Friday 20 July 2018

Samantha McCaughren: Reynolds Swoops in with new fintech business

Ergo

Andrea Reynolds is focused on SMEs
Andrea Reynolds is focused on SMEs
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Businesswoman Andrea Reynolds, a daughter of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and the founder of London-based consultants Re.fresch, started up a new venture headquartered in Ireland last year, with a subsidiary in the UK.

While Re.fresch works with large corporates, Swoop is focused on SMEs. It helps firms access funding - from British government supports to private equity. She said that there is no UK equivalent to Enterprise Ireland, so the funding system is very fragmented and difficult to navigate.

Swoop has built up a technology platform which matches firms' profiles with banks, alternative lenders, private equity firms and UK government funding. "When you go for funding, the core information you are giving, whether its to a lender or equity provider, is essentially the same information, it just needs to be packaged differently," she said.

Several Irish companies have already accessed funding, including Dublin-based flower business Blue Magic. "The UK investors are finding Irish companies really interesting."

Swoop is doing well on bringing in funding of its own.

It has a number of high-profile shareholders, including Ray Stafford, the man behind the Sudocrem brand, and well-known British entrepreneur Simon Devonshire. Enterprise Ireland is also on board. It has just won €100,000 in a global fintech competition funded by the eight major banks in the UK called the Open Banking Challenge and will compete for a further £200,000 in November.

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RTE’s 2fm has just signed a new sponsorship deal. Insurer its4women.ie will be the new sponsor of The Tracy Clifford Show on 2fm, with the 12-month deal kicking-off tomorrow.

The deal was brokered by B Connected Media, and includes seven sponsor-credited stings within the programme each day, along with podcast and homepage sponsorship.

The show has a daily listenership of 129,000, and broadcasts Monday to Friday between 1pm and 4pm. Clifford has previously spoken out about the lack of female voices on radio and so perhaps it is of little surprise that a female-orientated brand has come on board.

Tara Farrell, commercial solutions manager of RTE Radio, said that its4women had been the sponsor of 2fm Entertainment News for the past two years.

RTE’s annual report showed that sponsorship edged up 2.7pc last year to €10.2m, a modest but welcome source of growth in these financially difficult times.

Trade outweighs Border for farmers as Brexit fears grow

Brexit was always going to bring disruption but there are signs that the never-ending talks and troubles over Britain’s future relationship with the EU — and Ireland — is starting to fray nerves on the ground. Farmers are as nationalistic a bunch as any other, but some in the community are getting nervous that the Government’s unblinking focus on the issue of the Border could end up hitting them in their pocket.

Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), said last week that farmers and agri-food operators are becoming anxious about what he called the “weight of consideration” being given to the Border question to the detriment of “the economically much more significant Ireland-UK ‘West-East’ trading relationships”.

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And with all that bad news about the food sector and Brexit, it’s heartening to see one Irish food business do a tasty deal.

Aldi has just entered a new €3m two-year contract with Freshways Food Co to supply Irish-produced pizza.

Owned by Diarmuid Shanahan and Garrett Fitzgerald, Freshways Food Co has been producing fresh and chilled foods for the last 28 years. It is a significant sandwich-maker, claiming to have one-third of the Irish market and is the leading supplier of branded and own-brand sandwiches to Irish retail, food service and the catering businesses, including Aldi’s 131 Irish stores. It employs 370 people.

“Freshways has been working with Aldi since January 2016, and this new contract is a significant win for our business and has meant we can create 18 new full-time jobs,” said Shanahan.

Last year Aldi spent over €700m with Irish producers and suppliers and recently reduced its payment terms to 14 days for smaller suppliers.

Burger boss takes on ‘King Flipper’ in planning row

Former landscaper Steven Van Den Bergh has been dubbed ‘King Flipper’ for his track record for buying properties and ‘flipping’ them or selling them on at a profit. But his latest project faces a planning hurdle. Van Den Bergh has sought permission for an overhaul of a Glenageary property in South Co Dublin. He is seeking to demolish a garage and extension as well as a number of other changes to the property. However, he has met opposition from some neighbours who have objected and are now appealing to An Bord Pleanala.

Niall Fortune, founder of the Eddie Rockets chain, lives near to the property and has listed off several issues with the development. Among his concerns is a timber-clad shed near the pedestrian entrance to his property, which Fortune suggests will “over time become an eyesore”.

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