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Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.



Local MSP Joan McAlpine has praised the interim board of the south of Scotland enterprise agency for their progress in developing a company that will be tailored to the specific needs of the region.



The SNP MSP was speaking during a debate on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill in the Scottish Parliament this week. Although the new agency has not been formally established, an interim company has been set up which will become permanent once the bill has been passed into law.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

“I’ve been pushing for a new enterprise agency for the region since I was elected in 2011 so I’m delighted at the progress being made by the parliament to get it up and running as soon as possible. And I can’t praise interim board highly enough for their commitment to deliver an agency that will prioritise bespoke solutions, tailored to the needs of companies across the region but with a strong focus on community development.

“The interim board is made up of professionals from industry, agriculture, forestry, tourism, local government, housing and education so they have a broad understanding of the needs of our rural communities as well as those of businesses and industry. They know that the economy of south Scotland has a greater reliance on small and medium enterprises primarily in the agriculture,  tourism and food and drink sectors.

I’m delighted they’ve taken this approach, it’s vital for our region that our development agency understands the needs of our communities as well as businesses, so I hope the board structure of the new agency, when established, will follow the same model.

“The Scottish Government has already pledged to fund our new company at the same level as Highlands and Islands Enterprise which is great news for the region. This is another example of the Scottish Government doing great things for the south of Scotland, along with their £85million pledge for the Borderlands deal, the new #VisitSouthScotland campaign and their £1.7m investment in 120 jobs at the Pinneys site in Annan.”

VIBES Awards urge Dumfries and Galloway businesses to become sustainable leaders and boost growth

Businesses in Dumfries and Galloway are being encouraged to become world leaders in sustainability and embrace the economic opportunities that environmental changes can bring.



The VIBES Scottish Environment Business Awards (VIBES) is celebrating its 20th year and is calling on Scottish businesses to mark the milestone by helping to tackle the environmental challenges facing Scotland and the rest of the world.

Businesses in Scotland have already seen an impact first hand on the risks associated with climate change, when food producers and whisky distillers were faced with water scarcity last summer. Recent studies have shown that we only have 12 years to avert a climate change disaster and that by 2050, 1.8m* people in West Central Scotland will be affected as a result of climate changes.

Commenting, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, said: “We are all aware of the urgent environmental issues affecting our planet, and businesses across Scotland have a vital role to play in helping to safeguard it for future generations.

“I look forward to the VIBES Awards celebrating those businesses that are leading on developing sustainable solutions and environmental practices while embracing a vibrant and innovative circular economy.”

Dumfries and Galloway businesses are being encouraged to follow the example of Vegware and Paterson Arran Ltd. who have shown that environmental best practice can also bring economic benefits including financial savings, an engaged workforce, positive working culture and improved competitiveness as well as contributing towards a better economy and society as a whole.

Since its inception in 1999, the VIBES Scottish Business Awards, have recognised and rewarded more than 150 businesses that have championed sustainability by identifying ways to tackle the impact on the planet by reducing consumption on its resources. This has included everything from increasing recycling and facilitating active travel to reducing consumption of raw materials by adopting a more circular approach.

In Scotland alone, there’s an estimated £1billion** benefit for circular economy businesses in key cities and regions while on a global level at least 12 trillion dollars*** of market opportunities and 380million jobs could be created by 2030 if sustainable development goals were adopted in food and agriculture, cities, energy, health and wellbeing.

Bob Downes, chair of SEPA and head of the VIBES judging panel, added: “The scale of environmental challenges facing humanity is enormous and there is a real urgency to act in light of what science is showing us.

“Businesses have a responsibility and it’s empowering to see so many organisations no longer viewing climate adaptation and environmental performance as a burden and cost but as an economic opportunity - it is these businesses that will thrive.

“As the VIBES Awards have shown, many businesses in Scotland are doing great work and SEPA’s own figures reinforce this, with the environmental compliance of Scottish regulated businesses exceeding 90% for a third year running, however, we cannot rest on our laurels. We want to help Scottish businesses respond to these environmental challenges and reap the benefit and as we enter the 20th year of VIBES, we hope to inspire others to instigate change.”

This year’s award categories include: Leadership Scotland, Innovating Scotland, Product Scotland, Service Scotland, Hydro Nation Scotland, Circular Scotland, Moving Scotland, Adapting Scotland, Engaging Scotland, Partnership Scotland, Small Business Scotland.

As part of this year’s anniversary celebrations, a special Best of VIBES Award will also be presented at the official ceremony and will recognise a past winner - from a shortlist of the 10 best entries - that can demonstrate their continuous improvement and contribution to Scotland’s sustainable development.

The 10 shortlisted businesses were announced at the launch event and include – Aqualution Systems Ltd, Castle Group Scotland, Chivas Brothers Ltd, CMS Window Systems, Emtelle UK Limited, Farne Salmon, Paterson Arran Ltd, The Bay Fish and Chips, The Deep Project - The Glenmorangie Company and Vegware. The winner will be selected via a public vote at the official awards ceremony in November.

The awards are committed to supporting businesses interested in sustainable development and will also be hosting a series of free regional information events with a selection of previous winners. The VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards roadshows will take place across Scotland with the first of these events held at the James Hutton Institute, Dundee, on 16 April.

The 20th anniversary awards ceremony will be held on 14 November at Doubletree by Hilton in Glasgow. Award sponsors to date include Adaptation Scotland, Mabbett & Associates Ltd, Scottish Government, ScottishPower, The Glenmorangie Company and headline sponsor, Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard.

Businesses have until 5pm on 10 May 2019 to submit their free application. To obtain an application form please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Regional event spaces can be booked at

For more informant on VIBES - Scottish Environment Business Awards, please visit

Full of Adventures - Scotland to host major international adventure conference in June

The founder of a global adventure travel company that champions sustainability and responsible tourism will address a major international conference in Dumfries & Galloway this summer.

Bruce Poon Tip founded G Adventures in 1990 on two credit cards, and the company has grown to employ 2,200 people in more than 100 countries around the world. The leading small-group operator prides itself on offering travellers culturally immersive experiences that give back to the communities they visit, ensuring their local economic impact. 



Bruce has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at the International Adventure Conference in June. Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre and the University of the West of Scotland were successful in their joint bid to bring the 7th International Adventure Conference to the region for the first time.

The conference, which is led by the Adventure Tourism Research Association, is expected to attract around 300 delegates who work in the adventure tourism and adventure recreation industries to Dumfries & Galloway from 17-21 June to help shine the spotlight on the region and its growing reputation for adventure sports activities.

The national tourism organisation has welcomed the announcement that Bruce Poon Tip will appear at the conference, which is a ‘major coup’ for Scotland and the region.

VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director Paula Ward said: “It is fantastic news for the conference organisers to secure a global leader such as Bruce Poon Tip. Bruce is a well-respected name within the global adventure tourism industry and his appearance will give key players within Scotland, the UK and Europe the chance to hear the true authentic story behind G Adventures. The South of Scotland is a region renowned for its natural beauty with a broad range of activities and outdoor pursuits on offer. We want to work together to ensure that the magic of the landscape is there for future generations to experience.

 “This international event will be an opportunity to show off the South of Scotland as a world class destination for adventure tourism and to build on our reputation as a place to visit, to live and to develop new ideas. With a UNESCO Biosphere designation and the home of the Europe’s First Dark Sky Park, as well as excellent green credentials, we have a real opportunity to put the South of Scotland firmly on the map as a place that embraces sustainability and is a destination worth talking about.

“We believe that the success of Scotland’s tourism industry rests on protecting and enhancing the Scottish environment, society and culture, which are vital to the brand, the tourism industry and sustaining Scotland’s economic growth.”

Bruce Poon Tip said: “I’m excited to address this group of industry thought leaders, and to share how G Adventures runs life-changing trips that help distribute wealth and alleviate poverty around the world. The timing of my keynote is perfect, as G Adventures launches a new ‘Highlights of Scotland’ trip this August.”

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It’s great news that this year’s International Adventure Conference will be hosted in Scotland. This event will cement our reputation as one of the must-visit destinations for adventure sports.


“Adventure tourism is one of our fastest growing sectors and bringing the industry together to hear from experts like Bruce Poon Tip is a tremendous opportunity to put the spotlight on our great outdoors and explore how we can continue to appeal to tourists looking for different experiences.


“The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the adventure tourism sector which is why we contributed £40,000 towards the development of Wild Scotland’s strategy, are investing in mountain biking sites in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway and are supporting a regional marketing campaign in the South of Scotland.”


Adventure tourism has been identified as an area for growth within Scotland. Tourism Scotland 2020, the national tourism strategy, highlights ‘activities and adventure’ as a sector with real potential and already worth an estimated £759 million to the economy.

Other speakers at this year’s conference include Dr Susan Houge Mackenzie from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and Neil Rogers, a Stockholm-based tourism consultant.

For more information on the conference, visit


Business Confidence Slips In Scotland


  • Overall confidence for firms in Scotland fell eight points month-on-month to minus three per cent
  • Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects was down seven points to 10 per cent, compared with February


Overall business confidence in Scotland fell eight points during March to minus three per cent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking.

Companies in Scotland, surveyed between 1st and 15th March, reported lower confidence in their own business prospects at 10 per cent, compared with 17 per cent in February. When combined with their views on the economy overall, this gives an overall confidence figure of minus three per cent.

Across the UK, overall confidence climbed six points to 10 per cent as firms’ optimism about the economy and their confidence in their own prospects bounced back from February’s lows.

British companies’ confidence in their own business prospects rose seven points to 20 per cent but firms were evenly split on whether they feel optimistic or pessimistic about the economy.

The Bank of Scotland Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “Domestic and global uncertainties are weighing on optimism levels among Scottish businesses at the moment.

“Despite the decrease in confidence, we are committed to supporting businesses’ growth ambitions.

“As part of this commitment, we recently pledged to lend up to £1.6 billion to support Scottish firms this year and look forward to seeing confidence increase again in the coming months.”

A net balance of 28 per cent of Scottish businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, up 13 points on a month ago.


National and sector overview

Businesses in Yorkshire were the most confident, at 21 per cent, ahead of the East Midlands (18 per cent) and London and the West Midlands (both at 17 per cent).

The overall confidence of businesses in the retail sector rose by eight points to reach a four-month high of 22 per cent. Services made an 11-point improvement to seven per cent, but continued to lag behind other sectors.

However, the overall confidence of manufacturing and construction firms fell for a second month, to 10 per cent and 13 per cent respectively, suggesting the outlook in both sectors has dimmed since the start of the year.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking said: “The strengthening of confidence in the first half of this month provides some solace in light of recent pessimism, and there has been a slight improvement in firms’ expectations about the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU.

“However, levels remain below the long-term average and continue to show volatility as political negotiations continue.”

Local Director, Ryan Brown nominated for IoD Director of the Year Award 2019

The Institute of Directors awards are a celebration of leadership talent, success and achievement. The awards are being aligned with the UK Institute of Director Awards, which means that Scotland winners will automatically go forward in all categories to the UK Awards. Ryan has been nominated for the SME (up to £25 Million) category.



“I am delighted to have been nominated for this award, it has been a challenging few years but our team works very hard and the award is testament to our combined efforts”




This award is designed to celebrate those directors working in a business that employs under 250 employees and has an annual turnover of less than £25 million. This award will go to the business that can show outstanding initiative, boldness and imagination in the enterprise, as well as sound management practices. Entrants to this award will be expected to demonstrate sustainable growth combined with a degree of commercial success that is exceptional for the size of the business.

Ryan Brown was born and raised in Dumfries and Galloway, he took the risk to start Robinsons Scotland alongside his dad in 2005 and 14 years later they have grown from one business to 5 with 116 employees.

Robinsons overall strategy for future development is to create a £30m a year turnover and expand their tonnage output to 350 units per week, establishing further manufacturing opportunities in Lockerbie to support the industry in our local area.

Having developed their own range of agricultural internals to provide a quality alternative to their customers with brand FarmFit, they have created an online shop for their customers with a brand new unit set to open in Lockerbie this year so that the local community can have easy access to quality equipment for their farms.

Out with Dumfries and Galloway, Robinsons have also opened offices in Irvine to offer a more localised service in their expanding territory.  

The UK-wide Awards categories reflect the competencies applicable to a good director and the criteria are set by respected senior experienced directors, reflecting the IoD Competency Framework.

Nominations are currently being assessed and winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner on Thursday 23rd May 2019 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central.