Business review of 2021: September

Philip O’Doherty, who agreed a $2 billion deal to sell his E&I business to Vertiv.

A NORTH west engineering group headed by Derry City native Philip O’Doherty was acquired in a deal worth around $2 billion (£1.45bn). Electrical switchgear manufacturer E&I Engineering, which has plants across Derry and Donegal, was bought by US-based infrastructure solutions and services group Vertiv. E&I, which employs around 2,100 people, said all current roles would be safeguarded following the takeover, with 100 new staff to be recruited across three sites in the north west over the ensuing 12 months.

THE head of sales at the north’s biggest grocery supply operation said the protocol “creates massive opportunities” for businesses in Northern Ireland. The comments from Paddy Doody of the Henderson Group, came in a month when the Republic’s Central Statistics Office announced that goods valued at €2.12 billion (£1.82bn) had been exported across the border in the first seven months of 2021, €800 million (£687m) more than the same seven months in 2020.

SEPTEMBER was a month of energy price hikes with a surge in the global price of wholesale natural gas prompting gas and electricity providers to pass the costs onto domestic customers. SSE Airtricity kicked off the month a 21.8 per cent hike for its gas customers. Firmus announced a 35 per cent increase for its customers on the ‘Ten Towns’ network, before later in the morning confirming a 33 per cent jump for Greater Belfast. After raising its tariff by nine per cent on September 1, power supplier Click Energy confirmed another 16 per cent rise. Budget Energy also got in on the act, announcing an 18 per cent rise.

US legal firm Ogletree Deakins, which specialises in employment and immigration law, announced its first base in Belfast and plans to create 78 jobs. The company said its new Northern Ireland support centre would support the firm’s growing immigration case load in the United States.

THE Trufelli family confirmed the sale and closure of Barry's Amusements site in Portrush in September. In a statement, the family said: “We wish to thank all our loyal full-time and seasonal employees for their patience and understanding during the sale process, and for the key role they played in making Barry’s such a special place for the generations of people who visited us over the years.”

A New York cybersecurity company announced plans to set up a new technology centre in Belfast, creating 100 jobs. Agio provides artificial intelligence tech for the financial services sector.

THE online fashion group which bought the Topshop brand last year announced plans to create 184 jobs in a new £14m Belfast tech hub. ASOS said it would establish the new facility in the city next year, with 52 jobs expected to be created by the end of 2022.

A SIGNIFICANT shortage in industrial and logistics sites in Northern Ireland is stopping new businesses setting up here, and restricting local firms in scaling up, a top property firm said in September. Brian Lavery, managing director at CBRE NI, said delays around the planning process has contributed to a shortage of sites and a failure to satisfy the significant demand at present, with many online-based businesses, logistics companies and manufacturers frustrated in their growth plans.

MARKS & Spencer identified seven locations in Northern Ireland it wants to set up new food stores. Despite the grocery chain’s chairman Archie Norman warning that customers in Northern Ireland face a "substantial reduction in food supply" when the grace period for the Brexit protocol ends, M&S put the property world on notice of its interest in opening a series of new food stores across the north.

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