Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities

Exporting and Trading across the Irish Sea



Building Export Success

Across the North Channel and Globally - from the peripheral regions of Ireland and Scotland

This online event will be a panel discussion hosted by Causeway Board Member Martin McBride and will involve Irish and Scottish exporters sharing their experience and advice of exporting and trading across the Irish Sea.

The event will involve a facilitated discussion and Q&A with exporting SMEs from across Scotland and Ireland.

Key Speakers:

  • Jamie McGowan, Founder and Managing Director of Essence of Harris, Isle of Harris and co-Founder of Loomshed Hebridean Brewery. He will speak of his experience of exporting across the Irish Sea and to the USA.
  • George Fleming, Chairman of Fleming Agri Products, who sell machinery in Scotland, and are also developing markets in Europe, New Zealand, Nordics and USA.
  • Marc Wilson, Marketing Director of the Gael Force Group, who represent the regions of Inverness, Forres, Stornoway, Fort William and Oban. Marc will speak of his experience of selling into Ireland, and also building a substantial export business in Canada, and targeting new business in Norway. Marc is also on the Board of Inverness Chamber of Commerce.
  • Philip Conacher, Director of Ashleigh Contracts, Kircubben, Northern Ireland who are currently doing extensive work in developing ports and harbours across Scotland.

  • Martin Murray, Founder and Managing Director of Dunnet Bay Distillery in  Thurso, Caithness. They currently export their Rockrose Gin to Ireland and globally to the USA, Germany, Singapore and several other international markets. Martin was named innovator of the year at the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland director of the year awards 2020.

The discussion will explore: 

  • Their experiences of exporting across the Irish Sea
  • But more importantly, the experiences of SMEs from remote peripheral regions of Ireland and Scotland developing export opportunities around the world.

After a Q&A discussion with each of the businesses, the event will open up into a general discussion on opportunity, challenges and shared experience of developing international business.

This online session is open to both Causeway members and non-members.

Please register and we will email you Zoom details nearer the time.

Please note, this webinar will be recorded, by joining the event, you consent to the recording of this webinar.


Martin McBride, Causeway & Envision NI


Martin McBride has over 30 years’ experience in international business, initially in industry and more recently in consultancy, and on the boards of companies that are working to build international markets. Martin established Envision as a niche consultancy practice operating in Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia focused on: international strategy and export development; international market entry, building international sales channels, channel partner development; and international bid / tender opportunities in the public sector, and private sector supply chains. Martin McBride (and Envision) works with both indigenous and international / multinational companies across the three territories – all are characterised by an ambition to target and build new business in Global Markets. In addition to his consultancy activities, Martin is on the Board of a number of exporting companies in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Martin McBride is originally from Donegal, was educated in UCG and UCD; Envision is based in Belfast – an ideal location from which to service clients and projects across the island of Ireland and Scotland. In Scotland is particularly active with companies in the Highlands & Islands, in aquaculture, offshore energy, marine engineering …and in the craft drinks sector.

Marc Wilson, Gael Force Group


Marc Wilson is Group Marketing Manager at Gael Force Group, supply partner of equipment, technology, and services to the global aquaculture sector. Marc is responsible for the budgeting, planning, and execution of marketing strategies, promotional activity, and communications. With 12 years of experience working at Gael Force, Marc has seen the company rise and grow significantly, and takes a great source of pride from being part of a strong, driven, and hard-working team with a passion for delivering high levels of customer satisfaction. Four years ago, Gael Force placed exporting at the top of its list of strategic objectives, creating a tightly structured and robust market validation process followed by a series of market visits. In 2019, the company opened its first premises in Newfoundland, Canada and is now servicing Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming sector. A proud native of Inverness, Marc is enthusiastic about his belief that the Highland and Islands’ is a hard-working, innovative, and resilient region within Scotland, with considerable potential for exporting opportunities.

Martin Murray, Dunnet Bay Distillery


Martin was born in Thurso and grew up in Caithness. In 2004, Martin received an MEng with distinction in Chemical Engineering at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh and at the time of graduation brewing and distilling jobs were few and far between, so he opted to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry. Martin spent the next 10 years working in a number of roles in Scotland and overseas, and his career achievements include leading the installation and training of new procedures and processes in 30-35 different countries, starting up two major floating oil platforms and implementing their frameworks and operating systems. During his time working in the oil and gas sector, it provided Martin the opportunity to satisfy his adventurous side with travelling to different countries and experiencing diverse cultures in Norway, Angola, Algeria and Qatar. The nature of Martin’s career meant he often worked abroad or away from Caithness and in 2011, he made the bold decision to work out a solution that meant he could spend more time at home with his wife, Claire and his young family. After being inspired by other new craft distillers, it rekindled Martin’s passion for brewing and distilling and in 2012, he began researching the potential for brewing craft beer but felt his quirky beer tastes would not be very popular! After thorough market research by Martin and Claire, various reasons directed them towards creating another one of their favourite drinks – gin, so in 2012 the Rock Rose Gin story began! Martin is the mastermind behind all things technical and innovative and going forward, is very excited about embarking on new gin-adventures in the future. He is also now currently studying his Msc in Brewing and Distillation with a view to completing a PhD.

Philip Conacher, Ashleigh Contracts


Philip Conacher is an owner / director of Ashleigh Contracts who specialise in marine civil engineering contracting projects throughout Ireland and the UK. Philip has over thirty years of experience in marine civil engineering projects and during his career with Charles Brand, Kier, Kier International, McLaughlin & Harvey and Ashleigh Contracts, he has been responsible for all aspects of site engineering, diving inspection, design, estimating and contract procurement & management and company administration. Since 2002 Philip has in his role as joint owner of Ashleigh, sought to increase the company’s market share in the specialist marine sector and has overseen steady growth of the company along with investment in an ever-growing fleet of specialist plant and equipment including embracing new technologies such as 3D GPS machine control systems, underwater 3D sonar systems in additional to fully cloud-based computerised management systems for plant maintenance and daily reporting from the site teams. The company’s ambition is to increase their scope of works and areas of expertise to enable them to develop from being a specialist subcontractor in the sector to offering a complete package for clients on major marine civil engineering projects – with the Scottish and island of Ireland markets being at the heart of the company’s business historically and hopefully well into the future.

George Fleming, Fleming Agri-Products


George Fleming was born in St. Johnston in Co. Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, on leaving school he joined the family engineering business in Donegal. George now lives in Bready near Londonderry; he is a past President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and still sits on the Board. George is now chairman of Fleming Agri-Products, an agricultural machinery manufacturing company supplying a wide range of low to medium tech machinery to the agricultural and parkland maintenance industry. Establishing the company in 1983 with 3 employees in a 3000 sq. ft. factory on a half-acre site in Newbuilding’s near Londonderry in Northern Ireland. George and his team have developed a range of engineered solutions representing value for money products and machines to meet the universal demand of the agricultural and parkland industry, mainly based around the mechanised requirements for beef, dairy, equestrian and parkland machinery. George has always had a market led policy for developing need first and satisfying it with capacity to progress the business. A strong management team has been developed through the years and the company now employs over 110 staff with an 85,000 sq. ft. factory on a 6-acre site. Fleming’s first exports outside of Ireland were to Scotland and are now concentrating on developing a strong export market throughout the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, the Nordic’s and Europe.

Jamie McGowan, Essence of Harris


Jamie McGowan is the Co-Founder of Essence of Harris. He started the company with his partner Deenie in 2015 and has grown the brand in five years to a team of 18, 14 of whom are based on the island itself, where the company has its factory, office and flagship store. Jamie is the driver behind several different businesses on the island; directing a Facilities Management Company, a Micro-Brewery and a Delicatessen.

Judith O'Leary, Causeway and Represent


Judith O’Leary is a Director of Causeway and Managing Director of Represent, an award winning communications digital consultancy with offices in Fife and Edinburgh. Originally from Cork, Ireland, Judith moved to Cambridge in 1989 where she cut her teeth in PR at Cambridge University before moving on to work with Singapore Telecom and Comcast on the roll out of cable throughout East Anglia. She moved to Scotland in 1993 and began working for a PR consultancy GTPR, now HAVAS. She was made managing director in 1996 overseeing the launch of Warburtons in Scotland and working on major campaigns such as Windows’95, Scottish Power, Tennents Taverns and Teachers. Judith launched her own agency in 2001 which has been shortlisted for numerous awards including CIPR outstanding consultancy and has extensive expertise in FinTech, food & drink, sustainability, travel and tourism, education and professional services. Providing integrated PR & digital services Represent is driving business growth, Judith has a powerful track record of innovative problem solving which demonstrates her vast experience and expertise. She was recently awarded Creative Leader of the Year.

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Exporting and Trading across the Irish Sea

Further details will be available soon.

Date & Time

Thu, 12 November 2020

16:00 - 17:30


Online via Zoom
Further details will be available soon.
Connecting Businesses - Growing Opportunities

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