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

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.

Ireland’s food service worth €7.5bn a year

Ireland’s food service industry has continued to grow at a rapid pace and is currently worth €7.5bn a year.

According to research carried out by Technomic, in conjunction with Bord Bia, the food service industry in Ireland is currently consists of over 33,000 individual outlets with the accommodation and foodservice industry employing over 200,000 people in 2016, an employment figure which is steadily rising.

The industry, which encompasses all food consumed outside of the home, is worth 7.5bn a year with quick service restaurants accounting for €2.6bn, hotels making up for €1.2bn and pubs stood at €1.3bn. The remainder of the sector was made up of coffee shops and institutional catering including industrial/place of business, education and healthcare.

The sector that saw the strongest growth was the café and coffee segment. The sector currently holds just 5% of consumer spend but according to the figures is growing at a rate of 9% year on year.

This growth is also reflected across the industry as a whole which has experienced steady growth over the past number of years and is expected to be worth €9.1bn by the end of 2020.

The research points to several factors such as better than expected economic growth and GDP along with increased consumer confidence and spending have all positively impacted the industry. Increased tourism numbers, particularly in major cities, has also had a significant impact on the foodservice industries within these areas.

The research also pointed to emerging food trends within commercial restaurants. The study shows consumers will be focused on value for money. Diners will be willing to spend more on high quality food and beverages and will be looking for the fairest price rather than the lowest price. Consumers will also be interested in seeing an emphasis on product origin, and ingredient transparency along with more healthy options on menus.

Irish hotel occupancy rate rises to 81.6%, up 3.7% from last year

Irish hotels have recorded occupancy rates of 81.6% in April, a rise of 3.7% in April this year compared with April 2016. Dublin hotels, remained unchanged from this time last year, recording occupancy rates of 8%.

The data, published by STR, reports that the average daily rate of a hotel room in Ireland during April 2017 had reached €122.60. This is an increase of 7.7% compared to the previous year. During the same period, Dublin recorded a slightly lower percentage increase of 5.5%, but the average price of rooms came in more expensive at €129.04. Revenue per available room (RevPAR), or room revenue divided by rooms available, was €100.10 in the whole of Ireland in April 2017. That was an increase of 11.7% on the same period a year earlier.

In Dublin that figure was €111.01 for the same period, an increase of 5.4% compared to the same month in 2016. In the 12 months ending April 2017, activity within the hotel industry was slightly more restrained. In the whole of Ireland occupancy rates were 70.3%, the average daily rate of a room was €114.76, but the revenue per room available was considerably lower at €80.67. Those figures were all up on the previous year.

For the same period in Dublin, occupancy rates were slightly higher at 75.5%. The average daily rate for a room was €122.38 while the revenue per room available was €92.41 – an increase of 6.2% on the twelve months to the end of April 2016. Investec research suggested that revenue per room available will grow by 6.5% in Dublin by the end of 2017.

The best hotel breakfasts in Ireland have been revealed

The winners of the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards 2017 were announced yesterday. The award’s aim to celebrate one of the most underrated aspects of the Irish food industry, the traditional Irish breakfast.Despite the focus on traditional Irish, the rise in popularity of American style brunch was reflected this year with the addition of a new category.

Georgina Campbell is president of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild and the awards are run in association with Fáilte Ireland.

The award’s main focus was on the traditional Irish breakfast with the judges criteria being “a flavoursome rendition of the traditional plate, together with wholesome accompaniments including traditional Irish soda bread and good Irish butter”.Providers of standout versions of the most important meal of the day were recognised in various categories including country houses, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and three-, four- and five-star hotels.

At the highest end of the scale, The Merrion hotel in Dublin was awarded for its “range, consistency and seamless service”, with its baked goods, charcuterie board “showcasing both Irish and international meats and artisan cheeses”, and house-blend coffee, singled out for mention.

The award for best four-star hotel breakfast was scooped by Ballynahinch Castle in Co Galway, where “breakfast is a high point of the experience”, according to the judging panel, with hotel’s own rare breed pork forming part of their extensive offering. Gougane Barra hotel in Co Cork took the three-star honours, with praise for “the breakfast meats from Twomey’s craft butchers” and the proprietor’s “rich walnut and treacle bread”. Ballymaloe Country House in Co Cork also triumphed, with the judges noting their emphasis on “fresh, local and seasonal”.

The best B&B breakfast in Ireland can be found at Corrib House Tea Rooms & Guest Accommodation in Galway, according to the judges, who noted the offering of Kilbeggan porridge with banana and cinnamon, and buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, in addition to the full Irish.

Full list of winners-


Five-star hotel: The Merrion, Dublin

Highly commended: Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast and The Europe Hotel & Resort, Killarney

Four-star hotel: Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Co Galway

Highly commended: The Mustard Seed, Ballingarry and Galgorm Resort & Spa, Ballymena

Three-star hotel: Gougane Barra Hotel, Macroom, Co Cork

Highly commended: Killeen House Hotel, Killarney and Raheen House Hotel, Clonmel

Country House: Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co Cork

Highly commended: Roundwood House, Mountrath and Rathmullan House, Co Donegal

Guest House: Newforge House, Magheralin, Co Down

Highly commended: MacNean House, Blacklion and Inch House, Thurles

B&B: Corrib House, Galway

Highly commended: Ballinwillin House, Mitchelstown and The Mill Restaurant & Accommodation, Dunfanaghy

Welcome Standard: Burren Glamping, Kilfenora, Co Clare

Highly commended: Bervie, Achill Island and The Tannery, Dungarvan

Visitor Attraction: Overends at Airfield Estate, Dundrum, Dublin

Highly commended: Native by Yellow Door at the MAC, Belfast and Courtyard Café, Birr Castle, Co Offaly

Brunch: Rua, Castlebar, Co Mayo

Highly commended: Knox, Sligo and Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen, Dublin

Irish breakfast foods

Meats: O’Neill’s dry cure bacon

Fish: Burren Smokehouse smoked salmon

Cereals: Flahavan’s Oats

Dairy: Clandeboye Estate yoghurt

Job News: Chopped to create 320 jobs and Boojum to open 2 new stores

Chopped announce plans to open 20 new stores, creating 320 jobs

320 jobs will be created across Ireland as healthy fast food chain Chopped announce plans to open 20 new stores across the country. The franchise which has expanded rapidly and experienced phenomenal success since opening in 2011 currently sells over 20,000 salads on a weekly basis from its 19 existing stores.

By the end of 2017, around 320 jobs, both part-time and full-time, will be available in new stores opening in Wicklow, Cork, Waterford and Dublin. A further 110 jobs will be created in the UK as Chopped grows internationally for the very first time, opening six new stores there.

The new outlets – which will be a mix of wholly owned and franchises outlets – will join existing Chopped locations in Dublin, Kildare and Galway.

New Boojum stores on the way

Mexican burrito chain Boojum are continuing their rapid expansion with a new branch will be located along the Grand Canal at 63-65 Mespil Road, Dublin 4.

This will be Boojum’s 10th store. They’re in the process of hiring 30 staff for the new project including managers and supervisors. he hugely popular chain have also begun plans for a new store in Galway’s Eyre Square. Boojum 3 Ltd have sought permission for a change of use of the former Spar shop at 25 Eyre Square (beside the Skeff) to a restaurant and take-away.The new store will create around 25 new jobs, with a mix of full and part-time jobs available. Once opened they will roll out services including delivery, click n’ collect and a catering service for businesses, private and public events.

The new Boojums will join the much-loved stores on Millennium Walkway, Abbey Street and Kevin Street in Dublin and Spanish Parade in Galway.

Retail Ireland calls for government support for industry in new report

Retail Ireland today release their comprehensive ‘Shaping the future of Irish Retail’ report, a strategy and forecast for the next three years in the retail sector.

Retail currently stands the State’s biggest private-sector employer with more than 280,000 workers. The report suggests retailers are planning a major injection of investment in people, skills, store refurbishments and technology over the next three years.

Conor Whelan, chairman of Retail Ireland and managing director of Eason said “The results of our report show that despite a considerable softening of sentiment since the Brexit vote, Irish retailers remain optimistic about the future, with the majority having ambitions to develop, invest in and expand their businesses in the next three years.”

Mr Whelan also said “In fact, 85% of retailers surveyed said they intend to invest in people and careers in the next three to five years and 92% are planning to invest in new technology and refurbishment.”

Retail Ireland suggests Brexit is already affecting the performance of the sector, with growth in retail sales between 2017 and 2020 likely to average between 1.2% and 2.2% a year, mostly driven by population growth.

In the report, Retail Ireland calls on the Government to introduce a tax credit to help retailers compete with international online retailers. It also wants a reduction in the cost of regulatory compliance, more State support for training and concerted efforts to “regenerate Ireland’s high streets”.

Retail Ireland also wants the government to work towards regenerate Ireland’s high streets and reduce the cost of regulatory compliance.

Dunnes regain top spot but Aldi see the biggest growth in supermarket battle

Dunnes Stores has returned to first place in the supermarket wars with a market share of 22.7 %.

This is only the second time the retailer has taken the crown, having first held the position in November last year. Supervalu is in second place with the smallest of margins at 22.5% while Tesco follow in third with a 22.4% share in the market.

The latest share figures from Kantar Worldpanel cover the 12 weeks up to the end of January also have good news for Aldi seeing the strongest growth, seeing the German retailer overtake its main rival Lidl. Aldi continues to set the pace as the fastest growing retailer with year-on-year growth of 6.3% meaning its market share now stands at 10.6% compared to the 10.3% enjoyed by Lidl. There is hardly room for complacency, however as only 0.3 per cent separates the top three.

January has been difficult for retailers as growth following a record breaking Christmas proved difficult to maintain, further increasing competition. Retailers have also been affected by supply issues concerning fresh produce in recent weeks. The shortages have been caused by unusual bad weather in Southern Europe.

Southern Europe is currently suffering from continuing rainfall which has seen volume sales of courgettes, cauliflower and spinach drop by at least 20%. Other categories of fresh produce including lettuce and cabbages have also been affected, but to a lesser degree.

This competition means good news for consumers though as price inflation looks to remain low in 2017. Grocery prices are only 0.7% higher than they were this time last year – which means the average shopper is only spending an extra 17 cents per trip to the supermarket.

Centra to open 20 more stores employing 460 people


Centra have announced plans to open 20 more stores over the next year. Overall, the new stores will employ 460 new workers.

The convenience store brand had a massive year in 2016, with profits of more than €1.5bn, up 3% from the previous year. This success has encouraged the brand to expand their operations. The announcement was made at the chain’s annual conference in Killarney.

The brand will continue to re-energise its store network with the aim of capitalising on the shift in convenience grocery stores towards healthier options for consumers. The chain, which competes with the BWG-owned Spar stores as well as Mace and Londis, is continuing to roll out its “Live Every Day” store design, which gives greater prominence to fruits and salad offerings.

Martin Kelleher, Managing Director of Centra, said that, in the context of Ireland’s fiercely competitive convenience sector, the shift towards more healthy options is “definitely not a fad”. He said Centra had cut shelf space normally designated for fizzy drinks in favour of water sales, and have also tweaked the recipes for its baked in-store bread to reflect changing customer tastes, which has boosted sales by 10%.Sales of salad boxes are up 80%, while the range of fruits and other healthier options have been extended under the Live Every Day scheme.

Meanwhile, sales of in-store hot coffee have risen to €5 million a year across its network since Centra introduced its Frank and Honest brand, which was developed in-house. The chain will also accelerate the rollout of its Frank and Honest brand. It is currently available in 260 out of 450 Centra stores. This number will increase to 330 by the end of March.centra

New chapter for Eason with plans for new Clarehall store

Eason, the iconic Irish book retailer, has announced plans to expand with the opening of a new store in Clare Hall shopping centre.

The new store in the North Dublin shopping centre is expected to open in March. Just before Christmas, Eason opened a store in Limerick’s Cresent Centre. Combined, the Limerick and Dublin stores will create a total of 30 jobs, according to the company.

The recession was particularly painful for Eason, seeing the company go through a five year restructuring plan. The market for book retailers has been particularly turbulent in recent years but despite this, Eason has begun expansion in recent years.The new stores, along with two stores acquired and re branded last year, mean the brand now have 65 stores across Ireland, including about 10 in Northern Ireland.

The Clare Hall outlet will consist of around 4,000sq ft (371sq m) of retail space. As well as selling the Eason staples of books, magazines and stationery, it will also feature several of the new retail concepts Eason has developed in recent years.Clare Hall will include its Easonology department, which sells puzzles and brain games; Department 51 aimed at young adults and teenagers; and a gifts department.

The company said it had spent about €12 million upgrading and expanding its estate in recent years, including a major revamp of its O’Connell Street flagship in Dublin and its outlet in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Two years ago it also bought two Porters stores in Cork. The group, led by chief executive Conor Whelan, said it would continue its capital investment programme in 2017.

Eason is owned by about 230 shareholders in a public company structure, although its shares are not traded on an exchange.The company managed to get back into the black last year with a €1.2 million after-tax profit for the year to the end of last January, compared with a €2.7 million loss the previous year. Its sales rose by 9 per cent to €147.2 million.

It now employs about 1,000 staff across its stores.

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)