I’d like to welcome each and every one of you to the Balmoral Show and to share my passion for the Show and what it represents for the rest of the year for the sector.
The Balmoral Show is unmatched as a fantastic example of the pride and commitment that local people have in the agri-food sector, filled with exemplary representatives from some of our newest and most exciting businesses, right the way up to our largest exporters and pillars of local manufacturing.
This event is a significant date on the local business calendar and it comes at an important and busy time of the year for those working in the food and drink sectors as we celebrate 2016 as Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink. Taking the time to reflect and plan for the year ahead is important though, and the Show has always functioned very effectively as a marketplace for ideas, as well as a marketplace for stock and equipment.
From our perspective, it is important that we not only have the right products in place, but also the right people there to back our farming businesses. Our aim is to provide meaningful help for what matters to our customers in order to become the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy. That means seeking information and insight so that we can offer genuine and honest support. A partner that failed to acknowledge the challenges, as well as the opportunities, inherent in the sector, would be no partner at all. I’m determined that we make sure agri-business can be supported in a sustainable and prosperous way. One of the ways we can do that is by providing a clear pathway of funding and support that helps businesses scale-up and diversify, as well as alleviating short-term commodity price pressures.
The nature of the industry means that there is always change for agri-food – necessitating innovation and invention. This builds resilience, a healthy appreciation of good opportunities and a culture that accepts and celebrates innovation. Demonstrating our appreciation of this, we’re welcoming many talented start-ups from artisanNI into the Ulster Bank marquee, and I hope many of you will stop by to sample their wares and appreciate the talent that is on show.
There are many shared values between Ulster Bank and the farming community and as I have taken on my role as Ulster Bank’s Head of NI, I have relished the opportunity to speak to and learn from examples of best practice in the industry. Our farmers and agri-producers are at the heart of local communities – so are we. They value history, heritage and fair dealing – so do we. And they are firmly part of how we will build a strong and vibrant economy in the future. So is Ulster Bank.
I look forward to seeing and speaking to many of you over the three days of the Balmoral Show, giving the opportunity to show how we can provide help for what matters to you.