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Daily Business: Crackers and Clangers 2014

CrackersIt has been an interesting year for a number of reasons, many of them unexpected. And, of course, there were winners and losers. Here, in the spirit of Christmas, is a selection box of Crackers and Clangers (with tongue firmly in cheek).

Most over-ambitious event: Close contest between the Bannockburn celebration and the Scottish Business Awards. Bannockburn left almost as many casualties as the original battle with disgruntled visitors complaining about queues. The organisers of the Scottish Business Awards seemed to be attempting to squeeze the whole population of Edinburgh into the EICC. Speeches ran late and the endless awards drifted into the small hours by which time the cavernous hall was beginning to empty. Being the biggest does not always mean being the best. Clanger: Scottish Business Awards

Best apology: BBC Radio Five Live for clarifying on air that a problem on the M25 was a van fire “and not a vampire as some people thought we said earlier”. Cracker: BBC Radio Five Live

Most welcome visitor to Scotland: Athlete Usain Bolt rather blotted his copybook, but helped make the Commonwealth Games memorable. Nicky Minaj, Slash (left) and Ed Sheeran graced the Hydro for the MTV Awards. The world’s golfers descended on Gleneagles. But most welcome of all was the sunshine, which shone throughout the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, helping to show Scotland at its best and give the tourism industry the perfect boost. Cracker: Sunny Scottish weather

Best headlinClooneye: A website called The Business Woman managed to focus on is target market to the extreme degree with its story about the marriage of acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin to “an actor”. He just happened to be George Clooney. But was it a Cracker or a Clanger? For entertainment value, we’ll go for the former. Cracker: Acclaimed barrister marries an actor.

Best city: The eyes of the world were on Scotland this year and no more so than on Glasgow. Politics and the referendum may have dominated many of the headlines, but the Commonwealth Games, the MTV Awards and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year made it a rare triple-whammy of blue-chip events for Scotland’s biggest city, which expected a multi-million pound windfall. (Written before road accident in George Square on 22 December which saddened everyone). Cracker: Glasgow

Best feature writer who is not a full-time journalist: Chris Deerin, ex-Telegraph, SoS, etc. now working with Charlotte Street Partners and has a regular column in the Scottish Daily Mail. Eloquent, challenging and always entertaining. Does a good job when he’s not tweeting or waiting for a bus to Stirling. Cracker: Chris Deerin

Rebecca ChristensenNicest new idea by a nice company: Love  From Indie Street, launched by Edinburgh-based Rebecca Christensen (left). She invites independent local shops, mainly gift shops, to subscribe to an online high street where shoppers can buy their unique products. It’s a simple idea that deserves to succeed as it also helps boost local shops while providing the former financial services PR with a fun way to earn a living. Cracker: Love From Indie Street

Most exciting prospect: Jamie Coleman has led the most promising development in the technology industry for years, relocating what was TechCube to the former government offices in Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh, and renaming it Codebase. It is now home to dozens of the country’s most innovative and exciting firms and is helping to establish the city as a technology hub. Cracker: Codebase

Wolf of Wall StTop film: The Wolf of Wall Street. Released on Christmas Day 2013 but on general release this year. The film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (left) was controversial for its moral ambiguity, sex, full-frontal nudity, drug abuse, vulgarity and use of animals. If it was not based on a true story it would be rubbished as exaggerated nonsense. In fact the real Jordan Belfort said that it undertstated what really went on. He makes Gordon Gekko look like a librarian. The film grossed over $392 million worldwide against a $100 million budget making it Scorsese’s highest grossing film, and was nominated for five Oscars. If you’ve not seen it, get the DVD. Cracker: The Wolf of Wall Street

PR Operator of the Year: While some agencies like to spend their time baking cakes and partying, the best put in a proper shift for their clients. Funnily enough, some of them never seem to feature at the regular awards ceremonies. This year’s standouts include new boys Charlotte St Partners who have developed a firm foothold in the sector. But this year’s award goes to a one-man business run by former Maitland spinner Nick Freer. He has worked with a portfolio of impressive clients, including Blackcircles, Christian Arno’s Lingo24, Codebase and Skyscanner. He achieves cross-media coverage for his clients in Scotland, the UK and overseas with remarkable efficiency. They can’t ask for much more. Cracker: Freer Consultants

A headline waiting for something stupid to happen: The Scottish government’s awarding of the ScotRail franchise to Abellio, the state-owned Dutch company formerly known as NedRail.  There were expectations that the SNP government might lobby for the opportunity to award the franchise to a public operator, or at least a Scottish one. Clanger : (Former) Scottish transport minister Keith Brown

East Coast Main LineMost politically engineered franchise decision. The East Coast Main Line has not only made a profit, it has returned £1 billion to the Treasury since National Express walked away from its contract in 2009, two years after GNER also failed to make it work. Snatching it away from the unglamorously titled Directly Operated Railways and handing it to Stagecoach/Virgin looked like an act of political spitefulness. Clanger: Department for Transport

Cutest marketing strategy: There are those who just want to create a new flavour or a new route to market, and others who anticipate change and make the most of it. For that reason Tennent’s showed a brilliant piece of marketing agility with the launch of Hee-Haw, an alcohol-free lager ahead of the new drink-drive limits.  Cracker: Tennent’s Hee-Haw

Biggest gamble: Rupert Soames leaving the safe house that is temporary power generation firm Aggreko for the scandal-swamped outsourcing company Serco, the new operator of the Caledonian Sleeper service. He promised he could turn around the company, and following the success he had as chief executive of Aggreko he – and his new employer – clearly believe lightning will strike twice. If anyone can, then trust Rupert to make it work. Cracker: Rupert Soames

Most embarrassing u-turn: Few come bigger than the CBI’s decision to cancel its registration as a No Voter in the referendum. It signed up initially to represent its members’ majority view, but some of those members resigned in protest and when the organisation reversed its decision, a deeply embarrassed director general John Cridland said it was an “honest mistake”. Clanger: CBI

Joy LewisBusinesswoman of the year: Joy Lewis (left), chief executive, Adopt an Intern. She was nominated in the Scottish Business Awards where she was introduced to one of her heroes, Sir Richard Branson. It was a worthy recognition of her hard work in building a start-up into one of the country’s most active firms placing graduates into paid internships. It is a big selling job and one that needs to be handled sensitively. It’s win-win for clients and grads and spreads a little happiness, too. Cracker: Joy Lewis



Robert GrahamBusinessman of the year: Robert Graham (left), owner, Graham’s Family Dairy. We all know how tough it is in dairy farming but the Graham family is showing how it should be done. This is a great success story, a company still based in the farmhouse where the founder was born and from where it now runs a huge enterprise that shows no sign of slowing. Not only is it Scotland’s biggest independent milk producer, it recently overtook Danish rival Lurpak as the country’s bestselling butter producer. While Scotland is producing some great technology companies it is heartening to know that a traditional food business can remain one of the economy’s champions. Cracker: Robert Graham

Cheekiest deal: Standard Life’s announcement today that its fund management business is taking all the office space in a £75m development in Edinburgh just weeks after warning that it would quit Scotland if the country voted for independence. The deal was under discussion well before the referendum. Don’t recall it getting a mention. Great for Scotland to retain this work, but some will feel one of the city’s biggest companies has been less than upfront on its plans. Clanger: Standard Life

Riot DogMost missed “media” animal: Sausage the Riot Dog who became famous during the Greek demonstrations for turning up on the frontline to taunt the police. He became a YouTube sensation. Sadly died of a heart attack in October. Cracker: Sausage the Riot Dog




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