Stellar growth for foodservice industry on the menu again in 2017


Ireland’s food service industry experienced massive growth in 2016, reaching a record €7.5bn. This positive trend looks set to continue next year and is expected to reach up to €9bn by 2020.The vast majority of spending is taking place in the Republic, which is responsible for nearly €5.4bn, 72%of the total. Consumers in the North of Ireland spent around 2.2bn in the last year.

The food service market includes anywhere outside the home that food is consumed including restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, workplace catering, hospitals etc.Despite the economic uncertainty brought by Brexit, the Irish food industry has weathered the storm well and the forecast remains positive. Ireland’s economy has been on the up, with strong employment levels, for the past number of years and although that growth is expected to even out to more moderate levels next year, households will still maintain an increased amount of disposable income.

The reduction of VAT on food to 9% has also stimulated the industry. In 2011, the Government reduced VAT on food and accommodation, which had the welcome effect of boosting tourism at a particularly shaky time for the industry, and the economy as a whole. Despite the recovery, the Government announced in their latest Budget, the VAT rate in both of these sectors will remain low.

Tourism has grown at a record pace this year, with 2016 seeing an increase of 13% in overseas visitors, leading to the much documented shortage in hotel accommodation. The numbers of business travellers to the country have also increased with hotels catering for conferences and events benefiting and experiencing particularly impressive growth.

A recent Bord Bia report showed that so-called ‘Quick Service Restaurants’ accounted for 34% of all revenue in the sector. Pubs accounted for 20% while hotels were responsible for 19% of the overall take. Cafes and coffee shops had a 5% market share.

Food service 2016 (1)


SuperValu and Dunnes Stores locked at top spot in supermarket wars



SuperValu and Dunnes Stores are tied for top spot with a market share of 22.5% each. Tesco find themselves in third place with 21.8% in the increasingly competitive battle of the supermarkets.

Kantar Worldpanel have released figure from the 12-week period ending December 4th, which show SuperValu have increased their market share to become level with Dunnes Stores. This gain shows Supervalu recovering quickly from their fall to second place last month.

SuperValu’s rapid climb back to top spot demonstrates how fierce competition is between Ireland’s ‘big three’, with just 0.7 percentage points now separating the three largest retailers. While both retailers saw sales grow slightly over the period, Aldi posted the strongest growth in the quarter with sales up by 6.1% over the last 12 months.

Lidl increased its sales by 4.3%, a figure which sees them ahead of overall market growth, which currently stands at 3.7%, leading to a slight increase in market share for the retailer. Similarly, Aldi and Lidl are also locked in a dead heat, with each of the German giants boasting a market share of 11%.

Kantar Worldpanel’s Ireland director David Berry said “Having reached the number one spot for the first time last month, Dunnes now shares that position with SuperValu – a real testament to just how competitive this marketplace is,”

SuperValu sales have positively increased by 1% over the last 12 weeks, which translates to shoppers spending an average of an extra €1 every time they visit a SuperValu store.

The long running Shop and Save campaign continues to prove successful for Dunnes with nearly 64%of households venturing into stores over the past 12 weeks. Shoppers on average visited just over once a week, spending €39.50 per visit – an increase of almost €3 on last year.

Dunnes currently stands as the only retailer which has delivered stronger growth for brands – (up 5.7%) than own label goods which increased by 3.3 per cent in the last 12 week period.

Dublin retailers optimistic about last minute Christmas rush


Retailers in the capital are “cautiously optimistic” about the final week of trading before Christmas, according to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

Shops are hoping that today will see the start of a last-minute frenzy to get ready for the big day. Shops in the city are anticipating a higher footfall in the days ahead particularly as schools and offices remain open so close to the big day. Dublin Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mary Rose Burke, speaking on Sunday, said “The sense amongst retailers is that a lot of spending decisions have been delayed until the final week”

Retailers expect to benefit from what shoppers perceive as an ‘extra weekend’ before Christmas. Burke says “Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, which means people feel they have an extra weekend to shop. Both footfall and spending in Dublin city centre so far this month have been strong, with most shops reporting that numbers are at similar levels to last year.”

Ms Burke also noted there was “a very festive atmosphere” in the city, which could be encouraging shoppers to get to the city.

Louis Copeland of Louis Copeland & Sons, speaking to the Irish Independent, said that although trade so far has been at a similar level to previous years, they are expecting a major boost in sales in the coming days. “From today on, it will all open up. With Christmas being on a Sunday, we’re expecting some week ahead of us,” he said. “Today people will realise that it’s less than a week until Christmas, and they need to go to town.”

Paul Sheeran of Paul Sheeran Jewellers, located just off Grafton Street, also feels that people had been more willing to spend money this season, especially compared with previous years. “There’s a much nicer feeling around this year. People are getting back into enjoying and treating themselves,” he said. “Jewellery hasn’t been top of the Christmas shopping list recently but now people are easing into spending more on themselves.”

Shoppers on Grafton Street noted that the number of shops beginning their sales before Christmas have had a positive impact on their wallets and could be another explanation to the increase in footfall.


Chef Trials- the Do’s and Don’ts

Interviews for chef jobs often take the form of a working interview. This type of interview can take many forms including an on the job trial. This can be daunting but is also a great opportunity to see first-hand how well you would fit into your potential new job.

The Basics

While the procedure might be a little different from a traditional job interview, there are still basics that are crucial to interview success. Don’t be late, look presentable with hair tied back, clean nails and shoes and maintain a polite and professional demeanour at all times.

When you get asked to come for a trial ask for as much information as you can. What should I wear? or Should I bring my own knives? might sound like trivial, even silly, questions but the Head Chef will appreciate that you care enough to ask and knowing the right answer will mean you trial will get off on the right foot and you don’t start the shift stressed out looking for a spare knife!


Research the restaurant/ hotel- the menu, the reviews, their social media platforms. Having as much information as possible and understanding the business, the type of food served, how it’s presented etc. before you even start your trial will help ease your nerves and means you can hit the ground running when you get into the kitchen.

Keep Your Eyes Open

The Head Chef will take you on a tour of the kitchen before you start working and introduce you to fellow Chefs. This is an excellent opportunity to understand the culture of the kitchen and also learn where everything you will need on your trial, like ingredients or utensils are kept. Take in as much as you can, it will save time later and try to call fellow Chefs by their names. It will leave a positive impression that you will fit quickly and it will make asking questions easier.

Be On Your Toes

Wash your hands the minute you enter the kitchen. Although this should be really obvious, kitchen jitters may get the better of you. Don’t forget to do this often. As soon as the Head Chef assigns you a work station, wash it and prepare whatever tools you need. Clean continuously throughout the shift.

Ask questions, it’s easier to ask someone rather than presume something, get it wrong and have to do something again or wander around the kitchen looking for utensils, wasting time. Take note of the answers and don’t ask the same questions repeatedly. Again, the Head Chef will take note of your initiative and your ability to adapt quickly.

Work quickly

Understand how long a particular task should take you and focus on completing it in that timeframe. Work as speedily as you can but remember the quality of your end product is more important than the time you did it in. Taking a bit longer to complete a job is better than trying to show the Chef how fast you can work and end up with a product that cannot be served. Ask the Chef specifically how he/she wants things prepared or served. Immediately after you finish a job, clean down your section and ask what else you can help with.

The number one rule- do not stand around and do nothing. Show initiative and an eagerness to work hard and be helpful.

Remember that this trial is a two way street. The trial is about figuring whether you are a good fit for the kitchen, and whether the kitchen is a good fit for you. Do you like the culture and policies, could you see yourself working here?

Good luck!


Irish hotel property sales expected to exceed €700 million


Sales of Irish hotel properties are expected to exceed €700 million in 2016.

Transactions for the year are expected to once again exceed €700 million this year with 55 properties around the country changing hands, according to CBRE Hotels. This year will also be the best year ever for visitor numbers, with more than 10.5 million. 2017 is expected to see further growth of 4.5%

2016 has proved another busy year for the sale of Irish hotels following a record-breaking 2015 where a massive 63 properties were sold, transactions worth €710 million.

A key ingredient to the success, according to CRBE Hotels, is Dublin’s RevPAR (revenue per available room) continuing to attract international buyers. The RevPAr has continued to build momentum since 2014 and has now increased to 23%.

2016 has seen a number of high profile transactions with some of the country’s most famous hotels changing hands during the year.

Blackstone sold DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel to a German investment fund for €180 million, double Blackstone’s original investment in the former Burlington Hotel property. Operations in the property are currently managed by Dalata under the Clayton Hotel brand.

Dublin’s iconic Gresham hotel also changed hands this year, being sold to the Spanish Riu Hotel Group for €92 million after a fierce bidding war. The 4 star 323 bedroom property now called the Riu Plaza Gresham Dublin has planning permission for 140 additional bedrooms and conference facilities.

Hotel occupancy in Dublin has hit record heights this year, at 82 per cent, and will probably continue into 2017 due to the well documented shortage of hotel beds. According to STR Global, the hotel bench markers, during the last twelve months, the average Saturday night occupancy in Dublin was 89.6%.

According to a report by Fitzpatrick Associates, conducted on behalf of Failte Ireland, the large shortfall in accommodation has been negated by Airbnb, which provides around 782 rooms every day. This is the equivalent to four 200-bedroom hotels.

There have been only four new hotels opened in the past eight years- the Gibson, the Temple Bar Inn, the Dean and the Marker. In 2016, one hotel closed (the 182-room Clyde Court) and one opened (the 198-bed Holiday Inn Express on O’Connell Street). Only 16 extra rooms have been added in a city estimated to desperately need an additional 5,000.

here are plans for up to 80 individual hotel projects. Some are new builds and others are extensions to existing properties. The largest hotel will be at Dublin Airport’s T2, with more than 400 rooms.

Other large projects are a hotel at the Convention Centre Dublin (300 bedrooms), the Coombe (260 bedrooms) and a selection of 200-room new builds in Spencer Dock, Bow Lane, Charlemont Street, O’Connell Street, and Mill Street. Most of these won’t be operational until 2018 or 2019

Outside Dublin, a small number of big sales also boosted tourism growth.

Lyrath Estate outside Kilkenny city sold for far more than its €20 million guide price. The 1,250-acre Farnham Estate in Cavan, was sold for more than €22 million. Other country properties that have changed hands this year are the Clarion in Sligo for €13 million to Dalata; the Pillo in Ashbourne to Podium Hotels for €11 million; and Tulfarris Estate at Blessington to PremGroup for €8 million, a good deal higher than the asking price of €5 million.

CV Keywords

CV Keywords – What you need and what to avoid

Keywords, buzzwords, jargon. Whatever you call them, we here at Excel, see hundreds of CVs every day and know how important it is that certain words make an appearance on your CV, and that others are avoided.

The Good


Verbs or ‘doing words’ are crucially important to your CV as they quite literally explain what you have done and the (positive) impact you have had with past employers. Using words such as managed, delivered, improved, reduced, negotiated, planned, supported, trained or resolved all show that you were an active employee in past positions and will quickly make an impression, hit the ground running in a new role and immediately be an asset to a new employer.

Job Titles

Don’t underestimate the power of the Ctrl+ F function and be careful when listing your previous job titles. Don’t just list random words and don’t invent a jargon-filled title to inflate the importance of a previous role. This is the one place on your CVs where it pays to keep it simple. If a recruiter is looking for a quick overview of your experience, they may search for specific job titles. To make sure you’re what they are looking for, look at the specific job ad you’re applying to. If it lists ‘Sales manager’ experience, don’t miss out by listing you last role as ‘Executive Team Lead, Sales’. You might think it sounds more impressive but it could mean your CV is overlooked.


Get specific and don’t be afraid to discuss the nitty gritty of your successes. Use tangible examples of your achievements in previous roles rather than meaningless jargon. For example, “This increased profit by 2%” or “this led to a reduction in overheads from £23,000 to £17,000 per year.” However, as with everything on your CV keep in short, neat and concise and don’t go overboard.

The same goes for your education and training, everybody lists their common education history but don’t forget to list specific industry or technical training. Make sure that you list computer systems and tools you are proficient with by their industry-recognised name e.g Photoshop.

….. And The Bad

According to a survey by Career Builder, there are some words that employers see as pointless and just don’t want to see on your resume. There is nothing particularly wrong with them and they all mean well, but some phrases are just so overused they do nothing to distinguish a CV from the rest of the pack. Below are the words you should think twice about including on your C.V

  • Best of breed
  • Go-getter
  • Think outside of the box
  • Synergy
  • Go-to person
  • Thought leadership
  • Value add
  • Results-driven
  • Team player
  • Bottom-line
  • Hard worker
  • Strategic thinker
  • Dynamic
  • Self-motivated
  • Detail-oriented

Remember, first impressions count, so be a self-motivated, dynamic, detail orientated jobseeker who is results driven, thinks outside the box and invests in a Thesaurus.