in 2012 as part of a £10m investment.

“We’re proud of our achievements in the North West since opening five years ago and plan further growth over the next 12 months. This recruitment drive will support our ambitious European expansion strategy,”

Courtesy of Kainos Plc

 Ciaran and Melanie Breslin from Primrose Cafe

Ciaran and Melanie Breslin from Primrose Cafe

Primrose cafe to create 40 new jobs in Londonderry.
The Primrose cafe group is to create 40 new jobs as part of a major expansion in Derry. The family-run business is due to open its new premises on the Strand Road at the end of October 2018.The roles will be a mixture of full and part-time, including chefs, waiting staff, baristas and bakers.

The first Primrose cafe was opened in 2012 with four staff. The company now employs 38 people across two locations at Carlisle Road and Atlantic Quay. The husband-and-wife team behind it, Ciaran and Melanie Breslin, said it was an exciting new development. “Primrose is our life and soul,” said Ciaran Breslin. “Everything revolves around Primrose, so to see the new premises coming together is so exciting for us. “We’re constantly trying to evolve the business and stay ahead of trends, so we’re confident this will be the start of something completely new for Derry.”

The Breslins also own butchers shops at Whitehouse retail park and Lisnagelvin shopping centre in the Waterside.
“Derry’s become a real food destination, and it’s wonderful to be part of that,” said Melanie Breslin.
“The Strand Road has been very derelict these past few years, and with the new hotel under construction and two new bars it’s great to see a bit of life coming back into the area.”

Primrose has been supported by the North West Regional College’s Foodovation centre, which nurtures and develops food businesses across Ireland. Its general manager, Brian McDermott, said it was one of the centre’s success stories. “Any jobs in the hospitality sector have to be welcomed, and this goes to show just how vibrant the food and drink industry is in Derry at the moment,” he said.

12 new jobs being created by Eglinton manufacturer Carella Laminate Systems.

Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager, Des Gartland (left) is pictured with Seamus Heron, Carella Laminate Systems.

Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager, Des Gartland (left) is pictured with Seamus Heron, Carella Laminate Systems.

Carella Laminate Systems is expanding its workforce in Londonderry to help secure new business in the interior fit-out markets across Great Britain and Republic of Ireland.

With support from Invest Northern Ireland, the manufacturer is recruiting 12 additional staff by 2019 and investing in all areas of the business including sales, production, management and service. The company has also expanded its facilities, recently developing bespoke premises in Campsie Industrial Estate.

Speaking about the plans, Managing Director Seamus Heron said: “We have seen a recent uplift in projects secured across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and want to continue to grow our market share, driving sales of our worktops and contract interior fit-out solutions. The bespoke site we developed at Campsie and our new machinery has enhanced our production capacity and improved the efficiency of our operations.
“The 12 additional staff we are recruiting with help from Invest NI will support the anticipated growth in workload. It will also give us the necessary capability within the team to tender for new higher value projects in our target markets.”

Carella Laminate Systems provides interior fit-out solutions for customers in the health, education and leisure sectors and also manufactures and supplies worktops and bonded boards for the kitchen and bedroom market.

Welcoming the investment, Bill Montgomery, Invest NI Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering said: “Carella has an ambitious strategy to grow sales in Great Britain by 70 per cent over the next three years and is focused on positioning itself to achieve this objective.

Invest NI’s support has already enabled the company to undertake research visits in its target markets, in a bid to establish new customer relationships. The £90,000 offered towards the 12 new jobs will ensure Carella has the resources its needs to avail of its identified business opportunities. The new roles will be recruited over the next two years and once in place will contribute £407,000 in additional salaries to the local economy.”

Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI, is pictured with (L – R) Leeann Monk-Özgül and Jennifer Neff, Elemental Software.

Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI, is pictured with (L – R) Leeann Monk-Özgül and Jennifer Neff, Elemental Software.

Derry tech firm, Elemental Software is scaling up its workforce

Elemental Software, the ‘tech for good’ company operating within the health and wellbeing sector, is recruiting 10 additional jobs in Derry/Londonderry with support from Invest Northern Ireland. Elemental’s award winning Social Prescribing platform connects patients, health and social care professionals and community health and wellness providers.

Pilots of the platform garnered positive feedback from health and social care professionals, community providers and patients and resulted in Elemental Software securing its first contracts across the UK and private investment earlier this year. Now the firm’s founders, Leeann Monk-Özgül and Jennifer Neff, are expanding the team to help deliver a healthy pipeline of prospective customers and scale the business across the UK and Middle East.
Welcoming the investment during a visit to the company’s premises, Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI’s Director Life Sciences, said: “Elemental Software is a growing innovative digital health company at the forefront of Social Prescribing, an established model of integrated health and social care delivery. Its digital solution has vast growth potential globally and already its unique platform is rapidly being adopted across the UK and in Dubai.”
The platform makes it easier for any health and social care related professional to refer people with health risks to community based lifestyle interventions. Most importantly, it measures the impact of the referral so as to reduce demand in GP time and services and ultimately keep people out of hospital for longer.

“We have worked with this business from its inception. Elemental Software’s rapid progress is testament to the entrepreneurial flair and determination of the firm’s founders. Invest NI is pleased to support its investment in hiring 10 new key members of staff and implementing targeted market development. We believe this will enable Elemental Software to continue to scale and increase its market share,” added Grainne. Elemental Software’s founders have an ongoing relationship with Invest NI, participating in Propel as well as its Collaborative Growth Programme. The company has also benefited from Innovation Vouchers, research and development assistance to develop its digital platform, and trade support to undertake extensive market research. Discussing the company’s expansion plans, Co-Founders of Elemental Software, Leeann Monk-Özgül and Jennifer Neff, said: “Social Prescribing addresses one of the most pressing health and social care challenges of our generation and we have developed a solution that can support and empower lifestyle change for communities most at risk and those who play a key role in supporting these communities.

“We need to create a team which includes business and software development positions as well as marketing and communications and finance and administration roles to help take the business to the next level. Recruiting these key hires will give us the capacity to penetrate our target markets and enhance the functionality of the platform.

“Invest NI’s ongoing advice and support has been vital to progress to date. This support towards our planned recruitment and marketing investment will enable us to maintain the momentum being created as the ‘Go To’ platform for referrals into community based programmes and services that improve quality of life, establish a reputation in our target markets and secure new sales.”

Elemental Software is also the lead in a newly established Mental Health and Wellbeing network that will scope out the opportunities for NI companies in relation to developing skills, innovative solutions and services for preventative healthcare in mental health and wellbeing. Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.

Des Gartland (left), Invest NI, is pictured with Brendan McNabb, Lithe IT.

Des Gartland (left), Invest NI, is pictured with Brendan McNabb, Lithe IT.

Lithe IT has set up a sales and marketing function in Londonderry to grow its business across Europe and North America.

Lithe IT provides a wide range of business process services and solutions targeted at improving a business’s effectiveness and efficiency. It specialises in providing process based software solutions aimed at addressing key business challenges across a number of industries. Customers include Transport for London and global businesses such as Canon, and Swiss Post Solutions. Its new Derry based team of four will include a Sales Director, Sales Executive, Marketing Executive, and a Software Engineer.

Welcoming the company to the city, Des Gartland, North West Regional Manager, Invest Northern Ireland said: “Lithe IT is growing its core Professional Services and Software Product businesses to meet the demand of its existing and new customers. The company considered a number of potential locations for its new sales and marketing team but chose Londonderry based on the availability of strong technical and industry specific sales skills. “They have moved very quickly to get the office up and running and have already recruited two people and will be looking to fill the remaining two roles by late autumn. The new roles have salaries in the £25k-£50k range and the company hopes to increase employment further in the future.”

Invest NI has offered Lithe IT £24,000 of support towards the new roles. Brendan McNabb, Chief Business Development Officer said: “This is an exciting time for Lithe IT in our ongoing global growth. We continue to invest in the business in response to the demand for our services and solutions primarily in the North America and EMEA regions.”Brendan McNabb is from the North West region and was a strong advocate for locating the project in Londonderry. “When we were considering where to place these new roles I was keen for Derry to be considered. As a local, I am very aware of the strong skill set here,” added Brendan. “We will be skilling up the team on new technologies and they will be working closely with me to identify new opportunities and provide support to our existing and new customers.”

Turley “plans ahead” with City of Derry~North West office and new appointments: Planning consultants Turley have announced plans to open a second regional office to serve the City of Derry and North West, and the creation of three new jobs in Northern Ireland.

Left to right: Michael Gordon, Brian Kelly, John Davison of Turley

Left to right: Michael Gordon, Brian Kelly, John Davison of Turley

The national planning and design consultancy currently has offices in 12 locations across the UK, including an office in Belfast led by Office Director, Michael Gordon.

The new City of Derry~North West office is to be led by fellow Director, Brian Kelly a native of Donegal and the lead planner on several major projects including the Titanic Quarter, Odyssey Millennium project and Altnagelvin Hospital’s Radiotherapy Unit. He said:

“As a resident of the North West, I am delighted Turley is investing in a new office. This demonstrates a further commitment to our clients operating in the North West cross border region. We are responding to their demand, and a recognised opportunity to use planning to catalyse investments and deliver projects.

“Our own investment builds on a track record of high profile projects in the region, including the Radiotherapy unit, regeneration of Fort George and Ebrington Barracks, several social and private housing schemes, retail and other major employment & leisure schemes, including the Three Rivers development in Strabane.

“We see this as a next step in our growth at a time when there is new focus on the border region and opportunities that may be created following a ‘city’ or regional deal. There is simply no comparable ‘place-making’ planning offer operating in both jurisdictions in the North West region, and we look forward to working with clients and planning authorities throughout the area.”

The office investment will be followed by the appointment of three new posts. Michael Gordon explained:

“In recent years we have seen investor confidence returning. Turley has responded by continuing to develop our business to better support development projects. We now combine town planning, urban design, sustainability, economics and engagement expertise to help shape attractive commercially-viable places.

“Our team has grown to 14, the largest professional planning service on the island of Ireland. Market confidence has continued to return and has spurred our growth as we continue to secure significant permissions across commercial, residential and employment developments. We are now seeking to recruit three new positions to continue this growth and service the ongoing client work; with a senior planner in the North West, an assistant planner in Belfast, and a senior engagement consultant.”

Director of Engagement, John Davison added: “We have adapted to a reformed planning system that now sees local councils taking responsibility for local policy, and councillors in control of decision making. Planning has become increasingly local and community focussed. The emphasis now is on being engaged with local communities, locally elected representatives and to deliver economic growth opportunities. Our new office and these three new posts are a strategic response to maintain our growth and to service our clients.”

The new City of Derry~North West office is located at 37 Clarendon Street, BT48 7ER.