Posted on Wednesday 11 November 2015 by Ulster Business

Ramp up in new accounts highlights sme confidence

Pictured is Alistair Brown, Director of Proven Energy Solutions, Sean Sheehan, Regional Director, NI Consumer & Small Business, Bank of Ireland UK and Adrian Brown, Managing Director, Proven Energy Solutions.

A hike in the number of new accounts being opened by small businesses shows confidence in the sector is growing, according to Bank of Ireland.

It said more than 3,400 new small business and agricultural accounts were opened at its branches in the first nine months of the year, a 17% hike on the same time last year.

It said 40% of those accounts are being opened by start-ups while more than 36% are for businesses who have been trading for longer than two years.

The bank revealed the statistics at the start of its Enterprise Week, one which is aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and runs from November 13-20.

“Enterprise Week is taking place at a time when we continue to see confidence in the small business sector but recognise economic challenges remain,” Sean Sheehan, Regional Director, NI Consumer & Small Business, Bank of Ireland UK, said. “Our week-long initiative is themed ‘Let’s Connect’ and will once again provide businesses with practical support and great networking opportunities.”

The week will see a number of branches running business clinics and holding talks from inspirational speakers aimed at small businesses and start-ups from right across Northern Ireland.

One example of a small business start-up Bank of Ireland UK is supporting through its export led growth is Proven Energy Solutions, based in Belfast which was set up by Managing Director, Adrian Brown in 2013.

 The company specialises in supplying LED lighting to industry and is a preferred supplier for Carillion plc for their LED lighting supplies to the UK, North America, Africa and the Middle East.

With a background as an electrician and many years’ experience within the lighting industry, Adrian saw a huge opportunity to work with both the public and private sector, who are keen to minimise their carbon footprint and expenditure on energy.

An early focus for the business was on delivering projects in Northern Ireland, however, over the last two years the business has grown from its local base to operate in offices from North America, Africa, the Middle East, China and also supplying to the rest of the UK.

"The support of Bank of Ireland UK and Ciaran Murray, our Business Adviser has been exceptional. We have Commercial Finance to help our cash flow and to support our growth while we’re now in the process of talking to the Global Markets team to open a US dollar account for transactions to China. 

"We have new operations starting in San Francisco and Ghana but we’re really focused on expanding our business in the Irish market. As we do that, it’s going to be very helpful that we can have a bank account with Bank of Ireland across the border to help facilitate this too."   

Highlights of Bank of Ireland UK’s Enterprise Week events include:


  • ‘Meet the Buyer’ event, Tuesday 10th November, 9.30am – 2.00pm, Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast – participants will include buyers from NIE Networks, Bank of Ireland UK, Fujitsu, Greiner Packaging, Queens University and Sodexo amongst others


  • Exploring opportunities online, Friday 13th November, 12pm, The Bush Bar/Restaurant Enniskillen. Speakers will include Colin Crangle and Aine Bermingham.


  • Residential Property Development event, Tuesday 17th November, 8am – 11am, Kingspan Stadium – speakers include Helen Harrison of Juno Planning who is a serving Executive Committee member (former Chair) of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and represents professional private practice on a government Advisory Panel. Also, David Little, NHBC’s Director for Northern Ireland and Isle of Man and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building, and is Senior Vice Chair of CIOB in Ireland. Simon Brien (Simon Brien Estate Agents) and Brian McVeigh of MMM Developments.


  • Agri Future Farming Prospects, Wednesday 18th November, 7.30pm, Mellon Country Hotel, Omagh presentation and Q&A with William Thompson, Agri Manager, Bank of Ireland UK Phelim O’Neill of the Irish Farmers Journal and Sean Sheehan, Regional Director, NI Consumer & Small Business, Bank of Ireland UK.  


  • Let’s Connect Women in Business for Growth, Thursday 19th November 4pm, Derry Playhouse, Derry/Londonderry. Speakers will include Eleanor McEvoy, founder and CEO of Budget Energy Northern Ireland; Deborah O’Donnell, owner and proprietor of Deborah O’Donnell Chartered Accountants. Brigeen Pato, owner and director of Aerona Software providing clinics with a modern and efficient way of purchasing Practice Management Software. Patricia Green, owns and manages Nolka Design, a creative website and graphic design agency. 


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