Staffing is biggest concern for 69% of Irish food businesses


69% Irish food businesses say the availability of skilled workers is a serious concern, according to new research released by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

Brexit was shown to be the second greatest future worry for food businesses, with over two thirds (67%) identifying its unknown impact as a business concern going forward. The food businesses interviewed cited particular concerns around increases in costs of supplies, tariffs and exchange rates in respect of Brexit on the Irish food industry. Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI, said: “Our research shows that difficulties in attracting skilled staff and increased regulations and taxes are among the perceived threats that food businesses are citing. At the same time, the final outcome of Brexit is still not yet known almost three years since the referendum took place, and this is also concerning food businesses here.”

The research was carried out by Amárach and looked at the attitudes and feelings of over 200 national and international food business SMEs, including importers, wholesalers, manufacturers, producers, operators and retailers. The research also showed that food allergens and ingredients labelling is the number one concern for Irish food businesses from a regulatory perspective. A majority (73%) were increasingly confident about food safety regulation, believing that Irish produced food is safer now than it was five years ago. Despite the increased confidence, numerous food safety concerns remain for food businesses. The food industry is apprehensive about allergens and ingredients labelling; food hygiene and handling requirements; and other widely noted food safety concerns including the use of hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and additives.

Around one third (31%) of those surveyed do not feel well enough informed in terms of food safety information, despite a high proportion claiming to cover this in-house or via consultants.

If you are a hospitality, food or FMCG manager looking for assistance with your recruitment, get in touch with any of our expert team at 01-8717676. If you would like to enquire more about Manual Handling or HACCP training for you or your team email

Grocery Retail Market Shares

Dunnes remain top grocery retailer as Lidl and Aldi growth continues

Dunnes Stores retained top spot in the battle of the supermarkets with a 21.8% market share for the 12-week period ending July 14. This marks its 11th straight time on top of the grocery retail market. Douglas Faughnan, consumer insight director at Kantar, said Dunnes had attracted an additional 65,000 shoppers during the 12-week period with shoppers spending an average of €42 per visit, the most of any supermarket. He said Dunnes typically performs strongest in the second half of the year so these figures mean the retailer has “a solid base as we move towards its core trading season.”

In line with the overall market trend for increased spending by consumers, Lidl has seen the greatest increase of as shoppers bought more of its premium products. Douglas Faughnan explains: “While Lidl has witnessed a slight rise in overall shopper numbers, its success encouraging people to trade up to its premium own label and branded lines is a key reason behind its growth. Nearly 100,000 more shoppers bought Lidl’s top tier own label products this period compared to last, with an additional 13, 000 shoppers buying branded goods as well.” Lidl recently opened their 200th store and announced plans for 50 more stores around Ireland in the coming years.

Both Dunnes and Lidl have capitalised on a growing trend among shoppers who prefer to prepare meals from scratch. Inspired by the success of meal kit brands and convenience cookbooks, recent package deals on the constituent ingredients for home-cooked classics like spaghetti carbonara and bolognese have been popular at both retailers.

Aldi has seen the most dramatic growth of all the retailers during this period, with growth hitting double digits. Sales at the discounter were 12.8% higher than a year ago for a 12.5% share – both records for the German retailer. Lidl’s 5.4% year-on-year sales growth leaves it on 12.2%.

Excel Recruitment launch specialist HR recruitment division

Excel Recruitment are delighted to announce the opening of our new specialised HR recruitment division.

With the ‘war for talent’ in full swing in Ireland, our new HR recruitment division has come in direct response to our client’s requirements, as the market sees an increasing focus on building a strong HR function and the positive impact HR has on businesses’ success.

The view of HR has changed drastically in recent years, shifting dramatically from the traditional compliance/ service provider to a much broader responsibility of both company and employee champion; designing, driving and continuously improving the entire employee and candidate experience. More and more, we are seeing companies carve out roles such as “Chief Culture Officer’ or ‘Head of People and Culture’ to reflect HR’s new mandate, of driving quality candidate experience and employee engagement, well-being and retention.

Excel Recruitment has successfully recruited HR roles of all levels for our clients since 2002 and has successfully filled HR roles for some of the biggest retail and hospitality brands in Ireland. CEO Barry Whelan says “The move to a defined specialist division will allow our HR team to concentrate specifically on HR roles across any industry with greater focus and improved search and selection capabilities, recruit permanent roles along with providing contract and even temporary personnel solutions.”

Heading up the division is Sean Thomas, Senior Consultant. Sean began his career with Excel Recruitment first as a candidate before joining our successful retail recruitment team over 5 years ago. In 2018, Sean was promoted to Senior Consultant and wanting to understand more about his client’s needs and explore his passion for HR, completed his CIPD HR qualification.

If you have any HR recruitment requirements or are an HR professional on the lookout for a new move, get in touch with Sean today at or call 01-8148747

tax system changes

Tax system changes explained: How does it work for temporary workers?

As a temporary worker, you may have noticed that this year, Revenue has made some big changes to their PAYE system- changing the way people can register new employers and claim tax back.

Every year thousands of individuals end up either overpaying their tax or not claiming their warranted tax returns. Revenue say this was because the old system was too complicated and confusing. In the new system, which was rolled out in January, all your tax issues will be dealt with online and the old paper forms such as P60, P45, and P30 don’t exist anymore.

What is myAccount?

MyAccount is the new online tax & revenue system which makes it easier to update your personal details, review your tax affairs, and make payments and apply for tax reliefs and incentives. With details on what you’re paying in income tax, universal social charge (USC), PRSI (pay related social insurance and income tax rate for the staff member), local property tax, pension etc. which are updated by employers on a monthly basis. You can now view all these submitted details (which were previously given to you on your P45 forms when you left a job) and have a more accurate up-to-date view of your tax situation.

What does this mean for you?

Basically, instead of getting lots of various forms or having to wait long periods for amendments/ band adjustments to your tax credits when you start a new job, all of your tax needs will be adjusted and managed in you myAccount. All you have to do now is set up for a myAccount with your Personal Public Service number (PPS), date of birth, a phone number, email address and home address, and all your details will be available to you on your account.

Requesting end of year statements

The steps to Requesting end of year statements are as follows:

  1. Sign in to myAccount
  2. Select ‘Review your tax 2015-2018’ on the ‘PAYE Services’ card
  3. Select ‘End of Year Statement (P21)’ for the appropriate year.

How to claim back Tax using myAccount?

A P21 is if you are claiming tax back for the previous year. In case of making any tax claims, you only need to sign into your myAccount, request a P21 (End of the year Statement), which you’ll receive within 5 working days, fill a Form 12 and submit them. You will then either directly get the claim deposited in your account (if your bank details are entered in your profile) or receive a check in the post. It can be used to claim tax back if you have left the country and have gone at least 6 weeks.

For more information please visit: or contact your Revenue Office.

Barry Whelan Excel Recruitment

Question time: Asking questions in a job interview


Candidates are usually comfortable answering lots of different types of questions in job interviews, but often forget to ask a few of their own. Excel CEO Barry Whelan discusses one of the most overlooked parts of job interviews and sets out a handy guide to the right and wrong questions to ask.

Job interviews can be very stressful. You need to research the company, decide how to best dress, find the office and get there on time. There is a lot going on before you even worry about the interview itself!

No wonder people breathe a sigh of relief as the interview starts to wrap up, having spent the last hour trying to come across as effortlessly brilliant while answering an employer’s tricky questions.

But remember not to let your guard down. At the end of an interview, you will still be tested and any employer will expect some interaction in the form of questions from you.

So, before you go and start asking your potential employer some carefully thought out questions about their company and the role, here are some examples of the best questions to ask and the ones to avoid.

Don’t ask: Do you have flexible working arrangements or can I work from home?

It may be tempting to ask this question, particularly if you have a tough commute or kids to drop off and pick up, however the interview is not the time to ask this. You should know the working arrangements and the hours of the position in advance of the interview. There are other ways in order to get a steer on working arrangements in the future.

Do ask: What is the company like to work for?

Here you are asking a broad question which can cover company culture, work arrangements, flexibility and retention. Getting to know a potential work environment is important in determining if you will be comfortable there and to gauge expectations. Here you will find out the level of professionalism, the interviewer’s enthusiasm for the business and important aspects of the job, like flexible working arrangements.

Don’t ask: How soon do people get promoted?

If you want to improve your chances of being recruited, asking how soon you are likely to get a promotion or raise is not the best question at interview. Firstly, how can your new employer know since you don’t work there at this point and they haven’t seen your performance or capability? It also projects a sense of entitlement that could be off-putting to an employer.

Do ask: What are the expectations of the role for the first 90 days?

A better job interview question to ask would be about the 30, 60 and 90-day expectations for the role. If you receive this information upfront, you will know whether you are meeting or exceeding the company’s expectations after you have worked there for a while. You can then use that knowledge for any performance evaluations or promotion talks later on. You will hear talk of development in this answer which will show you how soon you can expect a step up.

Don’t ask: What will my salary be?

It is extremely important to negotiate your starting salary. However, firstly, the role will have been advertised at a salary level and secondly, you should only approach this question if asked. Salary negotiation usually comes at the job offer stage and at that point everyone’s expectations have been discussed. Plus, your interviewer might not actually know the answer.

Do ask: What direction is the company headed in the next five to ten years?

A good question to ask in an interview is about the company’s short and long-term growth plans. It shows your potential employer that you have a strong interest in being part of the company. This question could also reveal whether or not there are opportunities for growth, promotion and salary improvements.

Don’t ask: How did the company start?

You don’t want to ask about the company’s origin story, competitors, products or anything else that you could and should have already researched. You will only come off as unprepared.

Do ask: What do you enjoy about working here?

A good question to ask at the end of an interview is what your interviewer thinks of the company. By asking about their favourite aspect of working there, you will get an invaluable insight into the culture and demands of the job.

Brian Shane Excel RecruitmentKorea 2019

South Korea: Key to Solving the Chef Crisis?


It’s a continuous loop: hospitality businesses cry out for chefs, everyone points to different causes and solutions, nothing really happens and businesses remain in desperate need with the chef crisis.

While there are many proposed long-term action plans from governments, industry experts and think groups about how to solve the chef crisis going forward, none of these will put chefs in the kitchens of under-pressure businesses now. Last year, I was delighted to be asked to head to South Korea with the Restaurants Association of Ireland on a specialist chef recruitment drive. The trip turned out to be hugely successful we recruited fantastic chefs for own temporary chef team who over the past year have worked across Dublin for many of our clients. They have settled in nicely to life in Ireland and feedback from our clients regarding their work ethic and skill level has been fantastic. All of our client’s teams have loved the opportunity to learn from them about different techniques and about South Korean and other Asian cuisines.

Needless to say, when the opportunity arose again, I jumped at the chance. This time along with myself and RAI CEO Adrian Cummins, Excel’s very own Brian Nixon also made the trip. Brian has become something of an expert in recruiting chefs from abroad and the visa process over the last year, handling the administrative process for both our own chefs’ visas from start to finish. There are a number of steps to getting chefs over from Korea and into Irish kitchens, but Brian is the number 1 expert in Ireland for chef work permits and knows the minute details of each part of the process.

We again attended the World Job+ Recruitment Fair to meet and interview chefs who are interested in coming to Ireland on the Chef Work Permit scheme. As most people know, new regulations came into effect in March of last year, removing some chef grades from the ineligible occupations list and making it easier to recruit chefs from outside the EU. There is an overall quota of 610 employment permits available each year. Alongside meeting with the chefs themselves. Since returning from Korea, we have already placed nearly all the chefs we met in Korea with clients nationwide but we have a few really great candidates left and are in the process of matching them with potential employers.

Brian and myself also met with a number of Korean officials, including Chang Gyun Jaegal, the head of the leader in the Korean food services industry, a major group with over 400,000 restaurants to discuss the further cooperation and commitment between Irish businesses and Korean jobseekers.

If you are struggling to hire Chefs or retain them for long periods and want to find out about how Excel Recruitment can help you through the work permit process please do not hesitate to contact me for more details.