The Herald: Fling brings in the money

19th May 2012

As a vast rural area with a small private sector, lacking an equivalent to Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Dumfries and Galloway has had to innovate with arts tourism through events like the Wigtown Book Festival, the Wickerman Festival (indie rock) and the Spring Fling arts and crafts festival.

This last event, in which local artisans open their studios to sell their wares, celebrates its 10th anniversary over the Jubilee weekend (June 2-5). Backed by about £85,000 in EU and charitable funds, Spring Fling last year brought in a healthy £780,000 to D&G's awkwardly-dispersed economy.

Gordon Mann of Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce calls it "very important to the region - a bright idea that has been much copied but remains the original and best".

After 10 years, the next phase is to internationalise the event.

It may be hard to work out the economic impact, say, of Alice Francis's installation "Couch" in which a derelict Galloway cottage is covered in a flowery stretch-fabric sofa cover, but there is one. Agenda bumped into John Henderson, the Scots midas of the markets who founded Albyn Investments and now heads up Rathbones in the northeast. He recounted a "worrying" tale of the times, about how he had recently managed, within 15 minutes of entering a showroom, to buy a new fuel-efficient Volkswagen – a nice but wasting asset – and secure financing on it for three years "equivalent to a 95% mortgage".

"I did some thinking. VW lent me the money to buy one of their own cars. The company owns a banking licence in Europe which allows them to go to the ECB to borrow money for a three-year fixed period at 1%. The fact that I am paying 4% gives the group a nice little profit, even if they make nothing on the car itself." And

the moral of the story? "Little seems to have changed from 2008. Profit should be made from the 'business' of the company and not from this kind of debt manipulation."

Original article can be found here.