Northern Ireland

Glasgow firm behind controversial awards events refuses to disclose details of ownership

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council moves to distance itself from Northern Ireland Hospitality Awards

Creative Oceanic currently lists its address as 48 Darnley Street, which is the address for McCormick House Business Centre in Glasgow.
Creative Oceanic currently lists its address as 48 Darnley Street, which is the address for McCormick House Business Centre in Glasgow. Creative Oceanic currently lists its address as 48 Darnley Street, which is the address for McCormick House Business Centre in Glasgow.

THE Glasgow-based firm behind a number of controversial awards events in the north, has declined to provide any information on its ownership structure or its registered company name.

Creative Oceanic, which also operates as Oceanic Events and Oceanic Group, last week launched The Northern Ireland Restaurant Awards 2023 and the fifth Northern Ireland Hospitality Awards 2023.

More than 600 businesses were named as finalists across the two events, including restaurants which have been closed for a number of years and venues which do not exist in the area listed.

Hospitality Ulster, which represents the north’s pub and restaurant trade, has urged businesses to treat nominations with caution.

It comes as Mid and East Antrim Borough Council moved to distance itself from the awards on Tuesday.

The council confirmed it had removed a post where Mayor Gerardine Mulvenna had congratulated the council-owned Ballymena Showgrounds for being listed as a finalist in the ‘Sports Venue of the Year’ category of The Northern Ireland Hospitality Awards.

The list of finalists for the sports venue category includes the Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry.

A spokesperson for the council said the post has been taken down “following recent media reports into the awards”.

Read more:

Caution urged over NI hospitality awards after hundreds of finalists named - including restaurants that are shut

The council confirmed it had not sought a nomination, had no contact with Creative Oceanic at any stage and would not be attending the awards event, listed for La Mon Hotel on August 21.

Other finalists for The Northern Ireland Hospitality Awards include Ashford Castle, named by Creative Oceanic as a Ballymena venue.

The five-star castle resort, which is actually in Co Mayo, is regularly ranked among Ireland’s finest luxury hotels.

Creative Oceanic insists its nomination process involves “due diligence” for all its awards.

The post, which was removed by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council.
The post, which was removed by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council. The post, which was removed by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council.

Last November, the Welsh Restaurant Awards, which is also organised by Creative Oceanic, handed an award to a Chinese restaurant which had shut down 16 months earlier.

Another restaurant, which was destroyed in a 2019 fire, was also named among the finalists.

Creative Oceanic claim its winners are selected by the public.

On Wednesday, the promotional Facebook page for the Northern Ireland Restaurant Awards posted a link to its apparent voting system.

The link takes users to what appears to be the same online form used for the original nomination process.

None of the nominees are listed. Instead, users are asked to enter the name of the business they wish to vote for manually and then select a category.

The categories listed for The Northern Ireland Restaurant Awards 2023 include: Scotland Restaurant of the Year, Glasgow Restaurant of the Year and Edinburgh Restaurant of the Year.

Creative Oceanic is currently promoting tickets for both events at a discounted rate of £90 per head, or £780 for a table of ten.

The online voting form for The Northern Ireland Restaurant Awards. Categories include Scotland Restaurant of the Year as well as Glasgow and Edinburgh restaurants of the year.
The online voting form for The Northern Ireland Restaurant Awards. Categories include Scotland Restaurant of the Year as well as Glasgow and Edinburgh restaurants of the year. The online voting form for The Northern Ireland Restaurant Awards. Categories include Scotland Restaurant of the Year as well as Glasgow and Edinburgh restaurants of the year.

The same Facebook page features a promotional news story from ‘The Business Connect’, which seemingly operates as a Scottish business news outlet.

The Business Connect website states it is owned by Connect Publishing Group.

The phone number listed for Connect Publishing is the same number listed for Oceanic Events.

According to Companies House, Connect Publishing Group was dissolved on October 4 2022. Two weeks later, another Connect Publishing Group was incorporated in Glasgow with the same owner.

The Irish News has asked Creative Oceanic on a number of occasions to disclose its registered company name. The company has declined to comment.

Companies House states that Creative Oceanic Ltd and Oceanic Group Ltd were dissolved in 2012, while Oceanic Events Ltd, which was incorporated in November 2021, is registered at an address in London.

However, the websites for Oceanic Events, Creative Oceanic and Oceanic Consulting, list their address as 48 Darnley Street in Glasgow.

Alongside The Northern Ireland Restaurant Awards 2023 and The Northern Ireland Hospitality Awards 2023, Creative Oceanic is also responsible for The Food Awards Northern Ireland; The Northern Ireland Wedding Awards; The Northern Irish Independent Retail Awards; The Northern Ireland SME Business Awards; The Northern Ireland Women’s Awards; and The Northern Ireland Hair & Beauty Awards.