Business Briefs - March 27th

Perth-based energy giant SSE has agreed to sell a 16-megawatt onshore wind farm in Scotland to GE Financial Services, a unit of General Electric Co.

Under the deal, GE will own and operate the 10-turbine project near Hawick when construction is finished in the first half, Perth, Scotland-based SSE said in a statement Thursday. No terms were disclosed.

“SSE’s agreement with GE represents the latest step in a program of acquisitions and disposals to optimize our wind farm portfolio and the proceeds from the sale of Langhope Rig will help to support our investment in new renewable assets,” SSE Director of Renewables Paul Cooley said.

Whisky liqueur maker Drambuie has reported a fall in turnover and profits in the financial year prior to its sale to William Grant & Sons, accounts have shown.

The company cited foreign exchange fluctuations coupled with continued spending on marketing for the disappointing figures.

Accounts filed at Companies House show turnover dropping 3.7 per cent from £22.23 million to £21.4m in the 12 months to June 30, 2014.

A breakdown of sales shows the value being shipped to Europe slipped from £10m to £9.84m, the Americas was down from £9.3m to £8.8m and the rest of the world fell from £2.88m to £2.61m.

Underlying pre-tax profits fell almost seven per cent from £3.44m to £3.21m. After taking off £771,000 of exceptional items the pre-tax profit came in at £2.44m.

The exceptional items included a £395,000 retention award for certain managers, £312,000 of fees relating to the potential sale of the business and £64,000 relating to an onerous lease provision.

However, writing in the accounts, directors said with the impact of currency fluctuations stripped out underlying operating profit would have risen four per cent.

Market Gravity, a new kind of incubator aimed at unlocking innovation within established businesses, is set to launch in Scotland later this year.

The innovation and design consultancy with offices Edinburgh, London and New York, will open its first Launchpad centre in Leith in September.

It will bring the public and private sectors together in collaboration to help companies, universities and other organisations expand their markets.

Market Gravity will initially employ about 20 staff at Launchpad, which will operate separately from its existing office in Edinburgh’s Morrison Street in a venture that will cost an initial £1 million.

For a fee it will host product development teams from participating companies for three to six months during the early stages of devising new products, technology and services.

With more patents per head than any other western European country, chief executive Peter Sayburn said Scotland was an ideal location for Market Gravity’s first Launchpad.

The firm said recruitment of experts in design and prototyping, as well as those with a commercial or consulting background, will begin soon.

Work is due to begin work on an eagerly anticipated new business centre in St Andrews next month.

The St Andrews Business Centre will provide new modern office space for a variety of potential business users from large organisations to small professional firms, IT companies and start-up businesses.

Upon completion, the centre will establish a thriving business hub within the picturesque setting of Abbey Park in the St Leonards area of the town.

The project includes the construction of a new two-storey pavilion within the grounds of St Leonard’s Lodge, separated into four flexible areas ready for fit-out by the occupiers.

It also sees the redevelopment of the existing St Leonards Lodge, most recently used as student accommodation, into potentially 11 individual Class 4 office units or as a single unit to one end user.

In total 783sq metres of new office space will be created by contractors Robertson in the centre of the town.

Resilient Scotland has provided Ditto, the programme behind some of Scotland’s newest social enterprises, with a £200,000 boost to reach beyond its current core operations in Dundee, Edinburgh, Fife and Glasgow.

Run by development agency Firstport, Ditto provides off-the-shelf business models for projects such as childcare services, community cafés and retail outlets.

Since January 2014, Ditto has helped nine social entrepreneurs set up businesses that have created local jobs while also providing a broader community service.

Ditto will now expand into Clackmannanshire, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian.

Funding from Resilient is aimed at community organisations that contribute to the sustainable regeneration of their local area.