Nikki Murran, Excel Recruitment's Director of Grocery Retail Recruitment

Excel’s Nikki Murran- ‘Booze curtains’ too big a burden for retailers

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill has been a source of concern and unease for the retailers I meet and speak with every day, since its introduction to the Daíl in 2015. It has been an ongoing topic in the industry so I wanted to share my views.

It hit headlines again last week when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reaffirmed his commitment to it, saying he is determined for the controversial bill (currently sitting in the Seanad) to become law before the end of the year. The Bill will see the introduction of minimum unit pricing on alcohol and will require alcohol to be separated from other products in shops behind so-called ‘booze curtains’.

At Excel Recruitment, we work with retailers across the country of all different sizes. All are operated by people who work daily to make a positive impact on their customers and wider communities. All are vitally important within their communities, not only because of their products but also through providing jobs, sponsoring community events and keeping town centres, large and small, alive and buzzing. Forcing these businesses to implement ‘booze curtains’ will place even more of a burden on people who are already battling the unknowns of Brexit as well as the ever increasing commercial rates.

Retailers are not arguing against a policy that improves public health, the opposition comes from the very real concern that these measures will not result in any actual improvements in the drinking behaviours of the small few at which they are targeted, but instead will force unreasonable costs and time investments on already overburdened retailers across the country.

The cost of these booze curtains’ may be the breaking point for some small or independent stores – and for something that holds no value to them or their customer. It is likely to move the alcohol sales across the country to the larger multinationals and Off-Licence stores – leaving the convenience sector with a drop in sales, a bill to foot for the ‘curtains’ and a hefty off-licence fee still to pay annually.

All the retailers we come into contact with, treat their responsibility when it comes to the sale of alcohol with the utmost seriousness. The solution to Ireland’s alcohol issue is not placing further pressure on people trying to earn a living and provide employment but in education from a young age and in encouraging a change in attitudes.

Retail is the country’s largest private sector employer and employs people in every town and village in Ireland. These jobs must be protected and retailers need to be given the support and resources to sustain, build and grow their businesses not left to fend for themselves against confused and confusing legislation.



VAT 9%

Excel Recruitment supports keep VAT at 9%

Ireland’s 9% VAT rate for the hospitality industry entered the news again this month as arguments in favour of scrapping the 9 per cent rate circulating around the Department of Finance ahead of the upcoming Budget.

Excel Recruitment work with and on behalf of some of the most well-known and best-loved names in hospitality nationwide and have always been a huge advocate of a 9% rate for the hospitality industry. It is crucial that these companies continue to be supported in their work, providing jobs throughout the country and contributing massively to one of the country’s most important sectors. The rate was one of the few saving graces for hard-pressed hotel and restaurant operators during the recession. Despite being out of the recession, the hospitality industry still faces many challenges including spiralling commercial rates and the uncertainty of Brexit. Add to this the incoming increase in minimum wage in January, which will further increase costs to businesses’ and the growing trend of rising rates in order to retain talent amid a continuing chef crisis. Some parts of the sector are now experiencing improved trading conditions in line with the economic recovery but this is not universal and many businesses are still under significant pressure.

In terms of tourism, the 9% rate is crucial for Ireland to remain a desirable destination and competitive within Europe. Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), Adrian Cummins, said “Seventeen out of 19 Eurozone countries have a VAT rate of below 10%. A 9% VAT rate in Ireland is not only the correct rate for our country, but it is also in line with the rest of Europe. We need this VAT rate particularly now as Brexit negotiations begin, to remain competitive”.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue has signalled the rate will stay (Irish Times, July 2017) but nothing is official until the budget is announced in October. Until then those that work in, for and with the hospitality must be vocal about its importance and its need to stay.

While increasing the VAT rate may provide a short-term injection of cash to the Exchequer, piling additional bills on to already pressured businesses’. It would have serious negative effects on many businesses’ ability to operate and will lead to the loss of jobs and the closure of many quality hospitality operations all over the country. The VAT rate has enabled Ireland’s hospitality industry to do fantastic things – attracting more tourists, grow across the country and employ thousands of people. For all these reasons and so much more, keeping VAT at 9% is an absolute must.

Increase in minimum wage to primarily affect hospitality and retail says Taoiseach

Business groups have expressed their concern about the impact of increasing the minimum wage on small businesses ability to remain profitable.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that the minimum wage is set to rise to €9.55, an increase of 3.2%. The increase comes after recommendations from the Low Pay Commission. The increase will come into effect from January 1st, 2018. It will be the fourth increase in the past five yea Taoiseach Leo Varadkar , speaking at the announcement yesterday said “It’s an increase well ahead of inflation, well ahead of average wage growth in the economy. It is modest. It works out at about an extra €12 per week but it is still an important step in the right direction,” he said.

Mr. Varadkar said the cost would fall primarily to private sector employers in industries such as retail and hospitality. He said they had more than five months’ notice before the increase took effect on January 1st, and at least 150,000 workers will benefit.

Business groups representing employers in retail and hospitality industries have pointed out that Ireland’s minimum wage is already one of the highest in Europe and have claimed there is “no economic basis” for a 30 cent per hour increase in the minimum wage as Brexit looms on the horizon.

In a statement following the announcement, employers’ group Ibec said the increase was not justified and warned that it came at a time when businesses were exposed to competitive threats from Brexit.



Barry Whelan Excel Recruitment

Questions you should ask in an interview by CEO of Excel Recruitment Barry Whelan

With the unemployment rate currently at 6.3% and predicted to fall even lower (RTÉ, July 2017), it’s truly a candidate’s market when it comes to looking for jobs. With this in mind, the questions you ask a potential employer in your interview become even more important to ensure you’re not wasting your time, or the interviewer’s. CEO of Excel Recruitment, Barry Whelan shares his top tips on the questions you should ask your interviewer….

Often candidates going for an interview find it difficult to ask questions of the employer- they agonize over a question to ask and either don’t ask one or ask something irrelevant. In today’s job market it is crucial when at interview to engage with the prospective employer and the only way to do that is to ask questions during the job interview.

At most interviews, you will be invited to ask questions of your interviewer. This is an important opportunity for you to learn more about the employer, and for the interviewer to further evaluate you as a job candidate. It requires some advance preparation on your part.

A job interview is an opportunity for you to learn more about a potential employer. Indeed, what you learn from an interview may determine whether or not you want the job you’re interviewing for.

Here are some guidelines for asking questions:

  • Prepare five good questions.
  • Understand that you may not have time to ask them all. Ask questions concerning the job, the company, and the industry
  • Your questions should indicate your interest in these subjects and that you have read and thought about them.

Don’t ask questions that raise warning flags- For example, asking “Would I really have to work weekends?” implies that you are not available for weekend assignments. If you are available, rephrase your question. Also, avoid initiating questions about compensation (pay, vacations, etc.) or education reimbursements. You might seem more interested in cash or time-off than the actual job.

Don’t ask questions about only one topic- People who ask about only one topic are often perceived as one dimensional.

Clarify- It’s OK to ask a question to clarify something the interviewer said. Just make sure you are listening. Asking someone to clarify a specific point makes sense. Asking someone to re-explain an entire subject gives the impression that you have problems listening or comprehending. For example, you can preface a clarifying question by saying: “You mentioned that ABC Company does …. Can you tell me how that works in practice?”

Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

The following are examples of the types of questions you might ask at your job interview-

“Can you describe for me what a work week is really like as a salesperson?”

“What career paths have others generally followed after completing the program?”

“What is a typical day (assignment) [for a position you are applying for] in your company?”

“Does the position offer exposure to other facets of your organization?”

“What other positions and/or departments will I interact with most?”

“To whom does this position report?”

“How much decision-making authority and autonomy are given to new employees?”

“How will my performance be evaluated and how often?”

“What are the opportunities for advancement?”

“Does your organization encourage its employees to pursue additional education?”

“How would you describe the organization’s culture/environment?”

“What makes your organization different from its competitors?”

“What industry-wide trends are likely to affect your organization’s strengths and weaknesses?”

Asking Questions shows an interest and engages the interviewer. It is an important part of the interview process and you shouldn’t try to wing it on the day. Most importantly, ask the questions you want to know the answer to and will help determine whether this is the job for you. Good luck!


Brexit Benefits for the Irish Hospitality Industry

And how Excel Recruitment are insuring we’re ahead of the curve..

By Excel Recruitment’s General Manager Shane McLave

Brexit and its many possibilities and uncertainties has been one of the main topics of conversation for Irish businesses’ since the ‘Leave’ campaign’s win last June. While it’s still unclear what exactly Brexit will look like, Excel Recruitment have already begun taking steps to capitalise on its potential.

Brexit is undoubtedly going to have a massive effect on Ireland. It’s impact is already being felt on our tourism and hospitality trade with visitor numbers from the UK falling this year on the back of weak sterling. However, Britain’s exit may well turn out to be a good thing with Tourism Ireland getting creative and pursuing new markets in North America, Australia and Asia. This hard work is already paying off with visitor numbers from North America up 23%, followed by Australia, up 16%.

In recruitment terms, Ireland has the potential to become a seriously attractive location for both employers and employees. Huge media attention has been given to the chaos Brexit will cause the British hospitality industry with both the British Hospitality Association and Pret a Manger earlier this year, saying it would take 10 years to replace EU hospitality staff after Brexit. (The Guardian, March 17) The number of nurses from other EU countries applying to work in English hospitals has fallen by 96% since the referendum. (The Guardian, March 17) At the risk of being unneighbourly, Britain’s loss could stand to be Ireland’s gain. Young EU nationals eager to travel and gain experience in an English speaking country may now look to Ireland, where the future concerning visas (the cost of which alone will act as a deterrent), working rights and travel are clear cut, to expand their horizons. Not knowing what Brexit will look like may also encourage top Irish talent to stay at home and build their careers here.

The same need for consistency also exists within international businesses based in the U.K. Many keen to maintain close ties with Europe and avoid the red tape and uncertainty of whatever Brexit will be, may begin to look to Ireland as a place to set up operations. By setting up camp in Ireland, multi-national companies’ gain an English speaking workforce with a similar outlook, culture, laws and way of doing things while still benefiting from everything that comes with working within the EU. Ireland is 15 times smaller than Britain so it goes without saying gaining even a fraction of this FDI would make a massive difference.

Indeed, many corporations have already made the move. At least a dozen London city banks have already begun the process of moving some of their operations to Dublin with JP Morgan building a 22-storey tower on the south of the river Liffey and adding to their 500 employees here. (The Irish Times, July 17) This can only be a good thing for the Irish economy with more jobs, more people and more opportunities.

Excel Recruitment have continued to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve. We have actively begun recruiting within the UK and beyond. In recent months, we have placed a number of quality candidates from the UK in roles with our clients and we have seen our database of UK candidates increase dramatically. These candidates come from all sections and levels of the hospitality industry and are all looking to make a move into Ireland and begin working with our top-class clients.


Retailers say €200m in local authority rates lost due to inefficient collection

Retailers have called for a complete reform of the system local authorities use to collect rates.

According to Retail Ireland, the Ibec group representing retailers, more than €200 million is lost each year in local authority rates that go uncollected. The group say that a lack of consistency and clarity in how the charges are applied and collected is impacting Irish retail competitiveness and negatively affecting town centre renewal.

The group today launched a new policy paper ‘Tackling the Rates Burden’ in which they say there are ‘serious deficiencies’ in the current system governing how local authority rates are levied and collected, resulting in over €200 million in uncollected rates each year.

According to the policy paper, under the current system retailers who operate on a nationwide basis have to deal with 31 local authorities, most of which have radically different ways of operating. This makes business planning on a national level difficult and deters investment.

Retailers are also calling for a disassociation between rents and rates. Retailer say that linking the two charges has led to many retailers paying disproportionate costs as a result of upward-only rent reviews becoming increasingly common.

Retail Ireland have proposed that local and national government make the following changes in policy-

  1. Introduce a centralised collection process
  2. Stop linking rents to rates
  3. Reform the revaluation system
  4. Progress on local government reform
  5. Increase local property tax intake

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “Local authority rates make up a significant portion of total input costs for Irish retailers. The current system is opaque, inconsistent, inefficient and expensive to operate.”

Mr Burke also said “Retailers have seen a significant increase in rates in recent years with very little return in terms of new service provision. This is of particular concern as retailers feel the pressure of rising costs across a range of other inputs such as labour, rent and utilities.”


Retail Excellence Ireland call for Government to introduce policies to protect retailers from Brexit

Retail Excellence Ireland call for Government to introduce policies to protect retailers from Brexit, including 3% cut in VAT

Retail Excellence Ireland has called on the Government to cut VAT by 3% in the next Budget. The retail lobby group, has said Ireland’s ‘regressive’ VAT rate of 23% should be reduced to safeguard Irish retailers from the effects of Brexit. The lobby group said the 23% rate should be cut in “in one fell swoop”. Retail Excellence have previously called for a reduction in the charge but in their latest submission say any incremental reduction would have minimal effect on consumer spending.

The submission from the group including a number of measures the group feel are necessary for the government to introducing in an effort to help retailers including-

  • Immediate and emergency legislation to immediately tackle rising insurance costs
  • The introduction of a business focused bank, similar to the UK’s Metro Bank. Half of Metro Bank’s balance sheet lending is targeted at SMEs.
  • Training and financial support for businesses to set up and grow their online presence and eCommerce capabilities
  • Increased Garda presence and resources to tackle retail crime
  • A renewed focus and energy on regional town and village renewal schemes
  • Prioritise infrastructural development to encourage more FDI

The group also call on the Government to intervene on the issue of spiralling rents faced by retailers with the abolition of all upward only rent review clauses to allow all commercial tenants to pay market rents. The group say this would support many retailers who are suffering penal and unsustainable rents due to upward only leases.

In their submission, Retail Ireland Excellence pointed to the importance of retail to the Irish economy. Irish retailers operate some 45,000 businesses and directly employ some 282,000 employees.

“As a direct consequence of retail activity, €5.7 billion is contributed to the exchequer on an annual basis. Therefore, the significant of retail must not be underestimated,” said Lorraine Higgins, a spokeswoman for the organisation.

Hotel News

Hotel News

Skellig Star due to reopen

The Skellig Star hotel, formerly known as the Watermaque Hotel, is due to reopen later this month after a €3 million refurbishment and is expected to give tourism in the area a major boost.

The 56 bedroom hotel has been rebranded as the Skellig Star as well as being upgraded to include adjoining apartments, function rooms and other additional facilities

The coastal area is well-known for its stunning views of the Atlantic and has in recent years has, also, benefited significantly in the past few years by the filming of Star Wars on nearby Skellig Michael.

The hotel’s reopening later this month comes as preparations continue for the opening of the nearby Hog’s Head Golf Club, which is the first course in Ireland to be completed by the architecture firm of Robert Trent Jones II and also incorporates a hotel.

Gleeson’s pub in Booterstown to become hotel

Gleeson’s pub in Booterstown is to be extended into a boutique hotel to meet the demand for hotel accommodation in the city.

The well-known pub is expected to invest around €1.6 million into the development, adding 16 bedrooms above the existing extensive food and beverage facilities. The premise’s existing restaurant will undergo a redesign to include a lobby for the new hotel.

Gleeson’s is expected to pitch its new rooms within the mid-to-upper range of the market and the bedrooms are expected to be larger in size than the city standard. The overall business is expected to be rebranded to mark its entry into the hotel market.

239 bedroom coming to Dublin’s Liberties

A new hotel has been confirmed for the Liberties area of Dublin. The hotel is a part of a multi-million euro regeneration of the area in the capital’s south inner city and is in the early stages of development along with an indoor market, micro-brewery and retail and office space.

The regeneration development scheme will be based around Newmarket is set to be centred around the Newmarket Square area. The works will begin with the demolition of a 1970s enterprise centre.

The overall development will extend to over 400,000 square foot, generating 1,700 permanent jobs as well as augmenting the already established Teelings Distillery.

Cushman & Wakefield, commercial partners of real estate agency, Sherry Fitzgerald, are handling the development, while the design team for the project is a partnership between Reddy Architecture + Urbanism and Mola.

Planning permission is currently in the process of being lodged with Dublin City Council.