€1.25m E-commerce fund for retailers open for applications

A new scheme meant to help Irish SMEs and retailers grow their e-commerce capabilities has opened for applications. The scheme, which is run by Enterprise Ireland, will allocate €1.25 million in funding to facilitate the acceleration of online retailer’s digital and e-commerce capabilities.

The scheme will see grants of between €10,000 and €25,000 awarded on a match fund basis with the specific purpose of supporting retailers to enhancing their online sales capabilities, ensuring they are better equipped to deal with increasing competition from overseas and help scale their businesses in international markets.

“Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting Irish companies to realise their global ambition by providing the mentoring and financial support necessary to scale in international markets,” said Stephen Hughes, head of consumer, Enterprise Ireland.

“Ireland’s retail sector is a primary contributor to our economy, both nationally and at a regional level but it is under significant pressure, particularly from international competitors with the digital means to extend their reach to Irish consumers. By delivering the Online Retail Scheme, we intend to support Irish retailers to innovate and through innovation, to increase their competitiveness and enhance their online presence.”

“While no single intervention will solve the challenge posed by the emergence of digital commerce in recent years to traditional bricks and mortar retailers, today’s announcement marks a significant step forward by Government in firstly acknowledging the challenge faced by the Irish retail sector and secondly by beginning to put in place supports for Ireland’s largest private sector employer,” said Thomas Burke, director at Retail Ireland, the IBEC group which represents the retail industry.

The Online Retail Scheme is open to applications from retail SMEs with 20-249 employees across the island of Ireland, and who have a retail outlet. Closing date for applications is 5 December 2018.

Further information on the fund and details on how to apply are available at


online sales

Grants to be given to retailers to grow online sales

A pilot scheme worth €625,000 has been launched to help Irish retailers grow their e-commerce abilities and grow their online sales.

The scheme, launched by the government and set to be run by Enterprise Ireland aims to help Irish retailers export more goods through their only shops. It is hoped the scheme will provide grants to at least 25 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the retail sector to help improve their online capabilities and compete better internationally. The grants will be in the range of €10,000-€25,000 and at least half of the total number of grants awarded will be reserved for retail SMEs with their headquarters outside Dublin.

The grants can be used for research, consultation, implementation and training costs and will be made on a matching funds basis meaning a grant of €25,000 will only be awarded if the company is also investing €25,000 in its online trading strategy.

The scheme was announced at a meeting of the Retail Consultation Forum, a grouping of retail industry and public sector bodies chaired by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys.

“Many retailers face increasing international competition on their doorstep and need to enhance their competitiveness,” the Minister said.

To apply

To apply, the retail companies must be Irish-owned with the potential to create jobs, generate sales growth and export. They must also have an existing online presence and employ at least 20 people in the Republic.

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said the organisation anticipated “a good response” to the pilot scheme from eligible retailers. “There is a strong need for Irish retailers to innovate through digitalisation,” she said.

Lorraine Higgins, chief executive of industry body Retail Excellence Ireland, welcomed the scheme.

“This is a hugely welcome development and a sea change in policy as the export potential of Irish retailers is now being recognised. Having an online sales channel is critical given the boundaryless nature of the industry and this pilot will certainly enhance the sales capacity of the successful applicants.”

She said the organisation looked forward to seeing the scheme expanded in the longer term.

Shane Mclave General Manager

Shane McLave on Budget 19: VAT increase for hospitality industry ‘reckless’

The Restaurant’s Association of Ireland has called the Budget ‘thoughtless’, a sentiment that will be shared with many in the hospitality industry this week as they begin to do the sums on how the VAT increase to 13.5% will affect their business.

I, and Excel Recruitment, have always supported the campaign to KeepVatat9 and while expected, feel Tuesday ’s decision by the government was absolutely the wrong one. The Minister for Finance showed not only a lack of understanding on the difficulties faced by the industry- particularly rural and border area businesses but also complete disregard of the importance a buoyant tourism industry to the wider economy.

Budget 2019 was most certainly an election budget. While social housing and healthcare are hugely important and deserve as much funding as possible where these increases have come from have not been thought through- or fairly distributed, with employers being forced to pick up the bill. It’s not a case of business in general being hit. Most companies, including some of the country’s most profitable were unaffected by the Budget while landlords with hundreds, often thousands, of properties and few employees escaped any tax hikes at all.

‘These are the businesses that need to be protected- not placed under further pressure’

In contrast, small and medium businesses such as family-owned pubs, cafés and restaurants are going to take a big hit over the next year. These are actually the businesses that need to be protected- not placed under further pressure. Many are located in rural areas and are vital to employment and life in their local areas.

These businesses were also hit with the news that minimum wage will be increased to €9.80. It’s great that workers on minimum wage will receive an increase but on the flipside, employers are now facing an increase in VAT, an increase in minimum wage and increased employer’s PRSI. To add to the pain, both increase come into effect in January, typically the sector’s quietest month.

While the industry is far healthier than it was when the 9% rate was introduced, it still faces many challenges particularly with Brexit looming and still no idea of what the implications will be on our sector. The tourism industry has already weathered the storm of the recession and is one of our most important indigenous industry- supporting economies and creating jobs across the country. This decision is irresponsible and recklessly endangers one of the country’s biggest employers.


Doughnuts cause traffic jams in Blanchardstown centre

Shoppers keen to be among the first to experience US retail chain Krispy Kreme’s doughnut drive- thru experienced traffic gridlock and long delays at the weekend.

Traffic jams around the Blanchardstown Centre on Sunday were said to be “like Christmas” and were said to be caused by queues for Krispy Kreme’s doughnut drive-thru, a key feature of their first Irish retail outlet, which opened in the shopping centre last week.

AA Roadwatch reported traffic was heavy at the N3 exit from the M50, but was severely congested on the Snugborough Road and the N3 approach to the Blanchardstown Centre, as well as other roads in the centre vicinity.

AA Roadwatch’s Arwen Foley said “it was exceptionally busy around 4pm on Sunday. It seemed to come out of the blue.” Ms Foley said the AA could not say definitively what caused the jam but it appeared to be based around the shopping centre.

‘Like Christmas’

Swords-based chauffeur Ross McNally speaking to Dublin Live said he was sitting in traffic near the centre for 40 minutes on Sunday afternoon. “It was madness. It was like Christmas,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Krispy Kreme said the chain was very excited by the reception the new business had received and “more than 300 eager doughnut fans” had queued for the store opening at 7am on Wednesday last.

Pat Fitzgerald, Blanchardstown Centre operations manager, said the traffic was generated by interest in the new retail store. He said the level of interest was a “fantastic response” for the new outlet.