Irish food and sugar producer Greencore expects its convenience foods division will drive further growth in 2007, despite recent raw material cost increases and an electrical fire at its largest sandwich facility, Manton Wood.The fire happened in December 2006, when a switchboard failed and blew out all the power, meaning the site was unable to produce for a few days.The division also continued to face strong inflationary pressure on raw material pricing, chairman, Ned Sullivan told the Greencore annual general meeting last week.Sullivan said: “We are aggressively pursuing a broad set of Total Lowest Cost, product innovation, pricing and new channel initiatives to offset these impacts and deliver on our expected growth.”The convenience foods division, which accounted for 92% of the group’s continuing operating profits in 2006, saw sales up by 8.3% and operating profit up by 5.7%, he said. Margins were broadly maintained (7.7% in 2006 versus 7.8% in 2005) despite divisional energy cost increases of more than E5 million year-on-year.But the new EU sugar regime, announced in November 2005, posed an insurmountable challenge to profitable sugar beet-growing in Ireland, Greencore said. The group responded with an early commitment to exit sugar production and a strong defence of its entitlement to restructuring aid under EU law.
Disgraced Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland may be in prison, but it looks like he’s still up to his old tricks. The faux mogul has announced a new event which he hopes will help change the narrative of disastrous failure surrounding his 2017 Bahamian luxury getaway-turned-epic shitshow.The new venture: Yce Festival, a three-day, Game of Thrones-themed festival set to take place on private land in The North Pole that was formerly owned by Santa Claus. Yce Festival is set to take place on May 17–19th, coinciding with the highly awaited series finale of Game of Thrones on HBO.McFarland announced the event via press teleconference from FCI Otisville, in Orange County, New York, where he is currently serving a six-year prison sentence after his conviction for defrauding ticket purchasers and investors for Fyre Festival, as well as attempting to sell over $100,000 worth of fraudulent tickets to exclusive events like the Met Gala and the GRAMMYs after the initial failure of Fyre Festival.“Yce Festival is a continuation of the core beliefs we established with Fyre Festival,” McFarland noted from prison. “Fyre Festival had its challenges, and my team and I all learned a lot. Some of us are paying for it dearly. But, like a phoenix…nay, a Dragon rising from the ashes, we are going to take all of that, absorb it, and make Yce the most epic event of all time! Just wait until you see what we have in store for Yce Festival…Winter is coming!”Alluding to the festival’s Game of Thrones theme, McFarland explained that “for my first event back, I knew there would be a lot of risks involved and a lot of questions from potential ticket-buyers. With that in mind, I knew that if I partnered with a rock-solid IP like Game of Thrones, people wouldn’t be able to resist attending even if it was me putting it on. Game of Thrones is the most epic television franchise of all time, and only I could bring something this epic to life. Plus, the ‘Yce’ and ‘Fyre’ thing was just too perfect not to explore.”“We totally dove into the Game of Thrones universe to make sure this is unlike any event anyone’s ever seen. I don’t want to give too much away now—but let’s just say, don’t be surprised if you run into some ACTUAL DRAGONS at Yce Festival.”When asked how he would acquire dragons, an imaginary creature that never existed, McFarland responded with confidence that “anything is possible” and that “money is no object.” Proclaimed McFarland, “We’re just gonna do it and be legends … We haven’t found them yet, but if anyone can, it’s my guy Andy King.”McFarland promised that Yce festival would be the definitive premium experience for Game of Thrones fans as they say goodbye to the beloved franchise. Each ticket will come with accommodation, ranging from the general admission “Wildling Camping” package up to the ritzy “Lannister Super VIP” bundle, complete with your own private castle on the festival grounds.The price of food and drink is included in the ticket cost, but with a catch. “At Fyre Festival, we were criticized for not providing the gourmet food and catering that we promised in our advertising. Yce festival will remove that burden entirely. In keeping with the immersive Game of Thrones‘ medieval fantasy theme, ‘Lannister Super VIP’ ticket holders will receive an unlimited allotment of meats, cheeses, wine, and mead. ‘Targaryen VIP’ ticket holders will also have access to the unlimited food and drink, but they will have to rally at least two GA campsites behind them as “bannermen” and take it from the ‘Lannister Super VIP’ attendees by force. For everyone else, it’s a free-for-all. We’re going to release enough livestock onto the grounds to feed all the festival’s attendees, so get out there and hunt yourself a boar!”“I’ve always thought of myself as being a Lannister type—aside from the blonde hair and the whole ‘always paying my debts’ thing—but there’re really some cool options all the way down the line, from the ‘Targaryen Super VIP’ to the ‘Dothraki Horde Rave Camp’ to the ‘Wildling GA Camp.’”In terms of music, McFarland promised that the lineup would be heavy on artists who have appeared on or helped with music on Game of Thrones, such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Sigur Ros, Mastadon, and Of Monsters And Men. McFarland did confirm that Kristian Nairn, the actor who played the beloved character Hodor on the show would be performing during the “long night” late night party. McFarland added, “also, Ja Rule will be there.”Much like the Fyre Festival announcement, the announcement of Yce Festival comes just a few weeks ahead of the scheduled event. When asked if he and his team would have enough time to make the event happen or if they were doomed to repeat the same mistakes, McFarland demurred. “What did I just say a minute ago about the dragons?” he asked, seemingly annoyed. “I said we’re going to do it, and be legends. How is that still unclear?”Sadly, while McFarland seems to be leading the charge for Yce Festival from behind bars, he won’t actually be able to attend the event himself. “I couldn’t get permission to take a leave from my sentence to attend. It’s frustrating, but we’re hoping that nothing goes wrong so my absence won’t even be noticed. What’s the worst that could happen?”We’ll just have to wait and see how Billy McFarland’s Yce Festival turns out. It admittedly seems like he may once again be in over his head, but if there’s one person who can put together an experience fit for both a medieval king and a homeless pauper, it’s Billy McFarland.Tickets to Yce Festival start at $10,000 for Wildling GA, $300,000 for the Targaryen VIP package (which comes with a private dragon ride for you and your 5 closest friends), and $500,000 for the full “Lannister Super VIP” package. To purchase your tickets to Yce Festival, head here.April Fools!
Bring Back our Girls campaigners Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday held his first meeting with campaigners calling for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants in the northeastern town of Chibok last year.The militant Islamist group, whose six-year insurgency has seen thousands killed in Africa’s most populous nation and top oil producer, caused an international outcry when it took the girls from secondary school dormitories in April 2014.Buhari praised members of the Bring Back Our Girls group for their efforts to prevent the missing children being forgotten.“Nobody in Nigeria or outside could have missed your consistency and persistence,” said Buhari during the meeting at his presidential villa in the capital, Abuja.“I think you will agree that the present government takes the issue very seriously,” he said, adding that the military was working with neighboring countries to ensure a regional task force could fight the insurgency.Earlier this year an Amnesty International report said that Boko Haram had kidnapped at least 2,000 Nigerian women and girls since the start of 2014, many of whom were sexually abused or trained to fight.In a statement, the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners said the safe return of the schoolgirls would “amount to the strongest statement that our government has respect for the sanctity and dignity of every Nigerian life”.The frequency of attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern states has increased since the president vowed in his inauguration speech of May 29 that the group would be crushed.More than 200 people died in a string of attacks last week and dozens more have been killed in northern Nigeria and Chad in the last few days.Boko Haram, which has been trying to establish a state adhering to strict sharia law in northeast Nigeria, controlled an area larger than Belgium at the end of 2014.Nigerian and regional forces pushed the jihadists out of most of that territory in the last few months but the militants have a last stronghold in the Sambisa forest reserve and, with the increase in attacks, appear to be growing in strength.