Belfast Telegraph

Economy currently on a knife edge in Northern Ireland claims boss

Deadlock causing damage, says head of skincare firm

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland's economy is in a very precarious place amid the ongoing deadlock at Stormont, according to the Co Londonderry boss of a newly listed skincare business.

Integumen, which develops products such as anti-ageing and blemish control, is headed by Coleraine man Declan Service.

The firm, based in Dalkey outside Dublin, but with offices in York, has now listed on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) exchange. It says its total value is now around £8m.

The business, which employs nine people, is developing products such as Visible Youth anti-ageing cream and also sells, develops and tests for other firms.

That includes the TS1 tongue sanitiser, used in dental practices, and Labskin - a three dimensional 'human skin equivalent' which can then be used to test treatments.

Speaking about his native Northern Ireland, Mr Service said "in terms of the economy and finance" that the region is in a "very precipitous place".

He said: "People need to focus on the economy and nothing else. They need to pull their fingers out and figure how Northern Ireland will survive, let alone prosper.

"Uncertainty is the worst thing. People can't deal with it and you can't plan with uncertainty."

His comments come as a host of business groups this morning will jointly present a letter at Stormont, calling on politicians to find a way forward, and establish a working power-sharing government.

Mr Service studied at Ulster University and spent 17 years at US healthcare firm Baxter International.

But Mr Service says he's not concerned about the impact of Brexit on his business, and says the slump in sterling has helped.

"The first impact has been positive in terms of the weakness of sterling.

"With the rest of Brexit... I have to deal largely in facts and can't deal with supposition.

"I don't see it as a risk for us at all."

He said he believes there will be an "equitable" arrangement set up, following the UK's exit from the EU.

The company's products are all centred around the integumentary system, which consists of the skin, hair, nails, glands, and nerves.

Its main function is to act as a barrier to protect the body from the outside world.

Speaking about some of his firm's new products, Mr Service said: "Clarogel, a spot cream. That's in development about a year from market.

"Visible Youth, a range of anti-ageing products, and that's trademarked globally and six to nine months away."

Venn Life Sciences, the former parent of Integumen, acquired its assets for £210,000 in 2014.

Speaking about floating on the AIM exchange, Mr Service said: "We have acquired four highly scalable businesses to bring together an impressive portfolio of technologies and products we can develop and commercialise in our chosen markets, and an experienced management team which has a track record of innovation, deal execution and creating value.

"The late stage development of many of our products means Integumen is now focused on marketing, sale and distribution."

Belfast Telegraph

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