Total savings of £2.6 million per annum are being projected by 42 companies from cutting costs as a result of taking part in the Invest Northern Ireland Profit Improvement Programme (PiP), Leslie Morrison, Invest NI Chief Executive, said at a ceremony in Antrim on 21st May.

Mr Morrison was speaking at the first awards ceremony held to highlight the exceptional achievements of companies taking part in the most recent PiP, which is funded by Invest NI’s Business Improvement Services (BIS) and delivered by a consortium that includes PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Work Foundation and Parity, the managing agent.

A record 42 companies participated in a total of six programmes organised on a regional basis and centred on Invest NI offices. The predicted total per annum savings to be achieved by these companies is £2.6 million, representing an average saving per company of £62,000. FIN Engineering, the Carryduff-based project management company, was chosen as the Company of the Year 2002/03.

Companies were judged on the basis of absolute savings and by percentage of revenue; the range of projects implemented; staff involvement; long term adoption of cost-reduction processes; and overall commitment to the programme.

Commenting on the achievements of the participating companies, Mr Morrison said: “This programme is a good example of how Invest NI and private sector expertise - in this case provided by the managing agent consortium of Parity - PwC and Capita – can work in partnership to design and deliver programmes to help Northern Ireland companies face the challenges of a rapidly changing and highly competitive business environment.

“It is one of a range of programmes provided by BIS. Encouragingly, the demand from Northern Ireland companies for support for their services has been so strong that uptake during Invest NI’s first year in operation has been double what was predicted.

“Businesses learning from one another is an important concept which Invest NI is promoting through the establishment of a number of regional small business clubs throughout Northern Ireland.“

Invest NI, Mr Morrison added, is supporting companies in strengthening capability across all business disciplines such as: strategy development, skills development & training, e-enablement and knowledge management, R&D, innovation; and as with the Profit Improvement Programme and many others - productivity and efficiency improvement support.

“Profitable companies are also better able to add value in terms of innovation, R&D and new market development needed to achieve sustainable long-term growth,” Mr Morrison said.

Guest speaker at the awards ceremony, which was held in the Dunadry Inn, Templepatrick, was Sam McCrea, Managing Director of Springfarm Agricultural Mouldings, Antrim, the company which gained a European award for business excellence last year.

The winners of the Profit Improvement Programmes 2002/03 are:
Company of the Year 2002/03 FIN Engineering, Carryduff

Northern Region Programme 1 Drumack Coachworks, Rasharkin
Programme 2 FIN Engineering, Carryduff

Western Region Programme 1 Balcas Timber, Enniskillen
Programme 2 Tower Hotel, Londonderry

Southern Region Programme 1 Annaghmore Agencies, Craigavon
Programme 2 Evron Foods, Craigavon