Tuesday 23 January 2018

Ergo: Manifold is king of the castle as CRH develops Belgard

CRH PLC Chief Executive Officer Albert Manifold.
CRH PLC Chief Executive Officer Albert Manifold.
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

When CRH boss Albert Manifold took over the top job at the building material giant one of his first acts was to up sticks from its historic headquarters in Belgard Castle and relocate the working HQ to Sandyford. But if anyone thought this showed a lack of appreciation for the property - an 18th century house with medieval tower - they were mistaken.

A couple of weeks ago the company announced plans for a 'state-of-the-art' education centre at the Belgard Castle site, as part of a €20m investment in it. Full planning documents reveal that it will be a rather grand affair. Dubbed a 'Centre of Education, Learning, Innovation and Collaboration for CRH', it will include a learning archive, reading rooms and exhibition spaces. The main centre would include 'breakout and collaboration spaces as well as dining facilities'. The building will be 'excavated into the steeply sloping landscape' and will be topped up with a landscaped roof, bio-diverse planting and a reflection pool.

Paul Mooney and Frankie Gaff at the launch of Madison Makeup. Photo Brian McEvoy
Paul Mooney and Frankie Gaff at the launch of Madison Makeup. Photo Brian McEvoy

CRH is in the middle of major renovation of the castle, which is being overseen by Purcell Construction, with contractors including PP Construction which is doing painting, tiling and 'bespoke kerbing' among other things. I hear that Manifold, who spent time developing CRH's business in Eastern Europe and Asia before returning home, is taking a great personal interest in the project. Perhaps it is close to his heart due to its proximity to his old alma mater. It is just a few short miles away from Templeogue College in Dublin 6W and according to one of the school's past pupil's Facebook pages, Manifold remains 'a 'Logue man to the core'.

We're all made up for new make-up kid on the block

When cosmetologist Paul Mooney and his wife were expecting a child seven years ago, they settled on Madison for a girl and Bobby for a boy. It was a boy, so Madison fell away.

But the name has now been revived by the former chief executive in Ireland of global cosmetics brand Flormar, an Yves Rocher offspring. Mooney has just launched a new make-up brand, Madison, the first baby steps towards what he hopes will be an indigenous Irish cosmetics empire.

The midwives, as it were, are Dublin-based business advisory outfit Salus Financial and the newborn received the blessing of Flormar.

Last Thursday, Made in Chelsea's Frankie Gaff flew into Dublin to wet the baby's proverbial head - with mini G&T's from Listoke Distillery - and Madison was officially born.

We're all made up for this new make-up kid on the block.

Soho Forest lays groundwork for swanky flooring business

Now that property is no longer a dirty word, it is little surprise that some high-end interiors businesses are coming out of the woodwork. Liam Hennessy, who in previous lives fitted out some of the world's most exclusive wood floors, has recently  launched a new business brand, Soho Forest. It has already carried out projects for Brown Thomas, Adare Manor and, intriguingly, one of the world's richest women at one of her homes in the private island of Mustique. Pat O'Brien of Soho Forest told me that post-recession people were more focused on value. "We've cut back on the business costs, like showrooms and so on," he said.

While a luxury Caribbean home is out of the grasp out of most Irish house hunters, Soho Forest is also working on some residential projects closer to home. It is working with Cairn Homes on showhouses for its upmarket Marianella development in Rathgar, Dublin 6. Not quite the Caribbean, but with prices starting at €525,000 for a two-bed apartment, it'll certainly be a des res by Irish standards.

 

They say there is no such thing as a new idea and this certainly seems to be the case with RTE’s money woes. Improving the collection of the licence fee has long been touted as a way to bolster the broadcaster’s coffers and, to be fair to RTE, evasion here is significantly higher than in the UK.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications last week proposed Revenue as a collector, a notion which was first mooted in 2014 when a Broadcasting Charge was seen as a solution to falling income out in Montrose. However, turmoil over water charges and property tax put paid to that. There are several issues with the Revenue solution, however. The biggest of these is that Revenue will not want the job. Revenue is used to collecting billions of euro in taxes and it does so well. Why would it want to get stuck with a collection of less than €200m a year which would cause more trouble than any other tax? While most accept that tax is one of life’s few certainties, a growing number of people don’t feel the same about the licence fee.

 

It's that time of the year when CEOs reveal their favourite business books prompting the rest of us to follow suit to at least sound as if we’re on top of our game.

One book that might do a decent run this holiday season is Ireland Inc: A History of Irish Business, the latest offering from Business and Finance publisher Ian Hyland.

‘Ireland Inc’ styles itself as the first chronology of the evolution of Irish business. And it’s some tome, spanning 60 years in over 600 pages and featuring in-depth interviews with a host of Irish luminaries including Martin Naughton, Peter Sutherland, Deirdre Somers and Anne Heraty.

Several scribes from this parish, including Irish Independent columnist Brendan Keenan as well as Sunday Independent Deputy Business Editor Fearghal O’Connor, have contributed to the chronology which includes an insightful chapter ‘Stability or Turbulence’ on the Irish media industry. I won’t spoil the ending — pick one up for yourself.

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