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Under Armour’s (UA) CEO Kevin Plank on Q2 2014 Results – Earnings Call …

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And our first question is from Pamela Quintiliano with SunTrust.

Pamela Nagler Quintiliano – SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division

You gave a lot of info on DTC, and I was hoping you could just talk a little bit more about stores and what type of learnings you have from the newer locations, particularly Soho. I know you mentioned Women’s, but anything else there? And does it make you approach any aspects of the store build-out differently? And then just in line with that, the tourism component. I’m sure it’s very high. Are you able to collect data there? Is that impacting your future build-out domestically or internationally?

Kevin A. Plank

Yes. Thanks very much, Pam. I think as we look at the opportunity, we’ve built an incredible learning center for us. Number one, getting close to the consumer and the things we found out. We’ve had a great relationship, and I want to reiterate. We are very much a wholesale distributor and have incredible partners. And so our business there is very strong, very healthy and something that we continue to see additional growth. As we learned though from retail, 2 real key learnings: number one is probably Women’s; and number two is Footwear. The layout and — it’s difficult because I don’t want all those to sort of lead to the store that we have in Soho, but we’ve learned a lot of things from that. Number one, when you walk in there, I think you’re probably overwhelmed with the breadth of Women’s products, the amount of color, the size, the diversity, probably sophistication that people — a lot of people didn’t expect from us with our brand. And it’s really allowed us to elevate ourselves and take it to a place and reinforce the theory that we had that we can be a viable Women’s business and that someday, Women’s can be as large, if not bigger, than our Men’s business. As you take or look at the — what that’s meant for us, it’s taken us to a different place. And secondly, our sales there are in front of any place they are across our wholesale distribution or any other aspect of our business. But when we present it the right way, we know we’ve got the right product and then we think with doubling down on, for instance, the Women’s campaign, I’ll talk about that a little bit later, we think there’s a bigger opportunity there. Secondly, Footwear for us, really highlighting the Footwear presentation, has elevated Footwear. As we’ve said, typically in our wholesale distribution, Footwear is anywhere between 11% to 14% in a traditional sporting goods store, and that’s something we’re working with our key partners to try things to get that percentage up. But in our own retail, that percentage is up 20% to 25% of store sales on Footwear. And oddly enough or probably surprisingly or excitingly enough, is that when we go to our International doors, we’re finding that Footwear is representing somewhere between 35% to 40% of our velocity. And I just got back from a trip from Asia and found that we’re really seeing that consistently. So what we ended up doing is introduce ourselves, not reintroduce ourselves, but introduce ourselves as a Footwear brand, as a Women’s brand. More importantly, as a comprehensive athletic brand, we’re seeing a lot of, lot of excitement. As far as Soho specifically goes, it’s interesting because we just got this stat that 22% of our sales coming out of Soho are actually from international credit cards, and we’re finding out that they’re actually doing 40% more business than the plastic [ph] people. So what this is telling us is that high-street retail is something that will work for us, and we think about key markets and whether it’s — what New York means just from a global International basis, as well as cities like Miami, where you can touch Latin America. There’s things that we can do here in the states to really impact and drive sales, but with that, we’ve been opening these key Brand Houses in some key markets. A couple of 3 weeks ago, I was just in Panama City opening a store to a lot of energy and excitement, and I think that the real reason that we’ve driven — I hopefully got that across my notes and the script — we got a great wholesale business, but we’re really utilizing retail with only one store opening this year, one store on the books so far in Chicago in 2015 to help us become excellent and proficient as we build out a global footprint for showcasing the Under Armour brand.

Pamela Nagler Quintiliano – SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division

And then if I could just have one quick follow-up. With your wholesale partnerships, are they also taking the learnings from the Soho location and other DTC and the way they’re presenting products? Or is it changing their approach in dealing with you?

Kevin A. Plank

Yes. Well, I think everyone is unique in their own situation, without question, and the goal that we have, when we built the first Brand House here in Baltimore, 8,000 square feet, was having our partners walk in and say, “I want this in our store. And why doesn’t our Women’s selection look like it does here with the breadth of color, style, design?” And really, the reach, to ability to go outside of sporting goods. Because a lot of times, particularly in, take a category like Women’s, it’s — you’re branded by your buyers, you’re branded by your partners and they say things like, “We’ll buy you for a compression short and a sport ball.” But that’s the way that we see you and there’s a lot more to it, and I think that our Women’s team and the creative that we’ve been driving there, our Women’s design center in New York, for instance, and what that’s been, I think bringing to us, it’s coming through with products the way it’s hitting the floor, and it is absolutely educating everyone up and down through our distribution channels, beginning with our sales in our Direct-to-Consumer channel and as well as informing in a big way our wholesale partners. So it will create a lot of expectation for them. It’s the way that we see how we can be presented, and frankly, we’re looking for that to be reflected in all of our wholesale partner stores in some way, shape or form.

Operator

And our next question is from Faye Landes with Cowen and Company.

Faye I. Landes – Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Can you just talk about your thinking on spending going forward? I mean, this is a tremendous — you have a tremendous revenue growth period, and you’re spending to support it. When should we start thinking about [indiscernible]? How do you think about it? How should we think about it?

Brad Dickerson

Yes, Faye, we’ve talked a lot about this around our spending and our strategy around spending going forward here and with all the opportunities, especially what Kevin kind of laid out in his script, all the opportunities around things like Women’s, Connected Fitness, International, DTC. We see so many opportunities after this. It’s really, really important for us to make sure that we balance the need to maintain operating margins, maybe even slightly, slightly improve operating margins a little bit year by year, but balance that with the absolute need to invest in our businesses. And Kevin made a great point in his script around the investments we made in 2010 or why we’re seeing success in things like Footwear and International and Women’s today in 2014. So the theory there being that if we keep investing and balance this need to invest in 2014, you’ll continue to see those benefits in future years to come like 2015 through ’17 and so forth. So we said pretty consistently that our focus on operating margin is to slightly improve it year-over-year. It’s kind of the case you’ve seen from us the previous years, but more importantly, make sure we’re putting the right investments in the right places to drive shorter-term and longer-term growth down the road. So we’ve even talked about the possibility of this. We overdrive our current year revenue or have some upside in gross margins like the back half of this year. Potentially, if we have some of those things and we have some extra dollars, we would absolutely look to spend those extra dollars in areas like International or Connected Fitness or Women’s basically, as we talked about earlier. So continue to see us spend and balance that spend to drive short-term and long-term growth and continue to see us focus on maintaining and slightly improving operating margins, but balancing that with investments.

Faye I. Landes – Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Okay. And just one other quick question. On the Women’s thing, I mean, can you just put a little texture or context on what we’re supposed to see and when is like — when do we go somewhere other than Soho [indiscernible] it has and expect to see the full Women’s line, the full — the new Women’s line?

Kevin A. Plank

Faye, let me just give you some color and context around Women’s as a whole and make sure we get the whole picture out there because, obviously, it’s a huge story for the brand as we’ve been preaching about for a long time, but it’s actually coming up in the next 7 days with the big launch that we’re doing next week in New York around breaking our spot. There’s an incredible amount of excitement. So I just used the word launch, but it’s probably absolutely the wrong phrase to use. It’s not a launch when you already have a $500 million business in Women’s and growing at a rate north of 20% consistently for a very long time, but we do think it’s great timing for this campaign. Our Women’s business is healthy. There’s still areas that we see that we need to communicate and continue to have a conversation with the consumer. We’re pleased and proud of the 26% growth for Women’s this past quarter, but we think that there’s obviously a lot more upside and a lot more opportunity there. We believe there’s this quiet shift that’s going on where women are increasingly wearing more athletic product outside of the gym, obviously. We think that Under Armour is in the best position to continue to grow the business as we felt this loyal base of athletes, and we’re growing with her as she moves in a new category, grows up, and frankly, new end uses for Under Armour. So as a brand, brand shops will have a point of view. And the Brand Holiday that we’re launching, our Holiday 2 — remember, this is back-to-school, this is the middle of football season, sweating and soccers breaking, and all your fall sports and Under Armour, big tough Under Armour decided to launch a Women’s campaign with a ballerina no less. And it’s absolutely no accident and something we explicitly knowingly did because we think this is the best use of our time and resources. And I want to say we’re not forgetting about these other categories, but we’re absolutely focused in taking the 3 holidays we do a year. We’re doing Holiday 2 and communicating exclusively to Women’s. So this will be the biggest global campaign we’ve ever done around Women’s — for the Women’s brand, but I think it demonstrates the commitment that we have to the category. And when I say commitment, we’re committed to building, first and foremost, the best athletic products for Women and for athletes and inviting a conversation around them. We want them talking about Under Armour being an important product. I mentioned our ballerina. It’s Misty Copeland, who is — she’s probably — she’s a great human being, first, and she’s an amazing athlete and ballerina probably all beyond that. But she’s the one featured in the ad. And she probably doesn’t fit the old definition of what people would see as an athlete, but when you see her story, you see her perform and you frankly see the way that she willed her way to becoming one of the world’s top ballerinas, it’s 100% reflective of what the Under Armour brand DNA is all about. We’re incredibly proud of the product that’s going to be on the floor this fall. It brings a heightened design esthetic that’s aligned without sacrificing any of our commitment to performance. So every product you build, it may look like it’s just a beautiful top, but it’s a beautiful top that with moisture, keeps you light, keeps you cool and helps you perform and all the Under Armour DNA, which we think gives us our personality and our differentiation. And then you’re also going to see us continue to expand from that core audience. So we know that she shops our sports bra and our compression short, but we think we can take her to a different place outside of the gym, off the court and take her to and from in some of those wearing occasions that we’re seeing this shift happen with women wearing athletic “product.” And it gives us the ability to reach women who are incredibly active and participate in many sports activities, but probably don’t consider themselves athletes. But definitely they see themselves as maybe moving or an athletic female, we’re going to speak to her. I started this by saying, and I mentioned it a little bit earlier, we believe that Women’s can be as big, if not bigger, than Men’s, and this campaign is something, I think, that underscores our commitment in investment in making that a reality.

Operator

And our next question is from Omar Saad with ISI Group.

Omar Saad – ISI Group Inc., Research Division

Wanted to ask you about this simultaneous sales and gross margin acceleration that seems to have begun about 3 quarters ago. I mean, look, those are the 2 kind of financial — healthy financial indicators of brand strength, especially when you get them moving together. Do you think the 2 are related? Is the key driver Direct-to-Consumer or mix shift to more premium products? Are you taking pricing, all 3? Just help me think about this simultaneous sales acceleration and gross margin, and over the long term, how you think about the 2?

Brad Dickerson

Yes. Omar, I think I’ll look at both of them a little bit differently and then kind of bring it together at the end here. But on the sales side, obviously, we’ve had strong quarters in the last few quarters, and there’s been some things that have been tailwinds first that we talked and then some of those tailwinds actually, if they get to the back half of the year, start to be a little bit tougher comps for us within the back half of this year. But we talked about things like supply chain and the fact that we, in previous years, have had some challenges on deliveries in the supply chain. As we got to the back half of last year, started to correct those, and that gave us a little bit of a tailwind, especially as we got into Q4 and early part of this year in comping some tougher supply chain deliveries in the prior year. So that favorable comp does start to go away from us a little bit as we get in the back half of this year, when we started improving them last year. So that’s part of the revenue piece. It’s also part of the margin piece, too, where things like air freight and so forth that we needed in previous years, we needed a lot less in the current year and as we get into the back half of this year, too. So that’s been a, call it, the tailwind on the revenue side and the margin side. Obviously, we talked about weather last year, in the fourth quarter, a lot as being a good tailwind for us, especially around our DTC business where we can react very quickly to weather changes and so forth. So those are kind of some of the things that are consistent and we talked about in previous quarters. Some things that you saw in the current quarter and maybe going into the back half of this year on the revenue side, again, one thing we called out with some early demand from our wholesale partners. Again, maybe going off some challenges we had in prior years around getting deliveries on time on the back-to-school period. We had some requests from some of our wholesale partners to get that product in a little bit earlier so we can get the floor set for back-to-school. That’s definitely helped the second quarter here and took a little bit away from the third quarter as we go forward in order to do that. We have talked about Factory House square footage growth and other revenue items as we get towards the back half of the year. Square footage growth in the front half of this year was in the upper 20s in Q1, low-20 percentage in Q2. As we get to the back half of the year, we’ll be in the upper teens. So that will take away a little bit of that kind of revenue driver that we’ve seen in some of the last few quarters. And obviously, when you look at our guidance, we’ve talked heavily about this and just being very, very careful about our fourth quarter revenue. And what we’re guiding to in the fourth quarter, coming off the tailwind of the weather, positive last year in the fourth quarter, so being just kind of careful in what we put in our guidance for this year. So those are kind of some of the numbers things. On the margin side, we talked about some things like made for mix and air freight that, again, as we get to the back half of this year, are kind of a little less of favorable comp year-over-year in general. But to kind of wrap that all up, to bring up what’s happening positively for us, probably the biggest change in the last 6 months specifically is the gaining confidence we’re getting in this International and Footwear business segment that have been really important to us. Obviously, we put a lot of investment in those in the last few years and really the front half of ’14. Coming into ’14, we were being a little bit cautious in our guidance around the expectation of those 2 businesses because they were relatively new for us. As we got to the first 6 months here and saw a lot of success, not just in selling in, but more importantly selling through to the consumer, it gives us a lot of confidence here in raising our guidance for the back half of this year. Obviously, those businesses to some degree, right now for us, are a little bit of a drag on gross margin, but absolutely heading in the right direction longer term in places like Footwear, where we’re having a better mix towards running, and we’re improving margins in products like SpeedForm. And International, longer term we’ll start to improve also. In the near term, no, a little more distributor weighted, which will hurt our gross margins.

Omar Saad – ISI Group Inc., Research Division

That’s really helpful. And at the analyst meeting, you guys talked, I think, about long-term 2025 revenue targets. You’ve been above that. Are you ready to sign up, given the gaining confidence and some of these new — or newer areas of growth to an elevated growth rate long term? Or is it premature at this point?

Brad Dickerson

You know what, we’ll probably speak to our last year investor day guidance for now, and we’ll do investor days every once in a while and give longer-term guidance. So we looked at last year talking about our revenues through 2016 hitting $4 billion. Obviously, as we wrapped up 2013 and as we get into ’14 here, we’re outpacing that trend right now. So we’re not going to sit here and commit to a number today for 2015 or ’16. We’ll definitely give some more insight to 2015 at the end of October, on our next call. But obviously, I think just in general, the trend being that what’s changed from our last Investor Day last year to this year, I go back to the 2 big changes. I’d say there’s 3 big changes: one, being our acquisition of Connected Fitness; two and three, being our, again, improved confidence in International and Footwear, which, as we start to look at 2015 and beyond, obviously, would be probably the biggest change from our viewpoint that we had at Investor Day last year.

Operator

And our next question is from Randy Konik with Jefferies.

Randal J. Konik – Jefferies LLC, Research Division

I guess, Kevin, the way we’re approaching the stock is talking about the brand for the next generation. And I guess what’s different when I see adults, you — they’ll have pieces of Nike and pieces of Under Armour in the gym. But you look at like a 5-year-old or a 10-year-old or a 15-year-old, they’re decked out from Footwear to the whole Apparel assortment in Under Armour. So you don’t really talk about the kids part a lot. What are you seeing there? And what are some of the initiatives in that part of your world to kind of build to the future when these kids become adults? And then in Footwear, I guess my question there is, how do you think about — you’ve had success with SpeedForm and Spine, how do you think about platforming over the years ahead? Should we expect like 1 or 2 platforms per year? And then should we expect additional — more SKUs or colorways to complement those platforms? And then lastly, in International, do you assume that — do you think that International becomes half the company over time? And what is the biggest opportunity internationally?

Kevin A. Plank

All right, we got 10 minutes left. I’m closing this call out with this question. So let’s begin with number one, we haven’t figured how to get a 5-year-old a credit card yet, so we still have to work through the older brother and mom for that, and the good news is it typically does come from there. So without question, I think grandparents grew up wearing one brand from Europe. Parents grew up wearing a brand from the West Coast, and we’re very happy to see the youth of today are growing up wearing Under Armour. And we see that, that trend is happening. And there’s a lot of things that we have to do. It’s certainly not God-given to us, but we’re pretty proud of the way that we’re executing right now in order to deliver on that opportunity that we have. So Youth for us, you’re right, it’s massive. And the growth we’re seeing, happily — I said along that our Youth business was obviously outpacing the general growth of the business, both Men’s, Women’s, Footwear, everything. So we’re seeing Youth in the 60% and 70% type of growth opportunities we have there. And frankly, the new thing, when we typically talk about Youth in the past, we would be referring to boys, and what we’re seeing right now is that our Girls’ business is, frankly, “on fire.” So we’re very pleased with the balance that, that’s presenting for us. And that demonstrated — I think giving her a voice and giving her a brand that she can wear in a very big and balanced way with something that she has much confidence with Under Armour, we’re very excited to be able to bring her up, take her through athletics, take her through her school years, take her into her college years and then get her out as she moves into 20-somethings and 30s and grow up and, frankly, move on with her. So we’re learning a lot from the Youth standpoint. The difficulty we’ve always found with Youth is distribution and where can you find appropriate distribution, so we’ve been working with our key wholesale partners in expanding their footprint. And I think you’ll see that from some of our bigger players like Dick’s and even creating up some Dick’s and Sports Authority and some of the others, but really, I think you’ve seen a real commitment from our wholesale partners and saying, “What can I do to attack the Youth business?” And so that’s happening with us. And frankly, there’s not a lot of horseshoes in this race either. Kids are pretty specific with what they’re looking for. I think we’re proud of the position and the leadership that we’re taking there. So there’s more to do on distribution and continue to work with our partners to give us appropriate space in stores to get those products a chance to be sold. Let me — before I leave Youth, I can’t tell you how excited we are about our position as the product of the next generation and the brand of the next generation, and we think that’s something which is really — it’s more of a movement than anything and I wish I could explain it and know exactly how to bottle it up. But instead, we’re pleased with the results, and we’re happy that we’re speaking in a very important way to this youth consumer. And there’s a lot more to come there. We think there’s great opportunity, both in Apparel and, obviously, in Footwear. So let me move on to the Footwear side of the question, asking about platforms. Our success year-to-date is something that we’re really proud of, and obviously our success in Footwear is something that gives us the confidence to raise our outlook to that $2.9 billion to that $3 billion range. So first and foremost, with Footwear, it always begins with the largest category, which is Running. First and foremost, we’re really excited about Running, and the reason we are is because of leadership, product and distribution. First of all, we’ve done a great job, I think, bringing leadership onto our team. Fritz Taylor, we mentioned his name before, is now heading up, running for the Under Armour brand. And China created that cross-functional process that will take place, connecting what we have in this leadership position with Apparel, then tying it truly into Footwear. And we said that in the past, but we’re in our 10th year making shoes today, and I say that because we started in 2004 making shoes. We started selling the product because of the 18-month calendar in 2006, and we’ve been in this for a long time, and I’m telling you it just takes a long time. But it took maybe — it was not only the product, but it’s the people, it’s the positioning, it’s the factories. It’s really the distribution. It’s all those pieces that come together. And so with leadership and our team here existing, and again, this is a product that was built long before Fritz got here, but he’s walking in and he really has a full plate. It’s not something that’s saying the cupboard is not there. There’s amazing technology that we have in the market today with SpeedForm, products like SpeedForm, but there’s also — there’s a full cupboard of things that we’re about to bring out, and that comes out in the product. So the SpeedForm Apollo at $100 or something, it met all of our expectations, and with that gave us confidence to go in a much bigger position, which you’ll see rolling out through the end of 2014 with things like the SpeedForm Vent, which is a terrific upgrade to the product that we think has got a real esthetic and something that will be compelling, still at $100, really performing well in sporting goods, and of course, some of our key mall partners as well. We also — I mentioned the SpeedForm Gemini, which will be coming out in the beginning of 2015. I tell you it’s just a terrific product. And if people talk that our SpeedForm was maybe a little bit light, or more of a sprinter shoe, the Gemini is the shoe that you can wear. It’s the every man’s shoe. It’s whether you’re a 3-miler counter or whether you’re a long distance looking to train for a marathon. It’s an incredible shoe featuring unbelievable technology. The seamless fits just like our SpeedForm, made in the same version of the bra factory where we made the original SpeedForm Apollo, but with things like charged foam, which has got recovery and retention. Every runner, it’s the shoe, I think, that we were literally supposed to make. It’s something we’re incredibly proud of. And we’re also doing it at $130, so we’re stretching the price points there. Running, I think you’ll see there’s a lot more to come. Obviously, the largest category, but also our longest-standing category with the shoe that we first sold in 2006 with the football cleat, and we promise the ability for us to chase the #1 position there. So as we sit here some 8 years later, we’re still on our way to that goal. We’re off to an incredibly strong start with football across all of our distribution and particularly in our retail stores and online and places like Eastbay, the online component of Foot Locker. And so we’re seeing our product is really doing well. And so one thing that’s interesting is we got the #1 cleat at the high end in the market called the Under Armour Highlight Cleat, and it’s a $110 shoe that we sold a year ago. We added ClutchFit to it. We upgraded the product. We moved the price point to $130, and the product is doing even better than it did a year ago. We’re seeing our sales up over 35% after being #1 last season, and it’s priced at $20 more. We’ve got the Cam Newton special shoe at $160. We’ve got our Alter Ego with Superman and Batman and the Flash and other styles that are relatively — basically sold out everywhere we’re doing distribution. So we feel like we cracked the code. And we will take market share this season, and we will continue our march to being the #1 cleat in America. And you can say, “Is that a big deal? It’s a small category.” I think it’s just telling us what else is to come. The category that we fit in for 8 years in football cleats, the category was in 7 years in baseball, 6 years in training shoes, 5 years in running, 4 years in baseball, all these things will come, and I used to use a speech called 7 years. I think my new speech is going to be called 8 years. Sometimes it takes just time to become great at things. I don’t know if I’m declaring that it’s great, but I’ll tell you our product is great. We’re still continuing to hunt down becoming the #1 athletic footwear brand in the world. Basketball, it’s a different story and another category that we think taking a leadership position there, begins of course with products, always first and foremost, but also with talent. Bringing Stephen Curry onto our roster, who everyone from the President of the United States, is called the best shooter that they’ve even seen in basketball, is really an asset that we’re going to blow out a few more product lines with Steph until we can do to really get his shoe moving for us, but we think he takes us to a different place. So Footwear is something we’re incredibly happy for. What was the third?

Randal J. Konik – Jefferies LLC, Research Division

That was great. So the third one is International.

Kevin A. Plank

Got you, got you, got you. All right. So we’ve had a lot of — I spend a lot of time on the road. Our company is spending more and more time on the road, Charlie Maurath and our team on the global side. Going from being a North American wholesale apparel compression company into evolving into a global true athletic brand that we expect to be, and frankly, we believe we’re in the process of becoming, it just takes time and it takes seeing a lot of different things. So just give you a little bit of my calendar, which is indicative of what’s happening across our team across the world. This year already, so halfway through the year, I’ve already been to Asia, I think once, maybe twice; the Middle East, once; Europe, 2 times; Latin America, 3 times, including a couple of weeks ago at the World Cup, which was awesome, I’ve got to say. We are definitely committed to being a global brand, and it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen from people doing North American jobs. They’re spending a little bit of time helping us become international. So building that out. And one of the previous questions about things like investments and how we’re seeing leverage come on to company. There is an entirely different company that needs to be built in order for us to be a global brand. And so we’re proud of the fact that we’re able to continue to deliver for our shareholders, both top line and especially bottom line, and doing it all the while, while posting the numbers that we are and building out the infrastructure that will allow us to take advantage of the investments that we’re seeing now in the future, just like we saw the investments, as Brad mentioned, in 2010 that we’re seeing today in 2014 with things like Footwear and International. So we talked about the Brand Houses that we opened, the opening we did in Soho, the store we have coming in Chicago, but we’ve got a couple of big openings that are happening globally around the world. Let me begin with — in EMEA. Throughout Europe, crossing $100 million and gaining momentum for the first time, it’s taken us a long time. We’ve been in Europe since 2006. And we spent a long time, a, figuring out International business logistics, products, sourcing, colors, how to tell your story, translation and all the pieces. It’s just taken a long time, but I think we are finally positioned where we can start to accelerate, and that tipping point is something that we feel like we’ve reached in Europe and really ready to go. We’ve seen aided and unaided brand awareness triple year-over-year in key markets like the U.K. and Germany. Of course, we point to our strategic partnership with Tottenham Hotspur and what that’s done being a part of EPL football. We’re working on our new E-Commerce sites and not defining ourselves by having to limit ourselves to brick-and-mortar retail, but also seeing what we can do in finding new channels for distribution. So we’re taking a new approach that we don’t have the infrastructure investment that maybe other brands have and so we can take a clean sheet of paper and say, “What’s the most effective way for us to be important in these other markets?” Latin America, I mentioned that. Mexico, for us, we — I was down there for — we opened our Mexico City Brand House, trending way above plan from where we thought it was going to be. A new sponsorship we just announced with Cruz Azul and then extending our existing partnership that we had with Toluca down there and 2 of the best soccer clubs in Mexico. Brazil, we launched in April. We are down there. We’ve been watching. We saw the World Cup, and it was interesting and just people asking and saying, “How did you — what did you think of the World Cup? And what was Under Armour’s participation?” And we didn’t participate as much. We had several athletes wearing boots on different teams and clubs from around the world, but our outlook is much longer and much more strategic. And as difficult that is for us to say over the largest sporting event in the world, that we weren’t as key an important partner as we wanted to be, we still grew our International business 80% this quarter and 79% last quarter. So we feel like we’re putting the pieces in place to be able to take advantage of the global sport, the beautiful game of football, once we truly have the ability to capitalize on it and once we are truly ready. So our outlook there is not saying, what’s it going to look like 4 years in Russia or 8 years when we’re in the Middle East, we’re taking a long-term 12- to 20-year outlook of how Under Armour is going to be the leading global football brand in the world.

Randal J. Konik – Jefferies LLC, Research Division

It’s very helpful, very helpful.

Kevin A. Plank

I wasn’t done yet, I think, on Asia. Hold on a sec [indiscernible] this call yet.

Randal J. Konik – Jefferies LLC, Research Division

Stocks working so…

Kevin A. Plank

I haven’t seen that. Last thing I just want to say is leave Asia. Our partners in Japan are amazing, growing the brand, growing the business. Last and most importantly, it’s just a couple of store openings that we had. I was down for a store opening in Panama recently, but also in Asia, we recently opened Singapore and the Philippines. And I got to tell you, of all the travels I’ve done, I’ve never been to the Philippines, yet we delivered — for our store opening there, we had 700 people waiting outside in line to get into a 2,500 square foot store. And it’s the kind of thing that had you scratch your head and say, “I think this brand has real legs and real opportunity, and I think we have a chance of doing something incredibly special.” So there’s a lot of energy, a lot of heat, a lot of excitement and something that we’re incredibly proud of. And I guess, thank you, but the last thing I want to say before we do close the call is I’m very pleased that our CFO, Brad Dickerson, was here. He has a due date with a baby coming in the next 24 hours and we thought that I was going to have to answer the financial questions. So I’m very glad to report that you guys would hear directly from Brad.

So with that, thank you very much for the last question, Randy, and thank you all for your time.

Thomas D. Shaw

As promised, Kevin took us through the end of the call here. So thanks again for everyone joining us today, and we look forward to reporting to you our third quarter 2014 results, which we tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 23, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Thanks again. Goodbye.

Kevin A. Plank

Brad said he’s going to name the baby Armour.

Thomas D. Shaw

Thanks.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today’s conference. This does conclude the program, and you may all disconnect. Everyone, have a great day.

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10 British Things About Boulder, CO

While there’s plenty to do, indoor and outdoor, in Boulder, CO, local Whovians made their own fun taking over this road sign. For the more buttoned-up Anglophile, the University of Colorado, Boulder, has a British Studies Center, which appears to be open to the public as it invites visiting scholars (you may just want to call ahead). And if you’re not quite the prankster, and have had enough of the classroom, here’s a list of 10 British things going on in Boulder that may fall middle of the road:

1. The Hungry Toad

(The Hungry Toad

Here’s a peek inside the Toad. (The Hungry Toad)

The Hungry Toad, located at 2543 N. Broadway, is Boulder’s answer to an English pub. The British-style restaurant and bar serves up traditional fare like the London broil, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie. Tasty drinks on tap include Boddingtons, Guinness, Fuller’s and Old Speckled Hen.

2. William Hogarth Collection

(CU Art Museum)

William Hogarth used his comical drawings to illustrate his social criticism. (CU Art Museum)

UC Boulder’s CU Art Museum, located at 1085 18th St., boasts a large collection of 18th century British artist William Hogarth’s work, with over 100 items on display. Hogarth was a painter, printmaker and cartoonist, with his pieces ranging from portraits to comic strips. Hogarth was born in London, England, rarely leaving the city with an abundance of subjects right in front of him.

3. Colorado Shakespeare Festival

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is a professional theatre company in association with the University of Colorado Boulder. Performances like A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Macbeth, and Richard II will take place throughout the summer at varying theaters in the area. You can check the schedule here. The club offers training, placement on competitive and recreational teams, runs tournaments, which you can find out more about here.

4. Boulder Football Club

(FC Boulder)

Soccer is a kick in the grass. (FC Boulder)

FC Boulder, a youth soccer club, was formed in 2012. The club may sound like it’s fairly new, but really it’s just the official name, because it was a merger of two teams, coaches, parents, players and the spirit of soccer that had been embraced in the Boulder community for 20 years leading up to its formation.

5. Boulder Rugby Football Club

(Boulder Colorado)

Aw, a team cuddle. Right? (Boulder Rugby Club)

The Boulder Rugby Football Club was founded in 1966 and was formalized as a nonprofit organization in 1997. Current day there are four teams: Men, Babes, Old Boys, High School Boys, Youth. Throughout the years the teams have been able to travel and compete in the U.K. and Ireland. As well, they’ve hosted thousands of visiting players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. If you’re interested in getting on the field, or going out to watch, you can find out more details here.

6. Scottish Country Dancers

(Facebook)

Scottish Dancing is a form of line dancing. (Facebook)

The Scottish Country Dancers of Colorado offer classes in multiple areas of the state including Boulder, on Sundays from 4:30 – 6:30 pm in Sodal Hall, at the Avalon, located at 6185 Arapahoe. It’s $5 per week or $80 for six months. If you’d like more details, you can go here. All ages and skill levels are welcome, as well as single participants or partners.

7. Afternoon Tea

This grand hotel has multiple areas where you can relax with your tea. (St. Julien)

This grand hotel has multiple areas where you can relax with your tea. (St. Julien)

St. Julien hotel, located at 900 Walnut St., offers an afternoon tea serving on Saturdays, beginning at 2pm. The service takes place in their Great Room, by the fireplace, overlooking the Flatiron Mountains through floor to ceiling windows. The tea is seasonal for instance in the warm months, the tea may be infused with cucumber, and in the cold months, the hotel serves up gingerbread teas. Their finger sandwiches are made from the local market, ensuring freshness. Speaking of refreshers, the hotel has a stunning waterfall pool, maybe you can take a dip post-tea. We’re guessing you might just need to be checked in as a guest, but that can be made possible pretty easily.

8. Gaelic Study Group

Wouldn't it be nice if someone in the car actually could read Scottish? (Bletherskite)

“Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in the car actually could read Scottish Gaelic?” (Bletherskite)

The Boulder Study Group, which specializes in Scottish Gaelic, has been meeting every Monday, give or take, since 1997. That’s a lot of Mondays. The group gets together in south Boulder and is open to those looking for others who are already studying the language. The group isn’t a class, but a way for you to practice the language and learn from each other. If you’d like to find out more about signing up and the exact location, go here.

9. Scotfest

(Scotfest)

Not Scotland, but could pass for the Highlands. (Scotfest)

The annual Scottish-Irish Highland Festival, Scotsfest, takes place in Estes Park, Colorado (60 minute drive). While not smack in the middle of Boulder, the festival is in driving distance, and takes place at a sprawling park to allow room for all of the festivities like: Scottish music, concerts, marching bands, traditional food, strongman games, dancing and more. You can find out the full schedule here.

10. Boulder Bike Tours

(Boulder Bike Tours)

The tour rides Highland trails under expert leadership. (Boulder Bike Tours)

The Boulder Bike Tours specializes in mountain and road biking in the Colorado Rockies. What does that have to do with British stuff you ask? Oh, the past two years the bike group has hosted an award-winning, coast-to-coast mountain bike expedition in Scotland. While this year’s trip just passed. You can find out more about the next weeklong Experience Scotland trip here.

Do you have any additions to the list? 

See More:
10 British Things About Birmingham, AL
10 British Things About Your U.S. City
10 British Things About U.S. Cities

 

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Commonwealth Games 2014: Alistair completes set of golds by strolling to win …

The final piece of championship gold was already effectively in the bag for the Olympic, world and European triathlon champion as he entered the home straight. The Yorkshireman could afford to slow to a trot and scoop up a flag of St George before crossing the line to add another gold medal to his Fort Knox collection.

Steve Ovett tried something similar at the end of a 5,000m race at Crystal Palace in 1980. He raised his arms in celebration and leaned back – only for the Irishman John Treacy to pip him the line. Thirty four years on, it was just as well for Brownlee that his little brother was not quite within striking range.

Alistair and Jonny had dropped the rest of the  47-man field on the fourth of five cycling laps, cracking the brave challenge of the 20-year-old Scot Marc Austin. Then, on the opening lap of the 10km run, Alistair started to pull clear from his brother.

There was to be no family snapshot of the Brownlee boys holding hands and crossing the line together, like Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen in the inaugural London Marathon of 1981. “I thought about it,” Alistair confessed later, “but we’d get told off an awful lot if we crossed  the line together, so I decided not to.”

A dead heat might still have been possible had Alistair lingered much longer in the home straight. As it was, he crossed the line eleven seconds ahead of Jonny in 1 hour 48 minutes 33 seconds, with South African Richard Murray taking bronze.

It was a one-two for the Brownlees and a second triathlon gold of the day for England, Jodie Stimpson having won the women’s race in the morning.

“I’ll probably only win a Commonwealth title once in my life, so I might as well enjoy it,” Alistair replied when asked about his sedentary finish

The 26-year-old looked remarkably fresh after 1,500m of swimming, 40km of cycling and 10km of  running in oppressive heat. Fresh enough, perhaps, to fill the gap in the 10,000m left by Mo Farah’s withdrawal from the England team, someone suggested. “I’m not as fresh as I look,” Alistair replied. “That was a hard race. I’m not good to jump on the track and do any race there.”


Jodie Stimpson on her way to winning gold in the triathlonJodie Stimpson on her way to winning gold in the triathlon (Getty Images)

Which is something of a pity. The first two places in the last Commonwealth Games 10,000m final on Scottish soil, in Edinburgh in 1986, were filled by members of the Brownlees’ Yorkshire running club, Bingley Harriers: Jon Solly and Stevie Binns.

Still, the Brownlees have the triathlon relay to come on Saturday. And Alistair was quick to clarify a flippant suggestion that he might retire from triathlon, having won every major title now. “I don’t see I’ll be retiring any time soon,” he said. “Maybe in another four years.”

A lesser soul than Stimpson might have considered moving on after failing to gain selection for London 2012. Instead, the 25-year-old  from the West Midlands swallowed the bitter disappointment, dusted herself down and came back a better  triathlete.

The result was clear to see as she kicked clear from Kirsten Sweetland of Canada to win the women’s race by five seconds in 1:58:56, with her England team-mate Vicky Holland taking bronze.

“Obviously I was devastated to miss a home Olympics,” Stimpson reflected, “but that gave me the kick up the backside that I needed.”

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Piers Linney is still adjusting to his celebrity status as one of two new …

By
Ruth Sunderland

16:28 EST, 23 July 2014


|

09:56 EST, 24 July 2014

Piers Linney is still adjusting to his celebrity status as one of two new panel members grilling nervous entrepreneurs on the TV programme Dragons’ Den.

Until he appeared last year, along with his fellow new dragon, interior design guru Kelly Hoppen, neither he nor his cloud computing business, Outsourcery, had attracted much attention outside the baffling world of the techies.

‘I am now stopped on the street, people do recognise me,’ he says. ‘But I am not at the Tom Cruise level yet.’

Den's new boy: Piers Linney

Den’s new boy: Piers Linney

He did Dragon’s Den ‘because I was asked’ and because ‘I was with Sir Richard Branson on his game reserve in Africa, and he said: “Screw it, let’s do it”. Well he would say that – it is the title of his book.’

The Den, which airs on Sunday, was not Linney’s debut on television: he had already appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire series, posing as a volunteer for nine days at a young offenders’ institution in Wolverhampton.

‘One of the boys from prison works for us now. We got him out of prison, trained him up and he’s doing great.’

He says this series, the 12th, will be ‘even better’ than previous ones ‘because you will see us get involved with software companies and you haven’t seen much of that in the Den’.

In the last series Linney and Hoppen invested £60,000 for a 10 per cent stake in Skinny Tan, a business making self-tanning products which, it’s claimed, also reduce cellulite. ‘It is real money, your own money,’ says Linney, who says he has invested around ‘half a million’ in total.

‘I am worth enough not to have to work if I don’t want to, but I am not a billionaire. I am investing because I think I will get out two or three times what I put in.’

Linney grew up in the Lancashire mill town of Bacup with his father, a ‘Mancunian working-class lad who went to Cambridge’ and his mother, a nurse who came to the UK from Barbados in the early 1960s. 

The young Piers and his brother were the only mixed-race children in the community, ‘which was interesting, as you can imagine, but we just got on with it.’

These days, Linney counts as one of Powerlist’s 100 most influential black Britons, but he did not get off to a promising start.

He landed himself in hot water with his mother by failing his 11-plus – ‘I felt like I had failure tattooed on my forehead’ – but his entrepreneurial streak soon came through. Instead of doing a paper round for a newsagent, he worked out he could make more money by cutting out the middle-man and buying the Sunday papers direct from the wholesaler. By his mid-teens, he was doing door-to-door sales.

Source data

But after his degree at Manchester University he struggled to get a start. ‘I made 68 applications to London law firms, and only one, SJ Berwin, gave me a chance. To get into the room is quite tricky from my background, but once I have got in the room I am fine.’

From there, he went into investment banking at Barclays and Credit Suisse. ‘When the internet came along, I saw it as a gold rush, so I had to get involved. I took my bonus in 2000 and walked out the door to set up on my own. My friends and family thought I was bananas.’

Linney was involved in a string of ventures until, in 2007, he and friend and former colleague Simon Newton bought a mobile phone re-seller from Dixons that was to become Outsourcery.

The company is a ‘cloud expert’ – which the computer-illiterate might think was something to do with meteorology. In fact, it is trying to cash in on the trend for companies to operate their IT and communications over the internet, rather than on their premises.

 


Six of the best: Major household names are among Britain's small, medium yet most vibrant businesses.

Linney likens it to the shift that took place in electricity. ‘In the early days, each household had to have its own generator. Then they built power-stations to serve lots of homes and businesses. We are the equivalent of the power station.’

‘Most people will use cloud computing, you just don’t know you are doing it. Your iPhone back-up is in the cloud, for example.’

Despite the name, cloud computing is not ethereal, but relies on large, fortress-like physical data centres. ‘We have several. They need to be very physically robust, so it cannot flood, it has back-up power, and no one can break in. Once you get in the building there is a caged area, with retinal scanners, and thumbprints. Then you have networks, passwords and so on.’

All very interesting, but what about the financials? As with most businesses in the tech sector, investors have to judge whether Outsourcery will reach the skies, or just vanish.

The firm, with 125 staff, floated on the junior AIM market last year at a price of 110p and is currently trading well below that at 31.5p. It ran up losses of £8.8million in 2013, compared with £10million the previous year, but revenues were up 44 per cent to £5.2million.

Linney has also invested more than £4million in a project to migrate government data to the cloud. Outsourcery is working with Microsoft and Dell to build a secure platform, with all data to be kept on UK soil – a government requirement. ‘We will be the first Microsoft-validated partner to build a cloud platform for the Government,’ he says. ‘The City does not quite grasp the scale of the opportunity.’

Outsourcery has also secured partnerships with names such as Vodafone and Virgin Media Business, and counts the London Business School, Pearson and the BBC as customers.

‘There is no profit yet. Our business is a fine balance between making money and a land grab.’

‘Trying to explain what we do and the scale of opportunity to a generalist investor is very difficult.

There is an obsession with what month next year are you going to be profitable. That is right, but you also have to think about grabbing the land that will give you a much bigger and more valuable business in future. In America, they get that you need to secure the beach-head.’

As if there were not enough ups and downs in his business life, Linney’s hobby is mountain biking.

‘We don’t do golf for our corporate day out, we go mountain biking. I scream down.’

Not that there is much time for leisure. On a typical day, he wakes up about 6.30am, visits a personal trainer three days a week, and is in the office from around 8.30am until 7pm. His wife of ten years, Tara – also an entrepreneur who runs a dance school – and daughters Tiger, 6, and Electra, 3, are used to him working seven days a week.

He does not have time to sit on the boards of Dragons’ Den companies, but likes to be closely involved.

‘I am there if they need me as a sounding board, and I can open doors. I am also an entrepreneur doing it myself. I am still on an entrepreneurial journey, just a bit further down the road than some of those who come on the programme.’

Investors will hope there are not too many potholes ahead.


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Glasgow 2014: David Fletcher could not watch opening ceremony

Mountain biker David Fletcher says he could not bear to watch the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony following his injury heartache.

The 25-year-old was forced to

pull out of Glasgow 2014

after hurting his shoulder on Sunday and chose to miss Wednesday’s celebrations in Scotland.

“I went out with my family to get away, keep my spirits raised and make sure I didn’t get too down,” Fletcher said.

Even before I hit the ground I thought, I can’t come off, I can’t hurt myself.

David Fletcher

“It’s been a year of bad luck with mechanical problems and crashes.”

Fletcher told BBC Radio Nottingham: “Mountain biking is a dangerous sport and crashes come with it. Unfortunately for me it was three days before the Games.

“Even before I hit the ground I thought, I can’t come off, I can’t hurt myself.”

He had been looking forward to challenging for a medal in Scotland, after narrowly missing out on riding in the London 2012 Olympics.

“Hopefully Team England can come back with a nice haul of medals. I’ll certainly be watching the mountain bike event,” Fletcher added.

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Why you should ride a mountain bike in London

14:00 24 July 2014


Oli Beckingsdale says mountain bikes are the best for riding in London

Archant

The obvious perception of mountain biking is being in the countryside riding up and downhill far away from built up urban areas. Whilst this is where the best all day adventures will take place there is still a lot of fun to be had riding mountain bikes in the city.

Many of the bike paths in our cities are not the dream smooth traffic free road alternatives we would hope, but a mix of old footpaths, old railway tracks, cannel paths and broken tarmac.

On a mountain bike which is able to take the rough with the smooth these paths can not only be ridden but ridden at speed and the miss placed curbs and banks can offer an interesting line or a jump.

Look on a map and you can spot small pockets of woodland littered around a city and any of these will already have a trail network and many being small old quarries will have banks and drops. Link these paths up or add some fun additions, like a berm to a corner or a rolling jump and you have your own mini city bike park.

I first got into mountain bikes riding around a small old quarry/woodland less than 500m square and even 25 years later I still pop in every now and then for a few laps, leaving with the same grin on my face that I did as a kid back then.

A few of these woodland pockets combined with some bike path and you can quickly create a fun and fast hour or two loop which will give you the off road and fitness buzz you crave without the need to get in your car and travel out of the city to a riding spot.

On the other hand, if you are prepared to hop on a train and go less than an hour out of London there are a few key spots that need to be checked out because trust me, there isn’t a forest in the middle of London, even behind the London Eye, I checked.

In this category of ‘in and around’ London area, I have chosen three great options. First is Epsom Downs, just a 35 minute train journey out of London and still inside the M25 ring so it’s easily accessible. Once you’re there it’s good to start on the Epsom Downs race track before making your way down to some of the area’s idyllic forests including Nower Wood, Jubilee Wood and Epsom Common. The trails can be challenging and might take some sussing out but great fun nonetheless.

Second is Epping Forest, which epitomises cross country riding. Luckily, it is not too far from London at all and you can get there by riding or catching the train to Chingford. The forest is super muddy all year round but depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, it will easily occupy you for a good few hours. There is also the opportunity to rent bikes near the area too which is handy.

Finally, Swinley Forest, just 40 miles west of central London is a great destination for all year round riding open to all abilities. The best way to get there is a train to Bracknell station and when you’re there, the Berks on Bikes mountain bike club is a good place to get a guided ride if you’re not so experienced. Mountain Biking UK magazine voted the area one of the best in the UK so it is not to be missed.

Why to choose a mountain bike in London

People always ask me whether I enjoy road cycling as well as mountain biking and the answer is, yes I do! I enjoy both for different reasons and for the simple fact that they are both so different, culturally and physically. When it comes to riding around the city there are a few benefits to having a mountain bike as opposed to a road bike though, believe it or not. Speed, kerbs and comfort would be three factors to take into account when considering a city ride.

Speed

Firstly, how often do you actually go really fast anywhere on any vehicle in London rush hour? If you’re buying a road bike for the city because it’s faster on tarmac, think again how fast you can actually go on it in central London rush hour with buses everywhere?

Kerbs

There’s a lot of them in London and going over them suddenly on a road bike is painful on a rock hard saddle to say the least. Sometimes you need to manoeuvre quickly onto a kerb to avoid something or even just cut a big bus out by cheekily nipping onto the pavement. Well, a nice rear suspension of a mountain bike can solve this quite easily.

Comfort

The riding position of most road bikes can be slightly awkward as they are built to maximise aerodynamics. On a mountain bike on the other hand, it’s a much more comfy rider position. With thicker tyres and the additional suspension, you won’t even feel a pothole, eroded drain or road debris when you inevitably go over it at a long day in the office.

Next time you’re ready for a new bike then, think twice if you instantly think city = road bike because you might just be better off on a soft tail mountain bike.

Oli Beckingsale is the owner of www.bwcycling.com in Bristol and ambassador of www.mtbepics.com, great new mountain biking events backed by British Cycling.

Tweet your responses to this blog to @London24

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Commonwealth Games 2014 opening ceremony: as it happened

23.31 The Queen’s got the baton now. She’s got the speed to burn away
her rivals on this final leg… No, hang on, that’s not right. She put a
message in it when they started its journey at Buckingham Palace and now she
is going to read it out.

23.30 Torch parading now. This has MASSIVELY over-run, has it not?

23.25 Okay. Seriously. Sporting administrator man. That’s enough speech
now.

23.22 And now a good old yak from a Commonwealth Games
admin/suit/honcho type.

23.20 A tribute to the people who died in the recent Malaysian airlines
tragedy.

23.18 Sorry to report that a politician is now speaking. It’s Salmond.

23.15 The athletes and coaches take the oath now. CD writes:

E-mailGot to hand it to the scots. Very proud of being a member of the
commonwealth. from canada.
Sick of the commercals though.

23.11 Inspiring stuff from Billy Connolly about how Glasgow changed the
name of a street to Nelson Mandela Street during Apartheid… the street
where the South African High Commission was located.

23.06 So some folk from each nation parade a white flag, representing
peace and fraternity in sport (I’m guessing at this point) while a lady
plays the Bonnie Banks Of Loch Lomond thing on the fiddle.

23.04 I’m not saying I’m not enjoying all of this but it does rather
seem to be going on a bit.

23.01 There’s a bit of choral music now, youngsters singing, all
ethereal and very pleasant. Ooh, and a message from the Space Station. “Looking
down, it’s all one planet” etc. Aw man. This is cool, isn’t it? One
love, space dudes.

22.59 Here, thanks to Polly Ludlow Jones, who writes in reply to
the lady earlier who was asking about why so many of the athletes have got
taped fingers.

E-mailI think it’s a light taped to their finger …

22.58 That nice James McAvoy is doing the charity bit next. There’s a
charity number you can text to help UNICEF.

22.54 Rod, and I am sorry to have to tell you this, is playing NEW
MATERIAL. Rod. You had one job. You get up there, you belt out a bit of
Maggie May and Sailing and you get off and get back to California. Or
Epping, I should say. This opening number is from 2013! It’s called You
Can’t Stop Me Now or some such. It’s a good tune and all, but Rod. Really.
George Michael tried a similar caper at the Olympics IIRC.

22.52 Everyone’s safely gathered in from the 71 nations, territories,
rocks, etc. And now… Rod Stewart.

22.50 Nick Matthew carried the flag for the English, and reader Ian
Massie reckons he didn’t make as good a fist of it as his Scots counterpart
Euan Burton

E-mailWe had to wait for a Scotsman to hold the flag with a straight arm ,
Matthew !From An Aberdonian

22.46 Here come the Scots. It’s The Shamen’s ‘Move Any Mountain’. It’s
a lot of very happy and excited Scottish people in their, let’s not mince
words, much-maligned orange and blue tartan garb. I rather like it. Not for
everyone, I grant you. Anyway, it’s a hell of an atmosphere and everyone is
having a high old time of it. Ian McLarnon writes:

E-mailS Express? Simples. “I’ve got the hots for you”. Scotland has the
hots for its neighbour…. Tongue firmly in cheek!

22.45 What music will the Scots come in to? Something by the KLF? It’s
all up for grabs now. Sue Pointon asks:

E-mailCan you tell me why many athletes appear to have coloured tape on their
fingers?

Sue, I am sorry. I cannot. Anyone?

22.43 Wales are VERY excited and hence very blurry.

22.40 Here’s the Northern Ireland lads and lasses.

22.39 Malta there, much beloved of Gary Neville. I read a whole
interview with Gurreh once about how he loves going there on holidays. Good
times. Ranjit writes:

E-mailNothing could make you more proud and happy seeing your country’s national
flag in commonwealth games

22.35 Disappointingly, no booing for England. The hated oppressors
enter the stadium to… the traditional sounds of S Express!!! What the
actual flip? Brilliantly bonkers music choice once again.

22.34 Eesh. Onwards. It’s Europe now. We start with Cyprus. “One
of the favourite holiday destinations for many in the UK,” says Hazel.
Hang in there, hen.

22.31 St Helena Island next. Oh, the Napoleon place, right?

22.25 The Falkland Islands are carrying their dog.

Simon wins a biscuit and a Geography A-Level:

E-mailPoint of order. There are 71 competing ‘nations and territories’ of the
Commonwealth competing at the Games. As anyone who watches Pointless knows,
a country is defined as a sovereign state that’s a member of the UN in its
own right. So, Australia, for example, is a ‘country’, the British Virgin
Islands not.

22.24 Her off the Pussycat Dolls. Nicole with the hard to spell name.
Was on X Factor. Anyway, she is the latest sleb to take a turn at rattlin’
the UNICEF tin. Now it’s Belize, famous for its delicious tax laws. Here’s
an electronic letter from Joe Marjoram:

E-mailI rather suspect there’s a few more games sceptics with every passing
minute of this, um, splendorama.

During our time in submarines, us young folk found Glasgow always compared
favorably with a stinking tin can full of men. And frankly, where wouldn’t?

I now realise Glasgow was in fact a great place that deserved more
recognition. Well worth a visit. Even when there’s nae sport on.

22.22 The Turks And Caicos Islands take to the arena to the sounds of
SL2′s On A Ragga Tip. Kwa-li-tee. I am delighted and mystified by some of
the music choices here.

22.20 Where’s Usain Bolt? He’s not here. That’s a bit of a snub.

22.15 Jamaica the latest place we’re having a video from. Reggie Yates,
I believe, doing the UNICEF thing. It’s the countries of the Caribbean now.

22.11 Poor old Malaysia had their flag at half mast earlier.

22.09 Yay Swaziland. They’ve got a lad in the 200m who is quick as
anything. Sibusiso “Swazi-bolt” Matsenjwa.

22.06 There’s the Rwanadan team, and the mountain biker Adrien
Niyonshuti, who lost SIX brothers in the genocide and has now set up his own
mountain biking academy for kids.

22.04 Mozambique have only been in the Commonwealth since 1995.
Namibia, home of Frankie Fredericks and (according to Hazel) “spectacularly
arid”! are next up. Nigeria have brought a few.

22.02 Malawi look extremely fun.

22.01 The mighty Kenyans now. Looking forward to seeing their runners.
They’ve got a huge team.

22.00 Here come Ghana. Hope they’ve all had their bonuses paid, we
don’t want an incident like we did with the football team.

21.55 I do loves me an athletes’ parade. The costumes, the national
dress, the flags. Especially the wee nations.

Here are Tuvalu. Hazel Irvine has got hold of wikipedia and she’s hammering
away at it like a woman possessed. “They’ve only got one football
pitch… it’s also the runway for the national airport…. The capital is
Funafuti.” Go on yersel Hazel.

21.53 Here come Papua New Guinea though. Hopefully not too upset about
that AMBIENT TRANCE HOWLER just now. By the way, we do the countries by
continent. We’ve had Asia, now Oceania, etc.

21.52 Musical dork alert. They’re playing PAPUA NEW GUINEA by The
Future Sound Of London. As Fiji enter. Interesting choice.

Jacqui G writes: At least the athletes have arrived to fill the
space up a bit! It is over yet?

21.50 The Aussies, and rightly so, arrive to the strains of Back In
Black. AC/DC: pretty much the greatest Scottish-Aussie hybrid of which the
human mind can conceive.

21.46 Okay, the pattern is established thus.

Short VT about desperately poor children.

Stirring music.

UNICEF come-on.

Yay, Commonwealth Games.

“Come on in NAME OF COUNTRY”

Scottish Terrier.

Enter team.

Flags, happiness, all jolly nice.

21.43 As each team comes in, the announcer shouts “Come on in”,
which is a Scottish saying, we’re told. “Come on in, Maldives.”
And then the Maldives come in, escorted by a small dog with a jacket on.
Sorry, to me, that is top entertainment.

21.40 Bit more video of Ewan McGregor, charity stuff, and then a VT
that will make Indians very happy: Sachin himself doing a little thing to
the camera for UNICEF and asking everyone to welcome the competitors

21.36 Now then. The athletes arrive, and India go first. They are led
in by a Scottish Terrier. I am not even kidding.

21.35 So… Scotland. They’ve got chairs. Well done everyone.

21.34 Okay, now I have absolutely no idea what is going on. There’s an
old Andy Stewart song playing and lots and lots of dancers with chairs. Is
it Scottish reeling? I think it’s Scottish reeling. No, wait. Hazel Irvine
says: “one of the creative team got the idea for this when he went to a
wedding and they didn’t have enough chairs so local people in the village
lent them some chairs.”

21.29 Now a welcome change of tack as the rather uncomfortable
UK/Scotland thing is put aside with two dancers from the National Ballet of
Scotland doing some superb work to a stripped down rendition of (I Would
Walk) 500 Miles.

21.26 They’re doing the UK national anthem (ie God Save The Queen) now
and the rendition is less than deafening. No booing that I can here. But a
LOT of people not joining in with that at all. Hard to tell if the Queen
notices or cares. In fairness she does not look exactly chuffed.

21.25 The Queen then gets out of HER MASSIVE CAR in the stadium and
shakes hands with a few suits.

21.24 Those in Celtic Park can look up and see the Red Arrows flying
overhead and emitting smoke jets of red, white and blue. So there’s that.

21.23 The Queen in the house. She’s driven into the stadium in a
massive Bentley (? Roller? I don’t know about cars). That is so pimp, ma’am.

21.22 Confirmed bagpipers.

21.21 And now you’ve got your Susan Boyle singing Mull of Kintyre. And
they say Scotland couldn’t thrive if they go it alone. Linda Bond writes:

E-mailWhy oh why are we being subjected to people telling us all about scotland
when they dont live here e.g john barrowman – hasnt lived here for 20 years,
billy connelly – has lived in america for 30 years, rod stewart….isnt
scottish at all. When are we going to move away from the shortbread tin
mentality….all this pipes and kilts. The park also looks empty with no onr
on the pitch. Embarrasing.

21.20 Bit of a round of applause for the India flag.

21.17 There is a video of Amy MacDonald (or, Emelie McSande as I like
to think of her) doing a number in the city, with the General Public joining
in, and then she is into the stadium and… here’s Rod Stewart to pick up
the musical baton.

21.14 Well, I liked it. It was a bit kids’ TV in places but, you know,
everyone seemed to be having a nice time.

21.13 “This is our home, and you are all very welcome,” says
Karen Dunbar.

21.12 Aw, this is good this. It’s like a bonkers school end of term
concert where everyone gets to do their best turn. Lots of funny and clever
little bits, loads of energy, namechecks for all the things Scotland is
famous for and then a few fireworks.

21.11 There’s a list now of all the inventions that Scotland has
produced.

21.09 St Andrews and golf clubs now. A nice joke with Dolly the sheep
being cloned cloned cloned cloned cloned….

21.08 Nessie! And now we’re in the Western Isles. It took me a while to
figure this out, but we’re on a whistle-stop tour of Scotland. Simon
writes:

If the Krankies come out, I’m emigrating.

21.06 The song has moved onto the Highlands. Those there are Tunnock’s
Teacakes. “we come from a land of heather, where men wear kilts and
women blether.”

21.04 It’s a golden age of show musical number. Namechecks for Gretna,
for haggis, for booze, for gay marriage, the Clyde. John Barrowman in a
purple suit belting out a purpose-written song.

21.03 Scottish comedian lady whose name I did not catch starts things
off with a singy-speaky musical theatre intro saying/singing welcome to
Scotland.

21.02 We’re back in the room.

21.00 “Welcome to Scotland, welcome to Glasgow,” says the man
immortalised in cinema as Mark Renton.

20.59 Before the action begins, there is a video recorded message from
Ewan McGregor on behalf of UNICEF.

20.58 Here’s an excellent blog on Alex
Salmond and politicisation of the Games
by Ben Riley-Smith.

20.56 There’s Daley Thompson, childhood hero o’mine and Ian Thorpe, top
fellow that he seems to be. Daley says that his favourite thing in Delhi was
the women’s netball. There you have it. “It’s not the Olympics, it’s
not meant to be. They’ve got their own flavour.”

20.48 Together at last. Susan Boyle and Clare Balding. “I was
asked to perform here, ooh, two years ago.” She cannot say what song
she will perform though. I hope it’s Ace Of Spades by Motorhead.

20.45 You can’t whack the BBC when it comes to a heartfelt montagey
thing, can you? There’s hugging, there’s learning. It’s all good.

20.40 “Let Glasgow flourish,” is the motto of the Games, and
Billy Connolly is not doing a video about it.

20.38 It’s a cast of thousands for the Beeb tonight. Alan Wells. Dame
Tani – who is rightly pleased that paralympic sports will be fully
integrated into this Games.

20.37 Quick puke and I’m back in the game. The Friendly Games, they
call it. Been WAY too much politics in it so far, what with Salmond and
Cameron both getting their licks in.

20.35 Well here’s lovely. It’s a video of Margaret Thatcher defending
her refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa (the relevance being that
some athletes from Commonwealth countries boycotted the 1986 Edinburgh
Commonwealth Games in protest). Not sure I can really face watching that so
there will be a short blog hiatus.

20.30 David Wilkie, Dame Kelly Holmes and Barry McGuigan are in the
stadium and all have been asked by Clare Balding to spell out how absolutely
definitely vital the Commonwealth Games were in their career. I for one
don’t doubt that it is true, but the insistence on everyone stressing it
does slightly give off a chip-on-the-shoulder air. We all get that it’s not
the Olympics. But it’s still good, right? Like, you can enjoy both top class
international football AND England matches, you know? Anyway, enough of
that. Good luck to everyone involved.

20.25 Giant tea-cakes are not to be sniffed at, but early bid for the
story of the games so far has to be the Sri
Lankan cycling team
who were pulled over by the polis for cycling on
the motorway.

20.20 Exciting claim from Paul Kelso, once of this parish, and now at
Sky News.

20.15 An email arrives from Simon McMahon:

E-mailEvening Alan. Rod Stewart’s finest hour is pushing it a bit, but Maggie May
was a very fine five minutes, as was The Killing of Georgie. As you say,
it’s hard to ignore the political context; wonder if we’ll get any
Bowie-esque pleas from any of the performers tonight?

20.10 Sir Chris Hoy explains a bit about the Queen’s Baton, which set
off from (previous host city) Delhi and has been passed from hand to hand by
thousands.

20.09 Clare Balding doing the meet and greet of the Games Volunteer
people.

20.07 Sir Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington are in the house. Sir Chris
says he is very proud. Rebecca says she is not sad she’s no longer competing
because it’s “time for the next generation.”

20.06 It’s the warmest day of the year in Scotland. The athletes will
parade into Celtic Park. It looks a lot friendlier than when I used to go
there as a Hibs supporter, I’ll tell you what.

20.05 Your hosts are Gary Lineker and Hazel Irvine. No rest for the
wicked, is there? Once you’re in with the BBC, boy are you in.

20.03 That was excellent. Good old Billy Connolly.

20.01 Deploy the Big Yin! He’s narrating a voiceover about “a city
not afraid of hard work”, a school of yard knocks, and how the Clyde
made the city the heartbeat of the industrial revolution. “Sport is the
new shipping lane.”

20.00 BBC opening credits time! Plenty of famous faces in a stylised
and rather shiny, bleak landscape.

19.55 Anyway, I can’t believe I’m live-blogging The One Show, but there
you have it. The action starts in a minute. We’re just enjoying the
pleasantly surreal sight of Amy MacDonald playing her song ‘This Is
The Life’ with Radio’s Ken Bruce and thumping people’s Barry McGuigan
bobbing along in the background.

19.52 Now the BBC are showing a video of Alex Salmond challenging David
Cameron to a game of golf. Oh, politicians. Do leave it alone.

19.50 David Cameron says that he hopes it will be a great event for “Glasgow,
Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.”

19.45 Here’s Victoria Pendleton at the stadium. The
Commonwealths in Manchester were an important early staging point in her
great career.

19.41 Just in case you were unfamiliar, Scotland, England, Wales and
Northern Ireland compete under their own flag. Wonder if there’ll be
any harsh receptions for the English from the locals? Much as we would like
to, it seems that it might be hard to keep politics out of this sporting
event, what with the forthcoming Independence vote…

19.36 The great Barry McGuigan talks about how parents live vicariously
through their sporting children.

19.35 So what is on the menu this evening, then? Well, for one, it’s a
chance for Scotland to show itself off, and everyone’s getting involved.
Here’s Alex Salmond on The One Show:

“It is great for Scotland. It is seven years since we won the Games but
it is only in the last few days it has hit home. It is the most
extraordinary feeling. It is here. I’m not going to be provoked or led into
political debate. I’m just focusing on the Games. Everybody, even the
England team, will get a fantastic response from the Celtic Park crowd. It
will be a home crowd, but a generous crowd.”

19.25 I am quite sure that all of us on Telegraph Sport, both hacks and
readers alike, are huge fans of Susan Boyle, so do stay tuned for her
performance later.

19.20 Evening all. Happy Commonwealth Games! It’s all quite exciting,
isn’t it? Plenty of sport on the box, chance to see some of the world’s best
athletes, and hopefully some lesser-known heroes and heroines will emerge.
Before we get to the sport, there is of course a ceremony, in which we are
promised not only The Queen, but Rod Stewart, and a promise of an
extravaganza with “a distinctly Glaswegian accent”.

Here’s one of my favourites…

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth
Games
Opening Ceremony, which is due to begin tonight at Celtic Park
at 8pm, will potentially have a global audience of 1.5 billion – and it will
certainly have more than a dollop of local flavour, and “a distinctly
Glaswegian accent”.

Home-grown heroes and heroines have been lined up to entertain in the two-hour
extravaganza, which will take place in the 40,000-seater home of Celtic
Football Club (where those in the stadium will pay between £20 and £250),
and the 6,500 athletes from 70 nations will be introduced to the crowd by a
different citizen of Glasgow (or “chieftain”) before 11 days of
competition.

David Zolkwer, the Glasgow 2014 head of ceremonies who directed the 2002 Games
ceremonies in his native Manchester, said: “We knew right from the
start that the source of inspiration and the voice and character and
personality of the ceremony had to reflect and explicitly include the people
of the city.”

The 69-year-old rocker Rod Stewart (who was actually born and raised in
Highgate in London), West Lothian-reared Susan Boyle, 53, who starred in
2009′s Britain’s Got Talent, as well as East Dunbartonshire’s Amy Macdonald,
will feature. And Scottish classical violinist Nicola Benedetti will also
take the stage, among some 2,000 fellow cast and crew in the firework-heavy
show.

Join Alan for his take on what should be a memorable occasion…

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CITY INTERVIEW: Dragon’s Den new boy Piers Linney is still on his own …

By
Ruth Sunderland

16:28 EST, 23 July 2014


|

02:09 EST, 24 July 2014

Piers Linney is still adjusting to his celebrity status as one of two new panel members grilling nervous entrepreneurs on the TV programme Dragons’ Den.

Until he appeared last year, along with his fellow new dragon, interior design guru Kelly Hoppen, neither he nor his cloud computing business, Outsourcery, had attracted much attention outside the baffling world of the techies.

‘I am now stopped on the street, people do recognise me,’ he says. ‘But I am not at the Tom Cruise level yet.’

Den's new boy: Piers Linney

Den’s new boy: Piers Linney

He did Dragon’s Den ‘because I was asked’ and because ‘I was with Sir Richard Branson on his game reserve in Africa, and he said: “Screw it, let’s do it”. Well he would say that – it is the title of his book.’

The Den, which airs on Sunday, was not Linney’s debut on television: he had already appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire series, posing as a volunteer for nine days at a young offenders’ institution in Wolverhampton. ‘One of the boys from prison works for us now. We got him out of prison, trained him up and he’s doing great.’

He says this series, the 12th, will be ‘even better’ than previous ones ‘because you will see us get involved with software companies and you haven’t seen much of that in the Den’.

In the last series Linney and Hoppen invested £60,000 for a 10 per cent stake in Skinny Tan, a business making self-tanning products which, it’s claimed, also reduce cellulite. ‘It is real money, your own money,’ says Linney, who says he has invested around ‘half a million’ in total.

‘I am worth enough not to have to work if I don’t want to, but I am not a billionaire. I am investing because I think I will get out two or three times what I put in.’

Linney grew up in the Lancashire mill town of Bacup with his father, a ‘Mancunian working-class lad who went to Cambridge’ and his mother, a nurse who came to the UK from Barbados in the early 1960s. 

The young Piers and his brother were the only mixed-race children in the community, ‘which was interesting, as you can imagine, but we just got on with it.’

These days, Linney counts as one of Powerlist’s 100 most influential black Britons, but he did not get off to a promising start.

He landed himself in hot water with his mother by failing his 11-plus – ‘I felt like I had failure tattooed on my forehead’ – but his entrepreneurial streak soon came through. Instead of doing a paper round for a newsagent, he worked out he could make more money by cutting out the middle-man and buying the Sunday papers direct from the wholesaler. By his mid-teens, he was doing door-to-door sales.

Source data

But after his degree at Manchester University he struggled to get a start. ‘I made 68 applications to London law firms, and only one, SJ Berwin, gave me a chance. To get into the room is quite tricky from my background, but once I have got in the room I am fine.’

From there, he went into investment banking at Barclays and Credit Suisse. ‘When the internet came along, I saw it as a gold rush, so I had to get involved. I took my bonus in 2000 and walked out the door to set up on my own. My friends and family thought I was bananas.’

Linney was involved in a string of ventures until, in 2007, he and friend and former colleague Simon Newton bought a mobile phone re-seller from Dixons that was to become Outsourcery.

The company is a ‘cloud expert’ – which the computer-illiterate might think was something to do with meteorology. In fact, it is trying to cash in on the trend for companies to operate their IT and communications over the internet, rather than on their premises.

Linney likens it to the shift that took place in electricity. ‘In the early days, each household had to have its own generator. Then they built power-stations to serve lots of homes and businesses. We are the equivalent of the power station.’

‘Most people will use cloud computing, you just don’t know you are doing it. Your iPhone back-up is in the cloud, for example.’

Despite the name, cloud computing is not ethereal, but relies on large, fortress-like physical data centres. ‘We have several. They need to be very physically robust, so it cannot flood, it has back-up power, and no one can break in. Once you get in the building there is a caged area, with retinal scanners, and thumbprints. Then you have networks, passwords and so on.’

All very interesting, but what about the financials? As with most businesses in the tech sector, investors have to judge whether Outsourcery will reach the skies, or just vanish.

The firm, with 125 staff, floated on the junior AIM market last year at a price of 110p and is currently trading well below that at 31.5p. It ran up losses of £8.8million in 2013, compared with £10million the previous year, but revenues were up 44 per cent to £5.2million.

Linney has also invested more than £4million in a project to migrate government data to the cloud. Outsourcery is working with Microsoft and Dell to build a secure platform, with all data to be kept on UK soil – a government requirement. ‘We will be the first Microsoft-validated partner to build a cloud platform for the Government,’ he says. ‘The City does not quite grasp the scale of the opportunity.’

Outsourcery has also secured partnerships with names such as Vodafone and Virgin Media Business, and counts the London Business School, Pearson and the BBC as customers.

‘There is no profit yet. Our business is a fine balance between making money and a land grab.’

‘Trying to explain what we do and the scale of opportunity to a generalist investor is very difficult.

There is an obsession with what month next year are you going to be profitable. That is right, but you also have to think about grabbing the land that will give you a much bigger and more valuable business in future. In America, they get that you need to secure the beach-head.’

As if there were not enough ups and downs in his business life, Linney’s hobby is mountain biking.

‘We don’t do golf for our corporate day out, we go mountain biking. I scream down.’

Not that there is much time for leisure. On a typical day, he wakes up about 6.30am, visits a personal trainer three days a week, and is in the office from around 8.30am until 7pm. His wife of ten years, Tara – also an entrepreneur who runs a dance school – and daughters Tiger, 6, and Electra, 3, are used to him working seven days a week.

He does not have time to sit on the boards of Dragons’ Den companies, but likes to be closely involved.

‘I am there if they need me as a sounding board, and I can open doors. I am also an entrepreneur doing it myself. I am still on an entrepreneurial journey, just a bit further down the road than some of those who come on the programme.’

Investors will hope there are not too many potholes ahead.


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23.30 Torch parading now. This has MASSIVELY over-run, has it not?

23.25 Okay. Seriously. Sporting adminsitrator man. That’s enough speech
now.

23.20 A tribute to the people who died in the recent Malaysian airlines
tragedy.

23.18 Sorry to report that a politican is now speaking. It’s Salmond.

23.15 The athletes and coaches take the oath now. CD writes:

Got to hand it to the scots. Very proud of being a member of the
commonwealth. from canada.
Sick of the commercals though.

23.11 Inspiring stuff from Billy Connolly about how Glasgow changed the
name of a street to Nelson Mandela Street during Apartheid… the street
where the South African High Commission was located.

23.06 So some folk from each nation parade a white flag, representing
peace and fraternity in sport (I’m guessing at this point) while a lady
plays the Bonnie Banks Of Loch Lomond thing on the fiddle.

23.04 I’m not saying I’m not enjoying all of this but it does rather
seem to be going on a bit.

23.01 There’s a nice bit of choral music now, youngsters singing, all
ethereal and very pleasant. Ooh, and a message from the Space Station.

22.59 Here, thanks to Polly Ludlow Jones, who writes in reply to the
lady earlier who was asking about why so many of the athletes have got taped
fingers.

I think it’s a light taped to their finger …

22.58 That nice James McAvoy is doing the charity bit next. There’s a
charity number you can text to help UNICEF.

22.54 Rod, and I am sorry to have to tell you this, is playing NEW
MATERIAL. Rod. You had one job. You get up there, you belt out a bit of
Maggie May and Sailing and you get off and get back to California. Or
Epping, I should say. This opening number is from 2013! It’s called You
Can’t Stop Me Now or some such. It’s a good tune and all, but Rod. Really.
George Michael tried a similar caper at the Olympics IIRC.

22.52 Everyone’s safely gathered in from the 71 nations, territories,
rocks, etc. And now… Rod Stewart.

22.50 Nick Matthew carried the flag for the English, and reader Ian
Massie reckons he didn’t make as good a fist of it as his Scots counterpart.

E-mailWe had to wait for a Scotsman to hold the flag with a straight arm ,
Matthew !From An Aberdonian

22.46 Here come the Scots. It’s The Shamen’s ‘Move Any Mountain’. It’s
a lot of very happy and excited Scottish people in their, let’s not mince
words, much-maligned orange and blue tartan garb. I rather like it. Not for
everyone, I grant you. Anyway, it’s a hell of an atmosphere and everyone is
having a high old time of it. Ian McLarnon writes:

E-mailS Express? Simples. “I’ve got the hots for you”. Scotland has the
hots for its neighbour…. Tongue firmly in cheek!

22.45 What music will the Scots come in to? Something by the KLF? It’s
all up for grabs now. Sue Pointon asks:

E-mailCan you tell me why many athletes appear to have coloured tape on their
fingers?

Sue, I am sorry. I cannot. Anyone?

22.43 Wales are VERY excited and hence very blurry.

22.40 Here’s the Northern Ireland lads and lasses.

22.39 Malta there, much beloved of Gary Neville. I read a whole
interview with Gurreh once about how he loves going there on holidays. Good
times. Ranjit writes:

E-mailNothing could make you more proud and happy seeing your country’s national
flag in commonwealth games

22.35 Disappointingly, no booing for England. The hated oppressors
enter the stadium to… the traditional sounds of S Express!!! What the
actual flip? Brilliantly bonkers music choice once again.

22.34 Eesh. Onwards. It’s Europe now. We start with Cyrpus. “One
of the favourite holiday destinations for many in the UK,” says Hazel.
Hang in there, hen.

22.31 St Helena Island next. Oh, the Napoleon place.

22.25 The Falkland Islands are carrying their dog. Simon wins a
biscuit and a Geography A-Level:

E-mailPoint of order. There are 71 competing ‘nations and territories’ of the
Commonwealth competing at the Games. As anyone who watches Pointless knows,
a country is defined as a sovereign state that’s a member of the UN in its
own right. So, Australia, for example, is a ‘country’, the British Virgin
Islands not.

22.24 Her off the Pussycat Dolls. Nicole with the hard to spell name.
Was on X Factor. Anyway, she is the latest sleb to take a turn at rattlin’
the UNICEF tin. Now it’s Belize, famous for its delicious tax laws. Here’s
an electronic letter from Joe Marjoram:

E-mailI rather suspect there’s a few more games sceptics with every passing
minute of this, um, splendorama.

During our time in submarines, us young folk found Glasgow always compared
favorably with a stinking tin can full of men. And frankly, where wouldn’t?

I now realise Glasgow was in fact a great place that deserved more
recognition. Well worth a visit. Even when there’s nae sport on.

22.22 The Turks And Caicos Islands take to the arena to the sounds of
SL2′s On A Ragga Tip. Kwa-li-tee. I am delighted and mystified by some of
the music choices here.

22.20 Where’s Usain? He’s not here. That’s a bit of a snub.

22.15 Jamaica the latest place we’re having a video from. Reggie Yates,
I believe, doing the UNICEF thing. It’s the countries of the Caribean now.

22.11 Poor old Malaysia had their flag at half mast earlier.

22.09 Yay Swaziland. They’ve got a lad in the 200m who is quick as
anything. Sibusiso “Swazi-bolt” Matsenjwa.

22.06 There’s the Rwanadan team, and the mountain biker Adrien
Niyonshuti, who lost SIX brothers in the genocide and has now set up his own
mountain biking academy for kids.

22.04 Mozambique have only been in the Commonwealth since 1995.
Namibia, home of Frankie Fredericks and (according to Hazel) “spectacularly
arid”! are next up. Nigeria have brought a few.

22.02 Malawi look extremely fun.

22.01 The mighty Kenyans now. Looking forward to seeing their runners.
They’ve got a huge team.

22.00 Here come Ghana. Hope they’ve all had their bonuses paid, we
don’t want an incident like we did with the football team.

21.55 I do loves me an athletes’ parade. The costumes, the national
dress, the flags. Especially the wee nations.

Here are Tuvalu. Hazel Irvine has got hold of wikipedia and she’s hammering
away at it like a woman possessed. “They’ve only got one football
pitch… it’s also the runway for the national airport…. The capital is
Funafuti.” Go on yersel Hazel.

21.53 Here come Papua New Guinea though. Hopefully not too upset about
that AMBIENT TRANCE HOWLER just now. By the way, we do the countries by
continent. We’ve had Asia, now Oceania, etc.

21.52 Musical dork alert. They’re playing PAPUA NEW GUINEA by The
Future Sound Of London. As Fiji enter. Interesting choice.

Jacqui G writes: At least the athletes have arrived to fill the
space up a bit! It is over yet?

21.50 The Aussies, and rightly so, arrive to the strains of Back In
Black. AC/DC: pretty much the greatest Scottish-Aussie hybird of which the
human mind can conceive.

21.46 Okay, the pattern is established thus.

Short VT about desperately poor children.

Stirring music.

UNICEF come-on.

Yay, Commonwealth Games.

“Come on in NAME OF COUNTRY”

Scottish Terrier.

Enter team.

Flags, happiness, all jolly nice.

21.43 As each team comes in, the announcer shouts “Come on in”,
which is a Scottish saying, we’re told. “Come on in, Maldives.”
And then the Maldives come in, escorted by a small dog with a jacket on.
Sorry, to me, that is top entertainment.

21.40 Bit more video of Ewan McGregor, charity stuff, and then a VT
that will make Indians very happy: Sachin himself doing a little thing to
the camera for UNICEF and asking everyone to welcome the competitiors.

21.36 Now then. The athletes arrive, and India go first. They are led
in by a Scottish Terrier. I am not even kidding.

21.35 So… Scotland. They’ve got chairs. Well done everyone.

21.34 Okay, now I have absolutely no idea what is going on. There’s an
old Andy Stewart song palying and lots and lots of dancers with chairs. Is
it Scottish reeling? I think it’s Scottish reeling. No, wait. Hazel irvine
says: “one of the creative team got the idea for this when he went to a
wedding and they didn’t have enough chairs so local people in the village
lent them some chairs.”

21.29 Now a welcome change of tack as the rather uncomfortable
UK/Scotland thing is put aside with two dancers from the National Ballet of
Scotland doing some superb work to a stripped down rendition of (I Would
Walk) 500 Miles.

21.26 They’re doing the national anthem (ie God Save The Queen) now and
the rendition is less than deafening. No booing that I can here. But a LOT
of people not joining in with that at all. Hard to tell if the Queen notices
or cares. In fairness she does not look exactly chuffed.

21.25 The Queen then gets out of HER MASSIVE CAR in the stadium and
shakes hands with a few suits.

21.24 Those in Celtic Park can look up and see the Red Arrows flying
overhead and emiting smoke jets of red, white and blue. So there’s that.

21.23 The Queen in the house. She’s driven into the stadium in a
massive Bentley. That is so pimp, ma’am.

21.22 Confirmed bagpipers.

21.21 And now you’ve got your Susan Boyle singing Mull of Kintyre. And
they say Scotland couldn’t thrive if they go it alone. Linda Bond writes:

E-mailWhy oh why are we being subjected to people telling us all about scotland
when they dont live here e.g john barrowman – hasnt lived here for 20 years,
billy connelly – has lived in america for 30 years, rod stewart….isnt
scottish at all. When are we going to move away from the shortbread tin
mentality….all this pipes and kilts. The park also looks empty with no onr
on the pitch. Embarrasing.

21.20 Bit of a round of applause for the India flag.

21.17 There is a video of Amy MacDonald (or, Emelie McSande as I like
to think of her) doing a number in the city, with the General Public joining
in, and then she is into the stadium and… here’s Rod Stewart to pick up
the musical baton.

21.14 Well, I liked it. It was a bit kids’ TV in places but, you know,
everyone seemed to be having a nice time.

21.13 “This is our home, and you are all very welcome,” says
Karen Dunbar.

21.12 Aw, this is good this. It’s like a bonkers school end of term
concert where everyone gets to do their best turn. Lots of funny and clever
little bits, loads of energy, namechecks for all the things Scotland is
famous for and then a few fireworks.

21.11 There’s a list now of all the inventions that Scotland has
produced.

21.09 St Andrews and golf clubs now. A nice joke with Dolly the sheep
being cloned cloned cloned cloned cloned….

21.08 Nessie! And now we’re in the Western Isles. It took me a while to
figure this out, but we’re on a whistle-stop tour of Scotland. Simon
writes:

If the Krankies come out, I’m emigrating.

21.06 The song has moved onto the Highlands. Those there are Tunnock’s
Teacakes. “we come from a land of heather, where men wear kilts and
women blether.”

21.04 It’s a golden age of show muscial number. Namechecks for Gretna,
for haggis, for booze, for gay marriage, the Clyde. John Barrowman in a
purple suit belting out a purpose-written song.

21.03 Scottish comedian lady whose name I did not catch starts things
off with a singy-speaky musical theatre intro saying/singing welcome to
Scotland.

21.02 We’re back in the room.

21.00 “Welcome to Scotland, welcome to Glasgow,” says the man
imortalised in cinema as Mark Renton.

20.59 Before the action begins, there is a video recorded message from
Ewan McGregor on behalf of UNICEF.

20.58 Here’s an excellent blog on Alex
Salmond and politicisation of the Games
by Ben Riley-Smith.

20.56 There’s Daley Thompson, childhood hero o’mine and Ian Thorpe, top
fellow that he seems to be. Daley says that his favourite thing in Delhi was
the women’s netball. There you have it. “It’s not the Olympics, it’s
not meant to be. They’ve got their own flavour.”

20.48 Together at last. Susan Boyle and Clare Balding. “I was
asked to perform here, ooh, two years ago.” She cannot say what song
she will perform though. I hope it’s Ace Of Spades by Motorhead.

20.45 You can’t whack the BBC when it comes to a heartfelt montagey
thing, can you? There’s hugging, there’s learning. It’s all good.

20.40 “Let Glasgow flourish,” is the motto of the Games, and
Billy Connolly is not doing a video about it.

20.38 It’s a cast of thousands for the Beeb tonight. Alan Wells. Dame
Tani – who is rightly pleased that paralympic sports will be fully
integrated into this Games.

20.37 Quick puke and I’m back in the game. The Friendly Games, they
call it. Been WAY too much politics in it so far, what with Salmond and
Cameron both getting their licks in.

20.35 Well here’s lovely. It’s a video of Margaret Thatcher defending
her refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa (the relevance being that
some athletes from Commonwealth countries boycotted the 1986 Edinburgh
Commonwealth Games in protest). Not sure I can really face watching that so
there will be a short blog hiatus.

20.30 David Wilkie, Dame Kelly Holmes and Barry McGuigan are in the
stadium and all have been asked by Clare Balding to spell out how absolutely
definitely vital the Commonwealth Games were in their career. I for one
don’t doubt that it is true, but the insistence on everyone stressing it
does slightly give off a chip-on-the-shoulder air. We all get that it’s not
the Olympics. But it’s still good, right? Like, you can enjoy both top class
international football AND England matches, you know? Anyway, enough of
that. Good luck to everyone involved.

20.25 Giant tea-cakes are not to be sniffed at, but early bid for the
story of the games so far has to be the Sri
Lankan cycling team
who were pulled over by the polis for cycling on
the motorway.

20.20 Exciting claim from Paul Kelso, once of this parish, and now at
Sky News.

20.15 An email arrives from Simon McMahon:

E-mailEvening Alan. Rod Stewart’s finest hour is pushing it a bit, but Maggie May
was a very fine five minutes, as was The Killing of Georgie. As you say,
it’s hard to ignore the political context; wonder if we’ll get any
Bowie-esque pleas from any of the performers tonight?

20.10 Sir Chris Hoy explains a bit about the Queen’s Baton, which set
off from (previous host city) Delhi and has been passed from hand to hand by
thousands.

20.09 Clare Balding doing the meet and greet of the Games Volunteer
people.

20.07 Sir Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington are in the house. Sir Chris
says he is very proud. Rebecca says she is not sad she’s no longer competing
because it’s “time for the next generation.”

20.06 It’s the warmest day of the year in Scotland. The athletes will
parade into Celtic Park. It looks a lot friendlier than when I used to go
there as a Hibs supporter, I’ll tell you what.

20.05 Your hosts are Gary Lineker and Hazel Irvine. No rest for the
wicked, is there? Once you’re in with the BBC, boy are you in.

20.03 That was excellent. Good old Billy Connolly.

20.01 Deploy the Big Yin! He’s narrating a voiceover about “a city
not afraid of hard work”, a school of yard knocks, and how the Clyde
made the city the heartbeat of the industrial revolution. “Sport is the
new shipping lane.”

20.00 BBC opening credits time! Plenty of famous faces in a stylised
and rather shiny, bleak landscape.

19.55 Anyway, I can’t believe I’m live-blogging The One Show, but there
you have it. The action starts in a minute. We’re just enjoying the
pleasantly surreal sight of Amy MacDonald playing her song ‘This Is
The Life’ with Radio’s Ken Bruce and thumping people’s Barry McGuigan
bobbing along in the background.

19.52 Now the BBC are showing a video of Alex Salmond challenging David
Cameron to a game of golf. Oh, politicans. Do leave it alone.

19.50 David Cameron says that he hopes it will be a great event for “Glasgow,
Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.”

19.45 Here’s Victoria Pendleton at the stadium. The
Commonwealths in Manchester were an important early staging point in her
great career.

19.41 Just in case you were unfamiliar, Scotland, England, Wales and
Northern Ireland compete under their own flag. Wonder if there’ll be
any harsh receptions for the English from the locals? Much as we would like
to, it seems that it might be hard to keep politics out of this sporting
event, what with the forthcoming Independence vote…

19.36 The great Barry McGuigan talks about how parents live vicariously
through their sporting children.

19.35 So what is on the menu this evening, then? Well, for one, it’s a
chance for Scotland to show itself off, and everyone’s getting involved.
Here’s Alex Salmond on The One Show:

“It is great for Scotland. It is seven years since we won the Games but
it is only in the last few days it has hit home. It is the most
extraordinary feeling. It is here. I’m not going to be provoked or led into
political debate. I’m just focusing on the Games. Everybody, even the
England team, will get a fantastic response from the Celtic Park crowd. It
will be a home crowd, but a generous crowd.”

19.25 I am quite sure that all of us on Telegraph Sport, both hacks and
readers alike, are huge fans of Susan Boyle, so do stay tuned for her
performance later.

19.20 Evening all. Happy Commonwealth Games! It’s all quite exciting,
isn’t it? Plenty of sport on the box, chance to see some of the world’s best
athletes, and hopefully some lesser-known heroes and heroines will emerge.
Before we get to the sport, there is of course a ceremony, in which we are
promised not only The Queen, but Rod Stewart, and a promise of an
extravaganza with “a distinctly Glaswegian accent”.

Here’s one of my favourites…

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth
Games
Opening Ceremony, which is due to begin tonight at Celtic Park
at 8pm, will potentially have a global audience of 1.5 billion – and it will
certainly have more than a dollop of local flavour, and “a distinctly
Glaswegian accent”.

Home-grown heroes and heroines have been lined up to entertain in the two-hour
extravaganza, which will take place in the 40,000-seater home of Celtic
Football Club (where those in the stadium will pay between £20 and £250),
and the 6,500 athletes from 70 nations will be introduced to the crowd by a
different citizen of Glasgow (or “chieftain”) before 11 days of
competition.

David Zolkwer, the Glasgow 2014 head of ceremonies who directed the 2002 Games
ceremonies in his native Manchester, said: “We knew right from the
start that the source of inspiration and the voice and character and
personality of the ceremony had to reflect and explicitly include the people
of the city.”

The 69-year-old rocker Rod Stewart (who was actually born and raised in
Highgate in London), West Lothian-reared Susan Boyle, 53, who starred in
2009′s Britain’s Got Talent, as well as East Dunbartonshire’s Amy Macdonald,
will feature. And Scottish classical violinist Nicola Benedetti will also
take the stage, among some 2,000 fellow cast and crew in the firework-heavy
show.

Join Alan for his take on what should be a memorable occasion…

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