Call for government support for retailers in fight against online giants

Retail Excellence Ireland has called for State support for retailers as it was revealed 60% of Irish online spending in 2017 went to foreign retailers.

Lorraine Higgins of Retail Excellence Ireland said the threat posed to Irish retailers by online operations overseas has been growing for more than a decade. The retail representative body is concerned that unless some level of State-intervention is implemented, many indigenous businesses that make the Republic’s retail space unique would shut.

According to Ms Higgins, “Consumers see a huge price differential between online and bricks and mortar shops, but many of the prices that we see online do not include VAT or duty and seem much cheaper. Around two-thirds of consumer spending is leaving the country every single day, and that presents a massive challenge to the retail industry and to Revenue.”

Less than 30 per cent of Irish retailers have an e-commerce capability on their websites, and 22 per cent have no online presence at all. According to Retail Excellence Ireland the numbers highlight the size of the challenge many retailers face if they are to survive, and she called for State support for small enterprises seeking to build websites to compete against overseas competitors. The calls came in the wake of the closure last month of a branch of the Walton’s music shop on Dublin’s South Great George’s Street.

Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland, the Ibec umbrella group for the industry was cautiously optimistic about the future, “I see it as a glass half full kind of situation. Shopping is not just the transaction, it is a past time and it is a social activity, and I think retailers need to take advantage of that fact they do not have to just go toe-to-toe with the big online retailers on price and can offer something a bit different.”

Salary Series 2018- Chef Salaries

Excel Recruitment are delighted to release our 2018 Salary Survey. Our Salary Survey covers all aspects of the Hospitality Industry including Hotel, Chef and Industrial and corporate Catering salaries. In a series of blog posts, Excel’s expert team give their take on the year ahead and the factors affecting salaries in each industry. In To view our Hotel and Catering Salary Survey in full click here. To get General Manager Shane’ McLave’s take on hotel salaries and the effects of Brexit, click here.

The Irish hospitality sector’s chef crisis continued to dominate industry news and discussion last year, a nowhere near new phenomenon that looks to set to continue right through 2018. Businesses of all levels, shapes and sizes are continuing to struggle to attract, recruit and retain a quality of chefs at all levels. While there is much back on forth on about the issue and many solutions suggested, such as re-instating Cert qualifications or promoting apprenticeships, it needs to be stressed that much of the issue is centred around the industry standard pay rates for chefs.

The Average

Chef pay rates are again going up but they are still well short of the average industrial wage which is €36,000 per annum. In most establishments, chefs have to manoeuvre themselves into a management position in order to achieve that salary. The increase in minimum wage which came into effect in January will further highlight the issue as hourly rates above this will be expected to increase in line with the 30c increase to the minimum wage.

The Solution?

There are exceptions, as we are seeing savvy operators within the Hotel and Restaurant sector offering very attractive packages to attract and keep talented chefs. They can see by increasing the salaries they are seeing the benefits of a higher calibre of staff, greater retention and a lower turnover in talent. Retaining staff will be a major objective of businesses in 2018 as recruitment looks set to remain a highly competitive, candidate’s market. We’re already seeing business work hard at this through a mixture of reward and progression.


Retailers want online market places to pay VAT and duties

The retail representative group, Retail Excellence Ireland, have called for legislation to make online market-places liable to collect VAT and duties.

The group say the proposed measure will help to counteract the level of retail spend leaving the country. Retail Excellence Ireland is calling for legislation similar to the UK’s Finance Act which was introduced in December. Under the Act, online market-places were made responsible for collecting VAT and duties.

“We think that we should expect no less here in Ireland, because it’s not enough in budgets to just increase consumer spend and think that takes care of retail,” said Lorraine Higgins, Deputy Chief Executive of Retail Excellence Ireland, “We need retail-focused solutions for the future.”

Ms Higgins, Deputy Chief Executive at Retail Excellence Ireland, said two-thirds of online spend is leaving Ireland, and retailers here are aggrieved by competition from online retailers based outside the state who do not have to pay duties. “First and foremost we need to look at the online market-places, and the fact that they don’t have any duty on them,” she said. “So what we’d like to see is robust legislation introduced in the upcoming budget that would make online marketplaces jointly and separately liable to collect VAT and duties.”

She said retailers “were investing heavily in marketing campaigns to try and offset the type of cheap imports that were coming from websites, predominantly outside of the EU” She said the industry is seeing is an elongation of the shopping period at Christmas time, and a lot of retailers have stepped up to the mark and offered bargains, deductions and discounts in November, in order to try and encourage people into stores, to offset the challenges coming from websites outside of Ireland.